A Personal Experience
By Gary Piper
The New Testament book of Hebrews opens up with… “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets many times and in many different ways. But now in these last days God has spoken to us through his Son. God has chosen his Son to own all things, and through him he made the world. The Son reflects the glory of God and shows exactly what God is like. He holds everything together with his powerful word. When the Son made people clean from their sins, he sat down at the right side of God, the Great One in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:1–3, NCV)
But now in our days God has not stopped speaking to us through the Holy Spirit and his Son to those who are not just willing to listen but to those who DO listen.
Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Jonah, and all the other Old Testament Prophets are all DEAD! God is NOT dead! While it is true the prophets continue to speak to us through words in the Bible it is also true God speaks to US through a LIVING Spirit! God will never be completely silent, there will be and are times will we will not and cannot hear Him speaking but He will never cease speaking His mind and will. The problem with being unable to hear and experience God does not fall back on God it fall back on US!
Before going further I need to point out that when I refer to God or the Holy Spirit speaking I am not just speaking in an audible voice but also in an inaudible exchange not only of information but of power as well. For me one of the greatest mysteries of all time is how can God who spoke everything into existence and who can just as well speak everything out of existence go unheard, unfelt, and not experienced by so many people and especially by people who have a relationship with God. And I must include myself in the list of those who have a relationship with God. Yet having said that about those with a relationship with God including myself there are times however when the God comes in loud and clear.
Today I am writing about one such occasion when the Holy Spirit broke the “Gary Barrier” and impressed God’s thoughts on mine. There are a couple things we need to keep in mind when we are sharing our personal experiences with the divine. First of all while the words and thoughts may have originated in perfection they come to and are filtered through and imperfect mind. And secondly there is a good chance whatever was revealed was intended only for the person they were addressed to. However, with a confirming touch of the Holy Spirit they will also be a collection of powerful words for others as well.
Several days ago while writing the morning Glory Seed Devotional God opened the “Gary Barrier” and the Holy Spirit engaged my imagination with what I believe are His words. They have since continued to present themselves to me in a nagging sort of way that has caused me to stop and take notice not of the words themselves but the experience of what God was trying to convey/reveal to me. I believe anytime God embraces our world with His presence and communicates with us what He reveals is meant to have a divine impact on our lives not just to fall to the ground like a kite without wind. God makes that very clear in the Book of Isaiah, “The same thing is true of the words I speak. They will not return to me empty. They make the things happen that I want to happen, and they succeed in doing what I send them to do.” (Isaiah 55:11, NCV) And the only way God’s words will return empty if they happen to fall on stone encrusted hearts that will not or cannot experience them.
As I stated in the previous paragraph as I was writing the mornings Glory Seed I suddenly began experiencing words coming into my mind and I began to write them down. “Gary,” I imagined God saying, “I am not a God of prevention but I am always and forever a God of intervention. Our love for you has not been written in the pages of a book but on the pages of your life. Our love for you is never a thing nor is it ever a feeling it is a state of being, of living, and being alive. With Our love you will stand in the presence of adversity. With My hope in one hand and Jesus’ peace in the other hand and the Spirit in your heart you will always walk in the Light of Jesus’ Resurrection.” (I have since edited them slightly.)
The most important message conveyed to us when God does breaks the “Us Barrier) is the message that “I love you so much I want to be a BIG part of your life.” God is not a God who sits in heaven telling life what it can and cannot do with us. God is a God who through the Holy Spirit can and does intervene directly in our lives. God is a HANDS on God! One of the most powerful and effective ways God intervenes in our lives is by orchestrating the right people coming into our lives and even orchestrating the right people leaving our lives. That is especially true in my own life with my wonderful wife Patti and a few of the doctors who have done their best to put this “Humpty Dumpty” back together again.
There are times when what God doesn’t do is just as important as what He does. In 1981 I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis a form of Muscular Dystrophy God could have prevented in the first place but He didn’t so on March 30, 1981 I had major surgery which was only partially successful, God could have made the surgery a complete success and totally healed me but He didn’t, He had more to reveal. I remember in a Wednesday Night Prayer Service at church a kindly elderly man standing up and praying God would heal me. All most immediately I silently and enthusiastically prayed, “Not now God I am growing spiritually by leaps and bounds!” God answered my prayers that night and while the years that followed were not easy I continued to grow spiritually. And for the last 20 years or so I have been symptom free which means God also answered my friends prayer as well.
There two standout experiences that testify and amplify the last sentence, “With My hope in one hand and Jesus’ peace in the other hand and the Spirit in your heart you will always walk in the Light of Jesus’ Resurrection.” The first was in 2011 (I believe) when a Pulmonary Doctor told me I had Pulmonary Fibrosis. When I first heard the words I became angry and silently prayed, “Okay God, what the hell else is going to go wrong with me?” Then several hours later on my daily bike ride I sat on a bench resting before riding back home I felt the words and experienced not a sensation of peace but in a message of hope, hope such I’d never experienced before, “Gary, this will not end in your death.”
The second experience happened in 2013 as I faced heart surgery to replace 4 arties that had become blocked. There was no messages from God even though the outcome of the surgery was a matter of life and death for me there was no fear only a constant feeling of peace. I really didn’t need a message to remind me it was the first time I realized that the Holy Spirit IS the message. Now as I write this I am beginning to realize that the Holy Spirit is not only the message the Holy Spirit is also God’s Promise that the unwritten law of “junk in junk out” is superseded by a higher law “junk in blessings out.” The Apostle Paul puts it this way. “The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.” (Ephesians 1:14, NLT)
“With My hope in one hand,” the Spirit told me that morning which restarted my wrestling match with the word hope and I knew the hope I needed was a great deal more than just wishful thinking. Then in “What is Faith” by R.C. Sproul I found a meaning of hope I can and have poured my future life into.
“However, when the Bible speaks of hope, it is not referring to a desire for a future outcome that is uncertain, but rather a desire for a future outcome that is absolutely sure. Based on our trust in the promises of God, we can be fully confident about the outcome. When God gives His people a promise for the future, and the church grasps it, this hope is said to be the “anchor of the soul” (Heb. 6:19). An anchor is that which gives a ship protection against aimless drifting in the sea. The promises of God for tomorrow are the anchor for believers today.” (R.C. Sproul, What Is Faith? Reformation Trust Publishing, emphasis mine)
What the Holy Spirit was trying to get me to understand and experience was the future, specifically your future and my future are not left to the “fickle finger of fate” but to the ultimate plan of God revealed in chapter 29 of Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord…” (Jeremiah 29:11–14, NLT) Hope is the act of trusting the outcome to situations and circumstances to God not to chance.
Not only did the Spirit talk about hope but about peace as well specifically Jesus’ peace. For me peace is not the absence of conflict – peace is the active and ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit. (With My hope in one hand and Jesus’ peace in the other hand and the Spirit in your heart you will always walk in the Light of Jesus’ Resurrection.) However there is another aspect of peace I’ve never considered until a couple days ago. The Apostle Paul writes/testifies, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1–3, ESV, emphasis mine)
Peace is not just the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit peace is also a bonding presence that unifies us in our relationship with Jesus thus anchoring us to God through faith. It is our need for Jesus and his peace along with “making room” in our hearts (lives) for Jesus’ peace that anchors us deep into the heart of God. Peace is not a feeling or a state of being instead it is the heart of the living God embedded deep in our own hearts which continually pumps the breath of the Holy Spirit throughout our lives.
Chapter 2 of Hebrews starts out with a eye opening spirit-take-notice warning about not only the importance of God’s revelation in our lives but also the absolute MUST of listening to and the repercussions of hearing and not listening to the messages of God. “We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away.” (Hebrews 2:1, HCSB)
I bring this entry to a close by providing you with a portion of my journal written this morning.
I guess what I am asking is how can we know if our lives are based on the Rock Solid life, death, and resurrection of Jesus or if our lives are still based on the shifting sands of a religious based self serving cloned Jesus?
When I stop to think about all the things I need to know about my relationship with you and whether or not I am on solid ground the Holy Spirit would never have a minute to stand still! I believe the answers I seek and need to know are not answers that can be found in any book the Bible included but they are found in a living experience with the Holy Spirit. That doesn’t mean books are unimportant I guess one way of looking at them is they are doorways into a living experience with the Holy Spirit that I can walk through and become a living part of them. While I can’t speak for everyone knowledge is important to me but knowledge itself is not transforming it is the power inherent in experience that is transforming.
I also know the Holy Spirit repeats only what it hears from you Father God. You are the great Revealer therefore it is futile for me to ask the Spirit to speak to me. Perhaps your silence in my life is some form of indicator that I am still on the shifting sands of a cloned Jesus. But on the other hand? One of my greatest needs Father God is my need to experience your daily presence. Teach me to hear, listen, and experience you Father God! Teach me see, observe, and experience you Father God! Teach me how to touch, feel, and experience you Father God!
Father God, please communicate with me!
And finally, the Holy Spirit says, “Pay attention, heavens, and I will speak; listen, earth, to the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my word settle like dew, like gentle rain on new grass and showers on tender plants.” (Deuteronomy 32:1–2, HCSB)
Grace and PEACE
Scripture quotations marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
“Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.”
“Scriptures marked NCV are quoted from The Holy Bible, New Century Version, copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Word Publishing, Dallas, Texas 75039. Used by permission.”