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When I was about eight or ten years old, my big brother, Mica, was in baseball and we regularly attended his games and practices in the spring. There were often fantastic playgrounds at the fields. I had found a kid my age who was also at all the games and practices and we played together regularly. I valued our comradery and time together.

I was a people-person even from a young age. This “friend” would often say, “If you don’t play with me here or there, I won’t be your friend.” So, I would do whatever that friend said. One day, practice was held near a school yard with maypoles. Maypoles were my absolute favorite and I was born to play on them. Who wouldn’t enjoy spinning around and around a pole, feet sailing through the air and a death grip on the round metal handles? But once I was threatened with the words, “If you play on those maypoles, I won’t be your friend.” I paused for a millisecond, turned around and said, “Okay!” and walked off to my maypoles. I wanted to turn my head to see if this friend was following, but instead I turned my soul to cold steel and refused to look back.

I felt strong and powerful. I had conquered what had been holding me back from being my authentic self and doing what I loved. I will never forget that tremendous victory. Whatever a person’s age, sometimes it’s necessary to grit one’s teeth and go to the maypoles . . . or in this case, to fulfill one’s calling without fearing the opinions of man. God will strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him as mentioned in the above verse.

Your heart and loyalty are God’s greatest concern because out of it flows the wellspring of life (Prov. 4:23). Jesus is the Tree of Life, and He wants nothing but life for those who believe in Him. He knows the fear of man is one of the most common issues that can prevent you from fulfilling your destiny and will divide your heart and thus divide your faith. This is another way double-mindedness leads to confusion, fear, and an inability to follow through with God-given dreams and assignments—even though He has already mapped out each person’s victory.

When asked what the greatest commandment of all was, Jesus replied:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.

— Luke 10:27, NIV

Jesus is on a different level than, say, a neighbor. Jesus placed Himself above any person as the Supreme God of the universe. Loving God with “all” your heart means loving Him with an entirety. No sharing. No “as yourself” comparisons, or as much as a person loves a pastor, spouse, or success. Obeying Jesus’ words in Luke 10:27 is a vow of consecration and separation unto the Lord.

View this commandment within the context of your current placement of man in your life. If you had to choose who to obey, man or God, what would it look like? Would there be all kinds of arguments within you? Perhaps the natter sounds like, “I feel like God is leading me to do . . . But what if so-and-so doesn’t like it? What if they don’t agree? What does so-and-so think? I’m afraid I’ll have a conflict if I . . .” If God is leading, obey His promptings. It will come with peace, and God is asking you to “let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts,” (Col. 3:15 NLT), not the fear of man.

The word “peace” is the Greek eirene (Strong’s G1515), which means “one, quietness, rest, set at one again.” The peace that comes from choosing to obey the Lord brings single-mindedness again—no nattering heads, only one peaceful head: Christ, who is the head of the church.

The word “rule” in Colossians 3:15 is one of the most powerful words a Christian can learn for decision making and for possessing an undivided heart. It is the Greek word brabeuo (Strong’s G1018) and it means “to govern like an umpire.” In other words, peace should be the “umpire” of a person’s heart. If you have peace over a decision, and the decision lines up with Scripture, let it be like an umpire saying, “Safe!” Allow that peace to bring you a place of wholeheartedness again, no longer divided and tossed to and fro. If you have peace but want to be sure, ask the Lord to confirm it to you. He knows you better than you know yourself and will speak in a way you will understand.

If you do not have peace about what you think God may be leading you to do, trust that as well. A lack of peace can be a strong feeling or a mild unrest. Either way, it should be viewed as a clear sign to settle down quietly before the Lord and let go of that plan for the time being—or permanently—depending on His leading.

Fear Versus Cowardice

There’s a difference between being fearful and cowardly, versus a loss of peace. To be “cowardly” means shrinking back due to anxiety—where the word “anxiety” is used in place of the word fear. Fear, however, can be present with peace; it means stepping out, following, and trusting God, though afraid.

When the opinions of others prevent God’s children from obeying His promptings, they are shrinking back and serving man who becomes their master instead of God. Paul highlights his personal commitment to serving God alone in his letter to the Galatians saying, “If pleasing man were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant” (Gal. 3:10 NLT).

Paul knew he could ultimately only answer one voice and revere and obey one loyalty. He chose God. God allowed Paul’s life to be an example of what obedience in the face of fear looks like. He faced tremendous physical persecution by both the Jewish religious community and the gentile community. Paul was also the first disciple/apostle who had not physically walked with Jesus like the other disciples; he had to trust and obey regardless of human authority:  

This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

— Galatians 1:1, NLT

Paul knew exactly who he was and what he was called to do, and he obeyed God despite his altogether different start than the other disciples who had spent three years with Jesus. He could have compared himself to the other apostles, but Paul put himself aside and made obedience to God his highest priority. With an undivided heart, he accepted who he was—a Christ-ordained apostle—and fully lived out that assignment:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

— 1 Corinthians 15:10, ESV

The reality is everyone both fears and trusts in people to a degree, and it is something we all, as followers of Jesus, must overcome.I remember a time when God asked me to step out and begin to preach. I knew there would people who would not agree. I deeply wanted their affirmation in my life, and I believed that if they endorsed me, it was as powerful as if God had recommended me. I was not afraid whatsoever to be in ministry, but I was afraid of others in ministry who did not approve of me due to their beliefs about “covering”. I feared their opinions above God’s. I feared their way of doing things above the promptings of the Holy Spirit and above following God in obedience.

God knew this and was about to expose my idol. First, however, He showed me I first needed to see that an idol existed. The closer I came to obeying God, the more double-minded, confused, and unable to make decisions I became. Daily it grew worse. It became so bad, I cried out to God in desperation and asked, “What is wrong? Why am I struggling so much? What is the source of it?” I was fully prepared to receive and accept what was wrong. Anything would be better than the internal conflict warring in my soul. I did not have to wait long. In the morning as I was having my quiet time with the Lord, a verse struck me, and I knew Jesus had spoken:

A true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.

— Romans 2:29, NLT

Jesus had put His perfect and holy finger on my idol. He waited for my astonishment to pass. I was horrified and delighted—horrified because I wanted and deeply feared the praise of man and put it on the same plane as God’s. On the other hand, I was delighted that He told me what was wrong. I knew He was totally and completely right. Now we could fix it together, though it would not be an easy journey.  At my first meeting, a man was healed in both his neck and shoulder and people got saved! I went to the maypoles again and it was great.

It’s easy to perceive others as having far more power; it is a fear that others will block our plans, hopes, dreams or worse—needs. It is a fear that they have power to take away our affirmation, respect, or opportunities. But God is Lord over these things, not man.  Therefore, only one voice needs to be honored. So, go ahead and get your sword ready! You free to get rid of that nattering voice tempting you away from utter trust and devotion to Jesus.

Solomon wisely described the fear of man in a word picture highlighting the pain it can cause, saying:

The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

— Proverbs 29:25, NIV

The Hebrew word “snare” in Proverbs 29:25 is mowqesh (Strong’s H4170) which means, “a noose for catching animals, a hook for the nose, to be ensnared or trapped.” This word picture is of one who walks through life in fear of man, and the potential impact man can have on his or her life. This kind of person becomes trapped, caged, hooked in the nose, and led about by that fear or person.

However, the Lord promises something quite different to those who place their trust in Him. “Trust” in that same verse is the Hebrew word batach (Strong’s H982). Batach means, “to run for refuge for protection, be confident, sure, bold, careless.”

Finally, the word “safe” in Hebrew is sagab (Strong’s H7682) meaning, “to be exalted and lifted-up, inaccessible, safe strong, and to be too strong.” Picture an older brother holding an object high above his sister’s head that the sister cannot snatch out of her brother’s too strong and exalted hand. This is the meaning of sagab.

Those who trust in God are lifted high above their enemies, inaccessible. Inserting these definitions into the verse brings deeper understanding to what Solomon was communicating: “The fear and anxiety due to man is like a snare that traps you and puts a hook in your nose and drags you painfully through life, but those who trust in the Lord are confident, without care, and are held up high and inaccessible in God’s exalted hand, which is too strong for their enemies.” 

Fear of Man Affects Faith

The praise and honor of man can also divide a heart.  Jesus told the Jewish Pharisees why they could not believe in Him; The Great Physician diagnosed the problem:

No wonder you can’t believe!  For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.

—John 5:44, NLT

Only one voice matters and it’s the Lords.  So, go ahead and get your sword out. You are free to cut off the head of the fear of man and listen to the voice of your Good Shepherd.  By the way, I have it on good authority that He loves the maypoles and He’ll go with you every time. You were born to soar with glee.

Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1. Lord, whose opinion am I prizing so highly that it pulls my loyalty, heart and obedience away from You and compromises my faith? And why am I doing it?
  2. When was the last time I “went to the maypoles?” Is there somewhere in my life I need to do this now? 
  3. I dream of going to the “maypoles” in ____________________ area of my life! My heart is growing more steadfast to make the journey. I know this because ____________________.
  4. Is there a practical step of faith You would like me to make?
  5. Is my soul feeling better?  

representing God on earth

Serve God, Not the World

When God created Adam and Eve it was because He wanted to love them.  Their gifts and talents were part of God’s plan for their lives. He gave them the assignments to subdue the earth, fill the earth, and to multiply all He had given them using those very same gifts and talents. They were to govern the earth, representing or “re-presenting” Him by bringing the culture and ways of the kingdom of God and its King to earth. It was a task so vast and so great that was to be handed down from generation to generation until Jesus returns to rule and reign from Jerusalem. Utilizing the gifts God gives is part of that plan.

