“The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. 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 because they know his voice.”
~John 10: 3-4

Encourage. It is a word God speaks to my heart often.  Encourage your family.  Encourage your friends.  Encourage those you encounter in the everyday.

Almost one year ago, I had my first real call that had me a bit puzzled.  I had been trying to discern God in my life and had made some great strides toward being faithful in my everyday tasks.  This, however, was not part of my everyday. I had no real experience with this.  God had spoken to me.  Clearly.  This was not just one of my crazy ideas from something I read or encountered.  This was real, and I was unsure of where to begin.  I was to blog.  That part was not a stretch.  I actually enjoy writing.  I used to write a lot.  The catch was, I was to blog about my everyday ministry.  I was to write about God and His love and grace towards me.  I am happy to share this with those I encounter, but this was a whole new ball game.  My words would be out there.  Other people would read them.  They might judge me.  Besides, what could I possibly share about God that anyone wanted to hear?  Doubt crept in.  I questioned.  Really God?  Are you sure?  Isn’t this something better left to the “spiritual superstars”?

God did not let this go.  I received confirmation through various avenues: church, blog posts I read, conversations with friends, but the big deal was yet to come.  The Online Bible Studies through Proverbs 31 Ministries had decided to do a “Blog Hop” each week and invited all participants to join in.  God made it clear He expected me to do this.  I was really tentative, but it was time to put my money where my mouth was.  I kept telling myself, even if no one reads this, it will be good for you.  This was true, but I knew God expected more.  He wanted my best.  He wanted to work through me.  He wanted this time to speak to me directly.  Since that first blog hop, I have faithfully posted each week, even on the weeks I did not have time or did not feel up to it.  I have to say, God knew what He was doing.  This has been one of the most transformational experiences I have ever had.  I have learned more about God and myself than through any other single avenue.

Even better, God has allowed me to meet some amazing women.  He has allowed me to bring His encouragement through a timely post.  He has allowed others to encourage me through their comments.  He has pushed me further than I ever thought was possible.  Amazing.  Even better, God has begun to speak to me again.  This time, He is stretching this command a bit further.  He wants me to blog more often and work towards writing articles and devotions. I am not sure where this is going to take me, but I am going to be faithful to each step and I praise God for the love He has shown me.

What about you? God speaks to each of us.  In John 10: 3-4 we learn, “the watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. 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 because they know his voice.”  God opens the gate to each of us to follow Him, to experience Him.  Our only obligation is to listen to His voice.  He calls us by name.  He leads us away from our old self.  He goes ahead of us and we can follow Him because we have learned to know His voice.  You have the ability and the charge to listen for God’s voice.  It takes practice, learning His voice from our own wants and desires, but it comes.

Lysa TerKeurst, in What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, shares five questions to help us tell the difference between our own thoughts and God’s impressions on our hearts.

  1. Does what I’m hearing line up with Scripture?
  2. Is it consistent with God’s character?
  3. Is it being confirmed through messages I’m hearing at church or studying in my quiet times?
  4. Is it beyond me? (The answer to this question should be yes! God wants to work through us.)
  5. Would it please God?

God’s voice has never been an audible thing for me.  Instead, it is a thought, a feeling, given to me in my quiet moments.  They happen most frequently when I am praying or studying my Bible.  It took me a while to figure out which impressions were His and which were my own wishes and desires.  I still am not perfect.  I still allow the noise of the world to detract from my quiet time.  I allow the influence of the world to drive my thoughts at times.  I strive to have this happen less frequently as I become better able to communicate with God.

What are God’s whispers to your heart?  What recurring thought has been coming to you that seems a bit (or maybe a lot) beyond you?  Being faithful to these whispers is the best decision I have ever made.  The circumstances of my life have not changed, but my attitude towards them certainly has.  I have more joy.  I have more peace.  I am still a work in progress, but I can begin to see the beauty of the trials I have gone through.  God has used them for things I never could have imagined possible.  My prayer is that you find encouragement, peace and joy today.