A Moment of Honesty

I’m not perfect. In fact, I’m far from it. I have a sincere desire to purse Jesus and do His will, but I haven’t always made decisions that reflect full submission to His Lordship. In fact this is an area I’ve struggled with pretty consistently for years. Especially challenging for me has been learning to really hear His voice in the midst of a thousand other voices.

Three years ago I was so convinced I was hearing God’s voice, leading and direction, but things didn’t play out as I expected and I was left with two options. Either I can’t hear God’s voice at all or God’s plan for that time in my life was different than I thought it was. I believed it was the latter, but my emotions told me it was the first.

In a way I gave up. I didn’t stop loving Jesus, but I did disengage. I stopped believing I could ever truly hear His voice and direction for my life. I made several decisions during this season that weren’t necessarily bad, but weren’t based upon prayerfully following the leading of the Lord.

I tried to do things my own way.

That’s never an easy thing to admit is it? It happens all the time. We all have moments when we boldly jump into a decision without considering the direction of the Lord. The true test comes once we realize that we stepped towards something God didn’t intend. Sometimes we double down on the wrong direction and just hope God can make something good of it. 

He can. 

However, the best thing we can do is take a step back and put our whole life on the table in front of the Lord and say, “Ok God, what is Your will?”

The struggle I ran into is that I’d gotten so used to doing things my way, I couldn’t recognize His voice. It was no longer familiar. I reached out and sought advice and counsel from many different sources.

In difficult decisions we should always seek the peace of the Lord. God’s voice is always assuring and His direction is accompanied by peace. Even when the decision in question is challenging,  hard to follow through and will lead to all kinds of mixed emotions, deep down in the presence of Jesus we can have peace.

That doesn’t always make things easy, but this is where Faith in the Lord and the willingness to obey Him comes into play. What’s most important to you? The plans we laid or obeying the Lord? For me, I know I want to be in His perfect will at any cost.

I’m still working on learning to truly obey Him and hear His voice. Some of you reading this today might relate in my struggle to hear God’s voice. If that’s you, can I encourage you to keep at it. Keep reading the Word and spending time in prayer. Prioritize God over all else and I promise, you will learn to recognize His voice. He is active and wanting to speak to each of us, leading us and directing us down paths of promise.

I tried to do things my own way rather than letting God’s voice lead my life. I let other people tell me what God was saying, and while other people can confirm what the Lord is speaking to you, we must listen to the voice of the secret place.

I believe the Lord is leading me into a new season of my life. For 8 months now I have been consistently pursuing the Lord in a way I hadn’t for a long time. I believe I am learning to hear His voice again and more importantly obeying that voice.

This learning process is part of why my blogs abruptly stopped. I know I had just barely even started this blog, and I stopped. I found myself in an unexpected season where I was empty, broken and needed to fill up on His Word. I lacked motivation and inspiration to write, but I kept my prayer time and Bible reading consistent.

I guess today my primary message to you would be that obedience to God is the most important thing. Prayer if not coupled with action, leads to complacency. We must act in a way that pleases the Lord.

Next week we will spend some time looking at sin and the result of disobeying the Lord. I hope you’ll join me as we explore the stories of King Saul and Samson and learn some practical steps we can take to overcome sin.

Thank you for reading!

When Nothing Seems To Change

Have you ever received a promise from God and felt excited, “This is it! Things are finally gonna be different this time!” Then looked at your life and realized, nothing has changed. Your circumstances are exactly the same. How many times have we taken our eyes off of the promise and placed them on our surroundings.

Often we are like Peter in Matthew 14 who took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the waves. Up until that moment this man was literally walking on water. That had to be a good feeling, but the moment he took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the storm and the waves, he began to sink. Thankfully Jesus was there, just like He is in our lives, to catch him before catastrophe hit!

Do you remember Hannah in 1 Samuel ? She was miserable! She couldn’t have children and her… What do you call your husbands other wife? Her name was Peninnah and she ridiculed Hannah and made her feel terrible. Every year they would journey to offer sacrifices and every year Hannah would grow more despondent, she couldn’t even eat she was so broken.

Her circumstances had left her humiliated, feeling worthless. So she went to the Tabernacle to pray. She was broken and crying before the Lord when he priest Eli approached her and said what any good priest would say, “Stop drinking woman! You would come here totally wasted?! What’s wrong with you?!” Those may not have been his exact words, but the sentiment is the same.

Hannah explained her situation.

1 Samuel 1:15-18 (NLT) “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”

 “In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”

 “Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.

The priest told her God would grant her request and she believed him. This is faith in action. She wasn’t supernaturally impregnated in that moment. Her circumstances didn’t change just because Eli, a priest with notoriously wicked sons, told her it would all be ok. I am sure Peninnah didn’t suddenly decide to close her mouth. Yet Hannah had faith.

We know she had faith, because she got her appetite back and was no longer sad. We know the story, she eventually gave birth to Samuel and the amazing part of the story is she kept the vow she had made to the Lord to give the child back to Him.

Now as a man, I am not a mother, nor do I have children, but I can imagine the difficulty a mother would have of giving up her son to live in the temple and serve the Lord. This was her only son, and yet she was faithful to her vow. She obeyed the Lord. When Samuel was old enough she brought him to the temple and he lived there and served the Lord.

This woman had faith in God. And I believe it was because of her obedience that God blessed her far beyond what she had asked.

1 Samuel 2:21 And the Lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters.

This wasn’t part of the deal. God didn’t bring out a contract for Hannah to sign that stipulated, if she obeyed He would bless her abundantly with five additional children. I believe those children were God’s way of honoring her faith and obedience. She gave up her son even though she had no guarantee of other children.

Is there something in your life today that God is asking you to give up? If there is, I would encourage you to stop putting it off, and obey the Lord this very day. Trust Him enough to know that His way is better than your own way. It may be difficult, but when we fully surrender to the Lord and obey God to the fullest, He is faithful to bless us far beyond what we even asked.