Thursday, September 12, 2019

Taking Notes

God wants the combination of His steady, constant calling and warm personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever He will do next. Romans 15:4 The Message







For the last fourteen years, I have consistently kept a devotional-prayer journal. It is small enough to easily take with me if necessary and fits inside a Bible. I do not necessarily write in it every day, but most days I do. Scripture, random ideas, new words, and meanings of words often find their way to the pages. Excerpts from articles, books or commentaries that effect me are also written or attached within the pages. Along the outside margin I write praises and prayers; this process reminds me and gives me a place to make notes of specific needs and outcomes. 

There is one unique entry I always include: on the first page of each notebook ~ I make note of a Scripture that helps define where I am spiritually when I start the book ~ my journey note. I often discover this to be way the Spirit leads me during this phase of my journey with Him. Occasionally, I add a quote or commentary that speaks to His Word. When the book is complete, when no more empty pages remain, I mark the front of the journal with the beginning and ending dates and begin another. Looking back I can always find a richness of God's teaching, wisdom, and leading and a deeper understanding of my struggles, successes, and relationship with God. Sometimes, the very circumstances that brought me the most discomfort reveal my most intimate times of spiritual growth with God. 

My current journal note is the above Scripture from Romans and reflects God’s desire for each of His children. In our daily journey with the Father, we should be seeking His will and purpose in life, listening for His voice to lead, and knowing His compassion as peace. We must trust God with thankful hearts ~ thankful God loves unconditionally, and trusting Him to work all things into His perfect plan. This is our HOPE! Because try as I might, I will never understand the mystery at work in all that God does. ~ dho

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Pain, A Gift

Last post in the 2019 Summer SeriesWhisper: How to Hear the Voice of God by Mark Batterson takes us on a spiritual journey, a journey of how to listen for God and what God can reveal to us. I read this book about a year ago and am re-reading it this summer. As I share some excerpts from his writing, I hope you will be encouraged to read along. - Donna

Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning. Psalm 5:1

This is the last post in our Summer Series on Whisper by Mark Batterson. We conclude with the 7th language of God’s love: pain. Batterson explains, “The Bible is a book about real people with real problems who experienced real pain.” (Whisper/p 171) 

Pain can be a professor of theology.
Pain can be a marriage counselor.
Pain can be a life coach. Batterson/Whisper/p 173

Pain is real, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Pain can be a gift, exposing problems and giving perspective. Pain brings us to a place that builds endurance and perseverance. Batterson remains us to “pitch your tent in the land of hope.” (Whisper/p 180)

In conclusion, as Autumn calls us, we think back over our series this summer. Batterson says, “Whether you recognize it or not, God was the first voice in your life.” (Whisper/p 189) To hear God’s voice, whether in our busy or banal days, whether in our noisy or neutral times, we must listen for God’s whisper. Simply put, “Is [God] the loudest voice in your life?” (Whisper/p 189) - dho



Thursday, August 29, 2019

Promptings from God

2019 Summer SeriesWhisper: How to Hear the Voice of God by Mark Batterson takes us on a spiritual journey, a journey of how to listen for God and what God can reveal to us. I read this book about a year ago and am re-reading it this summer. As I share some excerpts from his writing, I hope you will be encouraged to read along. - Donna

Your ears will hear sweet words behind you: “Go this way. There is your path; this is how you should go” whenever you must decide whether to turn to the right or the left. 
Isaiah 30:21 The Voice


The sixth language of God’s love is “promptings” according to Batterson. God’s divine timing comes when we are not paying attention and often not on our timeline. In this chapter in Whisper, we read, “Discerning the voice of God requires an internal clock that perceives His promptings. And it’s our reaction time to those promptings that leads to supernatural synchronicities: being in the right place at the right time with the right people.” (Whisper/p 148) We must continually be open to God’s promptings, alert and aware.

