Are You Hearing From the Voice of God​ or the Voice of the Devil?

“Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!”…. (John 6:70).

It is quite possible to believe we have heard from God when we have actually heard from the devil. This is a treacherous place to be, but it is the place our hearts can go when they are hardened towards the love of God. It is often the place we go when we choose to protect our own hearts over caring for another person.
 
I have found in my own heart that when I hear wrongly from God, it’s because I wasn’t humble enough to receive what He wanted to give me. More often than not when I receive a word from the devil into my heart and mind it is because I’m listening more intently for it than the voice of God. Not because I don’t want to hear from God, but because I have not taken an approach of humility in my life.
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I think one of the main reasons why we have such a hard time hearing from God is not because God isn’t speaking, but because we are not prioritizing others over ourselves. In fact, just yesterday I was having a conversation with my husband and I wanted him to understand things from my perspective. I wanted him to side with me and what I was wanting. Yet, I heard the Lord say, “in humility consider others better than yourselves, Heather, don’t you think I’ll take care of you? Don’t you think I can make a way as you humble yourself to prioritize the needs of someone else?” I have found in this season of life that God is most certainly faithful and true. Letting go and giving up things doesn’t mean we lose our identity, it means we start to find it in the Lord and HIs great love for us.
 
I believe one of the greatest keys to unlocking the voice of God in our lives is not found in making ourselves heard and known, but making others a greater priority in our lives than we ever have. In our culture, we have been given a false message that the individual is of greatest significance, but truly, as we surrender our own wants, needs, and desires to care for another person, we take up the beauty of the cross. Then and only then can we experience God’s resurrection.
 
I am tempted to become impatient and angry with God because life still feels a little unfair at moments. That’s because my perspective is wrong. Truly, if God is good, why is not good enough for me today? Because there is something in my heart that is unsurrendered. There’s something in my heart that is living without grace and is centered upon me. When the centerpiece of our lives becomes the love of God we can live in the light of that truth. We can bask in the person of Jesus because we can walk with freedom prioritizing the Kingdom as we seek to care for the hurting.
 
You see, a few months ago I became one of those hurting individuals. I didn’t always experience the love of God from others, because they spoke out of their own pain. It is imperative that we hear from the voice of God in those moments. Sometimes his voice comes from the woman whose husband just left her, the child whose parents just got divorced or the neighbor down the street who just lost his wife to cancer. God’s voice calls us to, “care for that person,” but our hearts say, “I can’t. I’m building my own kingdom.” Oh Lord, forgive us.
 
Lord, we are selfish. That’s really our biggest problem. It’s the ego within ourselves that cares more about us then someone else. We care more about our needs, wants and desires than caring for the hurting. Lord, give me eyes to see them. I was one of them and I want to extend your love to them in a way that is transformational. In Jesus name, Amen.
 

Sit Down, Stop Striving, Rest in His Presence

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down…. (John 6:10).

Israel is a desert and green pastures are not in great abundance. Whenever we hear that a place is filled with green, spacious grass we need to place within our minds an understanding that God’s provision lies there. As 5,000 men, plus women and children sat down before the Lord there was not much within the disciple’s hands to provide lunch for the masses, but God had something to give them from the hand of His provision.
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I am not one who is quick to sit down. I like being on the go. I enjoy being up and moving. Sometimes, to my detriment. I can very easily get myself in a state of feeling worn out by pushing myself too much.
 
There is something that God wants to bless us with, in the places of rest. There’s a provision that our heart needs. Could it be that God is asking us to “sit down,” but we are too busy going from this thing to that to really take the time to be still before Him? We do our devotions on the go and listen to them while getting ready for work or while driving. Yet, God longs to fill our hearts with His love and abundance as we sit still in His presence, ready to be filled with His love.
 
I try to eat while driving. This usually never turns out well for me because its hard to focus on two things at the same time. I end up with something on my shirt or on the floormat of my car. We cannot fully be still in the Lord’s presence if we are doing two things at the same time. When Jesus asks us to sit down what He’s really saying is, “I have something I want to give you. It’s something from my hand to your heart. It’s wrapped in my great love for you. It’s the joy of my presence. It’s the blessing of my plans, purposes, and grace to you. It’s me, providing for you what you need, but you keep running about trying to satisfy your own heart. Won’t you please sit down in my pasture?”
 
