In the middle of the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday, many use this time of the year to practice self-examination. The best examination of yourself comes when you view who you are in light of who God says you are.
On a particular Monday morning during my solitude with God, He downloaded an entire worship experience into my head. He led me to change a lot of our regular service. It was a risk, but it turned out to be one of my favorite worship experiences of my pastoral ministry. We were in a series called “The Voice of God.”
Throughout the series, I taught that God is still speaking. The problem is that we aren’t listening. It’s not that we can’t listen to Him, but we’re listening to everything else. We probably won’t hear God if we don’t turn down the volume of all the other sounds around us.
The enemy, the devil, shouts at us so that we hear his voice loudly and clearly, but he shouts from a distance because he doesn’t want to come near us. The Bible teaches us that the devil is prowling around like a lion seeking whom he may devour. He’s on the move, wanting to shout a quick lie at us and move on to the next person. He doesn’t want to be near us, but he wants to be heard so that he leaves a lasting impression.
On that Monday morning, I felt like God told me to declare over my church 4 simple, but powerful redemptive truths. I didn’t hear God’s audible voice, but I knew those words were from God.
The title of this particular service was “The Whispers of God.” I talked about the reasons God whispers to us, and I declared four whispers over them. These are basic truths, but some of us have been so overwhelmed by all the lies of the enemy. As simple as these redemptive truths are, I was shocked at the feedback from the worship service. It just reminded me as a pastor that we don’t need to overcomplicate things. Just simply remind your people what God is whispering to not only your church, but to you today.
This is the most basic of the redemptive truths, but we always need its transforming power. The enemy comes to us and shouts, “God could never love a person like you!” But that’s not true.
In Jeremiah, God tells us that He loves His people with an everlasting love. In Romans, we learn that God demonstrated His love for us, not when we were perfect and had our lives fully together, but while we were still sinners. His love is an everlasting and unconditional. The love that God has for you is different from any other kind: it’s perfect. Jesus loves you.
This is the redemptive truth I hear most often in my solitude with God: “I love you.” As a pastor, He wants me to remind people that His love reaches them wherever they go, and nothing can separate them from His love.
For many of us, our lives are filled with guilt and shame—baggage from our past. Many of us have learned to live with it. We wish it would go away, but it hasn’t. Some of us are still beating ourselves up over foolish, destructive decisions we’ve made or current bad habits and addictions that are eating us alive. The voices we heard as children (and maybe as adults) told us we’re unloved and unlovable. We feel defective, and we tear ourselves apart. As we condemn ourselves, the devil is right there to kick us even further down.
The truth is that God’s grace is big enough to cover your shame and forgive your guilt. The psalmist reminds us, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Rather than continually being beaten down by our sins, the apostle John tells us that when we confess our sins, He forgives us.
I want you to know that Jesus has already forgiven you. Confession is agreeing with God that we’ve sinned, that He has already forgiven us, and that we trust Him to give us wisdom and strength to make better choices. To read more on the surprising benefits of daily confession, click here.
It’s one thing to be forgiven by God, but many of us still believe our past disqualifies us from being a valuable instrument in the present and the future. What we’ve done is too horrible, too wrong. God may forgive and use someone else, but not us—we’re too far gone. The enemy loves to remind us that we’re not qualified. He’s not wrong—by ourselves, we’re not worthy—but he leaves out the amazing truth that God has qualified us by the blood of Jesus. Our past doesn’t have to define our future in God’s kingdom. And actually, God often uses the pain from our past to give us new purpose—our greatest impact comes out of our deepest pain.
The truth is that Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you to go and bear fruit.”
It’s easy to lose hope. We live in a world where the enemy shouts words like cancer, bankruptcy, divorce, pandemic, terrorism, mass shootings, bulimia, addiction, and abandonment, and we’re left wondering, “God, where are You in all of this?” To be honest, I don’t know how to answer those questions. But I trust that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours, and even if I can’t fully see the picture right now, I believe that any temporary suffering won’t compare to the glory that one day awaits those that believe in Jesus. That’s His promise.
Throughout the Scriptures, we see a God who is near to the brokenhearted, the fallen, and those who have lost hope. He reminds us, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Even when you don’t feel His presence, you can be sure that He’s working in you and for you. He’s preparing a place for you. Perhaps you don’t hear this whisper often enough because you don’t see it happening in your lifetime. The reality is that Jesus could come back at any moment, and when He comes back, it’ll be a great day of celebration for all who believe in Him.
This is our future:
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.”
Challenge: Which of the four whispers did you need to hear today? Think of someone who needs a word of encouragement. Share one of the four whispers with them.
This excerpt was originally found and modified from Being Challenge: A 40-Day Challenge to Be Like Jesus. For more devotions like this, download a sample here or buy the book here.