Below is a video on how to listen to the Holy Spirit in your life. We’ve been given a tremendous gift in Holy Spirit – but if we don’t tune in and learn to listen – it is a gift left unopened. The Spirit is given to God’s children – to teach, guide, lead, comfort and help. Through the Spirit we gain tremendous insight that helps us in every area of our lives. Please take a few mintues to watch the video.
Matthew 6:33-34 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
I’ve been focusing on seeking God. One way I’ve been doing that is by choosing three characteristics of God each week to meditate on. At the start of my quiet time I think on these qualities, letting them sink in. This past week one was God as our Counselor. As I’ve been learning to seek and listen to His counsel, the listening part takes practice, His counsel has astounded me. The detail in which He speaks about my situations is amazing. Just this morning, I was seeking clarity on a particular situation. His guidance was specific and complete. He speaks to us in our spirits where we know it’s perfect.
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Imagine the most incredible counselor. One who is always available day or night. Will let you talk as long as you want. Doesn’t bill you. Leads you to each next step. Tells you what you need to hear when you need it, no sooner or later. (Otherwise, you wouldn’t get it or be overwhelmed, or it’s too late.) Won’t let you dive into something without counsel – though you may chose not to listen or follow. If you are trying to listen, will make sure you hear. Won’t mislead you. Won’t leave you confused. Knows you better than anyone else. Has complete understanding of everyone and every situation. Has perfect wisdom. Will guide you on the perfect path for you and those around you. Cares for you more than anyone else. Desires your very best. Will never give up on you. Gives you mercy when you don’t listen. Always forgives your rebellion to his counsel. Loves you more than anyone else in your life.
We would all love to have this kind of counselor. And if we are a child of God, we DO. Do we really understand what we’ve been given? Do we listen?
John 14:15-17, 26 If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
Others can be a good sounding board, offer advice, and share their experiences that are similar with ours and while they can be a blessing, their counsel doesn’t and can’t compare to what we receive from God. It isn’t one or the other, it’s building a relationship with God in which we learn to hear His counsel, and understand the support of others is to be built upon that sound foundation. It takes time to learn to hear His voice. But we need to be seeking to be able to hear Him so we can truly live an effective and satisfying life and one that truly glorifies Him. We can’t solely rely upon the counsel of others, because it’s limited and often can be “off” or incomplete. God can use others to speak to us and He often does. But this interaction doesn’t replace seeking and hearing His counsel from Him. From Him, it’s deeper, richer and more complete than any we’ve ever experienced. It’s just different. It’s like being taught by Him verses by a human. You can’t compare. It’s completely different.
God is all knowing. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows every side to a situation. He knows what lies ahead. He knows what really happened in the past. He has perfect wisdom. There is nothing He can’t counsel us in. He is an expert at everything. He is more than qualified to counsel us and He wants to. He asks only that we seek and trust Him.
During a trial is when we feel we need our counselor the most, however in reality we need Him all the time. Yet it’s in trials, He can seem to be distant or not as vocal. But He is closer than we know because we are a part of Him. He will never leave us. His care is perfect. We need to trust Him at His lead and the manner He is coming and speaking to us is perfect. Too often we have expectations about how He should be speaking or leading us, instead of being still, listening and realizing He is coming to us in the perfect way. Our expectations of what we think He should be doing prohibit us from seeing what He is doing. Sometimes it’s the silence and the stillness we need the most.
Don’t settle for less, when you’ve been given the best. If you take time to listen, His counsel will astound you and change your life as you develop a listening ear.
Psalm 31:3 For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.
If you’ve been following my posts, Wilderness Tests – God’s Care, Perspective Adjustments, then you know I’ve been going through what I call wilderness tests. (Wilderness because I feel like I’m out there in the wide open with nothing to cling to but God – and yet He is everything what I’m I worried about? And tests because I feel my trust is being tested at very deep levels within me.)
God often uses my dreams to reveal the depths of my heart, and I’m getting some deep insight during this trial. My dreams cause me to face what I’m really feeling, because my rational brain knows better. They have been exposing the depth of what I really think and feel so that it can be addressed with the Truth. They can be like an interpretive drama of what is happening in my emotions.
Here is another one . . .
