By: Kevin Jackson
If you read or know the Bible at all, you know it is filled with references to God talking to various people throughout time. Sometimes directly, sometimes through a burning bush and sometimes by putting His laws on stone tablets. But do you feel you know when God is talking to you? Are you waiting to hear some voice from the sky that sounds a lot like Morgan Freeman? You might be waiting a while for that. But the truth is, God talks to you all the time, you might not be listening though.
Learning how to listen properly to God is a skill very few master in their life. Even those that seem to have the ear of God (like maybe your local pastor) struggle to know when God is speaking to them, truth be told. We are all searching for that close relationship with God. But it is hard to have a tight relationship unless you talk to each other. And when you feel the talking is a one way street, that can be tough. Think about your marriage or any other close relationship you have. Communication is the key to that relationship working and being the best it can be. Your relationship with God is no different.
So, the first thing you need to do to perfect your communication with God is stop always being the one who talks! When you pray, talk to God about what you thank Him for, what your needs are etc. That is certainly important. After you finish, sit quietly and patiently, listening for God. I know what you are saying: “I can sit there forever; I doubt I will hear God talking to me”. Might be true, but you have to stop waiting for Morgan Freeman.
God talks to you in a variety of ways throughout the day, every day. You honestly are just - not - listening. As it says in Job 33:14, “For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.”
The first way God talks to you is through His Word. The Bible was written by many men, but everything in there is the Word of God. In the Bible, He tells stories, guides you with His laws and gives you advice for your everyday life. If you aren’t reading the Bible every day, then you aren’t listening to Him every day in this way. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” - Timothy 3:16.
Reading the Bible seems to be the most obvious way to hear what God is saying, but what about other ways? Well, those are more subtle and probably less understood. Let’s start with what you think is you. In today’s society, it is all about us, isn’t it? We love to think the world revolves around us for sure. So, let’s look at us for a second. That voice in your head, call it what you will, sub-conscience, etc., but that might just be God talking to you. Ever sit there and think about the decision you are trying to make. Sometimes, it’s easy, sometimes it’s tough. Maybe, just maybe God is talking to you at that moment. Sometimes you heed “your own” advice and sometimes you don’t. What happens when you don’t, it usually doesn’t work out to well, does it? It is not surprising that the voice in your head sounds exactly like your voice (go back to my earlier comment about how we love us). Do you wish it sounded like Morgan Freeman? Me too. So next time you hear yourself guiding you, maybe listen a little bit closer. God is talking to you and giving you a little life nudge.
Another way God is talking to you is through people in your life. Now, let’s get this straight, God talks through all different type of people in your life. He is guiding your life through them. Sometimes it is literally the words that come out of their mouths and sometimes it is just through actions and interactions. But God uses them all, sometimes positive and sometimes, well, not so positive. That boss that keeps holding you back and not giving you the promotion you think you deserve. Guess what, that might just be God teaching you patience and putting you in a place in your life that you need to be in. That neighbor inviting you to church randomly….guess what, God. He is everywhere and works through every one. Next time you are in a situation and someone says something that hits you in a peculiar way, listen closely, it might just be God talking to you.
Finally, let’s talk about things all around you. You probably listen to things all day long, the radio, TV, strangers in the hallway, etc. Listen closely, there are messages from God in there. My favorite song when I was a teen was U2 ‘s “I Finally Found What I’m Looking For”.
Just look at these lyrics:
You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Oh my shame, you know I believe it.
But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for.
But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for.
You didn’t know that was a Worship song about looking for salvation did you? Well, imagine that, you weren’t listening.
So, open your minds and open your hearts to God. He is talking to you. It might be disguised as a pastor, a stranger, a friend, a book, a movie, who knows. But He is and He wants you to listen to Him because He listens to you constantly. Once you figure out how to do this, this world changes and your perspective changes. Your life will never be the same. You will spend your time searching for God’s presence and letting His words guide you. God is talking to you, you just need to listen.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." - John 10:27-28.
By: Kevin Jackson
How many friends do you have? How many of those can you really trust with anything? How many encourage you, challenge you and help you grow in your faith? As you ask yourself those questions, I bet the numbers start to dwindle down with each question.
