by Gene Bulmer
5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 (NIV)
Aside from God’s Word, the Bible, few books have had as remarkable & transformational an impact upon my life (spiritual & otherwise) as Henry Blackaby’s ‘Experiencing God’.
In addition to reading and absorbing the book I also taught a 12 week Adult Sunday School course using the DVD series and workbooks. The course is intense and those completing the homework,of which there is a minimum of 20 minutes per day (& in some cases, more) will come away with a deeper sense of knowing God’s will for you in your life, a transformational shift in your “vertical” (and primary) relationship and an increased sense of direct communication (via the Holy Spirit) with your Creator.
Although I cannot communicate each facet of the course in one blog posting, I will do my best to distill the lessons for practical application. The reader would do well to bear in mind that if this is at all intriguing to you, you’d do well to purchase the text and workbook (which you can do @ Blackaby.net). And though it’s been 5 years since I taught that course, I have since then performed all my devotionals at that site because they speak to the lessons learned and reinforce the vertical relationship.
I will distill the book/course by elaborating on Blackaby’s Seven Realities (which sync with the diagram @ the bottom of the post). The bold titles (1-7) are copied from the Experiencing God workbook, italicized text is mine, except where noted, Scripture, etc.
1. God is ALWAYS at work around you.
17In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” – John 5:17
To live God-centered lives, we must focus our lives on God’s purposes, not our own. The key is developing the ability to pray…and listen to the Holy Spirit. It’s more waiting & less doing. You will often receive communication from several areas: prayer, listening to Holy Spirit, reading the Bible, other centered Christians and your church.
2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.
It’s not about “religion“…it’s all about “relationship” (“More like falling love, than something to believe in; more like losing my heart than giving my allegiance” 1) God is a person, not some impersonal deity, and seeks personal relationships with His creation. Do we treat Him as a spiritual “buddy” or do we approach Him in a reverent fashion; listening & obedient?
3. God invites you to become involved with Him…in HIS work.
We shouldn’t pick a project, then simply ask God to “bless it” or think that we are doing “the work of the Lord” via whatever we choose to do just because we’re Christians. We should have a clear sense of the Father’s work around us. When we see that work, that’s our invitation to adjust our lives and join Him in that work. What God initiates…He completes! God works though people. And He will equip you for the work He calls you to.
Things only God can do:
- Draw people to Himself
- Cause people to seek Him
- Reveal spiritual truth
- Convict the world of guilt about sin & of righteousness
- Convict the world of judgement
4. God speaks through the Holy Spirit, through the Bible, prayer, circumstances and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes and His ways.
In the Old Testament, God spoke directly to the major prophets. In the New Testament, He spoke through Jesus. Today He communicates via the Holy Spirit, His Word, Prayer (2-way prayer), circumstances that are in line with what He’s saying & other Christian believers. Spiritual truth is revealed to you via the Holy Spirit. It’s then up to you to adjust your life & obey.
5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
Here I disagree with Blackaby in a minor sense; it’s not ALWAYS a crisis. But you may have to learn to let go & give up some area(s) of comfortableness. Someone once said that they had learned not to hold onto things too tightly…so that it didn’t hurt too much when God ripped those things from their grasp.
I call the “crisis” the “gap” between what looks impossible, improbable or circumstantially foolish from a human perspective AND what you’re sure IS possible according to God’s revealed will for your situation: the work God wants to pursue through you.
6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
In a nutshelll: What you DO reveals what you believe!
The world and those around you will be able to tell what you really believe about God. Your trust in Him will determine what you do and how you live. This may mean adjusting your thinking, attitude, actions, lifestyle and/or the way you communicate to those around you.
You may ask: “Will it require any sacrifice?” I’ll answer that with 2 questions:
1. Did Christ sacrifice anything for you?
2. Should we not also sacrifice?
Here’s a secret: it’s well worth the cost – whatever that is for you.
7. You thus come to know God through experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.
If you love Him, you obey Him:
23Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. – John 14:23
By building a solid relationship with God (through prayer & reading His Word), you’ll be able to tell whether you’re receiving your “instructions” from the Holy Spirit or whether you’re locked in spiritual warfare with the adversary.
“How should you approach spiritual warfare…? Know the ways of God so thoroughly that if something doesn’t measure up to God’s ways, you will recognize it is not from Him and will turn away from it.”2
In sumation, this is a powerful book/course for those seeking a deeper intimacy as regards their vertical relationship to God. It’s about listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in your life and separating the wheat from the chaff, figuratively speaking, in your life.
While teaching the course, I observed that those who diligently completed the homework enjoyed the impact of the results in their lives. Conversely, those not in sync with the assignments…did not.
It’s about making a choice to get your own ego out of the way and tuning into the power of God’s will for your life.
1 Jason Gray – ‘More Like Falling In Love’ song lyrics, 2009.
2. Henry& Richard Blackaby & Claude King, Experiencing God workbook; published by Lifeway Press, 2007, page 195.
3. Experiencing God Seven Realities diagram as well as bolded title #’s 1-7, created for & copyrighted by Henry Blackaby/Blackaby ministries.
Gene Bulmer resides in New Jersey. He is a Christ follower, husband, father of 2 and an avid runner. He studies Christian Apologetics and seeks genuine conversation with those seeking or struggling with the concept of faith.
This blog originally appeared in Dreaming Beneath the Spires , the blog of Anita Mathias.