I have been asking the Lord if it's possible today, in this time of grace, to live as He did. Can we be totally dependent on the voice of the Father in glory? Is it possible to hear His direction for our lives day by day, moment by moment? Is there such a walk laid out for us, so we also can say, "I speak only what I hear from the Lord, and do only what I see Him doing"?
I know the joy that comes from being shut in alone with Christ. It comes from worshiping Him, ministering to Him, waiting upon Him to reveal His heart. I call this Jesus' feeding time. I sit in His presence, listening for His still, small voice. And He speaks to me, teaching me, ministering to me by His Holy Spirit, showing me things I could never learn from a book or another person. His truth comes to life in my spirit. And my heart leaps within me!
Of course, I haven't arrived. This kind of occasional experience still hasn't become a way of life for me. So, I've been asking the Lord, "Is the wholly-dependent life possible? Or is it just wishful thinking? Am I dreaming of something that's impossible to fulfill?"
I believe most of us live way beneath the privileges we have as children of God. For example, I read of Elijah standing before the Lord and hearing His voice. I read of Jeremiah standing in God's presence, hearing His counsel. He cries, "Who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? Who hath marked his word, and heard it?" (Jeremiah 23:18). I read a similar cry from Isaiah: "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left" (Isaiah 30:21).
Why wouldn't God speak in our generation, when there's so much fear and uncertainty? The world is in turmoil, searching for answers. Why would the Lord be silent now, when we need to hear His voice more than ever?
Was the Father true to His terms of the Covenant? Did He lead and guide Jesus as promised? Did His Spirit hover over His Son, giving Him encouragement and consolation? Did He bring Him through all His trials and usher Him home to glory victorious? Yes, absolutely! And the Father has pledged an eternal oath to do the same for us.
Jesus said, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15). “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (verse 16). Christ was saying, in essence, “Father, sanctify them through Your truth. Make them holy and pure and keep them from the wicked one. Be with them through all their temptations. Let the promises You gave Me be theirs, as well.”
By keeping the word of His Covenant in love, the Father’s glory was displayed to the world: “The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (verses:22-23).
The next time you struggle with a besetting sin, you may hear an accusing voice: “You’ve gone too far and sinned too often. God has turned you over to a reprobate mind. You’re unclean, unholy, no good, a disgrace to the gospel. You’ve driven the Holy Spirit from your life completely.” When this happens, remind God, the devil and yourself: “I am one in covenant with the Father and Son. Jesus co-signed the covenant with His own blood, and the Father promised to keep me through all my trials. He’ll hold my hand no matter what comes and will never remove His love from me. He’ll lead me to victory!”
By revealing His covenant to us, God wants to remove any doubts we have about His ability to keep us. It’s as if He is saying, “I’m going to treat you as though you have no faith at all. I’ll make such a strong oath to you, you’ll have no choice but to believe in Me.” We are to stay in Christ—abide in Him, trust Him, depend on Him. If we do this, we will surely see His glory!
The book of Acts describes Stephen as a man “full of peace, joy, wisdom, grace and the power of the Holy Spirit” (see Acts 6:5, 8). One day, as Stephen was sharing his faith in Christ to a group of people in a public square, tragedy struck. Religious fanatics, in a cowardly movement, picked up stones to literally stone Stephen to death.
Stephen was stoned for having “built an altar” before God, for having served suffering widows, and for publicly sharing his faith in Christ. The Bible allows us to catch in this moment a brief and ever so intense glimpse into eternity. As this crowd of religious fanatics rushed madly toward him, stones in hand, Stephen pronounced these words of peace and forgiveness as he knelt before his murderers, but even more, before his God: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and do not charge this crime upon them. Forgive them, oh God” (see Acts 7:59-60).
Where does this peace, this magnificent grace come from? It was as if the stones that were tearing Stephen apart were, in fact, only striking the envelope of his body as his spirit was already transported to another Kingdom. Stephen saw something glorious.
The veil opened for an instant, allowing us to see in. “Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes toward heaven and said: ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man [Jesus], standing at the right hand of God!’” (Acts 7:56). This is the only place where Christ is found standing in heaven but there are many references to the resurrected Christ sitting at the right hand of God the Father (Ephesians 1:20).
Some might say, “So what?” It is, however, extremely significant. The seated position represents the fullness of authority and the finality of Christ’s victory over sin, death and all of His enemies. The victory is eternal, the sacrifice perfect, and the resurrection absolute, total and complete. It announces the finished triumph of Christ against all of humanity’s foes. He is seated because all of our enemies are under His feet!
Claude Houde, lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada, is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
Scripture tells us that on occasion “as many as touched him were made whole" (see Mark 6:56). Yet, at other times, He didn't heal because of people's unbelief. How did Jesus know when to heal and when not to? He had to hear the still, small voice of His Father giving Him a word of direction. And He gloried in hearing His Father's voice.
The same is true of our calling. We know all the things Scripture requires of us: we are to love one another; pray without ceasing; go into the world and make disciples; study to show ourselves approved; walk in righteousness; and minister to the poor, sick, needy and imprisoned. Yet, we are also to do certain other things that aren't mentioned in Scripture. We face certain needs in our daily walk, whether through crises or other situations. In such moments, we need our Father's voice to guide us, speaking to us things not outlined in His commandments. Simply put, we need to hear the same voice of the Father that Jesus heard while on earth.
We know Christ had this kind of exchange with His Father. He told His disciples, "All things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you" (John 15:15). He also told the religious leaders, "[I have] told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham" (John 8:40). What did Jesus mean by this last phrase? He was telling Israel's teachers, "I've given you truth directly from God's heart. Abraham couldn't do that."
Christ was saying, "You live in a dead theology. You study the past, honoring your father Abraham, learning rules and regulations for your life. But what I am speaking to you isn't from some remote history. I've just been with the Father and He gave me what I'm preaching to you. He showed me what you needed to hear."
John the Baptist testified against these same religious leaders: "What he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony" (John 3:32). Today, Jesus is speaking to us the same message: "You're satisfied to listen to sermons taken from some reference book. But the Word I want to give you is fresh."
It was in the hours alone with the Father that Christ heard His voice speak. Indeed, Jesus received every encouraging word, every prophetic warning, while in prayer. He petitioned the Father, worshiped Him, and submitted to His will. And after every miracle, every teaching, every face-off with a Pharisee, Jesus hurried back to fellowship with His Father.
We see this kind of devotion in Matthew 14. Jesus had just received news of the death of John the Baptist. "When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart" (Matthew 14:13). (I wonder if he went to the same desert where John had spent years in meditation and preparation for ministry.)
Jesus was there alone, praying and grieving deeply over John's death. John had been a beloved friend, as well as a respected prophet of God. Now, in fellowship with the Father, Jesus asked for and received grace. And there in the desert, Jesus received direction for the very next day.
Immediately after leaving that place, Christ began to perform miracles: "Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick" (Matthew 14:14). That same day, Jesus fed a crowd of five thousand from five loaves and two fishes. Try to imagine what a busy, full, heavy day it was for Him. Later that day, He sent the crowds away.
So, what did Jesus do at that point? You would think He might seek rest or a quiet meal. Perhaps He would gather a few of His close disciples and recount the events of the day. Or, maybe He desired to go to Bethany, to be rejuvenated by the hospitality of the family of Mary and Martha.
Jesus did none of these things, however. Scripture says, "He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone" (Mattthew14:23). Once again, Jesus rushed back to the Father. He knew the only place to recuperate was in His Father's presence.