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How can the Christian Woman grow in her faith during 2019? A woman’s faith is crucial part of becoming brave. Without faith, we miss a lot of the elements that should be part of a Christian lifestyle for women.

So how can the Christian woman grow in faith?

Steps the Christian Woman Can Take to Grow in Faith Step #1 – Become Intentional in Growing Your Faith

If you don’t learn to become intentional, you’re going to experience a plateau in your spiritual growth. You need to be intentional about growing in faith because a journey of faith is also a warzone. That’s why the Bible talks about our enemy who prowls like a lion and tells us about the armor of God.

We’ve got to be intentional about building strong faith habits.

We’ve got to be intentional about building unity in the church.

We’ve got to be intentional about applying the Bible to our lives.

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I have a pet theory that there’s a Spiritual Growth cycle. God has encoded cycles into the majority of creation (the water cycle, the rotation of the earth, the planet’s orbit, etc.), so why not Spiritual Growth as well?

In my theory, Spiritual Growth is marked by four distinct phases: growth, waiting, refinement, and surrender.

You might slide through one phase very quickly or you might stay in a phase for quite some time, but the Spiritual Growth cycle follows this distinct pattern. At least, that’s how my theory goes.

There’s going to be points in your faith journey when you’re all fired up and trying to be intentional about growing in faith and growing closer to God, but you’ll feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. That’s called a waiting period. It’s like a natural plateau.

But the other three phases? If you aren’t intentional about growing in faith during those times, you’re not going to experience a lot of growth. Instead you’re going to let doubt stop you from moving forward in your faith or will cave to fear.

So what does intentionality in our faith look like? It’s being disciplined enough to obey what you know God has commanded you to do.

That can vary from knowing that you need to be gentle because that’s what Galatians 5:23 tells us the Christian life looks like to knowing through the Holy Spirit that you need to go talk to the mom across from you at the park.

Step #2 – Develop Strong Faith Habits

Read the Bible (and learn it).

Pray.

Worship the God who created you and who sustains you.

It’s so very simple, and yet so many Christians struggle to follow through and to develop strong faith habits. I’m not immune. In fact, I put together an entire book – 51 Faith Challenges to Foster Spiritual Growth – designed to help Christians build healthier faith habits while rethinking how they approach some elements of the Christian lifestyle.

(You can find out more about 51 Faith Challenges to Foster Spiritual Growth by clicking here.)

Here’s the gut wrenching honest truth: it’s hard work to develop faith habits. It can even be downright painful as you try to pry your mind from all the chores and worries that are pushing back against you.

Now let’s get a little bit more honest because I doubt that it’s just me who does this! You don’t want to go clean the kitchen or put the clothes in the dryer. You’ll find just about any lame excuse to procrastinate those things as long as possible. So why are those chores suddenly so compelling that you can’t spend just five minutes in focused prayer?

Here’s a little secret. We try to develop our faith habits in private when it’s unity that allows us to truly succeed.

Why do we try to read our Bible in private away from our children when we can read our Bible to our children instead? Why do we hide in our bedrooms for prayer time when we can pray with our husbands?

I can honestly say that I read the Bible and pray almost daily, but it’s because it’s part of my family’s evening time together. Yes – even with a three year old and a baby!

Whether it’s your mother, husband, or girl friends, you’ve got people in your life that you can develop faith habits alongside. Be brave and reach out to them. Work together.

1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal.

Philippians 2:1-2 (HCSB)
Step #3 – Get the Tools You Need to Grow in Faith

The internet can be a great assistant to your faith. A simple Google search can connect you with hundreds of other Christians who are – just like me – trying to help disciple you and to equip you for your faith journey.

Make sure you use this resource as you’re trying to develop your own faith habits.

Bible Study Plans

Find a Bible Study plan to follow to keep you reading your Bible. You can use 51 Faith Challenges for inspiration, purchase a Bible Study, or use one of the many free resources you can find online.

A good Bible Study on the life of Christ or the fruits of the Spirit is a great place to start.

Physical Reminders

When you’re trying to apply the Bible to your life or develop a stronger faith habit, giving yourself a physical reminder is important. Wear a faith-inspired t-shirt or necklace, drink out of a coffee mug covered in Christian inspiration or Scripture, or put a sticky note on the mirror. If you enjoy coloring in squares to mark you progress, you can even use a habit tracker in your planner or bullet journal!

Total Spiritual Toolkit

Yes – it’s another promo, but it’s a good one I hope. The Total Spiritual Toolkit is a set of 14 worksheets that I’ve created to help Christians keep their spiritual life organized. You can find everything from sermon note pages to a prayer journal page to a doodle page for when you need to draw during the Sunday sermon want to practice Bible journaling.

You can read more about the toolkit by clicking here.

Step #4 – Rest in Prayer

We’ve already covered that Christian women need to develop a strong faith habit of praying. But what we haven’t talked about is how necessary it is to rest in this prayer. It’s not a coincidence that God’s rest day in Creation was also named a special holy day.

You see, our culture talks a lot about the need for self-care. When this topic comes up, you’ll often read a list of suggested activities to help you relax and rest.

What you don’t see in any of the comments is that PEACE is a gift from God that is accessible through the Holy Spirit:

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:25-27 (HCSB)

I’m not against self-care practices, but learning how to first rest in prayer is an important part of the Christian faith.

When we learn to rest in prayer, it helps us to recenter our lives and day around the commands of God. It helps us to reset our moods. Often, it helps us withstand the harder chaotic times because we already understand how to find peace in our lives.

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You must overcome your fear if you want to become a brave Christian woman. From Old Testament heroes to the early church fathers, God has been calling His followers to do great and courageous things. If we want to do incredible things, we need to stop letting fear stop us.

We fear a bunch of things: an uncomfortable fear, loss of social standing, being targeted because of our faith, fear of failing in the eyes of the world. Our choices about jobs, who we talk to, and even where we live are often made from a place of fear instead of a place of faith.

And while we are so wrapped up in the negativity of our various fears, we are held back from an incredible adventure with God. Fear chokes out our zeal for obeying God. We miss the miracles that God works. We miss being God’s tool for changing the lives of sinners. Eventually fear will paralyze us in our faith, causing our spiritual growth to plateau.

We know that we are not called to a life of fear, but how do we overcome fear so that we can become brave Christian Women?

(This post is part of the Brave Christian Woman series!)

How the Christian Woman Can Overcome Fear Read It

The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Psalm 118:6 (HCSB)

This entire psalm is a thanksgiving praise for how God protected the writer from harm. In fact, you know the praise song that sings, “Your love endures forever”? That’s also inspired by this Psalm. You’ll see why I’m pointing this out later on.

25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you. 27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.

John 14:25-27 (HCSB)

These are words spoken by Jesus during one of His final addresses to his disciples. Peace is something that has been promised to us, and it’s even directly said that peace is to take the place of worry and fear.

Traditionally, there’s a passage break between verse 26 and 27, but I find that it’s hard to truly separate these verses from each other. After all, the Holy Spirit is the gift that Jesus gave all of His disciples. So if Jesus is leaving peace, it makes sense that that peace is also intertwined with the Holy Spirit.

Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He won’t leave you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the Lord’s house is finished.

1 Chronicles 28:20 (HCSB)

There are plenty of other verses I could have used in this place. However, I liked the fact that this passage shows the concept of no fear in action. David already knows that his son Solomon is supposed to build the great temple for the Lord to dwell in. Here, he’s encouraging his son not to be afraid no matter what happens.

David knows that opposition arises when we follow God. He also knows that God will not abandon us when we are pursuing His work.

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

2 Timothy 1:7 (HCSB)

In this passage, Paul is encouraging Timothy to continue a life of boldness in his faith.

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Learn It Brave Christian Women Often Fear for No Reason

Fear is irrational. That’s because it’s an emotion. And like all emotions, it does have its purpose. After all, God would have made a short-lived masterpiece if we didn’t have some kind of survival mechanism that kept us alive past our first encounter with dangerous circumstances. However, just like anger is twisted from its purpose, fear is twisted into a weapon against our Christian faith.

As long as we are worried about the outcome of doing what is right and good, then we are resisting (even subconsciously) the lifestyle that God has chosen for us. David hits the nail on its head:

The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Psalm 118:6 (HCSB)

People can spread horrible nasty rumors to attack your reputation, but they can’t touch the grace and righteousness given to you as a believer. Your boss can fire you from your job, but he can’t stop God’s provision for your family. In the worst of circumstances, a fellow human can take your life. What happens then? We go to be with our Father in heaven! Oh horror! (Please read sarcasm into that last sentence.)

Fear can be a guide during the times that God is silent in our lives. Fear can keep us physically alive as we navigate a fallen and sinful Creation. But fear should never be more powerful than God’s command in your life.

