I'm choosing some of my more popular posts to re-post, as they did not transfer to my new blog. I hope you re-enjoy them. :)
Living a slow, faith-filled life, one with much greater purpose and mindfulness is in direct proportion to how much time we spend with Him. How do we know when God talks to us, guides us, warns us, praises us, disciplines us? How do we know it’s not our conscience? Well, sometimes it is. Most of us have governors to help us steer a straight ship. We “hear” God’s voice by spending time with Him. The more we do that, the more we discern our voice and someone else's voice from His.
God speaks to us in five primary ways; what He says always aligns according to His will and Word, not on what we feel. When God calls me to do something, or when God calls me to stop doing something, say, exit a situation, it’s clear to me each time. I may not always listen because sometimes I press on based on my feelings rather than wisdom. For example, I recently entered a situation that seemed like a great opportunity. There wasn’t a single thing wrong with it. But after a couple of weeks, I knew it was not what God called me to do. How?
It usurped time for this blog, for one. It usurped preparing for my lectures. It usurped time from writing my Christian self-help book. I started to wake-up with a dullish feeling, not feeling rested, encouraged, and enthusiastic like normally. God was speaking. Did I listen? No. Not yet. I finally listened after, for the third morning in a row, a headache plagued me upon awakening. Message received…finally. It’s not always as forthright as this, but I can usually tell when it’s Him. As soon as I disengaged, I slept better and no more headache.
So, what are these five way?
First, read and study scripture. It brims with instruction either clearly stated or through stories, metaphor, allegory, etc., and much more. Though antiquated, we directly relate to biblical individuals. They struggled with the same issues with which we struggle. No, they didn’t have Wi-Fi problems or rush hour traffic, but they got frustrated , they got angry, they loved, they hated, they had kids to raise, they had jobs to do, they had money to make, they had to move across country, they needed alone time, they didn’t like their bosses, they felt the heat of passion, etc. So, anyone who claims the Bible is outdated speaks not from a place of wisdom rather a place of judgment. And the sub-text usually means they aren’t comfortable with standards set for us, standards to be set apart, to have much higher standards. Standards not meant for misery; standards in order to thrive.
The day I decided to study, not just read, but really study my Bible, I began to heal from anxiety and depression. God spoke to me about my identity based on His love and appreciation not this world’s, not my friends, not my family but on Him. That’s just a small example of how He began to speak to me and set me right. I’d strayed from Him. And though I’m a smart and tough cookie, operating in my own wisdom put me in misery and made me lean on other people's opinions.
Often when I’m reading scripture, a word, phrase, or sentence stands out. I’ll look it up, find the deeper meaning because I know God wants me to pay attention to it. Or, I’ll have read something, and over the course of a few days, even weeks, it keeps coming back to me.
Powerful disciples, like Peter and Paul, quoted Old Testament Law and Prophets lending credibility to their foundation for teaching the Gospel of Christ. Christ knew scripture; knew the importance of his Father’s words.
He used those Words to counter the enemy. The enemy knows scripture, making it even more important to know God’s Word. He used it against Christ and tried to tempt him when Christ fasted in the desert for forty days and was in a weakened state. We need it to counter temptation, trial, and have discernment to test false advisement, as the enemy twisted scripture with Jesus. We can get caught off guard when we're not careful, when we're in a weakened state or feeling vulnerable. The power of His word is sharper than a two-edged sword. We're in a battle. It's a war. His word explodes through darkness and confusion.
Second, prayer. It’s our direct line to God. We pray; He hears. He promises. He listens. We are called to pray, meditate on Him throughout the day, give thanks, make requests, and praise. Yeah, we get wrapped up in life but we direct our minds to Him, too. And it doesn't always come naturally. We must purposefully manage our minds to focus on that which we want to focus. Many things struggle for our attention, no all of them are good.
God is faithful to His Word. I’ve gotten pissed as hell with Him and have told Him so. That’s still a form of prayer; He’s listening. Even if our faith is nascent, that doesn’t reduce God’s faithfulness toward us. And our prayers needn’t be long winded. He simply loves to hear us talk to Him. I used to think I’d have to be like some Christians who wail and rail and recite long verses during prayer. Nah.
But sometimes, when I’m frustrated, I will use scripture to remind God what He’s promised; though, God doesn’t need reminding. But it makes me feel better. And, well, I think it might please Him that I can return His own Word to Him, demonstrating I’m in His Word. Just this morning, some negative thoughts crept in, and I thought, nope, not doing this. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 “…. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” That means I take that stinkin’ thinkin’ and lay it at the throne. The thoughts disappeared.
Third, circumstances. If we’re in a situation, especially if we’ve been spending time with the
Lord, and a feeling deep down indicates we’re not supposed to be in that situation, that’s the Holy Spirit shouting, “Get out!” Unfortunately, sometimes we know what we should do but for whatever reason it’s difficult. And He will affirm when something is right. We will feel ease, peace, and calm. He is not a God of disorder, chaos, or confusion. If we’re experiencing any of those, we take it to prayer, get clear on what the Holy Spirit is telling us, and…. listen. This brings me to the next point because it often links to this one.
Fourth, Godly counsel. It serves me well, if I need advice, to seek it from other Christians…other Christians I KNOW are spending time with God on a regular basis. I’ve got a good chance of getting truth, wisdom, and discernment from them that will help. Sure, non-Christians give good advice, too. I was a Christian not spending time with God, dolling out crappy advice. It’s important to weigh advice and see how it aligns with scripture. For example, that commercial that espouses, “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas”, well, it’s successful because it appeals to our lower nature that wants to bend the rules, please the flesh, looking out for number one mentality.
And that may make some people feel good, go to Vegas, do things that will stay in Vegas, but that don’t hold diddly squat with God. His asks for higher standards. And it’s not that He doesn’t want us to have fun, just the right kind of fun that doesn’t put us and others at risk. And trust me when I say this, you will so, so enjoy your life sooooo much better when it's right with Him. Believe me, I know. I've been in that spot thinking the Christian life is dullsville. Such a beautiful lie. I'm so glad I decided to get smart.
Conversely, we don’t let anyone pressure us into doing something that does not feel right for us. If someone says God spoke to them about something concerning us, unless it is confirmed in our own spirit, we need to be careful how we receive it. For example, going through a divorce years ago, a beautiful Christian friend unfortunately and unwisely ignored the facts, told me I’d allowed the enemy to control my life. Not cool. She meant well but entered without discernment, entered in her own wisdom based on how she felt not on what she knew. So, if we think WE have a Word for someone, we need to make sure we get enough information, spend time with Him, pray about it, and if we still feel compelled to deliver it, in love, then deliver it but don’t push it.
Fifth, Christian music. This is an underrated avenue through which God speaks. I listen to a lot of Christian music. We can find any genre we like that is Christian. There have been mornings where I’m headed to work, I’m feeling good, I turn on the radio, and because of the uplifting words and messages, I feel FABULOUS by the time I reach campus.
And there have been times when I feel my mood sinking. So, I turn on Christian music, and I am reminded of who I am in Him, reminded of my purposeful journey in Him and in love, and it sets me right, again.
So, Read & Study Scripture, Pray, Circumstances, Godly Counsel, and Christian Music. Five beautiful ways God speaks to us. And they aren’t mutually exclusive, meaning they do not all work independently of one another. They often work together to reaffirm our emotions, circumstances, outlook, and decisions. If He’s spoken to you in a beautiful way, please share. It encourages me and others.
Have a beautiful day,