Archive | April 2017

Step 1 to Hearing God’s Voice – Expect and Believe (Re-post–Sorry, this 3/11 post was lost)

Do you believe in Santa Claus? As parents, we sometimes go to great lengths to preserve our children’s belief in the legendary figure known as Santa Claus.

All through the year, we attempt to deter bad behavior with the reminder that Santa knows who’s naughty and nice. Weeks before December 25th, we pile the kids in the car and drive to the mall, where we stand in long lines, so little Bobby and Jessie can sit on the jolly old elf’s lap and whisper their Christmas wish lists into his attentive ear. We might even purchase the expensive picture with Santa to solidify the memory for them. Even Fido gets his picture with Santa and receives a rawhide bone in his stocking.

To intensify their expectation and belief, on Christmas Eve we set out a plate of cookies and glass of milk for Santa. Of course, we make sure those cookies have bites out of them and the milk is half gone before the children come running down the stairs on Christmas morn.

Are we as diligent at promoting God, the true Father Christmas? To quote the old Christmas song, “He knows when you are sleeping; He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.”

God gave us the gift of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, born at Christmas, so He could pay the penalty for our sin. He died on the cross, but He didn’t stay in the grave. God raised Jesus from the dead. He’s alive! When we confess Jesus as our Savior and Lord, God sends the gift of His Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. What a priceless gift He is!

The Holy Spirit is the voice of God in us! We can hear the words of God and know His will, because He dwells in our hearts. He speaks to us and reminds us of what God and Jesus said. He recalls Scripture to our minds and teaches us the wisdom of God. He counsels us and comforts us, among many other roles He plays.

When you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you can “Expect and Believe” you will hear His voice within you – Step 1. It’s up to you to “Make the Time” to listen – Step 2.

“He who belongs to God hears what He says.” (John 8:47)

Fight the Good Fight

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12)

My beloved warrior, take hold of the life to which I have called you. Fight the good fight of the faith. Your battle is not with flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world. Stand firm in your faith and do not waver. Dress yourself in the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand your ground. Proudly wear the belt of truth around your waist and be ready to fight for the truth when called upon. Display the breastplate of righteousness for all to see that you belong to Me. Be ready with the gospel of peace and let your feet follow My lead. Grasp the shield of faith with which you can stop the enemy’s arrows of spiritual attack. Put on the helmet of salvation believing that you are saved by My grace, adopted by Me, and therefore, an heir to all that belongs to Me. Claim your power and authority in Jesus’ victorious name. Remain in Me and My Word so that you may draw upon it when you need it. Be ready to fight with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Use it against all evil. My Word is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. I stand by your side and fight your battles with you. I will never leave you or forget you. My Spirit dwells in you and gives you the authority to break strongholds. Victory is ours, My friend. You have the same Spirit living in you that raised Jesus from the dead. My power in you is unstoppable. I have called you to be My warrior. Fight to win! (See below: Ephesians 6:10-18, Hebrews 4:12, Joshua 1:5, Ephesians 1:17-20)

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrow of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

“For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 1:17-20)


 

Independence (a.k.a. Pride)

4 PrideThe other day I overheard a single woman proudly state that she had always been able to take care of herself and provide for herself. Fantastic! I’m sure she made her parents proud also. After all, isn’t that one measure of successful parenting—that your children prosper financially, support themselves, and move out of the nest? Is there anything wrong with being pleased with yourself for exerting an independent, self-sufficient spirit? Hard work is an excellent virtue and should be rewarded, right?

Independence, control, and comparison. Those words don’t sound prideful when spoken alone. However, when we rely on ourselves for everything and don’t depend on God for anything, He could view this independent spirit as arrogance or overconfidence. Likewise, it often feels good to be in complete control of ourselves, our lives, an event, a situation, another person, or his actions. The haughty monster of pride rears its ugly head in the condescending creature of control. And when we compare ourselves to others and always come out on top, a conceited nature triumphs over humility in our souls. Be careful—this sounds a bit like sitting in the judgment seat, and that’s not a position you want to claim for yourself. Judgment is reserved for Almighty God alone.

A narrow boundary exists between independence and pride, and it’s not a line you want to cross. Pride is mentioned in Proverbs 6:16-19 as one of the seven things detestable to God. Pride manifests itself in these forms: arrogance, conceit, self-importance, egotism, vanity, haughty eyes, condescension, scorn, disrespect, snootiness, loftiness, and contemptuousness. The Lord despises proud actions and attitudes. Here are a few of the many verses that describe how God feels about pride:

  • Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
  • God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)
  • The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)
  • Though the Lord is on high, He looks upon the lowly, but the proud He knows from afar. (Psalm 138:6)

Pride erects a roadblock between you and God. If you are having trouble feeling close to God and hearing His voice, you may want to perform a pride inventory in your spirit. Do you practice humility and selflessness, or are you responsible for behaviors that are detestable to God? The verses above assure us that God will punish the proud of heart, and He doesn’t go near individuals who are full of pride.

Instead of commending yourself for your independence, turn it around, and express your full gratitude to God for His faithful provision. He created you, gifted you, provided a job for you, and rewarded you for your hard work. The truth is you are not as independent as you may think. You are completely dependent on God, because He is in control of all things.

Remove the barrier that may stand in your way of communicating with God. If you hold pride in your heart, confess it and ask God’s forgiveness. Get rid of all pride, arrogance, conceit, self-importance, haughtiness, disrespect, loftiness, and condescension before you seek the Lord to listen to His voice. Treat others as more important than yourself. Assume the position of the lowly, the meek, and the servant. Don’t take it to the extreme so that you resemble a doormat, but approaching the Lord with a contrite heart, in humility, opens the door to receiving God’s words of grace, encouragement, and wisdom.

 Pray:

Almighty God, thank You for loving me and desiring a relationship with me despite my prideful ways. Please forgive me for acting in a manner that is detestable to You. I lay down all arrogance, pride, conceit, and self-righteousness at Your feet, Lord. I trade in my haughty spirit for a spirit of humility and submission. I will try not to pass judgment on others, nor put myself on a pedestal above anyone else. Help me listen to and obey the direction of Your Holy Spirit as He guides me to adopt the heart of a servant and strive to act more like Jesus. I lift You up as the Sovereign Lord, Who rules over everything on earth and in heaven. Father, please help me to seek You for direction in everything I do and put Your desires and the interests of others ahead of my own. I cannot do any of this on my own without the power and strength of Jesus Christ. Please grant me the ability and the blessing of hearing Your voice. I ask all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.