The Most Important Skill in Developing Discernment with God

“I’m not crying, you’re crying,” as happy tears run down both our faces. Remember I’m a sympathetic crier – haha. God had given me a picture of a flower (a Jack in the Pulpit, to be exact). Then I described what I felt like God was saying through that picture and it hit so deeply to the heart that water works started and so much long-term fruit as well. 5 years later it’s still bearing fruit. So, how did I know God was speaking to me? Why was I confident that I was sharing something from God and not just my head? The short answer – discernment. Discerning between spirits (1 Cor 12:10) – human spirit, demonic spirits or Holy Spirit.

If you’ve felt like you heard from God before in your life – you’ve used this gift. It may have been direction from God – He led you to your spouse, or to a job, or to our church, but it produced good fruit in your life, therefore, you have reason to believe it was God, not you. It may have been a picture from God that gave you hope when hope seemed lost – fruitful. This may possibly be the most important skill in my journey of developing discernment with God. That skill is . . .

Reverse engineering a fruitful encounter with God. What!?!? Let me explain . . . You feel like you hear from God. You try something based on that. It produces good fruit. Maybe amazing fruit. That means you have reason to believe that this encounter with God was genuine.

How do you reverse engineer a fruitful encounter with God? I would start with a few questions when looking back on the time that you received the word or picture from God that produced good fruit.

  1. How did I feel at the moment I received that communication from God? Take a snapshot in your spirit of that moment, remember the sights and sounds around it.
  2. What, that day, led up to that encounter with God? How was my day going before the encounter? What had I done, said? How had I spent my time?
  3. What, in that season of life, led up to that encounter with God? How was my prayer life, church life, Bible study, etc.? How was my heart? How recently had I repented of sin?

When you see clearly the circumstance that spawned authentic encounters with God in the past in your life, that will give you clues as to how to repeat them. It will also help you to discern ahead of time better when they’re happening again. This speaks to your personal history with God. I cannot pray and impart this to you. You have to forge this in your own prayer life. This is a pursuit I intend to continue growing in the rest of my life personally.

Pray this prayer with me, “Lord, I want to hear and know Your voice. God, that Your voice would be so clear and obvious to me that I would catch it the first time, and act on it, giving Your goodness away to my world. Train me Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Do it Again

Lights turned out on 300+ kids in the middle of our worship set, no sound. I’m almost the only adult in the room (my worship team was teenagers, and the other camp counselors were in a counselors meeting)! Kid’s camp was about to get WILD! It was like instantly the blood pressure went up for everyone in the room – panic mode was loaded and ready! . . .

But God . . . had been BURNING IN MY HEART exactly what needed to happen next. I put my guitar down, and started yelling out over the crowd of 1st-6th Graders, “God’s wants to do something awesome right now, who in the room has pain or sickness right now?” About 70 hands went up. “Everyone else go to someone with their hand up and start praying for healing. Don’t pray wimpy prayers . . .”

About 15 minutes later the adults started filtering back into the room (they were a little bewildered). Lights had come back on, and there was a line of children coming up to the stage and telling about how God had healed them that morning. That morning Jesus healed 100% of the kids who were sick or in pain! Not one left with sickness or pain that day! Jesus is amazing! Only Jesus! That was the Pennsylvania-Delaware AG District Kid’s Camp of 2015 on the Thursday in July, 4 days before I preached at Journey Life Church for the first time.

I say all that to say, “Lord, do it again!” That’s the phrase that the word “testimony” implies – “do it again.” My HEART BURNS day after day for God to do what only He can do. Holy Spirit remembers how to do it and He’s energized by that prospect too. Join me in testifying and in praying, “Lord, do it again!”

Feeling God . . .

