And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the LORD had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged.      Joshua 4:8

Spiritual memory is crucial in the Christian life. Do you vividly recall times when you know God spoke to you? It would be tragic if, in your haste to advance in your Christian faith, you neglected to leave spiritual markers at the key crossroads of your life. Without the help of these markers, you will lose your spiritual bearings.

The Israelites experienced a tumultuous pilgrimage. Their doubt that God was powerful enough to give them victory cost them forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Then God miraculously parted the waters of the Jordan River so they could pass over and continue their conquest. God knew that at times the Israelites would face intimidating enemies and would need a reminder that He was powerful enough to protect them. The Israelites might be tempted to think they made a mistake entering Canaan. For this reason God instructed them to build a monument on the banks of the Jordan River. Whenever they returned to this spot, they would see the monument and be reminded of God’s awesome power. This marker would give them confidence to meet the new challenges they faced.

A spiritual marker identifies a time of decision when you clearly know that God guided you. Can you remember the moment you became a child of God? Were there specific times when He called you to His ways of living? Can you point to times when He clearly guided you in a decision? Were there times when He spoke powerfully to you about a commitment you should make? Keep track of these important moments! Regularly rehearse them and notice the steady progression in the way God has led you. This will help you understand God’s activity in your life and give you a sense of direction as you face future decisions.

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land,Not a famine of bread,Nor a thirst for water,But of hearing the words of the LORD.”      Amos 8:11

One way God communicates is through silence. The Israelites blatantly ignored and rejected God’s word to them, and God responded by sending a famine. This famine was far more severe than a shortage of food and water. Instead, they were deprived of His words of life.

God’s silence may be hardly noticeable at first. You may still remember times when God spoke to you, but you gradually realize you’ve not heard His voice for a long time. If you realize you are in a “drought,” immediately seek God and ask Him what adjustments your life requires so you can once again enjoy fellowship with Him. It may be that you disobeyed His last instructions to you and that He is waiting on your obedience before giving you a new direction. It may be that there is unconfessed sin in your life or that you have a damaged relationship (Isa. 1:15; 1 Pet. 3:7). It is possible that you have done too much talking in your prayer times and that He wants you to listen. God’s silences can be powerful times for Him to communicate with you.

God is God! Because He is God, when He speaks He expects a listening ear and an eager response. He will not be mocked! (Gal. 6:7). When we ignore Him, He may withhold His voice until we repent and get right with Him. The prophet Isaiah assured King Asa, “The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”

Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also.      Acts 12:2-3a

Can you accept God’s will when His answer is no? If you are praying in God’s will, He will always answer you when you pray (Jer. 33:3). However, sometimes His answer will be no.

King Herod arrested Peter and prepared to have him executed. During the night, as his church prayed, Peter’s life was spared when an angel freed him. God miraculously answered the prayers of His people that night. Yet not long before, James, too, had been arrested by Herod. James, however, was executed. Surely the church had prayed for James as fervently as they did for Peter, yet that time God’s answer had been no.

Did God love Peter more than James? Of course not. James had been one of Jesus’ closest friends. Yet God allowed James to die while He continued to use Peter in His service. The church in Jerusalem did not become bitter toward God. They accepted His answer because they trusted His love and wisdom.

There are times when God wants us to persist in our praying until He has completed His work in us (Luke 11:5-8; 18:1-6). However, when God’s answer is no, it is futile to continue pleading for a yes. Some refuse to take no for an answer, insisting that if you pray long enough and hard enough, God will ultimately grant any request you make. It is an affront to your Lord to continue pleading with Him when He has clearly said no. The purpose of prayer is not to conform God to our will but to adjust our will to God. We must learn to trust God so that if He says no, we accept that His will is best.

Cochrane, CANADA – Everything in Verna Verity’s world seemed to be unravelling in 2009 when her marriage fell apart.

Yet ever since accepting Christ as an eight-year-old girl in her grandparents’ farmhouse, Verity had a sense that God wanted her to be someone he could use. When she found herself in the worst storm she had ever weathered, she had to decide whether she still believed God had a plan for her.

“I thought my life was over, because that’s what happens in a divorce,” Verity said. “And then God brought this to my mind: ‘When you believe nothing significant can happen, you’re saying more about me than you are about yourself. It’s not about you. Stand back and watch me work.’ And that was huge in my life.”

In the years that followed, Verity saw how God could use even the most painful life circumstances for his glory.

