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.

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.

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 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

Welcome to the Bible Study: Part One

For those of you signing on for the first day of our online Bible study, welcome!  For those who are regular blog subscribes but who are not doing the study with us, I hope there will still be some blessing for you in these weekly posts.  Be assured that I’ll still be doing the regular devotionals during the rest of the week.

Let me give you, in a way, a grand tour of this Bible Study of ours.

If you haven’t yet introduced yourself to the group, I hope you’ll take a moment to do so.  It will help us know who is in the group.  You can click here to visit the introduction page: Before Our Online Bible Study Begins.

I’ll begin each week with a brief thought/comment on the reading.  I’ll take you through a simple outline or walk-through of the chapters for that week.  Then I’ll pose some questions for you.

You can either read the book in advance and then read through my entire post in one sitting and answer all at the same time.

Or, you can start here in this space.  Read my intro.  Read some from the book.  Read some of my outline.  Read some more from the book, etc.  Then answer the questions, all at your own pace.

How you do it is up to you and your time and preferences.  This post today will be the longest I write because of these extra introductory instructions.

Every time I post for the Bible study, I will link the new post up on the Online Bible Study space on this web site.  You can easily access every old post from that page.  I hope that makes it easy for you to come back multiple times and do this study in pieces throughout each week or catch up if you get behind.

You can also find the schedule I plan to follow on the Online Bible Study page.

The only thing I ask is that as many of you share as possible your thoughts, comments, questions, and responses.  We want to hear from you.  I know some of you will be reading this book alongside us and you prefer not to chat in this space.  I understand and, again, there is no pressure here.  The more people who share, though, the more benefit we will get from this study.  It is your experiences, knowledge and testimony that we don’t want to miss.

Ready to get started?  I sure am!  Let’s go!

Discerning the Voice of God, Part I
(Intro and Chapters 1 and 2)

My Thoughts

If you called my family home during my teenage years and I answered the phone, you would have heard me say, “Hello, Mason residence.  This is Heather speaking.  May I help you?”

And you’d probably hang up the phone the first time you called for fear that you had mis-dialed an attorney’s office.

That’s how I answered the home phone for years.  It’s because we had a problem in my house—I sounded like my mom. There were a few accidents before my fancy phone answering ways.  People called and launched into a full conversation with my mom after my brief “hello,” while I scrambled to announce that they had the wrong person.

God doesn’t usually speak to us by first identifying Himself.  “Hello, this is heaven.  God speaking.  How may I help you?”

It just isn’t that simple, nor should it be because that would require very little intimacy or personal relationship.  Hearing, identifying and obeying the voice of God takes discernment, which Webster’s dictionary tells us is:  “Keenness of insight and judgment.”

As you read or have read the first part of this book, some of you may have books filled with underlines and highlights and you’re excited to learn more.  Others may be shrugging your shoulders thinking, “That’s all?  This is basic.”  And in some ways it is.  Discerning the voice of God is a basic foundational skill in our journey of faith.

But, do we ever get to the place where we stop growing in this area?  Isn’t there always more to learn?  Discernment is “keenness,” which says to me it is a sharpened skill developed over time.

That’s why I hope that you veterans of the faith will freely and honestly share about how you’ve grown to know God’s voice, so that we can learn from you.

We learn discernment through practice.  We talk with God so much, we listen so much, that His voice eventually becomes distinct from everything else we hear in our lives.  It is experience and sometimes mistakes that turn the basics written down in a book into a living, breathing reality of our faith.

Walking Through the Book:

The Intro:
I personally know a Bible-teaching, home-group leading Christian who does not believe that God speaks to us today.  He believes everything God has said and ever will say is written in the Bible.  More than that, he teaches it is pretentious and prideful of us to assume that God cares enough about our individual lives to have anything to say about them.

I loved that Priscilla Shirer answered this right from the beginning of her book.

On page 14, she reminds us that God is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).  So, His pattern of speaking to prophets in the past continues with us today.

She also says that it is God’s voice—the fact that He was an active, involved, listening and responding kind of God—that set Him apart from the myriad of fake gods surrounding Israel.

I think Tozer’s quote on p. 17 (before chapter one begins) sums it up:

Those who do not believe God speaks specifically will simply ignore or explain away all the times when God does communicate with them.  However, those who spend each day in a profound awareness that God does speak are in a wonderful position to receive His word.

Amen!

Chapter One:

Here are the basics of preparing to hear God’s voice:

Come Expecting:  That’s what Habakkuk did.  He dared to ask God such difficult, pain-filled questions and then he waited for God’s response, fully expecting to hear.

Come As You Are:  I love the quote beginning on page 23: “God is gracious, and when we want to speak to Him, He invites us to come as we are – questioning, complaining, and confused.”  He then takes those questions and uses them as a way to reveal more of Himself to us.

Come Determined to Wait: Habakkuk made his complaint to God and then said, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give for this complaint” (Habakkuk 2:1).  He waited there patiently for God to answer and didn’t move until he heard God’s clear voice.

Come Believing: God didn’t foretell a fairy tale future for the prophet.  But, when Habakkuk heard God speak, he moved forward in belief—even in the difficult times.  He concluded with my favorite set of verses from the whole book:

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

It was the sacrifice of praise.

Chapter Two:

Her emphasis in this chapter is on taking time to listen.  Praying in such a way that we don’t just talk to God, but we take time to hear from Him.  She outlines the disciplines of praying Spirit-guided prayers, meditating on God’s Word, and worship as the foundation that allows us to hear God’s voice.

