Sunday, August 26, 2012

Spiritual Pruning

Vines must be pruned.  T life of the vine is strengthened in one part by another part's being cut away.  It is necessary business, for only the well pruned vine bears the best fruit.  Pruning increases yield.

So also in the spiritual life.  We may pray a prayer such as Lancelot Andrewes prayed int he seventeenth century.  "O direct my life towards Thy commandments, hallow my soul, purity my body, correct my thoughts, cleanse my desires, soul and body, mind and spirit, heart and reins.  Renew me thoroughly, O Lord, for if Thou wilt Thou canst" (Lancelot Andrewes and His Private Devotions).

A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot
I highly recommend this book!  Get it today and finish this wonderful study!

Developing a Passion for God's Word - Part 1

But those who wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
--Isaiah 40:31

As a busy woman, your natural tendency at the sound of the alarm each morning is probably to hit the floor running (like me!).  The blare coming from your clock reminds you (once again!) that you are faced with a life full of responsibilities.

And if we look a little deeper into our hearts, we also find thoughts like these -- "I'll never get it all done...especially  if I take time out of my hectic schedule to read my Bible and pray!"

But, dear one, the exact opposite is true for you and me as God's busy women, for it was our Lord Himself who said, "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

Like an Eagle
By contrast, the Bible teaches us that with Him we can "mount up with wings like eagles" (Isaiah 40:31).  Can you imagine...soaring through you pressured days like an eagle?!  Watching eagles first-hand can give you an understanding of Isaiah's imagery of strength  and endurance.

For instance, an eagle...
...has a wingspan of up to seven feet (how majestic!)
...flies higher than almost any other bird, up to 10, 000 feet (how awesome!)
...glides easily at up to 2400 feet altitude (oh, for the ability to rise above life's demands and difficulties!)
...moves up to 150 miles an hour (and oh, for the ability to speed through our daily work!) and
...can carry objects equal to its body weight (no task is too daunting!).

With such grandeur available to our imagination it's clear that even with our multitude of responsibilites, we must be women who wait on the Lord.  In spite of the busy-ness of life, you and I must learn to look to Him each new morning.  We must realize that life management is really spiritual life management.  So we must pay attention to a handful of daily disciplines that are sure to ignite in us a passion for the Lord and equip us for living out His plan each day...and for life!

Three Small Steps
Here's a little three-step method that helps us tend to first things matter how busy we are.

1.  Time is first on the list.  Our time is always well spent when we spend it looking to the Lord through His Word.  You and I must acknowledge this truth and accept it for life.  We must embrace the challenge to cultivate the discipline of daily time in the Bible into our daily routine.  What time?

2.  First time.  Aim at giving the first minutes of each day to the reading of God's Word.  Proverbs 3:9 instructs you and me to "Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase."  Then comes the promise-- "so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine" (verse 10).  This proverb is speaking of the blessings that follow the offering of a tithe to God of the first crops from the harvest.

But the same results occur in the spiritual realm.  We are blessed in our spirit and in our practical life when we make it a point to give God the first portion of time from the harvest of each fresh new day, of each new measure of 1440 minutes.

3.  Early time.  David wrote these expressive words from the core of his heart -- "O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You" (Psalm 63:1).  Many of the great heroes of the faith sincerely sought communion with God early and earnestly in their day.  For instance,

--Abraham rose up early in the morning and went to the place where he met with the Lord (Genesis 19:27).

--David wrote of morning worship with these utterances:  "My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up" (Psalm 5:3).  I particularly love the translation that reads, "at dawn I hold myself in readiness for you, I watch for you."

--And our Lord Jesus rose up early, while it was still night, literally a long while before daylight, to converse in solitude with His heavenly Father (Mark 1:35).

Three small steps.  And three simple steps any woman can take!  A time, the first time, and an early time.  As I'm thinking back to the eagles, I realize that it comes for a purpose -- to get food for the day.  And it comes as the first act of its day, taking care of first things first, the priority of ensuring sustenance, nutrition, and energy.  And it comes early --at the first hint of daybreak, as soon as it can see.

