Friday, July 26, 2019

Graduating from the University of Adversity

Have you seen these?  They're everywhere on social media.  

There are tons and tons of joyous graduate photos being flaunted by anyone who happens to be graduating from pre-school through college.  They've all achieved a status of excellence and earned the right to be deemed as a "graduate" in some circle of life.

Proud parents, relatives and friends are cheering on their loved ones who are now “prepared” to take on life.  The best is coming and it's full steam ahead for bigger and better things.

Finally, all the hard work is completed and these young individuals are ready to be sent out into the world to experience the best life has to offer.  They will soon come to realize that the biggest challenges ahead of them won’t be what they have studied in the pages of their textbooks, but the everyday struggles that stem from living in a fallen world.

How do you explain that they have just received a diploma from the University of Adversity, when they haven’t taken one course from the institution?  You hand them another textbook …

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I remember the first time I was handed a diploma.  It was in the eighth grade and moving on with my friends, together we would “rule the school” … silly girl! 

Graduating from a class of around sixty, then entering into a 9th grade class with over 1,200 kids took me into a world I had never knew let alone experienced.  What was I thinking?

The thought of entering high school was exciting until I stepped into Math class.  Ugh!!!  Not the best subject for a dyslexic kid.  This happy teen that walked the halls as if she owned them, suddenly became as quiet as a mouse who wanted to hide behind the binding of an ever so large textbook.

Ask any dyslexic and their story will have pretty much the same dialog when it came to solving arithmetic problems.  We know it’s something that comes with learning, but would rather skip over those lessons if we could.  As everyone knows, that just won’t happen if we want to finally graduate one day. 

Then despite all the hard work, you sign up for college, grad school and more.  When will it all end?  Apparently, for some who keep going and going, never, but for others!  Whew - you reach your goal of becoming who you think you want to be ... you made it and all that's left is for your career to skyrocket.

How Did I Get to This Place?

Here it is ... many, many years have passed since that glorious day, and now you're in the middle of life.  Yes, but whose life is it, certainly not mine!  Chaos 101 wasn't in the curriculum and if it was who in their right mind would sign up for the class?

Those carefree times are somewhere sprinkled throughout the pages of our memories, and reality has tipped the scales with problems that never appeared in those old textbooks of ours.

Have you began to ask: "How did I get from there to here? How did I get from that "all-things-are-going-great" place to what's now going on in my life?  This wasn't in my studies or anywhere on the agenda."

Over and over we find ourselves in the midst of crisis after crisis.  What happened to sailing through life achieving dream upon dream and conquering all the issues that got in our way?  Life, that's what happened, simply life!  That's simply life friend, not simple life! 

What we learn as we march forth in years isn't something that could have been taught, but needed to be experienced.  Besides our own problems,  we witness what others are going through and it often makes us question where God is in all of this mess. 

Rarely do we realize that He's still with us, and didn't promise to remove all the rough waves in life.  What He did promise is that we wouldn't be alone and that He will see us to the other side whether that is here on earth or in Heaven, which is another thing we did not learn in the hallowed halls of school.

God What's Wrong with Me?

I know how you feel, I've been there. Many of you have lost your job, maybe even your home.  Some of you are going through a crisis in health, your marriage or even a failing business.  

Out of nowhere tragedy may have stricken you to the core causing decision making you never thought would ever cross your path in life ... but here you are in the midst of it.

How long was it before you started asking, 

"What am I supposed to learn from situations that turn my world upside down causing chaos in every area of life?  How do I survive this storm or those to come when fear surrounds me like a blanket leaving no comfort at all?  I'm holding on by a thread and feel like I'm about to go under?  

Oh, God ... what's wrong with me?  Why can't I get my act together and get through this?  What am I doing wrong that You can't help me?  How have I gotten so far off path that I no longer walk in your favor?"

Where Are You Focused?

I know it may sound crazy, but not all "chaotic" situations mean that you're out of God's Divine Will just because you are experiencing storms (chaos) in your life.  He isn't mad, nor has the Lord rejected you.  As a matter of fact, storms (or struggles) are the backbone to our growth and development into adulthood.  Often through the chaos we learn how strong we really are and how deep our faith in God is.

It is through the storms or tests of life that our faith grows the most and we discover how powerful God is to deliver us from evil.  Our true character is revealed in how we weather each phase of a storm and will determine the outcome at the other side of it.

Do you remember when the Disciples saw Jesus walking on water and what happened the instant Peter stepped out of the boat to join Him?  When Peter kept his eyes on Jesus he walked side-by-side with the Lord, but when he let fear grip him he began to sink. (Read Matthew 14 for the complete story.)

Peter looked at the circumstances and forgot Who was walking beside him.  Jesus was disappointed in how little faith His follower really had. It wasn't until he was tested that Peter realized his focus wasn't where it should have been.  His trust in God sank and he was about to do the same.

Jesus rescued Peter not because He catered to his fear, but so that His power could be revealed to the new believer.  When they reached the boat safely the entire crew witnessed the power of God and the possibilities available to them when they focused on Jesus and not the water. 

Let me ask you about your faith?  When crashing waves want to overtake or pull you under in defeat, what are you focusing on and where are your eyes looking?

It was in that situation that Peter received power from God to save and deliver him from certain demise.  Turn to Jesus during the crisis or storm and He will do the same for you.

"God is our refuge and strength (abundant, available help)
He is our ever present help in times of trouble."
(from Psalm 46:1) 

Giants Can Be Defeated

There is something else that I'd like to highlight here.  Did you realize that it is during those so called chaotic storms that your confidence to do greater things develops?  It's true, and I'll give an example to show you.

Do you think young David from the scriptures started out as a great giant slayer?  Of course not. It was only after defeating a lion (no tigers), and a bear that God sent Him to defeat Goliath.  

From there on David's journey was full of troubles, but they didn't stop him from becoming a King that conquered his enemies because God was with him through it all.  If there is a "giant" of any nature in your life, God knows it's there.  He has allowed it for your good - to show you the stuff you're made of is stronger, better, more powerful than anything the devil can throw your way.  

Those "giants" can be defeated; you just need to realize it by trusting the Lord for a good outcome.  When you do, each victory will lead to greater victories as you are transformed into the strong and confident person God designed.

Although you may have to go through more storms not seeing answers from God immediately, do not grow weary but persistently wait on Him.  Let your character and confidence build enduring to the end, and you will see the salvation from the Lord flood the situation.

Graduating from Adversity

Whatever you may be experiencing right now I'd like to encourage you not to give up no matter what's happening.  Graduation day is coming and this adversity will have to give way to the Voice of Truth - God's promises!

Struggles in life are real, and they can be overwhelming.  No matter the cause, God is there to help anyone through them if they believe He can and will.  

The Bible has given us so many examples of when a person's character was being tested by adversity and how they handled each situation. Some didn't do well and flunked the test over and over, while others who put their trust in the Lord graduated from the University of Adversity becoming scholars in their field and calling in life.

It wasn't until each individual was educated in handling adversity well that God allowed them to become great leaders in His Kingdom.  Right now you might be in the midst of that same test.  He is looking at whether or not you will graduate with flying colors by trusting Him to walk out this journey with you, or whether or not you will leave Him behind.

I'm in your corner and proud of how far you've come, but my friend until Jesus returns, the devil isn't going to stop trying to defeat what God has started in you.  Just remember Who gives the strength!

"I can do all things through MY GOD who gives me strength!" (Philippians 4:13)

Christ told us that there is no escaping times of adversity, chaos and storms throughout life.  However, if you trust in the Lord you will make it to the other side, but not until God makes you a champion of His grace through unmerited favor.

When you focus on Jesus during any level of difficulty, He sees that and will distribute grace and favor at the level in which you believe - so believe ... believe BIG!

Every struggle is an opportunity for you to see how big God is.  I like what John Hagee once said about handling difficult situations:  

"Every opportunity has difficulty and every difficulty has opportunity.  It's only when you come to grips with the difficulty that you will realize your potential."

If we can get a handle on this concept we'll stop seeing our adverse circumstances as problems, and start looking at them as opportunities to grow in faith and favor from God.

Adversity Shows Us God

Trust is a hard thing to give when it is broken. and why the Word of God tells us not to put our trust in the flesh or feelings that cause us to doubt our faith. (Philippians 3:3)

Somewhere down the road people will fail you even when they don't mean it.  Relationships sometimes fall apart, become distant or just disappear.  Trust is broken and hearts are as well; it happens because circumstances or adversity of some kind have entered the classroom of life leaving us unprepared.

Life will also go on despite the heartache, but sometimes because of it we view the next crisis differently and are able to cope better than we had in the past.  At times when you feared you'd never get through this horrific storm, God stepped in with answers to the situation not thought of, bringing you to the shores on the other side safely.

I know it's hard to stop and think in the middle of devastation, especially when the waves of the storm are crushing your hopes and dreams.  It's because in the middle of crisis and adversity that we don't stop to think, that our minds should already be focused on the One Who created the seas and waves - Jesus.  Through adversity we can see God and His powerful mighty acts are revealed to us when we call out to Him.

Where do you turn when adversity comes crashing down on your perfect plans creating havoc in your vision, dreams and desires? 

Where is there salvation from this crisis?  If we can learn a lesson from the "adversity storm", unlike the Apostle Peter (in that situation) don't give into fear, it's not from the Lord.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV) 

Instead take authority and turn to the One that at the sound of His voice the winds and waves obey instantly.  He is Jesus, the Savior, the Deliverer and Shield that gives favor in times of adversity even when the storm hasn't stilled.

"For You, O Lord, will bless the Righteous;
with favor You will surround him as with a shield." (Psalm 5:12 NKJV)

When adversity finds itself trying to rip through your life sails tearing them to bits, it's time to take out the only classroom textbook that gives the correct answers every time and in every situation - the Bible, God's Holy Word.

While in prayer and in study time (yes, we are to never stop learning), God will show you how strong you are to overcome anything.  By faith, trust Him to turn your sadness into gladness, because His favor on the Righteous is for this life and forever!  

Be assured - He is there and will see you through to graduation day!  

"His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night,
 but joy will come in the morning.  I will never stop believing!  

LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountains stand strong 
to overcome adversity in any circumstance.
even when I didn't think You were there - You were!

I cried out to you in prayer and you heard me.  
When I didn't think I would make it You showed me mercy 
and helped in ways I couldn't imagine.  

Trusting You has built my confidence and made me strong.  
I will sing praise, giving thanks to You, 
my Shield and Deliverer forever!" 
(A prayer from Psalm 30; emphasis mine.)

If this article has encouraged or helped you, please consider sharing it by using the social media icons provided at the end of this post. 

Until next time, let God's favor shield you! 

“I'll shield you with favor during times of adversity.”  
- Jesus Christ 

*Unless noted, the names in articles are changed to protect the individual(s) privacy.  
Note: The words satan or devil are not capitalized deliberately, because we give him no place in our lives. 

Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

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Labels: Believer's Authority, Encouragement, Promises of God, Speak to the Storm, Christian Living, Victory, Daily Favor Blog, Favored1, Holy Spirit Wind, Adversity, Graduation, Power of God, Dyslexia, Fear, Salvation

Friday, July 12, 2019

Twelve Ways to Know if God is Speaking

I'd like to share with you some valuable lessons I learned from trying to figure out whether or not I was hearing from the Lord in certain situations.  

More than likely somewhere along your journey with Jesus you've asked something like this ...

How do I (we) know when God is speaking to me (us)? 

That's a great question, and you're not alone in wondering what the answer is.  This is something that I’ve asked myself in the past, and others have come to me with this same dilemma more times than I can remember.   

The answer lies in the character and ways of God.  For me, the difference from before is that now I know what to look for because of time spent in the Word, and through fellowship with the Lord.

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Most people don't have an issue whether or not God would reveal something to them one way or another, it's that they don't know if it really is God or how to listen to His voice.  Unless we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, there really isn't much He has to say.  Establishing a relationship with Jesus first through salvation will enable us to comprehend when God is speaking to us.

So how do we know whether something is a God thing or if it isn’t?  If you are like me, I've questioned who was actually doing the talking if you know what I mean.

"Was it really me thinking God was trying to get through to me?  Maybe it was the devil hoping I'd make the wrong decision by feeding my mind with thoughts that would lead away from what God really wanted me to do.  Or was it really God after all, but the distractions kept me from following what He said?"

Here is the thing.  There are so many ways in which we can know whether or not we are hearing from the Lord concerning a situation, but I’d like to share these twelve points with you to help you have a discerning heart. 

Twelve Ways to Know if God is Speaking 

1. The first thing to recognize is something that never changes, so it’s the easiest to remember.  Whatever we feel God is saying will always be consistent with His Word.   

He never goes against what is in the Bible, so that really cuts down on the confusion.  

I learned this a long time ago. If the Bible can be divided or discerned rightly, it can also be discerned wrongly.  This is a vital reason why believer’s need to study the Word of God.   

If we know what it says we also know what it doesn’t say, and this will considerably narrow down wondering whether or not we’re hearing from God. 

 “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing (rightly handling and skillfully teaching) the Word of Truth." (2 Timothy 2:15 AMPC) 

2.  Sometimes when we hear from God He will give us directions we don't understand.  When we are listening to hear from the Lord, it will clash with the flesh nature. This isn't to say that God doesn’t want us to have any joy or fun in life, but it’s about not following the carnal nature that will lead us back into sin. 

3.  We know God is speaking to us when it challenges our faith.  If it doesn’t, begin to question the source.  The Lord will lead us to do things that result in bringing Him glory. 

4.  God’s direction will rely on us having courage to do something unusual and think differently.  He will deal with issues in your life that you fear so He can provide courage for you to trust Him and be valuable to His plan. 

5.  If we think that God will speak to us with the intentions of leaving others out of the mix, it isn’t going to happen.  The Lord will always have us consider how it affects others, even if it has to do with the life of an animal. 

He will never direct His children to do something selfish. We will know it's the voice of God when we ask how our behavior in a particular circumstance will affect others, and if it leads people to Him through the fruit of the Spirit. 

Let’s Keep Going 

6.  We can be sure it’s not God speaking if harm is involved, because He will not tell us to hurt someone or something.  However, don’t be deceived by thinking feelings aren’t hurt in this process. 

People get hurt because they don't understand the plan of God and may try to rush it.   Misunderstanding how God thinks and communicates with His children is a big reason that we fail to understand His ways. 

7.  Waiting in silence is another way to determine if God is trying to tell us something.  There are many times the Lord will have us wait patiently to develop our trust in His direction.  In waiting we build strength and courage to step out of our comfort zone.  

“Be strong and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord!”
(Psalm 31:24 AMPC) 

Sometimes we have to do things now, but most of the time we don't. Be sensitive and cautious to hear God distinctly. We are given many instances in the Bible where individuals didn’t want to wait on God and got themselves into all sorts of trouble.  King Saul was one of those people.    

When it came time to sacrifice to the Lord he didn't want to wait for the prophet to show up, and took things into his own hands violating the holiness of the process.  His impatience cost him the throne; a big price to pay for not waiting a few more days. 

8.  You can tell when God is speaking because He won't tell us to make a decision and forget the consequences.   As a matter of fact we can be sure if it’s the devil or the flesh speaking because we’ll hear: 

“Hey let’s do this.  Eat, drink and be merry.
It won’t hurt anyone; only me.” 

God requires that we act in wisdom because the decisions we make today truly effect tomorrow.  He even tells us to ask for wisdom so we don’t fall into this false sense of pride thinking we can handle everything on our own.  To avoid considering there will be consequence to the action is downright nuts and involves no wisdom at all. 

9.  When God speaks to us He will advise seeking godly counsel as verification to what is believed to be the course of action. True Christian counsel won’t be afraid to tell what God says about a matter, and will never feed us only what we want to hear on a subject.  Their counsel will confirm what God is telling us, where as ungodly advice destroys people. 

“The mouth of the [uncompromisingly] righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks with justice.”
(Psalm 37:30 AMPC) 

“She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness (giving counsel and instruction).”
 (Proverbs 31:26 AMPC) 

10. God's voice will cause His people to grow spiritually and not go backwards. We may be tested and fail the test, but that's not going backwards from Him we're just not moving forward.

If we happen to miss what God is saying and fail at a task it’s because of something we did.  Thankfully because of His grace and favor we will have another opportunity to keep trying as we focus on hearing His voice.

“So let those (of us) who are spiritually mature and full-grown
have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you
have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also.” (Philippians 3:15 AMPC) 

Our lack of faith and wisdom causes us to make mistakes and go backwards. Poor decisions will cause that to happen, not His direction. That's why we need the wisdom and help of the Holy Spirit in our lives daily. 

“If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God
 (Who gives) to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly,
without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.”
 (James 1:5 AMPC) 

The Ultimate Knowing it’s God Talking 

11. This is the most positive way that I know when it’s really God trying to speak to my spirit.  I have an inner peace about my decision. 

God's voice will always lead to ultimate peace in our spirit, if we aren’t experiencing that it is not God and the conflict is all ours.  The Amplified Bible says that the peace of God sits as an umpire on our hearts. I like that because peace is basically making the call.

“And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule
 (act as umpire continually) in your hearts (deciding and settling
with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state) to which as (members of Christ’s) one body you were also called (to live).  And be thankful (appreciative, giving praise to God always). (Colossians 3:15 AMP) 

If there is any struggle to get from the conflict to peace we can be sure that it’s not God speaking; the controversy is of our own making.   Sometimes we cause our own discord if we don’t immediately hear how to go about handling a situation. 

Yes, we might get a little impatient, but don’t get discouraged thinking you’ve missed hearing from God.  Learning to recognize if it’s God or not takes time in discerning His voice, but stick with it and you will. 

Jesus said My sheep know My voice. If you want to know God's voice you have to listen. To discern what He says, the Word is the way.  

“The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice;
 and I know them, and they follow Me.”
 (John 10:27 AMPC)

The Voice of Truth 

12.  The last point to keep in mind is that God’s voice will always be the Voice of Truth.

He will never lie to us or lead us in the wrong direction, because God cannot lie.  It’s not a part of the nature of God.

So let's do a quick recap of the 12 ways.

Twelve Ways to Know if God is Speaking 

 1.  Consistent to His Word

 2.  Gives Directions We Don’t Always Understand

 3.  Challenges Our Faith

 4.  Courage is Needed

 5.  Consider How it Affects Others

 6.  Will Not Direct Us to Harm

 7.  Wait in Silence

 8.  Consider the Consequences

 9.  Seek Godly Counsel

10. Grow Spiritually

11. There Will Be Inner Peace

12. God’s Voice is the Voice of Truth

There will be a lot of “voices” that try to make you follow their path, but don’t be swayed in their direction.  Remember there is only one VOICE of Favor and that is the Voice of Jesus … His is the Voice of Truth! 

This Week’s Challenge:
The Voice of Favor:
Listening Step-by-Step 

God really does want us to receive favor in life, but we have to learn if what we think is favor really is.

When my sister thought she was hearing from God in getting the puppy playmate so her dog would have a companion, it really looked like a good deal. 

After all the evidence was considered, “free” wasn’t a God thing.  It was a distraction from satan, so that sis would make a wrong decision costing her a great deal financially as well as emotionally. 

The challenge before us is to recognize and discern who is doing the talking when we make choices.  We need to keep in mind the twelve points and determine who and what is guiding us to make the decision at hand. 

Ask yourself who is speaking: 

Me (meaning you or me),
satan or
are we following ungodly counsel. 

If we remember to follow these points it will always lead us to the favor of God, because the Voice of Truth is the one doing the speaking and directing. 

“Grace (favor and spiritual blessing) to you and
 (inner, heart) peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
(the Messiah, the Anointed One)."
(1 Corinthians 1:2 AMPC emphasis mine)

The Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns

If this article has encouraged or helped you, please consider sharing it by using the social media icons provided at the end of this post. 

Until next time, God’s voice speaks favor into life!

“I Am the voice of favor – hear Me.”
Jesus Christ 

*Unless noted, the names in articles are changed to protect the individual(s) privacy. 

Note: Emphasis is given in some scriptures to show clarity or understanding and is not to take away from the inspirited Word of God. 

When used, the words satan or devil are not capitalized deliberately, because we give him no place in our lives. 

Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

What’s New This Week: Click on the link.

Hearing God's Voice Today by James W. Goll on Daily Favor Blog

Practical Help for listening to Him and Recognizing His Voice
by James W. Goll 

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