Friday, June 26 2015
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Last week we considered the place of listening to our hearts; but not just any heart but the regenerated heart as Christians. We learnt, according to the Bible, that the heart is the centre not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life.
In today’s study we will be looking at how to train our spirits. The Lord enlightens us and guides us through our spirits. It is therefore very important that we become more spirit-conscious. We need to become more conscious of the fact that we are spirit beings, and not just mental or physical beings. We need to train our spirits so they will become safer guides. One thing which has held back the Christian world as a whole is that we are more physical-conscious (body-conscious) and more mental-conscious (soul-conscious) than we are spirit-conscious. We have developed the body and the soul, but we have left the spirit almost untouched.
Our spirits can be educated just as our minds can be educated; and can be built up in strength and trained just as our bodies can be built and trained.
Four rules by which we can train and develop our spirits.
1. Meditate On the Word
2. Practice the Word
3. Giving the Word first place
4. Instantly obeying the voice of your spirit
1. MEDITATE ON THE WORD OF GOD
Most deeply spiritual men and women give time to meditation in the Word of God. We cannot develop spiritual wisdom without meditation. God made that fact known to Joshua just after the death of Moses at the very beginning of Joshua's ministry in Joshua 1:8
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
Another version of the last phrase says: "... you shall be able to deal wisely in the affairs of life."
We will know how to deal wisely in the affairs of life when we meditate in the Word of God and walk in the light of that Word. If we ever want to do anything great in life, if we ever want to amount to anything in life, we must take time to meditate in the Word of God. Start out with at least 10 or 15 minutes a day—then increase the time. The Hebrew word translated meditate also carries this thought with it: To mutter. Mutter the Word. We should therefore speak it to ourselves.
2. PRACTICE THE WORD
Practicing the Word means being a doer of the Word.
JAMES 1:22 says: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only....”
We have many "talkers about the Word," and even many "rejoicers about the Word," but we do not have many "doers of the Word."
Begin to practice being a doer of the Word by doing in all circumstances what the Word tells you to do. Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (John 13:34).
A doer of the Word will do that. If you love someone, you won't steal from him. You won't lie about him. The New Testament says that love is the fulfilling of the law. If we walk in love we won't break any law which was given to curb sin.
Being a doer of the Word means that we are to do primarily what is written in it. They are the letters written to us, the Church. As an example of doing the Word, let us look at some instructions given us in one of the Epistles. Philippians 4:6 says:
“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
So let’s do that!
Mostly, we don't mind practicing part of this verse—the part that says to pray. But if we practice just that part and not the first part, we are not really practicing the Word—we are not really doers of the Word.
The Amplified translation of Philippians 4:6 begins with, "Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything...." First we are told not to fret. If we are going to fret and have anxieties, it will do no good to make requests. That kind of praying does not work. An over-anxious prayer full of fretfulness does not work. It is possible to become so fretful over something that we cannot eat or sleep. But all we have to do is practice the Word and we will get results.
Philippians 4:7 which says: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” is a result of practicing Philippians 4:6.
Many of us want what verse 7 talks about—but we don't want to practice what verse 6 says to do to get it. The Amplified translation of verse 7 says, "And God's peace . . . which transcends all understanding, shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
God's peace will keep guard over our hearts and minds.
But we cannot reap these results and have this peace without being a doer of the Word! Verse 6 tells us not to fret. People who worry and fret, continually think on the wrong side of life. Verse 8 tells us what we are to think about. PHILIPPIANS 4:8
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Practice this verse. Think about the right things. On the contrary we continually worry and fret and think on the wrong side of life—and continually talk unbelief. A doer of the Word will not continue to talk unbelief. The more we talk about some things, the bigger they get. If something does not meet all of these qualifications—if it is not true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report—do not think about it and do not talk about it!
3. GIVE THE WORD FIRST PLACE
The training, the developing, the educating of our spirits comes by giving the Word of God first place in our lives. Proverbs 4:20-22:
“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.”
The margin of the King James says the word translated health is the Hebrew word for medicine. God's Word is "medicine to all their flesh." There is healing in the Word.
We should train ourselves to ask ourselves concerning any matter, "What does God's Word have to say about this?" We should ask ourselves what God has to say about anything that may come up in our life—and then put that Word first. Sometimes family and friends will try to rush us into things—but we need to think about what the Word of God says and put God's Word first in every area of our lives.
4. INSTANTLY OBEY THE VOICE OF YOUR SPIRIT
The human spirit has a voice. We call that voice conscience. Sometimes we call it intuition, an inner voice, or guidance. The world calls it a hunch. But what it is, is our spirits speaking to us. Every man's spirit, saved or unsaved, has a voice. The human spirit, as we have seen in previous studies, is a spiritual man, a spirit man, an inward hidden man. He is hidden to the physical senses. We cannot see him with the physical eyes, nor touch him with our physical hands. This is the man who has become a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). When a man is born again, his spirit becomes a new spirit.
