If you know someone, they respond to you. For instance, if you phone someone that you know, they’ll recognize your voice. They may say, “Oh, hey there. I knew it was you.” If, however, a telemarketer calls, the voice is foreign. They may even hang up on the unknown caller.
Jesus said we respond to Him because we know Him.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—” (Jo. 10:14)
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (Jo. 10:27)
We listen to God’s voice. We know God’s voice. We follow Him.
The “knowing” instructs our going. Or, at least it should.
Sometimes I act quickly before seeking, praying and asking. These are the times I bang up against hard issues or react pridefully, making things more complex.
How often do you bulldoze ahead without fully knowing and seeking God’s heart? What He is saying?
The sheep know God’s voice; they “listen” to His voice.
The Greek word for “listen” — akouō, means, according to Blue Letter Bible: to understand or to perceive (with the ear) something being announced in one’s presence.
We are wise to “listen to God’s voice” being announced in our presence. As we listen. As we seek. As we read His Word. As we hear His words. As we notice what He is doing. As he takes us where He wants us to go.
In rightly perceiving God, we rightly find our way.
Beyond this, we come to understand that God really knows us — and loves us anyway. He has a plan to help us to be conformed to the image of Christ. He encourages our heart.
I believe God wants us, daughters, to hear things today, like:
You are mine, all mine. You make me proud; I love who I created you to be. You are my delight. You are fully loved. You are wholly mine. You are chosen. You are holy in Christ Jesus.
I love you.
What can you hear Him say about you? To you?
Every word aligning with the Word of God. But all His words – words from God’s heart, change our heart. To know God is to know peace. To hear His words is to gain courage, faith, hope, and love.
What might God hoping you perceive or understand today? What message might he want to get through to you? Ask. Seek. Knock. The door will be open unto you.
make great efforts to achieve or obtain something
struggle or fight vigorously.
Striving is sweating, worrying, fussing, toiling and trying oh-so-hard. I’ve been there.
Strivers run a hamster wheel that never stops. They tend to be tired and annoyed at all God requires of them. They “make’ like they are waiting on God, but push forward like everything will combust if they actually do.
Some may call them “eager” or “over-achievers”. Underneath all of that, they often want to feel special, loved, and are afraid of failure.
Peter was a bit of a striver.
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (Jo. 18:10)
I’ll take care of this Jesus. . . I know what to do. . . I have the answer. . . I can defend the situation. . .
“Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” Jo. 18:11
Jesus doesn’t need our sword to execute His plan. He doesn’t need our ambition to see through His future. He, who sees the end from the beginning, knows how to take us to where He is going.
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. (Prov. 16:9)
We plan, God establishes.
We devise, God revises our way.
We see the great thing, God sees His greater thing through.
My latest question to God has been, “God when do you “do it” and when do you want to see me go — do it?”
His answer was, “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”
If everything is from Him and through Him, all for the purposes of — His glory, why would I ever want to do something through me, and steal His glory?
Striving steals God’s glory.
Prayer: God, you are God enough for me to wait on you. You are good enough for me to trust in you. Give me peace in the wait and joy in the process of seeing you move. Your ways are greater. May they come forth. Give me a heart to give you all glory. I love you, Jesus. Amen.
Maybe you are waiting for God’s help with your health, with your children, with your work situation or within your household. . . Maybe you’ve been calling out to God for years. . . Like an arrow to your heart today, I hope to send you one simple message: don’t lose hope.
God cares for you.
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Pet 5:7)
God knows exactly what you are facing.
The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man. (Ps. 33:13)
God is near and hears.
The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth. (Ps. 145:18)
God looks to strengthen those with a heart for Him.
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. (2 Chron. 16:9)
God will provide.
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Mt. 6:30)
God will sustain you through whatever you face.
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. (Ps. 55:2)
Worry accomplishes nothing; faith trusts God for everything. And sees heavenly results.
“By faith the people passed through the Red Sea…By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” (Heb. 11:29-34)
Believe, even when you cannot see. Trust, even if you don’t have the way.
I know how hard it can be when it feels the world is falling on you or when you don’t know what to do, but if I’ve learned one thing, it is this: In the long run, God’s plan is always infinitely better than ours.
What we thought looked good, we later learn isn’t so good. What we thought we needed, would actually be our demise. The timing we demanded would have prevented us from going through a door we didn’t even know we’d need to enter. The people that needed to be involved would be ready just a little bit later. God’s views are so high, He sees the map of all our ways, all the people involved and every outcome. He fashions things for our good and for his glory every time. We can trust Him. He is faithful, true and good.
