Bible Verses About the Power of God’s Voice

  • Genesis 1:3 ESV
    And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
  • 2 Samuel 22:14 ESV
    The Lord thundered from heaven,
        and the Most High uttered his voice.
  • Psalm 18:13 ESV
    The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
        and the Most High uttered his voice,
        hailstones and coals of fire.
  • Psalm 29:3-4 ESV
    The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
        the God of glory thunders,
        the Lord, over many waters.
    The voice of the Lord is powerful;
        the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
  • Psalm 46:6 ESV
    The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
        he utters his voice, the earth melts.
  • Psalm  68:33 ESV
    to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
        behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
  • Jeremiah 10:13 ESV
    When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
        and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
    He makes lightning for the rain,
        and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
  • Ezekiel 43:2 ESV
     And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory.
  • Joel  2:11 ESV
    The Lord utters his voice
        before his army,
    for his camp is exceedingly great;
        he who executes his word is powerful.
    For the day of the Lord is great and very awesome;
        who can endure it?
  • Matthew 8:8 ESV
    But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.
  • Luke 4:36 ESV
    And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!
  • John 1:1-2 ESV
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
  • Hebrews 1:3 ESV
    He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
  • Revelation 1:15 ESV
    his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.

Weekend Walk, 05/26/2012: Memorial Day Memory Verse

Our church sponsors a Boy Scout troop and many of my friends have sons who participate, so this Memorial Day weekend has taken on a new significance for me recently.

On the Saturday before the holiday each year, my Facebook wall fills with pictures of families placing small American flags on the graves of soldiers throughout cemeteries in our county.  They call this event Flags for Vets and even just from the pictures, I love it.  I love how families are teaching their sons to value service, sacrifice, and bravery.

At first it seems a little unselfish for busy families at the hectic end of the school year, who are likely buried under a calendar packed full of graduations and parties, to take a Saturday morning to honor those who have died.  Maybe it’s hot.  Maybe they missed out on other activities in order to participate.

And yet, considering the sacrifice these soldiers made—to fight and serve our country’s armed forces in order to defend us—then surely the setting aside of a Saturday morning and walking among headstones and grave plots to place a flag doesn’t seem like much too give in return.

Is it really much different in our service of Christ?  How easy it is to feel sometimes like the sacrifices we make for Him should merit something.  We feel a little proud of ourselves perhaps when we reject sin or give up something we want so we can give to another or set aside a Saturday morning to serve our community and minister to the least of these.

But Christ gave everything for us, His very life laid down in painful sacrifice so we could be free from the inevitability of hell and the prison of sin.

Thus, my verse for the week focuses on Jesus’ sacrifice for us and reminds us to love others in return.  It seems a fitting way to remember the responsibility we bear in order to honor the service of others.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Ephesians 5:2

Weekend Rerun:

Marco Polo

Originally posted on February 24, 2011

 

My house really isn’t that big, so it’s a little surprising that my daughters can lose me in it.  And yet, it happens.  I’ll be in the room with my youngest daughter and then I leave to switch over the laundry or put something away in another room.  It’s not long before I hear the shuffle of her feet as she quickly searches for me in one room and then the next.

She doesn’t search long before she assumes the worst–that I’ve abandoned her and left her all alone in the house.  I can tell just by the sound of her voice that she’s standing at the back door and crying for me.

Of course, I would never abandon her.  So, I call out her name as loudly as I can, reassuring her that I’m still here.  Her crying pauses as she listens closely to my call.  Then after just a few seconds of this “Mommy Marco Polo,” she follows the sound of my voice to the one room she didn’t think to look in.  When she sees me, her face lights up for a moment and then she falls into my arms, crying for just a few seconds more as if to tell me how frightening it was to lose sight of me.

Sometimes in the everyday busyness and chaos of life, we can lose sight of God.  We are walking with Him and suddenly we notice that He’s taken another path, and we’re no longer by His side.  Maybe a life crisis or tragedy interrupts our communion with Him and we can’t seem to find God through the darkness we’re in.

It’s so comforting to me that God never really abandons us.  He doesn’t head out the door of our hearts and leave us all alone.   God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV) and  Brother Lawrence wrote, “You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we think.”

Just like my daughter finds me as I call to her, we can also follow God’s voice to safety and reunion with Him and His purposes for us.

John 10:3- says:

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.  He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Sometimes our Shepherd opens the gate and calls out our name so that we’ll follow Him to a new place.  At first, we may think we’ve been abandoned when we no longer see our Shepherd by our side.  But, He’s simply leading us out and He’s issuing a truly personal call for us to join Him.

