Monday, March 4, 2013

how to hear from the Lord.



A fellow blogger asked me a question...one that got me thinking.  She asked…”how do you hear from God?”  She feels like she is missing something and not being directed from Him.  At first I wanted to shoot her a quick email answering her question…but the Lord wanted an answer…on the blog.  Oh, dear.

There is so much to say about this subject I’m not even sure where to start.  I hope I make sense and you can draw something from our personal stories.  I am no expert.  Few things I know for sure and one of them is: the more I learn the more I realize I need to keep learning. Forever.  But, over the past three years I have been blessed with a lot of practice in listening to Him. {It didn’t seem like a blessing when we were going through it!}  If any lessons I’ve learned along the way can help encourage someone else in their walk with the Lord then I am an open book.  So here it goes.

As I look back, it wasn’t until we moved to Georgia that my relationship with the Lord really blossomed.  Notice I said relationship.  That’s what it’s all about.  Not rules, regulations, being a good person or how many times a day you pray.  It’s not even about going to church…gasp!  God wants a deep intimate relationship with you, His child…the beloved one He loves and adores so very much.  YOU!  

{click the blue "read more" to see the rest :}



In Georgia, the only people I knew were my husband and kids.  That’s it.  I couldn’t call a friend for help or my dad in Oklahoma for driving directions.  And many times, it was just me and God.  Like one time…
I remember sitting in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Americus, Georgia.  The truck wouldn’t start and my family was home in another town.  The battery was dead…not only dead, it was smoking.  Before hanging up the phone mountain man said, “be careful…the battery could explode.”  “Uh…seriously?  I didn’t sign up for this little adventure,” I thought to myself. And to top it off my phone was about to die.  Nice.

Here I was in the middle of nowhere {or so it felt} where I knew no one and mountain man couldn’t rescue me because I had our only vehicle.  Rats!  This was between me and the Lord.

“Lord…you know the situation I’m in.  I need help.  And please don’t send a man.” {No offense men.}  Was it possible there was a woman who knew what to do?  I was about to find out!

Within minutes a rather commanding take charge kind of woman {just the kind I needed} rolled her window down…”do ya need a jump honey?” 
My response? “Uh…ye…yes…oh yes! Thank you!”  {Did the Lord really just answer my prayer?}

She then jumped the curb in her truck opened the hood of our diesel dually {I didn’t know how!} and proceeded to hook up her battery chargers.  Get this: she even had a step stool in her truck so we could reach inside the hoods.  I just stood there and gawked! Maybe I should have been taking notes but I was too flabbergasted!

After the truck was up and running we hugged and parted ways.  That was one of the moments where my faith was defined.  The Lord takes care of His sheep.  That’s why when He calls us to do something there is no doubt in my mind that He’s got our back.  

I then quickly drove to the nearest auto zone, showed my receipt for the battery and was given a new one for free!  Only to have it installed by a nice young man who wasn’t sure if he was to stay put or to explore and see more of the world!  Boy, did I have some things to say to him while he worked! =)

But, as for actually hearing from the Lord, that is an entirely different ball game. The way I see it, there is no formula from hearing from God. We are all different.  And the Lord knows this about us because well, He created us.  He knows that I can’t sit still long to read my bible.  So, He teaches me through other things {i.e. music, nature, moving across country, more hands on learning if you will.}

Now, one of my girlfriends, she loves, loves to read the word.  That is how He communicates with her.  She said it’s like He’s talking to just her!  Wow, how special!  Don’t get me wrong, I read my bible, love scripture and know it is powerfully alive but…I’d rather be doing, seeing, singing, praying and talking.  That’s just me.

First...this is what I would tell a new Christian:

So, you love God.  You’ve confessed Jesus as your Lord and Savior {Romans 10: 9-10} and that’s awesome! He desires to have an intimate relationship with you so start spending time with Him!  Just like you would a friend!  The Lord meets us where we are, on our level. 

*Read your bible, pray, listen to KLOVE {or your local Christian radio channel} for encouragement.  I can’t tell you what a blessing KLOVE was to me while we were going through those hard times!

Next...

The following thoughts are a peek at what mountain man and I worked on the past few years to deepen our relationships.  Overall, I believe the character building we did helped us in hearing His voice.  When I was consumed with what I wanted…well, that’s all I could think about =)

*Ask the Lord to teach you how to hear from and fear Him!  Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.  Psalm 86:11

*Think about your motives. One of the reasons the Lord blesses us is so we can be a blessing to others, a channel, His hands and feet.  I'm not saying that He doesn't want us to be blessed and have nice things.
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.  James4:3

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  Matthew 6:20

*Pray for the Lord’s will in your life!  He has a path and a plan for each of us!  He can see the big picture and knows the future while we can only see what is happening right now.  He wants to do big things through us but we have to trust Him and follow! Even if He asks us to do something that is out of our comfort zone…which I can almost guarantee it will be. 
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

*Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance!  Listen to that “nudge” which is the Holy Spirit.  Almost since the day I was saved at about 9 years old I’ve had a sensitive spirit.  A little something deep down that directs AND CONVICTS me.  To my knowledge I have yet to live a day as a born-again Christian that I have not felt convicted! {Surprise!  I’m not perfect!}  This discerning has increased over time. I have a choice to listen, obey and repent when I need to or ignore what I know is right.
With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it.  Romans 9:1

*Ask him for open and closed doors!  That makes decisions for you very easy when He closes a door! 

