When God “Gives You A Word”

Lisa Robinson

The other day, I picked up a little book that has the markings of being the next prayer of Jabez. You remember that book, right? Bruce Wilkinson leveraged one verse in an historical narrative to promote and popularize a concept that had little to do with what is prescriptive for our Christian life today. But people ate it up. Over 9 million copies sold, study guides, devotionals and miscellaneous swag was created over this one little verse, completely disconnected from the breadth of what the 66 books communicated.

Jesus Calling, a book of 365 devotions written by Sarah Young seems to be the next craze. According to Young, the book is actually written by Jesus since she claims these are Jesus’ direct words to her that she has recorded and published. People are eating it up; over 9 million copies of the book have been sold.

God Speaking Directly

The gravitation towards these kinds of books and concepts is nothing new. How many Christians have prayed for God to speak to them directly, seeking out that tangible need in the form of soft whispers or signs, words of comfort and affirmation that we long to hear? Somehow the Bible seems deficient and words spoken by others meet the needs of the immediate, especially when there is a claim attached to it that the Lord has spoken. Even better if the Lord speaks to us directly! Who doesn’t want a word right now for what we are going through?

Now my goal here is not to write a review of the book. Others have addressed the concerns. The chief concern I have with this book is that Jesus is presented as speaking directly to people in a way that negates the fact that God spoke sufficiently through Scripture. Scripture is the voice of God, which communicates everything he wanted us to know for the purpose which he spoke to people in the Bible.

I have observed that there is generally an opposition to the statement that God speaks sufficiently through Scripture. I am quite sympathetic to the fact that many are troubled by this concept. It makes it sound as though God is removed from our lives by saying he no longer speaks. And this seems right since we are in relationship with the living God who continues to move by the Holy Spirit, right? I’m also reminded of the fact that we do face uncertainty, difficulty, confusion or fear. We do face times of doubt and discouragement. Being in relationship with an invisible God can cause us to ache for the tangible. We are humans after all.

Sure Words

But if we ignore the nature of Scripture and its sufficient communication, we are disregarding the solid foundation that gives us the assurance of what God said. Of course, we need to define what it means for God to speak, which is his verbal revelation. Whatever propositional knowledge of himself he wanted to convey has been conveyed progressively through the Old Testament as he spoke through word and historical acts in establishing a covenantal relationship with his people. Both word and deed get accomplished through the Son, through whom the words of the Old Testament are validated and the New Testament explains.

According to Heb 1:1-2, God has spoken through the Son. Jesus testifies that all Scripture was about him and the apostolic message validates. The testimony of Scripture is the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 19:10); the prophetic word made sure (2 Peter 1:16-21). The word of the Lord always pointed to Christ. Scripture is sufficient because it has provided us with everything we need for life and godliness in Christ (2 Tim. 3:17; 2 Peter 1:3).

Receiving a New Word?

Many claim to have a word from the Lord. But even then, I am amazed at how much is really just a regurgitation of what Scripture says put in a ‘right now’ kind of application. Of course, the danger is when some anti-Christian, anti-Scriptural thought is infused into these proclamations that are attached to the Lord speaking simply because one has the thought in his or her mind. When those thoughts are popular philosophies that have no grounding in historic Christian witness, this is what makes so-called modern day prophecies so dangerous. I’ve heard it time and time again, and cringed. It’s not right to attribute words to the Lord he has not said.

Yet, this is what so many crave and endlessly pursue. The occurrence of this phenomenon overwhelmingly communicates that what God has already said is deficient and we need more. Moreover, this pursuit ends up in some kind of deciphering to determine if in fact, the words are actually from the Lord.

Why not just rest on what has already been spoken? Because in times of difficulty, uncertainty, doubt or distress we don’t need to engage in mental gymnastics about whether something is from the Lord or not. This can and no doubt, has caused much confusion. We don’t need to think about if that is what God said, we want to know what God said. We need a sure word, a solid anchor and rest in the promises of what has already been spoken. End the pursuit and rest in what has been given. Consider the breadth and depth of the 66 books and what God spoke through it regarding himself and his redemptive purpose. Pursue this word; it is the food we need.


I probably could have been more clear in that one sentence [above referring to Young’s book]. Young does not say directly that Jesus wrote these devotionals. But she does indicate that these are Jesus’ words to her. Since she says that what she wrote came from Jesus, the implication is that these writings were as if Jesus wrote them.