As we rest with God, we find a joy that awaits our hearts in the stillness of His presence, but in order to do that, we must sit down, pause from all our striving and meet with the Father of peace so that our hearts might become surrendered to His love that dances over us.
 
Jesus, today I want to sit with you in green pastures to receive from your hand the grace of your provision. I want to be a woman whose heart is fully alive in your presence. I want to be safe and secure in who I am in you. Jesus, if I am running, show me where so that I might learn to sit before your feet. I want to be your disciple, Amen.

Fearing the Unknown

with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” (Psalm 81:16)

God has been opening some doors for me that fear and control are trying to shut. I have asked God for many things over the past few months and now that He is answering my prayers. The thing is, He’s doing it in a way that is pressing my buttons of fear and control. He’s asking me to go somewhere in my faith that is risky. I can’t say that I like it here. I’ll be honest, I really wish he would answer my prayers in a way that makes sense on paper so that I didn’t have to take any risks.
I have fears about money. This has been a deep-rooted issue in my life for many years and God is challenging me to take a step back and invest in some things that are going to require a risk or two. Not an uncalculated, unhealthy risk, but a risk nonetheless.
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I hear Him saying, “Heather, why don’t you trust me to provide?” In my flesh, I hear, “because it doesn’t make sense with my present reality. If I do this, what if it fails and I lose things because of it?” Sometimes I think we’re so focused on losing something we hold dear that we forget God is always trying to grow within us something that takes our faith to a deeper level. There is always something to gain when we step out into the unknown with God.
You see, my problem is that if I make a decision that doesn’t turn out how I expected I’ll be the first one to beat myself up over it. I have a hard time giving myself grace because I should have been wise enough to make a better decision. However, sometimes, I honestly think God wants us to fail. Not because He delights in our failing, but because we needed to humbled in some way.
Yesterday, as I was processing through these issues, the enemy was bombarding me with the what if’s of what could happen in my life if I took these risks. Thoughts kept racing through my mind of, “What was I thinking? Why did I ever think I could do something like this? I’m not qualified to do this.”
“Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”- 2 Corinthians 10:5
As I was talking with my husband through some of these things yesterday I said, “maybe it would make more sense if I did these things when”…..
He said, “What about trusting God?”
I knew he was going to say that….
Jesus, you know that I long to trust you. I have your courage that lives inside of me. I know the enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy the good work you want to do in my life. Today, I want to die to the old woman of fear and control and take up the banner of faith through the Lord Jesus Christ. I lay down the idol of worrying about money in my heart and give you praise for all things because you are trustworthy. Thank you for loving me, in Jesus name, Amen.

Do You Want to Get Well?

“Do you want to get well?”….(John 5:6).

The other day I had the privilege of being interviewed on Moody radio for the new devotional book I just released. I shared how God has brought major breakthroughs in my life over fear over the past few months. However, if I could be quite honest, I still wrestle with some aspects of fear nearly every day. As much as I want to walk in freedom, I also wrestle with the desire to be in control. I wrestle with the desires within my heart to give way to fear and find myself in their entrapments instead of being fully alive in the person of Jesus. Fear is an issue I have to consciously be aware of in my life so that I can die to it and find freedom in Christ.
 
Can we all just have a really honest moment with each other? There is a story being written in our hearts and God is trying to erase the false messages we’ve written on them from long ago. Some messages are so deeply embedded that they aren’t going to break overnight. However, as we pursue our freedom, God brings us one step closer to victory. We all have a message written on our hearts. We don’t need to live in shame over that or hide it underneath a mask, but instead, we need to be transparent. I have learned in my life that the majority of the time, people already see our issues because we display them in how we live. Hiding them does no good, people already know.
 
