When we receive salvation by grace, we are adopted into God’s family, everyone who is called by my name, whom I have created for my glory, whom I formed and made. (Isaiah 43:7) We were born to know Him and be with Him. It’s not an idea that seems like it would work, it’s a plan that He has had from before the worlds were created.
It’s amazing to think that we live and breath because God loves us so much. It’s a love that we really don’t understand. Jesus came in the flesh to die as our sacrifice for sin because He loves. He loves! And He knows each of us intimately. We shouldn’t be freaked out by the fact that He knows our secret sins. He loves us! He’s waiting for us to turn to Him so He can work out the problems we have to deal with.
I have called you by name, you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1) Can there be anything more amazing and fantastic than knowing that God is calling you by your name? You are known and loved in heaven. You can press into that and find a loving God who’s been waiting for you since forever. It’s your move now.
I love that David was honest with God. He knew his own weaknesses and he knew that God was his help. He didn’t try to hide the fact that he messed up and confessed his sin. And when he did, he could stand before God with a righteous soul. He was bold enough to ask God, Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind. (Psalm 26:2)
Most of us would rather not ask God to do that. We’re afraid of what He would find, things we know are lurking in the places we try to hide in our hearts. How silly! God sees everything. He knows us better than we know ourselves. We’re afraid that God will judge us if we open up in real honesty. But we’re missing the point.
David understood that to confess his sins made him clean before God. He didn’t want anything to block that relationship. It’s for our benefit to have God shine a light on the dark places of our heart so we can ask forgiveness and be cleansed. There’s freedom there and peace of mind. God wants that for us, for our own good.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) I grew up thinking that because I believe in God, I go to church, and I pray to Him, that means He should give me all that my heart desires. I would get frustrated and doubtful because those things didn’t happen. It took me a long, long time to understand what this verse actually means.
God Himself told us the way of this a long time ago: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5) Jesus called this the greatest commandment. Commandment! It’s not a request or suggestion. We are born and bred to be lovers of the Lord God. He made us for that purpose because He loves us back. This is a decision on our part. We must chose to love God fully. That’s not the same thing as believing in Him, or trusting that He will answer prayers. It’s about seeing Him as the wonderful, lovely, awesome Father that He is. It’s dreaming about Him like David did, wanting to know Him more and more.
When we stop looking at what we want and turn our attention to Him, He’s happy to bless us with our heart’s desire. Then it becomes icing on the cake. Delight in God is it’s own reward.
When Moses met with God learn the laws, God said to him, Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. (Exodus 23:20) He did indeed lead them as a cloud by day and fire by night. It was an extraordinary display of presence that must have been awesome and comforting.
David understood that and wanted it, Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me. (Psalms 25:4-5) Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. (Psalms 27: 11) For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me. (Psalms 31:3)
When God prophesied to Israel about His promise of salvation, He said. For He who has mercy on them will lead them, even by the springs of water He will guide them. (Isaiah 49:10) And Jesus, in the prayer that He taught us said, Lead us not into temptation. (Matthew 6:13) It was a prayer knowing that God will lead us and make a way, but we must want to be led in righteousness.
The Holy Spirit is here for us to do exactly that. He will lead us and make a way where there could be no way. It is as it has always been. God is for us and He goes before us. If we will listen and follow Him, He will always lead us and make a way.
Psalm 25 promises that God will tell you His secrets if you press into Him. Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me. It starts by wanting to know more about Him. This is not a casual interest, or a curiosity of the moment. This is a desire born of the soul to know the God who made the universe, to understand His heart and mind. It starts by asking. God is not a god who sits quietly, observing and not interfering. He wants to be active in your life and if it’s your desire to know Him better, He will respond.
The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. There’s the key. Don’t seek His knowledge so you can write a paper about it. Seek it because you recognized that He is awesome and full of majesty, yet so loving that He sent Jesus to save you. When He answers, it is not a dazzling epiphany that will answer all the questions of time. He teaches His way. It’s an on-going process. We go from grace to grace. He builds on His truth as we can receive and understand it.
The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. Here is the promise. When we seek to love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength, He revels His secrets. The Hebrew for the word covenant is cowd (Strong’s H5475). It means secret counsel. You are invited into an intimate communion where God will share His plans, His covenant, and His desires for you and for humanity. This is the most awesome relationship you can imagine. He promises, I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel. (Isaiah 45:3)
This is not an empty promise. This is the real thing. Go after Him with everything inside you and see what He’ll reveal only to you.
