The Samuel Project (Day 5): God Speaks to Ezekiel

Even now, knowing how it ended, I’m still convinced the Lord was in it. My husband and I received a clear word from the Lord and we were obedient. What did we discover? Obedience can be costly. You’ve probably been there. You felt the nudging to witness to someone, but they did not respond the way you had hoped. There was a conviction to confront that person and, when you did, a relationship was changed forever. Maybe, the Lord has asked you to do something bold and outside of your comfort zone. You are probably not sure what the end result will look like.

It may be hard to accept, but the end result is not our concern.

What I Read:

Ezekiel 2:1-8

What He Said:

Once again, we find God sending his servant out on a difficult mission. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We must face the fact that we are still walking this sin-stained sod because there is still work to be done. Until God graciously sweeps us home, we must be about the Father’s business. Let’s listen in as Ezekiel gets his marching orders.

I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants are also impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say, “Thus says the Lord.” – Ezekiel 2:3-4

When I was a child in school, the teacher would sometimes have to leave the classroom. And, when she did, she would leave a student in charge. That child was allowed to write the names of disobedient children on the board and to remind the whole class of the rules. The student spoke on behalf of the teacher for that brief time. I’m sure you can imagine that the chosen child was not always popular with the rest of the class during that time. No one wanted to listen to their, “But the teacher said…”

Ezekiel was put in a similar situation. He was sent to give a word to a rough group of folks. Rebellious. Impudent. Stubborn. This is the crowd that Ezekiel is being sent to with the message, “Thus says the Lord.” I imagine he did not have very high hopes for a warm reception.

If you have ever had to confront someone you love, you know that uncertainty. Lord, what if they do not receive what I have to say in the spirit that I intended? What if I speak your truth and they get angry? What if… Oh, we can drive ourselves crazy with some what-if kind of thinking.

When you are in that place of worrying about someone’s response to something you feel compelled by the Lord to do or say, God has a Word for you. Let’s listen in on this conversation between God and Ezekiel. I promise, they wouldn’t mind.

Whether they hear or refuse to hear… – Ezekiel 2:5

And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear… – Ezekiel 2:7

There is freedom in those words, folks. We have already listened to God giving some difficult assignments to His children. Here, with Ezekiel, we begin to see how God makes those tasks a little easier. The results are not our concern. Our obedience is not based on someone else’s response.

Our only job is to not be afraid.

Twice, God tells Ezekiel to be not afraid of their words. Gosh, words can hurt can’t they? We worry about being laughed at or mocked for what we believe. Fear, however, leads to rebellion.

We must represent Christ regardless of the world’s response.

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This post is part of a 31 Day series. Read the first post here.

The Samuel Project (Day 4): God Speaks to Joshua

Over the years, I have met many individuals carrying heavy burdens. I know people who have buried spouses, buried children, battled horrendous diseases and faced the reality of broken dreams. They carry on and, in my eyes, their burden seems harsh and cruel.

Have you ever looked at the task someone has been given and thought it to be just too much? Single parent, widow/widower, cancer fighter. Maybe, it is you with the seemingly impossible assignment. Maybe, you wonder how God expects you to be successful at the task He has given you.

Believe me, if He has given you an assignment, success is what He wants for you.

What I Read:

Joshua 1:1-9

What He Said:

Moses was dead. Joshua, the faithful assistant, is now assigned the task of leading God’s people into the Promised Land. The patriarchal promise made by God to Abraham all of those years ago was about to be fulfilled and God was looking straight at Joshua. This is no small job, mind you. This is the promise of all promises, the sacred “I will be your God and you will be people” covenant. Moses was dead and Joshua had some mighty big shoes to fill.

No matter what trial you face or through what valley you are walking, God wants more than survival for you. He wants success.

…and then you will have good success. – Joshua 1:8 ESV

Good success. That’s what we want, isn’t it? We want to do more than make it through. We want to be more than conquerors through Him who loves us (Romans 8:37.) Well, let’s back up just a few verses and listen to the “Four Tips for Success” that God gives to Joshua.

God’s Tips for Success

  1. Be reminded of His presence. Immediately upon commissioning Joshua to lead the people, God promises His presence. Not just any presence, mind you, but the just as I was with Moses (Joshua 1:5) kind of presence. Think about it. God spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend(Exodus 33:11.) Moses was allowed to see the backside of God’s glory (Exodus 33:21-23.) That is the kind of presence God promises. Wherever you are right now, God is with you. 
  2. Be strong and courageous. Three times in nine short verses, God tells Joshua to be strong. I think we all know why. Life just ain’t easy. Not for me. Not for you. Not for anyone. It takes strength and courage. Do you feel weak? Are you wondering how you are supposed to be strong enough to endure? Remember where your strength lies. The Lord is the strength of His people (Psalm 28:8.)
  3. Be in the Word. There is no one more geographically challenged than I am. I’m lucky to make it out of my driveway without a GPS. So, I know, I will not be able to find my way through a trial without His direction. Sometimes, it’s too painful to think about next year or next week. Maybe, you aren’t sure how you will make it through tomorrow. Let His word be a light unto your path (Psalm 119:105) and just focus on the next step. That is how we make it through any valley – one step at a time.
  4. Be completely obedient. We have a rule in our house. When we give the children a task to do, they are to do it right away and all the way. Partial obedience is complete disobedience. In order to be obedient, you must know His Word. Psalm 119 tells us that the Word of the Lord brings knowledge (vs. 15), peace in difficult times (vs. 23), comfort in affliction (vs. 50) and wisdom (vs. 97-98.) Who couldn’t use a little knowledge, peace, comfort and wisdom?

