I know that Voice

Has this happened to you?  I’m in a crowded place where many people are talking and then one lone voice clearly sticks out of the noise.

I know that voice.

It’s somebody I know and I instantly recognize it and turn toward it.  In the past this voice has often been one of my children or my husband or a close friend.

That is also how it is for me with God’s voice.  His voice pierces through all the other voices around me.  Because I know him.

Little Samuel was just getting to know God in 1 Samuel so when he heard a voice in the middle of the night, he thought it was Eli, the High Priest.  So Samuel would run to Eli every time he heard this voice and Eli would tell him he didn’t call him.  The third time this happened, Eli realized that God was calling to the little boy.  Eli had heard God’s voice often so he told the little boy what to say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”

And God spoke.  Samuel obeyed.

After that, God became Samuel’s constant companion as he grew up.

Have you heard God’s voice?

In my life, the more I study God’s Word and know what he says, the easier it has become to hear him.  I have heard him teach me and reveal truth to me for many years as I have read and studied the Bible.  I know his voice.

I have also been seriously memorizing chapters in the Bible for several years so I have God’s Word etched on my brain.  When he wants to give me direction and wisdom, he will highlight some of the verses I have written in my mind and speak to me through those verses.  There is no doubt who is speaking to me when he’s speaking God’s word.  And I know it’s the truth, not some whispered lies of Satan.

There are occasions when a person is speaking to me about something in the Bible and God will say in my head, “You know that’s not true.  You have read my Word and you know this is not what I have said.”  Sometimes God will give me an opportunity to ask where this person has read this in Bible so we can discuss it and sometimes I don’t get a chance to ask.  Either way,  God is helping me keep in line with his truth.

There are situations where God does the exact opposite.  Someone I’m talking with will share a new understanding or experience they had with God and it will immediately ring true in my brain – that’s  God!  And then I get to celebrate with this person because they are getting to know God better and they will continue to have more and more of these experiences when they stay on this path.

A critical part of creating this open communication with God is what happens after he talks to me.  I need to obey.  If I don’t listen and obey, I will not hear God as clearly next time.  Just like Samuel, I need to say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”  And then I need to do what God says – that’s how it works.

God’s voice is the most important voice in my life.

I know his voice.

Do you?

Please open our eyes and ears, Abba Father.

I’m Waiting

I know what I want for myself and for others.  I know who is in control of everything.

So I pray to the Creator of the Universe.  My dad.

Right?

And God responds – yes, no or wait.  I like the ‘yes’. I don’t like the ‘no’.  And the ‘wait’ is the hardest answer of all.  I’m not good at waiting, are you?

Why wait?  Did he really say ‘wait’?  Is he ever going to change his answer to ‘yes’?

Hannah was in this same situation in 1 Samuel.  She was in misery because she had no children and she wanted a son.  Women at that time were looked down on if they had no children.  What’s wrong with her?  Other women picked on her.  And “this went on year after year”.

It sounds like Hannah was consistently ‘pouring out my soul to the LORD.”  “I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”  Lots of conversations with God.  She didn’t give up.  She kept asking.  “So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son.”

It might have seemed like God was saying ‘no’ to Hannah because it took years.  But he was waiting for the right time.

God knows the right time – I don’t.  So I have to wait.

This time of waiting is not wasted.  When I am faithful and tuned into him, he uses this time to grow my faith and grow my wisdom and grow my understanding.  I see that with Hannah – God was preparing her while she waits to be the mother of Samuel – a great man of God.

So I will wait.  I will pray for God’s will to be done in my life.  I will trust that, at the right time, he will give me what is best for me.  He has always been faithful in the past, he is faithful today and he will be faithful for eternity.

Thank you,  Abba Father.

When It’s Big…

and bad…

and scary,

even people who don’t love God will turn to him, pray to him, cry to him.  Because our souls know who he is even if our minds won’t acknowledge it.  He created us and the heart he molded inside of us cries out to its maker when we’re in significant trouble.

In Judges 10, the Israelites are on one of their downward spirals of sin.  They have stopped serving God and have started serving Baal…..again.  So God let the pagan kingdoms who also served Baal crush them and oppress them.

It was bad.

So the Israelites cried out to God and he replied, “Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen.  Let them save you when you are in trouble.”

Sometimes, as a Good Father who wants to teach us life lessons, God says that to us today.  If we have placed things other than God as our top priority, they are our gods.

There are situations where God lets us learn the hard way that money is not our security.  It disappears, it turns into a nightmare when we use credit, and the stuff we buy with it only makes us happy for a little while.  Have you and I learned this yet?

Relationships – people are flawed.  Unconditional love only comes from God.  My husband, my wife, my friends, my children cannot be my first priority.  God didn’t create it to work that way.  Have you and I learned this yet?

