Tag Archives: Grow

Show Your Faith

 

people showing faith

The Way to Permanent Faith

My Utmost For His HIghest

Indeed the hour is coming . . . that you will be scattered . . . —John 16:32

Jesus was not rebuking the disciples in this passage. Their faith was real, but it was disordered and unfocused, and was not at work in the important realities of life. The disciples were scattered to their own concerns and they had interests apart from Jesus Christ. After we have the perfect relationship with God, through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, our faith must be exercised in the realities of everyday life. We will be scattered, not into service but into the emptiness of our lives where we will see ruin and barrenness, to know what internal death to God’s blessings means. Are we prepared for this? It is certainly not of our own choosing, but God engineers our circumstances to take us there. Until we have been through that experience, our faith is sustained only by feelings and by blessings. But once we get there, no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. That is what is meant by faith being exercised in the realities of life.

“. . . you . . . will leave Me alone.” Have we been scattered and have we left Jesus alone by not seeing His providential care for us? Do we not see God at work in our circumstances? Dark times are allowed and come to us through the sovereignty of God. Are we prepared to let God do what He wants with us? Are we prepared to be separated from the outward, evident blessings of God? Until Jesus Christ is truly our Lord, we each have goals of our own which we serve. Our faith is real, but it is not yet permanent. And God is never in a hurry. If we are willing to wait, we will see God pointing out that we have been interested only in His blessings, instead of in God Himself. The sense of God’s blessings is fundamental

“. . . be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Unyielding spiritual fortitude is what we need.

Crosswalk.com

I’m a Meddler
Lynn Cowell

“… aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (ESV)

I did it again. Stepped in to a situation that didn’t concern me. I told myself I was helping, but it wasn’t my place to speak up. As usual, it backfired.

Contemplating all that had happened that evening, Jesus spoke to me. Of course, not literally spoke to me, but He nudged my heart: You’re a meddler, Lynn, and you need to be done with it. When you meddle, you are not trusting. When you meddle, you are saying I can’t handle it. You know I can. So be done with it. No more.

I’m a meddler.

I like to say I’m a “fixer.” That’s what I have called it in the past, but truth is, that’s just a nicer way of putting it.

Not a gossiper. No, that is someone who intentionally separates and that’s not my heart. I want to help. Really I do.

I’m a meddler. Dictionary.com defines the verb “meddle” this way: “To involve oneself in a matter without right or invitation; interfere officiously and unwantedly.”

Without right or invitation. That’s what I do. Seeing an unhappy, unhealthy or unholy situation I listen to the whisper in my head. Since I see it, I think I’m instructed to do something about it.

But most often, I am not. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 4:11 says “… aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.”

My place is to be quiet and pray. But I still prefer to fix, manipulate and get involved.

In other words, I meddle.

So, there you have it. Now that I see my actions for what they are, it’s my responsibility to change. And in order to change, I will have to slow down before I take action or open my mouth. I’ll have to ask myself: Are you meddling?

Will I be tempted to meddle? Every day. Will I mess up? I hope not, but it’s highly probable. I’m human. My desire, though, is to mind my own affairs and let Jesus get involved. I will ask Him for prayers to pray, not words to say.

This change is going to be hard. But I know Jesus is serious about not meddling. Proverbs 26:17 says, “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears” (ESV). In other words, meddling isn’t smart! And that is not what I want to be; I want to be wise.

Any other meddlers out there? Can you think of times when you got involved and you shouldn’t have? Especially when the thing Jesus wanted you to do was to pray — and only pray? Let’s pray for each other and ask Jesus to open our eyes to see and leave our troubles up to Him.

Jesus, I’m a woman who wants to be a fixer. But that’s not really my place; it’s Yours. Open my eyes before I step in, and empower me to resist the temptation to get involved. Teach me to pray instead, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

April 4

Alone In The Desert

“And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place” (Luke 9:10).

