"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
There are two phrases that are used in the Word of God when the Lord is using a person to do a great act or miracle on His behalf. One is the term “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him” and the other is “the hand of the Lord was on or over him”. These two phrases have very powerful implications for the person involved and were usually reserved for God’s greatest miracles. They are way more common in the Old Testament than in the New. The reason for this is because of what the phrases refer to. In the Old Testament days, the Holy Spirit had not yet been given to believers, because Christ had not come yet and left the Spirit as a “helper”. It was rare to see man walk in the way of the Lord because He simply did not have the Spirit leading him. This is why there was the Law which was given by Moses. The Law was in place to help man live as closely to holiness as possible and when it was broken, there were sacrifices to bring him back into fellowship with God. However, when God wished to make a serious matter come to past He would often use his judges and prophets. When there was a miracle about to take place, you would often see those phrases pop up as it did many times. Having “the Lord’s Spirit upon them”, gave them great power to accomplish all that God had for them to do. Having “God’s hand on them” allowed not only power, but protection from whatever evil was going to come against them to accomplish God’s will. When God has big plans for your life, you can best bet He is going to have you in a position to use you. This leads me to the points I want to make for you as a child of God. There are various ways to determine if God is going to use you in such an amazing way as He did the prophets of old. Including:
Having “The Spirit of The Lord Come Upon You” Brings Power
When God places his Spirit upon you, there will be no question as to “what it is”! It is truly the power of God himself. He uses us as His hands and feet to go and do to accomplish His will. This phrase is one that was used when there was no consistent Holy Spirit presence upon the Jews at the time before Christ. However, it is obvious still today that God often grants us with extra power when He wants us to accomplish something big for the building of His Kingdom. This happened numerous times to David when “the spirit of the Lord was with and came powerfully upon David” (1 Samuel 16:13, 1 Samuel 10:6). David would often have God’s spirit burn powerfully in him when he would go to defeat the Philistines, although there was a constant presence of the Lord with David. This could be attributed to the consistent worship and praise that David offered God. After all, they say he was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). However God would come upon David, He did it often and used David mightily to accomplish His work. He uses us to get t things done as well, but sometimes this requires us to have the power and authority of Christ to get the job done. Maybe He wants you to pray over someone fighting the enemies of hell. Do you think you can do that on your own authority? No, you need the authority of Jesus and tell the enemy you come in His name. In the moment when the Spirit of the Lord comes upon you everything will seem different. Your prayer life will be strong, your Bible study will become clear, and your hands will accomplish things you never knew before.
Having “The Hand of The Lord On You” Brings a Great Shield of Protection
God often uses us in very dangerous ways in the eyes of man; however God knows exactly what He is doing. He often places His hand over us to protect us in these tight situations that He places us in. When I was young, I professed faith in Christ. Over time due to the realities of life and living with some family problems of my own, I walked away from the influence of God and the body of Christ in the church. As a result, I got involved in many things and people that I should not have. My life could have been taken many times during that period in my life, but I am fortunate that it did not as God had his hand on me. During this time of trial He kept his hand over me to shield me from the dangers of my decisions, while allowing me to still suffer consequences of my actions. This cause and effect brought me to understand what I had brought upon myself as a result and I turned my life back over to God. Even though He has brought me out of the fiery pits of Hell, I still face danger as His servant here on earth. As an online ministry founder and pastor I have faced multiple threats and scam attempts. God grants me discernment to pick those out and allows me to see it for what it is. As missionaries go into the mission fields of hostile places such as Iraq and China, they need for “the hand of the Lord to be upon them”. I have heard many recall stories when they were aware God was doing this for them in their life as they narrowly and nearly impossibly escaped death. Elijah faced circumstances such as these when he stood up to kings, prophets, and idols to false Gods in 1 Kings (1 Kings 18:46). Thank God that the Lord had His hand upon him in those days. In these moments we feel that we could accomplish anything for the Lord, no matter the danger or odds.
