Thursday, September 23, 2010

Are You Listening?

When I was about 20 or 21 years old, I was troubled and asked God one day, "You said that your sheep hear your voice. (John 10:27 KJV) I'm one of your sheep. How can I hear your voice?"  I was so busy at the time. I was working full time, had taken on a 19 credit course load in college and was the youth leader/minister at my church. I was stressed. I loved the Lord and was giving him everything I had and doing my best to please him. However, I was so stressed and though normally an A student, I got a D in my economics class. That's when I said, "Lord, I need to hear from you. Something is wrong." I was having a minor nervous breakdown.  I'd get alone at school sometimes and just stare out the window and up at the sky wondering what I was doing. Why were my thoughts not lucid? I'd even started stuttering when trying to communicate.

It was January in Massachusetts. I decided to take the next semester off and slow down the pace a little. I needed to hear from God for direction and because I believed God's Word, I set out to hear God's voice.  A friend of mine had a cabin up on a tree farm in Maine and he said I could go there for a little retreat. So I set off to find this cabin in Maine in 0 degree temperature. I was desperate. I was going away for three days to fast and pray and hear from the Lord.

It was quite an adventure. I got lost. The temperature dropped to below zero and I had to sleep in my car that night or get stuck in the 2 foot snow banks that lined the road. (This was before cell phones :-) The Lord was with me, however and kept me safe. The next morning I saw that where I'd slept was just a stone's throw away from the cabin, but there were no street lights up there and one wrong move and I'd have been stuck in the snow. Thankfully, he had a couple that stayed on the property to maintain it and I stayed with them for the weekend.

I fasted and prayed that weekend, but I didn't hear anything. I would have stayed longer but a snow storm was expected and they told me I'd be stuck there for 2-3 weeks if I didn't leave before it came. So I headed back home a little frustrated. "I need to hear from you, Lord," I cried.

The next week I heard a radio program about hearing from God. I don't remember any more what they said, but I filed it away mentally. That Saturday evening I decided to go shopping for a dress for my brother's upcoming wedding. I'd been unsuccessful so far and the wedding was in two weeks. I'd checked everywhere locally, so I decided to go to the neighboring state to a mall that I visited every now and then. On the way to the mall something interesting happened. I heard a voice say, "Turn around and go home." It wasn't an audible voice, it was in my head. Now, I had my mind set on shopping for this dress in Enfield, CT. Where was this "thought" coming from to turn around and go home? So I turned on the radio to distract me. The voice got louder. "Turn around and go home." I didn't want to "hear" that, so I turned the radio up louder. One more time I heard the voice insistently, "Beverly, turn around and go home." I cranked the music in the car at this point and the voice went away.

I went about my shopping, but did not find a dress. I was frustrated. I went all that way for nothing. On returning home that evening, I saw my mom sitting on the front stairs in the freezing cold weather in her nurses uniform. I was very concerned. It was the 1st week of February in Massachusetts. Need I say any more about how cold it was outside and it was night time. As I got out the car, my mom almost cried. She said, "Beverly, I've been sitting here praying, Lord please send Beverly home to open the door." She was locked out of the house. My mom worked two sometimes three jobs. She'd come home to get a couple hours sleep before going to her next job. I was mortified! The Lord had been speaking to me in answer to her prayers trying to get me to turn around and go home to let my mom into the house. I heard his voice, I just didn't want to at that time. I didn't like the message. It didn't fit in with my plans for the day.

That was a life changing experience for me. What if it had been more serious? What if it had been a life threatening situation and I didn't listen? I learned from that experience to hear God's voice and to obey it. That was almost 25 years ago.

I think of Samuel when he first heard the voice of the Lord. God called his name three times and on the third time, Eli realized it was God speaking to Samuel and told him, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'" There's a big difference between hearing and listening. I'd heard God's voice that day in the car, but I didn't want to listen or pay attention to it.

Recently during a conversation with a friend of mine, in response to something I must have said, he asked me, "How do you hear God's voice?" I shared the above story with him. Then he said, "A guy in my Sunday School class asked me how do I know God's voice and I didn't know what to tell him." I said, "If someone calls you for the first time on the phone, you won't recognize their voice, right? But after speaking with them repeatedly over time on the phone, after a while, soon as you hear the first word out of their mouth, you recognize who they are right?" "Right," he said. "I got it."

