I Know That Voice

Little Samuel’s story in the Bible is one my favorites.

He heard a voice calling to him in the night and he thought is was the Prophet Eli since he was living with Eli.  So Samuel got out of bed and ran to Eli saying, “Here I am”.

But Eli said, “I did not call, go back and lie down.”

This happened again and then the third time, Eli realized that it was God who was calling the boy.  This time Eli told Samuel, when he heard the voice, to say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9.

When God spoke again, Samuel told him he was listening and God went on to tell Samuel what was soon going to happen.

I’ve got a challenge for you.  The next time you think you might be hearing something from God, say those same words, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”  And then listen.  Listen to what is going through your brain.  Think about what you have been reading in God’s Word and how it applies to your life.  Think about coincidences that have been happening in your life and how they relate to what you’ve been reading.  Remember things that Godly people in your life have said to you recently.

I believe God is regularly trying to break through the cacophony of our culture – especially the electronic bubble where we spend a lot of our time.  He is trying to talk to you and me – guiding us, encouraging us, and teaching us.

Have you had the experience where you are reading God’s Word and suddenly a sentence seems to stick out of the page? It almost looks like it’s in bold print? You reread a phrase a couple of times?  You start to wonder what this means in your life?  Has that phrase always been there?  I don’t remember ever reading that or even hearing anyone talk about that before?  That is God stopping us.  That is God drawing our attention to something specific in his Word so he can speak to us.

That’s what God did today with me.  He stopped me as I was reading to remind me how much I like young Samuel’s story.  Because I know God, I know he is encouraging me to continue to learn how to hear him more and more clearly as I read his Truth.  My knowledge of God is growing and the more I know him, the better I hear him.

How can I be confident that it’s God that’s talking to me and not just my own thinking?  What God says to me will always be consistent with what he says in the Bible.  He will not contradict himself.

I am also 100% sure it’s God talking when he says something I’ve never thought of before and it’s consistent with what I have read in the Bible.  God confirms his guidance to me through my circumstances as well.  When it’s God talking to me, things happening around me will line up with what God is saying.  Sometimes it will be something my husband, my pastor or a friend says.  As I pray about what God is telling me, God will often open up my eyes to how he is moving around me and I’m be able to connect the dots.

When I take time to consider all of these things, God’s directions to me become really clear.

When I work at staying aware of the fact that God is trying to talk to me, it’s not hard to hear him.

Thank you for your guidance, Abba Father

Show Me a Sign

Make it black and white.  Can I hear a voice?  I need to know.

There are so many decisions to make and I want to make the right choices.  What should I do?

A good Christian friend once told me to ‘throw out a fleece’ like Gideon did when I have decisions to make. I thought about it.   In God’s word, I read that God sent an angel to tell Gideon that “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior”,  ” Am I not sending you?”, and  ” I will be with you”. Joshua 6: 12-16.  But Gideon still wanted a sign to prove that it really was the LORD speaking to him.  So God proceeded to ‘pass’ Gideon’s tests.

When my friend suggested I throw out a fleece, it just didn’t feel right to me.  I’m pretty sure that I would be instantly convinced if an angel came and gave me a message from God.  You know the angels God sent were so big and impressive that usually the first thing they said was “Fear not”, right?  This is not a normal-sized average-looking person.  I think I’m tuned in to God well enough that I would automatically believe what this huge, supernatural creature said.

It doesn’t feel right to ask God to jump through a bunch of hoops before I obey him. It makes more sense that Gideon did this because he  lived under the Old Testament covenant – he was not ‘redeemed’, Christ had not come yet and he didn’t have God’s Spirit living inside of him.  But I do.

The Holy Spirit speaks to me and guides me into truth – if I’m listening.  God’s Word is alive and the Holy Spirit uses it to help me make decisions.  I have God’s Spirit inside of me every moment of every day – why do I need a sign?  I have found that I don’t need to throw out any fleeces if I’m regularly listening to God’s voice and spending time with him.

In my experience, God not only speaks directly to me, he also lines up circumstances around me to confirm what the Holy Spirit and God’s Word are saying to me.  I don’t have to ask for something more – I just need to keep my eyes and ears open.  His answer is there.

