Continued from here.
The final piece you need to know is that if you want to know God’s will, you must actually DO IT. God isn’t going to keep “speaking” to you unless you do what He tells you to do. As an example, let’s say my response to God’s invitation to lead a Bible study at a Christian transitional home was no. I am likely to find that God stops “speaking” to me until I obey.
Years ago, I told God that I was going to do X and wanted Him to bless this path. I felt conviction that this wasn’t His will, but I didn’t care and did it, anyhow. For one miserable year, I received no guidance from God. He did not begin “speaking” to me again until I obeyed Him by repenting of my rebellion and changing direction.
A primary purpose of God communicating with you is so you will know what His will is and do it. Per Priscilla Shirer in her book, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God is Speaking, God wants to speak to you: Why would He die for you but then refuse to talk to you? However, if you aren’t going to do it, then what’s the point of Him “speaking” to you? So don’t bother asking Him what His will is unless you intend to actually do what He tells you to do.
If you will pay attention to “coincidences” that are collectively an invitation to join God where He is already at work, pray for wisdom and discernment, and confirm that what you are hearing is consistent with God’s Word and character, then you can step forth boldly, confident that you are indeed walking in God’s will. And then when obstacles arise, you can continue to move forward boldly, knowing that the enemy is going to try to stop your progress. Don’t let the enemy shake your confidence. He might make the path very rocky, but your God is in control, and His purposes will be accomplished. Walk boldly and courageously, mighty warrior. May you one day find yourself walking into the Hall of Faith!
[Graphic: Cover of Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God is Speaking. Courtesy Amazon.]
Continued from here.
On Priscilla Shirer’s web series, The Chat, I watched an interesting testimony, which you can watch here, of a couple who survived infidelity:
What struck me was that this happened to a strong Christian couple who deeply loved each other and God. When husband Bob Meisner saw some red flags and expressed his concerns to his wife, Audrey, she assured him (and truly believed her own words) that she would NEVER commit adultery. Audrey said wise words to the audience: When we believe that we would NEVER do something, we remove God from that area of our lives.
Because Audrey believed she was not vulnerable, she excluded God from this area of her life and did not realize how subtly she was being led astray. She did not become aware of the degree of self-deception until after she gave in to an emotional and physical affair that resulted in a pregnancy. Much heartache could have been avoided had she simply been honest with herself.
I make that observation not in judgment of her but in judgment of myself. How many times have I told myself that I would NEVER do X, Y, or Z, only to do that very thing? How many times have I lied to myself about my motives, becoming angry whenever someone who loves me offered constructive criticism — not to judge me but to save me?
I have come to the sobering realization that I am capable of doing just about ANYTHING sinful. Jesus said that we are guilty at the point in which we engage in a sin in our hearts, even before we act on those things. By being honest with myself and recognizing my propensity for evil, I invite God in to protect me. In other words, I submit that part of myself to God’s authority, recognizing that the only way for me not to fall is to lean on God and follow His ways, which protects me from falling.
And because I realize my propensity to do evil and my complete reliance upon God to avoid that path, I become less likely to do it … not because I would NEVER do it but because I’m acutely aware that, without God, I likely WILL! I recognize that I am fully dependent upon God to walk in His ways and throw myself at His mercy, begging Him to show me the way out of temptation to do evil.
To be continued…
Continued from here.
The reason that so many Christians are living in defeat is that they are spiritually lazy. Priscilla Shirer says that God does not place His blessings directly into our hands. Instead, He puts them in our reach. We must reach – stretch ourselves – to grab hold of them. Thus, numerous Christians are living in day-to-day defeat because they are unwilling to stretch themselves and develop the muscles needed to reach the blessings. How God’s heart must break to see our deliverance hanging overhead but never grasped because we refuse to engage in spiritual disciplines and awaken long enough to see the deliverance that is within our reach.
The enemy is happy to continue playing soft lullabies to lull us into a state of spiritual sleep. As long as we are asleep to the realities of the spiritual world, he need not fear God’s children. A sword left in its sheath does not provide protection.
So, stop being a lazy Christian and WAKE UP! God did not place you where you are to take a long nap. He placed you there to accomplish a Kingdom purpose, and you need to WAKE UP to do it! Wake yourself up by DOING WHAT GOD TELLS YOU TO DO.
In which area of your life are you struggling the most? What does the Bible say to do about it? Then DO IT!! Is your heart broken in two? God says to pray for the person you broke your heart and forgive him or her. As you do this, you’ll receive the healing you seek. Is your bank account empty? God says to tithe, and he will open the floodgates of heaven into your life.
The Bible is a weapon – a sword! – that empowers you to break free from all that ensnares you, but your sword isn’t going to do you any good while it’s sheathed. Pull it out. Meditate on God’s Word. Do what the Bible tells you to do, and WAKE UP!!