He knows you, His precious sheep, and He has called you by your name.  God not only loves the whole world, He loves you.  He not only died for everyone, He died for you.  He not only has the whole world in His hands, He has your world in His hands.

Because of His personal care for us, we don’t have to fear abandonment.  We don’t have to fear any circumstance in our life, any tragedy, any deficit, anything new, anything from our past.  God tells us, “Fear not, I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

So, how do we succeed in this “Spiritual Marco Polo?”–this search for God in the dark places of life?  We know His voice from the time we’ve spent with Him, so even when we cannot see Him at work in our lives, we can hear His call.

This takes effort on our part.  It is a discipline to make time in our busy, fast-paced lives to focus on our Savior.  A.W. Tozer wrote, “God has not bowed to our nervous haste nor embraced the methods of our machine age.  It is well that we accept the hard truth now: The man who would know God must give time to Him!  He must count no time wasted which is spent in the cultivation of His acquaintance.”

We might grow in our faith a little when we listen to Christian speakers or read Christian books or take notes on the sermon on Sunday mornings, but only time spent in God’s presence, meditating on His Word to us in the Bible, really teaches us the sound of His voice.

We can argue that we’re too busy to study the Bible.  Our work schedule is too hectic to allow for significant time in prayer.  Our kids are too loud for us to spend any time in meditation.  Yet, the time to learn the Shepherd’s voice is before darkness.   Then, when we cannot see His face, we can still distinguish His voice and respond to His call.

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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 © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 02/11/2012

Hiding the Word:

My seven-year-old daughter likes to play the “When I’m 13 game.”

Oh, when will I be 13?  I’ll be able to do everything I ever wanted when I’m 13.  It’ll be so much better when I’m 13.  I’ll be able to babysit.  I’ll be old enough to take care of a dog.  It must be great to be 13!”

What is she thinking?  I’ve tried to explain many times that when she’s 13, what she’ll likely be saying is this:

Oh, I wish I were seven again.  Life was so much easier when I was seven.  School was simpler.  Relationships weren’t full of drama.  I didn’t have all this stress.  Oh, life was so perfect when I was seven.

Alas, she doesn’t believe me.

It reminded me, though, of something we read in Prisiclla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God, which we studied over the summer of 2011.  She wrote:

“God is the God of right now.  He doesn’t want us to regret yesterday or worry about tomorrow.  He wants us to focus on what He is saying to us and putting in front of us right now.  The Enemy’s voice will focus on the past and the future, but the voice of our God will focus on today.  God’s voice tells us what we can do now” (p. 85).

As Jesus said in the memory verse I’m choosing for this week:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:33-34).

In the complete context of Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to worry about what we’ll eat, drink or wear.  Seek Him.  Seek His kingdom.  Seek His righteousness.  He’ll take care of our needs.  It’s His promise to us.

Have you chosen a verse to memorize and meditate on this week?  I hope you post a comment below and share it with all of us!!

Weekend Rerun

Cultivating a Quiet Heart
  Originally Published 03/15/2011

“I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content”
Psalm 131:1-2 (MSG)

I work from home at my computer so that I can take care of my three young daughters.  Mostly, my work days go something like this:

  • Get everyone settled and sit down at the computer to work.
  • Help child put clothes on her doll.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Get a drink for another child.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Spell “Pocahontas” for older daughter who is systematically drawing every princess she’s ever heard of.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Change baby’s diaper.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Break up fight between older girls who each want to be the same princess.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Get snack for children who declare that they are indeed starving and will die if they don’t eat something now instead of waiting for dinner.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Get lemonade for the children who forgot that they were also thirsty and not just hungry when they asked for a snack.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Look for a particular book for a child who swears she’s looked everywhere, including the bookshelf, and it has just simply disappeared into thin air.  Find the book on the bookshelf.
  • Sit down to work.

You get the idea.

Yesterday, I was working away and getting up every 20 seconds (perhaps an exaggeration, but it FELT like every 20 seconds), when my oldest daughter stood at my feet, appearing like a child in need.  So, I looked at her and sighed and waited for the request.  One more thing someone needed from me.  One more expectation to fill.  One more bit of help to give.

And she gave me a hug, placed a kiss on my cheek, said, “I love you, Mom” and walked away.

My baby does this all day long.  She plays and asks me for things and then at least two or three times an hour, she walks over to me and just lays her head down on my arm and waits for me to stroke her head and kiss her.  Then, she runs off again to dump out all the blocks and pull every book off the bookshelf as she plays.

I love my children and I love that I can be at home to help them when they need it and to give and receive kisses and hugs when all they ask for is affection.   Some days, it’s draining because it’s a job that involves giving, giving, and giving some more.   I know they’re kids who just need help and that’s okay.  I would much prefer they ask me for help than find my house torn apart from their efforts to do things on their own.  Still, sometimes I think a few minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time sitting in one place sounds luxurious.

