The Top 5 Missionary Strategies: Living with a Missions Mindset

by Sarah Itterman

Working in missions or ministry is by far one of the most challenging yet rewarding endeavors a person can embark upon. Over the years various strategies and methods have been experimentally driven. Some have proven fruitful while others have failed miserably despite the sincere efforts of those involved. One of the reasons there has been failure is from lack of following the guidelines laid out for us in Scripture (particularly in the New Testament) as to how we should approach gospel advancement and world missions. In the 13th-19th chapters of Acts there are 5 key strategies which the Apostles and Early Church engaged themselves passionately in and lived by. These approaches should be ones that we should seek to implement. Without them, the church will not build the foundations necessary in order to preach the gospel whether that be in a foreign land, our local community, or to our coworkers.

One of the most significant strategies, yet one that is often forgotten about, is to carefully listen and obey the voice of God. Throughout the book of Acts there are numerous recordings of how the believers sought guidance through prayer. When the Spirit told them to do or not do something and they obeyed, God used their obedience to grow and expand the church in the most phenomenal ways. In Acts 13 the Spirit tells the disciples to set aside Paul and Barnabas for the work which God had called them to do. Through obedience to this calling Paul would embark on his first of many missionary journeys which would ignite the flame for world evangelism.

Another example of listening to the voice of God would be in Acts chapter 16 where Paul received a vision from the Lord. In the vision a man from Macedonia was asking for help. Knowing that this was from God, Paul and the other disciples who were with him immediately set off for Macedonia. Upon arriving there, they were able to preach the gospel to many and perform miracles. Through the tribulations they faced by being imprisoned and beaten, they were able to share the good news with the jailor and his whole family became believers. Although listening and obeying God’s voice is not always easy nor is it sometimes safe, God uses every situation that He calls us to and anywhere He places us in order that through our obedience He can work not only in us but through us as we witness to those around us.

This leads us into the second strategy which is to do everything for the glory of God alone. This is perhaps most evident in Acts 14 after Paul and Barnabas had healed the lame man in Lystra. When the people saw what had happened they treated them as gods and began to worship them. Paul and Barnabas instead of reveling in the glory they were receiving sought to explain to them that God was the one who had healed the lame man, not themselves. If serving or doing anything in the name of Jesus is solely not for His glory but for wrong intentions, God will not bless it, nor will we be able to serve Him fully.

As the church and representatives of Christ, our desire and focus should primarily be to bring others to Him by striving to honor Him in everything we endeavor to do. To often, especially within the Western churches, the shift is more often than not taken off of God’s goodness and who He truly is and is rather put upon the people leading within the ministry. This can also lead to submitting people to rules or regulations which are not necessary or even biblical. The Apostles learned early on that these would be issues which would need to be constantly clarified and addressed as seen in Acts 15 and we would be wise to follow in their footsteps in this area.

The third strategy is to use contextualization when preaching the gospel.  Throughout the New Testament there are multiple illustrations of how the disciples and believers would use this concept as a means to share the gospel with whomever they were preaching to. In Acts 13, the Apostle Paul as he began to share the good news with the Jewish people in Antioch, delivered the message in a way which the Jews could relate to by using their culture, language, history and religion as evidence and examples for preaching the gospel. 

Paul uses the same strategy a few chapters later in Acts 17 when he has the opportunity to speak in front of a group of Greek philosophers. He was sensitive to their culture and practices as he began to unfold the scriptures to them. This would prompt Paul to write later on in one of his epistles, “ I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew to win the Jews…..To the weak I became weak to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all means I might save some (1 Corinthians 9:19-22).” In the same way, we should strive to share the gospel with those who come from other religions, ethnicities and cultural differences first by learning and seeking to understand, and then sharing in order that they might comprehend more fully what we are seeking to say.