Having God Come Upon You by Hand or Spirit Requires Great Sacrifice
God can’t use us if we refuse to move on His behalf. It is true He may give us a few trial runs, but if we do not act according to obedience and God’s will, we won’t be used very often. Many times, believers never truly get to see the fruit of their begun labor. Like the half built house on that country lot going to grandma’s we leave God’s business half-done in our lives. However, God never leaves His business half-done. He just finds another willing vessel because that is simply all we are. We are just vessels, broken and flawed. Constantly on the potter’s wheel we are shaped and molded into who God needs us to be (Isaiah 45:9). Sometimes getting on that wheel requires great sacrifice. It may cost you friends, family, acquaintances, even comfortable jobs. It has cost me all of those so far, but what I received in return was ten-fold better than before. Instead of phony friends, he gave me honorable one. Instead of a job that just had a stable income, he gave me a one where I could do his work all the while making the income. We never know what God has in store, which is why He asks us to trust Him. Of course it is up to you to climb atop that potter’s wheel and begin that journey. When you do, hang on and enjoy the process!
I pray this post has made an eternal impact on your life. If you have decided to give more to God today or become of a believer, let us know by email or contact form. As always, thank you for joining us. God Bless and have an amazing week!
1 Samuel 13:14 King James Version (KJV)
14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.
Acts 13:22 King James Version (KJV)
22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
1 Kings 18:46 King James Version (KJV)
46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
Isaiah 45:9New King James Version (NKJV)
9 “Woe to him who strives with his Maker!
Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth!
Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’?
Yes there is my friend! Happiness is surely a temporal condition, while joy is a long-term experienced emotion that only comes from having the hope of salvation in eternal life (1 Peter 1:8-9). So how do we define joy as described in the scripture? John Piper defines it like this, “Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.”(DesiringGod.org, How Do You Define Joy)? Since it allows us to view Christ in the world around us as well as applying life to God’s Word, we have greater insight on who He is and what He has done. As a believer, we can now see how he cares for even the sparrows of the air by bringing about the seasons and migration patterns. We can see how beautiful God’s creations are because we do not need proof that they were created rather than just evolved. Knowing the Joy of the Lord is knowing everything is in God’s hands. This includes your salvation, spiritual walk, future, and calling on your life. Even mourning is seen different in the eyes of a born-again believer because we have a definite plan of where we are heading after this life. I would not ever want to live this life without the joy of the Lord ever again and neither should you.
Is it possible to be sad and have joy? Of course because joy is not dependent upon the mood we are in. There are those suffering with some depression, anxiety, worry, stress, and other mental conditions that all have joy in their life. Now, here at SCM we believe that God can also heal/deliver us from those afflictions. What those conditions don’t change is the joy that we have in our hearts because God has placed it there. Never let a feeling or emotion decide your fate. We as Christians often go through seasons, many times because God is testing us or trying to teach us a spiritual principle in our life. Sometimes we go through struggles because we made the mistakes that got us there and want God to bail us out (James 1:2-3). Many of the most successful men business and spiritually have been slow the make decisions where emotion is involved. We most certainly always make great buying decisions when we sleep on it and return the next day. This takes the emotion farther away from the realities of the purchase. We must do the same with our emotions on other decisions as well. Do not let a moment of discouragement convince you that God isn’t real or that your life isn’t worth living. These are lies of the enemy and surely place in your mind to only deceive you. We must remember that the soul only resides in the body and is separate even though it is within us. I pray that every day you can experience the joy of the Lord in your soul. If you haven’t made the decision yet to gain that joy by receiving salvation today, we encourage you to visit our page What Is The Gospel? May the joy of the Lord be your strength today (Nehemiah 8:10)!
