Whispers in our Spirit

            Here I am going to look at whispers and how we discern the of the Lord. Whispers could also be described as little internal nudges or a sense to do or share something. The obvious issue that needs to be addressed is clarifying why the Lord isn’t clear in His communication. One response is something C. S. Lewis wrote many decades ago, “He cannot overwhelm. He can only woo.” The idea inherent in what Lewis stated was that there is an element of faith on our part and an element of drawing seeking hearts on His part. Adding to what can seem confusing is what scripture tells us. Look at the verses below.

17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 (NKJV)

19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 (NKJV)

34 All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, 35 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 13:34–35 (NKJV)

We see here that ‘repent’ and ‘follow Me’ are quite clear commands. We then have the obscurity of parables to the multitudes and then teachings in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) to the multitudes, which were quite clear.

Sorting through this requires recognizing that Jesus calls us into relationship with Himself and part of that relationship is learning to know His word, know His voice and develop a sensitivity to His presence. It is clear from the scriptures that we can and should hear His voice.

16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:16


27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27 (NKJV)

8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8 (NKJV)

14 For God may speak in one way, or in another, Yet man does not perceive it. 15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, When deep sleep falls upon men, While slumbering on their beds, 16 Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction. Job 33:14-16 (NKJV)

Knowing He speaks and recognizing when it is Him speaking requires some understanding. We have likely all had the experience of sensing the need to call or reach out to someone and hearing something like, ‘I was just thinking about you.’ I have at times had an internal sense to call or write and encourage someone with something specific and have had them affirm that was just what they needed to hear. It requires faith/risk and I generally present what I am hearing by offering rather than telling.

My most recent experience in hearing His whisper in regard to praying for someone was in a church service this previous Sunday. During the worship time I had a sense I was to pray for a lady behind me and what I was to pray. I at first thought it was my own idea but there was a sense of persistence with it so I went back, asked if I could pray for her and when she agreed I prayed what I had felt I was to pray. She was very appreciative and said that what I had prayed was an answer to what she had asked the Lord about the previous day.

I have learned that when these ideas won’t ‘go away’ and carry of sense of ‘importance’ or ‘urgency’ that the prompting is from the Spirit. This comes out a relationship that has been cultivated over time. Another example comes from a recent interview I listened to with Carol Wimber. She was reflecting back on the events of the Vineyard when John was around. At one point she referenced how John received words of knowledge for others. She said they were simply impressions he had in his mind but he recognized that they were thoughts he wouldn’t think and they would benefit others so he assumed it was the Lord’s voice and acted accordingly. Something worked because from the time John Wimber began to lead the Vineyard in 1977 to his death in 1997 it grew from a handful of house churches to 700 congregations around the world. It wasn’t all about ‘whispers’ but a lot of it was.

Most of us likely want a little more than nudges or impressions. We want clarity and certainty. However, He doesn’t work that way for most of us. He woos us, He draws our hearts, and in many ways whispers, ‘Trust Me.’ When we do and take risks with what we think we are hearing we come to know His heart, which is really what this is about. We discern His heart for others and His heart for us. We come to understand that He wants all of us to participate in the building of His church. Given that His church is composed of people that means encouraging and building up one another through listening to whispers from His heart to ours.

So, listen for His voice. Ground yourself in His word. Weigh what you hear through His word and through godly counsel and go partner with Jesus in building His church!

A Talking Snake?

If you know your bible you obviously get my reference to Genesis 3. This is our introduction to the serpent in scripture. One of the tools atheists use to mock believers is to derisively refer to the foolishness of believing in a ‘talking snake.’ Holding to the importance and value of scripture and truth I think it is important to have a deeper understanding of the context of Genesis 3 and what happened. Like the atheists, I don’t believe in a snake coming up to Eve for a friendly dialogue.

The context is a good beginning point. The events of Genesis 3 took place in Eden. The rest of the planet was not like Eden, hence the command for humanity to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:28). Eden was a garden and when we move forward in scripture, we discover that it was also a mountain (Isaiah 14:13, Ezekiel 28:14). If this is a new thought for you, it highlights the importance the ancient near eastern worldview of the culture in which Genesis was written. In the culture of the day the ‘gods’ lived in gardens and mountains. They were a place of abundance and remoteness. Much of the culture was subsistence based and people saw the ‘gods’ as having a much better life, hence the abundance of the garden and the inaccessibility of the mountain. We also have the reality that the cultural stories were also rooted in something real, creation and the fall.