Along with contextualizing the gospel it is important not to conform other people to that of your own culture or lifestyle. The disciples realized this in Acts 15 when they were faced with the issue of whether or not the new believers should become circumcised. It was causing disunity within the churches and misunderstandings as to whether or not those who were not circumcised were truly believers. After meeting with the elders in the church, the Apostles agreed that it is not by physical standards but rather spiritual ones which make a man clean and pure before God. In the same way, when we are living amongst and sharing the gospel with a group of people who are completely different from us, it is important that we do not try to make them like ourselves in order for them to think that that is the only way that they can become believers. As Christians our goal isn’t to convert people through man-made structures. Every culture and people group is unique and different in their own way; our ultimate role is to help them understand by using their own language, traditions and lifestyle to tell them about Jesus. 

Finally, but most important is to recognize how essential the power of the Holy Spirit is today in our own lives and those whom we are seeking to win for Christ. It is the Holy Spirit which guides and leads the hearts of men. It is not what we say or do, but rather the power of the Holy Spirit working in us and through us that enables people to realize that it is not by our own strength  but rather by Him who dwells within us. Without the Spirit, the church would not be as powerful as it is today. Throughout the book of Acts as it depicts the formation of the early church we see the Spirit moving in ways which for some of us is hard to imagine.

It is vital to recognize that the Spirit is moving just as powerfully in our own day and age just as during the time of the early church. Today this is perhaps most seen by the thousands of Muslims coming to Christ through dreams and visions. It is the healing and miraculous divine interventions which are occurring all over the world which are bringing people to Jesus.  If we fail to recognize the power of the Holy Spirit we are diminishing God himself. One question which we should ask ourselves is, “Am I allowing the Spirit to work in and through me every day?”. Without this in the forefront of our minds we can easily lose sight of how we should view the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives.

By implementing these 5 strategies into our work in missions, ministry or workplace (wherever that may be), we will be able to effectively and adequately serve God and share the gospel with whomever He puts in our path. As the body of Christ it is necessary that we study the book of Acts particularly in regards to Church growth, structure and discipleship. Not only must we study it, but we must determine to live by these standards wholeheartedly. By seeking to understand the principles and guidelines laid out for us we can then effectively carry out the great commission which Jesus gave us: to go into all nations and share the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Prayer

by Shane Caskey

Prayer is the KEY that unlocks the gates of heaven and locks the gates of hell. Prayer is a conversation with God. A conversation isn’t just one way is it? We tend to talk way too much when praying. For every minute we talk to God, we need to spend double of that amount listening. Just as in a human conversation, we talk and we listen. We don’t just walk up to someone, say what we have to say and then walk away. That’s just rude in our culture. You need to give the other person a chance to respond.

And we wonder why we don’t hear God. Most of us pray, but most of us don’t listen. It’s like we are giving God instructions, be we don’t wait for His. He’s like, “Wait, come back! I didn’t have a chance to speak. I didn’t finish what I was saying”. How many of us are bad about interrupting people while they talk? I am!! I’ll be the first one to admit it. Sometimes we just need to be quiet and let God finish what He is saying. 

We have too much noise in our lives. As soon as we get home, we hit the remote or continue about our agenda instead of God’s agenda. God told Abraham to leave home so He could reveal himself to Abraham on the mountain. There was too much noise at home. Nature is a wonderful place to really experience God’s presence. 

Do you want to learn how to hear the voice of God inside of you? I’m going to break it down in a very simplistic way: conscience. Think about it. There is something inside of us that tells us right from wrong and it’s been there all along. FOCUS on that voice. It’s God! The more you pay attention to that soft, quiet, humble voice, the more you will be able to hear it and begin to realize, hey, that IS God!!. Be careful though. There is that other voice that like to pretend it’s God too. Test it with scripture and discernment.

Sometimes God will talk to you in a way that is recognizable. He sounds like my earthly dad sometimes-especially when He is correcting me or disciplining me. I’ll hear that loud, “James Shannon Caskey!”, and think I’m in trouble. Or it can be like a voice of someone else who you love (whether alive or gone). It’s a perfect way to get our attention real quick. Remember, God is also our friend. No need for a fancy, eloquent prayer. Just talk to Him. I’ve gotten more responses from Him personally when I’ve gotten down right real with Him. He likes that! I’ve even gotten in “arguments” with Him before. I’m not meaning any disrespect at all, I’m just sharing my deep feelings with Him. Oh my goodness, will He respond!! And of course, I’m usually wrong, but I like to know why!

