Saturday, April 10, 2010

How To Hear God Speak - Part 2

I have been amazed at how many wonderful people I know who have said to me, "I have never heard God speak." My guess is that many have really heard Him speak, they just have not recognized His voice.




The first way we begin to hear God speak will be reading the Bible. It the easiest and most reliable way to hear His voice. His word is for us to hear Him and to know Him. When you sit down to read your Bible each day you must pray, "God speak to me." Then as you read, when a verse "jumps" off the page - that, my sweet friend, is God speaking to you!!



He wants to speak to us. He wants us to listen. He wants us to act!! So if we pray and ask God to speak to us, then we are praying according to His will, and He will answer!!






One time Girlfriends {the women's ministry at our church} went for a hike up in the mountains to a place called Potato Lake. I told the ladies that when we went we would be spending time with the Lord and "if you have never heard God speak, you will!" I could speak it with confidence because God longs for us to hear Him. I had printed out a chapter of the Bible and so when we all settled in at Potato Lake I handed out the page with the chapter on it. The ladies were all encouraged to grab the paper, and go off alone and ask God to speak to them. Several had never heard God speak before. I am thrilled to report that at the end of their time reading their chapter and praying every single one of them had heard God speak. Why? Because God longs to speak to His kids....and when we ask Him to speak - He will!!




Granny asked {in the comments on Part 1} what do I do for my personal Bible study? Our church has a "Through the Bible in a Year" reading program and that's what I use. It is on left hand side of the our church website. It is miraculous to me no matter how many times we read the same chapters and verses something we have "never" seen before pops out. Each time we read His word, He makes it alive and fresh for that day, that situation, that circumstance. He is so faithful. He grows us one day at a time, verse by verse.



Okay, another way He speaks to us is just that. He speaks. Now one thing we have to get, right off the bat is this: When He speaks, He will NEVER contradict scripture. That would not be His voice. Dw & I have heard over our lifetime more than one person say, "God told me to leave my spouse, because He just brought me my soulmate whom I've been praying for my whole life." And all we can say is, "You are stinkin' delusional because God "speaking" will never, ever, ever, ever contradict scripture." Period. Never. Did I say, "never"? =)




There have been times when we hear someone say, "God told me such-n-such" and it is totally against scripture. Somehow people who are in sin think that if they use the little phrase "God told me..." then that no one should question them. The thing is that as I said, God's voice will NEVER contradict scripture, so it is absolutely safe to say that that person who would say that was not hearing from God. They are manipulating to make others think that their sin has God's stamp of approval. How scary for them!



So how is it that we can "hear" God's voice? Remember in 1 Samuel the young boy Samuel is woke up to someone calling his name. He runs to Eli the priest and says, "I'm here." Eli said, "I didn't call you." Again this happens and again Eli tells Samuel to go back to bed because Eli is not calling him. On the third time Eli realizes that Samuel must be hearing God's voice. And so Eli tells young Samuel next time it happens to say, "Speak! Your servant is listening." Samuel was not used to God's voice. Infact God called Samuel three times before He actually gave the message to him. God was patient. God loved Samuel and wanted to speak to him. He will do the same for you. He is patient. He loves you. He is waiting till we have our hearts clean, we have settled ourselves in and we are waiting to listen.



Case in point, God was audibly calling Samuel. There are many other instances in scripture, but Samuel's story is one of particular interest to me and we will talk again about it in Part 3.



Here are some markers that help us to identify that it is Christ speaking when we hear His voice. I will speak from my own experience. First, I have heard God's "audible" voice on several occasions. I do not know if someone had been with me, if they would have heard it, but it was not just a "thought" passing through my mind. I will talk about this type of experience in Part 3.



Another way God speaks is with impressions or thoughts in our mind....and they appear to come out of nowhere. We must always double-check that these thoughts line up with scripture. It takes practice, because a common thought is: How do I know that it is not just me?



This is where the "My Sheep hear my voice and they know me" comes in. When we spend lots of time reading His word, we see that He operates much differently from our sinful human selves. Like when you are standing in a line at a coffee shop and out of nowhere the thought comes, "Pay for that person in line next to you" you can rest assured that that was Him. Our sinful, selfish selves don't think things like that on our own....at least not until we have so much of Him and very little of ourselves.



