Tag Archive | Voice of God

Listening Together

william-iven-5894

Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.

-Jesus, Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22

For a long time I thought these verses meant that we should pay attention to what the Holy Spirit was saying. That seemed pretty straightforward.

I also used to think the reason that God asked us to share what we’re hearing from the Holy Spirit with others was to keep us from being deceived. And I’m still sure that’s part of the reason.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen the Holy Spirit speak to people from different backgrounds and locations about the exact same thing, weaving a tapestry of a message that could never be accomplished if only one person or even one church was the only one hearing what the Spirit was saying.  It’s got me thinking that maybe God has something more for us in sharing what we’re hearing than just accountability.

I think there is a place where we can listen to the Holy Spirit ourselves, but when we bring together what we hear from Him, there is a richer, more in-depth, more accurate picture of what God is doing in the Earth. It only takes us being willing to listen with other believers, being willing to wait together to discern His voice, listening to what the Spirit is saying to all of us.

Who knows? Maybe God wants to weave what you are hearing from Him together with what He is speaking to others to accomplish more than you could ever imagine. Maybe, just maybe, if we begin to listen together, we can confirm and establish the reality of what God is doing in our day.

But it starts with us sharing what we’re hearing, together.

Are you listening?

Are you sharing?

Advertisements

Inconvenient

12530932945_2201ca50d1_z

Have I told you I believe in dreams?

A few weeks ago I had another dream. It’s been a little while since I’ve had a dream I felt was significant enough to share. This dream was both significant, and, in praying it over, I felt like the Lord directed me to share it as broadly as I could. So here goes.

In the dream I was in a home that I remember from my childhood. It was in a small town with a very religious background. I was meeting with a house church in the home and two people who I know currently were meeting with the house church. This couple is older than me and I love and respect them both personally and in the Lord. However, in real life, several years ago, they were hurt by the church that they were part of and since that time have not been active any church, house church or otherwise.

We were sitting in a circle in the living room of this house talking about different things affecting this house church. The time was late. It was definitely dark outside, so we were probably meeting at 9:00 PM or even later. This wasn’t our normal time to meet. In fact, in the dream I knew that there had been a last minute re-arranging of our meeting time in order to make sure that everyone who was a part of our fellowship could be at the same place at the same time.

The problem was that it caused pain for some in our house church, particularly the wife of the couple I described earlier. This was compounded by the fact that I hadn’t done a great job at getting the information to everyone in a timely manner.  My poor communication had caused people to make sacrifices to be there and it was inconvenient. As the conversation became more awkward, there was a knock at the door. That seemed odd because of the hour of night it was. I went to open the door and when I touched the knob, I woke suddenly from the dream.

Immediately after the dream ended, though, I had a sense of urgency that alerted me that this dream was from the Lord.  Two verses immediately came to my spirit:

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13

and

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

John 13:35

As I’ve prayed about this dream, I feel like it has serious consequences for the body of Christ.  We are currently in a season when many people are walking away from the body of Christ and are trying to pursue Christ apart from other believers. Many share frustration with the politics and hurt they’ve endured from the body of Christ. And in many ways, I’m sympathetic toward their complaints.

But we are coming into a season where in the Earth where it will be crucial to be a part of the body of Christ in a true and connected way. And this will require us to love each other in ways that will be inconvenient. We (like the house church in my dream) will need to be intentional about meeting with other believers, even if it requires great sacrifice. While this is not the full scope of laying down our lives, it’s the initial step. It’s hard to lay down your life for another believer if you aren’t willing to be inconvenienced for their sake.

But I feel like their is a promise in the dream: For the people and churches willing to love one another and lay their lives down for each others, there will be others (the knock at the door in my dream) who will begin to see us and understand that we are the true followers of Jesus.  This will be part of (but certainly not the only) way that we will reap the great harvest.

Friends, the days ahead will require us to be a part of true fellowship. This true fellowship will be costly. It will mean going out of our way to include each other. It will mean giving up our safety and preference to include others. But the reward at the end of the day will be a life full of love that is noticeable to the outside word. Some will see it and hunger for the reality of Jesus in our midst.

