7 Things Christians Tell God When They Avoid Daily Prayer

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The Power of Daily Prayer

Prayer is a wonderful opportunity for Christians to spend time with God praising Him, thanking Him for all that He has done, and bringing our anxieties, needs, and concerns before His throne. Prayer is not a burden to God; He seeks worshipers, John 4:23. Jesus urges us to pray and taught His disciples how to pray, Matthew 6:5-13. Paul promised peace to the believer who cast all anxiety into the care of God in Philippians 4:6-7:

“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Through the scriptures and history, great men and women of faith devoted themselves to prayer and trusted its power.  It’s no wonder Paul urges Christians to “pray without ceasing” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.Pray

Obstacles to Daily Prayer

It is perplexing that some Christians confess to not praying daily or forgetting to pray when its blessings are obvious. Some obstacles I have observed:

  1. Start the day focused on tasks and problems instead of praying before facing the demands of life
  2. Little trust that God will answer our prayers because they doubt that prayer is effective despite what the Bible teaches
  3. Can’t figure out how God will answer their prayers or are disappointed when God doesn’t answer the way they want or expect

We must remember that God will hear His children and He answers prayers through wisdom giving us what we need. Sometimes what we want is opposite of what is best for us. Sometimes we are asking for things opposed to His will, as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before the crucifixion. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12,  prayed repeatedly for one outcome but rejoiced the outcome God chose for him as it made him stronger spiritually. God is not a genie to grant our every wish; He is our Father who wants what is best for us and acts out of love for our greater good even when we can’t see or appreciate it at the moment.

6 Things Christians Tell God When They Avoid Daily Prayer

Understanding the blessing and power of daily prayer, when Christians fail to act on that belief they are telling God several things:

  1.  You are not important to me or a priority in my life
  2. I do not have time for you
  3. I do not want to spend time with you
  4. I can handle things without you
  5. I do not believe that you can impact the things I am facing in my life
  6. I have nothing of which to thank or praise you
  7. I can take advantage of our relationship and use you only when I am in trouble or need
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3 Minute Bible Studies – Video Bible Studies

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Scott Smelser is a devout Bible student who loves to teach the simple truth of the gospel. His talent for presenting the Bible message in memorable ways is evident on his site, 3 Minute Bible Study; a series of instructive animated videos that teach Bible stories in, you guessed it, 3 minutes.

These videos would be good to share with your friends and through social media. They would also be great for showing in classes of all ages when applicable to the lesson. For example, the video on Romans would be great to show before a study of Romans (and even periodically during the study to remember the big picture).

My favorite is the video, The Whole Bible Story, below:

 

The Impossible Repentance of Hebrews 6

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“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Hebrews 6:4-8(ESV)

In Hebrews 5, the writer was trying to describe the priesthood of Jesus when he interrupted himself saying that he could not explain the priesthood in more detail because they would not understand it. The topic was not so complex that they could not understand it but they had not grown in the knowledge of God and could not grasp it though, by now, they should have been spiritually mature. In chapter 6 he told them to leave the elementary principles, the ABCs, and press towards maturity in the knowledge of God’s word. Within this exhortation to maturity is a warning of remaining immature and not growing in knowledge of God’s word.

Some Christians who fail to mature may leave Christ and be unable to return to Him He says it will be “It is impossible for them to repent.” This is a frightening concept: one who is alive but cannot repent of their wickedness and turn to God. Who is this person who cannot repent?

This is not the unbeliever who never knew God nor cares for Him. This is a Christian who left the faith.

  • He was “once enlightened.” This has the idea of spiritual illumination. In John 1:9, Jesus who came to the world to give light to man. Paul, in Ephesians 1:17-18, describes conversion as the eyes of our understanding being enlightened that we may know our hope and our inheritance. Hebrews 10:32 uses “enlightenment” to described the Christian’s conversion. This person has seen through the darkness of sin by the truth of the gospel and knows the hope and glory of the child of God because he obeyed the gospel and became a child of God.
  • “have tasted the heavenly gift” The word “taste” literally means “experience.” We have a taste of the heavenly gift, our salvation, while on earth. We know peace when our sins are cleansed, love of our brethren, and our love towards God. When we read about the love of the brethren in the New Testament towards one another (sharing, selling possessions to take care of needs, daily exhortation) and the selfless, joyful, and heartfelt worship to God we have a taste of that heavenly gift. We may have been to a singing, worship service, or time with our brethren where we have had a taste of what was to come.
  • “have become partakers of the Holy Spirit” We do not understand everything about how the Father, Son, and Spirit dwell within us but must leave that to God. Romans 8:9-11 speaks of the relationship with have with God through the Holy Spirit. We have become partakers of God in that we have put off wickedness and put on holiness.
  • “tasted the word of God” The word “tasted” is the same as used above. Peter tells us to desire the pure milk of the word if we have tasted the Lord’s graciousness, 1 Peter 2:2-3. We have know from God’s words of love and warning what we needed to do to become children of God and submitted to it.
  • “[tasted] the powers of the age to come” A knowledge of the power of God and of His ultimate triumph over Satan and the world of sin and the destruction of the world. This knowledge urges us to be faithful, 2 Peter 3:11.

