Monday, March 31, 2014

God's Design: Holy Living and Prayer Part 2

The idea for starting this blog originally came from my husband.  I am thankful for that.  He is a godly man and a strong spiritual leader for me.  Not only that, he is my pastor!

I guess since he was the instigator of my blog, and since he is my strongest spiritual influence, it makes sense that God would use the things he has taught me to be the basis of most of my blog posts.  I have sincerely prayed and asked God to use this space for His glory alone and solely for His purposes.  My prayer is that He would direct the when and what to place on this blog.  I know He will always accomplish His perfect will when we subject ourselves to Him:

So, one of the many things I learn from him is the importance of holy living.  Not living according to rules that man (even Christian man) has made, but being a "living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable worship." ( Romans 12:1b)  He has taught me, through the Word, that we are free: free from the bondage of sin!  We are now free in Christ to live righteous and holy lives! (Romans 6:22)

I love our Wednesday night prayer meetings.  It is one of the sweetest gatherings at our church (well, they are all sweet...but you know what I mean!)  Jeff always gives us a short devotional usually having something to do with prayer.  A few weeks ago he highlighted for us the life of George Whitfield and his heart for a life of holiness before God.  I would like to share with you something from George Whitfield.  It is a sort of "run down of the day" list from his diary that he went through in his mind each evening.  The reason I named this post Holy Living and Prayer Part 2 is because this list covers both!

So here they are.  I pray they are a blessing to you as they have been to me.  I'm not always faithful to go through them each night, but a few of them have stuck with me and caused me to keep my mind stayed upon Jehovah during the day.

Have I,

  1. Been fervent in private prayer?

  2. Used stated hours of prayer?

  3. Used prayer every hour?  (This one has stuck with me!  I feel like I am constantly sending up red flare prayers to God, but I am working on having a deliberate time to pray and thank God every hour.  I need Him every hour!)

  4. After or before every deliberate conversation or action, considered how it might tend to God's glory? (Yeah, this one got me!  Has definitely caused me to pause and consider Him and His glory through my day)

  5. After any pleasure, immediately given thanks? (Mmmhmm....this one too.  I better stop the commentary or this post will never end!)

  6.  Planned business for the day? (Planning...God is a God of order)

  7.  Been simple and recollected in everything? 

  8.  Been zealous in undertaking and active in doing what good I could?

  9.  Been meek, cheerful, affable in everything I said or did? (convicting...)

10. Been proud, vain, unchaste, or enviable of others? (convicting...)

11. Recollected in eating and drinking? Thankful? Temperate in sleep? (okay...they all convict me!)

12. Taken time for giving thanks according to [William] Law's rules? See this

13. Been diligent in studies? (2 Timothy 2:15)

14. Thought or spoken unkindly of anyone?

15. Confessed all sin?

What a way to end the day, huh?

Psalm 19:14 "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer."

Monday, March 24, 2014

Living Out God's Design-A Clean Heart

In learning how to live out God's design for us as women, one of God's gracious methods is by pointing us to the Proverbs 31 woman.  Too often, we read those verses with a predisposed idea that she is perfect and we could never measure up.  Our error is in reading the text with our feelings instead of asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the heart of God's will for us as we rely on His grace and power to sanctify our lives.  There is so much to say on the Proverbs 31 woman, but I love what a new acquaintance of mine has to say on a portion of the passage and how she beautifully exposes a heart issue in all of us.

Sunny Shell is a blogger at Abandoned to Christ and My Second Love, as well as a writer for the Christian Post.  She has given me permission to share her blog post here on my site.  I know you will be blessed by it.  Sunny writes:

A Proverbs 31 Woman Does More Than Keep Her Home...

...she keeps her heart "clean" for Christ so that what flows out of her mouth is most pleasing to the Lord (Matt 15:18-20Ps 19:14Eph 4:29-32).

"She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue...God shows no partiality..If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors...So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." ~Proverbs 31:26Romans 2:11James 2:8-9,4:17

We women "open our mouths" not just with our physical mouths, but also with our pens and keyboards. And too often, we "show partiality" as we ought not. We pay attention only to those we think "love" us just because they serve us and make us feel good. We don't tend to care very much if what others say are from God's Word (Ps 19:7), His wisdom (James 3:17) or that the teaching of God's kindness is on our tongues (1 John 3:18). Too often, we only keep close company with those whose words soothe our flesh and boosts our already overweening egos (2 Tim 4:3-4).

So what's a girl to do? Cry out to Jesus for help!

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [in Christ], but with the temptation He will also provide the Way of escape, that you may be able to endure it...For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Below are some of the questions I ask myself to test my own heart:
  • Do I prefer those who will openly and lovingly rebuke, wound and sharpen me with God's Word (Prov 27:517)?
  • Do I trust, appreciate and prefer those who exhort me (through speech and by their living), to travel the narrow road (Ps 1:1-3)?
  • Or do I prefer, respect and give honor to those who lavish me with "kisses" that make you feel good but does nothing to inspire me to do good (Prov 27:6James 1:22)?
Often, our husbands are the ones whom God uses to do all these things. And deep down, we all know it, so what do we do? We hide things from them so they can't lead, rebuke, hold us accountable and "sharpen" us. Instead of biblically submitting under our husband's God-given headship, and openly and honestly seek their wise counsel 1; we gossip and chatter with girlfriends who'll do nothing but feed and nurture our Eve-complex rather than encourage us to live as daughters of Sarah (1 Peter 3:6).

Since I'm guilty of having done these things (because who doesn't like to have their ego stroked?), to keep me from continuing in this sin, I tell my darling husband everything regarding my relationships with: our sons, friends, co-workers and anybody I come in contact with and especially how I'm doing with my relationship with the Lord.

For example, if someone sends me something in writing, I ask my husband to read it for himself, rather than me telling him what someone wrote or said because honestly, I'm aware that my reading may include negative voice inflections, or that my retelling may not be completely accurate and possibly skewed by how I happened to be feeling at the moment. In order to get the true, untainted, godly counsel from my husband, I confess I'm struggling with something and I'm not sure if it's me or "them" and I need his wise counsel. Then I present him with whatever is necessary for him to lead me in the Way. 2

Now that I've openly shared the depths of my heart with you, it's your turn. Ask yourselves the same questions (above) that I ask myself.

God says true friends will love us enough to give us His truth fully aware that we may lash back in anger or give them the silent treatment. Those who truly love you will always sacrifice themselves and subject themselves to your abuse—all for your eternal good. Remember that, and take time today to thank your husband (if you're married) or your friends who express God's love to you. If you've returned their kindness with unkindness, be a big girl...confess your sins and ask them for forgiveness.

 Note: None of our husbands are perfect and give wise counsel all the time. Only Christ the Lord is perfect and is able to do that. However, God commanded and has provided protection and blessing (1 Pet 3:1-246) for all His girls who choose to be strong and courageous enough to submit to their husbands in everything as unto the Lord (Eph 5:24).

 Caution: If you are married, do not engage in deep spiritual or emotional conversations with any man but your husband (whether a pastor, family member, childhood friend, co-worker, etc.). Doing this will damage the sacred intimacy God has granted only between a husband and his wife. No matter how hard you try, you will disobey God by disrespecting your husband (Eph 5:33).

(article also published at My Second Love and The Christian Post)

*This was reposted by permission from Sunny Shell

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review : Four Cups

Book Review of Four Cups by Chris Hodges

From the back cover:

"What if God has a plan for you from the very beginning?

The God of the universe has made you some big promises. He made them first in the Old Testament,  but they remain at the core of his heart and have never changed.  They're the key to your fulfillment and to his plans for you, both in this life and the life to come.

*God wants to rescue you from bondage
*He wants to deliver you from whatever holds you back
*He wants you to discover his original intention for your life
*And he wants you to be a part of a family that is making a difference.....

Steeped in Jewish history and tradition yet breathing the transforming hope of Jesus on every page, Four Cups will help you move forward through the four stages of faith.  Your thirst for more will finally be quenched-and you will experience a wellspring of joy, hope and purpose."

While the historical background of the book is interesting and the basis for the book seems biblical, there are some errors that keep me from being able to highly recommend it.

I appreciate that the author makes a point to explain that Jesus is our deliverer and that it is His death on the cross that secured our redemption and the other three cups-Sanctification, Deliverance and Praise are rightly defined.

I also applaud the fact that he pointed out that our freedom from the bondage of sin allows us to be free in order to "love Him, to be in a relationship with Him, and to live out the fulfilling purpose for which He created us."  Many authors/speakers today do not teach this 'freedom' in a biblical way.

Concerning the cup of Sanctification, the author points out that, "He sees every person on earth as His child, though some are still lost."  This is biblically incorrect.  The lost are never referred as God's children.  They are His creation, but they are called "objects of wrath" in Ephesians 2:3.  Romans 9:8 says, "this means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of promise are counted as offspring." Also in 1 John 3:10 it is clearly stated, "By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil; whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one that does not love his brother."

Another area of the book that gave me great pause is that the author used a known atheist/secular psychologist by the name of Abraham Maslow and his 'heirarchy of needs' to prove a point of one of his four cups.  He even went as far as to state that he believed Maslow was right that we need our basic needs met before we can be functional in this society and be used by God.  We must be very careful here! First, there is no place to use humanistic and ungodward thought to prove the promises of God! His Word is enough!  Authors must beware of using a little secular thought and a little of the bible and mixing it to make a perfect and palatable morsel.  His Word is enough!  And God never ever says we need our basic needs met to be usable and fulfilled in His kingdom.

While I believe the authors intentions were to write a book to encourage and aid Christians, I would only recommend the book to a mature Christian who has learned to discern and one who will read it (as we should read EVERY book other than the bible) with their bible open to prove it against the Word of God.

 I have received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.