How Do I Know God is Speaking to Me

January 12, 2020

It would be nice if we could say God always does certain things, and if you see those things you will know.  However, God works in many ways, and different ways with different people.

Some people hear God speak in an audible voice.  However that is pretty rare.  Some people see a vision of Jesus.  That is also rare.  Most of us have thoughts come into our minds that we know didn’t originate with us.  And this is how God usually speaks to us.

If a thought is from God it will have certain characteristics:

It will always involve doing something good

It will be a thought that keeps coming back

It will always agree with what the bible says

It often will involve some giving on your part

It won’t be about building you up

It won’t be about gain for you

It will stand up when you discuss it with mature believers.

You may find favorable circumstances for the thing you are to do.

I would add that when you begin to do the thing you believe God has asked of you, you  may face some obstacles.  That doesn’t mean you heard God wrong.  It more likely means He wants you to depend on Him.  Talk to Jesus and ask Him what He is showing you.

No matter what happens, if you step out in good faith, God will use whatever happens for your good.  In that sense, you can’t make an honest mistake.

Too often, what we are hearing is our own desire, not God, but you can tell because there will be an element of pride and selfishness in it.  You won’t want to give up the idea even if other mature believers tell you it seems unwise.  You will have a possessiveness about the idea, instead of holding it loosely waiting for confirmation it is what God wants.

The other thing that often happens is the idea is from God, but it seems too hard or too far out of our comfort zone, and we want it not to be from God.  If the idea is from God it will persist.  If you persist in putting it off, God will stop asking, but you may one day regret the opportunity you declined.

I hope these thoughts give you some sense of when God is speaking.  If you think God is speaking to you and you’re pretty sure about it, take it to other mature Christians and see if they agree.

Feeling Overwhelmed

June 5, 2019

We all have seasons in our lives when our problems seem overwhelming, and more than we can bear.  That is when our faith is tested most, and as several writers of the New Testament say, our faith has to be exercised to be strong.

What can you do?  First, get as many good believing friends as possible to pray for you.  If you can only share certain problems with certain people, thats ok.  Just try to share all the problems with other believers.  Prayer is powerful.

Then cast the problems on Jesus.  He has told us to cast our burdens on him and take his yoke on ourselves.  What that means is getting into the harness next to Jesus.  Because He is strong, He will bear what we cannot.  And when you cast your problems on Jesus, be sure to let him work on them.  Only do what he shows you to do, but don’t keep worrying.  That’s like giving him something to fix, and then constantly taking it back because you can’t trust him to do it right.  That’s kind of insulting when you think about it (although all of us do it)  Really work at not taking back the problems.

Lets pray:  “Dear Lord, I am feeling overwhelmed right now and at the end of my rope.  I know if I run out of rope and fall, you will catch me.  You are so strong and so all knowing, you can do incredible things if I truly let you do them.  You can change people and  many circumstances when I ask you, and so I am asking you to change all the things that are out of my control because I can’t change them.  Then, Lord, show me things I don’t know,  show me things I wouldn’t know I can do, and give me strength to do them even if they are out of my comfort zone.  You will help me.  I ask these things in the powerful name of Jesus, the name by which prayers are answered and miracles happen.  Amen.”

 

Finding My Purpose

May 3, 2019

God made each of us unique, and that pleased HIm greatly.  He gave each of us our own special abilities, and our own special personality.  He also put us in the particular place and time where we live.  If we are sincere in wanting to please him, we have to first know him.  Jesus taught us  most clearly what God is like, and of course, Jesus is God himself.  By reading the New Testament and learning what Jesus taught and said, we get a good general idea about what he wants his loved ones to be doing.  Then look at the people and situations all around you.  What do you see that Jesus might want you to do?  What are you good at?  What are you passionate about?  What can you do that is pleasing to Jesus and that not everybody else can do?  We tend to think of one great overarching purpose for ourselves, some singular calling.  But Jesus often calls us to very different things at different times in our lives.  It will often be something we are talented at doing, and something we are passionate about.  Often it is something that comes out of our own life experience.  For instance, people who have been through a particular kind of trouble and have been helped often are passionate about helping someone going through the same thing.

I hope these ideas help get you started in your prayerful search.  Don’t worry about it.  Jesus loves you too much to let you  miss out on something He knows is right for you.  He’ll make sure you find it.

A Prayer When Overwhelmed

April 28, 2019

Sometimes we find ourselves overwhelmed by problems, by lack of what we need, by too much to do and not enough time, by relationships that just can’t ever seem to get right, and so on.  When I find myself in these situations, if I stop and think about it, I am trying to solve my problems.  In reality, most of the time our problems are too big to solve alone.  That is on purpose.  Jesus wants us to come to him.  “Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you refreshment.” ( Matthew 11:28).  Jesus wants to help us.  Where I have no power, no insight, no strength, no time, I can go to the One who has it all.  “All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to me”  (Matthew 28-18)

Lets pray:  “Jesus, please calm our hearts with the sure knowledge that you are in control.  Help us trust you as never before.  Help us know you are working in ways we cannot see, even in this dreadful situation.  Give us peace and a sense of Your Presence in our lives.  Jesus, I believe that you will change people and many things if asked.  I ask in your powerful name, Jesus.  Amen.”

