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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Write Down the Revelation


I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.”
Habakuk 2:1-2

In case you haven't guessed by now, Sunday is devotional day here at Inkwell Inspirations. I'm Dina...but it's not about me...it's all about Jesus.

My heart’s cry is that each of us would fall passionately in love with God, learn to know His voice, and become addicted to His presence. Along with worship, prayer, and reading God’s word, one of the most effective ways to do this is through journaling, a topic very well suited to our Inkwell Inspirations theme. As the scripture above indicates, when God speaks to us, it is important that we put ink to paper and write down these words.

But how can I hear God’s voice? I’m not sure if He’s ever spoken directly to me.
Well, first you must be still and know that He is God as Psalms 46:10 teaches. It is important to pause from the madness of your busy day, to quiet your spinning mind, and to give God your full attention. Take some slow deep breaths, perhaps listen to worship music, read or quote some encouraging scriptures, spend a few moments out in nature. Once you feel calm, focus your thoughts upon God, praise and thank Him, tell Him how much you love Him, meditate upon Him.

I realize the word “meditate” has taken a bad rap in some Christian circles, and not without good reason, but repeatedly throughout scripture we are instructed to meditate upon God and upon His word. Christian meditation should not focus upon self, and it should not be an emptying of self in order to invite some unknown entity into our beings. The point of meditating is to ponder God, to seek His face, to mull over His attributes, His wonder and beauty.

Keep in mind the Hebrew word for “meditate,” which is “hagah,” can also be translated as “imagine.” Somehow that fact escaped me for nearly thirty years. In my husband’s Arabic translation of the Bible the word “imagine” is almost always used in place of “meditate.” Readers and writers have great imaginations, so engage yours in your relationship with God. Picture yourself meeting with Jesus in a favorite place. Walk together hand in hand with your Savior. Cuddle up in the lap of your Heavenly Daddy. Look deep into His loving eyes.

Next, take time to listen. God most often speaks to us in a still small voice that comes to our hearts through a spontaneous flow of thoughts, visions, and impressions. John 7:38 refers to streams of living water flowing out of us. As you meet with God allow Him to speak to you, ask Him questions, wait and listen for His answers. Don’t be afraid. Let it flow. God loves you. He desires an intimate personal relationship with you. He longs to talk with you.

Our natural tendency is to stop the flow of God’s voice by questioning, doubting, and analyzing. That’s where journaling comes into play. By writing down our conversations with God, we can allow those thoughts, visions, and impressions to flow freely onto the paper. Through the journaling process we can choose to believe we are receiving from God with a simple childlike faith.

Then, at a later time we can go back and test what we have written. All words from God should line up with God’s holy word, the Bible. If we have a spiritual advisor or mentor, we can take our journals to them for further counsel and discernment as well. By recording the words God speaks to us, we can share them with others and reflect upon them for years to come. We can go back at a later date and see that God has indeed accomplished His word in our lives.

God has many ways of speaking to us, but journaling is one very effective method to learn to hear God’s still small voice. There is nothing that ministers, brings healing, joy, peace, and true faith like receiving a personal and specific word from our creator Himself. And for those of us who are writers, just imagine the impact this practice could have upon our craft.

Serious Question of the day: how do you hear from God?
Less Serious Question of the day: if Jesus was alive today, where do you think he would go for vacation?

I hope no one will find the less serious question about Jesus offensive. I got the idea from an exercise we did in our church small-group a few years ago. Answering the silly little questions gave me a fresh and more personal insight into the nature of God. And of course, there's no right or wrong answer. I plan to use more of these in the future.

Also on a silly note, I am considering petitioning God on behalf of Gina's cat this week ;) If you don't know why, check out her bio on Monday's post. I met her dog once, but not surprisingly, the cat was nowhere to be found.

My thanks to Mark Virkler who first taught me how to journal.
May God richly bless you this week as you seek His face.

*Leave a comment and your email address today for a chance to win your own potpourri-scented journal. As the other ladies have mentioned, add some spaces or quotes or type out @ to protect your privacy. Winners announced on Saturday.



Dina Sleiman
2009 Touched by Love Overall Winner
Represented by Benrey Literary
http://dinasleiman.com/

30 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Dina.

    I find that the voice of God generally comes to me either through his word, or the still small voice in my heart.

