2 ways to receive God’s guidance

We all want to receive guidance from the Lord. You may need to make a decision in your marriage or with your children or regarding your work situation, and you wonder which way to go.  Well, the good news is that God promises to guide us!  Psalm 32:8 says “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”  The tricky thing is figuring out exactly how to access his counsel!

Here are two primary ways to access his wisdom and his counsel.  The first is….spending time reading His Word.  Duh.  But how many times do we come up with excuses as to why we don’t have the time or energy to spend much time reading the Bible?  Maybe it’s time to stop making excuses and DECIDE to make Bible reading a priority in your life.  I bet you make time to brush your teeth and take a shower, so why can’t you carve out 15 minutes for reading the Bible every morning?  😊  Reading the Bible will give you direct guidance on so many decisions you’ll need to make throughout any given day.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Next, spend time worshipping God and in “listening prayer”.  When we worship God, he draws near, and he longs to whisper to us through His Holy Spirit if we will strain to listen for that whisper to our souls.  1 Kings 19:12 “After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”  So try this.  Put on some worship music, or start singing a worship song. As you praise Him, close your eyes and envision God with you.  Now ask Him to whisper guidance to your heart.  Strain to listen. Did he give you a vision or nudge your heart in some way?  I believe He will guide you.  Just make sure that anything you believe you hear from God does not contradict what He says in the Bible.

Men’s version of spending time together

Many wives are familiar with the Bible’s account of creation and know that after creating Adam, God said “It is not good for man to be alone.  I will create a helper suitable for him.”  (Genesis 2:18)   If you really think about this verse, it becomes clear that one of a husband’s core needs is to spend time with his wife so that he is not alone!

That sounds easy to accomplish. Right?  I mean most wives are totally willing, and even eager, to spend time with their husband….sitting on the couch, staring into each other’s eyes, and deeply sharing their feelings, thoughts, and hopes.  Ummm.  That’s not exactly how most men think about “spending time” with their wife!

A man’s version of spending time together typically involves physically doing stuff together, such as attending a sporting event, going hiking, playing golf, going fishing, walking through the home improvement store together, and yes, having sex.  That’s a man’s version of companionship.   This doesn’t mean you can’t ask your husband to spend some time with you in meaningful conversation from time to time, but it does mean you should consider engaging in his version of quality time periodically as well.  Try it, and see if he doesn’t fall just a little more in love with you. J

Sensing God’s comforting presence

If you’re like me, sometimes you desperately need to sense God’s presence.  When my relationships are challenged and I’m not “feeling the love” from people in my life, I so need to sense God’s love and his comfort.  The good news is that God promises to hold us when we cry out to Him!  In Isaiah 51:12, God says “I, even I, am he who comforts you.  Who are you that you fear mere mortals?”

However, it’s not like I can literally see him or reach out and grab his hand, so how can I take advantage of the comfort that He promises me?  Well, I take a clue from King David.  In Psalm 63:2, he says to God “I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.”   I believe David is talking about God giving David a vision of himself as David was worshipping. 

I’ve tried this and it is a marvelous thing!  I enter a time of praising God, with or without music, and then I ask God to help me envision myself being in His presence in perhaps his throne room or maybe in a beautiful mountain meadow beside a pristine brook.  Why don’t you try this right now?  Close your eyes, voice thankfulness and praise to God, and then ask Him to allow you to see yourself with Him in a particular setting.  Can you sense His presence?  Do you sense His great love for you?  Can you feel His comfort?  Do you sense the warmth of His love?  If possible, actually try to get out into his beautiful creation and saturate your senses with the beauty he designed!