When this person falls away it is impossible to renew him to repentance. The word “impossible” doesn’t always mean “cannot” but is sometimes used to describe something that is not acceptable or is extremely unlikely. In this case it is impossible for the Christian who forsook Jesus to return to Him because there is nothing that we can tell him or use to appeal to him that he doesn’t already know. He willingly turned his back on all that is good and holy in order to be in this condition. He has crucified the Son of God again and put Him to open shame. We do not physically crucify Jesus, but our rejection of Him is equal to that Jerusalem mob, Hebrews 10:29. His departure from the faith is a cause for people to mock Christ for Jesus must not have meant enough to the person to keep Him.

How can we reach this desperate condition?

We can become callused to sin. Israel was often condemned for their hard hearts and rebellion against God, Hebrews 3:7-13. The Israelites who forsook God could not enter the Promised Land and the Christian who forsakes God cannot enter His eternal kingdom, Hebrews 10:26-39. To become hardened to sin is to become callused. When our skin calluses, it is no longer tender and easily pricked. Guitar player’s fingers become callused by the strings and lose sensitivity. Hard labor with bare hands can cause them to become callused. When our heart becomes A young man walks into the desolate desertcallused, it is no longer easily pricked. When we continue to sin we can eventually numb our conscience and make it less resistant to the pricking message of the truth.It becomes easier to add other sins when we become hardened.

We can think that judgment is far away. Jesus told a parable of a servant who behaved wickedly but was surprised by a judgment that came quickly, Matthew 24:45-51. Peter wrote of people who would scoff mistaking God’s longsuffering for postponed judgment, 2 Peter 3:1-9. Instead, Peter wrote that the Christian must always be ready for judgment, 2 Peter 3:10-13. How often do we really think that judgment could be imminent?

Listen to false promises and false teaching. Paul warned Timothy of false teachers whose conscience was seared and numb like one whose skin has been seared by a hot iron and can feel nothing, 1 Timothy 4:1-3.

Some believe God would not condemn a person who claimed to be a Christian at one time. They think that once they were saved they would always be saved even if they didn’t follow Jesus later in life. Hebrews 10:26-39 plainly teaches that God has no pleasure in those who draw back from Him to return to sin. Paul warned the Thessalonian Christians, in 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10, to remain worthy of the calling and escape God’s wrath. Peter warns, in 2 Peter 2:18-22, that it is  better not to have known Jesus than to turn away from being a follower. If one is “once saved always saved” then this statement would be meaningless.

How Can We Remain Faithful?

  • Growing in the knowledge of God and obedience
    • Hebrews 6:7-8 – Being useful in God’s service and not ensnared with worldly things.
    • Hebrews 6:9-12 – Diligent service, not becoming sluggish.
  • Remaining tenderhearted, not resisting the loving rebuke of our brethren.

Be serious about your walk with God and diligent to grow in the knowledge of God and His word and draw closer to Him. Failing to do this, you could drift so far from God that it would be impossible for others to draw you back.

The Christian’s “Moment of Truth”

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The phrase “moment of truth” first appeared in Earnest Hemingway’s 1932 bullfighting story “Death in the Afternoon,” from Spanish el momento de la verdad.(1) In a bullfight, the “moment of truth” is when

“to end a bullfight, the matador takes his sword and must get the bull to charge straight at him, so that he can lean over the bull’s horns and kill him by stabbing just behind the back of the head. Many matadors can do very graceful and artistic moves with the cape and the maleta (the red cloth-on-a stick used to lure the bull) but lack the nerve to do the final killing properly. The ‘moment of truth’ is when he and the audience find out if he really has what it takes.”(2)

The phrase has come to mean a decisive moment of a challenge or test in which one finds if they have the strength, integrity, and courage to do the right thing. For the one who follows God, the phrase as come to mean a time in which we are tested by a temptation or a situation in which we see how strong our faith is and how much we really depend on God.

Believers Standing in the Moment of Truth

In a time of trial or temptation, our character is revealed. The Bible is filled with examples of faithful men and women who stood strong in the face of severe trial.

When David faced the giant Goliath he had great confidence in God’s ability to bring a victory, 1 Samuel 17:31-27. David knew Goliath was defying the armies of Israel, 1 Samuel 17:23-24. Even though King Saul, the brothers of David, and Goliath had no faith in David, in the moment of truth, David’s faith in God brought about a victory.

The book of Daniel begins with Daniel and friends courageously requesting a special diet that would allow them not to violate their conscience though they were new captives under a conquering government. They rose to positions of power and were challenged with a test of faith: Nebuchadnezzar built a golden image and commanded others to worship it on a given time. Daniels friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, had a chance to give up and live or obey God with a chance to die. Though cast into the fiery furnace they were protected from the fire and Nebuchadnezzar was taught a lesson.

Before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was heavy with sorrow and struggled with the violent death He was about to face and the anguish His family and friends would endure. Matthew 26:36-46 tells how Jesus trusted the Father to strengthen Him in trial and take care of Him through death.

We could give many other examples: Abraham being commanded to offer Isaac, apostles being brought before the worldly powers and commanded to quit preaching Jesus, the Christians persecuted from town to town, etc. These examples demonstrate how God’s people will often find times in their lives when they face a test or a temptation, a “moment of truth”, where their faith and obedience is tested.

Our Moment of Truth

We will all face moments of truth. Our friends and family may not know we are facing the test: it may come when we are alone or around strangers away from home. Our loved ones may be going through a moment of truth and we do not realize it.

Our moment of truth may be a very public test with people we love, perhaps fellow Christians, watching to see how we will react when tested. We often do not know when these times will come. Sometimes they are disguised as small decisions about whether to do the right or wrong thing.

One against allIn high school, a friend of mine made what seemed like a small decision to hang out with some friends of poor moral character instead of the good friends that he used to hang out with. Soon they were involved in things like alcohol and drugs and, after being caught breaking into the school to steal some sound equipment, was sent away to live with his father in another state and to go down a different path.

Sometimes the test is obvious and you know that this decision will send you on a path closer to or farther away from God.

As a teenager I faced such a decision knowing that choosing one path would lead to a life of selfish and sinful living and the other path would lead to a devotion to Jesus and serving Him. I sat all afternoon on a mountain side contemplating my decision, counting the cost and examining my heart, with a determination that I would choose my path at sunset and live with it.

Many times the test will come when you are bruised, broken down, tired, abandoned, misunderstood, and feel that everyone has given up on you. At those times it is easy to give up on doing the right thing and giving into sin. It is when you are beat up and exhausted that you must dig deep and find the character to stand up, do the right thing, and prevail.

Revelation 2:10 – “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Don’t give up, don’t quit

The moment of victory is often disguised as defeat. Popular superhero movies often show the hero rejected by the public, misunderstood by his family and friends, confused about himself, and doubting his ability to achieve victory but, when it appears defeat is imminent, he finds the strength to gain a victory.

There are many real life examples of people who have been in the same position who, in the moment of truth, stood up to do the right thing amidst doubts from self and others and opposition and gained a victory for good.

We must fight diligently for if we are fighting to overcome sin, God is fighting on our side—but we must not give up the fight. If we are still fighting a long battle, it means that the enemy has not won. He may not be defeated yet, but he does not have the victory! We must not hand Satan a victory and must remember that he will not give up ground that he thinks he can win.

Preparing for the trial and temptation

How can we stand alone like young David on the plain facing the giant, courageous like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the face of the angry and powerful king, or determined like Jesus going to a violent death, or the early Christians facing persecution with great humility and resolve to do what is right?

  • Wear your spiritual armor in the time of trial and temptation, Ephesians 6:10-18
  • Study God’s word
    • Teaches you what you should do, right and wrong, and how you should act
    • Teaches you what Satan and his followers do and how they act (what not to do)
    • Provides promises of God’s strength and heavenly reward to allow you to endure whatever trial knowing you have a greater reward that awaits you.
    • Provides godly wisdom of how to act during the time of trial.
    • Gives examples of great men and women of faith who endured great trials and overcame evil.
  • Pray for God’s wisdom and strength to endure all trials
    • You need God’s power to stand up under the time of trial.
    • Consider Jesus’ example in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38)
    • Colossians 1:9-11: “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,”
  • Be courageous and stand firm in the power of God as David, Daniel and his friends, and many Bible examplesdemonstrate.
    • 1 Timothy 6:11-12: “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
    • James 4:7-8: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

If you are living as a child of God every day, studying, praying, actively doing good, forsaking evil, and devoting your life to Christ, you will be ready when you find yourself in the moment of truth.

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(1) http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=moment+of+truth

(2) http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/44/messages/814.html

Godly Youth Activity Book

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Parents and teachers have enjoyed the activities available on the Activities pages of the Godly Youth site. I have removed those pages and have put all the crossword, word search and cryptogram puzzles in one document.

As I state clearly on the pages, if you are using this for non-profit use: Bible class, personal Bible study, home school, or similar activities you may copy the puzzles freely and in any quantities you want. If you want to put the activity in a church bulletin, feel free to do that as well.

My only restriction is that I don’t want it sold as part of a product, package, or book without my permission.

The Godly Youth Activity Book, in Adobe Acrobat format, is available for download here. (File size: 1.51 MB)GY Activity Book Cover

Identify the Bible Character Using the Clues

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Who Am I?

  1. I was a fisherman before Jesus called me to be an apostle.
  2. Though my hometown was Bethsaida, I was in Capernaum when Jesus called me.
  3. I was a disciple of John the Baptist.
  4. When I heard Jesus, I went to my brother Peter and told him that I had met the Christ and urged Peter to meet Jesus.

(Do you know who I am? See John 1:41)


 

  1. I was a leader of God’s people.
  2. Joshua was my assistant and then led the Jews after I died on Mt. Nebo.
  3. I was raised in Pharaoh’s house though I later chose to suffer with my own people, the Jews, instead of living as an Egyptian.
  4. God appeared to me in a bush on fire but was not burned up.

(Do you know who I am? See Exodus 3:4)


 

  1. I wrote five books of the New Testament.
  2. My father’s name was Zebedee.
  3. My brother and I were apostles whom Jesus nicknamed “Sons of Thunder.
  4. I am sometimes known as “the apostle whom Jesus loved.”

(Do you know who I am? See Revelation 1:1)


 

  1. I had a stick that turned into a snake then back into a stick.
  2. One time the stick budded like a tree. It was put into the Ark of the Covenant.
  3. My brother did powerful signs before King Pharaoh of Egypt; I spoke the words of God to him.
  4. I had a sister named Miriam. She and I wanted to lead Israel like Moses but it made God angry. We then obeyed God.

(Do you know who I am? See Exodus 7:2.)


  1. I was a fisherman when Jesus called me to be an apostle.
  2. My brother, Andrew, told me about Jesus.
  3. I walked on the water with Jesus.
  4. I denied Jesus three times before He was crucified.

(Do you know who I am? See Acts 2:38.)


  1. Stephen and I, along with five other men were appointed to take care of some Christian widows who were not being fed.
  2. I went on to preach in a place called Samaria and many people followed Jesus.
  3. I also baptized the treasurer of Ethiopia as he traveled home from Jerusalem.
  4. I baptized a sorcerer, named Simon, who gave up his fake magic when he saw the true wonders of God.

(Do you know who I am? See Acts 8:5)


 

Seeking God’s Voice Outside of the Bible

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Some modern Christians say God speaks into their heart to guide them towards a course of action. Others say that God answers prayer decisions by emotional response. Are these concepts taught in the New Testament?

God’s Word vs. Man’s Myths

2 Timothy 3:12-4:4 exalts the the holy scriptures and the danger of departing from them. Let’s examine the text:

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

Paul warned Timothy about religious deceivers but reminded him that God’s revealed word would prevent him from being deceived. The God-breathed word is all-sufficient to teach and lead man and equip him everything he will face in life. Therefore, Paul urged Timothy to preach the word faithfully and patiently because some would leave the sound teaching of God’s word, following  myths that teach what they want to believe. The sound teaching from God’s inspired word trains and equips the Christian, makes him wise for salvation, and prepares him for judgment. It is knowledge of God’s word and its integration into one’s life that prevents the Christian from being deceived and drawn away from God by evil people and impostors speaking myths (false narrative) in the name of God. If I want to know God’s will, I must know His word.

The Revelation of God’s Will to Man

God has thoughts and plans that He does not reveal to us. Deuteronomy 29:29 tells us the secret things belong to God. Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us that God’s ways are higher than ours and a great gulf separates His infinite knowledge and our finite awareness. However, God, through His word, has revealed part of His will for us to know and follow.

Soldiers discussing strategy during war against skyIn warfare, the highest levels of military authority develop an overall strategic war plan, individual battle plans to support strategic goals, and analyze information that can affect outcomes. As commanders communicate the plan down the chain of command each level gets the information it needs to know but not all the plan. If each level achieves their objectives they will achieve the overall goal even though the lower levels do not know the entire plan. The officer in the battlefield does not need to know the naval or air combat plans except how it impacts the battlefield such as bombardment and air support. Even then, the officer doesn’t need to know the number of ships or planes or how they will be deployed, only how they will help him achieve his objectives. The officer in the field does not need to know the overall war plan but must know the battle plan he must execute. The soldier needs to know where to go and what to do to execute his part of the battle plan and does not need to be concerned with a broader scope of information. In these relationships, each role has objectives defined by the plans of higher authority. They don’t have to know the overarching plan but they must know what they must do.

God has revealed His will for man in the scriptures. It is obvious that the Bible does not contain the exhaustive knowledge of God, for He has infinite knowledge and we could not grasp all that could be known. The Bible reveals what God wants us to know about Himself, His work, and His instructions for living and serving Him. Let’s consider how God revealed His will for humanity in the scriptures.

Revelation in the Old Testament era (before the church)

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Before what we might call the Church Age (Old Testament through the Gospels), God spoke directly to people through various means:

  • Direct speaking
    • Genesis 6:13f – God told Noah to build an ark
    • Genesis 12:1f – God directed Abram to leave his country
  • Spoke through physical appearance or manifestation
    • Genesis 18:1-3 – Three men (Note also verses 16-21: “Lord said” in the men’s discussions)
  • Spoke through angels
    • Genesis 19:1, 12-13 – the angels communicated God’s plan
    • Genesis 21:17f – angel spoke God’s will to Hagar
    • Luke 1 – angels appeared to Zechariah and Mary to tell of John and Jesus
  • Spoke through visions
    • Genesis 15:1f – God and Abraham talked in a vision
    • Ezekiel 1:1 – God’s message delivered through visions
  • Spoke through dreams
    • Genesis 20:3-7 – warned Abimelech in a dream
    • Genesis 28:10f – Jacob’s dream in Bethel
    • Matthew 2:13, 19 – angel spoke to Joseph in a dream
  • Spoke through prophets
    • Jeremiah 1:9-10 – words given to Jeremiah to proclaim to the people
    • Ezekiel 2:7 – instructed to speak the words of God
  • Inspired writers recorded His will
    • Deuteronomy 5:22-23; 9:10 – God gave His law written on stones
    • Jeremiah 36:32 – Jeremiah’s message recorded on a scroll

An important thing to remember is that although the means of communication varied, the message was verbal, there was no doubt that God was speaking, and the message was clear and understandable.

Revelation in the Church AgeHearing the Voice of God

Though God spoke in diverse ways in the Old Testament, God speaks to the church through His Son.

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” Hebrews 1:1-2

Jesus becomes the central focus of New Testament revelation. Jesus acknowledged that He was given all authority and instructed the apostles to teach each new disciple to follow what Jesus taught the apostles, Matthew 28:18-20. While Jesus was teaching the apostles it was clear that they didn’t always understand His message so He promised to send the Holy Spirit to them when He returned to heaven. The Holy Spirit would remind them what Jesus taught and guide their understanding as they taught the disciples, John 14:25-26, John 16:12-15. It is important to note that the Holy Spirit impart the message to the apostles who would share the message with the disciples.

The apostles and those who heard them teach recorded the message of God. The Holy Spirit inspired the word, 2 Peter 1:20-21. As noted earlier in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the inspired message brings us to spiritual maturity. Although the scripture is inspiring, that is not what is meant by this passage. The scripture was “God breathed”; He gave it life when He gave the words. In Ephesians 3:1-4, Paul wrote what God revealed to him. When the Ephesian Christians read Paul’s letter they would know what Paul knew about God’s revealed message. Jesus gave His message through the Holy Spirit to guide men for all time.

God’s Will Revealed Once For All Times

The book of Revelation ends with a warning not to add to or remove any part of the message, Revelation 22:18. Though some may apply this only to the book of Revelation consider that such a warning is inherent in the rest of Scriptures. What man with finite knowledge could presume to edit God’s word or add his own message and consider it equal to what God revealed? In 2 John 4-11, the apostle commands that we walk in God’s commandments and that anyone who does not abide in them or goes beyond the commandments does not have God. Paul warned that even if an apostle or angel from heaven preached a gospel different from what had been revealed would be accursed, Galatians 1:6-9.

According to Jude 3-4, the message was once for all times delivered to the saints. Peter encouraged his readers to remember what had been revealed through the holy prophets and the apostles when confronted by scoffers, 2 Peter 3:1-2. He reminded them that God’s word was a source of knowledge and encouragement that they should return to for encouragement.

God’s revealed will teaches the saving plan of God and instruct us in righteousness, Titus 2:11-15. It is a message with the power to perfect us, Ephesians 4:11-16. Christians are told to seek guidance from God’s word:

  • 2 Timothy 2:2, 14-15- Know it, live it, and teach it
  • 2 Timothy 3:15-17 – Mature through studying God’s word
  • 2 Timothy 4:2-4 – Remember that when people leave God’s word they embrace error
  • Galatians 1:6-9: – Ignore messages that contradict God’s revealed word even if it is from someone claims to be an apostle or angel

Should Christians Expect Other Revelations From God?

Some Christians teach that God reveals His will directly to people outside of scripture. Some modern Christians believe that God speaks through various means:

Emotions  – Good feelings directing them towards a course of action and bad feelings indicating God’s displeasure with a choice

  • Feeling an impulse to act
  • Feeling peace about a decision as a revelation from God of His approval of that decision

Direct Revelation – God placing thoughts and desires into their hearts (an inner voice).

  • “God is telling me to…” (though rarely do they say He is conversing with them)
  • “God is speaking to my heart”
  • “God laid it on my heart”
  • “The Lord laid a scripture on my heart”

This idea is promoted in popular religious books. Francis Chan, in his book  Forgotten God, wrote

“My hope is that instead of searching for ‘God’s will for my life’ each of us would learn to seek hard after ‘the Spirit’s leading in my life today.’ May we learn to pray for an open and willing heart, to surrender to the Spirit’s leading with that friend, child, spouse, circumstance, or decision in our lives right now.”

Elsewhere in the book he writes, “It’s much less demanding to think about God’s will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes.”

Chan is urging readers to ask God and expect Him to direct the person towards a course of action. While that might seem like the obvious thing to do, as I will observe later, the New Testament  does not tell us to seek or expect God to communicate with us in this way.

Divine appointments – feeling that God led them to choose certain actions that brought about certain results (“Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous”)

In his book Multiply, Francis Chan wrote,

“God may well want you to take His gospel overseas. Too many Christians discount that possibility too quickly. Some people are too comfortable with their current lifestyle and would never dream of sacrificing their comfort for God’s glory. Others quickly assume that they are called to something else, something more normal. We shouldn’t make these assumptions. Have you ever genuinely told God that you would submit yourself to His will in this area? Right now, you should ask God if He wants you to pursue living in a different location for the sake of the gospel. It may be a terrifying thought, but we have to trust God more than we trust ourselves.”

We see a more conservative approach in the Bible with Esther’s uncle, Mordecai. Knowing the Persian king was tricked into issuing a decree to kill the Jewish people throughout the empire, Mordecai urged Queen Esther, who was a Jew, to intercede for the people. Mordecai did not tell Esther that her being the Queen was God’s plan all along for the salvation of His people nor did he ascribe it to chance. He took the only view a person can take without direct revelation from God regarding his plan: “Who knows?” Esther 4:14: “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Ecclesiastes 9:11 acknowledges that time and chance are factors in our lives. It may be that God is working a specific plan that brings two people together or accomplishes some other purpose (ie., Romans 8:28). The event or meeting may be the result of chance but the Christian, using wisdom learned from God’s word, can act in a way that leads to the salvation of a soul or help for someone in need. It seems that some Christians believe they are God’s puppets or that He is micromanaging their lives. In fact, as observed in the previous verses, God’s word teaches and trains us so that we will make the right choices in situations and use opportunities to glorify God. Maybe God did bring me into contact with someone and, as a result, they became a Christian. It might be that we met by chance but, having been trained by God’s word, I knew the person was lost and needed the gospel and proclaimed the word to him. We need to exercise caution saying “God made this happen” since God doesn’t reveal His actions to man. We can simply give glory to God that whether by His will or chance the good was accomplished. I am not saying that God doesn’t work in our lives, I am saying that we need to exercise humility and respect the silence of God and simply glorify God for all that happens in our lives.

Interpretation of omens and signs

  • Viewing random texts of scripture as divine guidance for a course of action.
  • Viewing opportunities as God wanting them to take a course of action
  • Viewing coincidental events as having a God-given meaning

The challenge is that one must determine if events are signs and, if so, where they point. Is the job offer in Kansas because God wants me to move there or is it a test to see if I will stay in my current place at a lower salary instead of chasing the money. This becomes more complicated when one can see many positive ways to glorify God despite the choice made. However, if we understand that God has not determined a path for us but left the choice to us, we can glorify God no matter what we do and we don’t have to agonize over what is or is not a sign and what the sign means.

The Grace Communion Site has a humorous story of how trying to read the tea leaves to determine God’s will can lead to awkward situations and confusion instead of clarity.

“God told me to move my family to Saudi Arabia.”

Alex stared at his friend, wondering if he was just joking or had gone mad. Alex had known Tom for more than 10 years. He’d been best man at Tom’s wedding, not to mention godfather to Tom’s and Alicia’s twin girls. And Alex knew that Tom and Alicia were as cut out for missionary life in Saudi Arabia as toads are for an omelet.

“That’s, well, a pretty big decision, Tom. How do you know it’s really God’s will for you?”

“Well, just a lot of things.” Tom stared deep into his coffee cup. “Pastor Mel’s sermon a few weeks ago really got me thinking.” He glanced up at Alex. “We’re pretty selfish enjoying the good life here in America while people all around the world need help. I gave it a lot of prayer, and God seemed to answer that we should go.”

Alex nodded thoughtfully, weighing how to respond. “How did God give you that answer?”

“Well, for one thing, I was talking to the Hogarths, you know, the missionaries in Saudi Arabia. They said they could use some help.”

“What kind of help?”

“Well, you know, I’m pretty good at carpentry, and they said that’s just what they’d been praying for—somebody good at carpentry. It was like God was just saying to me, ‘This is what I want you to do, Tom.’”

“What does Alicia think about it?”

“Oh, she’s not as excited as I am, but I’m praying she’ll come around.”

“Not as excited?” Alex said.

“Well, actually she’s dead set against it. She can get pretty hardheaded sometimes. But I think the Lord will show her it’s the right thing for us to do.”

“Hmm, I see,” Alex dumped a pack of powdered sweetener into his coffee. “What if he doesn’t?”

“He will, Alex. I trust the Lord. And I have a really good feeling about this decision.”

Tom is not unique. Every day, Christians somewhere are convincing themselves that God is telling them to marry a certain person, take a certain job, go to a certain college, or “get out there” and do something really big and meaningful for him.

Problems With Modern Revelation

We do not find individuals in the New Testament claiming God was leading them by emotions. New Testament Christians acted in response to specific verbal instructions from God or His agents. Of greatest importance is this fact:

There is no New Testament instruction for believers to expect messages from God through feelings, impulses, interpretation of events, or message directed to their hearts nor is there guidance for interpreting feelings, events, or speaking to the heart to determine God’s message, discriminate it from one’s own thoughts, or how to make sure that is not evil feelings or thoughts influenced by Satan.

In fact, the scriptures teach us to be inherently distrustful of the heart:

  • Proverbs 28:26 – Fool trusts his heart
  • Jeremiah 17:9 – Heart is exceedingly wicked
  • Proverbs 14:12 – There is a way that seems right to man

Consider this observation by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones:

“Let us imagine I follow the mystic way. I begin to have experiences; I think God is speaking to me; how do I know it is God who is speaking to me? How can I know I am not speaking to man; how can I be sure that I am not the victim of hallucinations, since this has happened to many mystics? If I believe in mysticism as such without the Bible how do I know I am not being deluded by Satan as an angel of light in order to keep me from the living and true God? I have no standard. The evangelical doctrine tells me not to look into myself but to look into the Word of God; not to examine myself, but to look at the revelation that has been given to me. It tells me that God can only be known in His own way, the way the way which has been revealed in the scriptures themselves.” (excellent article)

As Mark Copeland said in his excellent work on the Holy Spirit, “Don’t let feelings of the human spirit keep you from following the teachings of the Holy Spirit!”

Some say that good feelings show God’s approval, yet self-satisfaction and self-justification will produce the same emotional feedback. Who is to say that a feeling or impulse is not the product of a seducing spirit who portrays himself as an angel of light (1 Timothy 4:1-2)? Some proponents admit this but claim that one can discern the message of God when he becomes one of the spiritually elite who is in tune with the wavelength of God. Henry Blackaby, a leading proponent of this view, when challenged about how he knew the source was from God but not others said, “You come to know His voice as you experience Him in a love relationship. As God speaks and you respond, you come to the point that you recognize His voice more and more clearly.” (As quoted in Gary Gilley’s excellent book* “Is That You Lord?” -al.)

Special  insight only available to a uniquely spiritual person was the claim of the first century Gnostics. Recognized as heretics, the Gnostics claimed to have a superior walk with God due to divine insights and mystical experiences (Col. 2:18-19). Some claim the Holy Spirit only directs in the divine application and interpretation of the written word through feelings, promptings, impressions, and insights but they cannot even find the scriptures to prove that such takes place. (Gilley, 33) Historically, those who have recognized an authority outside of God’s word to accompany it tend to eventually supplant God’s word with personal revelation (David Wells).

Seeking God’s Signs as Divination

Some spend much time trying to interpret their feelings, coincidental events in life, etc. to determine what God wants them to do in life or what choices to make. Bruce Waltke ( Finding the Will of God: A Pagan Notion? -al):

“When we seek to ‘find’ God’s will, we are attempting to discover hidden knowledge by supernatural activity…If we are going to find His will on one specific choice, we will have to have to penetrate the divine mind to get his decision…this is a form of divination. The idea was common in pagan religions…in fact it was the preoccupation of pagan kings.”

Just as idolatrous people sought the Oracle at Delphi, reading tea leaves or animal entrails, astrology, and omens to determine a course of action, some Christians are acting with a superstitious approach to their feelings and events in life to determine God’s will.

“God’s Leading is Non-Authoritative”

Some argue that God speaking in this way is “non-authoritative”. How could one say that God is leading or directing them but conclude that there is no authority with that leading? If we determine that God wants us to choose a course of action and we ignore or disobey it, will we be judged as disobedient and rebellious (as Jonah who disobeyed the direct instruction of God)? If not, why not?

When multiple Christians believe God is expressing His will through feelings, though they don’t all get the message, some difficult situations will arise. Consider this one:

On one occasion we were discussing various ministry strategies and plans when a member of staff shared what they believed was a word from God with us. To be honest I cannot even remember what it was that God was meant to have said but I do remember the unease in the room as the rest of the people around the table tried to figure out how to proceed. Do we disagree and argue God has it wrong? Do we tell them they did not hear from God?

How do we know if that’s true? Do we go to scripture to test the Word that they have given? What if there is nothing contrary to scripture in the Word? Do we simply have to accept it?

It was clear from the mood in the room that there were at least some reservations about acting on this supposed word from the Lord. The hardest part was that the person sharing this word genuinely believed that God had spoken to them and were offended when people did not fully believe in the same way they did. They left the meeting convinced that they were right and that God was on their side and on reflection it was another marker on the way to the division that would eventually befall this leadership group. (As told in the article “God Told Me”)

Even people who believe that God is directing them often express uncertainty as to whether God is actually instructing them on a course of action based on feelings, etc. There is confidence that God uses such means to communicate but no confidence in the exact message is that is being communicated! Non-believers have impulses, feelings, coincidental encounters, and random events that influence their actions but they do not consider such events to be a message from God. They recognize these as insights or being open to other options.

Spiritual Maturity: Being Led By God’s Word

We should be grow and mature as God’s people through daily study, prayer, and godly living.

  • 2 Peter 1:3-4 – Scripture gives all things that pertain to life and godliness
  • Colossians 2:6-7 – Established in the faith

When we grow in our knowledge we become more spiritually discerning and blend our natural thoughts with God’s revealed and inspired word. Our thinking should change:

  • We should become more aware of opportunities to teach and serve others.
  • We should become better decision makers as we make choices in light of whether it will please God, make us more holy, and allows us to glorify God in our lives.
  • We will become more useful in God’s service by applying the revealed word.

The Holy Spirit, through the revealed word, leads us in righteousness and service. We still glorify God because He taught us how to live.

Note: Proponents of God’s leading often believe God has a specific will for their life and that He is nudging them along the path through feelings, omens, etc. I wrote an article that discusses God’s plans in our lives. If God has left the decision making in our hands then we shouldn’t look for mystic signposts to point us to some hidden path but follow the clear leading of the revealed word to be the right person so we can please God no matter the situation we are in.

*I highly recommend this book. It was a primary source for this article. There is also a very good podcast in which Gilley discusses this issue.

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