TFI’s Core Values: Pursuing God’s Spirit
September 24, 2013
by Peter Amsterdam
TFI’s Core Values: Pursuing God’s Spirit
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His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
The Family International’s second core value is:
Pursuing God’s Spirit. We desire to know and understand the truth of God’s Word, the essence of His divine nature. We value the foundational principles of the written Word, hearing from God, and following His guidance.
God’s Spirit within us empowers, changes, transforms, reforms, inspires, and moves us to do God’s will, whether it’s to love others, to witness, to teach, to preach, to speak, to create, among other things. The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God who dwells within us, and it is the Holy Spirit’s transformative influence that guides our conscience and empowers us to live according to God’s truth.
The key word in pursuing God’s Spirit is the word pursue. That word has definitions which include to try hard to achieve or obtain something over a period of time, to work at, to strive to gain or accomplish; to practice systematically.
As is brought out in these definitions, pursuing God’s Spirit requires action. If you are pursuing a master’s degree, it means you are putting work and time into your field of study. If you’re pursuing a career in a particular sport, you spend a lot of time practicing and working out so that your body is strong and fit for the rigors of the competition.
God’s Spirit speaks to us through His words, first through the Bible and then through other means, whether the writings or words of others, or through prophecy, revelation, etc. The Word prepares the ground of our hearts for the work of the Holy Spirit and opens our hearts, minds, and spirits to the influence of the Spirit. It is then our responsibility to follow God’s leadings in our lives.
We desire to hear the Lord’s voice and to be led by Him. We want to allow His laws of love to guide our lives. We are compelled to follow the moral code God has placed in our hearts, so that our actions are driven by love and integrity. We want the Lord’s Spirit to guide us into wisdom, truth, and love toward Him and others.
As with other things, how a person responds to the conviction of the Spirit in his or her life is a matter of personal choice and faith, but it is important to be open and adaptable to the movement of the Spirit in your heart and life.
A key element in letting God guide us, in finding His leading, and following Him is to be grounded in His Word.
We believe that drawing near to God by seeking to know and understand the truth of His Word is a high priority for all of Christ’s followers. The Bible is God revealing Himself to humankind, which is a marvelous thing, don’t you think? It’s through understanding the Word of God that we discover God’s plan for us. The next step is living that truth in our daily lives, to the best of our ability, by God’s grace.
In order to live that truth, we need to understand that truth. To understand it we need to pursue it, which means, as was said earlier, to work at it, to spend some time at it.
When Jesus was asked which was the most important of God’s commandments, He said to love God with your heart, soul, mind, and strength. He specifically mentioned the mind. Desiring to know and understand God’s Word requires using your mind. It requires taking time to not just read, but to learn, to study, to grow in understanding. As we understand who He is through comprehending His divine nature, it increases our love for Him, our awe of His power, love, and wisdom. Knowing Him better draws us closer to Him.
The Bible is God’s personal word to each of us. In it you can find God’s counsel and answers as you seek His guidance in your life. As you ask Him for answers, for guidance and direction, for solutions, search the Scriptures, and let Him speak to you through His Word and through the leading of His Spirit.
Our faith in God and our understanding of Him grows stronger the more we read and study His Word. Faith is built by faithful study of God's Word and through applying its teachings to our everyday lives.
If you read the Bible you will find a constant and continual greater and greater revelation of more and more truth, fitting more and more missing pieces into the great and puzzling picture of God's complete and perfected and final overall design!
Cecil B. DeMille (1881–1959), who produced the well-known movie “The Ten Commandments,” said: "After more than 60 years of almost daily reading of the Bible, I never fail to find it always new and marvelously in tune with the changing needs of every day."
George Mueller (1805–1898) said: "The vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our life and thoughts."
What is the life-giving flow that gives life from God?—It's the Word! It's His Word that gives us life, food, nourishment, strength and spiritual health. Jesus Himself said, "The Words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are Life!" … There's nothing more powerful than God’s Word! The Word is the secret of power, victory, overcoming, fruitfulness, fire, life, warmth, light and leadership!—The secret of everything good is the Word of God!
I like to read a variety of books, especially history and historical fiction. But over the last years, as I’ve focused more on studying the Bible, the more passionate I grow about studying the Bible. In the past I was content with reading God’s Word without deeper study. It fed my spirit as I did, but I’ve found that as I put more time and effort into studying Scripture, learning what it tells us about God and trying to more deeply understand what it teaches, that I am profoundly moved and changed by it. I’m grateful to be living in a time when so much information is available online and in print. It’s still work to study, but it’s so much easier than it was in the past. My goal is to pass on what I’ve learned to you through my posts on Directors’ Corner.
Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832), the poet and novelist, said, "The most learned, acute, and diligent student cannot, in the longest life, obtain an entire knowledge of the Bible. The more deeply he works the mine, the richer and more abundant he finds the ore."
Of course, the Bible isn’t the only book in the world one should read, but it is a book that should be read, meditated upon, studied, and absorbed over and over again. After all, it’s the book that reveals what God has told us about Himself. It contains His words to us, His answers to the life we live as well as information regarding the life to come. It teaches us how to interact with Him, how to become more like Him. And above all, it tells us how to enter into a relationship with Him, to receive Him into our life, to become connected with Him.
