This week our reading explores how to discern God’s leading. The ability to recognize His voice is uniquely important. We want to know what He’s saying to us, all of what He’s saying. We don’t want to be forced to guess, or be stuck weeding out bad options in hopes of coming
up with one that He surely could bless. Making choices or following a certain path using
methods like that don't end well.
It may sound strange but this reminds me of strawberry shortcake. I know, right? The strawberry season is on us. My husband and I have visited a local field two days in a row. It seems there’s never enough strawberries in the freezer. When I think about going through the winter without my strawberry smoothie I get queasy. And although I try to stay away from desserts, you can’t miss strawberry shortcake! Especially when it’s stacked high with sweet, picked-fresh-today strawberries and whipped cream.
But each year when strawberry season rolls around, I realize I don’t have a good recipe for shortcake. So, on the hunt I go pulling a recipe off the internet in hopes it will create that buttery shortcake delight. Wouldn’t you think I’d save the good recipe once I find it?
I still have images of my grandmother in her kitchen making shortcake, biscuits, and pie crusts. She was at home with flour and a rolling pin and showed extra flare with edging and flaky-ness! She used to tell me there’s nothing easier than working with dough. In fact, she couldn’t imagine how anyone couldn’t make such delights.
When I read Lysa’s devotion I thought of how often I hear women talk about hearing God in their life. Some are sure of his words. Some are evaluating his words within the context of their life. Others use a specific scripture as the reason why God would say what they think they heard when often that scripture is far from supporting such a word. Where we fall on this spectrum of 'hearing' is not hard to define and definitely easy to improve.
See the difference between my grandmother’s ability with dough and mine is that she made it day-in and day-out. She was always baking. I bake only when I’m inspired to do so, like when strawberry season starts. What if I only read the Bible, connecting with God and allowing Him to pour into my life only occasionally?
Discerning God’s voice is just like working with dough. When you are used to handling the Word, you are familiar with diving into His book with both hands and a heart that has abandoned it's own interpretations - waiting for His word to touch your life, how awesome is that delight? The more we connect with God the more He can speak to us. It becomes second nature ~ like my grandmother working with dough, turning out to be pure delicious.
“Is there anyplace I can go to avoid
your Spirit? To be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western
horizon, You’d find me in a minute— …”
Psalm 139.7-11 The Message
This week Lysa is talking about God’s presence, his awareness and nearness and how it is always constant. He is
never out of our reach, beyond earshot of our prayers or without an eye on how we are. In fact, the above psalm begins with this:
“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.” Psalm 139.1-4 NASB
If we think about Gods constant presence with us, and that It’s there even when we do those things we know are wrong, do you wonder if God gets mad at us? After all, if he knows all our thoughts, the actions we may, or may not take, and what’s in our heart - is that intimidating? Should it be?
As a small child we didn’t do bad things in front of mom or dad, did we? Nope! We looked for a place to hide when eating that extra cookie we had taken. If we were going to fight with a brother or sister, we would wait until we could get away with that whack or whatever terrible thing we wanted to say, right - cause who wants to be punished? So when God not only sees all we do, but also knows all we think, should we be concerned that God might punish us for that bad behavior?
But there’s a difference between our parents, or other authority figures in our life, and God. A big one! I know you know it - I do too. The truth is when all that humanness comes oozing out of from that dark spot in our heart, God already knew it was coming. He KNEW long ago. Scripture tells us that before we were born he knew us. [Jeremiah 1.5] All he feels, every bit of what he feels for us is established on an unbreakable rock. No other thing. Only, forever and ever, an unbreakable rock of love.
So who gets punished when we mess up? Guess.
“Somewhere along the way, I picked up an unwritten checklist of sorts explaining what
‘good Christians’ are supposed to do: Pray. Read your Bible. Go to church. Don’t cuss. Be nice.” Pg 9
Admittedly this is the slowest we have ever gone through a book. Perhaps it’s because those significant, thought-provoking nuggets are everywhere. I want to move slowly through our reading so we can inspect each one of these treasures as these inspirational passages call to my heart, ‘Mention me.’ So here goes.
The passage above can define many of us. Perhaps it’s the largest paradox in the lives of Christians. I would add a few things to my list (which is insight into my struggles): Don’t judge others. Don’t crab at people (even when you don’t feel good.) Listen to others. Give freely. And on, and on, and on. Have you ever been there?
Lysa goes on to say, “This nagging sense creeps in that you’ll never get it--that you don’t have what it takes to be a Christian.” As she works through this process, she finally writes that it’s actually in finding nearness with God that our confidence grows and heaviness is relieved. Amen!
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18
Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. James 4:8a
Did this weeks reading connect in your life?
Lysa talks about trying to find the nuggets in the Bible, “… since I had no idea how to get them for myself, I avoided the Bible and settled for whatever I could glean from other people.” [pg 7]
For years I had not paid much attention to God, then a call in my heart began growing. So we started attending church. There I heard a pastor teach using a Greek Hebrew Key Word Study Bible. He said if we wanted to know more about God’s word, that bible would be a good help. I deeply wanted to understand more, so I bought one, and even though the title sounds intimidating, it was simple to use.
It was exciting to find answers on my own, but that learning brought different questions. A couple years later we had become part of the church family and were attending regularly. I was still using that bible, having quenched some questions with God’s truth, now I was looking for answers to my new questions. That call, the one for more understanding, the one my heart wouldn’t let go of, was growing.
In a response to that relentless desire I began formal study where a Thompson Chain Reference Bible was introduced. It was immensely satisfying to use, but again, as some questions were settled through God’s word new questions arose. (Which is just how God does things, the more you learn the deeper in he draws you.)
I have often taught that different bible translations like NKJ, NASB, NIV, etc., and even a good English dictionary can help give us broadening understanding. Other reference materials can help too. But, God has given us a remarkable advantage over all other created things. We have an intellect, full of curiosity, that can process, analyze and grow.
It seems that the core of the desire to know more, and even more yet, isn’t so we can answer questions and look smart or religious. No. The center of our feeling comes from our need to make God more real in our world. It’s our hearts deepest desire to more fully connect, more deeply experience, and even, if we dare, to one day touch the heart of the One who loves us. That call to learn is personal.
Years ago, as a young family, it was necessary to find the most affordable places to shop. We needed to stretch our few discretionary dollars. Then we found 2nd-hand-stores!
When I began shopping the thrift
stores, it was not cool to do so. When asked, I would resist giving details on where I had found that cute pair of jeans, shoes, etc. But, today stores like Goodwill (which a friend and I have dubbed 'GW') are bustling with shoppers eager for the hunt hoping to find that great treasure.
I shop all the areas in GW because, as my husband gleefully refrains while pulling into GW’s parking lot, 'You never know what you’ll find.' But one of my favorite sections is the book corner where hard copies are plentiful and generally cheap. Some books are beaten up, and others are like new, but still, it's finding that special treasure that we enjoy.
The outward quality of a book helps you recognize a hidden treasure. Those books that are beaten up, spine broken, touting many dog-eared pages, highlighting and notes-to-self everywhere actually give evidence of their worth. They have been dissected and digested. Maybe they were pivotal in a woman’s life, giving up their secrets from deep within those studied pages. Those words offered by another - marked because they significantly met someone else in their journey - create a new found wisdom and understanding.
Still other books, although purchased with intent remain unmarked - looking like new. Did their inspiration remain locked away? Was that chance meeting of author and reader left unexplored and unrealized? Do you have such a book? Is it the Bible?
Our days are overwhelmed with to-dos. For most of us, the list each day is longer than any effort could accomplish, yet we feel compelled to sacrifice our spiritual health for the attempt. Why? To say we finished those tasks? Will that matter tomorrow when a new list appears?
There is one Author who waits. His book filled with wisdom, spiritual secrets that exist to give strength for the days ahead. There encouragement is not hidden but on full display instilling in us, the daughters of the King, power unimagined.
So, grab a comfortable place when there's a break in the rushing. Sit down with your Bible and ask Him for an open mind. Then read, pray, or just listen for His voice for five minutes. Don't be discouraged if you can't quiet those hurried thoughts. It will come with practice. God counts all our effort as good and rewards it's desire. One day, that book you are holding will have become weathered, worn, perhaps lavishly inscribed with words spoken between you and God. Either way, that old book will be recognized as of great value.
In our current reading, Embraced, Lysa writes:
“It is very early in the morning. Though my body begs me to go back to sleep, my soul stirs to get up and talk with Jesus. Although I can’t physically see Him, I know He is present.”
Lysa starts at the beginning
where meeting with God
is SO worth it!
"It is very early in the morning. Though my body begs me to go back to sleep,
my soul stirs to get up and talk with Jesus. And though I can't physically see
Him, I know He is present."
From your host: