Online Bible Study: Week Six, Chapters 11 & 12

Welcome to Week six in this eight-week study on Priscilla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God.  Ladies, we are just about to enter the home stretch and these two chapters this week are well-underlined in my book, so let’s get to the good stuff!

My Thoughts:

The enemy has a voice, too.

We talk, study, meditate, read and brainstorm about discerning God’s voice, but the enemy isn’t silent. He’s busy spewing lies and stirring up storms of cacophonous noise to block out what our Shepherd is saying to us. Knowing the sound of Satan’s slimy lies is just as necessary in this walk of faith as recognizing the Holy Spirit’s tug on our soul.

Sometimes Satan’s voice can sound so reasonable compared to the faith God asks us to have. This I know personally. Earlier this year, I began writing in my journal the verses and prayers that clearly directed me to quit my job. With confirmation after confirmation, I obeyed and moved in the direction I saw God working.

And then came this summer.  Our air conditioner broke in our home.  Our car experienced catastrophic demise.  The keys on my piano were sticking and then the pedals broke. The air conditioner in my minivan stopped working and my tire collected a nail.

Those are just some of the battle highlights.

For some reason, most of my emotional breakdowns occur while vacuuming and this time was no different.  While sucking up dirt from my carpet, I was spraying dirt back God’s way:  “I’m done.  I’m done, done, done.  I’m over the attacks and to be honest I’m looking for the easy way out now.”

So, I started planning out a workable schedule and plotting out job options.  I took my eyes off what God told me to do and contemplated the Enemy’s offer for a while.

God’s voice cut through the roar of the vacuum and my sobbing, “Is that what I told you to do?”

In the book of Nehemiah, the returning exiles faced great opposition from enemies of their own as they worked on rebuilding the Jerusalem walls.  Sanballat and his cronies ridiculed the Jews and launched attacks on the work crews.  This enemy was consistent in his attacks and crafty in his distractions.

Finally, Sanballat sent a message to Nehemiah, “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”

It sounded so reasonable, maybe even hinting at peace.

But Nehemiah immediately identified the voice of the enemy. He sent a messenger to say, “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down.  Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3). Despite repeated messages from the enemy, Nehemiah didn’t even alter the rhythm of his hammer to answer the enemy’s barbs.

Undaunted, Sanballat charged Nehemiah with false reports.  It’s something that would have kept me up nights in a row, worrying about my reputation and lies and how it wasn’t fair.  Nehemiah didn’t react in the slightest: “I sent him this reply: ‘Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.'”  (Nehemiah 6:8).

Satan’s a liar.  He’s making stuff up and throwing obstacles in our path.  He’s launching attacks and spreading doubt.  He’s laying traps and giving us “reasonable solutions” to our problems that don’t include God’s will.

We need to be like Nehemiah, so certain of and focused on what God wants us to do that we don’t waste hours or days or life seasons defeated and confused.  Instead, we tell Satan, “I can’t waste time in order to step down to your level and worry about what you’re doing.  I’m busy and you’re just making up stuff in your head anyway.”

Nehemiah’s focus and unwavering obedience to God didn’t just mean the walls were built successfully.  It meant they were built in record time.

In just 52 days, his work crews closed the last gap and laid down their hammers.  “When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:16).

When we overcome the attacks of the enemy, ignore his lies, shut down his schemes and avoid his traps, we will receive the blessing that comes with obedience.  More than that, our lives will give testimony to God’s mighty strength.  No one could look our way and see our own accomplishments; it’s clear that the work will have “been done with the help of our God.”

Chapter Outlines:

Chapter 11, An Invitational Voice

On pages 132-133, she notes that “the beauty of Jesus’ life on earth is not that He did His Father’s will but that He did His Father’s will and nothing else.”  I conjure up lots of seemingly great ideas, but in essence I’m doing what God told me to do PLUS some other good stuff.  Do we really want to see what God is doing and only that?

On page 135, she begins a discussion on why God’s plan for us includes the church.  I love how she described living life as a solo Christian with Christian media as our only food is a problem because “it allows you to act like an only child.”

The church needs all of us with the spiritual gifts Christ has given us in order to function.  But, that doesn’t mean every need we see means we need to fill it (p. 137).  Sometimes it means we’re to pray and wait on God for the answer.