You and I need the spiritual food only the Word of God can provide...and that takes time.  And we need to gather that food first thing each day, before life presents its daily demands on our hours and our energy.  And we need to do it early, before the rush and clamor of the day begin. 

Life Management for Busy Women by Elizabeth George

Sunday, August 19, 2012

God's Guidance

To ask for guidance of God is to make a choice, and this takes faith.  It must be faith of a far higher kind than the breezy "if I like what I see I'll take it."  It is the faith that has strength to wait for the rewards God holds, strength to believe they are worth waiting for, with the price asked.  Our prayers for guidance (or for anything else) really begin here:  I trust him.  This requires abandonment.  We are no longer saying.  "If I trust him, he'll give me such and such, " but, "I trust him.  Let him give me or withhold from me what he chooses."

Nothing I have to say here is new.  It is a well-worn path that thousands have traveled; but I have written down in very simple terms what I have seen on the way, hoping that one more witness will be an encouragement to some who even in the 1990s believe there is a God who can lighten our darkness.

God's Guidance by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, August 12, 2012

God's Love For You

Mary stood outside the tomb crying .... She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus...

Jesus said to her, "Mary."

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).

Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father.  Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"  --John 20:11, 14, 16-17

What a wonderful and amazing God we have!  With just one word, Jesus changed everything for Mary.  He quietly and gently said her name.  Once devastated by disappointment, anger, and grief, Mary was now restored to ecstatic joy -- her friend, her teacher, her Lord was alive!  Her world was changed and her life had a new outlook all because of one word, and in that one word Mary knew Jesus cared deeply about her and loved her.

God knows each of you and cares for you just as He cared about Mary.  He knows your name; you belong to Him (Isaiah 43:1).  No matter who you are or what kind of baggage you carry with you, no matter what you look like or feel like, no matter what you do or don't do, God loves you just as you are right now.  You don't have to get your act together, lose ten pounds, run a marathon, write a best selling book, or raise perfect children.  You are an extraordinary woman in His sight right now.

Not only does He love you, He cherished you.  He wants to have a close, loving relationship with you like no one on earth can.  All you have to do is make yourself open and available to spend time with Him and feel His loving arms encircle you.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Somewhere I came across the following:

"Let not this weak, unknowing hand
Presume Thy bolts to throw
And deal damnation round the land
On each I judge Thy foe."
- Alexander Pope

God help us to be more welcoming, less judgmental; more encouraging, less critical.

The widow of George Dempster of London (Finding Men for Christ, Touched By a Loving Hand, The Love That Will Not Let Me Go) wrote me after his death that she was praying God would give her "the ministry of encouragement."

God has blessed certain of His servants with just such a ministry.

John Minder of Florida not only encouraged my husband when a student; he was an encourager to all young preachers who came across his path.

In England, Lindsey Glegg had such a ministry.

And Henrietta Mears of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood had such a ministry.

"More people fail through discouragement,"  someone has observed, "than for any other reason."

*****************  ****************

Most families, it seems to me, have an encourager.  Not necessarily the oldest, youngest, or middle ones.  They seem to have an innate sense of balance, and a good sense of humor.  These two qualities almost invariably go hand in hand.

They are the encouragers.  They keep in touch by note or phone call.  They smooth things over when the going gets a little rough.  They aren't much on sharing their own problems or hurts because they are too busy shouldering those of others.

One family I know invariably turns to the youngest son -- who is steady, unassuming, loyal, with remarkable wit and uncanny discernment.  He is the family rallying point.

Andrew in the New Testament was a bit like this.  He first brought his own brother, Peter to Jesus (John 1:41).  Then when there was no food for the five thousand, Andrew brought the lad with five loaves and two small fishes (John 6:8-9).  When certain Greeks sought to see Jesus, it was Philip and Andrew who told Him.  Andrew was the quiet disciple with the sensitive heart, quick to look for ways to help.

Legacy of a Pack Rat - Ruth Bell Graham

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Francesca Alexander - Poem

So her life was full of sunshine,
for in toiling for the Lord
She had found the hidden sweetness
that in common things was stored.
Francesca Alexander

Sunday, July 22, 2012

God's Ways

"So do not worry and say, 'What will we eat?' Or 'What will we drink?' Or 'What will we wear?' ... Your Father in heaven knows you need all these things.  But seek His kingdom and His righteous ways first, and all these things will be given also to you" (Matthew 6:31-33).

