Encouragement Archives

Am I Really Hearing God’s Voice?

Have you ever wondered, “How do I know if I am really hearing God’s voice?

A young man had been to Wednesday night Bible Study. The Pastor had shared about listening to God and obeying the Lord’s voice. The young man couldn’t help but wonder, “Does God still speak to people?” After service he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways.

It was about ten o’clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray, “God…If you still speak to people speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to obey.” As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought to stop and buy a gallon of milk. He shook his head and said out loud, God is that you?” He didn’t get a reply and started on toward home. But again, the thought, buy a gallon of milk.

The young man thought about Samuel and how he didn’t recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli. “Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk.” It didn’t seem like too hard a test of obedience.

He could always use the milk. He stopped and purchased the gallon of milk and started off toward home. As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, “Turn down that street. This is crazy he thought and drove on past the intersection. Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street. At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh. Half-jokingly, he said out loud, “Okay, God, I will”.

He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and looked around. He was in semi commercial area of town. It wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst of neighborhoods either the businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were already in bed. Again, he sensed something, “Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street.” The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep. He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat.

“Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid.” Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk. Finally, he opened the door, “Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to be obedient. I guess that will count for something but if they don’t answer right away, I am out of here. “He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A man’s voice yelled out, “Who is it? What do you want?” Then the door opened before the young man could get away. The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face, and he didn’t seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep.

“What is it?” The young man thrust out the gallon of milk, “Here, I brought this to you. “The man took the milk and rushed down a hallway speaking loudly in Spanish. Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming down his face. The man began speaking and half crying, “We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn’t have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk.” His wife in the kitchen yelled out, “I asked Him to send an Angel with some. Are you an Angel?”

The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put in the man’s hand. He turned and walked back toward his car and the tears were streaming down his face. He knew that God still answers prayers.

There have been days that I have been working around the house, and then suddenly a thought will come to me, “Stop what you are doing…pray for ______” I firmly believe that thought was the Holy Spirit telling me to pray for that person.

When I was attending Bible College, I had a dear friend who had been a missionary in the Congo. She related a story about a terrible time in her ministry. Here is story as she related it to me:

The rebels were outside our house. We had to hide under the bed to avoid bullets flying through the walls. When we heard the rebels stomping up the front steps, we ran out the back way and climbed over a fence to escape. Some months later, when my husband and I returned to the states, we related the incident to our pastor. As we talked with our pastor, we coincided the time…the pastor then told us that it was during that same time period, he stopped preaching in the middle of his sermon and told everyone to get on their knees. The pastor said he couldn’t explain why…but he instructed the congregation that they must pray for us.

Did God speak audibly to that pastor…no, but it was a sudden urging from the Holy Spirit that told that pastor to pray for those missionaries because they were in trouble.

When God lays people on our hearts, we must become still so that we can sense the Holy Spirit’s flow of thoughts in our spirits.

Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

Habakkuk knew that to hear God’s quiet voice, he had to first go to a quiet place and still his own thoughts and emotions.

Psalm 46:10 encourages us to be still and know that He is God. The average Christian’s life is so busy that he isn’t can focus his spirit on hearing God’s voice.

It’s in stillness, not busyness, that we can tune our spiritual ears to hear the voice of God. Although the Lord always speaks to us in that “STILL, small voice”, there are many times His voice is drowned out by all the noise around us.

The Bible also tells us that Jesus is God in the flesh. Therefore, if we want to hear the voice of God, we must study and know the teachings of Jesus.

John describes Jesus in 1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

If we are going to hear the voice of God, we must have a personal relationship with Jesus.
In an ordinary conversation, we speak, then listen for the response of the other person. It’s the same with God! Once we’ve prepared our hearts to listen through prayer, we’re more likely to hear the voice of God when He speaks to us through His Word.

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Pray for Your Pastor and His Family

If I were the devil, I would devise a scheme to destroy churches. My number one target would be to attack the pastor. How would I do that? Knowing that his family has the area of greatest vulnerability, I would seek to destroy the church by attacking his family. Paul uses clear battle imagery to describe the challenges and issues we face as Christians because of Satan and his demons.

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Some church members might be thinking, “I would never allow Satan to use me to destroy our church.”

All church families are under attack, but particularly pastors’ families.

Below are some ways you might be involved in battles that are taking place in your churches, and you don’t even realize it.

Many churches have unreasonable expectations of the family members of pastors. Because pastors’ children and spouses often feel pressure to live up to the expectations of some church members, it often creates resentment toward the church, their husband, and their father. As we were raising our children, one man in the church would tell his boys, “I don’t care what the Pastor allows his son to do…you’re not doing it.” It’s ironic that today sons don’t want to have anything to do with church…yet our son is a pastor.

Many pastors put church members’ needs before his family. The pastor’s family should have a high priority in his ministry. Some pastors get so busy ministering to the needs of others that they neglect their own families. I truly believe a pastor’s family is his greatest disciples. He is training them to be the future leaders of the church.

Many church members are critical of the pastor’s spouse. I just heard this last week, of a pastor who had to leave his church because of his wife. This pastor’s wife had been criticized and hurt so much by the women in the church that she could no longer endure to stay in the church.

Many pastors’ children rebel. The reason many pastors’ children rebel could be related to the criticisms or expectations of church members. Whatever the reason for their rebellion…this is a great distraction for pastors.

Many pastors get too involved with women in the church. A woman will come to a pastor and think that he is more compassionate and more understanding than her husband. As the pastor begins to counsel, it can lead to unplanned circumstances that eventually lead to the pastor’s ruin.

Many pastors’ low finances put stress on his family. Most church members don’t realize it, but usually pastors are the largest givers in the churches. Jealousy among church members is one of the reasons some church members don’t want their pastors to prosper. Someone once told me that he overheard another member say, “I lived in the nicest house in the church, until that pastor moved into that place.”

Church members do everything you can to protect your pastor’s family. Above all, pray for him and his family every day.

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Importance of Developing Godly Friends

Friendships are a gift from God. Good friends can help us grow in many different areas. Developing lasting friendships takes time and sacrifice.

Develop a friendship with a missionary, a pastor, or an evangelist: One good way to develop a lasting friendship is to open your home to God’s servants. Some of our greatest friends are missionaries. At different times in our home, my husband and I have enjoyed Korean and Filipino meals, and we have learned many different customs by hosting missionary friends. At other times, we have gained valuable advice from pastors and evangelists we’ve had in our home.

Develop a friendship with a child: Sometimes we forget how valuable our influence can be in a child’s life. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:33…evil communications (companionships) corrupt good manners. Today many children are growing up in families without any moral direction. When you develop a friendship with a child, you might be the very person God will use to sow seeds of faith and encouragement into the heart of a future pastor, pastor’s wife, or missionary wife.

Friendships are very important to our lives: My daughter and son-in-law moved to Texas a few years ago. After living in New England all their lives, it took some time for them to make friends in a new area. Recently, they found a church where they made some wonderful new friends. These new friends relieved their loneliness and gave them a new sense of belonging and purpose. One great thing about friends is that they can spur us onto good works. In fact, it was a good friend who inspired me to write my first book.

Someone once did a survey asking several different people of various ages to write a brief description of a good friend. Here are a few of those descriptions:

“Someone you can bare your soul to and not be afraid it will get around.”
“Someone who has ‘tactful truth’ and is not afraid to tell you.”
“One who knows you well, but still loves you.”
“A person, who understands you, appreciates your view and is loyal to you.
“Someone who enjoys being around you, accepts you for who you are, and is faithful to you when the chips are down.”

…But the definition I like the best is: A friend is a trusted confident to whom I am mutually drawn as a companion and an ally, whose love for me is not dependent on my performance, and whose influence draws me closer to God.

Consider the friendships you have developed through the years:

Casual friends: We all have casual friends. These are people that we have met at different times in our lives, but we didn’t develop lasting friendships with them.

