Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King

B. Childress
Apr 14 2013

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.  (Isaiah 55:8)

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord…He will teach us about His ways so we may walk in His paths.        
(Micah 4:2)


In a conference I was leading, I explained how Scripture reveals God as a loving Father.  At a sharing time that
afternoon, a woman rose and, through tears, told the group her story.  As she grew up, her father never seemed
satisfied with her.  She could not earn high enough grades in school to please him.  She could not play the piano well
enough or achieve anything that satisfied him.  Then when she was a teenager, her father abandoned his family and
moved in with another woman.  She never saw him again.  Devastated, this woman constantly wondered whether he
might not have turned his back on her if she had been a better daughter or had made him happier at home.

Now, as a married woman with teenage children of her own, she lived in constant fear that she would lose her husband
and children, too.  Surely when they discovered what she was really like – someone even her own father couldn’t love –
they would reject her just like he did.  She had lived her entire life under this fear.  She kept her family and friends at arm’
s length so they could never get too close.  Her painful upbringing tainted her view of God as she had concluded God
was just as judgmental, unloving, and hard to please as her earthly father had been.  As I had been sharing from
Scripture what God was like, however, the Holy Spirit opened her eyes to see that her heavenly Father loved her dearly.  
This woman had grown up going to church every Sunday and had heard countless sermons about God’s love, but not
until that day – when the Spirit helped her understand what God was truly like – did she grasp all she’d been missing.

That is one of the roles of the Holy Spirit – to help us know God’s nature.  The Spirit also helps us understand the ways
of God, for God does not act the same way people do.  Finally, the Spirit helps believers understand the purposes of
God.  On our own, we will never discover what God intends to do.  God must reveal that to us through His Holy Spirit.


When God speaks by the Holy Spirit to you, He often reveals something about Himself.  Notice in the following Scriptures
what God reveals about Himself:

  • When Abram was 99 years old, the LORD appeared to him, saying, “I am God Almighty.” (Genesis 17:1)

  • The LORD spoke to Moses: “Speak to the entire Israelite community and tell them: Be holy because I, the LORD
    your God, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:1-2)

  • “I, Yahweh, have not changed…Since the days of your fathers, you have turned from My statutes; you have not
    kept them.  Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of hosts.  (Malachi 3:6-7)

  • [Jesus said to the Jews,] “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread he will
    live forever.” (John 6:51)

God speaks when He wants to involve people in His work.  He unveils His character to help them respond in faith.  
People can better respond to God’s instructions when they believe God is who He says He is and that God can do what
He indicates He will do.

God identified Himself to Abram by the name God Almighty.  Ninety-nine-year-old Abram needed to know God was all
powerful so he could believe God could give him a son in his old age.

To Moses, God revealed His holy nature.  Then through Moses, God told His people He was holy.  God’s people had to
believe He was holy so they would respond by being holy themselves.  Their lives depended on it.

God spoke through Malachi to Israel and reiterated that He is unchanging and forgiving.  God revealed His forgiving
nature so the people could believe they would be forgiven if they returned to God.

Jesus called Himself “living bread” and the source of eternal life.  Jesus declared He was the way to eternal life so people
could believe and respond to Him and receive life.

God makes Himself known to increase our faith so we will obey Him.  We must pay close attention to what God reveals
about Himself.  When God discloses something to you about Himself:

  • You will have to believe God is who He says He is;
  • You will have to believe God can do what He says He will do;
  • You will have to adjust your thinking in light of this belief;
  • You will be called upon to obey God, demonstrating your trust in Him;
  • When you obey, God will do His work through you and demonstrate that He is who He says He is;
  • You will know God by experience;
  • You will know He is who He says He is.

For example, when did Abram know God as almighty?  Well, perhaps he knew it in his mind as soon as God said it.  But
he grew to know the Lord by experience as God Almighty when God did something in his life that only God could do.  
When God gave Abraham (one hundred years old) and Sarah (ninety years old) a son, Abraham knew God to be


A World Missions Strategy Center

Gary Hillyard was the pastor of Beverly Park Church in Seattle, Washington, when attendance averaged around one
hundred on Sunday mornings.  Forty church members took training to learn to pray, and eight of them subsequently
committed themselves to pray daily for God to show them how He wanted to grow their church.  Nineteen members
began a study of
Experiencing God.

When immigrants from the Ukraine began attending Beverly Park, the members paid attention and asked God to reveal
why He was bringing these international people to their church.  One day, one of the new Ukrainian families asked Gary
if the church would like to have his father’s house in Lugansk, a city of 650,000 in the Ukraine.  Gary called me to ask
how I thought his church should respond to such an unusual offer.  I responded that this sounded like God’s invitation
for the church to become involved in missions.

Though behind in its budget, Beverly Park voted to accept the house, and the members continued praying.  Within
weeks, Don English, a friend of Gary’s, called.  “Do you remember our prayer time seven years ago [before the fall of
communism] when I sensed God would one day call me as a missionary to the former Soviet Union?  Well, God has told
me that now is the time to go.

