I'm sharing some of my journey and how I learned to fellowship with the Father, the Holy Spirit, and how to fellowship with the Lord - some more examples from my teen years then 'how to'.
Times the Father spoke to me
The first thing I remember the Father telling me was around age 16 - not a revelation, not a feeling, not my voice back to me as some teach/suppose we hear God, not something I had to form into words and (inaccurately) say 'God spoke to me'. He said this as I thought on heaven and what it will be like:
"You know, you'll find when you receive your heavenly body it won't be subject to the natural laws of the earth." I asked "What do you mean?" and He responded: "If you want to walk you can walk. If you want to run you can run. If you want to float you can float, if you want to fly you can fly. If you want to be somewhere, you can be there at the speed of thought."
This exchange was all in the spirit/Spirit. I didn't use my voice to talk back, nor did I hear Him with my physical ears. He is a Spirit so His voice is in your spirit, and you talk back in your spirit and soul. His voice is gentle, authoritative, friendly. Not deep or 'heavy', just like a benevolent dad talking to an adult child.
I also remember about that time working on our riding lawn mower that was broken - the same mower we had when dad left 5 years earlier, but since age 11 1/2 I was responsible for mowing our 2.5 acres (1 hectare). I was looking over the engine asking for His help, and as my eyes fell on part of the engine area the Father spoke to me - "Look at that wire, it has worked itself loose. Connect it and it will run again."
In those same high school years I was contemplating heaven and hell I asked the Father: "How could you send anyone to hell?" (I was upset at the apparent contradiction between the loving Father I knew and what seemed to be the angry Judge) But I was still surprised when He replied; "I don't send anyone to hell!" I told Him, "Father, I've read about the white throne judgement, and you sure do send people to hell!" Coming at it from another direction He asked me: "What does a jury do?"
I had to think about that one for a minute before concluding: "A jury judges the evidence, they determine the guilt or innocence of a person based on evidence." He said, "Very good. Now what does the judge do?" That was easy - "The judge applies the sentence." "Very well" He replied. "And what is that jury?"
Within the last couple of days I had read John 12:48 where Jesus said, "He that rejects me, and doesn't receive my words, has one that judges him. The word that I have spoken that will judge him in the last day."
So I said to the Father, the Word determines guilt or innocence, so the words of Jesus are the jury." He replied rather matter of factly: "The jury is the Word that determines guilt or innocence; I just apply the sentence."
Then He continued: "A person's body gives them authority in the earth, but when that body dies their spirit and soul automatically become subject to the kingdom they're a citizen of, so I don't send a person to hell, they determine their citizenship. I just apply the sentence."
The reason I've sought balance in Word and Spirit
I was pouring my heart out to Him that I wanted to be accurate, balanced - like Jesus in all I said and did. Even as a teen I had seen my peers fall off into traditions and doctrinal error or sin 'ditches' on either side of the highway of holiness, but I wanted to drive my life right down the middle of that highway.
So one day I was studying the life of Jesus and asking the Father what made Him so balanced in Word and Spirit, what made Him so successful, though even He couldn't do many miracles in His hometown because of their unbelief. (Mark 6:5-6)
He replied: "He is the Word, full of the Spirit, motivated by love. So all He spoke was the Word. Generally speaking therefore know this; The amount of the Word born of the Spirit in a message, is directly proportional to the results."
Ever since that day I've nearly never spoken nor written a message unless I first get something from the Spirit in my spirit, then illustrated by the Word to share with others. I don't just talk because the schedule demands I speak. I wait until it gels in my spirit. That's one reason I don't like prayer lines - I find myself pausing before each person until I hear directly from the Father what I should pray or do - and that takes time and is exhausting when 200 people each want that. It's much more efficient to teach people how to receive personally where they sit, for then I've taught them something they can carry with them through life, not just one touch from God.
Work with...what or whom?
I learned early on that many translations of Mark 16:20 say this: "And they went forth, preaching everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the Word with signs following." But the Greek says this: "And they went forth, preaching everywhere, the Lord working with and confirming the Word with signs following."
The Lord wasn't working with them, He was working with the Word. I've observed ministers with sinful personal lives, and/or crazy doctrine, yet the Lord is gracious to do miracles because somewhere in there, they presented at least part of the Word accurately. The ignorant think surely God is endorsing this man because of the miracles. Wrong. He is endorsing His Word and working with that, often in spite of man not because of him. The only Man He endorses is Jesus, as He is the Word - so that is who He works with.
