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Roadblock #3 – Pride – The Enemy of Humility

Independence, control, and comparison. Those words don’t sound prideful when spoken individually. 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.

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)

If you are not hearing God’s 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. 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.

Unfortunately, pride comes much too naturally to all of us, including me. Read about the fall of humankind in Genesis 3. From the very beginning of time, self-importance snuck into human desire. Satan tempted Eve with the idea that she could be all-knowing and wise, like God, if she ate the fruit from the forbidden tree. Deceived by the devil, Eve ate some and gave some to Adam. Pride initiated a sinful response when the evil one presented his temptation.

The need for independence and superiority continues to be the cause of some of our sin today. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” The truth of this verse rang loudly in the Garden of Eden. It still rings true thousands of years later.

Another example of haughtiness is found in Ezekiel 28, the prophecy against the king of Tyre. In verse 17, the Sovereign Lord says, “Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.” God detested his arrogance. The king’s pride preceded his destruction.

In Proverbs 8:13, the wise Solomon says, “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” Fear in this case is the same reverence for the Lord that we talked about in the previous blog. When you respect the Lord, you will detest all pride and arrogance, as He does. Yet arrogance sneaks into all areas of life. Recall that pride inventory we talked about? It may be necessary to make that assessment daily, even hourly.

If pride in any form resides in your life, don’t expect to be close to God and hear from Him regularly. Psalm 138:6 says, “Though the Lord is on high, He looks upon the lowly, but the proud He knows from afar.” As another passage I’ve already quoted says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you” (James 4:6-8). God spends time with humble people who submit themselves to Him and make time for Him. God distances Himself from the self-righteous, prideful, judgmental person.

When the needle on the pride-o-meter registers anywhere on the gauge, take action immediately to dispose of all forms of pride. Humble yourself before the Lord. Submit yourself to Him and exalt Him, rather than yourself. Show the Lord how much you trust in Him for everything. Relinquish your control to the Most High. Place the desires of others ahead of your own. Do not judge any person or behavior. Assume the servant position in God’s kingdom.

Do you struggle with judging others or promoting yourself to a higher pedestal? What alerts you of your arrogance? I can tell you truly, when I do not practice the humility of a servant, I should not expect God will speak to me. No matter my standing or position in the world, I am but an unworthy sinner, forgiven and saved by God’s grace alone. I am no better than anyone else. If I do not treat others better than myself, God has no business with me, and therefore no reason to talk to me.

Anytime I have seated myself on the judgment throne with regard to another human being, God has given me an opportunity to experience the same affliction, position, or experience as the one I judged. Very soon I’ve gained a new appreciation and respect for the one I condemned because I have walked down a similar path. Becoming the object of my own pride rapidly and effectively cuts me down to size. When the roadblock of pride comes down, my reception of God’s voice dramatically improves.

The Bible provides many significant illustrations of humility. Jesus, God’s own Son, displayed the ultimate humility when He left His throne in heaven and came to earth to be the sacrificial Lamb and die for our sins. Another dramatic demonstration of Christ’s servanthood took place when He washed the feet of His disciples. We can imitate this kind of humility when we selflessly serve our own subordinates, or, better yet, those we judge. This foot washing can be accomplished literally or figuratively. Think of a way you might take an unassuming position with someone you lead, manage, or influence. Is there any type of metaphorical foot washing you could perform for him or her? Maybe picking up a towel and basin of water is what you really need.

Let’s examine some of the enemy’s deceit in our thoughts, which gives birth to overconfidence. You might believe you can take care of yourself; you know what’s best for you. Or, you might think you are in control of your own life. Is it possible that thinking you are better than someone else for any reason could be hampering your clear reception of God’s voice in your thoughts? Grab your copy of 7 Roadblocks to Hearing God’s Voice today, and begin identifying what stands in your way of hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit, who makes your heart His home.

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Book Two in Hearing God’s Voice Series

Roadblock #2 – Fear – The Enemy of Confidence

Apprehension about the unknown can keep us from understanding the mystery of God. But fear is not from God. Second Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” I had a fear of God, but not the right kind of fear. Before I got to know God better, apprehension shrouded my desire to speak in conversation with Him. I feared that everything that came out of God’s mouth would convict me. I dreaded His wrath, because I did not know the truth about His character.

God is loving, kind, compassionate, forgiving, faithful, trustworthy, and so much more. He loves us so much He wants to have an intimate relationship with each of us. I had to get to know God more intimately before the only fear I felt toward Him equaled awe and reverence. Psalm 147:11 says, “The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” God delights when we fear Him with a reverence that acknowledges we can put our trust in Him and depend on Him for everything.

Now that I know God better because of spending time in His Word and listening to His voice, I no longer fear Him with anxiety and apprehension. I can’t wait to speak with Him because He amazes me. I now fear God out of reverence and respect because He has made His loving character known to me through His Word and His voice. I can depend on Him to meet all my needs. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10).

            Read Acts 9. It’s the story of Saul, later renamed Paul. After the death and resurrection of Christ, Saul threatened to kill Jesus’ disciples and take His followers as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus, however, he saw a light from heaven flash around him. “He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?’” (Acts 9:4) It was the voice of Jesus. Saul could have fallen from the fear and dread of what was about to happen, or from the awe and reverence of being in the presence of the Lord. As he met the Lord face to face, Saul may have feared his own identity as one who persecuted the Jesus who stood before him.

Is it possible your identity causes you anxiety in communicating with Jesus? If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, you are a child of God. No longer are you a slave to fear. Psalm 34:4 says, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” However, you may not feel connected to God. Maybe you’ve strayed from living a life that pleases God, and the shame you feel causes you to fear God’s wrath. Perhaps you have stopped attending church, reading the Bible, or praying regularly. As a result, you experience apprehension about how Jesus would relate to you if He spoke to you.

