Taking regular time to stop and listen to God is not a strong suit of mine. I do hear from God on a fairly regular basis. I know his voice and how he talks to me. Unfortunately I hate to admit that I kind of stink at being intentional about taking time to listen to God. This topic isn’t what I was going to originally write about this week. It was only because of taking time to listen to God that I decided to write about listening to God!
My notes are lost
I seem to have lost my notes for my original topic. I’m serious – I can’t find them anywhere! I searched my quiet time journal. I’ve looked through my Bible and sermon notes. I looked through my computer documents. I’ve looked through my phone notes. I even looked around for random post-it notes where I may have written some things down. Nothing. Now, I can’t even remember if I even wrote the notes down to begin with, but I could’ve sworn that I did.
After searching around frantically for my notes for well over an hour, I decided to just pray about it and ask God to help me find them. Then I remembered my quiet time about stopping and listening to God. It was about taking time to just stop and be quiet. So I decided to do that after I prayed about losing my notes.
Maybe they were “lost” on purpose
I began to think that maybe my notes were “lost” on purpose because God had other intentions of what he wanted me to write about this week. If I’m right, it’s what he’s been gently correcting me about recently. It’s about making time to stop and listen to him on purpose.
While listening, I had the thought, “Well, maybe they’re lost on purpose because I’m not supposed to write about them. Maybe I’m supposed to write about something else. I usually pray every week about what I’m going to write about, but I don’t think I did this week. I think I just decided last week what this week’s topic would be and then didn’t really spend a whole lot of time in prayer about it. Well, I guess it serves me right!” Leave it to God to conveniently cause my notes to go missing when I try to do things my way without consulting him or listening to him!
This past week we talked about how you have to look for and discover your gifts. It’s kind of like you’re a detective on a case trying to solve a mystery. One of the steps of the search process is to ask God about your gifts and purpose. After all, He’s the one who created you! If anybody would know what your gifts are and how you are supposed to use them it would be God.
I guess you could liken it to inquiring about a painting. Who would you ask if you had questions about the details of a painting? The artist, of course. What about a book that has left you with some questions? Who would you ask if you wanted to know more than what was on the surface? You would ask the author! The creators of the works have all of the knowledge and the inside scoop. They knew what they had in mind when they created their work.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
God is the also the author who has already written your story. Because of that, He already knows how it ends!
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)
Tips to Start Reading the Bible on a Regular Basis
After writing last week’s post about reading the bible by “spiritual cramming”, I was hoping that nobody would feel condemned or have that feeling of “yeah, yeah, I hear that all the time.” Those same thoughts and feelings are all too familiar for me so by no means do I want to impose them on others. My hope is just to encourage people to start somewhere and to make having a regular quiet time a routine. I really just want to share about it and encourage others because of the difference it’s made it my life. Let me share how I got started…
When I first started reading the bible regularly it was really out of desperation and despair. It was the summer before my sophomore year in college, and my boyfriend of 3 years had just broken up with me. I’m pretty sure he was cheating on me too because not too long after our breakup he was engaged to the girl that he swore was just his “friend”. I was devastated. It seems a little silly now, but I truly was in pain then. Side note: Never minimize or make light of the pain somebody is feeling because their hurt is very real and very consuming to them in that moment. Even though it seems silly and trivial now (and I’ve gone through MUCH worse since then), it really was a pivotal moment in my life.
During that time I was an emotional hot mess, and I couldn’t sleep. I started reading the bible at night along with a devotional book (My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers) to find some comfort and to help me get to sleep at night. It honestly was the only way I could get to sleep and to deal with the anxiety and panic attacks. I often fell asleep reading the bible, and then I would later feel guilty about it. I had a thought come to me though. I now know it was God talking to me—though I didn’t know it at the time. The thought was, “What better way to fall asleep than by spending time with me?” It was true. I could have fallen asleep watching TV or listening to the radio, but instead I did so by reading the bible or praying. It really did give me peace.
My regular bible reading continued for the next few years. To be honest, I’m not really sure why it stopped or how I got out of routine after that. Continue reading →
Recognizing God’s Love By Building Your Relationship With Him–Part 2
Last week I started a reply to comment that I received on a previous post, “How to Overcome Feeling Unloved or Unwanted”. I shared that learning to recognize God’s love is a process that takes time and starts with building a relationship with God. This week I’d like to finish up my reply by giving the intentional steps that we need to take in order to build our relationship with God and to learn how to feel God’s love. I will give more details on what more is needed besides attending a getaway, retreat or conference in order to have lasting healing and success.
“I’m 59, and to this day still feel unloved. I believe what you say about God’s love for us. I can’t seem to sit and really spend time with him. I do talk to Him all day here and there. I know in my mind He loves me but the rest of me doesn’t. I’m so insure from lack of feeling love I push people away. I hate it. I have five kids whom I love so much along with 9 grandkids. At this point I prefer to be dead, but I don’t want to give up. I want to know true love (not from a man at this point divorced twice) and happiness here on earth before I die. Are there places to go for a week or 2 for adults to get away and have bible studies or spiritual help?”