Every once in a while, I hit a deadline on making a decision and I haven’t discerned God’s answer yet.  I have found that when I totally submit whatever the situation is to God – meaning I don’t care what the answer is, I just need to know what he wants me to do – he helps me organize my thoughts and I realize he’s been trying to guide me in the right direction, trying to show me the way.  I’ve just been distracted and clueless.

No fleeces involved.

Black and white.

No more questions.

Thank you, Abba Father.

It’s Your Choice

Time is the great leveler – we all have 24 hours in a day.  You and I choose how we’re going to spend these 24 hours.  What are we going to do?  How are we spending the majority of our time?  Using a Biblical term, I would say that you and I are ‘serving’ whatever or whomever takes up the most of each of our 24 hours.

A lot of us serve ourselves.  Looking out for #1.  Do I like it?  Does it benefit me?  Do I wanna do it?  Do I feel like doing it?  What’s in for me?  Oh, yeah.  These questions come pretty easy because we use them a lot.  We may not say them out loud but we use them in our decision-making.

Many of serve our debts.  We have to work extra hours or extra jobs to pay for all of the stuff we already have.  We’re upside down on cars and houses.  When we’re not working, we’re worrying about paying the bills.  The best line about our money I’ve ever heard is – “The secret in managing your money correctly is not in how much you make.  The secret is in how much you spend.”  Truth.

Some of us serve our hobbies –  like sports or exercising or shopping.  While we’re shopping today we’re planning about the next time we can go shopping.  Or we’re not happy unless we’re biking or walking or running or working out.  Or before the game we’re watching on TV is over, we’re flipping to the next channel for the next game and then the next game and then the next.

We all choose who or what we will serve.

Joshua makes this very clear to the Israelites as he throws down a challenge.  “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15.

You and I need to make a conscious choice, not just roll through our lives spending our precious time on things or people who will never give us joy, peace and a guaranteed future.  We don’t want to get to the end of our lives with hearts full of regrets and emptiness, realizing we never made a choice – we just let the world push us to a place we never wanted to be.

I have made my choice.  I have laid down any ‘idols’ I was serving at the feet of the One, True, Living God and now it’s all about him.

What’s your choice?  There’s no better time than right now to start a new chapter in your life labelled, “My love relationship with my Father God”.  You won’t regret it.

I choose you, Abba Father.

Not One Has Failed

Can I say this about anything in my life – that not one has failed?

I’ve had many plans fail.  Several relationships failed.   Things people said they would do with me and for me failed.  When my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty almost 5 years ago, I had a mountain of hopes and dreams that blew up.  Epic fail.

I could go on.

So Joshua’s words jump out of the pages of my Bible when he says, “You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God have you has failed.  Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”  Joshua 23:14b.

As I look back, I can honestly say this is true for my relationship with God – not one of his promises have failed.  You might wonder how I can say that God has kept all his promises to me when my son was murdered.  I understand that God never promised me a life full of sunshine and roses.  Look at his son, Jesus.  His life here on earth was full of problems and temptations and lies and struggles.

What God promises me is he will walk with me through the pain and the grief and the loss.  He has kept this promise.  He has been my comforter and encourager – my Rock.  In many ways, God was the only thing in my world that didn’t fail me when my son was killed and my heart crumbled.

God promises that he will work all things out for my good and I know he’s been busy doing that for me – especially these last 5 years.  God promises that he is good all the time and I know that is true.  God has promised that my faith in Jesus has given me an forever home with my Father when my struggles on earth are over.  I know this is true.  My eternal relationship with God has already started and will continue when I take my last breath here on earth and walk with Jesus into heaven.

None of God’s promises have failed and I know they never will.

It’s impossible for God to fail.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Moving Forward Together

Going in the same direction.  Moving forward together.  Shared goals.

Unity.

And it feels good when we’ve got it, doesn’t it?  But unity isn’t an easy thing to achieve.

There needs to be compromise – it doesn’t have to be all my way.  I have to take a look from other people’s perspective – there are other valid opinions.