I remember a time a couple of years ago I had taken the kids to a restaurant in a neighboring city because we had a gift certificate. If I remember right, Dw was out of town and we were home for a week or so without him. I thought it would be fun to take this gift certificate and treat the kids. So we went. It was a BIG treat.




After we had finished our yummy meal, we went to use the restrooms as we were leaving the restaurant. As I was sitting on the potty I said something to Emma who was waiting near the sinks. I called her by name. From outside the stall I heard an unfamiliar but excited voice say, "Oh! My name is Emma too." I came out to wash my hands and there was the other Emma. It turned out she was the dishwasher at this restaurant. As I began to talk to her, God just broke my heart for her. She was clearly handicapped and appeared to me to be someone who had not been told very often that she was loved or special.


As I went to the car with the kids I felt God speak to my heart, "Go get a gift bag and fill it with things for this Emma. Tell her she is loved." Now I had things I was going to do, I was busy....I have a boatload of kids tagging along....But if we are going to hear His voice and have Him speak to us again, we better do what He asks, so we prove to be trustworthy -and what would be better than doing what He wants? The thought, "Go get a bag and fill it with goodies for Emma" totally lines up with scripture, ya' know...."Love me first and then love your neighbor second." This would definitely be loving my 'neighbor'.



So the kids and I went to several stores and bought all kinds of things for Emma. I bought a Bible too. I took it back to her and asked the manager at the restaurant if she could come out for a minute. Out she came and I gave her this big ol' hug and told her that I loved her. I then handed her a beautiful bag bulging with goodies. She started to cry. I told her that God loved her very much and so did we. I had written on a card inside too and gave her my phone number. I never did hear from her, but I know that I was obedient to what the Lord told me to do.



Now what if I had "missed" it and it was not God's voice telling me to do that? Hmmmm. Let's ponder that. I would have been buying stuff for a lady, whom God dearly loves and most likely needs to hear about His deep love for her. So what would have been wrong with that? Not a thing. God loves and He loves us to love others. That's it. So knowing His voice, I realize that yes, that was Him and I did what I was supposed to. But even if that had been "my own thought" it would have been all right too!!



As you begin to recognize His voice and do the things He is telling you to do, He will speak even more often and it will be even easier to recognize His voice.



After many times of hearing His voice and doing what He asks {and certainly there have been times where I have missed the mark completely}....but He eventually will give a harder assignment. His voice can come in a prophetic sort of way. Like this for instance: Several years ago the church we were pastoring had just finished up the second service and I saw a woman who had visited our church and she looked very distraught. I went to her. I asked her if I could pray for her. She nodded, "yes". Just as I asked her that the Lord spoke very clearly to me, "She is having an affair."



I am used to hearing His voice. I knew it was Him. So I said, "Let's go over here to talk." Crying, she followed me. We sat down, tucked out of earshot of people. I gently said, "Is there any chance you are having an affair?" Tears burst forth from her eyes and she began to sob uncontrollably. Bingo. She wanted to know how I knew? I just said, "The Lord told me." I went on to challenge her that she needed to repent and get out of this wrong relationship and run back to her husband. That God had great blessings in store for her, and it would be only a false sense of 'fun' if she stayed in it. She was sobbing and sobbing. She prayed, repented, went to counseling with her husband and to my knowledge, they are still together. I have had this happen many times and it confirms that I am hearing His voice when it does.



Now I do not recommend this type of boldness unless you are very used to hearing His voice. It also must be done with much gentleness and for the purpose of seeing the person restored from their sin. The Lord has even told me secrets about people walking down the street. Why would He do that? The best thing I can figure is so that I can pray for them and also to continue to remind me of His voice.