When I pray, I call Him “dad” alot. He really likes that. It’s a term of endearment. And it shows intimacy between Him and I. And we will start this, “I love you more”, “No, I love you more” thing that makes me really smile! We should also be serious when we pray and put our emotions and heart into it. Stale prayer and worship makes God want to qayah (the Hebrew word for vomit). He doesn’t like it at all.

God is the Commander in Chief. Don’t forget your daily briefing soldiers!! God loves speaking to you. Slow down and listen. A prayer strategy can be very important under certain circumstances. Especially if you want UNIFIED prayer. Pray and wait with EXPECTATIONS. Be specific with your prayers-this is very, very important!!!

Do the Right Thing

by Sarah Elizabeth

In a world where evil runs rampant, those who oppose it’s advances become the primal target. Standing against satanic agendas in the name of truth and righteousness becomes a treasonous act. Such is the world in which we live today. It is vital that in this perilous era, we choose to do and say what is right- no matter the cost. Come what may, we have been given an honorable opportunity to promote God’s love in the darkest places. What a privilege to be counted worthy of such a task!

My brothers and sisters, we are not the first to be given this undertaking, nor should it cause us to hesitate to act now that it is upon our doorstep. Obedience to God is what we have been called to since we made the decision to surrender our lives and wills to that of His. A clear conscience before God, even though it may land us in the deepest dungeon, is far better than to compromise one’s faith in order to enjoy temporary freedom. It is in the darkest pit that His light shines upon us more brightly. He will give us grace and strength to endure the fiery trials. 

This light shines forth for all to witness the face of God in our weakened state. A light of truth to share to those who do not know Him. A light of love to show to those who have never experienced His. A light of forgiveness towards those who do us harm so that they may know the ultimate act of forgiveness which was given to save them from eternal hell. 

And so my brothers and sisters, praise Him in the valleys and on the mountains. Wherever He wills you to go, go without wavering or fear. Choose to do the right thing, being driven always by love. The suffering and adversity should cause us to rejoice that we have been counted worthy for His Name’s sake (James 1: 2-8). Go forth in Christ alone and in obedience to His sovereign will for HE is all we need. Amen.

When You Walk Through the Fire

by Cassie Lynch

In the winter of 2018 I was asked by the university I was working at to put on a breakout session for the school’s women’s retreat – the topic they gave me was Embracing Hard Things. I was a bit taken aback because aside from my dad falling from spiritual leadership, I hadn’t really faced major difficulty or major trauma. Nonetheless I spent several months studying and reading and praying and I showed up with a session in hand. Amid a lot of good advice, the greatest takeaway was this reality: we can only thrive and survive in this life if our eyes are on Jesus.

I taught the class despite feeling slightly inexperienced in the topic and 3 months later my dad was in the ER, then getting brain surgery, then being diagnosed with terminal and aggressive brain cancer. Within a few months my entire world was being flipped on its head and I was grieving. Forced to drop everything, sell most of my belongings and move to a new state, I struggled for four months to find employment and then my biggest support, my dad, died. And all of the how-to lists became intangible. When the diagnosis came I rolled up my sleeves and was like, ‘I’m gonna be the best griever ever, I’m gonna grieve so well.” I started reading books, and listening to messages surrounding the topic.

