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!
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 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).
- 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