Voice Recognition — “Into the Word” Week 8

   Step up to the microphone if you dare!  Apparently, Anthony Evans, Jr. decided to do just that.  This past week, he survived the blind auditions on NBC’s talent competition, The Voice.  Belting out a soulful version of “What’s Going On,” Evans dreams currently reside in the hands of the judges, who must discriminate between all the voices in the running.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I feel as if there are a lot of voices vying for my attention as well.  How do I recognize the One whose voice is Truth in the midst of all the competition?

This week as I was digging “Into the Word,” I discovered that at first the voice of  the Risen Christ was unrecognizable to Mary as she wept outside the empty tomb.  Mary was blinded by circumstances — until Jesus spoke her name.  I love these verses from John 10:

“…He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out

When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them,

and His sheep follow him because they know His voice” (vs. 3-4, NIV).

This week, I am praying that God helps me to recognize the voice of my Shepherd, the One who knows my name and speaks kindly to me.  The Shepherd’s voice will lead me to safe pasture and nourishment.  No other voice is worthy of my attention.

How do you recognize the Shepherd in the midst of all the noisy voices competing for your attention?  I would love to chat with you about how you intentionally stay connected to Him.  Feel free to leave a comment below to get the discussion started.

Every Monday we will be working our way through Anne Graham Lotz’s 52-week study “Into the Word.”    Hop on over to the 3dLessons4Life Blog Facebook Page to join us as we dig into God’s Word together.

Linking up with a like-minded sisters at Good Morning Girls, “Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday!” and Soli Deo Gloria @ Finding Heaven.

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A Needle in a Haystack — “Into the Word” Week 7

  I hate it when I misplace important documents.  A few weeks ago, I ransacked my entire house looking for 2 envelopes I thought I had misplaced — I searched through messy dresser drawers and even under the seats in my car.  Frustrated and frantic, I considered sorting through the trash when I suddenly remembered that I had placed the missing paperwork in my journal for safekeeping.  The sought after items were always there — easily accessible.  I had simply failed to see them.  When I am in a rush and easily flustered, it always seems like I am hopelessly searching for a needle in a haystack.

This past week as I was digging “Into the Word,” I came across the story of Hagar in Genesis 16 and 21 that reminded me how I often fail to see what is right in front of my eyes.   Feeling  rejected and abandoned, Hagar sat down in the wilderness and cried out of sheer desperation.  She felt alone.  She didn’t think that God saw her or cared.  Have you ever felt that way?  In her darkest hours, Hagar met The God who Sees up close and personal.   I couldn’t help but notice that the provision she so desperately needed to survive was close by, but she failed to see it.  God had to open her eyes (Genesis 21:19).  His wells are always readily accessible.

I am praying that this week God will give me eyes to see — that I will drink from waters that truly satisfy.  I love this promise:

The LORD will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring” (Isaiah 58:11, NLT).

What part of Hagar’s story do you relate to the most?  I would love to chat with you about how this passage spoke to you.  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Every Monday we will be working our way through Anne Graham Lotz’s 52-week study “Into the Word.”    Hop on over to the 3dLessons4Life Blog Facebook Page to join us as we dig into God’s Word together.

Photo Credit: Patrick Hajzler

Verse 2: Hiding 20 in 2012 Scripture Memory Challenge

I am a terrible gardener.  My grandmother, my husband, and my dad all have green thumbs, but my thumb is BLACK.  What can I say, I am easily distracted.  My plants tend to dry out and die.

By memorizing Scripture, I am attempting to garden my soul a bit  — hopefully, with better results!  In his book Scripture by Heart: Devotional Practices for Memorizing God’s Word, Joshua Choonmin Kang compares memorizing and meditating on God’s word to gardening:

“Each word of Scripture is a seed.  Plant each word in your interior garden

and you will bear more fruit than your limbs can support” (p. 18).

How about you?  Are you ready to water the soil of your heart by memorizing God’s Word? Let’s hold each other accountable by Hiding 20 in 2012.  In the comment section below, write out the verse you will be working on for the next two weeks. Make sure to include your first name, your home state, the verse’s address/location, and the Bible translation:

Lyli from Florida: “The Lord is my Strength and my Shield;

my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.

