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Prayer For Understanding His Condescending Love
In various scriptures, it says God treated Abraham (2 Chronicles 20:7, Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23) and Moses (Exodus 33:11) each as a friend and talked to them as a friend would. Jesus called His disciples His friends (John 15). When God treats us as His friends, He also acts as our friend and He will reveal His plan to us as our friend.
It is not because we are worthy, but it is because of His condescending love. God condescended himself that we can draw ourselves closer to Him. Abraham knows it. He respected God’s majesty. Abraham admits that he is nothing but dust and ashes as he stands before the Lord (Genesis 18:27). Prayers in humility increase our appreciation of God.
Prayer: Father Lord, thank you for calling us your children and friends. It is not because we are worthy, but because you love us so much and lower yourself to draw us close to you. Father Lord, help us to humble ourselves so that we will know how wide and how high your love is. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
We started by saying that prayer is interaction between you and God, and it starts with the relationship that we have with God. It’s a dynamic conversation between two individuals who love, care for, and enjoy one another.
Then we defined the relationship Between Man and God
Human beings are uniquely created in the image of God. When God created the earth, sun, moon, stars, and all the animals He said it was “good.” However, when it came to humans, the tone changed. He said that the creation of humans was “very good.” Human beings are an extra-special creation for at least three reasons.
First, it is clear that humans have an identity that is rooted in God.
Genesis 1:26-27 (HCSB)26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”27 So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.
Second, humans are special because they were created for a unique purpose. No two humans are the same.
Third, humans are designed to have a one-on-one relationship with God through Jesus.
Friendship is just one of the ways God relates with us. God is many things to us at the same time, including Father, Shepherd, Lord, Redeemer, Teacher, and Friend. No one aspect of who He is cancels out the rest. The better we know Him - in all of His various aspects - the more accurately we’ll be able to relate to Him, talk with Him, and enjoy Him.
Then we said that we need to take the risk of being real with God.
Our friendship with God deepens when we risk being open and honest as we talk with Him.
No more faking feeling fine.
When we become convinced that God is really our friend, we can talk to Him about anything.
We shouldn’t cover up your emotions in order to look like a “good Christian.” Without becoming open we are unable to rely fully on God. When we realize this we can passionately seek Him, obey Him, and confess and repent when we miss the mark.
Then we talked about Upgrading Your View of God.
We discovered that we have two set of beliefs “head” beliefs and “heart” belief. Head beliefs are what we say we believe, and heart beliefs are the perceptions that actually shape our feelings and reactions to circumstances and our relationship with God.
We need to make our head and heart beliefs the same.
- Delights in and takes pleasure in me. - Psalm 147:11
- Cares about even the smallest details of my life - Matthew 6:31-32 , Luke 12:6-7
- Pities (has compassion on) me when I’m hurting - Psalm 72:12-14, Isaiah 63:9, 2 Corinthians 13:3-4
- Is patient with and understanding of my weaknesses and failures - Psalm 103:12-14, Hebrews 4:15-16
- Wants to help me out of the messes I get myself into - Psalm 40:1-3, Isaiah 61:7
- Enjoys sharing His heart with me - Psalm 25:14, Matthew 11:25-26
- Likes to hear what I think and feel - Psalm 62:8, 1 Peter 5:7 (HCSB)
- Is always happy to see me, even when I’ve sinned against Him - Luke 15:1-2, 11-24, Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 139:7-10, Hebrews 13:5
- Wants to rescue me when I’m in trouble - Psalm 91:14-15, 2 Timothy 4:18, 2 Peter 2:9
The last time we met we talked about the fact that God is talkative and wants to engage us in two-way communication.
The question then becomes how does God speak directly and personally to you?
It may not be as dramatic as when He talked to Moses from the burning bush, or when He spoke to me audibly. Those are rare and dramatic which are great and exciting but wouldn’t you want Him to speak to you everyday?
We talked about some of the ways God does talk to you.
1. Prayer. In order for God to speak to us, we need to be in his presence listening for his voice. As we spend time in prayer, we may sense God's leading in our lives.
2. His word. God speaks to us through his written word as we study and meditate upon his holy scripture.
3. Circumstances. Many times God will cause doors to open, or others to close. If we are walking in obedience to him, we have to assume that events in our life are ordered by God. They don't just happen by chance.
4. Our heart. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will minister to our spirit and reveal God's plan for us. We will have an assurance deep in our heart. We will feel God's voice guiding us.
If we’re to relate with God in two-way relationship, we need to become aware of the different ways He speaks and learn to discern His voice.
When two people, friends, use different methods of communicating we really never communicate. For example today almost everybody has a cell phone but a lot people prefer texting and others never text. If you and I are friends and I text but you don’t then we may miss a very important occasion or message. If you have a cell phone and never answer it or check your voicemail you may miss a very important occasion or message. If I use email and you never check your email then you may miss a very important occasion or message. We may be communicating but the other person is not hearing you. So for us to stay in contact with each other and develop our relationship we have to be aware of the different ways that we communicate.
Of the following which do you use but one or more of your friends don’t use?
- Social media i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, FB Messenger, Snapchat
- Handwritten letters, birthday cards, thank you notes (I hardly use)
- Doing things together
- Acts of kindness or service (I don’t do often enough)
- Long face-to-face conversations (not often for me)
- Phone calls (not much for me)
How does the differences in the way you and your friends communicate affect the relationship?
It is the same thing between God and us. If we want to communicate with God we not only have to do our part by talking to Him in prayer but we have to become aware of the different ways that He speaks and we have to learn to discern His voice. Discern means to perceive or recognize (something).
What Are God’s Methods of Communicating?, dtc.
In order to learn of how God communicates we need to look at the Bible. There is a lot of scripture that says that God communicated but the don’t really tell us the method that He used. For example the Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that he wouldn’t die until he’s seen the Messiah but we don’t know how Simeon got that revelation.
Luke 2:26 (NKJV) And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
There are other places where it just says that “God said” or “the word of the Lord came.” However there are passages that do indicate the methods that God uses to communicate with us. Let’s look at some and see if we can see which method God used to communicate.
Matthew 17:1-8 (NKJV)1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves;2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid."8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
Luke 3:21-22 (NKJV)21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased."
Acts 9:1-7 (NKJV)1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"5 And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads."6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.
2 Chronicles 36:22 (NKJV)22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying,
Ezra 1:5 (NKJV)5 Then the heads of the fathers' houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.
Stirred or moved the spirits of Cyrus and people to go back to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.
Joel 2:28 (NKJV)28 "And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.
Matthew 2:12 (NKJV)12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
Dreams and Visions
Acts 2:17 (NKJV)17 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.
Acts 10:9-16 (NKJV)9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.13 And a voice came to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat."14 But Peter said, "Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean."15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common."16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
Vision and voice
Luke 1:26-38 (NKJV)26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.28 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."34 Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"35 And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.37 For with God nothing will be impossible."38 Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
Acts 8:26 (NKJV)26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, "Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is desert.
Acts 27:21-25 (NKJV)21 But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss.22 And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.23 For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve,24 saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.'25 Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.
Psalm 19:1-4 (NKJV)1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.3 There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
Romans 1:20-21 (NKJV)20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
The creation itself.
Numbers 11:25-26 (NKJV)25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again.26 But two men had remained in the camp: the name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them. Now they were among those listed, but who had not gone out to the tabernacle; yet they prophesied in the camp.
1 Samuel 19:20 (NKJV)20 Then Saul sent messengers to take David. And when they saw the group of prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as leader over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied.
Luke 1:67 (NKJV)67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
Acts 19:6 (NKJV)6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
Holy Spirit led men to speak or prophecy.
Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The Bible Word of God
Romans 8:16 (NKJV)16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
His Spirit agreeing with your Spirit (still small voice)
Amos 4:6-13 CSB I gave you absolutely nothing to eat in all your cities, a shortage of food in all your communities, yet you did not return to me. This is the Lord ’s declaration. I also withheld the rain from you while there were still three months until harvest. I sent rain on one city but no rain on another. One field received rain while a field with no rain withered. Two or three cities staggered to another city to drink water but were not satisfied, yet you did not return to me. This is the Lord ’s declaration. I struck you with blight and mildew; the locust devoured your many gardens and vineyards, your fig trees and olive trees, yet you did not return to me. This is the Lord ’s declaration. I sent plagues like those of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. I caused the stench of your camp to fill your nostrils, yet you did not return to me. This is the Lord ’s declaration. I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a burning stick snatched from a fire, yet you did not return to me — This is the Lord ’s declaration. Therefore, Israel, that is what I will do to you, and since I will do that to you, Israel, prepare to meet your God! He is here: the one who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, the one who makes the dawn out of darkness and strides on the heights of the earth. The Lord , the God of Armies, is his name.
How has God spoken you or not spoken to you?
Audible voice (once), stirred, Holy Spirit, Bible, He has also spoken through others and
Does He speak to you in anyway we haven’t mentioned?
Does anybody think that God doesn’t speak to you?
Barriers to hearing God’s voice. (pg 72)
We often need to identify hindrances to hearing God.
- Not taking time to listen
- Doubting that He will really speak
- Unconfessed sin
- Self-reliance, independence
- Fear of what He might say
- Being afraid of hearing the wrong voice
How do we break down these barriers? You guessed it prayer and practice. Once you identify the thing that you think might be hindering your hearing from God, confess it and talk to Him about it, and trust that He will answer. The risk of not addressing the hindrances is not hearing at all.
We’ve talked about how God communicates but we also need to learn how to discern when He’s speaking to us. Here are three steps that will help us discern that.
Learning to recognize God’s voice is a skill that takes time, practice, and intentionality. Don’t be discouraged if sometimes you think you’re hearing anything or you might be hearing wrong’ That’s normal for most of us when we’re getting started.
Discerning God’s voice from all of the other voices in and around us (our own thoughts, the philosophy of the world, the desires of our flesh, the temptations of the Evil One) is a skill that God is eager ot develop in us. He wants to talk to you. He wants you to hear His voice and receive His love, affirmation, guidance, instruction, perspectives, and companionship. He is invested in the process of helping you to know His voice.
Here are three things to keep in mind:
- God wants you to hear His voice. He will protect you from hearing the wrong thing. Remember;
John 10:27 (NLT) My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
John 16:13 (NLT) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
Make it a practice to let Him know you want to hear Him only. If you ask Him to protect you from hearing other input, including your own logic and understanding.
- Scripture is always the measure for what we hear. Hod may tell us things not specifically discussed in Scripture, but He will not contradict Scripture. God’s voice is always consistent whether through the written pages of Scripture or His Spirit speaking in our hearts. He will always confirm what He says.
- God will speak to us in a way that is consistent with His character. He is never condemning or harsh. He invites, leads, and woos. He doesn’t force, drive, or push. Conversations with God should leave you feeling hopeful rather than defeated, accepted rather than judged.
It is important to be aware of the necessity to practice our listening skills, but it won't happen automatically for most of us. Until we learn to discern His voice, we often miss what He’s saying. Remember, be intentional ask God questions, then stop be still, listen, then pay attention to what’s happening in your heart and mind. Remember the difference between you head and heart beliefs.