Listen For His Voice

I love reading devotionals to start my day.

I have several that show up like clockwork each morning on my iPad. I have a couple of devotional books that I try really hard to keep up with each day. And, of course, there are always words of wisdom be found within my Twitter feed throughout the day.

I thoroughly enjoy reading the thoughts of other believers as they share their life experiences both good and bad.

I enjoy books as well, so a few days ago I was reading John Bevere’s new book Good or God? In it he was illustrating the difference between communicated knowledge and revealed knowledge.

He explained the difference in these two types of knowledge using the story in Genesis of Adam, Eve and that whole eating the fruit fiasco.

I thought I knew that story quite well, but John pointed out a fact that seems to be ALWAYS overlooked. My understanding of the turn of events in the Garden was that God revealed to both Adam and Eve that they were not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Remember God spoke the restriction of eating the fruit to Adam in Genesis 2:17. Now here was the game changer for me – Eve wasn’t created until Genesis 2:22.

That means Eve wasn’t even born when God put the restriction on the Tree!

If we move to Genesis 3, we find Eve chatting with the serpent. She tells him in verse 2 that God said, “You must not eat the fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it or you will die.

The first thing to notice here is that nowhere in Scripture is it recorded God said not to touch the fruit, He only told Adam not to eat the fruit.

The second thing to notice is how did Eve know about the restriction in the first place if she wasn’t around when God put the limits on their food sources?

Eve learned of the restriction through communicated knowledge probably when walking through the Garden with Adam one day. He might have casually said to her,“Oh, see that tree over there. Apparently it is pretty special so God said not to eat the fruit on it.”

Somewhere between the time Adam gave the no-eat tree news to Eve and the time Eve was deceived by the serpent, God’s revealed words were lost in the interpretation.

Adam was given knowledge about an aspect of the Garden that literally was spiritual life and death. When Adam heard directly from God, His truth penetrated Adams heart and spirit.

I think the serpent knew that revelation knowledge could not be deceived.

I think the serpent spoke to Eve alone because he knew communicated knowledge could be deceived.

Now going back to my daily devotions I enjoy reading…

All of the devotions represent communicated knowledge, but I am not saying they will not contain words of wisdom based on what God reveal to authors’ hearts. I do think this is a very important way God communicates to us – through the insights of fellow believers.

However, I believe we sell ourselves short when only seek the words of someone else’s ‘revealed inspiration’ from God.

God desperately wants to be in an intimate conversation with all of His children – that means you and me.

He desires to reveal Himself to us in the unique way that only we would understand based on how He designed us and the season He has us in now.

When we rely solely on what the documented revelation God has given to another, we risk missing what He wants to whisper in our own hearts.

Now I do not want to imply that devotionals or hearing insights of others is bad because they are not. They do play an important role in our spiritual growth.

I am saying that when we make it a habit of also opening up our Bibles, reading His Word, meditating on the scripture before us, and then asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to us, amazing things usually happen.

If we are in a rhythm of reading devotionals each day, then we are capable of becoming accustomed to reading the Bible every day.

When God speaks directly to us, He is revealing His desire to be in a personal relationship with us.

When our hearts and minds are bathed with the direct thoughts of God, we are able to discern the world’s deception, especially as it relates to what is trying to pass itself off as truth within the Christian faith.

Enjoy the thoughts and insight of fellow brothers and sisters in faith, but also know God desires to speak directly to you as well.

Falling Dominoes

I have always been intrigued by falling dominoes.

I am just fascinated by those amazing domino patterns that tumble in unison after being strategically placed by a patient, and steady handed, domino artist.

I say artist because it is truly a work of art to view the beautiful and intricate patterns that literally come alive after that first domino is pushed forward. It is amazing to see how many directions and designs the strings of falling dominoes can create with such precision. Just imagine the thought it must take to envision the role each domino must accomplish in order to continue the pattern.

With all of that being said, now let me bring you back to a prayer time that I had a few weeks ago.

During this past summer, a main focus of mine has been to seek guidance from the Lord concerning the next season of my life and how I am to prepare for it.

Many mornings I found myself asking God why He allowed me to live in the time and place that I am in now. Acts 17:26 does tell us that God marks out – our appointed times in history and the boundaries of our land- which really just means God, in His infinite wisdom, knows exactly where all of us need to be and when.

All of that makes sense to me, but given all the chaos in the world today, especially as it relates to the Christian faith, it seems to me that I have an easy road.

I can carry a Bible with me whenever I want, I can worship when I want, I can even talk freely about Jesus Christ without much concern about consequences (let’s hope it stays that way).

So there I was sitting in my prayer chair in the far corner of my backyard explaining to God that I just don’t feel like I am doing much to advance the Kingdom.

Now, I do the same type of things others believers tend to do, I serve the community, give my tithe to the church, I love intercessory prayer and I try really hard every day to remind myself I am made in the image of God so I really need to act like it.

That is all good, but really all of that seems…well honestly…just too easy compared to so many who are forced to pay a very high price for their belief in Jesus.

So there I was sitting and pondering and asking again, “Lord, what am I supposed to be doing that will truly make an eternal difference for people?”

God did answer my question, and I really love that He does that, but sometimes I wish He would be just a bit wordier because the answer I got was rather brief: “Falling Domino”.

That seemed like a strange thought to impress upon me especially when my next several thoughts moved from the spiritual to revolving around memories of those dynamic domino patterns I mentioned earlier.

However, God wired me to be visual so that is why He put a picture in my mind of the most intricate, well-planned, and beautiful pattern you can image, but the dominoes were…people.

Now it wasn’t like people were falling and randomly knocking over other people, all the movement was very international and purposeful. Each domino/person was responsible for setting in motion the next in order for that domino/person to allow the pattern to continue.

In my mind it was so beautifully choreographed! I didn’t see the domino/people as big or small, as important or insignificant, just each having equal potential to set in motion endless movements of the Spirit.

God clarified my visual even more, “Joan, be a falling domino to set off kingdom advancement everywhere you go.”

But how will I know how and when?

By the power of the Spirit.”

I pondered this encounter for several days, and came to a deeper understanding of how the visual of falling dominoes is exactly how others are drawn into the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom grows here on Earth literally one domino/person at a time. It advances by one Spirit-empowered person doing one God-honoring thing for another to continue the work of the Spirit in ways, directions and patterns that we could never imagine or accomplish ourselves.

I realized no matter the season I am in, I need to stand ready for my faith and to allow the Spirit to give me that little shove that will push me out of my comfort zone. As I move forward in faith, it will allow others to do the same.

If we don’t allow ourselves to be that initial domino/person, just imagine how many people on Earth will never get the opportunity to become part of the magnificent plan God has laid out in similar fashion to a domino artist.

Now I certainly have always done some random actions that might have set in motion a Kingdom encounter for people, but I have a sense now that in this season of my life I need to be much more focused and intentional in allowing the Spirit to push me into action, perhaps starting a pattern that will go on for quite a while. I need to quit looking for the “next big thing” and just position myself for a Spirit shove.

Honestly, I still have moments when I think all of this doesn’t seem like much in such a chaotic world. But, if God is telling me to be a falling domino for the world right here and right now, it has to be part of His master plan.

Just imagine all the strategically placed people God has put in place to send out His love and grace throughout the world. No doubt, works of art by His hand ready to be set in motion.

If He wants a falling domino then I am all in….