Close Friends: Someone once said, “You only make a few close friends in your lifetime. Our close friends are the friends we have developed through ministry or work, and we desire to stay close to them because of a special bond we’ve experienced. It is these friends that we feel safe enough to share our deepest feelings. Although we don’t see them often, we always look forward to spending time with them.

Counseling Friends: Maybe there was a time in your life that you went through a deep trial or suffering, and you had a friend who counseled you and guided you through your crisis. This friend will always be special to you.

What Does It Take to Develop Lasting Friendships?

First, it takes time and patience: Developing lasting friendships can take months or years. Some people want to make temporary friends with people who have money, position, or power. Friendships built on those criterions will eventually dissolve through time.

Proverbs 19:4 Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbor.

Second, it takes love and sacrifice: Sacrificial love means giving up important things for things that are less important. A person who sacrifices his time and resources to develop a friendship is a person who truly loves. Sacrifices may be as small as sending an email, texting a message, or mailing card.

I read an illustration about a man who lost a good paying job. He was able to get a new job, but it paid much less than his previous one. At the end of the month, this man found it difficult to pay his bills. He reconnected with an old friend who had once been a missionary. This man’s friend, now a pastor of a growing church, realized his friend’s predicament and gave him money to pay his rent. This pastor’s generosity so moved this man, that he remembered thinking at the time, “I have just seen Jesus.”

Matthew 25:40 …Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Third, it takes listening and acceptance: Being a good listener is the largest part of acceptance. Proverbs 18:13 tells us that we must not answer a matter before we truly listen to what others have to say. If a friend is struggling in a certain area, he should feel safe enough with a friend to voice his thoughts without negative criticism or a judgmental opinion.

A good friend can be cheaper than therapy: A judgmental attitude slams the door shut to a friend sharing a problem. It is important not to give a friend advice before hearing all the facts of his situation. I just heard a saying this week, “Unasked for advice is seldom taken.” We all have a tendency to give our “opinions” without fully listening to a person’s problem or circumstance. There are times when our friends just need someone to listen to them without judging them or giving them advice.

One of the first verses I first learned in my counseling training was: Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

John 8 gives us a wonderful example of this in the story of the woman taken in adultery. Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more.” Jesus does not expect us to accept or approve of sin; but like Him, we must show His love to our friends without condemning them.

Fourth, it takes encouragement and spiritual edification: Friends either drive us away from the Lord or draw us into a deeper walk with Him.

God’s goal for our lives after we first get saved is our spiritual growth and sanctification. As God begins to mold and transform us, He may begin to take away our old friends because He doesn’t want us to have friends who will be a negative influence in our lives. Many times, it is our old friends who will try to hinder us in our spiritual walk with the Lord.

We need to make friends with other Christians who are godly and Spirit-filled. These are the friends who will help us grow in the Lord.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

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Do You Desire to Feel God’s Presence?

Exodus 33:1-3 And the LORD said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it: And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.

Wow! What scary words… I will not go with you. I will give you an angel to go before you—but I will not go with you.

What is it to feel God’s presence?

Many times we are like those Israelites…we have His protection and provision, but we don’t experience His presence.

Exodus 34:6-8 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.

I want to feel God’s presence in my life more than anything. As I was reading a devotion the other day, it caused me to ponder my relationship with the Lord. Am I allowing any of the same things in my life that caused God to remove His manifested presence from the Israelites’ lives. Are there areas in my life where I have disobeyed the Lord?

Romans 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Ephesians 4:29-32 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

As I read the devotion, I had to honestly ask myself, “Judy, are there any known sins in your life today?”

Have I been forgiving, kind not only my words, but kind in my thoughts?
Have I been faithful with the money the Lord puts in my hand?
Have I been faithful to pray for my brothers, sisters, and missionaries who are struggling and going through trials?
Have I been faithful with my Bible reading?