So powerful was the likeness of man to God that God Himself was in awe of them.

-- Tyrelle Smith

Upon creation, God looked at Adam and Eve in wonder. The Word says that they were “fearfully and wonderfully made.” The word “fearfully” is the Hebrew word yare (Strong’s H3372).  It means, “to fear, morally, to revere, reverence, and awe, dread as in powerful.” It is the same word David used to describe God in Psalm 33:8 saying, “Let all the earth fear [yare’] the Lord; let all the inhabitants stand in awe of Him.”

So powerful was the likeness of man to God that God Himself was in awe of them. How’s that for value? And before they could accomplish a single thing for Him, while still fresh upon the very ground they were formed from, God breathed the greatest pronouncement of His truth over their being saying, “very good.” Their worth was not in their accomplishments, but who He created them to be.  He stood back viewing them in reverent awe. Imagine for a moment, God conceiving you in His mind as a product of His greatest vision, standing back and saying, “very good!” before you could do a single thing to earn those words.

Who You Are, Not What You Can Do

God has given gifts to His children to accomplish in His authority and strength what He is sending them to do. Tessa Afshar illustrates this beautifully in her moving novel Harvest of Rubies. She tells the story of a truth-telling conversation between Sarah, a girl utilizing her gifts to gain love, respect, and position, and her gentle uncle Nehemiah, the cupbearer to the king who shares God’s truth that set her free. “Listen” in on that conversation and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you into personal truth. Nehemiah starts off the penetrating conversation:

  “I could see that learning to read gave you a sense of accomplishment and a new attachment to your father. I believed the Lord had given you the talent for a reason. Whenever I spent time in your company, I was struck anew by how precious you are. But you could not see it.”

  My eyes grew round with wonder. He thought I was special?

  “But you wrapped your whole soul around your work. You established yourself in court and became the queen’s favored servant. But did you feel secure and happy? Did your success give you peace?”

  I choose not to answer, and he pressed on.

“Do you know why not? Because you were out of step with God’s design. God’s design includes the use of our talents. But do you think the Lord counted them worthy because of their abilities?” he went on, ignoring my restlessness. “They hadn’t even begun their work yet when He made His first pronouncement over them. He called them very good when they hadn’t achieved a single thing. They hadn’t proven themselves capable. He pronounced them good not because of what they had accomplished, but because of who He made them be.”

  I felt myself freeze as I heard those words. I had never thought of God’s response to Adam and Eve in those terms. Nehemiah was right. God counted them as good already, before they had done anything worthwhile.

 Nehemiah nodded his head, as though he perceived that I was finally beginning to comprehend his meaning. “This is a life of right order, Sarah. The heart that knows the Lord as the source of its beauty and value knows freedom. You have lost yourself in the gifts God gave you. Those blessings have become your master.

  “When your inmost being is in step with the right order of God, you reap His rest. Your soul tastes of His peace. Instead, your inner world produced turmoil, because you lost sight of who you really were. You lived in fear. Fear that you should prove dissatisfactory. For years, I have watched you live a disordered life. You’ve placed your intellect, your ability to learn faster than most, your quickness of thought and understanding at the core of your life. This was never the Lord’s purpose for you.

  “My child, the Lord’s care for you has never depended on what you achieve. You were created for His love, not to be His work mule. Your accomplishments are meant to be a response to that love; instead, you have made love a response to your accomplishments. The steadfast love of the Lord for you never ceases. Never, Sarah.

   “I will always have my standing before the Lord as His child. I will always know I can go to Him and be welcomed. That is who I am. My work is a small part of me—an assignment from God. Whether He gives it or take it away, it will not change how He perceives me.

  “This is what I want you to learn about yourself, Sarah.”

  Nehemiah’s words burned in my mind: That is who I am. My work is . . . an assignment from God.  I did not have the ability to rest in the Lord’s opinion of me. I had built my own measures of worth and acceptability. They were false; they destroyed my peace. It dawned on me just how doggedly I served these measures. I served them with more fierce determination than I served God. I wanted the good opinion of others more than I wanted the Lord.

  Who could set the heart free but God? “Lord,” I cried out, in my mind. “You look at the heart. Please forgive me for serving the false masters of my soul. Help me to please only You.” I thought for a moment and then emended my prayers. “Help me to want to please only You.”

I ran out of words. Somehow, in the quiet aftermath of my prayers, I grew still in my soul. It was a healing stillness.[1]

The character, Sarah, deals with what believers deal with nearly every day in this social media, super-success-oriented society. But as she came back to her true core value in God, there was a quiet. The truth was a sword that cut off that second head and its nattering arguments. The only voice that spoke was the quiet one that was in step with truth and peace. Her heart was no longer divided between the love of the world and the love of God. Her loyalty was settled once more upon Him.

The prophet Isaiah wrote that those who turn back to the Lord as their source of value, who give Him their whole heart, will find quiet, rest, and peace:

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.

  — Isaiah 30:15, NIV

Isaiah conveyed this same message in Isaiah 26:3 saying:

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

— Isaiah 26:3, NIV

In both verses, the words for “perfect” and “peace” are Hebrew for shalowm (Strong’s H7965) which means, “happy, friendly, well, healthy, prosperous, favor, rest, safety well and great.” It conveys the message of “double peace,” lacking nothing in wellness and happiness.” It is God who keeps and guards His people as their minds are stayed, fixed, steadfast, and leaning hard on Him, because they trust Him. This word trust is the Hebrew word batach (Strong’s H982) means to “confide, and take refuge, be confident and sure in.” Basically, Isaiah’s words mean that God keeps His people in a state of happy and complete blessing and peace as their minds are tattooed on Him—for they trust and take refuge in Him.  Are you ready to tattoo your mind on Him? He’d be thrilled!

Thank God that He has provided a way out of this tug-of-war. Thank Him for the truth that sets you free, and invite Him to teach you what that looks like for your life. 

Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1. What have I believed about status or achievements before reading this chapter?  What do I believe now?
  2. How does it make You feel when I relax into Your pronouncement over me of who I really am- “very good”?
  3. Lord, is there anything I believe that is out of step with Your design?
  4. Would You like to touch any hurt in my heart that has driven me to believe I was deficient as I was?  I welcome Your thoughts into that area of my life and make my heart whole and devoted to only You. What are those thoughts?
  5. How am I feeling about believing You now?  Are there any areas getting quieter and more steadfast as I believe and trust in You?  Is there less pulling on me and tempting me away?

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To DestinyEach week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.

[1] Afshar, Tessa. Harvest of Rubies. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012.

Loaves, Lakes and a Test!

The disciples received two assignments from Jesus that seemed unrelated. However, Jesus connected them so that believers will understand what happens when they obey—and how to apply those examples to any God-given assignments with a soft and believing heart.

The First Assignment: The Loaves

Jesus, despite His human fatigue, had compassion for the people and showed Himself as the exact representation of the Father by teaching and instructing the people and healing the sick. But the next need was before Him: hunger. The disciples begged Jesus to send the crowd away to get their own food, but good fathers feed their kids. Jesus’ work was not yet complete.

Jesus needed to represent the Father again to the crowd, but He also in turn needed to teach His disciples how to represent Him and His Father to the world. So, He told the disciples, “You give them something to eat” (Matt. 14:16 NIV). The disciples had just seen God—through Jesus and then through them—do the miraculous, and they were incredulous. They had spent much time with Jesus but still didn’t understand that Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing, and it always worked out—even during trials.

The disciples began to look at their own strengths and abilities for this colossal God-sized task, saying, “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people” (Mark 6:37 NLT). And that is exactly the point. Jesus asked them to gather what food they could and bring it to Him. With five loaves and two fish, they were about to represent the Father in the power of delegated authority.

Jesus began to show them how. He did not look at the crowd or at His disciples for guidance, but to His Father who spoke to His heart: “Feed them.” He lifted the loaves and fish and gave thanks to the Father for His provision even before it arrived. He knew God supplied His power for His commands and will to be done on the earth. Jesus broke off some food and gave it to the disciples; food multiplied at His hands and at the disciples’ hands, and Scripture says, “they did all eat and were filled” (Matt. 14:20 KJV). The Greek word for “filled” is chortazo, (Strong’s H5526) which means, “to gorge, feed abundantly and full”—much like an enormous Thanksgiving dinner with abundant leftovers.

Followers of Jesus will experience unspeakable joy when they participate in miracles by responding in obedience to the King’s requests

Tyrelle Smith

Now that’s the kingdom of God coming on earth as it is in heaven. There’s always an abundance in the Father’s house. He’s the Everlasting God, the King of the universe—and kings put on banquets. It is not the servant’s responsibility to pay for the food, only to serve it at the king’s orders. God is Father King and He feeds His kids.

Followers of Jesus will experience unspeakable joy when they participate in miracles by responding in obedience to the King’s requests. His strength, power, and resources are released into His assignments with abundance.

The Second Assignment: The Lake

At the end of that same day, Jesus gave His disciples a second assignment: to cross the lake to Bethsaida. So, they begin rowing across the lake while Jesus was in prayer on the mountain. Halfway across the lake, a storm began. The contrary wind was howling, throwing waves into the boat, and rowing was nearly futile. The fourth watch of the night approached—between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. The disciples were already exhausted from the previous day’s ministry journey and from feeding the crowds, and now they were physically spent from rowing all night. Suddenly, they saw Jesus walking on the water in the middle of the storm. Mark’s version adds just a bit of interesting information: “He was about to pass by them” (Mark 6:48 NIV). Jesus intended to walk past His terrified friends—which seems peculiar. However, don’t forget: Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing.