Yet as the journey unfolded I quickly realized that the 10 step plans don’t work in the storm. The 10 step plans don’t work when you’re too sad to get out of bed. The 10 step plans don’t work when you’re supposed to find community and yet your deepest anguish hits at 3AM when you’re alone in your bed.
I had some good habits in place, but it’s amazing how the fire can burn away my resolve to be grateful, to commit to sitting in it until I see a transformation.
Yet as my greatest intentions were melting in the heat of these trials, one thing held true. In my deepest ache, in my darkest hour, my Lord was there.
Jesus who wasn’t afraid on the cross to say, “my God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus who wasn’t ashamed to voice is suffering, to voice his sense of abandonment. Jesus who on the cross wasn’t afraid to declare his needs. He said I’m thirsty! Jesus who was able to endure that which he begged God to take from him, because he had an eternal perspective. He could see the joy on the other side.
Jesus who single-handedly made our suffering worth it, finally worth it, because there’s something greater awaiting. Jesus who knows my ache more intimately than even I, drew near.

As believers, we love to offer platitudes. We love to toss out phrases such as “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” It’s a lie! Think of Job. Think of Joseph. Think of Paul. Look at your own life! There is so much we must walk through that we most certainly cannot handle. In 2 Corinthians 1:8 Paul writes of his circumstances, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.”

Have you ever been there? When the suffering mounts and mounts and mounts and you can’t see your way through the fog, you can’t imagine how any of it could turn good. Have you ever cried out to God, “this is too much! I can’t do this anymore,” have you felt this weariness? Maybe you’re facing it today. Maybe these questions, these sentiments ring true right now. If so, you need to hear the rest of the verse: “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from peril and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.”

So as we face the sufferings of this life. As we experience setback and heartbreak, and loss, and pain, let us not cling to empty platitudes. Let us lean all the more on the one who empathizes with our pain. Think of the gospel. My sin had me dead. Powerless. Weak. Useless. I could not overcome it. I could not move through it. Yet Christ bore my sin to death. My God who has the power to raise the dead to life is the one who can deliver me today and tomorrow as well. We must allow him to carry the load, to pour strength into our being, to bring mercy anew each morning, to deliver us.

In your anguish I urge you to cry out to the Lord. Run into the throne room like you are the child of the King (you are after all). Climb into the lap of the good good Father and ask him to carry you through. Cling to his promises. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze (Isaiah 43:2).”

Oneness With God

by Shane Caskey

Alright, for all of you fasting right now since its fasting season, here’s a little nugget to help you. It’s up to you if you use it or not. Beware!! It will get you close to Him-if that is what you really want!?

Oneness with God:

-Tender, intimate fellowship with the Living God!!!!

-The secret is found in bent knees, wet eyes, and a broken heart.

-It has to be the most important thing in your life.

-It requires holiness

Continual and passionate daily fellowship with the Lord is also required:

– A close friendship with the Lord requires that you spend much time ALONE with Him. A genuine friendship where you can unload everything on your heart to Him.

-Spend more time in His Word – not just daily but hourly. Meditate on it, memorize it, hide it in your heart.

-“Abide and remain” in Jesus (John 15:4, John 17:21, 1 John 3, Galatians 5:17).

-“Being in Christ”, “abiding in Christ”, and “being filled with the Holy Spirit”, represents intimacy with God.

-Practice His presence. Living every minute of everyday, no matter what you are doing, as if it were precious and holy to God.

-Take every single thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

-Pray especially with thankfulness and praise.

-Tell The Lord how much you love Him through words and actions

-Intercede for others

-Be still and LISTEN to The Lord!!

The Place Inside

by Kendra Williams

It’s a depressing and sober reality how far the world has fallen away from God. They mock Him, laugh at Him, curse Him- thinking how secure they are since He hasn’t done anything to them for their sin. Rather similar to the story of Noah, isn’t it? No, God’s not going to wipe out the world with a flood. But there will come a time when it’s too late. This may be as close as I’ll get to explaining why I can get so depressed sometimes…just where the pain comes from. You see, the attitude so completely against God comes too close to home. I think I’ve gotten a taste of what “agony” really means, a pain too deep and real to adequately put into words. I’ve watched people I love turn away from God, literally been watching loved ones dying knowing that there will be no peace for them or reunion after death. 

