Tuesday, October 25, 2016

God’s Character (from Discerning the Voice of God, Week 4)

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God’s Character
Image Credit:  George Hiles - Public Domain Image - via Freely Photos
In week 4 of Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer, we learned that God’s voice reveals His character.  The following is my short summary of this week’s lessons.

 God's Character

Day 1:  The Holy Spirit’s goal in revealing God’s will to us is to glorify God.
Anything that doesn’t reflect the character of God is not a message from Him. – Priscilla Shirer 
In this lesson, I was reminded that when I hear God’s voice, it is His call for me to grow closer to Him.

Day 2:  The character of God’s voice is Loving
There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1 
The enemy’s voice (Satan’s voice) brings condemnation.  God’s Voice brings conviction.  In this lesson, I was reminded that God wants me to stop dwelling on my past mistakes.  He wants me to focus on His plan and purpose for my future.

Day 3:  The character of God’s voice is peaceful.

The world can only offer peace based upon current circumstances.  God offers a peace that transcends our human understanding.  Through Jesus, we can enjoy peace in spite of our circumstances. 
These things I have spoken to you that in me you may have peace. – John 16:33
Day 4:  The character of God’s voice is truthful.

God will not and can not lie.  He only speaks truth.  We can know if we are hearing God’s voice if what we believe He is telling us directly lines up with scripture.  If what we are hearing does not line up with scripture, then we are not hearing the voice of God.

Day 5:  The character of God’s voice is powerful.
The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea.  The God of glory thunders.  The Lord thunders above the mighty sea.  The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. – Psalm 29:3-4 
There is so much more to learn in the full Bible study.  I encourage you to think about going through Discerning the Voice of God on your own or in a small group.

You'll find all my posts about this Bible study series here.

God’s Character
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Monday, October 24, 2016

The Voice of the Holy Spirit (from Discerning the Voice of God, Week 3)

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The Voice of the Holy Spirit
Image Credit:  Samuel Scrimshaw - Public Domain Image - via Freely Photos
We just completed week 3 of Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer.  This week’s topic is The Voice of the Holy Spirit.  The following is my short summary of this section of the Bible study.

 The Voice of the Holy Spirit

Day 1:  The voice of the Holy Spirit is persistent.

God is persistent about turning the hearts and actions of His children toward Him.  Priscilla directs us to 1 Samuel 3 where we learn that it took Samuel a little while to respond to God’s voice.  The Bible tells us that the Lord appeared to Samuel again.  He was persistent.

Day 2:  The voice of the Holy Spirit is personal.

Our God is a personal God.  He seeks to know us personally and individually.  We learned that each individual might have personal convictions that differ from other brothers and sisters in Christ.  Right is right.  Wrong is wrong.  Truth is truth for all believers, but some Christians feel some personal convictions that differ from others.  We should always respect one another’s personal convictions.

Day 3:  The voice of the Holy Spirit is peaceful.

God expects us to nurture peaceful relationships with others.  There are times when we need to state a particular case and this might cause disagreement.  In some circumstances, this cannot be avoided.  We cannot compromise truth just to avoid hurt feelings.  There are times, though, when division might cause a person to fall further from knowing Jesus.  We need to speak the truth in love and pursue peace as much as possible.

Day 4:  The voice of the Holy Spirit is verifiable.
Scripture provides the boundaries into which all of God’s fresh words will fall, even those words concerning our everyday lives. – Priscilla Shirer 
Anything God’s Spirit reveals to you will always match up with what is in the Bible, because all scripture has been given by the Holy Spirit (Timothy 3:16).  He will never contradict Himself – no exceptions. – Priscilla Shirer 
Day 5:  The voice of the Holy Spirit is authoritative.
Like the scribes of Jesus’ day, our own human conscience will seek to reason with us and explain the “why” by presenting factual evidence to support its decision.  When the Holy Spirit speaks, His words come with such sudden, passionate authority that they will produce a holy amazement in you.  The authority of His message will strike your inner man with such a blow that it will shake loose your old agenda and replace it with His new one. – Priscilla Shirer  
You'll find all my posts about this Bible study series here.

The Voice of the Holy Spirit
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Thursday, October 13, 2016

When Chronic Illness Steals Your Joy

When Chronic Illness Steals Your Joy
When Chronic Illness Steals Your Joy by Tina Truelove

I never expected it.  I never expected to be diagnosed with a chronic illness.

For years, there were signs . . . but I ignored them.    Several of my relatives have Crohn’s Disease so I knew this was something I didn’t want to deal with.  I just wanted it all to go away.

If I ignored my symptoms enough, maybe they would go away.

But they didn’t.

Finally, just a few months ago, I became so sick that I had no choice.  The fevers, the fatigue, the stomach cramps . . . all the signs and symptoms that go along with this dreaded illness became too much for me.  I made the doctor’s appointment.

