Knowing His Voice

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My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:27, NASB).

When do we begin learning to recognize voices? My younger daughter, Cait, taught me the answer shortly after her birth.

She had been born in the wee hours of September 30th, and I was exhausted from the excitement of welcoming her into the world. When the nurses volunteered to keep her while I indulged in a quick afternoon nap, I assumed that she would also sleep. However, after I awoke and made my way down the hall, I could hear an impatient wail growing louder with each approaching step. Although her cry was still brand new to my ears, I was shaken with the sudden realization that this was my baby crying, pleading for her mommy. Must admit, I felt a little guilty.

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Then my newborn taught me an amazing lesson. As I began conversing with the nurses, she turned her head toward me and silenced her cries. She found that trusted voice, the one she had grown to recognize and love as soon as her ears were able to hear in the womb. As I spoke to her, she wiggled and cooed out those adorable gurgles, pacified that she was now safe with Mommy, and we bonded completely from that moment.

Isn’t it like that with the Lord? As His children, we come to know and love our good shepherd’s voice.

Imagine being encased in this world, just like a baby in her mother’s womb. We hear Jesus’s voice and learn to recognize and trust Him as He speaks to us through His Word and the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Even before entering His kingdom, we know Him.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then, face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known (I Corinthians 13:12, NASB).

Just as a baby delights in pairing together her mother’s voice and face, we will do the same after we’re born into His kingdom. Won’t it be a glorious day when we can match that trusted voice with His wonderful face, as He holds us, safe and secure, in His arms for all eternity?

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What will He speak to us on that day? As a mother croons her newborn’s name over her child, will He also over us? As we prepare to meet our soon-coming Lord, we can only imagine.

Victory Through Prayer

By Karen Jurgens

“The Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and valiant warriors’” ~ Joshua 6:2, NASB.

During difficult times, how do we fight?  By going to battle on our knees. Prayer is the most powerful weapon we have to come against the enemy, but we also need strategy for using it effectively.

Let’s look at the story of Joshua and see how he was guided in the battle for Jericho.

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Wikipedia.com

Directed by God, he and his troops were faithful to do as commanded. “You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days” ~ Joshua 6:3, NASB. Marching around the city in silence once each day must have been a true act of faith—no swords, no fighting, and no words. Armed men went first, followed by seven priests blowing seven rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord, followed by the rear guard.

How could a simple march bring down city walls and usher victory into the hands of the Israelites? It must have been especially challenging on the sixth day—the day before the miracle—but they had God’s promise that He would bring them that victory.

Do we also feel the same way as we pray in God’s will for our requests—perhaps for days, weeks, or even years—as we keep waiting for that breakthrough?

But the seventh day dawned in Jericho. On that special day, the procedure was different. “…then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets” ~ Joshua 6:4b, NASB. They marched around the city walls six times, and on the seventh round, God told them “…when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the walls of the city will fall down flat…” ~ Joshua 6:5, NASB.  What a victory celebration that must have been!

That seventh day is on the way for us prayer warriors. As we march around and pray over our requests, let us continue to have faith that the day when God will pull down our strongholds is coming soon.

Dear Lord, like the story of Joshua, may our walls come tumbling down!

www.bing.com

www.bing.com

An Attitude of Joy

By Karen

How does the testing of our faith produce patience and endurance? I was introduced to this concept years ago by God Himself. In order to explain, you need to come on a journey with me. Fasten your seatbelt and adjust your space helmet, because we’re taking a trip into outer space. Please join me in that dream of almost forty years ago.

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I stood in the center of a round flying saucer, just large enough for me and the other person standing next to me. No seats, no controls, and no pilot … just a circular windshield of glass through which I observed that inky-black outer space. The ride was velvet smooth, and I knew without words that the other person was an angelic being who mentally guided us at a speed beyond my comprehension. Silvery lines reflected light in the distance, and as we drew closer they thickened—hundreds of them threaded vertically through space, like gliding through a spider’s web without becoming entangled.

The speed slowed as we approached what appeared to be our destination.  A giant hand—a man’s right hand with fingers vertically extended—floated in space. Inherently, I knew that it was the hand of God. Our saucer seemed fly-sized in relation to His hand as it coasted around from the backside to the front, and wonder overtook me as I viewed skin and hair follicles. We reached the front, facing an open Bible that rested in the center of His palm. The ship held steady as I read, “The Book of James,” and the dream faded away while I was reading down the page.

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That next morning, my memory was ablaze. The first thing, I reached for my Bible and turned there. What had the text said?  The mystery spurred me on.

My eyes widened and my jaw dropped. Why did it look so familiar? My book of James began on the right side of the page, and Hebrews ended on the left. I witnessed my personal Bible in God’s hand. Whoa!

I read through the first few verses: Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing ~ James 1:2-4, NASB.

Yes, I was going through trials at that time and had been praying for answers. So that was the key—choosing joy on purpose! My faith was being tested, not punished.

Why did I grow up believing that obedient Christians wouldn’t have fiery trials …that the mark of a true believer was a problem-free life? Like Job’s friends, who blamed his suffering on sins unknown or unconfessed? How wrong.

 Christians don’t have perfect lives. In fact, it seems the more Godly you are, the more trials you have. Why is that?

The Lord has used this chapter in James to teach me many principles over the years, but he straightened me out on this important point. It’s normal for Christians to face trials in life, so I should choose a positive attitude and always be thankful for the lessons God is teaching me. I have a lot to learn, meaning a lot of trials are on the way.

It’s not human nature to be happy about going through any trial, I admit, but I’ve learned God extends us His grace so that we can survive it with an attitude of joy. Knowing that there’s a purpose in testing our faith helps us endure to the end—not only resulting in the fruit of patient endurance, but also leading to a pretty awesome reward at the end of those trials. In spite of all the suffering, growing into Christ’s likeness and perfection is so worth it.

You may be going through a trial right now, may have just finished one, or may be waiting for your next one to surface. Each is designed by God for your good, to help you grow by faith into His perfect image.

It is my prayer that you find peace and joy as you allow the Holy Spirit to prune and shape you into the perfect image of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen ~ 1Peter 5:10-11.