That hug and kiss from my daughter yesterday reminded me of my relationship with God.   So many days, I go to Him in need.  I ask Him for help, encouragement, intervention, provision, healing.  All day long, I pray for myself, my family and for others.  Thankfully, God is a far more patient parent than I am.  He never sighs with fatigue and frustration when I show up before His throne again with another request.

Yet, how precious are the moments when I come into God’s presence not asking for Him to help me with anything, but just pleased to have His company.

Psalm 131:1-2 says:  “I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content” (MSG).  In the NIV, this description is of a “weaned child with its mother.”

The image here is of a baby content to be with her mother, not because she’s looking for food or the fulfillment of a need, but just because the mother’s very presence brings comfort.

It’s part of the maturing process in this Christian walk.  God weans us so that we don’t just look to Him for help, but we respond “to Him out of love . . . for God does not want us neurotically dependent on Him but willingly trustful in Him” (Eugene Peterson).  It’s not that God no longer cares for us or sees our need.  Instead, He’s asking us to trust His love for us so much that we can lay our burdens at His feet and leave them there, choosing to focus on God Himself rather than our troubling circumstances.  We see His love and not our empty bank account.  We look to His faithfulness and not our illness.  We focus on His might and not our broken relationships.

In his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson goes on to write, “Choose to be with him; elect his presence; aspire to his ways; respond to his love.”

This reminds me of Psalm 42:1-2 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?” (NIV).  It’s a cry for communion and relationship rather than a desperate plea for help.  It’s a call to enjoy God’s presence, not for what He does for us, but for who He is.

“Father, I thank You that You are so patient with me, hearing each of my requests and responding to me with lovingkindness and compassion.  I’m sorry for not spending more time just enjoying Your presence instead of meeting with You in order to get something for myself.  I trust in You to care for me and all these needs that weigh on my heart and I put them aside in order to commune with You and give You praise.  I choose to cultivate a quiet and contented heart.”

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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 © 2012 Heather King

Shout! A Little Bit Louder Now, Part II

It seems like such a simple test, but it’s more complicated than you might expect.

My daughter sat up in the bed in the doctor’s office for her annual checkup.  She had already stepped on the scale, stood up straight and tall, and read the eye chart.  Now it was time for the hearing test.

The nurse held the contraption into her ear and gave instructions.  “Raise your hand when you hear the beeps.”

I know, however, from years of experience that it isn’t so easy. We’ve been through this before.

There was the time she thought that meant raise your hand when the beeps begin and keep holding it up for the whole test.

So, I say, “Now, raise your hand when you hear a beep and then put it back down again so you can raise it up when you hear the next beep. You need to raise up and down, up and down.”

There was the time that she raised her hand just two or three times for the whole test and the nurse said, “Did you hear all those beeps?”

“Yes,” my daughter answered, “but some of them were quiet.”

So, I say, “Raise your hand every single time you hear a beep, even if some are loud and some are quiet.”

Unfortunately, the whole time my oldest daughter is listening intently to beeps, my youngest two girls are trying to tell stories, sing songs, fight with each other, play peekaboo, and any other number of extremely noisy and distracting past-times.

How’s a girl to hear a quiet beep in the middle of all that noise?

Yes, the hearing test sounds so simple and always ends up so very complicated.

In Part I, I talked about how we feel sometimes like we need a microphone to broadcast our cries to heaven so God can hear us.

But, today I’m thinking about our own spiritual hearing tests and how hard it is at times to hear what God is saying.

Sometimes it’s the noisy roar of circumstances that makes God’s voice so difficult to distinguish.

That’s what had the Israelites failing their spiritual hearing exam.

Initially, when Moses appeared back in Egypt with God’s promises of hope and deliverance, “the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped” (Exodus 4:31, ESV).

Then Pharaoh hardened his heart again and again.  Life got harder before deliverance came.

So when Moses reassured them of God’s promise, “they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery” (Exodus 6:9).

They weren’t even listening to God’s messenger any more.  They were listening to bricks and mortar, to an earthly king, to slavemasters and work orders.

God spoke hope and all they heard was hopelessness.  God spoke peace and all they heard was dread and fear.

Then there are the times that we hear voices, many voices—on the radio, from our friends, in our devotions, in sermons, in books and in conversation.  Which is God’s?  How can we discern the sound of His beep among the confusing mess of beeping in our ears?

How do we know what God is saying?

Paul wrote, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

Whether it’s the message of salvation to a lost world or a message of peace to a hurting believer, we hear God when we are in His Word.

We always go back to the Bible.  We always rely on Scripture to discern truth.

That’s what happened when Paul arrived in the city of Berea to teach the Gospel: “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).

Notice they “examined the Scriptures every day.”  The ability to discern truth doesn’t come from a random romp through the Bible every few months.

Discernment develops when we spend consistent time in God’s Word.  Discernment happens when we know His character and the sound of His voice from what He has done and said over thousands of years.  Discernment comes when we can lay every message beside the pages of Scripture and tell when they align and when they don’t.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote:

The Bible is God’s message to everybody.  We deceive ourselves if we claim to want to hear His voice but neglect the primary channel through which it comes.  We must read His Word.  We must obey it.  We must live it, which means rereading it throughout our lives.

We live noisy lives in a noisy world.  It’s a confusing mess at times and an overwhelming cacophony in other moments.

But we know that God’s “word is truth” (John 17:17) and that “The word of the Lord holds true, and everything He does is worthy of our trust” (Psalm 33:4).

Whether we’re sifting through the sounds of circumstances or sorting through information overload, we can always trust Scripture to speak to the truth of God’s character and will.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

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 © 2012 Heather King

Online Bible Study: Week Eight (Chapter 15)

Ladies, we have made it to the end of our study of Priscilla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God and I’m so thankful for the chance to walk with you for this summer.  I urge you to take the time to comment to this post some time this week and talk about your overarching thoughts of this book or study and what God has been doing in your heart and mind these last few weeks.

For those of you catching up, these pages will remain open and available for you to go back and comment as you read each section.  We don’t want to miss what you have to say.

My small group will be starting a new book in September called Stumbling Into Grace: Confessions of a Spiritually Clumsy Woman by Lisa Harper.  In it, she discusses topics like fear, forgiveness, the importance of community, resting, being less critical and yet more honest, contentment and dependence on God.

I won’t be formalizing that into an official Online Bible Study format, but I will be following along the topics of the book with posts of my own here in this space.  So, I hope if you can’t join in my small group, you can grab a copy of the book wherever you are and read along with us.  I think you’ll enjoy it!

And, for those of you going to Women of Faith this coming weekend, you’ll get to see Lisa Harper on stage at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC!  I can’t wait!

My Thoughts

We have a well problem at my house.

Also a but problem.  And yes, I spelled that right.

I say, “Girls, it’s time to clean up.  Victoria, you put away the dolls.  Lauren, you put away the books.”

And I hear:

Well . . . she was the last one playing with them so she has to clean it up.

But playing with that wasn’t my idea; it was hers.”
Well . . . this is too much for me to clean up all by myself!”

But I’m not ready to stop playing.  I want to play some more later.”

It’s a well and but problem if ever I’ve heard one.

I’ll admit it.  God could likely say the same about me.  Maybe about you also?  God speaks to my heart through His Word, through others, through the heavy urging and impression of the Holy Spirit and I say:

But, I don’t want to stop doing this.  I’ve been doing it for years.  I enjoy it.  I’m good at it.  I’m used to it.  I’m comfortable and (this is the ringer), who else is going to do it if I stop?”

or

Well . . . you may want me to do that, but I’m scared and I don’t know how it’s all going to work out.  I’m not experienced enough.  I don’t see how doing this is going to matter in the long run.  What if I fail and mess it up?  What if I heard You wrong and I wasn’t supposed to do it after all?”

We say we want to hear the voice of God.  We long to know what He sounds like and desire spiritual discernment.

That’s what we say.  Yet sometimes we’re desperately pleading from God to hear His voice and then when He speaks, we argue with Him.  So, perhaps this waiting time, this sitting silent before a currently silent God, is more about our willingness to obey than our ability to hear.

Maybe He’s not speaking because He knows we’re not ready to obeyMaybe He’s waiting for our hearts to stop “well-ing” and “but-ing” and instead say to Him, “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands” (Psalm 119:60).

Like Abraham, we should obey “immediately,” “the very same day,” and “early the next morning”  (Genesis 15:10, 17:23, 22:3).

Are you an early riser when it comes to obeying God’s voice?  Or are you more of a lingerer, a wait until it’s comfortable and makes sense, wait until the provision comes, wait until You can’t bear the heaviness of the Spirit any longer kind of child?

Choose to obey in advance of the command.  Set your heart on obedience.  It is the most precious worship to our God, more precious than any sacrifice you could lay at His feet.  “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).

Chapter Outline:

Chapter Fifteen: The Obedient Response

  • On p. 174, she notes that “God does not speak simply to be heard.  He speaks to be obeyed.”  She goes on to say that if we’re not willing to commit to obedience, He may very well choose not to speak to us.
  • She notes that people who always have an “escape plan” are called “double-minded” in James 4:8.  On p. 177, she encourages you to check your heart for double-mindedness if you aren’t hearing from God.

