Tag Archives: suggested reading list

Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 11

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Knowing through experience is far different than having knowledge of an experience.

You must experience God for yourself – this is not something you can pick up vicariously through others.

Part of differentiating the voice of God from anything <anyone> else is understanding that the message from Him will glorify and highlight His character. Anything to the contrary isn’t a message from Him.

This isn’t to say that the message is always leading us down the easiest path. In many instances, it’s quite the opposite. He will lead us into places where we are able to experience and grow with Him in powerful ways. This often means a challenge…a challenge that he will most assuredly  enter in to with you and see you through.

Dare to take the challenge – lean into him through the storm – and see the ways in which He will be glorified in and through you.

H

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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 8

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Hey there – it’s been a bit since I’ve been on the blog. You know how it goes when life sweeps your feet out from under you…anyway…I’m hoping to get back on a more regular track here very soon. In the meantime, thoughts on Chapter 8:

God’s communication with us is personalized, repetitive, peaceful and….challenging?? Ugh!!!

That’s right folks, just as the journey isn’t always easy, so too is His communication for us challenging.

Don’t confuse peace for comfort – or following God’s will with agreeing with it – or assume the peaceful way is the easy way. How many times have you felt God leading you down a path you’d much rather avoid? You looked left to stormy weather ahead, and right to the sun shining brightly and balked at God’s idea that you should head for the thunderstorm..and then you turned, disregarding his direction, and set off for sunshine and blue skies…all because it would be easier?

Yea, me too.

Many times in life God means to lead us down the bumpy road. Without that journey, we will never reach our full potential (reference the story of the butterfly in Chapter 8 – also found on another devotional I read regularly). Almost ALL of us NEED that journey. Sometimes we face the journey via decisions we must make (left into storms, right into sunshine) and other times there is no decision involved and we must embrace the cards we were dealt.

Challenge is part of the plan, and I love, LOVE the following taken directly from chapter 8: “God will place extraordinary tasks on the plates of ordinary people so ordinary people can see what an extraordinary God can do through them”.

Not just tasks, situations.

I remember facing several different, though similar, situations in my recent past — all of the “embrace the cards you were dealt” variety. Each time confessing out loud, “I can’t do this” or “I can’t go through that ever again, I’ll never make it”, and “He must have me confused with someone else, there is absolutely no way I can endure, again”.

And you know what? Not only DID I get through each rocky circumstance, I came out the other side stronger. AND, while definitely not my first choice, I’m now positive that if faced with another similar trial, I could do it again…and again…and again. Because I have Jesus!
Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go

And how about times when we are faced with a choice to make – left storms, right sunshine?

Adding a spirituality component to my blog is one such example. The idea flashed through my mind, totally out of left field, and I wrote it off because it didn’t immediately add up in my brain. I have a LONG ways to go in growing spiritually and I am in NO WAY qualified to take on something like this, right? Does this topic even fit with the flavor of my blog? Would my readers embrace this turn of events? Would some of my followers fall out? (thanks, Satan, by the way).
But, He was persistent and before I knew it I was getting lost in blogging about this incredible book – regardless of whether or not I am qualified, what people might think and if some of followers dropped off. And, I am NOT qualified…but HE IS…and “God will provide where He guides”.

This chapter ends with a profound statement, “It is better for you to choose the challenging road – if God is in it – than to select the route that is easier and more convenient but lacks the presence of power of God”.

Facing a difficult circumstance – decisions or cards dealt? Look to Him, follow His direction and you will never go wrong. He will ensure shelter through those storms and they never last forever.

 


Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 7

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I remember when I began this book, and the excitement I felt as I finished Chapter 2 (and then another chapter down the road; which one specifically, I can’t recall). While it’s true that every chapter has brought excitement; I’m talking about EXCITEMENT!!

