Roadblocks

We face all types of roadblocks in our life but the most important thing is how we deal with them. We must know how to manage roadblocks by perceiving whether to press through them, go around them, or avoid them. When we are in God’s will for our lives we will know which path to take. He guides us as we seek him in intercessory prayer, which is a prayer of petition on behalf of someone else by speaking the Word of God, not an itemized list of personal needs or wants. God knows what we need; we don’t have to tell him. Sometimes, we allow our minds to get in the way when we go to God in prayer. He understands our needs better than we do – our omniscient Father. We must pray what He puts on our hearts to pray for and it is not about us.

Last weekend, while I was out-of-town touring the countryside, I came upon five roadblocks in one day. The first one was the result of a storm, which prompted action by the utility companies to make repairs. There was a policeman blocking the road to reroute traffic. The second one was a downed tree, but we were able to drive around it. A while later, we came upon another fallen tree and we had to turn around. It was too large to move and there was no way around it. Next, after hiking a bit along the Pee Dee River, we returned to the car to find a flat tire, which had to be substituted with a spare. It was beyond adding air. The last one was a police barricade stopping all cars to check identification. I was given favor when I couldn’t find my driver’s license because it was in my camera bag instead of my purse. The policeman or deputy told me to pass through because I didn’t look “shady.”

One of the roadblocks I encountered.

Facing all of these roadblocks in one day caused me to pause and ask God what he was trying to tell me. If I had only encountered a couple of them, I probably would have chalked it up to being in the wrong place at the wrong time but five caused me to contemplate further what they meant. I reflected how three of them were impassable and if we are not in the will of God, our communication with him is cut off. We may try to hear from him, but he stops communicating until he has our attention. The communication flow opens once we are obedient and trust him. Then it is like a floodgate that has been fully opened. We hear from him and we have peace.

In that peace, we can touch others when we are fully reliant on God. Sometimes, we allow obstacles in our lives to cut us off from God’s instructions for our lives. We do this by not fully trusting him, when the Word says he will provide for us. Or we may allow activities to get in the way, which hinder us from our daily time alone with God. There are numerous ways we may permit things to obstruct our walk with God. Hopefully, we correct them quickly and get back on the path he has prepared for us. The farther away we stray, or the longer we don’t communicate with God, the harder it is to find his path.

Our lives are more simple and straightforward when we keep on the right path. There may be some roadblocks we can avoid altogether. We have to learn to recognize them and not be pulled into temptations. I want to avoid these obstacles, because it is more expedient when God levels our path. In avoiding these obstructions, we may have to search out an alternate route. Other times he allows us to go around them. When we pass through, this is a form of avoidance. Then there are times when we go through unscathed.

To pass through trials unscathed is victorious! Even though others may try to steer our course or be ‘in our face,’ God sanctions a way through without us being physically hurt. We may be emotionally hurt but it is our response that opens the door. If we allow emotions to take control and dwell in the pain, the doors may remain shut. Although we may get hurt initially, when we turn the emotions over to God, he opens the door or window for us to pass through. When we are hearing from God, the opinion of other people should not influence us. There have been well-intentioned people in my life who have tried to convince me to take different paths at times. I know from experience this is the time I need to immediately go to God and seek what action I should take. If they are correct, God will show me how to correct myself and what they are saying. But if I am already in his will, their words will not affect me and I will continue the journey He has set before me. At times, this is difficult because some of these people are people who I believe hear from God and I respect. There is the crucial point. They hear from God for their lives and sometimes others, but who is responsible for our actions? I hear from God and without hesitation, I seek His will for my life.

Here is a rhetorical question: Who is a better guide, the Holy Spirit or someone else? What I have learned is God will speak to me what he wants me to hear. If I’m on the wrong path, he will convict me but if I’m where he wants me, he will give me peace to continue on. His peace is the key to knowing we are following God’s plan. It is his peace I seek out and not other’s. He knows what is best for me and when I follow him with his Word, I attain that peace.

