Divine Guidance

Path to the light

(FreeImages.com/Dhany Syamsuddin)

I hear so many Christians either erring on the side of ignoring the reality of Divine guidance in the everyday details of life or erring on the side of placing “Revelation,” as it is sometimes called, above the written Word of God.

The former group of people tend to be those who are so scared of false teachers that they ignore the reality of the Spirit of God and His divine inspiration and guidance within our daily lives.

This group of people tend to imply that God’s Word alone is our source of inspiration and guidance.  They believe that God speaks only through His Word, with few exceptions.

I believe this is mainly in reaction to so many false leaders that have led people astray from supposedly hearing directly from God.

We are wise to “test the Spirits.”  There are many false teachers, and it is especially wise to be prudent when someone claims to hear something from God.  Every word needs to be “checked” against the truth of the Word of God.

Yet, to imply that God speaks only through His Word alone is to imply that we live most of our lives outside of the realm of Divine guidance.

For example, when it came time to moving, job changes, academic choices for our kids, business decisions, relationships, etc…, I asked the Lord for wisdom and relied on His Holy Spirit to lead/direct.

The Bible does not address specific life events.  It does give overall life principles that do help to govern our daily choices, but it does not tell you if you should buy a specific house or relocate to a specific area.  So, if God does not speak in any other way than through His Word, are we living most of our lives outside of Divine guidance?  

I remember when I heard a friend say that she looks for the open door.  If the “door” is “open,” she assumes it’s a go.  If it closes, she assumes that means a “no.”  I believe there is a lot of danger in this.  There are many open doors, but they are not all for us to enter.  That seems more like relying on chance than actual Divine guidance.

What if instead, God does desire to direct our lives in every area of life?

Makes sense, right?!!!  If every decision in our lives does impact our lives, then would it not make sense that God would want to give us wisdom to make the best decision — rather than the most convenient?

There are many ways God speaks, and His Word is replete with verses that talk about His thoughts towards us and His speaking to His people.

God has used music, creation, dreams (on occasion), godly advice from friends, books, and many other ways to speak to my heart.  Sometimes, I get this definite impression from God that is very different from any other type of thought. I have known, in those times, that the impression was from God.  I usually ask Him to confirm with His Word that what I thought I “heard” was from Him.

There are dangers in putting too much emphasis on human “revelation” rather than God’s Word.  Within the groups of people that fall into this category are those who seem to even disregard the written Word of God over their own “divine inspiration/revelation.”  That immediately sends off a “red flag” to me.

God’s Spirit will never contradict His Spirit-inspired written Word.  The Word of God was inspired by the Spirit of God.  God does not contradict Himself. 

A truly Spirit-led person will love the Word of God, the people of God, and God Himself.

I believe there are two groups of people often seen within the present-day Church:

  1. There are those who from fear act like the Word of God replaces the Spirit of God.  These churches are known for their emphasis on truth but spurn many allusions to the Spirit’s leading and seem to have difficulty understanding grace, outside of the theory of it.
  2. There are those who put such emphasis on the “Spirit” that it becomes questionable whose spirit is directing them.  Their “revelations” contradict the Word of God, or there is a lack of love for the Spirit-inspired Word of God.  In other words, they seem to ignore the fact that God’s Word is Spiritual.  Their concept of grace is another man-made theory that is as effective as slapping a smiley face sticker on a person who just lost a loved one and telling them that if they smile it will be all better.

I love the following verse which expresses the balance so beautifully:

John 4:24

24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

It is the Spirit of God that directs the Word of God to penetrate into our hearts with unfailing precision.

We can, indeed, live every moment of our lives within the protection of Divine guidance.

A Summer Trip

My husband and I recently had the privilege of taking a trip sans kids for five days to a gorgeous place!!!

We enjoyed some new experiences, like tasting Bubble Tea and enjoying a sauna.

