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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

tobyMac - Speak Life

How to Hear God’s Voice Above All Others

By Whitney Hopler (

Every day, many thoughts pop into your mind – some of which are true, and some of which are lies. That mix of thoughts sounds like a chatterbox, creating incessant noise that can interfere with your ability to clearly hear God’s voice speaking to you.

If you let deceptive thoughts distract you from God’s messages, you can fall victim to insecurity, fear, condemnation, and discouragement. The key to overcoming those unhealthy attitudes is crashing the chatterbox regularly so you can hear God’s voice above all others. Here’s how you can do so:
Recognize the spiritual importance of your thoughts. The battle between good and evil that’s constantly taking place in this fallen world infiltrates your mind. While the Holy Spirit works to encourage you to discover and fulfill God’s will for your life, Satan tries to prevent you from doing so. Realize that it’s in your mind that the transmission of God’s plans for your life either succeed or fail. If you allow yourself to be distracted by thoughts that don’t reflect what’s true, you become vulnerable to evil attacks that can prevent you from becoming the person God wants you to become and doing what God wants you to do on Earth. But if you make a regular effort to listen for God’s voice above all others, you can grow closer to God and fulfill your God-given calling in life.

Consider how your internal dialogue may be sabotaging you from reaching your fullest potential. If you believe the deceptive and unhealthy thoughts that run through your mind, you will be fueling dysfunction in your life. Honestly ask yourself questions such as: What great deeds that you sense God calling you to do are in danger of remaining undone because you’re afraid to do them? What desperate needs surround you that God can’t meet through you unless you confront and overcome deceptive thoughts? How are the people who are closest to you (your family members and friends) suffering because of the lies you believe? Since the voices you believe will determine the future you experience, it’s crucial to listen for God’s voice carefully and regularly to get the wisdom you need to live up to your highest potential.

Overpower your insecurities by confessing “God says I am.” God declares that you are someone he loves completely and unconditionally. God knows the worst parts of your life and yet still chooses to love you and call you to serve in his kingdom. Knowing that, you don’t have to try to prove yourself to anyone, but instead can live with the assurance that comes from God-given acceptance, peace, and confidence. If you receive God’s callings as promises and pursue them with the faith that God will help you fulfill them, you’ll experience the blessings that come from God’s favor on you. Whenever Satan tries to tempt you to doubt God’s goodness or power in any situation, you can overcome his deception by reminding yourself of biblical truths and asking the Holy Spirit to renew your mind to give you an accurate perspective on the situation. So it’s important to read, study, and think about the Bible often so your mind will absorb its truths and the Spirit will use those truths to transform you.

Overpower your fears by confessing “God says he will.” Choose faith in what God says over fears about the “what ifs” in life. While you can’t anticipate what circumstances you’ll face in the future, you can know God, who controls the future. Choose to believe God’s promise to do what’s best for you when you trust him. Kick your fears out of your heart so they won’t keep you out of the places God has prepared for you in life. Imagine your scariest “what if?” scenarios, such as your spouse leaving you, one of your children dying, the loss of your job, or being diagnosed with a serious health condition. Then realize that even if the worst happens in your life, you can still count on the fact that God will give you the faith you need to make it through. So don’t let your fears erode the confidence God wants to give you to embrace life to the fullest every day. The danger of missing out on living fully is often much greater than the risk that comes from stepping out in faith. Whenever you sense God calling you to say or do something, rather than getting stuck on the question “What if I do obey God and it costs me greatly?” ask yourself “What great things will I miss out on if I don’t obey God?” Train your mind to discern the difference between Satan’s threats and God’s whispers, keeping in mind contrasts such as: While evil thoughts are embedded in lies, thoughts that come from God ware rooted in truth. Satan tries to paralyze you, but God motivates you. Evil thoughts diminish your hope, while God’s messages empower you to change.

Overpower your condemnation by confessing “God says he has.” Even though you must continue to struggle with sin while living in this fallen world, if you’re a Christian, God says he has forgiven you because of Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins. You never have to live under the weight of shame, despite your failures and mistakes, because God loves you no matter what and stands ready to help you learn from your past and grow into a stronger person with a hopeful future. Whenever you sense a condemning voice in your mind, recognize that the voice is an evil one and choose to ignore it. God may convict you about the need to confess and repent of sin in your life, but he will never condemn you. While Satan reminds you of your wrongs by showing you shame, the Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin by reminding you of your righteousness.

Overpower your discouragement by confessing “God says I can.” God promises to empower you to do whatever he calls you to do. Ignore discouraging thoughts in your mind that say you can’t really do something that you believe God has called you to do. Expect that, the closer you get to God and the more you serve him, the more intensely you’ll have to battle discouraging thoughts from evil that wants to distract you from your God-given work. But never stop fighting the chatterbox in your mind. Make a habit of expressing gratitude to God for how he has helped you in the past and choosing to rely on God working through you now and in the future.

Adapted from Crash the Chatterbox: Hearing God’s Voice Above All Others, copyright 2014 by Steven Furtick. Published by Multnomah Books, a division of WaterBrook Multnomah, Colorado Springs, Co.,

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I Am Calling toYou

Listening to a certain show on television, or a sporting event can make us tune out part or all of another's attempts at conversation. This happens in life quite often, including when our creator is trying to speak to us in our daily lives.

Often times, we pray for something. We pray for healing, or we pray for guidance, or the wise choice in matters that affect our personal or professional  lives.

Are we really listening? Are we opening our hearts to what God is trying say through us? Sometimes the message may not be sinking in. Remember to listen to our beloved Savior, he may just be calling you to greater things.

Why Is Real Love So Rare?

By Trillia Newbell, Author

It's Valentine's season again. Strange, how in our popular culture the word “love” can be used in such a trivial way, but then also be used to refer to the deepest of relationships.
“I love my wife!”
“I love hamburgers!”
“I love my husband!”
“I love the movie Nacho Libre!”
No wonder it’s so easy for us to miss the type of love God calls us to express toward, not just our favorite people, but toward all people. Let's face it. Real love is rare. 
So radical is the love that God commands us to have for others, it includes loving our enemies and persecutors (Matthew 5: 43-48) and loving without expectation of receiving love in return (Luke 6: 27-36). But the most challenging call to love is the great commandment love God with all of our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22: 34-40).
Love God, Love Others
To truly love, we must first know God. Love starts with God and ends with God because God is love. We see this in 1 John 4: 7-8 when he writes:  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” God is not physically love, but it is one of his attributes. All God does is out of love. He cannot and does not do wrong. His display of love the purest and truest there is. He loves perfectly. And because we are made in God’s image, we can love.
Love isn’t something that is derived from within us. It is radical. It is supernatural. For the kind of love that God calls us to–the love that loves our neighbor as much as we love ourselves– that must come from Him. We cannot love like that without first being born of God. God’s common grace allows for all men made in His image to love, but there is a love that is set apart for the Christian.  And it is also God’s enabling Spirit that allows us to love God. We love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
This should cause us to pause. If we are enabled by His Spirit to love and if this love is set apart, we should be seeking to express it and to know it. Our love for each other has great implications. Jesus says that, “by this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35). This command to love is important. It isn’t a haphazard imperative to be tossed. God never says, “if you feel like loving, then love.” Perhaps it's most challenging because to display love in such a practical way that causes even non-Christians to recognize that it’s supernatural would mean death to self.
No, we can’t do it on our own. But with God, we can love radically: “for the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Christ died so we might live for him and we die to our flesh as we learn to love others in both practical and non-practical ways. We have to move past how we feel about a situation or a person and ask God to give us a genuine love for others.
Motivated by a love for God that began because He first loved us, we can actively pursue loving others both in practical ways and through expression. Practically speaking, this means putting others above ourselves, our perceived needs, and our wants. That will look differently for each person, so a ‘must do’ list won’t work. However, we’ll know if we’re sacrificially loving others because it’s going to be a little painful. We may experience loss of time, sleep, money, energy, whatever it is, we will feel it.  And that person who is being extended love will also know it.
Through the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit puts within the people of God a conviction to love people and make sure they know that they are loved. We fail miserably at this when we try to love in our own strength. We will never love God or anyone with our whole hearts. I fail at this because my flesh fights for me to be selfish and self-focused. Like Paul, when I want to do good, sin is right there with me (Romans 7:21). I don’t always want to love, but I can choose to. I thank Jesus who died on the cross for my half-hearted love. He loved perfectly in my place. And by God’s grace, I will grow in loving others. 

(Trillia Newbell is a freelance journalist and writer. She writes on faith and family for The Knoxville News-Sentinel, and serves as the managing editor for Women of God Magazine and Lead Editor of Karis, the Women’s Channel of CBMW. She guests post frequently at The Gospel Coalition and Desiring God. Her love and primary role is that of a wife and mother. She lives in Tennessee with her husband Thern and their two children. You can learn more about her via her site and follow her on twitter:@trillianewbell. )

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Game Plan

The Game Plan
Coach Joe Gibbs: Gameplan for Life - Two Minute Drills

For three improbable afternoons at the recent British Open golf tournament, Tom Watson continually stood near or atop the leader board, smelling victory at an event he had won five times before, but not in more than twenty-five years. With each succeeding round and clubhouse interview, the spectacle became harder and harder to believe. Yet strangely, for the 59-year-old Watson, easy to explain. 

He was on a "game plan," he repeatedly said, a secret code of attack he never revealed, except to say it existed and that he was on course with it. It was a game plan that took him to the 72nd hole and an eight-foot putt for par, inches away from an ageless wonder of a championship. 

Game plans work. And though a slight bobble in execution at any point along the way can mean the difference between first and second, the fact remains that a good game plan can take you far—farther than you may have ever dreamed possible. 

That's why the apostle Paul could say it's "not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me" (Philippians 3:12). Yes, missed putts can still prove costly. Missed opportunities can still nag at us. But what we lack in perfection is more than made up for as we "press on" with a set purpose. Life with a game plan is always superior to life without it. 

Pray this prayer: Lord, I know I can do better than just taking a hit-and-miss approach to life. I need a game plan. I need YOUR game plan. Help me to see it in your Word, and put it into practice every day.