Having Troubles Hearing God Speak?

God Is Speaking All The Time

God is speaking all the time, and as a result, we hear him far more than what we realize. However, it’s become a common teaching that if you want to hear God’s voice, than you must have a consistent prayer life. Also, on top of learning how to pray constantly, you must also learn how to be silent for some unknown period of time in order to give God his moments to speak in return. As crazy as it sounds, this practice isn’t taught anywhere in the Bible.

How To Pray

When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray he gave them the “Our Father” template. In it Jesus never teaches the principle of pray, and then be silent so God can have his turn to speak. Gideon prayed and then put the fleece out. Elijah prayed and then fire came down. Jesus prayed and then got up to check on his disciples. The list goes on… The fact is, God speaks all the time, to everyone of us, and in many different ways. The most important part is, are we obeying what he’s saying? We feel a tug to make a decision after he speaks, do we obey? We hear his voice of encouragement while down, do we allow ourselves to believe his words? We hear “Forgive!” do we continue to hold on to grudges?

Does Care Enough To Speak To Me?

One of the worst traps of believing that God isn’t speaking to us is that ultimately I am claiming that he doesn’t care enough to give me clear direction. And if he doesn’t care than he must not love me. And why doesn’t he love me like those who he is speaking to?

What about when you’re hurting and you reach out to God and say something something like, “don’t you care about me God? Can’t you see I’m hurting” and then you hear nothing in return. Does this mean that you did something wrong? Or that you didn’t follow some magic prayer recipe that if followed properly he would’ve heard you and answered? No! God is speaking to you, you just haven’t understood how to tune into his voice, and most likely, this is one of the main reasons you are struggling as deeply as you are.

His Love Is His Voice

Remember, God made everything to sing his praises. He made them to sing out to you and I. He uses this song to speak to us everyday through his creation. Think about it this way, he’s the one who gave us our five senses to enjoy all that he’s made. He set the sun in the afternoon sky to give us its glowing colors. He made the birds to sing their beautiful songs so we could hear and enjoy them. He made the snow to glisten in the sunlight. The flowers to give us wonderful smells and all their vibrant colors. The different foods with their amazing tastes to enjoy. He could have just placed us on a bare rock and then said, “love me, love each other, and obey my words”, but he didn’t. He made all that he did so that we could enjoy this life, and see him in all of it. This is God speaking to you, all of the time!

Love Vs. Knowledge

Knowledge Needs Wisdom

This morning, In my online morning men’s group, a friend of mine said these words; “having knowledge about something is of little value if we don’t have the wisdom of how to apply that knowledge in our lives.” I definitely agree, this truth has been playing over and over in my mind a lot lately. I also believe however they there is another great factor that plays into the equation of Gods’ will, and that factor is love.

Wisdom Needs Love

Over the past year or so I have been blown away by how many new things I have learned about God, the Bible, and history, but then I ask myself, what use is it if it doesn’t help me to love God or love others better than I already have? There are simple folk who are great soul winners. They aren’t full of deep Bible knowledge, nor can they tell you all sorts of things about the history of the church, but they can tell you how it feels to watch a sinner break free from addiction, and what it’s like to watch blind eyes open. It’s my belief that God cares very little about what we know unless what we know will help us to love him and others better than what we already have. Even when it comes to obeying him; when you love, you desire to obey.

Love Holds The Power

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” This is why we need to let our hearts love, and when we do, we will soon find ourselves directly in the will of God.

No More Excuses! (A testimony of one mans willingness to be honest with himself)

John Zimmerman

A great friend of mine, who lead pastors in Rockford, Illinois recently decided to share his testimony in our online men’s group. It moved us all. His willingness to be honest with both himself, and with us, was amazing. He showed a level of transparency that not many of us are willing to share. I can say that I’ve met too few pastors who are willing to expose their struggles to the level that John was. He didn’t show weakness, he was real in his struggles, and he didn’t complain, he confessed. By the end, he testified of how God’s amazing mercy kept him from drowning in the trials. His testimony is POWERFUL, and I believe it will bless you if you read it. So here it is…

Does being transparent mean you are teachable?

I remember a time in my life when I was praying for a teachable spirit. One of my worries as an aspiring minister was that I would become proud and arrogant. I strove to keep my nose low, and my heart open to whatever God wanted to do in my life. As I continued to pray this way, my family and I entered one of the toughest financial times of our lives. Our once very secure, double income, 2 car, mortgage, vacations, and 401k lifestyle was stripped away! All the security known to man was gone. All we had left was each other and our health. Not long after this, my wife’s health also started to deteriorate. It seemed as though all of the “blessings” in my life were falling through my fingertips and there was nothing I could do about it. The image of security that I once held was replaced with one of humility and what may have appeared to others as poor stewardship. Soon we were driving much older vehicles, and at one time I had been given a broken down vehicle to drive. Of course it needed much work before I could even use it, but none the less, it was a payment free vehicle.