One time I told God how frustrated I was. I believe the prophetic word. I know that it can be wrong if people try to help God, but generally it’s good. Every time I get a prophetic word, I write it down and read them all over time. It’s been exciting to see how many of them fall within categories. But one time it frustrated me. I complained to God in my journal that it seemed that these prophetic words were things God was “going” to do. Why was it always something that would happen later? What wasn’t ever anything that was going to happen now? I vented. I didn’t hold back as I told Him exactly how I felt.
That was the day I read Ezekiel 12:28, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “None of My words will be postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done,” says the Lord God.’
I was stunned. He let me know that He heard my moaning. It couldn’t have been more obvious. Yes He was talking in Ezekiel about Israel, but He used that conversation to speak to me and I heard Him. It was encouraging on several levels. One, because He was promising that His word is true. And two, because He wasn’t bothered by my frustration. He likes it when I’m real with Him. David was very real with him as he wrote the Psalms. He wrote about being fearful or wanting revenge on those who were evil.
We don’t have to pretend piousness with God. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Just be aware that when you talk to Him, He wants to talk back. And He will do it in kindness. He understands that we feel pain and loneliness. He understands the issues that we face in life. He doesn’t expect that it won’t affect us. Be real with Him and you can say like David, I sought the Lord and he answered me. (Psalms 34:4)
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
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.
When Solomon was finished building his extraordinary temple for God, he called up all the heads of all the tribes and all the leaders of Israel and blessed them. Then the priests took the ark and all the implements from the Tent of Meeting in the old City of David and carried them to the new temple with great pomp and ceremony. It was a spectacular event to witness the opening of the house of God. So many animals were sacrificed that they quit counting. The priests placed the ark between the cherubim that had been made to stand over it with their wings extended in covering. “And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, the cloud filled the house of the Lord so that the priests could not stand there to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. ” (1 Kings 8:10-11)
We do not hear of the glory of God filling the temple like that again. It was, of course, an unprecedented occasion, but it is one that I wish to have been part of. I have been in small prayer groups of three or four people and felt the presence of God clearly. Many times in church, when worship seems especially sweet, I have felt His heavy presence. But I always wonder if there could be a time when God would again pour His glory into a place so much that it would literally drive people out. What would that be like? I want to feel it, but I think it would feel like dying to be in such close proximity to that glory.
I look around in church sometimes and wonder what is happening in the hearts of others. I see them checking their phones, staring out the window, whispering to someone, and I wonder if they can feel God moving. In small groups, it’s easier for every person to be engaged in worship, but the larger the group gets, it’s more likely that some portion of them will not engage. I’ve always believed that if every single person would enter into worship with a heart of passion, if the entire congregation was truly unified in worshiping God at the same time, He could not help but answer with some demonstration of His glory like He did in the temple. We should not seek after signs and wonders, we should seek God with all our hearts, but if He should find us fully united in praise, I hope to see His glory fall.
When Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He was so famous for His astounding teaching and miracles that the people were wild to have him come. They cut branches from trees and laid their cloaks in the road so his donkey wouldn’t have to touch dirt. They shouted hosanna. They celebrated so much that the entire city was in an uproar. And within days, they were shouting for his death. What happened?
The most obvious reason for the change in attitude is that the Scribes and Pharisees were seeding the crowd with lies. They wanted Jesus dead so they incited a riot. Crowd mentality will follow the loudest voice, so when the cry went up, Crucify Him!, it was picked up willingly by those who wanted to be on the accepted side.
The second reason is that these were people who were not completely sold as to who Jesus was. He was a spectacle, someone who could put on a good show. Amazing things happened around Him and it was amazing to watch, but they never went past that. They never pressed in to find out who He really was. His teachings were hard to understand, yet they listened because He taught with so much authority. But when He was arrested, they joined the accusers because it must have come out that He was on the wrong side after all. If the Scribes and Pharisees said He was bad, then how could you argue against that? These were the people about whom Jesus said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? ” (Matt 17:17)
The third reason was that some truly believed He was the Messiah, but it didn’t go the way they thought it would . When Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, they cried out, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11: 10) They thought that David’s kingdom was going to be restored and Jesus would overthrow the Romans. When He was arrested, it shook them. It was as if He failed them, personally, because their understanding of His kingdom was completely flawed.
And so the crowd turned, but after the resurrection, things began to come together. His teaching began to make more sense. And those who cried for His death had to come to terms with the stunning gift of salvation that Jesus came to give.