Monday, July 28, 2014

Devotional 118 - Fasting

"If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into the vice of self-pity and self-sympathy; if I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love."
Amy Carmichael      If  
Amy lived for over 50 years in India, died there, without seeing her homeland again. Raised hundreds of babies to adulthood in her orphanage. It was hard, dreary work, with no air conditioning, no running water, no screens on the windows to keep out bugs or tigers. She watched many babies die because there were no life saving drugs. She took no vacations from her work and the last 20 years she spent in bed, in pain, after a back injury.

"...I humbled myself with fasting..."Psalm 35:13

"The Lord is near to those whose hearts are humble..."Psalm 34:18

"How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!..They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light."   Psalm 36: 7-9

Reasons for our fast.
1. It humbles us.
2. The Lord is near when we are humbled.
3. We learn to treasure Him more.
4. We become more thankful.
5. It strengthens us. As Amy said, we must by the grace of God practice fortitude.

Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life..2 Timothy 2: 3,4  When we fast from something we love, in order to be with God, it strengthens us. And each of us need His strength for the task He is laying out for us.

Whatever fast you decide to do is between you and the Lord. But however you are denying yourself, God is better! In all of our fasting may we each be drawn into closer fellowship with the Lord who abundantly satisfies. And may we learn to fight the good fight of faith.

Accompany your fasting with prayer. I pray for you, pray for me. And if we do our fasting days imperfectly, we go to God in prayer seeking forgiveness and He covers all our sins. O, what a great Savior we have!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Devotional - 117 Stop Fretting

"I can't think. I can't think. My problems are so big they take up all the room in my head and I have no space for you."    Anonymous

"Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Do not be preoccupied with an evildoer who succeeds in his way when he carries out his schemes. Let go of anger, and leave rage behind. Do not be preoccupied. It only leads to evil."  Psalm 37: 7, 8   GWT

I read these verses after a distressing phone call from my daughter. I was fretting over and over about her situation. What should I have said or not said? Who is at fault? Is there sin? What verse? What rebuke? How to love like Jesus? My stomach was in knots. I was preoccupied with her, him, me, but not Jesus or others in the body of Christ.

And then Psalm 37 gives me comfort and guidance and a way back to peace and a home that has room for others. Look at the formula.
Vs. 3 "Trust in the Lord..." He is good. He is sovereign. He has a plan. He is love.
          "...and do good things."  Keep praying for others and doing acts of service. Don't hole up in your little dark house of problems, but continue to press outward and upward.
          "Live in the land and feed on His faithfulness."  Remember Christ came so that you might have life and have it abundantly. So stay right where you are. Don't run away. You can count on Christ to take care of things. You do not have to fret.
Vs. 4 "Be happy with the Lord..." GWT  "Delight yourself also in the Lord..." NKJV  Be preoccupied with Christ and His love for you and His all-sufficiency to take care of your problems. He desires your joy to be complete in Him in spite of your circumstances. As you delight in the most important thing the problems fade to their rightful place. Keep the main thing , the main thing.
Vs. 7, 8 "Surrender" and "wait". Let it go! Give it to God! Every time your mind starts to fill up with worry, say out loud, "God, this is Yours." Surrender it and wait for God to work.

So before our week is over I have a hunch each of us will have an attack in some way. We will feel like we have no energy for anything or anyone else but our own problems, but there is always a way out. Turn your eyes upward, our hope is in Him.

I am praying for my children and their spouses but I am not preoccupied or consumed with them only. The Lord keeps reminding me where my focus should be. Be encouraged, delight in Him!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Devotional 116 - Eyes of Hope

"If I do not look with eyes of hope on all in whom there is even a
 faint beginning, as our Lord did, when just after His disciples
 had wrangled about which of them should be accounted the
 greatest, He softened His rebuke with those heart-melting 
words, 'You are they which have continued with Me in My
 temptations,' then I know nothing of Calvary love.   
 If   Amy Carmichael, missionary to India for fifty years

Psalm 131 "O Lord, my heart is not conceited. My eyes 
do not look down on others. I am not involved in
 things too big or too difficult for me. Instead,
 I have kept my soul calm and quiet. 
My soul is content as a weaned child 
is content in its mother's arms. Israel,
 put your hope in the Lord now and forever."

Let us look with hope at all who God places in our path.

Sometimes I catch myself saying about some blood-bought saint: 
"Oh, they will never change."

Well, who died and made me God? That should not come out of my
 mouth. That is God's department and when I start to make decisions
 like that I am involving myself with things too big for me. I am
 conceited and looking down on others.

Let us take comfort and rest in our Savior that we do not have to
 change the women we serve. We have to serve the women  and 
Christ does the changing.

We put our hope in God and live today contentedly like a child
 in her mother's arms.

Be a child today! See with hope-filled eyes. Be a child today!

DEVOTIONAL 115 - With Your God

Choosing to live a life apart from God is a commitment to sin.”
Bible commentary

Micah 6: 8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly WITH YOUR GOD?”

As my friend pointed out on this sung and oft read verse from Micah, we always emphasize just, merciful, humble living and gloss over the three very important words: “with your God”.

God must be in our right living. God must be in our kindness. God must be in my humility. When I exhibit good character without relying and trusting in my good and great Savior I miss the point. The point being, that only when I look at Jesus can I practice justice rightly; only when I look at Christ's mercy can I practice mercy correctly, only as I see the humility of Christ will I be able to live humbly.

All of our lives, whether good or bad, if lived apart from the intimate fellowship of God will be lived selfishly and will not meet the requirement of God.

And we will miss out on the joy. Psalm 16:11 “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” He demands “with your God” in everything because He knows He is our joy! His presence brings us pleasure!

Today let us remember He is with us. Let us serve and love and yes, give Biblical rebuke with our great God and Savior guiding us.

We love because He first loved us. 1John 4:19

Friday, July 18, 2014

Devotional 114 - Too Much Of Me

"If you center on anything but God, you suffer a loss of identity. Your identity will be fragile and insecure, because it's based on the things you center your life on. It's based on human approval. It's based on how well you perform."  Timothy Keller  King's Cross

John 3:30 "He must increase in importance, while I must decrease in importance." GWT

What a privilege to serve one another and other women. It gets our eyes off ourselves...usually.

We can serve in such a way that I am glorified and looked up to. I can be driven to serve you because I need people to like me and I have learned that is a very acceptable way to get affirmation. Do good and you look good.

God sees it all and knows our hearts. So on occasion He will remove the "Me" in our passionate pursuit of service by bringing in the hard person to serve, or the complaining person, or the person you can never do enough for or do it right.

It is then, that our eyes must look heavenward and say: "Lord Jesus, apart from You I can do no good thing. Your life must shine brighter. I must decrease, You must increase."

When our lives are centered on Christ we can serve without human approval.

Serve the Lord your God today... "with joy and gladness of heart."   Deuteronomy 28:47

Devotional 113-The Ministry of Presence

“Ah. I smiled. I'm not really here to keep you from freaking out. I'm here to be with you while you freak out, or grieve or laugh or suffer or sing. It is a ministry of presence. It is showing up with a loving heart.” 
― Kate Braestrup, Here If You Need Me: A True Story

Matthew 27:55 "There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him."

Luke 8:1-3 "Soon afterward Jesus went through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news...And the twelve were with Him, and also some women who...provided for them out of their means."

I love that women are mentioned as being followers of Jesus and going with Him from village to village. They did not teach and preach, but they gave a ministry of presence.

Some had been healed of demons. Some had been healed from illness. All had been offered love, and this love compelled them to follow and serve.

Notice the scripture says they ministered to Jesus, they provided for Him and His disciples out of their own means. They loved Him as they served Him. And this is why we serve.

So even when you give a little one a cup of cold water, you serve our Savior (Matthew 10:42) Or when you wash the dirty feet of your children, you serve our Savior. Or when you go without sleep, or toss and turn on an uncomfortable bed to be present with women at a retreat, you serve our Savior. When you clean the house or cook a meal, you serve the Savior. When you give honest, hard work to your boss, you serve the Savior.

May Christ give you eyes to see all of life as an opportunity to be present with our Lord in whatever task you are about today. I pray you will sense His loving presence with you at all times.

How privileged we are to serve each other and to pray for one another. May God grant you peace and make His face to shine upon you.

Devotional 112 - I Am His And He Is Mine

"Hush, Dorothy," whispered the Tiger; "you'll ruin my reputation if you are not more discreet. It isn't what we are, but what folks think we are, that counts in this world."             
  L. Frank Baum  The Road To Oz 

Colossians 1:27 ...Christ in you , the hope of glory.  NKJV

Colossians 1:27  For it has pleased God to tell His people that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. For this is the secret: Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in His glory.  NLT

Good morning, dear ladies, beloved in the Lord, who are willing to serve the Savior, in spite of our glaring weaknesses.

We are all weak when it comes to living the Christ-centered life. We are all afraid to let our guard down, because, after all, as Tiger said, it's what folks think of us that counts in this world. But what does the Bible say about you?

Christ lives in you! That is who you are! You are a Christ carrier! And that is the most important thing about you. That is what we want to bring to others whom we serve. We want to give them Jesus. We want to live freely in Christ so others can also live freely in Christ.

It's not what folks think you are that counts, but what you are for eternity. You are to live in His forgiveness.  Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Thank God that you no longer have to be a people-pleasing driven person.