We visited a castle, danced in its ballroom to Big Band music (just the two of us), toured its “Secret Garden”, and ate a fabulous breakfast there.

We climbed a high mountain and never tired of unending view of breathtaking glory!

We enjoyed a sunset and sunrise at beaches, visited little shops along the beach, and ate to our heart’s content.

The best part is we also spent time with family (won’t include pictures of them for privacy).

We really had a marvelous time as a couple!  Enjoy the pictures!  Here are a few more…

How Trusting In God Plays Into Forgiveness

trust me

(FreeImages.com/LorenaMolinari)

This happened not too long ago…

God was bringing to my mind a person that I needed to forgive.  As I was dialoguing with God about this situation, acknowledging that I needed to forgive and asking Him to help me choose to forgive, He asked me the question, “Do you trust me?”

“Do you trust me?”

It struck me then!

Forgiveness is trusting God with the offender/offense.

Forgiveness is giving the offender/offense to God and no longer trying to be judge and jury over them.

Do It Broken

YMCA Horse Mosaic 1

(FreeImages.com/MichelleRau)

As I was sitting in bed this morning with my journal, Bible, and a devotional, the words began to pour out, and the tears began to fall.  Before long, I was scrambling for my pen to jot down the thoughts God was giving me — thoughts about brokenness and grace…

I was reflecting back on how so many times I have wondered why God would entrust me with five precious children to raise when I am far from perfect.  I am not the most patient person.  Loud noises and lots of activity stress me.  Chaos and messes annoy me.  I get easily stressed over crazy busyness and never-ending activities.  The humor in this is all the above often describes my life.

I seem like the most unlikely choice to being a mom of five kids.  Was it all one big cosmic mistake, or ignorance on my part?  Does that mean my kids and I are relegated to just “muck through” the rest of life until they are out of the home, and I can be back in my comfy place again?

In answer to those questions, I will share thoughts God has been teaching me and what I want to share with you today…

Religion often teaches us that God waits until we get it all right before He uses us.

Grace is about God using us — not even in spite of our imperfections — but sometimes because of them.  Why?  Because when we are broken, we are pliable — more apt to be yielded and teachable.

Grace is God taking our brokenness and making something beautiful with the pieces.  He puts the pieces of our lives together, and it forms a beautiful piece of art.  It tells a whole new story.

I wrote the following words to the leaders on my business team.  Within our business, we are often required to stretch beyond our feelings, and the following words were to encourage them: (I think they just might encourage a few of you.)

I wanted to share some words of encouragement to you this Tuesday morning. We all go through times when we doubt ourselves and when we don’t feel completely “on top of our game.” The tendency is to then “hang back” and wait for that future time when we feel more successful or like we have it together before attempting to pursue our dreams. In other words, we want our dream before we pursue it. The truth is we have to pursue our dream before we find it.

I am going to blog about this shortly, but I wanted to post this note I wrote to an ambassador for all of you. I am hoping there might be a word of encouragement in it for you…

“I want to tell you, it’s okay to do life ‘broken.’ You don’t have to wait to live life or pursue your dreams until you ‘feel’ them. The best advice I can give you is to ‘do it scared’ and do it broken.

Grace acknowledges our brokenness — not to worship the brokenness — but to give glory to the Supremacy of the cross over our brokenness.

The power of the cross is the fact that God sees you not as you are but as Christ is!!!

Grace is the cross!

Grace is God’s ability to take our anguish, our brokenness, and our failings and to use us still. It is God’s ability to use imperfection and make it perfect because of the User.

The key is our surrender. We surrender to Him and quit trying to be all perfect before He can use us.

He uses us not in spite of our brokenness, but He uses even through and because of our brokenness itself to accomplish His purposes.”

And I want to cry right there…!

I am going to repeat this powerful statement once again:

Grace acknowledges our brokenness — not to worship the brokenness — but to give glory to the Supremacy of the cross over our brokenness.