If you’re struggling to experience God’s comfort, let me just say that you MUST believe that God will indeed reveal his comfort to you.  Have faith that you will sense God’s comfort.  Remember, your faith that God will fulfill his promises is vital.  James 1:6-7 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord

2 things husbands want wives to know

My late husband Raul led a large men’s ministry called Band of Brothers For Christ for many years and as a result, he got to talk to hundreds of husbands about their marriages.  One day, I asked my husband what 2 things he believes most husbands wish their wives understood about men.  Here’s what he said:

1) That he needs to be valued by you.  In other words, he wants to hear you appreciate the things he does for you and the family.  He needs to be needed.

2) That you would appreciate his efforts….efforts to grow spiritually and in character, and that you would be patient and encouraging during that process.  My husband said it takes time for a man to break free from all the temptations of the world and the lusts of his flesh, and that it’s super helpful if his wife acknowledges any forward progress he’s making, no matter how small.

After my husband explained this to me, it occurred to me that wives will automatically start filling these needs in our men when WE seek to follow God’s instructions on “how to love” in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Multiple-choice prayers!

I don’t know about you, but I fall into a really crazy and unproductive pattern when I seek God for advice and direction.  I intend to be a good listener, but instead of quieting myself and really straining for God to speak to me through his Holy Spirit, I keep….talking!  In fact, one second after I ask God the question “what should I do about …..?”, I start mulling over the options.  My thoughts start ricocheting in my head and after a few minutes, I feel like I’ve boiled down the choices to 3 or 4 options for God to choose from. Yikes! 

The other day I found myself doing this again.  This time, however, I heard God speak a word of correction (or what some might call rebuke!).  I heard him say “Why are you multiple-choicing me?”  He reminded me that He doesn’t need me to lay out options from which to choose.  He reminded me that, often, his answer or direction is not even listed among my multiple-choice options!  I heard him whisper to my spirit, “What if my answer is “e” and you have only given me A-D from which to choose?”

Thank you, Lord, for reminding me that I need to do less talking and more listening. This is the essence of James 1:19  “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…”

By the way, one tip that has helped me quiet my thoughts (so I can actually hear the Lord’s whisper of guidance) is this:  Close your eyes and envision being with the Lord.  I like to envision walking beside him in a beautiful meadow next to a quiet stream.  Then, while your mind is focused on being with Jesus, ask your question.  Within a few moments, I usually sense Him whispering a word to me, or giving me a vision, or bringing a Bible verse to mind that will guide me.

Desperate for God’s guidance?

Are you in the middle of a really difficult challenge in your marriage or in some area of your life?  Are you consumed with worry or outright fear about the future?  It’s at those times in our lives that we need to press into prayer in a more earnest way.  Throughout the Old Testament and New Testament, we see that when God’s people were extremely troubled or worried or bewildered, they sought God with every fiber of their being by…fasting. 

What is a fast?  It’s a time where you go without some types of food or all food for a specific period of time in which you seek God with your whole heart.  Sometimes, people give up something other than food, such as media.   I remember a time when I fasted from all food for 3 days as I earnestly sought God’s counsel regarding a relationship.  At the very end of that fast, God gave me a vision that made my path very clear.  Praise God!

In Ezra 8, we read that the Israelites fasted and implored God for a safe journey through enemy territory and Ezra says, “God listened to our entreaty“.  Is it time for you to enter a time of earnest prayer and fasting of some type?  Please consult your doctor if you have health issues that could be adversely affected by fasting from food, but otherwise, fasting may be just what you need for a breakthrough in prayer!

God has plans to redeem your pain

No one really embraces heartbreak or suffering.  We usually do everything we can to avoid it, and we often complain to God when He doesn’t put an end to it at our first request.  But maybe he is allowing the suffering for a really good reason.  Maybe He has purpose even when he allows us to experience disappointment or even heartbreak.

I think of several stories from the Bible.  Joseph’s story in Genesis, chapters 37-50, is a prime example.  Even though Joseph endured great suffering for many years as he wrongly spent time in prison, God had a masterful plan he was executing behind the scenes….a plan that would involve Joseph rising to great power in Egypt and helping his family gain food during a famine in Israel.  I also think of the great apostles Peter and Paul.  They were beaten and thrown into prison, but God later miraculously freed them from prison and their story inspired many to follow Christ.