When this happens, you are experiencing doubt in an emotional form. The first step in finding freedom from this kind of fear is to ask, “Why am I afraid of this?” If you don’t have an answer, then it’s time to hand your burden of fear over to God.

(And to read more on following God’s will in your life despite doubt, please click here.)

Overcome Fear by Looking for the Peace

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.

John 14:27 (HCSB)

You know that age-old debate over if the glass is half-empty or half-full? Neither perspective changes anything about the volume of water actually contained in the glass. However, that difference in viewpoint can have a great effect when we apply it to our circumstances.

In this verse, we see that peace is considered an opposite of fear. How awesome would it be if we stopped feeding our fears by instead shifting our focus to the peace that Jesus promised us? Our circumstances may not change, but I bet our outlook would. And when our outlook changes, the impossible suddenly seems more possible.

You’re probably thinking, “That’s all well and great, Lauren, but just how are we supposed to find peace? It’s not like we can just flip the switch on fear.”

But what if we can? In the ‘Read It’ section, I connected this verse back to the Holy Spirit. In John 14:26 Jesus also says that the Holy Spirit will remind us of God’s teaching. So if the absence of fear in God’s followers is such a crucial part of His teaching, then shouldn’t part of the Holy Spirit’s job be reminding us not to be afraid?

What if finding freedom from fear, if finding peace, is as simple as learning to listen to the Holy Spirit in our lives?

Are you enjoying the BRAVE Christian Woman series? Don’t forget to grab the official tshirt!

Overcome Fear Through God’s Comfort

Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He won’t leave you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the Lord’s house is finished.

1 Chronicles 28:20 (HCSB)

Like I wrote earlier, I chose this passage to share a practical example of courage in action. However, I also wanted to include verses like:

  • Psalm 94:19
  • Isaiah 41:13
  • Isaiah 51:12

These are verses that speak directly about God comforting and helping during the frightening situations. I know this is a little redundant from the previous points, but I want to highlight this statement directly for everybody to read.

We can have freedom from fear because God Himself comforts our fears and helps us through those situations.

How awesome is that to think about? I don’t know about you, but it’s much harder to cave to fear when I think about how powerful God is…and how He is right there beside me through it all! Which leads us to the next point…

Overcome Fear Through the Spirit Given to Us

7 For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

2 Timothy 1:7 (HCSB)

But freedom from fear goes beyond recognizing that there’s not really anything men can do to us. It goes beyond finding peace or being comforted. We see that the spirit given to us in place of fear has been defined by three different traits: power, love, and sound judgment.

Freedom from fear is recognizing that we’re more powerful – because the Holy Spirit dwells with us – then the circumstances that would tear us down.

Freedom from fear comes when we let love motivate our actions. Love knows that we must be brave about our convictions if we want to save the souls of our family and friends.

Freedom from fear is about showing wisdom in discerning the deeper spiritual issues when fear would only have us examine what is immediately visible in our circumstances.

Again, these are things that have been given to us as opposites that we possess in place of fear. It’s like a shape sorter toy. There’s always a point when the shapes inside the toy rise so high that they begin to obstruct the holes, right? In our lives, fear are the shapes. If we develop – with God’s help – these traits of love, power, and sound judgement, then we will fill up the space so that there is no longer room for fear.

I could keep writing about this verse, but I actually have a Facebook video that talks about these things along with a fear that I’ve been carrying as a burden. (At least, I think this is what the video talks about. I’m never really sure what I say in person or on video.)

Apply It
  • Ask: “What fears do I need to let go of in my life?”
  • Do: Look for one action that you can do that terrifies you. I’m not talking about a thrill park, either. I’m talking about those thoughts you resist, like going to talk to the lady sitting alone on the bench at the grocery store.
  • Do: Look for one verse on conquering fear to memorize.
  • Pray: Normally I write a prayer prompt here. Today, though, I want you to write your own prayer.
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It takes a brave Christian woman to follow God in today’s society where the impassioned mob judges morality with absolute confidence. With so many viewpoints closely aligned with Christianity (like traditional masculinity or a pro-life stance) under attack and even a belief in God openly mocked in social media comments, it can be hard for the Christian woman to speak up.

It’s clear that bravery is necessary for the Christian woman to live her life passionately following God and as a witness for Him. But what exactly does it mean to be brave?

Becoming BRAVE Christian Women

When I found out that I was pregnant with a second daughter, I realized that I was now tasked with raising two little girls during a very dark climate in our culture. I asked myself, “What kind of women did I want to see my girls become?”

One word came to mind: BRAVE.

I wanted my girls to be raised with Biblical beliefs and ethics, and I wanted them to be brave. I wanted to raise brave Christian women.

But what do brave Christian women even look like? Fortunately, an acronym quickly formed in my mind.

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What it Means to be BRAVE Beautiful Inside and Out

There should be a freedom to explore beauty, even when it is our own. After all, God created the very concept of beauty when He designed a world filled with picturesque mountains, brilliant sunsets, and delicate flowers.

While this gives women freedom to play with dresses, accessories, and makeup, external beauty puts an emphasis on physical health. Taking care of our bodies through sleep, quality food, water, and exercise helps us to stay healthy. Healthy Christians are Christians who are able to spend more time fulfilling the Great Commission. It can also help us to develop a better stewardship of our time and to practice discipline in our lives.

Beyond the external beauty, there needs to be an emphasis on internal beauty as well:

Instead, [your beauty] should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes.

1 Peter 3:4 (HCSB)

The Bible teaches us that our character is an important part of our beauty. Christian women cannot neglect the condition of their hearts or the hearts of their daughters if they want to become BRAVE.

(To see more about what I’ve written on 1 Peter 3:4, read my post on how the pursuit of modesty turned me into a pharisee.)

Responsible for both the Good and the Bad

The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.

Proverbs 28:13 (HCSB)

BRAVE Christian Women recognize when they have sinned and take responsibility for it. They do this by repenting of their sin before God. They also repair their relationships by repenting to those who were hurt by the sin.

We usually think about responsibility as being a bad thing, but it can also be a good thing.

Humbleness is a crucial part of the Christian faith. True humility, however, doesn’t try to minimize the good things that God has given to us. God has granted every individual natural gifts and talents. Responsible women recognize that there’s no need to pretend like these gifts are nonexistent. Instead, a BRAVE Christian woman will use her gifts and talents to bring glory to God like He created us to do.

Adventurous Even when Failure is an Option

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”

Matthew 28:19 (HCSB)

To live as BRAVE Christian Women, a spirit of adventure needs to be nurtured. This is important because God very rarely calls us to live comfortable lives. God sends some of His followers across the world to countries physically hostile to Christianity. He sends others to be missionaries to their own families and friends.

True adventurers know that you failure is a risk if you wish to accomplish anything great. BRAVE Christian women understand this.

Rejection is a possibility. Ostracism is a possibility. Making radical life changes to better follow God is a possibility. You will make choices that will leave you unsuccessful by the world’s standards.

There will also be moments when you feel God leading you to do something. When you have accomplished the task, however, you will wonder what the point of it even was. (Rest assured, there is ALWAYS a point even if it takes you until heaven to find out what it was.)

Visionary Enough to Change the World

36 When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

Matthew 9:36-38 (HCSB)

Shepherds meet the needs that the sheep are oblivious of, or he will meet them in a way the sheep is not able to do. A herd of sheep on their own won’t know that there’s a healthy pasture to graze in over the hill, but a shepherd will! A herd of sheep cannot provide water in a trough, but the shepherd can.

It’s the same way for Christians who are shepherding the lost. The BRAVE Christian Woman is a visionary to those that she ministers to.

The Bible is full of examples where God’s followers did something unexpected and radical. Joseph forgave his brothers instead of seeking the revenge he could have easily enacted. Ananias was sent to go heal a serial murderer of Christians. The Bible tells us in Matthew 5 to give a cloak as an extra gift to the one who sues for a coat!

Visionaries innovate the world. They come up with the creative solutions that either solve a problem or make some aspect of life easier for the rest of us. When it comes to solving the hurt and brokenness of Creation that came about because of sin, BRAVE Christian women know it takes a visionary to solve the problem.

BRAVE Christian Women will look for the innovative and creative solutions to address the needs of the sheep.

Extraordinary in Everything She Does

You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden.

Matthew 5:14 (HCSB)

By following the other letters, the BRAVE Christian Woman will find that she has become extraordinary. She has transformed into something different from other women. Her approach to life is markedly different. Her temperament is different. Her interactions with others is different.

She is a light to the world because she follows God, and that light is something that cannot be hidden.

“How Do I Become a Brave Christian Woman?”

