Thursday, January 31, 2008

Psalm 19:1

"The heavens are telling of the
glory of God; And their expanse is declaring
the work of His hands."

Psalm 19:1

-Posted by Leah

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sweeter than Honey

After we come to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation, and He becomes the Lord and Savior of our lives, we will have a desire to grow to know Him more and to love and be obedient to Him. He has called us to “follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). “for [we] were formerly darkness, but now [we] are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8). If we are to walk as children of God and as Christ walked, it is important to know how Christ lived; to know the example that He set for us. John 8:29 says that “I [Christ] always do the things that are pleasing to Him [meaning, the Father].”

But how do we know what things are pleasing to our Father? How do we know how we should walk in our day to day life? The only way that we can discover the answers to these questions, is if we spend time reading God’s Word. And not just reading, but actively studying it. “All Scripture is inspired by God [God-breathed] and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Scriptures are our guide for how we should live obedient and holy lives before God. It is the only standard for the practice of our faith.

Let’s say that we wanted to be a surgeon, how much time would we spend studying and learning about the human body, equipment, procedures, etc.? What if we simply read other’s thoughts about surgery? Would that be sufficient? What if we skipped all the learning and just went to the hospital and said “I really want to do surgery, so, let me at it.” What do you think the results would be? Do you think that we would be able to proceed accurately? Do you think that the results would be pleasing to the patient? We may appear to want to be a surgeon, but something is missing—the knowledge, wisdom, and experience.

It is the same with our walk with Christ. If we do not know how we are to walk, how can we do the things that are “pleasing to Him”? How can we “walk in the Light” if we do not know how God desires us to live and be? The only way to know the path we are to walk is through studying Scripture and then applying it to our lives. We can read many great men’s writings regarding faith, and all the ‘how-to’ books that fill the Christian catalogs, but these are just like the would-be surgeon reading other’s thoughts and opinions about surgery. Yes, these can be a blessing to the follower of Christ, but they cannot take the place of time spent in Scripture. If we truly desire to love and be obedient to the Lord Jesus, we must take time studying His Word and then applying it to our lives. This should be one of our highest priorities.

Often we say, “Well, I’m just too busy”; “I don’t have enough time”; “You know how life is, I hit the ground running”, etc. My sister often says something like this: “If I have enough time to eat three meals a day, I can make time to spend in God's Word”. How much more important is our spiritual life than our physical? How much time do we take caring for this physical shell, but then not care for the much more important spiritual life?

My prayer for myself, and for you also dear sisters, is that we truly hunger and thirst for our Lord and His Word. That we earnestly desire it. May we like the psalmist be able to exclaim:

How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! . . .With all my heart have I sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD; teach me Your statutes . . . I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statues; I shall not forget Your Word.
Psalm 119:103 and 10-16

-Posted by Sarah

Friday, January 18, 2008

Worthy to Suffer for His Name

“. . . and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” Acts 5:40-42

These three verses in Acts, have always impacted me strongly. The boldness and love for our Lord that the apostles had amazes me; that this persecution they endured did not phase them. That after being threatened and ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus, they “kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” And then they went on “rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.” They rejoiced that they had been considered worthy to suffer for our Lord. It was an encouragement, it was a blessing to them. Yet how easy it is for us, when trials and persecutions come our way, to concede or to pity ourselves for what we are going through.

James 1:2-3 tells us to “
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” This is how we grow; this is how we mature. And we know that through these trials, we can trust in the Lord because His promises are true. As He says in Matthew:

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great . . .”

-Posted by Leah

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Joy of the Lord

Joyful: Full of joy: very glad; exulting

We have probably all known someone that when we think of them, we also think of joyfulness. They are the ones who always seem to have a light in their eye, their face seems to have a smile ready to break forth at any moment, they seem to have a zest for life. Not only does this person’s joy bless those who are around it, it is also contagious.

Joyfulness is an attribute that God desires His children to be displaying in their lives. Continually. “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). So often, though, our human nature resists this joyfulness. For us ladies, we have our emotions to deal with, mood swings, and the like. If we rely on our own strength to remain joyful, we will fail. But “. . . the joy of the LORD is [our] strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10). When we are resting and trusting in the Lord, and only then, His true joy will be manifested in us. This joy is not dependent on circumstances, because it is rooted in the Rock. It is steady and immovable.

Joy comes in knowing our Lord. Knowing that “the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves”. Knowing that we are “His people and the sheep of His pasture.” Knowing that He “is good; and His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.” Because of this we can “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.” [Psalm 100]. What joy is found in His presence!

Joy also comes through abiding, loving, and being obedient to our Lord. “‘My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.'” (John 15:8-11).

This joy in our hearts, which comes from Christ, is then expressed in our day to day life, in our actions, our words, our smile. “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.” (Proverbs 15:13). A cheerful face or a broken spirit? Which would we rather have? Definitely the former!

My prayer is that as difficulties arise, as we struggle with our emotions, when trials come our way, that we can abide in Christ. For as we abide, His joy becomes our own.

-Posted by Sarah

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cleanse us, O Lord - Part 2

Continued . . .

After the cleansing (which is and should be a continual process in our lives) Paul then tells us to perfect holiness. God has specifically commanded us to be “holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) Peter exhorts us that “like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.” (1 Peter 1:15) There is that word again: all. Just as all defilements we should rid ourselves of, so also in all our behavior we should be holy. Our perfect example of holiness is God Himself. He is the perfect God. No sin is in Him. He is the one whom we should strive to imitate, not this world. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;” (1 Peter 2:21-22)

But how do we perfect this holiness in us? What are the steps? Our hearts may earnestly desire it, but how is it accomplished? In the fear of God. Through fear of Him, this mystery is accomplished. How? I do not know, but it is believed in faith. If we fear Him, holiness will be perfected in us. But what is fear of the Lord? It is reverence and awe before a perfect, holy, awesome God. “Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24) and “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.” (Deuteronomy 10:20-21). It is deep humility, knowing our sinfulness and the great love that the Father bestowed upon us through our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. “But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’…Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:6, 10). It is having a heart that greatly desires the Truth and that abhors sin. “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13). It is examining ourselves to see what sin lies within that we may rid ourselves of it and day by day grow in our obedience to the Lord. “By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.” (Proverbs 16:6). This is true fear of the Lord. And it will only be realized through a true heart knowledge of God.

This is my heart’s desire not only for myself, but also for you dear sisters. May we rid ourselves of the defilements of this world that lie within our body, heart and spirit. May we desire to cleanse our hearts and lay them bare before the Lord inviting Him to cleanse us and purge the sin within through the working of the Holy Spirit. But most of all may we truly learn to fear Him. For it is only through this fear of God, that holiness can be perfected.

-Posted by Sarah

Cleanse us, O Lord - Part 1

*Quite some time ago, I wrote this article with the thought to encourage young ladies in their walk with the Lord. The article came to fruition after the Lord used 2 Corinthians 7:1 to speak to my heart during one of my quiet times.

As children of God, we should have a great desire to study and know the Scriptures and then to apply these words to our lives. Many times this is difficult as it often requires the surgical sword of the Lord to remove areas of sin in order that our lives may be more conformed to our Savior’s perfect image. The Scriptures are full of verses that instruct us in removing impurity from us and clothing ourselves in righteousness. 2 Corinthians 7:1 is one of these verses:

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

What promises are referred to in the first part of this verse? The promises are those that are written in chapter six verses 16-18: that God will dwell in those who separate themselves unto Him; that He will walk among them and they shall be His people; He will welcome them if they separate themselves from the world and the things of the world (for the prince of this world is Satan - John 12:13; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2). God says that He will then be their Father and they shall be His sons and daughters.

What precious promises! But to receive them, the Scriptures clearly teach us that we must cast off this world. Therefore because of these promises, Paul exhorts us to cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit. ‘Flesh’ denotes the physical aspect of our lives and ‘spirit’ the spiritual. Thus every single part of us, our thoughts, our words, our beliefs, etc. all need to be examined and cleansed of defilements. The defilements are anything that is contrary to the Word of our Lord. No matter how small, no matter how great, if it is contrary to His truth it is sin and it is defiling to us. Defilement is to be dirty or foul, unclean, impure, polluted. The picture that those words paint is repulsive! Yet, that is exactly how our sins appear to God. Yes, He still graciously loves us, but every time that we choose to follow the path of this world and our flesh, our sin is repulsive to God.

But there is forgiveness and grace in our Father! If we but turn to Him, His Spirit will work in our hearts to help us cleanse and purify. If we but desire it and submit to Him, this amazing work will be accomplished in our lives. We need to examine our lives to see what defilements lie therein. What words do I speak that are contrary to His Word? What actions do I do that are repulsive to our Holy God? What thoughts do I think that are not fitting for a child of God? (Philippians 4:8). What things do I do simply for my own pleasure and not to the glory of God? (1 Corinthians 10:31). Are the activities that I do, the music that I listen to, the books that I read, the beliefs I hold to, are they glorifying to God? In their entirety do they please Him? If not, they are a defilement and should be purged from my life.

To be continued . . .

-Posted by Sarah

Friday, January 4, 2008

A Godly Example

Often times, when I think of different Godly women in the Bible, the more commonly spoken of ones come to mind such as Ruth, Esther, the Proverbs 31 woman, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary and Martha, and the list goes on. But there is one woman from whom so much can be learned, although only one verse in the whole of Scripture speaks of her.

Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.” Acts 9:36

What a testimony this verse is of the life of Tabitha! Firstly we see that she is a disciple, a follower and student of the Lord, Jesus Christ. The verse goes on to say that she “was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.” There are several key words in this verse, one of which is the word 'abound' which means: “to have or possess in great quantity; to be copiously supplied; to be in great plenty; to be very prevalent.” Tabitha was abounding with deed of kindness and charity, they were so plentiful, so prevalent in her life that this is what she was known for.

Some words, such as kindness, are so commonly used, that many times we don't even entirely grasp the fullness of what they mean. Kindness is defined as: “that temper or disposition which delights in contributing to the happiness of others, which is exercised cheerfully in gratifying their wishes, supplying their wants or alleviating their distresses.” From the definition, we can see that kindness would be having a servant's heart and a selfless attitude; looking to the needs of others, caring so much about someone else's needs that we go out of our way to bless them. It may even be something so simple as a smile, a loving note, or a helping hand.

Much like kindness, charity is described as “love, benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good.” The Greek word for charity is
eleemosune which means: mercy, pity, giving. Again, it is a care for others, those who are needy, not only physically, but spiritually as well.

The word in Acts 9:36 that struck me the most was the word 'continually'. It must not be just an occasional occurrence, or something that happens two or three times a day. The word continually means “without pause or cessation; unceasingly; as, the ocean is continually rolling its waves on the shore.” This is what we, as disciples of Christ, must strive for every single day, out of both love and obedience to our Lord. Just as the ocean never ceases its waves, so our deeds of kindness and charity must always be abounding, never ceasing.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

*All definitions are taken from Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language unless otherwise noted.

-Posted by Leah

Psalm 63:1

"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water."
Psalm 63:1

-Posted by Sarah

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Idleness or Diligence? - Part 2

Continued . . .

Idleness is a trait that can bear fruit to different areas of sin. In 1 Timothy 5:13, Paul tells of young widows who became idle: “At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busy bodies, talking about things not proper to mention.” One little step in the wrong direction leads even further down the path of sin.

Scripture also portrays the results of laziness and idleness. Though it may be pleasurable for a time, the lasting consequences are detrimental to all. “Laziness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle man will suffer hunger.” Proverbs 19:15 and “Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.” Proverbs 10:4-5. However, diligence produces the “fruit of her hands” (Proverbs 31:31), which is pleasing to the Lord and a blessing to those who are around her.

As women striving for godliness, we should be cultivating diligence in our lives. Diligence is the opposite of laziness and idleness and it means “Steady application in business of any kind; constant effort to accomplish what is undertaken; exertion of body or mind without unnecessary delay or sloth; due attention; industry. Care; heed;” (taken from Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language).

But why is this important? Why should we keep going even when we don’t feel like it? Why not satisfy what we want? Because God has called us to something higher. He has called us to serve and minister to all those that we come into contact with. To care for the needs of our physical family and our spiritual family. Paul exhorts that “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Colossians 3:23-24.

Each dirty dish wiped, each floor vacuumed or swept, each meal given to a family in need, each smile given to a lonely soul, each time we pick up after our loved ones. Each and every task should be for Him. It is for Jesus that we labor and serve (Matthew 25:34-40).

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1

-Posted by Sarah

Idleness or Diligence? - Part 1

I’m sure that we have all had those days . . . days where we feel uninspired and tired . . . where we cannot get motivated to do anything. We’d like to simply curl up with a good book and read the day away (or sleep it away!). During those times it is so easy to slip into idleness. Scripture though shows what a godly woman should be doing with her time. “She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27.

Household is generally thought of as one’s own personal family, whether you are living at home with your parents and siblings, or if you are married with a family of your own. These are our ‘physical’ family. We also have a spiritual family. “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:10. That is, our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

So this godly woman is looking well to, or caring well for, the ways of her household. Firstly she serves her physical family. She cares for their physical needs (clothing, food, peaceful and clean house, etc.) and their spiritual needs (exhortation, council, teaching, love, prayer, etc). She then branches outward to her spiritual family.

Idleness presents a stark contrast to the above. It is to have an aversion for labor; a reluctance to be employed or to have exertion either of body or mind; it is to be lazy, slothful and sluggish. Idleness is often the effect of laziness. Thus if we let ourselves begin down the path of laziness, the destructive quality of idleness will develop. But, if we keep taking little steps in laboring for and serving others, it is amazing how much we can accomplish and in the end, how much better we feel.

This does not at all mean that we are not to have times of rest and relaxation. Our bodies, minds and spirits need this rest. Nor does it mean that when we are ill or incapable of laboring, that we should not rest or take it easy. But, what it does mean is that if when we have other tasks and duties that need to be tended to, and we are physically capable, we should conquer our feelings of laziness and tend to what needs to be done. Instead of looking to our own comfort and needs, we must look to the needs of others first. We should be looking well to the ways of our household.

To be continued . . .

-Posted by Sarah