Wherever you are at this very moment, God knew you would be here. His plans for you are good and they include success.

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This post is part of a 31 Day series. Read the first post here.

The Samuel Project (Day 3): God Speaks to Moses

You know those moments when, if there was a “bad parent of the year” trophy, you’re certain you would have won? Yeah, we all have had those. I remember one of them quite well. It was early morning and I was making one of my world famous breakfasts, also known as a toaster pastry from a box, when I noticed my daughter looking a little sad. I asked her if there was something wrong and, after a long pause, she said that there was.

“I had a bad dream last night,” she said.

“Oh, my. Why didn’t you wake me up?”

“I tried,” she said. “I kept crying and calling out, but you never heard me.”

Here’s your trophy.

What I Read:

Exodus 6:1-9

What He Said:

Is there anything lonelier than having your pain go completely unnoticed? The people of Israel were suffering greatly under Egyptian oppression. They cried out in their pain and distress. And He heard them.

I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel… – Exodus 6:5 ESV

You have a God who hears you when you cry out in the middle of the night. He is passionate about you and will never sit idly by when you are hurting. Are you carrying a load that seems unbearable? Listen to the promises of the Lord.

  1. I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6:6 ESV) God will bring you out from under the burden you currently carry. You are not stuck. Keep trusting. Keep following. Step by step, He will bring you out.
  2. I will deliver you from slavery… (Exodus 6:6 ESV) God is all about freedom for His people. It is His heart’s desire for you to be free from fear, insecurity, doubt and even death itself. In Psalm 32:7, David declares, “You (Lord) are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance (NIV.) Whatever it is that currently has you bound, He wants to set you free from it and He wants to do it today.
  3. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgement. (Exodus 6:6 ESV) God promises redemption. This world is broken and sin-stained. It can be a lonely and painful place at times. Heartache may rock your world and it may seem as if nothing good can come of it. The Lord can redeem it. He can work any situation for your good and for His glory. He loves you too much to let your pain be in vain.

There are days, weeks even, when it is all you can do to function. Life has gotten you down and continued to kick you. I understand. If we could sit down over coffee, I would share with you all the trials God has seen fit to allow me to walk through. Some of them, I have not yet made it to the other side. So, do not think that this is just a devotional written by someone wearing rose-colored glasses who doesn’t know how hard life can be. Fellow pilgrim, I know.

Like you, I have been in seasons when I could not hear God’s voice. Scripture says that, after God gave these promises to Moses, Moses went and told them to the people. Guess what! God is going to lift your burden. He is going to deliver you and redeem you. How awesome is that? Do you want to know their response? They did not even listen to Moses. They just did not want to hear it. Why?

…but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery. – Exodus 6:9 ESV

Can you relate? I know you can. Your spirit is crushed. The burden seems harsh that you carry. So, what’s the answer?

Long before the trial comes, you have to know what your Father has promised to you. What you learn on the mountaintop will carry you through the valley. Spend time with Him. Listen to Him. Know His Word. Then, when that hard time comes, you’ll know. When you can not seem to hear Him, you go with what you know.  God is more than a promise-maker. He is the great promise-keeper.

And, when He promises deliverance, you will be delivered. He hears you, friend. When no one else does, He hears.

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This post is part of a 31 Day series. Read the first post here.

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Hey, since you’re here, why not hop over to the Family Matters blog and read my 30 ways you can Bless Your Marriage today!  

The Samuel Project (Day 2): God Speaks to Abram

There are times when it feels like a certain trial, or combination of trials, will be the absolute death of you. I know. In a five year time span, my husband and I dealt with miscarriage, depression, medical emergencies, cancer, job loss, and divorce either in our immediate or extended family. We still deal with the rippling effects of several of those circumstances. Can we all just agree that life is hard?

What I Read:

Genesis 15:1-14

What He Said:

God addresses these harsh realities of life with Abram. We like to identify with Abram, don’t we? We hope that, faced with a seemingly impossible promise from God, we would believe and be counted as righteous. That would certainly be my prayer.

In this passage, however, we are not Abram. You and I? We are the descendants, the offspring, of Abram. And do you know what God said about us? He said that we would be temporary residents in a land that is not ours. We would be pilgrims and wanderers.

Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs…” – Genesis 15:13

This place is not our home. So, it should not be a surprise to us when it does not feel like home.

God also tells Abram that he can “know for certain” that his offspring will be afflicted. Does anyone out there feel a little afflicted? It’s painful, I know. It can be scary and heart wrenching and wearisome. If you are there right now, can I share something with you straight from the mouth of God?