After much prayer, pleading, and fasting, our situation did not improve. If I got a job, my wife would be laid off, and when she got a job, I would get laid off. We took 1 step forward and 2 steps back. Still my prayerful seeking and listening continued. I can honestly say that I complained my fair share. I started to fall into the comparison trap. You know when everyone else that spends their money foolishly gets all of the breaks while you faithfully pay your tithe and give, and yet you find yourself continuously broke? That is where I was headed. Into despair. Many people tried to encourage me. Until finally my brother had heard enough complaining.

One day while on a trip home from a very nice vacation (my loving mom paid my way), my brother Jeff looked at me and said, “What are you so angry about?” I then unloaded all of the frustration and misunderstanding in about 10 minutes. He patiently listened and answered, “You think nobody else struggles? Do you really think no one else can relate to what you are going through? Where is your faith?!” He started preaching a much needed sermon to me, and I just listened. Then I started to weep. And I listened some more, I let the word of God sink into my heart and I felt terrible. It was as if I could feel God removing thorns from my inner most being. His word was cultivating me. I was very quiet the rest of the way home as I chewed on the meat that was just fed to me.

Days past and my mindset started to change. I started to think about all of the people I knew that had suffered through things that I thought were not fair. I started to compare myself in a different way. I started to become thankful. Not for what I lost, but for all of the blessings I didn’t lose. I thanked God for my family, for my job, for my car, for my rented home, for anything and everything I could think of. From that point on, I determined in my heart to be thankful if it was sunny outside or if it was pouring down rain. Nothing was ever going to steal my thankfulness again.

So I went on in my journey with my family right by my side. Our financial situation changed. I started to have needs that were seriously too big to pay on my own. Even though my employment was steady now, some 10 years later, I never quite gained my financial independence back that I once had. It was constantly escaping my grasp. So when a big bill came up, I was forced to let people know about it. I did not like asking for help. None of us do. And it is because of the oldest sin in the Book. Pride. But if I didn’t ask, or at least become transparent by not hiding my need, there was a chance that I might never receive the blessing God intended for me. Then it happened. Someone walked up to me and put $100 in my hand. I didn’t know what they were doing and was too afraid to look at it till I got home. I couldn’t believe it, and I thought, why would you have someone do this Lord? Really, I didn’t think it was right. I always thought that I had to work for every single thing in my life. What I didn’t understand was that you can’t earn God’s blessings. They are gifts. They are meant to encourage us to remain faithful. And there is not one person on the face of the earth that deserves them. Especially not me!

Again and again, needs would arise, and people would privately and anonymously bless us. It was overwhelming at times. I could not believe God’s love and patience for us. Then it hit me. After many years of pruning and removing thorns, and cultivating in my heart, I realized that God was helping me to be humble, transparent, and teachable. He was answering my prayers! At times I thought God was mad at me or punishing me for complaining because I really didn’t understand his grace. But even through this, God was showing me what love, grace, mercy, and compassion were all about. He wasn’t mad, and he wasn’t punishing me. He was teaching me. He was allowing me to share in the fellowship of his suffering. I do know that this fellowship of suffering is mainly in the ministering of the gospel, but I also believe that God’s word reaches us in the physical, prepares us in the spiritual, and teaches us to believe in the supernatural. It fully encompasses our spiritual and physical being. Jesus often met the physical need and then the spiritual. He truly cares for us. This is why he tells us to cast all of our cares on him. He wants to take us to the places of struggle. Not so we feel punished, but rather so that we can truly know him and become more like him. What a joy this is! What a blessing it is to learn of God in such a personal way!

Are you ready to become more transparent in your life? Let God teach you how. You may lose your personal security, and you may not even look the same when you are done, but can I give you this one promise? He will be with you all the way! God loves you and it is his deep desire to show you and to bless you.

John Zimmerman

My View of the Amazing Easter Story

To be honest, I’m amazed that God is a God of second chances. When he created everything and decided how it would all work, it truly amazes me that he made room for mercy. Any master craftsmen would most likely discard any material he works with that is marred and ugly. But not God, he continues to put love and mercy on display. This amazes me! It would be easy to say, “well, when God created humans he already knew the future so he knew we would need forgiveness”, but I’d say, “because he already knew the future before creating us failing humans, he could have scrapped the idea of us all together, but he didn’t, he went with us + mercy instead.” Again, amazing! He could have avoided so much pain by not creating us, but then he wouldn’t have gotten what he wanted most, and that is free will love. He longs for it! So much so that he created mercy so he could have it from us. For the third time I say, amazing! The creator God of the universe decided to die for his failing creation so he could share his love with us. Wow, now that is an amazing Easter story!

Addictions, You Too Can Win

I too have dealt with the power of addictions, and like you, have found that there is no easy way out. If there were, we wouldn’t have so many facilities to go to, or programs to try. This shouldn’t discourage us though, because with God all things are possible. I want to share my experience of how I overcame the addictions in my life, and how you can too. The process is easy to understand but will be difficult to apply if you choose to make it so. Some well intentioned people will tell you that recovery is going to be a long dark path, and that it may take years to overcome. They also my say things like, “once an addict always an addict”. But this just isn’t true. The Bible assures us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” You can be made new, but the choice is up to you.

Here’s how I overcame addictions.

The first step I had to take was the one of honesty. I had to be willing to admit that I was selfish and that I needed help to stop hurting both myself and those around me with my selfishness. This is called repentance. Repentance isn’t about paying for your sins, or begging God to give you a second chance. It’s about recognizing that you can’t do it on your own, and that you need God’s help to save you from your selfish ways. I went to God and said, “Lord, I’m so sorry I’ve let my life become such a mess, but I can’t fix this on my own, so whatever you have to do to free me from these additions, please do it.” And the process began! It was less than 3 months and I was free.

What It Takes To Walk in Freedom

It took me coming to a point where I was willing to vow that these things would never have a place in my life again. But first, it took a step of courage and faith that my week and selfish flesh didn’t want to take. It took a willingness to overcome the fear of who I would be without the addictions. I took the leap, made the vows, and have never looked back. Remember, it didn’t start with the vows, it started with the prayer. After that it became about the willingness on my part to change, and then God brought me to the place of the vows. He can and will do the same for you if you’re willing to ask, and then be willing to change.

The Changes

The changes begin when we admit, ask for help, and than be willing to do what we are shown. Many addicts remain addicts because when the answer of chance is revealed to them they say no. They try and convince themselves that the change isn’t necessary for their freedom. They try and convince themselves that the two are unrelated. Let’s just call this what it is, laziness. But remember, laziness is just another form of selfishness, and if you are unwilling to let go of selfishness then you will never be set free. God will start with bite size choices that you can make, but still have to be willing to. Making good choices will start the process of proving to yourself that you can get personal victories in your life, and once you get the taste of victory, you’ll want more. I promise!!

Will You Relapse?

Only if your vows didn’t mean that much to you when you made them. Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 is very clear on how God feels about your vows, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.” Remember, selfishness is what you have been giving into this whole time, not the actual addictions themselves. So the real question you need to ask yourself is, “am I allowed to be selfish again?” The answer is “No!” If you love yourself and the people you have been hurting, NO, you don’t get to relapse! This is why it’s so important that you realize you are a new person, the old one is now dead. If it’s dead than you’ll have to go back to the graveyard with a shovel and dig that nasty thing back up again. The Bible teaches that it’s “as a dog returns to its vomit.” Seriously, I can not understand the reason people would teach that you may relapse from time to time. So it’s ok to put love on hold then? To go back to your vomit, and lick it back up again? Your loved ones are supposed to be understanding of this when it happens from time to time? You’re ok with this being “part of the process”? Read carefully the words of Jesus “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John‬ ‭8:36‬. The answer is easy, admit you need help, ask God for it, and then when he shows you the path, get on it, tough choices and all. Then, make your vows and NEVER look back! “But what if I relapse, is there no hope then?” Of course there’s still hope, there always is. But don’t expect your loved ones to stick around and keep forgiving you for licking your vomit back up and coming home smelling like the dead body you dug back up. Selfishness ALWAYS has a price tag, you already know that. So don’t make an excuse to go back to it.

I’m going to pray for you right now so that you too can find the strength to pray your own prayer.

“Jesus, you see the soul who is reading this right now. You see the pain, the shame, and the guilt that they live with everyday. You have heard all the prayers that they have already prayed, and it’s because of these prayers that they are stilling here right now reading this. You are here in this moment with us, reminding us that the promise of freedom is for all, not just for some. In your amazing plan for freedom you will not only help us to become free from addictions, but you will also give us the strength to confront the people we have hurt with our addictions. Help us not to forget that you are here now, and you will continue to be here as freedom from addictions begins. You Lord, will never leave us or forsake us, no not to the ends of the earth. David said, “if I make my bed in hell you are there” and this is where you find me right here and now. Thank you for the help you have already given me and for the help are willing to give as I go forward. I know the path to freedom is only one step away. Lord, Psalms 65:3 promises, “Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all.” It’s this promise we claim, and‬ it’s in your name Jesus that we put these addictions in your hands. Amen.”

The Thing About Righteousness

Getting caught up in desiring to be righteous can be a very tricky thing. What I mean is, wanting to do what is right simply because it’s righteous isn’t going to get us very far. Believe it or not that’s exactly what the religious leaders of Jesus’s day were doing. If we are going to have genuine and pure righteousness we must first understand what Godly love is, and once we learn to apply this love, then righteousness will flow freely from us.

As crazy as this may sound, many people try to belittle themselves into being righteous, but obtaining righteousness this way will be short lived and never enjoyed. Negative never produces positive. First, you must KNOW that God loves you both deeply, and immeasurably. Then, learn to let that love flow from you to others. Once we can make these two steps a part of our daily routine, we no longer beg God to make us righteous because it will be an automatic byproduct of our peace, and not something we are trying to beat ourselves into.