"From a weary laborer, worn with slavish and ineffectual toil, I had become as a little child receiving from God the free gift of eternal life and of daily sustenance -- and prayer, from a weary spiritual exercise, had become the simple asking from the Heavenly Father of daily bread, and thanking Him."  Elizabeth Rundle Charles

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ordinary Work

"Ordinary work, which is what most of us do most of the time, is ordained by God every bit as much as is the extraordinary.  All work done for God is spiritual work and therefore not merely a duty but a holy privilege." 

Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ordinary Things

"The person who is faithful in little things is also faithful in big things"  (Luke 16:10).

"It's the bits and pieces put together year after year that count.  Sometimes we don't see meaning in the little things and we are not conscious of how it all works together to create a powerful image.  The little things we do at home ... putting wildflowers in a vase ... an old photograph tucked into a frame, a lullaby each evening by the bedside ... are the putty that holds the mosaic together."   Ingrid Trobisch

"There is no act too trifling to be made by God the first link in a chain of blessing."  Sarah W. Stephen

"Lord, give us a sense of satisfaction at the end of this day's work.  Let us be able to look back on it, whatever its successes or failures ... with the knowledge that it was worth doing and that we did our best."  Marjorie Holmes 

"Perfection in outward conduct consists not in extraordinary things; but in doing common things extraordinarily well.  Neglect nothing ..." Mere Angelique Arnauld

"It is easy to make great sacrifices when God does not ask them, but to give up our own will in each detail of life is something far harder.  And this is what he does ask.  To hold ourselves ever in readiness for His bidding -- to count no token of it too slight -- such is His call to each."    Hetty Bowman

"I felt very inadequate to do anything for the Lord, but one day I heard someone say that God does not expect us to be spectacular, He only asks us to be faithful.  He needs us in all the little shattered corners where there are people hurting, needing encouragement.   This is the beautiful part about ministering for Christ -- we do not have to depend on our ability, strength or wisdom ...He will be there to enable us."
Sara Abram

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How can you say NO?

The Creator of the universe
wants to meet with you alone daily.
How can you say no
to such an opportunity?
Emilie Barnes

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Contemplative Hour at Home

"How can a single weekly hour of church, helpful as it may be, counteract the many daily hours of distraction that surround us?  If we had our contemplative hour at home we might be readier to give ourselves at church and find ourselves more completely renewed ... Quiet time alone ... prayer ... a centering time of thought or reading ..."

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Really Listen

"I still believe that the planning, preparing, fixing, and organizing is important ... After all, I am trying to be faithful to do well the tasks He has set before me.  I need to remember, though, that by far the most important thing I can do is to take the time to sit at Jesus' feet and really listen."

Mary Hampton

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Silence of Your Soul

Think not again the wells of Life to fill, 
By any conscious act of your own will; 
Retire within the silence of your soul,
And let God's Spirit enter, and control.
The springs of feeling which you 
thought were stilled,
Shall so be deepened, sweetened,
and refilled.
Anna J. Granniss

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Quiet Times

"Jesus got up very early ... and went to pray where there were no people" (Mark 1:35).

"You cannot expect to be victorious, if the day begins only in your own strength.  Face the work of every day with the influence of a few thoughtful, quiet moments with your heart and God ...Meet Him alone.  Meet Him regularly.  Meet Him with His open Book of counsel before you, and face the regular (and irregular) duties of each day with the influence of His personality definitely controlling your every act."

Mrs. Charles C. Cowman

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Jane Woodfall - Poem

Thus will I live and walk
from day to day,
Contented, trustful, satisfied, and still.  
What life so shielded, or what life
so free,
As that within the center of Thy will!
Jane Woodfall

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Trusting In Him

"When trouble, restless fears, anxious fretfulness strive to overpower the soul, our safety is in saying, 'My God, I believe in Your perfect goodness and wisdom and mercy.  What You are doing I cannot now understand, but I shall one day see it all plainly.  Meanwhile I accept Your will, whatever it may be, unquestioning, without reserve.'

There would be no restless disturbance, no sense of utter discomfort and discomposure in our souls, if we were quite free from any -- it may be almost unconscious -- opposition to God's will.  But we do struggle against it, we do resist; and so long as that resistance endures we cannot be at peace.  Peace,  and even joy, are quite compatible with a great deal of pain -- even mental pain -- but never with a condition of antagonism or resistance." 

Henrietta Louisa Sidney Lear

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Trust His Ways

"Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass" (Psalm 37:5).

"Having taken the step of faith by which you have put yourself wholly and absolutely into His hands, you must now expect Him to begin to work.  His way of accomplishing that which you have entrusted to Him may be different from your way; but He knows and you must be satisfied. 

There was this lady who entered into this life of faith ... with a wonderful flood of light and joy.  She supposed this was a preparation for some great service ...  Instead of this, almost at once, her husabnd lost all his money, and she was shut up to domestic duties, with no time or strength left for any Gospel work at all.  She accepted the discipline, and yielded herself up as heartily to sweep, and dust, and bake, and sew, as she would have done to speak, or pray, or write for the Lord.  And the result was that through this very training He made her into a vessel 'meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work.'

Another lady who had entered this life of faith under similar circumstances of wondrous blessing ... was shut up with two peevish invalid children to nurse and amuse all day long.  Unlike the first one, this lady chafed and fretted, and finally rebelled, lost all her blessing, and went back into a state of sad coldness and misery.  She had understood her part of trusting to begin with, but not understanding the Divine process of accomplishing that for which she had trusted, she took herself out of the hands of the Heavenly Potter, and the vessel was marred on the wheel.  I believe many a vessel has been similarly marred by a want of understanding these things.

Hannah Whitall Smith (adapted)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Victory Over Our Enemy

God promised us an abiding place of great victory over our enemy.  From the moment God first issued the promise of land to Aram, He described its occupants as quickly as its perimeters:  "To your descendents I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates --the land of the Kenites, kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites" (Gen. 15:18-21.    Our Promised Lands are characterized by the presence of victory, not the absence of opposition.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Are You Doing All You Will Ever Do?

God has far more in mind than bringing forth one kind of fruit from your life.  The harvest God desires to produce has the potential of abounding variety.  I believe the promises God made to the Israelites for their Promised Land in the tangible realm parallel ours in the spiritual realm. You and I weren't called to become machines of mass-but-monotonous production.  Just when we decide our lives  are all about figs, God starts mixing up  the soil underneath our feet to bring forth some pomegranates.  Have you too quickly decided that what you have done or what you are doing is all you'll ever do?  Ah, God's far too creative for that.  May God use our present journey to shake up some soil.

If you can't imagine God ever delivering you from the corruption of evil desires and bringing forth a great harvest through your life, you've bought into the lie that God's promises don't apply to you.  The Amplified version of Ephesians 2:10 says that you and I are "God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live."

Ephesians 1:18 says, "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints."  Our glorious inheritance in Christ is not meant for heaven alone.  The primary context of Ephesians 1 is the impact of our heavenly inheritance on our earthly existence.  God knows the plans He has for us, Dear One, but He will not force them on us.  Don't miss the word hope.  Nothing about your calling or mine is compulsory.  God is going to accomplish His agenda regarding heaven and earth no matter what you and I do, but we get to decide whether we're going to be part of His process in our generation.  Our callings remain a hope until we allow the eyes of our hearts to be enlightened and choose to accept them.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

God Honors Faith

Faith honors God and God honors faith!  A story from the life of missionaries Robert and Mary Moffat illustrates this truth.  For ten years, this couple labored in Bechuanaland (now called Botswana) without one ray of encouragement to light their way.  they could not report a single convert.  Finally, the directors of their mission board began to question the wisdom of continuing the work.  The thought  of leaving their post, however, brought great grief to this devoted couple, for they felt sure that God was in their labors, and that they would see people turn to Christ in due season.

They stayed; and for a year or two longer, darkness reigned.  Then one day a friend in England sent word to the Moffats that he wanted to mail them a gift and asked what they would like.  Trusting that, in time, the Lord would bless their work, Mrs Moffat replied, "Send us a communion set; I am sure it will soon be needed."  God honored the dear woman's faith.  the Holy Spirit moved upon the hearts of the villagers, and soon a litttle group of six converts united to form the first Christian church in that land.  the communion set from England was delayed in the mail;  but on the day before the first commemoration of the Lord's Supper in Bechuanaland, the set arrived.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Weary Times

"And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”  1 Kings 19:3,4

Elijah was tired.  So tired that he was too tired to even vocalize the feeling.  There were no words to express this degree of consuming exhaustion.  Where was his reward in serving God?  he wondered.  Was this the thanks he got for standing up to the prophets of Baal?  For making a mockery of their so-called god?  He could still remember the absolute incredulity that came over their faces when God's fire fell and consumed the sacrifice he had prepared for Him.  The fire had consumed everything --the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the soil, even the water in the trench that had been dug around it.  that was all the people needed to see to fall on their faces and worship God.  Incensed against the prophets of Baal, the crowd rose and slaughtered them all.  And then Elijah had prophesied an end to the drought in the land.  As the rain fell, Elijah, overtaken by the power of the Lord, ran ahead of Ahab's chariot all the way to Jezreel.

You would think that with all these supernatural manifestations of God's Spirit at work, Elijah would get a little respect.  But no, that evil queen Jezebel had the nerve instead to threaten his life!  Her spirit of oppression spread throughout the land, gripping everyone with fear, including her husband, who yielded to whatever she wanted for fear of being confronted by her wrath. And now Jezebel was infuriated at the death of her lackeys, those false prophets of Baal she surrounded herself with.  And her undesirable attention was now vindictively directed toward Elijah.  Needless to say, this seriously dampened his exhilaration of calling down fire and rain from heaven.  His victory felt short-lived as he ran for his life.  He felt so isolated, so spent, so depressed.  How God could leave him at the mercy of this wicked woman was beyond him.  Why hadn't God struck her down while He was on a roll?  After all, Elijah had confronted God's enemies and wiped them out with a vengeance.  Didn't one good favor deserve another?

And yet here Elijah was, fleeing for his life.  Perhaps he was getting old.  Maybe he couldn't take all this excitement anymore.  With resignation closing in around him like heavy velvet curtains, he concluded he might as well die --he had definitely had enough.  He was too tired to be startled by even the angel of the Lord who appeared to him, instructing him to eat.  Almost in a dreamlike state, Elijah did as he was told, eating enough to strengthen himself to make the journey to Horeb, the mountain of God, driven by nothing more than the desire to get some sort of answer.

And then He was there...God, asking Elijah why he was there.  How could God ask such a question?  Didn't He know how hard Elijah had been working for Him?  Didn't He know how badly the rest of the people were behaving?  How they had persecuted and killed everyone who made a stand for God?  Why, Elijah was the only one left.  The only one who hadn't compromised his standards.  The last one...and now they were trying to kill him!

He didn't know what to expect as the Lord invited him to stand in His presence on the mountain.  At this point, facing the great and powerful wind that tore the mountain apart as well as the earthquake and fire that followed was better than facing Jezebel.  But then came the gentle whisper of God, humbling him and asking once again, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"  But Elijah missed the real question.  "How could you ever feel alone after I've revealed My presence to you in such undeniable ways?  Will you always need a major display to be convinced that you're not alone?  Don't you know I'm bigger than the box you've put Me in?  Don't you know that I am nearer to you in the stillness than I am in all outward manifestations?  No, My son, you are not alone.  You have reinforcement beyond what your eyes see and your senses conceive.  You should have learned that lesson when you were waiting for Me to send the rain."

As Elijah descended from the mountain, reenergized, refocused, reassured, he felt renewed purpose.  He had to work to do.  It was amazing the difference a conversation with God could make.  How kind He was, always faithful to meet those who called out to Him at their point of need.  Not only did He offer food for the body, He gave fortification to the soul.