Your Thoughts:

You can share anything you like in this space on the topic of listening and hearing from God.  Here are some specific questions I’d like to ask you:

  • Can you tell us about a time that you  clearly heard God speak?  How did you know it was Him ?
  • Do you have a favorite quote, verse or passage from the book that you want to share with us?
  • What discipline of the faith do you most struggle with?  Do you have any tips you’ve found that help you in this area?
  • What do you most want to learn about discerning the voice of God from this study?

You can post multiple times throughout the week as you read more and read what others have to say.  Please reply to one another and encourage those who have shared with your responses and answers.

You should see a little tiny check box at the very bottom of this page that says: Notify me of follow-up comments via email.  If you click that box, you should receive a notice when someone replies to this post and you won’t miss what others have to say.

I’m praying for you this morning as we begin this study, that God will make His voice clear to you and that you will be able to hear Him and then radically and passionately obey what He’s calling you to do.

~heather~

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.

What about me?

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3

Last week, I needed to emphasize a life lesson and a character issue with my oldest daughter.  Leaning in close to her, nose to nose, I cradled her chin gently in my hand and met her gaze.   Her face was reddened by anger, her fists clenched tightly at her side, her body tense.  And I began with these whispered words, “I love you.”

Behind her, my youngest baby girl stood watching us intently.  When she heard my first words to oldest sister, my tiny one began bouncing up and down in excited anticipation.  With the limited vocabulary of “Mama, mama, mama!!” and her little dance, I knew what she meant.  She was saying, “Me next, Mom!  My turn!!!  What about me?  Do you love me, too?  Tell me you love me, too!”

Have you ever been the “other child” jumping up and down before God, trying to attract His attention?  Have you listened to a friend testify to the miracle God did for her and cried out, “Me next, God!”?  Have you sat silently in the corner of the small group room, listening to others talk about how God spoke to them, how He gave them this verse, how He told them to do something and wondered exactly what God’s voice sounded like?  Because you don’t know if you’ve ever even heard it.  So, you sit at your table with your Bible and journal and pen and say, “Okay, God, let’s get this You speaking to me thing started!”  And you read God’s Word.  And that’s it.  No lightning strikes or neon signs for you.

Then you ask
What about me, God?
I know You “so loved the world,” but do You love me?
I know You “know the plans” You have for people, but do You have a plan for me?
I know You are “The God Who Sees,” but do You ever see me, one tiny person on this planet of people?

There are those times, even for those of us who have walked with God for decades, when we hear silence from heaven and our prayers, heartfelt and constant as they are, remain seemingly unanswered.  We’ve checked our hearts; it’s not sin blocking God from our view.  And so we dance for Him, we wave our hands at heaven, we remain on our knees a little longer, we press in a little closer—all so that He will get personal with us.  Not general love.  Specific love.  Not universal plans.  Personal plans.  Not just words on a page.  A message designed for us.

When I read the account of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, I wonder if Sarah was doing her own jig before God and asking “What about me?”  Walk through this story with me and you’ll see what I mean.

In Genesis 15, God came to Abraham and promised him a flesh-and-blood heir and offspring as numerous as the innumerable stars in the sky (Genesis 15:4-5).  But God was silent about Sarah.  As far as the promise stood, Abraham could have fathered the child of promise through anyone.  From Sarah’s perspective, Abraham was the chosen and anointed one and she was the barren wife standing in the way.

In Genesis 16, moved by a desire to see God’s promise fulfilled, Sarah steps aside, asks Abraham to marry her maidservant Hagar and he does.  When Hagar, so easily pregnant while Sarah had spent decades with negative pregnancy tests, began to mock her mistress, Sarah threw her out.  Forget this surrogate motherhood thing.  Sarah decided no heir was better than an upstart maidservant with a baby on her hip.

There in the wilderness on the way back to Egypt, God appears to Hagar.  He tells her to name this son Ishmael and adds, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count” (Genesis 16:10).

Can you imagine what Hagar’s homecoming reception must have been like for Sarah?  She stood by while Hagar announced that not only was she carrying Abraham’s child, but that it would be a son and his name was picked out by God and he was promised numerous descendants.

Sounds like the answer to the promise to me.  It probably sounded that way to Sarah, too.  God appeared to Abraham and blessed him.  God appeared to Hagar, the Egyptian slave girl, and blessed her.  Sarah stood in the corner appearing overlooked and pushed aside.

In Genesis 17, God reappears to Abraham and clarifies the promise, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.  I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her” (Genesis 17:16).

I know you’re thinking, “It’s about time” because I certainly am!  The funny thing is, Abraham didn’t seem to bother telling Sarah anything about this.  He kept this astounding promise to himself while she was still waiting to be noticed.

Finally, in Genesis 18, the Lord personally visited Abraham’s camp and asked one important question before making any more statements of promise—“Where is your wife Sarah?”  This was no message just for Abraham.  This was no promise meant for everyone other than Sarah.  No, God called out her name to get her attention, to make sure she was listening at the flaps of her tent before He said anything else.  Then, once He knew she was poised to hear, He gave the promise, spoken for her benefit—“I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

She laughed!  It seemed unbelievable that God could include her in this promise, a promise so outside the realm of physical possibility. If Abraham had told her about God’s latest visit to him, maybe Sarah would have been prepared for this, but instead she was surprised, even taken off guard and skeptical.  After all this time, it must have seemed like God’s promises were for everyone but her, that He appeared to others but not to her, and that He had a plan for everyone except Sarah.

And yet God had a plan for her, a blessing for her, a message just for her.

He does for you, as well.  Heaven might seem silent at the moment.  You may see God at work in the lives of others and feel His absence in your own circumstances.  God, however, is a personal God, with a plan, a blessing, a message  just for you.  “Though it linger, wait for it;  it will certainly come and will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).


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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 © 2011 Heather King

Marco Polo

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 © 2011 Heather King