Many times, we claim our identity from external sources in our lives. My identity branded me early in life when I heard my mom repeatedly refer to me as “an accident.” Accidents are unwanted, unexpected events that we don’t plan for and that sometimes cause pain: physical, emotional, or spiritual. I knew my mom had not planned me; therefore, I believed I was unwanted and unloved. My conception and birth had caused my mother undue emotional pain and then emotionally scarred me for much of my life. The external label “accident” spawned an internal insecurity about my identity that stuck with me for more than thirty years.

Another fear that blocked my communication with God was the fear of intimacy. I feared He wouldn’t speak to me; therefore, I didn’t want to experience the pain of rejection. I wasn’t even sure He listened to me when I talked to Him. I hesitated to get emotionally close to God and become too dependent on Him because I feared He would let me down, as others had.

I knew I was a child of God, but I didn’t feel like His child. What if God also viewed me as an accident? What if He didn’t love me either? What if my sins were too big for God to forgive? God wouldn’t speak to me. I was nothing to Him. I was nobody special. Why would He talk to me? Do you ever experience conversations like this within yourself? Are you insecure about your relationship with Jesus? Are you unsure about your identity in Christ? I was. My uncertainties caused me to approach the throne of God with fear and trembling, not in confidence with awe and wonder.

The first time I sat down to listen for God’s voice, I needed reassurance from God that He wasn’t angry with me. I wanted to know how He felt about me. I longed to know who He saw when He looked at me. I craved His attention, positive or negative. I prepared myself for whatever He would say to me. I wanted to know who I was to God and that He had a plan for my life. Battling depression for the second time, I desperately needed a reason to go on.

My depression counseling sessions had turned into spiritual mentoring meetings. My counselor described how he listened to Jesus’s voice and encouraged me to try it. He instructed me to record my conversations with Jesus in a journal. During one session, we talked about how God has His own special name for each of His children. My counselor invited me to consider asking God, “What is your name for me?”

A name is more than a way to identify someone. It’s a birthright; it represents our heritage, our legacy, our inheritance. It becomes our own challenge to make our names good and live up to our full potential as God’s creation. This starts when we seek God for His name for us. We can’t live into our God-given identity and purpose until we understand what that is.

God’s chosen name for you may be different than the name your parents gave you. Many people throughout the Old and New Testaments received their names, name changes, or identity, directly from the mouth of God and Jesus: Abram (Abraham), Sarai (Sarah), Isaac, Jacob (Israel), John the Baptist, Jesus, Simon (Peter), and Saul (Paul), to cite a few.

Considering the possibility that God had a special name for me, I was excited to learn it.  It was the missing link to my identity, my sanity, and my confidence in Christ. One evening, I escaped the noise of my family and retired to my quiet bedroom. This marked the first time that I really tried to hear God speak. I wanted to capture whatever I heard from God that night, so I wrote all my thoughts in a notebook.

I asked God, “What do you think of me? Who am I to you? Do you have a name for me?” I listened intently but heard nothing. I kept asking the same questions but didn’t know what to expect or how the answer would come to me. Would I hear an audible voice? Again I inquired of God, “Who do you see when you look at me? What is your name for me?”

In one very distinct moment, I heard a name whispered in my thoughts. I wrote it down, but I quickly dismissed it, not being able to relate to it at all. I asked God again, “What is your name for me?” Again, the voice in my head repeated the name. Once more, I thought I’d heard it incorrectly. I couldn’t identify with the name. I didn’t understand its meaning. I had expected to hear a name like “beloved one,” similar to the name one of my friend’s had heard.

A third time, I requested God’s name for me. Yet again, God confirmed it in my thoughts, and this time the words took center stage in my head, displayed in all capital letters. Three times God clearly spoke the same name to me in my thoughts. I knew it must be the name He had given me—but I didn’t recognize the meaning behind it.

One way to confirm and comprehend what God says to us is to go to Scripture. Using the concordance in my Bible, I began a two-hour search for all the verses and meanings I could find about the name God had spoken to me. Seeing the name appear in more than twenty-five verses surprised me. As I read each verse and the surrounding passages, a feeling of peace and joy came over me. Emotion overwhelmed me. When I discovered the meaning of God’s name for me, it resonated with me. This name would most likely not mean the same thing to any other person, but it embodied everything I longed to be to God and everything I desired to hear from God at that moment.

That evening, God met me at the bottom of the pit of depression I occupied. He showered me with His loving kindness. He lifted me up out of the darkness and washed off the mud. I connected with Him in a way I never had before. I had a new understanding that God is alive. He’s a loving Father who cares about me and wants to have a relationship with me. I felt special, wanted, and loved by God. I felt important to God, a priority to Him. When I discovered how God felt about me, nothing else mattered. My fear dissipated and my confidence in the Lord replaced it. When I felt loved and wanted by the God of the universe, I had a new reason to live and a new excitement about what the future would hold for me. No longer did I fear spending time with God.

Shortly after I received God’s name for me and began spending more time alone with Him, my church went through a 40 Days of Purpose study from the book The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. From this study, God revealed and confirmed many things to me as He healed me and strengthened me.

God brought to light the reason He created me and His purpose for my life here on earth. He wants me to help set His captives free, like He set me free, by awakening hearts to Him. He wants me to help lead His people to the promised land, which is the abundant life in Christ, through a personal, intimate relationship with Him. He wants me to be a light to the Gentiles, people who do not know God yet. Really, these assignments represent activities He calls all of His children to carry out. It’s what Jesus did when He walked the earth. God’s Word promises, in John 14:12, we will do even greater things than Jesus did. Can you believe it?

