Believe, Know, Listen, & Follow (Intimacy with God)

This is from my book website ithoughtiknewwhatlovewas.com. I posted it this morning. I try not to post the same thing on both sites but felt led to. There are different followers on each site. I hope this encourages you to plunge the depths of God’s heart. He loves you!

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Photo credit: Son of God movie

John 10:25-30.

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”

I recommend reading all of John 10. In this passage Jesus refers to Himself as the good Shepherd. Shepherds were overseers of flocks. Sheep are not the brightest animals. They will fall into ditches, see another sheep in a ditch and fall in…they can wonder off and be destroyed because they are not wise. Shepherds protected their sheep. They were invested in keeping them safe. They’d lay at the gate to prevent them from escaping. They spent time with the sheep. They rescued wayward sheep.

Jesus is the good Shepherd. We are like the sheep. He’s responsible to care for us, reveal who He is to us, and we are to know and follow Him. We are not an obligation to God. We are His dearly loved children.

In the verses above Jesus is responding to the questions of the Pharisees about who He is. Is He the Christ? I love His responses. He stated, “You do not believe, therefore you are not my sheep. My sheep know and follow me.

Intimacy with God starts with faith. It starts with belief.

Do you believe God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do?
It is not enough to simply believe there is a God or Jesus is the Son of God. Even the demons believe and tremble. (James 2:19), yet they are not saved. There’s no salvation for them. There is for humanity.

If you’re reading this and you’ve never confessed your sins before God, repented (made a decision to turn from sinning and turn to God), asked God to cleanse you of your sins, placed your faith in Jesus Christ as the appropriation for your sins, and asked Him to be your Lord and Savior, I invite you do so. There’s no salvation apart from Him. There’s no entrance to heaven without going through the Son. We can’t do enough good works to earn holiness or righteousness. Jesus did it for us. We by faith, receive what He’s done and accept His righteousness as our own.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith,~Romans 3:23-25a.

If you invited God into your life, I would love to hear from you and provide more information to you.

The second step in intimacy with God is being with Him.

Sheep spent their time with the shepherd. They learned his voice, his smell, his mannerisms. It’s impossible to have intimacy (knowing) with someone and you never spend any time. If Sunday morning is the only time you spend with God, well your level of intimacy is not going to be high.

I am not stating you attend worship services all week, lock yourself in a room to pray and read the Bible all day. I am saying we can commune with God every day, as much as we’d like. One of my morning activities is to start the day with worship and thanksgiving. “Good morning God! I love you. Thank you for who you are and all you’ve done. I invite you to be a part of my day. What do you want to do? Who do you want to bless?” And there are days where I’m just listening. What is God doing? What is He saying? It’s not a ritual, it’s relationship.

Intimacy with God involves listening and knowing His voice.

The Bible says God speaks. There are some who teach He doesn’t and that does not align with scripture. God speaks to His children. If you had children and wrote an instruction manual for them, would you then say, “I refuse to speak to you. Go read the book I gave you.” That would seem insane. Yet some teach God only speaks to us through the Bible. God spoke to people in the Bible through dreams, visions, directly, through prophets, even through a donkey. Before you get too excited, let’s lay down some ground rules.

1. When God speaks He will not tell you to sin or violate His already written word.

I had someone tell me once the Holy Spirit told her not to read the Bible ever and only to listen to the voice she was hearing. That’s wrong and violates scripture.

I heard someone say God told them to leave their spouse for someone else. That’s wrong. It violates many scriptures.

Our culture says do whatever feels good for you and if it’s “love” or feels good, God must approve of it. That’s wrong. If there’s no place in scripture where God is condoning a behavior, you can’t condone it either and claim it’s God. There are some verses that seem to contradict each other which is why God gave His Holy Spirit to teach us.

We can’t toss out the Bible and rely on feelings, human wisdom, angelic visitations, or voices we believe are God.

2. All prophecy (speaking God’s word) is to be tested. Meaning the following:

Does it align with God’s word? Example, there are many false prophecies about when the world will end. Well, the Bible states the following:

“No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows,”~Matthew 24:36.

Does the prophecy fit the character of God?

I’ve had destructive words spoken over me. There was no life in them. God does give warnings. He also provides redemption. Those who repent can find hope and life in Him. Jesus came to save, not destroy. If people are destroyed, it will be because they refused the gift He offered and refused repentance.

Finally intimacy with God involves following Him.

We are called to obey God. It’s not a popular teaching, yet Jesus taught it often. Christianity is not simply praying a prayer, it’s following a person. That person is Jesus. We cannot claim to love God and live a life where we refuse to do what He says. He gives us grace and His Spirit to enable us to do His will. If we cease to obey, we will eventually cease to hear from Him. If He continues to speak, we are held accountable for what we know. So if you feel super disconnected from God, one thing to ask is , “Has He told me to do something I have not done?”

I will continue this series because I truly believe we perish for lack of knowledge of who God is. We are called to know Him, to be loved by Him, to love Him, and enjoy Him. God is not boring, cold, stern, a kill joy, or mean spirited. He is good, holy, exciting, adventurous, overflowing with love and joy. He’s beyond amazing. He’s generous, faithful, merciful, and forgiving. The evil one doesn’t want the world to know who God is and how good He is. Once you know Him, it’s almost impossible to resist Him.

Will you join me on this relentless pursuit of God’s heart? I hope so.

You’re continually in my thoughts, prayers, and you are deeply loved (John 3:16).

Love,

Erin

Know, Speak, Do (Holy Spirit Series Part 5)

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I know we took a week off from the Holy Spirit Series. I want to jump back in to talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We talked about what they are a few posts ago. I want to encourage you not to limit God to a list. The Holy Spirit is fully God and can manifest His Presence in ways we may not understand.

Scriptures are filled with stories of ordinary people encountering an extraordinary God. Has God changed or have our expectations of what He will do changed? I truly believe we don’t expect much from God anymore. Since we in the Western world have so many options, it’s easy to bypass God. We rely on ourselves, others, intellect, or our abundant resources.

On missions we’ve seen more people giving their hearts to God, healed of sickness and diseases, and encountering God in powerful ways.

What’s the purpose of all these gifts of the Spirit?

To build up the body of Christ. To demonstrate the love of Christ. Love and power combine to bring heaven to earth.

Let’s look at the gifts coupled with the fruit of the Spirit.

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The attributes of God are manifest through the gifts.

Knowing Gifts:
Words of Wisdom:

This is a revelation gift.

…this gift involves having a sense of divine direction, being led by the Holy Spirit to act appropriately in a given set of circumstances, and rightly applying knowlege.

The gift of wisdom is the wisdom of God. It is the supernatural impartation of facts; it is not natural. You can’t earn it. It is received from God through prayer (Ephesians 1:17).

Words of Knowledge:

A word of knowledge is a definite conviction, impression, or knowing that comes to you in a similitude (a mental picture), a dream, through a vision, or by a Scripture that is quickened to you. It is supernatural insight or understanding of circumstances, situations, problems, or a body of facts by revelation; that is, without assistance by any human resource but solely by divine aid.

Discerning of Spirits:

Discerning of spirits is the supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to perceive the source of a spiritual manifestation and determine whether it is of God (Acts 10:30-35), of the devil (Acts 16:16-18), of man (Acts 8:18-23), or of the world. It is not mind reading, psychic phenomena, or the ability to criticize and find fault.

Discernment will also enable you to recognize the Holy Spirit in another person.

Speaking Gifts:
Tongues:

Supernatural utterance in languages not known to the speaker; these languages may be existent in the world, revived from some past culture, or “unknown” in the sense that they are a means of communication inspired by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 28:11; Mark 16:17; Acts 2:4, 10:44-48, 19:1-7; I Corinthians 12:10, 13:1-3, 14:2, 4-22, 26-32).

The spiritual gift involving ability to speak in foreign language(s) not previously studied or to respond to experience of the Holy Spirit by uttering sounds which those without the gift of interpretation could not understand. At Pentecost the church received the gift to communicate the gospel in foreign languages (Acts 2). God gave His Spirit to all His people to empower them to witness and prophesy. In Corinth some members of the church uttered sounds the rest of the congregation did not understand (I Corinthians 12-14). This led to controversy and division. Paul tried to unite the church, assuring the church that there are different gifts but only one Spirit (I Corinthians 12:4-11).

Interpretation of Tongues:

Interpretation of tongues is a supernatural verbalization and subsequent interpretation to reveal the meaning of a diverse tongue. This gift operates out of the mind of the Spirit rather than out of the mind of man.

Prophecy:

Prophesy is speaking God’s words and agenda for the building up of the Body and others. It is to encourage, edify, warn, and correct. Paul tells us about prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14:1.

Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives–especially the ability to prophesy,~1 Corinthians 14:1.

All prophecy is to be tested. Meaning we take what’s said and weigh it against God’s word and character.

Prophecy is divinely inspired and anointed utterance; a supernatural proclamation in a known language. It is the manifestation of the Spirit of God – not of intellect (I Corinthians 12:7), and it may be possessed and operated by all who have the infilling of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 14:31).

Doing Gifts:
Faith for Miracles (Gift of Faith):

The gift of faith is the supernatural ability to believe God without doubt, combat unbelief, and visualize what God wants to accomplish. It is not only an inner conviction impelled by an urgent and higher calling, but also a supernatural ability to meet adverse circumstances with trust in God’s words and messages.

Healing:

The gift of healings refers to supernatural healing; it is a special gift to pray for specific diseases.

Healing can come through the touch of faith (James 5:14-15); by speaking the word of faith (Luke 7:1-10); or by the presence of God being manifested (Mark 6:56; Acts 19:11-12).

Miracles:

The greatest miracle is salvation.

