Questions to Ask Ourselves when God is Silent


1) Where is my focus?  How much have I truly wanted God and how much may I actually be desiring the things of the world (safety, health, physical needs…)?

2) When did I last hear Him and what did He say?  Was I obedient with the last message He gave me?  Did I learn and grow from it?  Was it an encouragement that I need to rest in during this rough time?  An exhortation that I still need to obey?

3) What things am I hearing and who is saying them?  Am I believing deceptive spirits and worldly advice?  Is the Lord speaking in small ways that I’ve brushed off as something else?

4) Am I really listening for Him?  Have I limited His response by assuming He will say something particular?  Am I open to Him speaking whatever He wants through any means?

5) Have I been willing and able to rest in His presence in silence?  Does my faith depend on His affirmation, or can I abide in Him knowing His silence is not an absence?

6) Do I know His voice well or is a personal encounter and relationship with God something I need to put extra focus on?  May it be that His silence is a hint for me to look for Him more thoroughly–an invitation that He’s hiding so that I can find Him?

7) How can I simplify my life to make room for the Lord’s voice?  How can I position myself to receive more of the Holy Spirit?

Have I forgotten anything?  Can you think of other helpful things to reflect on and consider when God seems distant, silent, or absent?


Is God Good? (Part Three: Why Did God Make Pharaoh’s Heart Hard?)


Be sure to also read Part One and Part Two of this series.

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to demonstrate His Glory among Egypt and Israel and the earth so that the people would know He is God.  But Pharaoh wasn’t chosen as a tragic casualty so that his people would see God’s power; there is more to the story.

The Biblical account in Exodus 3-15 shows us that Pharaoh wasn’t pursuing to know the Hebrew God, and in fact was consumed with his own gods and his own ways.  In other words, he was already hardening his own heart to God, God just allowed for this to happen more quickly.  We also see that God has full knowledge of Pharaoh’s thoughts and intentions, and is making a good and righteous judgment by hardening Pharaoh’s heart.

This is a pretty long account, so I’m going to highlight just a few areas; I’d encourage those who are interested in this story to read and dialog with God about it more thoroughly.

  1. Ex 3: 19: God is giving Moses instructions on how to present his case to Pharaoh and says He knows that king of Egypt will not permit the Hebrews to leave except under compulsion (or ‘unless a mighty hand compels him’).
  2. Ex 7:3: God will harden Pharaoh’s heart that He may put on a bigger show–that He may multiply the signs and wonders in the land.
  3. Ex 7:22: Pharaoh’s heart is hardened because he sees that his own magicians can do the same ‘magic’ as the Lord–he doesn’t care to know God, but to have power, and he isn’t impressed by God’s power so long as his magicians can imitate it.  If he were to seek the Lord, it would be for the wrong intentions: to have more power and control.
  4. Ex 8:15: here Pharaoh hardens his own heart and it is clear his desire was for relief from the plague rather than an awe at the power of God.
  5. Ex 8:18-19: even when his magicians cannot imitate God’s power and admit to Pharaoh that “This is the finger of God” he does not listen.  He really doesn’t want to know God.
  6. Ex 9:16: God could have just killed Egypt to free the Jews.  He went about freeing them in this creative way so that His power and name would be proclaimed in ALL the earth.  He may have picked the Jews, but He’s always wanted everyone to know of Him and be His people.
  7. Ex 9:34: at some moments Pharaoh hardens his own heart…
  8. Ex 11:9-10: other times, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, giving Him the chance to do even more miracles.

God is very much about free will (letting us make our own choices).  As a result, He will help us get wherever we want to go faster.  If we earnestly desire Him, we will find Him.  If we want to engage our own desires and run our own lives, He will let us do that too–in some cases speeding up the process of hardening our hearts so that the ‘smashing of the clay’ can be done sooner than later, or so that we can be a demonstration of His might.

So, when God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it wasn’t a violation of Pharaoh’s will, but a hastening of the choice Pharaoh had already made.  It also provided for Pharaoh to have a final season of mercy as God did extravagant signs and wonders right before his eyes–signs and wonders that also gave the Israelites confidence and awe in their God, and allowed for the name of the Lord to be known throughout the nations (Ex 15:1-3, Ex 15:14-16).


