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Day One:  Learning to Hear His Voice… Daily

Day One: Learning to Hear His Voice… Daily


Our Forty Day Adventure

Today is the first day of a 40-day adventure.  No, this adventure is not about a mission trip to Haiti or a hike down the Appalachian Trail.  This 40-day adventure is a time set aside to discover more about the Lord and to learn, specifically, how to listen when He speaks and how to hear His voice.

That’s right, it’s my desire during this adventure to draw closer to the Lord than I’ve ever been before and to learn to hear His voice. I’m not talking about hearing Him speak to me through His Word, which is wonderful.  But I long for something more personal, more intimate.  I long to hear Him speak to me like He has others in Scripture, and as He has also done for me several times in the past.  In fact, those times of hearing His voice are some of the high points in my spiritual life.


Learning How to Hear His Voice

I know what many of you may be thinking.

“Oh, here we go again.  It looks like somebody else wants to move beyond the sufficiency of Scripture.  I guess Scripture’s not enough for Steve and now He wants more than God has already provided for him.  Maybe he wants an encounter like the one described in The Shack?  Or maybe he wants to hear God speak like Sarah Young claims in Jesus Calling or something like that?  Doesn’t he know that God only speaks today through His Word?”

No, I don’t know that.  In fact, I see many places in Scripture where God speaks to His children in other ways than through the Scriptures.  Let me give you a few examples.


The Damascus Road

In Acts 9, we find Jesus verbally speaking to Paul on the Damascus Road.  It wasn’t just a command or some proclamation declared from heaven.  It was a conversation where both He and Paul spoke to each other.  And in this conversation, Jesus did not limit Himself to speaking only through the written Word, which for Paul would have been the Old Testament.  Instead, He verbally communicated His personal message and will to Paul.  And that personal message could not be found from reading, for example, the Psalms or Isaiah.

Acts 9:4-6 – Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

“Got it,” you say. “But that’s the apostle Paul.  He was an apostle and could, therefore, hear God speak to him verbally in ways He doesn’t do today, to anybody, ever.  You and I are not apostles.  We don’t even have apostles anymore.  So how God spoke to Paul back then was just for Paul— and not for us today.”

Really?  So how do we explain God speaking, just a few verses later, to a non-apostle named Ananias?  He was not an apostle like Paul.  He was just a faithful disciple of Jesus who lived in Damascus that God had chosen for a specific task.  And how was Ananias to know what specific task God had in store for him unless, somehow and in some way, God spoke to him personally?


Ananias

The Scriptures say God spoke to Ananias in a vision (Acts 9:10).  Yet it was more than a dream or vision, it was actually a conversation.  God spoke, and Ananias responded.  God gave a command, and Ananias had some questions about God’s command.  Then God answered those questions and sent Ananias on his way.  Watch the give and take of this conversation.

Acts 9:10-16 – Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias, and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.  And in a vision, he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”

Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.  And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”


More Than a Daily Devotion

This conversation did not happen from Ananias reading the Old Testament during his time of daily devotions.  This was a verbal communication from God that gave direction, instruction, and explanation to a human being and occurred outside of His written Word.  It was personal, meant only for Ananias, and communicated God’s direct will to one of His children.  Not to each of us, but only to Ananias.

That’s what I’m striving for over the next 40 days.  I want my relationship to be so close to the Lord that when He speaks, I will hear and listen.  And I want to know His voice so well, like a child does his mother’s, that I won’t make the mistake of confusing His voice with my own.


Words of Encouragement

But there’s more.  In the very next chapter, we find God speaking to Peter regarding a vision he had about whether he should eat ceremonially unclean animals.  Again, this is a conversation between Peter and the Lord. It’s not Peter coming to this conclusion by reading Leviticus or Deuteronomy or some other Old Testament text and gleaning principles from them to help him make up his mind. It’s a direct conversation between God and a human being.  God gives a command and Peter responds with an objection.  Then God gives another command and addresses Peter’s objection.  Plus, the text says God had to do this three times.  Read it for yourself.

Acts 10:12-16 – In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.  And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord!  For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times.  And the object was taken up into heaven again.


Still Not Convinced?

But some may still be unconvinced that God can, and desires, to speak to us personally and directly and not necessarily always through His written Word.  After all, He is God and can do whatever He wants (Psalm 115:3).  And if it is possible to learn how to hear His voice, it seems that it should be right at the top of our to-do list.  But often it’s not.  So what do we do?

