Do You Hear When He Speaks to You?

I am curious if you have ever heard that small voice inside telling you something?  In fact, at the end of this, I would love to hear your stories, whether they be you heard the voice and obeyed, or your heard the voice and decided not to obey.  What was your outcome?

God can speak to us in many ways.  One of those ways is the voice inside of us.  Sometimes it’s a gentle nudging, a feeling you get inside.  Rarely does he hit us over the head with a baseball bat and make it so obvious because we have the “free will” to make decisions, however he has been known to break us at our knees to fall if we don’t cause ourselves to go down on our own!

That voice isn’t something we should ignore.  We need to keep a gentle and attentive conscience.  When we ignore these nudges we become desensitized and calloused to the point where we lose that touch with God’s voice.  We go on doing something we once knew was wrong, keep doing it so much and for so long, that we’ve forgotten (or worse yet, don’t even care!) that we are still doing it.  In Acts 23 the Apostle Paul says, “I have always lived before God with a clear conscience”.  If you made a decision that wasn’t ideal please don’t hesitate to go before the Lord, tell Him!  Ask for forgiveness.  His grace is sufficient and covers you.  If you do not do this you will continue on feeling miserable.  There will be something nagging inside of you that will cause you to be unsettled.

Let me share a personal story with you, surprisingly not too long ago.  Six hours ago I checked out of a hotel room in Dallas, TX.  Seven minutes later I realized I left my coat in the room.  The front desk called a bellman to escort me back to my room and by the time I got there housekeeping was already inside going to work.  I mentioned I had left my coat in the room and the lady got big eyes and put her hand up, “I’m sorry ma’am, I’m so sorry. Hold on, stay right here. I go get it”.  She bolted through the stairwell and I waited what felt like 10 minutes, but was probably only 20 seconds.  She returned with my coat in a…shopping bag?  I truly wanted to think positive about the situation and not pass any judgement or suspicions but something inside of me felt wrong.  I had a yucky feeling inside about the situation and I blurted out, “Funny, it’s amazing how quickly my coat was removed from the room and in a shopping bag?!”, as I briskly walked back to the elevator.  It’s possible my senses were heightened because simultaneously one of our field sales reps was giving an account to a police officer due to her bag being stolen at our event the night before (in the hotel).  Again, knowing full well I needed to take a step back and keep a better outlook about the situation into perspective.  Do not pass judgement, do not blame, or assume anything.  

An hour later we were seated as a group for lunch and I proceeded to tell the story of what happened, but then something inside of me was whispering, “Do not share the story. You do not know what really happened and you’re sounding like the hotel staff was acting maliciously”.  However, once you start scratching an itch, it’s VERY hard to stop.  So I continued to tell the story to full completion.  The owner of our company was present and I knew before he even said anything what my correct response should have been (the one I didn’t obey), however in the end he declared, “We don’t know that’s the case.  They could have very well put it away someplace safe, or in storage”.  He was taking the high road and assuming the positive instead of the negative.  Which is exactly what I failed to do.

My gut still gave me a bad feeling but in the end I also knew right from wrong when deciding to share or not share what happened.  A sense of guilt washed over me immediately.  I felt horrible and regretful.  I am now on a flight back home and the first chapter I read in my book is about having a tender and clear conscience.  What timing!  So now I’m listening to the still small voice that prompted me to write this post to share.  I do hope some part of this resonated with you.  As stated earlier, please share with us your experiences.  I would love to hear about a time you either listened, or didn’t listen, to God’s nudging.

Father, thank you for the various ways you speak to us.  Help us to remember our trust in you when you physically speak to us and we can hear your promptings.  Let us not be weary of coming to you for forgiveness and allowing your love to seep in and cover what your son has already been sent here to do for us, covering our sins.  When we need to, Lord, let us have the confidence to go to others and ask for their forgiveness when we have wronged them.  Your grace and light shines through us into others when we obey your precepts.  Thank you for your wisdom and knowledge that we may do the right things.  ~Amen

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Climb Higher, Grow Wiser, Soar Like an Eagle

Often times we pray for our inconveniences to be taken away. “Dear Lord, please remove this sickness.” Or, “Father, if you would only help my co-workers see my ideas the way I do”. However, we cannot be so naive to think we are going to go through life without hardships. In fact, it’s during struggles that we dig our heels in deeper and rely on God even more. Because what we see in the natural is so limited. Our God is infinitely greater than our largest perspective.

We all have pests and annoyances in our lives. Take the eagle for an example. The eagle’s greatest enemy is the crow. A crow will often times follow an eagle pecking and cawing at him, however what does the eagle do? The eagle soars to greater heights. The eagle rises above, so high that the crow cannot get to those altitudes. In fact, an eagle can soar as high as 20,000 ft. That’s the same height as a jet airliner! Much like the eagle, we too, should be rising above to greater heights. Do not succumb to your enemy’s ways. Do not replay evil for evil. No! Rise higher than that! Be the bigger person and soar to new heights like the eagle.

Chickens can barely get off the ground, crows can only go so high, but the eagle can soar above the clouds. Do you want to be stuck so close to the ground like the chicken? Or only get halfway like the crow? Never! God’s word promises you were created for greater things. You were made in His image. Spread your wings and let the guidance of our Almighty swoop you up to greater things.

I was on a business trip recently. As we boarded the plane everything around us was so gloomy. The sun wasn’t shining and it was a very grey cloudy day. As the plane took off down the runway and we began our accent, reaching higher I realized it was beginning to get brighter out the window. As we broke through the clouds the sky outside was majestic blue and the sun shone brightly! How much so is it like us to be trapped in our own gloomy and negative ways? Our views are so limited that we look around us and see grey, dark, and dreary. However, if we soar above our limitations, keep striving to reach new levels, we will find that there is so much more beyond our perspective.

Father God, thank you for your wisdom written in your word. You encourage us not to settle in our limited view but ask that we put our trust and faith in you. We pray for strength to soar on wings like eagle’s. We rest in your arms and trust that you are our provider and director. There is no need for us to control our lives. We cannot be plucked out of the palm of your Almighty hand. Thank you for your security, in Jesus’ name ~Amen!

Do What You Can, Then Trust God With What You Can’t

There was a young man who needed his apple orchard to flourish.  To bring in a harvest that would sustain his family’s needs through the long winter.  So, he planted new trees.  Then he prayed to the Lord, “Please send gentle warm rains” to nourish my trees and provide them the drink they need.  And God sent rain.  Next, the young orchard farmer prayed, “Lord, now we need sunshine to dry up the rain and provide warmth” for the tree’s roots to grow.  And God shone the sun bright in the sky.

Now, the little trees were showing much hope.  The young farmer was pleased and knew the next thing he needed to pray, “Lord, send strong winds” for the roots to bury in deep and grow strong.  And God sent a strong frontal wind.  Lastly, the young man prayed, “Finally Lord, please send a frost” in order to preserve and brace their tissues.  And God sent a frost.

After this, the trees began to not look so good.  The young orchard farmer went out and realized all his trees had died.  Sadly he sought the wisdom of an old wise neighbor who, too, grew his legacy, provided for, and raised his family on a successful apple orchard.  “Wise neighbor”, says the young farmer, “I don’t understand what happened? I did everything right.”

To which the wise neighbor replied, “Young son, you see, when I plant my orchard I leave it in God’s hands.  He knows what the trees need and what they don’t need.  God along holds perfect timing in His hands.”

You see, it’s important that we have faith in God and in his timing and will.  When we take things into our own hands we are no longer trusting in God and His plan.  Like a parent, when a child asks to eat cookies all day because they do not see the harm coming to them by doing so, a parent knows the future and therefore denies the child.  The child may not understand but the child needs to trust in the parent’s wisdom.  God is our Father.  He knows the beginning from the end.  Yes we may pray for something, but when you don’t get what “you” want, do not be disappointed.  He has something else in store.  Something better.  God promises us life and to have it abundantly (John 10:10).

Our view is so limited.  Our ways are not His ways, nor our our thoughts His thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).  Do your part and then leave the rest to Him who holds you in the palm of his trusting hand.

Before You Jump: Read This!

Some of you may already posses this, some others may not. I felt this simple word picture illustration was vital and important to share, if you don’t yet have what it recommends please make sure you grab one for yourself as quickly a possible!!

Imagine yourself coming to the edge of a canyon.  You can’t turn back because this is your past, and we all know you can’t go back to redo your past.  In order to live you need to get to the other side:

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So what are your options?  You can either A.) Take it upon yourself to try and get to the other side.  In which case, ALL chances lead to death:

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You’re asking why?  For one thing, the canyon is too vast and too big to get to the other side on your own.  You know that if you do make it to the other side, you will have life and can continue on your journey, striving forward and moving ahead.  However, you can’t take anything with you.  You can never take anything from this life with you, so there will be no ropes, no bridges, no helicopters to lift you over.  All those “things” you acquire on earth, you will never be able to take with you.  On your own you can only jump… try as you might, run as fast as you can, and jump, but you will always fall short.

Except!  There is one thing that will get you to the other side.  It doesn’t cost a thing and you always had it there waiting for you:

IMG_0561With Christ you can cross over!  Put Christ in the center of your life, the center of your obstacles, and He will make the burden so light that all you need to do is cross over to LIFE and have it abundantly.  You see, there is no plunging to your death when you have Christ central.  There’s no going back, or looking back, you can continue forward.  He is all you need.  All of those other things you acquire in life (careers, houses, cars, boats, clothes, friends, money), you can never and will never take that with you.  But what you will take is your eternal LIFE as focused heavenward.  Jesus “bridges” the gap for us.  In Him we have victory!!

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Off the Ship Talking Like a Sailor

“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” (Eph. 5:4)

In writing this, I know it seems strange, quite random, and unfitting.  During my morning quiet time this really stood out to me and I couldn’t shake it.  There isn’t a current situation or example that lead me specifically to this other than perhaps it’s a reminder for anything to come in the near future.  Some of these basic principals are great refreshers.  We must come back to remind ourselves of what behaviors help us to shine and those that make us really ugly.  Without further ado..

Tiny-Ship

What is this teaching?

T – We are to follow God’s example and walk in love.  Jesus Christ is our perfect “model after”.  He is without sin and blameless which is what we should aspire to be.  Immorality and bad language is not something God would encourage nor an example of himself shining through us would be.

What can we praise God for?

A – Praise Him for sending His one and only Son into the world so that we have the example of the perfect lamb.  Who we aspire to be like, we were created in His image.  Those who are impure and immoral will not be entering the kingdom of heaven, however we continue to pray for their salvation.  God has selected and chosen His people, we give him praise that he personally selected us, he knows us personally.

How do I fail to realize this in my own life?

C – I’m guilty of talking like a sailor.  Being influenced by the negativity of the world.  In anger I will have outbursts of filthy talk, sometimes using it to hurt others as I am feeling hurt.  Words are extremely powerful and they can cut deep.  It’s best to choose our words wisely.

What can I ask God for?

S – Father God, help us to not waste a single word that comes from our mouths.  Our speech should be used to build others up according to their needs and to benefit those who listen.  (Eph. 4:29)  I need to remember you first when I am angered so that my focus can be on you and see the situation whole through your eyes and not my own eyes who are jaded by the cloudiness of this world.  We aspire to be in your image and thank you Lord that you chose us!  In your son’s name we pray, Amen.

Jo is To Go, Girlfriends Are Forever

I love seeing girlfriends getting together for coffee.  In all great intentions to frequent the coffee shop and focus on another day’s study of Philippians, I was once again distracted!  This time, two women leaving from their coffee date.  Doubtful this wouldn’t have stuck as such a cord with me if it wasn’t something also near and dear to my own heart.  It’s not even about the coffee, it’s the experience.  There is something special about sitting in a quaint place (Starbucks works, but it can be very busy and noisy) with a dear friend chit chatting over a cup of jo.

Y’all, girlfriends are important! “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Eph. 4:9-10)  What’s even better is making Jesus the center of your conversation.  When you have a sister in Christ, and you can make it a focus to have Jesus central, your conversations will be meaningful, impactful, memorable, and productive.  Something tells me sharing a heart-girlfriend moment over a bowl of spaghetti just isn’t the same as over a frothy latte, the kind they make pretty leaves or other art in (can we say adds to the experience?)!

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This frothy gem is something I created on my own this weekend.  My secret weapon to make this happen?  (The microwave… shhhh!)  The trick from Fox’n Friends really worked!  You heat up milk in the microwave for approx. ~1 min, put a lid on it and give it a good shake to foam it up, then add to your espresso or coffee.  (Best to use a glass bottle with screw on lid, plastic containers will burst on you, promise *wink*).

Back to girlfriends, I truly pray you are blessed with quality over quantity of friends.  There are times when quantity wins based on circumstance, but please know how important it is to have quality.  I’ve had my share of quality bonding times with my dearest and closest friends.  Since many of us have since changed careers and even relocated it’s no doubt a missing piece in my routine.  It’s  not the coffee I so dearly miss (although our little coffee shop sure made a great Congelatto!), it’s the moments we shared over and through that straw of goodness that leaves a void in my heart.  Getting to witness other women enjoy this experience brings me joy.  In our days of social media, texting, Face-booking, and being too busy with our corporate lives, please don’t ever give up the chance to un-plug, sink into a couch, and hold a hot beverage with your dearest friend by your side.

Father, we thank you for friends.  Even though we may be married to our best friend, it’s equally important that we continue to have friends in Christ we can talk, share, laugh, cry, and work with.  Please come into our hearts and give our busy brains a time-out to rest and unplug from the daily busy’ness we get so caught up in.  We pray you are center in our conversations and interactions with people.  Bless every hot cup of joe being held in this moment, everything we have is from you Lord, and we praise you for the smallest of things that bring smiles to our faces.  Until the day we can drink a cup with you, our best friend of all.. Amen.

Shine Shine Shine!

In ancient times salt was rubbed into meat to keep it from spoiling   When Jesus said that we are the salt & the light, He was implying that the world is decaying and dark, it needs salt rubbed into it and light shined upon it (Matt. 5:3-16).  Wherever salt and light are, they change their environment.*

We are called to be the light in the world.  Not only does light expose those things that are in the dark but it also provides warmth and happiness.  Have you ever looked at someone with a genuine smile or heard a deep belly laugh and not feel compelled to smile back or laugh with them?  There is something contagious about the “light”.  Smiling – it’s like having a Million dollars in the bank but not having a checkbook to use it.  I dare you to give it a try sometime, whether you feel like it or not, smile.  It physically causes your chemicals in your body to react differently.  Not only, it’s contagious!  Just as negativity attracts negativity, positivity will attract positivity.

Salt – A pinch of this magical spice can turn a bland and dull meal into something savory and mouthwatering.  We, too, are to be salt.  Who among us remembers christian character, Psalty?

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He sang, he danced.. To think then knowing what we know now of this special message.  Combined with light, let’s be the added dash of savory flavor to those around us.  Let’s leave people wondering, “What is it that’s different?”  And, “I want what they have! Where do I sign up?”.

Without salt and light our world is dark, dreary, and will begin to spoil.  Nothing stinks more than dark negativity.  How can we have this salt and light of our own?  We know that no matter our trials, we have the Lord with us.  You see, many Christians today have a false sense of thinking that because of their faith there will be no struggles or hardships.  We couldn’t be ever the more wrong.  We must endure the suffering Christ suffered to be conformed into His image (Rom. 8:29).  Again, the reason why we can still find peace and joy through our suffering is because we know that all things work for the good of He who loves us (Rom. 8:28).  Satan will test our faith, but nothing could show God’s glory more than by overcoming these sneaky temptations.  God will never allow us to enter into anything He doesn’t already know we can’t endure.  He smiles upon us with great pride when we’ve chosen Him (Psalm 67:1).  You see, it’s all His will in ALL things anyways.

So let’s sing! Let’s dance! “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine shine shine!”

Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us what it means to be the salt and the light.  Even if it’s taken us a while to get there, but rest assure it’s in your timing and not our own.  We are not discouraged when others let us down for we know that as part of our walk we must endure trials and hardships.  We are all fallen and not deserving of the grace you so freely give to us and we thank you for this generous gift.  People will fail us but your love endures forever.  You never give up on us.  Let us learn to forgive and bless others in your name as your Son would do for us.  Anytime we can add a dash of salt and light into this world let it be because we want to share all of the great and amazing things we’ve learned from knowing you alone.  In your name we pray, Amen.

*Salt and Light – The Connection Devotional by Skip Heitzig

I Believe Because the Letter Says So

A young man was heading off to college and needed a new car.  His current vehicle was old and run-down.  Being a humble and hard-working young man he deserved to have a decent and reliable car for college so his aunt wrote him a letter stating that she would give him her daughter’s car.  The young man received the letter and told his parents that he now “has a car”.  They asked, “Where is it? We don’t see it?”  He simply replied, “I have one because it says so in this letter”.

You see, this young man understood the same thing that guarantees our righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ.  Just like a promise is made to us, a promise was made to him and he had faith enough to believe it.  We, too, have a letter.  We have the biggest, longest, love letter of all.  The Bible.  This letter promises us eternal life if we believe in the one and only Promise from our heavenly father.

Here’s a question to ponder:

Was it easy for you to simply believe in Christ for salvation rather than trying to work for it? Why?

My thoughts:

It’s hard to not think we need to “do” something in order to earn something in return.  By doing, we physically feel and see that something has taken place.  Thus, giving us the belief because we “know” it’s been done, and we know if it’s been done good or bad.  The key thing here is – giving up control.  The notion to control our thoughts, words, and deeds.  Instead of giving it up to the Lord and trusting in him to give us the right action and speech, we take it upon ourselves to try our hardest to do the right things.  Giving up this control is the ticket to our peace that is so freely offered to us.  When we have peace, we trust in God’s abilities alone to carry us, not in ourselves.

I like to explain it to people this way;  We cannot see the air we breathe, yet we breathe in and out everyday because we trust and know (faith) that it’s there.  Much like faith, we do not need to physically feel and see and hear God to know that he is there.  Faith by seeing is no faith at all (2 Cor. 5:7).

The Lord is who does the work within us to make us righteous, not ourselves by our own works (Romans 8:29).  Now know, that if we root ourselves in Christ, we will naturally do good works because we will bear fruit.  It won’t be that we force ourselves into doing these things, but because Christ lives in us we are on fire to do works for the glory of the Lord out of reverence and love.

Father God, we know that in all things you work for the good of those who love you, who have been called according to your purpose.  For those you foreknew you also predestined to be conformed to the image of your son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Rom. 8:28-29) Thank you Lord that it’s not up to the things we do that will determine if we are righteous enough to enter your kingdom, but that by our faith and trust in your son, Jesus Christ, that you are who works in us for your eternal glory in heaven and forever.  Amen!

He’s Alive! No Stranger Among Us

It seems so long since my last post, a whole month in between, funny how our technology today makes us feel like we’ve lost touch after only such a short time really…

I’ve been going through a season of much change. Everything from new jobs (yes, that was J.O.B.’with an S), to putting our house on the market, and relocating, amongst everything in between that comes with that when you have kids involved, family, your home, the dog, fish, guinea pigs…on & on & on. Sparing you of dirty details, hark! I’m having a “normal” moment, getting to spend much needed coffee time with the Lord and His word and felt you were deserving of a little Bible Study:

Before diving in, let’s refresh on the TACS method of study. It will help you follow along as well as you can easily do this on your own.

T: Teaching – What are the particular verses in scripture saying or teaching?
A: Adoration – What about God can we praise him for in these verses?
C: Confession – How do I fail to realize this in my own life?
S: Supplication – Based on the text, what can I ask God for?

John 4:19-26

T: Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman. They discuss about traditions of worship, where, how, and about/for. About Jewish traditions of worship and then how she believes the Messiah is coming and waits for him to explain/sort out all of this for the people. Jesus tells her that the awaited for Messiah is HE.

A: That he sent us Jesus. To teach us about God. A direct vine to the Heavenly Father. That Jesus was a real person, like all of us. He experienced our struggles and lived as man lives.

C: By keeping Jesus as a story figure. Not always grasping how “real” and “tangible” he really was and still is. Keeping him in a history box. Learning and reading about but not applying it today as if he’s still present and active.

S: Father God,
I ask to love you with a weird love, as Beth Moore would put it. With our whole being and so much so that we want to talk about it. Share it. That we constantly live remembering Jesus is a real person, like us, who lives today. We walk with Jesus and he with us. Ever present in our lives, must we live like it with life! And joy! Happiness & peace! Ask God that our own being reflect that the Messiah HAS come. He walked among us. People no longer need to “wait” for him to come, he has come and he will come again! Let us wait eagerly for this arrival. In God’s will alone we pray, Amen.

When Your Feet Are Stuck, Yes! Give Up!

“My eyes are ever on The Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” – Psalm 25:15

Keep your focus on The Lord. Not the things of this world, for they are only temporary. When you have your eyes set on Him you are reminded of Whose you are and that nothing else matters.

It’s when you give up all of your control that He can do His work in you. You cannot have one foot for yourself and another for Him. Being lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, He will SPIT YOU OUT!! (Rev. 3:16) You see, you will be locked up until faith happens. In the chains of this world, and only until you give up control and trust in The Lord with 100% of yourself! will he be able to release the snare from your feet.

God wants to do amazing things for us. That we might have life and have it abundantly! (John 10:10) Even when our minds wander throughout the day, and they do, that is OK! Remember The Lord and whisper His name. This will gently bring all things back to Him. Thank you Lord that you never leave us and are always there! (Duet. 31:8)

This is comforting to me. Especially during this season, I am continually straying with thoughts and dwelling on scenarios. It’s important to keep Him in the middle of it all, that our feet stay planted on unshakable ground. And even more so when things are going swell! Do not forget who showers blessings.

Father, we thank and praise you in, during, and through the storms. Nobody promised life would be easy, but with you all things are possible. (Matt. 19:26) Encourage us to keep our eyes on you, Lord, that you may work your will on earth as it is in Heaven. (Matt. 6:10) We know that only YOU can release the snares of this world from our feet. You rescued Paul from prison, where he was bound by chains, and in that saved the guard and his family too! Thank you Lord, you are so so good. In your son, Jesus, Amen.