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Articles tagged with: discernment

How Do You Recognize God's Voice?

October 11, 2017

Now able to physically see, we can only imagine the sensory overload of all the many sights previously 'unseen' by the healed blind man. He likely had developed a highly attuned capacity to hear as a result of his physical blindness. It is interesting that Jesus continues to seek this man out. Jesus seems to be deliberately assuring the healed man of his presence and training him in learning how to recognize his voice. Even today he comes alongside us to help us learn to recognize his voice and see what was previously unseen.

John 9:35-41 (NLT)
 When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36 The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.”
37 “You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!”
38 “Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus.
39 Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”
40 Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”
41 “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which ‘shimmered’ for you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Is there a particular feeling you experience as you reflect on these words? Welcome this feeling into your prayer and have a conversation with Jesus about it.

Remember words which Jesus has spoken to you in the past. How did you hear them? How did you know that it was Jesus speaking to you? What was the tone of his voice? What was the fruit of those words spoken to you?

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

Training In Discernment

July 19, 2017

It is midway through the Feast of Tabernacles. The boy who stayed after the Feast of Passover amazing them with his understanding in the temple at age 12 is back as an adult providing foundational instruction in discernment. They marvel because there has been no formal training in the interim. At this Feast to celebrate God dwelling with them in the wilderness they fail to see God dwelling with them in the person of Jesus.
How can we be aware of God and know His will? This passage provides numerous guideposts in discerning God's will. It begins with our desire to want only the will of God. Listen slowly. Wait unit you really hear the heart of Jesus in his words, demeanor and intention.

John 7:14-24 NLT
Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. 15 The people were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?”a they asked.
16 So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. 17 Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. 18 Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies. 19 Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.”
20 The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?”
21 Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. 22 But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.) 23 For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? 24 Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”
a from the Greek word gramma meaning: a letter, writing, letters of sacred learning

For Reflection and Prayer:

What caught your attention-a word, a phrase, an image or emotion-as you listened to the text? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you heard.

Was there a particular feeling you experienced as you listened to the conversation? Bring that feeling into your prayer. How do you need Jesus to meet you in that feeling?

At the “remembrance of God dwelling with them in the wilderness” Jesus is teaching on discernment. Prayerfully reflect on your own discernment – where have you noticed God’s presence with you or God’s word to you?

Be still and savor any consoling words or pictures in your prayer.

The Life You Say You Want

May 17, 2017

   At times we may approach the bible as a self-help manual."What do I need to do to be saved?" We might pick apart the text deciding what fits, what's impossible, and what we can and must do. Often this approach leads to despair, continual shame and self-loathing. What if we approached this sacred text honestly and humbly as we are? What if we simply gave ourselves to wonder, allowing the stories to soak in like morning dew watering the seeds of life God has already planted in our heart? Such a gentle, beneficent pace can give us the space we need to grow in the discernment and wisdom needed to discover the desires of our heart, those desires planted deep within by God.
   Do we know what our heart truly wants? Do we need the Spirit's help in sifting through our wants and desires? Do we need to hear ourselves say aloud, what we truly want? And what do we need from God to help us choose life? We can courageously take these questions into our prayer with God. Always, we can listen and live into the answers.

John 5:31-40 TMG
If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness. But an independent witness confirms me, the most reliable Witness of all. Furthermore, you all saw and heard John, and he gave expert and reliable testimony about me, didn’t he?
34-38 “But my purpose is not to get your vote, and not to appeal to mere human testimony. I’m speaking to you this way so that you will be saved. John was a torch, blazing and bright, and you were glad enough to dance for an hour or so in his bright light. But the witness that really confirms me far exceeds John’s witness. It’s the work the Father gave me to complete. These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me. The Father who sent me, confirmed me. And you missed it. You never heard his voice, you never saw his appearance. There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.
39-40 “You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture? Talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

Where are you currently finding life? Where is life being drained from you? Bring this refection into conversation with God.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

Where Are You Seeing God At Work?

