Dare we allow God to be God when He seems to be doing something we don’t expect?
At first the title seemed provocative to me, but isn’t it just what we would all agree with. After all God does say the He will do a new thing, so you have to trust Him when it’s not obvious, that is, when you don’t understand. The problem is that many of us have not figured that out yet. Those of us who are most zealous for His word are often the most blind. Jesus was most opposed by the Pharisees who were extremely zealous but tragically wrong. The Pharisees just thought it was about doing the book. (This is not meant to demean everyone who disagrees with interpretations of Scripture that I present here, though I am sure it will apply to some.)
Of course in hindsight the “new thing” is always consistent with His character that is revealed in the Bible. I heard it said once that revivals are often like this. You act in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading and understanding comes later.
Putting it another way, what do you want? Do you want to run, walk or wait? Do you want to eat or fast, fight or flee? Whatever you want, I can find some Scripture to affirm it. The big question is, what does God want? And that is the message that I am called to proclaim to you....
If you will seek Him you also can hear His voice and discern His will for your life. There is no way you can set God above the Bible unless you are hearing His voice to direct you and He will confirm which part of His word is relevant to you and your calling.
In this world people will persecute you, Satan will oppress you, God will discipline (train) you (which is rarely nice), yet we are blessed, and joyful though longing for our heavenly home. Try walking that tight rope without the Holy Spirit talking to you.
Before I go on, I have a few experiences to share. These will show you how he came to set Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding”, as a foundation in my life. I could not live in such a place without hearing His voice. It’s also a testimony to God’s patience in dealing with my stubbornness.
I went to see the opening night of Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion” with a friend. Afterwards I just did not want to talk so we walked for a while, then we stopped for a coffee. Out of the blue he asked me, “What do you want for your children?” This threw me but he persisted. Finally I said that I would want them always to be able to come and seek my opinion as they grew up. My friend pointed out how this was the wrong answer because like most people they want something for themselves and not for their children. I agreed and I was really annoyed because I hate getting the answers wrong. After about three days of being upset at how selfish I was, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, “You see what I have done for you. Now you seek me!”. In other words, what I had wanted from my children, that they would always come to me, God wants from me, His child, and Jesus had made that possible.
For years I used to debate with the Lord. I would spend days preparing a set of scriptures by which I was going to convince Him that things were supposed to be different. I think I convinced myself this was under the guise of being a watchman, reminding God of His word (Isaiah 62:6) but really I was trying to twist His arm. As many times as I would do this He would always bring to mind different scriptures, sometimes quite obscure and not in my conscious memory, so I knew it was His reply. And so each night I would confess that He won the debate. Until one night. I said, that on the balance my scriptures were better and more well know New Testament scriptures. Immediately the left side of my neck began to painfully stiffen. I rolled over and said “Oh no, I’m stiffening my neck against the Lord.” Immediately the pain ceased. But my wife woke with a stiff neck. My friend and his wife came over to dinner a few nights later and I recounted jokingly how I had stiffened my neck against the Lord. My friend called his wife as witness and said that he too woke with a stiff neck that morning. I was immediately forgiven when I rolled over and repented, but if I become stubborn, others will get hurt.
Once the Lord showed me something that was to happen. I held on to it for years. At the last minute He showed me that it had been delayed. This was not the way God was supposed to act! I got in my car and drove 600Km into a desert region of the state. When I could drive no further I set out hiking. I was heading for a place where He had spoken to me before. I was going to sort this issue out. After about 10 km I found myself in a bad state. It turned out to be 45 degrees centigrade and my rest stops had deteriorated to ever 100 meters or less. I had hiked this stretch before and never felt this bad. As I expressed my concern to the Lord He quietly replied, “Who’s setting the agenda?” Rather humbled, I confessed that He was.
(I don’t know if I really need to put the above testimony in to make my point. It always seems to draw attention to me and not the message. But in the end, I wanted my children to be able to read these things so we could have a laugh about how God was teaching and disciplining me while I was trying to teach and discipline them. Coming back and re-reading this years later I felt blessed to remind myself about God’s patience in dealing with me. So it’s probably just for me, but perhaps you will be blessed by accident.)
Here are two reasons for God pouring out His Holy Spirit on those who believe:
Without Him we would surely stray.
The fellowship starts now! You don’t have to wait until you get to heaven.
Who ever heard of a Councillor or a Teacher not speaking to his pupils. Of course the Holy Spirit is speaking but pupils who think they know it all; who have read and understand the Bible; stop listening. Then a vibrant relationship with the living God decays into doctrine.
Look, I know this sounds harsh. I was talking to a friend with some wisdom and he said, “not everyone is like you, others just read and understand”. So I wondered, perhaps that’s what it is like and only a few prophetically gifted people actually hear and discern. But try as I might, I cannot sell that line. Perhaps that has been OK in the past, but where is the relationship if it’s one sided. How will we survive the coming times if we are constrained to our understanding. As I first wrote this I wondered and asked,
...God, why am I saying this? Who am I to sound such a rebuke. Aren’t I just supposed to tell them how they can tune in?
Everything in God is a paradox. We are to both love God and fear God. Jesus has won (past tense) the victory yet all things have not yet been placed in submission to Him (at His footstool). Whenever we fix our understanding on just one Scripture or set of Scriptures or doctrine, then we start closing our ears to the Holy Spirit.
Moses gave the Israelites a covenant. Do this and you will live, he said, but they did not. It was black and white. The covenant made though the blood of Jesus is a better covenant. It is not a set of rules and statutes. My intension is not to say what it is but that it is the Holy Spirit who holds us between these extremes and enables us to both love and fear God. He enables us to live in the victory Jesus has won even though we live in a world still enslaved by sin and seemly directed by Satan. He alone steers and sustains us through discipline, oppression and persecution.
I tell you that God is not interested in any more Moses characters. The Israelites wanted God to talk to Moses and then for Moses to tell them. But the whole point of receiving the Holy Spirit is so that God fellowships directly with you. This does not deny the role of leaders discerning the corporate will of God, but we, the flock, so easily drop back to the Israelites position and want our leaders to be Moses.