Prioritizing – is it worth creating an issue?  Wisdom = losing a lot of battles in order to win the war.

And – if this is a battle that needs to happen – I’ve learned that much planning and selflessness needs to be included in figuring out how to bring up the issue.  Emotions need stay out of it because they cause me to over-react and say things that aren’t helpful.  Just because something is true doesn’t mean that I can say it anytime I want to.  The timing of discussions on difficult issues can determine success or failure.

I can get lost in the weeds.  Details that don’t really matter can derail me when I’m trying to discuss difficult issues, causing any forward movement to stop.  Sometimes I get so lost that I actually move backwards.  Very disappointing!  I know you’ve been there, too.

This is nothing new.  Unity has always been difficult to achieve but it’s very much worth the effort.  We read about the joy the Israelites experienced in Joshua when they avoided some serious conflict between groups merely by talking with each other.  One group thought the other group was rebelling while the 2nd group thought the first group was going to try to make an issue of where they were living in the future.  During their discussion, they realized that they worshipped the same God and they were on the same page.  “Today we know that the LORD is with us, because you have not been unfaithful to the LORD in this matter.  Now you have rescued the Israelites from the LORD’s hand.”  Joshua 22:31.

Unity.

We could use more of it, right?  Where can we get more unity?

From my experience, only God can bring real unity.

As my relationship with God grows, he is able to give me the wisdom and perspective I need to bring more unity into my life – more unity with my husband and family and more unity with my church family.

When we are all looking to God for direction and insight, God provides unity.  It’s his desire for us to live peacefully together and live a life full of joy.

In him, we are ‘like-minded’.

And we find joy.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

I’m Sold Out!

What would you sell your life for?

It’s a great question because sometimes we dedicate our lives to things that just aren’t worth it.  We can sell our lives to making money and spending it.  But everything we buy gets old, breaks and requires more money to fix it up or replace it. They come out with a new model and now the one we have just doesn’t look that great anymore.

Our ‘stuff’ will always disappoint us.

We can sell our lives to work and accomplishments.  We may love it but, someday, that all goes away.  We get fired, laid off or we just get old.  I retired 4 years ago which meant giving up a really nice paycheck and a lot of rewards and recognition.  But retiring also meant getting my life back.  I loved working and now I love being retired.  I’m glad I worked long and hard for over 34 years at something I loved to do.  Now I’m very happy to reclaim all of those hours in my week and enjoy doing what I want to do.

We can sell our lives to relationships with our spouse, our children, our family and friends.  They are very important but they will also disappoint us at times.  It’s a fact.  These relationships can roller coaster up and down, depending on emotions – not something I can always count on.

Achan’s story in God’s Word is a warning to all of us. “When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them” Joshua 7:21.  Achan sold his life for a robe and some gold and silver.  It looked too good to pass up.  So he took it and hid it, probably believing he would never get caught.  Not smart. He couldn’t hide from God.  After getting caught, he admitted his disobedience but that didn’t change the consequences. He lost his life for that ‘stuff’ – his entire family and all he owned literally ended up under a pile of rocks.

I hear you, God.  I’m getting it.  I don’t want to end up like that.

So I choose the path of obedience and faithfulness to God.  I know that there is no other path on earth that is going to give me the joy and peace and love that God gives me.

I choose to be ‘sold out’ to God.  And I’m 100% confident that it’s the right choice.

What is your choice?  Are you confident that it’s the right one?

I love you, Abba Father.

What Happens When It’s All Gone?

Her home was demolished.

Everything she knew was gone.

Her city was burned down by foreigners.

All of her friends and neighbors were killed, only her family was saved.

Things didn’t look good for Rahab.

She and her family were still alive but every one and everything else from her life was gone.  Burned. Demolished.  Now she had to live in the enemy’s camp.  What good could possibly come from this situation?

Well, we know the rest of the story.  Rahab’s name would later show up in the lineage of Jesus!  She was Jesus’ great, great, too many greats to count, grandmother.