I remember one time, about 11 years ago, when we were trying to sell our home to move into a rental to build a handicap accessible home. I was praying about all the showings we would potentially be having and out of the blue the words came to me, "Your house will sell when you have company." Hmmmm. I wondered if that was Him? Now hind sight, as they say, is 20/20. So here's what I would say now, 11 years after the fact....when that thought came out of nowhere....yes! of course it was Him! {Unfortunately I didn't trust myself that I was hearing Him right so I had to learn the hard way.} At the time, we had seven kids at home {including a foster daughter who was 14 years old at the time.} I did not want to be cleaning the house and making it all spic-n-span for nothing, yet I didn't realize that a not-normal thought about company and the house selling while we had some would be Him. Now, I would like to think, that I would totally recognize it.



Anyway, each time someone would want to show it we would scrub and scrub and nothing. Then one time I remember so clearly....I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor for an upcoming showing and talking to the Lord about how not fun it was to be having all these showings and nothing happening {we ended up having almost 40!}...and so clearly His almost audible voice said to me, "Do you have company?" Ouch! Smack!



Yes, He had told me we would have company when it sold and here I was scrubbing it from top to bottom for almost 40 showings and we did not have company {except once} for any of those 40 showings! I said, "No, Lord. Forgive me. I wasn't listening and here I have been bustin' my bee-hind in vain. I talked to you about it, I asked you, you told me and I still didn't listen. Forgive me."



Sure enough, it sold when we had 14 people staying at our home and it was trashed!!! It is a Memorial Box Monday story, for sure. But the point is.....He was talking, but I was not listening....and 40 showings later and alot of scrubbing and it finally sunk in!



Another way that God speaks to us is when He speaks through someone else. Sometimes it can be through a friend. Sometimes it is through a pastor. Sometimes it is through something you read - even a blog!! =)



Infact, my prayer partner and her husband were selling their home. They had to sell it fast and the economy was taking a downward spiral! One day, as I was praying for Chelsea, the Lord spoke to me, "Chelsea and Pete will sell their home on a holiday, aka Thanksgiving, when no one else is looking for homes." It was June. There was no way I was going to tell Chelsea what the Lord had said. Months passed. It had not sold. It was approaching Thanksgiving. Chelsea and I were meeting for prayer and discussing her home and it not selling. She was very concerned. I said, "Chels, the Lord told me that your home is going to sell on a holiday when no one is looking for homes." She gasped, "Why didn't you tell me?" {I hadn't told her cause I wasn't sure she would be encouraged by the word so many months before Thanksgiving.} Sure enough, her home sold on Thanksgiving. How crazy is that? Only God.



But there is a warning too: If someone walks up to you and says, "God told me to tell you that you should do such-n-such....{sell your house, change jobs, etc.} it is most likely not really God speaking." God speaks through others to confirm what He has already told you. Rarely would God speak through someone to give you direction, but only as a confirmation to what you already know you are supposed to be doing. So if God told you to sell your house and get out of debt and someone walks up and says, "The Lord has been giving me a picture of you in a different home...." or something like that...then that would likely be confirmation to what you already have been hearing Him tell you.




So there is some food for thought. Part 3 is coming. I will tell you this.....I ask all the time, "God speak to me, whisper secrets." I would say there are some times that I pray it dozens of times. I want to hear Him throughout each day. So go ahead!! Ask Him to please make it easy for you to hear as you get used to hearing His voice. Read your Bible. Get on your knees and pray for God's voice to speak to you. It is so exciting to have Him whisper secrets to us.....please post a comment about your experiences...it would encourage so many!!

23 Simply Sweet Words:

  1. Or through YOUR church website :) - don't know if you know this story.

    Justin was asking God to speak to him one night on a very loooong drive by himself. He heard very clearly the word "GO" so he came home, told me about it and we laughed because it seemed ummmm... like nothing! :) Later he read a verse and in it it says that he will go and speak of His righteousness - so we figured that must be it! Great verse - got it - maybe he did hear.

    Wellllll, then I was downloading your hubby's sermons because I loved your blog so I thought I would check out your hubbys preaching. So I sat the computer down on the couch and I hear Justin yell - "Did you see THIS?" - I said "no, what?" and in bright green letters it said "GO" - and so we knew he HAD heard perfectly and I e-mailed you immediately for J to join the Uganda team.

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  2. Great Post (again) It reminded me of something that God spoke to me. I had been thinking about for a while now. CONFIRMATION! He is so cool!

