EXPERIENCING GOD by Henry Blackaby
Best Discipleship Study, 1990 - 5 stars
Knowing and Doing the Will of God
This is the finest study in practical Chrisitanity I've ever seen, and a way to do discipleship with or without a group. Author Henry Blackaby's well-known workbook takes you through twelve weeks of five studies each that cover topics such as, Is God pursuing us or are we supposed to pursue Him? Does He want to be involved in what I'm doing, or does He want me involved in what He's doing? Does God communicate to us today the same way He did to people in the Bible, or is it different? Why is it so hard for me to believe Him and do what He asks? How can I encounter Him? How can I experience God?
I go back through this study every five years or so, or whenever I feel like I've lost my spiritual compass. It always helps me regain God's perspective on my life. God loves me: the cross proves it. So when I feel overwhelmed or like my life is out of kilter, what's going on? Blackaby helps answer this and many other questions common to Christians - new, as well as old-timers who just need their compasses recalibrated.
It all comes down to relationship. God is vitally interested in initiating a love relationship with us, not in making us do or not do certain things, and certainly not in what we can do for Him. Like any good father, He wants us to be involved in what He's doing, not so much for the work, but for the experience of doing it with Him. What is He doing? How can I recognize it and get involved with Him? Blackaby shows from scripture and life what this looks like.
How does God speak to us today, and how can I recognize His voice in my life? Blackaby takes us through many examples of how God spoke to the men and women of the Bible, and how that has and has not changed today. There are basically four ways today: the Bible, prayer, circumstances and the Church. In all four cases, it is the Spirit that is speaking in order to reveal Himself, His purposes and His ways.
What is preventing me from having a love relationship with God? Why is it so difficult for me to do what He asks? Blackably shows how to develop our relationship by having a quiet time with God each day, as well as carrying that relationship into everything we do. As we strive to apply what we are learning from the Bible and the other ways God speaks, we will experience a crisis of belief. Basically, we will reach a crossroads in which we will have to choose between God's way or our way. It will never be easy to do things God's way, but it will always be right and good.
How can I get to know God better? How can I experience Him more? When people think of encountering or experiencing God, they usually think of Moses and the burning bush. But it's not that hard for us today. We have God's Spirit within us as a gift, so He's speaking to us all the time: not just through burning bushes, prophets or angels; but when we read the Bible, the Spirit guides our reading so that He speaks to us through the words of scripture. That is an encounter with God. When we obey the words and join God in what He is doing, we will experience Him in all His power and love.
A great example of how wonderfully practical this book is, is the way Blackaby looks at prayer. He says that when we pray, we need to look at what happens right after that and in the days that follow, and make the connection between those events and what we prayed for, because there will most definitely be a connection. Also, he says that prayer is not so much our deciding what we want and trying to convince God to want what we want, as it is God deciding what we need and changing our hearts to want what He wants. What He has planned for us is always far better than what we could possibly plan for ourselves.
Blackaby says that when God speaks to us through Scripture, prayer, circumstances and the Church, it does not prepare us to have an encounter with God - that IS the encounter with God. God wants a love relationship with us, and He is pursuing us relentlessly. He is far less interested in what we do than in our ability to relate to Him and others. He is at work in the world around us, drawing people to Himself. When we join Him in His work, we will experience Him in all His grace and glory.
Waitsel Smith, November 27, 2005
Text © 2005 Waitsel Smith. Painting of Moses by Mike Wimmer. © 1990 LifeWay Press. All Rights Reserved.
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