If this sounds like an impossible goal to reach, know that it’s not. To become a BRAVE Christian woman, you simply have to follow these steps:

  1. Become disciplined in your faith. Make reading the Bible and praying every day a priority. It’s not a sin if you fail, but this is a cornerstone of your faith.
  2. Don’t just read the Bible; learn the Bible and then apply what you read to your life. Bare the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22) in your life. Be a missionary to others in your life (Matthew 28:19). Follow the other guidelines that the Bible sets for us.
  3. Surrender the burdens in your life. You’ll never get far as a BRAVE Christian Woman if you are clinging reluctantly to sin in your life. Or if you’ve let self-doubt or fear to become part of your identity, you’ll find that you’re weighed down in your ability to follow God.
  4. Repeat. There’s a cycle to Spiritual growth that you’ll find in your own life if you don’t get distracted. There’s a period of intense growth, a waiting period, a period of surrender, and a period of refinement after you surrender your burdens to God. Each cycle matures you as a Christian. Slowy, with practice, what seemed hard at the beginning becomes easier. (Even if doubt never quite leaves the process!)

You can follow along with my blog for this entire year if you want to learn more about becoming a brave Christian woman.

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New York’s Reproductive Health Act made headlines after being codified on the National Right to Life day. The new state law has created a flurry of social media activity, including backlash from prolife supporters. This is why New York’s Reproductive Health Act has turned me, personally, into a prolife activist.

Warning: what I’m about to say is not up for debate. Part of this decision were made from a very emotional place. I’m not going to waste my energy and time defending that place. There will be follow-up post in a few days that isn’t written from that place.

Why I’m Becoming a Prolife Activist

New York’s new law isn’t that different from ones that you can find in many different states. In fact, nineteen states already have the “for health” exception to abortion bans.

New York made this law about more than abortion though. They made it about more than that when they redefined what makes a person to exclude the unborn.

They rewrote existing state laws to exclude the unborn as people.

All unborn. The wanted unborn. The baby lost at 6 weeks. The unborn son slain by an abusive father. The baby killed by a hard fall. The child who tragically passes away in the womb at 36 weeks.

According to New York lawmakers, none of them count as people.

My Babies Were Persons Before Birth

My two daughters had personalities from the womb.

When I was pregnant with Hailey, I didn’t feel connected with her at all. But I knew she kicked every time my OBGYN went to measure her heart. I knew she loved the sound of her Daddy’s voice. I knew she was an explorer because she would do her best to interact with the outside world.

From the moment Alyssa first moved in my womb, I knew that she was different from her older sister. She was a rabbit. She froze when anybody tried to feel her move. She would remain frozen as long as she could. I went most of the pregnancy as the only one who felt her kick.

Are distinct personalities no longer enough to say that the unborn children are people? If so, then…

What Do We Say to Those Who Lose the Babies They Want?

I’ve carried three babies in my womb. When I miscarried my second child, it wasn’t the end of a pregnancy that I grieved. I cried and still occasionally cry because I didn’t get to meet that baby or watch my tiny person grow up into a big person.

I mourned the loss of a person who never took a breath of air.

And if this is what our culture stands by – that the unborn are not people – then I charge anybody with that belief with a task. What do you say to those who miscarry, who deliver stillborns, and who lose the child that they wanted to tragedy?

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How I’m Supporting the Prolife Movement

In direct response to New York’s Reproductive Health Act, I have made a decision. I’ve stated that 10% of all profit I earn through my store on this website or my Etsy store will be donated to nonprofit organizations.

Some of the tshirts that I have designed are also pledged to help raise money for ministries. Specifically, $4.50 from each tshirt sold is donated to help fulfill the Great Commission.

Both the 10% and the $4.50 will now be donated to Seneca, Choices for Life.

About Seneca

From their website:

Seneca’s mission is to prevent unplanned pregnancy and make abortion unthinkable through prevention, intervention, and intercessory programs.

https://senecacfl.life/ourstory/

Seneca, Choices for Life is an organization that is local to me. That’s great, because I was looking for something in my Jerusalem to support. What I love about Seneca is how the services that they are offer are all about meeting needs. They show God’s love through actions.

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Have you ever felt like you heard from God? Did you doubt God’s leading when you did hear from Him? I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about how to discern God’s voice in your life, but what about when you have heard from Him and experienced doubts?

In August of ’16, my family went through some big changes as my husband quit his position as a youth pastor to take on a better paying job. I became a stay-at-home mom, which left me with time to write again. As I rebooted my blog, I struggled under some decisions my writing ministry over the past few weeks. Of course, this meant lots of prayer for God to guide me. I’ve noticed that when I do hear from God, I have a cycle of doubts that I go through.

What You Should Do When You Experience Doubt as a Christian Read It

16 “But I will be with you,” the Lord said to him. “You will strike Midian down as if it were one man.”

17 Then he said to Him, “If I have found favor in Your sight, give me a sign that You are speaking with me. 18 Please do not leave this place until I return to You. Let me bring my gift and set it before You.”

And He said, “I will stay until you return.”

19 So Gideon went and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from a half bushel[f] of flour. He placed the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot. He brought them out and offered them to Him under the oak.

20 The Angel of God said to him, “Take the meat with the unleavened bread, put it on this stone, and pour the broth on it.” And he did so.

21 The Angel of the Lord extended the tip of the staff that was in His hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire came up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the Angel of the Lord vanished from his sight.

Judges 6:16-21 (HCSB)

Gideon, as we know the story, went on to lead the Israelites to a great victory against their enemies. Even though he did great things, we can see in this passage that Gideon was not a confident leader who automatically knew God’s will. After this passage, Gideon realizes that he was being commanded by God. That didn’t stop his doubts, though.

36 Then Gideon said to God, “If You will deliver Israel by my hand, as You said, 37 I will put a fleece of wool here on the threshing floor. If dew is only on the fleece, and all the ground is dry, I will know that You will deliver Israel by my strength, as You said.” 38 And that is what happened. When he got up early in the morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung dew out of it, filling a bowl with water.

39 Gideon then said to God, “Don’t be angry with me; let me speak one more time. Please allow me to make one more test with the fleece. Let it remain dry, and the dew be all over the ground.” 40 That night God did as Gideon requested: only the fleece was dry, and dew was all over the ground.

Judges 6:36-40 (HCSB)

It only took Thomas touching nail holes to silence his doubts; Gideon had to have three separate signs.

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Learn It Two Kinds of Doubt

If you pay really close attention, you’ll see that Gideon has two kinds of doubts:

  • doubting he heard from God
  • doubting He got the right person
Doubting that You’ve Heard from God

I fully believe that God communicates one-on-one with each of His followers in different ways. That being said, most of the time we don’t have dramatic and undeniable encounters with God or His angels. We don’t see burning-but-not-consumed bushes, and we don’t physically glow after a prolonged worship session. (If any of these things happen to you, please contact me immediately!) Because God doesn’t use neon signs, it is easy to ask, “Was that really God?”

If it makes you feel better, people in the Bible asked this question, too. Take a look at this Scripture in some alternative translations:

Then Gideon said to Him, “Please don’t be mad, but, if You really are from God, can you please prove it?”

Judges 6:17 (The Chaotic Life of Lauren Translation)

Then Gideon said to Him, “I’m gonna need proof that you’re an angel. Pic of God creating the world or it didn’t happen!”

Judges 6:17 (Modern Teenager Translation)

There is nothing wrong with wanting to verify God’s voice before you start responding to it, especially if it’s something that requires an entire upheaval of your life. However we need to be careful that we don’t get so preoccupied looking for proof that we’ve heard from God that we never respond to His leading in our lives.

And if you’re not sure you even know what God’s voice sounds like, I have an entire series posts on Learning God’s Voice.

Doubting that God Got the Right Person

Even after Gideon believed he was speaking to the Angel of the Lord, he still hesitated to respond. He still had his doubts about God’s message. Read it closely:

Then Gideon said to God, “If You will deliver Israel by my hand, as You said,

Judges 6:16 (HCSB)

By my hand. Can you hear the self-doubt in that phrase?

Gideon has already stated that he is the youngest son of the weakest family in Mannaseh* (Judges 6:15). Even when he recognized that this message was from God, he couldn’t let go of the fact that he felt grossly unqualified for the job. He probably wondered why God didn’t go to one of his older brothers or pick somebody from Napthali*.

*Mannaseh and Napthali were two of the twelve tribes of Israel. Napthali is mentioned as a tribe of great warriors.

Think about your own life. Has the Holy Spirit ever prompted you to do something in your life only for you to immediately squish it as, “I can’t do this,” or, “So-and-so would be better at that,” or, “Well, maybe one day but let me learn this, this, and this first so I can be prepared.” How many times have you failed to follow through on those ideas because of self-doubt?