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  3. Well that was awesome Linny!!I am really enjoying this.

    I'll tell you. I usually pray that God speaks to me loud and clear. just so I get it right.

    I'm sure you have heard about the flood in RI. We made it onto prime time news. We were hit hard. Warwick being on of the cities hit the hardest. That's where i am. Anyhoo, my neighbors behind me are not exactly our biggest fans. Mostly the mom. The dad and kids are very pleasant to us. I think she just passed some kind of judgment on us years ago.

    Well they got 2 feet of water in their finished basement and lost everything.

    I was looking out my kitchen window and could see all their stuff on the deck. My heart was broken for them.

    I was making baked ziti for dinner and clear as a bell I heard make one for them too.

    Oh, are you sure?? She will probably throw it away knowing it's from me.

    Again, even clearer I heard, make it anyway.

    So I did. I know when they get home
    so I ran over right before and put it on their steps with a friendly note.

    Today I got a thank you note in the mail from them. I don't know if she really appreciated it or not. I'd like to think so.
    But the most important thing is I did hear God speak and I listened.

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  4. Hi Linny - I am a lurker. I adore your blog and feel like I should know you...anyway...

    A couple of weeks ago My live in boyfriend and I were watching TV. I felt compeled to go get my Bible. I still don't know what prompted it but I felt pulled toward getting it out. When I got it out I found bookmarked a couple of passages. Now I do not remember writing them...but it is my writing and I din't remember why I marked them but boy did they bring meaning to me. I lost my job 4 months ago and I am looking for a job and I know that I will find one. I know that My Jeff loves me dearly but most of all the passages reminded me that My God loves me and is there for me.

    TO God be the Glory!

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  5. I won't post my story of God speaking here as I had already planned it for this coming Monday's Memorial Box story. So, you'll just have to wait for it until then :-)

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  6. I was crying reading about how you ministered to that sweet young girl in the restaurant. I have no doubt you were God's hands that day. <3

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  7. All my memorial box posts seem to be about God speaking to me.

    For years I had a picture of a little asian girl in my head, when we decided to foster instead of adopt from china I thought that I would never see that beautiful little asian girl in real life. The first foster daughter I was called about was for a caucasian little 2 yr old girl. Imagine my surprise when she hopped out of the car and her little brown eyes and tan skin showed so clearly her that she was asian. I will never forget that day.

    Also, after that, I kept picturing a little black boy in our family (we are a white family, that is why picture kids of different races is so distinct). I got an emergency call one night and met my second foster child, 3 yr old little Kenny, african american boy.

    The interesting thing is that I see a little white baby girl now, I can't wait to meet her!

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  8. Ooooh, I am hanging on your every word, Linny!
    My husband had an experience where God spoke to him, it totally (radically!) changed our lives!
    I'll share more after you post about God speaking (audibly)... can't wait!!

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  9. Beautifully written and with so much encouragement for all of us. I always find it so amazing when God speaks to me. Can't wait to see post #3. Hugs and love

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  10. Another amazing post! I'm holding my breath for Part III.......okay, j/k, but please don't wait to long (smile)!!

    ♥ you guys!

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  11. Oh how I love these posts!! Could you do a part 4, too!!

    The Lord spoke to me about a future adoption. As I have said- it scared me a little, maybe more than a little...

    I kept saying to him- Lord speak to me again. I wanted that feeling where I knew it was him, the amazing feeling of him talking to me- little old me! I kept asking him and I still do ask.

    The answer that keeps coming back is "I have already told you... trust me"

    kinda like the house selling situation! But I pretend I didn't hear it- Say it again Lord! Sorry Jean- you heard me!

    Who am I to question him...

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  12. Linny,
    I also love when God speaks to me. A very special moment was when I was praying and I asked God who I should pray for and He immediately spoke and told me to pray for a friend and her heart's desire. I had an idea what that was, but wasn't exactly sure if I was right, but I thought God knows her heart. She was praying for a child since she was unable to have children. About a month later she came to me excited and tears in her eyes telling me that she was adopting a child. When I told her about God talking to me and what I was to pray for she was so thrilled. We were both amazed how God cared about her and her heart's desire. Awesome God!

