Browsing Category "Listening to God"
22 May
2014
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Do Not My Words do Good?

20140523-180458-65098266.jpgYesterday at a prayer meeting, I witnessed God in the sanctuary and beheld His power and His glory, Psalm 63:2. No, I didn’t see Christ arrayed in light, but I did see Him at work, ministering to a visibly distraught sister who asked us for prayer.

Another sister loved the Word enough to have memorized all of Psalm 139 and so the Lord used her knowledge to minister to the distraught sister. She held the tearful sister’s hands and prayerfully recited Psalm 139, using the her name frequently throughout the prayer. So, for instance, Psalm 139:5 sounded like this, “You have hedged ‘Cynthia’ behind and before, and laid Your hand upon her”. It was a picture of true religion, and it was priceless.

Later I learned that my friend who recited Psalm 139 will be participating in the 2014 Bible Bee this summer with her children. Bible Bee is a competitive bible memorization contest designed to help families teach their children the importance of bible memory work. I’ve never considered doing that sort of thing because I always wanted my children to desire the Word for the riches within the words themselves, without the complication of a cash prize involved.

But my friend had spiritual tools I longed to have, and I long for my children to have, and I know those tools don’t come magically, but with a lot of good old fashioned hard work. And hard work is just what a Bible Bee offers. My children are 7 and 9 years-old. For their age divisions, they would be expected to memorize one verse a day, five days a week, for the summer months just to qualify for the Nationals in the Fall. To have a chance to win the prize at Nationals, this Fall they would need to memorize approximately eleven verses a day, five days a week. That’s some serious hard work!

This morning I read an article about the Bee to get an understanding of what we would committing ourselves to. A comment at the end the article made me think perhaps this format wouldn’t be the best for my children. It was written by someone who used to be heavily involved bible bees as a kid and now felt negatively about them, saying they kept her from other pursuits. Others had some negative comments that I considered worth reading. The world hypocritically pounces on Christians when money is involved in our activities, again, the cash award incentive tends to complicate things.

Awhile ago I read about a group of persecuted Christians in Burma who memorize a tremendous amount of scripture; a typical believer having memorized between 150 to 200 verses. They do this simply out of love for the Word, and perhaps fear that the authorities might someday take their bibles from them. These believers make about $1.50 a day. This is another picture of true religion.

Are my children going to do the Bible Bee out of love for the Word, or for the money? I can tell you my children love the Lord, but I can also tell you they wouldn’t have the same ambition level were there no prize involved. Sad, but real.

And yet, yesterday I witnessed the beauty and power of the memorized Word at work, ministering to the church body. I had personally witnessed the real treasure of the memorized Word, and I want my children to also experience that power, cash prize or no cash prize. So rather than make a decision based on a comment from a disgruntled girl, and the ranting comments from a hypocritical and critical world, I continued to pursue the Lord about the matter in prayer.

20140523-180145-64905137.jpgThe Lord graciously answered my questioning with a question for me. Immediately after reading the comments and then prayerfully considering the pros and cons concerning the Bible Bee, I providentially opened Scripture to Micah 2:7. So the first words I read this morning were “Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly?”

Praying more about the matter has led to the decision to register for the Bible Bee with an agreement from my children that if they should win, 50% of the money would cheerfully be given to the needy. This leaves plenty for a 7 and 9 year old to waste on stuffed animals and candy. This agreement, made official on paper signed by them, gives me assurance that I am training them to walk uprightly, with purity of heart.

In the world, monetary reward usually succeeds hard work; in biblical terms, we reap what we sow. Keeping the other 50% is an appropriate reward for the faithful workman, and a job well done. Purity of heart, and reaping what we sow; I am thankful that the Bible Bee is providing an amazing opportunity to teach our children both of these very biblical principals in a tangible way.

10 May
2014
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In the Steps of Christ, as He follows in the Father’s

While praying this morning I asked our Good Shepherd to lead me on a path that would give Him the most glory. Even if that path means a time of suffering, then I would be privileged to suffer for His name’s sake, and for righteousness sake.

20140510-101921.jpgI specifically asked that I would walk in His footprints, like a little girl trailing behind her Daddy along the shore of a beach, stretching her legs to reach each of his footprints in the sand. I asked to follow in the steps of Christ, as He follows in the Father’s steps.