If you have not yet heard the voice of God, I encourage you to listen. If you do not yet know God’s name for you, I pray you will ask Him. If you find yourself imprisoned by Satan’s lies about your identity, I invite you to seek God’s truth and let God Himself set you straight.

God is a gentleman. He pursues us, but He doesn’t crash in on us and take us over. In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.” Jesus continually pursues us. He is pursuing you now. He stands at the door to your heart and knocks, saying, “Here I am!” He patiently waits for you to listen, hear His voice, open the door, and let Him in to enjoy intimate relationship with the living God.

Open the door to Jesus. He will come in, sit with you, and eat with you. Are you hungry to hear God’s voice? Are you desperate enough to listen? He waits for your response. Will you open your door, and your ears, to what God has to say to you? He calls you by name. No need to fear God because of who you are or who you are not. You are His child, loved and redeemed by Him. Identify yourself with the name God so carefully chose for you before the world began. Your name is engraved on His palms (see Isaiah 49:16).

Some lies swirling around in our heads evolve from the idea that the only things God will say to you are: He will convict you of your sin, or God will ask you to do something you don’t want to do, or He’s full of only wrath and fury toward you because of your sin. Are these falsehoods feeding your fear of intimacy with God? Get your copy of 7 Roadblocks to Hearing God Speak, and start identifying and eliminating any lies you may be unknowingly investing in.

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Book Two in Hearing God’s Voice Series

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roadblock #1 – Doubt – The Enemy of Belief

DoubtInexperience and ignorance kept me in a bubble for the first two decades of my Christian walk. After I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and invited Him into my heart at the age of eighteen, I lived a good Christian life, doing all the right things. I began a Bible study in the book of John. I continued to attend my childhood church, where I was involved in a young adult group. I prayed and read my Bible regularly. I listened to Christian music and read inspirational books. I tried not to sin too often, but when I did, I asked God’s forgiveness as soon as I felt convicted.

Over the years, I heard other believers, like pastors, talk about hearing God’s voice, but I never considered that God would speak to me. Often, I heard Christ followers say that their faith was more of a relationship than a religion. I thought that praying to God and reading His Word meant I had a relationship with Him. However, I never left room in my prayers—conversations with God—for Him to speak His mind. I never even attempted to listen to His voice, because I didn’t believe He would speak to me. I occasionally sensed God speaking to me through Scripture but never even dreamed He would speak to me in my thoughts. Sound familiar? Can you relate to any part of this story?

Looking back, I see that I fit the description of the lukewarm Christian. I wasn’t cold toward God, but I wasn’t on fire for Him either. I enjoyed a “normal” life, which resembled the lives of many other Christians I knew. And after twenty years of this blissful monotony, I wondered if this was all there was to life. If so, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on living.

While I was in counseling for clinical depression, my psychologist shared his recent boost in his walk with the Lord. He had learned how to listen to God’s voice. I could see the new passion and excitement he had for Jesus. It sparked my interest in knowing Jesus more intimately. My counselor encouraged me to spend time alone with God: to talk to God and then listen to Him, writing down what I heard Him say. Unfamiliar with this practice, I made many attempts over many weeks before I realized success. 7 Simple Steps to Hearing God’s Voice. The first book in the Hearing God’s Voice Series, walks you through my process of learning how to hear and recognize when God speaks.

I soon realized that the obstacle of doubt had prevented me from hearing God’s voice for all those years. My skepticism profoundly contributed to my deafness toward God’s voice. Actually, it kept me from attempting to listen to God at all. I lacked faith that God would speak to me; therefore, I heard nothing.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” We might add to that: It’s being certain of what we do not hear. To hear God’s voice, we must be certain we will hear it! Do a faith check. Examine your own heart and mind. Do you believe that God will speak to you? Do you understand that God speaks to you through His Holy Spirit, Who lives in you? You can believe it, because Jesus said it in John 16:13-15:

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to Me by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is Mine and make it known to you.” (Emphasis mine)

Not understanding the role of the Holy Spirit kept me from leaving room in my prayer time for God to speak. I prayed, but I didn’t stop talking long enough to listen. I didn’t believe I would hear God speak to me because I didn’t understand that He spoke through the Holy Spirit. But when I started delving into Scripture and reading inspirational books about the Holy Spirit, my appreciation grew for all that He does for me. A more thorough knowledge of the third person in the Holy Trinity afforded me a better understanding, which led to an increased trust that enabled me to hear His verbal communications in my thoughts.

I could relate to Peter with my doubt. Remember the story of Jesus walking on the water from Matthew 14:22-33? Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side of the lake. Then He went into the hills alone to pray. When evening came and He returned from the hills, the boat was already in the middle of the lake. So He walked on the lake’s surface toward the boat. The disciples were terrified, thinking Jesus was a ghost. But Jesus said to them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” He said.

Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he began to sink in fear, crying out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus reached out His hand and caught Peter. He asked Peter, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Notice that Peter did walk on the water. He trusted Jesus enough to get out of the boat, but when the wind came up, his faith took a downward turn. He lost his confidence in Christ and doubted His power to keep him on top of the water. Peter’s doubt put constraints on what Jesus would do for him. This lesson teaches us to be certain that God gives us the power to do what He calls us to do. Jesus would not have called Peter out of the boat to let him drown in the lake. Rather, He invited Peter to believe in His ability to empower him to do the impossible.

Similarly, when I doubted that God would speak to me, I put constraints on what God would do for me. My doubt put up a roadblock between God and me. Uncertainty erected an obstruction in my two-way communication with the Lord. Notice I didn’t say that my doubt limited what God could do. More precisely, my hesitation hindered my own ability to hear my heavenly Father. It wasn’t until I entertained the possibility that God would speak to me that the ears of my heart were opened to hear His voice.

