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Lord, I Need to Hear Your Voice
Freedom from What Holds You Captive: From Despair to Hope
By Patricia Allison
CrossBooksCopyright © 2013 Patricia Allison
All rights reserved.
HEARING GOD'S VOICE: IS GOD CALLING YOU TO LEAD?
If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; If it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Romans 12:7-8
If you are reading this book it may mean you have decided to move closer to God and away from self-destructive behaviors. It may mean you are ready to seek God first in all things. Perhaps you are looking for a resource to use to help you lead a group of women in crisis. Whatever your reason, it is my prayer that this book will help you grow in the work of Christ and find your purpose for doing His work. God has given me a passion to work with women who are in need of unconditional love; women who crave relationships with safe people who will not judge them for the lives they are leading or have led but rather help them to see life through new eyes, the eyes of Christ. We have no way of knowing what lies in the heart of another and are we not called to assume intentions but to love and accept, as Christ loves and accepts us. These women are people who have often been cast aside by those they love most, whether by a spouse, child, parent, or friend. God has placed upon my heart the task of creating curricula that can help women find personal peace through understanding God's purpose in their lives. Each chapter can be studied in isolation or as part of a weekly Bible study with each chapter building on the previous chapter in a systemic approach. However, each chapter may also be studied as an individual Bible study if so desired.
As the idea for this book was planted in my heart I kept thinking about the story of the Samaritan woman taken from the book of John, chapter 4. This woman was a cultural outcast and someone who had made poor choices in her personal decisions. She had a past and was not living a righteous life. Jesus met her at the well where she was drawing water. Through her conversation with Him it became evident that He already knew everything she had ever done, even those things of which she was not proud. Jesus offered her living water if she would follow Him. He was showing the woman that although her life was in disarray, she could accept His offer to know Him and accept a life of redemption through understanding and following Christ's loving purpose. This story led me to entitle the group of women I work with as "Women at the Well" since Jesus already knows everything we have done and still offers us living water (John 4:10).
I have spent most of my adult life as a teacher and leader in the educational system among families living in the inner city. Having struggled with family issues as a child, I felt called to work with children living in similar circumstances and certainly found many opportunities to help families in crisis. I have spent countless hours reading and researching God's message through prayer, Bible study, and collecting notebooks full of information gathered from sermons given by those I admire and know to be led by God, both in local churches and from world-renowned pastors. I have always enjoyed writing but I never thought God would call me to help Him reach hurting women by developing a teaching method that would make a difference in the lives of these women. I have been awakened in the night with hurting women on my mind; I have not even met these women, but somehow I can see their faces and feel their pain. I have tried to convince myself, and yes, even God, that He has called the wrong person. I have tried to explain to myself and to God that I am far too busy to write a book and that I will be happy to continue to do what I do in His name, but I cannot possibly find the time or talent to create a book. And yet, the women I work with have affirmed my efforts and those who know me well have continually encouraged me to step up and share my knowledge and experience with others. I know now that God has called me to be His messenger through a burning passion placed within my heart. That passion is for serving those who are held captive by personal choices that have led them to unhealthy living conditions. When God calls us to work for Him, He does not give up, but rather may send others to help us recognize that we are chosen to be His servants. After all, as my pastor explained, "it is not about what we want; it is about what God wants" (Hal Schrader, personal communication, April 7, 2013). The Scripture that speaks loudly to me regarding my call to serve is found in Matthew 20:27, where Jesus was explaining to the disciples the importance of being a servant leader by doing for others rather than expecting to be served. In the study section assigned to this Scripture, The Life Application Bible, NKJV, states,
Jesus described leadership from a new perspective. Instead of using people, we are to serve them. Jesus' mission was to serve others and to give his life away. A real leader has a servant's heart. Servant leaders appreciate others' worth and realize that they're not above any job. If you see something that needs to be done, don't wait to be asked. Take the initiative and do it like a faithful servant. (p. 1722)
This Scripture explanation has revealed in part why Jesus had to die: to be ransomed. His death would redeem all people from the bondage of sin and death. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we can understand a need to continue His work and to help others find the freedom of which He speaks. In verse 28 Jesus said, "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." This particular verse was revealed to me during my personal Bible study and I feel it was by no accident, but rather God's way of hammering home that which He was calling me to do.
Called by God
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 1 Timothy 1:12
As Christians we are called to serve others by showing them God's ultimate plan of salvation. As I continued to study the Scripture and learned more about Christ as a servant to others, I felt God was making it evident that He was asking me to create a curriculum and share it with others so that greater numbers of women could receive the help needed to remove them from the bondage of Satan's grip. It is my prayer that this book will be used to reach many more women than I can do alone. And now here it is. I am a firm believer that God uses ordinary people to spread His message and does not call us to do any task for which He does not provide the tools. "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8). "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Philippians 2:13). It is my prayer that you will find this book to be a helpful resource to you as you work with women who are seeking God's peace and purpose in their lives or as you feel a need to find God's voice for yourself.
Be a Disciple
"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples." John 8:31b
Helping others to find Christ is a glorious example of how God uses His people to present His message. Ask yourself if you are able to put others before yourself in a way that offers unconditional love, provides encouragement and support, and presents honest and humble service to those in need regardless of what that need may be. In Galatians, we learn how the spirit of God (fruit of the spirit) provides traits that are evident in us when we emulate God's love for others. By knowing Christ and understanding His nature and relationship with us, we are given characteristics that imitate His love for others and we are asked to use those characteristics to make a difference in the lives of those we encounter daily. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22).
Note the Great Commission found in Matthew when Jesus sent His disciples out to disciple others: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).Read also John 20:19-22 to discover Christ's message to His disciples upon His return from the cross: "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven" (John 20:21-22).
Mother Teresa at one time stated, "We can only do small things with great love." This statement allows us to understand that God does not expect all of us to be Billy Grahams but rather to do what we can do where He has called us to be. Not only should we pray that people come to Christ through the work of His disciples but we are each called to be one of those disciples by our willingness to serve others by offering respect, honor, love, and grace as God does for us. We are called to teach others to be Christ-followers in addition to Christ-believers.
Jesus passed His work on to his followers to spread the truth in salvation. If God is asking you to do this work then understand that your authority comes from God and that Jesus has shown, through His service to others, how the work must be carried on. In John 20:23, we read that Jesus has given a spirit-filled power, as a guide for them to go out among the people and deliver the good news of Jesus, and how their sins can be forgiven as a result of His death on the cross. Therefore, pray for those who will come to faith through those who serve as disciples of Christ. Be one of those disciples.
Search Your Heart
Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind. Psalm 26:2
How do you know God is calling you to serve others through Him? I would suggest the following steps to find your passion for what God is calling you to do:
1. Use daily prayer and ask God to reveal how you may serve Him. Remember, answers to prayer may not always come instantaneously. God's timing belongs only to Him and we are to be obedient as we wait on Him. Be genuine in your heart as you pray about serving. Read I Thessalonians 4:1, "Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more."
2. Recognize that God's voice can come as an impression on your heart, something that seems to keep resurfacing in different circumstances. Listen to your heart. Think about Philippians 1:9, "This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight."
3. Determine if what you are feeling is really from God by asking yourself if it feels right. Does what you feel line up Scripturally? Look at Romans 12:2, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will."
4. Seek council from those who know you well, including your pastor. Ask others what they see as your gifts and talents. Ask yourself if what you are feeling matches with what others suggest as your gifts. Review the Scriptures on spiritual gifts paying close attention to Romans 12:6, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us." Sometimes others see areas in us of which we had no idea we were gifted.
5. When you think about what you feel God is calling you to do, does it give you a feeling of excitement or dread? If you do not sense excitement then perhaps it is not what God is asking you to do. He wants us involved in things of which we are suited and things we enjoy doing. Reflect on John 15:10-11, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."
6. Finally, recognize your passion and determine if the feeling is so distinct that you know the feeling is coming from God. Things will fall into place if you continue to ask God for His revelation first and then follow His guide. Step out in faith and do the work He has called you to do. Consider Revelations 17:14, "They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings — and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."