As I write this I am in the mountains and the serious spring melt has not yet begun. When it does there will be an awful lot of water flowing to the valleys from the mountains. Eden had four rivers flowing out of it (Genesis 2:10). Physically my own view is that the ‘mountain of God’ had the garden at the base. Given that it was made inaccessible after the fall, and later disappeared at the flood, we won’t know in this lifetime. My point is really to place what happened in Genesis 3 within the historical cultural context.

Now, if you delve a little further into the population of the garden, like me, you may have had an image of Eden as a garden that was populated by Adam and Eve and a huge number of birds and animals. This is how I once viewed it with God visiting in the evening to walk and talk with Adam and Eve. The mountain and the garden represented God’s place of government on earth so there was likely a lot more going on then we tend to think. Hang onto your theological hats as I propose something. First some scriptures.

9 “I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; 10 A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened. Daniel 7:9–10 (NKJV)

1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:1–11 (NKJV)

            These two scriptures passages both depict throne room council scenes in heaven and in a limited way describe the myriad supernatural creatures that form Yahweh’s heavenly family and government. If Eden was God’s throne room on earth, then there was likely far more that Adam and Ever were exposed to than just the animals in the garden. Obviously, given their interactions with Yahweh, prior to the fall Adam and Eve could interact with more than the natural realm. While it is unlikely that they saw anything like Daniel and Revelation describe, these things were happening around them and they were likely exposed to other supernatural beings. Which brings us back to the serpent.

We begin to understand the serpent by examining Genesis 3:1.

1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 (NKJV)

We have two important words here, serpent and cunning. Before looking at them I want to look at how we read this verse. I think in general when we read ‘any beast of the field’ we think of it as ‘any other beast of the field.’ However, the point being made is that the serpent was more cunning and was different than the beasts of the field. Some bible translations say ‘any other beast…’ but that reflects the theology of the translators not the Hebrew text. We aren’t dealing with a talking snake; we are dealing with a supernatural cunning being that either embodied a serpent or was a luminous being that looked like a serpent. We see echoes and memories of the Genesis event in a number of the surrounding cultures in that in them the serpent was a god or associated with the gods, a tree and wisdom.

The word serpent is nachash and refers to a snake or serpent and has hissing sound at the end of the word, as in the hissing of a snake. The word cunning is aruwm and refers to being cunning or subtle in a negative sense. While we know from Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 that this serpent is Satan, the adversary, all Eve knew was that she was interacting with a divine being who knew things beyond what the creatures of the field knew. My purpose in presenting all of this is twofold. One, there is often more going on in scripture than a casual reading suggests. Two, we need to discern, see the reality that lies behind appearances, and respond accordingly. The serpent’s agenda has not changed throughout human history. He seeks to comes to us and cast doubt on God’s word to make us stumble or rebel in our thoughts and actions. Let’s be alert, discerning and thus confident in His leading as we come to His word and interact with Him in the place of prayer.


We are going to look at some reference to stars in the New Testament in terms of what they represent. I think it is easy to miss the point being made if we don’t understand the cultural context.  

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:29–31 (NKJV)

13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Revelation 6:13 (NKJV)

7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 1 Corinthians 2:7–8 (NKJV)

It is easy to see the connection between the Matthew and Revelation references but not so easy to see the connection to 1 Corinthians. We will get there and in doing so we will see an already not yet aspect of the kingdom of God. Below is some information regarding how stars were viewed in the scriptural culture.

Star Worship

In the ancient Near East, stars were often worshiped as divine. Although the book of Deuteronomy condemns star worship as idolatry (Deut 4:19; 17:2–5), other passages seem to indicate that the Israelites practiced star worship at times. For instance, in the eighth century bc, the prophet Amos condemned star worship in the northern kingdom (Amos 5:26). Additionally, King Josiah’s reforms of 621 bc (2 Kgs 23:4–14) addressed star worship in the southern kingdom, which had been promoted by Manasseh (2 Kgs 21:3–5; 2 Chr 33:3). – {Edward W. Watson, “Star,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016}.

            The stars in the Matthew and Revelation quotes represent not physical objects but heavenly beings. In this case heavenly beings in opposition to His purposes. When we move to 1 Corinthians 2 and Paul’s theological perspective, we recognize that Paul is also speaking of heavenly beings when he references the ‘rulers of this age.’ The word translated ‘rulers’ is archon in Greek and refers to someone or something as first in rank or power. While it can be used of human rulers that is not how Paul applies the term. In addition to using it in 1 Corinthians 2 Paul uses it in Ephesians 2:2 when he refers to the ‘prince (archon) of the power of the air.’ It is also clear he is not referring to human rulers in 1 Corinthians as he deals with rulers over the ages, extremely long periods of time.

            Thus far what we have is seeing the stars in Matthew and Revelation refer to heavenly beings as does the term rulers in reference to those who crucified Jesus. Humans carried out the crucifixion but it was initiated by the powers of darkens.

We now turn to the already not yet aspect of this idea of falling stars. These heavenly beings orchestrated Jesus’ crucifixion and to their shock the cross was their downfall. We see this in what Paul says in Colossians.

15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. Colossians 2:15 (NKJV)

The ‘it’ here refers to the cross. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection broke the power of darkness. However, Jesus then delegated to His church the responsibility to enforce His rule and make disciples from all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). We are called to represent and extend His kingdom until His return.

            The falling stars in Matthew and Revelation, these heavenly beings, were defeated through the cross but still roam the cosmos seeking to destroy the church that Jesus is building. Seeking to prevent their inevitable final destruction. Yet, through these passages we are assured that we will again see them fall, their final fall, at some point in the future. We can be confident of our victory because it is His victory. Jesus has won the battle and will at the end of the age fully enforce His victory.

Whatever we may be facing we know the true source behind troubles in our world and we know that Jesus assures us of the ultimate victory! In the meantime, we are to carry and extend His kingdom wherever we go. Like Jesus let us be ‘about our Father’s business.’

Unscriptural or Unfamiliar

Continuing on the theme of discernment here is a discernment tool the Lord gave to me years ago. I was helping to lead a small group and two friends were going to share with the group that evening on journaling as a way to hear the Lord’s voice. Personally, I have used a journal off and on over the years to record my thoughts. However, I had not used it in the way it was presented that evening nor after the presentation. I did however see it as a useful tool many had used to great effective in their relationship with Jesus.

Having a measure of responsibility for the group I was reflecting on what would be taught as I was driving there with a friend. On the way the Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit and gave me a question to ask the group as an introduction to the teaching. He prompted me to ask the group to reflect on whether what they were about to hear was ‘unscriptural or unfamiliar.’

In the subsequent years I have applied this test regularly and it highlights for me where many run into difficulties. People resist change and new ideas because they like the familiarity of routine, structure and shared worldviews. Routine and structure are good things that help us to organize our lives and move through our days in a somewhat predictable manner. The problem crops up in how we think. In my book, Worldview: The Adventure of Seeing Through Scripture, an idea I highlighted is that we tend to think with instead of about our worldview. Thinking with is fine for our daily activities. Not for more significant issues. Here thinking about needs to be brought into play.

To illustrate the issue, I am part of more than one theological debate group on Facebook. More than once the topic of cessationism (the idea that the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 ceased with the completion of scripture) has come up in opposition to continuationism (the idea that the spiritual gifts are still active in the church today). I have always been a continuationist and in decades of debating the subject, in person or online, I have never heard a sound scriptural argument for cessationism. Yet in my experience few people change their position. There have been prominent examples like Jack Deere or Sam Storms, both well known theologians and both graduates of the famed Dallas Theological Seminary, which is thoroughly cessationist. Over time they re-examined their views and became continuationists, promoting the use of spiritual gifts.

This leads to the need to look at why others do not make the shift, even in the face of strong evidence that undermines their viewpoint. It comes back to thinking with instead of about our worldview. We all hold what are termed plausibility structures, ideas about what is or is not plausible. For example, treating anything that is unfamiliar in relation to our view of scripture as unscriptural is a plausibility structure. Paul referred to them as strongholds, ways of thinking in 2 Corinthians 10:4-6. If we believe that what we have been taught is correct, whether it is from a trusted teacher or elsewhere, we need to make a conscious decision to examine it to shift it.

In this process questions are useful and I am prone to asking people questions around why they believe what they do or whether they are open to change or seeing things differently. A few are able to explore new perspectives while others are so entrenched in their view that even though they may acknowledge they are unable to defend their position from scripture, they continue to hold to it because it is what they ‘believe.’   

 To make a shift in our thinking, to examine whether something is unscriptural or unfamiliar, we need to be reflective. This requires making a conscious choice to step back from our regular practices and thinking and reflect on what has led us to our present beliefs in order to determine whether they align with scripture.

Though we may find the idea daunting, consider those who followed Jesus in the gospels. They had to stand against the familiar beliefs of their culture and embrace beliefs at odds with how the majority of their culture understood scripture. Personally, I am thankful that they didn’t treat the unfamiliar as unscriptural because they followed Jesus and laid the foundation for the faith that I follow. Let’s seek to emulate them.