Often, when we read accounts like the one above with Peter, sometimes we conclude these encounters with God were in a dream state or vision or an early morning stupor and not a direct conversation, from lips to ears, between God and a human being. It’s true that often, in Scripture, God speaks in a dream or through a vision.  But that’s not always the case.  Consider how Jesus encouraged Paul in Acts 23.  This was a personal, intimate, one-on-one message of encouragement that was not revealed through a dream and was meant for Paul alone.  In fact, the text says the “Lord stood by him” when He spoke.

Acts 23:11 – But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”

This was not a message Paul received from reading Proverbs or the creation account in Genesis.  It was a direct, personal word from the lips of the Lord to Paul.  And it shows that sometimes God speaks to us about specific needs that we have outside of, or in addition to, His Word.  It doesn’t mean God ever violates His Word or contradicts His Word, but sometimes He speaks to each of us outside of and in cooperation with His Word.

It appears the Lord has more tools in His tool belt than we allow Him to use.


Seems Logical

Think about it, you have a decision to make about taking a job offer.  Should you stay and accept the offer at Bank of America in Charlotte, North Carolina, or should you move and accept a competing offer with Capital One in McLean, Virginia?  You don’t know what to do so, as a Christian who desires to be in the center of God’s will, you ask God to tell you what offer He wants you to take.  Not to give you wisdom so you can make the decision based on salary incentives and benefits, or the relative cost of living in each area, or maybe the availability of affordable housing, and the professional growth potential each position offers— but to tell you specifically what offer He wants you to accept.

How does God do that through the Old or New Testament?  How does He communicate His desire directly to you?  Is there any verse, or passage, or story that specifically reveals to you the answer God has for you regarding the move?

Probably not.  Now there are principles in the Scriptures that may guide you in making the decision.  And there may be passages that talk about the wisdom God gives you to help you decide your future.  But for those of us who want a deeper intimacy with the Lord, we hunger for more.  I want to know exactly, precisely, specifically what God’s will is for my life and I believe I can know that best from His lips alone.  How?  Through the Scriptures?  Absolutely.  But also by His direct communication— in whatever manner He chooses to reveal Himself to me.

Because I can’t think of a particular passage in Ezekiel or Amos or 1 Corinthians that will tell me to either stay in Charlotte or move to Virginia.  Can you?


To Hear His Voice

My desire during this 40-day adventure is to learn to hear God’s voice on an ongoing basis.  Not every once in a while, but daily, hour by hour, much like a loving son longs to hear soothing words from his father. I’ve heard Him speak to me in the past, and these times have become cherished memories.  But I’m tired of living on the memories of good times, long past.  I hunger for more.  And I believe the default position for the Christian is for our Father to speak clearly to us as He has to others in His Word, and for each of us to be able to hear and understand what He is saying.

I believe we should be able to ask Him questions and receive from Him answers, much like the disciples did of Jesus.  It was natural for the disciples to ask Jesus a question and expect an answer.  Why should we expect otherwise?  After all, Jesus gave us “another (állos) Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16).  And this “another (állos) Helper” is the Holy Spirit, who is just like Jesus.

But that’s something we’ll look at tomorrow.

If you’re so inclined, join with me and let’s discover together what God wants to do during this 40-day adventure with Him.  Hop on board.  It should be quite a ride.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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537:  How to Hear from God Through His Word

537: How to Hear from God Through His Word

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

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Have You Ever Experienced God Through His Word?

One reason most Christians fail in their Bible study is the fact they have seldom, if ever, experienced God through His Word.  Oh, they believe the Bible is the Word of God.  And they believe what it says about itself, that it is “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).  In fact, they also understand the purpose of God’s Word and believe it wholeheartedly, “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17).  Yet their spiritual life, and the time they spend in God’s Word, speak otherwise.

Do you know why?  It’s probably because the promise above has a qualifier.  And that qualifier means the promise is not for everyone, but only for “the man of God” (2 Tim. 3:17)  But most believers today are far from what Scripture would consider a man of God.

So how does that change?  What can we do to help thousands, if not millions, of believers who have never heard the voice of God, do just that?  What is the process?  What needs to be done?

