Know Which Path to Take — God Leads the Way

Are you sensing a change in direction or feeling uncertain which path to take in business, ministry, or your personal life? There is no better way to begin our search for direction than by seeking God and allowing Him to lead the way. As we do, He frees us to make those decisions with greater confidence and peace of heart and mind.

God has promised to lead us, to teach us His way, and to guide us in the right path to take. Today, let’s look at a few Bible verses to encourage each other in this season of change and transition.

Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

In the familiarity of this verse, we might easily loose the significance of the beautiful promise contained within. God calls us to purposefully reposition our hearts and minds to trust in Him rather than our own “understanding.” Human perception limits the possibilities of what can or will be.

How valuable to seek His will in everything! As we do, God promises — yes promises — to show us “which path to take” in every area of our lives. Only He knows the possibilities available to us!

Surrender

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

Psalm 32:8

I often wonder how many times I miss the leading of God because of my stubborn resistance to His voice. Perhaps, it happens more times than I would admit.

Though He promises to “instruct and teach” us, any refusal to listen will lead us down paths in direct opposition to His perfect plan for us. After this promise, God warns us not to be like a horse or mule, needing a bit to control their direction.

Do I consistently surrender my heart and mind to God’s direction even when it doesn’t make sense or feels frightening? God has been prompting me in this area. Though I am willing, He desires my willingness without conditions.

Pay Attention

This is what the Lord says—
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
    who teaches you what is best for you,
    who directs you in the way you should go.”

Isaiah 48:17

The following verses remind all who will listen to “pay attention.” What signals of change should we give our attention?

  • Are doors opening that used to be closed? Or closed that were once open?
  • Where is God’s favor resting on our talents, abilities, skills, or expertise?
  • Do you feel God’s peace about a specific direction?

Allow yourself time to reflect and ask God to reveal the answers to these and other questions. The answers may reveal which path God desires you to take. He constantly speaks, teaching and directing us “in the way” we should go.

Prayer

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.”

Psalm 25:4-5

Without God’s help we may swing from over-confidence to insecurity while making decisions. Prayer turns our hearts and minds in tune with His heart and desires for us. Whatever decision we may be facing He promises to teach us which path to take.

The Path to Take

In the place of prayer God gives “flashes” of vision which our natural minds could never conjure. These God directed insights often ignite excitement and passion. At other times, prayer prepares us. The path He leads us toward may be difficult, requiring wisdom and strength beyond our present ability.

In whatever direction He leads, we know that He is with us, guiding us with His loving eye. We need never fear! It is only when we deliberately step away from His path that we should be concerned and make course adjustments back toward Him.

The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
    when he delights in his way;”

Psalm 37:23

“Father, we come seeking not only direction for the decisions ahead, but Your Presence above everything else. Hide us under the shelter of Your wings, near to Your heart. May we sense the fullness of the good things You have awaiting us — whether we are three- or ninety-three-years-old.
We wait for your direction. Search our hearts and examine our motives. Reveal the secret things which may attempt to lead us outside your will.
May we rest in the knowledge and security of Your promise to lead, teach, direct, and establish us in Your ways. We know and are assured that You will establish us in Your perfect path, now and always. So, we rest in the goodness of Your grace and the protection or Your love.
Amen.

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God Still Speaks

Prayer is powerful! God still speaks and He reminded me again today that prayer is a two-way conversation.

While shopping, I encountered a woman incessantly talking on her phone. She was having a non-stop, one-way conversation with someone who could not possibly have gotten a word in edgewise! I’m not even sure when or how she found time to breathe. Her voice could be heard throughout the entire store.

I’m afraid our prayer conversations with God might all too closely resemble this scenario. Do we do all the talking, or do we take time to listen, expecting to hear from God? God designed prayer to be a mutual exchange of dialogue.

Do you ever feel like your prayers hit the ceiling and go no further? From time to time, I think we have all experienced the feeling. Let’s be encouraged. God hears and He answers! In many places throughout the Bible, He encourages, “Anyone with ears, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15). But how does God speak to us? And how do we know that it is God speaking and not just our own thoughts or imagination?

We don’t need any unique gift to hear from God. The only qualification is to have ears. That includes most of us. Contrary to what some people might believe, God still speaks. Let’s explore what the Bible says about the topic.

He spoke to an incredibly wicked king, King Nebuchadnezzar both through dreams and through the prophet Daniel (Daniel 4). He spoke to Moses face to face, like we would speak to our friends (Exodus 33:11).

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Jeremiah 33:3

God Speaks Through the Bible

The most common way God speaks to us is through His infallible Word — the Bible. Scriptures form the plumbline for every other way God speaks. He will never say anything that contradicts the Bible. So whatever way He might speak, we measure against the accuracy of His Word.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”
Hebrews 4:12

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
    and a light for my path.”

