The Dance Card

dance

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I sat there in church, soaking in the worshipful music and lyrics, allowing the music and words to soothe my heart.

My heart was saddened with a weighty decision ahead of us.  Either outcome required sacrifice and a sense of loss.  My husband and I were torn…

Each word of the message seemed directed right at us: the entreaty to trust the Lord, to not avoid the discomfort of the hard decision, and to not neglect His will and calling upon us.

The night before, I had sat in a meeting and kept seeing this picture of Jesus stretching out His hands to me.  I saw the beautiful, nail-pierced hands.  For some reason, I kept getting this impression that He was imploring me to take His hands.  I didn’t realize the significance of that until more than a day later.  He was asking me to walk with Him, to “take His hands,” to trust Him.

As I sat in church Sunday, suddenly, I saw this picture of a dance card (odd that such would come to me), and then it was as if I heard His voice.  He spoke to my heart, and I “heard” these words: “[…], may I write my name on every slot on your dance card?  Will you dance your life with Me?”

God knew my deepest needs.  He knew that in order to take His “hand” and to trust Him, I also needed reassurance of His love.  He didn’t command that I obey Him, but He asked me, while at the same time, reminding me of the depth of His love for me and that there is also joy in His will.  He wanted me to dance with Him…!

I am still pondering that one…  It was so unexpected!  After something like that, I want to question this and wonder if it was all in my head, and then I remember that He does love me that much!  He does ask me to trust Him but never without reassuring me of the unceasing merits of His love — the depths that have no end and the heights that have no ceiling…!

The question for you and I is:

“Do I want Him to claim me for every dance on the dance card of my life?”

There is freedom there!

wedding

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Do You Really Want To Know God’s Will?

....and no not to heaven....unless your heaven in a forest

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As Christians, we say we want to know God’s will. 

We wonder why we don’t “hear” God’s voice, telling us what to do…

The question is, “Do we really want to hear God’s voice?”

Think about those times when you had a conviction to do something that scared you to pieces…

How about that time when you dismissed a potential calling because it sounded too absurd, too contrary to what you thought you could do?

Yeah.  That’s been me before — when I have questioned and hesitated because I wasn’t sure if I was hearing my own thoughts, listening to the pressures of others, or really hearing from God.

Waiting until you have clarity is wise. 

Yet, when you know God is speaking and you try to decide to obey based on your own comfort level with the command, then the question is, “Do you really want to know God’s will?”

I love what Priscilla Shirer says in her book, Discerning The Voice Of God:

...the determining factor for experiencing God is obedience.  We must learn to make obedience a habit regardless of our feelings.

God doesn’t just speak to be heard.  He speaks to be obeyed.

…this kind or response lays the groundwork for God to do incredible things [in our lives]. (Discerning The Voice Of God)

Obedience is not only the key that keeps the door of communication open between you and God but the only appropriate response when He speaks. (Discerning The Voice Of God)

Obedience to God yields supernatural results!

If we really want to “hear” God speak, then we must be willing to obey what He says.

“God doesn’t just speak to be heard.  He speaks to be obeyed.” (by Priscilla Shirer)

Revelation 2:17

17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Matthew 11:15

15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Deuteronomy 31:12

12 Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:

Exodus 15:26

26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.

Matthew 7:24

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

Matthew 13:15

15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

(Graphics by Jessica Morris.)

The Invitation To Knowing God’s Will

<i>Walking into the sun  Will you always keep me warm  Give me shelter from the wildest storm  When I'm glowing  Will you tend evergreen love without end</i> ââ??º Weekend Players, Into the Sun ââ?¢Â«

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God’s will… 

Knowing God’s will seems to be that illusive, vague concept that people want to know, wish they could know, or make any excuse to avoid knowing.

But is it really that vague and illusive?  Is God’s will something we can and should know?

I’ve heard a lot of Christians say that they look for an open door and figure that so long as it stays open they can proceed, and it must be God’s will.  This could be a way God is leading, but there are cautions concerning this.

There are a lot of “open doors” that are not intended for us to walk through.

Matthew 7:13-14

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

God does not intend for us to guess our way through life and hope we choose the correct open door. 