First, we need to understand why it is so important to take personal responsibility for your spiritual life (see Romans 1:18-32).  The church cannot ride on the faith coattails of their pastor, the hired holy man, no matter how hard they try.  They must learn to mine the truths of God themselves.  And this takes time and energy, and a commitment, just like everything else of value in life.  Are you ready?


Honest Questions You Must Ask Yourself

Next, we must ask ourselves some hard questions.  And we must be honest about who we are regarding God and not who we think we are.  Let me share a few of these questions with you.

•   Do you understand what the book you hold in your hand really is? Are you aware of the constant attack against the sufficiency of His Word, and the integrity of His Word, that has been going on all around you for the last century and a half?  And are you aware of how subtle this attack is?
•   Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?  Or do you believe it contains the Word of God?  And if it truly is the Word of God, of what importance would that be to you in the way you live your life?  What would be more important to you than being able to know and hear from God through His Word?
•   What is the final authority in your life?  Is it you?  How you feel, think, or what you choose?  Or is it God?  And if so, how do you determine what God’s will is in a particular situation you are facing?  How does God, on a personal level, communicate His will or encouragement or instructions to you?  And if He does communicate with you, do you take His Word as the final authority, or do you run it through the grid of your own feelings and then choose to obey Him or go your own way?  Again, who or what is the final authority in your life?  And how is that working for you right now?
•   Has God ever revealed Himself to you in a life-changing way like He did to others in the Bible?  Maybe like Moses (Exodus 3), Joshua (Joshua 5), Elijah (1 Kings 19), or Paul in Acts 9?  Has God ever revealed Himself to you in a way that wasn’t life-changing?  Didn’t think so.
•   Have you ever truly experienced God in His Word?  And if so, what was that experience like?  How often and how long ago did it happen?  Is it a common experience for you?  Or is it something that seldom happens, if ever?
•   If you haven’t experienced God in quite some time, or ever, is that something you would like to change?  And if so, at what cost?  What would it take for you to have the desire for the “mind of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:16) or to become a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14, Acts 13:22)?

And this is just the beginning.  There is so much more we will discover in this message.  So join us as we look at the first few steps necessary to hear from God through His Word and grow closer to Him.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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536:  Evaluating Our Priorities in These Dark Times

536: Evaluating Our Priorities in These Dark Times

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The Importance of Being a Faith Prepper

If you look around at our culture, you can see things are getting darker for our nation and the church.  We have experienced betrayal at the highest level of our government.  Our elected officials lie as if it was a spiritual gift and are never held accountable.  In fact, we almost expect it from those who hold those positions.  And God’s judgment is being slowly unleashed upon our land.  We have record inflation, rising crime, war breaking out all over the globe, violence and hatred worn as a badge of honor, and a growing apostasy that has not only overtaken the pulpits of America, but also the pews.

And every day it only seems to get worse.

What are we to do?   How can we protect our children and grandchildren from being groomed in school to hate their gender and crave to be something God did not create them to be?  Men are no longer men and women are no longer women.  We must now, like living in an asylum, call someone by their chosen pronoun, regardless of how little that pronoun resembles their reality.

And to do otherwise could get you canceled, fired, arrested, or imprisoned for a hate crime, whatever that is.  What a strange, evil, and insane world we have created for ourselves.  No wonder God’s judgment is unfolding on His rebellious creation.  And no wonder we, as believers, will also suffer the collateral damage that comes from living in silence in a world that needs our voice.  We all, as the church, have blood on our hands.

After all, Jesus said it rains on “the just and the unjust” (Matt. 5:45).  So you better get ready for rain.


Keeping the First Thing First

Today we are going to learn how to become a Faith Prepper.  A Faith Prepper is one who sees the darkness coming and realizes the importance of having faith that can move mountains (Matt. 17:20) and will do whatever is necessary to become more like his Lord.  A Faith Prepper is the “prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,” and not the “simple who pass on and are punished” (Prov. 22:3).  He sees the big picture and understands the core truths of this life.  In essence, a Faith Prepper is one who has the priorities of their life arranged correctly, putting God first and everything else, including self, second.

Here are few things a Faith Prepper understands.