God had unbelievable plans for Rahab when he saved her from being destroyed as Jericho burned.  She didn’t know it.  I’m sure there were times as she started up a new life in the camp of her former enemies when she wondered what – if any – good was going to come from this.  Everything that she had known before was gone.

Rahab had no way of knowing that God was going to bless all of creation through her lineage.

I’m just like Rahab.  I have no way of knowing what God is doing as I struggle through the twists and turns of life, trying to figure out how to transition from phase to phase.  Looking back, the pieces often make sense.  But it can be very hard to navigate through the maze of today.

I just don’t know.

But God does.  So I focus on him, trusting him to show me the way one day at a time.  Its often just one step at a time.  Me trying to control the world causes frustration and stress.  Me trying to control even my little space in the world is impossible.

This last 5 years after my son who was a Phoenix Police Officer was killed in the line of duty have made it crystal clear to me that any control I think I have is fake, a lie. My life before Davey was murdered is gone, crushed.  Everything I had known before is forever changed.  I  have ended up in a place I never thought I would be – never wanted to be.

But God is working good things out of the evil that is done.  I am already seeing some of the good things he is doing and I know there will be many more that I will never see.

Like Rahab.

So I will trust you, Abba Father.

 

I’ll Step In

I’ll step up.  I’ll make the first move in faith.

I often ask God to direct my steps.  My prayers regularly include requests for him to open my eyes to the opportunities he gives me to do what he wants me to do.

Because I’ll do it – I just want to know that its his direction and his timing.

And God responds.  Right before my eyes, he will give me an opportunity to do something he wants done or say something he wants said.

Every time one of these opportunities presents itself, I have to take the first step of faith forward, not knowing where my next step is and never knowing how this is all going to work out.

I just have to take that first step and obey.

So the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land is significant to me.  God told the priests carrying the Ark of the LORD to go first.  God told them he would make a way for them but, first, they had to step into the Jordan which was running at flood stage.

The overflowing water of the Jordan river was roaring down its path…..

and God told them to step in.

An act of faith.  An act of obedience.

“Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest.  Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water  from upstream stopped flowing.  It piled up in a heap a great distance away…” Joshua 3:15.  The priests had to take the first step of faith and then they saw God respond.  They watched as God opened up a path for them to the Promised Land.

It’s important for you and I to understand how this process works.  Too often we want to see God move in our lives but we haven’t stepped out in faith.  We want the blessing first and then we’ll move but that’s not how it works.  We want God to invite us to do great things but we haven’t stepped up to the plate on the things we already know God wants us to do.

For example, Jesus told us clearly, “Love God and love others.”  These are the two main things I need to be about – I already know that.  No question about it.  I don’t need to ask God if he wants me to do this – he’s already told me to do it.  I find that when I’m focused on doing these things God has already told me to do, I see God part the waters for me.  He blesses my steps – one at a time.

But the first step of obedience is mine.

Where is God asking you to take that first step of obedience?  Go ahead – step into the water and watch it part in front of you.  It will be worth it.

I believe, Abba Father, so I’m stepping in.

A Second Chance

I’ve been there more than once – have you?

It’s the times where I wish I had a second chance – a redo.  When my heart is aching with regret and my head is rolling with things I shouldn’t have said or things I should have done but didn’t do, I wish I could go back.

If I had the chance to do it over, I would do it so differently!

With people, there is never a 100% redo.  The deeds are done, the words have been said.  Forgiveness is possible but wiping out the memory is not.

One of my favorite things about God is that he can redeem these situations.   He can and he does make something good come out of them.  He teaches me to grow through these times – helping me mature as he molds my character and thinking.  When I ask for wisdom, he always gives it to me which helps me avoid situations where I need redo’s.

As I read about Rahab in Joshua 2, I can visualize this huge headline on it –

God’s Power of Redemption.

Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho when she met the two spies Joshua had sent into the city to check it out before the Israelites attacked.  Rahab made the courageous decision to put her life on the line for the spies when she hid them from the men the King sent to kill them.  She lied to the king’s men telling them the spies had gone out of the city so the kings men quickly went in pursuit just as the city gates closed for the night.

