Tag Archives: reading

Discerning the Voice of God: Chapter 10

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Significance changes.

This is something I’ve come to know well in my time spent with the Lord, in study of the Scripture. I’ll come across a line or two previously underlined or noted and wonder why that was so significant to me at one time. It isn’t holding the same powerful punch in this moment – but at one time, it must have spoken loudly to my heart.

And, this phenomenon is how I’ve come to really understand that the Bible is LIVING.

I set a goal to finish reading the entire bible in 2016 – a goal I’ve set out with many times previously, even in my youth, but never quite accomplished. This time, though, I mustered up lots of determination and got crackin’ on the task at hand…only to realize I was sorta missing the point.

Okay, not sorta. REALLY!

So intent on moving forward with the reading, I wasn’t allowing time for the Scripture to penetrate my soul. To stop and examine why a particular verse stood out. For God to speak to me.

The Bible is the primary means through which God will communicate with us so if we don’t take the time to pause we may go speeding right past something really important. A personal message meant just for us.

Examining my goal through this lens made clear for me that I was missing the whole point and also the reason that I’ve probably struggled in the past with achieving the goal of “entire Bible = read”. The Bible doesn’t read like a usual fiction or non-fiction story book. It requires thought and openness to hearing what’s being communicated – and because the significance can change depending the time and situation – it really requires the intentional pause to listen and process.

For this reason, I have accepted that 2016 may not be the year I cross “read entire Bible” off my bucket list. I want my time with the Lord, spent in the Word, to be more significant than simply words on a page. I’m taking the time for the intentional pause; noting verses in my Bible, meditating on them and then pouring my thoughts into my journal. I love to go back and be reminded of God’s promise to bear the burden for communicating to me.

Lots of people have different methods for working through that intentional pause. I’d love to hear about the method for your madness as it relates to your quiet time with the Lord. Comments welcome below!

Love,
H


Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 9

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Are you still struggling to hear from God? You’re hearing something but not sure if it’s God, Satan, your own flesh? Any chance you are focused on the wrong thing?

I am a details person. Being detail oriented is a strong element of my personality, so it’s no wonder that the things I’m often wanting to know most from God are…you guessed it…the details.

What is His Will for me? Am I on the right path? Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

So many requests – except for the one that matters most: making that relationship with Him stronger.

Not just knowing OF Him but really knowing Him…His Word, and what He’s all about. Not just knowing the stories of the bible but allowing that Truth to penetrate into the deepest reaches of your soul. To speak in a way that is rich, and peaceful and full of meaning.

I crave hearing from God. I pray often for my eyes, ears, heart and mind to be open to receiving whatever message He has for me. And just when I began to struggle to decipher his voice, there was the answer….focus on your RELATIONSHIP with Him, rather than expending so much energy straining to HEAR Him.

KNOWING Him is how HEARING Him happens!

Focus on the wrong thing creates a distraction from hearing him, as do spiritual strongholds. Also known as spiritual warfare – the handiwork of Satan. The insecurities and negativity that are so profound, they drown out the sound of anything else…unless we tear them down.

Chapter 9 references Ephesians 6: 10-20 for the fight against spiritual warfare and I wanted to share with you some sermon notes I took quite some time ago on this very thing…because being armed with God is the only way for this battle to be won – He will fight the battle, in fact, He is the ONLY one that can!

Do yourself a favor and pull out your bible – refresh your memory of dressing for success with the Lord (Ephesians 6: 10-20) and while doing so, note the following:
v. 14 “the belt of truth buckled around your waist” : have TRUTH at the core of your life
v. 14 “the breastplate of righteousness” : Live with integrity and you will never have to defend yourself. The righteousness of Christ will answer for you.
v. 15 “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel” : wherever you go, take the word of the gospel. You don’t have to know everything about the Word, but share your story. God will use it for glory
v. 16 “shield of faith” : apart from faith, all the information in the Bible is nullified. It does no good to know it and not live it – don’t be a ‘culture Christian’ (i.e. scripted prayer, going through simple motions and ‘checking the boxes’ until you no longer really care). READ the word, be in CONVERSATION with Him. Counter what the enemy says with what God says.
v. 17 “helmet of salvation” : the devil will attack an unprotected mind. He can distort thinking about everything. Put on the helmet which is the covenant of salvation, protecting us spiritually.
v. 17 “sword of the spirit” : The word of God. Get up close and personal and engage in the world with confidence in His word. You don’t have to convince anyone, just drop the word and let it work!
v. 18 “pray” : this is a vital part of armor as it impacts the attitude. Prayer is an act of worship – getting our hearts and minds right.

