C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”

When things are going well, He often speaks in a whisper and we have to listen closely.  How do you know if it is God speaking to your conscience or if it is bad pizza from the night before?  I won’t tell you that it is always easy, but I’ll give a few guidelines that I believe will help you distinguish between the two.

Before you begin seeking God’s will, make sure your heart is in a position to do WHATEVER God says.  It’s important to decide that before asking God for His will.

Next, ask yourself if one of the options or possibilities are in disagreement with the Bible’s teachings.  (This assumes that you have to be reading the Bible and learning so you can know it’s teachings.)

For example, if you see three options and one of them calls on a little white lie, go ahead and mark that one off.  It is NOT God’s will even if it is the easy option or most attractive to you.

If you still have two options and you aren’t feeling God’s leading strongly towards one of them, remember that God also speaks through the “Church.”  (The “Church” is the people, not a building.)

Don’t ask everyone you know for their opinion.  Go to a few trustworthy, wise, godly people that care about you and explain the situation.  God can sometimes make things a bit clearer by talking to other people that love Him and you.

You can also look at the circumstances.  Once again, you have to interpret the circumstances through the Bible.  It’s not always a “given” that you take the most attractive option that presents itself.

If the options are:

  1. Take a high paying job.
  2. Keep the job that you have.

God may want you to stay at your present job to reach someone.  That’s where listening to God is more important than a knee jerk decision to the most attractive option that seems to present itself.

If you have sincerely prayed, “God, I’ll do WHATEVER You ask me to do” and you have really sought His will through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the Church, and you don’t feel like He is saying “wait,” then make the best decision that you can.

I really believe if you “delight yourself in the Lord, that He will give you the desires of your heart.”  After going through all of these steps with a sincere heart, make a choice and don’t look back.

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When we want to know God’s will and the next step for our lives, the first step is simply to begin asking Him to reveal it to you.

One of the challenges most believers have is that they actually already know what that next step, they just choose to ignore it.  For example, maybe they are asking, “God, should I take this job or should I stay here at this company?”

The reality is that many only want to hear from God on their terms and not on God’s terms.

What they see as important in their life is not what God sees as important.  Perhaps God has already told them that they need to deal with they way they talk to their kids and they have ignored that.  Maybe God wants them to forgive or He wants them to be a better employee.

God is more interested in a person taking the last step that He told them to take than He is revealing what you demand to know.

Don’t ask God to lead you in your next step without first telling Him AND MEANING IT, that you’re willing to do WHATEVER that step is.

Then, if He reveals something to you that you need to do, then do it!  THEN you can ask for the next step.

We might think we really want to know God’s will for our life but unless we’re willing to do WHATEVER He tells us, we’re just playing at this Jesus following thing.  It doesn’t appear to be something we’re that serious about.  We need to make Him Lord, which means our life is really His.

Shut Up and Listen!

December 21, 2012

Most Christ followers would say that their prayer life is not what they feel like it should be.  While saying this, they have in mind that they aren’t TALKING to God enough.

Jesus had a specific time in the morning while it was still dark when He went by himself to a quiet place to pray.  We probably picture Jesus pouring out His heart to God as He prayed.  I think that is one thing that He did during this time, but I also believe He was simply quiet during this time too.

Have you ever been in a relationship where the other person did all the talking and you couldn’t get a word in anywhere?  Maybe they didn’t seem to care about what you had to say?  You just want to staple their lips together!

If you’re in a relationship with God, He isn’t only interested in hearing the shopping list of the things that you want Him to do.  He wants time to speak too.  Most Christ followers say they want to hear from Him but won’t be still and shut their own mouth long enough for Him to say anything.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Other versions says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”

Sometimes we need to sit and listen!

How does God speak?  Henry Blackaby teaches that God speaks to us mainly in 4 ways.  He speaks through the Bible, through prayer, circumstances, and through the church.

Let’s look at the first way that I mentioned.  God speaks to us through the Bible.  For example, if you are a Christ follower and haven’t been baptized, you don’t need to ask Him if you should be baptized.  He’s already told you to do that in the Bible!  Just DO IT!

