Saturday, July 11, 2020

Day 5: A 14-Day Journey to Hearing from God

We're continuing in talking about practical ways to "tune our ears" to hear from God. Let's start with the same question that was presented yesterday.

How Do We Hear from God?
  1. spoken word from preachers and teachers of the Word / church
  2. reading and studying God's Word
  3. talking to God and quieting ourselves to let Him talk to us (prayer)
  4. convictions (the tugging at our hearts, the push and pull in our spirits)
  5. fellowship with other believers
  6. warning and foresight, spoken directly to our spirits 

Today's focus will be reading and studying God's word.


After talking yesterday about hearing from God through others (preachers and teachers, specifically), I couldn't wait to get to today and dive into what this whole journey is about: hearing directly from God for ourselves.

Hear me and hear me well: There is NO WAY to hear God's voice without hearing His word because God IS His word. (Read John 1:1-2) If what you're hearing in your spirit does not line up with God's word or is not His word directly, you are not hearing God. 

What do I mean?

God would never tell you to enter into a relationship with someone else's husband or wife. He is not pleased with adultery. God would never tell you to give someone a piece of your mind regardless of what the circumstances are. His Word tells us that harsh words stir up anger. God would never tell you to lie on your taxes to get more money to take care of things that, perhaps, you got yourself into. He would encourage you to trust Him because trickery and dishonesty is the enemy's work; it doesn't reflect Him.

But we have to know God's Word to know what He would and would not have us do. We won't know if what we hear in our spirits is His voice or not if we don't know His Word. We have to study Him, like I said on Day 1, as if He were our significant other. The only way you'll know God's voice and learn of Him is if you spend time getting to know Him. There are no shortcuts; there's no other way. 


His voice becomes familiar to you when His Word is familiar to you.



How Do I Dig Into God's Word?
Let's be honest. It's hard to know where to start. I can remember being new in Christ and just not knowing what to do. This is where church, Bible study and friends in Christ came in. Those were my starting places. I would take the Sunday sermons and Wednesday night Bible study lessons I received and dissect them. Whatever scriptures the preacher/teacher used, I would study those scriptures out and do cross references in my Bible to find other scriptures that related to the ones from my notes. Before I knew it, I would be making connections to major principles in God's Word (His love vs. the world's love, renewing my mind, living a life that speaks of Him vs. only talking about it, prayer, patience and longsuffering, obedience)

I learned, too, about Jesus' life and how He did nothing apart from God the Father. I learned that I was to follow that example and do nothing apart from the Father. I grew leaps and bounds in my knowledge of who God is because I spent time getting to know Him through His word.

Then, the actual notes from those teachings would make more sense as I was making connections. Soon, I noticed my speech was changing when I would have conversations with others. Because God's Word was being hidden in my heart, that's what was coming out (For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of, Matthew 12:34). And I was loving it! It became less of an "I have to spend time with God" (because, honestly, we make it an item on our checklist), to an "I can't wait to see what God's Word has for me today."

It is my prayer that you will not only want God's word because someone's telling you that you should and because in the back of your mind you know you're a Christian and you're "supposed to" read His word. I pray that as you begin to dig in and study, God will illuminate His word and grab hold of your heart. I pray He will speak mightily and plainly through everything you study throughout the rest of this challenge. I pray He will honor the sacrifice of you being on this 14-day journey because you earnestly desire to hear from Him. 


I pray your study time NEVER be the same from this day forward because you hunger and thirst after Him. His word promises that those who hunger and thirst after Him and His righteousness SHALL BE filled (Matthew 5:6). I pray you go from feeling like you have to read God's word to deeply desiring to read and study His word simply because you want to know Him more. And that time, the time when you're with Him because you simply just want to know Him more, is the sweetest place! There really is nothing more satisfying than hearing God through His word!

Let me give you an example.


Story Time



While in college, I spent my summers serving in leadership at Kids Across America, a Christian sports camp in Golden (Branson), Missouri. GOD CHANGED MY LIFE through the KAA ministry! I am forever grateful for those years because KAA is where I was TAUGHT to study God's word, and where I heard His voice of guidance and instruction for the first time, meaning He spoke directly to me for my own life and for the lives of others. And it happened, every time, while I was in His Word. 

One such time was a day at KAA that started just like any other. I was on a morning mission with my partner (we were the Programs Directors) to prepare for that evening's party. That meant planning games, securing materials for the games, making schedules, deciding on, and securing prizes and so, so much more. It was our busiest time of day. We would usually talk while we worked, and we did start off talking that day, but it wouldn't be long before I would tune him completely out. He was driving, and I was in the passenger seat. I had my Bible case  in my hand because we'd just finished up morning Bible studies with our small groups. And out of nowhere, I had the strongest tugging in my heart to open my Bible and turn to the book of Haggai (it had to be the Lord because I ain't know nothin' 'bout no Haggai! LOL).


I started reading, and IMMEDIATELY, the Lord began to speak! 


I was reading in the quiet of my heart, and I was hearing like I'd never heard before! I was hearing so much that I had to grab the little sticky notepad and pen that I kept in the back of my bible case and write it down as I was hearing it. The Lord was talking to me about my own life and how to honor Him, but He was also telling me how to use the message in Haggai to teach the purity class at KAA the following summer that I had NO IDEA he would tell my director to add to our daily schedule. It wasn't even in existence as a full class yet! She gave me the responsibility later, in January, to create a curriculum for the class, and it had already been written in June that day when God's spirit led me to Haggai. I was ready because the Lord had made me ready! He knew what was coming, and because I didn't ignore the tugging in my heart, and I dug into His word, He met me right there to give me what was needed. I taught over 400 girls in that purity class that summer, and testimonies still pour in 'til this day! It was ALL God!





After that day, I would spend maybe the next 2 weeks in Haggai, reading it over and over and over until I had a clear understanding of everything that was written therein, and every time I was there, the Lord gave me more illustrations and more points to be used in the class. He even gave me other scriptures to study to help me better understand what was happening in that very short book. In the purity class that next summer, we never looked into the book of Haggai; that was just for me. But boy, oh boy, did I have a clear understanding of what it meant to honor the Lord in the house He built (my body). 


Devotionals
Another help for me when I first started walking with Christ was daily devotionals. They are the PERFECT study starters if you don't know where to begin reading and studying in the Bible. I still use devotionals today. There's always at least 1 scripture (I prefer more) for each day's devotional, and from that scripture is an explanation or a story to help the scripture and its meaning come to life. 
I'm a storyteller, so I connect most with stories that paint clear pictures for me to understand God's word. This is why I enjoyed Priscilla Shirer's Awaken SO MUCH! Each devotional has FOUR scriptures and a story to connect to the scriptures she uses. Many times when I go to those scriptures in the Word, I end up reading the entire passage or chapter so I can understand the scriptures in context, and before I know it, I'm having my own Bible study. There is also a reflection section for each devotional that allows readers to "talk back to God" after reading and digging into the devotional. I absolutely LOVE IT! Some days, my time with my devotional was all I needed. The Lord met me right there.

My sister-friend, Nicole Atkinson, wrote a 365-day devotional entitled, Drawing Close to God, and I use this one too. Hers is more of a light bite devotional, but it's rich! What's unique about this devotional is there is a prayer for each day, so for those who may have a hard time knowing what to say to the Lord, you can say what's written, and He'll hear it just the same. This devotional guarantees a daily meeting with the Lord, which means a daily opportunity to hear from Him.

And for the wives on the journey, my sister-friend, Cecelia Simon, wrote a 31-day devotional, entitled, Married to Coach, Submitted to Both, and it is taking the coaches' wives world by storm! I had the honor of editing this book, so I've seen what's there, and the reviews from other women have been astounding! Although the devotional is geared toward coaches' wives, it speaks to the heart of all wives about serving the Lord with their husbands, as a team, no matter what season of the game they're in.

You may not feel comfortable digging into God's Word by yourself just yet, or you may find it difficult to know what to study or where to go (we'll get some practice later in the journey), but there's so much out there to help us dig into God's Word until we're able to dig on our own. It doesn't have to be difficult. 



Light Bites
On days when I'm having a hard time knowing where to go to study, or if my appetite for the Word is not as strong (it happens to all of us, so don't feel bad), I go to the book of Proverbs. I love me some Proverbs! It is full of wisdom and it's not overwhelming. 

On days when your appetite to read and/or study is not as strong, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't "eat". We don't do that to our physical bodies, so we definitely shouldn't do it to our spirits. Just eat some light bites, but don't go without food. God's word is our spiritual food, and if you starve your spirit, it'll be malnourished, and if malnourished long enough, it will die. 



The Assignment
  1. Grab your Bible and date today's journal.
  2. Read the following passages. After you read the passages, talk back to the Lord in your journal, telling Him what the passages say to you. What do you believe the Lord is saying to you in the passage for your life?
    • John 21:1-6
    • Exodus 1:15-21
  3. Search out some devotionals, and search by category (teacher, single parent, single man, wives, mothers, fathers, etc.) to see what fits your needs. There's SO MUCH out there! If you feel compelled to grab a devotional to help you study God's word, it certainly can't hurt. 
  4. Forget not the concern from Day 3 that you have before the Lord. Talk to Him about it. Pray His word back to Him about it.
I'm praying for you.

-Iantha

"All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 
-2 Timothy 3:16 NIV

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