When you are facing overwhelming odds, check your stance. Don’t rest in your feelings. Put on the WHOLE armor of God!

Attributes of standing on God can be found in 2 Chronicles:
20:14-15: Promises (the battle is the Lord’s)
20:17a: Power (rely upon His power)
20:17b-18: Presence (He is with us, do not fear)
20:21-22: Praise (worship Him)

Faith means always moving forward. There is no pleasure in falling back – and while falling is inevitable –  if you fall, fall forward.

Any favorite versus you’ve committed to memory that you might suggest we all memorize, sharpening the “sword of the spirit”? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below!

With Love…
H

 


Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 4

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The way in which God speaks to us has evolved over time. During the Old Testament times, God was heard through prophecies and outward, visible signs. During the New Testament, His communication came through Jesus and miracles. Today, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us and Scripture.

In my ignorance, I expected the way in which God would speak to me as similar to Old Testament times – some sort of prophecy or outward sign. A flashing neon sign, perhaps, with an arrow directing the way. A vivid dream that would provide all the detailed information I’d ever need, making everything crystal clear.

On more than one occasion, I’ve complained that it would be so much easier if He would at least give me a snippet of what His plans are for me. Promising that if he did, I would get fully on board and REALLY get to work on that plan – BUT – I needed specifics first.

I now imagine God in Heaven, smile on his face, shaking his head and thinking “oh sweet child…”

As much as I have wished for blatant signs, and even felt somewhat resentful when they didn’t come and thought surly he wasn’t answering me because I couldn’t hear him (because I wouldn’t shut up long enough to listen – see Chapter 1), I realize that I’ve really got the best of all worlds. While not His primary method of communication, God still works miracles and provides us with outward signs. It’s secondary to being guided by the Holy Spirit and Scripture, further confirming what’s already been spoken to us. If we haven’t received the message via primary communication, secondary means are going to pass us by without notice. We won’t recognize the relevance. These miracles and signs will fade into the background noise of life.

I’m guessing that if they all had a choice, everyone from Biblical times would much prefer how good we have it now.

On page 71, Priscilla writes, “I do believe that the Spirit gives to some people, on certain occasions, the divine ability to receive insight into another person’s life”.

This statement struck me in a very powerful way, soothing a nagging ache in my soul. Here’s why: I believe I am well acquainted with such a person. She is a great friend of mine, near and dear to my soul in ways no one else is, a mentor on top of all that, and a lover of Jesus. Just recently, in a long message, she made a statement that has since been etched into my heart. “I’ve been praying for you often. I’m having very good feelings about you recently”.

If Priscilla is right, and I have no reason to think otherwise, and outward signs are often used by God to confirm the messages we’ve received through Scripture and the Spirit’s counsel, then my life is going to take on the most breathtaking changes. And while I don’t know the timing or specific details about how it will all come together, I am so overwhelmed (in the most comforting way) that I’m on the verge of tears every time this passes through my mind.

For the first time in two years, I feel like I’ve finally exhaled…


Discerning the Voice of God: Chapter 3

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How often, during times of struggle, do we pull in closer to the Lord seeking comfort, guidance, and answers only to allow him to slowly fade into the background of our lives when the crisis has been diverted? As much as I hate to admit, I am guilty of this, time and time again.

The trouble I find is that the crisis isn’t necessarily diverted, as much as it is minimized, at which time I think I’ve got it all under control and can take it from there. How ignorant of me! It’s no wonder that the same crisis flares up again, or that another comes in its place. It’s sort of like sticking your hand back in the fire after recovering from third degree burns! And how many times must be we burned before we stop punishing ourselves?!? We ALWAYS need Him!!

An essential element of discerning the voice of God is regular meditation on, and knowledge of, the Scriptures. Regular = Daily. This can become quite a trick when life demands so much us. There’s a lot to get done. We are tired and believe we won’t be able to focus. Things are going okay, so time in the Word isn’t essential today, right? Wrong!

Time spent in the Word is time spent with God. If we want to hear from Him, we must MAKE time for Him. These moments with him are more serious than we think – even when things are going “okay”.

And, here’s the other thing that’s paramount to our prayers being answered: our desires need to align with His Will for us. How many of you want to dig in with the thought of that? The idea that what you desire may not align with His plans for you, and aside from taking things into your own hands (free will) and forcing the issue (for which there are other consequences), those desires may not become your reality?