Without Jesus we’re dead inside… an eternal death and separation. I think deep down everyone knows it, they just don’t want to face it. Why is the world in such a frenzy to be entertained? Yet, no matter how much of it we get, in the end it’s never enough. In fact sometimes we feel emptier than before. Why? Because when God made us He put a special place inside that only He can fill. When He’s there, it’s so wonderful that it’s beyond description. When He’s not there it’s nothing more than a gaping hole, an emptiness too big and painful to just ignore. Oh, we can manage to put up with it for a while. We have so many things to occupy our thoughts. But have you noticed how torturous it is to be bored? Have nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to talk to, no entertaining thoughts…a place of seclusion where the things you’ve run from come and haunt you. 

If you don’t have Jesus inside, then there is definitely a feeling- maybe you don’t quite know what it is- that is very uncomfortable. It’s the terrible feeling of emptiness, an inner death; it’s the feeling of being far from life itself. But people run from God, fearing the feeling of nothing inside, yet fearing losing sinful fun even more. In truth, they see the loss instead of the gain. If they could see the whole picture, their fun versus what God has in store, they would feel like a child choosing toy money over a 14 karat gold crown inlaid with precious stones. If only they could see their choice. Worthless over priceless. Pain over joy. Death over life. If only they could see…

A Pawn in the Hands of Almighty God

by Sarah Itterman

Life for the believer is like a strategic game of chess. The board represents our journey through this world and into eternity. Each piece has a different move and each has a unique purpose in order to win the game. Examining chess from a Christian perspective, God is the Grand Master and we are His pawns. On the other side of the board resides satan and his demons ready to kill and destroy.

While any other player would choose to use their pawns first, it was not so for Christ. In one of His first moves, He sacrificed His most powerful piece-His only Son. At that moment, we can only imagine what the reaction at the opposite end of the board must have been. The enemy probably had a huge smirk on his face. He gleefully laughed because he thought he had won the game. “What a foolish move to make”, he roared. 

However, three moves (days) later Jesus Christ was resurrected and entered back onto the playing board. How the devil must have trembled then. He realized he no longer had the upper hand. In a furious rage he then began to focus on the other pieces. The pawns were now at the center of  his attention.

For over 2,000 years since then, the church has been engaged in an all out battle. Through the seasons the church has had times of prosperity and peace. At other times it has been nearly demolished under the onslaught of attacks. In times when the pawns are dropping like flies off the chess board, one wonders why there isn’t a better strategy or greater protection by the Master Chessman.

Why are some pawns sacrificed more quickly than others? There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the game. It is in times like these that we must remember that we tend to view life from a finite perspective. Trusting that our God is omniscient and that He is carrying out everything according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), enables us to see life in a new light.

We can rejoice that we have been given the greatest blessing to be members of His army. When the enemy attempts to destroy us, we must remember that our sacrifice is but a small price to pay. For if the Master Chessman was willing to sacrifice the winning piece (His Son) before any of us in order that we might partake in the ultimate victory, how much more willing should we be to gladly give our lives for this cause. Yes, we may be just pawns, but we are His pawns. We can be rest assured that no matter how fierce the battle, we are on the winning side. What a blessing that we have been counted worthy to be a pawn in the hands of our Almighty God. Amen.

Scared Spitless

by Kendra Williams

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom….I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”                                                                                                                            –1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Paul often boasted about his moments of weakness, and we all know why. But it wasn’t until this last year and a half that I’ve come to realize just how great a thing he was onto here. Somehow, at least for me, it’s easy to look at the Bible in an almost romanticized light: The disciples and apostles walking around speaking great words of wisdom, always knowing what to say and do, having the utmost integrity and confidence- in a way, the perfect Christians. People we’d go to (and do, in a sense) for advice on every subject. But here, Paul’s admitting to everyone: “I was scared spitless when I came to talk to you about Jesus. It freaked me out so bad, I was actually shaking and spoke clumsily. And yet that’s exactly what you needed: God’s power in a humbling moment, not my skill, or wisdom, or knowledge….so I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

How typical of God!!! I mean, this is Paul we’re talking about here! God took someone that could’ve said “No way! I’m not cut out for this!” and made a powerful tool that continues to affect people even today. See, here’s the key that Paul understood: We are the most effective when we feel the most ineffective, because that’s where we tend to throw everything in God’s lap and say “I can’t do this! Please, You do it!” That’s exactly the point God drives us to, just for that moment of utter surrender….Then, and sometimes only then, will He roll up His sleeves and say “Finally. Here we go!”