Do you ever find it is hard to share your truth? To be honest with others about what you need, want or desire?
I “get it”. You see, in a couple of weeks, I plan to go to a conference. It will be a long drive there, I’m excited about it. I plan to listen to some podcasts, pray, sing songs and have some time to think about my writing and what God may want to say. Long drives tend to be a time of reflection, introspection and seeking God. A time when I can more clearly hear God and understand what He is calling me to do. A time of “breakthrough”.
Well, one day, when hanging out with a friend, I casually mentioned this event to her. Before I knew it, we were kind of planning to go together. I am not entirely sure how it happened. All of a sudden she was riding in my car and staying in my hotel room.
Was this what God wanted? I hadn’t taken a second to consider that.
Upon arriving home from my time with this friend, I told my husband that she was coming with me. He looked at me, head cocked to the side, and said, “Is that what you want? What God wants? I thought you were taking a solo trip?”
In all my excitement, I forgot to think about God and about what I really wanted. I forgot to think about how much I needed alone time.
It is easy to forget what I need sometimes.
What about you? Do people pull you five steps ahead of where God is? Do feel obligated to take care of others? Do you say yes, when you mean to say no? Do you feel guilty or rude when you stand up for yourself?
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10)
I had a hard time calling the friend back. But, I did. I told her that I “needed” this alone time with God and that I was going to drive up alone. I told her “we’d hang out another time soon.” It was hard. But, telling her “my truth” was far better than “living a lie” and then being resentful and angry at myself. And missing my alone-time with God.
She took it great. She understood. The whole process of standing up for myself wasn’t as hard as the guilt and fear made it seem. I did it! If I can do it, you can too! You can make God first, by speaking your truth.
She said (with all the wisdom that 5-years brings a girl): “Mom, how come other moms have bodies that go straight-down? And, you’ve got a body that goes out on the sides? Your back side is big too.”
I said: “Hmm…Madison, that’s true. Some moms do have bodies that go straight down.”
She said: “Mommy, you’re fat.”
I said: “Oh really?”
I fretted: Maybe I really am – fat?
Yes. My sides are bigger. My hips are larger. My silhouette is more pear-shaped than stick-shaped. She’s right about that. In this moment, I almost wanted to rush to the mirror to check myself out. Maybe I’d become disillusioned about own figure? Perhaps I was a whole lot bigger than I’d realized. I do see myself every day. Those kinds of things can inch-up on a woman.
She said: “Mommy, what made you fat?”
How does one answer this…?
I made me – fat? God made me – look fat? I am not – fat?
Here, I thought back to how she didn’t want me to hug her in class the other day. She pushed me away. Was it because — I’m fat? Maybe I need to go on a workout plan. Maybe I need to stop those afternoon ice-cream digs for peanut butter cups. Maybe I need to walk some more…
And then reality hit me, much like her words: God could care less about fat. Indeed, He wants me to love His temple, but, where man looks at our outsides; God looks at our heart.
“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)
“Madison,” I said. “God made us all shapes and sizes. He loves all of us the same. It is not how we look that makes us lovable, better or more valuable, but Christ inside of us that makes us special.”
Who knows if I got through to her. It’s a scary thing to send a girl out in this raging pressure-filled world. But, perhaps, I can get through to you and me today…
Here are my thoughts about this:
We’re not a product of our pants-size, but the product of God’s love dwelling inside.
We’re not conformed to the image of this world, but we’re being transformed into the beautiful likeness of Christ.
Grace abounds. If we need help, He who IS help has more than enough help to help us.
Internal or external insults can’t stick to us when we’re covered by the full acceptance, love, and approval of Jesus.
Jesus is not in the business of weighing us, He’s in the business of pouring out the full weight of His love on us.
In God’s love, even if there’s an extra 5 or 50 pounds we need to shed, we remain: wanted, love, kept, desired, approved of, accepted, valuable and full of Jesus. God looks at us with love; He doesn’t spend one ounce of time hating our outsides. And, if He doesn’t, why should we?
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Solomon 4:7)
Sometimes it’s easier to be a spectator. When there’s an event or tragedy making headlines and getting lots of attention in the media, that’s often what I am. I sit back and read other writers’ words. I nod and silently say, “Amen.”
But over the last weeks following the suicide of two well-known celebrities, I knew I needed to contribute more than hushed acknowledgement. I watched others speak up about their own experiences with depression and bravely tell their stories, and God stirred my soul.
I know what it’s like to be in that space where you dread waking up.
To look out the window and try to feel anything other than the slow nothingness engulfing you. After having my first child, there were days I couldn’t wait to crawl into bed and slip into the abyss of sleep.
Last week I read words from a courageous one who voiced a truth most of us don’t hear very often: Someone can love Jesus but still want to die. And I applaud her for it. These are the types of conversations more of us need to have.
Days after I read her story, its points still circled my mind and I found myself wondering, “Why do we so often want to remain silent about our own darkness?” The autopilot part of me knows the answer. People who love Jesus aren’t supposed to want to take their own lives, right? They’re supposed to have faith that can heal and a spirit that finds peace in his presence, right?
Yes, these things are possible. God is able. But they aren’t always the rule. And the thought in my mind days after I read another sojourner’s words was, “Even some prophets dealt with this darkness.”
Want to see for yourself? Elijah and Jonah, who were both servants of the Lord and heard directly from him, stated they wanted to die. (See 1 Kings 19 and Jonah 4)
These were men who not only thought about dying, but openly told God they wanted to.
These were men who God chose specifically to speak to and use. He trusted them and set them apart in generations filled with people who worshiped idols, bowed to Baals and turned to everything but him to find fulfillment.
They were not far from God, but vessels of his message. They transformed lives and brought hope. At the point they stated their anguish, they had seen God perform the miraculous. Fire from heaven at Elijah’s word. For Jonah, the nation of Ninevah transformed from vile acts of brutality to repentance.
And yet, they wanted to die.
Now, I’m not going to go into the details surrounding each man’s journey. But if we read their stories, we see one was afraid of a crazy king’s wife and the other was angry. Their desire to die stemmed from very different emotions.
What I want to talk about today isn’t their reasons, but God’s response. Because there are many who think God turns away from these types of feelings and cries of despair. And I’m here to tell you he doesn’t.
So how did God respond? Did he chastise them? Turn away and cast them into hell? Hide his face and let them wander in darkness?
Not even close. Here are three ways God responds when his followers want to die:
He comes to them in their need and allows them to rest.
God does not turn away from his children. He doesn’t yell, “How dare you say such a thing!” or act as though he can’t believe one of his own followers is making such a bold statement. In Elijah’s distress, he sends an angel to him with food and water. He lets him sleep and prepare for the long journey ahead. Once he’s had time to regain his strength, he follows him to Mount Horeb. To Jonah he provides shade and eases his discomfort. And although he later takes the plant away to illustrate a point to Jonah, he doesn’t leave him.
He gets to the heart of the matter.
God doesn’t shy away from what’s really going on in these men’s hearts. He asks questions. He sees the things they’re not saying or asking. To Elijah he asks, “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19:9) and to Jonah he asks, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4) God already knows the answer to these questions. He wants the men whose hearts he’s after to see what he sees.
God doesn’t interrupt these prophets or cut them off as they’re explaining how they’ve arrived at this place. Once again, he knows the answer. In Elijah’s case, he knows he mistakenly believes he’s the only follower left. But he still lets him speak. He lets him say these words he’s been holding onto as he traveled through the wilderness thinking there was no one left to serve God.
Sometimes the journey through the wilderness is what prepares us to receive the truth.
Friend, I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know if you’re fighting through darkness or if you’re standing firm in a place of victory today. But can I tell you God sees you, no matter what? He doesn’t turn away from those places you keep buried.
God doesn’t stand in disbelief at statements like the ones from Elijah and Jonah. He comes close. He reaches through the gap. When we hurt, he hurts.
Talk to him today. Even if you don’t think he hears, talk to him anyway. He’s is right there and is waiting for you to reach for him.
Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.
If you need to talk or you know somebody struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text with someone at the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
Looking at it, I considered the thought deeper. I hadn’t been giving a lot of thanks lately. Mostly just gripes to God about people, timelines and the endless cause of trying to keep my house clean. In reality, I’d forgotten about thanks.
So when I considered which of the mugs to give away, it was hardly shocking that I nearly heard God say, “Kelly, thanks is made to be given away.”
Here, a mug short, I picked up the “Give Thanks,” mug. I would give it away with a heart of thanks. . .
…for, thanks is meant to be given away.
And this is the heart of hospitality. You give because you are thankful. You receive and say thank you.
