Thursday, May 31, 2012

Part 3: A Set-Apart Holiness

The word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.  -1 Samuel 3:1

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven...a time to be silent and a time to speak.  - Ecclesiastes 3:1,7

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.  - 2 Corinthians 7:1

I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.  - 2 Timothy 4:7-8

In Part 3 of He Speaks To Me:  Preparing to Hear From God by Priscilla Shirer, we learn how to stand out from the crowd.  However, it's probably not that standing out that we typically imagine.  When I hear that someone stands out in a crowd, I think of an individual that is loud, making jokes, has everyone's attention.  Here we learn how God wants us to stand out in a crowd.  He wants us to remember who we are.  He wants us to remember who He is.  The set-apart holiness is the third characteristic that Priscilla Shirer describes that positioned Samuel to hear from God.  In other words, while the world around him was deep into sin and being okay with sinning, Samuel was not.  He wanted to live his life for God.  Samuel's set-apart holiness definitely helped him to hear from God more clearer than those around him.

How do we get this set-apart holiness?  How can we position ourselves like Samuel in a holy way so that we can hear from God?

The first thing we learn in chapter 7 is what is happening when God is silent.  The following are the points that stood out to me the most in this chapter.

*  ...He withholds His voice from those who consistently indulge in sin.  (p. 82)
*  The children of Israel had heard God's Word, but they had chosen not to listen, and so God finally quit speaking to them.  (p. 82)
*  Christians that don't hear from God should be on the lookout for unconfessed sin and rebellion in their lives.  (p.  84)
*...God isn't looking for sinless people.  He knows there aren't any.  He's just looking for a people who are serious about hearing His Word and obeying it.  (p. 84)
*  Although He is more than able to intervene, sometimes He shows His glory, demonstrates His power, and strengthens His children by His silence.  (p. 85)
*  God is using silence to strengthen your trust in Him and open your ears to spiritual truths.  (p. 86)
*  We know that we are becoming spiritually mature when God is silent, and, instead of asking why, we humble ourselves before Him and persevere in prayer.  (p. 86)
*  Trust that in His silence, God is speaking to you.  (p. 86)
*  Many things clamor our attention when life gets busy, and hearing God's voice in the midst of the chaos can be difficult.  (p. 87)

This chapter, obviously, touched me the most.  I never really thought that maybe the reason God isn't speaking to me is because of something I'm doing that is a sin.  It doesn't even have to be a sin that most of us would consider huge.  It could be jealousy, anger, resentment.  These are all sins in God's eyes because it's not what He wants us to feel and it keeps us from getting closer to Him.   In other words, if I am sitting around waiting for God to speak to me about my son with autism, yet I am harboring feelings of anger and jealousy, why is He going to speak to me?  He wants to confess these sins, no matter how big or small, give them to Him.  Trust in Him.  Listen for Him.

In chapter 8, we learn how we can live more of a holy life for God.  The following are the points from chapter 8 which stood out the most to me.

*  How can we expect God to speak to us when we act the same as we did before we knew Him?  (p. 92)
*  It involves a decision on our part to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us so we can live a life that pleases our heavenly Father.  (p. 92)
*  We cannot live a lifestyle of perpetually  unrepentant sin and expect to hear God's voice.  The two cannot coexist.  (p. 93)
*  The closer and more intimate your relationship with God becomes, the more clearly you are going to hear Him speak.  (p. 93)

What could be going on in our lives that is clouding our ability to hear from God?

In chapter 9, we learn how we can live a life for God and not give up.  The following are the points from chapter 9 which stood out the most to me.

*  Satan knows that once you are a believer, he can't destroy you, so he's just out to distract you.  He knows he can't get you for eternity, so he just wants to make sure you're no good for the kingdom of God while you're here on earth.  (p. 100)
*  Just like me, you need to know what tempts you to sin and be intentional about dealing with it.  (p. 101)

What is weighing us down in our lives?  What sin is making it harder to live the life that Christ wants us to live?  It's so easy for us to get buried in the demands of our day to day lives.  We need to consistently be turning to God, asking Him for His strength to live the life we were made to live.