So often, we get this idea that grace is slapping a “happy face” sticker over the world’s ills and telling everyone, “You’re great where you are.  Just be happy.”

The reality is Grace sees the depths of our anguish and brokenness and then says, “Give it to me, and I will take your brokenness and give you My Wholeness.  Your brokenness will become My wholeness because I will take those broken pieces, and I will bring healing to them and make them whole.”

Today, as you return to your chaotic world and the reminders of your own brokenness, I want to encourage you to stop looking at the brokenness and start looking at the cross.

The cross is a picture of brokenness and wholeness that melded into One Perfect Being so that you and I have a future, a calling, a tangible peace, an inexplicable joy, and an eternal hope that is a reality!!!

Give God your brokenness because He wants to weld His wholeness to it.

When All Creation Cries…

Rain

(FreeImages.com/SimonSmith)

I awake this morning to more news of suffering and tragedy. The air is heavy with humidity, and I wonder if it isn’t the tears of this world, groaning because of the depths of such suffering and such evil. Hearts are heavy, and as much as we couldn’t exist without God’s grace and long-suffering, we hold our breath in collective question and ask, “How long, Oh Lord?”

Tears pour down, and I grieve for the mommies who want to hold their precious babes one more time. …for husbands and wives who wish they could love one more time… for children who wish they had a parent to kiss their tears away… There are no simple words for anguish so deep.

Within this heavy, collective breath, I see Him, like it was yesterday, hanging there on the cross, and saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” He was perfectly sinless; they were perfectly evil. Why does He say, “They know not what they do?”

Perhaps, the answer is this: if we all really saw and understood the heart of God and His purpose and plans for our life… if we saw what He desires for us and tasted of His goodness and His life… if we really and truly understood… if eyes weren’t blinded by lies, evil, and suffering… if people didn’t turn away from their true Source of comfort, peace, and love and turn inward, trying to cover the searing pain and questions…

Then, we would know that the answer to this world’s agony is not enacting more laws. It’s turning to the One who doesn’t just turn a deaf ear to our suffering, but He took on our suffering and became one of us. He not only suffered along with us, but He suffered for us. He carried agony that we will never experience.

That is why the cross is a picture of “Unfathomable evil intersected with unfathomable grace at the cross.”

What The Cross Really Represents…

Dirty Fingerprints

(FreeImages.com/StephenDavies)

This struck me so powerfully this morning:

Unfathomable evil intersected with unfathomable grace at the cross.

And I am undone… because this. challenges me. to forgive. to love, even the unlovable. to “fellowship” with those who don’t yet understand their value to God. to be patient. because what looks like too far or too low looks like something completely different to God.

Sometimes, it means I need to get a little dirty because grace takes the ugly and wraps it up in the garments of love.

When The Hard Questions Abound…

Tea party

(FreeImages.com/PontusEdenberg)

Two close friends and I sat, cross-legged on the floor, drinking tea… comfortable enough to ask some hard questions. The questions went like this: “If God is both good and Sovereign, why do we see such evil in this world?” It’s a question that lingers in a lot our minds when we see the depths of evil that shatter our innocence and the sweet idyllism of youth.

These friends and I have come to know our God personally, and we know Him enough to know that He is good. We have seen His power, and we know He isn’t weak. So, why evil?

While sipping the comfort of the tea and gazing at the love-filled eyes of these dear friends/sisters, it struck me!  We look at this so wrong so often.

There are two parts to the answer: one is that God has chosen to give us free will. I see this over and over again. Love gives the freedom to choose. Anything forced or manipulated is not true love. With the ability to choose means that evil will exist.

The fact that we see both good and evil in this world demonstrates that there are two forces at work in this world: the force of evil and the force of good. I believe intrinsically we all know this, and our sub-conscious reflects this in movies and books.

What struck me though while listening to this discussion is we wonder why there is evil if God is all-powerful and all-good when in reality we should wonder why there is any good in this world except there be a good God?

