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Holiness is not something any of us could accomplish on our own. Holiness is absorbed. It is not learned, earned or forced. It is not calculated with points for and against. Holiness is the result of a relationship with Someone who is holy. As we draw close to the One who is holy, we start acting holier. It is similar to holding a nail to a candle flame—the nail will heat up. It cannot help but respond to the candle’s warmth in a similar fashion. The closer we are to Jesus, the holier we become.
If the key to holiness is intimacy with the Holy One, the answer to the question of holiness is time spent in His tent:
For You have been a refuge for me,
A tower of strength against the enemy.
Let me dwell in Your tent forever;
Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.
— Psalm 61:3–4 (NASB)
I want to thank you for your generous prayers and support for our mission efforts in India. Phase 1 of Training India 2015 is on schedule, fully funded, and already showing amazing fruit. We’ve hand-picked 50 pastors and leaders in India who will become the first Hindi-speaking teachers of The Art of Hearing God courses in Mumbai.
These 50 leaders started their training last February by attending an Art of Hearing God course I taught in Mumbai. Since that time, they’ve continued their instruction by reviewing the material online. Perhaps the most important part of their training will take place early this year as I will be leading a team of Streams Instructors back to India to give them personal training and mentoring that will prepare and release them to become teachers of the course.
It is a natural human tendency to find a rut and want to climb into it. When we find something that works, we tend to make it into a formula. Formula gradually becomes habit; habit becomes tradition, and the problem with tradition is that it tries to set boundaries for the mind.
When the “formula” becomes more valuable than Scripture, faith in God or true relationship with Him, something needs to happen. That something is called chaos.
Dependence on the Holy Spirit takes up a lot more “room” than most of us realize. When we think about being dependent on God, we probably think of specific circumstances such as sharing Jesus with someone on the street, difficult financial situations, unpleasant medical reports, etc. When we are running out of options, or just can’t see any other way out, we have to be dependent on God.
Faith understands the system of God. You have faith in God because you are starting to understand how things work. You’ve had a glimpse of how God operates, and you are beginning to recognize His heart and intentions. As a believer in Jesus, you always have two options: You will know what the world says—the visible realm—and you can follow its leading if you so desire. But you will also be able to perceive the invisible realm. Through the eyes of faith, you see what cannot be seen, yet it exists.
The invisible realm is eternal in nature, and because it is eternal, it is superior to the short-term physical world we live in. There will be times when we cannot understand the invisible realm simply because the inferior cannot fully comprehend that which is superior. The invisible realm helps teach us the ways and purposes of God—why He heals, why He delivers, what He is thinking about when He does signs and wonders and miracles. When we look with faith, we see what cannot be seen.
How often do you sit down and take the time to remember the love of God?
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). He then went out and did what He said. He showed His love—He gave a tangible, solid demonstration of His heart. He is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). He is the friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19), laying down His life for us before we were holy, when we had nothing to our names but sin. We were His enemies when He lay down on that cross, ready for the nails, but on that cross, He made us His friends.
Love is willing to lay down its life, as Jesus revealed. Love looks like laughing delight and unspeakable joy, but it also can look like sacrifice. Jesus gave His disciples an invitation in John 15: 14-15
“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
He extends the same invitation to you and me. This call to obedience isn’t just a call to give love to others—but to trust in God’s love for us. A huge part of our obedience to His Word means knowing His love and trusting it.
The Heart of Prayer
God desires intimacy with you. He desires communion and communication. He desires commitment, friendship, love, and affection. These aspects of your relationship with Him must increase, or your relationship will eventually decrease. You are never in neutral with God. You will not stay the same, and neither will your relationship with Him. If you’re not moving forward, you will move backward. I tell people that if they’re in the same place spiritually they were five years ago, they better think through some things. Change needs to happen, and it probably is not God who needs to change.
Abraham J. Heschel, a Jewish theologian from the 20th century, said, “Prayer does not change God; prayer changes the pray-er.” If you want to know His love more, it is imperative to develop an effective prayer life.
For the last few months, I’ve written about Lectio Divina, a life-changing way of praying Scripture. You meditate on a particular passage and wait for God to give you greater understanding about it. The purpose of this type of prayer is not just to establish relationship with God but to strengthen a relationship that already exists. I’ve noticed that the more
I pray in this manner, meditating on His Word, the more
of myself I am able to
offer to Him. At first
I was able to offer
only five minutes of myself to
Him. I might have spent
an hour in prayer, but
it all boiled down to about five minutes of
concentrated “good stuff.” But the more I have employed Lectio Divina, the more often it ends up being an hour or more of offering all of me to the Father. Imagine that! You end up giving God an hour of your full attention, not just five minutes boiled down.
Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” The result of an ever-growing, ever-deepening relationship with God allows you to call on Him, and He will show you things you didn’t know before. That is a promise. When you set your heart on Him and humbly choose to seek Him out, He hears you.
Daniel was told, “From the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard” (Daniel 10:12). Remind yourself who He is—and remind yourself who you are: His beloved.