I Thought I Heard God’s Voice

I Thought I Heard God’s Voice

I heard God’s voice. Loud and clear.

I had been praying unceasingly for a breakthrough in a difficult situation, yet I had such an unsettled feeling about how it was going to turn out – until that day. God replaced my tension with His peace. I heard God voice the reply I had been waiting for: “I’ll come through.”

As time moved on, I continued to tell myself, “There is still time for God to come through; I know I heard Him correctly.” However, time kept moving, and then time ran out. The breakthrough I had fervently prayed for did not come to pass.

Then doubt crept in. Did God really say what I thought He said? Was it my imagination? Was it wishful thinking? Perhaps Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known,” was meant for someone else. Maybe it was meant for EVERYBODY else. Except for me.

Then the questions started. “God, did You forget what You told me? Did You forget about this situation? Did You forget about me?”

I got frustrated that God did not do what I expected Him to do. I considered giving Him the silent treatment, at least temporarily. Then I had guilt about being frustrated with God and also about avoiding Him.  

While I tried to sort through those confused feelings, I came to the realization that I DID hear God’s promise correctly. However, I filled in the blanks as to how He was going to accomplish it. When He did not do it the way I supposed He was going to, I doubted He was going to do it at all. 

I had happily accepted His assurance, but I had assumed His approach.

If we compiled a list of adjectives to describe God, the words predictable and conventional would not make the cut. Our unpredictable God frequently employs unconventional methods. 

When God grants us His unmatched “calm down, I will come through,” peace in relation to a promise He has made, our jobs are to 1. accept the peace, and 2. allow Him to choose how and when He will bring the promise to completion. What a blessing to know He is a promise-keeping God who always comes through.

Prayer: Lord, help me hear Your voice and trust Your ways. Help me feel Your Presence as I wait in confidence and expectation. Amen.

My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 (TLB)

Acclaim His Name

Acclaim His Name

     fullsizeoutput_ced3Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness. For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn.  Psalm 89:15-17 NIV

The dictionary tells us in a nutshell what acclaiming means: to announce or proclaim with enthusiastic approval and to applaud. The Bible tells us in a nutshell what acclaiming God looks like and what happens because of it. “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,” is a portion of Psalm 89:15 which points out that acclaiming God brings blessing. The word learned in this verse suggests that acclaiming God does not necessarily come naturally to us – evidently, we must learn how to make it part of our lifestyle.

If someone was asked to attest to our relationship with Jesus, would our words and actions speak for themselves, or would that person be forced to guess how serious we are about our faith? Is our love for and excitement about being a believer evident, or is it more of an implication we hope people catch? Does our life display a passion for Christ and a passion for seeking and fulfilling our God-given purpose, or is it something we hope others sense without having to be too forward? 

Many of us do not hesitate to credit God for loving us beyond measure and for counting us as one of His cherished children. But do we openly acknowledge Him? Do we make an effort to tell others how great He is, and that He is directly responsible for the blessings in our lives? I do not think it is necessary or realistic to begin every single one of our sentences with phrases such as, “Let me tell you why God is so great,” or Thank God that He…”  For most people, that would be a contrived, forced exchange. However, I bet we can agree that allowing His beloved name and our thankfulness for Him to become a natural component in the flow of our everyday discussions would potentially cause many in our circle to see Him in a different, positive light.

Maybe we are worried about being “that annoying Christian,” or “that Jesus freak,” who talks about Him entirely too much. But He created us, died for us, forgives us, desires a relationship with us, and makes it possible for us to spend eternity in Heaven with Him – do we honestly think we come close to talking about Him enough? Friends, do we acclaim Him? Should we not, as Christians, be intentionally seeking opportunities to acclaim the awesomeness of God?

Of course, the goal of acclaiming God is not to “get blessed.” The goal is to please God…and the bonus is that He blesses us. 

I have added the word acclaim to my vocabulary. My aim now is to add it to my lifestyle.

That Wasn’t What I Expected, Lord…

That Wasn’t What I Expected, Lord…

E2882A28-E8ED-4229-925B-CB0EC2ECB01A

Lord, I was confused for quite some time about that answer. “Yes,” would have made perfect sense, and I felt prepared to accept the blessing that I requested. And I was prepared to thank You for it.

But You said, “No,” and it came out of nowhere because I thought all signs were pointing to You responding to this prayer the way I hoped.

I felt blindsided, Lord. And You are very well aware of that because I told You several times. And then I asked several times, “Why, God?” And I did not sense an answer.

I began to realize I was in need of a heart check. I prayed that You would adjust my attitude to one of gratefulness, not one of bitterness. And while You were probing my heart, my eyes needed an exam as well. I needed You to clear my vision; to help me to focus on the many blessings in my life, instead of what I thought was missing.

Lord, I know in the future there will be more unforeseen responses to my prayers.  Remind me that whether or not I understand Your reply, it will be good. It will be right. It will be the answer that allows Your, “All things work together for those who love the Lord,” promise to be on display in my life. Lord, help my definition of good to be in alignment with Your definition of good.

Lord, from now on, help me to invite You into my heartache instead of shutting You out. Help me to acknowledge and appreciate Your Presence in my pain. If I intentionally listen for Your voice, my heart will be open to new and exciting lessons about Your restoration and redemption.

Lord, I am grateful for Your blessings. You bless me with more than I deserve and more than I could ever earn. You generously give to overflowing out of Your deep love, even though I too often zero in on the empty areas because of my short-sightedness.

You take no delight in my distress. You are willing to teach, guide, and love me through disheartening moments. You come alongside me. You never barge in and insist that I instantly proclaim Your plan as better than mine. Instead, You tenderly offer Your enlightenment, as I process the pain and revitalize and regain trust in You.

Lord, You have promised hope and a future to all Your children. Help me realize that if I am trusting You with my future, it also means believing that You know what You are doing in my present.  Replace any lingering feelings of lack and loss with Your perfect peace.
In Your holy name, I pray. Amen.

Be Courageous

Be Courageous

Just a quick thought I wanted to share with you –

We’re told many times in the Bible to be courageous. God doesn’t tell us to feel courageous. He says, “Be courageous.” Often it’s more about us doing that thing God has asked us to do even though we might still feel nervous or fearful. Courage is doing it anyway. Do it knowing that God will show up and help you through it. Do it knowing that the world’s response is much less important than the obedience you’ve shown in doing it. If you’re waiting for a feeling of courage to come before you step out of your comfort zone, you’re going to wait yourself right out of an opportunity to do something great.

Does God Care About Our Happiness?

Does God Care About Our Happiness?

Friends, this is my July contribution to devotableapp.com, a website I write for monthly. Check them out on their website, and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter for daily inspiration!

A quick internet search on, “Does God care about our happiness?” displays titles of blog posts and articles that provide positive, negative, and “somewhere-in-the-middle” answers to that question. Some declare that God definitely wants us to be happy. Some assert that our happiness is likely not on His list of top concerns. And others make the case that He absolutely does not care if we are happy or not. 

Personally, I am going with the “somewhere-in-the-middle” answer.

Am I saying God does not want us to be happy? Not exactly. Don’t get me wrong. God cares deeply about each one of us, and Zephaniah 3:17 says He takes great delight in us. I certainly do not think He wants us to be unhappy!

I AM saying that in general, we have become a society that places our happiness (which is a feeling that wavers and waffles) as way too high of a priority. Statements such as, “I’m just not happy anymore,” “You no longer make me happy,” and “I just can’t remember what it feels like to be happy,” often precede unhealthy, self-centered thought patterns which can result in selfish, destructive decisions. It is not our spouse’s, kid’s, co-worker’s, friend’s OR God’s responsibility to make us happy or to keep us in a happy state. That is an unfair amount of misplaced pressure to put on anybody! 

I AM saying that joy and happiness are not the exact same thing. It makes me happy when I wake up to sunshine, breakfast in bed, or an encouraging message. My happiness may be affected if I wake up to dark skies, complaints, or a sharply-worded email, but I have a choice about whether or not I remain joyful in the midst of it all. Our temporary circumstances frequently seem to dictate the level of our happiness, but trust in an everlasting, eternal, and enduring God brings genuine joy.

I AM saying, “Friends, let’s be aware of what we are truly seeking!” If we seek happiness, our fickle feelings will prevent us from reaching the point we are striving toward. But knowing God is in control, and that He is willing to walk with us through anything we face brings a joy we can depend on to be an anchor in our life throughout all situations, even disappointment or disaster.

Enough about what I am saying…what does the Bible say? In God’s Word, it tells us that being in His presence and remaining in His love produces joy. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” And John 15:10-11 says, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

If we change our internet search and our focus to instead wondering what God truly does care about, we will find His concern is not whether or not we feel happy, but rather that we are seeking joy in His presence. That is definitely a joy worth searching for. 

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Years ago, whether our family was arriving home after a week-long vacation or a day-long excursion, our kids could accurately predict that the words out of my mouth as our car pulled into the garage would be, “Home sweet home.”

I have always loved going away. However, when it was time for a family trip to end, an undeniable joy would grow inside of me as our car neared our house. As much as I love family time in exciting locations, and even though these trips provide treasured memories to reminisce about, the truth is, I love being home even more. I feel comfortable, content, and cozy. I feel “at home.”

My husband and I have four children and two daughters-in-law, and all six of them are in varying stages of their college or career pursuits, which means “coming home” has an entirely new meaning these days. 

When our adult children come to our house to stay for a day or two, they open the refrigerator for refreshments and are aware that they are more than welcome to use any household items. It feels natural to them as they “make themselves at home,” and I would not have it any other way.

John 14:23 says, “Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”  Ephesians 2:22 says, “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Clearly, God’s Word reminds us that we are to be a dwelling place for our Lord – that He is eager to make His home in us with His Spirit. 

What an unbelievable blessing that Jesus chooses to abide in us and take up residence in our lives. Regardless of the fact that we are unworthy of such a gift, He sincerely desires that our hearts will be His home. Friends, our Lord longs to “make Himself at home,” in us!

What are some ways that our hearts can be a more welcoming place for Him? Are we striving to live our lives in such a way that it will feel natural for Him to dwell in our hearts, as He opens our eyes to His plan for us and uses us for His glory?

As we boldly love Him and bravely live for Him, let our prayer be that we will be a “home sweet home” for Jesus Christ! 

Loving God and Others With Our All

Loving God and Others With Our All

(Following is this month’s contribution to Devotableapp.com – check out that website for daily devotions. I feel very blessed to be one of the contributors!)

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Keep these words in your heart that I am telling you today. Do your best to teach them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.”

This passage found in Deuteronomy 6 reminds me that God does not think of living for Him and loving Him as a minor matter! He does not expect His believers to categorize it as minor either!

How do we keep it at the forefront, no matter what activity we are engaged in and time of day it is? How do we have conversations about anything else, if we are supposed to talk about “these words” while we are “sitting in our house, walking on the road, lying down, and getting up”? I mean, that pretty much covers everything, doesn’t it?

Loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength and teaching that to our children when we are “sitting in our house,” should undoubtedly be the easiest assignment on the list, right? After all, we are surrounded by the people we love the most! Treating each other in a loving way using loving words is probably pretty easy when life is going smoothly. But when a conflict arises, caused by someone who lives in our house with us, do we handle it in a manner that shows our family that one of God’s highest priorities is also one of ours? If it is, then we will decide to show God’s grace and model His forgiveness. We will demonstrate His humility and display His peace. Family disputes will be settled using Christlike principles, therefore falling in line with the Deuteronomy precept.

Loving the Lord with our all when we “walk on the road,” makes me think of our everyday life and everyday routine. When we are at our jobs, at school, attending the basketball game or the church social, and sitting in on the city council meeting, how do we speak to others? How do we speak about others? Is our love for God and His ways evident in the way we work with others and cultivate relationships in our community? Do our children see the way we treat others as an extension of our Christian faith? If we are loving the Lord the way He talks about in verses 5, 6, and 7, then our love for others (yes even those hard-to-love people) will overflow from that!

This passage also mentions when we lie down and when we get up as times to teach God’s love to our children. If we begin the day asking for God’s presence, love, and protection, and end the day thanking Him for all of the above, then our lying down and our getting up is also following Deuteronomy 6’s command.

Loving with our whole heart, soul, and strength should not only be talked about, but modeled as well. God is exceptional at showing us how.

Loving God and others with our all is quite an assignment. Fortunately, we serve quite a God!