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace playing a drum and yelling, “Wake up!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]
Priscilla Shirer has written a 90-day devotional entitled Awaken: 90 Days with the God who Speaks, which includes spiritual reflections that come to her as she goes about her day-to-day life. The title “Awaken” is appropriate for these reflections because each time something in the physical world teaches us something about our spiritual journey, we are gradually awakening to the truth of God.
The Bible uses the term “sleep” for someone who is lulled into believing that the physical world is all there is. By contrast, those who are “awake” view the physical world through the lens of the spiritual:
But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
‘Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.’ ~ Eph. 5:13-14
So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. ~ 1 Thes. 5:6-10
The theme of being “awake” versus “asleep” is woven into scripture, and it’s not talking about physical sleep. Thus, you and I might be sleepwalking through our lives, lulled into believing that what we can see and touch is all there is. What does it mean to be awake versus asleep spiritually? That’s the focus of the blog this week.
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cover of Awaken: 90 Days with the God who Speaks. Courtesy Amazon.]
Continued from here.
Sadly, many Christians regularly pray without seeking God’s face. How is this possible? Their prayer lives involve all talking and no listening. They bring their requests to God, like children bringing their toy requests to Santa Claus, but never take the next step of actually listening for a response from God. Despite the Bible being filled with stories of God talking to people, many Christians do not believe God will actually “talk back,” so they never take the time to listen for His still, small voice.
In one of her Bible studies, Priscilla Shirer asked a great question: “Why would Jesus die for you but then refuse to talk to you?” If you think about it, the Bible is one continuous story about man’s separation from God and God’s initiative in restoring that relationship. First, God communicated from afar, such as through a burning bush. Next, He lived among his people in a tent and later in a temple. Then, he came and lived among people through Jesus, and then after Jesus’ death and resurrection, He came to live inside us through the Holy Spirit. After all of that trouble, is He really going to refuse to talk to us?
God promises us that we will find Him when we seek Him with our whole heart. That’s the level of seeking that will heal our land. We must continue pursuing God until we find Him, refusing to settle for anything less. We seek Him through his Word and through our quiet time with Him. We tell Him that we will not stop seeking Him until we find Him, and we do this day after day, week after week, and month after month until God shows up. As someone who has been through this process, I assure you that God will show up, and when He does, it will profoundly change your life. If everyone in the Body of Christ would do this, it would also profoundly heal our land.
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace looking through a telescope and asking, “Where are you?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]
Continued from here.
Paul gave us more detailed instructions for how to fight spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10-20. Go ahead and read that passage.
The Armor of God has seven components:
- Belt of truth
- Breastplate of righteousness
- Shoes of the gospel of peace
- Shield of faith
- Helmet of salvation
- Sword of the spirit (Word of God)
I have actually found an eighth component that has been powerful in my spiritual warfare as well: worship. Repeatedly in the Bible, worship preceded great victory, such as before Gideon defeated the Midianites. While worship is not included in the Armor of God passage, it’s an important tool to use in addition to the other seven in spiritual warfare, so I will discuss its role as well.
If you will intentionally weave all eight components into your battle strategy, the enemy will be unable to stop you, no matter what he throws your way. I am not claiming that spiritual warfare will become easy – that has not been my experience. However, you can learn to be victorious, even under extremely heavy spiritual attack, which will strengthen your faith and help transform you further into Christ’s image.
For a more detailed understanding of the Armor of God, I recommend working through Priscilla Shirer’s The Armor of God Bible study. This is the best resource I have found to explain how to put on each component of the Armor of God and start fighting back!
[Graphic: Cover of The Armor of God. Courtesy Amazon.]
Continued from here.
In my last blog entry, I talked about Priscilla Shirer’s Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted Bible Study, in which she asked the question, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” While Shirer indicated that asking this question is enough to redirect her away from her anger, that wasn’t the case for me. When I was angry about my cold last month, I remembered to ask myself this question. My response was, “Perhaps I don’t have good reason to be angry, but my reality is that I AM angry. What do I do with these angry feelings now?” Clearly, I need more steps to help me “unchoose” anger.
As is evident by my response to the question, I did not view my anger as a choice I made. I believed it was a state of being that was outside of my control, but that simply is not true. The Bible is clear that anger is a choice:
Tremble [with anger or fear], and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still [reflect on your sin and repent of your rebellion]. ~ Ps. 4:4
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. ~ Eph. 4:26-27
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. ~ Jas. 1:19-20
All three of these passages indicate that we CHOOSE anger. How do we choose it? By our thoughts!
Think of anger as a fire burning inside of you. If you use your angry thoughts to pour gasoline on it, the fire will rage. However, if you “starve” the fire by choosing thoughts that don’t stoke the fire … or, better yet, thoughts that pour water on the fire … then your anger will subside. As with many Biblical truths, it really is that simple. The problem is that simple isn’t easy.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace holding her hand to her face and saying, “I cannot.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]
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Priscilla Shirer’s Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted Bible Study talks about making sure you have good reason to be angry. For those of you who don’t know Jonah’s story beyond him spending three nights in the belly of a large fish, Jonah was a prophet who ran in the opposite direction when God told him to go to Ninevah. Ninevah was the capitol of Assyria, which was Israel’s enemy, and Jonah did not want God to show those people mercy. After the fish incident, Jonah did what God told him to do, resulting in the entire city repenting, which angered Jonah.