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  13. The Lord has spoken clearly to me about each of my kids. We have 5 adopted children (one domestic and 4 from China). Well after my last trip a little over a year ago I told everyone that I will not be going back to China. That I am done.

    Well a few months later the Lord started to speak to me about adopting again. I told my hubby and he just shrugged it off. I spoke to my pastor about it and he said he knew that we had more children waiting for us. So I didn't pursue it and I prayed the Lord would speak to my hubby about it before He spoke to me about it again. I just didn't want to be the one to bring it up since my hubby was against it.

    Well, one Saturday the Lord told me I would be going back to China. It was audible and I wasn't praying. It was just one of those times I knew God had just spoken to me. Then the next day in Church the Lord and I had a talk while I led the worship in our church. The Lord told me that He was there, etc. Then He told me that we have a child waiting for us in China. I was so nervous. I didn't want to be the one to bring it up. I prayed that the Lord would prepare my hubby's heart. On the way home the Lord told me to fast for my hubby. So I started fasting and then the Lord opened the door that night for me to tell him. My hubby was not happy. I continued to fast and just told him to pray about it. I told him that I would support his decision, but it was going to be between the Lord and my hubby. I told him that I was willing to do what the Lord commanded, but I would submit to my hubby. The next day my hubby went out for a drive to pray away from the stresses of life. He came home a few hours later and said, "Yes, we are supposed to adopt from China again." It was such a relief to know the Lord has spoken to him as well. Now we are paperchasing for our 2 yo son waiting for us in Jiangsu province.

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  14. The Lord has spoken clearly to me about each of my kids. We have 5 adopted children (one domestic and 4 from China). Well after my last trip a little over a year ago I told everyone that I will not be going back to China. That I am done.

    Well a few months later the Lord started to speak to me about adopting again. I told my hubby and he just shrugged it off. I spoke to my pastor about it and he said he knew that we had more children waiting for us. So I didn't pursue it and I prayed the Lord would speak to my hubby about it before He spoke to me about it again. I just didn't want to be the one to bring it up since my hubby was against it.

    Well, one Saturday the Lord told me I would be going back to China. It was audible and I wasn't praying. It was just one of those times I knew God had just spoken to me. Then the next day in Church the Lord and I had a talk while I led the worship in our church. The Lord told me that He was there, etc. Then He told me that we have a child waiting for us in China. I was so nervous. I didn't want to be the one to bring it up. I prayed that the Lord would prepare my hubby's heart. On the way home the Lord told me to fast for my hubby. So I started fasting and then the Lord opened the door that night for me to tell him. My hubby was not happy. I continued to fast and just told him to pray about it. I told him that I would support his decision, but it was going to be between the Lord and my hubby. I told him that I was willing to do what the Lord commanded, but I would submit to my hubby. The next day my hubby went out for a drive to pray away from the stresses of life. He came home a few hours later and said, "Yes, we are supposed to adopt from China again." It was such a relief to know the Lord has spoken to him as well. Now we are paperchasing for our 2 yo son waiting for us in Jiangsu province.

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  15. Oh, Linny, I sooo appreciate you taking the time to post this series. I remember almost 9 years ago when I became a sold-out believer at the age of 36 (yipee, Jesus, for your patience!) I asked myself if I would ever hear God speak. Oh, my friend, I know how He longs to speak to His children. Just 2 years after accepting Jesus He spoke adoption into my heart. Clayton and I were so surprised that we didn't tell ANYONE! We had to be sure it was God Himself, and we didn't want any kind of human influence. I know He uses the godly wisdom of others, but this was no time to take a chance. Clearly, He was speaking to us, and we have heard and recognized His voice many, many times since. I know I've missed the mark too, sadly. But the more time I spend in His Word and in quietness with Him, the more I'm able to hear Him. It is so overwhelming that He would desire to share His secrets with me!!!! He is so very good.

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  16. Linny,

    I have a question for you. I thought I knew what God's voice sounded like and as far as we beleived God sent us to Zambia to start working with the orphans there. We were only there a month when we had to return due to the fact we couldn't trust the director of the organization we went with. We prayed that the Lord would show us a way to stay in Zambia - fully beleiving that He sent us there, yet He never provided a way.

