We’ve always encouraged Christians to …
- Be bold in trusting Jesus
- Believe in themselves
- Know that God has a wonderful future for his children
- Experience the voice and peace of the Holy Spirit
- Dare follow his leadings.
Commitment leads to obedience, trusting, discovery, fulfilment
Several months ago we had emphasised these truths to a young couple in whom we have always observed a strong commitment to serving the Lord and obeying his directions. They shared what they believed God wanted them to do and be – including moving locale and ministries. Believing they’d heard most accurately from him, we encouraged them to ‘go for it!’
What a blessing recently to have them share with us a joyous update – God had indeed led them into some exciting new pathways. And as they trusted him, especially in needed finances linked with the move, they’d grown in their faith, careers, and ministry opportunities to serve the kingdom.
It was meaningful too to learn that their new church doesn’t limit or restrict newcomers who obviously have a heart to serve – their God-given skills and talents were quickly recognised and utilised. Nor was age a determining factor – there’s a desire to facilitate every willing Christian and especially prepare an upcoming generation of ministries.
Our young friends have grown further and are on-fire with all that their hearing, trusting and obeying God has taken them into. They beam! And they still feast hungrily on the wide experiences of seasoned ‘fathers and mothers in Israel.’
Some churches have some (vital) things missing
It would appear, unfortunately, that a number of Christians are currently sensing a decided emptiness in their lives – as well as in church life, and they’re not moving on. (Not every church, praise God!).
With sincere concern these kingdom seekers have been querying the absence of …
- Soundly scripture-based teaching and meaningful, singable choruses
- The anointing of the Holy Spirit and the sense of his presence
- A deeper desire for knowledge of the Spirit and for his gifts to regularly operate
- Spirit-led freedom and spontaneity instead of countless projects and programs
- Badly needed healings, miracles and genuine prophecy as in NT pentecostal expectation
- More answered prayers
- Weekly salvation calls because members aren’t outreaching or inviting the unsaved along
- Meaningful outreaches to refugees in their own language, such as Farsi-speaking services
- Genuine congregational caring from the top down
- Attenders’ desire to arrive on time and not wanting to miss even free special meetings
- Hearty desire to see the local church grow in quantity and quality
- Preparing a current younger generation to take up the reins of the one preceding
- Utilising mature, seasoned ‘fathers and mothers in Israel’ instead of sideswiping/closeting them.
A need to seek and search
Consequently such spiritually hungry and kingdom-centred followers of Christ are seeking direction from their God re their future – not carelessly but zeroed on the Matthew 6:33NLT command to ‘Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously’ and believing that as they do so with a sincere God-honouring heart, he ‘will give you everything you need.’
Our God is a loving, caring heavenly Father who really cares for his earthly children! He welcomes our asking for meaningful things. Jesus confirmed this in his Matthew 7:7-11 teaching.
Unfortunately some Christians haven’t discovered this truth yet and miss out on moving ahead. Or they wrongly feel they should only ask once in a weak ‘please, but only if it’s your will’ fashion.
Now, truthfully, some things won’t happen as and when we would like, but on the whole the Father’s heart is to respond to our needs (incidentally…genuine ‘needs’ are different from selfish, worldly ‘wants’!).
Many decades ago we were distracted from the great biblical reality of receiving from our God. How? Some preachers wrongly taught that trusting Christians should only ask once. Even the great man of faith, Smith Wigglesworth, was quoted as having stated something like: ‘If you ask seven times, you’ve asked six times too much.’
Really? Oops – that sounded heavy to us, new to the ministry! But then came that precious moment of peace-bringing revelation: ‘Hey, we’re not SW with his outstanding faith, we’re just little us! But we can trust God because he’s our big dad. Like Jesus (Mark 14:36) and Paul (Rom. 8:15, Gal.4:6) , we too can call him “Abba…Daddy!” So maybe we need to ask again and again, just like little kids – at our current faith level whether it’s “little” or “large” – after all faith is faith!’
The Matthew 7:7-11scripture should be understood as in the aorist tense…implying an ongoing exercise. The NLT (emphasis ours) reads: ‘Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.’
The Message Bible really nails it: ‘Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in.’
Comparing a good but human father to himself, in verse 11 God then boldly declares: ‘Don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?’ Of course he will! We can rely on this as we ask, seek and knock.
We may think of the above kind of asking, seeking and knocking as what we call prayer – okay. But let’s understand that ‘prayer’ simply means chatting to our loving, considerate Father God. This is what ‘Be direct’ is all about…we can confidently but humbly chat to Father anywhere, anytime, asking in Jesus’ name, expecting the third person of the trinity to outwork the answer! But we must do so reverently and with great respect, not carelessly, selfishly demanding!
Paul knew the value of talking all things over with God – he wrote much about asking about everything, insisting that we ‘don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done’ (Phil. 4:6).
Luke 18:1-8 tells of Jesus concernedly insisting that his followers don’t quit seeking. In telling the story of an unrighteous judge, he said in verse one he was ‘showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit.’
Expect leadings from the Spirit
Are you seeking, searching, knocking at this time?
Keep on doing so and expect the Holy Spirit to clearly guide you. Have a prayer partner, preferably your spouse if married! Then be willing to trust, obey and act. Don’t let age, whether young or not so young, deter you from following and serving the Lord.
Paul had much to say about the Spirit and praying in the Spirit …check a good concordance for scriptures such as –
- 6:18, ‘Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent…’
- 5:16, ‘My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness’ (Mge).
- 12:7, ‘Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!’
Leadings that take us into new territory, ministry and more can come from scripture meditation, prayer, heart touching sermons, prophetic words, meaningful choruses, that ‘still small voice’ resulting’ in a quickening within (that’s a rhema word). We’ll know that we know that we know! Then we can daringly move on and ahead.
We’re in a year when God is sorting out the church and is looking for willing, available servants. If you’re the latter, then you will find answers to those queries that are troubling you – plus a great Jeremiah 29:11 future as you respond to the Spirit’s direction, be it a softly whispered leading.
Take the example of a little child – ‘Speak. I’m your servant, ready to listen’ (1 Samuel 3:10). Boy, what a future that response led – grew – him into! His spiritual father’s encouragement was an immediate ‘He is God. Let him do whatever he thinks best’ (v 18).
Links: Teaching – Jim McClure’s Ageism / TheBuzz – Coralie Alison’s All This in 30 Minutes