Whatever roadblocks you are facing in your life now, I pray that you will seek God to show you the way. You may have health issues, financial woes, a family crisis, or countless other things bothering you. Maybe you are going through more than one. Now is the time to get before God and let him calm the storms in your life. I intercede on your behalf for you to know whether to search for another way, trust him to pull you through, or how to avoid roadblocks altogether. I pray for his guidance through the Holy Spirit as you seek his will for your life that you will experience his love and indescribable peace. Praise him for the answer and read his Word. In love, K-D

Click on the Verses for this writing to read them: Psalm 143:10Proverbs 3:1-6; Isaiah 26:3-4Isaiah 40:3-5; Matthew 6:6-8Matthew 8:26; John 16:13-15Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 4:6-8;  Hebrews 12:5-12

Listening

Listening is a skill. I have learned over the years that to be an effective communicator, I must listen. I don’t claim to be an expert listener, I’m a work in progress. I majored in Communications in college and I remember being taught how to speak well and communicate effectively to my audience. I cannot recall the times I had to give oral presentations for classes. I was prepared somewhat by my life experiences. I held jobs where I had to train people both individually and en masse. I paired written words, which I prepared, and articulated my thoughts extemporaneously. Those who learned quickly were good at listening and were attentive.

I have a friend who is an excellent listener. We used to have lengthy conversations and in talking to him one day I mentioned that he had excellent listening skills. He is patient when I communicate with him whether we are face-to-face or chatting on the phone. He told me it was an acquired skill. I have often thought of this over the years. I have tried to hone my ears to not only hear people when they speak but to actively listen. I try to listen to their emotion and their intent. If I don’t understand what they are saying, I ask questions. I tell them what I perceive and if I’m off-base most of them will explain their words if they want to get their point across.

I looked up the words hear and listen. Hear is a perception of sound and information. Listen is to pay attention and to wait for sound, to actively hear. “To wait for sound” shows me the patience we must have when we listen. Hearing is simply to perceive with the ear while listening is to try to hear and be involved with sounds. We hear noises all day, our alarm clock, our coffee maker, voices, traffic, music, birds singing, dogs barking, our computer’s hum, but how often do we actively engage with the noises we hear? Do we just hear them or do we pay attention to them and think about them?

Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. Isaiah 55:3

I remind myself mentally to take note of what other people say and try to actively listen and not just ‘hear’ their words. I try to have my ears wide open. The Bible says that we “will find life” when we listen! In Proverbs it says “don’t lose sight of them.” This is an active form of listening! It goes on to say “let them penetrate into your heart.” When we listen and understand, we don’t simply have the knowledge in our minds we carry it in our hearts. Having the words in our heart brings a change of attitude and perception, it helps us connect.

My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Proverb 4:20-22

In Romans it speaks of connecting our faith when we hear the words of Christ. This is an active form of listening. In the Greek, the word for hearing is hearing with the soul. This is an exhortation to allow the word of God, Jesus, to penetrate our heart and soul. The “word of God” translated into the New King James version is from the Greek word ‘Christos’ referring to Christ. Christ IS the ‘word of God.’

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ. (NLT) or So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (NKJV)

My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Proverb 4:20-22

I want to communicate effectively. I want to be a better listener to my friends and family and to God. It is my desire to learn.

Prayer: Father, help me to not only hear your words but to allow them to penetrate my heart and soul. Help me to be a better listener and not one who just hears. Amen 

Time Alone with God

I have been an exhorter in the past and I want to re-establish my role by encouraging others.  My question to you is; how often do you have time alone with God? If we’re too busy for God, then we are simply too busy. When I allow God to be in charge of my life, I am amazed at how much more productive I am. When I put Him first; everything falls into place. I have developed five points on how to put God first in my life. Five is the number of grace and the acronym I have used spells out the word GRACE.