So when the ladies came to my house for the event (I told you all a couple of weeks ago, that I was completely nervous about) and they selected little mugs to take home, I nearly kissed my favorite mug goodbye. Except. . . I didn’t.
When the event was over, the mug still remained on my counter. After texting the group to ask who left it, I got no response. So what I gave away in thanks, I kept.
What we give away to God, in thanks, we also keep…
We keep a smile on our face when we think of that precious moment of joy.
We keep a memory of a moment that we will treasure forever.
We keep a belief that God really will come through.
We keep a hope that God really can do the miraculous time and time again.
We keep a heart that is willing to change because God’s results are great.
We keep a fresh perspective on how much we have.
We give: thanks. We keep: everything. God doesn’t take away our cup; He fills it.
Everyday, I know I should at least fit a walk into my schedule. I should get my shoes on and move beyond the boundaries of my complacency, so I don’t:
– lose strength
– waste away
– gain unintended weight
– make my heart unhealthy
We all think about our physical health, at least sometimes. We take vitamins, make vegetables, drink water, take the stairs. Even if we aren’t so good at it, we normally think about it, or how to improve it. We know it is important to our vitality.
But how often do we consider our spiritual health? Our spiritual fitness?
So we don’t:
– lose strength in the Lord
– waste away, only to find ourselves one with the world
– gain unintended weight, or baggage, we are not meant to carry
– find our our heart unhealthy
Today, let’s stop for a moment and consider why our strength and fitness in the Lord is so important.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” 1 Cor. 9:26-27 MSG
We want to be spiritually fit. But what does that mean?
I believe it means we:
Are led by the Spirit and not the flesh.
In the Spirit, we are strong. But if we’re driven by our own efforts, we quickly learn — we’re weak.
Follow Christ’s life, truth and ways.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps. 91:11
Be fishers of men.
When God calls us to cast our nets into risk, and we do, he often encourages our hearts to keep doing it. Here, we learn to be risk-takers instead of home-dwellers.
Fellowship with God, constantly.
In Christ, we come out of our weakness, stress and fears to find ourselves equipped and empowered by his grace.
Have a readiness to go.
The more we get our running shoes on, the easier it gets to move out the door.
Stand firm in our identity.
When we know who we are, it doesn’t work so well when the enemy tries to tell us we are someone else.
When sin drops off of us through confession, we become more and more alive. We’re aware of the God who lives in us and all the promises he has for us. Rather than getting caught up in our shame, we become enamored with His name, Jesus.
Today, may you and I choose to walk in spiritual fitness.
The stale air of the subway felt like her closest companion. She was surrounded by people yet no one seemed to notice her. Some passengers looked straight ahead, others seemed to look through her, and most were on their phone. A few, very few, were engaged in conversation.
I’m hungry. She cried out.
And the passengers were unaware…or unmoved.
I’m hungry! She called out again.
I heard the cry. Not just from the mouth of this fellow passenger, but deep within my soul.
I have known hunger too: soul hunger.
And I wonder how many of us join in this refrain? I’m hungry. I’m hungry!
On the days when there’s nothing left in the cupboard. For the times when the house (or inbox) is devoid of life. In the aftermath of unexpected storms that barrel through. There is one who hears, who sees, who understands. One who has experienced loneliness (and hunger) in ways we can’t even imagine.
He answers our cries with Himself: the Bread of Heaven broken for us.
He doesn’t look through us, He lives in us. He invites us to feast as He provides soul manna that never runs out. He never runs out on us. Jesus. Not a trite answer but THEE answer for our deep soul ache.
Tried and true, tested and proven, His Love saturates lonely, aching places.
Here for us; always. When others ignore, when they overlook, or when they inadvertently hurry by…He remains.
Here are 7 verses to feast on when you’re feeling lonely:
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation 3:20).
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand (Isaiah 41:10, NLT).
Where can I go from your Spirit?Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn,if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me,your right hand will hold me fast (Psalm 139: 7-10).
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20, NLT).
There is a verse here for each day of the week. May you be comforted as you cry out to God and bring your loneliness to Him. Oh how He cares for you and is more than able to provide for the hunger of your soul.
Katie M. Reid is an author and speaker who encourages you to find grace in the unraveling of life (look for her first book coming out next summer with Waterbrook!). She inspires you to embrace your identity in Christ and live out your God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in the Midwest. She is a fan of cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea. Katie and her husband host the popular Facebook Live show, “Stop! Hammock Time” (which airs Wednesdays, 9pm EST). Join in the fun and unwind in this vibrant community.