Five Steps to Receiving More from God

July 15, 2019

Barnabas shared important steps with the church in Antioch that remain valuable to Christians today.

FROM A SERMON BY Erik Calhoun

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fter receiving salvation, it is important to press on, seeking the deeper things of God. This allows one to become grounded in the Gospel and stay in the faith. In the Book of Acts, we read of new converts who were admonished in this way. The account demonstrates the importance of not being content with our current spiritual state, and offers the first step for proceeding forward.

The narrative is found in Acts chapter 11. Subsequent to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and while the Early Church was being established, Christ’s followers endured a great deal of persecution. Scripture indicates that some left Jerusalem because of their persecution, in particular due to the stoning death of Stephen. We read in verse 19, “They which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.” Those who left traveled far, and as they went, they looked for opportunities to tell others about Jesus.

As those persecuted individuals preached the Lord Jesus, they had great success. Verse 21 tells us, “And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” When news of this reached Jerusalem, which is where the Church had originated, it was decided that someone should be sent to Antioch to encourage the group there and bring back a report.

Barnabas’ message was to “cleave unto the Lord” with “purpose of heart”...He was telling them to make a daily decision to live close to Jesus, to draw near to the Lord, whatever the cost.

The man chosen to go was Barnabas, and of his visit we read, “Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord” (verse 23). Barnabas’ message was to “cleave unto the Lord” with “purpose of heart.” The word cleave is translated from the Greek prosmeno, which means “to adhere to,” and also “to remain or continue.” He was telling them to make a daily decision to live close to Jesus, to draw near to the Lord, whatever the cost.

Following being saved, there is no better way to cleave to the Lord than to receive the deeper experiences—to be sanctified and subsequently filled with the Holy Spirit. Barnabas set forth a good first step for drawing closer to the Lord, which is to have “purpose of heart,” or determination. Other steps that will lead to victory include preparing your heart, praying, persisting, and praising God. Following are some thoughts on how to apply these steps to seek the Lord more effectively.   

Purpose

To receive a deeper experience from the Lord, you must determine to seek until the blessing is received. Along the way, you may be required to make consecrations that seem difficult, and a decision will need to be made to continue. Seeking the Lord is a choice. Purpose in your heart ahead of time that you will consecrate and do whatever the Lord asks of you.      

Prepare

Preparing your heart will involve taking action. There might be some things in your life that will need to be addressed. This will take complete honesty. Allow God to search your heart and reveal any changes or actions He requires. One thing the Spirit may prompt you to do is make past wrongs right through restitution. Don’t hesitate to act on this, as putting it off could lead to sin. Other things God points out might not be sin. For example, perhaps you need to apologize for something you said or did that caused someone else pain.

Maybe the search will reveal a conflict with others. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).

Clearing up anything between yourself and others—your parents, siblings, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ—and taking any other necessary action that God reveals will prepare your heart to receive from Him.

Pray

Another vital step to receiving is prayer. You can be encouraged by talking about prayer, having Bible studies about prayer, and remembering those who were prayer warriors, but there is no substitute for actual prayer.

When Jesus told His disciples, “Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49), they did not hold a Bible study or have a question-and-answer session; they prayed. If you want to receive from the Lord, you will need to spend time on your knees, and quite often it will be in fervent prayer.    

It is important to spend time around the altars after the services. The vast majority of people who testify to receiving their deeper experiences tell of doing so while at church surrounded by the support of others. When we pray as a group, we are able to encourage each other by lifting up one another. When you don’t know what to pray, try thinking of someone else and asking the Lord to bless, help, and keep him or her. Soon you will find that the Lord is blessing you, too. 

Another good opportunity for praying is when you are at home. Set aside a time and place to meet with the Lord, and make it a priority. Additionally, a good time to pray is before church services in the prayer room. When you pray for the success of the meetings, not only will you benefit, but others will too.

It can be exciting to reminisce about past prayer meetings, but if you want to receive from the Lord in the present, you will need to tarry.

Persist

When Jacob wrestled with the Lord, he persisted saying, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me” (Genesis 32:26). He felt he could not give up until he had the blessing. We have heard testimonies of people who have felt this way while seeking the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Some of them have even said they felt they could not go on without it, because they had such a hunger to draw closer to the Lord. If you are seeking an experience and feel like giving up, ask God to give you a hunger that will drive you to continue seeking until you prevail.

You will likely still experience some dry prayer meetings—times when you cannot feel the presence of the Lord and it is difficult to pray. Persist when this happens, knowing that God’s promises are dependent upon His faithfulness and not on your feelings. There may also be times of doubt or confusion. This is because we have an enemy whose goal is to get us to quit. Do not be discouraged, but pray through, remembering that many have traveled the same path before you and persisted until they received.  

God has promised sanctification to those who are saved, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost to those who are sanctified. Hold on in prayer for these experiences, even when obstacles arise, and you will find that He is faithful in fulfilling His promises.  

Praise

You must also praise the Lord. Praise Him for the blessings you have already received in life, including the beauties of Creation and salvation, as well as for those things you are seeking. According to the Psalmist, God inhabits our praises: “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3). God’s presence is near when we acknowledge who He is and what He has done.

Part of praising is thanking the Lord. In the New Testament, the writer of Hebrews said, “Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). This will not be difficult, because all of us have so much to thank the Lord for.

If you want to receive of the Lord, praise and thank Him, giving Him glory for all He has done.

Barnabas’ Exhortation

Barnabas exhorted the new believers to cleave to the Lord. If you have received salvation and have the hope of making Heaven one day, you will need to cleave also. There is no better way to do this than to dig in and pray for the experiences of sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. If you will purpose in your heart to consecrate what is asked, and add the steps of preparing your heart, persisting in prayer, and praising God, you will obtain these promises. Then you will need to continue this path to be strengthened in the faith. Be encouraged; God always fulfills His promises and provides victory!

About the author

Erik Calhoun is the youth pastor at the headquarters Apostolic Faith Church in Portland, Oregon.