I Want to Feel Jesus within me

April 26, 2019

Our relationship with Jesus is in many ways like a marriage.  We, however, expect it to be a honeymoon forever.  We may start our relationship with Jesus in a beautiful cloud of sweet emotions.  But just as in marriage, reality sets in.  This relationship is sometimes rocky–not like marriage where we are sometimes disappointed with our spouse, of course,–but the feelings of sweet love don’t last, and we are left to struggle with hard times.  At times like this, our faith is being tested.  What is faith, if it is not tested?  What is faith if there is no room to come to the end of ourselves and find that Jesus is there for us?  And how valuable is faith if we don’t hold on, believing the best about Jesus even when we aren’t experiencing all the beautiful, joyful feelings?  Our faith is a much greater gift to Jesus if we give it through sacrifice, without the comforting feelings of sweet emotion.  Faith doesn’t depend on feelings.  Faith is a decision to keep on believing and hoping, even when it is dark out there.  Feelings of the Presence of Jesus are a reward that come now and then, but like holidays, they aren’t the everyday experience.  Talk to Jesus about this.  Let him know you believe him.  Tell him you love and trust him.  Tell him you wish you could feel him more often.  He understands. Get in the habit of talking to him throughout the day, especially thanking Him.  You will find joy in that.

A Prayer When We Fail

October 14, 2018

“Lord Jesus, you know us so well.  How perfectly you understand us and know what is best for us at all times.  We get so discouraged at our repeated failures to be all you made us to be and all we want to be for you.  Help us get up again when we fall, to keep growing and keep moving forward.  Help us to know we aren’t only not to judge others, but we aren’t even qualified to judge ourselves.  All we can do is keep going, and to keep trying.  We need you so much Jesus.  Keep on working in us to make us perfect for you, even if we can’t see the progress ourselves.  Keep our eyes on you, not on our past failures.  Help us remember that some day we will be perfect.  We will be changed as a result of seeing you face to face.  Help us look forward always to that day.  We love you Jesus–so much!  Amen.”

Prayer of Blessing for a House

October 9, 2018

“Dear Jesus, this house is dedicated to you, for your service.  Please feel welcome as you live here among us.  Help us to bring inside this house, only things that please you.  Help the words spoken here be pleasing to you.  Let the books, movies and articles we bring into this house please you.  Enter each room, Jesus, and sanctify it by your Holy Presence.  Let the people who enter this house feel our love, and yours.  Let each one be blessed.  Let any evil which seeks a dwelling here be kept away by the wall of your protection.  Let any lingering evil be banished by the sight of you.  I ask cleansing, protection and blessing in the powerful name of Jesus.  For in the name of Jesus, demons have to flee, and in the name of Jesus, prayers are answered.  Amen”

Dysfunctional Backgrounds

July 23, 2018

 

If I have come to Jesus, is there a way out of a dysfunctional background?  Or do I have to live with all the havoc my family created in my life?

I want to be sure I understand what you are asking. Are you asking whether dysfunction in your family’s past or in your ancestry has to affect you and your family today? In that case, the answer is that Jesus has defeated sin and its hold over everyone who comes to him. That is a simple answer, but in practical life, your responses and your habits had their beginnings in the things you grew up with. Those things have to change if they are still present. That is where the church can help. Believers help each other learn and grow. Small groups or mentors can help believers see where their interactions or behaviors can be hurting them. Change happens intentionally, when, through prayer and thought, one deliberately changes behavior. Often more than behaviors have to change. Other changes include establishing strong boundaries over what you will and won’t allow from others, how you will spend your time, where you will live and visit, conversations you will and won’t have, and so on. It may be helpful to have a Christian counselor (there are some fees, usually affordable), or a mentor (friendship based, no fee). Larger churches are often able to provide these services. You might also read “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend, which is available in Christian bookstores or online.

Don’t give up hope. Geneology doesn’t have to determine our present or our future. Many of the greatest servants of God in the bible had dubious pasts themselves, or came from dysfunctional families. In fact, you don’t have to look very far to find dysfunction in any family.   But Jesus and His Holy Spirit are stronger than any hurt, habit or history.

 

Prayer for Someone who Needs to Forgive

May 7, 2018

“Dear Lord, _____needs help to forgive.  She wants to do what you taught us to do, to be like you and to follow you. Please give her the grace to be able to leave it all with you. Help her have the ability to relinquish all her rights in this situation to you, who is able to be both just and merciful to those who have hurt and wronged her. Help her relinquish herself to you, also, knowing you will work in her life for good, and that because she believes you and loves you, everything will work out for good for her. (Romans 8:28) Help her keep that attitude of surrender to you, and whenever she remembers the hurts and wrongs, she will give them back to you. Help her know you are completely trustworthy as a keeper of her heart.
We ask these things in the precious name of Jesus, knowing whatever we ask in that name will be answered. Amen.”

If We are Saved by Grace, Why Should We “Uphold the Law”.

March 9, 2018

I was recently asked to explain Romans 3:31, which says:  “Do we then nullify the law by this faith?  Not at all!  Rather, we uphold the law.”   In other words, if we are saved by faith, what does upholding the law mean?

First of all, there are two parts of the law. There is the old covenant which was given for a time to the Jewish people. It was fulfilled once for all by Jesus’ death on the cross. This is explained most fully in the book of Hebrews. We Christians live under the new covenant of grace. Jesus explained it at the last supper. The new covenant is the covenant of His Blood, shed for us for the forgiveness of our sins. However we also have a law, as well, the law of love. Jesus explained it as “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind and your whole strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” When Paul tells us we aren’t saved by obedience to that law, but by our faith in Jesus, and he also explains he isn’t telling us to ignore the law of love because we are saved by faith. In fact, we can only keep this law of love through the help and grace of Jesus. That is what he means by “we uphold the law”. Even though we can only imperfectly obey God, we are to continue to obey because we love Him. Our imperfection is made perfect through the merits of Jesus.