Gary replied, “I have good news for you.  We have your house, and it’s in Lugansk, Ukraine.”  Beverly Park voted to
sponsor Don and his family as its missionaries.  Gary called me again and said the church only had $21.00 in the bank.  
“Now what do we do?” he asked.

I suggested they clarify that this was indeed the Lord’s leading.  Then they needed to trust the Lord to provide for what
He called them to do.  They spent their Sunday evening service in prayer for God’s provision.  By the end of the week,
they had $4,000 to send to Don and his family in Lugansk.

Once there, Don received invitations to lead Bible studies in homes, in the elementary and high schools, for university
faculty, and even for five hundred people at a medical center.  When the government heard about Don, they invited him
to participate in a ceremony to thank America for their city library, which had been partially funded by the Marshall Plan
following World War II.  Don agreed.  The national television station that broadcast the ceremony asked Don to say a few
words.  Less than two months into his work, Don was on national television telling the Ukraine about Jesus!  Later, he
was also invited to speak to the parliament.

Don worked with the local churches to hold evangelistic meetings, and almost five hundred people were converted in a
week.  They wanted to distribute Bibles in the Lugansk region, so Don called Beverly Park to request prayer.  One hour
after Beverly Park’s prayer meeting, a church in Texas called and said they wanted to buy Bibles for the Ukraine.  The
Ukrainian government asked for food and medical supplies for the elderly, handicapped, and children in the city.  Again,
Don called Beverly Park.  The next day, Bob Dixon called from a Christian men’s organization in Texas.  They had been
asked by the state department to oversee the distribution of food in the former Soviet republics.  He had three forty-foot
shipping containers of food that could be sent immediately.

Workers also started a Bible college, provided medical equipment, planted churches, and cared for orphans.  Gary wept
as he shared with me how his church, which once struggled to pay its electric bill, was now being used by God to touch
the world.

God always has far more on His heart to accomplish through our lives and churches than we could possibly imagine.  
How tragic for us to become so preoccupied with our plans and strategies that we do not even take time to hear what
God intends to do.

The Bible is full of examples of people who willingly set aside their plans to follow God’s.  Mary and Paul are two of the
most fascinating.

When God came to Mary, He did not ask her to tell Him her life goals or how she intended to glorify God.  The angel of
the Lord exclaimed, “Rejoice, favored woman!  The Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28).  Then the angel told Mary the
incredible news of how God was going to use her to give birth to the Savior of the world.  Truly, God’s plans dwarfed
anything Mary might have planned for herself.

Saul of Tarsus had specific plans he intended to accomplish for God.  He was going to hunt down and arrest any Jewish
people who had embraced Christianity.  But then the risen Christ intercepted him and revealed what God’s plans were.  
God was going to use his life to carry the good news of the gospel to the Gentiles around the known world.  Saul would
share the gospel before some of the most powerful people in the Roman Empire.  To this day, the world feels the impact
of what God did through Saul.  God’s plans were far superior to anything Saul could have set out to accomplish.

This sequence is seen throughout the Bible: patriarchs, judges, David, prophets, and the disciples.  When God was
about to do something, He took the initiative to involve His servants: “Indeed, the Lord GOD does nothing without
revealing His counsel to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).  He spoke in order to reveal His purposes and plans.  
Then God invited those people to become involved so He could carry out His eternal purposes through them.


We often dream our dreams of what we want to do for God.  We formulate plans based on our priorities.  Then we pray
and ask God to bless our efforts and to help us accomplish our goals.  (After all, we’re doing it for Him!)  We mobilize
fellow believers to make our schemes successful.  What is really important, however, is what God plans to do where we
are and how He wants to accomplish His purposes through us.  Here is what the Scriptures say about our plans and
purposes: “The LORD frustrates the counsel of the nations; He thwarts the plans of the peoples.  The counsel of the
LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation” (Psalm 33:10-11).  “Many plans are in a man’
s heart, but the LORD’S decree will prevail” (Proverbs 19:21).

If your agenda is not the same as God’s, you will not experience God working through you.  God reveals His purposes so
you will know what He plans to do.  Then you can join Him.  His plans and purposes will not be thwarted.  They will
succeed.  The Lord foils the worldly plans of the nations, but His plans come to pass.

Planning is a valuable exercise, but it can never become a substitute for hearing from God.  Your plans only have merit
when they are based on what God has told you He intends to do.  Your relationship with God is far more important to
Him than any scheming you can do.  The biggest problem with planning is when we try to carry out in our own wisdom
what only God has a right to determine.  We cannot know the when or where or how of God’s will until He tells us.

God intends that we follow Him.  He expects us to get our directives from Him, and He wants to equip us to do the
assignment He gives.  If we try to spell out all the details of His will in a planning session, we’ll have a tendency to forget
the need for a daily, intimate relationship with God.  We may accomplish our objectives but forgo the relationship.  It is
possible to achieve all of our goals and yet be outside God’s will.  God created us for an eternal love relationship.  Life is
our opportunity to experience Him at work in us and in our world.

Planning is not wrong.  Just be careful not to plan more than God intends for you to.  Let God interrupt or redirect your
plans anytime He wants to.  Remain in a close relationship with Him so you can always hear His voice when He speaks to
you.  I have found that the best planning meetings are prayer meetings where we spend time with our Father finding out
what He is up to.
 If churches are really serious about doing God’s will, they will spend more time seeking  
God’s will and less time arguing and debating about what each member thinks the church ought to be doing


My son, Richard, and I were speaking at a conference based on our book Spiritual Leadership.  I talked about how
people and churches must seek to be on God’s agenda in all they do.  During a break, a pastor hurried up to me to say
that he was seeking to move his church forward and that he had been looking at two different church growth models.  He
mentioned both models and then asked me which one I thought he should use.  I told him I thought he should pray and
ask God to tell him how to grow his church.  The man paused, and then as if he had not even heard me, he went on to
explain the merits and drawbacks of each model and then again asked me which model I thought he should follow.  
Again, I told him he should have his whole congregation cry out to God and ask how He wanted to grow His church in
their community.

The pastor never did understand what I was saying.  He had been trained that, as a leader, it was up to him to grow his
church through the vision he cast and the leadership principles he practiced.  Yet Scripture repeatedly tells us that God
is always at work to accomplish His purposes among His people.  Christ said He would build His church (see Matthew 16:
18).  The reason there are so many divided and splintered churches today is that church leaders have sought to impose
their plans on God’s people rather than seeking what God intends to do through them by His amazing power.


Even the casual or uninformed reader of the Bible can see that God’s ways and plans are different from those of
people.  God uses kingdom principles to accomplish kingdom purposes.

God’s ways are redemptive, loving, and compassionate.  His ways bring cleansing and forgiveness and build people up.  
His ways bring humility.  His way is the way of service and love.  God does not simply wait to help us achieve our goals
for Him.  He desires to accomplish His own purposes through us – and in His own way.

God said, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways” (Isaiah 55:8).  We will not carry out
God’s plan with our methods.  This is one of the basic sin problems people face: “We all went astray like sheep; we all
have turned to our own way” (Isaiah 53:6).  It is foolish to think we can accomplish God’s work by using the world’s
methodology and values.

Our ways may seem good to us.  We may even enjoy some moderate successes.  If we measure our success strictly by
whether our numbers are growing or if we have built an impressive building, we can easily assume we have been
successful.  But of course, many secular organizations and non-Christian religions are growing in numbers, building, and
wealth, though they are not pleasing to God.

The world says you should never commit to do anything you cannot afford.  Yet God says without faith, it is impossible to
please Him (Hebrews 11:6).  The world values hierarchy and a chain of command.  God seeks to give His people one
heart and mind.  The world upholds the powerful; God said, “Blessed are the meek.”  The world claims results are
important; God values people.

When we do the work of God in our own strength and wisdom, we will never see the power of God in what we do.  We will
only see what we can do through our own creativity and hard work.  God reveals His way to us because that is the only
means to accomplish His purposes.  When God achieves His purposes in His ways through us, people will recognize that
what has happened can be explained only by God.  He alone will receive the glory!

Jesus asked His disciples to feed the multitude.  Their response was, “Send them home!”  (Luke 9:10-17).   But Jesus,
using kingdom principles, sat the people down, fed them, and had twelve baskets full of leftovers.  The people witnessed
the Father work a miracle.  What a contrast!  The disciples would have sent the people home empty and hungry
whereas God displayed to a watching world His love, His nature, and His power.

The disciples witnessed this kind of mighty work many times while they walked with Jesus.  They had to learn to function
according to kingdom principles to accomplish kingdom work.  If the disciples had ministered to the multitude in their way
and with their plans, the people would have gone away wanting.  Every time we minister to people in our strength rather
than in God’s power, people lose out.

When I was first learning to walk with God, I depended too much on other people.  Every time God began leading me in a
direction, I would run to other people and ask, “Do you think this is really God?  Here is what I think.  What do you
think?”  I would unconsciously – or consciously – depend on them rather than on my relationship with God.

Finally, I had to say, “I’m going to go to the Lord and clarify what I think He is saying to me.  Then I am going to proceed
and watch God confirm His word to me.”  I began that process over a period of time in many areas of my life.  My love
relationship with God became all-important.  I began to discover a clear, personal way in which God made His ways
known to me.

In the next chapter, we’ll look at how God speaks through His Word.  In later chapters, we’ll look at how God speaks
through prayer, circumstances, and the church to confirm His will to us.


EXPERIENCING GOD, by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King, Copyright 2008, B&H Publishing Group.