“You all are addicted to feelings! It’s all emotionalism with you Pentecostals!”Well, phooey on you too, you jerk faces!” – is what I said in my head. But not out loud, because that would have played in to their point (I was thinkin’ – haha). Those kinds of accusations make you think – should we FEEL GOD!?! Are emotions wrong in faith and spirituality!?! The answer is yes (we should feel God) and no (emotions are NOT wrong in faith). Here’s why . . .

The Bible is FULL OF EMOTIONS and emotional responses to God! The word “heart” lev (601x’s in Hebrew OT) and kardia (156x’s in Greek NT) are emotional words. There’s lots of dancing in Scripture, shouting, crying out, falling on knees and face, lifting hands, clapping, laughing, crying, etc. Read Psalms and see if you can get through 3 verses without emotional language. Read prophecies (about 1/3 of the Bible) and see if they don’t quickly tug on your heart. Jesus’ teaching focused on heart language first before doctrine. In fact, it’s fairly obvious that the Bible is full of more emotions than it is doctrine – that sounds controversial, but it’s really not. Take an honest inventory.

Here’s the bottom line – I would charge that people who DON’T seek to feel God are following their lack of emotions rather than the Word of God. The Bible is an emotional book, BECAUSE we are emotional beings. The Bible comes to the mind through way of the heart. Jesus healed or prophesied BEFORE he taught in most cases, and so did the apostles. I’m not saying that we should be addicted to emotions. I’m not saying that we just need to go from one Holy Spirit fix to the next, like Holy Spirit junkies. The Word of God can stabilize us in times where the feeling is not there. However, if my experience doesn’t line up with the Word of God, then it’s my experience that’s wrong, not the Bible. The Bible is overwhelmingly full of emotional responses to God and His works – we’re allowed to seek to be more like God in this way . . .

Here’s how – ask God right now, “God, is there an area of my emotions I’ve been holding back from you? God, I open myself up to you, to work in EVERY part of me right now, in Jesus name. Amen.” Then stay in God’s presence . . . just . . . stay.

Apple Spider

“Say apple spider, Jolena” “Noooo, it’s apple cider” “[sing-songy] apple spider” “NO, apple cider” “[disappointed] ahhhhh.” My older kids were desperately trying to get their baby sister to mispronounce “cider” in the way that she used to when she was 3. But 5 year old Jolena wasn’t having it, to the great disappointment of her siblings. Because as amusing and cute as her little mistake was, Jolena knew that there comes a time to grow up. She’s fully capable of doing it right, and thus refuses to fall back into the old habit.

Spiritually, there comes a time for us to grow up too. When we see the truths of God’s Word clearly, we can’t fall back. For instance, salvation is 100% by grace through faith. So then, you never have a place for spiritual pride again. Also, God loves you and likes you, He smiles when He thinks about you. Once you know that, you never have to dwell in rejection again. Or, God still does supernatural wonders through humans. Once you know that, you can’t go back.

What truth from God do you need to own and live in today? Take a moment right now. Ask God, “What truth do I need to own and live in today?”

The Unique Joy of Corporate Fasting

Joy & fasting – should those two words be in the same sentence? Isn’t fasting hard (you said that Pastor Jared)? Don’t you need to keep digging (you said that too)? Despite the truth that fasting IS hard and sometimes you need to keep digging – fasting together with a whole group (corporately) is ALSO a joy! Let me explain . . .

The Bible talks about and shares examples of corporate fasting a lot (Judges 20:26, 1 Sam 7:5-6, 2 Sam 1:12, 2 Chron 20:3, Jer. 36:9, Isaiah 58, Daniel 9, Esther 4:16, Joel 1:14, 2:15 Ezra 8:21-23, Neh. 9:1, Jonah 3:5, Acts 13:2-3, 14:23). Check those out if you want to dive in deeper. And here’s what Isaiah 58 says at the end of the chapter, after he’s thrown down on their false fasting, and thoroughly taught them true fasting . . .