The fact that there are examples of sacrificial love, faith, hope, true joy, true peace, generosity, and selflessness indicates that there is present a God who is good — Whose influence permeates this world from falling beyond hope and from yielding completely to the baser elements of evil.

God is Sovereign and God in His sovereignty chooses to allow free will.  Why?  I believe it’s because “wills” are important to Him.  God wants us to exert our wills to respond to Him.  He wants us to exert our wills to surrender to His loving and all-wise guidance.  God woos us for this purpose.

We should not be shocked there is evil in this world — rather we should be amazed that there is good, life, and how many times we are protected and bad things don’t happen.  A world left to itself would only portray death.  It would be a base world where only the strongest, smartest, and most charming survive.  It would be a world where selfishness dominates — where people are only as valuable as they are useful or “usable.”

God though doesn’t operate that way.  He loves the unlovely.  He forgives the “unforgivable.”  He redeems the “useless.”  He takes the ugly and makes it beautiful.

In the end, evil finally will be obliterated.  God’s justice will prevail, and the baser elements, the suffering, the anguish, the pain, the evil will be removed.  Why?

Because love always triumphs over evil, and truth always trumps the lie.  The day is coming!

The time we have now is a gift — a gift to respond to a God who is love, truth, and just!  The choice is ours!

I choose Him.  What about you?

This. Is. It!

Ray Of Light

(FreeImages.com/CarterPerrier)

I love it when God removes the “blinders” and reveals truth to me!  The interesting thing is that often it’s truth I have known in my head but somehow didn’t really understand and/or believe it, meaning live it.

Remember, what you believe is what you live.

It’s interesting how “old truth” suddenly becomes “new truth” when you finally really “see” it!

That’s how it was for me when I realized anew the truth of the following insights God was revealing to me — truths I had “known” before but not really knew.

For example, I blogged previously how God showed me that faith isn’t something God quantifies; it’s something we simply need to have, and that it’s the Object of our faith — God Himself — that is the Source of our faith.  We can’t produce authentic, powerful faith through our own ability to muster up faith.  We have faith as a result of knowing our God — Who He is.

Secondly, I have come to treasure prayer and to view it as the amazing privilege it is — the opportunity to partner with God in His work in another person’s life and the incredible privilege it is to communicate with God.

I used to think prayer was me, naming off a bunch of requests to God and hoping He would choose to answer some of them the way I wanted or thought they should be answered.

I grew to understand that prayer involved some worship of God.  I remember trying to “tack on” a few worshipful-sounding words in order to meet a higher level of spirituality, or so I hoped.  Sounds really shallow, doesn’t it?!!  To be honest though, my prayer life was often exactly that — shallow.

My prayer life was shallow though because my understanding and therefore relationship with God was more shallow. 

It’s hard to pray to One that you don’t know that intimately, don’t really grasp that His love is unconditional and not affected by performance, and don’t really trust. 

The power of prayer is the One to Whom we are praying.

The problem is we so often don’t really understand God, or our thoughts about Him are based upon misconceptions, twisted truths, and harmful misrepresentations.

I recently read the following quote in the book, Wonder Struck:

The wonder of prayer is rediscovered in Who we are speaking to.

— Margeret Feinberg

Reminds me what God showed me about faith.  Once again, it’s the recipient of our prayers and His interaction with me because of Who He is that makes prayer so vital and so incredible!  It’s not the words, in themselves, that make prayer so powerful.

Prayer is so incredible because it is the opportunity to speak to God or as the following quote says:

“Prayer is the opportunity to bend the ear of God.” — Margaret Feinberg

It’s a big deal because of Who God is!  He isn’t some conniving, selfish, evil, uncaring God.  He is a God who longs to hear our voices, especially when they are lifted in awareness of Him.

Have you ever sat with someone and experienced their inattention or complacency?  It’s not exactly pleasant or satisfying.

A lot of prayer life consists of mumbled phrases thrown out to appease a false view of a vindictive God.

