Monday, February 23, 2009

Living for Jesus

Of all the many wonderful hymns, there are some that have, over time, grown to be at the top of my list of 'favorites'. The hymn Living for Jesus is one of these, and as of late, the words of it have been on my heart quite a bit. 

I thought that I would also share the words with you in hopes that they will convict, encourage and bless your heart as they did mine . . .

Living for Jesus

Living for Jesus a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee;
For Thou, in Thy atonement, Didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master, My heart shall be Thy throne;
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

Living for Jesus who died in my place,
Bearing on Calv'ry my sin and disgrace;
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading and give Him my all.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee;
For Thou, in Thy atonement, Didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master, My heart shall be Thy throne;
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

Living for Jesus wherever I am,
Doing each duty in His holy name;
Willing to suffer affliction and loss,
Taking each trial as part of my cross.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee;
For Thou, in Thy atonement, Didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master, My heart shall be Thy throne;
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

Living for Jesus thru earth's little while,
My dearest treasure, the light of His smile;
Seeking the lost ones He died to redeem,
Bringing the weary to find rest in Him.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee;
For Thou, in Thy atonement, Didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master, My heart shall be Thy throne;
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

WORDS: Thomas O. Chisholm, 1866-1960
MUSIC: C. Harold Lowden, 1883-1963

May this truly be our heart cry, our goal, our aim . . . May we learn to deny ourselves and live for our Lord and Savior. May we follow Christ as He has called us to follow Him, and that in obedience to His Word . . . and all for the joy of serving and pleasing our Master and Lord.

-Posted by Sarah

Friday, February 13, 2009

Complacency . . .

This is something we have all probably been guilty of on more than one occasion, and sadly, it has the tendency to creep into our relationship with the Lord also. We reach a certain point and then we stop (or at least become less committed to) striving to grow in our walk with the Lord.

We lose the desire, the eagerness, the heart to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14.) We allow the things of this world (whether it be physical, emotional or even ‘religious’ things) to cloud our vision. We become “stagnant”, allowing bacteria and other such things to take root and grow.

This spirit of complacency is a grievous state to find oneself in, for it leads to many negative things in our spiritual life . . . the lack of maturation through His word, closeness with the Lord, effectiveness for His kingdom, and the list goes on. 

At times such as these, I have oft found encouragement and conviction when reading in Scripture the heart cries of those who have come before us . . .

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants after You, O God. My soul thirsts for the living God;” Psalm 42:1-2a

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

What eagerness, desire and zeal lie in these declarations! As the deer thirsts for the water that sustains its life, so also should we thirst for our God . . . the living God. As the parched and cracked ground thirsts desperately for the life-giving rain to fall upon it and bring growth, so also should our hearts thirst and long after the Lord and His Word so that we can know Him more and grow, bearing fruit for His glory.

David also declared in the verse from Psalm 63, “I shall seek You earnestly.” The Lord, and He alone, should we whole-heartedly seek! For only in Him is life and the “living water" (John 4:10, 14.) Only in Him is truth.

It is also only through Him that we can “walk as children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8.) It is only through the “strength which God supplies” (1 Peter 4:11) that we can walk in obedience to Him. It is only through Him. Everything of lasting and eternal value and importance is only through Him. As those who have been “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20), He should truly be our all in all.

When this earthly life comes to a close, it will not matter how big and well-decorated our homes are, or what kind of car we drive, or how many titles precede or follow our names, or how many awards and achievements we received, or how well we were known or received by men – all this will have no value or importance. 

All that matters, in the end, is our heart and relationship with and towards the Lord and how we glorified, served and obeyed Him in this life.

This should be the focus, aim and cry of our hearts! To know the Lord. And not just know about Him, but to know Him in relationship . . . as our Abba Father, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Lord, our Potter, our Master. 

Then through this intimate knowing of the Lord, springs the only response that can come from a heart set upon Him . . . obedience. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3.)

