Turn Down the Noise

Psalm 17:6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words (ESV. )

The other day my husband and I got into an argument. It started with a misunderstanding. I walked in the living room to find the children watching a learning video. I asked (or attempted to) my husband a question. He didn’t hear all of what I said. There was too much noise. He told me first to speak louder, then responded with a statement that didn’t match my inquiry. We both thought we could just speak louder and the communication would be fine. It wasn’t.

Not until the television was quieted and the kids were settled did the mess actually get resolved. Both of us clearly thought we understood the other person. But we didn’t. I sought God shortly after in prayer and exclaimed in frustration, “Speak louder. I can’t hear you!” In that moment a spiritual light bulb went on. God was speaking. He didn’t need to talk louder. I needed to be quieter.

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I have been processing the times in my life when I thought God wasn’t speaking. I’ve discovered a few things.

  • God communicates primarily through His Word.
  • He doesn’t always use words
  • God speaks through His creation (sometimes people)
  • Silence doesn’t mean ignored
  • His voice is, in general, more like a whisper
  • You have to listen to hear
  • He speaks through peace or a “check/caution”
  • If we are in sin or not seeking wholeheartedly we cannot usually hear (though there are scriptural examples of God speaking through a donkey or using a whale with Jonah)

The bottom line is…God and the world around us has lessons to teach. We must be humble enough to recognize them and apply the wisdom to our lives. Sometimes our lives are too loud to hear Him.

Today, I want to encourage you to be still. Read the Word, pray, and let your prayer be a two way conversation. Speak, then listen. Or perhaps let God speak first. Just recently I’ve been doing that. My formula used to always be “I speak then He speaks.” Really, what He has to say is more important than my words. God is much smarter.

Get somewhere quiet. Or at least be in solitude with yourself. Riding a bus is alone although there’s people around you. In the car. The shower. While vacuuming. On break at work. There’s time if you really want to.

Get quiet. You never know what He’ll say.

1 Samuel 3:10 ESV And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

Job 13:22 ESV Then call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and you reply to me.

Psalm 119:135 ESV Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.

Colossians 4:2 ESV Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

15 Years

Isaiah 38:5 “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.

*This is my second attempt to write this. This entry was nearly complete when the app crashed this morning, leaving me to retype it. I was going to give up but I believe the Spirit wants this shared.

After doing Bible reading this morning I exchanged messages with a friend. We got on the topic of healing and weariness. She is disabled and I care for my disabled son. Few understand the toll it takes on a person. When your normal looks like a war zone and you need 100 volts and are running on maybe 10.  After a few minutes I went about my day and saw this meme.. .

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I could hear the Ruach (Spirit) speaking loud and clear.

Will you choose to walk in the spirit or the flesh? What fruit do you want to see? 

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Choose wisely.

The phrase “15 years” came to my spirit. I thought about King Hezekiah. He was given 15 more years. He knew when his time on this earth was up. Most don’t. Some get the heavy news that they have x amount of time to live.

What would you do if you were given 15 years? Or any set amount? What if it was just 1 year, 1 month or 1 day? 

I know for myself, some issues that seem important now wouldn’t matter. People and their eternal souls would have a fresh and sobering perspective. Waiting in a long line wouldn’t be so irritating since I have breath in my lungs. That hurtful comment someone made would be easy to forgive. The $50 someone never paid back would be trivial in light of facing eternity. My son’s disability needs wouldn’t matter as much as my time just spent with him.

Hours after hearing of my mother’s passing, a Tim McGraw song came on the radio as I was surfing through stations. Live Like You Were Dying. My mother was already gone, but I was still living and am this moment. The question in my spirit again surfaces.

How would I live? How am I living?

I think human nature tempts us to take things for granted and be lackadaisical. Some would party and live it up, repenting and cleaning up their lives right before their time. Others would approach life with more caution and love. One thing is certain: life would be treated differently.

Why? Where our hearts are would be evident in our treasures. 

Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Today, I want to leave you with questions to think on. If you knew exactly when your time to die was, would you live differently? Would you treat people differently? Would you change how you spend your time and money? Is there bitterness in your heart that might be easier to let go of?