And if God calls us to something in the church, “believe that He has already equipped you to do it” (p. 138).  Our weaknesses will just give Him more opportunity to show off His strengths.

Chapter 12, A Timely Voice

Waiting.  Who likes waiting?  What Christian in history has ever found waiting easy?  And yet God asks us to do it and most of us hate it and often rush ahead of God’s will.

On page 143, she notes that John 16:13 “paints the picture of the Holy Spirit as our ‘guide.’  The term used actually means to guide while one is on one’s way.” So, God gives us “continuous direction on a need-to-know basis.”  Now, God and I don’t always agree on when I “need to know,” but the bottom line is His timing is perfect and I’m simply impatient.

My other favorites from this chapter (oh so many to choose from!!):

  • “”Don’t try to make your time constraints God’s” (p. 144)
  • “Until you know plainly what to do next, keep obediently doing what you are sure of” (p. 144)
  • “Habakkuk had to climb above the ground level of his life in order to focus his eyes on God and tune his ears to hear His voice” (p. 147).
  • “Is God only God when we hear Him speaking or see Him moving?  Or will we still trust that He is still our Father, even if we hear no voice from heaven and see nothing happening?”  . . . We must believe that He is working on our behalf even when He chooses not to say a single word.  In His silence, He speaks volumes to us.  He commands us to wait on Him and focus our attention on His holiness” (p. 148-149).

Your Thoughts:

  • What passages, verses and quotes in these chapters were your favorites?
  • How good are you at doing the Father’s will and nothing else?
  • How have you seen God equip you for ministry when you, in your own strength, were not up to the task?
  • How would you answer her question: “Is God only God when we hear Him speaking or see Him moving?  Or will we still trust that He is still our Father, even if we hear no voice from heaven and see nothing happening?”

  • Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
    Copyright © 2011 Heather King

8 thoughts on “Online Bible Study: Week Six, Chapters 11 & 12

  1. Michelle Betts Girard says:

    As I have said many times if I see something that needs to be done it is so hard for me to not just do it. If it is something I can do and it needs to be done then I jump before I pray and say I will do it. That is why I chose my verse for this week.

    Galatians 1:10
    For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

    It is that time of year where all the empty positions in the church need to be filled. It isn’t that I mind doing something. Actually it is the opposite. I would love to do just about anything any one asked. But that doesn’t mean that God wants me to do all those things. As a matter of fact, He probably intends for someone else to do them.

    That is why I looked at Chapter 11 a little differently and really felt like Chapter 12 went with Chapter 11 for me.

    My favorite passages in 11 where:

    “you must make a decision today to be willing to conform your life to God’s plan.” and
    “Deciding now to be willing to refocus your plans is the only way you can willingly and joyfully do what God is asking of you.”

    But for me this means NOT doing anything unless I feel God is telling me to. This is going to be a stretch for me. I will have to have faith that God is not going to let me miss a job He wants for me.

    It will be a struggle for me. Believe it or not I do know that things will get done anyway but at the same time I have an overwhelming feeling that if I don’t do it no one will. I know that that isn’t from God.

    I thought Chapter 12 was good for me in connection with the idea of not doing anything unless it is what God wants me to. That means waiting for God’s direction before I say yes to anything.

    • Heather C. King says:

      Yes, I thought her writing on only doing God’s will and not just whatever project needs to be done and whatever good idea we imagine was truly a challenge. You’re right that it will take faith that God isn’t going to let you miss a job He has planned for you. I think it also takes confidence in the church family. Believing in God sometimes is easier than believing in others. We must trust them to step up when God calls them to action and to be equipped by Him to do the job.

    • Marie Auker says:

      I agree that sometimes it’s hard not to jump in when you can. Just don’t get out of balance. We ARE to continue doing the last thing God told us to do until we get clear direction to turn in a different way. I’ve seen way too many people camp-out on their pew for far too long because God hasn’t made it clear to them what they’re supposed to do yet.

