Tag Archives: listening to God

Spiritual Self-Control

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version, ©2010)*

Self-control. Maybe because the King James Version calls it “temperance,” I’ve always thought of this fruit of the Spirit as “refraining from excess and from bad behaviour.”

Last week my Bible study group talked about the Holy Spirit being the fuel… how much or how little of Him to we make room for? We also talked about quieting ourselves to listen and obey, to do things God’s way.

The next day the post at Other Food: Daily Devos continued the challenge: “My Will or His?

These things made me wonder if this passage about the fruit of the Spirit uses self-control not so much for the outer actions (as important as that is) but to describe bringing our spirits into line with the Holy Spirit, placing them under His direction.

Not in a repressive way, but a submission, a surrender, a placing of self under God’s authority and direction. A making room for His Spirit to shape, develop and refine us.

After pondering and praying about this the following morning, what verse did my eye catch?

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:15, NIV*, quoting Psalm 95:7-8)

Lord, help me hear and recognize Your voice. Help me not follow my default pattern of hardening my heart by choosing my way over Yours. Help me to control and quiet my inner self so that Your Spirit within me has room to rise and to develop His fruit in me. To Your glory, and for my own spiritual wellbeing.

Lead Me to the Cross,” by Chris and Conrad, isn’t the old hymn you may expect. Let it minister to your spirit today… especially listen for the line “rid me of myself”.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Listening to God

I’ve been trying to be more intentional about listening to God, on the premise that He’s communicating a lot more than what I’m hearing: not necessarily detailed instructions or revelations, but gentle course corrections or quietly saying “I love you.”

Over at Something About the Joy, Ginny Jaques has some thought-provoking posts on the subject.

  • It’s Not About Sofas” particularly challenged me, with the idea that maybe what God has to say is something other than what I’m listening for—and what if I miss it?
  • An Amazing Truth” warmed my heart with the efforts God makes to remind us of His love.
  • And “A Whisper in the Wind” finishes the series with some thoughts on “But how does God speak? Is it always specific?”

At Free 2 Soar, Stephanie Nickel talks about the different ways God may speak in “Ears to Hear”.

In the busyness leading up to Christmas, may we hear God whisper, “Be still, and know that I am God.” And may we obey, to the renewal of our spirits and to the blessing of those around us.

Help for a Monday

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Don’t assume that you know it all.

Proverbs 3:5-7a, MSG*

This was my devotional reading on Monday in the NIV**, but when I saw how The Message phrases it, with that “listen in everything/everywhere” that has been encouraging me lately, I knew that was the version to use here.

Monday… definitely one of those days I longed to crawl back into bed. I wasn’t sick, just painfully sluggish in body and mind.

It was also a day full of commitments.

These verses from Proverbs are old friends to me, and still verse 5 brought a new insight this time:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

It brought back recent advice I’d heard to dwell on the positives: to say “I’m great, thanks” instead of “I’m so tired”. The idea was to talk oneself into a better outlook, not do deny serious trouble, to choose good over bad when both are present.

A question popped up in my spirit: Am I going to believe my mental groaning of “I can’t do this”—or am I going to believe God’s promise that His grace is enough to strengthen my weakness?

Denial is another form of lying, and trying to think things better because we want God to agree with us is shaky ground.

But for me, it’s more a case of settling for less, of listening to my own understanding of how I feel instead of trusting God to be enough to make a difference. Sure, I’m tired, but am I really as tired as I say I am? As I’ve come to believe?

Today’s Wednesday… how did Monday play out? I was slower than normal, but everything got done that needed doing. The biscuits I made to go with supper even turned out fine!

Father, You are faithful to Your promises and loving towards all You have made. Thank You for Your grace. Thanks for reminding me to trust Your perspective instead of mine. Thanks for times of weakness that remind us to trust Your strength.