Previously I addressed that there’s a need for some emotional and spiritual healing to take place. I gave an analogy of a broken arm and how a cast (like a retreat or a conference) is the start of the healing process, but more healing needs to take place on the inside by taking some steps on purpose to have lasting, long-term recovery. I mentioned that the 4-step Formula for Success would be beneficial in this process. The formula consists of learning, taking action, using persistence, and make sure we have support.
Take Some Practical Steps to Build Your Relationship With God:
The first step we need to intentionally take to build our relationship with God (and to learn to recognize God’s love by spending time with him) is to learn about him. There are several ways to do this. Continue reading →
“And He said, Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of gentle stillness and a still, small voice.” 1 Kings 19:11-12 (AMP)
It feels weird to say that God speaks to me or that God told me something. I often wonder if people think I’m a little crazy when I say things like that! I don’t hear voices in my head, and I’ve never heard an audible voice. It’s just simply my own thoughts that sometimes seem to come out of nowhere or reading a word or phrase in one or more bible verses that just seem to stick out for some reason. In the bible, God spoke to Elijah. It says in 1 Kings 19:11-12 that there was a strong wind but the Lord was not in the wind, and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake, and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire and after the fire was a still, small voice which was the Lord’s. Many times I think that people believe that if God is going to speak to us it is going to be a big, grand ordeal, but that is rarely the case.
Here’s one picture that comes to my mind when I think of how God talks to us…that God talks like Bumblebee the Transformer. 🙂 In the Transformers movies, you know how Bumblebee used to talk to Sam? He used parts of songs on the radio or audio clips to get what he wanted to say across to Sam because he couldn’t actually talk to him since his voice box had been damaged. It was funny because he would actually take different parts of different verses and choruses from various songs or audio clips or quotes from movies and piece them together to form his message.
That’s kind of how God talks to us sometimes. God talks like Bumblebee in that He uses bit and pieces of things to get messages across to us at times. Sometimes He uses different verses, or parts of verses, out of the Bible. Sometimes it’s the same words or phrases repeated in different verses of the bible that we come across. Other times He uses our thoughts or even other people. God can speak to us in many ways—often with just one word or a phrase. Sometimes He’ll speak to us through our surroundings—it may be a bumper sticker or billboard, a song on the radio, something we read online, an overheard conversation or something on TV. Sometimes we’ll come across a repeated theme in various areas (i.e. you might hear a church sermon, hear a song and/or read a devotion that all seem to coincidentally have the same message or theme).
“Then he (Jesus) added, ‘Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more.’” Mark 4:24 (NLT)
I previously shared a post on What Does God’s Voice Sound Like? I’d like to share some more tips on how to learn and recognize God’s voice. God’s voice becomes more familiar as we grow in relationship with Him.
This is very similar to meeting a new friend. At first, we probably don’t recognize their voice very well, and they have to introduce themselves when they call on the phone. However, the longer we are friends and the more time we spend with them (and hear them talk), the easier it is to recognize their voice. Eventually, they won’t even have to say who they are or introduce themselves.
The more time spent with someone makes them more familiar and more recognizable. My husband, Eric, just loves to tell the story (aka make fun of me 🙂 ) about the time we went on our first “official” date. I went to meet him at a mall. He was waiting outside the front door for me, and I walked right past him because I didn’t recognize him. In my defense, we hadn’t known each other very long, and he DID have a baseball hat on pulled down low over his eyes! Nevertheless, he will NEVER let me live it down. I shudder to think of all the times I must have done the EXACT same thing to God—walk right past Him due to not recognizing Him when He was standing right in front of me.
It’s getting easier for me to recognize God’s voice the more I mature and the closer I get to God. In hindsight, I wish I would have learned to recognize God’s voice a lot sooner. I can look back on my life now and see poor choices and/or missed opportunities where I had a “red flag” but didn’t realize at the time that God was speaking to me. Some things that I’ve learned along the way are the “What”, the “When”, the “How” and the “Why” of God speaking. My goal is to share a few of these things with you in hopes that you too can learn to recognize God’s voice so that you might miss fewer opportunities or make fewer poor choices.
It never ceases to amaze me how God talks to us. I’m positive that He’s talked to me my whole life, and I didn’t even know it was Him. The closer I grow to God and the stronger my relationship gets with Him, the easier it is for me to recognize God’s voice. Did you know He talks to you all the time too? You may have not even realized it was Him, simply mistaking God’s voice as just a random thought going through your head or just an odd coincidence of events. Today, I thought I’d share a story I wrote a while back about hearing and recognizing God’s voice in something as simple as home décor.
“My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 (MSG)
Jesus told me where his arm was. That was the message that I had sent to my husband, half-jokingly, half-serious. I have a wall decoration that is a carved wooden cross with a figurine of Jesus hanging on the cross. Eric had brought it back to me as a souvenir from Budapest when he was there on leave while in the military. There is a place in the living room where it usually hangs. I had temporarily removed it to put up some Christmas decorations in its place. It had been stored in one of the empty Christmas boxes. After Christmas was over and the decorations were taken down (I’m not going to tell you how long after Christmas this was), I had taken the cross and set it on an end table waiting to hang it back up. One of the kids later passed by it and asked where Jesus’ arm was. It had been broken off. I assumed that the kids must have broken it while playing with their cousins and neglected to tell me.