Reading, believing, and absorbing God’s Word profoundly changes us.
As D. L. Moody (1837–1899) said, “The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.”
Charles Colson (1931–2012) said: "The Bible—banned, burned, beloved—is more widely read, more frequently attacked than any other book in history. Generations of intellectuals have attempted to discredit it, dictators of every age have outlawed it and executed those who read it. Yet soldiers carry it into battle believing it more powerful than their weapons. Fragments of it smuggled into solitary prison cells have transformed ruthless killers into gentle saints."
As you might know, Charles Colson was a Special Counsel to U.S. President Nixon. He served seven months in a federal prison and was the first member of the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for Watergate-related charges. As Colson was facing arrest, his close friend gave him a copy of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, which, after reading it, led Colson to become a Christian. His life was changed forever.
I recently read a beautiful testimony of another changed life. It’s the story of a successful businessman who was convinced that he didn’t need Jesus, nor did he believe that the Bible was God’s Word. His son, a born-again Christian, had witnessed to him for years, but to no avail, until a dramatic and tragic event changed everything. His son was hospitalized due to an emergency; he was in critical condition in the intensive care unit. The son told his father, “God is in charge. If God’s purpose in my suffering is to bring you to Christ, then everything I’m going through is worth it.” Needless to say, the father was stunned.
For days the father read to his son from the Bible as he lay in the intensive care unit. It was through that reading of the Bible that for the first time in his life the father began to see what the Bible was really about and who Jesus really was. Seeing his son’s strong faith in Jesus, combined with what he read in the Bible, made him realize that Jesus is real. He surrendered his life to Christ. His son was overjoyed. The son went to be with the Lord shortly thereafter, but the father had peace that passes understanding, knowing that they would meet again and be together forever in heaven.
Our lives are made better when we absorb God’s Word. It takes work to read and study His Word, but as we do we become more strongly connected to God and His Spirit. As we make the effort to spend regular time reading His words, as we discipline ourselves to put in the necessary time and effort, if we’re willing to pursue it, we will dwell richly in Him. Spending time with His words is spending time with Him.
As one author said, we don’t have to read Scripture. We want to read Scripture. We get to read Scripture. It’s our privilege. No one should tell me, “You have to kiss your wife.” No. I get to kiss her, I want to kiss her. Because I love her. We who are passionate about God, who love Him, who are willing to pursue His Spirit, want to know all we can about Him. We want to hear from Him and follow Him, and one of the primary ways to do so is spending time reading His Word.
We don’t study simply because we want to gain a greater knowledge about God and His divine nature. We do it because we want to know Him better, to love Him more, and to have Him participate in our lives. We desire His guidance, to hear His voice, to follow where He leads.
God speaks to us in a variety of ways, and we can hear Him if we listen. We listen when we meditate on His Word, when we ask Him to show us how to apply what we’ve read in our daily life. We also listen when we get quiet within ourselves and give Him the opportunity to speak to us. This too takes effort, as we open our hearts to His voice, being ready for however He wants to speak to us, whether it be through thoughts that He brings to our minds, through His voice in prophecy, through His written Word, or by speaking to us through other Christians. The key is being open, quieting our spirits, listening, and being attentive.
It’s a privilege that God wants to speak to us individually. And He will if we set time aside to hear from Him—either in prophecy or through His still small voice or the voice of the Word. It’s advantageous to have a notebook handy or some way to write down the message that He gives so that we can remember His instruction or leading.
The Bible reveals to us the general will of God, but not the specific will of God for the individual. God expects that each one of us will seek Him for His guidance and for how to specifically apply His general will in our lives.
A hallmark of TFI’s guiding principles is that we have the liberty to follow God and His fresh guidance day by day. We place great value on being Spirit-led, being guided by the Holy Spirit, and on hearing from God and receiving His personalized instructions for today. As it says in our Statement of Faith: “We believe that God is a living God who continues to speak to His people today and to impart His message through ongoing revelation, prophecy, and words of spiritual direction and counsel.”
God is our life partner. He wants to be active in our lives. He wants to lead us and help us to make good decisions. Following Him is allowing Him to have influence in our lives; it’s consciously asking Him for His guidance and doing what He shows us. It’s having a conversation with Him, speaking with Him as you would those you are closest to, and listening to His still small voice.
God loves us, He’s on our side, and we can trust Him. When we do that, He will not fail us; He will lead us. As we pursue God’s Spirit, as we put in the effort to connect with Him through His Word, through listening to His voice, and as we follow Him, we will live God-centered, God-filled, God-directed lives, full of love, joy, and great satisfaction.
Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Psalm 1:2 NIV.
 Psalm 119:105.
 John 14:23.
 Colossians 3:16.
 Acts 2:17–18.
 John 4:24.
 Mark 12:30.
 David Brandt Berg, "New Life, New Love," June 1978, 731:10–12 (adapted).
 John 6:63.
 Daily Might, March 22 (Aurora Production, 2004).