Hezekiah’s praise and humility for God was rewarded. More time was given to him, not for fun, but for God’s glory and purposes. We can and should enjoy the journey but we are also on a mission here. The harvest is many; laborers are few.

Will you labor for the Kingdom while you can? Will I? Lord help us. That is what matters. Whether it’s 1 year, 15 years, or 50. To God be the glory.

Luke 12:42-48 ESV And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.

But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful.

And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

 

It’s a Molehill

Exodus 15:11 “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?

I have a message in my spirit, and the phrase I keep hearing is “it’s a molehill.”

Sometimes we are fighting something in the spiritual realm and it’s bigger than we realize. These instances often require fasting and prayer. But then there’s times when we make something out to be far bigger than it is. It may be a simple misjudgment, misunderstanding, or misperception. You might see a huge shadow on the wall that’s coming from something tiny. I have a wonderful example to illustrate this.

Thirteen years ago now, I was staying at a couple’s house from church. One weekend they went away on a trip. I was in the house alone when I heard a noise. I turned on as many lights as I could and had my cell phone in my hand. I could feel my pulse racing and my hands were slightly shaking as I grabbed a large steak knife. I opened the garage door to find part of the window broken in the garage. I called the police.

Long story short, that window had been broken for a while and there was droppings of some kind of critter. It was a small animal or rodent that was making the noise. But at the time, it felt like I was under siege. It seemed as though the most powerful weapons were needed. In defense, years earlier I was at a house that someone was trying to break into. So I don’t regret calling the authorities. However, it’s a good example that something can appear so real and yet not be.

We serve the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

Nothing is too big or too hard for God. Far too often we give the devil credit when it’s just us. I know for my life, there have been plenty of times when the enemy didn’t need to do much, if anything. Can you relate? A mountain was made into a molehill out of a bad thought habit or assumption.

The enemy doesn’t need rebuking nearly as much as just plain resistance.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Two parts to this: we submit to God and we resist the devil. The promise? The enemy will flee.

Today, I want to simply remind you that God is bigger and He’s able. No enemy is greater than Him. Beyond that, the devil and his kingdom is defeated. We have the victory. Don’t live in defeat to strongholds any longer. Don’t make mountains out of molehills. The next time you’re facing something uncomfortable or scary, pause and pray. Read the Word. Ask God for His perspective. This can save all of us a lot of energy and peace.

Psalm 135:5-14 ESV For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses. He it was who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and of beast; who in your midst, O Egypt, sent signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants; who struck down many nations and killed mighty kings, Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan, and gave their land as a heritage, a heritage to his people Israel. Your name, O Lord, endures forever, your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages. For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.

Hearing and Doing

Zechariah 7:11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear.

This morning I read Zechariah, Psalms and 1 Peter in my devotions. Zechariah 7:11 and part of Psalm 135 stood out to me. The theme of having your senses tuned to God’s voice was strong in my spirit.

How many have ears, eyes, or lips that do not discern and proclaim truth? How many are lulled into a false sense of complacency?

At church I heard a sermon on complacency. I’ve been meditating on that to keep myself challenged, motivated, and with proper vision. When we get comfortable we become lazy, selfish, and unfruitful. Far too often I’ve been there. The Spirit is calling us in this hour to wake out of our spiritual slumber. There’s a dying world and many hurting people all around us. We cannot afford to be passive, for the enemy isn’t.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Vigilance.

We must live with wisdom in these dark times. And yet, how many professing believers do not hear, see, or speak truth? Far too many. Truth isn’t comfortable. It forces us to face well treasured sentiments and man made things with the scrutiny of the Word. When we take a hard look at some beliefs, traditions, and habits our idols become exposed.

What is our life pointing to and glorifying?

I ask myself that question often. If I was charged with being a believer in Christ, would there be enough evidence to prosecute? Beyond that-and more importantly-do my actions shout louder than anything spoken or written? The last thing any of us should desire to be is a believer with a Jesus bumper sticker, driving rudely and carelessly. Or someone with a Facebook profile that appears from heaven with a private life that looks like hell.

