Category Archives: Holy Spirit

Do Not Believe Every Spirit, But Rather Test Them

Scripture continually warns us to test our understanding of God’s instruction to ensure we are not deceived. We go back to the Torah and the writings of the prophets to validate truth. It has not changed. More recently, but entirely consistent with the first, we can also test our understanding with the record of the New Testament, recognizing that if our understanding of the New Testament implies inconsistency with the Old Testament then we are in error. In fact, the New Testament builds on the Old like the framework of a house is built upon the foundation. Without a good foundation, the rest will not stand.

1 John warns us to test every spirit… not to believe every spirit. We are again warned that there are many false prophets… many. They speak as from the world and the world listens. Those who know God will listen to us, who truly follow Christ. Thus, do not be surprised if the majority of people will not follow someone who teaches and proclaims truth. On the other hand, if someone claims Christ in name and teaches a compromised doctrine that seems palatable or comfortable to the world, then many will follow him.

Keep in mind that the very idea of a false prophet implies that they present themselves as if representing God. The same is true today. Perhaps they do not claim to be prophets today, but rather pastors and bishops. The point is that the false teaching is not something that “those unbelievers” are presenting, but rather will come from what appears to be within the church, within the body of Christ.

1 John 4:1-6

Testing the Spirits

     1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 4You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Reflecting further, this is not simply referring to false prophets. It seems to be deliberate in choosing the word “spirit”. I would need to study further, but it seems to imply that Satan will attempt to influence us and deceive us even in sending his messengers to seemingly deliver or confirm the (wrong) word of God to us. We must stay focused on the true Spirit, which is always aligned with the Word, to ensure we are not led astray.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Seeking God’s Will For Key Decisions

It is interesting to do a quick study on the internet for “casting lots”. This was a method that was intended to help determine the will of YHWH and remove any bias from man. It was used for important decisions, such as in Joshua 19, in which much of the promised land is still being divided amongst the nations. I have not done a fully study, but encourage you to consider a brief study to become familiar with the activity. I have linked two articles for quick reference… one article on Reference.com and also one from GotQuestions.org.

Joshua 19

Territory of Simeon

      1Then the second lot fell to Simeon, to the tribe of the sons of Simeon according to their families, and their inheritance was in the midst of the inheritance of the sons of Judah. 2So they had as their inheritance Beersheba or Sheba and Moladah, 3and Hazar-shual and Balah and Ezem, 4and Eltolad and Bethul and Hormah, 5and Ziklag and Beth-marcaboth and Hazar-susah, 6and Beth-lebaoth and Sharuhen; thirteen cities with their villages; 7Ain, Rimmon and Ether and Ashan; four cities with their villages; 8and all the villages which were around these cities as far as Baalath-beer, Ramah of the Negev. This was the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Simeon according to their families. 9The inheritance of the sons of Simeon was taken from the portion of the sons of Judah, for the share of the sons of Judah was too large for them; so the sons of Simeon received an inheritance in the midst of Judah’s inheritance.

Territory of Zebulun

10Now the third lot came up for the sons of Zebulun according to their families. And the territory of their inheritance was as far as Sarid. 11Then their border went up to the west and to Maralah, it then touched Dabbesheth and reached to the brook that is before Jokneam. 12Then it turned from Sarid to the east toward the sunrise as far as the border of Chisloth-tabor, and it proceeded to Daberath and up to Japhia. 13From there it continued eastward toward the sunrise to Gath-hepher, to Eth-kazin, and it proceeded to Rimmon which stretches to Neah. 14The border circled around it on the north to Hannathon, and it ended at the valley of Iphtahel. 15Included also were Kattah and Nahalal and Shimron and Idalah and Bethlehem; twelve cities with their villages. 16This was the inheritance of the sons of Zebulun according to their families, these cities with their villages.

Territory of Issachar

17The fourth lot fell to Issachar, to the sons of Issachar according to their families. 18Their territory was to Jezreel and included Chesulloth and Shunem, 19and Hapharaim and Shion and Anaharath, 20and Rabbith and Kishion and Ebez, 21and Remeth and En-gannim and En-haddah and Beth-pazzez. 22The border reached to Tabor and Shahazumah and Beth-shemesh, and their border ended at the Jordan; sixteen cities with their villages. 23This was the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Issachar according to their families, the cities with their villages.

Territory of Asher

24Now the fifth lot fell to the tribe of the sons of Asher according to their families. 25Their territory was Helkath and Hali and Beten and Achshaph, 26and Allammelech and Amad and Mishal; and it reached to Carmel on the west and to Shihor-libnath. 27It turned toward the east to Beth-dagon and reached to Zebulun, and to the valley of Iphtahel northward to Beth-emek and Neiel; then it proceeded on north to Cabul, 28and Ebron and Rehob and Hammon and Kanah, as far as Great Sidon. 29The border turned to Ramah and to the fortified city of Tyre; then the border turned to Hosah, and it ended at the sea by the region of Achzib. 30Included also were Ummah, and Aphek and Rehob; twenty-two cities with their villages. 31This was the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Asher according to their families, these cities with their villages.

Territory of Naphtali

32The sixth lot fell to the sons of Naphtali; to the sons of Naphtali according to their families. 33Their border was from Heleph, from the oak in Zaanannim and Adami-nekeb and Jabneel, as far as Lakkum, and it ended at the Jordan. 34Then the border turned westward to Aznoth-tabor and proceeded from there to Hukkok; and it reached to Zebulun on the south and touched Asher on the west, and to Judah at the Jordan toward the east. 35The fortified cities were Ziddim, Zer and Hammath, Rakkath and Chinnereth, 36and Adamah and Ramah and Hazor, 37and Kedesh and Edrei and En-hazor, 38and Yiron and Migdal-el, Horem and Beth-anath and Beth-shemesh; nineteen cities with their villages. 39This was the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Naphtali according to their families, the cities with their villages.

Territory of Dan

40The seventh lot fell to the tribe of the sons of Dan according to their families. 41The territory of their inheritance was Zorah and Eshtaol and Ir-shemesh, 42and Shaalabbin and Aijalon and Ithlah, 43and Elon and Timnah and Ekron, 44and Eltekeh and Gibbethon and Baalath, 45and Jehud and Bene-berak and Gath-rimmon, 46and Me-jarkon and Rakkon, with the territory over against Joppa. 47The territory of the sons of Dan proceeded beyond them; for the sons of Dan went up and fought with Leshem and captured it. Then they struck it with the edge of the sword and possessed it and settled in it; and they called Leshem Dan after the name of Dan their father. 48This was the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Dan according to their families, these cities with their villages.

      49When they finished apportioning the land for inheritance by its borders, the sons of Israel gave an inheritance in their midst to Joshua the son of Nun. 50In accordance with the command of the LORD they gave him the city for which he asked, Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. So he built the city and settled in it.

      51These are the inheritances which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel distributed by lot in Shiloh before the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting. So they finished dividing the land.

We should seek the Lord’s guidance often. Today, believers in Yeshua have the help of the Holy Spirit indwelling them to help guide them and the entirety of the holy scriptures in the Bible. There is no guidance to use the casting of lots in the Biblical record after Pentecost in Acts in which the Holy Spirit came to dwell in those who follow Yeshua.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Ask That The Gospel Would Come In Power And In The Holy Spirit

It is truly a beautiful thing to behold, to see people not only acknowledging Christ as Lord with words, but to see their lives transformed by the Holy Spirit. Do not be content simply to know His word, though that is good. Instead pray for and welcome the Holy Spirit. Let Him transform your life as a witness to others.

1 Thessalonians

      1Paul and Silvanus and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

      2We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, 4knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; 5for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. 9For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.

Pray with me that believers everywhere would invite the Holy Spirit to dwell in them not not be satisfied only to know the word… that we would be transformed so that our lives would serve as a light and beacon to others.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Financial Obedience And Joyful Gifts To Our Father

The Lord provided great victory for the Israelites over the Midianites. Verse 49 seems to indicate they did not lose a single man in the battle.  They knew this victory could only be from the Lord. They were victorious because they obeyed the Lord. In victory, they similarly obeyed the Lord in dividing the booty according to His instruction rather than their own.

We do well to learn to obey the Lord and seek His specific instruction for our lives. He does provide specific instructions to His people for their lives. He is more than just His written word, which helps us to know Him and understand how He relates to His people. He spoke to the people about this specific event and how they should handle it. He offers us this relationship today as His children. He provides the Spirit to dwell within believers and guide us. We need to take time to be still and quiet and focused in His presence to continue building our relationship with him so that we better understand His voice when He speaks to us.

Numbers 31:25-54

Division of the Booty

     25Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 26“You and Eleazar the priest and the heads of the fathers’ households of the congregation take a count of the booty that was captured, both of man and of animal; 27and divide the booty between the warriors who went out to battle and all the congregation. 28“Levy a tax for the LORD from the men of war who went out to battle, one in five hundred of the persons and of the cattle and of the donkeys and of the sheep; 29take it from their half and give it to Eleazar the priest, as an offering to the LORD. 30“From the sons of Israel’s half, you shall take one drawn out of every fifty of the persons, of the cattle, of the donkeys and of the sheep, from all the animals, and give them to the Levites who keep charge of the tabernacle of the LORD.” 31Moses and Eleazar the priest did just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

      32Now the booty that remained from the spoil which the men of war had plundered was 675,000 sheep, 33and 72,000 cattle, 34and 61,000 donkeys, 35and of human beings, of the women who had not known man intimately, all the persons were 32,000.

      36The half, the portion of those who went out to war, was as follows: the number of sheep was 337,500, 37and the LORD’S levy of the sheep was 675; 38and the cattle were 36,000, from which the LORD’S levy was 72; 39and the donkeys were 30,500, from which the LORD’S levy was 61; 40and the human beings were 16,000, from whom the LORD’S levy was 32 persons. 41Moses gave the levy which was the LORD’S offering to Eleazar the priest, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

      42As for the sons of Israel’s half, which Moses separated from the men who had gone to war— 43now the congregation’s half was 337,500 sheep, 44and 36,000 cattle, 45and 30,500 donkeys, 46and the human beings were 16,000— 47and from the sons of Israel’s half, Moses took one drawn out of every fifty, both of man and of animals, and gave them to the Levites, who kept charge of the tabernacle of the LORD, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

      48Then the officers who were over the thousands of the army, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, approached Moses, 49and they said to Moses, “Your servants have taken a census of men of war who are in our charge, and no man of us is missing. 50“So we have brought as an offering to the LORD what each man found, articles of gold, armlets and bracelets, signet rings, earrings and necklaces, to make atonement for ourselves before the LORD.” 51Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold from them, all kinds of wrought articles. 52All the gold of the offering which they offered up to the LORD, from the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, was 16,750 shekels. 53The men of war had taken booty, every man for himself. 54So Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold from the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it to the tent of meeting as a memorial for the sons of Israel before the LORD.

I appreciate in particular what is recorded in verses 48-54. They had already brought to the priests what YHWH required. Still the soldiers recognized that the victory was from the Lord. There was no man missing. They were thankful and brought an additional voluntary gift to the Lord… and it was significant.

We should ask ourselves… even if we obey with giving to the Father what He asks from us, how often do we bring extra gifts just out of a joyful and thankful heart? It may be money, it may be time, it may be our talents… but how often to we give back to Him more than He asks? Truly He provides all we have. Let us be joyful and thankful.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Don’t Miss The Miracles Around You As God Reveals Himself To You

Sometimes it is those who are most entrenched in man’s practice of religion that miss God Himself as He comes before them. He reveals Himself in a way that is different than they expect and they can not accept it. Such an example is captured in Luke 5, where Jesus heals a paralytic. Those who just observe the miracle with no preconception for how God should work are amazed and immediately recognize the work of the Lord. Others, however, who are “learned” men such as teachers and Pharisees, can not accept it. They completely overlook the obvious miracle in front of them as they get tangled up in the words Jesus spoke. They dismiss that a paralytic was healed as they focus on their preconceived bias that Jesus could not possibly be the Son of God. They get indignant about Jesus’ choice of words. They clearly understood that He was claiming that He was the Son of God.

Were they not waiting for a Messiah? Of course they were, or at least according to the scriptures they studied they should be looking for one. They just could not accept that He was right in front of them.

Luke 5:17-26

   17One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing. 18And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him. 19But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. 20Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” 21The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” 22But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23“Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24“But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”—He said to the paralytic—“I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.” 25Immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. 26They were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

Let us challenge ourselves and pray for the Spirit to help us not miss the miracles God does around us because of preconceived biases we hold about how, when, and to whom He should reveal Himself. Let us be open to recognize when He is revealing Himself to us. It may well be in a way or at a time or place we do not expect.

Praise the Lord that He chooses to reveal Himself to us at all and that with the Spirit we may receive Him fully!

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Who Have You Been Called to Reach? Are You Reaching Them?

What good news for the Gentiles! Yeshua has died not only for the sins of His people, the Jews, but now has made the Gentiles joint heirs through Him. Those who follow Yeshua are fellow members of the body of Christ alongside the Jewish people who accept Christ.

Paul was called to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. Of course, we don’t want to forget bringing Christ to the Jewish people either. All of us have certain circles of influence amongst family, friends, acquaintances, etc. in addition to the opportunity to be or support missionaries within our own country or who go to other countries. Pray for the Spirit to guide you and prompt you for your calling with whom to share the gospel and how. Not all of us will take on missionary journeys as Paul did, but all of us have opportunity to support those that do and even more personally to bring the gospel to those we interact with daily in our normal lives. Do not be discouraged or count yourself “unworthy” of or “unable” to bring the message to others. All of us, including Paul are unworthy on our own. The power and call come from Yeshua. We are but loyal and obedient servants to bring the message forth.

Ephesians 3

Paul’s Stewardship

     1For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; 3that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, 7of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. 8To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.

      14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

      20Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

To Him be the glory indeed. As we seek to serve Him in bringing the message of truth to those we are called to reach, let us take note that our words will seldom be meaningful to those around us if we do not live out what we share. If we are to be effective messengers in this world, we must first be separate and distinct from this world. We can hardly share the gospel of truth effectively if we accept the lies and false teachings of the world or even those incorporated into many churches today. We must seek Him and His Spirit as guide. We must pray and study the Bible. It can not be a “once a week sit in church” relationship with God. He wants more of us if we are to be used effectively by Him. How do we live for Him daily? How do we choose His ways instead of our own desires? Do we devote time in Bible study and prayer? Do we take time to help others? Do we love others, which includes at times rebuking wrong behavior in a caring way? Do we continue in faith despite persecution, rejection, or hard times?

Pray for the Spirit to guide you in your work for Yeshua as you seek to follow His example and answer His calling for your life.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Let the Spirit Be Our Teacher

Seminary and church teaching can be useful if the theology is taught properly. However, in many cases it is not the Spirit of God which leads the men who run many seminaries. They are led by the spirit of men trying to run a business or a broad church organization or perhaps well intended but not fully understanding the depth of scripture themselves. We must always go back to the gospel itself and the Spirit of God to teach us. We can use other study tools to help, of course. Consider that none of the core disciples (later apostles) of Yeshua had formal seminary to teaching from religious leaders. They were common men taught by Christ and later led by the Spirit.

Paul, who did have formal teaching and by a respected teacher, was prosecuting Christians and clinging to the doctrine of men. That is, until Paul had a personal and dramatic encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. It changed him forever.

Galatians 1:11-24

Paul Defends His Ministry

     11For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

      13For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. 15But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.

      18Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. 19But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. 20(Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.) 21Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ; 23but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” 24And they were glorifying God because of me.

It may be well to study at seminary if you pick the right one, but never take as gospel the doctrine of men. Test it always against the word of Jehovah in the Bible. Pray for the Lord to guide you. Be willing to challenge common and “accepted” teaching based on what scripture says. Seek to please the Lord rather than other church members or leadership or friends or family. Look for pastors that do the same.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

We Must Rely on the Spirit

It is not the wisdom of men we seek as followers of Christ, but rather the wisdom and power of God. We must rely on the Spirit rather than our own logic and understanding alone if we are to make sense of all that is going on around us. Many, including many in positions of power and authority, do not understand God’s wisdom.

1 Corinthians 2

Paul’s Reliance upon the Spirit

      1And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

      6Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;

9but just as it is written,
“THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”

10For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

      14But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

Pray for our Father to guide you through the Spirit to greater understanding and godly wisdom and a deeper relationship with Him. Trust in Him rather than in the ways of “natural man”. Accept that may often find yourself in the minority when you choose to go deeper in relationship with Jehovah and as the Spirit reveals more and more truth to you. Embrace and trust the Father and let the Spirit guide you.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Follow God’s Agenda Rather Than Your Own

Many who start out serving God passionately come to a point where they get caught up in their own success and their own plans and, without even realizing it, become less sensitive to listening to and obeying the Spirit as He guides them in their ministry. We do well to remember that we are called to follow God’s agenda rather than our own… and even those who seem to be very good at following God can at times be distracted and led by their own desires or plans, especially when their ministry is successful and they grow in confidence in themselves.

Paul was without a doubt a very faithful servant of Christ. He was experiencing much success in his missionary journeys and surely faced the same temptations and distractions of many successful pastors and evangelists today. Paul had a desire to speak the word in Asia, but was prevented by the Spirit from doing so. We do not get much information in scripture as to the details, but once Paul received the guidance from the Spirit and a vision from God, he changed his plans and obeyed, trusting God rather than his own plans. We should do the same.

Acts 16:6-13

      6They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; 8and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

      11So putting out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the day following to Neapolis; 12and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony; and we were staying in this city for some days. 13And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.

Take some time to evaluate your own life. Are there things you feel God has directed you to do, but you have not yet done them because they are different than the plans you developed? If you want to hear from God consistently, obey the things you feel He is leading you to do. How many of us would continue to provide guidance to someone who never listens to what we tell them?

Do you feel that your plans are being defeated over and over again… prayerfully consider if God is blocking you from particular choices or activities in an effort to re-direct you.

Always verify you are hearing from God by ensuring what you think you hear is not in conflict with what God reveals in the Bible.

Yes, God does still speak to His people and in many different ways. Sometimes He is subtle and we will not hear Him unless we are still and quiet and patient in listening for Him, believing He will answer.

1 Kings 19:11-13

     11So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

To learn more about hearing from God, review our category of devotions from scripture about Hearing From God.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Righteous Prayer Helps Us Hear From God

Do you want to hear from God for specific guidance in your life? Do you believe that He communicates with His people on a personal basis? The Bible shows us many examples that He absolutely does communicate with those who genuinely and wholeheartedly submit to Him and transform their lives to follow Him.

Proverbs 15:29

      29The LORD is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.

Submitting to God to live according to His instructions (righteousness) and seeking Him in prayer are important parts in the life of a follower of Jesus to connect with God and hear His specific guidance for your life. We see both elements present in Cornelius and Peter as we read in Acts 10 as God provides specific direction to both men.

Acts 10:1-23

Cornelius’s Vision

      1Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, 2a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. 3About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, “Cornelius!” 4And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5“Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter; 6he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea.” 7When the angel who was speaking to him had left, he summoned two of his servants and a devout soldier of those who were his personal attendants, 8and after he had explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

      9On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” 14But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” 15Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” 16This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.

      17Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon’s house, appeared at the gate; 18and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there. 19While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20“But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” 21Peter went down to the men and said, “Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?” 22They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you.” 23So he invited them in and gave them lodging.

We see both Cornelius and Peter respond by receiving God’s instruction and trying to understand how to obey it. They expect to hear from God… they want to obey. So it is also with us. We must live according to God’s word, obeying Him in those things in which He has already instructed us, seek Him in prayer and expect to hear from Him. Why would God speak to someone who does not believe God will speak to them and will just dismiss it as imagination or coincidence? Why would God give more instructions to someone who is not obeying the instructions he or she already has received, either in scripture or in prior communications from God?

Challenge yourself… do you expect to hear from God? Are you already applying His word to guide the details of how you live your life… or are you just blending in with the world? “Going to church” and “Doing what others who call themselves Christian do” are not enough. That is the wrong standard. God’s scripture in the Bible is the only true, unchanging standard to measure against. Particularly the example of how Jesus lived and what He taught is a great place to start! (Hint: If you never meet any resistance or friction, you are either not noticeably living for Christ, or you are not bringing the gospel to non believers… which is to say not following the commands God has already given us.)

Ask yourself what specific, actionable changes you should make to your life starting today. Be honest and open to recognizing that you are not doing everything perfectly right already and there is more you can do for Jesus. We can all make adjustments to live more like Christ. None of us ever achieve that level of perfection that Jesus did during His earthly ministry, so if you can’t think of any changes to make you are likely fooling yourself.

As a side note, consider “Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be”. As we read further in Acts 10 we will confirm that the vision actually had nothing to do with what food God has instructed us to eat or not to eat as His people. The vision was a metaphor to tell Peter that it was good for him to share the gospel of Jesus with the gentiles. God’s instructions regarding what we should eat or should not eat are still relevant. For a deeper study, review Understanding the Law – What Does It Mean For Us Today?

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.