Also observe that Jesus reached out His hand to His friend when Peter’s doubt sprang up. Jesus does not let us perish in our lack of faith and trust. He continues to pursue us and use our trials to 1) make us more dependent on Him, 2) bring us closer to Him, 3) increase our trust in His power, and 4) mature us in our faith. He holds our hand until our trust in His power catches up.

Hebrews 3:7-12 offers a warning against unbelief:

So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried Me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known My ways.’ So I declared on oath in My anger, ‘They shall never enter My rest.’”

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

As it did with Peter, doubt causes us to lose our footing as believers and sink in our lack of faith in Jesus. It makes us dependent on ourselves, not trusting in the power of God in us. We must remember that we have the Spirit of the living, Almighty God dwelling in us. He gives us the faith to believe and empowers us to do all that He prepares and plans for us to do. Romans 8:11 says, “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, Who lives in you.” We have the same strength, ability, and authority residing in us that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Pretty amazing, right? All we have to do is recognize that fact, own it, and call on that power of God in us. Praise the Lord that He sent a member of the Holy Trinity to enable us to accomplish all that He has prepared in advance for us to achieve!

We must ask ourselves, what causes the doubt in the first place? One answer to that question is: Satan speaks to our hearts with lies and stirs our spirits to question God’s power and our own abilities.

Doubt is the enemy of belief in the truth, as James 1:5-8 says:

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think He will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

When we doubt God’s promises, power, and abilities, we give a whole lot of undeserved power to the devil, who sows the seed of skepticism in our minds. In each chapter of the 7 Roadblocks book,  I examine three lies that Satan instills in our minds with regard to each encumbrance. Of course, these lies are not the only falsehoods he implants. They represent a sampling to get you thinking about the possible causes of your misgivings. Then, following Jesus’ example of battling Satan with God’s Word when the devil tempted Him in the desert, I dispel each lie with the truth from Scripture.

As long as we accept, believe, and/or invest in Satan’s lies, he is happy because we remain in bondage to him. To break free from the strongholds of the devil, we must recognize the lies and overcome them with the truth of God’s Word. When you find your mind bombarded with the fabricated claims of the father of lies, replace the devil’s deceit with the indisputable truth of Scripture. Wash away the dishonest dirt. Rehearse and repeat the truths of Scripture.

Some falsehoods swirling around in our heads evolve from the idea that God does not still speak to His people today, except to a select few spiritually mature figures, and if we do hear God speak, we can’t be sure it’s actually His voice. Are these lies feeding your doubt? Get your copy of 7 Roadblocks to Hearing God Speak, and start identifying and eliminating any falsehoods you may be unknowingly investing in.

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Book Two in Hearing God's Voice Series

Book Two in Hearing God’s Voice Series

Ground Zero – The Foundation for Hearing God’s Voice

Following the 7 Simple Steps to Hearing God’s Voice, and removing the 7 Roadblocks to Hearing God Speak, should help you achieve the result your heart longs for—hearing God’s voice. However, there is one pre-requisite to hearing the Spirit of God within. I call it, Ground Zero. You must have already established a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son.

When you seek God with all your heart, you will find Him! This is Good News. The journey to greater intimacy with Jesus begins with acknowledging your sin. The God of all creation is righteous and holy. He doesn’t want to be near immorality. So our disobedience, rebellion, and sin separate us from Him. Sin is anything that doesn’t please God. It’s not just committing one of the big ten, like: murder, adultery, idol worship, stealing, etc. Sin shows up in our everyday behaviors, like: gossip, lying, cheating, pride, jealousy, unrighteous anger, gluttony, greed, and judging people, just to name a few.

The Bible very clearly states that those who do not enjoy a saving relationship with God through Jesus are condemned to a life apart from God for all eternity. Born into the sin of Adam and Eve, we are all sinful by nature. Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” However, despite our sin, God desires to be in close relationship with every individual He created. How is that possible? God sent His Son, Jesus, to bridge the enormous gap that sin creates between Himself and us.

Although our sin separates us from God, no sin is too big for God to forgive, and we don’t have to get our lives in order before coming to Jesus Christ. God loves you just the way you are. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God, in His unconditional, infinite love for His creation, established a way we could be forgiven, redeemed, and reconciled to Him. He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to be the sacrificial Lamb, and die on the cross, to pay the penalty for our sins. In doing so, He formed a bridge between a sinful people and a perfect God. He provided the only way we could experience restored relationship with God, the Father. John 3:16-18 says,

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

God gives us the opportunity to live with Him eternally, through His Son, when we confess Jesus as our Savior and Lord. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). God promises that we will be saved when we accept Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for our sin and believe in His resurrection from the dead.

Did you hear that? Jesus didn’t remain in the grave. He’s not dead! Jesus is alive! We can have a relationship with a living God through Jesus Christ because He lives! Isn’t that the greatest news you’ve ever heard? Yes! Give God a shout of praise!

If you have never confessed your sin and invited Jesus into your heart, what are you waiting for? Simply believing in God isn’t enough. To reiterate, Jesus Christ is the only way to a restored relationship with your heavenly Father. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Do you desire to walk with Jesus? Do you want to let Him heal your hurts and fill that hole in your heart that nothing else and no one else can fill? Do you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord today?

There is nothing you can do to earn your own salvation, and no measure of good behavior and good works will get you into heaven. It is by God’s free gift of His amazing grace and the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross that your sins are forgiven, and you are reconciled to God. The way to experience forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God is to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, accept that He died for your sins, ask His forgiveness, and invite Him to be the Lord of your life. When you do this, God sends His Holy Spirit to live in your heart.

In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.” Jesus stands at the door of your heart today and knocks. Do you hear His voice? Will you open the door and invite Him in? If you are not a follower of Christ yet, and your heart’s desire is to know and feel God’s presence and peace daily, then accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and start your new “relationship” with Him today.

You may sense the Holy Spirit of God encouraging you to make a decision for Christ right now. If so, say these words in prayer to God:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I confess that I have sinned, and I know that my sin separates me from You. Please forgive me for all my sins. I accept that Your Son, Jesus Christ, came to save me by Your grace. He died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin and provide the only way back to You. God, I believe You raised Jesus from the dead. He is alive and lives to intercede for me.

Jesus, I invite You into my heart today to be the Lord of my life and give me a fresh start. Thank You for the promise of eternal life in heaven with You, and for the gift of Your Holy Spirit Whom You send to live in my heart right now. Please help me hear Your voice within me and lead a life that glorifies You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Romans 10:9-10 says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

If you prayed this prayer for the first time and were sincere, there is great rejoicing in heaven today! You are forgiven, and you will spend eternity with your heavenly Father. Your fate has been sealed by the Holy Spirit Whom God gave you just now. You are a child of God! Welcome to His family. The Bible says,

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the assurance we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him. (1 John 5:11-15)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

If you invited Jesus Christ to be your Savior today, you now have a new life in Him, because He lives in you. By the power of God’s Holy Spirit within you, your actions and attitudes will change. With His help, you will discard your old way of living and seek to live a life that is more pleasing to God.

Record today’s date and keep it somewhere safe. This is your spiritual re-birth date. You are born again in Jesus Christ. Happy Birthday! God adopted you as His son or daughter today. This is the first day of the rest of your life! You have just established your new personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit of God now lives within you, and He is eager to speak with you in two-way conversation.

To learn how to recognize God’s voice, I will refer you back to my recent blog posts beginning with January 4, 2018, entitled, Step 1- Expect and Believe. Also see my book, 7 Simple Steps to Hearing God’s Voice, available on Amazon.com in three forms: Audio Book, Kindle, or Paperback.

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Book One in Hearing God's Voice Series

Book One in Hearing God’s Voice Series

 

 

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Book Two in Hearing God's Voice Series

Book Two in Hearing God’s Voice Series

 

 

 

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Cover - Ground Zero

 

 

My Sweet Baby Girl

 

 

 

My Sweet Baby Girl

 

My “Sweet Baby Girl”, I can’t wait to meet you

Thinking about all the fun things we will do

From the moment you draw your first little breath

Until I depart this world with my death

 

Your Grammy will sing you sweet lullabies

And rock you to sleep as you close your eyes

I’ll read nursery rhymes with you on my lap

And peek in the crib while you’re taking a nap

 

We’ll play on the floor and make lots of noise

I’ll send you home with annoying, loud toys

I’ll teach you to crawl, to walk, even run

Every time we’re together we’ll have loads of fun

 

You’ll ride in the stroller as we walk down the street

And I’ll show you off to everyone that we meet

We’ll visit the park and climb monkey bars

I’ll push your little swing in our own backyard

 

Watching you take your first little step

Will be the most exciting thing yet

I’ll take lots of pictures and post them for friends

My brag book, chock full, will burst at the ends

 

I’ll watch you dance and enjoy your school plays

Afterward giving you oodles of praise

I’ll support your fundraisers and cheer for your sports

And celebrate all of your good grade reports

 

We’ll bake in the kitchen, getting covered in flour

I’ll take you shopping for hours and hours

We’ll play with dolls and go for bike rides

We’ll explore new places, side-by-side

 

We’ll go to the beach and build castles of sand

And walk the shoreline, your hand in my hand

We’ll have lots of sleepovers with giggles and fun

And crash in the bed when the long day is done

 

I’ll teach you everything that I know

Not only with words but also with show

We’ll talk about God and Jesus, His Son

I’ll share the wonderful things they have done

 

I’ll take you to church, and we’ll sit in the pews

I’ll share with you, the Gospel’s good news

We’ll read the Bible; I’ll teach you to pray

Not only at meals, but all through the day

 

I want you to know how much you are loved

Not only by me, but by God above

He knit you together in your mother’s womb

Perfectly, for improvement, there’s no room

 

He gave you two parents who are the world’s best

Knowing that you’ll certainly put them through tests

But no matter the things that you say or do

You must remember always that we all love you!

 

No matter your strengths, your weakness, your status,

Your behavior, your choices, anything you throw at us,

At any age, you’ll make my head swirl

You’ll always be Grammy’s “Sweet Baby Girl”!

 

I love you already, more than you know

I’ll love you forever, wherever you go

I’ll always love you, any way that it’s stacked

I’ll love you forever, to the moon and back.

 

Written especially for My Sweet Baby Girl–Arriving in May 2018

From your Grammy Sindy Nagel

 

Step 6 – Enjoy the Rewards – Reward #7

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Reward #7 – Delight in the Peace

By the time I reached my mid-thirties, I had created a busy life for myself. I had everything I wanted: a husband, a home, a job, a girl, a boy, friends, a dog, God, a church, a ministry, and much more. Why did I feel so empty? I controlled my life—or did my life control me? My life resulted in exactly what I had made of it, not what God had planned. My life was good, but it was not God’s best for me. My life felt full, but I remained hollow. My whole life had left me with a hole in my heart. Our definition of a full life is different than God’s. The life I had created quickly spun out of control and into depression. I was in pieces and had no peace within.

God met me at the bottom of my pit of depression. He stretched out His hand to me. I took hold, and He pulled me up. He set me down on His firm foundation and began the rebuilding process in me. As I learned to trust God more every day, I turned over new areas of my life to Him. When I turned over complete control to God, He rearranged major things in my crazy, busy life to give me the peace He wanted me to enjoy.

