Seeking His Face, Not His Hand
2 Corinthians 3:18; But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Do you remember the story in Exodus 34 where after Moses came down from his face-to-face encounter with God? He had to wear a veil over his face to protect the people’s eyes. His face shown so brightly from that one experience, it blinded those who looked directly at him. Though we don’t experience face to face encounters with God today, we do experience something that is more long-lasting. We today have the Holy Spirit living in us to reveal God’s glory in our hearts through prayer, reading the word, worship experiences, or special one on one encounters. WE see his glory in degrees as the Holy Spirit breaks forth the revelation of Christ in our hearts. Not a physical glory, but a clear reflection of his presence.
To seek God means to make a well-worn path to him. This is done by beholding him. According to Webster to behold means to gaze upon something by fixed attention. To concentrate on something intently. It’s like the little boy with his faced pressed against the glass counter staring, longingly for the toy inside. God wants us to hunger for more of Him, which in turn will cause us to change from one degree of his glory to another. According to 2 Peter 3:18 the single most important call on the Christians life is to know Jesus passionately, and intimately. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever, Amen.
This is only made possible by fellow-shipping in communion with the Holy Spirit.
So many Christians today live a life filled with clutter. They end up storing a little bit of doctrinal beliefs over here, and disciplines over there, and moral responsibilities over here, and of course personal convictions have to be here. Then before they know it they run on overload, and don’t have any time to really get to know God.
Martha the faithful supporter of Jesus’s ministry fell into this trap and Jesus had to gently bring her back to the right path. Luke 10:41-42; And Jesus answered and said unto her “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
He showed her that although we are to ask for his hand and favor in our life, it’s more important to seek his face.
So today you may be wondering just how do I seek his face. How do I wear down a path to him? Two ways according to God’s word.
1) Get a vision of Christ through the picture of his word.
God’s word is filled with word pictures and revelations of Jesus through visions by old prophets and others as well. The prophets of old saw Christ before he was actually revealed to the world. They wrote about him in types and shadows, but today we have him in the fullness revealed. Ezekiel saw a wheel within a wheel, Jacob saw a ladder going back and forth to heaven, and Isaiah saw a glowing throne surrounded by eyes and wings. Daniel saw a man with a glowing golden belt walking on the water. Get a vision of God in your heart, and that’s who he’ll be to you. I caution you though don’t make him too small, for our God is able to do anything.
2) Secondly pray the scriptures over your life frequently. Do it in the first person narrative personalizing it for your own life.
God is not offended when we reword his word to personally fit into our situations. Read David’s bout with Goliath in 1 Samuel 16and 17 and do it in the first person, with you playing the part of David. The purpose of course is to make the scripture personal, and effective for the here and now, Then as you do this see God as your deliverer removing the Goliaths that stand in your way of receiving God’s best for your life. The most important thing to remember is to not rush or hurry God. Just wait!
Continued Next Month
Part 2 Actually Hearing His Voice
Jeremiah 33:11; thus says the Lord; “again there shall be heard in this place… The voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride….
The prophet is telling us that a time is coming when the people of God will have such an intimate relationship with God that it will be like an earthly marriage. This fulfillment occurs when we the New Testament believers develop our heavenly identity and begin to fellowship in deep relationship with the Holy Spirit. Instead of just non-verbal feelings of joy, love and peace, we will experience the feelings of Him wrapping His loving arms around us and confirming His love to us. These special encounters with God is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote; To know the love of Christ which passes all knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God. Eph. 3:19
Remember Jesus also did say in John 10:10 “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.”
You see hearing God’s voice is critical to our spiritual growth, otherwise we will never fulfill our calling and purpose on this earth. Which means that we will go to heaven with no rewards waiting on us.
We must actually learn to discern between all the voices that are screaming at us on this earth. The prophet Habakkuk gives us insight into the three most common ways that we hear God speak to us during our prayer time.
Hab. 1:1; “The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw; I will stand my watch and set myself at the rampart; Hab. 2:1; and watch and see what he will say to me.”
1) First He will cause you to feel a burden.
2) He does this by planting pictures in your mind.
3) Its just a gentle flow of thoughts that will come to your mind.
Basically you will feel it, see it, and hear it .Sometimes in my own life God has been very direct in what He wanted me to do. Basically I know in my knower. At other times I fear that I was not sensitive enough to His still small voice and I may have missed His will for the day. We must learn to still ourselves in His presence so we can hear Him speak. “Be still and know that I am God,” was His command for me one day which changed my whole world at the time. The prophet said; as we wait we should “watch” by using our spiritual senses to detect the manner in which He wishes to communicate.
I will now attempt to give you three ways to help you determine your own thoughts and feelings from the voice of the Lord.
1) Usually God’s voice is communicated through thoughts that are life producing and filled with spiritual wisdom and truth.
Although God uses our mind to plant thoughts, somehow there’s a difference between the two. And that’s how we discern His voice, by that difference. Usually God’s voice is spontaneous and doesn’t follow you particular regiment or schedule.
2) God’s voice will never contradict His word or character of His son.
His voice is never self-serving, manipulative, critical, judgmental, sensual, etc. James tells us in James 3:14-16 that all these thoughts originate from human wisdom. This one fact will eliminate a lot of our thought life if we will just be honest with ourselves.
James 3:14 – 16 (KJV) 14But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
3) If God places a picture in your mind, or a burden in your heart it will stand the test of time, or the scrutiny of mature Christians
Some of the things that God speaks to our hearts must be waited on, or confirmed by more mature Christians. And other things must be acted upon immediately when He speaks. For instance if God tells you to right a wrong that you have committed against someone, you don’t need to pray about it or seek confirmation. Or maybe God shows you a financial need in another believer’s life that you have the power to do something about, just do it! But maybe God is calling you into an office gift like pastoring or evangelizing. You need conformation from the body and more mature Christians. You need to pray and ask God to confirm His call on your life. And believe me if you seek Him He will. I did this very thing in my own life and God kept confirming it over and over in my life until I couldn’t do anything but obey. Going into the ministry and pastoring was last on my list of Jobs. But God would not let me off so I obeyed and He has blessed me in my actions. Remember God wants to speak to you probably more than you want to hear. Just tune in and hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Continued next month
Part 3 Overcoming personal problems through prayer
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6&7.
The enemy of the secret place is worry. So many times we try to approach God in prayer, but we don’t know how to pray because we have such anxious minds worried and concerned about all the different activities in our life.. At times a steady stream, much like a flood assaults our mind turning into a raging river of unhealthy thoughts. Quickly these currents wash away the Lord’s presence from our prayer room and limit our access to his glory. Friend’s everyday life is difficult. Now I know I don’t have to tell you that, but I don’t want you thinking that life on earth is supposed to be like life in heaven. We haven’t made it to heaven yet. Life on earth is the testing ground for heaven. If you can make it through having more month than money, and your kids getting in trouble in school, and your boss being a pill to deal with at times, and your home insurance and property taxes going up every year, and your doctor telling you that you need to have more tests, then maybe you’ll be ready for heaven.
Our job or task as a Christian is to practice the principles in God’s word in our everyday life. As our verse today commands us to be anxious for nothing then this we must learn to do. And I might add nothing means nothing. In fact it exhorts us to pray about our problems instead of worry about them. There are actually two ways to be released from problems and worry. First they go away on their own. And most of our problems will if we just ignore them. And the second way is to pray about them. Give them to God in a positive, active approach. The positive way is the God way of dealing with personal problems. We must come to understand that although God really cares about the things that take place in our life, he is more concerned with the condition of our soul, and he will do anything to aid us to make our soul healthy. Now let’s break down the Apostle Paul’s approach to dealing with problems according to our verse today into five easy steps.
Be anxious for nothing
He is simply saying that we should learn to refuse to worry. Remember that worry in itself is common and a human response, but exercising your God-given authority to let it go, and not allow the thoughts of worry to linger is a God response to worry.
But in everything by prayer and supplication;
We are to combine our prayer life with supplication, which means specific requests. It means to tell God specifically what you want even if you have to extend your prayer time that day to get your answer. It’s amazing how small our problems can look through the eyes of God.
If you will learn to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving and exercise your right to be free from worry and fear, it’s amazing how much the river of God’s goodness will flood into our life.
Let your requests be made known to God,
Friends in your prayer time don’t be afraid to tell God what it is that you want. It’s best to praise him and tell him how much you love him first, and who knows after an encounter with him in worship he may even change your request.
And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
I don’t know how to describe it, but something spiritual happens when we turn our problems over to God in prayer. As we worship and wait on Him he floods us with HIS peace. Then and only then can we say we have “prayed through.”
Don’t be afraid to wait on him for answers and always remember that He cares for you.
Casting all your cares on Him, for he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Continued next month
Hearing God; even when we are in the wilderness
OK last month we talked about drawing close to God by prayer and getting our prayers answered this month we are going to discuss hearing God even when things are tough.
Deut. 1:29-31; The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the DESERT. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.
There comes a time in every Christians experience with God when He (God) will lead them into a dry, desert place to be tested. This is a place of dryness, spiritually speaking. A place where the enticements of the world seem extra strong and inviting. You see God desires to remove anything from our lives that seeks to take his place. The problem is most people aren’t spiritual and they don’t understand what’s going on and they reject the desert journey thinking it is some type of punishment or temptation. When in reality it is a necessary process in our spiritual development. When you arrive in this place of spiritual dryness that we call the wilderness you may be asking yourself; “what did I do to deserve this?” Or how did I end up in such a dry place with God? Some even question him and ask; Are you there anymore God?
Friend rest assured that God is only preparing you for greatness. I know it’s hard to see because we live such routine lives. The pressures of our daily responsibilities can just take us down to drudgeryville. We get all bogged down with of family life, church work, children’s activities, community service, our job, and let’s not forget the marriage responsibilities. All these things seem to take away from our intimate experience that God wants to share with us. All our life’s tasks are like Egyptian taskmasters pulling us away from our responsibility of worshiping and sharing time with God. So to help you Jesus our jealous lover will put the pressure on to squeeze out all the worthwhile things in your life that are competing for your time together. And before you know it you’ll find yourself in a wilderness, where you find no satisfaction in life. Everything you do seems dry. Your life seems meaningless and lacks the vitality and enjoyment you once had. You may even find yourself facing a sea that seems impossible to cross. Pressures from everywhere seem to be squeezing from all sides. Friend sit still, and let the Lord part the impassable sea, let him rain fresh manna from heaven in your life, and refresh you with the raging river that flows from his rock. When you find yourself in the wilderness take comfort in the words of Isaiah chapter 30:20&21;
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into the corners anymore, but thy eyes shall see thy teachers, and thine ears shall hear the word behind thee saying, “this is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”
The Lord sometimes uses the afflictions and dryness of the desert to teach us and humble us. But be assured as verse 21 says he will speak to us and direct us if we will listen for the still small voice.
Make no mistake about it desert life is a lesson in survival, but look how God used the wilderness to teach Israel the valuable lesson he wanted them to learn in Deut. 8:23;
“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and test you in order to know what is in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you causing you to hunger.…There it is!
The purpose of the wilderness is to inflict you with barrenness so you will hunger for more of God and less of the things of this world. In the wilderness we learn to trust God as the leanness of this world keeps us wanting. We can witness his mighty hand in our life and sit still and hear him whisper sweet promises in our ears. You must learn to believe that he says; “I will never leave or forsake you.” Josh. 1:
Now if you’re ready to move on to what God has for you and the wilderness experience has taught you something, there’s only one way to make it out.
You must embrace the experience of abiding with Christ. When you abide with him you dwell with. You live in the same existence together. You learn to abide with him by spending time with him in his word and prayer and listening for his voice to speak to you through his word. Let the words of your devotion and appreciation for his work in your life go up to him as a fragrant offering. Consummate your marriage to him by spending time in the marriage bed together with him, and allow intimacy to be formed.
Beloved I know the journey seems long and hard but if you follow this advice the day will come when they will say about you; “who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover?” Song of Sol. 8:5 and you will say; “it is I!”
Continued next month
Participating in Intercession
Ephesians 6:18; “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
We are all called to have a deep felt communion with God. This communion can be anything from a strong heart-felt conviction of devotion to a commitment to pray fervently for others.
When we grow in our walk with Christ, we will begin to understand the multifaceted journey of a life of prayer. Prayer in itself has many faces. From a worshipful, devotional experience, to a vigilant warlike mentality.
However most of our prayer-times should be a mix of both, when we follow as the Holy Spirit leads us.
The dictionary defines the word “Intercession” as a meditation or pleading on behalf of someone else. When we sit in the seat of intercessor we stand before God in the position of mediator between God and the person we are interceding for. God listens to our petition as he looks at them through us. In turn he looks at us through the sacrificial work that his son Jesus committed on the cross. The blood of Jesus covers us as God looks toward us. We actually stand in the same position as his son. “Justified” Just As If I never sinned.
Some people are so confused about intercession. Some may ask; “How can I abide in intercession with Jesus when I can’t hear, feel, or see him in my circumstances?”
Friend you must remember that you are walking a path of faith and faith doesn’t see! “IT KNOWS” From abiding in the scriptures God is able to impart to us the ability to know. Psalm 119:105; “God’s word is a lamp unto my feet, and a LIGHT unto my path.” God’s word is quite simply our guide.
Abide in the scriptures and you will be abiding in Him. Sometimes it will seem as though your prayers are not reaching his throne. When this happens we can be assured that He is listening and longing to hear our declarations of hope and trust. In fact scripture encourages us that our prayers are even being stored up to be poured out as a fragrant offering before his throne.
We never waste our time when we pop in a worship CD and sit in our easy chair, and sing sweet praises to him.
As intercession goes, we must remember that we have been given authority and dominion on this earth. With this position comes a divinely appointed headship. It is our responsibility to break the power of sin off people’s lives. They must be released from Satan’s authority, and we must be the hammer that breaks the shackles that hold people in bondage.
Primarily there are two purposes for intercessory prayer.
*First it’s to honor our God-given mandate to authority. God desires to work with us as we exercise our rightful place of authority in his kingdom through prayer and intercession. The matters of the earth have been delegated to us and His son Jesus. John 5:27; “The Father has given the Son authority to execute judgement also, because he is the son of man.”
And as a co-laborer with Jesus he says in John 20:21; “...as the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”
Quite plainly in intercessory prayer we step into the realm of exercising our God-given authority, within the will of God.
*Secondly we are being developed as a complete partner in marriage.
We (the church) are the bride of Christ and preparations must be made for the wedding to take place at the end of the age. Intercession increases our affect on his bride. The Holy Spirit may bring a need in the body that requires immediate prayer or maybe a specific person may necessitate an uplifting. Whichever the prayer of intercession is the component of deliverance.
As we intercede we must bear in mind the Ephesians 6:18 instructs us to pray “with all perseverance,” which means simply to “Pray through.”
To pray until the burden is lifted. Don’t allow your prayers to be hindered by circumstances. Many times prayers aren’t answered because we quit before the enemy is defeated. Friend please pray until divine intervention is united with your passion and always remember;
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
– James 5:17
Continued Next Month