A prayer life is transformed though when we begin to see the amazing and incredible gift it is — an opportunity to commune with an ever-present, ever-loving, ever-powerful God!!!  It is an opportunity to be heard by God but also to hear from God.

This brings me to a third truth.  I read the following quote recently and loved it:

“Hope is confident expectation.”  (Not sure in which devotional I read it.)

Do you see that?!!!  Hope is confident expectation in Who?  The power of hope is in Who the expectation is!  Hope isn’t lasting or “powerful” because it’s something we just randomly possess or stir up in ourselves.  Hope is a powerful emotion that comes from a powerful Source. 

It’s the Source of the hope — what we are expecting or looking to — that determines the resilience and strength of our hope.

As I was pondering the above truths, I was thinking how all kinds of other emotions I can think of owe their power and passion to their source.  If it’s a good source, it can be a good emotion.  If it’s a negative source — a reaction, fear, or bitterness — it can be an emotion that wreaks great destruction.

I couldn’t help but ponder that the authentic reality of truth, love, peace, joy, grace, wisdom, life, hope, faith, and prayer all owe their power to the object or source of their existence: God Himself.

It really is that simple!

This is why I have experienced the pure, authentic fullness of these characteristics only in the Presence of God Himself.

You can pursue peace, purpose, and joy outside of God, but I can personally tell you, it won’t last, and it is only a shallow representation of the authentic reality of knowing the Divine Source!

The secret therefore to the full life is knowing the God of life.  The secret to the above three characteristics is knowing God — truly knowing God.  In order to do that, it may mean laying aside all the false ideas and harmful representations of God so you can finally meet the reality of God Himself.

Additional Notes: 

As I was contemplating these truths further while washing my dishes, it “struck me.”  We often think that people who don’t believe in God don’t believe in God because they are lacking faith or because they are rebellious.  What shattered that pre-conceived idea for me is that just as I need to understand God is my Source of the abundant life so it is with the “unbeliever.”  Perhaps, the person who doesn’t believe in God isn’t about his/her lack of faith at all but more about his/her lack of understanding or false understanding of God.

In other words, how can you believe in One that you think is angry, harsh, uncaring, vindictive, and selfish?  It’s easier to pretend He doesn’t exist than that He does but could be those things.

It is a wrong view of God that is the biggest hindrance to a person’s ability to trust in God.  How can you trust in One you don’t believe loves you unconditionally, perfectly, and eternally?

Rather than telling people they need to have faith, maybe we need to be telling them and showing them more what our God is truly like — not a man-made version of a god but God Himself.  That may mean, we first need to get to know Him more intimately ourselves.

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A Full Calendar But An Empty Life?

 

 water fall

(FreeImages.com/RebeccaVaughan)

“We learn to praise God not by paying compliments but by paying attention.” — Frederick Buechner.

How many of us actually take the time to pause, reflect, and ponder upon the wonder of our God and allow His love to flow over, through us, and in us?  It is the absence of this that is the prevailing reason why we find ourselves “parched,” despondent, unsure, restless, and longing for something more.

This summer has been very full — full of fun moments, plenty of activities, and many opportunities to engage with friends and to make new friends!  In the middle of all of this “fullness,” I began to feel such emptiness.

A full calendar does not indicate a “full” life.  In fact, the busier my calendar became, the more depleted I felt until I knew I was getting close to a “crash.”

Then God, in His love, intervened.  He created unplanned space within a day — actually two days — for me to be able to pause.

I took the opportunity to dive into satisfying that for which I was starving — time in God’s Word/time with Him.  By this time, I have learned that I am never at greater authentic peace and fully “satisfied” then I am when I spend time with God.  I knew I needed it.  So, I partook, and was it ever satisfying!!!

As I began to open God’s Word, read my devotional, participate in my Bible study book, every word pointed back to the need to pause, rest, reflect, and ponder.  The “words” addressed my need to create boundaries and to be intentional in creating “space” for this to happen.