I’m glad feeling weak can remind me of God’s strength. Here’s a vintage Amy Grant song (written by Gary Chapman & Michael W Smith) with a similar perspective: “I Love a Lonely Day”.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

**New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


I get excited every time I go on a spiritual retreat, because God always tells me something. The message is often a surprise, sometimes painful, and always requires work on my part.

But it’s so precious to experience personal communication with Him, to sense He knows and cares about my needs. He understands.

At previous retreats, there’s been one clear moment when my spirit “gets” what God wants to say. This time it came in hints and clues, pieces. A trail to follow. It started with my friend Mary Waind’s post at Beech Croft Tales, before I even zipped my suitcase.

As I mulled over this matter of releasing control, I realized when I refuse to let go I’m surrendering to fear. I’m still not in control, and instead of giving the situation over to the One who wants to give me His best, I’m actually letting the enemy, the one who wants me to be afraid, take over. (read the full post here)

I thought about Mary’s words all the way to the retreat. And should not have been surprised to discover this was one of the recurring themes of the weekend.

Control, and the need to quit grasping for it. The need to trust God, who really is in control and is quite capable, thank you very much. To take down the walls we put up that only block what God wants to release.

After an enlightening weekend, the theme’s next instalment came from Ginny Jaques’ Something About the Joy:

I want the peace that comes from knowing God is sovereign, even though I’m not in control. (read the full post here)

Then what should appear in my in-box but the current issue of Sheila Wray Gregoire’s Reality Check newsletter?

Sheila says most times we’re in full control-freak mode it’s because we’re afraid—and she challenges those in the fallout zone to “bridge the sanity gap” by understanding the root cause and by helping, instead of pulling away.  The article is meant to help husbands understand their wives, but it got me thinking.

I’ve been taking note of these nudges to quit trying to control the universe, and making some subtle progress. But I also need to cut some slack to the controllers around me. Not to start doing everything their way, but to stop, pray and wonder what’s really behind their actions. And to respond in light of that.

How can I respond in a way that doesn’t compromise me but doesn’t threaten the other person? Is it a minor enough issue for me that we can simply do it her way? Can I at least remember that in protecting herself she’s not personally attacking me?

There are plenty of times when we try to control out of fear—fear that we’ll lose something precious, that we’ll look stupid or be hurt.

God understands our weaknesses and our fears, and we can trust that no matter what, He will be there. He will be enough. We can encourage one another to let down those walls.

There are other control battles that come from our own selfishness, or from the belief that if we don’t do it ourselves, it won’t be done right…. He wants to pry our fingers loose from these walls too.

For me, control links with resisting, holding back, protecting self and trying to force others. It’s trying to be author, puppet-master and stage-manager. Quite the opposite of trusting God’s sovereign authority.

What I’m hearing is that the call is to trust. To remember God’s sovereign power, to go out through my self-built walls to where Jesus wants to use me.

The result is release.

Any more words to share on the subject?

Oh, and here’s a song that echoes the whole “letting go of control” idea: Olivia Newton-John‘s “Have You Never Been Mellow“.

Listening to God

As I packed for a spiritual retreat last weekend [two weekends past, now], a thought hit me: you can count on hearing God at a retreat because you’ve reduced the distractions, but it’s also because you’re listening. You’re anticipating. You expect to hear him.

Pop on over to the InScribe Writers Online blog if you want to read more about “Listening to God“.

Friday Findings

I did a guest post this week at Under the Cover of Prayer, called “Believing Prayer“.

And I’ve been musing about being quiet… still… refocusing priorities. About listening to God. Here are some inspiring posts that are shaping my thoughts:

  • From Ginny Jaques’ Something About the Joy blog: “Shift“.
  • From Belinda Burston at Whatever He Says: “Living Room“.
  • And a beautiful song by the group Selah, “Unredeemed“. Many thanks to Susan Stewart, also at Whatever He Says, for introducing me to it in her post, “Trust Him With the Pieces“.

The Voice of Truth

This week was my turn to post over at InScribe Writers Online. You can read “The Voice of Truth” here.