Yea, it’s a tough pill to swallow but allow me to offer a bit of hope: permitting the Holy Spirit to work in you, and doing your part in that process (see above), means a transformation will begin taking place within. If you really get on board with this, you will find things you once desired no longer tug quite as much at your heartstrings, and the gap between what you want and what He wants for you will grow more and more narrow. Suddenly, but not all at once, your desires and His Will align and things start happening in a magical way in your life. That is what is meant in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart”. God really does know what is best for us, even if it’s not what we want to hear or accept at the moment, and THOSE desires of our heart are what will be given.

The reason we eventually <really> become okay with our reality not matching our dreams is because we’ve really worked on building that intimate relationship with Him. He’s working from within to change our hearts (and thus, our dreams), and we can hear Him with more clarity…perhaps leading us down a path we never would have chosen for we never knew we’d love.

In those moments that you want to be okay with things not working out as you had hoped, but you just aren’t feeling it with every inch of your being, talk to Him about it, ask Him to help you… “Lord, every day I’m trying my best, but if in any moment I lose my hope, please remind me that Your plans are better than my dreams. Amen.”.

He understands that we live in the flesh and that the natural tendency of the flesh is to crave the standards of the world rather than those of God, but he also expects us to seek, and stick close to him.


Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 2

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Having finished Chapter 2, I feel at peace and am beyond encouraged.

The voice of God comes to us by the Holy Spirit, already living in us, via our own conscious. Of course, we must first accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savoir and begin to WALK with Him. This is different than believing – even the Devil is a believer – we must work at a relationship with HIM . Once we do this, our conscious, initially shaped by things we absorb from the outside world – seared by sin, shaped by varying sources and made susceptible to corruption by others – is converted. It’s awakened!

I LOVE that because as I reflect on questions I believe I’ve not received answers to, it seems clear to me that I HAVE and I’ve just not known it was HIM!

I’ve always believed in God. I’ve never doubted that He has a place for me in Heaven. I wasn’t “churched” growing up, but I was taught just enough to make me a believer. I had, and still have, a LOT to learn about growing that relationship and walking with Him. God will use any means necessary to grab our attention, to draw us into him. I am no exception…

I have suffered an incredibly tough past couple of years. To the point that I can’t even believe this is my life. It’s easy to question why. Why me? Why now? When will the suffering stop? HELLO, ANSWERS PLEASE??

Without one doubt I now believe that every bit of my suffering was for my benefit, so I could grow in faith and strive to really FOLLOW God.  Now, that’s an answer I can accept and move on with…until it seems the hits just keep coming and I can’t help feeling picked on and thinking “okay, you’ve made your point – lay off a bit!”.  The honest truth is that I’ve found myself very angry with God, and wondering if my questions have gone into the abyss, never to be answered. I can admit that because he knows what’s in my heart, there isn’t any hiding. And, because of His unconditional love and grace, He not only handles it but waits patiently for me.

Truth is, I’ve gotten answers. From HIM!

Because of my continued suffering – issues have been pushed so answers could be sought and I could be connected with some of the savviest people who God will work through to get me what I need…and shelter me during the storms. Because of my continued suffering, I grow closer to the Lord everyday and feel compelled to share the Good News! Because of my continued suffering, my priorities get more and more in line. Because of my continued suffering…well…I could go on and on…

Did you know that physical and spiritual healing often times go hand in hand?
Isaiah 38:17 – You restored me to health and let me live. Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.

That we are to suffer in this life because Jesus suffered on the cross for us? That it’s an honor and blessing to suffer?
Acts 14:22 – We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.
Romans 8:17b – …indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Did you know that the length of time you feel overwhelmed and trapped in your suffering is totally up to you? The Devil seeks us at our weakest moments; it’s when he does some of his best work.
Genesis 50:20 – You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

We have a God who will protect us and use it all for good, if only we will let him. That he promises to make good out of the storms that bring devastation to our lives!
Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.

Read about the powerful 5 things (the 5 M’s) you should do when you feel God might be leading you in a certain way.

He’s ready to talk – Are you ready to listen?


Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer: Chapter 1

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I ordered this book several months ago, when I was facing a possible HUGE decision.

I had applied for a job, that, if I was offered & accepted, would have meant a significant move. I felt torn right down the middle with this decision; seeing both sides equally and fearing I wouldn’t be able to make the choice that aligned with God’s Will for me.

After weeks of prayer, and being no closer to feeling confident that I could make this decision, I finally asked Him to make this very simple: if moving was part of His plan for me, have a job offer come my way. If not, please let this opportunity pass me by.