In this time of social media, many people can claim to have hundreds if not thousands of “friends”. Truth is, most are acquaintances or just people in our life that make up your local community or daily life. But as you look around your life and take stock of your relationships, look at how many Christian friends you have, the ones who understand your love for Jesus and share in your Christian journey.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. ~ Proverbs 18:24
Below are 5 reasons to be surrounded with Christian friends:
1) They Will Support You
Christians typically have good, Godly values and are part of a church family. So, they understand the meaning of being part of a community and taking care of others. When times are tough they will give you encouraging words, give you a hug or bring you dinner. It all goes back to the lessons learned from the Bible and Jesus’ words. If you look at most charities in this world, they are Christian based. We know the meaning of family and the impact we can make is other’s lives.
2) They Ask Tough Questions
When you are having struggles, most people will certainly ask “what’s wrong”, with your response probably being “nothing”. Your Christian friends will dig deeper and won’t let you off so easy. They want to know how you really are. Christians are rooted in forgiveness and will work with you to ask for forgiveness for things you have done or encourage you to forgive others. No matter what you might be going through right now, let your Christian friends press you with tough questions. This is will help you open up and get past anything you are dealing with.
3) They Hold You Accountable
When is the last time you heard “we missed you at church”? Seems judgy, but in reality your fellow Christians care about you and want to hold you accountable when you get off track. We are all part of a Christian community and it is our job to encourage us to answer for our decisions and choices.
4) They Provide Godly Advice
I know, everyone has an opinion. But with your true, Christian friends, theirs is rooted in love and really meant to help you out. All the answers you need are in the Bible. A good Christian friend can help you relate your situation to God’s word and there you will find the guidance you need. Jesus’ words are all that is required and are always relatable to anything you are dealing with. So many times I have been so surprised to find a passage in the Bible that makes everything make sense. It continues to amaze me. Christian friends will guide you on God’s principles and offer you advice that is genuine and honest.
5. They Will Pray for You
Who couldn't use a little more prayer sometimes? You see it all the time on Facebook when someone post that they are having troubles. “Praying”. “Sending Good Vibes”. Good vibes? What in the world are those? With 2 good vibes and a few bucks I can buy a bowl of soup. Geez. Christian friends really do pray for you and ask God to help in your life. When you become really close, they will even pray with you. There is no closer bond than the ability to talk to God together with your Christian brother or sister.
The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. ~ Proverbs 12:26
Now, don’t get me wrong, you don't have to segment yourself away from your non-Christian or not-actively Christian friends. They bring their own benefits and challenges. God wants us to make disciples that make disciples. So, maybe you need to look at the above list and take stock in how good of a Christian friend you are, not just to your Christian friends, but your non-Christian ones as well. We are all in this together, one big family of sinners looking for salvation and all loved by our Father.
By: Kevin Jackson
Wow has this world changed in the last 20 years. Technology has played a huge part in how our world has become faster, more convenient and more hectic all at the same time. Is your head spinning yet? Mine is and I have been part of this technology revolution.
Many of us Gen-Xers (I am one myself at 44 years old) have been knee deep in technology for the last 25 years. We think we have a handle on it, well, that is until we have teenagers of our own. They don’t know a world without the internet and cell phones. Some days it feels that all I ever see is the top of my 2 daughter’s heads. Snapchatting, Tweeting, Facebooking, etc. etc. Maddening for sure, but it is the way they are connecting with each other and the rest of the world. That’s a blessing. Having to fight with them to put their phones down so we can pray and have a family dinner, well that’s a curse.
Let’s start with the blessing side. Technology has certainly made things easier. The fact that I am writing this blog, placing it on our website, and Tweeting it out to nearly 35,000 people shows that technology has made this world a whole lot smaller. Think about it, the very existence of Living Christian would not be possible even ten years ago. 25 years ago when I was in college I took a computer class and had to go from the fifth floor to the third floor just to pick up the paper I printed and now I barely print off anything! We certainly live in a digital world, but a more connected world as well. For us Christians, we can listen to worship music 24 hours a day on the car radio that gets a signal from a satellite in outer space. If I am too sick (or lazy) on a Sunday morning, I can stream our church service online and not miss a beat. My bible is on my iPad where I can follow along with our lead pastor and take notes, save them on my device or even post it directly on my Facebook page. What a time we live in!