The Easiest Way to Stop a Christian…

I believe in Spiritual warfare. A lot of people get squeamish about the idea, and I can understand why. We don’t like to think about demons being anywhere near us. But I want you to do something for me today. Ask yourself, “If I wanted to stop somebody from following God’s plan for their life, what would be the simplest thing to do?”

My first choice would be to keep that person stressed and distracted so they never sat down to find God’s voice in their lives. My second choice – for when that failed – would be to make her doubt and dismiss what God told her. That’s why I think it’s completely normal for us to hesitate and doubt like Gideon did in the Scriptures.

That’s also why I think we need to build a strong prayer life to pray over things before we just accept them as normal.

A Personal Story

I once commandeered an old copy of Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” from my parents’ house. I was just skimming through the study for lesson ideas. Blackaby’s comment about how we often miss God-given opportunity’s by dismissing them because of obstacles. I decided to test what he wrote about prayer and missing those opportunities. So I thought, “What is the one thing that our church really needs?”

I thought, “More children.” So I prayed asking for God to help the church bring in more children. That very night in youth group, one of the teenagers started talking about how somebody in the church wanted her to bring her younger siblings with her.

Do you think I said, “Bring them! I’ll teach them!”

No. The words that came out of my mouth were, “But there’s nothing set up for kids on a Sunday night even if you brought them.” Whoops.

It was a perfectly logical statement. The first couple of times would have been a mess. Somebody would have had to step out of their worship service to lead the children. There would have been zero preparation for a Bible lesson and very few games to play. But what was truly wrong with that?

I spent a minute in quiet disbelief at what happened. Here was an opportunity on the very thing I had just prayed for, and I doubted that it was a good idea. I tried over the next couple of weeks to undo the damage that I did, but it was impossible. My doubts had transferred to the teenager. I could never convince her that it wouldn’t be any trouble or convince her that some kind of evening program would actually be set up for her siblings.

Learning to Move Forward Through the Doubts The short version

When I realize that I’m doubting something much more than I should be, I take it as a good sign that I need to move forward. That being said, you don’t need to be foolish about it. When Gideon chose to move forward, he asked for multiple signs. Does that mean we need to ask God to make our flours all globby wet in our flour bins? Not necessarily.

We need to remember that Gideon didn’t have as much access to Scripture as we do. Only a small percentage of the Bible had been written and he may not have even had access to that! We can compare our potential message to see if it is line with how God related to people in the Bible. If it is in line, then ask yourself what the harm is in pursuing your message even if you have doubts? Often, we let doubt stop us from doing things that can’t even negatively impact our lives.

The long version

When I’m trying to decide if God’s trying to tell me something, I have a process that I follow. It goes like this:

  • See if my thought or idea is consistent with Scripture – I don’t see God singling somebody out to bless with wealth if they just do one little thing, so I’m not going to buy a lottery ticket or gamble in Vegas just because I feel like God’s telling me to. (Note: just easy examples for you guys to understand!) This is why learning what the Bible says is important.
  • Pray over it for a couple days – I consider this a brainstorming phase. One of the basic rules of brainstorming is to never toss out an idea for any reason. This stops me from dismissing things due to doubt.
  • Keep a prayer journal – Whenever I see something pop up that’s relevant to my idea (whether it’s Scripture shared on social media, a trusted friend’s status, or a quote) I make a note of it. No, I don’t go all super mystical searching for hidden signs in my life. I just simply think, “Oh! That goes with what’s on my mind.” Then I think, “Oh, that’s relevant to what I’ve been praying about.”
  • Check to see if there are other opportunities popping up – Because it is an often understood rule of ministry that other tempting doors open at the same time that God’s guiding you to something.
  • Run a cost/gain analysis – I ask myself, “What can I possibly lose from pursuing this? What can I possible gain?”
    • For most decisions, there aren’t a lot of costs if you truly look at it. Some time, maybe a little bit of money, but nothing that will ruin your life. For those decisions, I normally start asking myself why I’m doubting myself so much.
    • For those decisions that actually do have a potential cost (such as quitting a job to write full-time), I go on to the last step.
  • Ask for the sign – Like we talked about last week, we need to be real with God. If we can’t pray without thinking in the back of our heads, “I’m not sure, I’m not sure, I’m not sure,” then we should just go ahead and tell God that.
Apply It
  • Remember: When doubting you’ve heard from God, DO NOT immediately dismiss the idea.
  • Do: Pray about it. If you can’t shake the idea from your mind for a couple of days, then there’s probably a reason for that.
  • Ask: “What do I truly have to lose from doing this?” If there’s nothing at stake, then isn’t it a little odd that you’re still pulling all these oppositions out of thin air?
  • Pray: “Dear God, please me not to doubt Your leading in my life. Give me the courage and the strength to keep moving forward despite doubts. Amen.”
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Your best friend in high school just committed suicide. Your joy at expecting a little one suddenly turned to sorrow. You just got fired from your job when finances were already tight.

Life is chaotic. When terrible circumstances happen, how can you hear God’s voice in the middle of chaos?

How Can We Hear God’s Voice During Chaotic Circumstances? Elijah: A Case Study

There are very few people besides Elijah who can better know what following God in the middle of chaos would look like. You see, Elijah is probably best known for his showdown with the prophets of Baal. The prophets of Baal called upon their false god to light a fire to consume a sacrifice.

After giving the prophets of Baal all day to succeed in getting their god to answer their depraved worship, Elijah ordered for water to be poured onto the wood and meat that was meant to be a sacrifice to God. He prayed, and God answered the challenge by sending fire down onto the pile.

We love to tell this story to children in Sunday School. However, there are two details that are often left out:

  • Most of the prophets of God have been slaughtered. The ones who are alive are in hiding. Elijah himself was highly sought after to be killed after telling that God would throw Israel into a famine.
  • After this challenge, Elijah tells the people of Israel to slaughter all 450 prophets of Baal. This further enrages King Ahab.
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The Voice in the Chaos

 In 1 Kings 19, we can find Elijah, who feared for his life, hiding in a cave on Mount Horeb.

9 Then the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my life.”

11 Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.”

At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs 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. 12 After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

1 Kings 19:9-13 (HCSB)

Stop to really think about all of this.

I’ve been in wind strong enough to break an umbrella before. That was loud. Was that wind powerful enough to shatter a cliff though? Not at all. We’re talking loud, strong, and destructive.

Earthquakes? Those are destructive, powerful, and I would imagine very loud.

Fire? It’s all-consuming, greedy, and quick.

But God wasn’t in any of these things. He was in a tiny little whisper.

What was the Point?

It seems bizarre and pointless that God would chose to reveal Himself to Elijah in this manner. Rather than continuing to speak directly to Elijah, God causes all this mass destruction around Elijah. Why?

Because Elijah had been living in chaos, and that chaos had begun to affect him. He lost sight of what God wanted for the Israelites because of all the pain that he had gone through. So God – who was already in a conversation with Elijah – whispered to prove a point. Whispers are easy to miss if you aren’t paying close enough attention.

In the middle of chaos, you have to be intentional about listening!

Even though you could say that God was the direct cause of all the terrible things that had happened to and around Elijah, that chaos wasn’t His plan. Those were all stepping stones leading Elijah and the Israelites to the place that God wanted them. However, if Elijah focused on the chaos, he would miss God’s guidance in the middle of all of it.

5 Ideas to Hear God’s Voice in the Middle of Your Chaos #1 – Rest

If you are surrounded by chaos, I guarantee you are also stressed. Your mind may feel overwhelmed, your emotions may go crazy, and there could be physical repercussions. The more stressed you become, the worse it’s all going to get.

You’ll never be able to hear God’s whisper while you’re in complete turmoil. Break the cycle by giving yourself a chance to rest. So often we try to skip this crucial step. It feels like the world might end if we sit down for too long.

However, it’s important to remember that God built a pattern of rest into Creation itself. This pattern existed before the world fell into disarray from sin. Is it any wonder, then, that it’s so hard for us to learn to stop rushing around?

#2 – Read the Bible and Pray

What’s the point to reading the Bible and praying when your mind and heart are wandering everywhere? What about those moments when you’re rereading the same line of Scripture over and over again because you’re not processing anything?

Here’s a truth about these activities there’s a time to learn the Bible and then there is a time to keep these faith habits out of discipline. When you’re surrounding by chaos, you’re most likely in the latter group. Even when you’re not retaining anything, there’s still a point to these activities.

Reading the Bible and prayer are important parts to hearing God’s voice in our Christian walk. When you most need to hear from God, why would you cut yourself off from this part of the relationship?

It might take three days, or it might take a few months. I promise you that if you stick with these habits, you will eventually get the answers that you seek. You’ll also start learning and retaining the Bible again.

#3 – Calm Your Environment

So what about when you’ve given yourself a chance to rest and are trying to read the Bible, but you still can’t hear God’s whisper in the middle of the chaos?

I left out a huge chunk of Scripture between the prophets of Baal and Elijah’s moment in the cave. You see, Elijah fled for forty days before he reached that cave. On the very first night that he spent in a calmer environment, God came to speak to him.

Look for ways to calm your environment or your life. When we are intentional about minimizing our stressors, it gives us even more room to breathe and to rest.

Here are some ideas:

  • Minimize your commitments – It’s okay to step back temporarily from ministry positions or to stop participating in a group. While these are good things, they can also stop us from resting during chaotic seasons in our life.
  • Clean and reorganize the room of your house that you spend the most time in – I love a messy workspace more than anybody. When I didn’t get paired with a roommate in college, I purposely kept at least one thing out of place. Too clean or sterile of a work environment kills my creativity. However, when there’s no calm and clean space in my home, my stress levels go up and my temper gets short. It’s hard for me to rest.
  • Open the windows – Not only does it allow you to (hopefully!) see some greenery, but the sun also helps to sterilize our environment. There’s a reason why spring cleaning used to involve setting everything outside!
  • Play calming music – A lot of Christian bloggers would recommend playing praise music. I do that sometimes, but I also love playing instrumental songs and some mainstream songs. The point is to add something relaxing into your day. You’re trying to break free from the chains that stress have strapped around your body.
  • Get a breath of fresh air – Go outside for a walk, or take your Bible outside to read, too.
  • Stretch your body – Have your muscles gotten tense and achy recently? There’s no easier way to calm your environment then to take care of the one thing that moves with you wherever you go. Spend a few minutes stretching and massaging those muscles. You might be surprised by how much that does to free your mind.
  • Speak gently – Yes, even if you have children around you that aren’t listening. I’m not saying that the first day  that you try to speak gently will go very well, but intentionally speaking gently to those around you helps to soothe tempers. You may even find that your children start to speak a little more gently, too!
#4 – Talk to Other Christians

Other Christians have crucial parts to play when it comes to hearing God’s voice in our lives. Just like the Priest Eli helped Samuel to understand that God was calling him, more experienced Christians can help us identify God’s voice in our lives. It’s also possible that God is waiting to speak through others.

Beyond that, Christians are called to bear each other’s burdens. This means that we have to be willing to share our burdens with others. How else will they know how to pray for us?

#5 – Apply the Bible to Your Life

When things in our life go crazy, the best thing we can do is what we already know is right. That’s why you need to do your best to keep applying the Bible to your life.

This is true even if you’re only able to recall old sermons and devotionals. If you are in a position where you need to repent of something, then do that. If you know that you need to better reflect God’s love in your life, then start there. If you are learning how to rely on God and to trust in Him, then keep going.

So what did I miss? How do you hear God’s voice during chaos?

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Does God speak directly and audibly to us today? We see examples in the bible where God spoke directly to people or through a vessel like Moses’s burning bush. However, can we expect God to still do these things?

Note: This is part of an entire series about how God speaks to us. To see the rest of the posts, please click here.

Does God Speak to Us Directly? Read It Examples of God Speaking Directly

This is by no means a complete list of examples. I also don’t expect you to read these today. I just wanted to provide examples of God speaking directly to individuals in case you wanted to flip through them at some point.

  • To Moses in Exodus 3
  • To Joshua in Joshua 1
  • To Samuel in 1 Samuel 3
  • To David in 2 Samuel 2
  • To Job in Job 40
  • To Isaiah in Isaiah 6
  • To Ananias in Acts 9
Today’s Scriptures to Consider

“Because I, Yahweh, have not changed, you descendants of Jacob have not been destroyed.

Malachi 3:6 (HCSB)

If you think that people have never questioned God’s existence like they do today, then you might be shocked to find some of the very same complaints in Malachi. In fact, almost the entire book is God answering these complaints while chiding the Israelites. When He makes this statement, He’s basically telling the Israelites, “I still keep my promises. You need to do better, though.”

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?

Genesis 3:8-9 (HCSB)

This passage takes place right after the fall of man. That’s really about all you need to know about the context here.

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Learn It “God spoke to people in the past, but does He still speak this way today?”

If you were to find answers from other blogs on this question, you would get a wide variety of answers. Some will tell you that He never does. Others will heavily favor direct revelation. For myself, I say, “Sparingly, so use caution.”

Really, if you read my other blog posts, it shouldn’t surprise you that I take a moderate position. So you can understand how I came to this conclusion, we need to consider:

  • The unchanging nature of God
  • Relationship Aspect
God Doesn’t Change

“Because I, Yahweh, have not changed, you descendants of Jacob have not been destroyed.

Malachi 3:6 (HCSB)

The immutability of God (or His unchanging nature) is a common Christian belief. It’s also one of the most common arguments for God speaking directly to His followers today. If you look through Scripture, however, this is one of only two verses that directly states the immutability of God that I’ve found. However, there’s a problem with using this verse – and by extension, the immutability of God – as support for God speaking to us directly in the modern age.

Like I mentioned in the Read It section, God is referring to His promises with this statement. In a lot of ways, it’s taking God’s statement out of the context to use it to say, “God doesn’t change, therefore He will still talk to us the same way He did to people in the Bible.” How God speaks to us (through the Holy Spirit or His word instead of directly) is a different matter than God suddenly breaking His covenant by wiping out the arrogant and unrepentant Israelites.

“Wait, Lauren, are you trying to say that God does change?”

No, I’m not. There’s a lot to support the immutability of God. However, that only addresses His nature. We’re talking about a method of communication. For example, if I were to suddenly switch to doing devotionals on YouTube, my method would change, but who I am and what I say would not. I would still be sharing about how ordinary Christians can fulfill the great commission or telling you that there’s no point in asking God to speak to you if you aren’t ready to respond to what He says.

So if a change in methods does not mean that God Himself has changed, then why do I still believe that He speaks directly to people?

For one thing, God has not lost His ability to speak directly to individuals. If He chooses not to speak directly at all, then it is a barrier that He put in place for Himself. I don’t believe that God would do this, though. What purpose would it serve?

The Relationship Aspect

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?

Genesis 3:8-9 (HCSB)

God went beyond just creating mankind and everything else in this world; He built a relationship with Adam and Eve. This included frequent walks as well as seeking them.

Even after the fall of man, God still kept a relationship with Adam, Eve, and their sons. Even after Cain murders Abel in Genesis 4, God still talked directly to him and protected him.

The entire Bible is about God’s relationship with man. I also blogged about God’s desire to relate to us in this post.

When I think about the relationship aspect of our Lord, I have two thoughts:

  • God’s desire for a relationship does not change
  • It’s not much of a relationship if God puts a requirement in place that stops Himself from talking to us

Combine this with the fact that God has not lost the ability to talk directly to us, I think it’s safe to say that God can and still does use this method.

“What about the 400 years of silence?”

The 400 years of silence happened between the Old Testament and the New Testament. During that period, no books of the Bible were written. Some people use this period of silence along with Hebrews 1:2 to “prove” that God stopped speaking directly to humans. But here’s the thing, there were no new books written.

This means that we have absolutely no idea what happened during those 400 years. Just because God did not inspire an addition to His word during this period does not mean that He was completely silent. We have no idea how many people He could have talked to individually. Similarly, we have no idea how many people outside of the Bible’s narration that He chose to reveal Himself to during all those events.

Disclaimer and Clarification

There is one thing that we need to admit before this post ends: God does not talk directly to everybody. If He did, there would be no reason for the Bible or the Holy Spirit. There is no way to know the reasons behind God’s choice in how He speaks to us. Because of this, we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss that somebody has heard from God, but we also shouldn’t have expectations that God will also speak directly to us.

In all things, use caution. Read the Bible, learn the Bible, and apply the Bible to your life. This is the best way to have a solid foundation for discerning when God is talking to us outside of His word. He will never contradict what has already been written down.

(Speaking of applying, did you know that you can use my signature “Read It, Learn It, Apply It” devotional style in your personal time of Bible reading? Just purchase my Total Spiritual Toolkit to receive the worksheet plus THIRTEEN other worksheets designed to help you organize your spiritual life.)

Apply It

There’s not a lot of ways to apply this devotional. But there are still a couple of things you can do.

  • Research: The immutability of God. Why do we believe that God doesn’t change? What supports this?
  • Remember: God desires a relationship with you.
  • Pray: God, thank You for being who You are. I am glad that part of who You are is a desire to have a relationship with me. Help me to walk in Your ways in everything I do. Amen.”

Want to read more posts about God’s voice? Click here!

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“God speaks to us through circumstances” is a very popular phrase, but what exactly does it mean? Just how does God speak to us through circumstances? How do we know if we’re just going through something in life or if God is trying to speak to us through our circumstances? That’s what we’re going to examine in this post.

Want to read the rest of the series? Click here for the introduction post. It contains links to all other blog posts.

Note: This is part of an entire series about how God speaks to us. To see the rest of the posts, please click here.

How God Uses Circumstances to speak to Us A Distinction Between Circumstances and Persecution

Before we go any further, I would like to make a clear distinction between circumstances and persecution. In my mind, circumstances are the natural things that can’t be labeled as sin. They are the things that are out of your control and are not the intentional cause of somebody. Unless your autobiography could be titled “My Life as a Recovering Assassin”, nobody is going to intentionally wreck into your car. That is a circumstance. Being the target of slander at work, however, is an intentional choice from somebody else to harm you. That is not a circumstance.

It’s also important to keep in mind that God can speak through circumstances, but not every circumstance will be a message from Him.

So just how does God speak through circumstances? Looking at scripture, we find that He uses circumstances to:

  • Reveal his nature and/or Glory
  • Keep us on track
  • Protect us
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1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.

Psalm 19:1-3 (NIV)

Confession: I struggled to understand who “they” were when I first read this verse. I guess I’ve been pulling too many late nights. I completely forgot that I had marked verse ONE of the Psalm and was trying to remember what was happening around this section. The mentioned “they” is, in fact, the heavens. So once you get that little bit of context in place, the rest of this passage becomes very obvious.

41 But Moses responded, “Why are you going against the Lord’s command? It won’t succeed. 42 Don’t go, because the Lord is not among you and you will be defeated by your enemies. 43 The Amalekites and Canaanites are right in front of you, and you will fall by the sword. The Lord won’t be with you, since you have turned from following Him.”

44 But they dared to go up the ridge of the hill country, even though the ark of the Lord’s covenant and Moses did not leave the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and Canaanites who lived in that part of the hill country came down, attacked them, and routed them as far as Hormah.

Numbers 14:41-45 (HCB)

When the Israelites first reached the promised land, they sent a man from each of the twelve tribes to go spy. The report the spies brought back wasn’t promising, so Israel did not want to go. It was just one of many acts of faithlessness. God cursed the faithless generation to roam in the desert for 40 years, until the generation died off. The Israelites were cursed to be homeless. With that news, it’s little wonder that they had a sudden change of heart!

Unfortunately, their change of heart came a little too late. God had already made a new decree for their lives. Their attempt to make amends would not end well.

12 Now the Midianites, Amalekites, and all the Qedemites had settled down in the valley like a swarm of locusts, and their camels were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore. 13 When Gideon arrived, there was a man telling his friend about a dream. He said, “Listen, I had a dream: a loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp, struck a tent, and it fell. The loaf turned the tent upside down so that it collapsed.”

14 His friend answered: “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has handed the entire Midianite camp over to him.”

Judges 7:12-14 (HCSB)

Do you know the story of the 300 soldiers? No, not the Spartan warriors. In the OT, God called Gideon to lead the Israelite army against their enemies. God then had Gideon dismiss his army until it came down to 300 men. Between that scene and the actual battle, we have these verses where God tells Gideon to sneak into the enemy camp. This is the conversation that Gideon overhears.

22 But God was incensed that Balaam was going, and the Angel of the Lord took His stand on the path to oppose him. Balaam was riding his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing on the path with a drawn sword in His hand, she turned off the path and went into the field. So Balaam hit her to return her to the path.

Numbers 22:21-23 (HCSB)

Yes, this is a second passage from Numbers (you know, the poor book that stops people during their “Read the Bible in a Year” challenges). The context of this passage is actually pretty lengthy, so I’m going to break one of my rules and not to write it out for you. What’s important is to recognize the circumstance (the donkey turning away) and the why behind it (facing death). This is actually the first of three times that the donkey turned away from the Angel of the Lord. After the third time, the Angel finally reveals Himself to Balaam. He tells Balaam, “You would have been dead if it weren’t for your donkey.”

Learn It Circumstances Reveal God’s Nature

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.

Psalm 19:1-3 (NIV)

You can’t get more circumstantial than nature. Even in our concrete cities, we can still see God all around us in His creation. According to this passage, they are constantly revealing knowledge to us. Verse 1 tells us the reason: to declare the glory of God. By an extension of logic, we can also say that circumstances reveal God’s nature. You cannot glorify an anonymous donor; likewise, God’s characteristics and nature have to be revealed so He can be glorified.

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This example of how God speaks to us through circumstances will be a little different than the following points. That’s because this is such a broad category that it could have its own post dedicated to it. Some examples would be:

The okapi was first believed to be a hoax when it was first photographed. This jungle animal looks like a hodgepodge of deer, horse, and zebra.
  • Contemplating the infinite nature of God while looking at the night sky or ocean
  • Realizing just how incredible it is that an all-powerful God cares for sinful mankind while watching a strong lioness carry her cub
  • Recognizing the creativeness it took to create animals like the pangolin, the okapi, and the platypus
  • Learning just how much attention God put into every detail of creation when you consider everything that makes life on this planet possible
  • Learning to make use of your time with people after reflecting on a decrepit building. Eventually, all buildings are abandoned. And, no matter how much you may want to make use of it, there will come a point when you can never use that building again. This is like how there will come a point when you can no longer impact certain people as life pulls you away.

In addition to how many possibilities there are, the reason behind these messages can be just as varied. It can be to provide encouragement, humbling, to reveal a faith lesson, or to bring you to a deeper understanding of His vast love for us.

Circumstances Keep us on Track

God can use circumstances to keep us on track when it comes to His plan for our lives. And, of course, there are two sides to this coin: good circumstances and bad circumstances. The difference is simple; bad circumstances deter us from a dangerous path while good circumstances act as a guiding light for a clear path forward. I’ve included examples of both.

Bad Circumstances

41 But Moses responded, “Why are you going against the Lord’s command? It won’t succeed. 42 Don’t go, because the Lord is not among you and you will be defeated by your enemies. 43 The Amalekites and Canaanites are right in front of you, and you will fall by the sword. The Lord won’t be with you, since you have turned from following Him.”

44 But they dared to go up the ridge of the hill country, even though the ark of the Lord’s covenant and Moses did not leave the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and Canaanites who lived in that part of the hill country came down, attacked them, and routed them as far as Hormah.

Numbers 14:41-45 (HCB)

Bad circumstances can be a message from God when we have moved outside of the protection of His will. If you listen to a testimony where somebody was heavily involved in a lifestyle that did not glorify God, chances are pretty high that you’ll hear something like this: “And then one night blank happened. It was a wake-up call for me. I started going to church again.”

The Israelites got their wake-up call in this passage. Jonah got his when a giant storm threatened to capsize his boat. Sometimes this wake-up call can be a circumstance caused by God (like Jonah’s storm), but often it’s a natural consequence for choosing a life of sin instead of a life of faithfulness.

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The Israelites made it very clear they could not defeat the Canaanite giants on their own strength. That was the whole point of why it would have been for God’s glory. They needed Him to guide them in the battles. So when they were routed in this passage, it was a natural consequence of trying to move forward against God’s command. Likewise, nobody claims that God purposely steered the car of a drunk driver into a tree. After all, loss of vehicular control is a natural side-effect of driving under the influence. But God can still use that moment to deliver His wake-up call.

Good Circumstances

14 His friend answered: “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has handed the entire Midianite camp over to him.”

Judges 7:12-14 (HCSB)

I adore stories and devotionals about Gideon. He is a man that asked for verification of God’s will multiple times, but is not recorded as angering God. He is a mixture of humbleness and courage that is hard to find in any other story in the Bible. I believe that Gideon could have led the Israelite army well on his own terms in this battle, but he still chose to do it God’s way. Turns out God’s way was for the best.

While Gideon was selecting men to send home, God had a plan in motion for the Israelites to win a great victory with such a small number of men. Although the Bible doesn’t say that Gideon was having doubts over the “300 men versus the masses” plan, God still used circumstances to give him a clear sign forward. When Gideon snuck into the camp, he realized that the opposing army was already frightened. What’s more, even the enemy believed that God was about to hand them over to Gideon’s men!

Everything had aligned to show Gideon that everything would be fine. Yes, this was the right path for him.

Personal Story

Back in August of 2016, everything changed for my family. My husband took a new job that paid as well as both of our previous jobs combined. Because it was important to both of us to keep our daughter in her home environment under our care, I quit my part-time job so that would be a possibility. Suddenly I didn’t feel divided in a dozen directions!

