Friday, February 11, 2022

God Speaks in the Scriptures

For the last couple of years, I have shared ways that I have heard God speaking to me. In this post, I want to use a few verses of Scripture that refer to God speaking or God's voice and see just what the Bible says about how He speaks.  By the way, my favorite translation of the Bible for most Scriptures is called "The Voice" translation!

1.  God speaks through prophets--Hebrews 1:1--"Long ago, at different times and in various ways, God’s voice came to our ancestors through the Hebrew prophets."

2.  God speaks in different ways--Job 33:14a--"For God does speak in one way and even another way..."

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3.  Hearing God speak builds a foundation--Matthew 7:24--"Those people who are listening to Me, those people who hear what I say and live according to My teachings—you are like a wise man who built his house on a rock, on a firm foundation."

4.  God speaks now through the words of His Son--Hebrews 1:2--"but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world."

5.  If we listen, we can hear Him--John 10:27--"My sheep respond as they hear My voice; I know them intimately, and they follow Me."

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6.  God's Voice is Power--Psalm 29:3-9--"The voice of the Eternal echoes over the great water. God’s magnificence roars like thunder.  The Eternal’s presence hovers over all the waters. His voice explodes in great power over the earth. His voice is both regal and grand.  The Eternal’s voice shatters the cedars; His power splinters the great cedars of Lebanon.  He speaks, and Lebanon leaps like a young calf.  Sirion jumps like a wild, youthful ox. The voice of the Eternal cuts through with flames of fire.  The voice of the Eternal rumbles through the wilderness with great quakes; He causes Kadesh to tremble. The Eternal’s voice brings life from the doe’s womb; His voice strips the forest bare and all the people in the temple declare, “Glory!”

7.  Why listen to God's voice?--Psalm 85:8--"I am listening carefully to all the Lord is saying—for he speaks peace to his people, his saints, if they will only stop their sinning."

8.  God speaks to each one of us over and over--Revelation 3:20--"Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me."

9.  Are you having trouble hearing the voice of God? John offers an explanation--John 8:47--"Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."

10.  Remember God is constantly knocking and calling YOUR name. He desires to speak to and with you.  Hebrews 4:7b--"If you hear his voice today, don’t be stubborn!"

11. John 12:30-33--"Jesus said, 'The voice didn’t come for me but for you. At this moment the world is in crisis. Now Satan, the ruler of this world, will be thrown out. And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me.' He put it this way to show how he was going to be put to death."

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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

God Speaks about Death

As some of you may know, my family has recently suffered a death.  As the previous clip from "Pollyanna" relates, it was rather unexpected. My brother passed on Dec. 3, 2021, with no real warning. He was not in the best of health, but he had nothing that seemed immediately life-threatening. I knew it was about "time" for me to post another blog post and I have really not been on top of it. I actually have two others that I started that just didn't seem to flow, so they are on hold for another time. In preparing for his funeral, I spent time in the Scriptures trying to find the "right" one for his funeral card. I believe God wants to speak to you through some of the Scriptures I found during that search.

The first thing we need to realize is that for believers in God and in the work that Jesus did, we will not experience true death.  For those that believe, they have an earthly death where their bodies no longer work, but the spirit of those who believe goes to heaven after the earthly body is done. For those that are not believers, the Bible tells us that they WILL have a true death.  Not only an earthly death, but they will have a spiritual death as well and will suffer from pain and agony for eternity.

Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master. Romans 6:23                                                                                                                                                               
Those who believe in the Son will bask in eternal life, but those who disobey the Son will never experience life. They will know only God’s lingering wrath. John 3:36

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9
My family knows that my brother was a believer in God and in the work of Jesus; therefore, we know (although it is still very sad) that he is in heaven.  Those who knew my brother might know of some of his "less-than-honorable" shenanigans and wonder how God might accept him through the pearly gates. The truth is that God KNOWS we ALL commit "less-than-honorable" shenanigans, so His requirement for heaven is not difficult. He doesn't ask us to never do our bad things again because He made us and knows that we cannot keep from doing bad things occasionally. His requirement is that we BELIEVE in Him and that Jesus died for our bad things.  My brother believed this so we have perfect assurance that he is in Heaven right now.

Brothers and sisters, we want you to be fully informed about those who have fallen asleep in death so that you will not be overwhelmed with grief like those who live outside of the true hope. 
 Here’s what we believe: since Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, God will bring with Jesus all who have died through Him. 
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14  
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5:24

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? John 11:25-26

Our bodies are like tents that we live in here on earth. But when these tents are destroyed, we know that God will give each of us a place to live. These homes will not be buildings that someone has made, but they are in heaven and will last forever.  2 Corinthians 5:1

For my life is about the Anointed and Him alone. And my death, when that comes, will mean great gain for me. Philippians 1:21

The Scripture we ultimately chose was: Therefore, we were buried with Him through this baptism into death so that just as God the Father, in all His glory, resurrected the Anointed One, we, too, might walk confidently out of the grave into a new life. Romans 6:4
God is not a distant ruler sitting up in Heaven with no regard to earth. God is aware of sorrows and through Jesus and because of Jesus knows what we are going through.  He tells us that He will be with us through our sorrows and through our pain. He will be near to the broken-hearted.

When someone is hurting or brokenhearted, the Eternal moves in close and revives him in his pain. Psalm 34:18

Blessed are those who mourn—they will be comforted.  Matthew 5:4

God truly has care and concern for all people; afterall, He created each and everyone. It is His desire that all would come to know Him, and He makes it easy! Make 2022 a great new year by getting to know God better!  Allow Him to ease your pain and sorrows and come to know Him on a personal level!

The Lord isn’t slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost. 2 Peter 3:9

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

God Speaks About Prayer

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Have you ever wondered if God really pays attention to our prayers?  Do you wonder what is the point in praying?  The second question in particular is one that I often think about.  Why should Christians pray?  God already knows how things are going to turn out, so what good does it do for us to pray? This is a personal struggle of mine. I feel like my meager petitions do little to sway God and His plan. But consider this, even Jesus prayed when He was about to be captured by the Romans and He knew that He would not sway God's plan of salvation that had been in place since the beginning of time. So why would He pray if He knew there would be no change? The Bible tells us a lot about prayer. It tells us how to pray, what to pray for and why to pray.  Prayer is the simple act of speaking with God. Sharing your heart with God; your concerns, your joys, your needs, and even your desires.  Here is what God has to say about prayer. 

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First, we must establish a routine. Jesus prayed in the morning, as described in Mark 1:35, "And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed." We each should decide when and where to pray where we won't be distracted and we will be able to focus on the message God wants to give us through our prayers. Furthermore, we are told to "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Moreover, Ephesians 6:18 tells us to "Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints." We know from this that we have a continuous open-line of communication with God and can present to Him our joys and concerns as we go through the day. 

Image by Pexels from Pixabay 

Second, we are told in several places to pray with thanksgiving and to be thankful.  This holds true, not just in our prayers with pleasing outcomes, but also those with less pleasing outcomes. Philippians 4:6 tells us, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." In Colossians 4:2 we are further told, "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving." Additionally 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;" Notice this last verse says, "in all circumstances". No matter whether a good or bad situation, we should give our thanks to God for what He will do to bring us through it.

Third, the Bible shares about our intentions for prayer. What is our personal reason for a particular prayer?  Matthew 6:6-7 explains how our prayer is to be heartfelt and personal, not for the ears of others, but for the ears of God.  "But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words."  This in no way reflects the idea that we can't pray for others or in front of others, but it reflects the attitude of our heart.  Are we praying sincerely to God or are we praying so that others will hear US and not God?  

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Fourth, who should we pray for? Surely we pray for our family and friends, but is that all? James 5:16 tells us to "pray for one another".  1 Timothy 2:1-2 says, "I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions..."  All who are in high positions...this is often a troublesome phrase as we don't often care for or disagree with those who are in the high positions, but God's word is clear.  We are still to pray for them.  It doesn't say, pray for them if you agree with them, but just pray for them. James 5:13-14 adds, "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him." Finally comes the toughest of all of the "who" we should pray for. Luke 6:27-28 declares, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you." This is a hard thing to do. We don't often want to pray for those who do us wrong, but God tells us to pray for them.  After all, it is God's desire that none should perish. He desires that everyone will come to know Him; He made each one!

Last, we come to the personal reasons that we should pray. These reasons are not necessarily to gain an answer to our personal requests, but they do benefit us in ways we may not realize.  Praying can provide peace for us as described in Philippians 4:6, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Remember our lesson on the word "but",  we have a choice to make in a different direction.  We are anxious, BUT pray, we will gain peace!  James 5:16 states, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." Prayer can bring healing, not specifically physical healing, but spiritual healing. If we place our life and circumstances in God's hand, we can obtain spiritual healing. Earlier in his book, James reminds us that God can give us wisdom if we ask, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." Even further, Romans 8:26 gives us encouragement for those times where we just can't find the words to pray. Sometimes we may be too worried or distraught to even mentally come up with the right prayer.  It is at these times, we can rely on the Holy Spirit.  "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."  I don't know how many times I have just said, "God, I just don't even know what to pray for right now in this situation, so please take care of it." I can take comfort knowing that at those times the Holy Spirit delivers that message to God for me. 

God desires prayer from us. He desires communication with us. God knows what we go through; He already knows our joys, concerns, worries, and problems, and how the issues will turn out, but He wants us to call out to Him in prayer and communication.  God is waiting to give us spiritual healing, give us peace and assurance and grow our faith through prayers to Him. If you feel you aren't able to pray, remember that the Spirit will intercede for you when you can't come up with the words! Also remember that God created each one of us and desires a relationship with each one of us!