A Failed Test and Hard Hearts

Jesus passed by His disciples because the Father was testing them in their understanding of the lesson learned in the assignment of feeding the five thousand. Look at the parallel passage from Mark’s viewpoint:

He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him.

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.

—Mark 6:48-52, NLT (Emphasis added)

Although they didn’t pass the test, it exposed something within them that led to the failure. The disciples needed to learn God’s strength would accomplish every task He gave; how quickly they forgot what happened when Jesus commanded them to feed the multitude with the bread and fish! They only needed to respond in obedience.

When Jesus sent His disciples to the other side of the lake, His same power was available in the command to “go” as it was to feed the multitude. They could have spoken to the wind and the waves or any obstacle in their path. God’s Word and command in their mouth was just as powerful as Jesus’ own command in His mouth—just as with the centurion who said, “Just say the word and my servant will be healed.” 

Later, after Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to His disciples and sent them with a fresh mandate and an infilling of the Holy Spirit because He would not physically be with them anymore. Jesus said:

As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

— John 20:21, NASB

In each assignment, Jesus represented the Father on earth as the exact representation of His being. Just as the Father supplied Jesus with the Holy Spirit, Jesus supplies you. That Person, the Holy Spirit, is all you need. Trust Him and obey even when it seems Jesus is walking past you. It is a sign that He trusts you to address your obstacles with His authority.

Fight against allowing your heart to become hardened with unbelief when the test or trial comes. Hardness of heart comes when the believer looks to two loyalties for strength—Jesus, and self. Only one is God! You cannot trust in yourself and God at the same time. When you trust in your own strength, a war will rage within you because you, more than anyone else, know your weaknesses. One part of your heart will tell you to trust in the Lord, and the other will tell you to trust in yourself. These two nattering heads arguing back and forth will try to convince you which way to lean. Subconsciously, you know you cannot handle everything; often, anxiety will ensue.

Trusting in self is a pride of life and a love of the world. It clings to this world and is a self-focused means of handling life, ultimately trusting in one’s own strength rather than God’s. It will pull a person away from loyalty to God and submitting to Him out of joyful obedience.

The Canoe Dream

Canoe Girl rest

 One morning I had a strong dream from the Lord. In my dream, I was resting on my back in a canoe with my arms folded comfortably beneath my head. There were no oars or paddles. The lake was completely peaceful and shimmered like glass as the sun shone down on it. There were no waves, no wind; it was completely still. As I lay on my back, I thanked the Lord for the glorious blue sky above me and relished in it.  I was totally at peace, enjoying and delighting in rest and the surroundings. I saw Jesus walking on the water near my canoe. He swooshed His arms forward and suddenly a gust of wind propelled the canoe forward. The canoe eventually slowed to a stop, but I was still not at the shore. I thought to myself, “Jesus is going to have to swoosh His arms again.” With that, Jesus did swoosh His arms again. And again, a gust of wind moved the canoe forward—this time to the shore. He gave me a hug, but then I was on my own. He walked away upon the water to others that were on the lake. I saw Him and said, “That man has authority.” It was like I was seeing His authority at one percent of what it is, but it was still powerful.

You may not be called to preach, but God has the authority to send you wherever He is calling you.

This dream is significant for the whole body of Christ. There were no oars so I could apply no human effort. I was in total peace enjoying God and His creation, praising and thanking Him. It was Jesus who supplied His ability to get me to where He wanted me to go and when He wanted me to go there. He has all authority to make those decisions. Jesus declared this to His disciples, just before leaving earth:

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

— Matthew 28:18–20, NLT

You may not be called to preach, but God has the authority to send you wherever He is calling you. Rest in His authority. He will get you to the other side. It is Jesus Christ who releases the wind and power of His Spirit to propel you forward. Even if you are called to take steps of faith, you can do so resting, praising, and thanking while enjoying where you are until He is ready for you.

Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1. Lord, what truth sparked inside me in this chapter?
  2. Am I doubting the authority You have delegated to me and thus the power You have given to me to accomplish what You have asked me to do? 
  3. How am I doing in the “canoe”?
  4. Where are You “sending” me?
  5. Is there anything I need to cut off that woos me away from my true status in You and in my God-given assignments?

Next week, we will look at resting in your "yare". Yare in Hebrew means reverence an awe! It's found in Psalm 139:14. You are Yare, Fearfully and Wonderfully made. Yare is only used to describe God in the bible and.... You! Learning to rest in your yare, will keep you from the double-mindedness of self-strength and performance to be enough or accomplish Gods plans for your life.... Enjoy next week as you behold your own yare in God.

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To DestinyEach week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.


Amy Carmichael once said, “When the heart learns  to trust God as He should be trusted, utterly and without hesitation, then the Lord throws wide the door of the treasure house of grace, and bids us go in with boldness and receive our inheritance of the saints in the light”

God’s Strength Alone

When I made the decision to follow God’s leading into ministry, I was beyond excited. But as I studied in preparation, I watched everyone else’s life around me change in what looked like a more secure way than mine. They began to pursue degrees and move into positions. I began to feel inferior as the achievements of others mounted around me; without realizing it, I had begun to walk by sight and not by faith. I noticed something else had changed—my speech. Out of insecurity, I began to speak more highly of myself than I ought. I had believed a lie, and the only antidote to a lie is the truth. God has no greater joy than when His children walk in truth (3 John 1:4).  Sadly, I had said “yes” to the Lord, but did not fully trust He would bring His calling on my life to fruitfulness. But His remedy was on the way and so is yours.

One day the Lord led me to the following verses to end my internal conflict:

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

— 1 Corinthians 1:26–29, NIV

I heard the Lord speak to me quietly, “I chose you and called you when you were not wise or powerful and had no remarkable status. I chose you and appointed you from the state you were in to bear fruit. Why do you feel like you need to be more to prove that I called you?”

The pressure was off. I did not need to qualify God’s choice and approval. I did not have to audition for my calling—it was God-given. God sent me to preach the gospel, not to prove myself worthy to others. I was going after the world’s value system of status and recognition to fill my need for security when I was secure all along. I was leaning on and trusting the world’s value system for strength, rather than trusting in the authority God had already given me. The moment I trusted my life into His hands, I was secure, and so are you.

The “pride of life” will vie for our attention. It attempts to measure a person’s value by achievements, status, and power. Enjoying a blessed life after working hard and being rewarded is great. It’s God’s blessing for His children to eat and drink and enjoy good labor (Eccl. 3:13). God does not want His children to possess mindsets where they exalt themselves in their own sight wherein they boast in worldly wisdom, status, or self-effort; He does not want them to think more highly of themselves than they ought in a self-promoting manner.

The world is an uncertain ocean of opinion, void of stability.

Sometimes people do this because they feel insecure and are inclined to want to be “enough,” to have value in society, and to feel they belong or are worthy. People measure themselves by their peer’s value system, thinking it will make them feel safe, secure, worthy, or successful. Unfortunately, people’s value systems constantly change, even from one person to the next.

Imagine being on the ocean and trying to swim to the top of a peaked wave; just when you think you are at the top, the wave falls, but soon there is another peaked wave to ascend. The waves come constantly, one on top of the other, and they are all surrounding. The world is an uncertain ocean of opinion, void of stability. You will never remain above the wave you are trying to ascend. Seeking peace based on our own performance will result in a life that constantly swells up and down. It will contribute to a divided heart and keep you from experiencing God’s joy and peace.  God’s value system, however, never changes.

What You Stand on Affects Your Stability

You can have the best of intentions in remaining steadfast in the Lord, but whether you are able to stand firm or not depends on what you are standing on and its stability. Standing on a surfboard in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with waves swelling up and down will make standing firm more difficult. Conversely, standing on the Great Wall of China in a windstorm will not be a problem. What is the difference? The stability of what you are standing on.  This determines your personal stability. Of course, the Great Wall of China is more reliable than a surfboard and can be trusted as a firm foundation that will not fail. 

God wants to unfold His power and fruitfulness through us and all believers whom He sends into their God-given destinies simply because He loves us and enjoys working in partnership with us, His sons and daughters.  

Delegated Authority: The Principle of Being Sent

The Bible tells a story about a centurion, who interestingly was not commended for faith in Christ! Rather, he was commended for his faith in the authority of God, who sent Jesus:

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

— Matthew 8:6–13, NIV

The centurion, a military man, understood that the person who acted at the command and commission of his superior had the same but delegated authority as the superior himself. When a general of the US military is in the Middle East and is issued a command, for example, he acts not on his own authority but on the authority of the president. In addition, the president affords him the strength and military might to execute the command.

When God asks a person to complete an assignment for Him on the earth, His strength and power will be present to make it a living reality through that person’s obedience. His strength and power are also keys to salvation and accessing the benefits of Jesus’ assignments. The “subjects of the kingdom” in Matthew 8:6–13 were cast out of God’s kingdom because they did not perceive God had sent Jesus into the world (John 3:16). John wrote even the Jews, Jesus’ own people, didn’t recognize or receive Him:

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.

