• johned@aibi.ph

Following The Heavenly Father

God has brought us into the place where we can receive an abundance of revelation and be guided into the very plans and purposes of God

(John 5:19-20 NKJV) Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. {20} "For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

The pattern that Jesus followed in His ministry was to see what the Father was doing then to go and do that. Our ministry then must flow from a certain knowledge of what God is doing around us. We cannot minister out of what we think God ought to be doing. We dare not tell God how to run His kingdom. When the King says "Go to war" we join the army. When the King says "Build and plant" we are to get our tools and work. When the King says "Come and celebrate with me" we are to worship. To worship when we should be at war would be a crime and to march to battle when God wants us to build and plant would be inappropriate. God has a time for everything under Heaven and makes everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11)

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 NIV) There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: {2} a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, {3} a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, {4} a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, {5} a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to GlobalChristians.Orgbrace and a time to refrain, {6} a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, {7} a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, {8} a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. {9} What does the worker gain from his toil? {10} I have seen the burden God has laid on men. {11} He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

The obvious question is how can we know God's timing for ourselves. There are three main answers - through the Holy Spirit, through careful study of the Scriptures and through the obvious signs of the times we shall tackle these in reverse order. (I have not included guidance from other believers, though it is important, for two reasons a)because they themselves have to hear through one of these means and b) I would like you to be able to hear God for yourself.)

The Obvious Signs Of The Times

The Spirit-indwelt person looks below the surface of life and current events to discern what God is doing. A failure to read the obvious signs of the times is more than mere oversight, it is a sign that doom is imminent. Both Jeremiah and Jesus make this plain.

(Jeremiah 8:7 NKJV) "Even the stork in the heavens Knows her appointed times; And the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow Observe the time of their coming. But My people do not know the judgment of the LORD.

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for being able to read the weather but being unable to understand the seasons of God and what was obviously happening around them.

(Matthew 16:1-4 NKJV) Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. {2} He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; {3} "and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. {4} "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." And He left them and departed.

In both cases the result of ignoring the obvious was the invasion and desolation of Jerusalem around forty years later!

Many Christians have a deep unease at that state of the world and a sense that God will soon be here to judge His Creation. We should not ignore this but try where possible to know what God is doing in the big picture.

  • What is happening with world evangelization?

  • With Israel and Jerusalem ?

  • With the moral condition of mankind ?

  • With the state of the earth that will wear out like a garment - in patches?

Can we see patterns there that point to what God is doing? Where can we join in to His work? I think God is obviously calling a greedy and morally decaying world to repentance. I think world missions is high on God's list of priorities. I think that He is doing something very special in Israel. I sense that He is deeply concerned with the holiness of His bride the church. The evidence around me seems to point in these directions which are also consistent with Scripture. If the Jews of Jesus day had not ignored the obvious signs of the times they might have remained in the land.


Jesus expected people to use the Scriptures as a guide when they attempted to interpret what God was doing around them. To do so they needed to know their Bibles well and to believe in a big and powerful God. The Sadducees who were the "cultured despisers" of the ministry of Jesus are portrayed in the New Testament as getting it wrong at every turn.

(Mark 12:24 NKJV) Jesus answered and said to them, "Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?

Mistaken interpretation comes from a) Not knowing the Scriptures b) Doubting the power of God. To interpret current events correctly we need to use the lens of the word of God applied in faith.

The Scriptures reveal to us the ways of God that we might otherwise fail to understand.

(Psalms 92:6-7 NKJV) A senseless man does not know, Nor does a fool understand this. {7} When the wicked spring up like grass, And when all the workers of iniquity flourish, It is that they may be destroyed forever.

When we observe the world and see the wicked prosper we can be disheartened but we see that like a boil that must grow until it is lanced (or the parable of the wheat and the tares) that the wicked are just being allowed to reach the point where God will deal with them finally and forever. God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8,9) thus it is important to know Scripture well if we are to understand them at all.

(Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV) "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. {9} "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Of course we cannot understand all of His ways for we are finite and "see through a mirror dimly".

(Romans 11:33-36 NKJV) Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! {34} "For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?" {35} "Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?" {36} For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

The Holy Spirit

There is one who understands the mind of God fully - Holy Spirit who is given to us.

(1 Corinthians 2:10-14 NKJV) But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. {11} For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. {12} Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

He is given so that we might understand the things of God - which include His intentions, plans and purposes for ministry. (John 14:26, 1 Corinthians 2:10-16, 1 John 2:20,27 Acts 16:6-10)

(Acts 16:6-10 NKJV) Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. {7} After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. {8} So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. {9} And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." {10} Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

The guidance of the Holy Spirit can even be down to the tiniest detail such as which words to use . The Corinthians 2 passage above continues..

{13} These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. {14} But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The Christian is given a special capacity for receiving God's truth and understanding spiritual things which is known as "the mind of Christ".

(1 Corinthians 2:15-16 NKJV) But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. {16} For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

Direct guidance from God for those engaged in ministry is observed both in Scripture and in the testimony of those serving the Lord today. Scriptural examples include the conversation between the risen Jesus and the disciple Ananias which included words, specific directions on where to go and what to do, and much detail about God's plans and purposes for a single human life.

(Acts 9:10-16 NKJV) Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." {11} So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. {12} "And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight." {13} Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. {14} "And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name." {15} But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. {16} "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."

Other examples include God's directions to Stephen for the salvation of the Ethiopian eunuch.

(Acts 8:26-29 NKJV) 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. {27} So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, {28} was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. {29} Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot."

Again we have very specific directions and a concern for the salvation of one man who could later influence others. Sometimes God has to say things a few times to get the message through just as He did with the apostle Peter in Acts 10.

(Acts 10:13-20 NKJV) 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. {17} Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate. {18} And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. {19} While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are seeking you. {20} "Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them."

God has brought us into the place where we can receive and abundance of revelation and be guided into the very plans and purposes of God.

(Acts 2:17-18 NKJV) '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. {18} And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.

Practical Applications

Below are ten tips that may help you hear God for yourself.

  1. Engage in regular, disciplined and prayerful Bible study.

  2. Get information on what God is doing around the world.

  3. Read how He has operated in the lives of great Christians. Biographies are a big help.

  4. Keep a spiritual journal where you record what you are going through in your life, your prayers, your feelings and any impressions from God that you receive. These can be reviewed later to check their authenticity. Putting it on paper helps many people - and keeps you honest.

  5. Keep company with godly people who are alive spiritually and can encourage you to hear from God.

  6. Ask God to open your spiritual eyes and ears so you can understand His purposes and get involved.(Ephesians 1:17-21)

  7. When He does show you something don't baulk at it but jump in feet first and go for it! Be like Peter when he saw Jesus walking on the water -say "Can I do that too!" And just do it!

  8. Remember to have faith in the power of God and the goodness of God. Doubt kills our ability to receive God's guidance. (James 1:5-8)

  9. Fasting helps me a lot particularly when I am stuck on a particularly confusing issue. It is a scriptural practice of long standing and has helped many find guidance. See article on fasting for more information.

  10. Worship God regularly at a church that helps you to believe and which is fervent in the love of Jesus Christ. Many people find that they hear clearly from God during worship services. This seems to have happened both at Antioch (Acts 13:1-3) and Corinth (1 Corinthians 14:26-31)

As you minister for Christ this week ask God "What are You doing - and how can I join in?" It will add a new dynamic to your ministry and increase those "divine appointments" in your life.

This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.