The Bible reveals that there is purpose in suffering and heartbreak.  Romans 5:3-5 says “…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”   So, perhaps instead of feeling sorry for ourselves or feeling anger toward God, maybe you and I should choose to trust God even in the midst of heartbreak.  Maybe we should ask God to use our suffering to build our character.  God won’t waste your heartbreak.  He will use it to do something beautiful.

This is a top need of your kids

If you love your children, one of the MOST important things you can do for them is to keep your marriage healthy and intact!  Not to scare you, but the research regarding children from divorced families is alarming.  Perhaps this is one reason the Bible says in Malachi 2:16, “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce”.  God knows the devastating impact of divorce on children’s lives.

Research by Focus on the Family has found that teens from divorced homes are much more likely to engage in drug and alcohol use, as well as sexual intercourse than are those from intact families.  Also, kids whose parents divorce are substantially more likely to be incarcerated for committing a crime as a juvenile.  Plus, research from the Heritage Foundation found that children of divorced parents perform more poorly at school and have higher drop-out rates.

Yes, God can heal a child’s heart following a divorce, but the scars will remain.  So, work hard to keep your marriage healthy and strong.  Pray every day for your husband and pray daily for marriage guidance from the Lord.  See a counselor if you guys are fighting a lot or if you are growing increasingly resentful.  Don’t let your heart grow hard.  Fight for your marriage.  Your kids will thank you!

Don’t confide in your relatives

I’ve learned something pivotal over my many years of helping women navigate marriage problems.  In general, don’t share your husband’s faults and failures with your family of origin!  The reason is simple.  Your parents, siblings and grandparents not only love you, but are often overly-protective when it comes to you.   They can’t stand the thought of anyone wounding a member of their family.  Now don’t get me wrong.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  However, their allegiance to you can often turn into the vilification of your husband!

Allow me to explain.  Once a wife openly shares the faults, failures or sins of her husband with her relatives, he may be forever stained in their eyes.  Many parents and siblings will begin treating the husband as the enemy.  Sometimes, those relatives develop deep resentment toward the husband.  Once those strong feelings have developed, it’s often hard to turn that ship around, even if the husband has repented of wrong-doing!  He will always have a black mark next to his name.

This is what I would suggest doing.  You definitely SHOULD seek advice and wise counsel as you’re working through difficult seasons in your marriage, but, in general, avoid confiding in your relatives.  If you sense that your relatives are quick to forgive and refuse to hold onto resentment, perhaps you can safely confide in them.  Otherwise, seek counsel elsewhere, such as a women’s ministry leader, Christian counselor, or wise older Christian woman in your life.  You need the kind of wisdom described in James 3:17-18 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

He needs to be your hero

Did you know most men really like to be needed?  I know.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it.  Sometimes, it seems like it’s hard to get them to follow through on a task you asked them to handle.  But you know what?  Sometimes we pick inopportune times to ask.  Often we don’t have their full attention, or we mention the task along with five other things we discussed.  Remember, men don’t think the same way women do!  They usually focus on only one thing at a time.

Anyway, back to the “being needed” thing. 🙂 Surveys show most men really do want to be your hero. I believe it’s a way they feel respected, and we know that respect is so important for a man that God actually commands wives to respect their husbands in Ephesians 5:33!  

This means our men want to lift a box that is kind of heavy for us.  They want to fix the leaky faucet and impress you with their “fix-it” skills.   They want to figure out a solution to your overloaded schedule problem.  They want to be our heroes.  The problem is this.  We often try to tackle everything ourselves….or when we do ask them to help with something, we either ask at a bad time, or we throw in the request amid a whole bunch of other “talk”. 

Let’s try this week to ask for our husband’s help with something…at a convenient time, very clearly, and simply.  Then let’s show appreciation when he follows through.  I bet he will love being your hero.