Is God Good? (Part Two: The Flood)


Be sure to also read: Is God Good? (Part One).

In the Old Testament there were times when God killed nations of people at once–even all but eight people in the day of Noah and the flood–but He was still good.

The Lord gave me a metaphor to describe the steadfastness of His love and goodness within the destruction of the flood.  He asked me:

If you had a farm and all the animals caught a really painful, harmful disease that was definitely incurable what would you do?  Surely, you wouldn’t want them to have to go on living like that and to have babies who would also live tragically painful lives.  So, wouldn’t it be more merciful for you to kill (as quickly and painlessly as possible) the infected animals before they got worse, multiplied, and infected others on the farm?

God’s goodness means He is concerned not just with the here-and-now of our lives, but with the eternal–with the whole big picture.

Something had happened in the days of Noah which caused God to take action by destroying life on the earth: there was ungodly sexuality, violence, and evil reigned continually in the hearts and thoughts of men (Gen 6).  In fact, it’s so bad that God not only kills the large majority of the earth, but lowers the lifespan to 120 years so that future generations would have less time to cultivate evil (Gen 6:3).

The people were so corrupt that God in His infinite knowledge knew there was no hope for them turning to Him without His violating free will, which He chooses not to do; their hatred was too deep.  They were infected with the disease of wickedness, because they choose to cultivate the wickedness of their hearts.  In order that they would not multiply and produce more kids (who would be raised in wickedness and endure eternal punishment), and so they would not create for themselves even more sin (which would ensue even more judgment), God, being full of mercy and justice, chose to kill them.

This wasn’t God’s ‘plan’–He never delights in killing anyone.  Scripture says that He was “sorry” and “grieved in His heart” by man’s actions (Gen 6:6-7).  These aren’t the emotions of an uncaring God, but of one who is so intimately involved with His creations that their apostasy deeply saddens Him.

It made God sad that the people would choose wickedness over Him, but He could not let them dictate and infect the decisions of future generation, nor could He let them continue to destroy themselves in their wickedness.  So it was in His goodness and perfect love that God destroyed and cleansed the earth with water, saving only Noah, his family, and the animals that were left with them in the ark.


Is God Good? (Part One)


I’ve met so many people–both Christians and not–who struggle to believe in, connect with, or admire God because it’s hard for them to see Him as ‘good’; so this is post one in a series on God’s goodness.

I want to begin by showing that the Bible testifies that He is good.  In later posts I will focus specifically on how we can see God’s goodness within the Bible stories that seem mostly negative (and perhaps this can move into discussion of how God is working in our day-to-day lives).  If a specific Bible account has particularly bothered you or a friend in terms of God’s goodness, please comment about it below and perhaps I will address it specifically.

Here is one of my favorite psalms in which David testifies of the Lord’s goodness:

Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts / And I will tell of Your greatness. / They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness / And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful; / Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. / The Lord is good to all, / And His mercies are over all His works. / All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord, / And Your godly ones shall bless You. / They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom / And talk of Your power; / To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts / And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom. / Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, / And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord sustains all who fall / And raises up all who are bowed down. / The eyes of all look to You, / And You give them their food in due time. / You open Your hand / And satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all His ways / And kind in all His deeds. / The Lord is near to all who call upon Him. / To all who call upon Him in truth. / He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; / He will also hear their cry and will save them. / The Lord keeps all who love Him. / But all the wicked He will destroy. / My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, / And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.  (Psalm 145:6-21)

I love David’s account here of God’s character.  If God is who David says He is, than He’s not just good but abundantly good in a way we can physically remember!  He’s not just righteous, but righteous in a way that will cause us to shout for joy if we truly experience it!  He is enough to satisfy every living thing, near to all who call on Him in truth, and protecting all who love Him.  Perhaps what catches me the most is that He is “good to all”, which means that even as He is destroying the wicked He is good!  This can be a bit mind-boggling, so is worth breaking down.  We will spend many more posts on this (though perhaps not consecutively–especially as I am currently out-of-state visiting family). 🙂


Jesus IS the Word; the Bible is His transcript.


The Bible is the key to the heart of God.  There’s power in it, because it’s the testimony of the true God, and He Himself speaks in and through it (literally).  It’s a powerful thing to capture the words of the Lord–and this is just what the Bible has done.  It’s the transcript of dialogs with God throughout history.