The words I read also absolved my guilt over the fact that I have noticed when I am too busy, I am less able to handle life with as much grace. I become reactive rather than responsive to God’s voice.  Why?  Because I am unable to hear God’s voice in the deafening cacophony of the chaos.

I would tell myself that I should be able to handle the craziness if I was strong enough…

Do you see it, like I see it now?  How proud and self-reliant that is!  What was I really saying?  Wasn’t I saying that if I was strong enough (in myself — not in God), I could handle this?  Why in myself?  Because I wasn’t taking time to actually gain strength from God.  Therefore, I was drawing or attempting to draw strength from myself and therefore “crashing.”

My “well” will never be full enough to quench all of the winds, fires, and droughts this world sends my way.  And neither will yours.

It humbled me to see that God loved me enough to intervene, to stop me in my head-long race to burn-out.

He created “space” for me and then provided the refreshment I needed to be recharged and resupplied in order to live the “full life.”

It doesn’t make us weak to acknowledge our dependency upon God.  It actually makes us strong!  How so?

This reminds me of a vacuum cleaner.  A vacuum cleaner is a very important machine that helps to keep my house from falling into total disarray.  It’s a product of ingenuity for which I am very thankful!  The vacuum cleaner has a powerful motor that sucks up dirt, pieces of food, dust bunnies, and insects.  Yet, unless I plug the vacuum cleaner into the source of its power — the outlet — it is a useless piece of equipment that takes up unnecessary floor space.

So it is with us!  God has designed us to be used in many amazing, creative, and productive ways!  Yet, when we aren’t “plugged in” to our Source of Power — God Himself — we are incapable of producing that which will have eternal value.

Today, let’s you and I pause and contemplate, reflect upon our God, and allow Him to nurture our souls and fill us once again with His abundant life, true peace (wellness of soul), and true joy.

There is no better place to be!

Let’s pursue the full life rather than the full calendar.

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Faith… I Am Finally Getting It!

Leap of faith

(FreeImages.com/DaveShields)

This year, the prevailing theme God has been teaching me is that of faith.  I often see how understanding (“sight”) seems to come in “layers.”  God shows me something; then, He shows me another “layer” to the truth of that thing.

God had showed me some profound truths in regards to faith a few months ago.  I wrote about it in these blog posts: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/what-we-view-as-faith-in-god-is-often-not-about-god-at-all/ and https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/.

Each of those blog posts was another “layer” to what God was showing me concerning faith.  He was showing me that faith was resting in God.  He was also showing me that God doesn’t quantify our faith; because it’s not about how much faith we have but that we have faith, period.

In my devotionals, I was reading that faith is confidence. In fact, I recently heard that the root for confidence is confideo, which means in faith.  They are directly related to each other.  Makes perfect sense when we think about the usages of both.

Yet, this amazing and profound truth just “nailed” me this morning!  It is this:

Faith is confidence in God.

So simple, right?  Yet so profound and life-changing!

I used to view faith as something that I had to do or stir up in myself.  I always wondered if I would have enough faith to get me through certain types of trials.

Now that I am finally getting it, the profound truth about faith is completely “revolutionary” to me!

Faith is confidence in God!

It’s not about me.  It’s about Him — the Object of my faith.  It’s because of Who He is that I can have complete confidence in Him — no matter my circumstances.

Wow!  Doesn’t that take the pressure off!

God has been leading me into a much deeper walk with Him, and as He does, my love for Him and personal understanding of Him has grown.  That is also why at the same time, my faith is also growing.

Faith grows parallel with a personal and accurate understanding of God.

As I am growing in my love and an accurate understanding of God personally, my faith is also growing.

How incredibly encouraging it is to know that I don’t have to worry about my ability to trust in God.  I need to look at my God and why He is so worthy of all my confidence/trust!

I just need to have confidence in Him.

That, I can do, because I know my God!