Your Thoughts:

  • Do you have an example of a time you obeyed God even when it didn’t make sense or seemed silly or confusing, and He rewarded your obedience?
  • How quickly do you tend to obey God’s voice?  Has a delay in obedience ever been costly for you?
  • Do you have any quotes, verses or passages that were your favorite in the conclusion of the book?
  • Have you changed anything in your spiritual walk as a result of this study?
  • What’s the most important concept or thought that you’ll take away from this book?

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

Online Bible Study: Week Seven (Chapters 13 & 14)

Welcome to week seven in the study of Priscilla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God.  I applaud you all for sticking with us this summer as we read through her book together.  I know you’re busy; I know you have a million other things vying for attention.  And yet, you have set aside time for this book and I am praying for God’s blessings for you as a result.

If I can give one piece of encouragement, it’s don’t give up!  Don’t leave the book half-read or this study partly done.  If you’ve fallen behind, please jump back in as you are able because I don’t want you to miss some of these great chapters at the end.  You can comment on any older post as you catch up on the reading.

My Thoughts:

“Hello. Thank you for calling heaven, where your eternal destiny is secure.  Our menu options have recently changed . Please listen closely to all of the options before making a selection.

Para Espanol, por favor pulse dos.

Please speak or press your 10-digit salvation account number.

Thank you!  Did you know that you can access God’s perspective on many things at any time from the comfort of your own home?  Your heavenly user guide or Bible is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

To check your good deeds account, please press one.
To request forgiveness, please press two.
For automated guidance about your account questions, please press three.
For doctrinal information, please press four.
For help with health, finances, and relationships, please press five.
For all other prayer requests, please press six.

If this is an emergency, please hang up and call your pastor.

To repeat this menu, please press zero.  If you would like to speak to a customer representative, please press nine now.

All of our customer representatives are currently busy.  Due to abnormally large call volume, your wait may be delayed.  Please hang on the line and we’ll be with you shortly.

Elevator music.  Cheerful ads.  More music to which you drum your fingers.  The doodles on your paper have now progressed from swirls and cubes to intricate designs and flowers.

We’re sorry.  All of our customer representatives are currently busy.  Please hang on the line and we’ll be with you shortly.”

I’ve been on hold with companies a lot lately and the routine is the same with each call.  Press buttons.  Answer questions.  Listen to annoying music and assurances that they will be with you as quickly as possible.

Priscilla Shirer writes this week that God’s “entire goal, since the beginning of time, is to have a personal, intimate, loving fellowship between the two of you.”  That means that He longs for us to commune with Him all the time about everything we’re facing and He responds to us both by listening and answering with love and grace.

He isn’t putting us on hold.  He isn’t creating go-betweens to filter out calls until we really prove we need to talk to the Supervisor on Duty.  He wants to spend time in relationship with us both in the times that we experience joy and the moments we feel pain and He’s always listening as we cry out to Him.

All that we experience is subject for prayer.  In her study on Daniel, Beth Moore notes that Paul encourages us to pray and give thanks “in every situation” (Philippians 4:6).  We’re compartmentalizers some times.  We think, this I can handle, but this I can’t so I’ll pray about it  This I can think through, but this I’m lost on so I’ll pray about it.  This is too small to pray about, but this is big enough to mention in the Sunday School prayer time. This the doctor will answer, but this I’m going to have to leave to God.

There’s not some stuff that fits into a God category and other stuff that doesn’t.  In the sorting bins of our needs, emotions, and thoughts, there’s just one basket and it’s got a big fat label on it marked “God’s.”  Praise God that He is responsive, loving, gracious, and accessible.

Chapter Outlines:

Chapter 13: A Fatherly Voice

  • God has a personal message for us and we cannot assume that He has the same plan for others that He has for us.  Obviously, on basic doctrinal issues, on the matters of sin that His Word clearly addresses, the standard is consistent.  But, on questions of personal choices–who to marry, where to work, whether to work or stay home, and more, we must remember that we “run the risk of becoming legalistic and placing other believers in bondage” if we believe what God has told us applies to everyone (p. 153).
  • God’s voice may be convicting, but it is not condemning.  He doesn’t harp on your sins of the past.  “He desires to bring healing and restoration by forgiving my sin and throwing it into the sea of forgetfulness” (p. 155).

Chapter 14: A Challenging Voice

  • God isn’t always talking about how to make us feel comfortable.  In fact, He’s pretty frequently asking us to step out of comfort and into faith.
  • The quote from Oswald Chambers on p. 163 is pretty challenging: “Have you ever heard the Master say something very difficult for you? If you haven’t, I question whether you have ever heard Him say anything at all.”
  • We may feel ill-equipped for the task God has called us to, but “it is through your inability that He reveals His power” (p. 164).

Your Thoughts:

  • What were your favorite, quotes, passages or Scriptures from these two chapters?
  • Have you ever made a choice that you knew was God’s will for you, but also knew it wasn’t God’s will for everyone?
  • Do you ever struggle with feelings of condemnation versus conviction?  Is it easy for you to accept Christ’s forgiveness and move on or are you sometimes trapped by guilt?
  • When has God called you out of comfortable and into faith?  What has God taught you in those situations where He asked you to do something that was beyond your natural ability, experience, training, gifting, etc.?

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.

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

Online Bible Study: Week Five, Chapters 9 & 10

We’re starting week 5, which means we’re over halfway into the Bible Study!  This is about the point where with busyness and stress it’s easy to miss a chapter or lag behind.  Please be encouraged and don’t give up!  Just read where you are and post when you can so that you don’t miss out on the lessons God wants to share with you and so that we don’t miss out on what you have to add to the discussion.

Chapters 9 & 10:  My Thoughts

It was loud in here this morning.

My youngest had discovered the volume button on the television and was sharing the sounds of Max and Ruby with all our neighbors.  My middle girl pulled out an entire town worth of toys and was neighing for the horses and vrooming for the cars.  My oldest was playing the piano and, in order to compensate for the rising residual noise, she played each note louder and louder.

Sometimes life is noisy.  Sometimes we can do something about it.  We can simplify our schedule, eliminate activities we shouldn’t be doing, take it slow, turn off the electronics for a bit and sit on the back porch on a summer evening and enjoy the silent night sky.

Sometimes, though, the volume of life is outside our control.  There are seasons where no matter how many activities we trim off the calendar, we’re just busy.  We have kids.  We have jobs.  We have carpools and doctor’s appointments, meetings and ministry, caregiving to perform or we’re trading in sleep for 3 a.m. feedings.

There are also seasons of storms, like the hurricane season we’re approaching.  One violent tempest after another shakes our simple fishing boat.  The winds are screaming.  The waves are roaring.  And it’s loud on the sea and no matter what we do, hearing the voice of God is difficult.

The disciples on the boat in the middle of the storm must have been shouting instructions to one another over the wind and waves.  It was loud, frightening and chaotic and there was little they could do about it.

For Elijah, God spoke in a still small voice at the Mountain of God.  But, for Job and for the disciples, God’s powerful voice cut through the din of wind and rain.  Job 38:1 says, “Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm.”  And Mark 4:37-39 tells us:

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”  He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

Jesus, Jehovah-Elohim, the All-Powerful God, spoke through the storm and the terrified ones in the middle of the tempest heard Him clearly and they witnessed His power over their circumstances. His is indeed a powerful voice.

And the point of it all, when His voice commands calm in the loudest of our life’s hurricanes, is that He be glorified.  The disciples were “terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!'”  (Mark 4:41).  On page 125, Priscilla Shirer wrote: “Jesus often chose the option that gave Him the greatest opportunity to demonstrate God’s power.”

He’ll be glorified in your storm.  Let that be what we seek—not rescue for our own sake and safety, but miraculous salvation for the glory of His name and so that we can “focus our attention on Him, learn more about Him,and praise Him” (p. 124).

Chapter Outlines:

Chapter 9: A Truthful Voice

On page 111, she notes that Jesus consistently told His disciples, “I am telling you the truth” and that after His ascension, He sent to them the Holy Spirit who would “guide you into all truth.”  What the Holy Spirit says to us will always be borne out in the unquestionable truth of God’s Word.

That truth should shake us up at times because we should allow it to challenge our traditions, feelings, and actions (pp. 112-113).

She also talks about the power of God’s Word to demolish strongholds in our lives, noting on p. 116: “The lies were quieting and His truth was ringing loudly.”

Chapter 10: A Powerful Voice

Please see “My Thoughts” above this week, as I covered much of what she wrote in this chapter.

Your Thoughts:

  • As always, what were some of your favorite quotes, passages, or verses from this week’s reading?
  • Do you have a Scripture that God has used to break down a stronghold in your life?  Maybe a verse that you go to time and again to fight against the attacks of Satan.
  • Tell about a time that you heard God’s voice clearly in a life storm.
  • On p. 126, she asked, “Do you truly believe there is enough power in God’s voice to do these kinds of things in your life today?”  Would you share with us your answer to that question?

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

Online Bible Study, Week Four: Chapters 7 & 8

It’s Week 4 in our 8-week study of Priscilla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God!  Can you believe we’re about half-way through?