— John 1:11–12, NASB

It is up to those to whom you are sent to receive and access the blessings within your assignments. As you step forward, God does not ask you to rely on your own strength, but on the delegated authority of God and the power of the Holy Spirit He has given you. And, like the general of the United States who has access to the president’s storehouses of authority and resources, you have access to God’s heavenly storehouses of resources for all you need. Expect God to release His power, strength, and miracles just like He did His for seventy-two disciples when He sent them out:

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

— Luke 10:1, 16–20, NIV

Notice the principle of being sent in the above verses. The power and authority to execute the assignment was within the Lord’s command. The seventy-two were not acting on their own authority, but God’s. God sent Jesus and Jesus had the right and authority to send the disciples; He did, and He still does today. Begin to trust and believe that God will supernaturally supply the strength, power, wisdom, organization, or miracles for any assignment He gives you.

Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1. Lord, what am I standing on?
  2. When I read Amy Carmichael’s quote, what am I trusting in?  If I were to trust more in God, would I be bold? Why or why not?  Does what I believe need to change?
  3. Where does my strength come from?
  4. Am I okay with being small in my strength and to cling to trust in God’s strength?

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To DestinyEach week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts and insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.


Lusts of the flesh food vs weightloss

I began to experiment with bulimia

For most of my life I had struggled with a love for food. I remember being a teenager and buying several Mars bars and going into the school bathroom to hide while I ate them. I knew that eating Mars bars was not wrong and no one would condemn me for eating them. It was how many I ate and how badly I wanted them that was the problem. I had certain friends that I could eat with who did not mind me pounding back a huge bag of chips, old-fashioned donuts, and chocolate. In fact, they were happy to enjoy those treats with me. But I often felt guilty or uncomfortable with myself after.

For years, I would be confused when I would offer people a brownie or some other snack and they would say, “No, thank you. I’m not hungry.” I can honestly remember the day I thought “What does that have to do with anything?” It did not matter to me if I was hungry or not. It was the pleasure, enjoyment, and satisfaction that food offered that drew me, not the hunger. My weight would go up and down. I spent a great deal of time thinking about food—planning what I was going to eat, longing for food, and thinking of my next meal. This continued for years.

I couldn’t understand what was happening and found myself continually questioning God.

I began to experiment with bulimia, making myself sick after eating to get rid of the food—but I felt terrible after doing this, too. It was at this point I began to sense something was wrong. I remember praying and asking God for help but did not sense any freedom. I phoned my father and confessed what was happening. He prayed with me, but again I did not sense any freedom. It was as if there was a noose around my neck, not tight enough to choke the life out of me, but tight enough that I could not get free.

I had always enjoyed God’s presence and my prayer times were filled with joy, love, and tears that came in intimate and close moments. What moved His heart moved mine and I enjoyed Him. But I had hit a wall and I could not grow closer to Him. It was as though my prayers went up to heaven, hit a brass ceiling, and fell back to the earth. I couldn’t understand what was happening and found myself continually questioning God.

As my questioning continued, I decided to go down to the local Christian bookstore. I enjoyed the sense of God’s presence that rested in the store as I wandered through the aisles. I found a book for a friend that was going through a devastating time. But beside that book was another book by John Bevere . I pulled the book off the shelf and flipped it over to read the back cover, only to find the question: “Do the heavens feel like brass?”  It was the exact phrase that had been filling my mind! I quickly paid for the book with the expectation that through its pages God would reveal the mystery of His distance.

That night I took my book to bed and began to read. After only a few pages the Lord released an understanding into my mind and my heart. His distance was because of my love for food. I had no idea the two were related! I had wounded Him and myself, and the realization made me cry. My heart agreed with His word.  I repented and confessed to God with a complete brokenness, “I love food more than You.” I rolled onto my side, wept, and fell asleep.

It was three days before I realized there had been a change: I had not thought about food for three days. I had a new clarity and quietness of mind.  I had only eaten when I was hungry and stopped when I was full. By the time Sunday rolled around, as I dressed for church, I realized I had already lost weight and it had not even been on my mind. A new joy welled up inside me. My love for Jesus had returned and we were in great communication. The joy was so vast that I stood up to testify at church what God had done in my life. The joy of Jesus’ love went through our congregation with celebration. Within two-and-a-half months, I lost fifty pounds.

Some may call that much weight loss in such little time unhealthy, but I simply ate when my body called for fuel and stopped when I felt the first bite or two of fullness.  This is God’s glorious mechanism for the human body to manage and fuel itself. God builds everything well, including the human body. His yoke was easy for me, and His burden was light. The truth is simple, but people complicate it with divided loyalties; they don’t see the benefit of living in the truth when they want something else more. My heart had been divided, my loyalty split between God and food. But God healed my divided heart and brought me to victory through repentance and eating His way. 

Indulgence in the flesh begins after the point of “enough.” It will start small and seem harmless at first but will begin to divide your heart just a little. But Jesus is not content to have part of your heart. He wants your whole heart and will pursue it. Satan knows He needs only a bit to divide and compromise your faith and create doubt in God, which could prevent you from fulfilling your God-given assignments with peace, confidence and joy.

Would I have crucified my Son if I did not truly want to forgive and restore my children?

Love and Adultery

The Lord has given all of Himself in an unfathomable way. He withheld nothing, including His Son, who also holds nothing back from those He loves. When a person enters a relationship with Jesus, he or she enters a relationship with someone whose love cannot be measured because it is eternal. The one who loves more is wounded more when that love is shared with an outside third party. I was looking to a third party named “food” for fulfillment, pleasure, joy, and satisfaction—the definition of adultery. Like Eve, I had been tempted with the promise of something I already had, and away from pure and simple devotion to Christ. However, only in God’s presence did I find fullness of joy.

The Word of God works the same for believers today as it did with Jesus in the first century. Satan may tempt a person to enjoy one more helping of food, one extra glass of wine, or one little look at that good-looking person. He may entice someone to view just a little bit of sex, take that pain killer to relax, or spend extra time sleeping beyond what is needed. He will lure people to make a little more money or tell a small lie to reach a goal. He will even use things like video streaming services and social media to lure people into laziness.

Satan’s best tactic is making a person think something is good and will satisfy his or her desires. In reality, God says:

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

— James 1:16-17, ESV
Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Resist the lies of the enemy. God’s plan and the joy of peace that comes from trusting Him are better than anything Satan can offer. Satan’s lies are insidious traps constructed to sabotage every incredible opportunity God gives you to be an answer to the lost people in this world. 

God is Ready to Unite Your Heart

One day I was listening to the Lord and He told me something: “Would I have crucified my Son if I did not truly want to forgive and restore my children? Was I only half-hearted in my desire and my decision? Yet my children are afraid to come. They think I won’t want to forgive them, that they must wrestle it out of me. I delight to forgive them and renew a right and steadfast spirit within them.”

Perhaps, like my experience with food, you can no longer continue down the path of sin. Your Savior is mighty to save; He came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:18). If it’s tough right now, you are a perfect candidate for the goodness of God in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to break that loyalty to the lust of the flesh in your life. The Holy Spirit is with you, ready to highlight sin to confess. Let Him come and speak,unite your heart and make it one again. He takes no pleasure in making you feel condemned or miserable and unworthy. Rather, God’s Word says He will restore your soul and will lead you in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3). He longs to forgive . . . forgiveness is who He is.

You are here to change the landscape of this world to match the landscape of heaven—and there is no greater joy in life! However, it will take undivided faith from an undivided heart to jump into the unknown. If you are ready to jump, know that in the invisible spiritual realm, the arms of your trustworthy Father are waiting to catch you as you believe with a fidelity. Do not share your heart with His enemy. Keep it for Jesus alone.  Wholeheartedly His!

Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1. Lord, how are You pursuing my whole heart right now?
  2. How is the enemy pursuing even a small bit of my heart?
  3. What words or sword of the Spirit do I need to use to cut off the second head?
  4. When I cut off the second head, what does this do to Your heart as my God and my first love?

Next week we are talking about stability! You can have the best of intentions in remaining steadfast in the Lord, but whether you are able to stand firm or not depends on what you are standing on and its stability. Standing on a surfboard in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with waves swelling up and down will make standing firm more difficult. Conversely, standing on the Great Wall of China in a windstorm will not be a problem. What is the difference? The stability of what you are standing on.  Will it be the pride of life, fear of man and navigating that ocean? Or the stability of Christ and His God-ordained mission and opinion of you? Stay tuned!

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To Destiny. Each week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts and insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.


Cutting off the second head of double-mindedness

During one season, I was experiencing an intense doubt in believing God and that His promises and leadings would come to pass in my life. I was afraid to step into my calling due to the fear of man.  Finally, one day it came to a head. I was in the dumps, miserable, unbelieving, and untrusting—and there is no joy or peace when choosing not to trust God, I’ll tell you that! On this day, the battle was thick.

Double-mindedness will always pull you away from your loyalty to God

I probably should have sought God more personally, but instead, I took the easy way out and called my aunt. She and Jesus are very close; she submits her whole life to Him. Well, God knew I would fail in my faith, and “The Great Set Up” was about to begin. She answered after a few rings, but before I could say a word, my aunt relayed an intense dream she had the night before. In her dream, she had two heads. She had to take a sword and cut off one of the heads. It was gruesome. My aunt is sweet and kind and cutting anything but chicken for dinner is horrific for her!  This was a prophetic picture of double-mindedness and was a modern-day parable, sent by God, to set me free. I was going to need to cut off the second head in the next season of my life if I wanted that freedom! And so will you!

James wrote that those who doubt are like “a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind,” and they are “double-minded” and “unstable.” The word “double-minded” comes from the Greek word dipsuchos (Strong’s G1364, G5590) and means, “to be two-souled or two-headed and two-minded, wavering, uncertain, or having a divided interest/loyalty.” In short, to doubt or be double-minded is to have two minds on a matter, two loyalties and to waver between two opinions.