14 then you will FIND YOUR JOY in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride in TRIUMPH on the heights of the land and to FEAST on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” FOR the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isa. 58:14)

After we have fasted together correctly, then what’s next? JOY!!! TRIUMPH!!! FEASTING!!! Why? How is that possible? What is the trigger for the joy, the winning, and the feasting? The last phrase of the verse of course, “For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

This is why you need to come to First Wednesday tonight. God is going to speak in and through you, and us all together. What God is sharing with you will be confirmed and made richer by what God is sharing with others. We are going to have a time tonight where we ask, “What is God saying to you?” Then we’re going to watch as God confirms His words over and over again to us! And then . . . JOY. And then . . . TRIUMPH. And oh yeah, we can eat after that too – haha. Most of all, we will feast on the inheritance that God had given us – the spiritual inheritance – His words and His works in us. Some would say we’ll “Feast” on the faithfulness of God. Hmmmm, maybe we should write a song about it (oh yeah, we did!).

If you Don’t Hit Water . . .

I’m sure there are few things more frustrating than back-breaking digging a well that produces no water. As we are praying and fasting these days, getting ready for our First Wednesday Gathering (tomorrow night, 7 PM – be there), the Lord directed me to ask, what happens if we come up dry? What happens if you, in the middle of praying right now, don’t feel like you’re hearing? Or don’t sense the breakthrough? Or God even seems absent from your prayer times? The answer is simple . . .

Keep digging. If you’re digging a well, and you don’t hit water, either 1. You haven’t dug deep enough or 2. You need to dig another whole in a little different spot. But if you’re thirsty and the alternative is your family dying because you don’t have access to clean water, the answer is never to give up. The answer is KEEP DIGGING. Spiritually we are thirsty, and in our present culture, without the Living Water of the presence and work of God Himself through His Holy Spirit, we will die. There is no other option – we must keep digging. Keep praying, keep looking in God’s face, keep listening for God’s voice, looking for His pictures, tuning yourself to His way of communicating. We MUST HIT WATER.

Digging will feel hard while you’re in it, it has to, it’s not rewarding otherwise. It’s not impactful or meaningful otherwise. However, when your boots first get wet, and it’s time to get out of the hole, and see what you’ve got – IT’S ALL WORTH IT! God is THE Spring of Living Water – He will provide us with fresh water AND now is the time to keep digging. It will be worth it. David said in essence – I will not offer the Lord that which cost me nothing (2 Sam 24:24 & 1 Chron 21:24). It’s time to dig, feel the cost, and trust God that the payoff will be worth it.

Digging a Well is Hard

As I looked for the above ^^^^^ picture, the normal photo sites I go to had zero pictures of anyone physically digging anything. ZERO! Those sites are from Americans and Westerners (Western Europe & Australia/New Zealand), where it seems that we’re allergic to hard physical labor. Or at least we DON’T HONOR HARD WORK – Wow, that’s sobering. Modern Westerners no longer honor hard work, we no longer see it as something to aspire to, we no longer see the dignity or nobility in it. That realization was sad, but not surprising. The Western World, however, only makes up 10% of the global population. The Majority World (the rest of the world) has a much better understanding of hard work, and if they’re smart, they still honor it.

As an aside, do not trust a news outlet that says, “the rest of the world is saying . . .” because most of the time they’re only referring to the 10% and ignoring the 90% (Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, South America). The 90% is more Christian in ethics and worldview now than the 10%, so our media doesn’t like them. The picture above is from a global missions site (of course). To the main point . . .

Digging a well is hard. What we’re doing these days through prayer and fasting for revival is not meant to feel good. It’s meant to open up something in our spirit that will produce life giving water forever. There may be some digging involved, BUT IT WILL BE WORTH IT!

So here’s the challengeembrace the hard work of seeking God during a time of prayer and fasting. Use every hunger pain as a reminder to look in God’s face. Feast on the Word of God. Feast on the faithfulness of God. Enjoy the presence of God. Then when it’s done, we’ll all wipe our brow together, and take a look at what God wants to do!