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When God is Getting Your Attention

A friend called me several days ago and wondered if I had any suggestions for small inexpensive devotions she could give to her team at a retreat she was hosting for her business.

A tiny little booklet I hadn’t thought of in years popped in my head. I first heard about this little gem from another friend and ended up buying 20 copies of it to keep on hand to offer out as the need arose.  Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles E. Hummel.

She stopped by and picked up the copies I had on hand. I thought to myself, “I should read it again.” But I laid it aside and went about my business.

Last night I hosted the final session of a Bible study I led in my home. We went through Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer.  Can I just pause and say, please do this study. Even if on your own. Good gracious, it will be the thing your soul thanks you for for the rest of your life!

At the end of the video, Priscilla referenced this tiny pamphlet I hadn’t thought of in years. I’ve never heard it mentioned by anyone other than my one friend years ago. And here I sit learning how to better hear God’s voice when she mentions something that has only days before come to my attention again.

My friend sat across the room. Our mouths dropped, we met each other’s gaze with silent gasps. He had both our attentions.

Sometimes God speaks in whispers. But sometimes it’s like a shout in the ear in the middle of the night. Startling.

I climbed into bed with a full heart last night. A Bible study completed that we all stuck to through the summer. Not an easy thing in today’s busy culture. But they showed up week after week. Hungry and thirsty.

I opened that little black book and began reading. I got to a sentence that made in inhale sharply.

“Many of us have experienced Christ’s deliverance from the penalty and power of sin in our lives. Are we also letting him free us from the tyranny of the urgent? In this message he points the way: “If you hold to my teaching.” This is the path to freedom, continuing day by day to meditate on the Scriptures and gain our Lord’s perspective.

P.T. Forsyth once said, “The worst sin is prayerlessness.” Does this statement surprise us? We usually think of murder and adultery as among the worst offenses against God and humanity. But the root of all sin is self-sufficiency – independence from the rule of God.”

I stopped reading immediately. I needed to sit with this. Sleep on it. Roll around in it. Wrestle it down to the ground.

I closed my eyes. The next morning I awoke. I felt the Lord calling me into an even quieter time with him this morning.

I went to my writing room. I left my phone upstairs. I kept the lights low and opened His Word. I prayed. I asked Him to speak to me and let me hear Him. After I sat in His Word, I opened another book I’ve been slowly reading through each morning for the 2nd read through. Prayer – Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller. Absolutely amazing book.

 

Y’all. The very page I was on this particular day said this:

“Prayer should be done regularly, persistently, resolutely, and tenaciously at least daily, whether we feel like it or not. ‘The worst sin is prayerlessness,’ wrote Peter T. Forsyth.”

God had a word for me. Pray.

Last week I told my husband I felt God telling me to get on my knees. Literally. Posture into submission.

One of my greatest struggles is self-sufficiency. I know in my head that God supplies the power I need to do everything I do. Yet, if I’m totally honest, I often get from Him a touch of what I need then race forward leaving Him behind.

He gently calls me back. Wooing me to Him. Tender and sweet.

He tells me to lay down my first born drive and simply surrender it all to Him. Rest. Cease striving. Be still and know that He is God.

Is He calling you to spend more time sitting at His feet? To stop racing to the urgent demands and tend to the most important instead?

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Learn to hear God speak

Audio version available on Soundcloud.

When I call out instructions to my kids before I’ve said their names or properly gotten their attention, there is about a 75% chance what I’m saying won’t be received by them. Instead, if I call their name, grab their attention, then speak, I’ve engaged them, and they are ready to receive my words.

Now they still might not follow the instructions well, but I know they’ve heard me.

In 1 Samuel 3:1-21 we read the familiar story of God calling Samuel. 3 times God calls Samuel’s name. Samuel ran to Eli believing Eli was calling him. When Eli realized it was God calling, he instructed Samuel to go back and respond, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

When God called Samuel, He called and waited for His call to be received by Samuel.

Am I ready to listen when God speaks?

Do I live my life listening for God’s call? Am I postured ready to receive a word from Him?

Or am I like my children, busy running after my pursuits and failing to hear the calls for my attention?

Lord, may my heart always be listening for You calling my name.

Verse 7: “Now Samuel had not yet experienced the LORD, because the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.”

To recognize the voice of the Lord, we have to be acquainted with it through His Word. His voice speaks through His Word. Then once we learn what He sounds like, and who He is, we are ready to recognize Him when He calls out to us as we move about our lives.

Do you struggle to hear God speaking?

I’ve had people write to me that they desperately want to hear God, but they don’t know how.