Double-Minded Definition greek word dipsuchos

I think of Elijah who said to Israel, "How long will you waver between two opinions. If the Lord is God serve Him. If Baal is God serve Him." (1 Kings 18:21) It was an appeal to the undecided; to those who were invested in both gods but loyal to neither.

What are some common examples of double-mindedness?  Perhaps you want to move forward in your dreams but are afraid of numerous unknowns.  You may want to get out of debt and make commitments to do so, but then overspend repeatedly because items you wanted are now on sale.  You daily commit to losing weight but then binge before the day is out. You decide you want to be a better parent but keep picking up your phone and extensively view your social media.  Maybe you are feeling to go into ministry but you are afraid that God won’t provide. Or you have a dream on your heart but you poll others around you because you are full of doubt and crave safety or have a man-pleasing mindset.

Double-mindedness will always pull you away from your loyalty to God and cause you to waver regarding the right actions you want to take in life.  It can cause you to feel confusion, anxiety, discouragement, unbelief, and doubt in God. It is with the heart one believes, for the heart is where God places His gift of faith.  If Satan can divide your heart, he can divide your faith, cause you to waver in unbelief, and keep you out of your destiny.

James vividly describes the double-minded person using imagery of a surging wave, tossed back and forth by the wind. The person whose loyalty is divided both affirms and denies God’s truth. The New Bible Commentary calls this inner cleavage to two loyalties “doubt.” Those who doubt rise to the heavens to receive the promise—but they plunge to the depths, equally sure it will not be fulfilled. James taught that followers of Jesus should not be double-minded, believing God one minute and doubting Him the next and explained how double-mindedness creates instability in a person’s life.  He paints for us a strong word picture of this internal battle of divided loyalty:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

— James 1:5-8, NKJV


James explains to us that the root of double-mindedness is in the purity of the heart and that it is up to us to purify it:

Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

 — James 4:7-8, NKJV


James declared that if you, as a believer, resist Satan, he must leave. The best model for resisting the devil is Jesus. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, He fought the battle with the Word of God. He puts His Father’s will and His people’s needs above His own desires by using the Word of God to cut off the second head, with its loyalties and temptations. The writer of Hebrews affirmed the power of the Word of God to fight the enemy:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

— Hebrews 4:12, NASB


Before you get discouraged about double-mindedness and purifying your heart, consider these delicious rewards the Lord has waiting for you.  

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

— Matt. 5:8, NASB


And again,

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him and said concerning him, See! Here is an Israelite indeed [a true descendant of Jacob], in whom there is no guile nor deceit nor falsehood nor duplicity!  

— John 1:47, AMP

Nathanael was pure in heart, no deceitfulness of sin and no duplicity.  Duplicity means two-faced, two-timing, playing both sides, and double-minded.  His purity of heart earned him a personal, one on one encounter with Jesus Christ.  Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. The Father showed Jesus Nathanael under a tree because before Nathanael had even heard of Jesus, the Father had already set up the reward; seeing God - The Son, Jesus Christ.  That’s quite a reward! God is no respecter of persons. What He does for one child, He will do for another. It is in the bible to show you what's available to you and His willingness to do it.

Here's a little link with Mark Virkler, international leader and influencer on hearing God's voice and receiving with ease. Enjoy!

Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1. Lord, am I trying to medicate doubt with constant encouragement?
  2. Lord, where is my heart obedient and soft to You?
  3. Tell me more about the race You have marked out for me.
  4. Am I willing to cut off any second head/ mistress wooing my away heart from You?  Even if it has had some benefits for a season? Your word says You put in us the will to do and to act according to Your good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).  I give you permission to put into me the will to do and the power to act!
  5. Lord Jesus, will you help me forgo all the benefits a mistress can bring and return to my pure and simple devotion to You, my First Love? Assure me and give me a confirmation of Your pleasure to do this in my life.

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To Destiny. Each week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts and insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.

Curious about next week's topic? Tyrelle will share how Jesus set her free from her an eating disorder and filled her life with freedom and new purpose and how He can do it for you!


Double Minded To Destiny Blog series Day 3

In this world there are countless people and social media messages that constantly encourage: “You can do it; God is with you. Follow your dreams; they are from God!” And they are right! Daily, I would seek this encouragement to medicate and treat the doubt I was facing.   This may be the case with you as well.  But if the challenge is rooted in divided loyalty, it cannot be fixed with constant encouragement. The problem that first brought the division is what must be fixed - the love of the world.  Once the problem is dealt with, it will be possible to stand firm, believe God, and accomplish God-given dreams and assignments.

What is the Love of the World? God defines the love of the world in 1 John, along with a caution for His children:

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.                                                                               

— 1 John 2:15–17, NLT

The love of the world is associated with an antichrist spirit or mindset. The term “anti” in the Greek (Strong’s G473) can mean both “against” and “in place of.” An antichrist spirit is opposite to Christ. It is self-seeking. When Satan wanted to usurp God’s throne, he did so out of selfish motive and ambition.  Jesus defined the greatest love as a person’s willingness to lay down his or her life for a friend. This is not the “gimme-gimme” attitude of Satan. Satan looked at what he could take, while Jesus looked for what He could give and how He could serve. 

The harm is not in the size of the fruit or sin, it’s in the luring away from God

Jesus did not look out for His own interests. He looked out for ours. He gave up His position and the pride of life to become a humble and obedient servant. No wonder God says that friendship with the world—the spirit of antichrist—is enmity with God, and that whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:4). It’s because the heart behind it is so opposite to God’s. What fellowship has light with darkness? None at all. 

Satan tried this on both Eve and Jesus with different results. Remember that if Satan can divide your heart, then he can divide your faith and faith is needed to fulfill your destiny.  He doesn’t need a huge part of your heart, just a little of your loyalty, longing and devotion. There’s lots of fruit on a fruit tree, but he only had to get Eve to take a single bite of one puny little apple.  The harm is not in the size of the fruit or sin, it’s in the luring away from God by temptation. He tempted Eve to pursue her own sense of godhead and to be like God. Satan deceived her and she was led astray from her simple devotion to the Lord to a “gimme-gimme” mindset:

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

— 2 Corinthians 11:3, NIV

Eve was tempted in three ways. This temptation lured her away from loyalty to God to loyalty to herself. This is an antichrist mindset—Eve put things in God’s place within her heart. These methods of temptation are at work today and are the same temptations Jesus had to overcome. The website succinctly explains: 

Eve was tempted by the serpent to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eve perceived that the fruit was “good for food,” “pleasing to the eye,” and “desirable for gaining wisdom” (Gen. 3:6). She coveted the fruit in three ways. First, it was appealing to her appetite. John refers to this as the “lust of the flesh,” the desire for that which satisfies any of the physical needs. The fruit was also pleasing or delightful to the eye, that which we see and desire to own or possess. Here is the “lust of the eyes” John refers to. Finally, Eve somehow perceived that the fruit would make her wise, giving her a wisdom beyond her own. Part of Satan’s lie was that eating the fruit would make her “like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5).

Satan tempted Jesus with the lust of the flesh, bread for His hunger (Matt. 4:2–3), the lust of the eyes, “all the kingdoms of the world with their splendor” (Matt. 4:8–9), and the pride of life, daring Him to cast Himself from the roof of the Temple in order to prove that He was the Messiah by an ostentatious display of power that was not in the will of God or His plan for the redemption of mankind (Matt. 4:5–6). But Jesus, though He was “tempted in every way, just as we are” (Heb. 4:15), resisted the devil and used the Word of God to ensure victory over him.

God is committed to you

Christians have always been, and will always be, lured by the same three temptations Eve and Jesus experienced. Satan doesn’t change his methods; he doesn’t have to because they continue to be successful. He tempts us with the lust of the flesh—sexual gratification, gluttony, excessive alcohol consumption, and drugs, both legal and illegal, as well as the “deeds of the flesh” about which Paul warned the Galatians, “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Gal. 5:19–21).[1]

1 John 2:16Genesis 3Matthew 4
"lust of the flesh""good for food"(v6)"Command these stones to become bread" (v3)
"lust of the eyes""pleasing to the eye"(v6) "showed him all the kingdoms"(v8)
"The pride of life""desirable for wisdom" (v6)"throw yourself down" (v6)

Faith comes by hearing God.  This love of the world opposes the love of God; like a nattering mistress, it can drown out God’s voice, lure you away from fidelity to your God who gives you the faith in the first place, and cause you to become calloused to your first love: Jesus Christ. Just as a mistress hardens a man’s heart toward his wife and prevents him from fulfilling his marital commitment, so sin hardens our heart toward God, making it difficult for us to finish our commitment to Him.  

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

— Hebrews 12:1, NIV

This hardening or resistance can lead to rebellion that will hinder you from being obedient to God. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way:

You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.

And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.  

— Hebrews 3:13, 18–19, NLT

But God is committed to you, and as you commit to Him, cast off the sin that entangles, you will finish the wonderful race marked out for you-your destiny.  Obedience keeps our hearts undivided and soft, beating in time with God’s heart. It enables you to fully access the incredible deposit of faith God has given you to live out your assignments—and to receive the blessings He is waiting to pour out. 

Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1. Lord, am I trying to medicate doubt with constant encouragement?
  2. Lord, where is my heart obedient and soft to You?
  3. Tell me more about the race You have marked out for me.
  4. Am I willing to cut off any second head/ mistress wooing my away heart from You?  Even if it has had some benefits for a season? Your word says You work in us the will to do and to act according to Your good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).  I give you permission to work and put into me the will to do and act!
  5. Lord Jesus, will you help me forgo all the benefits a mistress can bring and return to my pure and simple devotion to You, my First Love? Assure me and give me a confirmation of Your pleasure to do this in my life.

Next week, I will share the prophetic dream God used to launch a new life into single-mindedness. I think my fabulous auntie will be awfully surprised to see herself in next weeks blog.... shhhh! She's also in the BOOK! I'll give you a hint, it involves a sword and a wee bit of BLOOD! OK, a lot of blood! But that's wild, wonderful victory for ya. It's always on the other side of the battle. See ya next week!

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To Destiny. Each week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts and insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.

[1] N.p., 26 May 2017. Web. 30 May 2017.


Have you ever watched a show where someone is in love with two people?  The producers of the show have developed the story line so well that you sit on the edge of your seat.  Tension builds inside you as you wonder who they will choose. From scene to scene, they are tossed back and forth in their emotions and just when they are about to choose, they begin to doubt, end up not deciding, then season two starts and the cycle begins all over again! Very disheartening! This back-n-forth cycle is common among Christians but God is both authoring and it's demise, not just in your life but throughout the nations of the earth. His children are about to go free!

Double-mindedness means: to be devoted to or love two people or two things. It’s like having both a spouse and a lover. When two people love each other so much that they desire to commit to each other in a deep, intimate, and exclusive way, marriage is the next step. When you come to Jesus, you are entering a covenant.  He is faithful to you and like any good husband, He is jealous for you, His bride. 

“physical adultery” is not where the adultery occurred.

Many new couples start strong, but soon life begins to impact their relationship; bills and responsibilities can affect the couple’s interactions. Marital love is meant to deepen beyond the early infatuation stage; commitment starts to take a bigger role than feelings as the couple faces obstacles. But sometimes something else happens. One person in the marriage may start to miss the “zing of the fling” from when they first met and become vulnerable to other affections. Soon another person may catch their interest and through various chats, smiles, and pleasant words. A shared attraction may be birthed. When that mutual attraction becomes more concrete, one person might take the leap and invite the other to deepen the connection through coffees, then lunches, and perhaps dinners—and soon they will cross the line into something physical. Their hearts may begin to develop an affection that creates a greater and greater attachment. However, “physical adultery” is not where the adultery occurred. The adultery occurred when the heart was led astray by its own desires for the “zing of the fling.” James put it this way:

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.

— James 1:14, NLT

Does this person stop loving his or her spouse? Not usually. Often their love is still quite intense. But one spouse’s heart has become divided. This is where conflict, wavering doubts and instability take root within the adulterer.

A Picture of a Divided Heart

I remember when the Holy Spirit gave me a picture to understand the concept better. Imagine a man in the above scenario. He has a wife whom he loves standing on one side of him and his mistress on the other. Each woman is holding tightly to one of his arms. Each love is pulling him back and forth demanding his commitment and fidelity, making him literally unstable and unable to stand firm; he is at the mercy of both loves. He cannot decide which woman he wants more because he has given himself—his heart and loyalty—to each. He is invested in both.

This is a picture of double-mindedness.  The insecurity of not being able to decide between your loyalties may motivate you to poll others around you. But polling others will do nothing to safeguard your mind from the constant reasoning and doubt of deciding.  Your love for both loyalties will speak to your thoughts and pull you back and forth. The two loyalties will continually natter at you to choose. This can cause mental torment and obsessive thinking and exhaust you emotionally and physically. Making decisions based on your love for both will lead to confusion, and you will not feel at rest.

Think of it this way.  The Bible teaches that out of the abundance of a person’s heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). When your heart is divided between two loyalties, it is like having two mouths and thus two heads speaking two arguing viewpoints.  Imagine having two heads, one speaking the mind of Christ and the other nattering the desires of the world and of the enemy. To remain in a place of peace, there cannot be two nattering heads talking at the same time. 

It’s like soldiers fighting a war who are loyal to both sides; victory on the battlefield is impossible

One head speaks truth loyally for God, saying that with God all things are possible. He can be trusted, and He will do what He says. This head whispers for us to simply trust and obey God. The other head springs from a loyalty to the world rooted in selfish desires that has an antichrist spirit in nature; this head does not believe the things of God. It woos us to question God’s Word and draw us away from Jesus and into our own desires. Jesus warned against a split in devotion, saying, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matt. 6:24). Jesus’ nature is giving, but the love of the world is selfish; because of this, they will always be at war within the person who is devoted to both. It’s like soldiers fighting a war who are loyal to both sides; victory on the battlefield is impossible.  If you want to win, you must commit to one and one only. God is ready to help you fully to Him.

Grab a coffee, a pen and some paper and treat yourself to some stillness. Listen quietly and just write.

Here is a link if this is new to you. Hearing God's voice 8 minute video. Mark Virkler has an international ministry that has taught on hearing God's voice for over 30 years. He is a tremendous blessing. Enjoy.

Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1. Lord Jesus, will You help me root out the sources of my double-mindedness?
  2. Lord, what mistresses do I have that pull me away from You?
  3. Where do I feel tossed about and unsettled?
  4. What area of my life do I experience the most doubt?
  5. Is doubt affecting my ability to commit? Am I stuck in a cycle of indecision or doubt?
  6. Ask the Lord to lead you from double-mindedness into your destiny.

Stay Tuned! Next Week we will be covering "The Love of the World and Cutting off the Second Head" It is a foundational teaching to prepare you to cut off the second head that leads you into double-mindedness. We aren't quite ready to pull out the swords just yet. But stick with me here and begin to pray daily that the Lord will prepare your heart and your mind for all of the next steps as you journey From Double-minded to Destiny! You are going to win!

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To Destiny. Each week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts and insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.


Day 1: A Nail in a Sure Place - The Faithfulness and Single-mindedness of God

Do you struggle with doubts, unbelief, and confusion?  Do fear and hesitancy inhibit your steps of faith? Do you feel like you waver back and forth on matters?  Do your thoughts race like a hamster on a wheel but leave you exhausted and no further ahead? Do you feel tossed to and fro or struggle to make decisions and then keep them?  These are symptoms of double-mindedness and you are not alone. Don’t worry! It is treatable and you can become single-minded and full of faith!

Now, here’s the truth-the real deal.  Everyone experiences doubt, but it’s possible to stop wavering and even grow strong and steadfast in your faith! Look at Abraham of whom it is said:

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God

—Rom. 4:20, ESV

He grew!  He grew! He grew!  He grew strong in his faith!  And so can you. Now that’s Good News! God desires His children be single-minded, unwavering, devoted to and loving Him with “all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  God uses Isaiah the prophet to illustrate what stability and single-mindedness look like saying, “I will make him like a nail in a sure place” (Is. 22:23). A nail in a sure place does not waver but remains both fixed and firm.

A Nail in a Sure Place

The phrase “a nail in a sure place” which is woven throughout this series comes from a beautiful passage written by the prophet Isaiah:

And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.”

— Isaiah 22:22–24, KJV

The word “sure” in Isaiah 22:23 is the same word aman, meaning “to believe” is defined as: firm, fixed, committed, established, trust, trustworthy, and fidelity. Some translations use the words “firm" place, but it is still aman. It is God who drives the believer into a “sure” place. But what is that sure place? What is God driving or fastening in the believer into?

In the same way, God drives or fastens followers of Jesus like a nail in a sure place. The nail is strong, but it is what the nail is buried in that is more secure. What the nail is fastened to is what allows it to withstand great pressure and not break loose and drop what it is holding. The peg is useless unless it is fastened to something steadfast and immovable— something trustworthy. The Lord and His character is that sure place. The nail—the believer—does not need to do a thing but rest in the mortar or beam of God’s unfailing character and love.

On Display for the World to See

God used the word aman in Isaiah 22:22–24 as a word picture for His people. In ancient times, stakes were driven into the timbers or fastened and secured into the mortar/concrete of a home. These stakes were permanent, and they could not be moved. They were so steadfast and immovable that they could bear extreme burdens without budging or coming loose. A nail could possibly break off at the point where the wall was, but it could never come out of the wall. Those nails were used to glorify and beautify the house. From them, families would hang decorations, useful vessels, armor, shields, and swords from previous glorious battles.

Picture by @Glenda Frey

When God drives you into His character and you become steadfast, battle glories (the trophies & prizes of winning skirmishes in the battle for your faith and destiny) and other evidence of His goodness and faithfulness will be displayed in your life for all to see. The glory of your Father’s house can “hang” off you as you rest in the powerful beam of His character. That word “glory” is Hebrew for kabowd (Strong’s H3519). Kabowd means, “goodness and excellence of character splendor, weighty and honor.” The more God “hangs” off you, the more people will see His goodness and be drawn to His mercy. He wants to fasten or drive you into the revelation of His character so that no matter how weighty the things are that God hangs from you; you will be able to display them. He longs to drive you into Him so that you are not tossed about by every circumstance, wind, or doctrine that blows.

As you believe His promises, you can step out confidently and obey whatever He prompts you to do. As you do, the weighty glory and splendor of the spoils will be hung on you for the world to see. It may be that book He told you to write that becomes a bestseller. Maybe it’s obeying Him and sharing Jesus with people who need salvation. Perhaps it means starting that business your faith is prompting you to start. As you rest, fastened into His character, the spoils of obedience and the goodness of God’s character will be hung on you.