Promptings from God come in a variety of ways: whispers, ideas, visions, sounds, dreams, circumstances, and people to name a few. Batterson says, “The stirring of the Holy Spirit can be a feeling of restlessness...” (Whisper/p 160) We need to be open to hearing God, but when we become aware of a prompting, we must also become obedient. Ignoring God’s promptings result in missed opportunities, missed opportunities to serve God, missed opportunities to give God the glory! We are reminded to “make sure He’s the loudest voice in our lives.” (Whisper/p 167) - dho

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Divine Appointments

2019 Summer SeriesWhisper: How to Hear the Voice of God by Mark Batterson takes us on a spiritual journey, a journey of how to listen for God and what God can reveal to us. I read this book about a year ago and am re-reading it this summer. As I share some excerpts from his writing, I hope you will be encouraged to read along. - Donna

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16 NASB



Expected and unexpected people, the sign-post people God allows to cross our paths, influence our journey. From parents to adults-like-parents, siblings to friends of siblings, school teachers and Sunday School teachers, friends and almost-friends, either brief or lasting, historical or current, God uses these encounters to speak to our lives. Batterson calls this “the fifth love language of God... people.” (Whisper/ p132)

 God speaks regularly to us through the people who speak to us about the things of God. Henri Nouwen, Discernment

How frequently we forget or dismiss or overlook our many God-appointments; these are the people God sends with words of encouragement, applause for effort, signposts pointing to truth, reminders of His presence, hugs for tears. In Whisper, Mark Batterson writes, “Part of the genius of Jesus was His ability to see potential in unlikely places and unlikely people.” (Whisper/ p140)

Sign-post people offer new perspectives, ask different questions, and suggest other options. Sometimes they bring opportunities for us, like a chance to give more, to step outside ourselves, to sense another's loneliness, to hear a deeper need, to respond like Christ. God embraces us with love and encouragement but also has designed us for purpose - His purpose. God asks us to take our God-given talents, to reach out into the world, to share Jesus. 

Whether the sign-post marks the way with a stranger or friend, lasts for a season or a lifetime, comes full of mystery or simply as a reminder, God is speaking to you and me. Could it be a completely new direction, a familiar path with a new attitude, a change of location, a closer connection within a current community, a new passion, or renewed passion? "No one is in your life by accident; everyone is there by divine appointment.” (Whisper/ p142) Are we listening? Let's not miss our sign-post people! ~dho

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Dream Giver

2019 Summer SeriesWhisper: How to Hear the Voice of God by Mark Batterson takes us on a spiritual journey, a journey of how to listen for God and what God can reveal to us. I read this book about a year ago and am re-reading it this summer. As I share some excerpts from his writing, I hope you will be encouraged to read along. - Donna


May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it! 1Thessalonians 5:23-24 MSG


In Whisper Mark Batterson continues his discussion of the languages of God saying, “The language of dreams is the fourth love language” of God, calling Him the “Dream Giver”. (Whisper/p 117) Scripture gives us many examples of God speaking through dreams, and Batterson lists several in his book. In discussing dreams, he tells us that God “speaks through memories of the past and dreams of the future”. (Whisper/p 118) It is important for us to remember, “The dreams God gives us are for us, but they’re never for just us; they are for everyone who will be affected by and inspired by them.” (Whisper/p 120) 

Scripture is the primary voice of God to us, and Batterson cautions us, “A God-given dream won’t take you beyond the boundaries of Scripture, but it will stretch you to do things you didn’t know you were capable of even attempting.” (Whisper/p 124) We often ignore or overlook this way that God speaks to us, prompts us, and leads us. While accomplishing great things for God’s glory Is important, Batterson reminds us, “The primary goal is who you become in the process.” (Whisper/p 127) Scripture tells us that however God speaks to us and whatever questions or doubts constrain us, God calls us into His holy service, and He remains “completely dependable”. -dho



Thursday, August 08, 2019

God’s Doors

2019 Summer SeriesWhisper: How to Hear the Voice of God by Mark Batterson takes us on a spiritual journey, a journey of how to listen for God and what God can reveal to us. I read this book about a year ago and am re-reading it this summer. As I share some excerpts from his writing, I hope you will be encouraged to read along. - Donna

“See, I have placed before you an open door...” Revelation 3:8



In Whisper, Batterson writes about “doors” being ways that the Holy Spirit can help us discern Scripture and circumstances. We know that Scripture is the inspired word of God, that Jesus is the Word incarnated, born to walk on earth, both man and divine. Jesus calls Himself “the door” or the gate to eternal life. Batterson tells his readers that “God speaks through circumstances.” (Whisper, p98) These doors, open or closed, can be signs to those seeking God’s way.


Scripture gives various examples of “open doors” such as the Israelites escape from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea. By stepping out in faith and obedience, God provides. Another example is when Paul is blocked from taking the Gospel message to Bithynia; instead, God re-routes him through Macedonia. God closes some doors and opens others. While knowing the mind of God and the reasons He chooses is something we cannot explain, we can be certain that God is power and peace, protection and provision.

God closes doors to protect us.
God closes doors to redirect us.
God closes doors to keep us from less than His best. - Batterson/Whisper, p 107

God constantly provides and empowers the Believer who seeks His way. Often, we are cavalier in calling these circumstances a coincidence or luck, but God has divine appointments for each of us. When we are called to a new purpose, God allows us to be “released from” our present task. In longing for reconciliation with us, the sovereignty of God permanently opens the door to eternal life through Jesus. “God reveals His sovereignty... by opening and closing doors.” (Whisper, p 104) Listen for God’s whisper because He is speaking - to you and to me. -dho






Thursday, August 01, 2019

God’s Desires for Us

2019 Summer SeriesWhisper: How to Hear the Voice of God by Mark Batterson takes us on a spiritual journey, a journey of how to listen for God and what God can reveal to us. I read this book about a year ago and am re-reading it this summer. As I share some excerpts from his writing, I hope you will be encouraged to read along. - Donna

“Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

In our seeking God and searching for a deeper relationship, we find that our desire to know Him more grows. Scripture encourages us, convicts us. While Scripture defines grace and describes joy and directs obedience, the Holy Spirit opens our hearts to God’s heart, teaching us to delight in God. In this way, God can give us His desires - some new, some newly discovered.
“We sacrifice our desires on the altar of other people’s expectations.” Batterson/Whisper, p82
Batterson gives us some “caution signs” to watch for, such as ego, wrong reasons, emotions, the source of our desires, and emotional intelligence. In discerning God’s “desires” we must be careful of our pride, idols, and reactions. We must keep God first and seek the things He desires for us.

Desire is a language of God. We settle for good enough or better when God desires for us His best. By divine design, each person is uniquely created by God; yet, we try to re-create ourselves with personal efforts to reach personal goals we set for ourselves. Batterson writes, “God-given gifts are what we’re best at. God-ordained desires are what we are most passionate about.” Whisper, p83 Ask yourself, “Who do I desire to serve?” 
-dho


Thursday, July 25, 2019

God-breathed Words

2019 Summer SeriesWhisper: How to Hear the Voice of God by Mark Batterson takes us on a spiritual journey, a journey of how to listen for God and what God can reveal to us. I read this book about a year ago and am re-reading it this summer. As I share some excerpts from his writing, I hope you will be encouraged to read along. - Donna

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

Christians believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, the living Word of God. We also believe, “All Scripture is God-breathed.” Batterson says the first language of God is Scripture. He tells us the Bible is “composed by more than forty writers over fifteen centuries in three languages on three continents.” These myriad of authors are “farmers and fishermen and kings” and “poets and prophets, and prisoners of war.” (Whisper, p66)

The prophet Jeremiah writes, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV) Batterson talks about consuming and savoring and digesting the Word of God. “The Bible comes alive only when we actively obey it.” (Whisper, p73) Obedience becomes our living out the Scriptures. This is transformation.

When I read the ancient words composed centuries ago, they still touch my soul, enrich my living, convict my spirit, encourage my journey. The Holy Bible is composed of words inspired by God and the revelation of The Word sent by God. The promises of God belong to each believer. God is greater than any questions or doubts we can have; however, we will never be great enough to understand all of God’s answers. Through His Word, God whispers to our hungry, weary souls and our eager, longing hearts. God whispers joy and love as He celebrates with us. God whispers eternal Hope to all who listen. ~dho

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Languages of God

2019 Summer SeriesWhisper: How to Hear the Voice of God by Mark Batterson takes us on a spiritual journey, a journey of how to listen for God and what God can reveal to us. I read this book about a year ago and am re-reading it this summer. As I share some excerpts from his writing, I hope you will be encouraged to read along. - Donna