Psalm 119:105

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”
2 Timothy 3:16

God consistently speaks through the living words recorded in the Bible. His Word remains relevant and undiminished in power.

God Speaks Through the Holy Spirit

God has given us the Holy Spirit to teach, comfort, and direct us. Holy Spirit waters God’s Word within us causing it to grow and become fruitful.

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
John 14:26

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 2:14

The Holy Spirit brings the truths we read in Scripture or receive from biblical teachers and leaders, making God’s Word relevant and alive. He affirms God’s words written or spoken to our hearts to our spirit, in a Spirit-to-spirit communication.

God Speaks Through Nature

Like many people, I feel the closest to God while walking in nature. In His creation, my heart seems the most sensitive to hear His sacred echoes. Jesus used many illustrations from nature to reveal God’s character, purposes, and truth. Whether birds, sheep, storms, plants, or so much more, Jesus strung His parables around everyday life and the land people were familiar with.

“The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic.
Psalm 29:3-4

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
Psalm 19:1-2

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
Romans 1:20

How God speaks through creation remains one of His many mysteries. Yet we find ourselves filled with awe as we gaze into a starry sky or hold a newborn baby. We can’t help but worship Him as we watch ocean waves crash against the rocky shore or feel the power of a summer storm. God is in it all. He speaks through a gentle breeze as clearly as through the intricacy of a flower. God speaks the language of a listening heart.

God Still Speaks

The limitations we have to hear from God rests within ourselves. God speaks in limitless ways. I love the way Job phrased it:

“For God does speak — now one way, now another — though no one perceives it.”
Job 33:14

Why is perceiving His voice so difficult? Has the overture of busyness dulled our hearing? Oh, may we give God opportunity to speak, and tune our ears to hear what He is saying. May we have a willing heart to receive His words. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, compared us to sheep — His sheep. He said,

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”
John 10:27

God speaks through gifted authors, teachers, and speakers. He speaks through circumstances and the difficulties we face. He speaks through dreams and visions, just as He always has. Because of His unending love for us, He invites us to draw close and to listen.

If you would like to learn more about prayer, how to talk to God and hear from Him, I invite you to check out these two books: Unmasking Myths and Unlocking Legacy. To celebrate my upcoming milestone birthday, take advantage of this half-price special! I would be happy to share these resources with you.

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Freedom and Victory: Living the Victorious Christian Life Today!

The cross of Jesus Christ delivered us from the sordid penalty of sin. It also guarantees our freedom and victory from the power of sin. What He accomplished is for today! For here! For now!

As a Christian, our future deliverance from the presence of all sin will eternally be experienced in Heaven. But how well have we been taught and demonstrated a life of freedom and victory in the grungy realities of our present circumstances?

The enemy keeps way too many people trapped in the recesses of darkness by blinding us to this beautiful reality.

Probably for you, as it is for me, the battle with sin refused to cease upon the confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Why? What’s going on? Why are so many Christians living cloaked in unnecessary guilt and shame.

We find the solution in Romans chapter 6.

Because of Baptism

Paul encourages the Roman believers, and us today, that because of baptism in Christ, we sin no more!

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Romans 6:1-4

In Christ, we died to sin. It is done! Finished! Past tense!

And in Christ, we were baptized into his death. So in the same way, in Christ we may live a new life of freedom and victory now — today.

That’s worth shouting, “Freedom! Celebrate! Victory is ours!”

No Longer Slaves

Our old lives conditioned us to listen to the slave master of sin, who continues to bark out orders. Everything in us cringes and cowers to the sound, while we resist the urge to obey our old master.

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”
Romans 6:6

The Passion Translation contains a wonderful note:

“…that the body of sin might be annulled and put out of business. To beg God for victory over sin is a refusal to understand that we have already died to sin. Our joyful task is to believe the good news, rather than to seek to “crucify ourselves.” Sin is not suppressed by the cross; it is eliminated. Upon the “water” God commands us to step out and walk, for we are now in him.”

We don’t need to beg God for victory over sin in any area of our lives. But oh how marvelous to understand that we have already died to all its demands. Through our union with Jesus Christ, every sin in our lives has been put out of business.

Listen to the Right Voice

Jesus gives us the freedom and victory to listen to the right voice — His voice.

The voice of sin barks commands, “You may as well give in, you will do it anyway … You’ll enjoy this … Just once more … You know you want this …” Whatever his enticement, we don’t need to listen to the deceptive voice of our old slave master, sin.

Jesus whispers His truth to our hearts, “You don’t need to do this anymore. You don’t need to watch that, tweet that, smoke that, eat that, say that, or do that. You are mine! I have set you free! You don’t have to sin anymore!”