Trusting God’s incredible character will bring inner stillness and peace. Those internal arguments between faith and unbelief will be silenced as you fully rely on God who is committed to bringing His promises in your life to pass. 

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

— Isaiah 26:3, NKJV

Look at this incredible verse declaring the single-mindedness of God.  When He speaks something to your heart, He means it:

God is not a man that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent.

Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

— Numbers 23:19, NLT

I, the Lord, speak only what is true and declare only what is right.

— Isaiah 45:19, NLT

Think on each of these verses.  Meditate on them. Meditate means to mumble the words over and over as the words and their meaning take depth inside of you.  It’s like swishing them around in your mouth and your mind until the magnitude of the flavors are released into a full and satisfying experience.  Savor the depths of what it means to become a nail in the “sure” of God, who loves you and is driving you into Himself- The Single-minded, All-Loving, Almighty and Unfailing Father who cannot lie.  Those who know God shall prove themselves strong and shall stand firm and do exploits for God (Dan. 11:32, AMPC). And, my friend, you are about to know your God!  Let Him drive you into Himself.

Grab a coffee my friend, and don't forget your favorite pen, and a journal. Ask the Holy Spirit walk through these questions, they are the foundation to our journey From Double-minded To Destiny!

Reflect with the Holy Spirit

  1. No doubt made Abraham waver at the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.  What thoughts do I have about this verse? What feelings do I have? Lord, what do You want to say to me about this verse and how does it apply to me?
  2. God, do You want to drive me into Your good character?  What do You want to say about being at rest in You? What “emblems” of battle glories are You wanting to hang off of me as I walk out of double-mindedness into my destiny?  What “emblems” am I hoping You will hang on me for Your glory?
  3. By trusting in You, what area of my life am I hoping to gain peace in?  What areas are You longing to bring peace to?
  4. What areas of “wavering” can I expect to change as You “drive” me into Your unfailing love and character?
  5. God, is there anything else You want to say to me?

This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To Destiny. Each week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts and insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.


Starting Friday August 16th, we will be releasing a series of blog posts from my upcoming book - From Double-Minded to Destiny. Each post will have something to help you move into the calling God has for you.

To get the most of these posts, I would like to share 2 things: My testimony on moving away from Double-Mindedness to Destiny and a special teaching on hearing God's voice.

Where it all began for me.

I remember the first time I overheard a person say that I was flighty.  I was just a child at the time, but I trusted that person completely so therefore their assessment of me must be true.  I’m sure the comment wasn’t meant to grip my life and was perhaps only said in passing.  But I believed their testimony more than I believed anything else.  The result was that I no longer trusted myself to make decisions or to be competent and powerful.  It was the beginning of the double-mindedness that held my life in its grip for decades.  The doubt in myself caused me to be unable to give myself wholly to a decision or even to God, for what could be trusted?  How could I, this flighty and flawed person, even be devoted and loyal to any decision or God if I was not steadfast and solid?  Every decision was a flip-flopping ordeal as part of my heart was loyal to God and part to my fears, insecurities or worries.

   As God taught me more about His steadfast character, I decided it was time to see what would happen if I repented of all the things that pulled me away from trusting Him.  I began to build my life on the stability of God’s character and ways.  He helped me get over the fear of man.  I had to learn to break free from the ideals that people held and walk in the word of God and the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  Only Jesus’ opinion began to matter. My life began to take on fresh boldness and courage with each step I took in lining up my life with what the Holy Spirit was saying.  He provided all the finances to do His work with a Heavenly abundance.  I felt the smile of my Father get wider and wider with every “yes”.

  With an undivided heart, He established my life and ended my double-mindedness. 

   He began to touch on other areas like faith and forgiveness.  He taught me that I could not receive His faithful and loving forgiveness, then be unfaithful in giving it away to others.  My heart had to be undivided in this area and whole because my faith in Him and His promises worked through love.  My faith and fresh courage would work best when I walked in harmony with Him.

   Bit by bit, peace began to fill my soul and life.  Miraculously, I went from being double-minded to single-minded in about 2 ½ years.  I barely recognize myself or my life.

  With an undivided heart, He established my life and ended my double-mindedness. Flip flopping on decisions became a thing of the past and confidence replaced confusion.

As I committed myself to Jesus, I discovered that He trusted me with assignments for my life

   I was fruitless in my endeavors for decades but at the culmination of this book, and processing these beautiful lessons with the Lord, I have opened my own online anti-trafficking missions school, written a book, preached and seen people saved, healed and delivered. I have hosted my first powerful event which gathered people from over 20 communities as they pursued God for revival.  I have also done almost $100,000 in ministry work as well as the admin to support that work in 9 months.  I have been to Africa with one of God’s most influential evangelists, Daniel Kolenda and encouraged new preachers by sharing my pulpits.  In all these things, I have had to fight cowardice, the fear of man, doubt, the idols of money, status and other things.  I have learned to believe with a fidelity, obedience, and sell myself out for God.  I have learned to go to the maypoles even if it’s all by myself.  I’ve learned to keep my words in check and suit up to fight the battles of doubt and unbelief.  I have learned, above all else, that His love and character is the foundation of my peace and stability and will never be taken from me. 

   As I committed myself to Jesus, I discovered that He trusted me with assignments for my life and for the world and that He was even more committed to me than I was to Him.  God mentored and discipled me out of other loyalties, loves and the fears that were holding me back from Him and from being my best me for the world.  He championed me through by His power and His Holy Spirit to bring me to the place where I can champion others.  I’ve gone from double-minded to single minded and from flighty to fearless and free.

   These have been the best few years of my life and the whole world is at my feet ready for me to take even more radical steps of faith and obedience.  With Jesus in my heart and His character as my firm foundation, I will have the steadfastness of His faithfulness beneath the soles of my feet as solid ground beneath each step.  The world He died to save awaits my next “yes”.  The world Jesus died to save also awaits your next “yes”.  So, enter His rest and the finished works He has ordained for you.

How to hear God's voice - By Dr. Mark Virkler

She had done it again! Instead of coming straight home from school like she was supposed to, she had gone to her friend’s house. Without permission. Without our knowledge. Without doing her chores.

With a ministering household that included remnants of three struggling families plus our own toddler and newborn, my wife simply couldn’t handle all the work on her own. Everyone had to pull their own weight. Everyone had age-appropriate tasks they were expected to complete. At fourteen, Rachel and her younger brother were living with us while her parents tried to overcome lifestyle patterns that had resulted in the children running away to escape the dysfunction. I felt sorry for Rachel, but, honestly my wife was my greatest concern.

Now Rachel had ditched her chores to spend time with her friends. It wasn’t the first time, but if I had anything to say about it, it would be the last. I intended to lay down the law when she got home and make it very clear that if she was going to live under my roof, she would obey my rules.

But…she wasn’t home yet. And I had recently been learning to hear God’s voice more clearly. Maybe I should try to see if I could hear anything from Him about the situation. Maybe He could give me a way to get her to do what she was supposed to (i.e. what I wanted her to do). So I went to my office and reviewed what the Lord had been teaching me from Habakkuk 2:1,2: “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me…Then the Lord answered me and said, ‘Record the vision….’”

Habakkuk said, "I will stand on my guard post..." (Hab. 2:1). The first key to hearing God's voice is to go to a quiet place and still our own thoughts and emotions. Psalm 46:10 encourages us to be still, let go, cease striving, and know that He is God. In Psalm 37:7 we are called to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” There is a deep inner knowing in our spirits that each of us can experience when we quiet our flesh and our minds. Practicing the art of biblical meditation helps silence the outer noise and distractions clamoring for our attention.

I didn’t have a guard post but I did have an office, so I went there to quiet my temper and my mind. Loving God through a quiet worship song is one very effective way to become still. In 2 Kings 3, Elisha needed a word from the Lord so he said, “Bring me a minstrel,” and as the minstrel played, the Lord spoke. I have found that playing a worship song on my autoharp is the quickest way for me to come to stillness. I need to choose my song carefully; boisterous songs of praise do not bring me to stillness, but rather gentle songs that express my love and worship. And it isn’t enough just to sing the song into the cosmos – I come into the Lord’s presence most quickly and easily when I use my godly imagination to see the truth that He is right here with me and I sing my songs to Him, personally.

“I will keep watch to see,” said the prophet. To receive the pure word of God, it is very important that my heart be properly focused as I become still, because my focus is the source of the intuitive flow. If I fix my eyes upon Jesus (Heb. 12:2), the intuitive flow comes from Jesus. But if I fix my gaze upon some desire of my heart, the intuitive flow comes out of that desire. To have a pure flow I must become still and carefully fix my eyes upon Jesus. Quietly worshiping the King and receiving out of the stillness that follows quite easily accomplishes this.

So I used the second key to hearing God’s voice: As you pray, fix the eyes of your heart upon Jesus, seeing in the Spirit the dreams and visions of Almighty God. Habakkuk was actually looking for vision as he prayed. He opened the eyes of his heart, and looked into the spirit world to see what God wanted to show him.

God has always spoken through dreams and visions, and He specifically said that they would come to those upon whom the Holy Spirit is poured out (Acts 2:1-4, 17).

Being a logical, rational person, observable facts that could be verified by my physical senses were the foundations of my life, including my spiritual life. I had never thought of opening the eyes of my heart and looking for vision. However, I have come to believe that this is exactly what God wants me to do. He gave me eyes in my heart to see in the spirit the vision and movement of Almighty God. There is an active spirit world all around us, full of angels, demons, the Holy Spirit, the omnipresent Father, and His omnipresent Son, Jesus. The only reasons for me not to see this reality are unbelief or lack of knowledge.