Meanwhile, the spies were safely hidden on the roof of Rahab’s house.  Rahab knew the Israelites were going to attack – everyone knew it and were very afraid.   When she begged the spies to save her family, they agreed because of her courage in hiding them.  Then Rahab helped them escape out of the city and sent them on a different direction from the men who were looking for them.

Later, we will read that Rahab and her family were the only survivors of the attack on Jericho.

It’s obvious that God saved Rahab for a purpose.  He had bigger plans for her.  After God saved her, she totally changed her direction, married, had children and became part of the lineage of Christ.  A prostitute was the great, great, too many greats to count,  grandmother of Jesus, God’s son, who came to save the world.

God is extremely serious about his redemption business.

Rahab’s story was obviously shared down through the generations as a popular redemption story because she shows up in the New Testament, “was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction.”  James 2:25.

A prostitute – used as an example of a righteous woman, related to Jesus.  If it can happen to her, it can happen to anybody!

God is still redeeming your life and my life today.  I don’t have to be stuck in my failures and rebellion of yesterday.  By putting my faith in what Jesus did for me on  the cross, all of that has been forgiven.  I don’t have to be weighed down by the mistakes I’m making today – those have also been forgiven.  I don’t have to be worried or afraid about the things I might mess up in the future because all of it has already been forgiven.

Today I live in grace provided by Jesus, unconditionally loved by my heavenly Father.   I am free.

I am redeemed.

Thank you, Abba.

Courage

What does courage look like in my life?  What does it look like for you?

What do I need courage for?  What is God asking me to do that’s a little scary and out of my comfort zone?

I know God is challenging both you and me – it’s his nature.  As our Good Father, he wants us to grow and develop a strong, courageous character.  So he provides opportunities for us to be stretched.

Where does he want to stretch you?  If you can’t think of any place he is trying to help you grow, I recommend spending several hours with him as you read and meditate and listen to him speak to you through his Word.  You will come away from that time challenged by something – I guarantee it.

God presented Joshua with a huge challenge by giving him leadership of the Israelite nation after Moses was ‘gathered to his people’.  The Israelites were finally ready to enter the Promised Land and they were facing the daunting task of conquering the land and taking control.

There seemed to be a lot of  valid reasons for Joshua to be fearful and worried – except God had already declared victory.  “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you where ever you go.”  Joshua 1:9.

God was in total control – there was no reason to be afraid.

Have you ever had a situation like this where you knew you didn’t need to be afraid because God had already declared victory?

I had a major experience like this several years ago when I thought I had just caught a weird respiratory virus on a trip to the Midwest but then found out, when I finally went to the doctor and then the emergency room ending up in ICU, that I had a dozen blood clots in my lungs.  While the doctor in ER was explaining to me that this was a life-threatening situation, God spoke into my mind.  He told me that he had already taken care of this – I was not going to die from it.  I was going to have to go through all the tests and days in the hospital and months of blood thinners but God was going to walk beside me, every step of the way.  I felt a blanket of peace come down over me and I was not afraid.  God had it all under his control.

My doctor was amazed at my attitude – she kept reminding me that I was going through a life-threatening experience.  I guess I wasn’t acting worried enough.  Four other doctors told me that this should have killed me within an hour of when it happened – they were afraid for me.

God had already declared victory – there was no reason to be afraid.  I obviously didn’t die from it and I realized that God had given me a new story to share about his faithfulness and love and care.  He is still doing miracles today!  I am here because it wasn’t the day he has already decided will be my last day here on earth.  He’s in absolute total control and I have proof.

It was a truly amazing experience to watch God’s victory play out in my life right before my eyes.

So I have some knowledge of how Joshua must have felt when God told him that he had to lead the way in conquering the Promised Land and God would give him victory.  Joshua was going to have to wake up every day and show up to do his part, but God was going to be with him, making it all happen.

Where is God challenging you?  If he’s asking you to do something, he will be right there beside you helping you accomplish it.

Be strong and courageous.  Experience God’s victory in your life today.

Thank you, Abba Father, for the miracles you are doing right now in our lives.