After many months of meeting with God on a daily basis to listen to His voice—absorb His healing, find freedom in forgiving, enjoy His encouragement, follow His instruction, consider His conviction, and savor His wisdom—I could now delight in His peace. God had rebuilt my demolished soul through the work of His Holy Spirit inside me. He gave me a newfound confidence in Christ and in myself as a child of God. He gave me a renewed relationship with the Father. He gave me a stronger, more vibrant faith and a passion for serving my Savior. He gave me more spiritual knowledge and a better understanding of the Holy Spirit and His role of transforming me into a new creation.

Let me be clear. Life did not get a lot easier, but it did become more peaceful as I gave over control to God. That statement seems contradictory. Losing control should not produce peace in one’s spirit, but the things of God are not as they seem. He does not operate as the world does. When I gave up control and surrendered to the will and plans of God, He lifted a burden from me.

As I consulted with Him in all areas of my life, big and small, I turned from being a people-pleaser into being a God-pleaser. I didn’t care as much about what people thought anymore; I concerned myself with what God thought. I did not have to please everyone; I had to please the One. I tried not to spread myself thin going in too many different directions. I focused my attention in one direction—up.

It took many months for God to rearrange my life in order to give me the kind of peace He wanted me to experience by trusting fully in Him. I had obligations I needed to fulfill and positions I had to find replacements for. I had to change the way I operated in my home among my family. As God freed up my time by releasing me from a few responsibilities, I became more available for Him to use in His work.

Doing God’s work generated a much greater reward than anything I might take on myself. With obedience come peace and joy. As I faithfully met with God every morning, our relationship deepened immensely. He did a great deal of intense work with me on discovering, processing, and healing my emotional wounds. I shed many tears along the path to healing. The rough and rocky emotional journey had to be traveled to get to a better place—a place of freedom, peace, and rest.

One of the first observations my Christian mentor made about me all those years ago was that I did not have much peace in my life. It was a very smart—and true—observation. I experienced a full life, yet I did not know what peace-full felt like. Some people do not experience a full life according to worldly standards but have a life full of peace and contentment because they rely on intimate communication with God through the Holy Spirit, rather than depending on things and circumstances. The full life Jesus Christ came to give us equals a life full of His peace when we are in tune with the voice and Spirit of God, not based on material possessions, human relationships, or excellent conditions.

Jesus stood at my door and knocked. I answered and let Him in. I spent time with Him and listened to His voice. I pursued Him, drew near to Him, and remained in Him. The outcome has been a deeper, more intimate relationship with my Savior. The lasting effect is a life full of His peace. I now know the peace of God, even in the midst of life’s challenges.

Get close to God by being in touch with God’s Holy Spirit inside you. Tap into the power of the Prince of Peace, who lives in your heart. Listen to God’s voice and experience a life full of His perfect peace. Psalm 85:8 says, “I will listen to what God the Lord will say; He promises peace to His people, His saints—but let them not return to folly.”  Listening to God’s voice enables us to delight in His peace. The peace of God is more precious than diamonds, silver, or gold. Enjoying all the rewards of listening to God makes me want to share this excellent practice with the world.

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Book One in Hearing God's Voice Series

Book One in Hearing God’s Voice Series

Step 6 – Enjoy the Rewards – Reward #6

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Reward #6 – Savor the Wisdom

Appreciate and enjoy God’s wisdom. Cherish it more than everything. As believers in Christ Jesus, we have access to all the treasures of His wisdom and knowledge. The Spirit of God, who lives within us, knows the things of God and makes them known to us. His wisdom is more precious than rubies. Nothing compares to it. According to the two verses that follow, God’s wisdom is a priceless treasure:

My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2-3)

I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread. (Job 23:12)

How do we gain complete understanding of God’s wisdom? How does the Holy Spirit make the things of God known to us? Let’s take a look at what Jesus said,

I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to Me by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is Mine and make it known to you. (John 16:12-15, emphasis mine)

Through Jesus Christ, we have access to all that belongs to God. His gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts is the most priceless treasure! Without the Spirit of God living within us, we might not be able to hear His voice or have instant, direct access to His wisdom as He relays it to us.

Jesus did not say the Spirit would speak only to a select few. Jesus said He “will guide you” and “will speak” and “will tell you” and “make it known to you” (emphasis mine). As children of God who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we all have access to His wisdom through the Spirit of God within us. If you believe in Jesus Christ, the Spirit will speak the wisdom of God to you. Are you listening?

“A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is My Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him’” (Luke 9:35). God the Father told us to listen to His Son. Jesus is in God and God is in Jesus, so however we stack it up, we just need to listen to God’s voice and savor the wisdom. Savor means “to enjoy, to delight in, to value, and to appreciate.”[2]

Are you enjoying the wisdom God has for you? Do you delight in Him and value the knowledge He gives you? Do you appreciate the access to all that belongs to God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, and His gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you?

If you better understood the value of hearing God’s voice and receiving wisdom from Him, would you make the time to listen more often? Proverbs 2:1-6 says,

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we have access to God’s wisdom directly from the mouth of God Himself. Isn’t that the best news you’ve ever heard? Have you tried turning your ear to the voice of God to receive His wisdom? Have you applied your heart to understanding through the voice of His Spirit within you? Do you desire to have God’s wisdom so much you are willing to “look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure” (Proverbs 2:4)? Will you put forth the effort to garner the wisdom of God by listening to His voice before everything else?

Proverbs 2:6 says, “From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Why don’t we seek God by listening to His voice more often? Why don’t we go to God first to gain His wisdom for everything we say and do? He waits for us to seek Him at all times, in all circumstances. He longs to impart His wisdom for our everyday challenges. His Spirit will guide us in His wisdom, if only we ask. Many times, the Spirit of God guides you even when you don’t ask.

Are you listening to the still, small voice of God within you? Will you search for God’s wisdom as you would search for hidden treasure? Will you make it a priority to meet with God daily to listen to His insight? When you do, you will savor the wisdom of God and enjoy the fruit of His peace.

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Book One in Hearing God's Voice Series

Book One in Hearing God’s Voice Series

 

Step 6 – Enjoy the Rewards – Reward #5

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Reward #5 – Consider the Conviction

One of our responsibilities as Christians is to change our old ways and obey the Holy Spirit’s leading as He empowers us to become more Christ-like. This process is called sanctification. To be sanctified means to be holy, or set apart. Though we live in the world, we are strangers to it. We should act differently than our non-Christian friends do.

Through the work of Christ on the cross, we have been consecrated and made righteous in Him. Our old sinful ways have died with Christ, and now we can lead a new life of righteousness in the resurrected Christ. As Christians, we should appear different to the world. We are made righteous in Christ, and we should choose to live accordingly, so the world may know we belong to God.

Being a new creation is achieved, in part, when the Holy Spirit convicts us of a sin and encourages us to repent and change our ways. When we live as Jesus Christ did, it pleases God, and it provides a witness to a watching world. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

Our sin separates us from God because He hides His face from wickedness. He sent His own Son, Jesus, to be our sacrificial lamb. Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, so we could be reconciled to God. Jesus made us righteous and holy so we could enjoy a relationship with the righteous and holy God. Now He desires that we would set ourselves apart from the world. He wants us to lead lives that stand out from the way the rest of the world operates. He doesn’t expect us to do this on our own, in our own power. He gives us the Holy Spirit, who convicts us of our sin and holds us to a life of righteousness.

In His saving grace, God gives believers a spiritual conscience—the Holy Spirit—who helps us discern right from wrong in His eyes. He convicts us of sin and empowers us to overcome the flesh and change our ways. “But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). We are directed to submit our spirit to the leading of God’s Spirit within us.

In order to lead a God-pleasing life, we must read His Word to know what He expects of us. The Bible is very clear on what is sinful and what is righteous in God’s eyes. When we obey Him and yield ourselves to the leading of His Spirit, He recalibrates our moral conscience to recognize sin, and then He helps us steer clear of it. When we do sin, He convicts us.

The Spirit encourages us to make choices that will please God. He reminds us of what we know from God’s written Word, convicts us of our sin, and empowers us to live a life of righteousness. In order to be led by the Holy Spirit, we must tune our ears to the living God inside us. As Jesus said before His death,

“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” (John 16:7-11, emphasis mine)

Jesus provided the way to reconciliation with God, and then He provided the way to live a consecrated life by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus reunited us with God and gave us access to His power, so we may lead a life set apart for Him. It’s up to us to choose. We can lead a life of sin in the flesh or righteousness in the Spirit. If we choose righteousness, you can be sure the Spirit convicts us when we sin.

It’s important to understand the difference between conviction and condemnation. The Holy Spirit convicts us we are guilty of sin so we can confess it, ask God for His forgiveness, and turn from our sinful ways. In contrast, the devil condemns us and causes us to wallow in guilt and shame. The Holy Spirit says, “You did a bad thing,” while our enemy Satan says, “You are a bad person.”  The Holy Spirit encourages or prompts us to confess our sin; Satan accuses our person, attacks our identity, demeans our self-worth, blames us, and charges us for our sin.

When we make a conscious effort to listen to the Spirit of God within us, we hold the keys to life and peace. We must allow our minds to be controlled by Him. Paul says we are obligated to be led by the Spirit. Does Satan continue to hold you in bondage and defeat? Or does God’s Spirit guide you into freedom, victory, and peace? When we obey Him and submit ourselves to His leadership, we will experience life and peace. Consider the conviction of the Holy Spirit when you are reminded of your sin and prompted to repent.

Regularly tuning in to the voice of God, the Holy Spirit within, accomplishes a giant step in the process of sanctification. If we are going to become more like Christ, we must not only listen to the voice of God, we must obey it. When you feel the Spirit prompting you to do or not do something, don’t ignore Him. When you feel a tug on your heart to carry out an assignment from God, no matter how big or small, be quick to comply. When you know the Spirit of God has spoken instructions to you, act upon them as soon as possible.

When a human spirit yields to the control of the Holy Spirit, the result is life and peace. Choose to live in the Spirit and be at peace with God. Listen to His voice, and consider the conviction. Is there a sin you need to confess or turn from? What is the Holy Spirit asking you to do or not do? What behavior do you need to change? What action have you been prompted to take? Perhaps it’s the other type of conviction–to be a witness for Jesus Christ.

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Book One in Hearing God's Voice Series

Book One in Hearing God’s Voice Series

Step 6 – Enjoy the Rewards – Reward #4

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Reward #4 – Follow the Instruction

God speaks to His people not only to encourage us, but also to instruct us in life. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” God shares His wisdom, His commands, and His teachings throughout the Bible. For example, read Proverbs 2 to catch a glimpse of the benefits of seeking God’s wisdom. Also, Jesus sums up the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37-38 when He says, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” These are instructions to live by.

Seeking God’s wisdom by listening to His voice and then following through on His instructions leads to a life of intimacy, peace, and joy with the Lord. When we tune our ears to God’s voice, quite often we hear or feel the Holy Spirit prompting us to do something important. Just as a parent instructs a child and expects obedience, God expects us to obey when He speaks to us. When we do not obey His voice, we miss out on some great opportunities to experience the plans He made for our lives, including the benefits of lasting joy, indescribable peace, and abundant blessing—the kind of full life Christ came to give us.

Proverbs 8:10-11 says, “Choose My instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” In this verse, God compares His instruction to precious metals and reveals a worth far greater than silver or gold. Nothing you desire or money can buy surpasses the rich wisdom imparted in God’s instructions.