Providentially, I opened the Scriptures to 1 Peter. I found 1 Peter 2:21-25 particularly significant, so I decided to write it down, line by line, on cards for memorization. As I wrote down that first verse, I realized that my Lord had just graciously responded to my prayer.

He spoke in His still, small, voice this morning, quietly saying to my soul, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow in His steps”.

Friend, the One who created you speaks to you through His Word. But you must listen closely and have faith, or you will not hear Him.

3 Mar
2014
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Make Me a Servant of All Today

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This morning was brilliant with light. During my devotions, the Spirit graciously provided Mark 9:35, “…if any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.”

Then I took my daughter to school and reflected on the passage while driving home. I thought of Romans 12:10, “Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourselves.” And the commandment to “honor your father and your mother”, and I enjoyed drinking deeply these words from Christ, this concept of the last shall be first.

When I was in the driveway, I was still praying heavily and so didn’t get out right away. I noticed a bible in the back seat and picked it up and admired it, thanking God for His Word, and His Truth. Then I opened it and, Providentially, the first thing I read was St. Mark 10:43-44. “But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.”

Why was this His message this morning? I don’t know right now, but you can bet it will be front and center on my mind this week, and I will be asking The Lord for opportunities to serve without recognition.

Lord Jesus, make me lowly, help me to see the opportunities You provide to serve others today, help me to desire only Your “well done”. Oh, that they would not notice me, Lord, but oh, that they would see You! Make me mindful today to honor others above myself, with my voice, and my actions.
Amen

4 Jan
2014
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May The Lord Answer You in the Day of Trouble

20140104-100644.jpgYesterday was a very difficult day because I found out things I didn’t want to find out. Things so difficult I am quite sure there is an unseen battle in the spiritual realm which cannot be ignored. The enemy is advancing.

But he has threatened us before, a few years ago, but we trusted in The Lord by prayer and time of fasting from delicacies ( God specifically called for a Daniel fast), and He heard our cry and completely answered our petition, and there has been peace and level thinking in that situation since.

So I know what is in order for this new difficulty. This morning I prayed about gaining strength for today and then starting a Daniel fast tomorrow. My prayer was one heavy with praise because He so thoroughly and miraculously answered my petition during that difficult time in the past. I know the solution to the current problem is to trust in The Lord to fulfill my next petition because I realize I am not fighting against something that is seen, but something that lurks in the shadows; a rational evil who seeks to bind and devour which cannot be fought with my hands or my own ability.

20140104-100947.jpgThen I prayed for God to guide my reading in His Scriptures and He immediately and powerfully answered. He confirmed and encouraged my desire to once again engage in a Daniel fast because the Scripture He provided was Psalm 20. This Psalm was such an appropriate and perfect response to to my prayer that it seemed The Lord was in the room, speaking directly to me.

With the confirming movement of the Holy Spirit speaking through Psalm 20, I know now, before the time it occurs, that if I seek The Lord in this thing, and if I trust in His ability, the enemy will retreat, my petition will be heard, and the Lord’s plan, which is always good, will be accomplished. Wow. You floor me, Jesus.

12 Nov
2013
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Earthquakes of worry

light from the word of GodTwo days ago, on Sunday during church, my mind drifted from the sermon to reading little portions of Scripture. I desired to read something from the word of God about a woman, I wanted to relate to the Scriptures as a woman.

The very next place my eyes drifted too, was the account of Mary and Martha serving Jesus. I knew God had something special for me personally as I was reading. I ended up reading what Jesus says to Martha over and over, because it seemed the Holy Spirit was speaking these words directly to me, not only to Martha.

Carrie, Carrie “you are worried and anxious about many things. Mary has chosen the one thing that is needed, and it will not be taken from her.”

It hit so close to home, it felt as if Jesus were there in the service speaking these words directly to me.
Jesus told me on Sunday that I was worried and anxious though I never thought of myself as a worrier until that day.

The next night, my husband ended up staying up for much of the night concerned because the bed was shaking with little tremors, almost felt like mini earthquakes. We had no idea what it was, and since we live in an old house, we considered a number of factors, but my husband theorized it was me; that I was involuntarily shaking. I thought his theory was ridiculous and we finally gave up the investigation and went to sleep.