I saw a chance to dive back into my writing. If you’re new to my writing, then you probably don’t realize that I vowed a long time ago that I would only use my writing to bring glory to God (and believe me, the temptation is very real most days to write the easy teeny-bopper bestseller type of story). I picked up my forsaken blogging habit again. Since God had given me another chance, I wanted to treat it like a job (even if I didn’t make money from it). So I began to study branding, marketing, and social media networks. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I couldn’t effectively do what I wanted under a free WordPress domain. So I brought it up to my husband. He told me that, if it was important to me, I should invest in my own domain and host.

I still had my doubts. After all, we don’t have a lot of money for me spend on a blog that never paid off. While he was at work, I looked at Bluehost’s prices. They had a great offer up on their front page. I selected to read more on it, but I was still wrestling with the idea of spending that money on “myself”. Imagine my surprise when the price dropped while I was bouncing between pages of Bluehost.

I still hesitated. For the next hour or so, I would click over to look at that offer. And suddenly, Bluehost offered me yet again, a better deal. I felt the tears pool up in my eyes when the notification popped up. God used these circumstances to speak to me. I was, in fact, supposed to pursue blogging, and He couldn’t have made it any clearer if He had spoken audibly to me.

In the few short months since then, I have been overwhelmed with the positive messages and feedback that I have received. I may not know God’s plan for my writing and for this blog, but I do know that He is using me.

Circumstances to Protect Us

22 But God was incensed that Balaam was going, and the Angel of the Lord took His stand on the path to oppose him. Balaam was riding his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing on the path with a drawn sword in His hand, she turned off the path and went into the field. So Balaam hit her to return her to the path.

Numbers 22:21-23 (HCSB)

Like I said, this passage is a very complicated one. In it, God simultaneously shows His wrath and His mercy. The Angel of the Lord outright states that He would have killed Balaam in verse 33. If this was God’s will, it most certainly would have been done. However, God allowed the donkey to steer Balaam away from death.

From Balaam’s perspective, this was an infuriating turn of events. He had places to be and things to do, and that donkey just would not cooperate!

Sometimes we question, “Why God? Why am I going through these hard times?” Or we might wonder why we were not able to take that job that we really wanted. The thing is, we don’t know what might have happened if we had gone down that path. Sometimes, bad circumstances are designed to keep us from something even worse.

(I know you’re getting tired of reading this, but please share the above image if you like the quote! Thank you!)
A Personal Story

When I graduated with a B.A. in Communications, I also had a five-year plan that seemed good and right and in-line with the calling I have felt to be a writer since somewhere around seven years old. As all writers know, it’s a rough road to travel down. I wanted to pursue a M.S. or M.B.A in Marketing so I would be better equipped to handle whatever God led me to do. I knew that it was unrealistic for both the Hubby and me to juggle jobs, traditional graduate school classes, and a baby. But to get into the online schools that had a good reputation, I needed job experience that would speak really highly for me as I applied to the programs. We’re talking 1-2 years of post-undergrad work.

I wasn’t worried. We were going to move to Virginia. It was a place that I had some connections and I knew, even if I had to force my way into an internship, that I would get that experience under my belt.

My plan crumbled when we ended up staying in the same area. There were jobs in the marketing field, but they all wanted pre-existing job experience. I talked up the relevant skills and experiences that I did have, listed positive experiences, and everything else I could think of to make up for that lack of experience. I scoured LinkedIn for connections of my connections that I could reach out to for assistance. Some of them replied back with friendly advice, but it was of no use. The competition was too steep to even garner a second glance from Human Resource departments.

Then one day I spotted a marketing job that was actually entry-level. I skimmed through the description and requirements with hope building in my chest. I finally had a shot!

Until I got down to the end and saw that only current students could apply for the position.

A current student, the one thing that I definitely could not be without putting undue stress on my family by piling up extra debt. I was very pregnant, very emotional, and very crushed. It didn’t seem fair.

But the truth of the matter is that – if I had followed that path – I would not be able to write this blog post today. I would have delayed my call to write for another 1-2 (or maybe even 5!) years. Now that’s a dangerous path to be on. And, if I ever earn my master’s degree, I know that it will also be much better timing all around.

Apply It
  • Remember: a time in your life when things did not go the way you wanted? Can you see how that made your life better now?
  • Remember: a time in your life that you can see how God lined everything up perfectly for you to move forward. What were the good circumstances?
  • Go for a prayer walk – I know, it’s probably not what you’re expecting. Seriously, though, go for a walk. Start the walk off by praying. If you’ve memorized some Scripture, incorporate that into your prayer. When your mind starts to wander or you run out of things to pray, start paying attention to your surroundings. What stands out to you? What does that tell you about God’s nature?
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How does God use others to speak to us? How do we know that God is speaking to us through somebody else? These are the questions that you might be wondering if you’re in the process of searching for God’s will in your life.

Note: This is part of an entire series about how God speaks to us. To see the rest of the posts, please click here.

How God Uses Others to Speak to Us Read It

4 Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. 6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the standard of one’s faith; 7 if service, in service; if teaching, in teaching;

Romans 12:4-7 (HCSB)

If you grew up in church, then you probably correctly identified this as a list of Spiritual gifts. We’re not going to go into each one in this post. I simply wanted to focus on the word teaching.

4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. 7 A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial: 8 to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit…

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (HCSB)

Again, this passage is talking about Spiritual gifts. Like the passage above, I want to focus on teaching (or the messages of wisdom and knowledge granted to different people).

Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders:

Acts 4:8 (HCSB)

Peter was instrumental in building the early church. This Scripture happens right before he begins his second major sermon.

Learn It The Holy Spirit’s Role

Did you notice a theme in the Scriptures? They all involve the Holy Spirit. Like I said, many of the ways that God speaks to us begin to overlap when you really break it down. I, personally, find it very cool to see what an intricate net our God has woven even when it comes to how He communicates to us.

So just what is the Holy Spirit’s role in how God speaks to us through others? It’s two-fold:

  • Giving others the words
  • Helping us filter what others say
Speaking through others

Confession: all of the Scripture in the Read It section was just a very sneaky way to emphasize that the Holy Spirit does, in fact speaks through others. We even covered this briefly in last week’s post when we answered the question, “Can the Holy Spirit speak to us directly?” Let’s work through why I decided to include each passage.

In Romans 12, we learn that preaching/teaching is a Spiritual gift that God grants some believers. I wanted to start here because most people recognize that God speaks through preachers. It’s familiar language to work with before we move onto the next passage.

1 Corinthians 12 is important because it directly explains that the spiritual gifts come from the Holy Spirit working in our life (something that could be misunderstood in the Romans passage). It also helps to break some of the formality of Sunday worship services that can come to mind when we use the word preaching/teaching. Here, we see that preaching/teaching is actually a message given to speak by the Holy Spirit.

It’s important to recognize that our idea of what preaching/teaching looks like has been influenced by our culture. Back in the days of the early church, the Holy Spirit would give these messages to Christians in many different situations and at many different times. Because of this, we need to remember that God can use other Christians at any point in our lives to speak to us.

I included Acts 4:8 because it is a Scriptural example of the Holy Spirit speaking through somebody.

Discerning God’s Message From Others

The second way that the Holy Spirit is involved in God speaking through others was covered last week. I want to take a moment to reiterate this point because it is so important. The Holy Spirit was sent to teach us and remind us of what we’ve been taught (John 14:26). We also learned that the Holy Spirit is part of guarding our faith (2 Timothy 1:14).

Because of these things, I believe that the Holy Spirit plays a very active role in helping us process things when it comes to our faith. If you ever randomly wonder, “Is God trying to tell me something,” then it’s probably the Holy Spirit at work. You can read more about how God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit by clicking here.

(And, as always, proceed with caution. Learn the Bible so you can make sure that everything lines up with it.)

“Can the Holy Spirit Speak Through Me If I Don’t Have the Gift of Teaching?”

The short answer: yes. A lot of times we make a big deal about having a certain set of “Spiritual gifts,” like that should limit what God should be able to do through us. The truth is that whatever gifts we personally feel that we have are irrelevant in the grand scheme of God’s plan for our lives. If God wants to use a prayer warrior to deliver a powerful sermon, than He is more than able to properly equip that prayer warrior to do His will. We’ll write more on this later.

“What’s the difference between a message of wisdom and a message of knowledge?”

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. I’ve never paid attention to how this passage differentiates these things. I do know that the usual definition of wisdom is “knowledge in action.” I’ve written the question down to research, so I’m sure a later post will deal with this. In the meantime, what thoughts do you have? Share them with the rest of us in a comment at the bottom of the post!

The People that God Uses

Now that we’ve discussed the Holy Spirit’s role, I would like to spend a few minutes going over the archetypical people that God speaks through. We won’t be focusing on a lot of Scripture, but I will provide some Scripture references for examples.

Preacher/Teacher

We all know this first archetype. This is the person you find leading Bible Studies or worship at your local church. This is the person dedicated to helping you understand God’s word better.