May we truly strive after and long for this heavenly mindedness instead of earthly mindedness! May we have but one goal, one focus of our hearts . . . to glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

May we be able to declare like Paul “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8.)

When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.’” (Psalm 27:8)

-Posted by Sarah

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Gleanings from Proverbs

The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom and instruction in so many different areas of our lives. From what words we should speak, to being industrious vs. laziness, to the description of an “excellent wife”, to warnings against drunkenness and perverseness, to exhortations to walk in humility and not pride, to showing the difference between the wise and the fool. 

It is a book that we would do well to read again and again and to strive to apply the vast array of principles to our own lives.

Many verses in this book have been quite meaningful to me, particularly the ones that speak directly to women. The beautiful passage in Proverbs 31 is perhaps one of the most well-known of these, and it is so refreshing, encouraging and convicting! 

Then there are verses such as the one in chapter 11: “A gracious woman attains honor, but ruthless men attain riches” (Proverbs 11:16) and in chapter 14: “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands” (Proverbs 14:1.) 

Also found in the book of Proverbs are several verses that speak specifically of women that are very similar to each other in context . . .

It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman.” Proverbs 21:19

It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” Proverbs 21:9

. . . the contentious of a wife are a constant dripping.”
Proverbs 19:13b

It is better to live in a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” Proverbs 25:24

A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike;” Proverbs 27:15

Contentiousness is the common theme throughout, and one thing that these verses all show so clearly is the seriousness of this negative attribute. It is compared with a constant dripping; it is said that it is better to live in a desert land or on a corner of a roof than with a woman who is contentious.

But what is contentiousness? Is it just arguing? Or is it something deeper and broader? And in one of the verses the word “vexing” is also used. What does it mean to be vexing?

The definitions of these words (and others similar) present a fairly clear picture of what these words encompass:

Contentious: Apt to contend; given to angry debate; quarrelsome; perverse; exciting or adapted to provoke contention or disputes;*

Contend: To dispute; to contest*

The definition of vexing is equally sobering:

Vexing: Provoking; irritating; afflicting.*

Vex: to irritate; to make angry by little provocations; to plague; to torment; to harass; to afflict; to disturb; to disquiet; to agitate; to trouble; to distress*

When we look at these definitions, I am sure that we can all see ourselves in at least some of them! And we also see that being contentious and vexing not only includes arguing, but also exciting strife – saying or doing things that would cause others to become angry or upset. 

The word ‘contend’ also extends the defining by describing it as to dispute or to contest. Meaning, that when someone says or does something, we contradict it; we challenge what they have shared or have done.

The defining of the word ‘vexing’ is what convicted my heart the greatest when studying these verses for it is a more subtle thing than being contentious, and can often sneak in unawares. Vexing is saying or doing those little things that we know irritate or bother others. It is to stir up controversy or to draw others into arguments or conflict by our own words and actions – by “little provocations.”

The contrast of vexing is to “aid, assist, help, please and soothe.”** When reading these words, I am reminded of a cool breeze on a hot day; a gentle rain on a parched earth. Gentle, calming, soothing . . . radiating the love of the Lord and love of others to those we are around. 

Other ‘opposites’ of being contentious are to be peaceful, submissive, and having a gentle and quiet spirit. This is what the condition of our heart should be which is then expressed in our words, actions and demeanor.

As ladies desiring to follow the Lord in obedience to His word, we must strive to rid our hearts of the negative attributes of being contentious and vexing. We must “pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another” (Romans 14:19.) We must “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11.)

When instances arise in our lives that would cause us to become contentious, argumentative or angry, pause for a moment, pray to the Lord for His peace, joy and love, and respond with graciousness. 

Speak words that do indeed make for peace and the edification of one another. And may each one of us, no matter the situation we find ourselves in, be “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3.)

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful,” Colossians 3:15

*Definitions taken from Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language
**Taken from an online dictionary

-Posted by Sarah