But I will bring judgement on the nation they serve, and afterward – Genesis 15:14

You are going to want to read that one a couple times. I promise you that it is an absolute gem that will carry you through a whole lot of mess.

But, afterward… Do you see it? Oh, it may not feel like it now. This may seem to be the one trial, the one heartache, that you will never recover from. You must remember that your God is a promise-keeper and He promises an afterwardThis thing does not end here. You are in a foreign land and you will hurt and you will struggle. You will shed tears and your heart will get broken. But there is an afterward. The trials are not as never ending as they seem. He will bring you through it and you will reach the other side. And, when you do? It will be great.

…and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. – Genesis 15:14

You shall come out of the valley you are in. And, when you do, it will be great. It will be great because He is great.

This thing does not end here. Just keep your eye on the afterward.

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This post is part of a 31 Day series. Read the first post here.

Speak, Lord: The Samuel Project (Introduction)

Something had to change. Sitting alone in a bathroom stall at a women’s conference, the conviction was so heavy on my heart that I could barely breathe. I knew I was missing something.

I had allowed myself to become so busy with good things. So busy, in fact, that I was terrified of missing the great work He had for me. I kept whispering, over and over, What am I missing, Lord? What am I missing? The woman in the stall next to me must have thought I was crazy. But, then again, maybe she nodded in complete understanding.

Maybe she, like me, had allowed herself to become Martha. Maybe she could completely relate to the fact that I had been, for quite some time, anxious and troubled about many things.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42

Just like Martha, I was distracted with much serving. I was missing something. And it wasn’t just any something. It was what Jesus called the one thing necessary. There I was running myself ragged trying to be the perfect wife and mother and Christian and woman and sister and friend and daughter. Can I just tell you that I was exhausted? Physically, mentally, spiritually. In every way imaginable, I was spent and empty and it all came to a head right there in a bathroom stall with a line of women waiting their turn.

I was missing the one thing that I absolutely had to have and that was time at the feet of the Lord. I had forsaken worship. No longer did I just sit and allow my Savior to speak to me. I was not listening for His voice or seeking His guidance. If I were honest, I could not remember the last time I had just put all else aside and allowed Him to have my undivided attention.

I turned my back on the one thing necessary and I was paying dearly for it.

You’ll be happy to know that I did, eventually, leave the bathroom stall. The pounding in my chest, however, was relentless. All I could think was, How do I fix this, Lord? How do I fix this?

That women’s conference ended. I drove back home. I did not want to just go back to the way things were. I could not go back to the way things were. So, I lay in bed and begged God to speak. And He did. Samuel. Samuel. That’s what I heard deep in my heart. Samuel. Samuel.

I have to admit that I had no idea what that meant.

I grabbed my phone from beside the bed and opened the Bible app and began to read in 1 Samuel. In chapter 3, the Lord tries to speak to Samuel. Samuel does not recognize His voice. Three times this happens. Then Eli tells him that it is the Lord. So, when Samuel hears his name again, he responds with, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

I had been shamefully guilty of not listening. I knew it. With tears in my eyes, I whispered, Speak to me, Lord. Your servant is listening.

And, so, The Samuel Project begins.

For 30 days, I will rise early, read Scripture and let Him speak. No agenda on my part. No genie-like wishes for Him to grant. Just me before Him with Bible open studying a passage where God spoke to His people and listening.

•30 days of listening for His still, small voice.

•30 portions of Scripture reminding me of how He spoke to His children in days past.

•30 days of choosing the one thing necessary.

I have read that it takes 30 days for something to become a habit. Lord, may it be so.

Speak, for your servant is listening.

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Day 1: Introduction to The Samuel Project
Day 2: God Speaks to Abram
Day 3: God Speaks to Moses
Day 4: God Speaks to Joshua
Day 5: God Speaks to Ezekiel
Day 6: Saturday (Family Time – No Post)
Day 7: Sunday (Family Time – No Post)
Day 8: God Speaks to the Exiles
Day 9: God Speaks to Gideon
Day 10: God Speaks to the Thirsty
Day 11: God Speaks to the Worrier
Day 12: God Speaking
Day 13: Saturday (Family Time – No Post)
Day 14: Sunday (Family Time – No Post)
Day 15: God Speaks to King Jehoshaphat
Day 16:
Day 17: God Speaks to Me Martha
Day 18:
Day 19:
Day 20: Saturday (Family Time – No Post)
Day 21: Sunday (Family Time – No Post)
Day 22: God Speaks to Hagar
Day 23:
Day 24:
Day 25:
Day 26:
Day 27: Saturday (Family Time – No Post)
Day 28: Sunday (Family Time – No Post)
Day 29: God Speaks to the Glory-Seeker
Day 30 & 31: God Speaks to Me
(This page will be updated with links as the month progresses.)

Will you join me for the next 31 days as we eavesdrop on conversations between God and His children? I promise, He has a word for us as well! (I’m linking up with Nester for this writing project. Visit her to find TONS of other great 31 Days series!)