Just as God knew Moses would be attracted by a burning bush, God speaks to each of us in ways that we find attractive.
July 7, 2014
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
When Pastor Penn Clark was first impacted by the charismatic renewal of the 1970s, he believed God would speak to him, and he did.
God spoke to him through Scripture where verses would suddenly come alive with new impact; through books; through speakers at conferences; and through the local Christian radio station, he told a conference in Ottawa.
But God is not like a vending machine where you put in some quarters and you get the result you want. Nor is there a formula that you can use to ensure you get a result, Clark said during the June 13-16 conference on How to Live the Life of the Holy Spirit.
For example, one time God spoke to him through a pastor on the radio. But the next time he was searching for a word from God, he tuned into the radio station, but nothing happened, he said.
Clark, who pastors Wellspring Fellowship in Penn Yan, N.Y., said God knows how to knock in a way uniquely suited to each one of us, so that we will hear him. That knock could come in the form of a desire to pray or read the Bible.
God knew Moses' curiosity would be attracted to the burning bush, he said. In the same way, God knows what will attract you and allow him to reach you.
The way we know it is God is by the effect, he said, noting that God's words are "spirit and they are life." They convey "the peace of heaven."
"Anytime you feel encouraged, comforted and strengthened in the faith, that's God," he said.
Clark used to make regular mission trips to a remote, rural part of Ukraine with groups of lay people from Upper State New York.
A woman who wanted to be part of their team became beside herself with fear and worry before leaving so she thought she could not go. At the root of her fear was the thought her aged father would die while she was away.
Clark told her this impression her father would die could not have come from God because God's message would not be accompanied by fear, confusion or anxiety. She went on several mission trips after that.
One time, when in a rural area there far from any telephones, the woman awoke with an impression God was telling her that her father had died and was now with him, Clark said.
PEACE REPLACES FEAR
But instead of anxiety, she felt an indescribable peace. As soon as she could get to a telephone, she called home and found out her father had in fact died. Her sons were handling everything without problems, awaiting her and her husband's return.
When God speaks, there is peace and joy and love of a kind you can't give yourself or make up, he said. "You feel peace, you feel beloved, like hope has filled your lungs."
God also speaks in the form of "an idea that is not in line with our normal way of thinking," he said. It's like an impulse, an idea and sometimes only once we act on it, do we know for sure God is in it by the spiritual fruit.
God wants us to cooperate with him, Clark said. "If we don't take that first step, he won't do the next part.
"He wants to work with you."
The first step in obeying God "feels like bungee jumping, like stepping out into the air," he said.
"You step out in faith. It requires you to trust when you don't have a full understanding or 100 per cent certainty God is speaking to you."
"I'm so relieved when I find out it
really is," he said. "He's pleased when you take that step."
Clark warned against letting the enemy of our souls use our tongues to discourage others. He also warned against our own fleshly, or sinful nature.
"Any time you want what you want when you want it more than you want what God wants, you want what the flesh wants."
Pastor Penn Clark
Just as the room is full of unseen radio and TV signals, it is also full of spiritual forces, good and evil, he said.
VOICE OF DOOM
"You receive what you are prone to receive," he said. "If you are negative, critical, and judgmental, you will hear condemnation, rejection and then you will replay it, becoming a voice of doom and gloom and negativity."
Other people "become receptors of the melodies of heaven," and spread encouragement and hope, he said.
"I think complaining and negativity attracts darkness," Clark said.
Clark urged participants to sow to the spirit, rather than sow to the flesh. One can sow by spending time reading the Bible, forgiving others, serving others, and walking and talking with God.
"The devil is never going to ask you to forgive anyone."