Even last week we had ladies introducing themselves to the group and continuing to post in previous weeks.  Please read back through their comments so you don’t miss anything.

My Thoughts

Life is like . . .”A box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Well, maybe, but for many of us life seems more like standing in the woods with 20 paths to choose and only one way is the will of God.  You eeny, meeny, miney moe, cross your fingers, travel down a road and hope it’s the one God wanted you to choose.

Someone said to me this week, “I just want to make sure this is God’s will.”

Have you heard that?  Have you said that? About a job, who to marry, where to go to college and what to study, what car to buy, where to live, about a million choices you’ve had to make over time?

A few weeks ago, I wrote: “Sometimes we envision God’s will for our lives as a hit or miss discovery.  We occasionally stumble into God’s will and then other times trip right out of it.

When we worry and fret over God’s will in that way, we are saying that God is fickle and demanding, that He removes His love and favor at whim if we fail to choose the right answer in the multiple choice test of life.

As long as our hearts are set on obedience and the desire of our heart is to be in God’s will, we can trust the God who created communication to communicate His desires to us.”

Should we desire to do God’s will?  Most definitely.  Walking with Him is always the best place to be.  Are there things we can do to help us discern God’s will?  Sure.  Know the Word.  Seek Godly counsel.  Pray. And then trust Him.

On page 97, Priscilla Shirer writes:

David concluded Psalm 119:10 (NASB) with these words: “Do not let me wander from Your commandments.”  Notice that he puts the responsibility for staying in the will of God on God Himself.  He says, “You, God—please don’t let me wander from Your will!”  Our responsibility is to get to know God.  His is to keep us from wandering from His will for our lives.

That’s incredible freeing for me, to know that my job is to know Him; His job is to direct me.  We won’t just fall out of God’s will one day.  We actually have to climb out in purposeful disobedience.

Chapter Outlines:

Chapter Seven

On page 92, she writes, “He moves your relationship with Him from a mental one to an experiential one that reveals even more about Him.  As you move from knowing about God, to experiencing God, to knowing God, the more clearly you will discern His voice.”

She highlights over the course of both chapters several of God’s attributes revealed in His names:

  • Jehovah-Jireh, God our Provider, p. 92
  • Jehovah-Rohi, God our Shepherd, p. 93
  • El-Shaddai, the All-Sufficient God, p. 94
  • Jehovah-Shalom, God of Peace, p. 102

She notes on p. 95 that, “As hard as he (Satan) tries to imitate the voice of God, he will never sound exactly like the real thing; and the more intimate we are with God, the more quickly we’ll be able to tell who is really speaking.”

On p. 95, she challenges us to make sure we are not “voice hunting more than God hunting.”

Chapter Eight:

On p. 103, she notes that peace shouldn’t just “be a part of our lives; it is to rule in our lives.”  Having peace in a situation is a powerful way to discern God’s direction.

Not only that, but she reminds us that relational peace should help us decide what to do.  “Peaceable relationships are important to God.  Therefore, we can conclude that the Holy Spirit will not lead us to do anything that in any way hinders peace and unity in the body of Christ” (p. 105).

Your Thoughts:

  • What name of God is most precious to you right now and why?  (She gives some examples, but you don’t need to confine yourself to the names she chooses).
  • What do you think about the idea that “it is God’s responsibility to cause you to hear and recognize His voice”? (p. 98).
  • How does peace factor into how you make decisions?

    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.

Online Bible Study: Week 2, Chapters 3 and 4

Welcome back Bible study friends!  I’m glad to see you here for week 2 of our time together reading Priscilla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God.  Some quick notes before we begin this week:

Thanks so much to all who shared in last week’s discussion. I learned so much from you!

Some of you were still getting the book as of the end of last week.  I want to reassure you that there is time for catching up and no need to feel overwhelmed. These posts of mine will fall at the beginning of each section.  That means you can start the week’s reading on Monday morning and post comments whenever you feel ready (or as you feel ready) all week long.  You can also easily go back to old posts by clicking here: Online Bible Study.

The comments can be short!  You don’t have to answer every question and certainly not all at once unless you want to.  If you only have time to write a sentence or two, that’s perfectly fine.

Here goes week two!

My Thoughts

My family used to have several Magic Eye books, each page filled with bright colors and wavy lines.  If you stared long enough and in just the right way (they say don’t cross your eyes, but I usually did), then a 3-D image would pop off the page for you to see.

I occasionally managed to manipulate my eyes and the book and see the hidden pictures.  What I’ve never been able to do, though, is stare at a close-up photograph of an object and decipher the whole image from just a tiny piece.  (Like the pictures along the side).