A friend was putting together a Bible class for children. I asked if she could use my help. She asked me to prepare some pages (on graph paper) with certain phrases written on them. The phrases were to be written in different colored markers. Some of the phrases were to be taken out of certain books. Sounds easy enough. There were other women helping out with the same task. As I started out I had all my supplies but not the markers. Once I got the markers, then all the sudden the graph paper was missing. Once I got the graph paper, then the books were missing. I couldn’t get it all together to get the task done. The other women seemed to have no problem getting it all together. They kept handing my friend completed pages, when I hadn’t written one phrase. Why was I having such a problem? I couldn’t figure it out. What’s wrong with me? Time started to run out and the children started showing up as the class was about to begin, and I hadn’t prepared anything! My friend didn’t seem too worried about it, but I felt horrible that I hadn’t made any progress with such a simple task. Then I woke up.
As I asked about this dream the next morning, I felt it was related to my calling. My passion is to help others to cultivate a relationship with God that is deep, meaningful, passionate, and real. I felt God had given me the next steps for moving forward. All the elements seemed to be in place. I felt I knew what I needed to do, but yet it seemed to go nowhere. What seemed to be an easy task ended up not really ever taking off as I expected it to. Yet, others around me seem to be carrying on their callings with no problem. This dream showed me how deep down I feel about my circumstances. The elements seem to be there but there isn’t much movement forward from my point of view. Why? What is going on? In my rational brain I know that God is in control that He is preparing me and I need to relax and trust, but deep down I was feeling a bit “concern” about the whole thing as my dream revealed.
This is what God told me about this “concern” I was having. It isn’t about you “efforting” your way through. I know your heart, willingness, and passion, I put them in you to drive and focus you in your life. BUT I’m the One to lead, guide, prepare and equip you for what I call you to do. You question your ability and sometimes your path to accomplish what seems straight forward because you don’t see the “successes”. But you are right where I want you to be. Don’t give up on your passion because it isn’t happening in the way you thought. My ways are not your ways. The preparation of the person/leader is one of the most important parts to my callings. Too often people want to jump ahead. Resist that urge and trust me that I will guide you and lead you perfectly. The vision may be planted in your heart (however fuzzy), but it’s I who determine each step. You want to be there now, but I’m taking you along the perfect path at the perfect pace. Trust me. You are my workmanship. It’s not your work but mine. I will finish what I started. Trust me. Don’t you trust that I can guide you? Prepare you? Look at your past. My grace abounds toward you. You need to let go of your expectations of how it should be working out and trust me in this area. Just keep your eyes on Me – seeking my kingdom and my righteousness. This is all I ask of you.
As I was telling a friend, she said God has me “under construction” – I thought that was well said. We want to jump ahead to the doing, because that’s what we often put our identity in, though we shouldn’t. We need to be patient as God prepares our heart, mind and spirit.
We want to be at the finish line now. But the truth of the matter is we will always be a work in progress in this life. We will always need to be dependent upon God. Therefore, we need to learn to trust and let go of our expectations of how things should be happening and trust His perfect counsel. We don’t see the big picture as He does. He moves His children along at the perfect way at the perfect pace. God spoke to me about this area of my life a week ago as I wrote in Perspective Adjustments. I got it on one level, but this truth needs to go deeper until it’s truly mine and that is a process.
Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Thanksgiving always begs the question, what are we thankful for? One gift our Father gives us is the Holy Spirit to teach, help, guide and counsel each one of us. John 14:15-17, 1 John 2:27
For years, I felt like God forgot me on this account. There were several reasons for this, but a couple were I really didn’t ask (Luke 11:13) and I wasn’t making an effort to listen. The Spirit is given to help us, but if we aren’t seeking and listening we’ll believe He isn’t there at all.