As a child, Verity had been surrounded by positive godly influences both in her family and at her church. She maintained her relationship with the Lord as she grew up, earned a degree in science, married a childhood friend, and moved to a neighboring province.

After the couple’s first child was born, Verity devoted herself to homemaking while her husband established his career as a marriage and family therapist.

“We had all these adjustments happening, and I was out of sync in my relationship with Jesus,” Verity recalled. “I just hated it, because the Lord kept me so close with him all those years growing up.”

Verity recounted how on one particularly challenging day, she visited the local Christian bookstore and prayed for God to guide her to something that would set her back on the right path. That’s when she found Experiencing God.

“I bought it, and I couldn’t put it down,” Verity said. “The Lord totally reoriented me to a relationship with him that, as Henry Blackaby always said, was real and personal. The Holy Spirit was working.”

Verity and her husband became involved in youth ministry, went on family mission trips, and Verity even took a position on staff at the couple’s church.

But in 2009, everything crumbled when her husband told her he wanted out of their marriage.

“I was driving down the highway begging God to speak to me, and a radio program came on that was talking about going through hard stuff and how God uses it to shape

us,” Verity remembered. “I didn’t want to hear those words. But then I sensed the Lord saying to me, ‘Verna, you’ve always wanted me to use you, but do you have the character that’s required for me to answer your prayer?’ That just stopped me. I realized then what God was showing me through Experiencing God and through my circumstances. This wasn’t about me at all. This was just what the Holy Spirit chose to do through my life. And God did incredible things as I laid my life before him.”

As Verity moved through the challenging weeks and months that followed, God kept connecting her with people who were facing similar personal challenges. Verity soon discovered that her own painful experience gave her a unique vantage point from which to help other people whose marriage was in crisis.

“When I left my role at the church, I had a list of 102 people that God intersected my life with who were going through the same thing at our church,” Verity recalled. “102 people God allowed me to share my story with and really talk about being a person God can work through, even in difficult moments.”

Verity eventually moved on to new ministry positions. She spent some time working at a pregnancy care center counseling families in crisis. She worked for several years on staff at a different church. She now serves as the student life director at the Canadian Baptist Theological Seminary in Cochrane, Alberta. In each place God has taken her, Verity has used the principals of Experiencing God to help others see how God is working in the messy areas of life.

“My ministry is to help people make sense of their circumstances from the perspectives we learn in Experiencing God and then to really link arms with them. I often say, ‘God is still working even in the midst of all the stuff that looks confusing,’” Verity said. “For some reason, that’s just how God has chosen to work through me.”

Verity enrolled in BMI’s coaching program to equip her to have deep, Spirit-led conversations with those God brings alongside her. She is now a certified coach.

“God hasn’t made life easy,” Verity shared. “But all those years, the home I grew up in, the church community I grew up in, coming across Experiencing God—all that set the foundation for 2009 when my life fell apart. That was my Olympic moment. I’m so grateful for Experiencing God. If it wasn’t for what God was doing through Henry Blackaby and his ministry, I wouldn’t be here.”

When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.”      Acts 12:14-15

You can say prayers in your mind but doubt in your heart. At times God will answer such prayers as He did when Peter was in prison, scheduled for execution. The believers in Jerusalem were powerless to free him, so they prayed. When God released Peter, their reaction revealed the doubt in their hearts. They argued that Peter could not possibly be free, even as he stood outside knocking on the door!

Is it possible to be a “person of prayer” and yet not have faith? Is it possible to fool yourself into believing that because you ask God for help, you have faith in His ability to meet your needs? Is your faith so weak that you are surprised when God answers your prayer? As a child of God, you ought to expect God to answer your prayers. Do you ask God to do something without adjusting your life to what you are praying? If you are praying for revival, how are you preparing for its coming? If you are praying for forgiveness, are you still living with guilt? If you have asked God to provide for your needs, do you remain worried and anxious?

Ask God to increase your faith and then begin living a life that reflects absolute trust in Him. Out of His grace, God may choose to respond to your requests despite your lack of faith, but you will miss the joy of praying in faith.

In this episode Richard reflects on the importance of integrity as a father.