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
James 1:2-3 (KJV)
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
Romans 15:13 (KJV)
13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Nehemiah 8:10 (KJV)
10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Last week my son had a Boy Scout Pinewood Derby Race. He placed about mid-way in the rankings for his age group. He’s a competitive boy, so average is not good enough. After thinking the whole race through and talking with some other dads I was able to figure out what happened. What I found was that we likely did not place first not because the car couldn’t roll fast enough or that it lacked weight to push it, but rather lacked the balance it needed to win. I was advised by multiple winners that their cars incorporated most of their weight from within the body of the car itself and not added on the outside, giving them more momentum. Just as those derby cars are driven by what is within them, we as humans are driven by the God who lives within us. Whether we like it or not, we are all connected to our creator from within. Our very souls were created to fellowship with and serve God. Spiritual concepts and elements have that balance just as the many circumstances of life. Just the right amount of something may be life-giving, while just a drop too much or little can destroy. The great thing is we are not discussing mercury poisoning or oxygen deficiencies in this article. We will however, be comparing the concepts of predestination (Calvinism) and free will (Arminianism). Before you mentally check out by thinking of this as some seminary-filled theology highlight reel, understand that your doctrine most likely already supports one of these views over the other. My goal today is not to force you to choose between these two schools of thought, but to help us find a happy meeting point between the two. We will lay out the two views when taken to the extremes, followed by a look at what can happen when a concept is applied in moderation. We will also look at how these two opposing views impact us, what measures we can take to maintain balance and tranquility in our spiritual walk with God.
While the early was fighting to stay alive, debates over the balance between man and God’s will was very little to non-existent. Catholicism dominated the scene for Christianity until the reformation. Once Protestantism took hold, the two opposing schools of thought began to form. There were those who interpreted the scripture as supporting the view of predestination, but on the other hand there were groups who felt that scripture only gives evidence of free will. It’s over 600 years later and men are still arguing the two opposing views. But why do we have to argue? It is obvious there are aspects to both views the scripture seems to support. Both the individuals who are chosen and those who choose are both supported by the Gospel that we dearly love. Why can’t there by a better way than to choose between who is right and who is wrong? Scripture clearly would never support doctrines of confusion so we will attempt to sort this issue out. For both views you find scriptures such as John 6:37 and later in John 15:16. You see in John 6:37 that it appears that the Father “giveth” Jesus all that He would have Jesus save. Calvinists would argue this is an example of grace that is irresistible because the Father has chosen them, but Armenians would argue that the Father “gives” individuals who have chosen to believe to Jesus rather than force. This one is pretty easy to figure out given the similarities between verses 37 and then in verse 40 when it says “believeth on him”. It is clear that God has allowed these individuals to be delivered into the hands of Christ because they have chosen Christ, not forced. When it gets sticky for Armenians is when you see scripture like John 15:16 where God tells us, “Ye have not chosen me”. Once again, the Armenians will argue that God is referring to the apostle status of the disciples while the Calvinists are saying that God is clearly telling us that we are chosen for salvation.
Now that we know the two opposing views we must ask, how does these views affect our faith? They affect us because they play a role in determining how you will live out your faith entirely. If you feel that all who come to God are simply just chosen then you may overlook the sinner who has rejected God in the past, but simply needs to be remembered in prayer. If you feel that men always choose their salvation, it is easy to forget who holds the keys to hell, death, and the grave. My views on these two concepts are much more moderate. While God obviously chooses a few elect that will play large roles in His work here on earth and heaven, it is obvious that not all individuals who will be saved were forced by God’s hand. He is a gentleman and even the scripture tells us, “I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” If God is forcing our hand, why is he knocking on the door of our heart rather than kicking it down like the D.E.A.? Men doing the great works for the Master such as the Billy Grahams and Martin Luther’s of the world were obviously chosen by God to be great leaders, but yet they could have rejected His calling. This is not to say there would be no consequences for rejecting His goodness, but there has to be free will. If men have no free will to choose then Adam and Eve would have never sinned from the beginning. Because they had the freedom to doubt, they did wrongfully so and we still suffer as man-kind today.
