In Step with the Spirit

Raise your hand if you’re a planner. Anyone out there like to be organized and know what’s going to happen next? Even if you’re more laid back and “go with the flow,” many of us don’t like surprises. Even little ones. But if we want to walk in the Spirit, we need to stay flexible. That’s where the excitement is!

Listen to His Voice

Isaiah 30:21 describes the blessing of being led by the Spirit. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’.” I love God’s direction and knowing I’m doing what He wants me to do. But sometimes we start the day with a plan–a good plan, nothing wrong with it–and then the Holy Spirit puts a person on our heart and we feel a strong urge to call him. Even if talking on the phone isn’t our favorite thing (“Can I just text him, Lord?”) we need to respond right away.

Sometimes, we lose time second-guessing and procrastinating. When we know the thought wasn’t from our own thoughts or plans, and the direction is in keeping with His Word and character, we can know it’s Him and should move forward right away.

Did I Hear That Right?

Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to us and what He’s asking us to do makes us say, “Was that really you, Lord?” What we really mean is, “I really hope that wasn’t You, Lord! Do I have to?” But the blessing is in obedience.

If we’re standing in line at the grocery store and we feel like we should speak to the person next to us and ask how their day is going when we wouldn’t normally do that, it’s probably the Holy Spirit. We tend to panic and worry that God is going to ask us to jump up and down and make monkey sounds. Really? He’s going to ask us to spread His love and His life. And yes, it may be a little nerve-wracking to speak up and ask someone if we can pray with her, but it’s always worth it.

Planting Seeds

I had the opportunity to make a last-minute, surprise trip to CA this week. On my second flight, I was sitting next to a lovely, professional woman. We had chatted a bit and when we were getting close to landing, I wanted to tell her how God healed me of motion sickness. I felt like the Holy Spirit was confirming that I was supposed to do that. So I told her that I used to get sick every time I flew, but that on one trip God completely healed me and it was the best miracle ever! She looked right at me and asked me what I did. Did I just pray? So I was able to tell her more about it. She said that was cool and that was it. So glad I spoke up. I was planting seeds. One plants, another waters… I Cor. 3:8. We just obey. The results are up to the Lord.

Lifestyle of the Spirit

Sometimes we get away from that lifestyle of being ready for the Holy Spirit to speak to us at any time. We forget to keep an ear open for Him to speak to us and to keep ourselves in an attitude of willingness to change our plans and to obey. But that is easy to re-align. We just need to turn our heart toward heaven and ask the Holy Spirit to work through us. We just need to be willing. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25.)

It’s a wonderful feeling to know you’ve heard and obeyed the Lord and that He’s working through you to show His love to someone. Ask the Lord to give you a special person assignment today!

When was the last time you did something at the Holy Spirit’s urging?


In Light of Eternity

IMG_0707_2I was listening to one of my favorite songs the other day, “Lose My Soul” by TobyMac, featuring Kirk Franklin and Mandisa. I was singing along with Mandisa and the phrase, “Livin’ in the light of eternity” stuck with me. I’ve always loved that turn of phrase. It holds such a huge concept in a single line: live for eternity.

Life Priority Check

Live in the light of eternity … eternity in their hearts (Ecc. 3:11.) These words remind us to live for more than the here and now. It’s easy to get caught up in our daily needs, burdens and concerns, but there is more ahead, friends. So much more.

You can watch the news and see our world spinning ever closer to the return of Christ, with catastrophe and chaos along the way. This is the perfect time to perform a “systems check” on our lives. What does the way we spend our time and money say about our priorities?

Are we living for the here and now? For our self alone? Or are we focusing on what really matters? To make sure we “love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.” To remember to “love our neighbor as our self” and to show the world we are Christians by our love. Do we consciously give our families the best of us and show the fruit of the Spirit at home? Are we finding ways to make the lives of others better? Notice that these are all actions we take …

Eternal Actions: Outward & Inward

… Because living for eternity doesn’t mean sitting around and waiting for the Lord to come and take us to heaven. It isn’t only about deepening our spiritual life and our prayer life. That’s certainly part of it, but when we draw closer to the Lord in prayer, we will find He then compels us to show His love in very practical ways to those around us. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27.) There is no shortage of orphans and widows. There are so many homes with only one parent. So many kids find themselves alone. So many need support and not only financial. So many people need a friend, an afternoon out, a ride to church.