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.  Revelation 3:8

We love to pray for open doors.  Here are some examples of open doors:

In Georgia when we “felt” like the Lord said our time there was up we prayed about what to do.  We had a job and housing offer in Georgia.  We could have stayed. Staying would have been easy.  Going home would have been easy.  We didn't want easy we wanted His will.  We felt like we were really supposed to head to the mountains so we took steps in that direction.  We reserved a moving van in faith since our cash reserve was depleted.   

Lo and behold some friends in Georgia sowed seed into our lives…gave us the exact amount of money we needed to rent the moving van, before taxes!  They had no idea the amount needed…we were amazed.  God is so good and in things like that we see His hand and His will. That was an open door or a confirmation that we were headed in the right direction. 

Recently, we “felt” like the Lord was leading mountain man to a certain place of employment.  So we prayed for an open door.  We waited about a year while mountain man worked elsewhere.  A year people…just thought I would reiterate that.  A friend of mountain man was hired at this particular spot and in the next month mountain man was there working.  

We felt led by the Lord, we prayed and we waited for an open door {I wish I could say patiently the entire time.}  Mountain man didn’t feel led to do anything but wait.  Not long ago we would have tried to bust the door down and done it in our timing and our way.  We’ve learned the hard way we don’t know what we’re doing so it’s best to leave it all up to Him!

Sometimes an opportunity arises and we aren’t sure if it’s the Lord’s will.  So, we take a step in that direction.  The door either stays open and we continue to have favor in that direction or it shuts.  When the Lord shuts a door, you’ll know it!

What is a shut door?

We moved back to Oklahoma from Idaho because a company mountain man had done business with over the years offered for him to buy it out.  We were getting to see how managing the lodge with the kids was not going to be easy. {Months after moving back we found out the Lord had indeed spared us some heartache there in those mountains!}  

Anyway, the company helped pay our way home.  After mountain man was there a bit he started running into some issues.  So, we started praying, asking the Lord for guidance.  I remember one day I stood in the kitchen fervently praying with every ounce of my being.  “Lord, these issues, help us resolve them…get rid of them.  What are we supposed to be doing?”  It was shortly after that mountain man walked in early for the day and said, “Well, they let me go.”  That is a shut door my friends…one that smacked me right in the face.  

I was praying for the issues to be resolved…I never once thought it was us who needed to leave!! But, it was what we needed.  We then knew to focus our energies on something else and to quit trying to make that work.

So, what in the world happened?  Well, we would not have moved back here to Oklahoma without employment.  The mountains were marvelous.  Is it possible the Lord used that situation to get us back home?  To teach us BIG lessons about His Sovereignty ?  To teach us {more} about humility?   Yes, to all of the above!  And, no hard feelings towards that business, they were doing what they felt they needed to do!

Here’s another example of an outcome one would not expect…it comes from our dear friends who seek the Lord with their whole hearts and love Him dearly.

He and his wife were not praying for a new job.  Yet, two different companies contacted the husband for a job interview.  They met with each company for a lunch date.  The first one was a big no…not a company of integrity.  The second one was a godly company who promised more pay etc.  Wow, it felt like “the one” to them.  It really looked like the Lord’s will and an open door but they still needed to pray about it. Only when husband went to write his letter of resignation the words wouldn’t come and he felt unsettled inside.  He really liked the company he worked for.  On a Monday he met with his boss and told him what was going on. The bosses were shocked…and felt convicted.  They realized that they had fallen into complacency and not treated their employees the way they should be treated concerning raises, rewards etc.  They apologized and made things right and husband got to stay right where he was along with getting a raise and more!  

The above story is a great example of taking steps. Though, there were no closed doors they came to a crossroads.  He did not have peace about writing the resignation letter…that was a red flag.  Sometimes things may look good but aren’t actually what God’s plan is.  The Lord used the situation to make their current one even better!!  And, I wonder if maybe the enemy was trying to lure husband away from where he was supposed to be but God used it for His glory and to bless this wonderful family?!