Are my ears stopped? My eyes blinded? My mouth muzzled or unholy?

Today, I want to leave you with a challenge. The truth is in His word. Read it. Hear and truly listen. See and discern with action. Speak truth, refuting and resisting darkness and lies.

Be willing to face truth, no matter how difficult.

Prayer I’ve prayed: Father, forgive me for the idols in my heart and anything or anyone I’ve put before you. Remove the scales so I can see and hear. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you (Psalm 19:14.) Help me to be a doer of the Word so my life in every area proclaims Your truth.

Psalm 135:15-21 ESV The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them. O house of Israel, bless the Lord! O house of Aaron, bless the Lord! O house of Levi, bless the Lord! You who fear the Lord, bless the Lord! Blessed be the Lord from Zion, he who dwells in Jerusalem! Praise the Lord!

Isaiah 1:18 ESV “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

Mathew 7:24 ESV “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

James 1:22-25 ESV But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Resting in the Storm

Mark 4:40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Even now you have no faith?”

Yesterday I attended my weekly women’s Bible study on Ephesians. One lady shared something very stressful her family is walking and praying through. Because of who all is in the group and the sensitive nature of what’s shared, I cannot disclose further details. While she was tearfully sharing her concerns, I kept hearing the word rest.

Rest.

Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of strong storms in life. We have a choice when it happens. We can panic like the disciples did in Mark 4:38. Or, we can have faith and trust. I said that matter-of-fact but it’s much easier said than done. When you’re in a boat that’s filling with water and you’re being jolted and tossed by huge waves, our natural eyes see only disaster.

Imagine being in that boat with Jesus (Yeshua) sleeping. His presence wasn’t comforting them. All those men knew was there was apparent danger and Jesus seemed oblivious to it. But he knew something we can’t fully grasp-the sovereignty of God.

We must keep our eyes on Him.

When storms are raging, we must force ourselves to stay focused on God. He is our peace. There’s a time to fight and engage in warfare. But I’ve found that the Spirit leads me to rest in Him more than wield an offensive weapon. I put the armor of God on per Ephesians 6 daily (say it aloud) and I pray so for others. However, even in the offensive moments of battle when I use the sword (the Word), there’s an element of rest. Nothing is really mine or about me. In faith I walk in His victory over the enemy. I think it, speak it, and live it by rest.

Who I am=who He is.

Isaiah 26:3 ESV You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

One year when my oldest son was an infant, late at night, I looked out my window in early December. A house had big lights on that just said: Jesus. When life feels dark I remind myself of that memory. His light shines through the darkness, and the deepest black yields to the brightest light.

Today, I want to encourage you to rest in God’s love and faithfulness. Life isn’t easy but He will give us the strength to carry on until He calls us to Himself. Day by day, even second by second.

When you’re in the storm, trust the One who calms the storms and created the world to keep you.

Why are you afraid? Rest.

Mark 4:35-41 TLV Now on that same day in the evening, He says to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side.” After leaving the crowd, they take Him along in the boat, just as He was. And other boats were with Him. A great windstorm arises, and the waves were rushing into the boat. The boat was beginning to fill up. But Yeshua was in the back of the boat, sleeping on a pillow.

They wake Him up and say to Him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are perishing?” So He woke up and rebuked the wind. And He said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind stopped, and it became totally calm. And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Even now you have no faith?” They were struck with awe and said to one another, “Who is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

When You’re Not OK

Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Last night I was at a women’s prayer and Bible study group. We were discussing the topic of serving others when it turned somber and heavy fast.

I was sexually assaulted 40 years ago and I’m still not OK…

One lady said that with tears in her eyes. Another lady speaks of being raped at 5 years old. A third opened up about her trauma. Between my own dysfunctional upbringing, my son’s huge autism needs, those I know that are sick, dying or in terrible pain, trying to smile through a broken heart etc it was intense. There was an unuttered question booming in this small room.

Is it OK that I’m not OK?

Fear was mixed with raw emotion and vulnerability. It’s as if someone opened their junk drawer and said, “Do you think less of me now?”

There’s no pretense.

As I quietly sat and processed everything being shared, I admit my heart is heavy. I had seen the most horrific child abuse and murder story on social media earlier that day. Both my husband and I feel drained. I spent a few minutes that morning just sobbing on the floor of my son’s room. It was full of shredded diaper pieces, stuffing from a toy, and bedding all over the floor. He ripped off his window trim. Again.

Be thankful.

I was literally saying to myself over and over “in everything give thanks.” So many things need fixing. My husband’s work is grueling and he’s got terrible back pain.

I’m OK right? I have to be OK.

Something I’ve noticed, with much grief, is how people of faith treat each other in struggles. We often infer that struggling is bad. Many who open up about needs are almost punished. Avoided.

Where’s your faith?

Some ask. What is faith?

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith is the hope firmly in my heart. It is unseen with physical eyes.

As I was listening to these women share their own “I’m not OK” a deeper understanding was being birthed in my spirit. I’ve read about the blessings, favor, goodness, mercy, and love of God so many times in scripture. I’ve sought him countless times in my 20+ years as a believer. And you know what?

Even when I’m not OK, I am OK as long as I’m growing.

Matthew 5:48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Being perfect in this verse isn’t flawless. It’s mature. Living in a state of maturation isn’t without mistakes or struggles. It’s how we respond to them that determines how “OK” we are.

  • It’s OK to hurt as long as we’re seeking healing and being faithful in the process
  • It’s OK to be angry over genuine wrongs, as long as we’re not in a state of offense and we pray, love, and forgive
  • It’s OK to cry sometimes when life is overwhelming, but we must dry our eyes and keep going
  • It’s OK to not feel happy all of the time, as long as we don’t live in a state of depression

As we heal and grow we will exude the spiritual fruits more and emotional stability. But being human means being flawed. We are all a work in progress.

Today, I want to speak to the heart that isn’t “OK.” You may be incredibly hurt, angry, tired, afraid, or overwhelmed. God knows. I’ll repeat. God knows. There’s no point in pretending you’re something you’re not. But you can be 100% OK even when you’re not.

Feeling and being are two different things.

When we feel something that isn’t OK, we must lay it at the feet of Jesus. We make the divine exchange of our struggle for His grace. Our pain for His healing and love. Our weakness for His strength.

Don’t feel ashamed. We all have our issues. No matter what you’re going through, you are loved and lovable. God’s goodness and mercy is there in the midst of it all. Remember that. God didn’t hurt you, someone or something that didn’t know how to love, did.

You’ll be OK. And you are OK. Keep going.

Psalm 23 ESV The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Signs of a Thankful Heart

1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Being it’s November and Thanksgiving is fast approaching, many are focusing on giving thanks. And yet, I can’t help but notice how little gratitude we have as a society for our blessings. Soon, people will have a meal to “give thanks” and then stand in line to get the latest, greatest sale item. Something they likely won’t even want or need in a few years.

I like Turkey and Football but I recognize that thankfulness is something I need (we all need) to exude more of. This got me thinking about what a thankful heart looks like.

What’s the evidence that someone is thankful?

This isn’t scientific by any means, just my observation. But I’ve discovered grateful people have a few things in common…

  • They have joy
  • They are generous
  • They are at least moderately disciplined
  • They encourage (or are at least not critical of) others
  • They are humble
  • They are forgiving
  • They seek God’s heart, not just His hand

Someone a few months back told me I should work on being more grateful. That suggestion pierced, as I knew they were right. I started really looking at thankfulness in scripture (what greed and covetousness is also) and the evidences of gratitude. The above list is what I noticed.

If you’re a thankful person, you see yourself as blessed. Therefore, you naturally have some joy from that. Thankful people are appreciative of what they have and don’t tend to have a sense of entitlement. Giving then is pretty easy to do. What’s given isn’t measured by a perceived lack, but rather treasured blessing.

