What if we feel we have sought God but He has not answered? Perhaps we have not received what we expected. Where is the problem? What are some of the hindrances? I cannot answer every question, but I want to mention a few things that may be hindering our faith.
First of all, are we looking for a way in or a way out? In other words, are we looking to God that we may experience more or are we trying to justify our present condition or experience? I believe this can be a real problem to faith. As I have mentioned, we may know where we are in God, or we may not know. Our minds are very limited at times in being able to grasp the things of God, and we are even more limited in our ability to evaluate ourselves. Let us be sure we are not looking for evidence to justify ourselves before God. This can be deadly to faith.
Closely related to this is feeling we must justify our previous experiences with God. We may have touched God many times, and I don't believe we need to invalidate anything that has been real. God is not trying to take anything away from us that He has done, but He wants to bring us into more! Our ability to understand or explain what God has done in the past may be very limited. Praise God for every experience of God which has been a stepping stone to the present. But is God leading us into something more today?
God does not require us to deny anything of the past that was real, any more than the disciples had to deny what they knew of Jesus during His years of ministry on earth. But Jesus led them into something much greater than they had ever experienced. All the things they had experienced before Pentecost were real, and we may have had similar experiences. Do we prefer to rest in our past experiences, or are we going to know God today?
Many of us have been subjected to a wide variety of teachings on the subject of the Holy Spirit. Some have been told they received the Holy Spirit automatically when they first believed in Jesus. Others have been told they received when they asked for the Holy Spirit, and they should just rest on the fact that God answers prayer. Still others have been told they already have the Holy Spirit but that they need the baptism in the Holy Spirit for power to serve. Because of so much confusion, maybe we don't know what to believe, so sometimes we just react by turning our backs on the subject. Whatever our particular history has been, the issue is too important for us to leave it alone and go on to other things. This is the heart of our salvation, and we must be sure of the foundation.
Frequently the focus has come down to speaking in tongues. This may be because of teaching or because of what we read in the book of Acts. It may also be because of someone's testimony or because someone told us we "must" speak in tongues. We may have known someone who did speak in tongues, but their life was a contradiction to the character of God, which may have caused us to question the validity of tongues altogether (Rom. 11:29 might be relevant here). Perhaps we have sought God for this gift but it has not come, and this has left us disappointed or struggling. But then we read in 1 Cor. 14:4, "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself..." So I don't believe we can just dismiss tongues (v. 39).
How do we get past these hindrances? We have already looked at some basic direction from John 7:37-39. Notice that the direction pertains to the heart and obedience to God. Is God faithful? Is He faithful to us? Does He want to lead us into fullness? We can answer a confident "YES" to these questions, so we know God is not hiding from us. He is not "playing games." Here is where faith must take hold and press into God until we have the desire of our hearts. Let us not be deterred by excuses or men's ideas. God is not mixed up, and He has made the way plain. We may not understand everything, but God does. One day as we look back, we may see more clearly, but right now do we see Jesus? He is the author and finisher of our faith.
One area that is critical in coming to a place of faith is that of authority. "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth'" (Matt. 28:18). "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). Search the scriptures and you will find that we are dealing with the "Lord Jesus" at every turn. God has made Him Lord, and to put ourselves in the place where we can receive from Him we must acknowledge Him as our Lord. He is the one who forgives our sins. He is the one who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit. He is God, and He is sure to meet the one who comes to Him as Lord of all.