How many times have you become weary of well doing when you see no immediate rewards in sight?  We struggle even more when we suffer for righteousness' sake-- especially when God doesn't seem to come against our enemies the way we feel He should.  We can stand in bold, unwavering faith one moment and plummet to the depths of despair and doubt in a matter of seconds once the enemy of our souls rises up to retaliate against us.  And we begin to take the spiritual warfare that ensues personally instead of remembering that we never stand alone.  It is the One who is within us that the enemy hates.  Therefore, an attack against us is an attack against God, and He takes it personally.   For this reason we have His promise that He is able tot keep that which is committed to Him, for God defends His own.  In that promise we can rest secure that no weapon the enemy fashions against us will ever prosper.

His Love Always Finds Me by Michelle Hammond McKinney

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count." Psalm 40:5 (NAS)

Rain is depended upon in the jungle.  Without it, wells will dry up, crops will die and the temperature will continue to rise. 

One Sunday as I sat under the tree where we had church, my thoughts turned to the rain, or more correctly to the absence of rain.  I then realized that in the 14 months that I had lived int he jungle, no church service had ever been canceled for rain.  I felt God saying to me, Of course not.  You meet under a tree.  You can't have church if it's raining.  I've got that detail under control.

What an amazing realization!  It had never occurred to me that we had good weather for church, but God had been taking care of it.  I never bothered to pray about having good weather for church.  Yet God already had it under control. 

When I think about what that means in the rest of my life, I am almost overwhelmed.  God proves daily that He is ordering my steps and planning my days.  If He takes the time to plan good weather for believers in the jungle who meet under a tree, won't He be planning my life and your life as well?

--Kristee, South America
Voices of the Faithful by Beth Moore and Friends

Sunday, April 1, 2012

King of the Jungle

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."  John 12:32 (NAS)

The Lion of Judah commands and deserves focus from us.  We must stay so intently focused on the King of kings that when distractions come, we are not moved!  For when our eyes are fixed on Him, we exalt Him, and others will be drawn to Him.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Devotional Time = Spirit Repair

"That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love."  Ephesians 3:16-17 (NAS)

What a fitting way to describe our devotional time:  repairing the soul by reading God's Word and communing with Him.  Like that dilapidated washing machine, my spirit needs the ultimate Repairman.  Although I complained abut the washer, it was stronger than my own inner man.  It needed weekly repair, while I need it daily.

At one point, the repairman explained that the washer was used too often.  I laughed inwardly at his solution -- if I could just stop dirty laundry from accumulating, all would be well!  What a parallel to how the stresses of life wear away our spiritual vitality just like the never-ending laundry wears our the washer's parts.

We can't stop the stresses of life any more than my family can stop producing dirty clothes.  So I keep calling the Repairman to patch up my soul.  Our daily "spirit repair" time is what keeps me sharing the gospel.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Worry Is Meddling

Some of us seem to be “by nature” worriers. I know---I am one of them. But this does not in the least excuse me. Worry is forbidden by our Lord as useless. We can’t increase our height by worrying, Jesus said. The future is God’s business. We are not to meddle with it. We may quietly talk to the Manager if we think trouble is brewing. He knows what to do, while we would only create confusion. It is quite impossible simultaneously to believe God and to worry. Lord, you are the Blessed Controller of all things. Help me to give up meddling and to leave the matter to You who not only perfectly understand the need but are perfectly able to handle it.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Where Is Your Mind?

While I was trying to pray this morning my mind was turning over a disturbing conversation I had with a friend yesterday.  Why couldn’t she see the fallacy of her argument?  Why couldn’t I make myself clearer?  If only I had pointed out such-and-such….
Then came the words of Colossians 3:1-2, about the place where Christ lives, “seated at the right hand of God.”  That is where our minds ought to live ---just where He lives.   “Let your thoughts dwell on that higher realm, not on this earthly life.”  What an order.
Does it mean I’m to become “so heavenly-minded I’m of no earthly use”?   Quite the opposite.   The more truly fixed my mind is on the level where nothing changes or deteriorates or disturbs, the more strength and serenity I will have to serve God and ordinary folks in “this earthly life.”
Appropriating this fact by faith, I can commit all that was said and left unsaid yesterday, and the person  who disturbed me, and lean my mind on the stillness of Christ in God.
The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Where Faith Falls Short