Biblical Example: Peter in Acts 2:14-40 and Acts 4:8-20

Mentor

While a preacher/teacher can also be your mentor, it’s not a necessary requirement. The mentor relationship is more personal than the teacher/student relationship. Often, mentors meet either one-on-one or in very small groups. This is also the person you reach out to when you need help.

Biblical Example: Paul with Timothy in Acts 16:1-6 and all throughout 1 &2 Timothy.

Family/Friends

If your family and friends are Christians, then it shouldn’t surprise you that God is able to speak to you through them. After all, they are in a unique position since they both have a relationship with God and know what you’re struggling with in your life.

Biblical Examples: Eunice and Timothy in Acts 16:1 and 2 Timothy 1:5; Paul and Peter in Galatians 2:11-14

The Stranger

Yes, even strangers can be part of God’s great plan in your life. So, while it may be weird to think about, don’t be shocked if an acquaintance (or even a complete stranger!) suddenly strikes up a conversation that has some kind of special significance to the rest of your life.

Biblical Example: Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40

Apply It
  • Ask yourself: “When is a time in my life that God spoke to me through others?”
  • Ask yourself: “When is a time in my life that God used me to speak to somebody else?”
  • Pray: “God, please help me to be more sensitive to Your voice when it comes from other people. Help me to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in everything I do. Amen.”
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How does God speak to us through the Holy Spirit? That’s the question of today. If you don’t understand just what the Holy Spirit is, then you’re in a good company. I’m not sure there’s anybody who does completely understand the Holy Spirit, considering it makes up part of the trinity of God. Fortunately, it’s not necessary to understand the Trinity to know how God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. All you really need to know is that the Holy Spirit is a gift from God to help our faith.

Note: This is part of an entire series about how God speaks to us. To see the rest of the posts, please click here.

How God Speaks to Us Through the Holy Spirit Read It

25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

John 14:25-26 (HSCB)

Earlier in this passage, Jesus is preparing His disciples for a time when He would not physically be present to guide and teach the disciples. Jesus reassures them a few verses up that they won’t be completely abandoned by promising “another counselor” to take His place. In these verses, Jesus names this other counselor and shares the Holy Spirit’s purpose.

11 So when they arrest you and hand you over, don’t worry beforehand what you will say. On the contrary, whatever is given to you in that hour—say it. For it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

Mark 13:11 (HCSB)

Here, Jesus is warning his disciples about the persecution they will face after He leaves Earth.

13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who lives in us, that good thing entrusted to you.

2 Timothy 1:13-14 (HCSB)

This passage is written by Paul to his young mentee, Timothy. I find it interesting that the translations have us guarding through the Holy Spirit. In my mind, I relate this reference to the Holy Spirit to a large gate. All things must pass through the gate to enter into the city, just like all things will be filtered by the Holy Spirit.

Learn It The Purpose of the Holy Spirit

If you study the Bible carefully, you’ll find that the Holy Spirit is responsible for many different aspects of our faith.

While the Holy Spirit plays a lot of different roles in our lives, there are three main reasons that God uses the Holy Spirit to talk to us. These are:

  • to teach us
  • to guide us
  • to guard our faith

Teaching

25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

John 14:25-26 (HSCB)

We all understand what it means to have a teacher, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize there’s no angelic being that shows up and announces, “It is now time for my next lecture. Today we’ll be covering the topic of reigning in your temper when the cat runs into your leg.” So what does it look like when the Holy Spirit does teach us?

Let’s not over-complicate this. Do you learn from sermons? Have you ever flipped open your Bible to have a “whoa!” moment as you noticed something new? Have you ever heard something and felt your stomach start to turn as you think, “That’s not right!” Where do you think those things come from?

My answer: the Holy Spirit.

Since we don’t get to walk in a garden with God like Adam and Eve did, we are always going to run into human error as we grow in our faith. But we’re also equipped with a way to help filter out some of the errors if we just learn to listen to those little nudges and pricks in the back of our minds. That’s how the Holy Spirit helps teach us.

Before we go on, I’m not going to lie to you guys. I put a lot of stock in instincts without realizing it, more so than you probably do. It’s part of my INFJ personality. So, for me, it is easy to accept that those small nudges (very akin to instincts and gut feelings!) are really God speaking to me through the Holy Spirit. If I have an epiphany on something that seems to be by magic, I have faith that it’s the Holy Spirit. This is also true during those times that I feel something is off that I can’t understand.

Now, there is a warning that goes with this. It is foolish to assume that everything you think is going to be truth from the Holy Spirit. You are setting yourself up to be misled if you trust everything you think or feel without verifying it against the most comprehensive example of God’s voice that we have: the Bible.

Like Jesus said, “A house divided cannot stand.” If something doesn’t line up with the rest of the Bible, then it’s not from God. If it’s not from God, then it’s definitely not from the Holy Spirit. For more about the importance of learning Scripture, please read this post.

Guiding

This is very much like teaching, only it’s more situational. Have you ever been going about your daily business when suddenly you were struck by the thought, “I need to do this.” Or have you had an image of a person pop into your mind along with a distinct impression to pray for them? That’s the Holy Spirit guiding you.

Ways that the Holy Spirit guides us:

  • A knowledge of what to say in a situation – Or, if you’re like me, you won’t remember what you said at all after the moment passes. Whether you do or don’t remember, the point is that God, through the Holy Spirit, gave you the words that you needed, just like we were promised in Mark 13:11.
  • A desire to do something specific – This could also be described as conviction. I feel convicted to help busy Christian mothers manage life. The rest of that (and the reason why I write one devotional post every week) is to help them manage life so that they can connect with God. It doesn’t have to be an entire life plan. Maybe it’s something small, like feeling a need to befriend somebody or to pay for the meal behind you in the drive-thru.
  • Prayer for (blank) – When I was 12, I got humbled in a big way for arguing over praying for a random person. If you want, I can share this story in a later blog post. Now, I know better to debate the, “There’s probably nothing even wrong with so-and-so.” If I seemingly think of somebody at random, I pray for them that very same minute.
  • Avoid this situation – Sometimes, I’ll have those internal warning bells go off to get out of a situation or to just avoid it all together. It’s one of those things where you’ll never know why you were to avoid it, but I do believe it’s one of the ways the Holy Spirit communicates to us. Why? Because of our next section…

Guarding Us

13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who lives in us, that good thing entrusted to you.

2 Timothy 1:13-14 (HCSB)

We’ve already talked about the interesting word choice in verse 14. So just how does the Holy spirit guard us?

According to John 14:26, part of the Holy Spirit’s job of teaching is to also remind us of the things we knew. In my earlier analogy of the gate, this means that the Holy Spirit is closing that gate down to stop us from losing faith or being misled. This is why it’s easy to think of the Holy Spirit like a conscience. Beyond that “pit in stomach” sensation when you’re entering a bad situation, there are some other things that might happen as the Holy Spirit tries to guard you:

  • Memorized Scripture comes to mind.
  • You’ll think of somebody (usually in a mentor role) that you don’t want to disappoint.
  • Something will jog your memory of a relevant conversation to the situation.
  • A sudden calming or some reserve of strength will help you through a tough situation.
“Can the Holy Spirit Talk to Me?”

Absolutely, yes! So far the things I’ve mentioned are similar to a “gut feeling” kind of talking, but it is possible for the Holy Spirit to talk directly to you. You might have noticed that I skipped over one of the Scripture passages earlier. That’s because I was saving it just for this question.

11 So when they arrest you and hand you over, don’t worry beforehand what you will say. On the contrary, whatever is given to you in that hour—say it. For it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

Mark 13:11 (HCSB)

Yes, this verse is about the Holy Spirit speaking through you. However, it’s not like you go into a trance while the Holy Spirit takes control of your body. (I promise, I only forget things because of stress!) This whole verse implies that you have a choice in actually speaking the words or not. So if the Holy Spirit can give you the words to say, doesn’t that mean that the Holy Spirit is talking to you in that moment?

If so, what stops the Holy Spirit from talking to you at any point?

You’ll also see in next week’s post that the Holy Spirit can also speak to us through somebody else. (Is that God-speakingception?)

Apply It
  • Read: The Book of Acts. If you want to see plenty of examples of the Holy Spirit at work, then this is the best book of the Bible to read. The first 10-12 chapters are all about the Holy Spirit moving to build the early church.
  • Ask yourself: Have I been allowing the Holy Spirit to teach, guide, and guard my faith?
  • Do: Ask God to use you to glorify Him or to help somebody out. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting throughout your day.
  • Pray: “God, help me to realize when the Holy Spirit is moving in my life. Please teach me something new. Continue to guide my interactions with others. Guard me against false teachings and bad situations. In your name I pray, amen.”
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