Is It God or Is It Just My Imagination?

By Marnie Pehrson | Date Submitted: 09/12/03

Category: Prayer
Keywords: prayer, Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost, getting answers to prayer, opposition, confidence, 22-Nov-02
Summary: How do you get answers and how do you know whether an answer is from God or is just your imagination?

Jesus explained that some people are so blind in their eyes and hardened in their hearts that they will not see with their eyes nor understand with their hearts and be converted, that "I should heal them." (John 12:40). Notice the word heal in this verse. He's talking about more than physical healing here. He's talking about spiritual healing as well. Think of the spiritual bruises and wounds we suffer – sometimes through our own poor choices or from the mistakes and maliciousness of others. Jesus is saying if we will open our eyes, soften our hearts and allow ourselves to understand His message until we are converted, He will heal us. That's quite a promise!

Those who will not hear, see or open their hearts refuse His healing touch. Christ never forces Himself upon us. He never takes away our freedom of choice – even if it's for "our own good." This is important to remember as we speak with those who are struggling in their faith or who have their eyes closed and their hearts hardened. We should never seek to force, coerce or berate someone into believing or living a Christ-like life. Rather, we should love and serve them and give them time to adjust their eyes to the light.

Jesus often taught through parables. He did this because each individual in His audience was at a different level of hearing and understanding. Some could comprehend the deeper mysteries while others were having a tough time with the basics. Still others were completely hardened and blind. It was a benevolent thing for Him to teach in parables for "unto whom much is given, much is required." (Luke 12:48) Parables allowed people to hear and understand as much as they were able to handle without giving them too much for which to be accountable.

In John 16 Jesus explains to His disciples in a proverbial way that He will go away from them and they won't see Him and then He will come back. They began consulting with each other trying to figure out what He was talking about. They were confused and really wanted Him to speak plainly to them. But no one asked Him point-blank what He meant.

Then Jesus, knowing that they wanted to ask Him but wouldn't, said "Do ye inquire among yourselves what I said, A little while and ye shall not see me: and again a little while, and ye shall see me?" Then He explained that He would be taken from them and they would weep and sorrow for the loss, but He would return again and they would have great joy that no man could take from them.

He then admonished, "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name…" (John 16:24-26)

After this plainer explanation His disciples rejoiced, "Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things … by this we believe that thou camest forth from God." (John 16:29-30)

Notice what Jesus is teaching them here. When they couldn't understand His initial teaching, they were either too proud or ashamed to admit they didn't understand. So they just asked each other. Jesus proved to them that He knew their thoughts – that He knows all things by going ahead and answering a question that they were too proud or afraid to ask. Then He told them in essence, "Ask. If you want to understand something that is unclear, just ask the Father in my name and you'll have your answer."

While conversing with others can be beneficial, sometimes we lean too heavily on other people for answers and forget to ask our Heavenly Father in the name of His Son Jesus Christ for the answer we need. If you are unclear, ask Him! But what if you ask but are unsure whether the answer you receive is from God or just your own thoughts or desires?

On November 16, 2002, I went to hear one of my favorite speakers/authors, Sheri Dew address a group of women in Asheville, NC. She remarked that many years ago when she was less educated in the language of the Spirit, she asked a mentor friend, "What if I can't tell the difference between the voice of the Lord and my own thinking?" The friend asked, "Have you asked the Lord to teach you how to tell the difference?" She admitted she hadn't. So she began praying and asking, "Teach me what it sounds like/feels like when you speak to me." In time through immersing herself in the scriptures, she learned to distinguish the voice of the Lord from her own thoughts. She compared learning the language of the Spirit to learning any other language. We have to become familiar with the rules, grammar, and vocabulary. We learn these in the scriptures. God's Word teaches us what we can do to bring the Spirit closer and what drives it away. She said, "I have found over the years that the Spirit comes more clearly and more often when I immerse myself in the scriptures."

In John 14:26-27 Jesus promised, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

I think the greatest disservice we do to ourselves is forgetting or questioning the peace that the Spirit brings when we pray and get an answer. If we study, ponder and pray about something and we get a feeling of peace about it, in time we tend to question whether we really got an answer. Satan loves to shake our confidence and tell us that we are just fooling ourselves. But Jesus taught that the Comforter speaks peace to our hearts and He brings all things to our remembrance – whatever the Lord has said to us. If we seek to live in harmony with the teachings of Jesus and seek to purify our lives through Christ, the Spirit will become stronger in our lives. The Spirit will help us remember the night we cried to the Lord and He spoke peace to our souls concerning the matter.

Then, when others question our actions or when opposition strikes, we can rest assured that the Lord gave us the answer when we prayed, and we can hold out in faith without fear or doubt knowing that there is a perfect time for all good things to come to fruition. Jesus said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33). When we pray and receive an answer on anything of importance – on anything that will do some good in the world – Satan immediately attacks to shake our confidence. Don't let Him. Cast your mind back on the time when you prayed and received your answer. Lean on that. Don't question it. Walk on in faith and "cast not away your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward." (Hebrews 10:35)

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