The great news is that because there is a free will (earliest example of choice: Genesis 2:15-17), we have a choice to apply these concepts of the two-opposing views where they belong. Having a closed gate view of salvation is obviously dangerously destructive to the Gospel message in general. Telling people they can be saved while also advising them they are chosen by God to be what they are can be counterproductive for the Kingdom of God. However, if you tell them that God offers salvation to all those who will accept it while also advising them there are those who have been chosen to do great works for God is helpful. Many of today’s Evangelical church have this moderate view of the two spiritual concepts. Pentecostalism believes in the election of God’s servant workers, while they also believe the Gospel should be extended to “all nations”. My suggestion to anyone is to always look to the scriptures as guidance when deciding any major theological supporting opinions. The Word of God never misleads and can be used as the measuring stick for all truth. As for right now, I believe that you are surely not here today by accident. God may have ordained this moment for you to be on this site reading this article today, but He has given you a choice. The choice is to choose to follow Him as your Lord and Savior, or to reject him today. I pray that above all earthly things, theological debates, and discussions that you will make the choice to believe in Him today if you haven’t already. God tells us that those who have sinned are headed to hell if they are without the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23). We do have the choice to abstain from sin, but all who were born fall short of perfection (Psalms 51:5, Romans 5:12). It is only through Christ that redemption is available (John 14:6, Acts 2:21). If you wish to make the commitment to believe in Him today as your savior, please click here to find out more or email us with your questions and concerns. We would love to hear your testimony or hear about your experiences in faith. Until next time, thank you for visiting S.C.M. and God Bless!
John 6:37 (KJV)
37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
John 15:16 (KJV)
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
John 6:40 (KJV)
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Revelation 3:20 (KJV)
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Genesis 2:15-17 (KJV)
15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Romans 3:23 (KJV)
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Psalm 51:5 (KJV)
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Romans 5:12 (NKJV)
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned--
John 14:6 (KJV)
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Acts 2:21 (KJV)
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
It is common to hear many Christians refer to “talking with God”. It leaves many wondering, guessing, or assuming what is meant by this seemingly religious rhetoric. In this article, we will examine the many different ways we communicate to God, how He communicates to us, and the most effective ways for keeping these channels of communication open. Theologians seem to complicate the basics of communication with God in fear of being viewed as charismatic in their theology. Some simply lack the faith necessary to speak with God on a personal level. Whatever the reason, here at SCM we desire every believer to have as much communication with the Master as possible.
The first order of business for anyone who wishes to speak to God is to simply do just that. It’s as easy as opening our mouth and speaking, just as we do with everyone else. There is no secret formula or ritual to communicate with the Lord. Some people prefer to do this quietly to themselves and sometimes it is necessary to your immediate circumstances. Whatever method you choose at the moment, you can be assured that God is hearing the cries, desires, and needs of His children. To pray out loud or within is a personal choice, however I do believe that there is a special advantage to speaking our needs out loud (Proverbs 18:21 & 12:18). Praying God’s power out loud lets the enemy trying to prevent your breakthrough know that help is on the way. Words are powerful, especially in prayer as God wishes to give us the desires of our hearts. Covenants and blessings were often passed down by word of mouth in the Old Testament era. These blessings were powerful gifts from God himself. So what are the forms of communication with God? The most obvious way is as we said to just speak to God. You can choose a more formal route such as prayer and even worship. Worship includes music, crying out to him, service in His name, and even obedience to God. Many people fail to even acknowledge God until a crisis arises in their life. This is when they begin to pray or cry out. The most sincere form of worship to God is obedience. To be obedient we must continue our side of communication with Him on a regular basis. Our concerns and needs are much more apt to be granted when we maintain that relationship with God on a consistent basis. If you find yourself in regular situations where you are in a crisis and the only common denominator is that you cry out to God only when this happens, that could be the reason He is allowing such suffering to come your way. If the only way He can hear from His children is to allow them to feel the pain of suffering, we are at least much better off spiritually this way. I want God to know that I need Him in the good times as much as I need Him in the bad times.
The other side of the equation when speaking to God is hearing back. This tends to be the least common referred to half of the conversation. I hear many people say, “I pray, but I don’t hear anything back” or “God must not be real because He never speaks to me.” There are often many possible and many times multiple reasons for there to be an assumed absence of communication from God’s side. The most common being when we aren’t listening to Him. For the unbeliever, it is ignoring the conviction to confess faith in Him and to commit our lives over to Christ. How can He be expected to answer our concerns when we appear to blatantly ignore His? Most believers don’t seem to hear from God because we are not sincerely listening in the first place. When I speak to my wife, she thoroughly appreciates it when I stop all that I am doing to speak to her. She wants full attention, eyes fixed on her, and your body still. When this happens, our communication goes nearly flawlessly. We seem to forget this approach when it comes to God. We need to stop what we are doing and focus solely on Him when we wish to hear back. This may include getting away from routine life, seeking a quiet place, or being alone in solitude. Many people have designated what they call as a “special prayer closet” where they can get alone with God and speak with Him. Another reason for the assumed lack of response when speaking with God can be that we are ignorant of the many methods that God can use to communicate back. Part of this ignorance is the fault of the local church and the other part is our own. Scripture explains the many ways and means that God often uses to communicate with us. This subject is often over-looked by the local church because it is not well understood by most ministers.