God is Sovereign, and He has a purpose and plan for each and everyone of us and for each and every part of our day.

As much as we may want to know God’s will, God wants us to know it even more.  This means that He will be revealing His will to us through various avenues.

There are a few principles to know when seeking God’s will:

  • God’s will is never in opposition to His Word.
  • God’s will requires trust and faith in God.
  • God’s will is always in accordance with His character and purposes.
  • God’s will is accompanied by the peace of His Holy Spirit.
  • God’s will is revealed in the perfection of His timing.
  • God’s will is revealed as we obey Him in each step of His direction.
  • God’s will is often revealed within His activity in the circumstances of our lives.
  • God’s will is revealed as we surrender our own aspirations to Him.
  • God’s will is revealed through the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
  • God’s will is often outside of our comfort zone and requires us to tap into divine resources in order to fulfill it.  (See Discerning the Voice Of God by Priscilla Shirer.)

God’s will serves several purposes:

  • God’s will glorifies Himself.
  • God’s will helps us to become more fully the person God created us to be.
  • God’s will serves a “greater good” by affecting a bigger community than ourselves.

God’s will is revealed to us through some of the following means:

  • His Word
  • His character and purposes
  • Godly counsel of fellow believers
  • Circumstances
  • His Holy Spirit’s prompting and leading

In her book, Discerning the Voice Of God, Priscilla Shirer says that God invites us into His will.  She said to wait for the invitation of His movement and then join in His work.

Sometimes, God’s will is exciting and “earth-shattering”.  Other times, His will comes “in a still small voice.”

His will can come with quiet conviction or simple peace.

Sometimes, His will is to persevere in what you are already doing.

Sometimes, it’s just cleaning a potty or preparing a meal for your family.

Other times, it’s sell all that you have, pack up your bags, and head to Africa to set up a medical clinic for the needy, as my dear friends are doing in Zambia (See the http://www.theottsinzambia.com.)

Don’t look for the dramatic experiences; though, God can work and does sometimes choose to work that way. 

Recently, God called me to step out in faith and to do something that was the opposite of what I, in my flesh, would choose.  I had to face some old wounds and some huge “mountains” of fears.  I knew though that God was calling me to do this thing.  I kept resting in the truth that where God guides, He provides.

I know that obeying God’s leading does not guarantee that my life and His will is going to be easy.  In fact, it will probably be the opposite because His will requires His strength and grace to fulfill it.  In other words, His will is something outside what I, in my flesh, can do well and with grace.

Yeah, that does mean I have some fears that resurrect themselves at times.  When those fears stare me in the face, I have to look right back at them with assurance that God’s resources always follow God’s will. 

Philippians 4:13

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

I read this quote somewhere and loved it: “Sometimes answers sound like whispers of redemption instead of shouts of rescue.”

Sometimes, God’s will looks contrary to what we think it should look like.  It is when circumstances appear to be hopeless and God appears to be absent that we need to bank our hearts and minds on this verse:

Isaiah 55:8-9

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God has a higher purpose to fulfill than our own personal gratification and goals. 

Ultimately, His will is for our true good.

We have to submit our wills to a God who can only be faithful to His own character.  His character is good and true and just and loving and merciful.  Bank on it!

It’s tough times that will produce a tough faith when we rely on God’s character rather than our own understanding.

She loves me; she loves me not

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When Life Seems To Be In The “Hold Pattern”

The clock on the mall.

According to my digital camera (which has never lied to me in the past), this picture was actually taken at 10:33 p.m. - NOT at 7:48, as the clock would have you believe. In fact, I can say with 100% confidence that it was ...

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Maybe, you clicked on my blog because life right now seems to be at a stand-still for you.  Your dreams don’t seem to be coming true.

If you are like some of my friends, you are suffering through chemotherapy, waiting for your husband to get a job before you get kicked out of your house in a week or few, you are longing for a baby to hold in your arms and heart, you are wondering when the guy you love will finally awaken to the fact that you can be something other than his best friend, you are wondering when your spouse will finally be awakened spiritually and will be able to share in all the blessings of knowing Jesus personally, you are clinging to hope that your rebellious child will finally surrender their life to God, you’re wondering when all the physical pain will finally end or if the doctor will finally discover something to truly help…  I hear all of those cries…  I know how hard simply waiting can be — perhaps it’s one of the hardest things we have to do at times.

Perhaps, waiting is so hard because waiting requires us to surrender and to trust.

Waiting means we have to let go of our own plans, our own timing, and we have to submit to and wait on a Higher Power.

When we grow anxious in our waiting, we have to camp ourselves — our minds and hearts on the truth of Who God is and of who we are in God. 

God is Jehovah Jireh — our Provider!

God is Jehovah-Shalom — our Peace!

God is Jehovah-Rophe — the God Who heals!

God is Jehovah-Tsidekenu — our Righteousness!

God is Elohim — the Sovereign One!

God is Adonai — Lord and Master!

God is Jehovah-Shammah — the God Who Is Present!

God is Jehovah-Tsebaoth — the Lord of hosts!

God is El-Shaddai — our Abundancy!  God is the One who abundantly supplies all of our needs.

In the blog, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/when-waiting-seems-to-be-the-only-action-occuring, it is mentioned that God’s timing is just as important as His answer or His specific will.

So often when we are waiting on some future dream or hope or relief, we seem to think that our present is just an “empty” time that needs to be filled, endured.  We think we are just “passing time.”

God though is concerned about your now.  Your now is not outside of His Presence or care.

I love the following quotes from Discerning The Voice Of God by Priscilla Shirer:

God has invited you to join Him in His plans.  The purposes of God not only include specific plans but also very specific timing.  He orchestrates both events in your life and their timing.

The timing of the call was just as important as the call itself… I would have tried to rush ahead of God instead of waiting for His timing before I was emotionally or spiritually equipped for the demands I currently face.

God will use the appropriate means to reveal His will in His timing. 

Much of the heartache and frustration I have encountered in discerning God’s voice came because I wanted it before God was ready to give it.  I wasn’t willing to trust God’s timing in revealing His plans for me.  I tried to place my time constraints on God.

His timing is best.

Knowing too much too soon can be detrimental.

When we feel rushed and hurried to make a decision not rooted in a deep confidence of inner peace, God probably has not spoken.  Nowhere in Scripture does God tell anyone to rush into making a decision.  On the contrary, He patiently and persistently gives us clarity before requiring obedience.  If you feel an overwhelming urge to act spontaneously, pull in the reins.

I love that quote!  “God has invited you to join Him in His plans.” 

When life seems to be in a “hold pattern,” it’s not because God is keeping you from something good or that He is unaware of your plight.  It means that God is doing something good in you while you wait, if you surrender to Him.

Discerning the Voice of God also says, “Our shepherd leads, He doesn’t drive.  One difference between the Enemy’s voice and the Shepherd’s is that Jesus doesn’t coerce us with fear or intimidation.  He gently encourages and woos.”

John 10:2-4

But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

In John 10:2-4, it says that Jesus, our Shepherd, calls us by name and leads us.  He shows us the way we are to go.

  • God invites us to be a part of His will.
  • He leads us and guides us in His will.
  • His Presence accompanies His will.

There is protection and provision for the sheep that follow their Shepherd.

There is joy and peace when we traverse the paths that our Heavenly Shepherd has for us.

Dear friend, no matter your circumstances today and when things seem hopeless right now, believe the truth.  The truth will anchor your soul and keep you secure in the midst of the tumult.

One final excellent quote from Elisabeth Elliot:

My acceptance of His timing was a rigorous exercise in trust.  I was tempted to charge the Lord with negligence and inattention, like the disciples in the boat in a storm.  They toiled frantically until the situation became impossible and then instead of asking for Jesus’ help, they yelled, “Master, don’t you care that we are drowning?” They weren’t perishing, they were panicking.  It was not too late.  Jesus got up and merely spoke to the wind and sea.

“They weren’t perishing, they were panicking.”

Today, when you feel the drudgery of the monotony, the worries for tomorrow, the pain of today, hang on to the truth.  God is not too late for His will. 

His will is always accomplished in the perfection of His timing.