4 thoughts on “When God “Gives You A Word”

  1. Matthew Ridgeway

    Jesus and the Holy Father may well still be alive and may well be communicating to those in need of such communication. Faith in God is an ever present emotion amongst us all and I could never deny one that claims that a Holy Spirit is communicating to them. I may not believe in God myself, I have trust issues with the existence of God and that all that is Holy is healthy for mankind. Divisions of faith have created friction and hate for many centuries and pain and suffering is not my cup of tea and I’d hate to see such suffering. Yet the suffering is thrown at me daily on the news.

    Regardless of faith, I love human beings, and loathe the enemies of humankind, the people hell bent on destroying an individual or group of any particular person.

    So, who ever is calling. If it be for peace, all well and good. But I ask you all, to seek peace locally and globally. If you believe you are a person of peace, I can guarantee there are situations you have been in that you yourself has been the cause of pain for another. Simple things that create stresses in others because of your own self importance. For instance, you may own a dog that barks. A neighbor may be tormented by this barking, but you may continually brush such sufferings aside claiming the dog needs to communicate. Yeah, sure, but the continual barking means you are actually letting the dog suffer too. It could be a simple moment of neglect in regards to a local road rule if you are driving a car. Your need to be in a particular part of the road may not be as essential as the need for another car to be allowed safe passage through an intersection or roundabout or whatever, because they may be carrying a sick or injured person.

    I see every day, people putting themselves before others, making trouble for others and creating disharmony because they want things their way and do not consider the complete picture of the issues concerning another. Just the other day, a person complained to my supervisor because I was not able to provide him a product because I simply can not be in two places at the same time. I have to spread myself over a vast area in my work. This person wanted me where he wanted me, because of his substance abuse at his home could be discovered at the workplace if he was to have an accident and it be investigated. His avoidance became his expectation for others to compensate for his condition.

    I have begged and pleaded for years for God to show me his hand, and for the voices of Jesus and Mother Mary to raise above the babble and noise of the world. I need compassion and peace too, just as everybody else does. If people are getting this response from the Holy Spirits, I say good luck to them and thank you for sharing. It is the same thing I would do if any Holy Spirit decided to discuss matters with me.

    So far, I hear silence. It does not bother me to much, it is something I have grown to expect. But lear from others is the only way I can exist at this time.

    Peace and understanding to us all, and please, be more mindful of your lifestyle and its impact on other people and animals and plants. All life should be respected, so that life can be truly endless. With or without God, life should be endless, as our world is the only world we know of so far where living things exist.

    Thank you.

  2. Lisa Robinson

    Hi James, so sorry for the delay in responding. Phil had asked me to either cite or clarify that statement but I didn’t realize it was for your comment. I probably could have worded that sentence a bit better. Of course, she does not claim that Jesus wrote the devotionals. What she says is that “God began to reveal himself to me”. On page XI she says, “My journal began to change from monologue to dialogue. Soon messages began to flow more freely, and I brought a special notebook to record these words.” Whose words? God’s. “I have continued to receive personal messages from God as I meditate on him”. So while she does not say Jesus wrote these devotionals, she indicates that they are his words that she has received, so its as if he has written it.

    Also, I do see that she says they aren’t the same as Scripture. But she has indicated that she needed more than the Bible to hear God speak. Again,I wasn’t really wanting to address the book in this post, only the concept that is so rampant today in Christian circles that we need to hear God speak to us outside of the Bible as if God’s written word is not enough.

  3. James Ward

    As a person who has found “Jesus Calling” a helpful devotional that is thoroughly biblical, I would like to know your source for saying that Susan Young claims that “the book was actually written by Jesus.” Christianity Today did a detailed article on this author’s “listening prayer” method with pro and con positions, but Ms Young does not grant interviews, so that article can’t quote her as saying that Jesus wrote her books. As a person who has lived with chronic pain for many years, she has done what many classic hymn writers have done– paraphrased scripture in the midst of great struggle. Preachers, Reformed and otherwise, are not averse to saying from the pulpit that God says “I love you and I am working in your life.” The format of Jesus Calling is listening prayer on the left and scripture texts on the right. I’m not sure that the first person method has made a difference for my appreciation of her work, but as a Reformed scholar herself, I think Susan Young has carefully protected the integrity of God’s canonic revelation.

  4. MarkSingleton

    Thank you for this word Miss Robinson.

Leave A Comment