A simple truth? One you’ve heard a million times? Most likely. You’ve probably even experienced it from time to time. “Oh, it was so cool because God stepped in- right when I was at my wit’s end!” That’s what I’ve been experiencing for the last year and a half… I’ve walked into work day after day, terrified of not being able to handle situations or of missing opportunities to help the students learn something important. But God, in my complete weakness, will softly whisper, “Kendra…you’re not doing this shift alone. I am right here.” and without fail, the most amazing things happen. In fact, the time in my life that I felt the most inadequate was when He moved through me the greatest.  As strange as it seems, during that time I felt moved to start a prayer group at work that became so intense that the women’s floor took a turn for the better… and, in a round-about way, saved my life. So: I was a mess, at the breaking point, needing God desperately…and through that need, God moved mightily.

That was a strangely special season when I began to discover Paul’s secret. But do you know what was different about Paul? He intentionally lived at his breaking point, constantly in need of God, because he knew that’s what it took for his “wits” to get out of the way and God’s power to work freely through him on a day to day basis. Can you live like that? Can I? That is an extreme walk of faith! I’m coming to discover this about Jesus- He’s always, ALWAYS searching for your surrender, so He can work without hindrance. If you really want to live this life His way, be prepared to be scared spitless….and be prepared to be one amazed witness of His power in action.

The Word of God is Alive

by Shane Caskey

I’m about to share something with you that God has put on my heart. A way of thinking outside of the “religious box”. Did you know that we can all hear the voice of God? It’s not just for pastors, it’s for all of us. The Word of God is alive, active and powerful! The Word of God is not just a book. So many people are stuck on that idea. The “scriptures” are very important yes, but that is not the Word of God. It’s so much more than that. For those of us who belong to Jesus Christ, the Word of God is alive, lives within us and is written on our heart and soul. 

And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human incarnate) (John 1:14). The Word that God speaks is alive and full of power (Hebrews 4:12; Acts 7:38; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit that we wield against the enemy (Ephesians 6:17). The Word of God is living water used to cleanse us (Ephesians 5:26).

The Book of Law (Old Testament) was written before Jesus came to earth. Joshua 1:8 says that we are to, “meditate in the written word day and night”. And it says that many times over and over again throughout the Old Testament. But notice that it changes in the New Testament AFTER Jesus came. In Ephesians 6:18, the Apostle Paul encourages us to continue to meditate on the Word day and night. But rather than saying the term “written”, Paul changes the word to “living”. We are to pray in the Spirit (who is not a book). The same Holy Spirit who is Jesus Christ who IS the Word of God day and night. And who lives inside of us? The Holy Spirit who is Jesus, the Living Word Of God (1 Peter 1:23; Revelations 19:13; Hebrews 1:2)! 

You will also notice that in Hebrews 6:5 it says that you can actually “feel” the Word of God or, as some translations say, “taste”. It’s hard to feel or taste a physical book internally isn’t it? But you can feel or taste what lives inside of you. Also, take a look at John 8:31-32 and tell me what you think when you read that. Where is Jesus now? He’s in heaven right? How else can we hear His voice, The Word of God through His Holy Spirit, unless He is living in us?

I’m not saying to not read your Bible. You need to!! The scriptures are very, very important and contain the foundation of everything we believe. We DO need to read it, memorize it and understand it. I’m merely trying to open your eyes to understanding something so much bigger and greater. We often wonder how sometimes a passage of scripture will come to our mouths and how we have wisdom which we don’t even know where it came from because it’s something we never saw or learned. But yet it’s there. Written on your heart inside of you! If you want power to destroy the enemy, focus on what’s inside of you. Meditate on it and listen. It’s been there all along. You need to take up the Sword of the Spirit and have your feet fitted with the Gospel of peace (Ephesians 6). The armor we put on (sword, shoes, etc.), consists of different elements. That little thing we call a conscience inside of us IS God, the Holy Spirit. And if you listen close enough, focus and pay attention to what He is saying to you, you will finally be able to hear God speaking to you inside of you. He will confirm a lot of things, and it’s important to pay attention, through the scripture, through people, through your pastor, through the radio, through billboards, etc.. Wherever you are or whatever you are doing, pay attention all over the place. It all begins with the Word of God, the Holy Spirit  and Jesus Christ who lives within you. I hope this helps you to hear Him more clearly. God bless!!   

Hearing God’s Voice: How We Can Determine it is His and Not Our Own

by Sarah Itterman

The phrases, “God told me…” or “I believe God wants me to…” are not uncommon words which we hear many Christians claim today (and perhaps even ourselves at times). The question we must ask ourselves before coming to any conclusion about hearing God’s voice is whether we are truly seeking to hear from Him or whether what it is we are desiring Him to say to us. Every believer at some point has experienced that they thought they heard God speaking to them, but in the end it was apparent that it was not really God’s voice they were listening too. Understanding how to effectively listen for and recognize the voice of God is vital for us as Christians in our daily walk. Without this, our relationship with Him becomes diminished.

Submission to His voice is the greatest lesson we can learn. We must be willing to lay down our dreams and desires for that of His, trusting in His perfect will for our lives. The Apostle Paul stressed this firmly to the church in Corinth when he said, “to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)”. Another important lesson is to understand that God speaks to us in different ways; sometimes not in the way in which we would like Him to or think that He should.

One unique illustration which Loren Cunningham taught in his book, “Is that really you God?” Was the Axehead Principle. This is based on the account in 2 Kings 6. When Elijah asks the man whose axehead went into the water to point to where it had gone down, Elijah commanded the axehead to come up. In the same way, it is important for us to go back to the last time when we last heard the cutting edge of God’s voice.  Remembrance of what He said and when He said will enable us to look back and see what God has done in and through our lives since we last heard His voice. When we understand the direction which He has taken us, it will help us better determine whether He is speaking to us.

Another important lesson is that God will use those whom He has placed in our paths to guide us when making certain decisions. This has been very beneficial in my own life as in during different seasons those who have been mentors, friends or family have said similar things to which God has laid on my heart. When a position came up within our church for a leadership position, I was praying and seeking guidance from the Lord to see whether I should pursue it or not. Without me saying anything to anyone, six people who were leaders within the church approached me separately without the others knowing and said they believed that the Lord was saying that I should take that position. For me, this was a solid confirmation of the direction which the Lord was wanting to lead me in.

At the same time, when we receive opposition from those around us about deciding to go in a particular direction, this can be another tool which God uses to test us to see if we will be obedient to His will or not. During the time that I believed that the Lord was guiding me into the direction of church leadership, I received opposition from family members who were not believers who claimed that it would be a waste of time and that there were many other things I could be doing with my life. In a way, this encouraged me to want to pursue my calling to ministry as I understood that this opposition was a method of spiritual warfare as a test to see if I would be obedient to the Lord in this area.

Finally and most importantly, in the end it is our friendship that we have with the Lord which will define how we interpret that it is truly Him speaking to us. Often, we  tend to think of our relationship with God as one sided and that He is the one who is supposed to be in constant communication with us when instead He desires for it to be a mutual exchange of words. Sharing our lives with our best friend is what deepens and strengthens intimacy. As we develop this relationship, over time as we ask ourselves, “Is this you speaking to me God?”, the easier it is to interpret whether it is or not. If our hearts are in tune with His word, our ears will be also.

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