Take Heart for Christ
Jesus said, “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)
Most of us, when we read a Christian book, we read to get through it. We feel a sense of accomplishment when we’ve finished reading a chapter. But the secret to spiritual learning is not to read more, but to go deeper. Go deeper in your reading in order to go deeper with Christ.
The way to use spiritual reading to go deeper with Christ is to re-read. And to reflect on what you’re reading with a view towards applying it to your life. Make highlights. Journal. Identify one change that you need to make in your life. Share what you’re learning with a friend. Pray.
To grow deeper in your relationship with Christ it is especially helpful to make a favorite author your mentor. Read and re-read everything that author has written. Listen to his or her talks. Become an expert. Immerse yourself in your mentor’s understanding of life with God. Learn to think and pray like he or she does. Read the books that influenced your mentor. If your author mentor is still alive ask to talk to him or her.
In short, “Take heart.” Take heart for Christ from your mentor. Let this man or woman lead you to Jesus. Absorb his or her devotion to Christ until it interacts with your personality and becomes your own unique expression of love for your Lord.
David wasn’t born with a heart for God. The Bible shows us that he took heart from his mentor Samuel. Then he taught us to:
“Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14 NIV; see also Psalm 31:24).
It’s the same for you and I and anyone who wants to grow in their Devotion to Christ: We need mentors, “Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20) to take heart from.
Seven years ago, I started taking heart from Dallas Willard. This has greatly helped me to live out my mission statement: “Being with Jesus to become like him.”
Dallas recommended I read Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians written by James Gilchrist Lawson in 1911. He said the stories of great Christians and their relationships with Christ from this book had profoundly impacted him. I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you that I read and re-read that book!
Francois Fenelon is one of the Christians described in this book. He was deeply impacted by his mentor (also in the book), Jeanne Guyon. In particular, she wrote him a powerful letter in 1688. These are the kind of words that we all need to hear from a mentor.
“Take heart” with Fenelon from Guyon:
For seven days past I have been in a state of continual prayer for you… that God’s will might be accomplished and God’s glory might be manifested in you like a lamp that burns without ceasing… It seems to me that the designs of mercy, which God has upon you are not yet accomplished, and therefore I suffer. My suffering is great. My prayer is not yet heard.
The prayer which I offer for you… is not a prayer self-made, formal, and outward. It is the voice of the Holy Ghost uttering itself in the soul… I have been in this state of mind before for other souls, but never with such struggle of spirit, and never for so long a time. God’s designs will be accomplished upon you…
The next day Guyon wrote another letter to Fenelon…
So deeply absorbing has been the application of my soul to God on your account that I have slept but little… For your entire renovation [my spirit] burns and consumes itself within me.
I have an inward conviction that the obstacle, which has hitherto separated you from God is diminishing, and passing away. Certain it is, that my soul begins to feel a spiritual likeness and union with yours, which it has not previously felt.
Did you read Guyon’s words as a prayer for you personally? If not, re-read them now!
Madam Guyon prayed for Fenelon’s heart (his will, capacity for choice, and orientation for life) to be completely abandoned to the Lord and she didn’t stop until she saw him being renovated by Christ.
You and I need someone like that in our lives to take heart from!
Words of Jesus Warn Us to Stay Alert in this World
By: Debbie McDaniel, crosswalk.com
Reading through Mark chapter 13 again late last night, have read it over and over this past year, and it’s seeming more real now. In it, Jesus reminds us that when we see certain signs that indicate we are in, or are entering into the end times, we don’t have to be alarmed.
Because He’s told us ahead of time what to expect, we know from His Word, “such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” Mark 13:7
He reminds us that we will know these are prophetic words coming to pass when we hear of “wars and rumors of wars,” when we see certain events unfolding, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.” Mark 13:7-8
And also, in this one chapter where Jesus is telling us of all that’s to come, signs of the end times, He says this over and over, 7 different times throughout these verses…
He warns us to stay aware.
His words are true are they are for now, right now, in this day and time, and throughout all future days until he comes again. May we be faithful, wise to listen, and may He help us to apply them to life:
– “Watch out that no one deceives you…” v. 5
– “You must be on your guard…” v. 9
– “So be on your guard, I have told you everything ahead of time.” v. 23
– “Be on guard!” v. 33
– “Be alert!” v. 33
– “Therefore, keep watch…” v. 35
– “If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch!” v. 36
As believers, we have hope in Christ, we know beyond a doubt He is at work in this world and He will come again.
Let’s keep working while it is still day…
Praying for His mercy through the storms and floods, through the earthquakes, through the fires, may God draw many to Himself in these days. And may we be found living as light in a world that needs His great peace.
“In the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’” – 2 Peter 3:3 NASB
“A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.” These words, written by Henry Louis Mencken, provide a concise summary of his philosophy of life.
Born in Baltimore on this date in 1880, Mencken spent much of his life as an editor and writer. Because of his visibility, he became extremely influential with a reputation as the leading authority on language in America.
His writings were filled with cynicism. He had a particular hatred of Christianity, often expressed with biting sarcasm. His view was that God was the “refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable.” He influenced countless men and women with his cynical attitude.
This legacy continues today fostered by Mencken and other doubters. Just look around and consider the cynicism expressed by so many entertainers, writers, educators, and politicians. All kinds of people feel free to mock Christians and make fun of those who believe in the Bible. They spread cynicism and doubt.
This attitude can be contagious. Even Christians can allow their lives to be poisoned by doubt and find it difficult to trust in God without reservation or to believe the words of the Bible.
Don’t give in to this spirit of mockery. As Jesus taught, seek to be pure in heart (Matthew 5:8). Seek to love God and believe the Bible with child-like innocence. Trust in Him. Stand on His Word. Reject doubt. Live by faith.
Streams in the Desert – September 12
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” (S. of Sol. 8:5).
Some one gained a good lesson from a Southern prayer meeting. A brother asked the Lord for various blessings–as you and I do, and thanked the Lord for many already received–as you and I do; but he closed with this unusual petition: “And, O Lord, support us! Yes support us Lord on every leanin’ side!”
Have you any leaning sides? This humble man’s prayer pictures them in a new way and shows the Great Supporter in a new light also. He is always walking by the Christian, ready to extend His mighty arm and steady the weak one on “every leanin’ side.”
“Child of My love, lean hard,
And let Me feel the pressure of thy care;
I know thy burden, child. I shaped it;
Poised it in Mine Own hand; made no proportion
In its weight to thine unaided strength,
For even as I laid it on, I said,
‘I shall be near, and while she leans on Me,
This burden shall be Mine, not hers;
So shall I keep My child within the circling arms
Of My Own love.’
Here lay it down, nor fear
To impose it on a shoulder which upholds the government of worlds.
Yet closer come: Thou art not near enough.
I would embrace thy care;
So I might feel My child reposing on My breast.
Thou lovest Me? I knew it.
Doubt not then;
But Loving Me, lean hard.”