I had to search my heart and pray…Lord, I don’t want to grieve Your Spirit. Show me the areas where I’m failing You. I know that if I disobey you in any area of my life, I won’t feel Your presence. Please keep me in Your presence this day.

Augustine said, “We are all men most miserable until we find our all in Thee.”

I had to ask myself, “Has my devotion to the Lord been divided? Is there anything in my life that I love, fear, serve, or trust more than the Lord? Is there anything or anyone that takes precedence over God’s will for my life? Have I been defiant in any area of my life?”

God called the Israelites a stiff-necked people. If I want to feel God’s presence and be real in my life, I can’t be stiff-necked in any area.

Many times, we don’t even realize ways we could be grieving the Holy Spirit. Ask yourself this morning…have I been stiff-necked when the Lord asked me to…

Put His Word and prayer before checking Facebook
Minister in the nursery
Be faithful to tithe and give a weekly Faith Promise offering
Forgive a sister or brother who has offended me

Psalm 51:10 Create in us clean hearts, O God; and renew right spirits within us. We want to feel Your presence today.

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God’s Timing Is Always Perfect

Have you ever felt as if God was not answering your prayers the way you told Him to and at the exact time that you told Him to answer them?

God promises to give us the desires of our hearts but not always according to our time table. We must not rush God and leave the timing with Him. We must remember that God’s timing is perfect.

Psalms 18:30 tells us As for God, his way is perfect. From the time we are born until the moment we die, God is accomplishing His divine purposes on this earth.

Waiting on God’s perfect timing is not always easy. Human nature makes waiting for God’s timing a difficult thing to do. Because we live in a microwave society, even Christians find it difficult to wait for anything or anyone…they want what they want…and they want it right now. Psalm 37:7a Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him.

When we wait on the Lord, it reveals our trust in the Lord and His timing. As mature Christians, we understand that God operates according to His perfect and foreordained schedule, not ours. Our heavenly Father knows exactly where we are in our lives at every moment. Remember, everything that happens in our lives is for our good and for His glory. God often uses our trials to strengthen our patience. It is our patience which allows our Christian faith to mature and become complete.

God has a plan for each one of us as His children, and He wants what’s best for us. He always answers our prayers in three ways…No…Yes…and…Not at this time. Sometimes we must wait before He gives us the desires of our hearts. Even though it is in our nature to want to rush things up for God and do things in our own strength, the following story is a great illustration about waiting:

One day a little boy was playing outdoors and found a caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. His mother agreed he could keep it if he promised to take good care of it.

The little boy got a large jar, placed plants in it for the caterpillar to eat, and put a stick in it for the caterpillar to attach itself. Every day the boy watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.

One day the caterpillar climbed on the stick and started acting strangely. The boy anxiously called his mother. She watched the caterpillar for a minute and then explained to her son that the caterpillar was making a cocoon, and it was going through a metamorphosis to become a butterfly.

The boy watched the changes of the caterpillar with amazement. Thinking it was taking too long and too much of a struggle for the butterfly to emerge, the boy took a pair of scissors and snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger. The butterfly quickly came out of its cocoon, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings and had to spend the rest of its life crawling around like this, and it was never able to fly.

Sadly, the boy learned that it was necessary for the butterfly to struggle to get out of its cocoon. It was during this struggling process that the butterfly pushed fluid out of its body and into its wings. If the butterfly didn’t go through that struggle, it would never be able to fly. This boy’s intentions were good, but his helping hurt the butterfly.

Consider Joseph and how God worked in his life. Every step of the way in Joseph’s life God was with him. He was with him in the pit…He was with him in the prison, and He was with him in Potipher’s palace. God was working out His perfect will. God needed a man in place to accomplish His perfect will at His perfect time. Think about Esther…God put her in a position of influence at the exact time to save her people.

Many times we want things in our lives that might hurt us. Because God knows us and knows what’s best for us at the exact time, we must be patient and wait for His perfect timing. We must give God a chance to work and to work by His exact timing. When we wait on the Lord, we will see miraculous things happen. Why? Because it’s God’s timing and not ours.