This gift we have been given is tremendous. If you’ve never stopped to listen to His counsel you may wonder – what is it like? Here is a quote I pulled off a fellow blogger’s site, RunHoly, from a woman and her experience of this gift;
“I know when the Lord is speaking to me because literally the air around me changes. There is a stillness that settles all my raging emotions and questions and simply bids me to be silent, listen, and consider what I hear. And then it’s almost as if it comes from the center of my being–the answer, the revelation, the instruction, and it is sealed in this definite place inside of me that I can’t describe. I only know that I must do what I’ve been prompted to do. If I resist, I can’t breathe, but when I say yes and obey, the most incredible sense of knowing and peace overtakes me, and the matter is settled once and for all.” –Michelle Mckinney Hammond
To learn to listen to the Spirit’s leading in our lives is an art especially these days with all the noise around us and in our heads. Cultivating this habit of being still and hearing the Spirit’s counsel is critical for several reasons:
The Spirit’s counsel:
• Is contrary to man’s wisdom
• Brings God’s power into our actions
• Has fruitful outcomes
• Is different from man’s wisdom
The Bible is loaded with examples of these points but here are two that I recently read. In Luke 5:5, fishermen had been casting their nets all day and catching nothing. Jesus told them to cast the nets out one more time. But what would another cast do when all the previous ones turned up empty? According to the wisdom of the world, it would be stupid to waste time and energy doing exactly what you had done before and what you proved doesn’t work, right? But at Jesus’ word, they cast their nets one more time and caught so much fish that their boat started to sink. The Spirit’s counsel is contrary to the world’s and at His counsel things happen. When He tells us to do something it’s for a reason and when we act according to His instruction, we are acting in a power beyond ourselves. We accomplish what we could never do on our own.
If the Spirit tells us to do something and we don’t or we aren’t listening, we will miss out on the blessing. What if those fishermen just ignored Him? What if they listened but said – you’re crazy there aren’t any fish I’m tired and going home? Often, when we do hear His instruction, we don’t realize it was His instruction and/or we talk ourselves out of following it because it doesn’t resonate with the wisdom we know and miss out on the blessings. God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts and that is why it’s so important to develop the art of listening to the Spirit. God wants to do so much in our lives, but many aren’t listening. And we have to listen to Him because His counsel is different from most counsel we receive. Many are praying and crying out to God, but are they listening to the instruction that will be an answer to their prayer?
Another great example is Joshua who sought and listened to God’s counsel and the accomplishments in his life showed it. The time he didn’t seek God’s counsel in Joshua 9:14 and acted on his own judgment he was defeated. But when he sought God’s counsel and obeyed it, God prospered all his efforts. It was tremendous the nations he conquered and the battles he won. But look at the crazy instructions God gave him, Jericho being a great example. Walking around a city blowing trumpets in order to conquer it? Doesn’t seem like a very effective strategy by the world’s definitions of logic. However, it brought the walls down and the Israelites took over the city. What unique counsel; not something man’s wisdom would suggest. But the oddity of God’s guidance brought glory to whom glory and praise are due – God. There was no doubt it was God’s doing. Listening to His instruction is for our good and His glory. Joshua 23:10, Judges 7:2
A main point of these two scenarios in Luke and Joshua and MANY others in the Bible where we see the uniqueness, contrary nature, power and outcomes of God’s counsel is that we should seek His counsel and not our own. We need to learn to listen to the one He gave us to counsel us, the Holy Spirit. He uses different strategies and if we aren’t listening we won’t know what they are and we’ll act in our own judgment and we will live the consequences of it.
What does it mean to be lead by the Spirit? To listen to the Spirit? To seek His counsel? It means abiding in the entire Word of God to become personally aquainted with His voice to be able to discern it in our lives. It means cultivating the habit of being still in His presence, seeking His counsel, understanding confirmation and acting on it. I’m finding this practice has MANY rewards as I’m learning to listen. When we are listening to His counsel for our lives and walking in it then we are doing His will and not our own of what we think we should do. We are walking in the spirit – literally walking according to His words.
God gave the Spirit to reside with us always to teach, counsel and guide. But if we never stop and listen, what’s the point of this incredible gift? It is like having a present that you never open and use. He has given us the Spirit for our good, to help us and lead us where we need to go, and to fill our lives with actions done in God’s power not ours.
This holiday season take time to consider this awesome gift and show true gratitude by cultivating the art of seeking and listening to His counsel. You never know what will happen – perhaps your nets will break or you’ll conquer those seemingly impossible giants. Whatever it is you’ll be acting in His power that is bound to blow your socks off.
There are many paradoxes when we dive into the realm of understanding the spiritual dynamics of life. Here is another one.
The other day at the beach there were two dogs reminding me of a valuable lesson in life; obedience is freedom.
The first one was playing catch with his owner running into the cool ocean waves and retrieving his favorite ball. Highly trained, he obeyed each command his owner gave. Running, jumping, leaping, bounding, wagging his tail, and grinning ear to ear, he was having the time of his life.