There is a re-working of the heart God is doing. Sometimes, it is a very slow process. The truest victory comes at the hour of admitting we don’t have it all together. Then, in our humility, God can start to write new things in us as we walk forward in faith.
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As Jesus approaches a paralyzed man He asks him a simple question, “Do you want to get well?” This man had been paralyzed for many, many years. Yet, Jesus brought instant healing for this man who had been held captive by a physical malady and the man responds by getting up and walking.
 
Could it be that Jesus meets us each morning to ask us, “Do you want to get well,” offering the grace to free us from our worries and pains, but we question whether or not He’ll pull through? We struggle to step out into the unknown so we stay on our mat in the place we’ve always known because venturing out with God feels too scary. We don’t experience Gods freedom, because we’d rather hold fast to what we’ve always known.
 
Oh Lord, we want to be free, but sometimes, we’re afraid and we don’t trust you. Lord, may we choose the courage we have in you through the resurrected son of God! Jesus, we need your help to walk in freedom! May we run with you towards grace. Truly, it is what we need for today. Thank you, Father. Set us free by your love, in Jesus name, Amen!

God’s Hesed and the Blessing of Obedience

Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence…..(Proverbs 8:30).

I remember a couple of years ago a friend said to me, “Heather, life is a continual feast with God.” I laughed at her and said, “Yeah, but you don’t know what I’m walking through. How could THIS be a place where I could feast with God?”
 
There began my journey, into the depth of my heart. My selfish, prideful, fearful heart. God was bringing in difficult circumstances into my life for the purpose of making me a new person. There was something beautiful He wanted to uncover in me underneath all the lies I had held onto so dearly. His loving nudges weren’t working, so by His grace, He brought the dynamite.
 
As the blast went off in my heart I had two choices to make. Pick up the rubble with God and allow Him to bring forth His healing and make me into a new woman, or cover up the mess with a wall of bitterness and resentment. I knew in order for me to grow, I had to look at my circumstances through a different set of lenses. I had to choose to see the grace of God in the places where I wasn’t getting what I wanted.
 
This picture represents a big piece of God’s redemption in my life. Truly, as God has reshaped my heart I can see now with eyes of His grace. I am experiencing His redemption. Even though I haven’t got everything I wanted. My heart is happy and full of joy knowing that He is a loving God who showers good gifts upon His children. If it was up to me, things would be different in my life, but this picture represents His grace. It shows me His loving kindness.
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As I was viewing this picture after it was taken all I could think about was His grace and redemption. I had missed teaching, and speaking to youth so much and God by His grace, after a season away from it, has brought new opportunities and I am thankful.
 
There’s a rich word in the Scriptures that help us understand God’s covenantal love for His people. It is Hesed. Hesed is God’s loving-kindness. It is His love that constantly pursues His people. It’s His love that doesn’t give up on His people. It is His love that brings forth redemption. His love is what the heart needs when life brings difficult circumstances. It is His Hesed that we must lean into. Truly, if we do not we will become bitter, angry people.
 
As we draw upon God’s grace we have hope for a brand new day. We can rest in His love for us and find joy in His provision. Sometimes God His handing us joy and we’re waiting for Him to fill our hands with our demands. When I align my heart with God I find that joy awaits me in the places of my selfish, unruly heart. It is my heart that is being made new through His Hesed. It is the love of Christ that wins out over my selfish heart because I’m choosing to receive from God the grace of His provision and not demand anything different.
 
Lord, you are making me new. I am thankful for your grace in the small things. I am thankful that from the hand of your provision comes grace. Grace is what I need to make it through the day and your Hesed is what I can drink from when life feels unfair. Truly, you love to give good gifts. You are full of joy. You give me joy because my heart is alive in you. You are a gracious, loving and perfect God and my heart is happy in you, in Jesus name, Amen!

God in the Doorway, Received by Love, Releasing Expectations

Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway…. (Proverbs 8:34).

The climax of nearly every wedding is the arrival of the bride. The crowd waits with anxious anticipation for when she will finally walk through the doorway and towards her groom. Her beauty is captivating, capturing the attention of the entire room. She comes with nothing but her beauty and her love. That is what her groom receives from her. That day, he comes not with expectations or a plan of what she needs to be for him. He simply receives her and her love for him.
 
God waits to pour out good gifts upon His children. He stands at the doorway, but we aren’t looking for Him. We’re looking to our bank accounts, 401k’s and the titles we hold. God longs, daily, to shower His love over us. To bless us with the glory of HIs presence and to simply receive us, not with any expectation of who we should be for Him, but with a love so great that it changes us into new and different people.
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A problem arises when we look for God but do so with lofty, self-centered expectations. We anticipate Him bursting through the doorway with hands full of our expected blessings so that our current anxieties and worries might be eased. Yet, more often than not, God shows up at the doorway with hands empty, but a heart that is full. It’s from His heart we receive the most meaningful blessings.
 
You see, each day is a new day to find ourselves in the person of Jesus Christ. Would we truly be OK if Jesus showed up on the scene with nothing but His love to give us for that day? Would we truly be able to accept Him not coming with our expectations of how we want our prayer to be answered? What if we came without the money we’ve been praying for, the job we’ve hoped for, or the relationship we so desperately desire? Would He truly be enough for us that day or would we miss Him at the doorway and believe that He’s not listening to our prayers?
 
All of us want to become something, but I believe God’s greatest desire is not that we would become something, but that we would allow ourselves be received into something. That we would receive His love, forgiveness, grace, and joy. We’re so worried about building something of our lives and if we could be quite honest, it’s usually for the praise of other people that we miss out on simply receiving from God the joy of His presence and the power of His transformative love.
 
Lord, today I receive your love that dances over me. Today I receive your heart that is full of your love for me. Truly, that is enough for me today. It is enough for me to be found in your love. I come not with expectations of you, but simply to receive your love, in Jesus name, Amen.

Seek Correction, Grow in Wisdom, Mature in Faith

rebuke the wise and they will love you….(Proverbs 9:8).
 
Yesterday I spent a considerable amount of time receiving a tremendous amount of constructive criticism. I was told time and time again about all of the things I did wrong. I was corrected, instructed and challenged. Towards the end of the day, as my body started to wear out, my mind, and the things I was being taught started to fade as well. It was easier to go back to old habits while officiating on the basketball court once my legs started to wear out.
 
This past weekend I had the joy of spending nearly all of my time on the basketball court, receiving training and instruction on how to become a better official. I was surrounded by men and women who had been officiating for many, many years. Their wisdom and insight were things I was hungry to learn from. There were times when I was officiating with a crew of people who didn’t receive constructive criticism well. They didn’t embrace the wisdom of the more seasoned officials with much humility and often answered their corrections with a number of excuses.
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I’ve been like that, quick to make excuses when someone offers me a wise rebuke. I feel like their rebuke says that there’s something wrong with me. I’ve learned though, that we all struggle. We all need to and should be seeking our rebuke from time to time.
 
Until we surround ourselves with wise mentors in the faith, it is highly unlikely that we will grow much in maturity. There’s a great need in the body of Christ to come around one another. To be shoulder to shoulder in the faith and support one another. There’s no shame in not knowing all the answers as a Christian. We need the support of wise mentors who can stand with us when we fail and give us grace to get back up and try again.
 
I have found when people are unable to give us grace it comes from an insecurity in their own heart to offer it for themselves. They have bought into the lie that they need to pretend to be something they’re not. They need to pretend that their life is perfect or close to it. Don’t seek mentorship from people like that, they’ll be quick to offer you little grace and make you feel like a failure. I’m only saying this because I’ve lived in that place and have seen how my projection of perfection has hurt other people.
 
When my life is set on Christ, with my heart at rest in His promises it is easier to apply what wise counsel is teaching me. However, when my body and soul are tired I find myself reverting to some unhealthy patterns. We must balance work and rest with being humble enough to receive wise counsel. This is how we grow as Christians in maturity. Without humility, we’re sure to stay stuck in the same old patterns. Thankfully, with God’s grace, we can grow into brand new people as we surround ourselves with people who love us towards truth.
 
Lord, I long to be a wise woman. I don’t always get it right. Surround me with people who can help me grow and mature in my faith. People who have walked the journey of faith longer than me and who can instill your wisdom and truth into my heart. Jesus, make me new, in your name, Amen.