And sometimes, this is really good, the Lord hides from us!  Yeah, I know, my idea of fun is not a game of hide-and-seek in my time of need.  { Isaiah 64: 6-7 } He hides because He wants us to draw near, to seek His face, not his hands.  That means to get to really know Him…not just what He can do for us.  He wants us broken.  He wants us to say, “Lord…it is true…I simply cannot do this thing called life without YOU!  There is nothing in me that’s good…I need you every day, every step of the way.”  The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.  Psalm 51:17

That is what He loves.  And that, my friends, is a big pill to swallow.  It was for me anyway.   For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. {Matthew 23:12}

Years ago, I felt like the Lord placed adoption on my heart and mountain man said he felt the same way . {Sometimes we don’t agree.  We then pray and ask the Lord to reveal it to our spouse IF it’s His will. We never ever want anything that isn’t His will, even if it really looks good!  We both must have a peace about it.} But, we didn’t “feel” like it was time.  Recently we felt a “stronger pull” in that direction.  So, we took the step of calling and doing paperwork and one thing has led to another.  SO…we are waiting to be approved.  Then, we’ll wait and believe the Lord for the child/children He wants us to have at the right time. All the while thanking the Lord for a closed door if it isn’t time.

You see, sometimes the Lord will reveal something to us about our future…a piece of our life’s puzzle if you will but it may be years until it comes into fruition!   I appreciate the heads up because when I meet people along the road of life my antennae are up listening for the words “build a house”, “adoption” or anything else on my radar.  And then, usually a kindred spirit is found.  Also, it gives us something to pray over when we know where we’ll probably be led to in the days to come.

*Pray and pray some more!  It is a huge blessing to have praying friends and family.  A couple of times recently I felt the Lord telling me something that was a shock.  And to confirm that indeed it did come from Him He used some friends to tell me the same thing!  {Sometimes I’m a little sllooowww…}

*Be quiet and listen. This is a big one for me because of homeschooling three kids.  I hardly get a moment of quiet during the day.  He has been known to speak to me {in my spirit} the moment I wake up before anything else interrupts my thoughts.  It seems everyone is in a rush these days…radio, TV, traffic…it is too much!  We must make quiet time in our lives to be still and quiet! "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."{Psalm 46:10}

*Give Him praise for everything good in your life!  Even the challenges because God can use them to make you stronger!  Don’t take anything for granted. There are countless scriptures on this.  My favorite is: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  Phillipians 4:12

*Ask Him to reveal anything in your heart you need to deal with {Psalm 139:23-24} and hold on to your hats! We’re talking bitterness, unforgiveness, strife, unconfessed sin just to name a few. Asking Him to reveal things is a great way to practice listening, in my opinion.  Not only does it give me practice in listening, it clears my conscience and shows the Lord that I am serious about living for Him.  

For instance, it wasn’t easy sending a pair of sewing scissors I stole from my step-mom in high school back to her when we lived in Idaho.  Everywhere we would move “the scissors” would surface until finally I said, “Yes, Lord, I’ll send them back with a note of repentance. “  Was it easy to admit to someone I love that I chose to steal from her out of a moment of anger?  Nope. {Note: I am a visual person, I saw the scissors and was reminded of my fault.  Everyone is different!}  Did repenting bring me closer to my step-mom and the Lord?  Yes!  Am I saying the Lord wants His children to mail back everything we’ve ever stolen?  No.  But, that was His plan for me. 

Please know that learning to hear the Lord is a process.  Just like with anything, you get better with practice.  I've often said that I wish God communicated through billboards with flashing lights or a loud booming voice to get my attention.  it would be so much easier.  But...do I really want that? When I see those things grabbing for my attention on the side of the road I turn away.  They somehow cheapen the environment and make me feel rushed.  But, not Him.  Her's a perfect gentlemen.  Do I want quick and easy like a fast food happy meal or a heart shaped and molded by His hands ready to be used by Him?  I think you know the answer! 



God’s Voice      The Enemy's Voice
Stills you                           Rushes you
Leads you                         Pushes you
Reassures you                   Frightens you
Enlightens you                   Confuses you
Encourages you                Discourages you
Comforts you                   Worries you
Calms you                        Obsesses you
Convicts you                    Condemns you

{author unknown.  friend emailed it while writing this post}



6 comments:

  1. That was wonderful! I love how God can speak to us in so many different ways. Recently, I had a very heavy heart and I just started praying while I was driving. When I was finished praying, a song came on the radio and the first verse of the song addressed everything I had just prayed about. There have also been so many times when I've been praying about something or going through a situation and have been amazed that my daily devotional addresses those very same isses. It's so true that the more you seek Him, the more you'll find him. Thanks for posting this! =)

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  3. Wow! Thank you so much! I printed out this post. I can;t wait to put this to use. Thank you for hopefully putting me one step closer to God. I am amazed at the time and thought you put into this. It has touched me so much. You are awesome!

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  4. Awesome post! This made me think of all the changes we've gone through in the past two years with my husband selling his chiropractic clinic without a job lined up and having not heard if he was admitted into school, but we took the leap anyways feeling God's hand on it. Everything worked out and now he's working as an aide at one of the local hospitals and in his last semester of RN school. We didn't force any of it, just followed the Holy Spirit's leading.

    Also, I love that story about the woman who gave you a jump. I had something similar happen when I got a flat with my newborn 2nd son asleep in his car seat. Angels are everywhere! :-)

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