Read an Excerpt
Listening to God
Experience His Presence Every Day
By Bruce Bickel, Stan Jantz
Barbour Publishing, Inc. Copyright © 2012 Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz
All rights reserved.
Week 1 Monday God
I Am the One and Only God
I am the greatest thought anyone can have because there is nothing greater than I am.
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If there's one idea held by more people throughout human history, regardless of who they are or where they come from, it's this: God. Not everyone agrees on who or what I am, but everybody thinks about me in one way or another. Even those who deny I exist think about me. They can't help it.
Have you ever wondered why you think about me so much? I can tell you why: I really do exist, not as some imaginary being that people invent to make themselves feel better, but as the one and only God. You may already know a lot about me, or you may know very little. That's okay. I will meet you where you are.
Right now, as you begin this journey of listening to my voice every day, I want you to know something: I am the one who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1:8).
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"And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me." Isaiah 45:21CHAPTER 2
Week 1 Tuesday Jesus
Jesus and I Are One
Everything that I am, Jesus is.
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What sets your faith apart from all the other religions and belief systems in the world is not just its message, but also its Messenger—Jesus Christ, the one I sent into the world (John 3:16). You can't call yourself a Christian if you like the teachings of Jesus but reject Him as being equal to me in every way. Most of the major world religions acknowledge Jesus in some way, but only Christianity—that's the faith based on Christ—has my Son at the center. Only Christianity teaches that Jesus and I are one. What do you think?
What do you believe about Jesus? If you truly believe in me, then you must believe in Jesus also, because He is the visible image of who I am (Colossians 1:15). If you haven't investigated the truth about Jesus, you have come to the right place. We're going to talk a lot about Jesus as you hear my voice on this journey—because everything I am, He is.
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"I and the Father are one." John 10:30CHAPTER 3
Week 1 Wednesday The Holy Spirit
He, She, or It?
The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force, but a real Person.
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Because the Holy Spirit is a spirit, without a body or any physical form, it's only natural for you to ask if we're discussing a he, a she, or an it. Strictly speaking, a spirit would be referred to as an "it." But notice how Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit: "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13).
My Holy Spirit is neither male nor female. Yet when the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit with the personal pronoun he instead of it, that's to remind you that He is a real Person, not some mysterious ghost. That means the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life is not an abstraction, but very personal and very real.
Even more important, the Holy Spirit in your life means that I live in you.
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You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Romans 8:9CHAPTER 4
Week 1 Thursday God's Word
Read and Study My Word
People who only read my Word usually lose interest, but those who study my Word hunger for more.
* * *
If you want to know me better, I have a suggestion: read my Word, the Bible. Even more, study my Word.
There's a difference between reading and studying the Bible. Reading is good, but it can only take you so far. You may get the general idea, but you won't understand everything. That's why merely reading the Bible is frustrating for many people. The apparent futility isn't from lack of desire or time or motivation. People lose interest when they don't understand my Word.
Don't worry if you can't grasp everything the Bible says. I don't know anybody who does, not even theologians—the people who study me for a living. Just be patient and intentional about your Bible study.
Every person I created is different, so your Bible study experience will be uniquely your own. But here are two principles that are true for everyone, principles that will help you understand my Word better: First, make every effort to learn what the Bible says. Then, think deeply about my Word and how you can apply it to your life (Psalm 1:2).
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Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15CHAPTER 5
Week 1 Friday Your Life
Prayer Is An Awesome Privilege
When you talk with me through prayer, you are talking with the Creator of the universe.
* * *
You can communicate with people in many ways. But the best and most effective way is talking face-to-face in normal, everyday language—without formality, pretense, or hidden agendas.
The same goes for communicating with me. Though you can't see me, you can talk with me in person, and the way you do that is through prayer.
Some people have said that prayer is "conversation with God." That's true, but prayer is much more than conversation because I am much more than a person. I am God, and above me there is no other. No one in heaven or on earth can compare with me. So conversing with me is something you shouldn't take for granted.
