Category Archives: Advent/Christmas

Hearing from God During Advent, Part 2

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right
or  when you turn to the left.”   Isaiah 30:21 (ESV)
Believers eager to hear God’s voice must be willing (and content) to wait on the Lord. Waiting is not easy as we engage in a world that operates at warp speed. We are told that “Time waits for no man”, “Lost time results in lost opportunity”, and “Time is money”. However, our Infinite God does not operate within the finite boundary of time but in eternity. Hearing His voice requires that we patiently keep our eye on Him. As we patiently wait, there is an expectancy that we will hear Him speak. “Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us” Psalm 123:2.
The best way for believers to hear from God, is simply to abide in His presence. Abide (meno) means “to remain or to continue to be present.” We are never our of God’s presence. He is everywhere. He is always present. [Read Psalms 139] It is up to us to sensitize ourselves to Him. As we become more aware His presence, we are able to maintain continual, unbroken connection with Him.  It is here that we can experience continual dialogue with God the Spirit versus straining for an occasional “word from the Lord.” (Read John 15) The greater your intimacy with God, the easier it is to hear His voice.   “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me; My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:14, 27)
Here are a few things to consider in determining if you are hearing God.  Does what you hear…
  • Align with God’s Word? (The “Full Counsel of God” versus a single scripture text)
  • Fit with the character of God? (Reflected in the life and action of Jesus Christ)
  • Reflect God’s will for your life? (Revealed through others and His Word)
Upon hearing from God, is there confirmation…
  • From other godly believers and/or ministers?
  • Through your daily events and circumstances?
  • Through “divine appointments?
God does speak to us in many ways and through many circumstances. Learn to “train your ear” to better hear from Him, not only during Advent but throughout the year.

Hearing from God During Advent, Part 1

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way,
walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”
Isaiah 30:21 (ESV)

Believers frequently ask, “How do I know when God is speaking to me? Is there a way I can be sure I’m hearing God’s voice versus my own inner thoughts? How can I recognize His voice?” Great questions!

Believers devoted to God should make every effort to listen for God’s voice. This involves being spiritually attentive to Him through prayer, fasting and meditating on His Word. We must silence our own voice in order to hear Him speak. This requires eliminating the demanding cry of our soul–our mind (“I need to know!”), our will (“I want it my way and I want it now!”) and our emotions (“I need to feel something!”). God hears our every call (Ps. 91:15) but do we hear Him?

Believers must identify what they expect God to say. This will require spiritual honesty. Are you open to what He may say to you? Many times we only listen for responses from God we want to hear versus what He has on His heart for us. As believers come with their particular issue or request, they must be open to the possibility that God may have a very different agenda. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” Romans 11:33-34

Believers’ desire to be obedient to the Lord will help greatly in hearing God’s voice. The issue many times is not whether God is speaking or whether we are hearing. The real question is, are we willing to obey that which He has already revealed to us–through His Word and through our circumstances? This dilemma may require us to identify intentions that conflict with the godly purpose the Father has designed for our lives. “For all that is in the world- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions- is not from the Father but is from the world.” 1 John 2:16

Advent is a great time to either discover or rediscover hearing from God. God speaks not only through creation but God speaks directly to each of us through the person of the Holy Spirit. Do not neglect such a great opportunity to commune with God daily.

Forget Not

Tomorrow will usher in a new year for each of us. With the New Year, we will exert new effort and commitment to those things which we feel will make us “healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Many of us will closeout 2014 singing “Auld Lang Syne” in remembrance of great times we have experienced this past year. As we do so, let us give special celebratory attention to the One who is the “Chief Architect” of our life—“the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). David, the author of the 103rd Psalm, reminds us to “forget not” all the benefits of the Lord.

The 103rd Psalm is a general praise psalm written to magnify the name of God and boast of His greatness. In this psalm, readers are told to “forget not” the extraordinary benefits God have extended to His covenant people. These same benefits are ours today, in the twenty-first century.