The next night, I went to bed earlier than my husband. I felt the mini earthquakes again and realized his theory was correct. I was shaking involuntarily.

sad angelI also realized the Holy Spirit warned me earlier in the week that I was worried and anxious about many things, so it was very easy to determine the reason for physical shaking, as well as what was needed to be rid of it. My body was telling me I needed more sleep, and I needed more peace of mind.

I believe the Lord was revealing to me on Sunday that I desperately need to work on relaxing while trusting, and resting in Christ. I thought I was trusting God, but I now understand I have been carrying much of the burden. Trusting Christ means allowing myself to live peacefully in His grace.

It sounds funny, but I think Jesus was asking me to discipline myself to relax, “for he gives to his beloved sleep.” My teenagers might say that Jesus was telling me to “chillax, cause God’s got my back”.

17 Oct
2013
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The Sacrifices of God are a Broken Spirit

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Yesterday, while listening to a sermon, I read Psalm 51, verses 16 and 17.
“For thou desirous not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou desirous not burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart…”

This immediately spoke to my heart because Jesus had already spoken to me concerning this truth (see the post on October 6th ). And verses 3 & 4 were highlighted in my heart as well, “for I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned…” By the end of the sermon I was crying, very convicted.

But still, the next morning I failed. I awoke and rather than seeking the Lord first, I sought for great apps for my iPhone.

When I did start my devotions, I was trying to downplay my sin as not so bad since many Christians don’t do devotions in the mornings at all. Was it really so bad to give God my time after I did something else first? I tried to just pray as usual.

But while I spoke to God, psalm 51:3-4 and 16-17 from yesterday were playing in my mind and heart, and I didn’t get far into the prayer before I was asking for mercy.

Then an amazing thing happened. I picked up a Bible that I hardly ever use and haven’t used anytime recently at all.
The Lord responded.

Do you know that the very first thing I read, without any intention of doing so, was psalm 51? It was as though Jesus were in the same room, and we were having a conversation. Psalm 51 was playing in my heart and mind and now God was speaking it to me. So gracious, so amazing.

21 Sep
2013
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Though we are sinners, He speaks to us still.

Galatians 2:4
20130921-111618.jpgAfter praying about a certain thing, the Lord led me to this verse for the second time by sheer and obvious Providence.

I was asking for guidance about whether something was right or wrong, and for the second time, the Lord provided this verse about the liberality of the Gospel. That it is not about rules and regulations, but about the Spirit.

The first time, the verse came immediately after praying about this certain thing, as I was reading in my physical Bible. The second time it came immediately after praying about the certain thing, and I was in my Bible app on my phone.

And, what amazes me this morning is that this gift from the Spirit came after my being rude to the Lord, who is ever gracious. Apparently, He speaks to us even though we are sinners, even though my walk is not perfect. For these past few days my mind has been focused on other things beside The Lord; things seen and not things unseen. All good things, blessings from the Lord in their proper place and in their appropriate times. But there are times I get so excited about these good things, that my time with the Lord suffers.

So lately my time with the Lord has suffered, but today, this morning, I have experienced the following gracious truth. That the Lord is so very gracious He speaks even when I am rude. The requirement to hear His voice is not works, but faith.

We must believe that His Word is more real than what we can see; He uses it to speak to us, it is the only eternal thing. And the other requirement is desire, that we seek Him with all our hearts. Because of the great work of his Son, we can approach Him boldly, and He can remain holy, yet also speak to us. Amazing.

Here, oh Lord, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When you said, “seek My face,”
My heart said to you, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
Psalm 27:7-9

31 Aug
2013
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A Moment with the Eternal and the Living Word

eternal and livingThe Word of the Lord stands forever.  I was praising our God this morning, on my knees in thanksgiving for the eternality of His Word.  My joy was centered on this truth: though all else fades away, His Word remains.   These two elements (our fading, and the Word remaining) was certainly the theme of my prayer and praise for a significant amount of time.

In His graciousness, I unintentionally opened to Isaiah 39 and read through Isaiah 40:8.  Realizing the Lord was at work responding to my morning worship, I stopped reading after Isaiah 40:8 to spend time in thanksgiving, for His Word is not only eternal, but also living.

He is near you, dear believer.  Reach for Him; He will be there.

“The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.  The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:6-8

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5 Aug
2013

The Virtue of Faith, “I Believe, Help my Unbelief”

Swallowtail“…the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”  Mark 9:24

“…the wind blows where it will, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell from where it comes, and where it goes; so is everyone that is born of the spirit.”  John 3:8

A little while ago the Lord brought it to my mind that faith is a virtue, and as such it is a part of His goodness, His Character.  We cannot know Him unless we also know faith.  “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”  Heb 11:6.

Faith is beautiful.  This is why so often the things of God are hidden, because with His cover of mystery He draws this beautiful virtue out of us; hidden things require faith.  Being all beauty and all good, He can do no less.  And faith is beautiful.

I wrote down the above verses to memorize and the Lord used this effort the very next day on two separate occasions.  My little 8-year-old confessed to me today that she wondered if God was real at all.  And that if He was not real, then our family must be “really weird”.  I knew she was struggling because over the last few months what once gave her joy now was dull, she has been uninterested in the things of God.  I was praying for her daily, that the Spirit would stir in her soul, and today I saw the fruit of those prayers.  I was so thankful for her confession and held her tight, reassuring her that I was pleased with her honesty.

And the Lord not only used those verses above for my little girl, He also intended them for Crystal, the Hardings worker I met in the parking lot today.  I was picking up some groceries for dinner and I was praying for open eyes and a ready heart, to speak to someone there about the things of God, as He permitted.  After introducing myself and inviting her to church, I asked Crystal if she had any questions about God.  Providentially, she told me that lately she was thinking heavily about such things and that she just really didn’t know if He existed or not.  I asked her what her church background was and she said she didn’t have one, but perhaps she should start there.  I asked her if she had a bible at home and she said she did, but that she didn’t read it.  I told her to start there, in the Gospel of John.

The Lord had prepared me the day before for both the conversation with my daughter, and the conversation with Crystal, my new friend from Hardings.  On the same day, the Lord used Mark 9:24, “Lord, help my unbelief”, as the call-to-action for faith that is wanting.  I explained to both Crystal and to my little girl what the Lord had just spoken to my heart the day before, about faith being a beautiful virtue.  “And these three remain, faith, hope and love.”  Faith is essential to knowing God because it is good, and God is all good.  Or, put another way, because faith is a virtue and as such it is good, so God would be less good if He could be known without faith.

Update:

Lately I have had to reduce the amount of time my daughter has been reading her Bible, she has been doing it so frequently other things are getting neglected, and I have been praising God for her new found zeal.  Faith is lovely.  It is the hope for things unseen, the beautiful life-giving things, the things of eternity.  Faith is essential.  Desire it. Long after it like a hungry man longs after food.  Then ask and you shall receive.

So how does one acquire faith when it seems so out of reach?  Ask.  All things are possible with God and He graciously gives us our desires.  If we do not desire God, He stays away.  If we do desire God, He provides.  But we must desire Him, and as already stated, faith is good, God is good, so faith is essential to knowing Him.  We can not ask Him to prove Himself so that we would have faith.  That is not faith in the least; it is cheap and quick and of the flesh and knows nothing of God.  We must really desire God, and so really desire faith, not the proud and loud ‘proof’.  It is so simple, yet many will never understand it.

12 Jul
2013
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Where Can I Go from Your Spirit?

Church Begins“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?  If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.”  Psalm 139:8

I read this verse yesterday online and chewed on it here and there throughout that day.  This morning I woke far too early, around 5:00 a.m., with this wonderful verse floating around in my head, looking forward to meditating on the verse during my upcoming devotions.  At 6:15 a.m., I began my devotional time with prayer, asking our Good Shepherd, who knows “my sitting down and my rising up”, and “understands my thought afar off”, to graciously speak to me by His Word.

Then, without any intention of doing so, I immediately opened to Psalm 139, not realizing at first the significance of what I was reading.  When I read, “where can I go from Your Spirit?”, I knew I was reading the very verse that the Lord awoke me with this morning at 5 a.m.  Keep in mind that I had read that verse online yesterday, and I had not recently visited any part of Psalms in my bible, and that page in particular is no favorite, but a rather ignored one.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?   Where can I go where You are not there, Spirit of the Living God, my best thought by both day and night.  You, Creator of the mind, why are you mindful of us?