Prayer is an awesome privilege. It's the way you can communicate with me face-to- face in normal, everyday language—without formality, pretense, or hidden agendas.
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I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven. Psalm 123:1 NLTCHAPTER 6
Week 1 Saturday The World
Pray for the Lost
Your heart should break for the lost, because the lost break my heart.
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If you are a follower of Jesus and you want to be like Him, you need to live like Jesus would live. You need to have the heart of Jesus, which means you need to have a heart for the lost—that is, those who are lost in their sins. Without Jesus, they have no hope.
When you study the life of my Son in the Bible, here's what you find about His heart for the lost: First, Jesus didn't come to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17). And Jesus is praying for everyone who will eventually believe in Him (John 17:20).
Your heart should break for people without Jesus—your friends, neighbors, coworkers, family members, even strangers. Pray for them. Ask me to help them.
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I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.... This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1, 3–4 NLTCHAPTER 7
Week 1 Sunday The Church
The Church Belongs to Me
The church is not some human idea or invention. The church is my idea.
* * *
The word church means "belongs to the Lord." The New Testament writers used the Greek word ekklesia to describe a group of people who I "called out." In the Old Testament I "called out" the nation of Israel, so in a sense there was a "church" before Jesus came to earth. But the church you know today came into existence with the coming of Christ.
Jesus lived and died for the church (Ephesians 5:25), and He has promised to build the church (Matthew 16:18). Jesus began calling out people when He chose the original twelve disciples. Think of these men as a little church that experienced explosive growth on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit first came in power to all believers (Acts 2). That first New Testament church started with three thousand people (Acts 2:41), and it hasn't stopped growing since.
If you are part of a local church, you belong to me—because I have called you out.
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Matthew 16:18 ESV
"I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."CHAPTER 8
Week 2 Monday god
My Greatness Is Unsearchable
There's nothing I can't do for you.
* * *
When you think about me, what thoughts do you have?
At this very moment, what are you picturing in your mind? An old, white-bearded man in flowing robes? A king sitting on a throne? Those are natural responses, but they aren't correct—because you're only thinking in terms of what I have made. But I have not been made, so it's impossible to describe me with mere words.
The psalm writer David (who had a way with words) said that I amunsearchable—that no one can fully understand who I am. That's true, but don't let that stop you from thinking about me. You should! Just remember that there are no boundaries to who I am and what I can do. That means there is nothing I can't do for you.
And here's something else to remember: even when you aren't thinking about me, I am always thinking about you.
* * *
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. Psalm 145:3CHAPTER 9
Week 2 TUESDAY Jesus I
Love My Son
As much as you love your children, I love my Son infinitely more.
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If you are a parent, you know what it's like to love one of your children. You would do anything and give up everything for him or her. It's in your nature to love someone else that much—because I gave you that extra capacity to love one of your own.
But as much as you love your children, try to imagine how much I love my only Son, Jesus. First of all, my capacity to love is without limits. Love defines me, and because I am infinite, so is my love. Now think about who Jesus is—the one I sent into the world to save you so you and I could have a personal relationship.
Jesus loves you just as much as I do—so much that He gave His life for you. And when you believe and accept Jesus, I give you eternal life. But if you reject this Son I love so much, it's the same as rejecting me. So great is my love for my Son, that anyone who doesn't trust Him will feel my anger rather than experience eternal life with Jesus and me.
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The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. John 3:35CHAPTER 10
Week 2 Wednesday The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit Comprehends Me
If you really want to know me, the Holy Spirit will tell you all you need to know.
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Remember when we discussed the difficulty of comprehending me? I can't change who I am, but I don't really want to be a mystery to you (although some mystery is a good thing). So I've made it possible for you to understand me by way of a "secret weapon." No, it's not a device or even a special program. It's a Person, my Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity.