•   God is sovereign.  Let that sink in for a moment.  When you get a grasp of what this entails, everything in your life changes.
•   He is a King, and we are citizens of His Kingdom.
•   The highest satisfaction in life is to surrender our lives to Him, the One who created us and gives us breath and to trust Him for all things, now and forever.  From His perspective, nothing else really matters.
•   We surrender our lives to Him by faith.  Faith in His Word, faith in His promises, faith in His character and attributes, and faith in His faithfulness.
•   And if we trust Him for all things, He promises us immense blessings, both now and forever.

Becoming a Faith Prepper is to take God at His Word and believe whatever He says, no matter what.  And when we believe His Word and act upon it like we truly trusted what God said, we can experience the promises that accompany faith and obedience.  And those promises are beyond comprehension (1 Cor. 2:9).  Literally.

But often we miss the promises and blessings of God because we place ourselves first and leave Him and His glory a distant second.  And when we do, God will chastise us, as a loving Father, to bring us back into the fold of His blessing.

And there is no better example of this than in the small, two chapter book of Haggai.

Join us as we look at the book of Haggai and discover the importance of putting God first in all things before He allows us to suffer the consequences of our selfishness and lack of faith.  And no one, trust me, wants to be on the receiving end of the consequences of our sin.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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535:  What We Know to be True About Christ

535: What We Know to be True About Christ

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The Importance of Looking Back

As we have been preparing ourselves spiritually for the dark, troubling times ahead, it is quite helpful to pause and take a moment and remember what we know to be true about Christ.  This is the discipline of looking back.  God commanded the children of Israel to make a pillar of twelve stones at their crossing of the Jordan River.  Why?  So when their children’s children would ask them what the stones meant, it was a reminder to look back and remember how faithful God was to them then, and is still faithful today.

It was a way God provided to grow the faith of His children as they entered the promise land.  And it also works for us today.

So let’s look at some truths about the Lord and our relationship with Him that don’t change with time.  And in doing so, let’s pray our faith will be strengthened for the days ahead.

Here are a few things we know about God and His relationship with us.

•   God is Sovereign.
•   There is nothing greater or higher than God.
•   God created everything, including us, for a purpose.
•   Knowing God’s purpose for creating us and serving our Creator is the most important thing we can do.
•   It is a great and indescribable blessing for a lowly creation like us to be able to have a relationship with their Creator.  Yet that is what our Creator has allowed.
•   God is also a King and has a Kingdom.
•   As King in His Kingdom, He rules supremely.
•   We have been granted citizenship into His Kingdom.
•   And we have been granted this great gift on the basis of God’s grace and mercy, and not on our own merit.
•   As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we have certain responsibilities and duties to our King.
•   And our King gives us the power to carry these out.
•   This amazing power comes from the King Himself, who has chosen to live in us, His citizens, in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
•   Therefore, the King is always with us.
•   He will not, nor ever has, left us alone or as orphans.
•   So we are empowered and protected by our King.
•   But our King also loves us.
•   So much so, our King has adopted us as His children, and has given us an inheritance as such.

Ah, and it gets even better.


God Wants Us to Know Him Personally

More than being simply a citizen of His Kingdom, God has better plans for those He loves.  He wants us to know and experience Him as Father.

•   In fact God, our King, loves us so much that He wants us to know Him, not just as King, but as Father.
•   So, our God and King, is also our Father.
•   Which means we can know Him as Father.
•   And He invites us to come to Him as His children.
•   Jesus, God’s Son, is the One who revealed God, our King, to us as our Father.
•   And in doing so, we became joint-heirs with Christ of all that belongs to our Father, the King.
•   Now, there is no fear in approaching God, for He is our Father and loves us as His children.
•   And as His children, we have access to Him.  We can boldly come before His throne.
•   Since God is Sovereign and there is nothing greater than Him, it would stand to reason the greatest joy in life comes from finding our pleasure in Him.
•   And, like Jesus His Son, our greatest joy is to devote our life to doing the will of the Father (John 6:38) and the things that please Him (John 8:29).
•   Only then can we experience the blessings that come from being a child of God and a son of the King.
•   But there is a problem we each face.
•   We have an enemy.
•   There is a sinister creation of God that wants to destroy the work of God and deflect the glory of God to himself, and not where it rightfully belongs.
•   This enemy is Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) and deceiver of the whole world (Rev. 12:9).
•   And since Satan cannot attack God (for Satan is also a created being), he instead attacks those God loves, you and me, God’s children.
•   We are the objects of Satan’s wrath.
•   Since Satan cannot hurt the Father, he goes after the Father’s children.
•   For if Satan can get the objects of God’s love to look to him and this world for satisfaction and fulfillment, he can deflect glory from God to himself and feed his insatiable pride.
•   So the battle is for the trust of God’s children.
•   Will they trust in themselves, or in their Father?
•   But the Father has already given His children the power to withstand all the attacks of Satan.
•   All they have to do is use this power by faith.
•   Faith is the confidence (assurance) in the love, attributes, promises, and character of God
(since we know Him as our Father).
•   And this confidence does not come by seeing some tangible proof.  It comes by knowing and trusting and resting (abiding) in Him.  Just like a child does to their human parents.
•   In the same way, we are to approach our Father in faith in Him, and not in what we want Him to do.

Finally, as we enter the troubling times our Father warned us were to come, how can we enhance our faith and stand strong against His, and our, enemy?  In Scripture, the Lord encourages us to look back.  And when we see God’s sovereignty in the past, it strengthens our faith in Him for the future.

So join us today as we do just that.  Let’s look back at the faithfulness of God.  After all, since He has been faithful in the past, He will continue to be faithful today, tomorrow, and forever.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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534:  Whatever the Problem, the “Lord is Near”

534: Whatever the Problem, the “Lord is Near”

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The Lord is Near to All Who Call Upon Him…

Often, when tough times come, much like we are experiencing as a culture and as the church today, God seems distant.  We pray, and receive no answer.  We worship, only to feel alone.  And when we attend church, well, it sometimes seems like something we do out of duty and not out of passion or love.  Have you ever felt this way when surrounded by the uncertainties of life?  And if so, have you ever wondered why and what you can do about it?

David did.  And so have millions of believers down through the ages.

In David’s last Psalm, he reveals so much of what we need to embrace today.  He tells us how to worship the Lord in dark times and when life couldn’t get any better.  And he uses a powerful word that has fallen out of vogue today— extol.  Look at how David begins this Psalm.

I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever.  Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever – Psalm 145:1-2.

In just these two sentences, David claims he will do four things because of his love for the Lord and because of God’s unsearchable greatness (Psalm 145:3).  He will,

•   Extol You…
•   Bless Your name…
•   Bless You…
•   Praise Your name…

But what do these words mean?  And what can we learn about our Lord through these actions of David?

•   extol (rûm) means “to raise, to lift up, to be exalted”
•   bless (bāraḵ) means “to kneel, to bend one’s knee in honor, submission, and blessing, to speak words of excellence about”
•   praise (hālal) means “to commend, boast, shout out affirmations of greatness, to worship, to exclaim Hallelujah”

And as you can see, these words mean more than simply, “Have a blessed day.”   They convey the idea of submission to a power greater than we are, to kneel before our mighty King.  Which is exactly what David calls God when he says, “My God, O King.”


To All Who Call Upon Him in Truth – Psalm 145:18

But there is so much more.  It seems God always anticipates our questions in advance and gives us the answer when we simply keep reading.  And this is never more true than it is in this Psalm.

•   What is it about God and His Kingdom that elicits such praise?  Keep reading verse 3.
•   What are we to do with the greatness of God?   How are we to respond?  Do we proclaim it from the rooftops?  Or keep it hidden under a basket on a table?  Keep reading verses 4 to 6.
•   But what does it look like when the church praises God for His greatness?  How is that to be done?  See verse 7.
•   And what specifically about God’s goodness are we to be remembering and sharing?  Again, keep reading the next few verses.

Get the point?  Read it for yourself and see if every question and fear you have about praising the Lord with a full and sincere heart is not answered in this Psalm by simply reading more.  It is like we are having a conversation with the Lord Himself and He is telling us what we need to know.

One final thought.

The most powerful truth in this Psalm is found in verse 18.  Here we see God’s promise to be near all (key word) who call upon Him.  And that all includes you and me and people we like and people we don’t.  God promises to be near to all who call upon Him in truth (Psalm 145:18).

The LORD is near to all (kōl – each, every, everything, the whole, entire, in totality and without exception) who call upon Him, to all (kōl – each, every, everything, the whole, entire, in totality and without exception) who call upon Him in truth.

Know the Lord is near, whatever your circumstances.  And He is near no matter what happens in the future.  So what are we to fear?  Nothing.  Why?  Because nothing, good or bad, can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

Rest in that today.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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