In order to grow in grace, we must be much alone. It is not in society that the soul grows most vigorously. In one single quiet hour of prayer it will often make more progress than in days of company with others. It is in the desert that the dew falls freshest and the air is purest.
–Andrew Bonar

***

“Come ye yourselves apart and rest awhile,
Weary, I know it, of the press and throng,
Wipe from your brow the sweat and dust of toil,
And in My quiet strength again be strong.

“Come ye aside from all the world holds dear,
For converse which the world has never known,
Alone with Me, and with My Father here,
With Me and with My Father not alone.

“Come, tell Me all that ye have said and done,
Your victories and failures, hopes and fears.
I know how hardly souls are wooed and won:
My choicest wreaths are always wet with tears.

“Come ye and rest; the journey is too great,
And ye will faint beside the way and sink;
The bread of life is here for you to eat,
And here for you the wine of love to drink.

“Then fresh from converse with your Lord return,
And work till, daylight softens into even:
The brief hours are not lost in which ye learn
More of your Master and His rest in Heaven.”

You Need To Know

 

“If You Had Known!”

From: My Utmost For His Glory

If you had known . . . in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes —Luke 19:42

Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly and the city was stirred to its very foundations, but a strange god was there-the pride of the Pharisees. It was a god that seemed religious and upright, but Jesus compared it to “whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

What is it that blinds you to the peace of God “in thisyour day”? Do you have a strange god-not a disgusting monster but perhaps an unholy nature that controls your life? More than once God has brought me face to face with a strange god in my life, and I knew that I should have given it up, but I didn’t do it. I got through the crisis “by the skin of my teeth,” only to find myself still under the control of that strange god. I am blind to the very things that make for my own peace. It is a shocking thing that we can be in the exact place where the Spirit of God should be having His completely unhindered way with us, and yet we only make matters worse, increasing our blame in God’s eyes.

“If you had known . . . .” God’s words here cut directly to the heart, with the tears of Jesus behind them. These words imply responsibility for our own faults. God holds us accountable for what we refuse to see or are unable to see because of our sin. And “now they are hidden from your eyes” because you have never completely yielded your nature to Him. Oh, the deep, unending sadness for what might have been! God never again opens the doors that have been closed. He opens other doors, but He reminds us that there are doors which we have shut-doors which had no need to be shut. Never be afraid when God brings back your past. Let your memory have its way with you. It is a minister of God bringing its rebuke and sorrow to you. God will turn what might have been into a wonderful lesson of growth for the future.

To The Rescue

From: getmorestrength.org

There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. —Luke 15:7

Martie and I recently traveled to some major cities in several countries. We were struck with how lost our world is and grieved over the millions who have never heard the message of the saving grace of Jesus. The thought of reaching our world for Christ felt overwhelming.

Until I remembered the story of the boy walking on a beach. Encountering hundreds of starfish dying under the heat of the burning sun, he started throwing them back into the sea. A passerby asked, “What are you doing?” “Saving their lives,” the boy replied. “Forget it,” the man said. “You can’t possibly save all these starfish.” “Right,” replied the boy, “but it makes a big difference to each one I do save.”

I love the boy’s perspective. When the wave of sin threw us onto the shore to die, God sent His Son to walk on the beach to rescue all who would repent. And, as Jesus told His listeners in Luke 15, each time someone is rescued, heaven throws a party. “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).

Has heaven rejoiced over your rescue? If so, join the ranks of those who reach other lost souls with the rescuing grace of Jesus.

Your love, O God, would spare no pain
To conquer death and win;
You sent Your only Son to die
To rescue us from sin. —M. Gustafson

When you’ve been rescued, you’ll want to rescue others.

 

Jesus weeps

From: Our Daily Journey

Luke 19:41-44
As [Jesus] came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep (Luke 19:41).

What is your response to God’s appeal in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 andHebrews 3:7-15?

How does the fact that Jesus wept affect your view of Him and His love for you? What will you do to bring honor and glory to Him this week?

It happens often at weddings. The mother of the bride can be seen quietly sobbing. Her tears are a fitting response to the coming of age of her daughter and the memories of the years she had nutured her.

The Jews were celebrating the coming of their long-awaited king (Luke 19:35-38). Yet Jesus was weeping, the second time He had wept openly. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus wept (John 11:35). Here He was crying audibly (Luke 19:41).

But why? His people had rejected Him. They sought political freedom. But Jesus came to deliver them from their sins and to offer them peace with God by way of the cross—not the crown.

Jesus looked at their past. God had raised many prophets, calling His people to repent. But they had killed the prophets (Luke 11:48Luke 13:34). Jesus looked at thepresent religiosity and piety that had accomplished little. The city was filled with pilgrims commemorating a sacred festival, but it was empty worship. Their temple had become a den of thieves (Luke 19:46). Jesus looked at the future. He saw the death, destruction, and devastation that would come to the people and city (Luke 19:43-44).

The Lord had lovingly and persistently pursued them, but they “were not willing!” (Luke 13:34 NIV). Jesus wept because His own people had rejected Him as their Messiah (Luke 19:14John 1:11). Israel had wasted and exhausted her opportunities. “Now it [was] too late” (Luke 19:42). “Because [they] did not accept [their] opportunity for salvation” (Luke 19:44), only the fearful prospect of judgment was in view. Forty years later, the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.

Jesus weeps for you if you haven’t received His free gift of salvation. But it’s not too late!

Grow In God’s Strength

Grow in His Strength
From: Streams In The Desert
“As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange God with him” (Deut. 32:11, 12).Our Almighty Parent delights to conduct the tender nestlings of His care to the very edge of the precipice, and even to thrust them off into the steeps of air, that they may learn their possession of unrealized power of flight, to be forever a luxury; and if, in the attempt, they be exposed to unwonted peril, He is prepared to swoop beneath them, and to bear them upward on His mighty pinions. When God brings any of His children into a position of unparalleled difficulty, they may always count upon Him to deliver them.
–The Song of Victory

***

“When God puts a burden upon you He puts His own arm underneath.”

***

There is a little plant, small and stunted, growing under the shade of a broad-spreading oak; and this little plant values the shade which covers it, and greatly does it esteem the quiet rest which its noble friend affords. But a blessing is designed for this little plant.

Once upon a time there comes along the woodman, and with his sharp axe he fells the oak. The plant weeps and cries, “My shelter is departed; every rough wind will blow upon me, and every storm will seek to uproot me!”

“No, no,” saith the angel of that flower; “now will the sun get at thee; now will the shower fall on thee in more copious abundance than before; now thy stunted form shall spring up into loveliness, and thy flower, which could never have expanded itself to perfection shall now laugh in the sunshine, and men shall say, ‘How greatly hath that plant increased! How glorious hath become its beauty, through the removal of that which was its shade and its delight!'”

See you not, then, that God may take away your comforts and your privileges, to make you the better Christians? Why, the Lord always trains His soldiers, not by letting them lie on feather-beds, but by turning them out, and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long march with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. This is the way in which He makes them soldiers–not by dressing them up in fine uniforms, to swagger at the barrack gates, and to be fine gentlemen in the eyes of the loungers in the park. God knows that soldiers are only to be made in battle; they are not to be grown in peaceful times. We may grow the stuff of which soldiers are made; but warriors are really educated by the smell of powder, in the midst of whizzing bullets and roaring cannonades, not in soft and peaceful times. Well, Christian, may not this account for it all? Is not thy Lord bringing out thy graces and making them grow? Is He not developing in you the qualities of the soldier by throwing you into the heat of battle, and should you not use every appliance to come off conqueror?
–Spurgeon


You’ve Got A Friend

[Jesus said,] “I have called you friends.” —John 15:15
Bible in a Year:
Judges 16-18; Luke 7:1-30

One of the ironic consequences of the sweeping growth of social media is that we often find ourselves more personally isolated. One online article warns: “Those who oppose leading one’s life primarily or exclusively online claim that virtual friends are not adequate substitutes for real-world friends, and . . . individuals who substitute virtual friends for physical friends become even lonelier and more depressive than before.”