If you are holding a grudge against family member or an old business associate, you need to forgive them!  The only prayer that you need to pray regarding forgiving is perhaps for the strength to follow through on forgiving them.  Don’t even ask if you should forgive them.  (That’s another subject, but if you’re interested further in forgiveness, try:  https://eddiepoole.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/she-cant-forgive-him/)

Sometimes God only gives us one step at a time.  If He’s revealed to us that we need to spend more time with Him and we haven’t done that, he may not tell us anything more until we do the last thing that He’s told us to do.

Pray about your next step with God, shut up, and LISTEN.   When he reveals that step, TAKE THE STEP.  THEN ask for the next one.  

Sometimes I wish I could just pick up the phone and call God like I can my friends.  When I want to do His will but I’m just not sure what His will is, that can be frustrating!

Then, when you start hearing Him speak, do you ever begin doubting and wondering if it’s just bad broccoli from the night before?  Maybe it’s just me.  lol

5 Reasons We May Not Hear From God:

1.  You Don’t Belong to Him:  

This is a tough one to start out with but I didn’t write the book.

“Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8:47

People aren’t born Christians.  Being an America doesn’t make you a Christian.

Growing up in a Christian family doesn’t make you a Christian & God doesn’t have grandkids.

If you don’t belong to God, you won’t hear Him speak.  Each person has to make the decision by himself as to if he will follow Christ.

A  person that wants to hear from God should ask themselves if they have ever given their lives to God, through Christ, and accepted His forgiveness of sin.

2.  Sin In Your Life:  

“If I had been cozy with evil, the Lord would never have listened. But He most surely did listen, He came on the double when He heard my prayer.” Psalm 66:18-19  The Message

If God has been telling you that there is sin in your life and you won’t listen to Him, the next time you talk to Him, guess what He’s likely to say?  He’s going to remind you about the sin.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins.”

1 John 1:9

3.  Mistreat Your Wife:  

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”  1 Peter 3:7

What does this mean?  God won’t hear your prayer if you mistreat your wife.  God is serious about loving her as Christ loved the church.  (NOTE:  Christ gave His life for the church.)

4.  Lack of Quiet:  

“Be Still and Know that I am God”  Psalm 46:10

Life gets too loud.  There are alot of voices telling you what to do all day long.

-Radio

-Television

-Kids

-Boss

If we want to get hear God’s heart, we have to find time to shut off all of the noise so we can hear God’s voice.

HE USUALLY DOESN’T SHOUT.  

You have to really take time to listen.

5.  We Forget the Poor  

Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.”  Proverbs 21:13

This is a barrier that people don’t usually think about.  Proverbs is really clear here.  God won’t be speaking to us if we only think of ourselves and not those who aren’t as fortunate.  God is serious about showing compassion to others too.  Be a jerk to the poor and He won’t hear your cries.

God wants to communicate with us.  He took drastic measures to make that possible when He sent His only Son to die in our place.  Communicating with Him must take place on His terms and not ours.  He is serious about this following Jesus thing.

I’m sure there are other barriers that may keep a person from hearing from God.   This list challenges me.  Does it challenge anyone else?

Does getting a “positive” opportunity in your life automatically represent God’s will?  I’ve heard believers say things like “this door has opened for a new job and I know it is God because it is such a great opportunity.”  Is that ALWAYS true?  Could God’s will be for you to go to prison as an innocent man?

Sometimes I’m convinced that God does lead His children to opportunities where they will prosper financially or to opportunities where their gifts will be used in a greater way.  Other times when I’ve heard people give God credit for an opportunity that seems good, I’m not sure He was leading in that direction.

A positive situation is not evidence in itself of the leading of God.  At the same time, a “negative” situation is not evidence of someone “missing” God’s leading.

God has given those who love Him a peace that passes understanding and a joy in their life.  Having said that, I believe that the Bible teaches that God is more concerned about our devotion to Him than He is our “happiness.”  He is more concerned about us leading someone to faith in Him than He is about us getting a raise and being able to provide a few luxuries for our family like cable tv.

Understand that happiness and joy are two different things.  Happiness is temporary and dependent upon our circumstances.  Joy comes from God and is put inside us at a deeper level.  The Apostle Paul learned to be “content” in whatever his circumstances, as he said in Philippians 4.  He wrote his words while in prison, by the way.

The fact that the Apostle Paul was in prison doesn’t mean that he was out of God’s will.  He could have easily been a leader in the Jewish community if he had just toned down the “Jesus” rhetoric a bit.  I’m sure people then could have seen his leadership as proof that God had opened doors for him.  Could it have been that God had “opened the doors” of the prison for him?

Was prison where God had wanted him at that time?  His time in prison certainly gave him the opportunity to spread the gospel to the guards and to Rome.  He may not have had that opportunity if he had not been forced to prison.

The Lord has provided wealth for some so that they can use it to build the Kingdom.  Financial margin is a blessing to be able to help those in need or to lead others to Him and not only to be used to live a life of luxury.  God may lead you to buy a really large house but if that’s the case, it’s probably so that you can use it for Kingdom purposes.

God calls us to live a life of sacrifice for His glory.  Sometimes that may lead His people to “positive” situations, and other times it may lead to a life of poverty or even worse in the world’s eyes.

God led Jim Elliott and Nick Saint to become missionaries but they were martyred as soon as they landed on the mission field.  Many have come to Christ as a result of their story, including the very natives that murdered them.

Their deaths could have meant a couple of different things:

  • They were out of God’s will by going,.
  • Dying for Christ their purpose in that situation.
  • God simply took a bad situation created by free will and used it for good as Romans 8:28 described.

Do you think opportunites that seem positive are always from God?  What do you think the deaths of Jim Elliott and Nick Saint was attributed to?  Is God really good ALL THE TIME?

I’d love to hear your comments on this post!

 (This is a guest post by my daughter, Rebecca Poole.  I hope her words challenge you the     same way they challenge me.)
 -Eddie
 I’m learning a lot lately.

I used to think I didn’t have an “interesting” testimony. I was born, grew in the church, accepted Jesus at a very young age, went to some church camps, a couple of mission trips.  I’ve always been a “church kid,” but I am INCREDIBLY grateful for the gift of godly parents I was given.

I thought my story was boring, but how could my story be boring when the Author of life is writing it?  I have been living an identity crisis.

I have been learning how to have a constant, uninterrupted, completely in step life relationship with God. This is how we were created to live- in perfect, unending fellowship with God.  It is a gift that we don’t recognize.  If we don’t have this, its ALL because of us.  God has always and will always be there.  Our part is to acknowledge His presence.  

Its crazy to think of how much we miss out on because we get distracted.

My prayer is for an intense awareness of God’s nearness.

If we are walking with the Creator and Sustainer of the world, He speaks into our lives, directs us, and takes us places we could have never gone alone.  There is no greater adventure than that.

Whether you live in the deep jungles of sub-Saharan Africa, or in a small town in Tennessee, you have a divine purpose appointed for you.  

I don’t even want to think about all the opportunities I have missed because I wasn’t paying attention. Tragically, we let things such as drama, anger, or even busyness pull us away from God’s side and then hearing His voice becomes difficult.

I have come to the realization that for a great part of my life, dance was on the throne. It took three ACL tears, and many tears for my stubborn heart to come around. But if three ACL tears is what it took- then I will count each on as a blessing.

God uses all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

I am certain that God is still blessing my dancing for His glory. And I need to remember that THAT is why I have the gift.

Not for my own pride. Or for my self-identity.

For so long, my identity and value came from the fact that I WAS a dancer.

I see now how incredibly mistaken I was. My identity does not come from me identifying myself to the world as a “dancer”, but from the fact that I belong to the Creator and He loves me.

I am His creation.

Adopted into His family through Jesus.

My value does not come from whether I dance well or not, am inadequate, valued, ugly, pretty, smart, disciplined, selfish, or whatever. But from the fact that I was so loved that I was redeemed at a precious cost.

God is perpetually calling me back to Him, even though I dishonor and deny Him daily. THAT is the beauty of this love story. Even though incredibly unworthy, I am still pursued by a perfect God.

When He looks at me, He doesn’t see a flawed, inadequate, sinful human being. He sees me covered by the blood of Jesus- clean and holy.  And He loves me.

I pray that I will never listen to who the world, or even who I, myself say I am again.

It’s amazing to look back through my life and see where God was working, even if I wasn’t aware of it at the time.

As I said before, He has always been there, is with me now, and will always be.

When we realize who He is, and who He says we are, something amazing happens. I urge you to just sit for a while and read what the Bible says about your identity. I charge you to begin constant communication with God throughout the day. And lastly, I dare you to enter or continue in a walking relationship with God.

I used to think that I didn’t have much of a testimony, but now I see that the story the perfect Author is writing for me is even more than I could ever have imagined.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

“…Perfect love drives out fear.” 1 John 4:18

Because you are loved with perfect love, you don’t have to be afraid to go where love leads.  Take a walk with Him.

Super Bowl XLV Is right around the corner and I was thinking about the two starting quarterbacks.  They have a common thread.  Guess how many major football colleges offered Aaron Rogers and Ben Roethlisberger scholarships coming out of high school?  They received the same amount of major scholarship offers that I did.  ZERO.

Coming out of high school, neither were highly sought after or recruited by major colleges.  They weren’t really at the top of anyone’s lists to play quarterback.  Who would have guessed that they both would have made it to the top of the league, playing for the NFL Championship?

Aaron Rogers, the Green Bay quarterback, got little interest from Division 1 schools.  His only offer was to come to Illinois as a walk on. He declined that “impressive” offer of walking on and attended Butte Community College.  After a year of playing at Butte, he caught the eye of California head coach, Jeff Tedford, who came to a Butte came to look at recruiting their tight end, Garret Cross.  He played the next three years at California.

Ben Roethlisberger, the Steeler’s quarterback, only played one year of quarterback in high school.  Even though he had a good senior season and received some interest to play other positions, Miami of Ohio was the only school that wanted him to come as a quarterback.  Besides his experience of only playing one year of quarterback in high school, Roethlisberger had yet to fill out to his “Big Ben” frame.  Consequently, he agreed to go to Miami of Ohio and play for the Redhawks.

Jesus’ disciples weren’t highly sought after either.  They were far from heroes.  Some were uneducated fishermen.  Matthew was a hated tax collector.  They weren’t in consideration as disciples for any of the other rabbis of the day.  They were passed over as others were chosen for those positions.  They were not the kind of material that I would have picked either to put in the “changing the world” category.  I would have looked more at the educated and experienced leaders of the day.  Jesus had other ideas.

That’s actually good news.  If you were always the person that everyone wanted to have around and considered a “hero” by those around, cheer up and stay positive.  Jesus can probably use you too, but he has a history of choosing those that are underachievers and doing great things through them.

God chose David to serve as King and he wasn’t the star quarterback of the local Jerusalem High football team either.  He wasn’t a likely hero either.  David was a young guy that kept stinkin’ sheep all day.  He was “ruddy,” and “comely in appearance.”  (I Samuel 17)  God didn’t see what others saw.  He saw a young guy that loved God and had potential that others didn’t see.  David’s family didn’t see the potential in him and David probably didn’t know the extent to what God had in store for him either.  David eventually became King of Israel and is remembered as a “man after God’s own heart.”  Truth is, with God on your side, anyone can have potential.

It doesn’t matter who you are, what others have said, or what your background is.  If you will truly seek God and give EVERYTHING in your life to Him, he can do great things THROUGH you.  God just might surprise you at what He will do through you as you are totally surrendered to His will and leadership. Did you think that you’re an unlikely person that would be used for greatness by God.? Good!  You may just be God’s chosen person!

Have you ever been used by God in a way that surprised you?  What’s keeps most people from letting God use them in ways that are surprising?