I take easily to unusual people. I saw someone on TV not long ago who fascinated me. He was a curator of a department in a museum, in Oxford, if I remember right, which housed a huge collection of the sketches and initial drawings of famous artists. Well, actually that is the understatement of the year. He looked after the drawings of SERIOUSLY famous artists, if that is what you consider people like Michelangelo to be! This curator was shy by nature but there seemed to be an endless and effortless flow of words and exceptionally interesting thoughts when he got into his groove and was talking about what he was passionate about. What caught my attention most was his explanation as to why he preferred drawings to paintings. He said that drawings represented more what was in the artist’s heart whereas a painting more often than naught represented the artist’s original thoughts with layers of what needed to be added to that beginning point of inspiration, either to please a patron or for the finished work to be presented for public view. He proceeded to demonstrate this by showing the original pencil drawings for some priceless paintings. He made his point well. It was obviously true.
I find I am doing something similar in blogging. People have suggested to me that I write a book. I may do so one day, I may not, but the thing I love about my new found hobby and way of ministering through a blog, is that I can give you my pencil thoughts as it were, rather than processed thought refined over and over again for the attention of the pubic. Actually what I am doing is being incredibly intimate with you whether you realised that or not. I am sharing with you rough note thoughts of truths that have brought life to me. In a sense I wish more ministers did that. I don’t like sermons that are so refined that they seem like works of art instead of words of life, though of course that is no reason for sloppiness in preparation. (David Watson said that he heard a minister say that he did not prepare in advance but just preached as he felt led by the Spirit when he stands up. David Watson said he found himself wishing this preacher had left it to the Holy Spirit in his study through the week and he would have perhaps said the same thing with double the clarity in half the time! ) I think though you can get the feel of my appeal for pencil drawings rather than finished works of art in the pulpit. Perhaps this is all a spiritualising though of my bad grammar and spelling mistakes in my blogs! I find checking though what I have written so so boring and trust that what I write is always sufficiently in the ball park for you to work out what I mean. After all, you probably take time to puzzle over a “crossword,” so I can leave you with the odd puzzle that I cause through these pages….
These blogs literally come from thoughts recorded in pencil in a notebook (by that I mean one with paper and lines that you write in) that I keep with me. The bible reminds us that one of the pieces of armour and weaponry that we have as Christians is “Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” However, a more accurate translation of what Paul says in Ephesians 6 would be “Take up the Sword of the Spirit which is the words which God gives.” This will maybe anger some of you but it is not the Bible solely that is being referred to here though what is being referred to here will always be true to the Bible, for after all, all Scripture is God breathed. “The Sword of the Spirit which is the words that God gives” is rather referring to the immediate voice of the Holy Spirit, the words that God is speaking to you at any given moment to help in a particular situation. These words may come through thoughts in prayer, they may indeed come as a verse of Scripture that the Spirit brings to mind, they may come as a prophetic word, through the interpretation of you or another believer speaking in tongues, or they may come as an impression, a dream, a picture that comes to you, or just a knowing in your knower! If we believe the bible we know too that they can come through angelic visitation or seeing the Lord. It is the immediate present ministry of the Holy Spirit that is being spoken of here bringing a word from God, however it comes.
Perhaps you don’t think you can hear such words.You can! Moses longed for all God’s people to be able to hear and speak the word of God, Paul said it was something we could all learn and Jesus said it was something His sheep could do. So who are you going to believe on this matter of hearing from God? Moses, Paul and Jesus…. or you?
The problem is that we may not have recognised how God speaks to me, whoever I am, as an individual, in this immediate way. I would encourage you to ask Jesus your Shepherd to teach you to hear His voice. The best preparation is deciding beforehand you will believe and do what His word that He gives to you says! To not start from that place is to be a double-minded person, unstable in all our ways. James tells us in his letter in the New Testament that if we ask to hear wisdom we need from God with a heart like that we will receive nothing from the Lord.
I leave you with this thought from my pencil notebook. If you really want to hear from God, you will. If you follow the Shepherd you can learn to hear his voice. Do you believe that? Do you believe that you can take the Sword of the Spirit which is the words that God gives in you in order to do life, and walk in God’s will and peace and purpose? Do you REALLY have faith for that? I remember hearing a story of a gathering to pray for rain. Out of that prayer meeting attended by hundreds, only one little girl had brought her umbrella! Put faith into action. How do you do that? Well, it is not rocket science as they say! Start your own pencil notebook! If you want to sound incredibly serious and impressively holy and a bit clever and mystical, call it a Journal, and call your “Notebooking” ‘Journalling,” quite an “in thing”! I don’t have the discipline to keep a journal. To keep one would only result in my being laden with guilt and feelings of failure sooner or later, probably within a week, as I surveyed the empty pages. I would write stuff for the sake of it and all of a sudden something that brings me life would become a new religious burden. No, for me a “notebook” sounds less high brow and makes allowances for my laziness . It seems within reach. Keep a notebook and a pencil handy. Keep a pencil beside your bed… and get a torch App on your mobile phone, so you can write down the words which God may give in the night hours…. and still leave others to enjoy God’s gift of sleep! Try not to wake them up to share the words God gives you, excited though you may be! Try and keep a lid on it until they wake naturally in the morning. They are more likely to be receptive to the idea that what you are sharing is indeed God given, rather than angrily dismissing you as someone who is off your chump!
On a more serious note, as I close, we are told in Isaiah 50 that Jesus had an instructed tongue to know the word that would sustain the weary. Morning by morning His Father opened Jesus ear to hear such words. Sometimes, as seems to be the context in Isaiah Chapter 50, that was probably a word to sustain Jesus in His own weariness. Sometimes though I am sure it was a word to sustain someone He would meet that day. As you listen for words for you, be open to the fact that you may be given a Sword of the Spirit word that is just what someone else needs to hear from you, that will strengthen, encourage and comfort them. Share it with humility, allow them to weigh it up and the freedom to receive it or not, but don’t stay silent.