Now let’s get to the curse part. So many things are in my head, but I will have to focus. No, Skynet has not taken over yet. I am not afraid of Arnold Schwarzenegger coming back and trying to kill John Conner (you won’t see too many Terminator references on most Christian Blogs, but here you will). But, with great access to anything you ever wanted to see and know comes great responsibility. God teaches us to control our desires and wants. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” So, with the internet and technology comes temptation and access. I would say it is easier to be tempted than ever before. Never before have you been able to pull up an old girlfriend or boyfriend on Facebook and see what they are up to now. We have access to everything 24 hours a day, sin included. Sex is used to advertise to us every single day for every single item it seems. We also see what is happening in the world the second it happens. So with that information, Satan can influence millions of people instantly. Scary thought. Our children are growing up in a world where they can watch a rated R movie instantly on their iPhones and Google anything they might not understand. Instant learning without the benefit of gaining any instant wisdom.
The innocence is gone.
So, where does that leave us? It leaves us with the ability to utilize technology and connect people across the world. Now, we can choose to use these new powers for good or use them for evil. But have no doubt; they will be used for both.
All I can tell you is what I try to do. I am trying to spread the Word of God to everyone I can. I am trying to make disciples that can go out and make more disciples. It starts at home with my family and in my everyday life with friends and coworkers. Then I am going out to as many people as I can reach through the various Living Christian platforms (LivingChristian.org, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest). We are a community of believers that is now over 40,000 strong across the world. We have the power to make change and there has never been a time in the history of this world that it has been easier. Let’s use technology to share as much as we can. God is using you and He is using me right now. Don’t be afraid of technology, embrace it. Embrace the power it gives you, but also the responsibility. God is giving you the tools to spread His message. Don’t overthink it, just do it. And don’t forget to teach your teenagers to do it as well. If you teach them responsibility with their technology usage, they will have the resources to make disciples too.
Remember, Jesus was the first one to say “I’ll be back”. And when this sequel comes, let’s make sure He has the largest opening weekend ever. Don’t worry, I will make sure to send out a Tweet!
By: Kevin Jackson
If you follow Christian accounts or are lucky enough to surround yourself with Christian people and Facebook friends, you probably hear “Walk in Faith” or “Walk on Faith” quite a bit. Usually it is when people are having hard times and need to be reminded of their faith. The whole concept of walking with Jesus or going down his path. Sound simple right? Well yes and no… let’s take a deeper dive.
Let’s start with the concept of walking. Walking is just a controlled fall. Seriously, think about it. You put one foot out and let go of your control. You trust that when that foot comes to rest it is on the ground in front of you, allowing you not to fall. Now, if that ground is not there, gravity doesn’t pull you down or there is a step there…. bamm…. you will go down. Funny for sure if you watch someone do this, but it is probably not nice to laugh. Their trust or “faith” in the ground ahead of them failed them. They didn’t have a controlled fall, just a fall. I guess the right thing to do would be help them back up.
Now, let’s relate that to God and our faith in Jesus Christ. We are not having a controlled fall, more like a controlled rise. When you walk on faith, you trust that God will catch you and keep you from falling flat on your face. You see, God is the foundation that we walk on, the path that we live our lives on. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says “For we walk by faith, not by sight”. Now, that’s not to say that there won’t be bumps in the road, maybe the walkway is a little rough and uneven at times. That’s life. But you have to pay attention to what you are walking on.
Think about our first example, just normal every day walking. Now if you are not watching where you walk and you come to a step, there is no doubt you will fall. But if you watch where you walk, you will see the step coming and adjust accordingly. Saving you from an embarrassing moment when everyone is laughing at you.
The same thing rings true when walking on faith and with God. You still have to pay attention. Too many people think “I gave my life to Jesus and all will work out”. Wrong. You still have to work on it. God wants your attention, your love and your dedication to “the walk”. You see, he has placed plenty of handrails and signs to make sure you have a clear and easy walk. But you have to use them. Galatians 5:16-17 says “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh”. Read your bible, go to church, surround yourself with Christians and most importantly, PRAY! These things help you pay attention to God and his path you are walking on. Focus on them and you won’t even be bothered by the potholes and broken steps of life.
God is the ground and the gravity that keeps you on your path to Heaven. Walk, don’t run. The journey is one that He wants you on. His love and guidance will get you there; you just have to BE there with Him. Finally, if you see someone falling and not walking in faith, help them back up and get them started again.
Teach them to walk on faith and trust in love.