May 3, 2017

The beloved John continues to bear witness to the complex, crazy-making, critical culture created by scrupulous rule following. He contrasts these Jewish leaders with Jesus who is focused on watching for his Father's initiative and action. His words invite us to consider where we see life and renewal happening in and around us. His ways invite us to participate in God's life giving work through observation, contemplation, prayer, discernment and action. Begin with stopping to see. Where are you seeing God at work around you?

John 5:16-23 (NLT)
So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. 17 But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” 18 So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.
19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. 21 For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. 22 In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, 23 so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him.

For Reflection and Prayer:

What did you hear or see as you listened to the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Bring it into conversation with Jesus.

Give yourself room for the word to affect you. What are you feeling or sensing? Without judgement, gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus. What does Jesus say to you?

What are you seeing the Father doing? Where are you seeing God working?

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

Counseled By Loving Eyes

June 8, 2016

Counseled by loving eyes which look upon us with compassion
Eyes which say, "choose life"
Eyes that understand our deepest needs and fears
These eyes are not critical, cruel or cunning
They do not evoke fear of punishment
Rather they convey love, hope and kindness
Because of unfailing love, they delight in us learning to walk in the ways of life.

Turn again to see God's loving gaze upon you.

Words of Comfort

December 9, 2015

Spoken tenderly, God's voice comforts and calms us in times of abandonment, distress, fear, shame and sadness. The One who comes to dwell with us calls us home and holds us close. This is the Voice we are listening for, the One who knows us intimately by name. This is Good News for all people.

In this season of Advent, you are invited to be still and listen to how God's tender words are coming to you.

Come and Talk with Me

June 24, 2015

Have you heard this invitation from God before? For some this is a welcome invitation to relationship and intimacy with God. For others this offer evokes fear and they run away and hide from God's presence and voice. Yet if we are the house in which God's Spirit resides, can we ever really flee from God?

God, give us courage to trust your presence in us and with us. Give us courage to talk over our deepest fears and shame with you. Make us brave and set us free to come to you.

Love Un-numbed

May 20, 2015

The long, painful path to the cross has come to an end. We have felt the weight of dwelling in these texts which extended beyond the church calendar. We have chosen to allow the text to shape and change us. 

After much dialogue with his Father, Jesus discerned the time to choose and allow the humiliations of his enemies.  We observe the provision of a companion, an advocate for Jesus in his suffering. And we witness what love looks like un-numbed.

Light Which Leads To Life

August 16, 2017

Spiritual darkness can feel overpowering and all together frightening. The daily news serves up a verbal and visual charred feast of such darkness. We might wonder, "how long O Lord"? How are we to pray? Will our individual voices and choices make any difference?  Yet we hope in the One who is in the process of restoring all things. Through trusting and walking intentionally in the spiritual light which is given each day, we participate with God in that process. Where are you discovering the light which leads to life? May we keep asking for eyes to see the light.

John 8:12-20 (NLT)
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
13 The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.”
14 Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. 15 You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. 16 And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. 17 Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. 18 I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.”
19 “Where is your father?” they asked.
Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” 20 Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come.

For your reflection and prayer:
As you listened, was there a word, a phrase, an image, or something else that stood out to you? Notice what it stirs in you. Have a conversation with Jesus about this.

Place yourself in the story and enter into it as it unfolds. Who are you? Who is interacting with you and around you? What are you seeing, smelling, sensing, hearing, touching? Write about your experience in the story and allow it to be your prayer.

In this passage on discernment, where are you noticing light which leads to life? Reflect on what you notice.

Slowly savor any consoling words or images which God gives you in this time of prayer. Simply rest in God’s presence with them.

Our Need For Approval

May 24, 2017

Our need for approval is a core, essential aspect of our humanity and it helps form the attachment bonds which shape the trajectory of our lives. Jesus, who comes in the name of the Father lives rooted in the essence of who the Father is. He is a living demonstration of a life immersed in his own belovedness. Until we know the deep, deep love of God we will compare, compete and rank ourselves and others. How can we understands these abrupt words of Jesus apart from knowing the unconditional love of his Father? Today's text is given in two different versions. Immerse yourself in the crowd of hearers and notice where the Word comes alive for you.