The man whose son was demon-possessed (see Mark 9) believed there was some possibility that Jesus could help him, or he would not have bothered to come.  Possible? Said Jesus.  Of course it’s possible!  “Everything is possible to one who has faith” (Mark 9:23).  How much faith would it take to heal this young man?  “Probably more than I’ve got,” the father thought.  When a man begins to try to measure his faith (what “quantity”? Will this do?) he will always find that he comes up short.  What to do next?  “Help me where faith falls short,” (v.24) is his request.  Such a prayer sees oneself as deficient and in need of help.  It sees Jesus as able to make up for deficiencies of any kind, even of that which seems most necessary for healing.  Will He refuse on the ground that this man ought to manage a more robust belief?  Will the father’s self-acknowledged failure deprive the son of healing?
 Jesus took over.  “I command you to come out of him and never go back!” (v.25).  What the father could not do (nor could the disciples) Jesus did.  He always responds to faith in Him.  We may come without fear, even though we know our faith leaves much to be desired.  We may always come.  He will not turn us away.  He will meet us where we are and He will help us where faith falls short.  

Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, February 26, 2012

When We Are Wronged

Psalm 109 is one of those called “imprecatory” ----calling down terrible curses on those who do evil against the writer.  It is not hard for me to identify with his expressions of outrage at the wrong.  I know very well the human reaction to unfair judgment and false accusation.  It is more difficult to understand the desire for violent retribution which the psalmist expresses so vividly.  My temptation is to wish for vindication and at least an apology from the person who has wronged me.  Neither may be forthcoming.  What then? 
“But thou, O Lord God, deal with me as befits thy honor” (v.21).
That is certainly a safe prayer to pray!  Leave the other to God, ask for whatever God wants to give or do in and to me, which will glorify Him, that “the greatness of Christ will shine out clearly in my person … for to me life is Christ” (Phil 1:20-21).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

When The Heat Comes

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and rests his confidence upon Him.  He shall be like a tree planted by the waterside, that stretches its roots along the stream.  When the heat comes it has nothing to fear" (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

Here is another beautiful metaphor from the created world, illuminating a spiritual principle which is as sure and practical as the natural fact of a tree’s need for water.  My spirit comes to rest nowhere in all the universe but in the Lord.  There and nowhere else I find what slakes my thirst, sustains me, causes fruit to appear, and preserves me from fear.  I must be planted ----that is, permanently settled, fixed, and as peaceful as a tree about its assigned place ----not in any special “work” or geographical location, necessarily, but in the Lord Himself.  Daily I stretch my roots along that fresh, pure stream of His love.  I drink living water when I come to Him.  Then when the heat comes, as it is sure to do, I have nothing to fear.

Plant me, Lord.  Remind me to stretch my roots to drink of the Water of Life.  Refresh me today in Your love, so that in Your coolness I may stand the heat.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What Will Happen?

When some path of obedience lies open to us through a command of the Lord, our first response is often “What will happen tome if I do this?”  Grim probabilities take shape in our minds and we set about at once collecting all the reasons why this Scripture cannot apply to us, or why it is quite impossible for us, in our circumstances, to take this path.
The same response was Obadiah’s, comptroller of King Ahab’s household, when Elijah appeared and said “go and tell the king I’m here.”
“What will happen?” (1 Kings 18:12), Obadiah replied.  “He will kill me.”  He envisioned Elijah’s being mysteriously raptured away, making Obadiah look like a liar.  No.  It was not possible to obey.  Surely Elijah could see the logic of that objection.  But the prophet gave the word, and Obadiah, being a “devout worshipper of the Lord” (1 Kings 18:4) obeyed.
Let’s quit objecting when a command is given.  Try trusting instead, and see what will happen.  He has power to prevent what you imagine will happen, and power to do what you cannot begin to imagine.  “And Ahab went to meet Elijah” (v.16).

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What Is Trust?