Careers – money, recognition, power, prestige often distract us from God.  Sadly, tragically, we can find that we were struggling so hard to climb a ladder that was up against the wrong wall.  At the end, there’s a huge, disappointing fall.  Have you and I learned this yet?

Anything we put before the One True God in our lives becomes a false god as we serve it and love it and focus on it.   These false gods will be no help when the bottom falls out of our lives.   Then our hearts will cry out to their Creator God just like the Israelite’s hearts did.

The Israelites had been taught well and they knew exactly what to do to get back in line with God.  They repented and got rid of their false gods.  And God responded by helping to deliver them from their enemies.  They still had to fight and struggle (consequences for their bad decisions) but God gave them victory.

God has told us he is a jealous God and he will not tolerate his people serving other gods.  When its big and bad and we need help, none of these false gods are going to of any use to us.

Have you and I learned this yet?

You are the only God in my life, Abba Father.

With Me

Every day…

Every situation…

Every trial…

The Spirit of the LORD is with me.

In the Old Testament, there were times when God would give his Spirit to someone when he had a tough assignment for them.  We read in Judges 9 that Caleb’s little brother, Othniel, became a judge for the Israelites.  God raised him up to deliver the Israelites from slavery to the King of Aram Naharaim.

“The Spirit of the LORD came on him” and he led the fighting men into war.  God’s Spirit made Othniel strong and courageous.

As believers today, we live under the New Covenant with God.  Now, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of each of us when we accept the salvation Jesus freely offers to each of us.

God’s Spirit is with me every minute of every day.  His Spirit wants to make me strong and courageous, too.

And loving,

joyful,

peaceful,

patient,

kind,

faithful,

gentle and self-controlled.

All of this is inside me – I just need to let God’s spirit have his way in my life.

If you are a believer, all of these great things are inside of you, too.  It’s time to nurture them and let the Spirit show.

Thank you for the awesome gift of your Spirit,  Abba Father.

Stepping In

Stepping up.

Making the first move.

I often ask God to direct my steps.  My prayers regularly include requests for him to show me an opportunity to do something I think he wants me to do.  Because I’ll do it, I just want to know that its his direction and his timing.

And he does it.  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 what the 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 special 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 they had to step in.

An act of faith.  An act of obedience.

As soon as the priest’s feet touched the water’s edge, the water stopped flowing.  They had to commit and then they saw God respond.  In the middle of a rushing river, God opened up a path for them to the Promised Land.

This is significant.  Too often we want to see God move in our lives but we haven’t stepped out in faith.  We haven’t stepped up to the plate in obedience of the things we already know God wants us to do.

Jesus told us clearly, “Love God and love others.”  These are the two main things I need to be about – I already know that.  When I am focused on doing these things,  I see God part the waters for me.  He blesses my last step and reveals my next step.

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.

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 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 is he stretching you?  If you don’t think he is, 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 gave Joshua a huge challenge by giving him leadership of the Israelite nation after Moses was ‘gathered to his people’.  They 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 to be fearful and worried – except God had already declared victory.  “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.”

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

Have you ever experienced 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 bug 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 months of blood thinners and days in the hospital but God was going to go with me, every step of the way.

I was not afraid.  My doctor was amazed at my attitude – she kept reminding me that I was going through a life-threatening experience.  Four other doctors told me that this should have killed me – 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!

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, 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.

Believe It!

Our world can be so disappointing – people lying to get ahead, just telling you what they think you want to hear.  Often, never actually intending to do what they say they will do.

God is just the opposite.

He always does what he says he is going to do.

He always keeps his promises.

He doesn’t always do things the way that we think he should but – then again –

he is God and we’re not –

he is perfect and we’re not –

we have a 3.5 lb brain while his is infinite and eternal –

we just need to accept that his ways are better than our’s.  I need to believe that and stand firm each day on the fact that God loves me and wants the best for me.

God and I have a personal relationship and he tells me about my part of this relationship in Leviticus 26:3-13.  Let’s all underline this in our Bibles and believe it.

My part – keep his commands and obey him.

God’s response –

He will bless my labor, what I do.

I will have food to eat and a safe place to live.

He will give me peace – I will lie down at night without fear.

He will remove danger and my enemies from my life.  I will have victory over my enemies.

God will look on me with favor and keep all of his promises.

I will prosper.  He will be my God and I will be his daughter.

I need to believe this and move forward confidently – with my head held high and my eyes focused on my Father.

Then I will receive the blessings of obedience.

Amen.  May it be so, Abba Father.

Who?

Who is in control of my life?

Who decides what I do with my time?  With my money?  Who is the director of my life – telling me when to go and when to stay?  What to say and how to say it?