In his sermon in Acts 2:25, Peter refers to King David’s statement: “I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.” The original psalm makes it clear that this was a decision of David’s, not a constant supernatural visitation: “I have set (literally, I have placed) the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Ps.16:8). Because David knew that the Lord was always with him, he determined in his spirit to see that truth with the eyes of his heart as he went through life, knowing that this would keep his faith strong.

In order to see, we must look. Daniel saw a vision in his mind and said, "I was looking...I kept looking...I kept looking" (Dan. 7:2, 9, 13). As I pray, I look for Jesus, and I watch as He speaks to me, doing and saying the things that are on His heart. Many Christians will find that if they will only look, they will see. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:23). It is as simple as that. You can see Christ present with you because Christ is present with you. In fact, the vision may come so easily that you will be tempted to reject it, thinking that it is just you. But if you persist in recording these visions, your doubt will soon be overcome by faith as you recognize that the content of them could only be birthed in Almighty God.

Jesus demonstrated the ability of living out of constant contact with God, declaring that He did nothing on His own initiative, but only what He saw the Father doing, and heard the Father saying (Jn. 5:19,20,30). What an incredible way to live!

Is it possible for us to live out of divine initiative as Jesus did? Yes! We must simply fix our eyes upon Jesus. The veil has been torn, giving access into the immediate presence of God, and He calls us to draw near (Lk. 23:45; Heb. 10:19-22). “I pray that the eyes of your heart will be enlightened….”

When I had quieted my heart enough that I was able to picture Jesus without the distractions of my own ideas and plans, I was able to “keep watch to see what He will speak to me.” I wrote down my question: “Lord, what should I do about Rachel?”

Immediately the thought came to me, “She is insecure.” Well, that certainly wasn’t my thought! Her behavior looked like rebellion to me, not insecurity.

But like Habakkuk, I was coming to know the sound of God speaking to me (Hab. 2:2). Elijah described it as a still, small voice (I Kings 19:12). I had previously listened for an inner audible voice, and God does speak that way at times. However, I have found that usually, God's voice comes as spontaneous thoughts, visions, feelings, or impressions.

For example, haven't you been driving down the road and had a thought come to you to pray for a certain person? Didn’t you believe it was God telling you to pray? What did God's voice sound like? Was it an audible voice, or was it a spontaneous thought that lit upon your mind?

Experience indicates that we perceive spirit-level communication as spontaneous thoughts, impressions and visions, and Scripture confirms this in many ways. For example, one definition of paga, a Hebrew word for intercession, is "a chance encounter or an accidental intersecting." When God lays people on our hearts, He does it through paga, a chance-encounter thought “accidentally” intersecting our minds.

So the third key to hearing God’s voice is recognizing that God's voice in your heart often sounds like a flow of spontaneous thoughts. Therefore, when I want to hear from God, I tune to chance-encounter or spontaneous thoughts.

Finally, God told Habakkuk to record the vision (Hab. 2:2). This was not an isolated command. The Scriptures record many examples of individual’s prayers and God’s replies, such as the Psalms, many of the prophets, and Revelation. I have found that obeying this final principle amplified my confidence in my ability to hear God’s voice so that I could finally make living out of His initiatives a way of life. The fourth key, two-way journaling or the writing out of your prayers and God’s answers, brings great freedom in hearing God’s voice.

I have found two-way journaling to be a fabulous catalyst for clearly discerning God's inner, spontaneous flow, because as I journal I am able to write in faith for long periods of time, simply believing it is God. I know that what I believe I have received from God must be tested. However, testing involves doubt and doubt blocks divine communication, so I do not want to test while I am trying to receive. (See James 1:5-8.) With journaling, I can receive in faith, knowing that when the flow has ended I can test and examine it carefully.

So I wrote down what I believed He had said: “She is insecure.”

But the Lord wasn’t done. I continued to write the spontaneous thoughts that came to me:  “Love her unconditionally. She is flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone.”

My mind immediately objected: She is not flesh of my flesh. She is not related to me at all – she is a foster child, just living in my home temporarily. It was definitely time to test this “word from the Lord”!

There are three possible sources of thoughts in our minds: ourselves, satan and the Holy Spirit. It was obvious that the words in my journal did not come from my own mind – I certainly didn’t see her as insecure or flesh of my flesh. And I sincerely doubted that satan would encourage me to love anyone unconditionally!

Okay, it was starting to look like I might have actually received counsel from the Lord. It was consistent with the names and character of God as revealed in the Scripture, and totally contrary to the names and character of the enemy. So that meant that I was hearing from the Lord, and He wanted me to see the situation in a different light. Rachel was my daughter – part of my family not by blood but by the hand of God Himself. The chaos of her birth home had created deep insecurity about her worthiness to be loved by anyone, including me and including God. Only the unconditional love of the Lord expressed through an imperfect human would reach her heart.

But there was still one more test I needed to perform before I would have absolute confidence that this was truly God’s word to me: I needed confirmation from someone else whose spiritual discernment I trusted. So I went to my wife and shared what I had received. I knew if I could get her validation, especially since she was the one most wronged in the situation, then I could say, at least to myself, “Thus sayeth the Lord.”

Needless to say, Patti immediately and without question confirmed that the Lord had spoken to me. My entire planned lecture was forgotten. I returned to my office anxious to hear more. As the Lord planted a new, supernatural love for Rachel within me, He showed me what to say and how to say it to not only address the current issue of household responsibility, but the deeper issues of love and acceptance and worthiness.

Rachel and her brother remained as part of our family for another two years, giving us many opportunities to demonstrate and teach about the Father’s love, planting spiritual seeds in thirsty soil. We weren’t perfect and we didn’t solve all of her issues, but because I had learned to listen to the Lord, we were able to avoid creating more brokenness and separation.

The four simple keys that the Lord showed me from Habakkuk have been used by people of all ages, from four to a hundred and four, from every continent, culture and denomination, to break through into intimate two-way conversations with their loving Father and dearest Friend. Omitting any one of the keys will prevent you from receiving all He wants to say to you. The order of the keys is not important, just that you use them all. Embracing all four, by faith, can change your life. Simply quiet yourself down, tune to spontaneity, look for vision, and journal. He is waiting to meet you there.

You will be amazed when you journal! Doubt may hinder you at first, but throw it off, reminding yourself that it is a biblical concept, and that God is present, speaking to His children. Relax. When we cease our labors and enter His rest, God is free to flow (Heb. 4:10). 

Why not try it for yourself, right now? Sit back comfortably, take out your pen and paper, and smile. Turn your attention toward the Lord in praise and worship, seeking His face. Many people have found the music and visionary prayer called “A Stroll Along the Sea of Galilee” helpful in getting them started. You can listen to it and download it free at

After you write your question to Him, become still, fixing your gaze on Jesus. You will suddenly have a very good thought. Don't doubt it; simply write it down. Later, as you read your journaling, you, too, will be blessed to discover that you are indeed dialoguing with God. If you wonder if it is really the Lord speaking to you, share it with your spouse or a friend. Their input will encourage your faith and strengthen your commitment to spend time getting to know the Lover of your soul more intimately than you ever dreamed possible.

Is It Really God?

Five ways to be sure what you're hearing is from Him:

1)     Test the Origin (1 Jn. 4:1)

Thoughts from our own minds are progressive, with one thought leading to the next, however tangentially. Thoughts from the spirit world are spontaneous. The Hebrew word for true prophecy is naba, which literally means to bubble up, whereas false prophecy is ziyd meaning to boil up. True words from the Lord will bubble up from our innermost being; we don’t need to cook them up ourselves.

2)     Compare It to Biblical Principles

God will never say something to you personally which is contrary to His universal revelation as expressed in the Scriptures. If the Bible clearly states that something is a sin, no amount of journaling can make it right. Much of what you journal about will not be specifically addressed in the Bible, however, so an understanding of biblical principles is also needed.

3)     Compare It to the Names and Character of God as Revealed in the Bible

Anything God says to you will be in harmony with His essential nature. Journaling will help you get to know God personally, but knowing what the Bible says about Him will help you discern what words are from Him. Make sure the tenor of your journaling lines up with the character of God as described in the names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

4)     Test the Fruit (Matt. 7:15-20)

What effect does what you are hearing have on your soul and your spirit? Words from the Lord will quicken your faith and increase your love, peace and joy. They will stimulate a sense of humility within you as you become more aware of Who God is and who you are.  On the other hand, any words you receive which cause you to fear or doubt, which bring you into confusion or anxiety, or which stroke your ego (especially if you hear something that is “just for you alone – no one else is worthy”) must be immediately rebuked and rejected as lies of the enemy.

5)     Share It with Your Spiritual Counselors (Prov. 11:14)

We are members of a Body! A cord of three strands is not easily broken and God’s intention has always been for us to grow together. Nothing will increase your faith in your ability to hear from God like having it confirmed by two or three other people! Share it with your spouse, your parents, your friends, your elder, your group leader, even your grown children can be your sounding board. They don’t need to be perfect or super-spiritual; they just need to love you, be committed to being available to you, have a solid biblical orientation, and most importantly, they must also willingly and easily receive counsel. Avoid the authoritarian who insists that because of their standing in the church or with God, they no longer need to listen to others. Find two or three people and let them confirm that you are hearing from God!

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice
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4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice