I was driving my daughter Elizabeth home after school recently, and we got into a conversation in which she told me that on that particular day while talking with one of her friends at school, they had decided that they were each going to draw the other a picture, to which I replied, “That’s great!” But instead of telling me what the picture was that she was going to draw for her friend, my daughter said, “Well, dad, guess what picture she wants me to draw for her,” to which I replied, “A horse.”
My daughter replied, “That was the first picture that she wanted me to draw for her, but then she changed her mind and asked me to draw another picture for her. Guess which one it is, dad.”
“A dog!” I replied.
At that, my daughter responded, “You’re right! How did you know?”
“The Holy Spirit told me,” I answered. “He first told me a horse, which was her first choice, and then he told me a dog, which was her second choice.”
“That’s cool”, my daughter responded. “That means that the Holy Spirit was RIGHT THERE when I was talking with my friend at school! He was listening to our conversation!”
“That’s right!” I said to my daughter. Inwardly, I was praising the Lord and so thankful that God had shown me those two animals when my daughter asked me the question. He didn’t have to, but he did. He did, because he knew it would strengthen my daughter’s faith in him. Because of the revelation to me that my daughter’s friend had chosen a horse, and then a dog, for her picture, my daughter was strenghtened in her own faith towards God, knowing that God was with her wherever she was. The benefits of “knowing” this – from a heart level, not just simply a head level – is that it can lead us to being more obedient and more trusting towards the Lord. It is a “proof” of sorts that God really is with us.
One of the great tragedies of the western church is that it has sunk deep into word-worship, the worship of God’s word, but not the worship of God himself. We are not to forsake the word, and everything we do must be in accordance with the word, but when we elevate the study of the word of God above God himself, then we have begun to make an idol out of the word of God. God is no longer with us, and we even begin to criticize those who have “dreams and visions”, often mocking them and making light of their experience, because it doesn’t line up with our intellectual understanding of the situation.
Paul knew the tendency towards the idolization of the study of God and of the emptiness of the mere “talk” of God and the intellectualization of his word as is so prevalent in the west. That is why he said to the Corinthian believers, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5) Simply put, Paul was saying that through a clear demonstration of the power of God through means that are beyond our human abilities, God is exalted and trust is restored in God. It “must” be God, because it certainly wasn’t us! It is not the mere “talk” of God’s word that should bring trust in God, but a clear demonstration of God’s abilities and power wrought through the Spirit.
Today, many so-called Christians leaders mock at God speaking or doing miracles today, saying the time has passed. These people are idolators of God’s word and are a shame and a disgrace to the body of Christ. They have caused many to be kept out of God’s kingdom. Thinking that they are doing God’s will, they prevent those whom God has destined to enter from entering, and so incur greater judgment upon themselves.
I wonder how long it will be before we see a major clash between the charismatic movement and the ultra-conservative movement, that seems to delight in poking at those who say God speaks today. They have gained a foothold in our western society, but I can assure you that God is going to shake that foothold and prove himself once again mighty and strong – not among charismatics or pentecostals, but among anyone who will take him at his word and believe that he speaks today.
Where is your faith in God? Do you KNOW that he is with you? Has he spoken to you? Are you sure that your life is pleasing in his sight? Are there any sin issues that are getting in the way between you and your relationship with God? Often sin and unrighteous judgment in a man’s heart is the barrier between hearing God’s voice and not hearing his voice. Have you come to trust in a man, or is your trust really in God? Examine yourself, and see!