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Are you hearing God?

Are Your Hearing God?

Do you remember the old saying, living in a garage does not make you a car just as attending church does not make you a Christian? Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt 7:21-23) I can’t imagine a scarier thing to hear.

How do we ensure that we don’t ever hear those frightening words? By listening to God. He who is of God hears God’s words. (John 8:47) My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:27-8) The key to knowing that you are saved is knowing that you hear the voice of God.

What does God sound like? He usually sounds a lot like how you think to yourself. When we have Jesus living in our heart, He uses our own thoughts to communicate to us. How do you know it’s God? Practice. If you pray and ask God a question and a new thought comes into your mind that surprises you, then believe that He is speaking to you. Sometimes you’ll hear a friend or read something in a book and your spirit will know. God has many languages to speak in. Expect to hear Him and He will be heard.

The important thing is that you hear His voice. Let Him convict you of habits and lifestyle that you need to let go of. Let Him give you insight and ideas that will help you in the things that you do. Let Him tell you how much He loves you. Be a sheep that knows the voice of the shepherd. “I never knew you” is terrifying. “I love you with all my heart” is wonderful.

#Christian, #hearing God

If God is your shepherd, you are blessed.

God Wants You To Rest

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. (Psalm 23: 1-2) David understood something about God that transformed his life. God wants us to live in peace. When David said the Lord was his shepherd, he described a life of protection. Sheep don’t worry about wolves if the shepherd is near. David so trusted that God would protect his life that it allowed him to face a giant and win.

But there is another deeper truth in these two verses. God makes me lie down in green pastures. We need rest. We need peace. Our souls are designed to recharge in rest. He leads me beside still waters. The Hebrew for this is “waters of rest”. (Strong’s H4496, H4325) How amazing is that! If we allow Him, God will lead us to waters of rest. The sabbath was made to be a day of rest because we need it. Life can be overwhelming and if we are not careful of our rest, we suffer the affects of stress, which is physically and emotionally damaging.

When we rest in peace, God restores our soul. We don’t have to wait to be dead to rest in peace! We are meant to enjoy that now. God knows how stressful life is. He promises to restore our peace if we let Him. Human nature is to be fearful so we’re told over three hundred times in the Bible to fear not. It’s a choice to trust that God will take care of us. Seek first the kingdom of God and He will take care of us. It’s His promise. It’s only then that He can restore our soul and help us live in rest.

Rest is yours for the having. Enjoy it everyday. Your soul will thank you.

The Centurion Who Honored Jesus

There’s a lovely story in the gospels about a centurion who’s servant was very sick. Matthew (Matthew 8:5-13) said the centurion approached Jesus and Luke (Luke 7:1-10) says that he sent elders of the Jews to speak for him. In both accounts, all he asked Jesus to do was speak the word of healing because he understood authority. “For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Jesus was amazingly impressed by this man’s faith. “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” In all of the travels that Jesus did up and down the region where people were being healed everyday, he’d never seen this much faith. What’s even more amazing is that the man was a Roman, not even Jewish.

I love this centurion so much because he epitomizes what a believer should look like. According to Luke, he sent others to speak for him because he didn’t feel worthy to have Jesus come to his home. I think that kind of humility must have been uncharacteristic for most Romans. And he loved the Jewish people enough to build them a synagogue with his own money. He was humble, loving, and generous–all the qualities that we should exhibit.

On top of that, he was a man who understood power and authority. I don’t believe for a moment that any order he gave was second-guessed or ignored. The Roman army was notorious for its discipline. His orders would be obeyed or heads would roll. Imagine that combination of gentle caring and power. That’s exactly what we are called to live in.

We’ve been given all authority to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons.  (Matthew 10:8) We are to do what Jesus did, and more, but we are to do it in the power of the Holy Spirit who is the source of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22) Gentle, loving, power and authority, working in the kingdom for the sake of others without needing recognition. This centurion has a lot to model for us. I, for one, can’t wait to meet him in heaven.

