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