I keep a simple “self-portrait” in my Bible as a cheerful reminder of my union with Christ. Just as this little image is in my Bible, I am in Christ. Where my Bible goes, the sketch goes. As Christ leads, I follow. Why? I am in Christ Jesus.

“For by his sacrifice he died to sin’s power once and for all, but he now lives continuously for the Father’s pleasure.”
Romans 6:10 TPT

Consecrate

The Oxford dictionary defines consecration as declaring something to be sacred and formally dedicated to a divine purpose. Things are consecrated and sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intended. Everyone, once consecrated, lives according to God’s design and perfect purpose for their lives.

With Jesus’ example before us, we consecrate and devote ourselves to also live continuously for the Father’s pleasure. We give back to Him what He has already given to us — our hands, our feet, our mouths, our time, our resources, our gifts, our all — living each day in freedom and victory.

“So let it be the same way with you! Since you are now joined with him, you must continually view yourselves as dead and unresponsive to sin’s appeal while living daily for God’s pleasure in union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”
Romans 6:11 TPT

An Invitation

“This life of reflected goodness, and beauty is not only a demonstration, it’s also an invitation. By its very nature, it calls to people and invites them to more. More than they ever thought was possible. More than they could ever ask or imagine … So the life we live and the work we do reveals a new reality in Christ that is both available now, and will continue to unfold for all eternity … How you live matters to God because you are His plan for releasing His Kingdom in the earth … This is the work of the Kingdom. It’s for now and it only gets better. Abundant, transformative living with an eternal hope.”
– Matt Tommey

Let’s respond to God’s invitation to walk in liberty, united with Christ in the freedom and victory we possess today.

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Psalm 81 – Open Wide Your Mouth and I Will Fill It

God says, “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” But what does He mean and how inclusive is this guarantee? These are the questions I asked my friend when she reminded me of God’s promise to supply. Though I already knew the verse, our conversation sent me on a quest to find out more.

The first image that came to my mind as she spoke was of a nest of hungry birds desperately chirping and cheeping upon their parent’s approached with a thick juicy worm — each tiny featherless upstart demanding more. Yes, that’s me! The one right in the middle insisting to be filled!

But as with all promises in the Bible, fulfillment is contingent on our response to God. He is more than willing and able to come through for us, but are we positioning ourselves to receive the fullness of His promise?

Worship God

Psalm 81 can be divided into three distinct sections, the first of which calls us to worship God for who He is.

Sing for joy to God our strength;
shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
play the melodious harp and lyre.
Sound the ram’s horn . . .”
Psalm 81:1-3 

Loosen up your voices, tune up the instruments, get ready for a noisy, all-out shindig! This is God we are celebrating, not some here-today-gone-tomorrow celebrity. No instrument is too large or too small; it isn’t too soon to start. “Begin the music!” the psalmist announces, “Let’s get this praise rolling!”

This isn’t a new admonition. As a matter of fact, it’s been in existence since God brought His people out of Egypt. That was a LONG time ago. Surely you remember! Well, maybe it wasn’t literal Egypt for each of us, but we’ve all known our share of sins cruel chains of oppression. Those who have claimed the Name of Jesus have experienced the freedom of His deliverance.

But then we catch the first startling glimpse of trouble.

Unknown God

“I heard an unknown voice say . . . ”
Psalm 81:5

What? Did I read that right? The God who once set us free is now “unknown?” How could they, and for that matter I, forget? Oh, but it’s our human nature to easily forget the greatness and goodness of our God.

“I removed the burden from their shoulders;
their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you,
I answered you out of a thundercloud;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.”
Psalm 81:6-7

Since God has done so much for each of us, you would think we would always remember his goodness. Surely, after all the grace and mercy He has shown, we would remain grateful. Even though the call to remember resounds throughout the Bible, we too forget. We forget not just His deeds but the sound of His voice — His voice that reveals His unchanging character and love.

The title for the second segment to this psalm could easily be, “My Forgetful Children.” As a mother of many, all too often I felt the exasperation of not being listened to and my wise counsel left unheeded. (Of course, what sounded wise to a mother didn’t always ring true to fledgling children — then or now!)

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”
Psalm 81:10

“Open Wide Your Mouth”

Little birds open wide their mouths because their very lives depend on it. My problem isn’t forgetting to open my mouth or making my need known, but rather how I attempt to satisfy that need. As another friend once told me, “There are many non-gods we can go to.”

She is right. If I forget who God is and lose awareness of His voice, I will seek fulfillment in many other places. As horrifying as it sounds, it’s true. And I’m not alone! We live in fleshly bodies that refuse to be satisfied, filling our proverbial mouths with lust, greed, and gluttony of various kinds. Humanity reeks. We are too often like self-made garburators of the vile and disgraceful.