God speaks to those who are willing to listen. The more you listen, the more he speaks. Just as you can recognize your own mother or father's voice in a crowded room of people because of your relationship with them and the many discussions over time with them, develop your relationship with God. Instead of speaking all the time when you pray, making prayer a monologue, after you worship him, be quiet. Learn to listen. Get into his Word so that you recognize how he speaks. Satan speaks, you speak to yourself, there are so many voices in your mind. That's why it's important to get by yourself in a quiet place and seek the Lord and learn his voice. The Lover of your soul wants to speak with you.

"Come near to God and he will come near to you." James 4:8
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jer. 29:13
"But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul." Deut. 4:29

God wants you to seek him. Are you listening?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Did God Really Say...?

"This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it."  I just wanted to take a moment to lift up a praise before I get into what the Lord laid on my heart.

It's been a trying week with little sleep -
I will rejoice and be glad in it.
I've been fighting off a chest cold for two weeks -
I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Felt overwhelmed with the circumstances encroaching upon me -
I will rejoice and be glad in it.
I have huge steps of faith to take and it feels a little scary -
I will rejoice and be glad in it!
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised!
I am more than a conqueror through Christ who gives me strength! Shout some praise!


A brother in the Lord in giving me a review of my book, said, "Wow, this is great stuff, I needed to hear it....but is it really possible to live that way in today's world? Most people probably won't believe it. I probably wouldn't believe it possible myself if I didn't know you so well." In response to an underlying question that's being asked throughout my book, "Predator, Protector or Confused?," he said, "I've been a predator all my life, I was raised to be a predator, everyone that I know is a predator," as if to say, it's the norm, it's accepted, can I really be anything else?

When I awoke the next morning, the Holy Spirit said to me, "Did God really say...?" and he took me directly to Genesis 3:1 where the serpent said to the woman, "Did God really say...?" The prince of deception, Satan, his first words to mankind were, "Did God really say...?" He plants seeds of doubt. He makes us question what we heard from God, if we heard from God or if we heard correctly. He wants us to think that what God has said yesterday, doesn't apply to today. He makes it look ridiculous so that we rationalize our way out of obedience to God's Word.

The Bible said in the beginning of that same verse, "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the other wild animals the Lord had made." He didn't outright say, "God didn't say." He didn't refute what God said, he simply planted a thought of doubt as to whether you heard God correctly? Are you sure you got it right? That's much more insidious than to directly oppose the Word of God. Yes, he's crafty alright.

He had the woman adding to what God said and the man that God said it to, was right there and didn't even correct her.  The serpent said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'" (He knew very well God did not say that. He twisted it right there and the befuddled woman added to the mangled rendering.) The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"

That's when the serpent slithered in for the kill. He says, "You will not surely die...For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good from evil." He baited her and after she took the bait, he reeled her in with her own curiosity and ego.

His tactics hasn't changed. He's simply adapted them to fit each culture down through the ages.  Scripture says, "but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." (James 1:14)  When we don't want to change, when it just seems too hard, when it's just going to cause too much disruption or make us uncomfortable, then we hear what we want to hear.  Did God really say...?  Because now in the light of day, now that I'm facing opposition, now that things aren't going the way I expected them too, I'm not so sure I heard right.  The devil is a liar and, "the heart is deceitful above all things..."(Jer. 17:9)

Many question the Bible. Even many Christians question and doubt some of the historical events, prophesies and commands in the Bible.
  • Did God really part the Red Sea for the Israelites?
  • How can God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit be One God (John 1:1-18)? 
  • Is God really giving new prophesies in the last days (Joel 2:28)?
  • Can no one really know the day or the hour that Christ shall return(Matt. 24:36-44)?  
  • If Jesus said, we  will do even greater works than he did because he was going to the Father (John 14), why aren't we seeing more of it?
  • Does God really want us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44)? 
  • How can we be holy even as God is holy (1 Pet. 1:16)?  
  • How can homosexuality really be sin if I was "born" that way (Rom. 1:18-27)?  
The questions can go on and on?  But the bottom line is, Did God really say it?

Regardless of how ridiculous it may sound, how impossible, let go of your limited thinking. Believe in God and His Word. God is unlimited. We can't think as deep and as wide as He can. We can't see infinity. We can't even see tomorrow. Even the greatest minds of the past, present and those to come, if they were able to all come together and reason, their reasoning would be as foolishness in comparison to God's wisdom. (1 Cor. 1:19-25) For as far as the heavens are above the earth, so are God's ways and God's thoughts higher and beyond our ways and our thoughts. Their wisdom couldn't figure God out or out think Him.

So, if God said it, believe it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Be Encouraged

Hi Friends,

How's your walk today? Are you walking in victory or defeat? Hold your head up. Did you take time for breakfast (of your spirit) this morning to get the strength you need to face the fiery darts of today? Remember, it's they that "wait upon the Lord that shall renew their strength," and every day you need renewed strength to face the schemes of the enemy.

Imagine those on the front lines for us in Iraq and Afghanistan. They don't have time to dwell on yesterday's victories or defeats, because their enemies are not resting. No one rests until the war is over. Today, they have to fight for their lives afresh and so do you.

"Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs - he wants to please his commanding officer." 2 Timothy 2:3, 4.  One of the major strategies that Satan uses to distract us is one of busyness to take our eyes off of what is important. We all have to contend against this assault.  Life comes at us fast. Richard Foster in his insightful book, "Celebration of Discipline," (I highly recommend everyone who wants to grow in their walk with Christ to read this book,) quotes a monk who once said, the busier his day, the more time he has to spend in the morning to hear from God. In our culture today we do the opposite and that's why at the end of the day we feel so defeated. The more hectic your schedule, the heavier your work load, the more nourishment you need to see you through. Wouldn't you agree?

Remember, you are not alone.  No trial, "no temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (1 Cor. 10:13)

Hebrews 11 recounts numerous saints that have fought the good fight before us. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Verse 3, "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Be encouraged. You are not alone.

Take a break to recoup and rebuild your strength if you failed to do so this morning or simply need more strength to face the rest of the day. Take a spiritual lunch break or 15 minute break to regroup (pray) and sharpen your sword to fight the remaining battles of the day. Don't be deceived. Be ever watchful. Your enemy is on the prowl. But smile; square your shoulders, lift your chin in faith, pray, sing or hum a song of praise and recall the Word of the Lord that you've hidden in your heart. You must make a conscious effort to employ these weapons of the spirit.  Now charge!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Walking by Faith or In Fear?

2 Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (NKJV)

Recently, I was privy to a discussion among Believers in a Bible study setting and they were talking about the escalation of crime in the surrounding areas and of the precautions they were taking. For about 20-30 minutes they recounted the various shootings and deaths that had taken place recently and how they can't even feel safe when their children's friends visit their homes, etc.

Let me first say that I understand and that we must use wisdom. However, my response was a little different. I felt as though all the talk of what the enemy was doing was generating fear which puts us, as Believers, on the defensive and not on the offensive as I believe we should be as children of God. I don't know about you, but I'm sick of being put on the defensive.

As I shared with them, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Furthermore, greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Yes, we must use wisdom, but my fear is not the enemy, but that we as God's children, as the Church, as the Body of Christ, are cowering instead of attacking. We're succumbing to the schemes of Satan not destroying them. We've become too much of a social club. It bothers me that we can have churches on so many corners and little change in the communities around us. We're weak. We have a lot of programs but little power.

Doesn't your heart cry out? My prayer on January 1st this year was, "Lord, teach me to walk in the power of your Holy Spirit." I want to grow to the next level. When I think of the power houses of the Bible, they were ordinary men and women that God used to bring about change in the earth. They had to face the evils of their day and overcome them. Remember the Israelite army and how they cowered before Goliath and the Philistines in 1 Samuel 17? God used a boy, David, with no military experience, but he had personally experienced God's power in helping him to destroy a lion and a bear. He was full of faith in God to help him destroy this giant as well.

Remember Gideon? He was scared at first to do what the Lord was telling him to do, so he did it at night when his family and the men of the town were not watching. But God saw something in Gideon and used him mightily. Remember Jesus' disciples? They were bold and strong when Christ walked with them, but they all fled when Jesus was arrested and crucified. When the Holy Spirit came upon them, however,  in Acts 2, they received power to change the world around them. Some did so boldly through the preaching of the good news. Some did so through giving, some through prayer, some through hospitality, but all that received the power of the Holy Spirit were moved by the Spirit to share the good news through whatever gift the Holy Spirit had given them and make a difference in the Kingdom of God.

We're in the last days. We are not a defeated church, we are a victorious church. Our minds must be renewed and we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit to fill us with the power we need to be able to stand and do His work in these last and evil days. Ephesians 6:10 (NIV) says,

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything, to stand."

Pray for what God would have you do, then pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to enable you to do it. Every day we're in a battle. Satan is seeking whom he may devour and he uses our loved ones, our co-workers, our friends, our neighbors, rush hour traffic, or circumstances that occur throughout the day. Remember, we are not fighting against flesh and blood. Don't be ignorant of the devil's schemes. But know this, you are more than a conqueror, for greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world! Walk by faith and not in fear.

