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3 Things to Avoid When God Begins to Speak

The other night, I sat down to have what I assumed was going to be 20-30 minutes of prayer and reading in one of my devotionals.

Then, God showed up and decided to join me!  What a novel concept.

I read one random page in my devotional book containing one particular scripture verse.  Next, I felt prompted to check out the verse of the day in YouVersion.  This was a different passage, but same theme.  Huh?

I then decided I would pop my earbuds in and experience some worship music.  You want to know something?  The bridge of the song I chose relayed the exact same message as those two scripture passages!  What the heck?  You know God’s trying to get your attention when he puts the same thing in front of you 3 different times.

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When God takes you down this sort of path, it goes without saying that it would be wise to pay attention more than usual.  I would suggest, however, 3 things to avoid when he starts speaking this clearly.

  1. Avoid DISTRACTIONS – Remain in that moment as long as possible.  But sometimes God catches us just as we are on our way out the door to work or an important engagement.  In these times, it is critical that we come back to this moment and word with God as early as possible to allow him to continue speaking.
  2. Avoid HURRY – Don’t jump to conclusions trying to quickly decipher what is being said.  The things of God are often quite large and can take time for us to truly gain a grasp on the specifics of what he is either telling us or asking of us.  Be patient.  Meditate calmly on his voice.
  3. Avoid PRIVACY – Shortly after you’ve had a bit of time to process what you are experiencing with God, go ahead and share it with 1-3 people.  These should be individuals who you know love Jesus and who honestly care about you and your future.  Ask them for their thoughts on what God might be saying.  Then, look for a common theme.

What have your experiences been when God starts communicating in such a bold way that your mind and heart are simply taken captive?  I’d love for you to leave a comment below.

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5 Things To Consider When Asking Jesus To Work

I’m sure we’ve all been there.  Circumstances which are out of our control often lead us to saying things like, “Lord, I need a miracle” or “God, why is this happening to me” or “I’m not sure if I can make it another day.”

Can you relate?  (I thought so)

Take a quick look at this passage from Matthew 20:29-34.

And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him.  And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”  The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”  And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?”  They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”  And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

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So try to keep these things in mind when asking Jesus to move in your circumstances:

1)  When asking Jesus for his mercy, make an emotional investment (Lord, have mercy on us).  These guys asked more than once.  They put their heart into the request.  If it’s not meaningful enough to us, it probably won’t be meaningful to Jesus.

2)  Ignore the naysayers (The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent).  There will always be those around us who doubt God, his ability to do anything, or that he even cares.  When this happens, surround yourself with believers who are mature in their faith who will partner with you in prayer.

3)  Be specific with your request (What do you want me to do for you?).  Jesus already knows, but it’s that relationship thing again.  He wants you be make it personal with him.  Notice, however, that he doesn’t ask the men ‘How.’  This is super important.  Simply answer the ‘What’ and trust him with ALL the details.

4)  Trust that he does care about you and why you are making your request (Jesus in pity touched their eyes).  When translated, the word ‘Pity’ literally means to have compassion.  Jesus was moved by their situation…and he’s moved in yours as well!  Remember this the next time you ask for something.  And imagine Christ looking intently into your eyes with compassion, caring, and genuine concern.

5)  Follow him, even more than before, once he answers your prayers (and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him).  Never take his touch on your life for granted.  There’s always a reason, and it will almost always bless someone else who is not even involved in your specific situation.

 Today, may you cry out to Jesus with all your heart and clear expectations.  And may you find peace as he turns and looks into your eyes.

Comments are always welcome!

4 Healthy Steps For Your Current Season

I have found that we are constantly in one of four very distinct seasons of life.  And these four seasons tend to cycle.  I’m sure you can relate.

4 seasons

Mountain top | This seems to be the shortest season.  But it also tends to be the time in life when we don’t seek after God as aggressively.  This makes sense, right?  When everything is going great, marriage is solid, and the car is running well…we often find ourselves not NEEDING GOD as much.