Technology aside, all of us battle with seasons of loneliness, wondering if anyone knows, understands, or cares about the burdens we carry or the struggles we face. But followers of Christ have an assurance that brings comfort to our weary hearts. The comforting presence of the Savior is promised in words that are undeniable, for the psalmist David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4).

Whether isolated by our own choices, by the cultural trends that surround us, or by the painful losses of life, all who know Christ can rest in the presence of the Shepherd of our hearts. What a friend we have in Jesus!

I’ve found a Friend; O such a Friend!
He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
And thus He bound me to Him. —Small
Those who know Jesus as their Friend are never alone.
No More Guilt-Induced Doubt
Renee SwopeFrom: Crosswalk.com

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

Mom said she’d be gone all day, and she encouraged me to come over and use her place to write. In a quiet house, hopefully, I could finalize my message outlines for our church women’s retreat.

We arranged plans for my mom to be home at 5 p.m. Then my husband, J.J., would come over at 5:30 p.m. with our boys. The children could stay with Grandma while J.J. and I went to a surprise party.

Mom’s quiet house was just what I needed to get into a good studying and writing zone. It was the perfect setting … until she came home two hours early!

She brought cement pavers in and set them on the floor. She walked out and returned to plop bags of groceries in the kitchen … right where I was studying.

Normally this would have been fine, but I wasn’t done and I got the message that my time was up. Panic set in!

Then, to make matters worse, as I put my notes away I knocked a water bottle over onto my laptop. My chest tightened with anxiety, and my eyes stung with tears. My perfect day was turning into the perfect storm.

After mopping up the mess, I started getting ready for the party and waited for my husband to arrive. He didn’t show up at 5:30, or 5:40. He wasn’t answering his cell phone, and I didn’t want to ruin the surprise party by being late. So, at 6:00, I decided to take Mom’s car and have him meet me there.

Just as I was leaving, he drove up. Surprisingly, he didn’t look a bit hurried. In fact, my then 6-year-old son got out of the car first, walked up to me and said, “Daddy told us you would be mad!”

That was an understatement! Frustrated and angry, I decided it was still a good idea for me to leave. But when I pulled out of the driveway, my husband waved for me to stop and asked, “Aren’t you going to wait for me?”

“No,” I snapped. “Because you’re acting like a [beep].”

My 8-year-old son walked up and said, “Mommy! You just called Daddy a [beep].”

Suddenly guilt-induced doubt made me start questioning everything, including speaking at the retreat. I’m not cut out for this. I’m not godly enough. I must have heard God wrong. I have no business teaching a message I can’t even live.

My husband and I ended up going to the party together, with our fake “everything is fine” smiles. But the next morning at church, I went straight to my women’s ministry director, confessed what happened and told her I needed to step down from being the retreat speaker.

Her response shocked me: “Renee, if you don’t need this message as much as the women attending, then you are not qualified to teach it. But because you need it as much as we do, you are. You’ve been appointed and you are anointed to do this.”

I had never experienced such a demonstration of God’s grace.

That response showed me what it looks like to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

It’s hard to believe God could use us when we’re such a mess, yet the Bible is filled with stories of men and women He used greatly — despite their downfalls.

I ended up speaking at the retreat and shared what had happened. Although I feared some women might judge me, they loved me, accepting that I’m not perfect.

Although guilt can make us give up on ourselves, God won’t. Instead, He offers to take what feels like destruction and use it for reconstruction in our journey with Him.

When we confess our wrong thoughts, words, and actions and receive God’s forgiveness, our hearts can be set free from guilt-induced doubt and filled with grace-infused confidence.

Lord, I come to You today to receive Your mercy and find Your grace to help me. Please replace my guilt-induced doubt with Your grace-infused confidence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.