Our electronic devices buzz with incessant pollution to minds and souls, drawing us ever deeper into a new, yet all to familiar, bondage God once delivered us from. Oh, but God’s heart cries to us still,

Hear me, my people, and I will warn you —
if you would only listen to me . . .
You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not worship any god other than me.
I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”
Psalm 81:8-10

Despite our failure to hear and to heed, God calls with open arms, “Come back to me and I will satisfy your hunger.”

“But my People”

The third segment of this psalm might be called, “They Would Not!” This is only my opinion, but I think the greatest crisis of mankind is forgetting that we are people made in the image of God, with purpose and destiny. When we fail to remember our God, we quickly fail to remember who we are as well.

“But my people would not listen to me . . .
If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!”
Psalm 81:11-14

Do I close my mouth long enough to listen, refusing to self-gratify, self-satisfy, or self-proclaim? Do I open wide my mouth to acknowledge my God with singing and shouting His praise? Maybe not with cymbals and ram’s horns, but noisy acclamation of His greatness? Will I remember that I am His and follow Him?

If I will, and that is the BIG “if,” the promise is mine! When I open wide my mouth, no matter what the need, God will fill it.

“You Will Be Fed”

God brings us back to the promise. If only they will lay aside all their “would nots” the promise still stands.

“. . . you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Psalm 81:16

“Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” Whatever the root of our hunger, whatever the need or longing, God is good enough, strong enough, and loving enough to fill it. But He is waiting to hear our voices sing and shout, for the ram’s horn to blast His praise; He’s waiting for us to turn our ears intently toward His voice; He is waiting for us to remember all He has done for us; He’s waiting for us to catch the passion of His heart, to turn from lesser things. When we do, He’s prepared to swoop low, satisfying every deep craving within.

Our God is enough! No other god will do!  “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it!”

Prayer – A Personal Invitation None Should Refuse

There can be huge gaps between our knowing and doing when it comes to prayer. I hope we are like Jesus’ disciples honestly asking Him to teach us in this area.

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Luke 11:1

The disciples were not unfamiliar with praying. After all, these were Jewish boys. They would already have been taught principles and patterns for prayer. Some were originally followers of John who also taught on prayer.

So, what made the prayers of Jesus so different from every other prayer they had heard to this point?

That remains my question, too!

Humble Beginnings

When I first became a Christian, I wasn’t allowed the privilege of a Bible or the liberty to attend a church. Without these two key elements in my life, prayer became my sustaining force. I had no “spiritual” mother or father to pattern from or teach me.

I knew God was real. Not just real from a distance, but real in my life. Instinctively I knew He wanted to be involved and connected to every part.

The Father’s Love

I heard someone say once, “The steadfast love of the Lord is your compass point.” His unfailing love is the “true north” that is the guiding light for all disciplines.

No one loves as deeply as the Heavenly Father!

The Father's Love

“Because of the LORD’s great love
we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself,
“The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.
(Lamentations 3:22-23).

In the Lord’s prayer Jesus is giving us more than a verbal pattern. He is demonstrating that prayer is to be in the context of relationship to God as a loving Father and Friend. (Luke 11:1-13)

Two Ways

Have you ever had a conversation with yourself? I have! Gets boring really fast!

Prayer is simply conversation with the Father. That means there are moments of both listening and speaking when we pray. Prayer has two directions, us to the Father and the Father to us.

Listen Speak

As with most conversations, it is helpful if I listen first and speak second. Listening begins as I mediate on The Word of God. Faith rises as a scripture comes to mind and I sense Him nudge me, “Try this one“.

“For God does speak–now one way, now another – though no one perceives it.”
Job 33:14

I guess I’m not the first one to have trouble with this two-way conversation thing of prayer!

The Holy Spirit

I’m so thankful the Holy Spirit is there to help us in learning process.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
Romans 8:26

Many times, we can be uncertain to know just how to pray…

when words don’t come easy or thoughts unravel,
when the heart aches
as you circle a mountain of despair
one more time…
Holy Spirit steps in both for us and with us. We’re not alone.

God Answers Prayer

I know what I have written is only the beginning concepts of prayer – simple grounding principles. Another fundamental to be added is an assurance that God delights to answer.

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Luke 11:9

My first prayer for you today is for you to have a new confidence to hear and receive from God. The second is that prayer would become so filled with special prayer moments that your life becomes a continuous flow of listening, talking and receiving from God. Lastly, may prayer become an amazing opening into a new adventure with The One who longs to spend time with you.

Prayer

Today may you hear Jesus say to you, “Come!”

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