When that phone call finally came, I wasn’t offered the job. Relief flooded over me. In fact, I was so relieved, I was near tears. It’s not that I didn’t desire the job; but this was absolutely what was to happen. Could I have made that decision on my own? I will never know as I didn’t have to. What a blessing to have a God who, in my indecisive desperation, answered my prayer, stepped in and took all decision off the table.

As much as I desire to live according to God’s Will for me, I really struggle to know which parts of that “gut feeling” belong to me in my flesh, and which are directions from the Holy Spirit.

I don’t know why it took me so long to finally crack this book open and begin reading (I didn’t start it immediately, God had to step in in a large way during the decision that prompted me to order the book to begin with…), but I’m glad to have finally done so.

Chapter 1 discusses the importance of being still and making time to LISTEN. Often times we fill our time with the Lord carrying on about this and that. And, while he certainly welcomes any and all we want to take to him, if we never give HIM a chance to speak, how will we ever hear what he has to say?

There are many questions I’m waiting on answers to – for quite some time now. Have I not been making the time to LISTEN? Maybe that’s the ticket!! So, I’ve done just that. I’ve re-arranged my bible study time, shortened my prayers, and made time to listen. Mercy! Running, random, unimportant thoughts!! This wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d expected, plus I wasn’t even sure what I was listening FOR – in what form would I hear Him? Would something just pop into my head? Would I need to open my bible to see where He was pointing me? Would it just be a certain “gut feeling”?

Clearly this is going to take a LOT of practice…but as Scripture says…

Psalm 46:10 – Be still and know that I am God
Psalm 37:7 – Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

Before I sign off, an invitation: buy this book. Let’s work through it together. A chapter a week. Nothing about this sort of journey is easy, which is why God encourages us to be involved with others, to fellowship. There will always be a place at this metaphoric table for you.

With Love,
H


A Year of Books

When the E-Reader first came out, admittedly, I snubbed my nose at it. A device that would replace books? Yea, right. What a stupid idea. I vowed to skip right over this idea without ever giving it a chance.

Then last summer I found myself with a lot of down time. My grandfather wasn’t well, and my family and I had a lot of time just sitting around. Playing the worst waiting game, Ever.

During some of this down time I needed something to occupy (aka: distract) myself, so I grabbed my aunt’s kindle.  It didn’t take long before I finished off an entire book. And, as you might have guessed, I determined the E-Reader wasn’t so bad after all.

During this same time I celebrated my 29th birthday. By celebrate, I mean it came and went. Just another day. It’s difficult to get excited about a birthday (and, typically I do about mine) when you’ve just buried someone you love.

My dad asked what I wanted for my birthday. I had no idea. I hadn’t given it much thought. I told him about the E-Reader and how I thought maybe I wanted one of those. He got right on it and about a week later, one showed up at my front door.

My aunt jumped in and bought me a cool green case, with the reading light. Additionally, my Kindle was bought on my aunt’s account. She reads a LOT (and even if she’s not found a lot of time to read she still buys tons of books) and because I’m on her account, I have access to her ‘library’.

I’ve grown to love my Kindle.

I thought I would miss holding an actual book; I don’t. The Kindle travels with ease (SO much easier than lugging books around). Once I finish a book I can download another in a matter of minutes. I tend to get through books a bit quicker. The battery lasts a really long time (in a year I’ve only had to charge my Kindle maybe 5 times). I could go on, and on…

It has been about 1 year since I got my kindle, and I’ve read 12 books. Not too shabby for a girl who really only reads a bit before closing her eyes for the night.

I have a rule about books and it goes like this: there are far too many books in the world, I will never get to them all. If a book doesn’t grab me immediately, I’m on to the next. I don’t feel badly about closing a book after the first chapter and moving on to something new. For that reason, the reading list I’m going to share with you includes books I really enjoyed over the past year and would recommend as a good read for anyone!

The List:
Time of My Life: A Novel by Allison Winn Scotch
The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian
The Threadbare Heart by Jennie Nash
Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany
Goodnight, Beautiful: A Novel by Dorthy Doomson
Deep Down True: A Novel by Juliette Fay
After You: A Novel by Julie Buxbaum
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Falling Home by Karen White
The Beach Trees by Karen White
While We’re Far Apart by Lynn Austin
These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

As we creep closer to the winter months it becomes important to make ‘indoor plans’. I hope you will find yourself with one of these books in your lap on a cool fall afternoon. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Happy Reading!
-Hilary

On a Side Note: I had pictures for this post. After spending an hour trying to get them uploaded with no luck I’ve decided to post without pictures. Any more time spent on this and I will tear my hair out! I’m not sure I’d look good bald AND I’ve waited a long time to grow my hair out so…there you have it.