    So we are back in England, living with my parents and feeling so lost. We have no clue what to do now.

    I think we are both very concerned about saying "the Lord has told us to do ????? or He is leading us to move ??????

    We were so confident in His direction before that we gave up our home, job etc and took our 6 kids to Zambia - how do we know what He is saying now?

    I really would appreciate your input. Thanks

    Michelle

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  17. Linny, these posts of yours will be a blessing to many people as they learn to recognize their Father's voice!

    Before we adopted our twins from Russia 5 years ago, (we already had 5 children)and upon seeing their pictures for the first time, I 'heard' the Father say, "go get your boys". Well, that's all it took. Knowing His voice is so important to withstand the fears that the enemy puts in our path along the way to international adoption.

    Now, 5 years later, I 'heard' Him speak these words, " It's time to adopt again."

    We will have to raise 100% of our finances this time - a daunting task because we are trying to adopt two Ethiopian sibling groups for a total of 5 children. Again, it is SO IMPORTANT to know that it is He Who is speaking.

    Bless you for your posts!

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  18. Linny - Thank you for these posts...I need the reminder to be still enough to hear!

    Often, it seems that the Lord speaks to me through music. I am in the final steps of my adoption...I leave for China on May 5.

    When I started the process in August of 05, I was praying and sobbing to the Lord, "Lord, I feel that you have called me to this adoption, but I just don't know how to pay for it...I'm a single teacher...nothing for collateral for a loan...nothing much in savings...living week to week. How lord? How?" I went to my bedroom, still sobbing. I hit play on my CD player - not knowing what CD was in it. I started picking things up in my room and then I sat down on the edge of the bed laughing...the first song that started playing...

    "Jesus Paid It ALL!"

    And he has...

    In Sept 06, I was having my first homestudy visit. I needed $625 by Tuesday. That weekend, I had a yard sale and made $627. He wasn't kidding...He really was going to pay it all!

    His faithfulness never fails!

    Thanks for these posts...looking forward to part 3!

    Praising the Lord that I will finally hold my baby girl... the day before her 2nd birthday! (her birthday is May 11...I will get her May 10)

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  19. Several years ago, I was fixing dinner for us and couple in our church who needed a meal, when clearly the Lord told me to also make enough for our neighbors across the street.

    I did and as I went to deliver the meal to the church family, my husband took the meal to the neighbors.

    Later she told me that she had had a horrible day with her new, very sickly baby, she was tired and run down. Her husband and older son had just come in the door asking what was for dinner and she was about to fall apart when the doorbell rang. And my husband was there delivering dinner at just the exact moment she needed it.

    That's one of many stories. I may just have to participate in MBM tomorrow to tell my favorite. ;)

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  20. Linny,
    Love these posts. I have heard God speak audibly ONCE. It literally changed the course of my entire family's life...and one former orhpan from Africa...forever.
    It never really occured to me that I could ask God to speak to me that clearly again!
    I still have so much to learn.
    Holly from Purpose Driven Family

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  21. Linny,
    Thanks so much for answering my previous question about what you study. I am going to check it out. God's word never returns void...what could be better than reading His entire word in one year? :o)

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  22. I have been reading your blog for the last two days - I have been so encouraged - I heard His voice this am : So, I realized I haven't heard HIS voice in a while - I sought his voice this am - here it is - as I sat down with my coffee & HIS Word I realized my coffee was not quite sweet enough - I returned to my sugar bowl to add just a tad more sugar and stir / I heard it right then - if I need encouragement from Him - just as simple as reading (adding) His Word And stir (prayer)!!! Hallelujah - He & His Word are the most powerful encouragement!!! Amen:-) Guaranteed encouragement - THE WORD OF GOD!!!
    Thank you for your testimonies - I will be emailing you to share mine - I am mom of many too (6 all adopted - 2 sets or siblings - amazing story & I am also a ps 113:9 mom!!!) in Christ, Sherina

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It's always good to hear from bloggy friends. Bless you.