• Forgiveness of iniquities. Who other than God can forgive sin? Through Christ’s sacrifice and atoning blood, not only are our sins forgiven but our “sin nature” has been rendered “inoperative” (Rom. 6:14; Heb. 2:14-15). If we “fall short”, we need only confess and God faithfully forgives us (1 John 1:9). He then removes remembrance of them to the furthest points of existence—even to the heavens (Ps. 103:11-12). There is no other god or religion that offers such forgiveness.

• Healing of diseases. Disease is the result of sin’s entrance into the world. It was not part of God’s original plan for His beloved creation. Yet God, within His providential will, provides physical healing—both on this side and the “other side” (2 Cor. 5:1; Rev. 21:4). Spiritual healing is now available to release us from anger, shame, guilt, and unforgiveness. After His temptation in the wilderness, Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit and spoke these words in the synagogue in Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:14-19). Jesus is our Healer today.

• Redemption of life from destruction. In Hebrew, destruction or sahat, is translated pit or dungeon; corruption or decay. Before God’s intervention (through Jesus Christ) we were “in a hole, destined to die.” The sin of one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:17). God will continually save us from the world, Satan, and our “old nature.” He is our Preserver (Ps. 145:14-20).

• Crowning with lovingkindness and tender mercies. God’s lovingkindness and tender mercies are evidenced from Genesis to Revelation, as He provides and protects His covenant people. Through our confession of faith in Christ, lovingkindness was extended to us, as Abraham’s seed and heirs to the promise (Gal. 3:29). The literal translation of tender mercies is “tender and compassion.” It expresses love of a superior for an inferior; this love is seen in the deep feelings that move the superior to help. While we were without strength to save ourselves Christ died for us (Rom. 5:6).

• Satisfaction with “good things”. The NIV rendering of this verse is “He satisfies your desires with good things.” When we are obedient to God, we are in the center of His will. He will give us what is best for our life—even when we don’t see it. The result is renewal of hope and trust and the ability to continue our walk of faith. “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in You!” Psalm 84:11-12 (NIV)

As you celebrate this New Year Eve, remember to “forget not”, throughout the year!

Our Lord’s Coming

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:7-8 (NKJ)

I hope all of you have enjoyed the Advent reading for 2015: A Time of Devotion. It is my hope that this special devotional gave you an opportunity to experience God in new ways as you explored Christ’s return upon your life.

Advent is rapidly coming to a close and giving way to the glorious celebration of Christmas. Advent not only commemorates the historical entry of our blessed Lord and Savior into our time and space but also anticipates the prophetic promise that Jesus Christ will come again. The fulness and understanding of the meaning of Advent is not simply the understanding that Christ has arrived (past tense) but that He is still coming (present tense) AND will come (future tense).

Jesus has come. During His first Advent, Jesus brought peace to all “who were once far off” (Ep. 2: 13) and estranged from God. God manifested Himself in Christ Jesus to save us from the sentence of death, created by our sinful state. We are now are reunited and reconciled to God—no longer destined to suffer God’s wrath (Rom. 1:18).

Jesus is still coming. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Jesus continues to reveal Himself (John 16:13. The Holy Spirit is the present manifestation of Christ in our lives. He teaches and directs us in all that we do. He empowers us (Eph. 2:19) to do the work of Christ in the church today.

Jesus will come. Much is written in the gospel accounts about Christ Second Advent (Matt. 24:44; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:28). Jesus’ return will be a time of judgment: to punish those who failed to accept the good news of the Gospel and to reward believers for their works of righteousness (Rev. 20:12). We don’t know when Christ will return but we can be assured, He will come.

Understanding the “supernatural fact” of Christ’s Advent is too wonderful for our “natural mind” to comprehend. Jesus Christ has made His presence known to us in such a way that cannot be limited to time but extends throughout time as we know it. So we await Christ’s second coming “rejoicing in His glorious appearance” (2 Tim. 4:8)—past, present, and future. Jesus has come, is still coming and will come again. Hallelujah and Amen!

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year as you receive more of God’s revelation through His Word.