The quick answer for us Christ-followers is ‘God”.

But let’s not just throw out this obvious answer and move on.  Let’s ask ourselves – is he?  Really?

What happened to your last paycheck?  How much of it went for God’s purposes?

Why did you rent this last apartment or buy the house you live in?  Did God direct you to make that decision because he has a purpose for where you live?

How about your job – did God lead you to that place?  Is he working there through you?  Or your main hobby – is God using that for his glory?  Or is it taking your time away from a deep, personal relationship with God?

The Israelites lived in a theocracy as they travelled through the desert and into the Promised Land.  God was King.  No one else told they what to do, where to go, what to eat, or how to dress.  God did all of it.

I want my life to be lived in a theocracy.  As I have grown to know God better and I’m able to hear his voice more clearly, he has gradually taken over in most parts of my life.

But not all.  I can’t honestly say he is the King of everything in my life.  I still have areas of self-centeredness and trying to be in control (total waste of energy because I am not and ever have been in control – neither are you, by the way).  Worry, fear and lack of patience with others are proof that these areas are not under God’s control.

I know I’m in the process of becoming what God intended me to be.  I know it’s a journey….

and I’m glad you’re on this journey with me.

I’m getting off the throne now, Father.  Please take your seat.

 

Hold Loosely

Stuff

Boxes of stuff.

Rooms of stuff.

Garages and basements full of stuff.

Stuff we’re not using but someone else would use it – if they had it.

Stuff that hasn’t fit us for many years but we still can’t give it away.  Stuff that’s broken and we’ve never found the time to fix it but we still can’t part with it.

God never meant for us to keep all of our stuff for ourselves.

God told the Israelites that their 50th year in the Promised Land was supposed to be a Year of Jubilee.  During this year, all of the poor people who had sold themselves as slaves were supposed to be freed and all property which had been sold was given back to the original owner.  It was intended to be a year consecrated for redemption and freedom.

Does it surprise you that my research shows that the Year of Jubilee was never observed?

I’m not surprised.  Our culture has taught us to hold our belongings and our stuff very close.  We don’t give stuff away.  We worked hard for these things.  We earned them.  They will be ‘worth something someday’.

Well, they are worth something to someone else who has less than us today if we could just loosen our grip on them.

The Israelites couldn’t do it, either, so they lost the chance to see God work in a supernatural way in their lives.  They didn’t experience the joy and freedom of having open hands when it came to their ‘stuff’.

God wanted this to be a holy year for the Israelites where they would see his provision for them as they gave the property back to the original owners and set the slaves free.

But it never happened.

What about me?  What about you?  Are we holding loosely onto our belongings and stuff while we hold tightly onto God?  Are we seeing God work supernaturally in our lives because we spend more time and energy on loving him than we do with the things we own?

Do we own our stuff?  Or does our stuff own us?

Please help us hold loosely to everything that is not about loving you and loving others, Abba Father.

What’s New?

Growing….

changing…

I am not going to be done learning until my heart stops beating.  There’s a time to stop being flexible and stop being open to new things and that time is when I’m dead.  I have learned a lot in these last 50-some years 🙂 and I have a lot to learn in these next 30 years or whenever my eyes shut for the last time on this earth.

I am challenged to be quicker on the learning end than Gideon was as I read his story in Judges.  The Lord told Gideon directly that he was going to bring him victory.  But Gideon didn’t get it – Gideon replied that he was the least of his family.  So what?  God was going to do this, not Gideon.

Gideon prepared an offering to God and the Angel of God came down to burn it for him.  Are you getting this yet, Gideon?

Then God told Gideon to cut down the pole in town that was dedicated to the pagan gods and build an altar with the wood.  Gideon obeyed but he did it at night because he was afraid.

Really?  God is talking to him and sending angels with fire and still Gideon is sneaking around at night?

The townspeople wanted to kill Gideon for cutting down the pole but a leader in town stopped them.  Who did that, Gideon?

Then God called Gideon to lead the Israelites into battle but Gideon still had to test God by laying out a fleece.  Twice!

When are you going to understand that this is God you’re dealing with, Gideon?

It appears like Gideon is starting to learn and trust God when he lets God limit his army to 300 men.  But then he takes a step back when he’s afraid and has to sneak into the Midianite camp to hear what’s going on before he will attack it.

From what we read, that looks like the final step of learning to trust God for Gideon because we don’t read of him testing God again or being afraid.  Gideon leads the Israelites into several successful battles without testing God first.

He learned to trust.

He got it.

So I have to ask myself – how well am I doing in learning to trust?  Do I get it?

How well are you doing?

Please help us to trust you, Abba Father.