A friend asked me once whether we can trust the Bible since the translations vary slightly from language to language and version to version.  She, being linguistic minded, felt it wrong to credit God for potential human errors–and how can we say that each are the inspired Word of God when they aren’t exactly the same?

All good questions.  But here’s the thing: it is the HOLY SPIRIT who reveals the Word to us (John 14 & 16).

Well, wait!  What about the Bible?  Yes, it starts with the Bible.  Our lives should revolve around the Bible because it IS the inspired Word of God–it’s His transcript to us.  But Jesus is the Word that became flesh (John 1).  The Holy Spirit is the spirit of God Himself, and it’s the Holy Spirit speaking through the Bible that makes the Word come alive for us (1 Cor 2)!  In essense, it’s the Bible plus the Holy Spirit–the Bible is the living Word only when read with the Holy Spirit’s divine guidance.  So, it’s all about the Bible (which is Jesus, the Word, as a lingual transcription for us); and it’s all about Jesus, who is the Word Himself and still speaks through His Spirit!


No gray areas…


So, I had posted briefly that there are no gray areas in the spiritual realm: everything is either of God or it isn’t.

This is so simple it becomes complex.  (And, yes, I’m still speaking rationally, just outside the visible box.  We must pragmatically articulate the invisible realm because it exists—one day it will even be visible!)

We know that something is of God if it lines up to the attributes of His nature, and if it doesn’t line up to that standard (even if it’s just minutely off) than it is not of God (or ‘evil’).  This is in the spiritual realm.

As humans we intersect the spiritual realm, whether or not we’re cognizant of it.  We think we come up with our own ideas (and to a certain extent we do), but more often our thoughts are coming from the unseen spiritual realm.  When we repeat or believe something we hear from God (through the Holy Spirit) it’s called prophecy or truth.  When we repeat or believe what we’re hearing in the demonic realm, it’s evil.  Engaging evil thoughts (or acting on them) is sin.  It’s not the hearing of the demonic realm that is sin, but the entering in by believing and thinking on those things.

It’s very important that we recognize good and evil (God and not-God) as occurring on the spiritual level first, because the fruit (the outward ‘doing’ of the good or evil) is totally dependent on the seed itself.  (A good seed blossoms into good fruit and vice versa.)

So, if my actions are an overflowing of the Lord’s love within me, I am doing ‘good’.  If the motivation of my actions is not aligned with the full nature of God, I am doing ‘evil’ and entering into sin.  And it really is that simple.

This is why 1 Cor 13 says that without a foundation of love (God), nothing we do matters—even if we’re feeding the poor, or acting in spiritual gifts, or engaging in other seemingly good activities.  God is love, and everything must be filtered through Him.

In another post I’ll discuss the large variety of choices and experiences we can have within the ‘God’ and ‘not-God’ realms.  There are no gray areas in the spiritual realm, but since we have God-given freedom and creativity, there are multiple manifestations of how we use the gifts and wisdom He gives us—I wouldn’t say this is a ‘gray area’ so much as a colorful spectrum of opportunities.


Does God love everyone?


God not only loves everyone, but He loves all of us with the same fervor with which He loves Jesus!!!  Jesus Himself tells us that “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in my love” (John 15:9)!

Isn’t this excellent!?!  There is nothing we can do to fall out of the love of God.  He can’t love us more and He can’t love us less.  His love is already at full saturation for us whether or not we know Him or have pursued a relationship with Him!

We may not always feel like He likes us (let alone loves us), but this is a lack of perspective on our part.  God sees us within an eternal perspective: He knows where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.  So, we can’t let our circumstances convince us that God doesn’t care.  God does allow us (and in some cases, causes us) to go through difficult circumstances in order to expose our weaknesses that we might cry out to Him.  He wants a relationship with us.  He wants to be a Father to us.  And because He knows the eternal consequences for our choices, He will do whatever it takes to shake us now so that when eternity comes we might receive His full blessing.


What’s the point of Jesus?


God created.  His creations chose to sin (disobey God).  The world was no longer good.  But God STILL wanted a relationship with us, so He chose the smallest and weakest of the people groups (the Jews) and gave them extraordinary favor that they may demonstrate His glory to the nations.  God always wanted the nations, but He chose the Jews to be the evangelical messengers.