To the unbeliever, the notion of “trust” in God is a challenge to Him to grant what one wants.  When Jesus hung nailed to the cross, passerby hurled abuse at Him:  “Come down.  Save yourself!”  The chief priests, lawyers and elders (learned, logical leaders) mocked Him:  “King of Israel, indeed!  Let Him come down now from the cross and then we will believe Him.  Did He trust in God?  Let God rescue Him.”  (Matt. 27:42-43).
Real trust yields utterly to the one trusted.   All desire is turned over to that one, believing his ability to manage, control, and finally to accomplish what is best.  When we pray, we should beware lest we line ourselves up with the mockers of Jesus---“If You do such and such, then I will trust You!”  We need to learn rather to let God rescue us in His own way.  It may not be escape from suffering, but death---followed by so much more glorious a rescue---resurrection!
Lord, teach me this trust.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Vague Prayers

It is good thing to be specific in prayer.  For one thing, it requires thought.  What we pray about we should think about.  For another, it links the temporal to the eternal---the long list of seemingly impossible tasks to be done or people to be helped is brought before the God of all the Universe.  In His presence the needs are seen in a different light.  For yet a third reason, we are more apt to expect answers when we ask for definite things. 
Often however, we simply do not know what to ask.  Someone’s name is brought to the memory with great insistence, a situation looks hopeless and we cannot imagine what even God could do about it----at such times it is a great comfort to know that even the unspecific (even the vague) prayers of an attentive heart are accepted.  And the Holy Spirit “within us is actually praying for us in those agonizing longings which never find words”  (Romans 8:26, PHILLIPS)

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Unimaginable Solutions

Spectators at the cross of Calvary imagined a dramatic escape or rescue as the proof of Jesus’ kingship.  God had an infinitely greater demonstration in mind.  The Son would not manage to escape from the hands of His captors or from the nails and wood that held Him, nor would someone else come to His rescue.  He would go through the last extremity of what it means to be human, and by that very means, by death itself, would destroy the power of death.  He would become, by His obedient dying , the “Death of Death” and “Hell’s Destruction.”
When we, in our "lesser miseries,"  plead for escape or rescue, what unimaginable "solutions" God has stored up for us!  But often, in response to our pleadings, the word is Trust Me.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Unconditional Self-Abandonment

The glory of the Resurrection followed the shame of the Crucifixion.  Christ abandoned Himself, became subject to death, went to Gehenna, for love of us.  Therefore He was raised in power, death could not hold Him, and He opened Paradise for us.  We can enter only as He entered – the road to glory is always the road of self-abandonment.  When we see this as a mere theory we are not even close to living as Christians.  It is in the opportunities of every day, with real people (i.e., real sinners) that we (sinners, too) are called to His companionship:  “Give up your rights, abandon yourself, follow me – follow me to the place where death cannot possibly hold you, where animosities and offenses are vanquished, and Life springs victorious.”

What do we long for above all else?  Is it not Life?  Jesus came so that we could have it – but the only life He can give us is resurrection life.  That kind comes as the result of unconditional self-abandonment.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Too Strong To Be Crucified

Jesus Christ, we are told, was “crucified in weakness.”  When we approach the table of the Lord in Holy Communion, or when in any way at all we identify ourselves as Christians, we are letting Christ take us, with our purposes, and offer us, as He did His own body, up to His Father. 

The greater our consciousness of weakness, sinfulness, and abject need, the more perfectly we can let Christ take us for that offering.
The man or woman who claims some autonomy, some right to himself, some independence, some existence of his won, is too strong.  Too strong to need a Savior, too strong to flee to His cross for refuge, too strong to be crucified with Christ.  How then shall he live in Christ, how shall Christ live in him?

When I survey the wondrous Cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count by loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Isaac Watts

Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Too Rich to Follow Him

In the forests of Ecuador I soon learned that there were journeys I could not make if I wanted to carry baggage. Traveling narrow, muddy, and often steep trails on foot was impossible if I was heavily loaded.

So it is with the spiritual journey. We cannot make it if we insist on taking along everything we think indispensable. A rich young man was attracted to Jesus and contemplated joining His company, but Jesus spoke plainly of the necessary condition: Sell all you have first.

If he had not had much, perhaps he would have laid it down readily. But he was too rich to follow Jesus. He turned away, sorrowful.

We may be willing to part with almost everything God is asking us to relinquish, but perhaps we are clutching one thing tightly—“all but this, Lord.” “Lay it down,” Jesus says. “Let it go.” If we refuse, too rich to follow Him, we have chosen a greater poverty in the end.

Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot