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”

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Voice of God - Summer Series

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

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name;
Worship the Lord in holy array.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
The God of glory thunders,
The Lord is over many waters.d
The voice of the Lord is powerful,
The voice of the Lord is majestic.
Psalm 29:2-4

In Psalm 29, a praise song, we find a great description of the power and majesty of God and read how God’s voice creates and commands, gives strength and blesses. Blackaby writes, “God’s voice is powerful enough to shake the world. No earthly force is comparable.” This Scripture uses the Hebrew word qol for voice meaning “to call aloud, a sound, noise, a cry.” The same word is used in Genesis 3:8 about Adam and Eve,“They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” Many other places in Scripture we can read about the sound or voice or audible actions of God as He reveals himself.

In Batterson’s book, Whisper, he talks about, “The voice of God is all-powerful... [and] also all-loving.” He begins to explore “seven languages of God” telling us the “first language is Scripture” while describing the next six secondary languages as “desires, doors, dreams, promptings, prayer, an pain.” (Whisper, p22) God reveals himself to us, and in turn, we are to recognize God’s character and to praise His Sovereignty. 

In reading Whisper, you will find many great descriptions of sound and song where Scripture and science intersect in splendid revelation. Batterson writes, “God uses His voice to speak, but He also uses it to heal and reveal, convict and create, guide and grace.” (Whisper, p25) To hear God’s voice, we must listen with an awareness of how God speaks. - dho

**Found this link to Whisper with complementary Christian music... very cool!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Breath of Life - Summer Series

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


The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV

To escape being killed by Jezebel, Elijah runs. Exhausted, he says to God, “It is enough!” and lies down and sleeps. God sends provisions of food and water and gives him rest to prepare for his 200 mile, 40-day journey to the mountain of God. In our Scripture, we find Elijah discouraged and alone, hiding in a cave. In contrast to the powerful miracles God had performed with consuming fire, God now teaches Elijah that His greatest plans are long-term, His most intimate language comes another way, through stillness and in silence.

We live in a world that is overcrowded with noise, full of constant interruptions and consistent distractions. God desires to communicate with us and often speaks in a gentle and quiet way, personal and intimate. Like Elijah who is desperate to hear God, we expect that God’s way will be spectacular, but we learn that God’s ways are not our ways. Batterson says, God “woos us with a whisper. And His whisper is the very breath of life.” (Whisper, p10) As you listen for God’s voice to speak to you this week, anticipate the unexpected in the simple and silent gestures of life. Listen for God’s whisper. Then do what Batterson suggests, “Obey the whisper and see what God does.” (Whisper, p11) - dho



Thursday, June 13, 2019

Hear God’s Voice - Summer Series

2019 Summer Series: Whisper: 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


Samuel said, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10 

In his book, Whisper, Mark Batterson suggests this Scripture from the book of Samuel captures the essence of seeking God’s voice and calls it “the seven-word prayer that can change your life”. He describes God’s voice this way: 

His voice is love. 
His voice is power. 
His voice is healing. 
His voice is wisdom. 
His voice is joy.  - Mark Batterson/Whisper, p2

As we spend time this summer learning how to better listen for God’s voice, we must first ask ourselves a question Batterson asks: “Is God’s voice the loudest voice in your life?” I hope you will journey with me and explore listening for God’s direction, revelation, encouragement, comfort, and mercy. -dho





Sunday, June 09, 2019

Holy Wind... Pentecost Sunday!


“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a noise like a strong, blowing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw something like flames of fire that were separated and stood over each person there.  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit was giving them.” Acts 2:1-4 NCV

On April 21st this year, we celebrated Easter. After this, we often just go about our days participating in the end of school events and recitals, with preparations for summer trips and Vacation Bible School. Today, Sunday June 9, 2019, is Pentecost Sunday, the day most liturgical Christian churches celebrate of the Holy Spirit coming to be with those who follow Jesus. 

Jewish history recounts that the curtains in the Temple that separate the Most Holy Place would sometimes move and describes this phenomenon as Rauch HaKodesh, a Hebrew phrase meaning “Breath of the Holies”. In the Old Testament, the Jewish people understand the Holy Spirit to be God’s influence over humanity and the universe. In Psalm 51:11 David pleads with God, “Do not banish me from Your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.” God always desires to dwell in the presence of His people.

After Jesus ascends back to heaven, as promised, the Holy Spirit descends to His followers. The Holy Spirit is the Helper, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth. Now, Jesus sits at the right hand of God, and the Holy Spirit becomes God’s Presence with us. 

Holy Spirit, come alongside of me and breathe holy life into my thoughts, my purpose, my service. In You I know the presence of the Lord. Holy Wind, embrace me, encourage me, empower me. Count me alive in Christ. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. - dho