Heading into a valley | You know this season.  It is inevitable and you can virtually sense things rolling down hill with increasing momentum.  It’s Monday morning.  You receive a disturbing phone call on your way to work.  The car breaks down on the highway.  Maybe uncomfortable changes are on the horizon at work or in your church.  This season is not horrible, but it’s an indication of things getting harder.  And they’re usually just around the corner.

In the Valley | This one…..well, it’s just terrible.  It’s the polar opposite of the Mountain Top season and lasts quite a while (or at least appears to).  Crying ourselves to sleep at night and waking up with a sarcastic outlook on each new day is pretty common.  This season is so bad and so difficult to maneuver through, believers can actually experience a deeper and richer intimacy with Jesus.  We tend to search harder, pray more often,  and look for evidence of His activity in our lives with more detail than every before.

Heading to the mountain top | Relief!!!  It’s here.  Can’t you feel it?  Subtle signs of hope begin popping up in areas where pain and discouragement were just the other day.  This fuels us with new energy for life and a positive look forward into tomorrow.

So, what can we do when we’re in the two most challenging seasons of life?  Here are four practices I have personally learned to be life-saving for me over the years.

1. Stay in God’s Word |Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)  The Bible is packed full of encouraging, insightful, and knowledgable passages like this.  More than this, though, it is God’s Word.  He uses the Holy Spirit to speak and reveal things from His heart to ours through reading the Bible.  In the dark seasons it’s less about how much we read, and more about reading anything in God’s Word every day.    

2. Get out of the house | Surround yourself with others.  People who genuinely love you and have your best interests in mind are going to be encouragers to you.  They can also be a powerful sounding board in you situation.  God chooses to speak to us through other healthy believers quite regularly.  Seek them out.  Take a risk and let others into your life.  This rarely ends badly.

3. Read | Find a book or blog that deals with your season of life.  Something that you find helpful and encouraging or challenging.  Ask a friend or pastor for names of good Christian authors they read.  Reading helps redirect our attention away from our own stress and worry.  It provides positive food for our mental energies.  Find something today and dig in!

4. Pray for the difficult things | It’s one thing to pray for help, strength, or simply the need for the next ‘feel good’ season to come quickly.  To accept the season we are in, however, and ask the Lord to teach us something new is a whole new approach.  It’s hard, but take intentional moments to set aside your pain and dismay in order to ask God to grow your understanding of Him and His will.

What season are you in today?  What did you learn, or how did you grow, from your previous season?

Leave a comment below.  Let’s grow in this life together.

 

 

 

Photo credit: http://www.ryankapp.com

Priorities vs. Distractions

The woman was scrolling through her Facebook feed while driving.

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And she wasn’t just sitting at a red light either.  It was after dark so I could clearly see what was on her oversized smart phone.   It’s not like she was dialing 911 to report an accident, or was using GPS because she was lost.  It was Facebook, people….FACEBOOK.

This isn’t a personal rant against phone use while driving.   This incident did, however, remind me of the dozens of ridiculous distractions we face every day.

For followers of Jesus, distractions can be quite costly.

Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.  – Proverbs 4:25

I’ve experienced this in my own life just this past week.   I love my early morning habit of reading God’s Word and meditating in prayer.  It just creates a solid kickstart to my day.  It frames my thought life.  Well, that didn’t happen for 3 consecutive days this week (insert pouty face).

Why?

I’ll give you one guess.  Distractions!  Gmail…Evernote…social media…my task list…incoming texts and random thoughts.  Why did these things keep me from the most important habit of my day?  Because I allowed them to.  I could have (and usually do) taken measures to guarantee this didn’t happen, but I didn’t.  Call it being lazy or losing focus.  The fact is I didn’t make it a priority on those days.

Where are you losing focus?

  • Your marriage
  • Work
  • Personal goals

Recognize what is distracting you.

  • Screen time (internet and T.V.)
  • Voices around you
  • Unhealthy habits
  • Negative influences
  • Lack of sleep

Once we have figured these things out we can start making appropriate changes.  This might involve better time management, reading a book on a specific subject, or limiting the time we spend around certain people.

What does this look like for you?  Join the discussion below.  I’d love to hear from you.