When God Says: “Grow Up!”

According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, over half of Americans (55%) say they pray daily. Women respond as more likely to pray daily than men do (64% versus 46%). With the majority of us women praying, we can logically conclude that there are many different types of answers we receive to our prayers. A Pearl of Great Value will be exploring a few of these in a seven-part series on prayer entitled, “When God Says ….”

Part 4 of 7

Absorbed in tending to my roses, I halted my activity when a slight flutter of wings appeared off to the side. Up in our blue bird house mounted just outside our fence was a baby blue bird perched in the opening. In the tree next to it, one of the parents was coaxing him along. Suddenly he took the plunge and flew out. Two other blue birds were next in line. The season in their juvenile nest was over, and it was time for them to grow up, spread their wings, and fly.

Just as the bluebirds had to leave their house to learn to fly,

God prods us on in order to march us toward maturity.

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When God Says: “First, You Need To ….”

According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, over half of Americans (55%) say they pray daily. Women respond as more likely to pray daily than men do (64% versus 46%). With the majority of us women praying, we can logically conclude that there are many different types of answers we receive to our prayers. A Pearl of Great Value will be exploring a few of these in a seven-part series on prayer entitled, “When God Says ….”

Part 3 of 7

You’re praying, but you’re not sensing quite the response you desire. Rather than receiving the direct answer you’re chasing after, the Lord takes your attention elsewhere. Back to you and to where your heart is and to what He wants from you. You perceive that still, small voice saying, “Perhaps, but first you need to ….” You wonder, “First what?” What in the world does this mean when God says, “Perhaps or maybe?”

Often we need to prepare and practice before God answers our specific prayer.

Our Lord may desire a preparatory season from us—a time seeking Him and delving deeper in the Word. A period before He will entrust (fill in the blank) to you. We see in Acts 9:19-29, following the Apostle Paul’s conversion to Christianity, he immediately began preaching in the synagogues and spending time with the disciples. However, Galatians 1:15-2:2 informs us that soon after this, Paul went into Arabia for 3 years and then into Syria and Cilicia for possibly 14 years. There is disagreement among scholars about the exact dates for these years, referred to as the “intermediate years” or the “hidden years,” and we certainly don’t know all Paul was doing then. However, we do know God used those days, months, and years as a time of preparation for Paul and the missionary journeys God would later commission him to take. These were years devoted to study, to prayer, and perhaps to solitude. Years that provided a maturation of his faith and relationship with the Lord. If Paul needed years of preparation, it certainly stands that we will too.

To excel at any sport it requires practice, practice, and even more practice. How much more so will we need to practice when the Lord is preparing us? The gospels give an account of Jesus sending the twelve disciples out to preach the good news of salvation, to heal disease and sickness, and to drive out evil spirits. Dispatched out two by two, He gave them authority, power, and specific instructions (Matthew 10, Mark 6:7-13, and Luke 9:1-6). For the disciples this would become a time of practice—for soon Jesus would no longer be with them physically and they would be on their own (but certainly with the power of the Holy Spirit). By going in pairs, I envision the disciples muttering statements such as, “Well, that didn’t work so well, so next time let’s do it this way ….” This period was like a practice round before the main event. God may want to see us faithful in the small things and following His directions before He entrusts the larger “project” to us.

Sometimes God intends our “maybe” or “perhaps” answers to prayer to lead us deeper. He has a work He wants to do in and through us, but first it will require preparation and practice. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV) exhorts us to, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

Father God, I’m stumbling in my prayer life because I really want something. Help me to turn this around, and enable me to discern first what You want from me. I confidently ask You to prepare me and give me practice for the work you want accomplished in me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Matthew 23:3 (NIV): “So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”

James 1:22 (NIV): “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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When God Says: “Do It My Way”

According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, over half of Americans (55%) say they pray daily. Women respond as more likely to pray daily than men do (64% versus 46%). With the majority of us women praying, we can logically conclude that there are many different types of answers we receive to our prayers. A Pearl of Great Value will be exploring a few of these in a seven-part series on prayer entitled, “When God Says ….”

Part 2 of 7

Through the marsh in our neighborhood, there’s a bridge under repair, and we’ve had to drive a long distance out of our way to get into town. Certainly not the most direct route, and in my mind, not the most efficient, but it is the only way we can travel. Just as we take the detour to get to where we need to go, we often find detours in life. Have you been praying for direction and you feel there are roadblocks or obstacles always presenting themselves? Perhaps God wants you to follow the detour sign in order to do it His way.

Why does God often put detours into our lives in order to get us to do it His way, and not the way we desire to do things?

Protection, new perspective, and for prospering in His blessing are reasons God will steer us to do it His way.

  1. For protection. If you’ve ever followed Google Maps, you may sometimes find it routes you in a strange or alternative way to get to your destination. However, it’s often for our safety as there may be an accident ahead or a road closure. Just as Google Maps relies on Real Time Traffic Information to ascertain the advancing road conditions, God sees the big picture. He may require us to do it His way in order to offer His protection. The Apostle Paul wrote, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (2Thessalonians 3:3, NIV) as he exhorted the believers in Thessalonica. We can trust God’s character and his assurance of safeguarding.
  2. For a new perspective. We condition ourselves to do the routine, familiar thing. We’re creatures of habit and don’t like change; we savor comfort. Often God wants us to approach a situation differently. Perhaps it’s a different approach to disciplining a child you never would have considered, or a way to deal with a delicate family issue. God desires to show you His perspective by steering you differently as you pray about a situation. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) states, “ˋFor my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,ˊ declares the Lord. ˋAs the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.ˊ” God may offer us a different viewpoint, as we seek His will.
  3. For prospering in His blessing. God positions you for His blessing when we obey Him, because “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV). The calm, peaceful inner confidence He provides when you’re obedient to His way is a blessing beyond measure.