That doctor’s appointment led to many more doctor’s appointments.  Soon, there was a CT scan, a colonoscopy, an ultrasound, an MRI, and what seemed like countless visits to the gastroenterologist for blood-work and followup visits.  Then, the medications.  I wasn’t happy about the possibility of taking medications for the rest of my life.  But this was my new reality.

Relatives warned me that it might take time to find the right medications and the right dosages.  Time went on and the medications didn’t seem to help.  I knew that it might be hard to say if they helped or not, given how sick I had become, so I had no choice but to take one day at a time.

After awhile, it all started to wear me down.  I was tired of the symptoms.  I had been dealing with them for several years.  Now, I was also tired of the doctor visits, the medications, and being stuck all the time for blood-work.

My joy was gone.

As a Christian, I place great value in spending time with the Lord.  I went to Him in prayer and He placed it up on my heart that He has a plan and a purpose for my suffering.  I asked Him to reveal to me opportunities to use my condition to encourage others.  My joy returned.

Immediately, I began to write down ideas for a devotional geared toward people who suffer from chronic illnesses.  Crohn’s Disease can be a debilitating illness and not something that’s easy to talk about.  There are many other chronic illnesses that are worse.  I wanted others to know the Hope that I know in Jesus.

So, I wrote my first devotional.

When Chronic Illness Steals Your Joy

The topics I cover in my 10 day devotional include the following:

Day 1:  Why Me?
Day 2:  When I Can’t Do the Things I Want to Do
Day 3:  When Other People Don’t Understand
Day 4:  When Treatments Don’t Work the Way I Need Them To
Day 5:  When I Get “Down in the Dumps”
Day 6:  When God Seems Silent
Day 7:  When I Feel Abandoned
Day 8:  When Embarrassment Looms
Day 9:  When Joy Returns
Day 10:  When I Realize My Purpose in My Circumstances

Download my very affordable pdf version here.

When Chronic Illness Steals Your Joy
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Whether you or someone you love suffers from a chronic illness, I hope you find comfort in this little devotional.  If you do find comfort, I would appreciate it if you would leave a short review on the Amazon site.  You are also welcome to leave your thoughts in the comments below.  Let’s encourage one another.
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11



Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Holy Spirit (Week 2 Summary from Discerning the Voice of God)

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The Holy Spirit
Image Credit:  Tessa Rampersad - Public Domain Image - via Freely Photos

 The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit:  In week two of our ladies Bible study, Discerning the Voice of God, we covered the topic of The Holy Spirit.  God speaks to us through His Spirit of Truth.  God uses whatever means He chooses to speak to His children.  If a person believes God is using sensational means to speak to him or her, it will only be to confirm what His Word and His Spirit says.

In the second day of this week’s study, Priscilla wants us to remember the 5 Ms of correctly hearing God:

1.  Look for the message of the Spirit.

2.  Live in the mode of prayer.

3.  Search out the model of scripture.

4.  Submit to the ministry of Eli.  (This means we should seek wise counsel.)

5.  Expect the mercy of confirmation.
What hinders me from hearing is that I am taken up with other things.  It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place. – Oswald Chambers
Since the Holy Spirit seeks to fill you and control your conscience in an effort to direct your decisions, He will confirm what He is saying in the small details as well as the major decisions you have to make. – Priscilla Shirer
As we spend more time with God, learn more about Him, and seek a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him, it is much easier to hear His Spirit speak to us.  When we hear Him and desire to obey and please Him, our desires will fall in line with God’s plan for us.
Often, the Spirit’s leading will contradict our logic and feelings; but when we submit, we will experience a deep-rooted peace about our decision. – Priscilla Shirer
One of the things that stood out to me during this week’s study is realizing that God is doing everything He can to reveal His will to me.  I need only listen.

To summarize – Priscilla’s 5 topics for this week’s study of the Holy Spirit are:
  1.  The Miracle of the Holy Spirit
  2. The Conscience and the Holy Spirit.
  3. The Guidance of the Holy Spirit
  4. Transformed by the Holy Spirit
  5. Led by the Holy Spirit
As with all my ladies’ Bible Study posts, this has been a brief summary of the knowledge and wisdom Priscilla Shirer has to offer in her study, Discerning the Voice of God.

You'll find all my posts about this Bible study series here.

I encourage you to purchase your own copy and go through it with a small group or individually.

The Holy Spirit
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Monday, October 10, 2016

Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer

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Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer
Image Credit:  Sarah Diniz Outeiro - Public Domain Image - via Freely Photos

Discerning the Voice of God:  How to Recognize When God Speaks

We have started a new Bible study at church on Wednesday nights.  We are studying Discerning the Voice of God (How to Recognize When God Speaks) by Priscilla Shirer.  The following is a short summary of our study.

One of the very first things Priscilla wants us to know is that to hear Him, we must be His true sheep and He must be our true Shepherd.

If we want to hear God speak, then we must expect to hear Him.  We must also wait patiently for Him to speak.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord. – Psalm 27:14

For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay. – Habakkuk 2:3
If we are expecting and waiting to hear from the Lord, then we must also be willing to obey His voice when He speaks to us.
Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine. – Exodus 19:5
As we blatantly ignore and disobey God, we build a callous around our spiritual ears so that we don’t hear the voice of God.  He knows if we are pure in our desire to do what He says. – Priscilla Shirer
We must expect His voice, wait for His voice, be willing to obey His voice, and we must listen for His voice.
Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. – Ecclesiastes 5:1-2
After expecting, waiting, obeying, and listening to hear from God, we must have faith in what He says.
Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. – Hebrews 10:22
This has been a short summary of the first week of our six week study.  Priscilla Shirer is a gifted Bible teacher.  She digs much deeper in her book study, Discerning the Voice of God:  How to Recognize When God Speaks.  I encourage you to grab a copy and go through it yourself or with a small group.

You'll find all my posts about this Bible study series here.    

 The leader kit which includes the videos is available here.

Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer
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Saturday, October 1, 2016

From Heaven by A.W. Tozer

From Heaven by A.W. Tozer
Image Used by Permission via Moody Publishers
*I received a copy of this book (From Heaven by A.W. Tozer) from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

From Heaven by A.W. Tozer

From Heaven is a collection of sermons by A.W. Tozer for the purpose of creating a 28 day Advent devotional.  Now that I’ve read through From Heaven, I regret that I’ve never read any writings from A.W. Tozer.  His work is filled with theological wisdom and truth.  As I read, I imagined sitting under his teaching in his church.  Those must have been some powerful, life-changing sermons.  He certainly did not mind “stepping on anyone’s toes,” so-to-speak.  His teachings are direct and to-the-point.

In From Heaven, Tozer divides the days leading up to Christmas into 4 weeks, each containing 7 days of devotions.  Each day’s devotion begins with at least one scripture verse.  Then, the next few pages contain excerpts from Tozer’s sermons.

From Heaven is a great devotional for someone who wishes to study the Bible in depth and dig deeper into theology.  Tozer’s sermons are thought-provoking and will likely make the reader want to study further.  I know I do.

If you’re looking for a devotional more strictly devoted to Christmas themes, this is not the one.  Some days are more Christmas-themed than others, focusing on topics such as What the Advent Established, The Meaning of Christmas, The Reason He Came, Christmas Reformation Long Overdue, and Three Truths Behind Christmas.  However, many topics, although theologically sound, are not Christmas-themed.

To summarize:  From Heaven is a great collection of sermons from A.W. Tozer.  I would recommend this book as a daily devotional for that reason.  I would not necessarily recommend it as a Christmas devotional.  For me, it wasn’t “Christmasy” enough.  The fact that it is branded as a Christmas devotional is, in my humble opinion, unintentionally misleading.  It might not be what the reader expected.  Although, I have enjoyed the sermons, it was not what I expected as a Christmas devotional.

From Heaven by A.W. Tozer
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One Small Donkey by Dandi Daley Mackall

One Small Donkey by Dandi Daley Mackall
Image Used with Permission via Book Look Bloggers
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Today is October 1st.  I know it’s a little early for Christmas but BookLook Bloggers sent me One Small Donkey by Dandi Daley Mackall in exchange for my honest review.  I read it with my in-home preschoolers.  We learn about Jesus all year long so anytime is a good time to learn about His birth and the real reason for Christmas.

Image Credit:  Abundant Family Living

One Small Donkey by Dandi Daley Mackall

Pictures are important for preschoolers.  While I read with them, they love to look at the pages and imagine being there inside the story.  The illustrations in One Small Donkey are colorful and appealing for children.  The book is illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens.

The idea behind the story is to teach children that being the smallest, weakest, or different in any other number of ways doesn’t mean they cannot fulfill a very important purpose.  God has a purpose for everyone.  Everyone is important.

One Small Donkey is a rhyming book about a little donkey who compares himself to mighty stallions.  One day, a shepherd calls on him to do a very important job.  The shepherd’s wife, Mary, is pregnant and they must travel on a long journey.  The small donkey must carry Mary to Bethlehem.  Eventually, they make it to the city but there is no place for them to stay.  Shortly after the small donkey and the young couple make their way to a stable, baby Jesus is born.

My preschoolers thought One Small Donkey was a cute story.  As with many children’s Christmas stories, the authors take a few liberties at adding a few details.  This particular story mentions snow.  I wasn’t there then and I’ve never visited Bethlehem, but I doubt that it snows much, if ever, in the deserts of Israel.  I opened up my Bible and reread the accounts of Jesus’ birth as told in Matthew and Luke.  The minor details added by the author does not change the story of the birth of Jesus nor the meaning of it.

The author makes it clear that Jesus is the only Son of God, the Christ, born in a stable on that night in Bethlehem – and at the same time, makes the point that small people have a big purpose.

Little ones can do big things for God!

Get your copy of One Small Donkey by Dandi Daley Mackall here.

One Small Donkey by Dandi Daley Mackall
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