God spoke to our ancestors... at many times and in various ways. Hebrews 1:1 



God still speaks in “various ways” to those who seek Him, who listen for His Voice. Batterson begins to explore “seven love languages” of God, beginning with “Scripture, the first and final Word. Then... [he explores] six secondary languages: desires, doors, dreams, people, promptings, and pain.” (Whisper, p57) 
“God speaks through divine appointments and divine timing.” (Whisper/Batterson, p59)
At times, God speaks what Batterson calls “sign language” or uses signs and wonders to reveal Himself through Scripture, using angels, visions, dreams, a burning bush, a talking donkey, a gentle whisper to name a few. As we read along, Batterson carefully points out that, “God will never lead us to do something that is contrary to His good, pleasing, and perfect will as revealed in Scripture.” He goes on to remind us, “Scripture gives us guidelines, but the Holy Spirit is our Guide.” (Whisper, p60) 

In listening and learning to listen, we begin to understand God’s way of speaking these “spiritual languages” of love to us. Knowing God is more than gathering academic information. To truly know and follow God, we must gain experiential knowledge. We must develop spiritual discernment. Let us begin to listen in different ways to hear the Voice of God. -dho

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Breathe... Holy Sighs

2019 Summer SeriesWhisper: How to Hear the Voice of God by Mark Batterson takes us on a spiritual journey, a journey of how to listen for God and what God can reveal to us. I read this book about a year ago and am re-reading it this summer. As I share some excerpts from his writing, I hope you will be encouraged to read along. - Donna

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:2




In the beginning before creation, we find infinite space, emptiness, and lack of order; yet, even then, the Spirit of God is present. Scripture tells us how God speaks the emptiness into an ordered system, sufficient to sustain life, and then God creates life. Batterson reminds us that God, “still speaks light into darkness... still brings order out of chaos... still makes beauty out of ashes.” (Whisper, p31) Christ is called Immanuel, God with us, and when we embrace the love of Christ and accept His grace of salvation, Christ becomes “God within us”.


“God is as close as the breath we breathe.” (Whisper, p32) 

The human mind cannot begin to measure the infinity of God. His Sovereignty exceeds time and space, being everywhere at all times, without boundaries, without beginning, without ending. His power is greater than any power in the world, above or below the heavens. The Holy Spirit brings us into God’s presence, anoints us with unspeakable holiness, embraces us with perfect love, covers us with unfailing mercies. Holy, Holy, Holy!

This week spend some time thinking about God’s omnipresence, God-everywhere! God cannot be contained or measured, only rejected. Let’s try to listen better to the “God within us” and breathe the holy sighs of His presence. - dho 



In 

Thursday, July 04, 2019

True Freedom

You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don't let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.  Galatians 5:13-14 CEB




Americans celebrate the birthday of our country’s freedom this day, July 4th! Often we use the word freedom as permission to do whatever we want, whatever might satisfy our own personal desires. While it is true, freedom has wide boundaries, this is not the intention of freedom. In the Epistle of James we read about the "royal law found in Scripture" [James 2:8] which reminds "you do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself." Christians find true freedom in Christ, our liberty from the captivity of sin. This GRACE is for the asking, no strings attached - but the responsibility of such extravagant freedom transforms our hearts. Our focus can no longer be consumed with selfish motivations. Instead, we are to exercise freedom with love for others - upholding this "royal law". This is freedom's opportunity for all!  

In every way, then, speak and act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom. [James 2:12 CEB]

In 4th grade, we learned all four verses to My Country 'Tis of Thee. I can still see them written on the blackboard with white chalk. As we learned each verse, we would sing it. Of course, things were different then. We also said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning; the American flag hung in every class room. Prayer had not yet been removed from public schools, and it was not a crime for a teacher to speak God's name. That same year, we practiced civil defense drills, too. Anyone remember those? We would get under our school desks for the drill. These were practiced in case America was attacked. I smile at the absurdity of thinking this would have kept any of us safe in an attack. Yet, my heart immediately goes to 9-11 when America was attacked! Getting under the desk did not save anyone. If fact, the only way to save America is for its people to live Christ's law of freedom. Don't miss freedom's opportunity! - dho

Our fathers' God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom's holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.*

* the 4th verse to "My Country 'Tis of Thee”