It is worthy of note that meditation in the Word, practicing the Word, giving the Word first place, all come before obeying our spirits. You see, if our spirits have had the privilege of meditating in the Word, of practicing the Word, of putting the Word first—then our spirits become authoritative guides.
From Prov. 20:27, we know that our new-born spirit has within it the life and nature of God. The Holy Spirit dwells within our spirits. 1 John 4:4 says: "... greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." The Holy Spirit dwells in our spirits. God has to communicate with us through our spirits because that is where He is. Our spirit get information through Him. So we should learn to obey the voice of our spirits.
If we are not accustomed to doing that, of course, we will not get there quickly.
Our spirits can be built up and strengthened just as our bodies can be built up and strengthened. Our spirits can be educated just as our minds can be educated. But just as we did not begin school in the first grade one week and graduate from the twelfth grade the next week, our spirits will not be educated and trained overnight. However, if we will follow these four points and practice them, after a while we can know the will of God the Father even in the minor details of life. We will receive guidance and will always instantly get either a yes or a no. We will know in our spirits what we should do in all the affairs of life.
Friday, June 19 2015
Contributor: Akin Akande
Over the last few weeks, we have considered a number of unique ways God, at His prerogative, can guide believers: Guidance through spectacular means, guidance through prophecy and guidance through vision. We understand that we must not relegate those ways of God’s guidance since there are examples of such in both the new and old testaments. We are, however, cautioned not to be seeking those ways as the primary source of guidance. We, as children of God, must primarily depend on the Holy Spirit and the word of God for guidance. In particular, last week we mentioned the importance of being conscious that our angels are on guard.
This week, we shall consider the place of listening to our (regenerated) heart as Christians.
The heart is what some consider being a mystery. According to Easton Bible dictionary:
According to the Bible, the heart is the centre not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life. "Heart" and "soul" are often used interchangeably (Deut. 6:5; 26:16; Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30, 33), but this is not generally the case.
The heart is the "home of the personal life," and hence a man is designated, according to his heart, wise (1 Kings 3:12, etc.), pure (Ps. 24:4; Matt. 5:8, etc.), upright and righteous (Gen. 20:5, 6; Ps. 11:2; 78:72), pious and good (Luke 8:15), etc. In these and such passages the word "soul" could not be substituted for "heart."
The heart is also the seat of the conscience (Rom. 2:15). It is naturally wicked (Gen. 8:21), and hence it contaminates the whole life and character (Matt. 12:34; 15:18; Eccl. 8:11; Ps. 73:7). Hence the heart must be changed, regenerated (Ezek. 36:26; 11:19; Ps. 51:10- 14), before a man can willingly obey God.
The process of salvation begins in the heart by the believing reception of the testimony of God, while the rejection of that testimony hardens the heart (Ps. 95:8; Prov. 28:14; 2 Chr. 36:13). "Hardness of heart evidences itself by light views of sin; partial acknowledgment and confession of it; pride and conceit; ingratitude; unconcern about the word and ordinances of God; inattention to divine providences; stifling convictions of conscience; shunning reproof; presumption, and general ignorance of divine things.”
Simply put, it is the core of a regenerated Christian that God is able to work within and through.
Expounding on the Text
Paul did not say, "The Lord told me" that this voyage will be with much hurt and damage. He simply said, "I perceive" that it will. In his spirit, Paul had an inward perception, an inward premonition, and an inward witness that the voyage would be dangerous. This is the primary way God leads all of us.
Paul did not perceive it mentally. He did not have some kind of "vibration" or psychic experience. Spiritual perceptions are not in the psychic realm. You do not find psychic phenomenon in the Bible. Also, Paul did not perceive this physically. In his spirit (heart) he had a witness.
Lesson for us
The Holy Spirit abides in every (true) Christian and He communicates to us through our spirits (hearts) – not (directly) through our minds. That is why ones spirit knows things ones head doesn't know and therefore one must not be reluctant to follow ones heart. Like Paul, we must pay careful attention to those inward perceptions, inward premonitions, and inward witnesses. Don’t let them slip! Listen to them!
One of the reasons that we as Spirit-filled believers miss it, make mistakes, and fail is because our spirits, which should guide us, are kept locked away in prison, so to speak. Knowledge, or intellect, has taken the throne. Please note that there is nothing wrong with knowledge or intellect but we must submit them to our spirits through the Holy Spirit.
