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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Friend to the End

What it means to be a friend…by Sindy Nagel

 

I’m excited to share with you one thing I know today

What it means to be a friend in every single way

Then ask your inner being, “Does this reflect myself?”

“Am I this good of friend to anybody else?”

 

My Friend is always near me; He’s never far away

I can call upon His name and speak with Him all day

Especially in the evening hours, He makes His presence known

And watches over me when I’m in the sleeping zone

 

He’s quite the gentle man, never pushing His own way

He opens wide His arms of love when I have gone astray

Forgiving my transgressions, my iniquities, my sin

And helps me live a better life by His Spirit guide within

 

When I am feeling down in heart or my spirit seems depressed

My friend helps cheer my inner soul and shows me I am blessed

When fear sets in, or doubt attacks, or I feel my heart is weak

He reminds me of His promises, and things don’t look so bleak

 

When life gets hard and things go wrong, He is my hiding place

I run to Him, climb in His arms; He wipes tears from my face

He listens so intently to all the words my lips release

And offers me His wisdom, while giving me His peace

 

My Friend is there in good times too, when I am filled with glee

His heart swells up, He cracks a smile, when things go well for me

My biggest fan and cheerleader, He’s always the first one

To fondly pat me on the back and say the words, “Well done!”

 

Every morning when we meet for prayer, He listens and He speaks

When my challenges go on for days and days turn into weeks

I can pour out my troubles to Him and He’s the first to say,

“Don’t worry ‘bout a thing that’s coming, I’ve got your back today!”

 

Like two best friends can usually do, we enjoy our time together

We laugh and cry, we joke and play, like two birds of a feather

I always know when I’m in trouble, He’ll stay close by my side

He cheers me on, encourages me—in Him I can confide

 

My Friend is my comforter, my protector, and my guide

He loves me so much that He paid my debt and died

Although it sometimes feels this way, He left me not alone

He’s always there, deep within, because my heart’s His home

 

This poem is dedicated to My Friend, He is the world’s best

Even when I’ve fallen short and put Him to the test

He loves me more than I can grasp and shows it when He can

He is my Rock, my Friend, my King, and I, His biggest fan

 

I’ve shared with you one thing I know about being a good friend

Both in the good and bad times, an ally to the end

Now ask your inner being, “Does this reflect myself?”

“Am I this good of friend to anybody else?”

 

Go and be a friend today, and use this as your guide

Listen, pray, encourage the one you walk beside

Whether skies are sunny blue or darker shades of gray

Be the best that you can be–a good friend, through Him today


 

What Stands in Your Way of Hearing God Speak?

depositphotos_8137875-Barricade-and-Warning-Light-Closeup[1]It’s my prayer today, that if you’ve been following my blog for the past couple months, and applying the 7 Simple Steps to Hearing God’s Voice, you will be well on your way to hearing and recognizing the voice of God within you. However, if you’ve been regularly putting in the time and effort to listen to God, and not yet heard from Him, you may be wondering, Why? I am eager to share with you seven things I discovered that kept me from hearing God speak.

Before you think, But God won’t speak to me because… (Fill in the blank yourself), let me tell you, it’s really very simple. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and invited Him into your heart to be your Lord, then God does speak to you. However, something may be deafening your ears to His voice.

In this blog, over the next couple months, I will introduce seven roadblocks that may stand in your way of hearing God speak. As you read on, see if any of these barriers might be keeping you from enjoying two-way conversation and intimate relationship with Jesus.

After twenty years of following Christ and yet struggling with clinical depression, I was ready to throw in the towel. I could only hope there was more to life than what I’d experienced. I heard believers talk about a relationship with Jesus. I thought I had one. I talked to God, but unfairly, I didn’t leave room in the conversation for God to speak to me. I didn’t believe He would speak to me. Doubt was one of the roadblocks standing in my way of hearing God’s voice. I didn’t consider that the big God of the universe would speak to little ole me.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. About fifteen years ago, it all changed for me. One night, while talking to God, I actually made time to listen. I heard a voice in my thoughts that I knew was not my own. It was God! He spoke to me, an average girl. Now I know ordinary people hear from God, too.

You may wonder, Why doesn’t God speak to me? What am I doing wrong? How do I go about hearing His voice? I wrestled with these same uncertainties. In my quest for answers, God blessed me far beyond my heart’s desire. My relationship with the Lord grew stronger and deeper as I learned how to enjoy two-way communication with Him.

Does your relationship with Jesus lack the WOW factor? Mine did. But hearing God’s voice added an amazing new dimension to my faith adventure. Whenever we listen to God’s voice within us, we achieve a greater intimacy with the Lord. Hearing God’s voice is one of the keys to a deeper connection with Jesus Christ. It’s absolutely life-changing and life-giving!

Your search for deeper intimacy with God is about to yield results. After regularly hearing God speak for the last fifteen years, I nailed down 7 Roadblocks to Hearing God Speak. Practicing any or all of the behaviors identified here may cause you to feel that the all-powerful God will not speak to you because you are not worthy or qualified to hear Him.