Dear Lord Jesus, I come to You today with an open heart and a request for wisdom as You call me to serve others on behalf of the kingdom. Help me to fully understand what You are calling me to do and to do that which You have called with a willing spirit. Remind me daily, Lord, that I am Your servant and am here to bring Your message to those who are facing a life in the wilderness. Provide the gift of discernment upon my own spirit so that I help and do no harm to those who are seeking Your voice. Allow me, Oh, Lord, to be a witness to those who are hurting and afraid by giving to them the hope in You that is your gift to all who are searching for inner peace and healing. In Your name I humbly pray, Amen.
Not everyone is called to work with women who have chosen unhealthy life styles. However, we are all called to be like Christ and this may mean doing something in His name that is difficult. We are all called by our spiritual gifts that God has designed in us and we must all be willing to use those gifts for His glory. It may mean moving out of your comfort zone and taking on something you thought you would never see yourself doing. I challenge you to pray about how God can use you to reach the needs of others. We are not all called to do great things but we are all called to do something, no matter how small, to make God more evident to those around us. Should you choose to work with women who are living in crisis situations, it is my prayer that this book will help you find a path to guide them in hearing God's voice while understanding His purpose for each of them. It is about being purposeful in doing what God has called you to do: Commitment to discipleship through obedience to Him.CHAPTER 2
BE GOD'S VOICE: WILL YOU ANSWER THE CALL?
Note: This chapter prepares leaders to address the concerns that may be encountered when working with women searching for God's voice and His purpose for their lives.
"Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching." 1 Timothy 4:12-13
The above Scripture is representative of Paul's work with Timothy and was offered at a time when Timothy needed some encouragement. This is not unlike today with those individuals God places in our paths. It is not uncommon for women living with turmoil and dysfunction in their lives to feel depressed and unaccepted by friends and family members. For some individuals, the idea of changing old habits and taking a leap of faith is so overwhelming that a successful conclusion to needed life change does not seem possible. The Bible teaches us to reach out to those in need of encouragement and support. The Life Application Study Bible provides sound advice for leaders working with people who could benefit from encouragement as they work toward making life-altering change.
(1) Begin with encouragement. People who know we will encourage them will be happy to work with us. (2) Expect of others only what you expect of yourself. People will resist being held to unfair standards. (3) Develop expectations of others with consideration for their skills, maturity, and experience. People will reject or fail to meet expectations that do not fit them. Be patient with distracted or slow learners. (4) Monitor your expectations of others. Changing circumstances sometimes require revised or reduced expectations. (5) Clarify your expectations with others. People are not likely to hit a target that no one has identified. (6) End with encouragement. People love to be thanked for a job well done. (2005, NIV, p. 2040)
I heard someone tell my husband that they felt God has given me a great gift ... the gift of gab. I did not know whether to be insulted or to admit full agreement. I have been known to speak up, ask the hard questions, and provide a comment on most any subject. However, I also pride myself in basing my questions and comments on finding truth. I want to learn as much as I can about where and how God wants me to serve in His name. Part of my ability to speak Bible-based truth is also because I am willing to listen to those who have much more wisdom than I have and who are more schooled in the Biblical literature. As I mentioned in the introduction, I have been given many opportunities to work with women living in crisis, which has served as great teaching for me. Because of God's blessing upon my life and His gift of allowing me to meet and work with so many wonderful women who struggle each day to find their way through personal loss, fear, and tragedy, it has become apparent that God is asking me to be His voice; delivering His message of love and redemption to His children. I have no doubt that I am doing exactly what He has called me to do and I am honored to help others find that same path.
Excerpted from Lord, I Need to Hear Your Voice by Patricia Allison. Copyright © 2013 Patricia Allison. Excerpted by permission of CrossBooks.
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Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1 Hearing God's Voice: Is God Calling You To Lead?,
Chapter 2 Be God's Voice: Will You Answer The Call?,
Chapter 3 Facing A Sinful Nature: Recognition,
Chapter 4 Calling Out To God: Repent,
Chapter 5 Asking For Forgiveness: Request,
Chapter 6 Breaking The Chain Of Destruction: Redemption,
Chapter 7 Humbling Self: Reconciliation,
Chapter 8 Freedom From Self Destruction: Recovery,