So what are the methods that God uses to speak? These include: audibly, through His Word, prophetic dreams, His people, un-believers, conviction, affliction, and circumstances (John 10:27, Hebrews 1:1-2). To hear God speak audibly is not only rare, but also a miracle. Saul, who would soon become Paul, heard the voice of the Lord as he was blinded by God. However, after his conversion Paul did not regularly report hearing the audible voice of God, but rather His guidance and conviction. For most that hear the audible voice of God, it is a one-time life event. God often times speaks to us through His Word. To hear him in this fashion, we have to be willing to crack open a Bible and read it. It may be old-fashioned, but I always keep an actual Bible around for this reason. Just having a phone app or a copy on the internet isn’t sufficient enough. A few days ago, God began to confirm the message the minister was about to preach was for me by first allowing me to flip to the exact scripture in the Bible He was about to preach on. I had no idea what scriptures he was planning to use or what the message was about. All I know is that the message was confirmed in several different ways from God that day to let me know it was for me. That’s how God speaks through His Word. Many times, if God confirms and answers through His Word He will follow it up with the other indirect methods of communication. He may show you a scripture, follow it with conviction, and confirm His Word through another believer. God also loves to speak to use through our dreams. This happens often to me and is followed usually through conviction. Dreams are powerful and many times prophetic as it was for Joseph when he was young man. Peter dreamed a revelation from God on the rooftop of a house that helped the church get past a cultural blockade dealing with the gentiles (Acts 10:9-16). Do not discount your dreams until you have prayed diligently as they are often a warning for coming danger as well. God often speaks through His people in coordination with other forms of speaking to us. I have personally had many ministers and fellow church members prophesy things to me that have come to past. Just as He speaks through His people, He may also choose to allow a sinner to speak prophesy to us without that person even knowing the meaning of what they are saying. We have already discussed conviction as it often coincides with other forms of God speaking to us. Conviction can be best explained as tugging on the heart of man, such as when your heart was tugged to get saved by Christ. God can speak to us through our trials, afflictions, and circumstances. Many times we will experience things, but not receive the message He is giving to us until a later time. It is almost always when we are going through a trial or affliction we cannot envision the end result. We have to remind ourselves at that moment that God can see the big picture outside of the circumstances. Trials often help God trim off the spiritual fat in our lives, leaving us a more lean and fit Christian. That allows God to then reveal His reason and plan for what he has allowed us to endure.
Once we get those lines of communication open, how do we keep them? This is a good question, but also very easy to answer. And that answer is, the same way we got them open. This comes with obedience, holiness, humbleness, and willingness to hear God’s still calm voice. We need to eagerly seek God daily (Matthew 6:33, Revelation 3:20). This includes diving in His Word, developing and ongoing relationship with God, speaking on a regular basis with Him. The more time we spend in prayer, the easier our conversations begin to be with Christ. God wants and does what He can to provide us with everything we need to do these things. All He needs in return is our effort and faith. “Do your best and let God take care of the rest!” Praise God that He was willing to lower himself off the throne of heaven to be given as a sacrifice for our sins, so that we may have this communication with Him today. We should never take our opportunity to speak with Him for granted.
Proverbs 18:21 King James Version (KJV)
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
Proverbs 12:18 King James Version (KJV)
18 There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.
Acts 10:9-16 King James Version (KJV)
9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
John 10:27 King James Version (KJV)
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
Hebrews 1:1-2 King James Version (KJV)
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Matthew 6:33 King James Version (KJV)
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Revelation 3:20 King James Version (KJV)
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.