Therefore, my heart rejoices and, I praise Him with song” (Psalms 28:7, HCSB).

Here’s a little play on words for all you Pinterest Fans. Rather than ‘Pin it,” let’s purpose to “Hide it.” I will end each post with a “Hide it” Suggested Verse.

“Hide it”:

“Now we have this treasure in clay jars,

so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us”

(II Cor. 4:7, HCSB).

For those of you who are just stopping by today for the first time, check out this post to enter a Giveaway of 2 great books: Stumbling Into Grace by Lisa Harper and The Circlemaker by Mark Batterson.

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A Lion Uncaged — “Into the Word” Week 6

  As a kid, my parents and I ventured to a zoo where lions roamed freely.   My dad forked out an outrageous amount of cash, and then slowly inched our car through the safari-style exhibit.  A rule breaker by natural design, my dad ignored the signs that clearly stated the car windows should remain up in order to protect your precious family.  My mom was not amused by his rebellion.  A shrill scream pierced the air.  That was our first and last visit to the park as a family — a very memorable childhood experience.

About a year ago, my husband decided that I should revisit the lions.  We drove to the same park I had screamed through as a youngster, but this time the experience paled in comparison:  no crazy dad hanging out the window with a camera, no mom sounding off  like a fire siren, and sadly, no animals roaming freely.   Fences now surrounded the lions — separating them and caging them in.  My heart hurt to see the noble ruler of the jungle trapped and robbed of its freedom.

Scripture challenges us that “the righteous are as bold as a lion” (Prov. 28:1, NIV).  But as believers, I think we often let this world cage us in and sedate us.  This week as I was digging Into the Word,” I saw this lion spirit in the early church leaders:

“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).

  What does it mean to be bold for the kingdom today?   Does my life display the power of the Holy Spirit?  What is caging me in and rendering me ineffective?  God didn’t want me to forget about those caged lions, so this weekend, he put me in a stadium with lions for God at the One Conference.  Listen to how a lion speaks:

  • Francis Chan began by reading Romans 8:11:  “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.”  He challenged us to “fight to live Biblically when everyone else is telling you to live comfortably.”
  • Christine Caine challenged that we should be fools for Christ as “Christ came to make us free, not to make us safe.”
  • The legendary Franklin Graham shared the Truth of the Gospel with unapologetic passion.
  • James MacDonald provided perspective with the theme:  “We are ordinary, but our God is extraordinary.
  • Miles McPherson told us to love and “be a broken record — I gotta obey God.”  Jesus didn’t stay in the synagogue; He was out on the streets.
  • Carl Lentz, Jr. explained that we must be willing to do the “unspectacular”–“We need a love so deep that it pushes past our discomfort.” 
  • Ed Young asked us “Who are you reaching?” and admonished that the church is a rescue society, not a yacht club.
  • Britt Merrick described how a “heart at rest” is attractive to the world and admonished that we should “discover what the Redeemer is doing and get caught up in it.”    Christ put Himself in need to open up the opportunity to minister to the woman at the well.
  • Rich Wilkerson, Jr. illustrated that the recipe for revival is prayer and work.
  • Brian Houston shared that we should have a “glorious obsession” for God because “nothing of eternal value has ever been built out a spirit of obligation.”
  • Bob Coy, my beloved pastor, encouraged us to celebrate the Son by lovingly “calling out” those brothers who need correction — using the Word to build up the body.  He challenged us to feed our spirit with a healthy diet of Scripture. 
  • Greg Laurie asked us to examine if we are getting up in the morning because of an alarm clock or as a result of a calling.   He explained that the first century Christians didn’t “out argue” the lost, they “out lived” them.
  • Pedro Garcia opened and closed the conference by evoking Christ’s prayer for the church in John  17:21: “That all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”

May I live an uncaged life — bold for Jesus.  Do you know any lions?  How do you flesh this out in your life?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

For those of you who are just stopping by today for the first time, check out this post to enter a Giveaway of 2 great books: Stumbling Into Grace by Lisa Harper and The Circlemaker by Mark Batterson.

Every Monday we will be working our way through Anne Graham Lotz’s 52-week study “Into the Word.”    Hop on over to the 3dLessons4Life Blog Facebook Page to join us as we dig into God’s Word together.

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Stumbling Into Grace: January Reading List “Net Out” and A GIVEAWAY!

  In case you forgot, I love to read.  Stacks of books seem to pile up all over the house — most of them half read.  Other women buy shoes; I buy books.  For 2012,  I am purposing to be a bit more intentional about my reading plan.  I hope to read 12 books and post a “Net Out” here on the blog using a  format similar to Michael Hyatt’s.

Stumbling Into Grace:  Confessions of a Sometimes Spiritually Clumsy Woman by Lisa Harper was a great way to kick off my 2012 Reading List.  Why you ask?  Well, because Lisa Harper’s life is as crazy as mine is!  She proves she is not scared to laugh at herself.  Partnered with Scriptural truths, her self-deprecating stories grab you until you are laughing so hard that you are crying.

The theme of this book is that God loves us right where we are – He loves our “messy selves.”  His grace picks us up when we stumble – if we will let Him.  He is our security when we fear, our Liberator who casts off the chains of legalism and bondage, and the Giver of good gifts.  His gift of grace changes us so that we become less critical and more grateful and content as we depend on Him.

Here are some “take away” truths that captured my attention:

  • Be Authentic:  “God wants us to care about people more than we care about policies and appearance.  He wants us to focus on living more than we focus on looking spiritual” (page 22).
  • Cultivate a thankful heart:  “I think intentional gratitude, especially for the small gifts that come wrapped in ordinary paper (or fur), is a necessary ingredient to living out an authentically joyful story.  When we recognize that clean water, cold watermelon, red leaves in October, warm coats on cold days, and even a cat purring against one’s legs are small demonstrations of our Redeemer’s plan to bless mankind, it cements our hope and security.  It anchors our prone-to-wander hearts to the truth of God’s sovereign goodness and grace and to the fact that, regardless of what we’re currently walking through, we can rest in His absolute affection” (page 54).
  • Stay connected:  “In other words, we formulate our understanding of who Jesus is largely through the lens of community.  The people God positions around us can be amazing carriers of His grace” (page 108).
  • Remember God is at work in the messiness of it all:  “We can become more grateful by searching for God’s goodness and mercy in the oft-present ruins of everyday life” (page 178).
  • Extend God’s grace (it’s the best gift ever!):  “The older I get, the more convinced I am that admittedly flawed sinners are the most credible witnesses of Jesus, because people with scars can’t fake moral perfection.  It’s glaringly apparent we can’t save ourselves.  Wounded Christian warriors with scabby knees, bruised hearts, and even track marked arms, who sometimes stumble yet always grab onto the arm of His Spirit in order to stand up again and again, exemplify the redemptive power of divine grace.  We prove how miraculous and restorative the love of God is” (p. 189).

This lovely book reminded me that it’s ok to be me — I am so thankful that I picked it up.  If you need a little TLC and could use some encouragement to “keep on keeping on,” this is a great book.  God’s grace is available and abundant.  Hallelujah!

Up next will be The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, a book about praying bold prayers and seeing God move in miraculous ways.  Want to read it with me?  I will be posting about it on March 2nd.

I would love to hear about what you are reading.  Feel free to share in the comment section below to be entered in a Giveaway — I will be giving away a copy of each of these 2 great books.

One additional entry can be earned for each of these:

  • Follow @3dLessons4Life on Twitter. Leave a comment indicating that you did.
  • Tweet or Retweet about this contest giveaway.   Leave a comment indicating that you did.
  • “Like” 3dLessons4Life’s Facebook page.
  • Use the box on the top of the sidebar on this page to subscribe to this blog. Leave a comment indicating that you did.
  • Grab the 3dLessons4Life button from the sidebar and add it to your blog. Leave a comment with a link to your blog so we can connect!

Just make sure to enter on or before February 17th to participate.  Thanks for stopping by!

UPDATE:  Elizabeth with Jenkins Jaunts and Julie Milam are the winners!  Congratulations!!!

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