In John 14:23, Jesus shared an insight on how to experience intimacy with God: “Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.’” When we love Jesus, we will obey His teaching. When we obey His teaching, God loves us and makes His home with us. We learn and grow in intimacy with God. Jesus didn’t leave us guessing how to get close to God. This verse came in the context of Jesus promising to send the Holy Spirit to live with us. God dwells with those who love and obey Him. He doesn’t just visit us from time to time; He makes His home IN us forever. Jesus modeled His love for God by being obedient to His Father’s instructions, even unto death on the cross. It’s not enough to listen to God’s voice. We also must obey.

In Acts 1:1-2, Paul reminds Theophilus that before God took Jesus up to heaven, Christ gave instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen. He sent the gift of the Holy Spirit to us so He could continue to teach us and give us instructions after He returned to the side of God the Father. When the Spirit of God instructs us, He does not allow us to forget about what He wants us to do. In my experience, the Spirit does not let me ignore His instructions. He persists until I obey.

When you are obedient to God’s instructions and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, you will experience incomparable joy just as Jesus’ disciples did in Acts 13:52: “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

Don’t put off doing the will of God. When you hear God’s voice and instructions, don’t wait months to carry them out. Confirm what you hear, and then do it! When we’re obedient to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, we’ll experience a greater joy lasting longer than any happiness we might receive from the things of this world. In Luke 11:28, Jesus says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Listen to God’s instructions, “and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

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Book One in Hearing God's Voice Series

Book One in Hearing God’s Voice Series

Step 6 – Enjoy the Rewards – Reward #3

image of Stairs to open door. free concept 3d illustration

Reward #3 – Enjoy the Encouragement

Who doesn’t want to hear an encouraging word from God? We all desire His unfailing love. There’s a God-shaped hole inside each of us only He can fill. He designed it that way. Sensing unmet needs, we search for things that will satisfy us: love, relationships, food, alcohol, drugs, material possessions, independence, wealth, success, and recognition. When we acquire and achieve those things, however, we remain empty and unsatisfied. We continue to yearn for the one thing that will bring us long-lasting happiness and fulfillment.

God created human beings with a hunger and thirst only He can satisfy. He wants us to be dependent on Him for everything. He wants to be in close relationship with each of us. Only God can love us perfectly and completely. No human being can match the love He has for you and for me. Nothing can satisfy our longings except the One who placed those desires in our hearts. Food, alcohol, and drugs bring temporary satisfaction until the effects have worn off, leaving us craving more. Material possessions and wealth provide the illusion of happiness for a time. However, some of the richest people in the world experience poverty in their spirits. Money and personal belongings do not bring lasting joy. Success and fame are achieved through long hours of hard work and dedication, often leaving little time for relationships and an unbearable loneliness.

As stated earlier, God used my depressive episodes to get my attention. He wanted me to experience more of Him, so He could fill me up with His love, encouragement, and companionship. I exude gratefulness as I remember how God worked through my Christian mentor to fascinate me with a new and exciting relationship with Jesus. I received spiritual guidance on how to get close to God by listening to His voice. It was the best thing He could have done for me. It sparked my interest in pursuing a deeper, more intimate relationship with my Lord.

In my depressed and dejected state of mind, I had a very low opinion of myself. I felt unattractive, unappreciated, unwanted, and unloved. Each time I met with God, He rebuilt my soul with kind, encouraging words. In our daily conversations, God told me what I meant to Him. He informed me I’m made in His image and He doesn’t make mistakes. He stated I’m beautiful on the outside and the inside. He reminded me He wanted me and loved me before He created the world. He showed me how precious I am to Him and how much He enjoys spending time with me. He demonstrated my value as His creation, and He revealed my worth as His heir. He delivered me from my enemy, Satan. He liberated me from captivity. He refined me and equipped me to carry out His purpose for creating me. He helped me see myself through His eyes.

Below is one of my Quiet Time journal entries. I hope you find God’s words encouraging for yourself, too. My thoughts are written in regular text and God’s words to me are italicized.

Journal Entry on 10/09/2004

Lord, I read through yesterday’s journal. I see You want to be involved in everything I do, even the small stuff. Lord, would You help me remember to let You in and check with You on everything throughout the day? Please speak to me today. I would love to hear from You.

O My daughter, I love you. I love to listen to you share your heart with Me. I want to hear from you all day long. I want you to share every emotion, every struggle with Me. I want you to breathe a prayer to Me all day long. Pray without ceasing. Let Me in on everything. Nothing is too small for Me. I want to know all the details. When you seek Me and trust in Me this way, you will experience the kind of intimacy your heart desires. I am your Father, your friend, the lover of your soul. I desire to dance every step of your life with you, but I will not force you to spend time with Me. I wait for you to desire it too and find your way to Me. Then I’ll welcome you with open arms, embrace you, and lead you through the dance of your life. I’m always with you—not just in the morning. You can talk to Me all day long. I expectantly wait to hear from you. I love you, and I long to spend time with you. Give Me a chance. You won’t believe what you will feel. It will be better than anything you could imagine. I’ll be right here waiting for you. I love you.

I love You too, Lord. I want what You want. Please help me get there.

 

Before and during my depression, my fire for life had burned down to a mere ember. Meeting with God daily and listening to His voice ignited a new fire of passion in me for knowing the living God who dwells in me. When you recognize and hear God’s voice on a regular basis, it brings new meaning to an otherwise dull, lifeless existence.

Let God be the fuel for your heart’s fire. Listen to what He says to you. As Paul stated in 2 Thessalonians 2:16, let God’s words to you “encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” Make time to meet with God daily. Enjoy the encouragement, and let God love you. Discover the deeper, long-lasting joy that comes from being obedient to the Holy Spirit’s instruction.

Click here to order this book now.

Book One in Hearing God's Voice Series

Book One in Hearing God’s Voice Series