God’s response to Jonah was to ask whether he had good reason to be angry. Shirer put much emphasis on this question and said she now asks herself this question whenever she feels angry. Before allowing herself to indulge in her anger, she stops and thinks about whether she has good reason to be angry.
What might be a good reason to be angry? The Bible records Jesus driving out people involved in buying and selling in the temple and overturning their tables. While the word “angry” does not appear in the passage, one could surmise that he was angry as he did this. Assuming that is the case, he had “good reason:”
And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” ~ Mark 11:17
So, a good reason to be angry might be when God is being dishonored. Jesus’ focus was clearly on God, not on himself, and I think that might be the key to whether we have “good reason” to be angry.
In her Bible study, To Live Is Christ: The Life and Ministry of Paul, Beth Moore contrasts Paul with Jonah and points out that even though Jonah accomplished God’s will, he did so with the complete absence of joy. Perhaps one reason we should ensure we have “good reason” to be angry is that we pay a heavy price when we choose anger – the absence of joy.
[Graphic: Cover of Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted (Bible Study Book). Courtesy Amazon.com.]
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In my last blog entry, I shared that I keep a journal (as recommended by Priscilla Shirer) in which I write down helpful tips for keeping the faith. Here’s what I added to help me the next time I am sick and having trouble standing my ground in my faith:
WHEN YOU ARE SICK:
Satan knows this is your Achilles’ heel. He is powerful but has no authority over you. He will try to deceive you that you cannot access God’s joy because you are sick – cannot sing praise & worship or go to church or Bible study. THIS IS A LIE!
God is inside you, and He IS joy, so you have access to unlimited joy at all times, even when you are sick.
Humble yourself. Satan will tempt you to grow larger – to become full of yourself because you feel sick. GROW SMALLER. The Kingdom of Heaven is within you. Grow smaller to access joy, peace, and contentment, even when you are sick.
Fight back: It is written…
- Greater is the one who is in me than he that is in the world. ~ I John 4:4
- No weapon forged against me will prevail. ~ Is. 54:17
- In this world, I will have trouble. But take heart! Jesus has overcome the world. ~ John 16:33
This is a test! You are being tested in preparation for being promoted.
GOD IS BIGGER.
Satan is lying to you. DO NOT BE DECEIVED. He has no power over you. The grave is empty. He is a defeated foe.
This season is temporary and WILL END. God is with you. Satan has no power over you. The grave is EMPTY! Big tests come before big promotions. You are surrounded by songs of deliverance.
The next time I am sick, I will read the notes I wrote to myself so I will remember how to fight back. And then, perhaps the juice that comes out of the squeezed fruit will be sweeter.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace on a sticky note with the words, “Cheer up” and a smiley face. Courtesy Bitmoji.]
Continued from here.
I wish I could say things got better after Day 11, but they didn’t. Day 12 put me completely over the edge when my teenage son was diagnosed with the flu. I did not handle that information well.
On her TV show, Enjoying Everyday Life, Joyce Meyer talks about how we don’t know what’s inside a fruit until it is squeezed. The fruit might look good from the outside, but it’s only when you squeeze it that you learn whether that fruit contains sweet or bitter juice. Let’s just say that the juice that came out of me on Day 12 was not sweet.
I don’t know why battling illness is such a trigger for me, only that it is. I am grateful that God understands why I react the way I do and is not perplexed by it. Perhaps you are like my son and go with the flow when you are physically ill. If so, you likely have something else – some other life event – that shakes you up and squeezes out juice that isn’t sweet. Regardless of what your Achilles’ heel is, you can rest assured that Satan knows what it is and will squeeze you at just the right time to get the worst possible reaction out of you. When that happens, here’s what you need to remember…
God already knows what’s going to come out of you when life squeezes you, and He loves you, anyhow. One reason He allows us to be squeezed is so we can become aware of areas in which we need work. He also allows these painful seasons to provide us with opportunities to grow. If I had not gone through that horrible day, I never would have known that God and I still had more work to do in that area.
One thing that helped me get back on track was reading my journal. In one of her Bible studies, Priscilla Shirer recommended writing down the things that God teaches you in a journal so you don’t have to keep “relearning” the same things. I have been doing this for over a year, and this offered me a lifeline when I thought I was going to lose my mind on Day 11. As I read through my journal, I remembered various ways to fight back and find my footing on God’s solid rock. Later, when I was in a calmer place, I added information to read the next time I am sick so I don’t have to start from scratch. I’ll share that information in tomorrow’s blog entry.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace’s head on a pillow under the words, “I’m sick.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]