I don’t know where I read something that questioned the Lord speaking to us and saying things outside of the written Word (words in the Bible). While that sounds very religious, I find it inaccurate and a stumbling block in developing an intimate relationship with God.
When Joseph sent his brothers to get their dad and all their stuff so they could settle in Egypt under his care, Jacob had an encounter on their way to Egypt.
So Israel set out on the journey with everything he owned. He arrived at Beersheba and worshiped, offering sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to Israel in a vision that night:
“Yes?” he said. “I’m listening.”
God said, “I am the God of your father. Don’t be afraid of going down to Egypt. I’m going to make you a great nation there. I’ll go with you down to Egypt; I’ll also bring you back here. And when you die, Joseph will be with you; with his own hand he’ll close your eyes.”
(Genesis 46:1-4, MSG)
This is just one example of the several conversations God had with men in which e spoke of things personal to them and spoke of His own plans.
The written Word of God is very important, no doubt.
…There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. (2 Timothy 3:15-17, MSG)
The written Word of God points us to the Word made flesh (Jesus the Christ) and is the mirror we look into which helps us see ourselves as we are so we can submit ourselves to be changed to be and live like Christ. It reveals to us the heart and the ways of God, providing guiding principles for our everyday living. Beyond giving us guidelines and principles, it is living and active and is the raw material the Holy Spirit uses to transform us from the inside out.
However, it is the Holy Spirit dwelling in us that speaks to us about specific, personal things that go beyond the principles of the written word (‘beyond’ meaning deeper but still within the boundaries/guiding principles). When we need to make daily decisions, we have guiding principles but we also need specific directions. Take for instance the issue of marriage. The guiding principle is to not be unequally yoked. This could mean different things to different people – same faith; same educational level (most would agree on the former). Yet within the body of Christ, there are also things like personalities and, more importantly, purposes. The best marriages, in my opinion, are those where the husband and wife’s purposes complement each other. Yet at the point of deciding who to marry, we don’t always have a clear picture of the future and our direction going forward. Who does? God does. So His leading by His Spirit in this all important decision is quite crucial, I would think. I know there are many who feel we are smart enough to make such decisions on our own but I subscribe to the truth that we belong to God and He has a plan and purpose for each life, so wisdom would say to find out from Him what He has in mind for us. This is just an example, anyway.
I personally am not satisfied with just having guidelines and an instruction manual on how to live. I want to have the kind of relationship we saw men have with God in these same scriptures. God shared His heart on present and future events with men He called friends. He gave specific instructions on where to go and what to do because everything fits into a big picture that He alone has. After Paul’s encounter with Jesus, he was told to expect Ananias and Ananias was given specific instructions on what to do. Peter was told there were some people at his door and that he should go with them. In these two instances, what these men were told to do was not something they would ordinarily have thought to do, so I guess they needed the specific instructions to override their personal biases. The bottom line is that God had a plan, He wanted certain things done and He spoke to people, giving them specific instructions to carry out. I believe He still does that today in individual lives, ordering our steps in accordance with His plans and purposes.
The hunger in my heart is for more – more intimacy with Jesus; more clarity as I listen for His voice; more real experiences as I put His written and spoken word to practice. I long to get to the place where the unseen realities of His kingdom become more real to me than the things of this temporary Earth. Truly, as the songwriter wrote, “The more I know You, the more I want to know You, Jesus…..more of You.”
Are you satisfied with the depth of your relationship with God or, like me, do you want more? I’m so glad that we’re assured by these words:
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:8)
It is instructive to read the preceding and succeeding verses in this chapter of James to see that seeking Him with all our heart means He (or friendship with Him) becomes our pursuit because we can’t befriend the world (loving and pursuing the things the world pursues) and befriend God simultaneously (v.4)
So let us put aside distractions, the sin that easily besets us and the weights that slow us down, and let’s draw closer and closer to the One who loves us immeasurably. It’s not about rules or religion but about a real relationship with Him.
And I want more.