Because the Holy Spirit has my nature—that is to say, He is everything I am—He can comprehend me completely, down to my deepest thoughts. And because I want you to know the plans I have for you and the salvation I have arranged for you, I have given you the Holy Spirit (John 16:13).
If you have received Jesus into your life, the Holy Spirit is in you, ready and willing to reveal more about me than you know now. Then you can understand me, experience me on an intimate level, and know all the wonderful things I have given you.
* * *
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:10–11CHAPTER 11
Week 2 Thursday God's Word
I Wrote My Word Through the Holy Spirit
When you read my Word, you are hearing my voice.
* * *
You don't have to wait for a sign from heaven or a special inner feeling to get closer to me. Just go to my Word, and you will hear my voice.
It won't be my voice from the past, but my living, active voice that is speaking to you right now (Hebrews 4:12). Encountering my Word—whether you read it for yourself or listen to it being read—is like having a personal conversation with me. You don't have to wait for that to happen. You can hear me anytime you choose.
That's possible because of the way I wrote the Bible. I used the Holy Spirit to breathe my words into handpicked people (called prophets) so they could capture my personal message of love and hope to you. Because this same Holy Spirit lives in you now, you can personally experience me and know the plans I have for you every time you read my Word.
* * *
For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:21CHAPTER 12
Week 2 Friday Your Life
Don't Be Proud
Pride sets you in opposition to me, and that's never good.
* * *
I don't talk a lot about pride in my Word, but when I do, it's always in a bad way. True, there are some good forms of pride—like when a parent is proud of a child. That's not the kind of pride we're discussing now.
Bad pride occurs when you put yourself above others. Ultimately, the highest form of pride is when you put yourself above me. It shouldn't surprise you that pride is what motivated Satan to rebel against me. Once, when his name was Lucifer, he was the highest ranking of my heavenly army. But pride consumed him, and he said, "I will raise my throne above the stars of God" (Isaiah 14:13). Satan wanted to be above me, so I expelled him from heaven.
People try the same thing today. They disregard me, deny me, even pretend I don't exist. They think they can live their lives without me. Essentially, they want to be above me. But I am God, and above me is no other.
So here's my advice to you: don't be proud. Pride sets you in opposition to me, and that's never good. Be humble, and I promise to show you my grace.
* * *
"God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." James 4:6CHAPTER 13
Week 2 Saturday The World
Your Citizenship Is in Heaven
Your citizenship on earth is temporary; your citizenship in heaven is eternal.
* * *
Do you like the world I made for you? I hope so. I created it just for you so you could enjoy a beautiful, endlessly fascinating place to live in. I know, the world sometimes can be cruel—but for the most part, it's a great place to call home.
There's only one problem with that: it's easy to get attached to the world, especially when things are going well in your life. I want you to enjoy my world, but I also want you to keep that in perspective.
You see, the world may be a great place to call home—but it was never meant as your true home. You're living in the world—that is, on earth—in a particular location in a certain country. You may even be a "citizen" of that country. That's fine, but I'd like you to remember something as you live in my world: your citizenship there is temporary.
Your true, permanent, eternal citizenship is in heaven with me. You aren't there yet, but someday you will be, in the most glorious place you could ever imagine. So you may as well think now in terms of a dual citizenship—your temporary one on earth, and your true citizenship in heaven.
* * *
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20CHAPTER 14
Week 2 Sunday The Church
You Are My Dwelling Place
Thinking about where I live will change the way you live.
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A lot of people have the idea that I live in churches—that the only time you can experience me personally is when you go to a certain kind of building. I'm there all right, but not because of the stained glass windows or the cross or the altar with one of those giant Bibles. I'm there because of you.
I don't live in buildings. I live in people. I live in you—if you have joined my eternal family by receiving Jesus into your life (John 1:12). In a manner of speaking, you are a building. In fact, you're much more than that. You are a temple where I live through the Holy Spirit.
Excerpted from Listening to God by Bruce Bickel, Stan Jantz. Copyright © 2012 Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
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