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There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.     Proverbs 16:25

Things are not always what they seem. Proverbs warns that we can be deceived into believing we are going down the right path and yet be heading toward death, the opposite direction from God’s will. People do not naturally seek God or pursue righteousness (Rom. 3:10-18). Only as the Spirit awakens our hearts to the Person of Christ are we able to desire God’s will. If we make decisions apart from the guidance of the Spirit of God, we will be like a ship trying to sail without a compass. We will do what makes the most sense, based on our own wisdom. But what looks attractive may actually lead to sin, ultimately destroying what is precious to us, for our most profound human thinking is mere foolishness to God (1 Cor. 1:18-20). Only God knows the way that leads to life, and He wants to lead us to walk in it (Matt. 7:13-14).

Don’t assume every opportunity that arises is from God.  Satan will disguise himself as an “angel of light,” and his invitations will seem to be in your best interest (2 Cor. 11:14). Yet his way leads only to death (John 8:44). The word of God will be like a light to your path, guiding you in the ways of righteousness (Ps. 119:105).

It can be perilous to follow a path that seems right without first consulting the Holy Spirit for guidance (John 16:13). Take time to seek the Holy Spirit’s direction when you face decisions. He knows the full ramifications of your choices.   The Holy Spirit will assist you to understand truth and to experience abundant life.   Trust Him as He leads you.

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”      Galatians 4:6

The word father conjures up different images for everyone. To some it brings the picture of love, laughter, respect, and acceptance. Unfortunately, others associate the term father with fear, rejection, and disappointment. That is why it is so important not to take your understanding of your heavenly Father from your experience. Take it from Scripture. You undoubtedly had an imperfect earthly father, perhaps even one who brought you harm. But, as in all of your Christian life, the key is not to understand the Bible based on your experience, but to understand your experience in light of the Bible. God is your model of a father in the truest sense of the word.

Your heavenly Father was willing to pay any price in order to save you (Rom. 8:32). Your heavenly Father_is always ready to meet your needs (Luke 11:11-13).  Your heavenly Father loves you so much that He is willing to discipline you to bring you to Christian maturity (Prov. 3:11-12; Heb. 12:5-10). Even when you rebel against Him and reject His love, your Father continues to do what is best for you (Rom. 5:8). He does not make His love for you conditional upon your love for Him. He loves you even when you are not loving Him (1 John 4:19). He has made you His heirs and reserves a home for you in heaven (Rom. 8:15-17).

This is what a father is like biblically.   If this has not been your experience, it can be now. There is One who has adopted you and who wants to love you in a way you have never experienced. Take comfort and strength from Him–your heavenly Father.

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.       Romans 8:16-18

It is impossible to perceive all that became ours when we were born again. There is no way we can understand all that heaven is like. How could we ever comprehend all that is ours as fellow heirs with Christ? The knowledge that we will share Christ’s inheritance with Him absolutely astounds us! Left to our own, we could not begin to understand all that we received once we became children of the King. The Holy Spirit convinces us that we are indeed children of God and helps us understand the riches of our inheritance.

Perhaps you did not have a loving father. The Spirit’s role is to teach you how to respond to a Father who relates to you only in perfect love and how to live like a child of the King. Perhaps you grew up in poverty. The Spirit will show you the inexhaustible riches available to you as a child of God.

If you were simply declared an heir and then left on your own, you could not begin to use your inheritance. But the Father has given you His Spirit to serve as your Guide and Teacher. The Holy Spirit will lead you to the magnificent promises and resources that became available when God adopted you into His family. Take time to meditate on the wonderful promises of God that are available to you. Let the Holy Spirit convince you of the reality that you are, indeed, a child of God and a fellow heir of Christ.

Then the LORD said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.      Genesis 7:1

The children of Noah faced a significant decision. They lived in a world where everyone blatantly disregarded God. Wickedness was the norm. No one would have condemned Noah’s sons for living evil lives like the rest of society–no one except their father. In a world rampant with ungodly attitudes and every form of wicked behavior, they were fortunate to be Noah’s sons. When their father invited them to spend the next hundred years building an ark in obedience to a word from God, Noah’s sons had to choose whether to believe those around them or to trust their father. They chose to join their father. What a wonderful testimony of Noah’s godly influence in his home! How fortunate for Shem, Ham, and Japheth that their father refused to compromise his integrity, even though everyone else in his society had done so.

Your life has an influence on those around you as well. Your spouse and your children are profoundly affected by your choices. Your coworkers, your neighbors, and your friends will all be impacted by your life. As the world tries to persuade people to follow its standard, your life should stand in stark contrast as an example of a righteous person. Your life should convince those around you of the wisdom of following God. Do not underestimate the positive effect that your obedience will have upon those close to you.

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