As a mom to 3 boys, one low functioning ASD, my house tends to be cluttered. But I do try to keep the house looking presentable. My house is small, but I’m thankful I at least have one. My response is to take care of it as much as I’m able.

Something striking I observed is that grateful people do not criticize others regularly and they tend to be edifying. Ever heard the saying, “Knocking someone else down doesn’t make you any taller?” I think many critical individuals are miserable on the inside. After all per Matthew 12:34 what’s in the heart comes out in our speech.

Thankful people (especially godly believers) are usually humble as they have a modest estimation of their abilities. They know their talents and giftings come from God. That leads them to be forgiving. If I’m thankful, and thus aware, of the grace and mercy God has given to me then it’s natural for me to give that to others too.

Most of all, thankful people seek God’s heart. When you’re grateful for what God has given you, the desire to ask for more and more is restrained. There’s nothing wrong with asking God for needs and wants, but we should seek Him first and obey His commandments.

Give thanks on the inside and the outside.

Today, I want to leave you with a simple challenge. Give thanks inwardly in your heart and outwardly to other people and things. Take care of what God entrusted to you. This includes your possessions but foremost your relationships. Everything we have has been given to us by God in His love. There’s literally billions of people on this planet that go to bed every night hungry and in poverty.

Before you utter that complaint, get depressed over what you don’t have, or feel jealous of someone else-give thanks. Praise His name and tell Him what you’re thankful for. For some of you, this may be the key to unlocking greater blessing and joy in your life.

Give thanks.

Psalm 105:1 ESV Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!

Ecclesiastes 5:10 ESV He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.

Colossians 3:15, 17 ESV And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Hebrews 13:5 ESV Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

1 Timothy 6:10 ESV For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Like a Beautiful Sunset

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

I was at my book of Ephesians study group last night. We watched a brief video on Ephesians chapter 5 regarding keeping our focus on God’s word to stay victorious in life. Something in particular caught my attention…

Study God-not like a college exam but like a beautiful sunset.

This morning as I was preparing to face the day and get my children ready, I was meditating on what it means to know God. Really know Him. I think too often I have made the mistake (like many of us) of knowing about Him but not Him Himself. I can research the Hebrew names and words, their meaning, the ANE (ancient near east) culture and yet not know Him. Only about Him. Even prayers can turn more robotic vs transparent and heartfelt (God knows where we’re at anyway so why not be open to Him.)

My life is full with 3 young, energetic, all too curious boys. I just don’t have the time or energy to seriously study much of anything. So when I hear the word “study” I immediately have a picture of a classroom setting. It’s such a formal word. Studious. And my life is more of learning to adapt and be patient than applying a strict structure.

Studying God.

When I heard the phrase “study God like a beautiful sunset” my mind shifted gears. I went straight from the classroom to out in Creation. It’s peaceful. Calm. Majestic. No words anyone could throw at me can articulate the grandeur of God like a sunset. Or sunrise. Oceanfront. Mountain peak. Even the valleys and deserts. The most gifted of people can form words with impressive eloquence. But no person can create that sunset. Those stars in the clear night sky. Or that mighty ocean.

To study God is to appreciate His beauty and realize out of that beauty He created you and me.

It feels so arrogant at first. But it’s not. As I study the sunsets and see God in awestruck amazement, something else must be naturally faced.

I am also God’s creation.

Even Lucifer was created beautiful. It was his rebellion and pride that caused Him to fall. That’s when the ugliness of evil came. The key: our beauty and our value is because of and in Him only.

Today, I have a simple challenge for you. Notice Creation in a greater way. Study God’s handiwork. Don’t seek to understand God as you would study for a college exam. Seek to grasp in the depths of your heart and spirit, not just head knowledge. Feel Him, yes. But more importantly know Him through child-like eyes of faith. Let His majesty leave you speechless and changed.

The beauty of God shows us our beauty too. Let that sink in next time you feel like you’re ugly or a mistake.

Study those sunsets.

Psalm 19:1 ESV The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Psalm 33:4-7 ESV For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses.