Month: <span>April 2017</span>

What’s in your heart?

King David prayed and asked God to show him what was in his heart. That’s interesting isn’t it? David didn’t assume to know. I have learned over the years that I really don’t have much idea what is in my heart until God shows it to me.

Many times I have been surprised to discover what was deep down inside of me. As a Christian counsellor, I teach on the importance of forgiveness on an almost daily basis. A few years back I was in worship at a Christian conference and I heard God whisper to me “If you would get rid of all that offence out of your heart, I might really be able to use you.” What??? Me??? I can’t tell you how shocked I was but I could feel the truth of it as He showed me.

Had anyone tried to tell me that I had a need  to forgive prior to that, I would have laughed at them.  I immediately asked God to deal with it but nothing happened at the time. I wasn’t aware of specifically what the offences were, but I had a general sense that there were things in my heart that needed to be resolved.

Over the next few months it felt like all hell broke loose in my emotional life. One by one little issues from the past started to surface. There were not really any major hurts, just lots of little ones. I came to realise that in my desire to be a “good Christian”, I had begun to suppress my negative emotions. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to be angry, so when something happened that hurt me, I would simply push the anger or hurt away and “choose to forgive”. Oh, I thought I was so spiritual and in control of my emotions. Little did I realise that I wasn’t dealing with anything at all. I was just lying to myself and not allowing myself to feel anything.

So the anger, hurt and offences had been building up inside my heart. I’m so grateful that God revealed it to me, and although the next few months were emotionally messy, it was wonderful to learn that it’s ok to take some time to process through pain.

As the different issues surfaced, I would invite God in to the place of pain so He could bring His healing truth. At times I needed to forgive the person who had hurt me, at other times I just needed God to replace the lies that I had learned through the situation with His truth. For example, one painful situation surfaced and I realised that the hurt I felt was because someone’s treatment of me made me feel that I wasn’t important. As I realised that, I heard God whisper that I was important to Him and with that, the pain left my heart.

With all those wounds and lies gone from my heart, my love for my husband, family and God increased dramatically. Also, because the lies about myself have now been replaced with truth, I have  far more confidence and inner peace. I know now that I can do the things that God has called me to do without the fears and doubts which once plagued me.

It can be difficult to allow God to deal with areas of our hearts. It requires courage, trust and humility to surrender our hearts to Him and allow Him to surface what has been hidden inside. Our journey of healing requires the courage to allow painful memories and emotions to come to the surface and the trust to know that God will not abandon us and leave us struggling to cope on our own.

Feeling God’s Presence

Do you find it difficult to connect intimately with God? Do you listen to other people’s stories of encounters with the presence of God and wonder why He doesn’t meet with you in that same way?

Many Christians that I speak with express these sorts of things to me. They desperately want to be able to feel God’s presence and yet it seems elusive. Are there certain people that God wants to draw close to and others that He doesn’t? Certainly not! God loves to come close to His children and He desires that every one of us experience His touch. When we have difficulty in this area, it is NEVER because God is holding back.

My personal experience along with hundreds of ministry sessions tells me that the ability to sense God’s presence is all to do with us. I don’t mean how holy we are, how much we want it, the way we pray or anything like that. It’s to do with what is happening in our heart. We don’t always know what is happening deep in our hearts, I have had many times when I have been surprised to find beliefs and desires in my heart that I hadn’t been consciously aware of.

The currency of the Kingdom is faith, therefore what we believe is crucial to receiving all that God wants for us. Subtle little lies that we believe can cause blockages in our intimate relationship with God.

When I first became a Christian I had no trouble hearing from God. I had childlike faith and simply believed that He wanted to speak to me and answer my questions.  I would ask Him things and usually within a day or two I would clearly hear the answer. However, after being in church for some time and learning about the “Gifts of the Spirit” and somehow falsely picking up that there was a link between spiritual maturity and operating in the gifts, I lost my ability to hear from God. I began to see it as something to be attained to –  something that I had to grow into.

One day while in prayer I sensed Holy Spirit whispering “You know the gifts are just Me talking to you!”. He took me back to the simplicity of a daughter/Father relationship and reminded me that I had been able to hear from Him back when I knew nothing but had expectation. When I bought into the lie that “I’m not mature enough to hear from God” it sadly became my reality.

We can hold false beliefs about God deep in our hearts that cause us to put walls up. Those walls make it very difficult to feel close to God. We may believe that He doesn’t approve of us, that He is angry with us, that He is not trustworthy. Even though we know these things not to be true in our minds, we are still affected by them. God is gentle and kind and He doesn’t force Himself on us. He says in Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Within about a year of becoming a Christian a went through a difficult period and shut down a part of my heart to God. He wanted me to deal with some things that I didn’t want to deal with and I ended up slowly backsliding. When I fully opened my heart up to God and allowed Him to deal with those issues, I deeply regretted what I had done. I was disappointed with myself and I believed that He was disappointed with me also. When I returned to church it was during a time of renewal and Holy Spirit was touching people in unusual ways. All around me people were laughing with “the joy of the Lord’ or falling down under the power of the Spirit. I desperately wanted to experience Him in this way but I felt nothing. My relationship with Him was not what it had been, I felt distant and disconnected.

I went to these renewal meetings and would receive prayer but feel nothing. To me this confirmed that He was angry at me and I felt all the more unworthy. One night while sitting up the back in a church meeting I became aware of something deep in my heart. Although a part of me was wanting closeness with God, there was a part of my heart that felt unworthy and sure that God would reject me and therefore it didn’t want to be close to God. I felt Holy Spirit challenge that part of me to risk the rejection and draw close to Him anyway. I went out for prayer again, but this time with my whole heart drawing close to Him. I was instantly overwhelmed with His acceptance and love. I realized that everything that I had been believing about Him being disappointed and angry was a lie! And again, those lies had robbed me of being able to experience His presence. God hadn’t drawn away from me, I had drawn away from Him.

If you’re feeling frustrated by not being able to feel close and intimate in your relationship with God try praying this prayer:
Father God I thank you that You desire to draw close to me. That’s my desire too! Father I ask You to reveal to me any beliefs that I have that are hindering my connection with You and my capacity to feel Your presence.”

It’s good to just sit quietly after praying this as sometimes the answer comes immediately. You may get a thought, an impression in your mind, a memory or a word. Renounce any false beliefs and ask God to reveal His truth to you to replace the lie.

It can be very helpful to enlist the help of others when looking for breakthrough. Prayer ministry, in particular Bethel Sozo, is very beneficial in helping people deal with false beliefs which are hindering their intimacy with God.