God Speaks to Me

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. 2 This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God.3 But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.

4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.5 Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.         – 1 John 4:1-6 (NLT)

I have been blessed to meet many wonderful people who are out in this world serving God and His children. I have only met one man that I felt a confirmation from the Holy Spirit that he was a prophet sent by God. I tell you this because this Scripture, to me, is about teaching me to be wise and discerning about listening and believing who speaks for God, not just prophets but teachers, preachers and even well-meaning friends.

One evening my young adult daughter was stopped on her way out of church by a young man who said, “God spoke to me and told me that you and I will be married.” Without missing a beat, she said, “Well, God hasn’t told me that!”

God speaks to all His children and not always in the same way. There was a time in my life when I thought I was too insignificant and, frankly, too scared to have God speaking to me. But as I have spent more time reading and praying, I see my LORD as a wonderful father who loves me and wants to spend time with me.

God speaks through His Word. We are so blessed to have the Bible. God inspired writers to record His words and some of His interactions with His children. We are given testimonies from people through the centuries and, especially, the four gospels which gives us Emmanuel, God Himself with us. Here is a way for me to take more subjective communication from God and check myself.

God speaks through prayer. I believe this is the most intimate and fruitful way God speaks to me. I often wonder how much more I would know about God if I spent more time with Him and realized how precious time with Him is to my life and the lives of others. 

God speaks through others. Too often, we get most of our communication from God in this manner. We rely on pastors, teachers, theologians, and other “more learned” people to tell us what God says in His Word. We may even pray only with the written prayers in worship books. God can and will speak to all of His children who desire to hear Him. It is wonderful to come together and hear God and share what He has done and is doing.

Is my life dedicated to having a relationship with my LORD, my Savior, my Creator, and my Best Friend? Am I patient and persistent to spend time in quiet conversation, prayer, with Him?

A Quiet Place written by Ralph Carmichael & sung by Take 6

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“I Want …”

One night while Solomon was in Gibeon, the Lord God appeared to him in a dream and said, “Solomon, ask for anything you want, and I will give it to you.”       1 Kings 3:5 (CEV)

What would I ask for if God appeared to me tonight in a dream and said He would give me whatever I asked for? I’d have to give that some thought. Solomon asked for wisdom. More importantly, he admitted his inability to rule wisely without God’s help. And that leads me to wisdom.

As I am writing this, I am looking at myself, candidly. In the past when I have done this, it was not difficult to list my weaknesses and my sins. But today when I looked, I saw Jesus standing with His hands outstretched, covering me, standing with me.

Jesus is my friend and teacher. He knows what I need. He knows what the Father wants to give me. I know Father God’s love. I am overwhelmed with His love.

Keep me from lying to myself;
give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.
30 I have chosen to be faithful;
I have determined to live by your regulations.
31 I cling to your laws.
Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!
32 I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding.

33 Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end.
34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
35 Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.              Psalm 119:29-35 (NLT)

No matter who others may think I am, I am God’s child. No matter how others may judge me or what they may think I am worth, God loves me and says I am priceless because He made me in His image.

When we feel like the world is beating us down, step away and spend time with Jesus. Listen to His words. Receive God’s gifts as they are abundant!

Thank You, LORD for loving me. Thank You for blessing me with what I need. I love You, LORD. Let’s just sit here and hold each other.

 

Draw Me Close to You written by Kelly Carpenter & sung by Michael W Smith

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Forgiveness

After Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers said to each other, “What if Joseph still hates us and wants to get even with us for all the cruel things we did to him?”
16 So they sent this message to Joseph:
Before our father died, 17 he told us, “You did some cruel and terrible things to Joseph, but you must ask him to forgive you.”
Now we ask you to please forgive the terrible things we did. After all, we serve the same God that your father worshiped.
When Joseph heard this, he started crying.       Genesis 50:15-17 (CEV)

Most of us reading this today can think of someone who needs forgiveness. It might be a former friend or neighbor. It could be a parent or sibling. It could also be ourselves. Take a moment here and ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind anyone you need to forgive.