    As for where Jesus would vacation. I don't know a specific location, but for it to be a real vacation he'd have to go where there were no people. We tend to demand a lot of his time and rarely let him rest. Even waking him up to complain about a storm when we're on a cruise. Yep, I think he'd have to book a cottage somewhere remote and difficult to get to.

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  2. Good point Lisa. God's word, His love letter, is probably the main way He speaks to us.

    I didn't want to try to cram too much in one blog, but you can also meditate upon scripture and journal about what God shows you. I like to imagine myself in a Bible story, or imagine what my life will look like in light of certain promises in the word, and I ask God to speak to me in that way also.

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  3. Excellent devotional, Dina! As I sit here at home instead of joining my fellow believers in corporate worship, I'm listening to my faux-pod.

    Forever God is faithful
    Forever God is strong
    Forever God is with us
    Forever

    No matter my frustrations, responsibilities, needs, wants, successes, failures, GOD is with me. I will sing praise.

    And you're so right about journaling. I need to do it more frequently. Okay, just do it.

    Re: The family cat

    Sadly, I regret to inform all that she is happily abiding with us. The kids fed her yesterday. I think.

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  4. Hi Dina,
    I love your post; hearing your voice, your heart. And your photo. How fitting that you are on the beach and that's where Jesus would go on vacation. I'm sure of it.
    Off season. Maybe the Outer Banks. oops that's for another post.

    I thank God that He uses a quiet voice and because that often doesn't work for me He uses a stronger one too. Like his 'OUTSIDE VOICE'.
    I have never gotten into the habit of journaling. I wonder what I've missed -- those words of wisdom, revelation, peace that I heard and never wrote down. I admire that you have.
    I pray that He brings them back to me when I need them. He takes endless steps for us, so I know he does.

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  5. I don't always journal, but it's very helpful when I'm feeling confused or have a big decision to make.

    Later this evening I'll give my answer to where I think Jesus would go on vacation and what I think He'd do.

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  6. Thank God for men who through the ages were faithful to write what God had spoken to them. It is God's eternal covenant that will stand for all eternity. (Dina's mom)

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  7. Hi, Dina:

    That was a truly beautiful and thought provoking post. I journal, almost every day, but I've never let my mind drift about a conversation with God. It's usually about me and my feelings. I think I'll try to see if God will speak to me through my own fingers. He does speak to me, though, at the oddest times. That's why I have the tablet and pen in my purse and on my nightstand.

    I think Jesus probably had enough of the desert and enough of the seas. Do you think he might vacation on the moon or Mars? I know he's sometimes up at the park when Riley and I walk. :-)) Wherever He is, I know He's in my heart, too.

    How will I ever live up to this next Sunday? Beautiful thoughts from a beautiful lady.

    Connie

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  8. Awww shucks, Connie. Thanks. You can always just ask God for your next devotional and write down what He tells you ;)

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  9. Dina, very touching post. Thank you. I love my intimate time with the Lord but wonder now if I shouldn't start journaling the things I believe I've heard from Him. How quickly they fade from my memory when I need them the most.
    And Jesus would definitely vacation onboard a tall ship touring the Caribbean. He is the Captain of our souls and our lives, isn't he? LOL

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  10. It's so true--we must write down what God does in our lives, big and small. Then later test it, and see God's hand in our lives. So often when I'm discouraged, I build my spirits up by remembering what God has done for me in the past.

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  11. Lovely post, Dina! What an excellent reminder. I find that it is so difficult to quiet my mind when I seek to have time with the Lord. That's my main struggle. I don't always journal, but when I do, sometimes I have a spare piece of paper to write random things on like "when is the PTA meeting?" That sort of thought creeps in frequently, and I do better to just stop, note it, set it away and not fret about it anymore. Then I get back to concentrating on Jesus. Malcolm Smith, the Charismatic Episcopal preacher, mentioned in a teachign tape that his journal is full of things like "buy coke" alongside communication with God, so I don't feel too bad about my attempt to handle distractions.

    Hmm, I'd agree with the others that God has spoken to me in His Word, and also through sermons and other words and hymns/praise songs, too.

    I'm looking forward to your vacation answer, Dina.

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  12. I liked your thoughts Susanne. I should probably mention that when I'm meditating on God and talking to Him, if my thoughts wander, I don't made a huge deal over it. I just sort of pull them back to God. Who's to say God isn't reminding you of something like the PTA.

    Personally, I'm health conscious enough to seriously doubt God would remind someone to "buy coke" though. LOL

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  13. Okay, and my thoughts on Jesus' vacation. I'm thinking...barefoot surfing, definitely. Probably with a couple of close buddies who won't be too demanding. I think He likes to spend time with His people. Location? For some reason Austalia keeps coming to mind. Maybe because the waves are so good. Hang ten!

    And of course, I imagine they'll get in a little fishing while they're there.

    I have to admit, though, you all came up with some pretty awesome answers. Keep them coming.

    Oh, and thanks to everyone who visited.

    Dina

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  14. Very good job baby. What you wrote is not only ink on paper (or zeros and ones on the screen) but also a passion that I see in you every day.

    what works for me to journal is to use a digital audio recorder. Here is a big revelation, it is way faster than writing :) My quiet time is when I'm driving and the audio recorder is more practical than writing.

    I'm not sure if Jesus would be interested in using the fishing net that I have, but I'm quite sure that he enjoy cleaning fish and then cooking by the beach.

    I'm very proud of you (I know to be pride is not a Christian thing but you know what I mean) and I'm looking forward to reading your next post.
    I'm also curious to know why it is unfortunate that the cat is still around :)

    Love you very much.
    Dani

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  15. Yes, don't worry, that is my husband.

    Thanks honey. I'm sure Jesus would have loved fishing with you and the boys yesterday, but do you think He might have caught something bigger?

    Dina

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  16. Hello Dina,
    I enjoyed reading your post so much. As I was reading I remembered the scripture that says: "He who is of God hears God's words;” (John 8:47)
    I truely beleive that the Lord never stopped talking to us, to inform us, teach us and guide us,and if we have that special relation ship with Him we will always hear His Vioce.
    If Jesus was here today I imagine Him standing on top of a mountain( May be in Lebanon :) )
    I read the sneak peak to your novel " Dance of the Dandelion" it made me want to read more :)
    God bless you in all you do
    Elian

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  17. Yes, Elian, I did think of a mountain too. God did seem to like hanging out on mountains. Mountain tops and beaches are both good places to imagine meeting with Jesus. And of course tall ships and Mars, although I hadn't thought of those before.

    If you didn't guess, Elian is from Lebanon, and yes, the mountains are breathtaking there. I especially like the ones with waterfalls.

    Glad you liked the novel. You can read it if you're willing to tote it around in a big three ring binder.

    Dina

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  18. Hi Dina,
    I loved your post. Journaling usually helps me focus on Jesus, but as Lisa said it's important to be still and that's hard to do when I get into busy mode.
    Music helps too, along with study and prayer.
    I was just thinking about if I've really heard God speak to my heart and on some spiritual level I know He has, but when I get away from church or the Word it's much harder to listen.

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  19. Dina, this was excellent. We talk a lot about "meditating" on His Word in our church, and I've heard it defined as "to mutter over and over" either under one's breath or in the heart, but meditating as IMAGINING? Oh wow, suddenly my "over-active imagination" label isn't a curse, it's a blessing! Thank you for sharing that!

    Susanne: I loved Malcolm Smith's messages. His series about the love of God was life-changing!

    Serious answer: God seems to like to start conversations with me with a question... like, "why are you doing that?"
    Non-serious answer: Jesus on vacation... I'm thinking extreme sports. I mean, after you've walked on the water in the midst of a storm...

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  20. I'm a day late checking in, but still enjoyed your post, Dina. :-) I journal prayer requests and should try doing more than that. Even so, it's interesting to look back over those requests and praises to see where His hand has moved.

    I see - and feel - God all around me when I slow down enough to pay attention. I've had 2 times when I've been praying over decisions and felt Him answer so emphatically that it was like I heard someone next to me speaking. Those were awe-filled moments! :-)

    My husband would definitely agree that Jesus would find time for some fishing while on vacation. Either deep-sea or surf fishing at the beach or wading into a trout stream in the mountains. I imagine either would be fine by Him as long as He had some quiet time away from everyone else. I think He'll be on the beach with me next week. :-)

    Have a good week, ladies!
    Leigh

    leigh at leighdelozier dot com

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  21. I too believe in journaling. I like to say that when thoughts move from my head to my hand they pass through my heart. The troubling thoughts pierce it and are allowed to escape, washing me in the peace Christ offers; Good thoughts written here are etched on my soul, where they remain to share for all eternity.

    Thanks for sharing Dina, I'll read anything you write!
    In His love,
    Allison

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  22. Hmmm, are there any males in this blogging group besides me? Well, I'll give my perspective. Hearing from God is like a light slap behind the head for me. Bang! Something has popped into my head that is either way out there from what I was thinking, or it is a totally new way of looking at what I had been contemplating.

    Jesus on vacation? Definitely the beach. Long, quiet walks, with beautiful waves that would remind Him of His Father's voice.

    The cat: Find the cat, and give it away to a good home.

    --Pastor Rob, Acts 2 Church
    Vision 360 - Excellence in Life

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  23. Niki, I realizing I could use my "imagination" in my walk with God was a completely life altering revelation for me. In addition to incredibly enriching my walk with God, it also helped me learn to "train" my thoughts instead of always just trying to shut them up.

    Leigh and Allison. Lovely thoughts. Rob, great and amusing to get the guy perspective. Dani left a comment too by the way.

    Sounds like God uses His "outdoor voice" on some you like He does with Deb. He uses it with me sometimes too, but usually when I'm in trouble. Like once I heard, "WOULD YOU STOP THAT!!!"

    Dina

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  24. Wonderful post. I have been finding it difficult during my devotional times that it is very difficult for me to quiet my mind and listen. Perhaps journaling is the answer.

    I think sometimes the Lord has to use his "outside" voice like I have to do with my kids to get my attention. I am so easily distracted which is probably where my kids get it from.

    Regarding a vacation for Jesus, I imagine it would have to be somewhere as isolated as possible. Maybe a private cottage somewhere he could rest and renew himself away from the crowds that enjoy following him.

    cherierj(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  25. I hear God's voice in the early morning quiet when the birds first start their chirping, in the faint rustling of the spruce boughs around my yard, and when the wind is singing through prairie grasses.

    I think Jesus would enjoy a retreat somewhere on the prairies, a perfect vacation where he could experience the wonder of that huge never-ending sky that his Father created.

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  26. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Cherie and Helena.

    My Mom shared something cool with me yesterday about being in an attitude of "praying without ceasing." She said sometimes when she's going through her day and something funny happens, she'll say, "Wasn't that funny, Lord." I love that kind of closeness and communication with God.


    Niki, I also forgot to mention that my twelve year old son will be so happy to learn that Jesus is into extreme sports.

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  27. Good entry Dina,

    I’ve been journaling off and on for a year and a half and I can’t say enough about how powerful a tool it can be. Like Dani, I often use a voice recorder (Blackberry).

    As for the main question, I hear His voice through interactions with others around me. Events that occur, people who cross my path, various situations, sometimes it’s even a cool breeze. Usually it’s subtle and often it’s subjective but it’s always clear.

    What works best for me is having a secret place that only the Lord and I know about. The more consistently I meet Him there the more I sense Him moving throughout the day.

    When my mind isn’t interested in being still and waiting on the Lord, I take note of those thoughts that arise on their own. I don’t suppress them -just record/write them down afterwards in my journal/Blackberry. The first time I did this I was reminded of Matt 5:23. Observing and writing these things down helped to resolve them which led to a more productive prayer time.

    As for imagination –children have us all beat in that department. It’s a shame so many people let their imagination atrophy as they age. Being creative seems to help keep it alive.

    For the vacation question I think Jesus would want to go someplace and hang out with me but I’m biased. =)

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  28. Cool thoughts, Troy. Thanks so much for stopping by and giving us your input.

    I'm sure Jesus would be thrilled to hang out with you anytime ;)

    Dina

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  29. Drew names from a hat tonight, okay, well a cup.

    And the winner of the potpourri-scented journal is...Leigh Dozier.
    Congratulations, Leigh. I'll email you for your street address.

    And to everyone else, please remember that you need to leave your email address if you would like to be entered into our drawings. Each time you leave your email address, you will also be entered into our grand prize drawing at the end of October. And trust me, you want to be entered for the grand prize. I wish I could enter :)

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  30. I didn't realize the word 'meditate' also meant 'imagine.' Such a beautiful concept...a particularly encouraging word for the creative.

    For me, God speaks largely through his peace...and sometimes through dreams. Today though, it was through the confirmation of scripture that someone else pointed out. Long story, but I was blessed.

    When you give Him the time of day to speak, that is when we will hear!

    Vacation spot: Hmmm, that's tough. Probably somewhere that includes a place of solitude and escape--mountains in Alaska perhaps?! :)

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