What God’s Been Teaching Me Lately… (Feb.27)

Through several sources, the same themes keep popping up… and that almost always means that God is trying to get my attention! 😉

Not only am I learning this stuff from my current Bible study homework (“Experiencing Godby Henry & Richard Blackaby), but I also read it again in my review book, “Lazarus Awakening” by Joanna Weaver… and some of it popped up elsewhere, too!

Lesson 1: We can’t make our plans and then ask God to bless them. Instead, we are to ask God what His plans are, and then join Him in those! (see Proverbs 16:9)

“Part of putting childish ways behind us,
spiritually speaking, involves setting aside
our misconceptions that if God loves us,
He must act according to our specifications,
our scripts, and especially our time lines.”
~ Joanna Weaver, “Lazarus Awakening

Lesson 2: God doesn’t want us following a formula in our faith, or in our relationship with Him.

“I wish I could outline
Ten Easy Steps to Hear God Speak ~ Guaranteed!
That would appeal to our
human craving for formulas.
But God’s communication is far
more individualized and intimate
than anything a self-help bestseller could teach.”
~ Joanna Weaver, “Lazarus Awakening

• Lesson 3: Knowing God better helps me to hear Him better… I need to spend time in growing my relationship with Him.

“Since intimacy with us has always
been God’s goal, it makes sense that
hearing His voice would be linked to that
very thing. The better we get to know Him,
in other words,
the better we hear Him.”
~ Joanna Weaver, “Lazarus Awakening

Lesson 4: God speaks to me, personally.

“…I believe the Lord is speaking to me
more often than I know.
The problem is, I’m not always listening.”
~ Joanna Weaver, “Lazarus Awakening

Lesson 5: God wants a LOVE relationship with me.

“…for I have ransomed you.
      I have called you by name; you are mine
…because you are precious to me.
      You are honored, and I love you
…You have been chosen to know me, believe in me,
      and understand that I alone am God.
…(Isaiah 43:1, 4, 10…)

Lesson 6: God’s silence doesn’t indicate His rejection of me.

“The teacher is always silent during a test.”
~ Joanna Weaver, quoting Diane Freitag,
in “Lazarus Awakening

Lesson 7: I need to know who I am, and WHOSE I am.

“…two very important things we cannot
live without: …identity…and security.”
~ Joanna Weaver, “Lazarus Awakening

Learning…

Well, since I did a post, already, about the stuff I’m unsure about, I thought I’d also do a post about what I’m learning / enjoying in this same study, “Experiencing God” by Henry & Richard Blackaby (and Claude King).

p. 14 ~ “Look to see how God generally works throughout the Scriptures. When you learn how God has consistently related to people throughout history, you can expect Him to work in a similar way with you.”

I really liked this! It’s a good reminder, first of all, that God never changes. And, I like knowing that God has provided a guidebook for our lives, so we can see how things were resolved in the past, and have hope for our future.

p.15 ~ The focus needs to be on God, not on my life.” (example: not “What can I do for God?”, but “What does God want to do through me?”)

Too often we make it about ourselves… we forget that we’re playing a part in God’s story, and that life here on earth isn’t about us. I’m certainly guilty of this. I get so caught up in the day-to-day dramas of life, that I forget that there’s a bigger picture.

p. 20 ~ “God wants you to come to a greater knowledge of Him by experience.”

I can definitely say that I’ve gotten to know God better through experiences of Him than I have had than through any reading I’ve done, or through any teaching I’ve heard. God has shown Himself in many different ways, sometimes more powerful, sometimes more subtle, but always in a way that I knew it was Him.

p. 25 ~ “As Moses obeyed God, God accomplished through Moses what Moses could not do in his own strength.”

Over and over, in my reading of the Bible (and through other Christian sources), I’ve learned that I can do nothing in my own strength and actually succeed… it has to be God that does it through me, if it’s going to work. But yet, over and over again, I go back to trying to do things in my own strength, praying that God will help me succeed. How silly! “For apart from me you can do nothing!“, God says in John 15:5. But, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me“, He also says in Philippians 4:13. 😉

p.33 ~ “God-centeredness requires the daily death of self and submission to God.”

A lot of times I’ll think that submission and death-of-self are a one-time thing… I’ll pray for God to take the reins, and think that it’ll all be smooth-sailing from there, only to find out the next day that I have to lay it all down again!

p. 43 ~ “God has not changed. He still speaks to people.”

This is comforting. I love knowing that my God is the same one that I read about through the Scriptures; the same God who sent His Son to die for me; the same God who says He loves me. And, I love that He speaks to me. 😉

p. 45 ~ “Do not assume that the moment God calls you, you are prepared for the assignment.” -and- p.47 ~ “God uses the smaller assignments to develop character… If God has a great task for you, He will expand your character to match that assignment.

Sometimes we have to be patient and wait to see what God will do. Sometimes we’re called by God, but we’re not yet fully ready to take on what He’s asked of us.

I liked how, in the study book, the authors used the example of Abraham… God told him that he’d be the father of many nations, but Abraham had to wait 25 years to start to see anything come from that promise! In the meantime, though, God was preparing Abraham to be able to live that out… He knew that Abraham’s character had to be developed a bit more before Abraham would be ready to be the father of Isaac, etc.

p. 48 ~ “Often God will deliberately ask you to do what you failed to do in your own strength. Now you will do it in His strength.”

Anyone other than me find that they have to go through the same things over and over again, ’til they finally get it? LOL. I’m an awfully stubborn creature, apparently, ’cause there are some lessons that I have to repeat time and time again, in order to fully learn that God is the one who is in charge. 😕

p. 53 ~ “I could say I obey Him, I serve Him, I worship Him, I fear Him. But I cannot say I love Him.

Ugh. This one is a hard one to admit to. But, I think it’s true of me. It’s not that I don’t love God at all — it’s more so that I don’t love Him enough. The Bible tells us that we show we love God when we obey Him, and do what He says. (1 John 2:5) And, I have a hard time doing that. I still too often want to do everything my own way, and I too often live life as if it’s all about me.

p. 55 ~ “If you knew all you had was a relationship with God, would you be totally and completely satisfied?

I wish I could say “yes”, but I’m not to that point, yet. I hope to get there, some day, though. I’m praying that that will be true of me at some point!

p. 58 ~ “Make sure you are investing your life, time, and resources in things that will last, not things that will pass away… Only God can guide you to invest your life in worthwhile ways.”

This was timely, as I’ve just recently made up a list of how I can be more intentional in my daily living. It all started when I read Chris & Kerry Shook’s book, “One Month to Live“. It got me thinking about how I spend my time, and about how a lot of what I do is not really investing in my future (eternity). Much of what I do isn’t really worthwhile, when you look at it from that perspective. So, I’ve decided that I’d like to change that.

This little quote, though, showed me that my list is going to need to be revised… because I left God out of the equation. I didn’t ask Him how He thinks I should best spend my time/resources.

Questioning…

While I’m getting a lot out of this “Experiencing God” Bible study (Henry & Richard Blackaby, Claude King), I’m also questioning parts. Here is some of what’s bugging me…

p. 39 ~ “Open and closed doors do not always indicate God’s guidance. Check to see that prayer, the Scriptures, and circumstances agree on the direction you sense God leading you.

This is both good and bad… I’m not sure I agree about the open/closed doors thing, though. I think God closes doors (opportunities) when it isn’t yet the right time — or, perhaps it isn’t the right opportunity. And, I believe He opens the doors when it is the right time/opportunity. But, I also definitely believe that you still need to check yourself against the Scriptures & such — and be in prayer, asking God for His clear direction — too. If you have the relationship with God, in the first place, I think it’ll be pretty clear from the above-mentioned sources whether/not God is leading you in a particular direction… opening/closing the door for that opportunity.

This one (below) really gets me ruffled…

p.45 ~ “In Scripture, God is not often seen coming and speaking to people just for conversation’s sake… When God speaks to you through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, the church, or another way, He has a purpose in mind for your life… He speaks to His servant when He is ready to move. Otherwise, He wouldn’t speak to you.”

Oh, really? Well, what about Adam & Eve? God walked with them in the Garden… and I’m sure they had plenty of conversation, just for the sake of their relationship! And, speaking of which, if God doesn’t talk to us at any time other than when He wants to do something, how on earth are we supposed to have a “relationship” with Him? Isn’t a relationship about speaking back & forth? about two people getting to know each other (obviously, in this case, God already knows us fully, but, humor me here…). 😉 I just don’t know that I believe what the authors are saying here. But, I’ve consulted with someone who I know happens to be an “expert” in this, and am awaiting a response. I’ll make note of it here, later.

p. 49 ~ “If what you’re thinking makes sense to you, it’s probably not from God.”

I can see how this could be true in some instances. For example, yes, God is oftentimes unpredictable. He often asks us to do things that don’t necessarily make sense to us. That doesn’t necessarily mean, though, that every time something actually does make sense to us, that it isn’t from God. God is not a God of chaos. He’s a God of order.

But, anything that goes against what the Bible says won’t be something from God. God will never ask us to do something that’s contrary to His Word.

** If you have any thoughts on any of this, please share! I’m still questioning, and would love to hear others’ opinions. Thanks in advance! **

Experiencing God” ~ our new study

My church’s ladies’ Bible study group has chosen to do Henry & Richard Blackaby’s (and Claude King’s) book, “EXPERIENCING GOD“, this time around. They needed to step away from Beth Moore, for a while, as too many of the ladies were focusing on Beth’s teaching, instead of on what God was trying to teach them. And, the leaders seriously believe that God was calling them to do “Experiencing God“.

We’re only just beginning week 2, but already I can see that I’m going to have difficulty with this study. While I’m enjoying it, and certainly finding things in it that I can  use, I also have “experienced” (pardon the pun) some theological “red flags“, too.

For example, on page 15 of the workbook, the authors write, “‘If you ask the wrong question, you will get the wrong answer.’ Sometimes we assume that every question is legitimate. However, when we ask the wrong question, we may find an answer but remain disoriented to God and His activity. Always check to see whether you have asked the right question before you pursue the answer.

I honestly don’t believe that there are “illegitimate” questions. In my opinion, every question is legitimate, as that’s how we learn (by asking questions).

And, I don’t believe that we have to ask the “right” questions to get a proper answer from God. God is not spiteful, giving us wrong answers just because we haven’t asked the “right” question. God knows we’re fallible human beings, and He is always going to give us His right answer, regardless.

In a recent devotional my mom sent me –after we’d discussed this particular “red flag” from the study– God confirmed my beliefs. The devotional said this:

“…May we come to a realization that You’re pleased even in our searching, and You [God] honor our honest questions. Thank You for accepting us in our struggles and understanding our doubts…” [Charles Swindoll, “For Daily Doubts” devotional, excerpted from “The Prayers of Charles R. Swindoll, Volume 1″]

God honors our honest questions. They don’t have to be “right”, they just have to be honest. “Seek… and you will find”,  God says. (Matthew 6:33).

Another “red flag” I had was on page 14, where the author writes, “Your experience is valid only as it is confirmed in the Scriptures.” This just didn’t sit right with me, and I’m still not sure why… I just know that I get irked by it. I have to research this one a bit more, though, before I can say why I think it’s a “red flag”. (If you have an opinion about it, please leave a comment!).

Anyhoo. This isn’t to say that I don’t like this study. As I said before, there are definitely things that I’m getting out of it ~ enjoying ~ too. For example, I like that we are encouraged to look to see how God consistently responded in the Scriptures, and remember that He will still respond in this way to situations, today. God never changes. And, I liked that I’m being reminded that this life is not about me/us… it’s about God. This is God’s story… and we are priviledged to play a part in it.

My favorite part of this study, though, is how the author keeps stressing that God reveals what He is about to do to His people! Here’s a quote from the book, page 23:

Whenever God prepares to do something,
He reveals to a person or His people
what He is about to do.

Right after this sentence, there was a verse quoted… Amos 3:7, which says, “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets.” And, I thought to myself that this verse would be great to add to my collection of “proof” that God reveals the future to people. So, I went to my notebook to add this verse… and found that it was the same verse that I’d last added to my notebook! LOL. How cool is that?!

Anyway. I will share more from this study as the weeks go on. But, for now, that’s all I wanted to mention. 😉

Coming Soon!

My ladies’ Bible study group will be starting back up, again, soon! And, I’ve been made aware that this is the study we’re going to be working through first: “Faithful, Abundant, True” by Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore.

Description (from Lifeway.com): 
Join Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, and Priscilla Shirer in a women’s Bible study recorded live at the Orlando Deeper Still conference.

  • Kay Arthur teaches from basically, the entire book of Hebrews! Hebrews is both an example of God’s faithfulness and a challenge to believers to be faithful in difficult times.
  • Priscilla Shirer teaches from Ephesians 3:20-21 on God’s abundance. A fundamental basis for every believer is the absolute reality that God can do whatever He chooses to do. God’s ability empowers our faithfulness.
  • Beth Moore teaches on the topic of discernment. In these difficult days it is absolutely essential that we learn to trust the Holy Spirit to enable us to determine what is true and what is false.

While these three women each speak on the distinctive topic the Holy Spirit had lead them to teach, the messages result in a marvelous blend. Kay challenges us to faithfulness in difficult days. Priscilla points to the essential of trust in God’s ability, and Beth teaches on how to discern truth from error in these difficult days.

I can’t wait! 😀

Stay tuned for my study notes! 😉