Seek His face

Work Out Your Own Salvation

When Paul said to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), he didn’t mean to make up your own rules for what salvation is, he meant make sure you know you are saved because the consequences are unthinkable if you are wrong. We know that, “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) God didn’t want to make it difficult. The thief on the cross was with Jesus in paradise.

But what comes after salvation? How do we “work it out”? Jesus had some very chilling words to say about that, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7: 21-23)

Think about that! Someone who can prophesy and do miracles in Jesus’s name cannot make it into heaven. Jesus calls them workers of lawlessness because they took the power of God to do miracles without loving Him. Jesus there would be many!

Who then can be saved? “Only he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” When we do the Father’s will, Jesus will “know” us because the only way we can do the Father’s will is to be in communion with Him. Jesus is our example. He spent hours and hours in prayer going to the Mount of Olives to pray “as was His custom.” (Luke 22:39) He spent precious time with God worshiping and listening. We have to know how to hear Him if we are going to do His will. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

I don’t believe that God wants us to live in terror not knowing if we are saved. He’s a good Father and wants us to be with Him, but we have the responsibility to be good children. It’s not always easy, but it’s never boring. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Do that and you can’t go wrong.

What Is Your Calling?

We all want to know what we were born to do. There’s something inside us that cries out to know purpose. Some of that is born from fairy tales where a poor, insignificant youth is called upon to become a hero and find a great destiny. Those born into a royal lineage know from an early age what they are meant to do. The rest of us have to figure it out. God will direct some through obvious or subtle means as testimonies will show, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone.

I think that’s because God lets us make choices. We are free to be who we want to be. God doesn’t require that we find His perfect will to go into specific areas of employment. He lets us explore and decide. We can ask for His help and His favor, but He has given us a tremendous amount of freedom to do what we want. Our calling is our own heart’s desire.

As believers, we often rate those in ministry higher than those who work outside the church, but God doesn’t do that. In fact, we are told, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” (Colossians 3:23) Your work is your calling. Wherever you work, you are a light set upon a lamp stand. You are God’s emissary. Be kind. Be generous. Be patient and compassionate. You are more of an influence working among nonbelievers than anyone working in the church because you are known and they are not.

You have as much access to God as anyone on earth. The time you spend seeking Him and learning from Him is not lesser than the same time spent by great ministers of the faith. You can hear the Lord just like they do. You can glean wisdom from the Bible, be inspired by His voice, and see signs and wonders all in a day at work. Living in the Kingdom is far from dull. Your calling is to live in grace of God to be a blessing to others. Start there and see where you go.

How To Come Home When Your Heart Wanders Off

There’s a place that feels right, that feels centered. When we know we are right with God, it’s the most secure place in the world. There’s a peace there that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s where we hear His voice, where we sleep the best, where we are free to dream. But human that we are, we will wander away. Sometimes we wander so far it’s hard to know how to come home.

Sometimes we wander through neglect. We stop reading our Bible. We stop going to church, or skip it regularly. We ignore that still, small voice that tells us to be responsible with our faith. Sometimes we don’t just wander, we knowingly make choices that are bad for us. That’s the most dangerous because rebellion makes hearing God almost impossible. The enemy is convincing when it comes to justifying our bad decisions and the longer we allow ourselves to listen to lies, the harder it is to come back.

If you’re lucky, your spirit will feel conviction. That’s different from guilt. Guilt makes you feel worthless with no possible redemption. Conviction knows what is wrong and what is right with the hope of forgiveness. Once you recognize conviction, it’s up to you to do something about it. That’s why we’re told to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12) No one can do it for you. You have to make the choices that bring you back.

The first thing to do is to ask God for forgiveness. It’s the easiest thing to do. Just admit that you screwed up. Admit your anger, frustration, fear, or whatever it is that you know you have to let go of. Ask God to forgive you and help you. The weight that falls off will feel like a breath of fresh air.

The second thing to do is stop the direction that took you away from God. You can’t just ask for forgiveness and carry on doing the same wrong things. You have to decide to make changes. They may be only minor changes, or they may be big ones. Ask for help if you need it. Find someone you respect and get help.

And then start doing what you know you need to do. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you get centered again. Spend time with Him. Enjoy His company. Be refreshed in your spirit. Papa is so welcoming and loving. He wants you to be safe. Once you come home, look back and see what took you away and be aware so it doesn’t happen again. The stronger you grow as a believer, the harder it will be to wander away. Then you’ll be the one people come to for help.

Daily Bible reading

Why It’s Important To Read The Bible

It’s surprising how many Christians don’t read their Bible. It’s shocking, really. “I don’t understand it.” “I try to read, but I don’t have the time. “I read it off and on.” There are so many reasons for not reading the Word and none of them are valid. The truth is, it’s vitally important to read the Bible.

You’d be amazed at how many people think that some familiar quotes are from the Bible that are actually from Shakespeare. That’s because they don’t know the Bible at all. Which means that it’s very easy to believe things that aren’t true. If something sounds ligit, then it must be and that’s exactly how the enemy sneaks in to influence us to believe error. The only way to truly know truth is to read truth, the Word of God.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) He speaks to us in many ways, but the most obvious way is His Word. If we’re not hearing His voice, can we call ourselves His sheep? How can we follow if we do not hear? How can we know what is true, what is promised, what is danger if we are not daily reading the Bible?

We are human with insecurities, blind spots about ourselves, often molded by bad teaching, or no teaching. Our salvation in Jesus is a journey of being changed into His image. We are a transformation in progress and the Bible is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Living and active. The Word of God changes us, but it must be read with the intent to be changed. Reading for knowledge may be interesting, but it will not pierce the soul. The Word must go into us as a living thing, allowing its wisdom to strengthen our spirit as only God can do.

Daily reading will help you grow in grace like nothing else. It’s part of our devotion that we give to God as we pray, as we praise, as we bless His name and work to bless others. Make time for it – morning, night, or noon, it doesn’t matter, just do it. Don’t jump around reading bits here and there. Allow yourself to get into the message. Read the Old Testament for the lessons, Psalms for comfort and inspiration, the New Testament for growth and development. Ask the Holy Spirit for His guidance. If you don’t understand something, ask Him for help. You’d be surprised how He can answer and clarify His own Word for you. Learn to delight in His Word and you’ll find yourself loving God with greater devotion. His love letter is waiting for you.

When The Enemy Lies

Your know those times when the world is falling apart and everything you do is wrong? You feel like the stupidest person on earth and nothing anyone says helps you in the least. Guess whose game plan that is! Hint, it’s not God’s. Satan’s plan is to kill, steal, and destroy. That means that he will use every device to pull you down, if not physically, then emotionally. The enemy lies.

Granted, we have to admit that we are not perfect, but doesn’t mean that every evil thought that runs though our head, especially when we are stressed, it true. Whether is comes, from your own thoughts, the news, or someone you know, lies will try to take you down; lies that are completely false and destructive.

So what do you do? First, you have to recognize them. Jesus said,  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) He also said, ” My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) That means that you need to learn to hear His voice and you do that through reading the Word and prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Ask Him to help you hear His voice. He wants more than anything to be in communion with you, like any loving parent would. Spend as much time as you can learning to hear Him. He will be surprisingly responsive to encourage you to come closer. Do it! It’s awesome.

After you know that you are hearing God, knowing what is true becomes easier. All you have to do is ask. Even so, when we are under pressure, or have to deal with serious difficulties, it’s not always easy to realize that the enemy is at work. That’s why having a habit of spending time with Jesus is important, especially in the hard times. He will help clear your mind and keep you centered so you can see what is true and what is a lie.

And when you recognize a lie, all you have to do is rebuke it. Rebuke the lies of the enemy and claim the truth of God for your life. Thank God for His goodness and faithfulness and ask Him to lead you in all righteousness. He gave us authority over all the works of the enemy. We don’t have to put up with lies that tear us down. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matt 10:16) Don’t fall for the lies. You are amazing.

Join ISIS, Become Great

ISIS has a Join ISIS Become Greatlot to offer a young man looking to find his way in life — a chance to be part of something big, something powerful and growing, something with tremendous impact. It offers brotherhood and camaraderie. It offers a way to become great.

But ISIS is not the only way to find those things. You don’t have to kill people to become great. You don’t have to kill people to be part of something powerful. You don’t have to kill people to belong to something big.

Most people joining ISIS don’t even understand the religious aspect of what ISIS stands for. God seems to be behind the ones with the guns and bombs and the ruthlessness to use them. My guess is that most people don’t want to kill, they want to matter. For those who want to make a difference without violence, there’s another way.

Looking for greatness in God is not entirely incorrect, just misguided in who to believe. Before joining ISIS, look to Jesus. See what He says. See what He has to offer. When we become believers of His grace, we become sons and daughters of the King of Kings, royal heirs. The God of the universe becomes our amazing Father. The life that Jesus lived on earth is a model for us to live today. Everything He did, we have the ability to do. Can ISIS raise the dead? Can ISIS heal cancer? Can ISIS restore broken lives and relationships? Does ISIS provide love, joy, peace, and kindness?

Carrying a gun does not make you great. Living the life you were meant to live with all your gifts and talents leads you into the greatness of God. Anything else will always bring pain and loneliness. Jesus can make your life matter in ways you can’t even imagine. I’m not promising that life will be easy. There is still evil in the world to contend with, but Jesus will always make a way. He will always be there when you need Him. He will be everything that you need Him to be.

All you have to do is ask Him into your life. It’s that simple. He hears you and He knows you. When you pray, you will hear His voice in your heart. Learn to trust Him, He knows how to take care of you. If you have questions, let me know. People care about you. You’re not alone.

What Is Faith?

Faith is believing, not knowing.Everyone feels little confident that they know what faith is. Intellectually, we understand that faith is trust. I’m going to talk about what it is to trust in God. For most of my life, I agreed with what just about everyone else believes, that faith is trust. I believed in God and counted that as faith. I prayed. I believed that God would, and should, answer my prayers because I trusted that He would. Did He? Not as often as I wanted.  Why? Because I didn’t actually have faith.

My knowledge of God was not the same thing as trusting Him. My knowledge of a political party does not make me an active participant in that party. I have to believe their core values and act on them. It was a shocking burst of reality when I discovered that all my years of “believing” only amounted to years of “knowing.” When my faith called me to believe, I had a meltdown.

Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb 11:1) That’s the tricky part — we don’t like having to trust in something we can’t see. Yet, that’s exactly what God wants from us. That’s what faith is all about. It means that you will trust and not worry. Will the money come in? Trust and not worry. Will your son be ok in the military? Trust and not worry.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Heb 11:6)  It starts with believing that God exists. When we know that, we have to understand His nature. If we seek Him, because we want to find Him, He rewards us with what we need and blesses us even above that. Once we understand who He is, trusting Him gets easy. Read His Word and see just how generous and kind He is.

Here’s my challenge to you: check your heart and judge if you think you have faith, or you know you have faith. The way to determine that is checking your worry meter. If you worry at all, then faith is absent. If you turn to God and believe that He will do what He’s promised to do, then faith is active. Try it. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been worrying. Repent. Ask God to forgive you and ask Him for more faith to trust Him. Then try it out. See how far it takes you. We grow from faith to faith, always trusting Him more. If worry sneaks in because it’s been a habit, repent, ask for forgiveness, and move on.

Faith will save your life if you allow it. It is definitely God’s plan for you.