People who I respect have told me that forgiving someone is not about “letting the person off the hook” for what they have done to you or a loved one. It is about letting go of an emotion that festers and becomes bitterness, even hate. Unforgiveness is like an aggressive and insidious infection that will slowly grow until it destroys your whole being. I have learned that what I was taught – is true.

Forgiving someone is a simple act in response to a difficult decision. I saw how I was holding this person clinched in my hand and dragging them around with me to every relationship I had and every moment in my life. I could not reach out to others with two open arms because I had one firmly clinched. For what purpose? What was holding on to that person in that situation doing for me? Was it to punish the other person? If so, was that making me feel better? Was it causing that person heartache? Probably not.

Do something monumental for yourself today. Get quiet somewhere and decide that today is the day to make a change. Today is the time to move in a new direction.

Consider how much weight this unforgiveness is causing in your life. Consider how much it is affecting you. Now, remember how you felt the day/night that you accepted that you needed a Savior to take all of your sins and forgive you. Remember the weight that slid off of you. It is time to do that again and Jesus will help you with this one, too. Ask Jesus to help you open your hand and let go of whoever has hurt you. Do it now.

Jesus, I need Your help to let go of _________. I put every bit of hurt and pain they have done to me into Your hands. I trust You to be their judge. I trust You to take all the words and actions that are involved in this – and handle it the way You see fit. Wash me clean of this unforgiveness, LORD. I throw open the doors of my heart, mind and spirit so You can totally clean me. I want to hold on to nothing! I thank You for this day and hour of freedom from the burden I have carried. Thank You, LORD! Praise You, LORD! May this day be forever in my memory as a day of Freedom. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Blessed Be the Name of the LORD written by Andy Park & sung by Lindell Cooley

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Who Has My Ear?

Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.       Proverbs 25:11 (NLT)

I’m hitting a milestone this year when my birthday rolls around. To me one of the perks to getting older is I am sure that I have more questions now than I did when I was a child. I know I do not know everything but – I have also grown into some wisdom to be careful about who I listen to. So who do I listen to?

The Sunday School answer would be “God” or “Jesus.” And that is absolutely, positively true. However, God made me and knows my weaknesses so He has provided all that I need, including wise counsel. My part of it is to seek those He has chosen, not just anyone who offers advice, be it from a pulpit or an easy chair in my home.

Jesus had many followers. There are some places in the gospels that tell me there were 5,000 or 4,000. Jesus had only 12 disciples. He explained parables to His disciples. He didn’t explain them to the followers. Jesus had only three who went with Him for the really good stuff like raising a young girl from the dead or seeing Him transfigured on a mountain as He chatted with Moses and Elijah. And then when Jesus needed wise counsel, He went alone to the mountain or to the garden to seek His Father, didn’t He? His example tells me something about how many I should have around me.

Ask God to send the people He has chosen to bring His counsel and wisdom to you. God knows how important this is and He will do it! But do not be surprised if He sends an unexpected choice. God may not send you someone who will always agree with you or believes every doctrine that you do. He may send you someone who will stretch you and encourage you to think and go to God’s Word to study. Yes, this person will also love the LORD and serve Him and seek His wisdom for himself/herself.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.     Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

And when God sends that one or two who bring His wisdom, know that it is a gift worth more than gold or silver. They are a precious gift that deserves thanksgiving to the Father who loves so extravagantly. As I am writing this, I have tears of joy for those He has chosen for me. I am so very blessed.

Friends Forever written & sung by Michael W Smith

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Life With Father

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation – but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry,“Abba, Father.”    Romans 8:12-15 (NIV)

Do I live my life led by the Spirit of God? Good question that I can only answer with the help of God’s Spirit which sees into every corner of my being. There can be no “Do Not Enter” signs. If I am to live as Paul says by God’s Spirit and have the privilege of knowing God, Creator of all, in such a way that I can call Him “Father,” then everything in me is open to Him.

So being a child, in my case a daughter, of Abba Father is a sweet, easy life, right? Some days it seems hard to believe how good it is. Last night, I was so tired. As I settled into my pillows and covers such a sense of peace and comfort came over me. I felt safe and secure. Abba and I talked quietly for a while and then sleep came. Two hours later, I was awake and experiencing pain and some restlessness. There was a time when I would have been frustrated and angry. But I’ve learned to just get up and sit in a chair and read a psalm or listen to a song or two. And then my mind clears and I pray. I was up about an hour. Father had something to say to me. I had some people who came to mind in prayer and ended with thanks to Father who keeps watch.

And there are times when Abba Father asks difficult things of me. He is teaching me, helping me to build spiritual muscles and even when I know that, it doesn’t make times of sacrifice easy. Father also teaches me how to make decisions based on Kingdom principles, not the world’s instant gratification principles.

Learning about the Father, listening to the Father, and answering His call to serve is a great life. It is an adventure every day! Sometimes it’s like a wonderful river ride at Disney World! And other times it can be a full-pack hike in Glacier National Park! But if I keep my hand in the Father’s I will continue to see Father God more clearly every day – and that is a great part of this life!

Abba Father from Vineyard Music

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What Can I Give to God?

The Lord, the Mighty One, is God, and he has spoken;
he has summoned all humanity from where the sun rises to where it sets.
2 From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines in glorious radiance.
3 Our God approaches, and he is not silent.
Fire devours everything in his way, and a great storm rages around him.
4 He calls on the heavens above and earth below to witness the judgment of his people.
5 “Bring my faithful people to me—those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.”
6 Then let the heavens proclaim his justice, for God himself will be the judge.

7 “O my people, listen as I speak.
Here are my charges against you, O Israel:
I am God, your God!              Psalm 50:1-7 (NLT)

I am thinking about thanking God. There are so much in my prayer journal to bring to the LORD every day. God is faithful and patient as I bring people and situations to Him. He listens to all my words. He doesn’t cut me off or make me feel as if He has better things to do or more important matters which need His attention.

How do I know God hears my prayers? Is it because He answers my every request? Does He speak to me so that my husband wonders who is in our bedroom? No, nothing so human.

I know God answers my prayers because over the years I have seen people healed against all medical tests and treatments. I have walked through difficult seasons in my life with peace and strength I cannot explain except because God has shown me the Hope of an eternal life because of Jesus Christ who died as a perfect sacrifice for my sins. I know personally of marriages that were made new when the rest of us had given up. God is.

In this psalm, verses 8-22 speaks of God’s creation. I hope while you listen to the song today that you will read those verses. I can hear the thunder of God’s voice and the power of His spoken creation. The LORD, the Mighty One, is also my Father who holds me in His hand and reveals to me His love and great mercy. It is a mystery how God loves me. And thanks just pour from my heart as I remember all the wonderful, loving promises in this psalm and in so many other Scriptures.

23 “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.
If you keep to my path,
I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:23 (NLT)

During these summer months, whether you are drawn to the ocean or river or mountains, a stroll through your own garden or even sitting in a ballpark and watching clouds move slowly across blue skies, give some thought to God who created every flower, cloud and breeze. Thank Him for how much He loves you. What does God want in exchange for all He has given us? He isn’t looking for gifts to balance the scales. We could never balance them if we tried! When I spend time with Him, sharing my heart, listening to His desires for my life and thanking Him for so much, then God is honored.

Creation Calls written & sung by Brian Doerksen

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God’s Will

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.

13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son,14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.    Colossians 1:9-14 (NLT)

How often have I asked God to make His will known to me? Too often. I say “too often” because many times I do really know what He wants me to be doing; I’m just hoping that if I look penitent and flutter my eyelashes, He might tell me something I want to hear!

I have often heard people say that it would have been helpful for God to simply write across the sky in big letters the answers to our questions, like what is His will in my life. The complaint being that God is mysterious and vague on some basic questions. And I confess I have looked up to the blue sky and raised my eyebrows like, “OK. Just give me a sign. A burning bush or move the sun back 12 hours! Or just write it out for me!” And one day, I got an answer.

Paul says in this letter to the Colossians that he is praying for them to have the knowledge of God’s will along with wisdom and understanding. And so there is my first point to knowing God’s will in my life – spend time talking to Him. There is no shortcut to this. It’s spending time every day in His world and listening to what God has to say and learning about His character, how He has behaved or answered in similar situations. When Paul asked God to remove the pain he was in, not once but three times, what did God say? 2 Corinthians 12:9 says God told Paul His grace is enough and when Paul is weak, God will be strong.

Jesus said in Matthew 22 that everything else that was known about God up to that point could hang from “Love the LORD with all my heart” and “Love my neighbor as myself.” If I am trying to discern what God wants me to do in my life I can discount anything that does not demonstrate my love for God and my love for neighbor and myself.

Jesus also said that anything that I do should provide light in the darkness of this world and glorify the Father (Matthew 5). And that may be when knowing God’s will and doing His will can depart ways. Whatever I do in my life, it’s not about me. It’s not about getting recognition or doing the miraculous. It is about glorifying the Father through such transparency that no one may ever know that I did anything or remember my name.

God has done so much for me. My life is assured to be eternal because of Jesus blood sacrifice on the Cross. I am a new person now. Jesus shows me how to live a fruitful life and be a conduit of God’s love and forgiveness.

God’s will for me is to live in His Light and encourage others to also live in His Light. Simple. Help me to do that today, LORD.

Spirit of the Living God written by Daniel Iverson, choral group unknown

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Jesus Doesn’t Give Up!

Saul kept on threatening to kill the Lord’s followers. He even went to the high priest 2 and asked for letters to the Jewish leaders in Damascus. He did this because he wanted to arrest and take to Jerusalem any man or woman who had accepted the Lord’s Way. 3 When Saul had almost reached Damascus, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around him.4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice that said, “Saul! Saul! Why are you so cruel to me?”

5 “Who are you?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus,” the Lord answered. “I am the one you are so cruel to. 6 Now get up and go into the city, where you will be told what to do.”             Acts 9:1-6 (CEV)

Last night I was praying for someone and the LORD brought this Scripture to my mind. I put “Damascus” into my software and then I read Acts 8 and 9.

Most of us have someone we love who has avoided admitting they are sinners and need Jesus. We have prayed for them and may have spoken to them about our own life change, but to no avail.

Saul was well-schooled in the Scriptures and a leader who had taken on the task with a “no stopping” fanaticism. He believed he was doing God’s work. Remember how Jesus said in John 16 that persecution would come from those who thought they were doing God’s work? The disciples and Believers were terrified of Saul. He had the power to put people out of the Temple, even kill those who followed Jesus. Saul was evil and no one even considered trying to change his mind. No one except Jesus.

Even my own path to Christ was marked with years of dodging Jesus’ warnings and His hand reaching out to me. Jesus just kept putting people in my path who showed me through how they lived their lives what it would be like to have Jesus in my life. He inspired songs that wouldn’t stop replaying in my head. Jesus never let go.

If there is someone (or several someones) who came to your memory while reading this, don’t give up on Jesus coming into their life. Keep praying. Remember that as much as you love the person, our Father loves them more. And listen to God about what your role should be. Most often God wants us to be real and live our testimony, not argue it.

Father God, we put those that we love into Your hands. We thank You for Your great love for us and for them. We ask You to bless us all with ears to hear Your truth and hearts to receive Your love. May we be honest and compassionate ambassadors of You. May we all draw closer to You every day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

You Never Let Go written & sung by Matt Redman

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The Weeds in My Life

Jesus then told them this story:
The kingdom of heaven is like what happened when a farmer scattered good seed in a field.25 But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and scattered weed seeds in the field and then left.
26 When the plants came up and began to ripen, the farmer’s servants could see the weeds.27 The servants came and asked, “Sir, didn’t you scatter good seed in your field? Where did these weeds come from?”
28 “An enemy did this,” he replied.
His servants then asked, “Do you want us to go out and pull up the weeds?”
29 “No!” he answered. “You might also pull up the wheat.30 Leave the weeds alone until harvest time. Then I’ll tell my workers to gather the weeds and tie them up and burn them. But I’ll have them store the wheat in my barn.”        Matthew 13:24-30 (CEV)

So what are the weeds in my life? Jesus said in verse 38 that weeds come from the evil one, Satan. And yet, Jesus said they are not to be pulled up and thrown out until the harvest, until He returns.

So there are going to be weeds growing right beside me in my life. It isn’t my job to judge them and dispose of them. That is Jesus’ job. If I haven’t received and understood that lesson from another one of Jesus’ stories, then here it is again: Do NOT judge others!

It seems that Jesus is telling me to focus on the wheat. Do what encourages the wheat to stand tall and take in the nourishment (Living Water and Living Bread of Christ) which will strengthen the wheat. When the harvest comes, may I be found healthy and ready to be harvested, giving all the glory to the gardener.

When someone brings condemnation to my door or any kind of divisive “weeds,” it is easy for me to draw my sword and strike back at their attack. It is especially hard to refrain when the weeds attack those whom I love or tender, young “wheat.” Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19, and Hebrews 10:30 all say that vengeance is only for God to do. And God is just and promises to bring justice. And so I sheath my sword back in its scabbard, which means I do not use God’s Word to inflict pain and condemnation on anyone but instead continue to cry out to Father God and learn His principles to refine my life.

Please listen, Lord, and answer my prayer!
I am poor and helpless.
2 Protect me and save me because you are my God.
I am your faithful servant, and I trust you.
3 Be kind to me! I pray to you all day.
4 Make my heart glad! I serve you, and my prayer is sincere.
5 You willingly forgive, and your love is always there for those who pray to you.
6 Please listen, Lord! Answer my prayer for help.
7 When I am in trouble, I pray, knowing you will listen.

8 No other gods are like you; only you work miracles.
9 You created each nation, and they will all bow down to worship and honor you.
10 You perform great wonders because you alone are God.

11 Teach me to follow you, and I will obey your truth.
Always keep me faithful.
12 With all my heart I thank you. I praise you, Lord God.               Psalm 86:1-12 (CEV)

The Lord’s Prayer, music by Albert Hay Malotte & sung by Andrea Bocelli

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God Speaks

That same day Jesus left the house and went out beside Lake Galilee, where he sat down to teach. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he had to sit in a boat, while the people stood on the shore.3 Then he taught them many things by using stories. He said:
A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field…

But God has blessed you, because your eyes can see and your ears can hear!17 Many prophets and good people were eager to see what you see and to hear what you hear. But I tell you that they did not see or hear.          Matthew 13:1-3, 16-17 (CEV)

It is extraordinary and amazing that God, Creator and the King of all kings, desires to talk to me. And He does it every day.

How does God talk to His children? That is a question for discussion tonight in our online Bible Study. I hope many who are reading this today will join us. The details of how you can join us is in the link provided.

Today I want to take time to encourage myself and others to take the time every day to listen to God’s voice. What a great opportunity to “be still and know” the voice of God. When we take the time to get quiet, God is faithful to come close to us and speak.

I remember the hectic years in my life when there was always a ball practice or gymnastics workout or homework to do or something every evening after a full day of school and work. I remember when I had to spend time with God after midnight, because that was the only time when the house got quiet and no one was asking me to do something for them! But I needed the discipline of meeting with God every day with the expectation that He would have something to say to me. Often what He wanted to say was simply, “I love you and I hear your cries. I am with you.”

That is one of the ways in which I know a voice is God’s. I have heard and know the character of His voice. I know that He will not tell me something that contradicts His Word.

He may also speak to me directly through His Word. It may occur when I am reading a passage and I hear a voice say, “Stop!” As I re-read verses, I can hear in my spirit God’s Holy Spirit bring His light to beam on a passage and speak that directly into my situation. And the peace comes! And that is another way to know it is God. God is not about chaos and confusion.

Let us invest in our relationship with God. No matter how busy we believe we are, may we receive the Light of God’s truth – that spending time with Him pays lifelong dividends.

“Rain and snow fall from the sky.
But they don’t return without watering the earth
that produces seeds to plant and grain to eat.
That’s how it is with my words.

They don’t return to me without doing everything I send them to do.” Isaiah 55:10-11 (CEV)

The song today is a simple song but that is a characteristic of talking with Jesus. It isn’t complicated.

Have a Little Talk with Jesus written by Jimmy Dean & sung by The Statler Brothers

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