It starts by quietly sitting with Him in His Word. It’s one tiny step. It’s making one change in your life. Just one. It’s small.

In this fast-paced world, sitting with an open Bible takes discipline and patience. If we don’t take the time to sit with God and read His Word, we don’t truly know Him. We know “about” Him, but we don’t actually know His character and heart. We will be tempted to form our opinions about who God is through Sunday School lessons, sermons, podcasts, and blog posts. While these are all wonderful supplements, they don’t put us one-to-one with God.

One of my love languages is quality time. I have to spend time with people to feel loved by them. When I sit with one of my children, we begin to talk about nothing at first. This nothing leads to a funny story, which leads to a random thought, which sometimes leads to this revelation, but sometimes just leaves us laughing. Regardless of what we do together in that time, we walk away feeling reconnected to each other.

It is the same in our time with God. He actually wants to be our friend. He genuinely wants to spend time with us. He is always calling out to us, but like Samuel we might miss His voice because it’s unfamiliar to us. Or like my kids, I’m not actively engaged with His voice and will miss His call.

When we encounter His Presence in life we recognize Him immediately.

Some of us are looking for an experience or touch from God while skipping the foundational step – sitting at His feet.

What if God speaks what you don’t want to hear?

It’s going to happen. God will speak at times a word you don’t want to hear. Sometimes the time with Him is sweet and soothing. Sometimes it’s calming. Sometimes it’s convicting.

His Word is total truth. Our lives are not. This means we will encounter a truth that will make us feel uncomfortable at times.

When we encounter truth, we have a choice to make in how we handle His Word.

God spoke to Samuel a message to share with Eli. Judgement was coming because Eli had been disobedient. Eli allowed His family to live in sin. Eli had tried to stop his sons, but he’d let their sinful lives continue far too long. He’d lost his opportunity to properly train his children to follow the Lord.

When Samuel heard from God, he was scared to share the message. At the same time, Samuel learned that God takes obedience seriously. Eli wasn’t obedient in leading His family to follow God. Therefore, Samuel knew he needed to obediently speak the truth to Eli.

Samuel had a prophetic gift from God. He’d been entrusted to speak the truth of God’s Word no matter what.

Samuel proved himself obedient. He passed the test. Samuel was willing to receive God’s Word to him. Therefore, the Lord continued revealing to Him.

Are we willing to receive the Word of God? Or do we hold up a hand to God telling Him we don’t want to hear that?

Is there something God has been speaking to you that you find yourself half plugging your ears to Him?

God speaks. If we are willing to listen and receive, He begins to entrust more to us. We grow in our friendship and relationship with Him one tiny step at a time.

God is so often misunderstood. Many believers struggle to properly understand who God is. They’ve formed thoughts and opinions that aren’t based on God’s very own Word. This leads us toward a shaky faith. When life becomes bumpy, we reach for who we “think” God is rather than claiming victoriously the truth of who He is to hold us firm.

One question to ask yourself today.

Are you willing to receive God’s words when He speaks to you?

If you don’t answer yes, ask yourself why that is.

Sometimes the reason we don’t allow ourselves to hear Him is that lies about Him are hidden in our hearts.

God calls us to live a life of remembrance. This culture is pushing us forward. It’s progressive. It’s tolerant. It’s far from godly. In order to withstand what lies ahead, we have to firmly plant ourselves in God’s truth.

I believe we’ve reached a major turning point and we are heading in a direction that will require more than Sunday School knowledge of God.

God is good. He’s infinite. We never know enough about Him. And if we think we don’t need to learn more, it’s a sure sign that we do. No matter how intimate we are with Him or advanced our Bible knowledge is, we’ve never arrived on this side of eternity. There is always room to grow and know Him deeper.

I’ve prayerfully created a resource for you to guide you as you journey more intimately with God.

Our souls long for us to tenderly care for them. Take a 14 day journey with me through Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word. I’ve created it in such a way that you will receive 14 emails, one per day. Each day will include an audio and a print link. You can simply hit play and allow yourself to relax and listen. Or you can read if you aren’t an audio lover.

I’ve heard from many Illuminate listeners that it’s become their favorite part of the day. It’s a break from the race and a redirect to the One who desires to walk with us intimately.

Purchase your copy today. And then buy a copy for a friend.

If you have been blessed by Illuminate, would you kindly share this post with your friends and family?

audio devotional

One of my favorite things is to hear from you. I deeply love my readers. We have a loyal community here that I absolutely treasure. Some of you have been here for years. Some are brand new. The Lord is growing this community and my heart is filled with joy. When you take the time to send me your messages about how God has spoken to you, it encourages me more than you know. I love you and thank you.