"No Steeple, Just People"


Wanna Hear The Voice of God?
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First, what exactly are we talking about? Does really God speak to people today? 
Yes. In a whole bunch of ways from a gentle nudge, to instruction through the Word, to using other people and circumstances to speak to you, to sending dreams and visions (or angels) – and/or even conversing directly with you.

You can hear God audibly and converse with Him?! You’re kidding, right?
Not kidding. You can absolutely talk to God and He’ll talk back. There are millions of people all over the world that rely on God for constant daily instruction on all sorts of things. But, there’s a difference between hearing God audibly (with your natural ears, outside of your own head) and hearing the inner “still, small voice”.  It’s pretty rare for God to speak to people audibly (like thunder), but there are plenty of folks out there that say they’ve heard Him – and the evidence is that once they did, it changed them forever!  Many of the house churches in China are under such persecution that they can’t set a regular time for meeting or even tell each other when the meeting will be – they all just pray and God Himself sets the time and place and tells each to be there. This is totally for real and the birthright of every believer!

Wait ... people hear the God of the Universe tell them stuff? Like what tie to wear and whether to turn left or right? What job to take? What to have for dinner? Not just big stuff?
Sure. The Bible says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6) What do you think “ALL your ways” means? And how is He going to direct you if you can’t hear Him? 

But my pastor said God doesn’t talk to people like that!
Hmmm. Well, God used to talk to people all the time in the Bible. Wonder when He stopped? Did He say He was going to stop? Isn’t He the same yesterday, today and forever? If anything, once the Holy Spirit came in Acts 2, there were LOTS more people talking to God directly!  Never mind the MILLIONS of people who you have to conclude are thoroughly and certifiably nuts – including many of the most effective leaders of the church – in order to sustain that argument you have all kinds of logic problems. 

Consider this;

IF God used to talk to people but doesn’t now, THEN we must not need to hear from Him anymore. Can that be? By all measures we’re worse off than ever. If there is a war between Good and Evil, we’re losing pretty badly right now and really desperately need to be getting commands directly from Headquarters, not from flawed man-made sources and tradition-soaked interpretations of Scripture!

IF there is a battle between Good and Evil, THEN who would benefit most if the people on the “Good” side were told they couldn’t ACTUALLY talk to their Commander in Chief? Now, you know the Evil side is absolutely clear to EVERYONE that if you try to talk to THEIR leadership you WILL get an answer REAL fast! Even Christians are afraid to mess with Ouija boards and call on the names of demons because somewhere inside they believe something VERY real will show up almost instantly.  But at the same time, the forces of darkness want us to buy that OUR God is mute! Doesn’t that sound like something the snake would say in the Garden? Despite hundreds of examples in the Bible that He is available and accessible all the time, we have too often bought the lie that God is unwilling or unable to actually talk to His children. It’s a lie from the pit and we’ve bought into it for too long.

IF we receive the Holy Spirit when we are saved, THEN 1/3 of the Godhead is living INSIDE of us all the time! (I John 4:13-17) But He doesn’t have anything to say?! He’s not interested in our daily activities? God’s not big enough to know what we should have for lunch? He knows the hairs on our head and monitors our every coming and going, but has no opinion about it or desire to give us advice? What kind of Father is that?! IF we’re dead and it’s Christ in us that lives, THEN shouldn’t HE be running the show? (Romans 7:4-6)

But my pastor says even HE doesn’t hear God like that!
Ok, well, you see, Matthew 18:18 says that, “what you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and what you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” It goes on to say that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by the Father in heaven. (v. 19)  So, could it be that we have whole groups of Christians that have agreed that God doesn’t talk to people? And if they were convinced of that, don’t those verses say that God will honor it? So maybe the problem is that if you’re convinced God WON’T talk to you that way, He probably won’t. And who would you blame? The pastor? Probably not – in fairness, we gotta lay it at the feet of the snake and the generations of tradition that have been built up to keep us from being truly “Spirit-led”.

There could also be other problems that would keep a person from hearing God. One possibility is that they’re on the wrong team - even if they think they're not. You know it's possible to make up your own "Jesus" and you'll get a response from that one about as good as if you were praying to a stick of wood.  Another is that they have unrepented sin that stands between them and God – and God has convicted them of it so many times that He's just given up trying to talk to them.

Oh, and by the way, you’re going to have to get over that thing about the pastor being more “holy” than you. This is a one-on-one relationship with Jesus you’re supposed to have. You can’t do it by proxy through the guy that gets paid to hear God (especially if he admits he’s NOT hearing God!). We are ALL the Church. We are EACH temples that hold God’s Spirit. Any one of us that are adopted sons of God have the ability to petition the Throne directly and seek His face. God loves each – in fact, He’s especially fond of those that come to Him with faith like little children. Sometimes pastors have a hard time with that.

This is just crazy! How could this be true and I never knew it before? Wouldn’t somebody have told me?
Well, I think you underestimate the damage the enemy has done and how long he’s been plotting this. The vast majority of the church in the West doesn’t live the “normal” Christian life. That is, Biblically speaking, we’re to be full of power and might, we’re to be free of the bondage of sin, we’re to NOT conform to the world, we’re to be dead to ourselves, we’re to be ONE Body and loving and serving each other with all our heart. That’s just a few. Can you see how far away from that we actually are as a “church”? We’re not even CLOSE! There MUST be something missing. Somebody left something out! It has to be this – God is supposed to be directing you and you’re supposed to be listening and OBEYING.  Now ... who would benefit most from us leaving that little piece out? Yep, the guy in the black hat.

Now, what do you think a close encounter conversationally with the God of the Universe might do to a person? Trust me, it would change everything. It would show them the power of the relationship they have as adopted sons, they would lose all fear, they would sacrifice anything to keep hearing Him, they would obey and walk in HIS ways, they would know (really KNOW) that God Himself lives IN them and they would want more of Him, they would do the things on HIS heart – like feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, saving the lost. Probably would be a lot fewer chandeliers in the sanctuaries. (Probably be a lot fewer sanctuaries, for that matter.)

So, if this is a war between Good and Evil, wouldn’t our most immediate and urgent need be to get people to where they can hear clear, timely, reliable commands from Headquarters?  If you have a guy in Basic Training that refuses to listen to the Drill Sargeant and does his own thing, wouldn’t you want to leave him at home? He’s just going to get himself killed when the enemy starts shooting and leadership says ‘DUCK!’ and he can’t or won’t hear them. He’s no good to anybody. Maybe he could be a supply clerk – but he really shouldn’t be on the front lines.

But we have the Bible. God’s Word is what we are to use to direct our paths!
Ok, sure. Not got anything bad to say about the Word! Everything God tells us to do will line up with His own Word. But no matter how well you know the Bible, it can’t accommodate for every possible situation and what you should do. There’s lots of stuff not covered in there – like which of these two jobs God wants me to take. And there’s stuff in there that men have been arguing about for centuries without ever getting agreement. Lots of wasted time trying to figure out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. (By the way, which side benefits most when God’s people fight over stupid stuff? You getting the hang of this yet?)

Think of it like this. You’re in the Army and they give you a Manual. All kinds of stuff is covered in there – what to wear, how to salute, how the weapons work, how to survive in a battle, what to eat in the forest, how the chain of command works, even what the enemy is like and how to resist them – there’s even stuff in there about what the enemy WILL DO one day, whether they like it or not! It’s a REALLY good Manual – in fact, it’s inspired by God! It covers an amazing array of stuff and could probably handle most any situation. So would the Drill Sargeant ask you to read it, maybe even memorize it – and then send you into battle with nothing BUT that?  Are you going to be able to know what to do when the bullets start flying? What about group strategy and deployment of forces and anticipating enemy movements? Is the Manual going to accommodate for every possible scenario on a rapidly changing battlefield? Are you sure you’re interpreting it right? Is there time in the foxhole to be arguing with other soldiers that are reading it differently? What if some idiot published like TWENTY different translations and paraphrases of the Manual?! Then what?! Isn’t there a chain of command? Isn’t there somebody in charge calling the shots that’s supposed to tell you what to do next? Aren’t you supposed to be listening and OBEYING?  Want to go into battle without the Manual? No. Want to rely on it alone when you have other resources available? No. Want to take an order from somebody that goes against the Manual? No.  When the bullets start flying, do you want to hear personally and directly from Headquarters so that you can know that help is coming? You betcha!

I don’t know. This is kind of scary. What if I hear wrong? What if it’s the enemy messing with me? Maybe this is all in your mind.
Wow! That’s a whole mess of stuff. Let’s try this one at a time.

Maybe it’s all in your mind. 
Well, it’s not just me. There’s hundreds of millions like me that hear God. In fact, most of the growth in the Church worldwide is because of those people. The “mainline” denominations are shrinking. It’s the Spirit-led revolutionaries that are exploding into new territories and pushing back the darkness.

Ok, let’s try it from the opposite direction. It all sunk in for me one day when it struck me that satan never creates anything – he just makes weak copies of whatever God is doing. He’s a liar and a deceiver and a fake. So ... while it may seem far-fetched, most folks (even Christians) will admit that evil is a real force in the world and the supernatural is real. (The Bible verifies repeatedly that witches and mediums and sorcery are real, by the way ... and that you’re headed for hell if mess with them. – Deut 18:10-12, Col. 5:20) The enemy has psychics and mediums and astral-projection and Ouija boards and demons and zombies and spells and curses.

So where’s OUR stuff?! If this is a war, why does only one side get cool weapons? Was my church leaving out important stuff that I needed for warfare? Because in the first century they had amazing weapons and defenses available to them. They had the Holy Spirit telling them stuff they wouldn’t have known (Acts 5:1-11), they had people hearing from God (Acts 13:2), they had people writing stuff as God dictated (Rev.), they were caught up in the Spirit to heaven (2 Corin. 12:2-4), they had dreams and visions (Acts 10:9-23), they saw angels (Acts 12), they saw Jesus Himself (Acts 9:1-22), they cast out demons (Acts 16:16-18), they were bitten by deadly snakes and didn’t die (Acts 28:1-10), they spoke in other languages of men and of angels (Acts 2, I Corin. 12 & more), they healed people (Acts 5:15), they prayed and miracles happened (Acts 5:12, Acts 12) – even teleportation (Acts 8:39) and they raised the dead (Acts 9:32-42)! They even had people who were against them drop dead (Acts 5:1-11) or go blind (Acts 13:6-12) – on command!  (And that’s just ONE reference for each! There are lots more!)

Now, the argument is that all that ended when the Bible was done being written – but it didn’t end for the other team, so how come just all OUR cool stuff got taken away? Wouldn’t it have really benefited the enemy a LOT to spread that story around for a couple thousand years? Do you see? This is no kind of way to fight a war! There MUST be stuff we’ve been leaving out! The enemy has us twisted up into a thousand pieces (33,000 denominations to be specific) and we can’t STAND because we’re not ONE Body. Because of all the arguing over stupid stuff – which we would NEVER have done if we had all been hearing the voice of God personally and reliably and walking in the Gifts!

This is kind of scary.
No kidding! It’s the biggest thing ever in your life! That the God of the Universe wants to be intimately involved in everything you do and say and eat and wear and think. That’s massively scary! And yet, we can never have peace and joy and victory until we have relationship with Jesus and are led by His Holy Spirit. You see, under our own power, we just screw everything up. There has never been any strategy of Man that has led to anything good in the long run. Oh, it might work for a little while, but you get enough sinful people involved in it, add money, mix in a little satan – and it’s toast.  Or worse, you get Communism or Fascism or something and millions of people die. There are just two options – if it’s of Man it will fail and if it’s of God nothing can stand against it.  Since the “church” in America is failing, somebody other than God must be in charge. See a logic problem there?

Anyway, yes, it’s scary. But what a payoff!! To walk in holiness because God Himself is fighting off the temptations and snares of the enemy, to hear Him all the time and get direction on anything and everything, to know that He is completely and totally in charge at all times in every situation. How are you going to find peace WITHOUT hearing from God? How is what you have NOW working for you?

And hearing His voice is not even a GIFT of the Spirit! It’s just an automatic for every believer! We haven’t even talked about prophecy and discernment of spirits and knowledge and wisdom and tongues and healing and all the other Gifts God gives His children! Trust me, the payoff is amazing, but it’s going to cost you everything – but everything you THINK you have isn't yours anyway, so who cares!

What if I hear wrong? What if the enemy is messing with me?
Well sure, that can happen. He’s certainly going to try to confuse and frustrate you. We are specifically instructed, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God (1 John 4:1). That MUST mean that other spirits are potentially messing with us, and since there is no indication that this ended when the Bible was completed, then there must still be demons putting thoughts into our heads.  And if there are still demons putting thoughts into our heads, then we must still have a need to test and see if they are from God. And if they’re NOT from God, then we resist them and they flee. But it must also mean that one of the possibilities is that the spirit we’re hearing IS from God! (Again, proving the point that God speaks to us.)

You see 1 John 4 goes on in verses 2 and 3 to lay out how you can know what it is that is talking to you and from where it comes, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”

When we get a thought in our head we have to figure out who it is. There are only three choices: You, God or the enemy.  Sometimes other people tell us stuff, but they’re still playing to one of the three. We’re to bring every thought into obedience with Christ (and the Word). That means our own thoughts that are out of line AND the ones inserted by the enemy.

Could you screw it up? Sure. Particularly if the voices are VERY sneaky. Which they will be because demons are smarter than us and know the human condition very well after all these years of torturing and twisting us. Without God fighting for you, you haven’t got a chance. You have to be constantly on guard, constantly armored-up and expecting anything from any direction.

OK. I'm getting that it's possible, but I'm going to have to hear Him for myself. I'm willing to try. What do we do?
Well the first thing is to ask the Lord to show you anything that stands in the way between you and Him.  It's like this;

The point of the church coming together should be so that we can crucify pieces of ourselves so that Christ in us can live. Said another way, it's to help each other identify the things that stand between us and Jesus and pluck them out. 

The most common thing we put in the way is our belief that God won't talk to us. That's got to go! If you don't think He's a Living God and active and able to speak and desiring relationship with you, then you're going to have to lay that down.

One of the other possibilities is that you're worshipping the WRONG Jesus. Paul said that would happen, that someone would come preaching another Jesus and people would accept it. It's very simple; if you make up your own Jesus, don't expect and answer when you pray!  Prosperity-Jesus, Emergency-Only-Jesus, Not-Quite-As-Good-As-The-Virgin-Mary-Jesus, and a zillion others are all MADE UP. If you make your own god from scratch, expect about as much response as if you were praying to a stick. Those are NOT Bible Jesus - who doesn't like to be toyed with and put in a box.

Other things in the way are a reliance on someone else for your holiness or connection to God (Pastor, wife, mother, etc.). That's got to stop. This is a ONE-on-ONE relationship with Jesus. Nobody is going to do it for you.  Other pipeline blockages include addiction, pride, selfishness, bitterness, anger, laziness, fear and so many others that keep us from experiencing the fullness that is IN Christ. 

Ask the Lord to show you what is in the way and He is faithful to ALWAYS do that if you'll listen.  Ask some other folks to pray with you if possible and just pray in agreement that the Lord will make Himself very clear to you about what to do next.

Here's another illustration that may help. We all have a cup. Lots of verses in the Bible about that - jars of clay, wineskins, vessels, vials, bottles, bowls, etc.  So the question is, "What's in your cup?"

How the Cups work:

Because of our fallen nature and the fact that satan owns us, we all start out with just "Us" and "Sin" in our cups.  At some point, if we're lucky, we get "saved" - which really just means we admit we need God and He stands in the gap between YOU and SIN and starts telling you to get it out of there.   The "World" is always working to foil the plans of God. Since they can't snatch YOU out of the hand of Jesus, the enemy just neutralizes us by keeping us a constant slave to sin.  The best method is to shake the whole thing up like vinaigrette so you can't slow down long enough to figure out what's really wrong. Ever feel shook up like that?

What prayer is for is to settle out the layers real fast. If you hear the Holy Spirit and obey, you'll displace the SIN with more God. If you can be so full of God that nothing else will fit anymore, then you can displace the SIN. But this is a DAILY thing, not once and for all. He's our Daily Bread. We need to be full of Jesus all the time.

But if you can get the red stuff out, the Bible says "The steps of a righteous man are ordered before him." So He'll start running your life for you. Which is better anyway, because the YOU in your cup really has no idea what it's doing. Eventually the Holy Spirit will look at the YOU in your cup and start pouring that out too! If you can walk in it and be a good steward, He'll give you a bigger cup full of Him (expand your territory, extend your tent, etc.). Then, even if there's just as much of YOU as before, there's lots more of HIM, so the balance of power starts shifting more and more.

If you want your SHADOW to heal people like Peter's in Acts, you better have a cup like an oil tanker and it better be full of blue stuff!

If the prayer of a righteous man availeth much, the prayer of a kind of righteous man availeth practically nothing. If you're not being obedient to HIM, why is HE going to answer your prayers? If there's red stuff in your cup, He's only interested in hearing ONE thing from you -- I repent, Lord please fill me with Your Spirit. That's what happened in Acts 2. They got great big cups full of Jesus.

That's ALWAYS inside His will. Can you pray that and mean it? If you do, I have NO idea what will happen. He could send you to Africa, He could make you speak in other languages, your shadow could start healing people -- I have NO idea.  But I know He's a good Father and He won't give us a stone when we ask for bread. You CANNOT seek the Holy Spirit with a pure heart and something else sneak in there instead. The very foremost thing on God's heart is for you to be full of Him. There is no peace and joy and victory without that.

Just pray and believe. He'll come.

Click for lots more about the "cups"

 


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