Friday, September 10, 2010


As I was thinking of my nephew, Aundre, today tears came to my eyes and I thought of all those who've lost love ones and how they must feel. My heart went out to them. I am happy for my nephew because he is with the Lord, but for those left behind we miss him.

My thoughts then travelled to our lives. Who will miss us if we were suddenly taken from this earth? What kind of impact are we making? Will they just miss our presence, our love, the good times or will they think about how our lives changed theirs? We have one life to live. We ought to live it wisely.

Then I pondered the purpose of life, for how can we live life wisely if we don't know the purpose? My Bible tells me that we were created to worship God and to glorify His name. It is in doing so that we find love, for God is love. It is in worshiping the Lord and getting into His presence that we find purpose and joy. It is in Him that we live and breathe and have our being. It is in Him that we live free from fear, free from bondage, free from jealousy and hatred. It is as we worship Him and learn to dwell daily in His presence that we find true life and life more abundantly. Therefore, to live wisely is to learn to worship and glorify God.

The example of the nation of Israel throughout the Old Testament (the old covenant) is an example of what happened when you worshipped God and when you didn't. For repeatedly it is mentioned in the New Testament (the new covenant) that what happened to the Israelites happened to them as examples to the nations and to us. Jesus, who established the new covenant, is the ultimate example of how to worship God today.

Jesus' example was one of obedience and service. He was a living sacrifice and the final sacrifice of atonement for our sins - once and for all. His "unselfish" and obedient act of love paid for our sins and redeemed us so that we can once again become all that God intended for us to be. We can now truly become the "sons and daughters" of God.

Philippians 2:1-11(NIV) gives an incredible depiction of the story of Christ and God's expectation of us and I'd like to share it with you. (All italics and coloring are not part of the original text.)

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ,
if any comfort from his love,
if any fellowship with the Spirit,
if any tenderness and compassion,
then make my joy complete by being like-minded,
having the same love,
being one in spirit and purpose.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Each of you should not look only to your own interests,
but also to the interests of others."

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death-
even death on a cross!"

"Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every other name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."

That's it ladies and gentlemen. That's it in a nutshell. Jesus' example of love and life, was one of obedience to the Father and loving sacrifice. As a result, he's changed the entire course of man and history and he wants to continue to do so through us. How are you living? What will be said of your life? Life (in Christ) and love is unselfish. Become a living sacrifice.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How is Your Light?

The last few days I've been pondering Jesus' words, "You are the light of the world." Today that passage lit up my soul.

Let's first examine light. When you turn ON light or a lamp it dispels the darkness, it illuminates a room so that people can see what's in the room and so that you can find your way around the room without bumping into things and hurting yourself right? In the New Testament era, there was no electricy, so lamps were used and lamps are mobile. They were held in front of you so that you could see where you were walking or in the home, they were carried from room to room as needed then put on a stand.

Picture with me millions of lamps lit throughout the world. Picture New York, Washington DC, Beijing, China or New Delhi, India at night with all the lights aglow as you watch as from a mountain or the highest point of the city. That's us in the spirit realm. Some are bright lights, some are dim lights. Some are big lights and some are small lights. Some are street lights shining for all who pass by while some are only lit in their home. We are the LIGHT of the world. If we turn our lights OFF what good are we? Imagine an electrical black out after a storm with thousands in darkness; no candles or kerosene lamps available. How horrid right?

The Son of God came to give light to a spiritually dark world. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12) However the Light of God needs vessels or lamps to house the Light of God. That's us. For it is written, "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ...We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us." (2 Cor. 4:6, 7)

We are the lamps, the vessels that house the light of God and that bring light to a dark world. So how is your light? Is it lit? Are you shining in this world of spiritual darkness? Can anyone follow your light to get out of darkness? Can they see Christ in you? The next question is, "Is your light bright or growing dim?"

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

If you want to have the light of Jesus to illuminate your heart and life and get rid of the darkness of your sin, pray this prayer with me:

"Father, I have sinned. I am not worthy of you. But you said, that if I confess my sins you are faithful and just and will forgive me of all my sins and purify me of all unrighteousness. Forgive me and cleanse me now, Father, I pray. Let the light of Jesus Christ shine in my heart so that I can see and so that I may live as one of your vessels, as one of your children, and become a light in this dark world, in Jesus' name I pray. Amen."

If this blog has been a blessing to you, please be an encouragement to me and let me know. The Lord be with you.