When we confront various roadblocks and obstacles in our life, perhaps our Lord is urging us to consider a different direction—His approach and His way.

Father God, I’m at a crossroads and sense you compelling me to do it your way. I desire your protection, your perspective, and the prosperity of your blessing in this situation as I yield to you. It’s all for your praise and glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 5:11 (NIV): “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”

Psalm 128:1 (NIV): “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways.”

Proverbs 14:12 (NIV): “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

Romans 11:33 (NIV): “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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When God Says: “Quit Procrastinating!”

According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, over half of Americans (55%) say they pray daily. Women respond as more likely to pray daily than men do (64% versus 46%). With the majority of us women praying, we can logically conclude that there are many different types of answers we receive to our prayers. A Pearl of Great Value will be exploring a few of these in a seven-part series on prayer entitled, “When God Says ….” 

Part 1 of 7

Writing—I’m passionate about it. I’ve maintained journals through the years, developed Bible study curricula, and did some editing work. But, I desired more and felt certain God had a plan for me. When I prayed about what to do, all I heard from our Lord was, “Quit procrastinating and get started!” “But how, Lord?” I would counter. It was my ready excuse.

Once I made the decision I couldn’t put this off any longer, God started putting His plan in motion for me. Through various events, He directed me to write Christian devotions and articles, but I didn’t know exactly what this would personally look like. After enrolling in an online writing course and hunkering down at the computer to write, God brought people into my life to encourage me in this endeavor and it started to take shape. Additionally, our oldest daughter and her husband became instrumental on the website/email newsletter portion of what would soon become a ministry handcrafted by the Lord for me.

What desires have you hidden in your heart that you want to accomplish? These dreams won’t just happen, as it’s a lot easier to procrastinate than spring into action. Most of us savor lounging around in God’s grace, but

God’s grace is not an excuse for laziness.

The book of Proverbs contains plentiful admonitions concerning laziness, often referring to such people as sluggards. Didn’t King Solomon and the other wise writers certainly have a way with words? One of my favorites is Proverbs 6:6 (NIV), “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” Ants are industrious insects always unified in their hard work, and scripture directs us to learn from them. We’re also promised, “The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied” (Proverbs 13:4, NIV). When we’re diligent there will be satisfaction.

If you’re praying and asking “But how, Lord?” as I did, then you’re well into the first step which is to earnestly seek God. If the Lord has laid something on our hearts—a ministry to perform, a job to accomplish, a relationship to restore—He will direct our paths (see Proverbs 3:5-6).

As we ask the Lord to help us over our hesitation and delay, it’s time to formulate a plan of action. But, and it’s a very big but, be prepared for God to tweak the plan! As we submit our plans to the Master Designer, He will shed light on the best way to accomplish the goal. Opportunities will appear, friends and family will be there to encourage, and most importantly, the Holy Spirit will provide what we need.

Just do it—I love this famous advertising logo for a sporting goods manufacturer. There will be some obstacles and stumbles along with the successes, but if God’s in it, we can step forward with confidence.

And finally, be diligent and faithful to what He has purposed and set out for you. When we’ve overcome the procrastination obstacle, we certainly want to stay the course until the Lord directs otherwise. Romans 12:11 (NIV) instructs us to, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

Father God, There’s so much I want to do and I’ve been putting it off for far too long. I’m ashamed when I think about how much time has gone by. Please help me to stop procrastinating, to start praying, and to begin preparing. I desire to do what you have for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Proverbs 14:23 (NIV): “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

Luke 12:35 (NIV): “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning.”

Galatians 6:9 (NIV): “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

James 4:17 (NIV): “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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He Doesn’t Remember

And there it is again. Lying in bed in the wee hours of the morning, and the shame from past sin looms large in your mind. You’ve prayed for forgiveness and feel confident God has indeed forgiven you. So why can’t we release it? Why do we continue to relive it?

God’s Word assures us in Isaiah 43:25 (NIV), “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

Our Maker forgives and forgets our sins.

But, how can that be? How does an omniscient, all-knowing God forget our sins? I’m convinced God sees us as we are, not as we used to be. Our God is not some absent-minded professor type, but rather is wholly and perfectly true to His Word. His intentional design is to forgive and forget—He sees us as His righteousness through the blood of Jesus.

Scripture reinforces this truth, with Jeremiah 31:34b (NIV) stating, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12 (NIV) repeats this promise from Jeremiah, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” And once more, in Hebrews 10:17 (NIV): “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”

This repetition of the Jeremiah scripture shows the significance of this truth. A reality we can trust. Due to His great love for us, we can realize His compassions will not fail us, yet are new every morning (paraphrase of Lamentations 3:22-23). During those hours prior to daybreak, we can cast out those thoughts of past sins, rather than reel them in.

Father God, Your Word tells me you will forgive my sins when I confess them through Jesus Christ. I need your comfort in knowing that not only do you forgive me, but you also forget my sins. Please give me assurance to realize and claim this promise from your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 103:12, NIV: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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