A miracle is the performance of something which is against the laws of nature; it is a supernatural power to intervene and counteract earthly and evil forces. The word miracles comes from the Greek word dunamis which means “power and might that multiplies itself.” The gift of miracles operates closely with the power gifts of faith and healings to bring authority over Satan, sickness, sin, and the binding forces of this age.

Miracles can also be defined as supernatural intercessions of God. God exhorts us with energy to do something that is not natural or normal to us. Just as the ministry gift of miracles is the expression of prayer, so is the function of the Holy Spirit to direct our prayers (Romans 8:26).

Italasized text from Christcenteredmall.

The gifts of the Spirit are available to all believers. Some believe if a gift isn’t apparent in their life, then that’s it. Paul encouraged people to desire and ask God for the gifts. Gifts as stated before are not signs of spiritual maturity or to be used to abuse people. They are to be led by the Holy Spirit and measured by the fruit of the Spirit.

Father, I ask we would fully believe the Holy Spirit is capable of all things. He is fully God. He can do all things. Help us to rely fully on Him. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

The Holy Spirit

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And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you,~Romans 8:11.

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams,~Acts 2:17.

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law,~Gal 5:22-23.

The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity. He is fully God. He is eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, has a will, and can speak. He is alive. He is a person,~Matt Slick.

The Holy Spirit is not a strange force. He is fully God. He can speak (Acts 13:2); He can be grieved (Eph. 4:30); and He has a will (1 Cor. 12:11).

He is the Spirit who empowered Jesus, led Him, raised Him from the dead, affirmed Him, bears witness to Him, and overshadowed Mary to conceive Jesus (Matt 1:18-20). He works to convict the world of sin. He lives in believers; continually revealing truth, God’s love, and proving wisdom, insight, and comfort. He works in believers to mold their character into the likeness of Jesus. And there is so much more. He is glorious!

The Holy Spirit is often misunderstood. To some He’s not necessary. To others He’s everything. Some equate Spirit filled living with wild, crazy, and looney manifestations. So, instead of seeking to live empowered by Him there is caution and sometimes quenching of the Spirit. I will say God can do anything He’d like and for some their walk with the Holy Spirit seems unconventional. I pray we are not quick to judge or compare. The only thing we can say is the Holy Spirit will not violate the Word of God. I’ve seen people laugh, cry, dance, shake, tremble, behave like they’re drunk, speak in tongues and have interpretation, all due to an overwhelming encounter with God’s Spirit. How can we assess the encounters? Well, all the things I’ve mentioned above are recorded in the Bible. And if they weren’t, we still must operate in grace and not accuse others of make believe, being prideful, or attention seeking. Discernment, love, compassion, and grace are needed.

I’ve found the encounter led to the person being changed in some way; deeper understanding of God’s love, healing (emotional or physical), freedom from some stronghold ( addictions, etc…). When God is working, who are we to judge, criticize, or put limits on God? He’s always up to something good.

The Roles of the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit serves a great purpose in the Trinity. Without Him we do not have a revelation of Jesus, we have limited to no understanding of Scripture, we have no comforter or depositor of gifts, we have no seal promising we belong to God, and we cannot live empowered lives without Him. He’s significant. He’s so important. He’s vital to living like Jesus.

The Works of the Holy Spirit (credit to Mike Slick for the outline).

Access to God – Eph. 2:18
Inspires prayer – Eph. 6:18; Jude 20
Anoints for Service – Luke 4:18 Intercedes -Rom. 8:26
Assures – Rom. 8:15-16; Gal. 4:6 Interprets Scripture – 1 Cor. 2:1,14;
Eph. 1:17
Authors Scripture – 2 Pet. 1:20-21 Leads – Rom. 8:14
Baptizes – John 1:23-34; 1 Cor. 12:13-14
Liberates – Rom. 8:2
Believers Born of – John 3:3-6
Molds Character – Gal. 5:22-23
Calls and Commissions – Acts 13:24; 20:28
Produces fruit – Gal. 5:22-23
Cleanses – 1 Thess. 3:13; 1 Pet. 1:2 Empowers Believers – Luke 24:49
Convicts of sin – John 16:9,14
Raises from the dead – Rom. 8:11
Creates – Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4 Regenerates – Titus 3:5
Empowers – 1 Thess. 1:5
Sanctifies – Rom. 15:16
Fills – Acts 2:4; 4:29-31; 5:18-20
Seals – Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30
Gives gifts – 1 Cor. 12:8-11
Strengthens – Eph. 3:16; Acts 1:8; 2:4;
1 Cor. 2:4
Glorifies Christ – John 16:14
Teaches – John 14:26
Guides in truth – John 16:13
Testifies of Jesus – John 15:26
Helps our weakness – Rom. 8:26 Victory over flesh – Rom. 8:2-4; Gal. 4:6
Indwells believers – Rom. 8:9-14; Gal. 4:6

As we enter this series on the Holy Spirit, I pray our hearts are enlightened to His work in our lives. May we submit to Him, listen to Him, follow Him, and thank Him. He, like Jesus and the Father, is an important part of our lives as believers. May we live Holy Spirit empowered lives! God bless you!

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