To the Jews, God made four covenants (with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David).  In the covenant with Moses, God gave 613 commands for His people to follow, and the idea was that by acting out righteousness, their hearts would begin to manifest a burning desire for God.  Unfortunately (and quite fortunately for us gentiles!), there were very few Jewish people who really developed that love.  And sacrifice without love is meaningless.  That’s where Jesus comes in.

Jesus is God.  He’s the physical representation of the invisible God (Col 1:15).  He’s the outward manifestation–the exact representation–of God (Heb 1:3).  And He’s God’s Son (Matt 3:17, Matt 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35).

When God saw that the Jewish people struggled to keep His commandments and develop true love for Him, He spoke to His prophets about a new covenant that He would bring.  The new covenant would allow the people to really connect with Him because His commandments would be written on their hearts (internally) instead of on stone (externally).  And though Christians are still to follow the commands of the Lord, Jesus promises that we would find rest for our souls, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt 11:29-30).

Jesus came to earth for several reasons (He tells us many in the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).  But these I want to highlight:

Without Jesus, it would be impossible for us to overcome; but when He died, was buried, and was resurrected for our sins, He also sent power through the Holy Spirit that we may intimately connect with Him and the Father (John 16:7).  It is such a powerful promise that we would be able to intimately communicate with the God of the universe!


What is heaven like?


The church has done a pretty good job of making heaven sound un-ideal and hell sound horrific–or at least, this was my impression as a young kid.  I’d envision heaven as clouds and harps and angels, and I’d imagine myself getting so tired having to live forever, that I’d wish it were possible to just die.  Only I didn’t want to die, because, what if I went to hell!

As a slightly older kid, someone told me that heaven was different for everyone: we’d all get our unique paradise filled with all the things and people we loved most.

I don’t remember that Jesus was visibly connected with heaven in my mind, though certainly the idea was that when someone who says they’re a Christian (or was nice) dies, they would “go to heaven to be with Jesus.”

The Bible actually says quite a bit about what’s to come in eternity, and it doesn’t line up (at all!) with what Sunday school taught me–hopefully there are Christians who have had a more positive experience.

As it turns out, the next age is actually very exciting and worth looking forward to for those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and are actively cultivating that relationship!

If you have never studied this (by study I mean: prayerful dialog with the Holy Spirit as you read the Bible), it may be an area you want to search the scriptures for.  I especially suggest reading through the gospels for what Jesus says, and through the Book of Revelation, which is God’s end time battle plan. 🙂

Here’s the gist of it (to be expanded on later, part by part):

Hell is real, but was created for Satan and the other fallen angels and demons.  God does not want any of us to go there–in fact, He wants to make us heirs to His kingdom!–but, He’s also just, and so those who don’t want Him as their Lord, will not be able to inherit His promises.  Also, Satan doesn’t rule in hell, he’s tormented there; hell won’t be a party for ‘bad’ people.

Heaven will not be about us, but will be centered around God, who is loving and worthy of all praise.  The more we read the Bible and begin to understand who God is, the more attractive it is that we would have the privilege of eternally worshiping the Lord.

But there’s more: Jesus is coming back to earth to fulfill the prophecies as the Jewish Messiah.  There is ‘heaven’ now with God the Father, but the ultimate goal is that Jesus would reign on the earth and bring heaven with Him (a perfect unity of the spiritual and physical).  The heavens and earth will be made new, and there will be plenty of excitement for us, as the saints from history gather to rule with Jesus!



How do we know the Bible is true?


I’ve been asked how I know the Bible is true, and before I returned to the Lord, I went through a whole lot of investigating (especially to pull together science and the Bible) before deciding I could believe it 100%.  I would encourage anyone with this question to also do research and especially recommend Answers in Genesis as a great resource regarding the Creation/Evolution debate.  But here’s what it really comes down to:

Jesus promised that His sheep will hear His voice (John 10) and would be able to discern true teaching from false teaching (John 7:14-18).  I do hear His voice, and I have discerned that the protestant Bible is inspired by God (though I like some translations better than others, and a couple, I absolutely couldn’t recommend).

I have not, as a Spirit-filled Christian, read any of the Apocrypha (catholic and orthodox Bibles have additional books), so whether they are also inspired by God is outside of my jurisdiction.