Will you join us? If you’ve left the church because of hurt or disappointment or fatigue, will you surrender your rights to Jesus and join a fellowship where you can lay down your life? If you haven’t left a church, but have kept your life as your own, will you surrender yourself to Jesus at a new level and lay down your life for your brothers and sisters? I guarantee it will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

Photo Credit: It’s All You Need by Patrick Emerson

The Frozen Church is Thawing

A month ago, I had a dream.

In that dream I was walking through the downtown, urban section of a city. I came across a storefront church.  It was bustling with young, urban attenders that were very much of the hipster variety.  Everything about this church had the buzz of “cool.”

After hanging around for a while with people I didn’t know, I found out that the person I was hanging with invited me to preach but I was totally unaware. The leader of this church had asked me to preach on servanthood, but he was wanting a message on servanthood so that he would have an easier time recruiting people to serve the ministries of this church. He had no interest in servanthood as a value in the Kingdom.

From the front of the building, we walked into the sanctuary with the pastor and his assistant.  The sanctuary was actually a stadium-style ice rink.  The pastor asked me to sit in the highest row, which is where he spoke from, but the worship of the meeting actually took place at the bottom of the stadium out on the ice. As the worship progressed, I began to realize that this church’s worship was a very detailed production/show and that everyone was dressed very formally. There was an orchestra, dancers and because an ice rink was central to this church, they even had ice skaters. Somehow I had ended up in dressed in a suit but had no shoes and was feeling very awkward about it.

Then suddenly towards the end of the “worship time” it became clear that the ice rink was melting.  But it wasn’t just the ice in the rink at the center of the stadium that was melting, but the whole building. Unbeknownst to me the entire building was made of ice and was beginning to melt. The stadium seats, the floors, and even the walls were melting and cracking.  It disrupted the whole service and we could not continue.  I woke up with this phrase on my spirit: “The frozen church is melting.”

Interpretation: I believe that this is a warning to the church, particularly in the West.  The church built on entertainment, cultural relativity, and business values will begin to come undone.  This will be in large part due to “atmospheric change” that the church in the West will find itself in.  I’m unclear about whether this will come from greater hostility toward the church from society in general or a greater intensity brought to bear on the church by the Lord Himself, resulting in more fervency in the body and a rejection of these values.  But one thing is clear: a Christian organization built on man’s organizational values that feeds a consumer mentality in the body of Christ in order to further the success of one or two leaders will be a recipe for a “melting church.”

Hebrews 12:26-27: “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.”

Application: The call then, based on all of this, is to repent.  We need to repent of those areas where we’ve been working for our fulfillment and notoriety instead of the Lord’s glory and the advancement of the Gospel.  We need to reject human leadership values and church structures based on marketing principles and not God’s word, even if you can vaguely construe Scripture to justify your approach.  Go back and do the things you did at first when Jesus was your first love.  Begin again to follow Jesus, listen to His voice, and look to Him and His word for how you and your church can begin to follow Him based on what He values.

Now: Do you see anything in the interpretation or application of the dream that I missed? If you do, please feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below.

Photo Credit: Flying Through a Crack in the Ice by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

I Believe In Dreams

I believe in dreams.

Not just the kind of dreams that are a vision for your future that you want to achieve.  I actually believe the dreams you dream at night are sometimes the communication of Heaven to your life.

That means the dreams you dream are sometimes God talking to you.

Why do I believe that? Well, the book of Job (33:14-18) says this:

For God speaks in one way,

and in two, though man does not perceive it.

In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on men,
while they slumber on their beds,
then he opens the ears of men
and terrifies them with warnings,

that he may turn man aside from his deed
and conceal pride from a man;
he keeps back his soul from the pit,
his life from perishing by the sword.

So God uses dreams to get our attention.  He uses them to connect to us when we’ve been so busy we haven’t been attending to His voice.  He uses our sleep to speak to us about our lives, if we’d only hear it.

I also believe in dreams because God has used them so consistently in the past.  He’s used them with Joseph in Egypt, Daniel and the pagan Kings of Babylon, Joseph (Jesus’ father),and others in the Bible.  It’s also a way He promised to speak to us after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Wolfgang Simson says that the bed may be the most prophetic place on the planet for human beings.  Most of the time, however, we ignore what we see in dreams because we don’t believe they carry messages from Heaven.  They do, if we are willing to seek God out for what those messages are.

In my own life, there have been numerous times Jesus has shifted the direction of my life or spoken into a situation through a dream He’s given to me or a dream He’s given to a friend of mine about me.  Many dreams have cleared up confusion about a situation I’ve found myself in. Some have foretold things to come.  Some have just drawn me closer to Jesus.  The fruit has been healthy and well worth the journey.

I also believe dreams are a reality we’re all called to experience.  I believe you can go to bed tonight and God can begin speaking to you in away you’ve never imagined.  If you’re still reading this, I pray tonight God begins to speak in your dreams and that tomorrow morning you wake up with direction you could have never imagined. Take a notebook with you and write like mad anything you dream about. Then when you wake up, pray about what you remember.

The tricky part comes when we believe in dreams.  Because once we believe that God is communicating to us, we become accountable for the messages God is hand delivering to our nocturnal in-box. We get to live the dream.

If you’ve had a dream that God spoke to you clearly in, leave a message in the comment section below.

Photo Credit: Dreams and Thoughts by Paul-simson.org

When You Just Don’t Understand (Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness, Day 27)

This blog was temporarily overtaken In September by my Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness Challenge. This post is one of the final days I did not get to post until now.  You can find out more by checking out the Introduction.

One of the joys of this journey is that I’m beginning to hear on a much clearer level than I have in a long time.  This is great.  The only problem is, what happens when you totally do not understand what you hear?  What do you do with those things you don’t quite get?

Case in point: I woke up this morning with a very clear word on my heart.  It was like God whispered it to me when I woke up.  He said, “I’m giving to you the books of service.” What does that mean?  I immediately began to recall the heavenly scrolls that God would give to his prophets.  These weren’t for reading, the scrolls (or books) contained heavenly realities that were being imparted to the prophets (Ezekiel 3:1-3, Revelation 10:8-10).  So, I guess I have a little bit of a grid for what God is talking about.

The other interesting thing is when I went to lunch today I was thinking about what I heard and was tempted to write it off as just something I dreamt.  But as I was eating, I read some of Nudge by Leonard Sweet.  I just “so happened” to be reading the the part of the book where Len focuses in on spiritual hearing being the main source where we become awake to what God is doing.  To paraphrase what I read, everything begins with what you hear and whether you are willing to listen.

So while I feel like the Lord is confirming what I heard, it doesn’t answer any of my more specific questions.  What is a book of service?  And what should I do with it? What is it supposed to impart to me? And how do I respond to this?  I’m asking Him these questions when I’m not listening.  I’ll let you know when I get a response.

As you were listening, did you hear anything you didn’t understand?  What did you do about it?  Tell us in the comment section.

Join us on the “Thirty Days to Greater Fruitfulness” experiment.  For all of September we spent 30 minutes in silent prayer listening to Jesus and then acting on what He asked us to do.  Then we blogged about the changes that were occurring in our lives through the marriage of listening and obedience.  It’s not too late.  If you’re just checking out that experiment feel free to jump in.  And if you want more information, you can check it out here.

Photo Credit: September WallPaper Calendar by DewDreams

Loving A Brother (Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness, Day 26)

This blog was temporarily overtaken In September by my Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness Challenge. This post is one of the final days I did not get to post until now.  You can find out more by checking out the Introduction.

So today continued a string of hard days.  My “situation” still is not resolved.  But to make matters worse, instead of just not being able to workout the situation with my brother, I had to be in a social environment with him where it would have been inappropriate to bring the whole thing up.  If you’ve ever been in that situation, you know it’s hard not to stew on the whole thing and get really agitated.

The beauty of the day (which I’m attributing to my time of listening) is that the Lord gave me the ability to love my brother in reality.  In a similar situation in another month, I probably just would have avoided being in the same part of the building as my brother.  But today God gave me grace to not only be with him in the situation, but also to bring up the “elephant in the room.”—us getting together to deal with it. 

Now, I’ve been able to make decisions to do hard things before.  But today I did this because I genuinely cared about my brother.  That kind of love you can’t make up or manufacture.  It comes from Jesus, and I believe I got some of it by hanging out in the presence of God and listening.

How about you?  Have you noticed through the experiment God giving you virtue that isn’t normal to your character?  Tell us about it in the comment section.

Join us on the “Thirty Days to Greater Fruitfulness” experiment.  For the rest of September we are spending 30 minutes in silent prayer listening to Jesus and then acting on what He asks us to do.  Then we blog about the changes that are occurring in our lives through the marriage of listening and obedience.  It’s not too late.  If you’re just checking out that experiment feel free to jump in.  And if you want more information, you can check it out here.

Photo Credit: September WallPaper Calendar by DewDreams

Walking In Obedience To Yesterday’s Leadings (Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness, Day 25)

This blog has been temporarily overtaken by my Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness Challenge.  You can find out more by checking out the Introduction.

If you’ve been participating with me and/or reading about this journey I’m on, you’ll know that there are days where you don’t hear anything.  Today was one of those days.  That doesn’t mean that today was a failure.  Part of the mystery about listening to Jesus and following His leading is that there is power in His voice and because of that there is power in your obedience.  Today instead of hearing a lot of new things, I obeyed a bunch of old things and it really seems like some positive stuff is going on because of it.

Positive Thing #1- We had our block party.  Here’s the fun thing about this party: We not only obeyed the Lord in having the party, we actually planned it the way He asked us to plan it.  We included a “person of peace” on our block in the party planning.  Now the day that our “person of peace” planned the party for ended up being one of the coldest and rainiest days all month, so instead of having it outside, we had in our neighbors’ house.  But the party was a huge success.  We got to know people we didn’t know.  We bridged some relational gaps on the block.  Everyone had a great time.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I was freaked out about the rain up until an hour before the party, but God helped us regardless.)  So we obeyed what the Lord told us and even when things looked terrible, following Him and obeying His ways paid off huge.

Positive Thing #2- My situation is still really eating at me.  I’m still having a hard time praying.  However, the Lord very kindly reminded me that He had spoken to me some things about this situation the first time around and that those things are extremely relevant still. The Lord is definitely leading because things He spoke weeks ago are even more relevant today than the were when I first received them.

Positive Thing #3- Finally, the book I received as a sign a few days ago I finally gave to the couple I was sensing it was for all the way back at the beginning of the month.  I don’t think I would have had the courage to breach the conversation with the couple if I hadn’t had the Lord speak to me several times about all of this.  But tonight, I started the conversation.  There will be more to come, I’m sure and I’ll need to be bolder than I was, but I started the conversation and I’ll report back on the fruit as we go.  As I was contemplating starting the conversation tonight, I was reminded that I had heard a similar thing for this couple several years ago and I could have spoken it then and possibly saved them some heartbreak.  Instead, I disobeyed.  I’m rejoicing in the fact that God is merciful and speaks more than one time and that tonight I was obedient to His voice.

All of these positive things came from something the Lord had spoken days, weeks, or even a month prior.  I know sometimes it’s hard to obey a word that you haven’t just heard recently, but if you sense the Lord stirring that word in your spirit, don’t be afraid to step out.  Obedience to Jesus’ voice powerfully affects the world around us for good.  Don’t wait.

Do you have things that Jesus has spoken to you about doing that you haven’t done yet? It’s not too late.  If you’ve obeyed something recently that God spoke to you about a while back, leave a comment, tell us the story, and encourage the rest of us to be obedient to the voice that is always speaking.

Join us on the “Thirty Days to Greater Fruitfulness” experiment.  For the rest of September we are spending 30 minutes in silent prayer listening to Jesus and then acting on what He asks us to do.  Then we blog about the changes that are occurring in our lives through the marriage of listening and obedience.  It’s not too late.  If you’re just checking out that experiment feel free to jump in.  And if you want more information, you can check it out here.

Photo Credit: September WallPaper Calendar by DewDreams