      • Heather C. King says:

        Definitely good point, Marie. You’re right in that we can use “waiting on God” as an excuse to do nothing, even when there is a need and even when He does indeed want us to fill it. This idea taken to either extreme could have us burnt out from trying to run the entire church or sitting on the pew doing absolutely nothing year after year except listening to a sermon and heading on out the door for lunch.

      • Michelle Girard says:

        I remember one person in particular that I knew along time ago who who told me she was “taking a break” because she was overcommitted and God wanted her give up everything so He could show her what she was supposed to be doing. She is still a member of that church but now rarely even comes so I understand what you mean Marie but I honestly can’t see myself ever camped-out on a pew LOL.

        I am more prone to feel totally overloaded and feel the only way out is to start over fresh somewhere else. That kind of church hopping is much worse than pew camping.

  2. Heather C. King says:

    I’ve read some great quotes on listening and hearing God this week. Just thought I’d share!

    “It is essential that we acquire the habit of hearkening to His voice . . . listening so as to lose nothing of what He says to us.” Francois Fenelon

    “At every whisper of His voice and every nuance of His work, turn and give Him your full attention. Don’t wait for His thunderous commands to move you; jump on His gentle suggestions. Like a beggar who lives for a glimpse of the king, let your heart treasure anything He offers.” Chris Tiegreen

    “God is not silent. It is the nature of God to speak.” A.W. Tozer

  3. Janis Hedgepeth says:

    I had a bit more trouble getting into these two chapters. I don’t really know why. I too liked the section on belonging to a church family. We do need the love and support of our Christian family to help us in good and bad times.
    I too find waiting hard. I know God’s will is perfect and that is timing is as well, but when you want something you want it NOW!
    I am enjoying the many Bible verses that others in this study are sharing. They speak to me so clearly.

  4. Marie Auker says:

    Heather, I too had many many things underlined and hilighted in these 2 chapters. Several things I have underlined are almost word-for-word from Henry Blackaby. I’ve done the “Experiencing God” study several times. She either has too, or has borrowed a lot from it! Especially the parts about joining God as he reveals spiritual activity to you.

    One of my favorite parts of Ch. 11 (p. 134-135) is where she’s quoting from Peter Lord. It says, “The worse thing you can do-the quickest way to become insensitive-is to ignore an impression. So you must commit yourself to listening to your Lord for the purpose of responding to what He says, and you must not allow yourself to hear without responding. She goes on to follow that up with giving up our own agendas and following His wholly.

    I also loved her discussion on the church family. I happen to be an only child. So I can act like one very well! I know I’m not east to live with. Y’all are stuck with me anyway!

    My other favorite part of this chapter was the very last paragraph. I’m going to let everyone go back and reread that one! Not that it’s anything new or different. I just loved how she put it!

    Then we have to get to the waiting part in Chapter 12. We always have to get to the waiting part!!! One of these days I will learn not to hate the waiting part!

    I really liked her thoughts on the “silence” part. I have to confess that this is probably my weakest area. I have become aware of it in the last couple of years. If God doesn’t speak to me for a while, I’m guilty of not trying for a while. I figured I’m busy, have a lot of things to do. If God isn’t going to speak to me right now, why waste my time?!? Now don’t take me wrong, it’s not like I totally give up praying for months. But I may for a few days or a couple weeks. I’ll check back in with Him every once in a while. I’ll still thank him for my food, pray over the prayer-chain stuff. If I sit and listen to complete silence for too long, I’m done with that. I loved her many reasons she gave for it though. Strengthening our relationship, building our trust, letting go of control, or simple obedience. The line, “Sometimes He just watches and waits to see if we will simply obey His command to ‘be silent, and know that I am God!’ ” Psalm 46:10 . Someone already mentioned the line she followed that up with. “Is God only God when we hear Him speaking or see Him moving? Or we will still trust that He is still our Father, even if we hear no voice from heaven and see nothing happening? “We must believe that He is working on our behalf even when He chooses not to say a single word.”!!!! Actually God is God. It doesn’t matter whether or not I see Him moving or hear Him speaking! It doesn’t even matter if I like it or not. God can choose (or not choose) to do what He wants. It’s His perogitive.

    One of my favorite verses from this section is Psalm 27:14.. “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.” By the way, have I told ya’ll yet that I like Psalm 27? Have you read it yet? It’s awesome!

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