Truly, despite your flaws and feelings of inadequacy, God continues to pursue you passionately. He doesn’t wait until you are perfect and sin-free to speak to you. The Holy Spirit of God communicates with you all day, every day, in many different ways. He’s anxiously waiting for you to listen and recognize His voice!

As a Christian, you have the living God dwelling inside you, so why wouldn’t you be able to hear His voice? Well, these seven things may stand in the way: doubt, fear, pride, worry, busyness, disobedience, and an unwillingness to forgive. To be clear, these behaviors won’t necessarily keep God from speaking to you, but they may keep you from hearing Him. The indwelling Holy Spirit helps you become more Christ-like, so you have to be able to hear and recognize God’s voice within you to utilize the promptings and assistance the Holy Spirit offers you in the journey of sanctification.

Over the next several weeks, this blog will help you identify seven barriers that may cause deafness to God’s voice. Learn how to crush these deterrents and strengthen your relationship with the Lord. Achieve amazing results when you clear the path to listening to God. Truly, it’s worth your time and effort. In fact, it’s vital to experiencing the abundant life Jesus Christ came to give you!

All this information and more can be found in my book, 7 Roadblocks to Hearing God Speak: Removing the Barriers Between You and God. It’s available from Amazon.com in Audio Book, Kindle, and Paperback. 

Click on this link to purchase the book

Book Two in Hearing God's Voice Series

Book Two in Hearing God’s Voice Series

Step 7 – Share the Good News

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

I followed Christ more than twenty years before I learned the art of listening to God’s voice. I knew God spoke to a few people, but I didn’t believe He would speak to me. If early in my walk of faith a more experienced Christian had practiced “show and tell” with me, I could have been listening to God’s voice for many, many more years. When you know something really great—when you have access to a priceless piece of art—you show and tell others about it. You show them what it means to you and tell them how to achieve it for themselves.

Enable others to enjoy the treasure you already enjoy. Tell people they can hear the voice of God. Show them the art of listening to Him. This is my prayer for you: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ” (Philemon 6).

Please do a better job than I have done as a wife and mother in sharing your relationship with Jesus Christ and your ability to hear God’s voice with your spouse, your children, and their children. Satan wants nothing more than for us to keep this priceless treasure to ourselves.

When I started hearing God’s voice, my enemy, the devil, took notice. Satan stood on full alert and wanted to stifle me before I became a threat to his work. He introduced new lies to me, and, naively, I believed them. I crawled into my prison cell once again when I believed in the opponent’s deceit. He cunningly ran these crafty thoughts through my mind: You hear God speak? Really? People will think you are crazy. You’d better keep this one to yourself. No one will believe you. They will think you are foolish. They will lock you up and throw away the key. Your husband won’t believe you. He’ll think you are unstable—after all, you are depressed and taking medication. Your children won’t understand. Don’t even try to share this with them.

Do you feel as unhappy about this as I do? Have you ever had similar thoughts? I allowed Satan, the destroyer, to shame me right into silence. I wasn’t crazy but naïve—not fully aware and alert to my spiritual opponent. I was not knowledgeable and experienced in the ways of the devil. I kept this wonderful news of hearing God’s voice all to myself. I shared it only with my mentor, who heard God’s voice too.

I played right into Satan’s hand. If he could keep me silent about listening to God’s voice, he had me exactly where he wanted me. Nobody would know about it. Nobody would hear the good news. Nobody would be encouraged to listen to God speak. Nobody would believe they could hear the voice of God in their thoughts. The enemy had me believing I lived on an island, all alone. Satan convinced me that many believers do not hear God’s voice, and I’d be crazy to say I do. Therefore, I supposed I should not tell anyone I practice listening to God and I recognize His voice.

As soon as I became wise to Satan’s deceitful ways, I began the battle of breaking free. King Jesus came to my rescue again. The Holy Spirit used Scripture to educate me about the devil’s ways. He instilled confidence in me because Christ has already won the battle against my enemy. Christ has set me free. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” I remain free now to show others what God has done for me and to tell them how to listen to His voice.

I learned to pray the Armor of God, from Ephesians 6:10-18, to protect myself. He showed me how to rebuke the devil and stand strong in the victorious name of Jesus Christ. He gave me the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, as my weapon of choice. Not only did I have a new passion for Christ, I had a new hatred toward the devil. I would stand firm in the finished work of Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ, I would win this battle in my mind. I would be excited to “show and tell” the world how to practice the art of listening to God.

In my weakness, Jesus Christ strengthened me for battle. He protected me from my enemy and equipped me to stand victoriously in authority over Satan. Jesus prepared me to carry out my purpose in God’s greater plan. I’m nobody special, except that I’m a child of God. He had me in mind before He created the world. He wanted me and loved me before He set the stars in the sky.

He uses the common, the lowly, and the unlikely ones to carry out His plans. I represent the common, lowly, and unlikely. I am an ordinary woman who can hear from an extraordinary God. He used my story and prepared me to share it to bring His people into closer relationship with Himself. God has called me to deliver a message to His people. This is the message God wants me to share with you:

God loves you more than you will ever comprehend. He wants to have an intimate relationship with you. He speaks to you, and He wants you to listen. He has more to say than a “yes” or “no” to your requests. He wants you to put Him first in your life by spending time with Him daily, listening to His voice, and carrying out His will.

Spending time in relationship with Jesus Christ to develop the art of listening to God is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. Well, it’s a close second to the decision I made to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior. Listening to God and hearing His voice is priceless—a valuable art form. Will you search for it as for silver? Building intimacy with Jesus Christ is building spiritual wealth in the kingdom of God, here on earth and in heaven. Will you pursue it as you would hunt for gold? The wisdom of God is more precious than rubies. Will you seek it around every corner?

Right now, I implore you to reclaim any power you have relinquished to the enemy and empower your family, your friends, your children, and your children’s children by passing on this precious gift of knowledge to them. Do not fear; be strong and courageous. Tell those you influence to put God first—to spend time with Him and listen to His voice. Train them in the ways of God, and then train them in the ways of Satan, their enemy. Educate them and equip them to stand firm and claim Christ’s victory in their own battles.

Demonstrate how to know God better by saturating yourself in His Word and meditating on it day and night. Encourage your children to do the same. Place them into God’s care and protection, so they may develop a greater intimacy with and trust in the One who created them.

Model the practice of listening to God’s voice in front of them so that it can be caught as well as taught. Share your own experiences with them. In the words of Charles Stanley, children will “do what we do before they do what we say.”[4] So be sure you are practicing what you are preaching, and then instruct the next generation and beyond, using the four T’s:

  1. Tell them to put God first by making time for Him, making Him a priority in their lives.
  2. Train them to know God better by reading His Word and meditating on it day and night.
  3. Trust them to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ by spending time with Him in the person of the Holy Spirit and yielding their own spirit to His.
  4. Teach them to “listen” to the voice of God within themselves—listen and obey.

When you believe in God and accept Jesus as your Savior, He sends His Holy Spirit to live in your heart. The living God dwells in you! Look within your own spirit, and tune in to the Spirit of God. Jesus promised the Spirit of Truth would speak to you and make the things of God known to you. You have access to everything that belongs to God—to His very mind and thoughts. God and Jesus speak to you through the Holy Spirit, who speaks to you in your thoughts. Listening to God’s voice within you is one of the keys to experiencing an abundant life—the full life Jesus Christ came to give you. When you can hear the voice of God, you have everything you need; you are filled with all the fullness of Christ. When you hear God speak to you, it will change your life forever.

Now believe it and do it! Go and listen to the voice of God! God will bless you richly as you seek to know Him more intimately.

Respond to God’s voice in the words of the boy, Samuel: “Speak, for Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10). May God bless you with His presence and His word as you seek to know Him better every day. Know and cherish God’s voice within you. And then, be sure to ‘Share the Good News’ 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 #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

His Matchless Love

My darling, I love you, much more than you will ever comprehend. Your life is like a mere ember that can be squashed out any time. However, My love for you goes on forever. I will love you into all eternity. I love you to the moon and back, past the stars, and beyond the oceans. My love for you is greater than the expanse of the heavens. I love you long into the night and all throughout the day. There is no match for My love. Sit with Me a while and rest. Lean on Me and feel the warmth of My embrace. I kiss your cheek and whisper in your ear, “All is well, My love. I am with you always. I will never leave you.”

 You are My beloved child. I am your loving Father. Stay with Me and absorb the abundance I give you. All I have is yours. Claim My blessing and My affection. It is yours for the taking. Ask, and you shall receive. I give you whatever you need, and then, I give you more. I will pour out My abundant blessing and My wisdom. My mercies are new every morning. Begin each day with Me and end it the same. Listen to My still, small voice throughout your day. I have much wisdom to impart. I will teach you all things and remind you what I have said. I will offer you conviction and encouragement, forgiveness and redemption, blessing and love.

Love is the greatest of My gifts to you, because it is unconditional, no strings attached. I love you no matter what. I love you regardless of your sins and shortcomings. I will forgive you again and again, when you ask. I help you in your time of need. When you are tempted, I offer you a way out. I strengthen you for each battle. I prepare you for every circumstance. I walk you through all your trials. I lift you up when you are down. I protect you when you are weak. I carry the weight of your burdens. I walk through fire for you. I modeled the depth of My love for you when I died on the cross, in your place.

You are the crown of my creation. I desire your full devotion. Do not give time to other gods. Put Me first. I am your One and only true God. I am your loving Father, your faithful friend. I will never leave you. I am with you at all times. I enjoy spending time with you. Will you sit with Me each day?

 Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. Apart from Me, you can do nothing. Experience all of Me when you spend time with Me daily. I am delighted in you. Delight yourself in Me, and I will give you the desires of your heart. You are My special angel. I am your doting Father. All I have belongs to you. I can’t wait to pour out My blessings upon you, when you spend time with Me. You are My child. I love you perfectly and completely.

 

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