John 5:41-47 (NLT)
“Your approval means nothing to me, 42 because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. 43 For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. 44 No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.
45 “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. 46 If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. 47 But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

John 5:41-47 (MSG)
“I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?
45-47 “But don’t think I’m going to accuse you before my Father. Moses, in whom you put so much stock, is your accuser. If you believed, really believed, what Moses said, you would believe me. He wrote of me. If you won’t take seriously what he wrote, how can I expect you to take seriously what I speak?”

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Is there a particular feeling you experience as you reflect on these words? Ask Jesus about it in your prayer.

Consider who has crossed your path in this last while. Reflect on the type of welcome you gave another and/or the type of welcome you received. What do you notice? Where have you observed Christ in that interaction? Talk with him about what you noticed.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

Listen to Live

May 10, 2017

Steeped in the love of the Father, we are strengthened to listen and enabled to become truth tellers and truth hearers. Each time we pause to listen, we hear words which are filtered through our interpretation of the tone of voice, the context in which they are spoken and our trust of the intent behind the voice. How do we check out if what we are hearing is true? This text gives us clues to how we can bring prayerful discernment to our filter of what we are hearing. Which words (tone, content, intent) lead to abundant life? and which words bring destruction and death?
Before you listen to these words of Jesus, become quiet and still before the Father and allow his love to meet you as you are. When you have found a re-connection to his love, begin listening to these words of his Son.

John 5:24-30  NLT
 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
25 “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. 26 The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son. 27 And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man. 28 Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, 29 and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. 30 I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened or read the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Bring it into conversation with Jesus.

Give yourself room for the word to affect you. What are you feeling or sensing? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

On Pilgrimage to Worship

January 4, 2017

The text recounting the pilgrimage of the Magi is still relevant for us today. This group of wise ones paid attention to the light they did not fully understand and they courageously set out on pilgrimage to worship a King guided by a starlight. This starlight seems to appear and reappear, eventually hovering over the presence of Christ, where they were overcome with joy and responded by bending their knee in worship.

We too are on pilgrimage to recognize the presence of Christ before us. Right here. Right now. In this present moment. In what is in us and before us. It is a long journey often fraught with distractions, fear, shame, worry and harassment along the way. Yet the star still guides and the Christ is eager to be found by us.

God has chosen to make known...the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

 

How Do You Hear God's Voice?

April 6, 2016

The Lord's voice can become a powerful force in our lives - not in a fear inducing, paralyzing or threatening way - but in a gloriously transformative, healing and liberating way.
Can we imagine that learning to listen and hear God's voice could bring such depth of life, wholeness and peace?
Or be as simple as slowing and quieting enough to listen?
To pay attention?
Or to even believe that using our own voice can be one of the means to discern God's voice?
Pause again today, to listen...

God Leadeth Me

October 14, 2015

Sometimes surprising, often times just-in-time, always faithful, God is leading us. Pause today, to consider and pray how God is guiding you.

What are you noticing in and around you?

Where do you notice love, or peace, or life-giving joy?
Where do love, peace or life-giving joy seem noticeably absent?

Both reflections, when done prayerfully with the help of the Holy Spirit and over a period of time, can provide clues to how God is guiding. Holy conversations with a soul friend or spiritual director, can help you listen, discern and recognize God's voice. As we grow in intimately knowing the Good Shepherd, we grow in trusting the Shepherd's voice.

"...the sheep hear his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out...My purpose is to give life in all its fullness. "  - Jesus, John 10

Good News

June 10, 2015

Have you ever had an experience of not being able to believe some good news that came to you—some good news that surpassed the furthest reaches of your imagination? This seems to be precisely the case for the disciples when they received the news that Jesus was alive, and the tomb was no longer home to His body.
    First came Mary Magdalene, and then two others to whom Jesus appeared. But “no one believed them.” We know, of course, that Jesus appeared to the eleven, cleared up the entire matter, and then sent them out to preach the Good News.
    And now here we are, two millennia later, still made alive through our risen Lord Jesus.
    Wow. Can you believe it?
   
© Brenda Henry

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