It was all because of the peace I felt within. The comfort in knowing that what I was hearing was, in fact, His voice/guidance/direction. The relief in having it re-confirmed that He has it all under control, and is even letting me in on some of the details. That ‘ah-ha!’ moment when what I think I know is confirmed.

PEACE.

Not only a characteristic of our Savior, but an indication that he has spoken.

For the longest while I’ve struggled to let go of my burden – or I would set it down for just a short while, only to run quickly back over and pick it back up. How much of my hyper-organized, need to be in control, urge to analyze every detail has done nothing but get in His way? I suspect all of it…

And then something amazing happened! I reached a point where I <finally> acknowledged I am just too drained…physically, mentally and emotionally…to continue running interference. To continue getting in His way. And because I have <finally> been <metaphorically> beaten into submission, I’m just not anymore. Not that I no longer care about things – because I surly do – but I find I’m better able to take only the steps He directs me to take and leave all the rest to him. He is the one in control, after-all.

I have laid my burden at His feet, just as he instructs us all to do.
Matthew 11: 28-30 – Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

It doesn’t feel “amazing” to come to this point via the road I chose to take, but it is quite incredible how it’s worked for good. I am finally feeling an inner sense of PEACE like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

Yes. Me.

The hyper-organized, need to be in control, urge to analyze everything….Me.

 


Discerning the Voice of God: Chapter 5

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Chapter 5 offered so many thought provoking take-away points:

  1. When God has a message for us, He is persistent.
  2. Circumstances in life have everything to do with God’s Will – nothing happens by chance.
  3. Sometimes crises present the best moments to bring us closer to Him.
  4. The importance of connecting with a church family cannot be overly emphasized.

God’s persistence in getting our attention isn’t always sunshine and gentle breezes – He will do whatever is needed to get our attention. While we would like to think that His work is done only through the most incredible, comforting, and happy miracles; it’s important to understand that isn’t always the case. Sometimes His persistence comes about in ways that we don’t prefer. Events that are uncomfortable, and in some cases, are downright miserable.

It’s human nature to want to avoid anything uncomfortable. The more crises we can avoid, the better, right? But just as muscle must be broken down in order to grow stronger, so too must our spirits. To think you can obtain as much growth through all the best seasons of life, as opposed to the worst, is ignorant. Building muscle while sitting on the couch drinking Dr Pepper and eating Doritos?  Yes, please! Not so much the case though…bummer!

I try to think about how my life would be currently, if I could rewind and have a do-over with all the struggle sprinkled throughout the past 2 years. If I could erase all the struggle, and insert all the details of how I wanted things to go, what I wanted to have happen, how I thought things ought to have worked out. Truth is, I can’t really even imagine what that might look like…a life filled with surface level pseudo-perfection, maybe?. Would I even be happy or would I always be longing for more? Would I feel a true sense of security, or bubbling just beneath the surface would I constantly be ill at ease? If I trace back some of the best things in my life, the road to obtaining those things was quite rocky. And, in some instances, if it weren’t for travel down those rocky roads, some of what I cherish so much now wouldn’t even be part of my life story.

I can acknowledge, accept, and even be totally okay with my trials because it took every bit of that – even complete loss of my footing – to bring me to my knees; for Him to get my attention and for me to get out of His way so that He could do a good work in me. Doesn’t mean I liked the struggle at the time(s), heck, I’ve gone down fighting on more than one occasion. But He’s patient and persistent and is using all that yuck for good, and will continue to do so, because that’s what He promises. And he is not a God that he should lie (Numbers 23:19).

If the weather in your life is cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms, remember that He is persistent, nothing happens by chance & crises present some of the best opportunities for growth. Tuck in close to Him – quietly and patiently wait for him to speak. Immerse yourself in the Scripture and connect with your church family for guidance and support. Eventually all the signals – stirrings within, Scripture and outward signs – will point in the same direction and THAT will be your answer!

New to reading this blog series on Discerning The Voice of God? Catch up here:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4


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…


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.