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God’s Love Letter to You

My Child, You may not know me very well, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in My image. Genesis 1:27
In Me you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
It is my desire to pour out my love on you. 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3
Delight in Me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love My Son, Jesus. John 17:23
My Son’s death was the ultimate expression of My love for you. 1 John 4:10
I will love you forever. Romans 8:38-39
Your Father, Almighty God

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Family Tradition SHMILY

SHMILY
My grandparents were married for over half a century, and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word “shmily” in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving “shmily” around the house, and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more.

They dragged “shmily” with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio where my grandma always fed us warm, homemade pudding w/ blue food coloring. “Shmily” was written in the steam left on the mirror after a hot shower, where it would reappear bath after bath. At one point, my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave “shmily” on the very last sheet.

There was no end to the places “shmily” would pop up. Little notes with “shmily” scribbled hurriedly were found on dashboards, and car seats, or taped to steering wheels. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows. “Shmily” was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparents’ house as the furniture.

It took me a long time before I was able to fully appreciate my grandparents’ game. Skepticism has kept me from believing in true love one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted my grandparents’ relationship. They had love down pat. It was more than their flirtatious little games; it was a way of life. Their relationship was based on a devotion and passionate affection which not everyone is lucky experience.

Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each other’s sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle and word jumble. My grandma whispered to me about how cute my grandpa was, how handsome an old he had grown to be. She claimed that she really knew “how to pick ‘em.” Before every meal they bowed their heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune, and each other.

But there was a dark cloud in my grandparents’ life: my grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier. As always, Grandpa was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so that she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside.

Now the cancer was again attacking her body. With the help of a cane and my grandfather’s steady hand, they went to church every morning. But my grandmother grew steadily weaker until, finally, she could not leave the house anymore. For a while, Grandpa would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma was gone.

“Shmily.” It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my grandmother’s funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time. Grandpa stepped up to my grandmother’s casket and, taking a shaky breath, he began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief, the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby.

Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. For I knew that, although I couldn’t begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.

S-H-M-I-L-Y: See How Much I Love You.

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Am I Really Hearing God’s Voice?

Have you ever wondered, “How do I really know if I am hearing God’s voice?

Habakkuk knew God was speaking to him (Hab. 2:2).

Elijah described it as a still, small voice (I Kings 19:12).

There have been days that I have been working around the house, and then suddenly a thought will come to me to pray for a certain person. I firmly believe that thought was the Holy Spirit telling me to pray for that person.

When I was attending Bible College, I had a dear friend who had been a missionary in the Congo. She related a story about a terrible time in her ministry. Here is story as she related it to me:

The rebels were outside our house. We had to hide under the bed to avoid bullets flying through the walls. When we heard the rebels stomping up the front steps, we ran out the back way and climbed over a fence to escape. Some months later, when my husband and I returned to the states, we related the incident to our pastor. As we talked with our pastor, we coincided the time…the pastor then told us that it was during that same time period, he stopped preaching in the middle of his sermon and told everyone to get on their knees. The pastor said he couldn’t explain why…but he instructed the congregation that they must pray for us.

Did God speak audibly to that pastor…no, but it was a sudden urging from the Holy Spirit that told that pastor to pray for those missionaries because they were in trouble.

When God lays people on our hearts, we must become still so that we can sense the Holy Spirit’s flow of thoughts in our spirits.

Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

Habakkuk knew that to hear God’s quiet voice, he had to first go to a quiet place and still his own thoughts and emotions.

Psalm 46:10 encourages us to be still, and know that He is God. The average Christian’s life is so busy that he isn’t can focus his spirit on hearing God’s voice.

It’s in stillness, not busyness, that we can tune our spiritual ears to hear the voice of God. Although the Lord always speaks to us in that “STILL, small voice”, there are many times His voice is drowned out by all the noise around us.

The Bible also tells us that Jesus is God in the flesh. Therefore, if we want to hear the voice of God, we must study and know the teachings of Jesus.

John describes Jesus in 1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

If we are going to hear the voice of God, we must have a personal relationship with Jesus.

In an ordinary conversation, we speak, then listen for the response of the other person. It’s the same with God! Once we’ve prepared our hearts to listen through prayer, we’re more likely to hear the voice of God when He speaks to us through His Word.

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Are You Content Today?

For many people it is hard to be content with where God has placed them or what God has given them. They can’t be content with their jobs, their churches, their spouses, their positions, or their possessions. It seems like no matter what they have, they want more things and better circumstances.

Have you ever wondered how Paul could be content with his terrible circumstances. He had been beaten, imprisoned, and physically afflicted…yet he wrote in Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Paul’s Sufferings Listed in 2 Corinthians 11:21-30

2 Corinthians 11:21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak.

2 Corinthians 11:22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.

2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

2 Corinthians 11:24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

2 Corinthians 11:25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

2 Corinthians 11:26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

2 Corinthians 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

2 Corinthians 11:28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

2 Corinthians 11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?

2 Corinthians 11:30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

Paul learned to be content whether he was rich…whether he was poor…whether he was healthy…whether he was in prison or out of prison. No doubt Paul had his ups and downs throughout his life, but he stressed to us through his writings that we shouldn’t allow things or circumstances to control us. He discovered that his contentment wasn’t in people, things, or circumstances but in Christ.

Are you are struggling with being discontent today? Do you find yourself complaining about your house, your church, your job, or your spouse?

We’ve all been guilty of saying, “If only I had a better car, a more understanding mate, a better house, more money.” The list could go on indefinitely. If you find yourself being discontent today, turn your eyes back to Jesus and focus on His faithfulness and His promises.

Read the following poem. What great insight this 14 year old young man had when he wrote this poem.

    I Never Got What I Wanted

    It was spring, But it was summer I wanted,
    The warm days, And the great outdoors.
    It was summer, But it was fall I wanted,
    The colorful leaves, And the cool, dry air.
    It was fall, But it was winter I wanted,
    The beautiful snow, And the joy of the holiday season.
    It was winter, But it was spring I wanted,
    The warmth, And the blossoming of nature.
    I was a child, But it was adulthood I wanted,
    The freedom, And the respect.
    I was 20, But it was 30 I wanted,
    To be mature, And sophisticated.
    I was middle-aged, But it was 20 I wanted,
    The youth, And the free spirit.
    I was retired, But it was middle age I wanted,
    The presence of mind, Without limitations.
    My life was over.
    But I never got what I wanted.

    Written by Jason Lehman Read the rest of this entry

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Are You Feeling Unproductive?

Is your self-talk telling you that you are just not being productive? Over the course of our years, our energy levels change. Sometimes it is because of our age, our sleep patterns, our caffeine intake, our health, our diet, or our comparisons. (we look at others as being more productive than we are)

There will always be periods in our lives when we might not feel productive as we once did. If you begin having thoughts of being unproductive, here are few suggestions:

• Get eight hours of sleep
• Try to exercise
• Eat a healthy breakfast
• Overwhelmed…eliminate or delegate some activities
• Look at your time wasting activities: TV, your cell phone, trivial triggers…
• Avoid your self-talk, “I’m no good…nobody thinks I’m not valuable…Nothing I do is right” Studies have shown that upwards of 80% of your self-talk is negative. That number goes up as you put pressure on yourself to get more done.
• Lessen you workload
• Set time limits on your projects
• Change your scenery. If you have a flexible schedule, go to a coffee shop or work from home.
• Disconnect from the Internet…according to research, half of time spent on Internet is procrastinating
• Reward yourself after a period of time working….a cup of coffee, 15 minutes on Facebook
• Don’t distain unproductivity…“not feeling productive” is a great sign that you should step back from your work to recharge and be unproductive for a while. A break will help you recharge and reduce your negative self-talk.

Taking a break from being productive every once in a while will help you become much more productive.

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