I was raised Episcopalian, and I'll always be thankful to Father Cooper who was Rector when I was Confirmed, and in his Confirmation class challenged us with the existence of God, mentally taking us back further and further into creation before asking: "And where did that first molecule come from?"
And I'll always be thankful for Father George Davis, who replaced Father Cooper upon his retirement. Father D as we called him, at my mother's insistence allowed the charismatic movement into our church. Father D gave me a Greek/English Interlinear New Testament which I still have and use frequently to this day.
When Jesus spoke to me at the retreat (shared last week), I thought I had to become an Episcopal priest. What was 100 times worse than that thought, was Barb becoming the wife of an Episcopal priest! I was so stressed that summer I turned 18 I could hardly think about anything else - would I have to choose between wearing a collar or Barb? How could we survive 4 years of college and then seminary? I'd be an old man before I got my first church, maybe not until age 30!
I was wearing a T-shirt, gym shorts, and was walking through the front door of our house as I was asking the Father what I was going to do, when He spoke to me: "John! Turn to I John 2:27" I think He had to call my name because I was so focused inwardly on my own stress He had to do something to get my attention. So I sat down and opened up my Bible: "As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; But as His anointing teaches you all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him."
How do I hear Him?
The first key is the willingness to change what you believe if you see it in the Word and confirmed by the Spirit. The Lord is very much 'according to your faith be it unto you'. If you want to believe the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is not for today, then God will meet you where you're at to the fullest extent He can and He will be content with you not receiving it.
And if you believe what the Word says; that Christ is in you, that you are anointed, that He will never leave you nor take your anointing, then it will be so to you. But if you believe it is all gone, then He treats you according to your faith, He will meet you where you are, albeit severely limited in what you allow Him to do.
So that's the first thing - be willing to be wrong, to be teachable, to reserve opinion until you see it in the Word and can invest the time with the Father to have Him confirm it in your spirit. Therefore don't fill your head with this commentator or that teacher except as lesser authorities that may or may not be right.
The blood of Jesus and traditions, or the Word?
A favorite example: The Word teaches the blood of Jesus as being poured out for the remission of sins. It is never seen in scripture as being allocated to man to 'plead the blood' in spiritual warfare. Only the name of Jesus is given to us to use against the enemy, with the command that we cast out demons as seen in the gospels and Acts.
Yet today some Christians will fight tooth and nail because they believe a Christian can 'plead the blood' against the devil. So which is it, the Word that says Jesus' holy blood was poured out once for our sins, or the tradition of man saying we can allocate that blood to use against the devil?
They may say 'But it worked' and I will ask; Did you at any time mention the name of Jesus? They will say 'yes', and I will reply that is what 'worked', because that is obeying Jesus' commands and the Holy Spirit can work with that. You deceived yourself to think 'pleading the blood' is God's endorsement for getting rid of demons - The Holy Spirit used the part He could, the name of Jesus, the rest was vanity.
Think of it like this: If someone you know has believed all sorts of lies about you, creating a totally inaccurate picture of you in their mind, how eager are you meet them and do things for them? Not very, right? Then how is it people fill their minds with all sorts of man's tradition, yet feel emboldened enough to expect God to do great things through them, or even have Jesus appear to them, when these traditions are totally incorrect about God? If He did half the things such a person wants it would only solidify their beliefs in error.
Do not these people realize they have become a Pharisee right out of the gospels when they elevate tradition or what x preacher says above the Word of God? Settle it that the Word settles all arguments. If the Word says one thing but you've always believed another, then adjust, learn, grow. Next week, what His voice sounds like, how to know it is Him and not you, and more.
Info conference the Netherlands april 5-7
Barb and I look forward to visiting our dear friends in the Netherlands once again this spring. Wil and Ank had asked me to write an invitation, and when I asked the Father what He wanted He told me, "Share about how to know the Holy Spirit within, how to fellowship with Me and be aware of Me in their spirits." So that's going to be the main topic. We will have plenty of time for question and answer, I will lead you through what I do and know the Lord will work with us as we put it to practice, so we will have a rich time in the Spirit. Reconnecting is so important and we cherish and pray for each one of our friends - see you there!
John and Barb