I pray that we all use what we've learned in Part 3.  Let's get rid of the sin that's taken over our lives.  Let's stand out in a crowd and stand up for what God wants and let's give Him everything that is weighing us down.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Part 3

Join us on Wednesday May 30th as we discuss Part 3.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Part 2: A Single-Minded Worship

"Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness."  -Psalm 29:1-2

"God said to Moses, "I am who I am."  -Exodus 3:14

"These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."  -Isaiah 29:13

I don't know about you, but I am excited to hear from God.  This book has already taught me so much on what I need to do in order to position myself better to hear from him.

In part 1 of He Speaks To Me by Priscilla Shirer, we learned about the first characteristic that we need to have in order to hear from God, A Simple Relationship.  We need to have a relationship with God. 

Part 2 introduces us to the second characteristic needed in order to hear from God.  It is a single-minded worship.  God loves when we worship him,however he wants us to worship him and him only.  This is why a single-minded worship is the next important characteristic we need to have to easily hear from God.  Priscilla Shirer writes on page 54:

"Single-minded worship begins when we concentrate on God's glory.  Giving God glory means giving Him the honor He deserves.  When we do this, we take our eyes off ourselves and turn them on Him.  God chooses to speak to those who focus on His glory."

There are four lessons that Priscilla Shirer teaches us about in regards to God's glory and Moses' encounter with the burning bush.  They are as follows:

Lesson #1:  God's Glory Often Appears in Desert Places
On page 55, Priscilla Shirer writes "If you are currently in a wilderness season, be encouraged.  You are in a good position to hear from God."  Are you in a wilderness season?  This is the perfect time to listen for God and focus on his glory.

Lesson #2:  God's Glory Is Beyond Our Comprehension
"God's glory is always beyond human comprehension.  An attempt to understand Him by restricting Him to the laws of nature or comparing Him to man minimizes His greatness and power."  (page 55)  Too often, we try to understand God.  We have this desire to want to "get it" and fully comprehend his power and proof behind.  When in reality, God is just so amazing that we really can't wrap our thoughts around it.  We need to accept that and fully trust in Him and His strength.

Lesson #3:  God's Glory Is Reserved for Only One
Be sure to give God all of the glory.

Lesson #4:  God's Glory Demands a Response
"I shudder to think of the times I may have missed the clear direction of God because I refused to turn aside and look."  (p. 57)

In chapter 5, we learn that God is the Real Deal.  God is faithful, all-powerful, and always present

By far, I, personally, got the most out of chapter 6, The Heart of The Matter.  Priscilla Shirer starts off this chapter by sharing with us the day her child was dedicated.  She described in detail all of the preparations she made on the outside to make this day perfect.  In the end, she forgot the most important detail, the Lord.  I'm sure this, or something very similar, has happened to us all.  We spend countless hours preparing things so that they look perfect on the outside, yet the inside is a mess. It's easy to do, even with this blog.  I could spend countless hours finding the best scriptures to post, the best phrases and summaries to give you.  When really, what matters most is my heart.  By speaking from my heart, what's inside will shine through.  That's what God wants.  God doesn't care what our "outside" looks like.  He cares about our heart.  Are we doing what He's called us to do happily and eager to please Him or are our hearts screaming with frustration, anger and bitterness?  Do we come to Him in worship because we love Him so or are we doing it because we want a prayer answered?  He knows our hearts.  Oh, how He knows our hearts.  I encourage you today, if your heart is not in the right place, pray for God to help heal your heart so that you can give it fully to Him.

We also learn in chapter 6, that God wants us to be focused on His priorities and His plans.  Priscilla Shirer teaches us how easy it is to be held in bondage over what she names "pharaohs" in your life.  The three main pharaohs that may be keeping you captive are:  The Pharaoh of Past Mistakes, The Pharaoh of Present Frustrations and the Pharaoh of Future Anxiety.  For me, my pharaoh is present frustrations.  I'm sure a lot of you are also struggling with this as well.  It's hard for me to get my eyes on God's plan when my child is struggling with autism.  It's hard for me to accept that God wants me to reach out to other parents when my child isn't feeling well.  I am help captive by the Pharaoh of Present Frustations.  The following spoke volumes to me:

"One of the best things you can do to worship God single-mindedly is simply to accept where you are and what He's doing for you right now.  Be alert.  Be present.  Don't miss out on what God is doing.  Sister, if you are in bondage to the pharaoh of present frustations, here is the Lord's Word to you today:  'God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.'  (2 Corinthians 9:8) "p74

She continues on page 76:

"Satan doesn't want you praising God because he doesn't want God to show up in your life.  He knows that if you ever break free from whatever is keeping you captive, you'll worship God wiht wholehearted devotion and begin to hear His voice.  And when a woman hears God's voice and obeys Him, she's powerful."

What is keeping you in bondage from hearing from God and what He wants to do in your life?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Part 1: A Simple Relationship

"I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children."  -Matthew 11:25

"Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."  -Matthew 18:4

"Don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing.  Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things?  Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs."  -Matthew 6:31-32

Have you ever found yourself so consumed with finding the answer to what you should do that you forget to do the obvious?  You know, the times when instead of praying and listening for God you call your neighbor, your mom or your closest friends.  Maybe even the times when you find something else to keep you "busy"  because you are not sure what to do next.

I, my friend, am in this time right now.  I am so consumed with how to help my child through his current behaviors that when I am given the opportunity to take some time to actually listen to what God needs for me to do, I use that time to clean my house, paint my walls, move furniture around and even worse, watch tv.  I've kept myself busy.  It's easy to do.  We bury ourselves in the world around us to help cope with what we should do next while we wait for God to give us the answer.

However, we can be waiting a very long time if we are not in the right position to hear from God.

I feel so fortunate that we are doing this study on He Speaks To Me by Priscilla Shirer.  This couldn't have come into my life at a better time.  After reading Part 1, I've realized that the three things I need to consistently be doing to always hearing God, I don't always do.

1.  A Childlike Simplicity
In this chapter, we learn about Ryan, a young girl with autism who is praising God with everything inside of her.  She's not concerned about what others are doing or thinking.  She is praising God because she loves Him.  She's accepted everything that God speaks to her and is excited about it.  That's how God wants us to be.  He wants us to accept what we hear from Him and move forward, excited for the possibilities.  I bet that Ryan hears from God to best while she is worshipping Him.

2.  A Humble Approach
Here, we learn that God wants us to come to Him like children do.  Children accept God for who He is and love Him for it.  They don't doubt what He can or won't do.  They trust God.  Children don't let pride get in the way.  The do things for God because they want to, not because they want the recognition.  I love how Priscilla Shirer writes the following on page 34:

"God's plan was so completely different from what the disciples expected that it didn't make any sense to them, and they couldn't accept it."

Ten years ago, if you would have told me that I would be writing a Bible study blog for parents who have children with autism I would have looked at you like you had three heads.  My relationship with Christ was no where near where it is today at that time.  If God would have told me that I would have a child with autism I wouldn't have trusted Him.  I wouldn't have had that child-like trust and humility that He needs for us all to have.  We have understand that God knows what we need in our lives.  We need to position ourselves to consistently hear from God so that we know what He needs for us to do.  Humbling ourselves is a great start.

3.  A Simple Trust
In this chapter, we learn that God wants us to rely on Him the way infants rely on their parents.  They need their parents for everything.  Here, Priscilla Shirer uses an excellent example of how most of us instead of relying on Him like an infant, we rely on Him like a toddler.  We adopt the defiant-I-want-to-do-it-my-way-I-can-do-it-by-myself attitude that most toddlers have.  Instead, God wants us to trust in Him and come to Him with everything.  Most importantly, He wants us to trust what He tells us as well.  On page 45, Priscilla Shirer writes:

"What we do need to do is believe and obey God, thus placing ourselves in a position for God to bless us fully."

It's really easy if you think about it.  We can take the hard road of trying to figure out what we should do for everything in our lives.  Or, we can trust in God and position ourselves to hear from Him.  After reading Part 1 of He Speaks To Me, I realized that the reason my last two to three weeks were so hard was because I was trying to hear from God, but I didn't have myself in the right position to hear Him speak.

At the end of each chapter, Priscilla Shirer writes a few study questions to help position you closer to God so that you may hear from Him.  I encourage you to take the time to answer these questions.  I'd love to hear some answers.  Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below this post.  You never know whom you may help position themselves to hear from God as well.

*  Join us on Wednesday May 16th for Part 2 of He Speaks To Me.

Friday, May 4, 2012


I am so sorry our study has not started on time. Like you, I have a child with autism. Like you, we have our rough weeks. The past two weeks have been very challenging for my son. Therefore, the start date of our next study will be on Wednesday May 10th. Again, I apologize and I hope you join us next week. Thanks!