The second half of that verse, “to keep oneself form being polluted by the world” is a tall order these days as our society reaches a saturation point of sin. We have to take a sober look at how much is seeping into our hearts and minds through the music and media we absorb. We have to be careful to not “call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20) but to align our hearts and minds with the Word of God and what He says to be true.

A Life that Lasts

If we want to live a life that lasts, if we want our works to live on and to not be burned up as worthless at the judgment (I Cor. 3:12,13), then we need to be sure we are living for the right things and that we are doing the right things. Time is short. The Lord is coming soon.

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8.)

I know I have some things to work on. What does your “Light of Eternity Systems Check” tell you?

Confidence for Life

In the last post, we talked about God being “with us” very specifically and the fact that He cares about the details of our lives. A short phrase I love to use to remind myself of this is, “God is with us. God is for us.” Or, a more personal approach—God is with me. God is for me. Say that out loud. The truth of those words can change your life.

On Our Own?

Sometimes we forget God is with us. We act as if we are “on our own” in this life, surviving by our instincts, thriving by our hard work alone. We think we have to “pull ourselves up by our boot straps” and trudge on through. By the sheer force of our will, we pretend to conquer all.

The only problem is when we don’t conquer and give way to defeat, to despair. Then, we finally look to the heavens and say, “God, where are you?”

By Our Side

With tenderness, He replies, “Right where I’ve always been. Where are you?” It’s like the child looking one direction and crying out for her parent who is standing right by her side. He’s right there.

God is with us. This should be our comfort and confidence booster each day.

What is there to worry about? God is with us.

What is there to fear? God is with us.

Unemployed? Fighting sickness? Worried about the kids? Worried about the future? GOD is with us. Something holding you back from your dreams? Go forth and conquer! Get out there and do it! God is with us!

Got Our Back

And God is FOR us. God looks upon us with love and favor. He wants us to succeed. He fully intends and plans that we will (Jer. 29:11)—when we partner with Him. If we will take His hand, He has the adventure all planned. He is for us. He loves us.

God is for us. He’s on our side. Well, really, we’re on His side. But once that decision is made, we belong to Him. We are His children. He’s got our back. He is our Protector, our Deliverer. He is the One going before us to smooth the path. He is the ultimate “connection” who will “hook you up!” He is the One you want to know, the One to be seen and identified with! Greatness by association.

God is with us. God is for us. Be comforted. Be strong. God is with you and He’s crazy about you.

What can the phrase, “God is with me. God is for me.” give you the confidence to do today?

When God Orders Our Steps

One of my very favorite parts of the Christian life is how God orders our steps.

I just love it when I see someone in the post office or at the grocery store and have a conversation that is obviously a “God-thing,” a “God-opportunity,” and as we say good-bye, I realize that if I hadn’t been running late, I wouldn’t have run into them. I smile, knowing God is with me. That’s what I mean by “ordered steps.”

He’s the Director

God can use any part of how our day is going for His purposes and to bless us. I so appreciate the perfect parking place, the short line, the green light that helps me arrive at my meeting just when someone else is leaving the building and I get to speak an encouraging word. Truly, isn’t the best part of any day “making” someone else’s?

Conversely, I have to trust God with the full parking lot, the long line and the red light, knowing He is still ordering my steps. Maybe if I was on the road sooner, I would have been the one in the accident on the side of the road. He knows what’s best and as I surrender my daily life to Him, He is daily in my life.

Partners with God

Talk about how to keep our relationship with Him fresh and alive! When we ask Him to order our steps, we will be amazed at how smooth our day will go, how the seams will come together and how He will create opportunities to glorify Him and help someone else. We need to ask Him for divine appointments and declare ourselves willing partners with Him and see what supernatural things He will do. It’s so exciting and fulfilling.

Psalm 37:23 says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” (NLT)

The phrase “orders our steps” come from the King James Version, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delighteth in his way.”

He Cares About Our Details

Do we realize our Lord is truly interested in us and our daily agenda? Do we realize He is not only “with us” in a general sense, but also “with us” in “every detail” of our lives? He is. He cares about our every care.

We can smile. He is with us. He is leading us and guiding us. As we surrender…

Do you already ask the Lord to direct your daily steps or is it something you might try today?

The Moment We Turn

Do you ever hold yourself back from God? Do you ever try to shield Him away from the deep parts of your heart?

Basic Conversation: The Mundane Stuff

Sometimes our relationship with the Lord can mirror earthly relationships. We talk to our spouse or kids or best friend about all the mundane things that need to be covered—like the basics on how work is going, whose turn it is to take out the garbage, what time the kids need to be at practice, and (most importantly!) what’s for dinner. But it takes more effort, time and focus to engage in a meaningful conversation with someone about what’s really eating at us, what’s driving us crazy and what we’re worried about.

We do the same thing to the Lord. We cover the basics. “Lord, please keep us safe today.” “Lord, help the kids on their finals.” “Thank You for Your goodness.”

We pray for our friends. “Lord, please let their house sell. Please provide a job. Please bring healing.”

Heart Issues: The Real Stuff

But are we taking the time to sit down and let Him into our real heart issues? Are we receiving His love and assurance that everything will work out OK or are we trying to “tough it out” alone?

He wants to spend time with us. He created us so He could hang out with us. After sin became a wall between us, Jesus died for us so we could come back into His Presence. That’s how much He wants to be a daily part of our life!

When Do We Hold Back?

Some people only run to God when they’re in trouble. When things are fine, they aren’t as motivated to see Him. I’m the opposite. I have a bad habit of only coming to Him if I feel like things are going reasonably well and I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. If I’m struggling, I don’t go as deep. I pull back. It’s like I need to have myself together first. The Lord showed me recently that this is a shame-based response. If I’m embarrassed because I’m not doing the last thing He told me or I just can’t “get it together” in some area, I hide from Him instead of running to Him for strength. (Silly!)

He’s Right There

The great thing is, the moment we turn to Him, He’s there. “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8). So true! If we reach our hand to Him, He is right there to take it. He doesn’t say, “Well… you need to read three chapters in the Bible before we’re straight again…or, let’s see, you haven’t really talked to me in a week, so you need to come to me for a week before you’ll hear my voice.” No. Not at all. (I’m so grateful!)

Praise the Lord—He is amazing! And He loves us. If one of our children needed our help, but kept avoiding us and wouldn’t ask, the moment he was brave enough to talk to us, or the moment he held still long enough for us to get their attention about it, we too would be right there to help. How much more does the Lord love us and want to show us that love!

We need to let Him. We need to “come near” to Him always.

What causes you to pull away from the Lord? Do you need to turn toward Him today?

Thinking or Praying?

Thinking, Thinking…

Anyone else have a mind that goes a hundred miles an hour? Plans, details, schedules, family, work, lists and more lists – so many things swirling around in that sphere on top of my shoulders!

It’s the Responsible Thing to Do!

We live in a world that says we need to be smart and self-reliant. We should have a plan and be executing it daily. Some of us think the words, “God gave you a mind. Use it!” is a Bible verse. (It’s not.)

God Says, “Ask.”

What the Bible does say:

“You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2).

“Ask and it will be given you;” (Matthew 7:7).

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God,” (James 1:5).

Ask. Sometimes when I have a problem, I try to “think it to death.” I mull it over. I turn it around, on its head, whatever it takes. Surely I can find the answer if I think long enough. Sometimes there is no answer. Often the situation is out of my control.

What About Prayer?

Then…finally…it happens. The background music swells, the light shines through the clouds and I remember – I should PRAY about this! It’s a revelation! Sometimes I think, “Well, I have been praying about this,” and then realize—no, I have not been praying about it. I’ve been thinking about it. A lot. Thinking about a problem is not the same as actually turning to the Lord in prayer.

Mental Training

Even though we daily use our minds to think, problem solve, set priorities and get things done, the most important thing we can do is to train our minds to FIRST seek God for solutions, to ask for His help, His wisdom, His intervention.

For daily tasks, we will find new answers and new creativity when we ask God for help. For heart concerns, we will find God’s peace when we turn it over to Him. For big, out-of-control problems, we will free God to work HIS plan when we obey His Word and ask Him for what we need.

What problems are you facing today? Are you thinking about them or praying about them?

Let God Speak First

The email had finally arrived after two months of waiting. Inside was the verdict from the publisher on my book proposal. He would either want to see more or he would say…

I held my breath, opened it, read quickly. It was personal, not a form letter. Good sign. Liked it. Well-written, blah, blah, blah…but…no, not quite right for them at this time. More about how hard it is for new authors right now and a word of encouragement. The End.

I was still holding my breath. I didn’t want to react, didn’t want to cry. In a flash, I thought of the people I would need to tell; faithful friends praying for the proposal, writer friends, family. I still didn’t move. In that frozen moment, the Lord spoke to me so clearly. In my heart and mind I heard Him say, “Let Me speak first.” Yes. I could do that. I finally exhaled.

I kept thinking on what the Lord said. “Let Me speak first.” I let that echo in my mind. Those words alone were so amazing, so brilliant. What a great idea/word/concept! Before anyone else could influence me in any way, I would wait on God and hear from Him. Before I even processed my own feelings, I would hear from God and know what to do.

Our God is so tender and caring and full of purpose. He did comfort me and love me and show me the next step. And I have always remembered His words and that moment of truth. Let Him speak first.

Is there an area of your life where you need to listen and “let God speak first” in this New Year?

The Gift of “Present”

Earlier this month, my friend, Sherry Kyle said on twitter (@sherrykyle), “Is your heart ready for Christmas?” Such a great question and it has stayed with me.

Rush, Rush, Rush

So many of the things we do this month are to prepare for Christmas. Right now, many of us are in the “Last Big Christmas Push,” stage. We still have gifts to buy and wrap, we’re getting those last Christmas cards out and baking for next week. Kids will be out of school and things are about to get chaotic in a “Celebrate!” kind of way. Many of us are trying to finish up a stack of work so we can take a few days off over the holidays. People start asking you, “Are you ready for Christmas?” Answer: Almost!

Prepare. Cook. Wrap. Prepare. Work. Cram. Hurry. Prepare.

The question is, what are we doing to prepare our hearts? What gift are we preparing for Him? Have we thought about what we can give Him?

Jesus Can Keep Pace with Us

We know the “correct” answer is to give Him our hearts, but what is a practical way we can do that? Jesus did all the amazing things He did so we could be with Him, in His Presence. Perhaps we should invite Him right into all the “hustle and bustle.”

We don’t want Jesus to knock on the door of our heart, ask to see us, and we say, “If you could just wait on the porch for a minute. I’m still wrapping and baking and well, things are just crazy in here!” How about if we say, “Jesus! Come in! I’ve been dying to talk to you. Sorry I’ve been so busy. Let’s visit while I wrap these gifts.”

Or maybe you hear His soft knock on your heart so you turn off the radio on the commute home and talk to Jesus instead. These days, no one will even think you’re talking to yourself. They’ll assume you’re on the phone–hands-free headset, of course!

Be the Present by Being “Present”

He is always with us and I don’t mean to imply by these examples that He’s not. But when He makes Himself known to us, when we sense the Holy Spirit nudging us to open our eyes and acknowledge Jesus, let’s respond with open hearts. Let’s prepare our hearts to receive Him and give Him the gift of being present, of engaging with Him. Isn’t this what “pray without ceasing” means? (I Thess. 5:17)

What activities can you invite Jesus into this week?

  • Hi, I'm Erica ~ a wife, a mom, a Christian speaker, singer, author, and worship leader. I love coffee & chocolate, reading & writing, music & more music, Facebook & Twitter, time with family & friends! Thanks for dropping by ~ I hope you are encouraged here.

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