Any person who shuts his spirit away and never listens to it – because the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord – becomes crippled in life and becomes an easy prey to selfish and manipulative people.
One devotional says, “Many times we may sense a prompting from the Spirit, and we override that prompting. The result from this is that we miss God, and the opportunity He has provided us. Don’t feel bad, we all do this. What differentiates us from the world is the fact that we, as Christians, have the soft heart, but we have to work at keeping it pliable. When we sense those promptings, or if we hear Him speak to us, we need to be obedient immediately. The sooner we respond with obedience, the easier it becomes to do so. Before you know it, you will hear Him speaking to you all the time.”
If we, as individuals, had listened to our hearts – to an inward witness, or an inward voice – we would not have done some things we did. But just because we make a mistake, we must not quit. If you would just check up on your inside, in most of the affairs of life, you would know what to do.
Thursday, June 11 2015
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
We treated the topic titled "Guidance Through Prophecy" during the last digging deep. We considered, among other things, the Office of the Prophets and the Gift of Prophecy. We also learnt how God uses the office of the Prophet to bless His people and more importantly, on the need not to build our lives around prophecy or being dependent on prophecy for guidance. We are encouraged to build our lives around the word of God by putting His word first since the office of the Prophet can be misused by false prophets.
This week we will be considering, through various scriptural references, another means of guidance that God (through His magnanimous nature) has provided for us His children. Guidance Through Vision.
1. Three Kinds of Vision
"There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”
• Cornelius had a spiritual experience called a Vision.
• He was a devout man but not born again. He didn't know Jesus Christ.
• The angel who appeared to him could not preach the gospel because God did not call angels to preach. He called men (you and I) to do the preaching. The angel only told him how to go about finding someone to tell him how to be saved.
• Cornelius saw an angel. Angels have the ability to take on a visible form. God gave them this ability - Hebrews 13:2
The three kinds of visions are;
a) SPIRITUAL VISION: In this case, you only see with the eyes of your spirit and not your physical eye. A good example is Paul's experience on his way to Damascus in Acts 9:8. Paul saw no man when his eyes were opened. It therefore follows that whatever he saw was not with his physical eyes.
b) TRANCE: Second type of vision is when one falls into a trance. Peter's experience in Acts 10:9-11 is a very good example. The physical senses are suspended in a trance. A person in a trance has no knowledge of his physical location even though he is not unconscious. He is however more spiritual conscious than he is physically.
c) OPEN VISION: Pastor Hagin's testimony of Jesus walking into his room in El Paso in 1959. His physical senses were intact and he was not in a trance. He saw Jesus Christ with his physical eyes.
2. Different types of Visions
Sometimes, visions can be symbolic in nature. In Acts 10:9-19, Peter's vision was symbolic in nature. He saw all manner of creeping things, both clean and unclean and had to think on the vision in order to understand it. The Spirit spoke to him as he thought upon this vision and instructed him to go with the three men. Things began to unfold to Peter after his obedience.
Philip's encounter in Acts 8:26-29 nullifies the myth that God only speaks to BIG Men of God. Such divine visitations in visions are for everyone who will desire such. Philip was not an apostle but was elected first a deacon (Acts 6:5) and then an evangelist (Acts 21:8). It's sad knowing that quite a number of people have been robbed of such spiritual blessings of supernatural manifestations because of the belief that these are only reserved for selected people.
Acts 9:10-12 chronicles the encounter of Ananias. He was also not an apostle, neither was he a deacon. he was a disciple, what we call a layman. Yet mightily used of God. We should all put ourselves in a position where God can use us as He sees fit. We don't have to wait for a vision or angelic visitation before we do something for God. He may chose to give us a vision or not. He may also allow angelic visitation or not. It is God's prerogative.
We will conclude this teaching today by reading testimonies about two different encounters from the book How To Be Led By The Holy Spirit by Kenneth E. Hagin. (Pages 117-120) . These will hopefully;
• Make us conscious (spiritually) about the ministry of Angels
• Appreciate God for being so magnanimous enough to allow us have and enjoy the privilege of having this angelic ministry
• Also appreciate the Awesomeness and thoughtfulness of our Father God.
Although God chooses to lead through visions and other supernatural manifestations, we are encouraged not to seek vision at all cost as this could get beyond the Word where the devil can deceive. It is often advisable to depend on a more direct word of guidance through the promptings of the Holy Spirit. However, if this is not available, we should not manufacture it. Visions happen, not when people were seeking them , but without anyone seeking them. If all we have is the leading through the inward witness, we should be content. But educate and train and develop your human spirit so that inward witness becomes more and more real to you. Then, if God sees it fit for supernatural visitations and manifestations, just thank God for them.Know that the angels of God are with you. Your angel is with you whether you ever see him or not.