The second dog was on a short leash. Pulling so there was no give, he drove forward trying to escape the bondage – if only he could run free! He couldn’t understand why he wasn’t free, so he pulled and pulled. However, unbeknown to him, he would never have what he was striving for. He wasn’t in control despite his efforts – his owner was. With his arm about to come out of the socket, the owner pulled back. The dog went one way and he another. Frustration covered the owner’s face, shaded by disappointment. He wanted to let his dog off the leash, but he couldn’t – because he wouldn’t obey his voice. So the battle warred on, the dog pulling in one direction and the owner in the other as they plowed through the sand. No one looked happy about the arrangement. The owner’s eyes revealed his thoughts – if only his dog would listen, what freedom he would have.
In our relationship with God, we can be like either of these two dogs. We have the perfect owner, who is ready to teach and train us so we can live a life of freedom and enjoyment, but we chose either to listen and follow our Lord’s voice or not listen and push forward going nowhere. The first way leads to immense freedom, joy, and living as we desire. The second leads to limitations, frustrations and never obtaining what we long for. Like the dogs, we either run toward our Lord in freedom and delight or away in bondage and frustration.
Obedience brings freedom. Because the first dog listened to his owner and the owner could trust him to listen – he had immense liberties. He could run unleashed, frolic in the ocean, and play with his ball. When the owner called, the dog listened and followed. He was granted freedom because there was a bond of trust. The owner trusted him to listen and he trusted his owner to lead. As a result of his obedience, he lived the life he wanted to and enjoyed an incredible bond with his owner along the way.
But the second dog didn’t listen and chose to go his own way; therefore he didn’t have any true freedom. He thought he was moving closer to having his freedom by all that pulling, but it was leading nowhere. There was no trust on either end. Therefore, there was no deep bond, and the owner and the dog missed out enjoying a rich life together.
The gift and secret of obedience is that it’s really about desire. When you know that God truly wants your best and happiness then you can trust Him and follow where He leads. When the first owner walked down the beach – the dog followed close behind. The dog delighted in following his master because he knew it led to what he wanted – a rich close relationship with his owner, freedom, and enjoyment of life.
In the same way, when we trust God and know He desires our best, we want to follow Him. Our obedience is our desire. From past experiences, we have learned our ways lead to bondage and His ways to freedom. In choosing His way, we experience a close bond with God, freedom and enjoyments in life. On the other hand, if we don’t know and trust Him we won’t follow Him. We will believe we know better and as a result we won’t live in the freedom we could and we won’t have the life we could – the life we truly desire. The second dog has no idea the extent of what he is missing – and it is a great deal.
God is good. He delights in giving us good things and freedoms just like the first owner, who had a huge smile as he watched his dog have the time of his life. The only way to a rich abundant life is following Him and listening to God’s voice. Obedience is freedom.
Which dog are you? Are you enjoying a strong close bond with God playing with Him in the ocean waves, or are you pulling away thinking you know better, missing on a relationship with Him and suffering for it?
Proverbs 16:20 He who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.
By now, I am sure most of you have heard about the so-called healer/revivalist of Lakeland, FL Todd Bentley. Just google his name and you will find plenty of information.
Reading blogs, articles, and witnessing the responses of those around me including myself, two things stood out to me about this whole episode besides the insatiable unhealthy appetite for signs and wonders and a desperate hunger for hope:
1. Lack of Discernment in the Christian community
2. A fear of man instead of fear of God creating a lack of resolve to stand up for God’s truth
Discernment and fear of God are both required to judge others as God instructs us.
When Todd was making headlines and drawing crowds, an acquaintance said, Isn’t this great! Whether or not he is of God, God’s name is out there, He is moving, working, healing! My expression must have spoken volumes, because she basically told me not to be a kill-joy and stop being judgmental. I kept my mouth shut, but my spirit was whispering – listen to me something is wrong here. I rationalized I didn’t have the facts (that was the first time I heard about him) and I didn’t want to get into another “heated discussion” in an already stressed relationship, so I didn’t say anything.
When I got home, the spirit convicted me on my silence stance. The spirit gave me the discernment but I didn’t follow it and I put the fear of causing contention in a relationship over what the spirit was prompting me to say.
I should have trusted the spirit’s lead and whatever came out of my mouth was what needed to be said and leave the outcome up to Him. In silencing the spirit, I dishonored her, God and me by suppressing the spirit’s voice. I felt horrible afterwards. I started to beat myself up for being weak and pathetic, and then I turned to God. He patted me on the head and said, Don’t beat yourself up, but did you learn the lesson, don’t put anyone or anything above Me? Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple”. I and my truth come first. Trust what I tell you, you don’t need all the facts; I have them just trust my voice (discernment) and put me first always (fear of God).
In Luke 14:26, Christ is telling us to choose Him above everyone else. Who is first is who we fear, who we seek to please, and whose will we follow. I needed to listen to the spirit, trust Him, and speak up. By remaining silent people think we agree, people get hurt, and our witness for God is marred. And if we don’t act on our spiritual discernment, in time we will lose it as we are witnessing among the masses. Matthew 25:14-29
We need to stand up for God’s truth and heed the voice of the spirit. We are called to judge and discern among those who call themselves brethren. We are to judge the actions not the person. Judging the person whose heart we can’t see isn’t our role. Our part is to judge the actions, behaviors and words. Matthew 7:1-2, 1 Corinthians 14:29, 1 Corinthians 5:12-13
Without a spirit-lead judging community of believers the truth becomes watered down and perverted, people are hurt and led astray, and our testimonies are weakened and ineffective. This experience cut me to the core in regards to the importance of listening to the spirit’s whispers, putting God above every relationship, and speaking out against the actions of others when prompted to by the spirit.
The greater the possibility of defeat, the greater the victory.
Soon after we moved to California my husband and I were at a point of having spent all our savings on trying to start a business. We had no jobs and a house mortgage that could cover three houses the same size in Tennessee, where we moved from. Yet, we believed that God put us in this house. A steadily draining bank account with no replenishment in site seemed to be a pending defeat waiting to consume our lives. The waves were crashing into the boat and starting to sink us.
You can look at this experience two ways; one stupidity for not selling sooner or an opportunity to witness the power, mercy and care of God. We opted for the latter. Still green in our Christian walk, this trial went to the depths of our souls. Did we trust God was our provider and not ourselves? Did we truly believe He was in the details like His Word says? Were we going to rely on that still small voice telling us He would provide and there was no need to sell our home? Did we honestly think He cared that much about little ole’ us? Did we think He could provide the money we desperately needed? When you have to act on your beliefs then you know if you truly trust what you say you do.
A month from going under, we took a break from our job search and headed for the beach. We spent a couple of hours talking about our situation, God, and the possibilities of what would happen. There was no question we weren’t selling. We decided to rest in the promises of God we had been studying. No action, no faith. If we not now then when? If we don’t trust Him with our lives, then what is everything we had been learning for? Is He our God or isn’t He? Several times, we paused let the water dash over our toes and wondered at the amazing peace we felt. Shouldn’t we spend every waking hour trying to find some income? Shouldn’t we be nervous wrecks?
We followed the whisper.
God provided. We didn’t have to sell our home. The blessings started to pour into our lives. We trusted Him and He was faithful. That trial put our relationship on a different level with God because acting on our trust in Him breathed life into His promises.
Looking back the choice was between; believe God and enter into His land of promises and rest or stay wandering around in the desert until He provided another opportunity to demonstrate our trust was in Him and not us.
The possibility of defeat was huge as it banged at our back door, but looking back the enormity of the defeat made the victory all the greater and sweeter. It is a time in our life that we often reflect upon to give us peace, a time we felt the caring perfect mighty hand of our Lord.
Our ultimate purpose is to be one with God in truth, will and desire. Everything we go through is for that purpose. These moments when the possibility of defeat are great are the most powerful in increasing our union with Him. We have to call upon like no other time, we have to expand our trust and depend on Him with all that is within us and those acts take us deeper into His presence.
In a boat the waves crashing all around, I sit starring into Your eyes. The storm is great, but You control the storm. It is only a matter of time before You calm the waters. You look at me; what, who am I trusting? Am I scrambling to and fro, calling to others to rescue me, or paralyzed with a panic stricken stare? My eyes remain fixed on you. I see nothing else but you and your love and care for me.
2 Samuel 22:33 God is my strength and power, And He makes my way perfect