In the same way, most of us can see the amazing, gloriously evident work of God in our lives.  When He’s big, awesome, miraculous, life-changing and writing words on hearts in neon, we notice.  We see the “Magic Eye” pictures of God.

But it’s much harder when we look close-up at the images of life to determine the big picture view.  What exactly are we looking at?  A cornflake?  A spider web?  A temptation?  God’s will?  A trial?  A blessing?

We can’t tell because we can’t walk far enough away from our daily lives to scan the entirety of the picture—past, present, future—and see the true image that God sees.

Oh, how simple this faith-walk would be if the magic pictures always popped off the page for us, if the 3-D image of God’s plan was ever before us, magnificent, amazing and clear.  This is what we so often ask for.  We look for signs and wish for physical manifestations of our Mighty God.

Priscilla Shirer says:

We want God to show us His will in a tangible way–a sensational way . . . What we want is for God to speak today the same we He spoke in Old Testament times.  It seemed much easier to discern God’s voice back then (p. 45).

While God is ever-creative and able to speak to us in any way He chooses, since the time of Christ’s ascension:

the primary way God has spoken to His people has been through the person of the Holy Spirit, who confirms God’s written Word and applies it to our life.  The Holy Spirit and the Bible go hand in hand (p. 50).

We so often overlook the powerful gift of the Holy Spirit living in us!  Do we truly understand what it must have been like not to have God with us and in us all the time, whenever and wherever we went?

In the Old Testament, people traveled to a physical building where God’s Spirit dwelt and the Holy Spirit “only came to specific people at a specific time in order to achieve a specific task.  When that task was accomplished (or when those people sinned or rebelled), the Holy Spirit withdrew” (p.49).

We feel jealous of those who saw God intermittently.  Sure it was unmistakable and flashy, but it was not ever-present.  Wouldn’t those same people be jealous of us, having the very Spirit of God with us at all times, guiding and directing us in our moment-to-moment lives?

Even when we cannot see the big picture, we can trust that the Spirit within us does and He’s leading us in the way we need to go.  There’s power in the presence of God if only we learn to listen.

(I’ll post the answers to the pictures at the bottom of the page.)

Walking Through the Book:

Chapter 3: A Marvelous Voice

On pages 48-50, she walks us through primary ways God has spoken over time:

  • Old Testament: The person of a prophet confirmed usually through a visible sign.
  • The time of Christ: The person of His Son confirmed through miracles.
  • After Christ’s ascension: The person of the Holy Spirit confirmed through God’s written Word, the Bible.

That’s not to say God cannot or does not ever use miraculous means to speak to us today.  As she notes, though, “if God chooses to speak in miraculous ways today, these ways do not lay the foundation for us to hear from Him.  Rather they just provide confirmation of the messages we receive through the Holy Spirit’s leading and the guidelines of Scripture” (p.51).

We must always go back to God’s Word as our touchstone of truth.

Chapter 4: A Guiding Voice

Because we fellow-Bible study participants aren’t all from the same denomination, we might disagree about some issues, like how and when we experience the Holy Spirit.  Let’s not get distracted by that discussion because on the foundational, salvation-dependent doctrinal issues we have agreement.

Here’s what we do know: the Holy Spirit within us allows us to hear God’s voice and understand His truth more clearly (p. 57).

She also notes that “our human conscience is not the voice of God.  It isn’t infallible” (p. 59).  Our moral guidelines and consciences can be deceived and deformed.

Over time, though, as we transform into being more Christ-like, there is an agreement between our conscience and the Holy Spirit (p. 67).  Eventually our conscience becomes a method our “control tower” uses to direct our “pilot” as we make decisions.  “He is steering us into God’s will” (p. 61).

This transformation by the renewing of our minds is gradual.  “So, as you listen to your Spirit-led conscience, we must always confirm what we hear” and as she notes, He will graciously confirm it (p. 62-63).

The guidelines she gives us for discerning God’s voice (p. 63):

  • Look for the MESSAGE of the Spirit.
  • Search the MODEL of Scripture for guidance.
  • Live in the MODE of prayer.
  • Submit to the MINISTRY of Eli (counsel of a mature believer).
  • Expect the MERCY of confirmation.

Your Thoughts:

  • Can you give an example from your own life or in Scripture when God graciously confirmed His word?
  • Do you have “Eli’s” in your life—mature believers who give Godly counsel?  How did you choose them and in what ways have they helped you?
  • Have you ever been confused by what God is doing in the here and now only to have Him reveal the big picture much later on?
  • What are some of your favorite quotes/Scriptures/passages from chapters 3 and 4 that you’d like to talk about?

What were those close-up pictures above?  Some of you may be better at this than me and have been able to guess–a pinwheel and a flyswatter. 

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