G – Getting to know God:

We can’t reach others without first having our own time with God.  We have to know what the Bible says in order to share it. So why do many of us try to live a Godly life without having personal time with God? When we study the Bible, it overflows to the rest of our life.  Out of that wealth, we are able to minister to and encourage others. What we put in is what comes out. If I FILL my heart and mind with the Bible, there is not any room for negativity. We can strengthen our relationship with God by communication and observation otherwise it won’t grow. With our friends we listen and find out as much about them as we can. This is how our relationship with God should be; sharing and communicating, finding out everything we possibly can about Him (getting to know God). Satisfied living comes through knowing God. Matthew 5:6 (Amplified) “Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be completely satisfied.”

R – Refusing self:

Just as we should ask about our relationships “What can I do to make this relationship better?” we should ask about our relationship with God. When we focus on what we do rather than what we can get, we become selfless instead of selfish. When we put our own self first we are giving into our weaknesses.  In Galatians 5:20-21, the Bible speaks of idolatry. The definition of idolatry is “excessive devotion.”  This could mean loving ourselves more than others. Jesus’ example was to put the needs of others first by being a servant. Luke 22:27 “Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.”

A – Asking:

Asking for wisdom and making our petitions known before God is how we should pray, simplicity is the best approach. Our time should begin with prayer. “Never stop praying.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 We should have confidence in our prayers just as Abraham did.  When Abraham prayed that Lot would be spared from the destruction of Sodom, obviously he had confidence in that prayer because we read he had slept that night.  Genesis 19:27 “Abraham got up early that morning and hurried out to the place where he had stood in the Lord’s presence.” If Abraham didn’t believe Lot would be spared, I don’t think he would have slept.

C – Charging

Letting God be the one that charges us up. Most people don’t try to withstand a trial or problem without running to God in prayer. But why not just be hooked up to God all the time? Think of yourself as a three-prong electrical plug. The bottom prong is for “Grounding!” That grounding should plug into the Bible. Notice how it is fatter than the other two and relate that to how much we should draw on the Bible. Then take a look at the other two prongs.  Notice how they are wider at the tip? Those prongs represent our outstretched hands in worship. Once they are ‘plugged into’ the socket they are harder to pull out. Now, take a look at the holes in these prongs, relate these to ears. These two prongs make the circuit complete and if we are not listening to God along with praying, worshiping, and reading the Bible, then our circuitry is incomplete. I know people who cut off the third prong because it doesn’t fit. They take a risk of getting shocked. We need to be careful that we don’t cut off our relationship with God by only praying and not reading the Bible, which makes a one-way relationship.  Also, if we were to tape up the holes on the prongs, and we only went to God in prayer, then how can we hear? In Romans 10:17 the Bible says, “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”

E – Exalting:

When we hear from God, how can we help but exalt or worship Him by praising Him in spirit and song? Exalt means to raise in rank, honor, power or character. We should exalt God far above everything and everyone. I love the song “How Can I Keep from Singing?” by Chris Tomlin. This is how I feel about God. I cannot keep quiet about all the things he has done for me. Worship is so important in our daily walk, it isn’t just for Sunday, and God loves to hear our praises! “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” John 4:23

We live in such a “give me” society that it’s no wonder we expect God to do everything while we just carry on until we ‘need’ Him. Grace is freely given, unmerited favor, the Love of God, and the influence of the Holy Spirit in us to strengthen us. God gave us his best through Jesus Christ and his death on the cross, a perfect sacrifice, his resurrection, and the Holy Spirit. He graced us with the Bible, but what have we given in return? Sometimes we offer a mere pittance of a prayer before our meals or a ritualistic prayer before bed when God deserves our best! The very least we can do is give of our time to communicate with Him. I encourage you to show God honor for the grace he has shown you, he loves you and wants to bless you by communicating with you. Have some time alone with God today and every day. Your life will be better because of the time you spend.