Over the years I’ve heard many messages in which the minister referenced an encounter with God that changed their lives in a single moment. I do not discount these but do urge caution in regards to pursuing a similar experience for our lives.
My heart hunger early in my walk with God was to have a similar experience that would change me in an instant. I would spend hours locked away crying out to God for a touch that would change me. The motive was pure but the approach was wrong!
As I began to grow spiritually it seemed that my desire for one of these encounters began to fade. This concerned me as many ministers I knew believed that this fading desire was a sign I was falling away from God.
I did not want to fall away from God and did not know where to turn for counsel. The ministers I was associated with were not helpful as they believed I was growing cold and needed deliverance.
Out of sheer desperation, I turned to the Holy Spirit. We spent many hours together and He showed me that these experiences that had so excited me as a young Christian were not the normal way He works in an individual’s life.
The Holy Spirit encouraged me to spend time doing deeper research focused on the experiences that I had been hearing about. What I found shocked me!
It became clear that the majority of these miraculous encounters were preceded by weeks, months, and sometimes even years of seeking God. We looked at them as moments in time where the Holy Spirit miraculously fell on a person. Most were encounters that followed an intense time of self-preparation.
Many of us look for an experience with accompanying physical manifestations. If these are not present the majority will question if the Spirit moved during service.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
A carnal mind is one that is focused on the input received from the five physical senses. I do not discount the fact that there will sometimes be manifestations of the Spirit resulting in people dancing, falling, or even shaking in a service. If our focus is on these manifestations we have become carnal!
Paul exhorted his readers to fix their attention on “things that cannot be seen”. (2 Corinthians 4:18). We do this by fixing our attention on the Word of God. This will require us to stop being so fixated on experiences resulting in physical manifestations.
We will never find the plan of God without turning our attention to spiritual things. Society around us is fixated on instantaneous gratification. Unfortunately, many Christians have adopted similar fixations on instant results.
I recently saw a product review in which the author was complaining because a product arrived in two days instead of the promised one. There had been a storm in their area that caused the delay. This did not stop them from writing an extremely negative review berating the company for not fulfilling the order with next-day shipping as promised!
Many Christians seek an encounter with the Holy Spirit just as I did early in my Christian life. They run from meeting to meeting seeking that single “touch” that will change everything. I’ve even seen ads for impartation meetings with an associated promise that attendees will receive an anointing able to shake the world.
We need to take a fresh look at the four stages of growth in regards to the human heart as described in Mark 4. Moving from one stage to the next will take time. No shortcut exists that will allow us to bypass the required hours needed to be locked out of sight with the Holy Spirit allowing Him to teach us from God’s Word.
We will find the Holy Spirit to be a faithful guide if we look to Him. He will direct us step by step into the plan of God. Spiritual growth can be accelerated but in most cases will require time. Time spent in prayer and meditation on God’s Word is never wasted!
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