His Voice 2

Last week, we discussed how we can be assured that God still speaks to his people. However, there are many people who proclaim to be Christians yet never hear from God directly in regards to their own personal lives. This reality is hindered in many believers lives because of two fallacies.

Made to Hear:

The first reason many believers never hear the voice of God is because of an identity issue. This issue isn’t like the Daddy Issues series where we have a certain mindset because of an issue (direct hurt) from God. The identity issue is simply a misunderstanding of our identity because of a lack of knowledge. It is natural for you to hear God’s voice. Jesus gave the illustration that we are his sheep and sheep know their master’s voice (John 10:27). Also, Proverbs 25:2 says that it is the glory of kings to reveal things hidden by God. Our identity as children of the King of Kings is very much kingly. It is to our glory to listen to God’s voice which is hidden from the world.

Sound of His Voice:

The second reason many believers never hear the voice of God is because they are waiting for an audible voice that roars like thunder. God does not always speak to us in this way, yet he is always speaking. We’ve already discovered how God speaks through creation, Scripture, and his “still, small voice.” Rarely do we find in the New Testament this booming voice from God. Often times God speaks through this still, small voice. If an unbeliever could describe this situation, it may be thought of as an internal sense of knowing. What we find in Scripture, though, is that God speaks in many more ways than these. God can speak through visions and dreams, angels, spiritual gifts, and even those spiritual happenings associated with demonic worship. The reason God speaks through things such as trances (Acts 10:9-11) and mind reading (Luke 11:17) is because he created these acts as ways the spiritual world speaks to the physical. Satan is a deceiver and can only mimic and distort what God has created as he is not a creator himself.

Listen Up!

Don’t allow the multitude of communication channels from God to confuse or overwhelm you. Simply be encouraged that God is speaking in more ways than we are used to listening. Don’t confine your perspective of God to a limited definition, but be open to seeking God and whether he is communicating to you in the current circumstance you are within. Become aware of yourself and your surroundings. Practice makes perfect!

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak,” James 1:19 ESV

Pastor Zac Breckenridge

LifeBridge Jonesboro

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His Voice

The most powerful way that God speaks to humanity is directly. The entire purpose of Jesus’ ministry on earth was to reestablish a relationship between God and humanity. The most important part of any relationship is communication. Jesus said that communication wouldn’t cease simply because he was leaving earth. He actually taught that it would increase. Understanding the content of God’s speech and characteristics of his voice will help us to acknowledge that God is still speaking today.

Content of His Voice:

Jesus said in John 14:25-26 that he has come to earth to bring a full revelation of God. He says that he isn’t going to be teaching anything new. What that means is that Jesus isn’t going to be adding to or taking away from his revelation of God. The role of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ own spirit, is to teach us all that Jesus taught and bring it to our remembrance when needed. The Holy Spirit won’t teach us anything inconsistent with Jesus’ life or teachings. God isn’t going to speak some “new revelation” to us alone. However, he may teach us the truth in a new way that we are more readily able to accept it. As the Holy Spirit has been teaching for over two thousand years now, he may even call something to our remembrance before we’ve even personally learned it.

Characteristics of His Voice:

God is always speaking. His voice is uniquely his and there are several characteristics to help us know that it is him speaking. First, God’s voice is only within believers. This is because believers have the Spirit of God living within their hearts. Non-believers may feel God prompting them to do something, but they’re going to need a revelation from a believer to comprehend what all God is communicating. Second, God’s voice is often called a “still, small voice.” God’s voice can sound a lot like ourselves at times. It’s crucial for us to become aware of our thoughts and desires to acknowledge when God is speaking so that we do not rule out his voice as our thought. Third, the voice of God always aligns with Scripture. Fourth, God’s word releases the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Fifth, God’s voice is convicting and restoring. Condemnation makes you feel like you can never overcome the issues in your life. Conviction reveals to you the ways your life isn’t all that God created it to be and empowers you with a way (usually through God’s word) to restore your life to how it should be. Sixth, God’s voice is powerful.

He Speaks:

God’s voice may seem underwhelming and insignificant at times, but it comes from the most powerful force in the universe. If you will listen for God’s voice, you will hear him speaking, If you will release and speak what he has revealed to you, God’s movement will follow through. If you’ll listen to the voice, you’ll release the voice. When you release the voice, the movement will follow.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge

LifeBridge Jonesboro

Scripture

It’s finally starting to get colder! My favorite season of the year is undoubtedly fall, but I also really enjoy the cold weather of winter. I always have a test to see if winter is really upon us. When I go outside and it feels cold enough to be winter, there is only one way that I can know for certain that winter is truly here: I can see my breath.
There is something innate within us that desires for us to see our breath. I believe this is because we are spiritual beings and even our flesh desires to see the power behind the very breath that we release. The Bible records God’s breath on two distinct occasions. First, God breathed into man and gave him life. The second instance can be read below:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

All Scripture:

One of the most common questions asked to pastors by new believers is “Where do I begin reading in the Bible?” Honestly, it really doesn’t matter. You can start anywhere. Then, you may get a puzzled look along with “Well, over what period of time should I read all this?” Sometime. I know some people read the entire Bible in a year while others spend years studying one passage. “Hmm. Okay. Well, what translation should I read then?” I’ll admit some translations are more accurate to the original wording, but the best translation to read is the one you will actually read. All scripture, regardless of language or dialect, is beneficial to us because it is breathed out by God.

Breathed Out by God:

Recall that the first time we read of God breathing he breathes into man and gives him life. Unfortunately, sin entered man’s life not long after this moment and robbed man of eternal life. So what did God do about this? He breathed again. This time, he breathed out Scripture which contains the power to be born again, to obtain eternal life once more.
We believe that the Bible in it’s original form is inspired (written by the Holy Spirit through men) and infallible (without error). Fortunately for those of us living in modern times, the early church went through a process known as canonization to determine what letters (or books) were Scripture. Sixty-six books made it in. Essentially, all we need to know today is that if it’s in, it’s in; if it’s out, it’s out.

Profitable:

What’s the purpose of continued reading of the Bible? Paul tells us that reading the Bible is important for every believer of God as we are intended to be messengers of this good news to others. Paul says that reading the Bible is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training. Teaching in this context refers to the doctrines or instructions on what is true about life. The Bible provides God’s direct testament of what life should look like for his creation. Reproof, or you may have heard it as rebuke, means that Scripture is capable of fighting off the enemy. With the Bible, we can tell the enemy this is the truth as God has said and it becomes your choice what you do with that. Correction in its truest sense means restoration. We are called to a ministry of restoring believers to whom they were created to be by God. We rebuke the enemy and restore the believer; don’t get it confused. Finally, training can be thought of as disciplining the body or conditioning our flesh. My favorite definition of this word is to create a mental culture. Reading the Bible renews our minds for us. As you can see, reading the Bible is paramount in every area of life for a believer.

Scripture speaks. God speaks (rhema) through his written word (logos). Every page turned gives way to an encounter with the living breathing Word of God. That’s why you can read a passage 1000 times, but today God is saying something to you today. My prayer is for you to receive the spirit of revelation (Ephesians 1:17) so that when you read the Bible it doesn’t appear as any other book, but that God would speak to your direct circumstances in life through his written word.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge
LifeBridge Jonesboro

Creation

“I feel closer to God among his creation than I do within the four walls of the church.” This seemingly insignificant statement made by my dad several years ago as we were leaving on a hunting trip together still resonates within my soul today. There is a lot of truth in what my dad was suggesting in his remark. As the church, we must resemble Christ close enough for those seeking him to feel his presence. However, God does indeed still speak through his creation.

Four Evidences of God within Creation:

As outlined in the book How Can I Know?, Pastor Robert Jeffress explains four “arguments” that God exists as provided by evidence within creation. The four approaches Pastor Jeffress explains are the cosmological, teleological, anthropological, and experiential.  For the sake of keeping this blog concise, I will present evidence from my personal favorite approach, the anthropological.

You are Evidence:

Anthropos, a fancy Greek term for man, alludes to the fact that mankind as a whole gives evidence that there must be God. As the Bible instructs us in Genesis, man was created in the image of God. Man has three distinct characteristics which validate this belief. First, unlike any other part of creation, man has the capacity to think and reason both abstract and rationally. Second, innate within all of humanity is an intense desire to worship something. C. S. Lewis once said, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exist.” Third, across tribes and nations all across the world there are moral absolutes that can be found within any culture. Men don’t build nations merely by adding onto laws of the previous generations. Without some moral code ingrained within us all, we could never agree on the validity of morality. Within the very nature of man, we see that all of humanity must have been universally exposed to a higher level of authority which we agree models for us a standard for what is good.

Evidence Exposed:

Creation, from microscopic subatomic particles to the expanses of the universe all held together by universal laws which must be maintained precisely to support life of beings capable of reasoning and questioning their own existence, while being dedicated to worshiping something greater than themselves, supports evidence that God must exist.

Just as a painter speaks through his painting, a sculptor through his sculpture, the Creator speaks through his creation. But that isn’t enough for most people. We can be exposed to the fact that God exists, yet not come into a relationship with this God unless we know how this is possible. It becomes our role as believers to use the evidence that God has given us through his creation to connect with all people the reality that not only does God exists, but that he has been chasing after a relationship with them since before they were even conceived.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge

LifeBridge Jonesboro

Not an Option

As we discussed last week, God has given us control backed by his authority, so long as this freedom does not hurt another person. The Bible instructs that government is designed to be an institution which stewards this process within a country. My political role as a pastor is to educate you on the biblical purpose of government.
Government:
Government is designed to be an institution which protects the freedoms of one individual from impeding on the freedoms of another. Government should use wrath (make judgment) motivated by the love of protecting any individual whose freedom is hindered by another’s exercise of their freedom. This authority given to government always comes under the authority of God. Just as Satan himself cannot rob God from being God, neither can the authority of government ever supersede the authority of God.
God:
The Bible clearly teaches that there is only one God and one mediator between God and man. Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man, is the only connection between God and man strong enough to make an eternal relationship between the two. The only hope any individual or country in the world has of being truly successful in this life is by joining that relationship.
In the concluding paragraph of Matthew chapter twenty-eight, we find what is known as Jesus’ “Great Commission” to the disciples. We are often taught from this that we are to make disciples within nations, but Jesus instructs us not to just make disciples in nations, but to make disciples of all nations. We must disciple not just individual people, but the nations themselves by discipling their governments.
Your Role:
Before we can ever hope to disciple another nation, we must disciple our own. A blessing of living in this country is that we have been given the privilege to directly influence our government and disciple them on what their role should be by voting.
I know that some of you may not know where the coming candidates stand because you haven’t wanted to be involved. I urge you to educate yourself. It’s your role and responsibility, not just as an American citizen, but as a Christian. Unfortunately, while praying over this matter for our country, God reminded me that there are some who don’t need to vote their conscience this election because their conscience is seared. Vote the biblical stance on the issues. Don’t vote for one individual over another. This has nothing to do with man’s opinion. Choose the party whose platform aligns with God’s position on the issues.
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation[, one government] under God[‘s authority], indivisible, with [whatever it takes to protect that which brings true] liberty and justice for all [mankind].”

Pastor Zac Breckenridge
LifeBridge Jonesboro

Not Controlling

It breaks my heart to know the mentality of many people towards God is that he is controlling. Many people hold to a theology that believes God has prescribed every minute, mundane moment of our lives and there is nothing we can do but robotically complete our routine. This is not the God we serve. The God we serve has set laws in place, but has not taken his hand off of the world to allow it to run its course. The God we serve interacts with humanity on a daily basis out of his love for his creation. This is who the one true God is, the God whose character is love.

God is Love:
In the first epistle of John in the fourth chapter, John writes that love is from God. Love is within the very divine character and nature of who God is. To not love, John says, is anti-God; it’s anti everything that Jesus and God is, does, and stands for. It is even anti-Christian for us to believe that God in any way could be moved by anything but love.
The Bible records that throughout the history of humanity God has been relentlessly chasing after a relationship with mankind even while we were enemies and opposed to his plans. This is how you can know that God is love: while we were still going against God with our entire beings, God sent Jesus to provide the means of forgiveness for our sins. Then, God placed his Spirit within the hearts of believers to transform our hearts on the matter. Jesus’ sacrifice was motivated by his love and desire to be in a relationship with you.

What is Love?
There are a few misunderstandings that we have towards God which contribute to a belief that God is controlling. First, we can falsely believe that because God knows what decisions we will make, he must be forcing us to make them. Conversely, I love my wife and I have a great relationship with her. Because I love her so dearly, I care about what she cares about. I know that when we go out to eat, she is going to order Coca-Cola. If they don’t have Coca-Cola, she is going to be disappointed unless the meal goes good with Mountain Dew. I would never force my wife to drink Coca-Cola when we go out to eat, but because I love her I know she is going to order one anyway. In the same way, the Bible says that God knit us together in our mother’s womb. There is no one that knows you more intimately than the God who created you. His knowledge of how you respond to situations only proves his love for you. Secondly, we mistakenly think that God desires only to be in relationship with a select few. This is contrary to what his word teaches: God does not wish that any should spend eternity apart from him (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3-4). Third, we can define God’s character by our situations as opposed to his word. The Bible also teaches that Jesus healed everyone he encountered from every affliction imaginable (Luke 4:40) and that this is God’s will for humanity: to live life unhindered by the effects of sin as we would live in heaven (John 5:19; Matthew 6:10). God’s desire is to be in a real relationship with everyone he created and for them to experience the freedom that exists within that relationship (healing of the flesh, soul [mind, will, emotions], and spirit). God reveals himself to us, but it’s our response to choose what we do with this revelation. Love is a choice to be in a relationship with someone regardless the outcome and love by nature must contain the ability for the other party to accept or reject the love shown.

Your Response:
Proverbs 16:9 says that our role in seeing God’s will accomplished on this earth is to plan our way and trust God to establish our steps. Essentially what this is saying is that when we move God will answer our faith based on his word. Jesus said (in Matthew 28:18-19a), “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. You go.” Jesus said the authority is mine. Nothing nor no one can rob God from being God. No matter how big and bad the devil believes himself to be he cannot take God’s authority. Jesus says I have the authority to complete all that I have promised you. God is not a man that he should lie (Numbers 23:19). God has given you control in how we release his love to this earth, what will you do with it?

Pastor Zac Breckenridge
LifeBridge Jonesboro

Not Your Dad

Listen, I’m going to be honest with you. We’ve got daddy issues and not just one or two of them. We’ve got a lot of them. I must surmise that we cannot live like we are supposed to until we deal with them. This series is aimed at dealing with those issues which harm us the most.

Defining Daddy Issues:
“Daddy issues” has been this term coined in America which is used to describe individuals who act and react in their life based on the misguided direction of a father-figure or in most cases the lack of such father-figure in their life at all. Statistics have proven that the lack of a father-figure in a child’s life dramatically increase the child’s probability of enduring hardships throughout their life.

Developing Daddy Issues:
The overwhelming results that researchers have found correlating the absence of a father or a poor relationship to one’s father did not develop overnight, nor over a few years for that matter. Many, if not most, Americans have adopted a mentality of seclusion coupled with a lack of vulnerability. We want to appear to those around us that we have it all together. This lack of vulnerability places us on a pedestal for everyone to watch our every move. When a mistake is made, the higher you are, the harder you fall. This concept has directly affected parenting in the previous generations and caused parents to not disclosure shortcomings to their children. It doesn’t take long though for most of us to realize that not every decision our parents make do we agree is best for our lives. This has caused children within our generation to have shattered realities and the more embittered the generation becomes the more the statistics rise.

Defeating Daddy Issues:
Where will we get our role model then to defeat daddy issues in our lives? We must turn to God. He is THE Father. Yes, he is holy and he is King of Kings, but he is also our provider. He provides everything we need. The Father sent his Son. The Father gives the Spirit. The Father adopts you and gives you the heavenly inheritance. Once we acknowledge that our father (mother, grandparents, manager, boss, mentor, and anyone else who has invested in your life) is a human and therefore messes up because we all mess up, then we can be empowered to forgive the one who has hurt us because they didn’t measure up to all we desired for them to be. Next, we must rely on the true Father. Father God is the embodiment of everything a father can and should be. He is all we need. We must forgive those who hurt us and rely on the only one who can be everything we are searching for in a father. It’s time to deal with your daddy issues.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge
LifeBridge Jonesboro

Spirit: Silent or Silenced

Growing up, I was raised in a church that was really focused on the rules. At the age of 21, I began a real relationship with Jesus while in a new church. This new church believed that the Spirit doesn’t move in the same way today in which he did as recorded in the book of Acts. They held the theological position that we no longer needed to hear from God since we had heard from him and what was heard was now completely recorded in the Bible.

 

Biblically:

In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul wrote one of the most crucial chapters in the Bible about living life in the Spirit. Paul encouraged the church to be led by the Spirit over the flesh. He instructed them that being led by the Spirit brings life and peace while being controlled by the survival of our flesh produces death. Paul says to reflect on the power that comes from the Holy Spirit living inside the heart of man. He concludes that the gifts of the Spirit are beneficial to our growth in becoming more like Christ and our purpose in reconciling others in their relationship to God.

 

Logically:

Philosophically, I submit to you that the follow statement is true if the two points afterward are valid: If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then the Holy Spirit must be as well. 1. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both one God. 2. Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. Therefore, Holy Spirit is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

 

Historically:

Historically, most people believe that the Holy Spirit was silent from the book of Acts until Azusa Street in 1906. These people assert that once the Bible was finished there was no need to hear from the Holy Spirit or experience the gifts. However, even after the gifts of the Spirit were ruled as heretical by the Roman Catholic Church, there are several recorded instances of individuals, churches, and denominations who experienced the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Although the world attempted to hide the Holy Spirit, he could not be silenced. Then in 1906, in the “Land of the Free” on Azusa Street, Los Angeles, CA, the world could no longer keep the Spirit hidden.

 

Where We Stand:

The entire Bible is a story of God’s love for his prized creation, humanity. From beginning to the end the Bible teaches us that God is constantly pursuing a relationship with each and every individual even when we are running from him or fighting against him. How could we ever believe the lie that this God, who died to live within us, would turn his back on humanity and silence himself once that relationship was finally established? The Holy Spirit living inside of man is the closest we’ll ever experience on earth to living with God in heaven. The God who is constantly pursuing you, would not abandon this. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

If you have never been baptized by the Holy Spirit, I encourage you today to allow the Holy Spirit the freedom he needs to move in your life. We can contain God within our hearts just as easily as we can within the four walls of the church. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to well up inside of you and overflow into all areas of your life, not just to restore you but to restore those around you to an unhindered relationship to God as well.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge

LifeBridge Jonesboro