Flawless by Design
As a young woman, I used to work for a well-known cosmetic company, and one of the perks of my job was performing makeovers on women. I especially enjoyed observing how ladies would transform into glowing Cinderella-like beauties, and how even their very demeanors would change once they caught their new image reflecting back in the mirror.
My dear old Aunt Alice, who lived in the country on a work farm and specialized in fried green tomatoes, used to always say, “A little fresh paint on the old barn never hurt anybody!”
I no longer work for the cosmetic industry, but I still perform makeovers every day—not necessarily the “Revlon” kind, but rather the “Beauty for Ashes” kind. God has privileged me to be an encourager of souls to those who may have lost their self-worth and somehow feel less than attractive because of a misplaced identity. God has bypassed our need for plastic surgery or the newest age-defying skincare products because when we become born-again, we are instantly transformed into a completely new creation! We are no longer in need of being “made over” or polished up from a tarnished image.
To Him, we are made complete and absolutely perfect, lacking nothing. In His eyes, we are exquisite just as we are. Isn’t that reassuring in what can sometimes be a very superficial world? I am so thankful for His unconditional love and that He is head over heels in love with us just as we are!
The famous hymn says it so well:
Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee …
I come, I come.
—Charlotte Elliott, “Just as I Am, Without One Plea”
Come to Him today and let Him give you a “makeover”. He longs to whisper in your ear, “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Solomon 4:7 NIV).
Do You Pray?
By: Kelli Givens, crosswalk.org
Editor’s Note: The following devotional is based on J.C. Ryle’s A Call to Prayer (Banner of Truth, 2002).
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9, NIV
Do you pray? In J.C. Ryle’s small but important book, A Call to Prayer, he challenges readers with this simple question. Ryle asserts “there is no duty in religion so neglected as private prayer.” I’m sure many of us would agree; of all the spiritual disciplines, prayer is often the hardest habit to form and one that is most quickly broken. However, we should strive to pray often, because prayer is an incredibly important element of our faith.
Here are a few reasons Ryle gives for why prayer is so important:
1. A habit of prayer is one of the surest marks of a true Christian. The greatest heroes and heroines of the Bible often shared a similar attribute- they were men and women of prayer. To take your frustrations, challenges, joys, hopes and dreams to God on a regular basis requires a great deal of faith – you are essentially relinquishing control and telling God, “I trust you will work on my behalf in this situation.” Do you have this kind of faith? Do you pray?
2. A habit of prayer brings great encouragement to the one who prays. In the Bible, we see that prayer moved God to raise the dead, heal the sick, save souls, draw water from a rock and send bread from heaven. Prayer even made the sun stand still! The fact that prayer moves God to action should be a great encouragement to us. Are you encouraged by God’s provision and power? Do you pray?
3. A habit of prayer creates holy men and women. The more we seek God out in prayer, the more our hearts are aligned with what God desires for us and we become holier men and women in the process. Are you growing closer to God? Do you pray?
4. If we do not pray, we run the risk of backsliding in our faith. Let’s be clear – Ryle doesn’t mean we should fear losing our salvation. However, without prayer we run the risk of becoming stagnate in our faith, if not falling back into sinful habits and temptations we had once overcome through prayer. When a relationship turns sour, often a main cause is poor communication. So too with us and God. Do you feel stagnate in your faith or distant from God? Do you pray?
5. A habit of prayer brings peace and contentment. We live in a sin-filled world. Sorrows and troubles abound. So how do we combat sadness, disappointments, fears, slanders, and hurt? When we cry out to our Father, he offers us peace that transcends our understanding. This is one of the richest blessings of our faith. Are you experiencing this blessing? Do you pray?
God Alone Deserves Worship
For us, jealousy isn’t attractive, but for God, it’s a holy attribute. God is unhappy when we worship anyone besides Him. Only He deserves our praise.
When reading in the Old Testament, we may not understand why people would bow before idols—surely they didn’t think that these objects were living and powerful. But we make a similar mistake, placing too high a value on money, relationships, power, and the like. Though not bad in themselves, such things can become the focus of our worship. That’s why the Father is jealous for our heart.
There are two reasons God won’t tolerate our misplaced devotion. First, He deserves the glory. And second, there is nothing better for us than His love. Praising Him above all else is actually in our own best interest. Therefore, when our heart doesn’t belong solely to Christ, He will use discipline and reminders so we will prioritize Him.
This week, notice where you spend your time and money and what dominates your thoughts. Even if your pursuits seem good on the surface, pray about what might be an idol in your life. Confess any misplaced affection, and ask the Lord for help in making Him the object of your devotion.
When the Spirit Shuts a Door – Streams in the Desert – September 24
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithyma: but the Spirit suffered them not (Acts 16:7).
What a strange prohibition! These men were going into Bithynia just to do Christ‘s work, and the door is shut against them by Christ’s own Spirit.
I, too, have experienced this in certain moments. I have sometimes found myself interrupted in what seemed to me a career of usefulness. Opposition came and forced me to go back, or sickness came and compelled me to retire into a desert apart.
It was hard at such times to leave my work undone when I believed that work to be the service of the Spirit. But I came to remember that the Spirit has not only a service of work, but a service of waiting. I came to see that in the Kingdom of Christ there are not only times for action, but times in which to forbear acting. I came to learn that the desert place apart is often the most useful spot in the varied life of man–more rich in harvest than the seasons in which the corn and wine abounded. I have been taught to thank the blessed Spirit that many a darling Bithynia had to be left unvisited by me.
And so, Thou Divine Spirit, would I still be led by Thee. Still there come to me disappointed prospects of usefulness. Today the door seems to open into life and work for Thee; tomorrow it closes before me just as I am about to enter. Teach me to see another door in the very inaction of the hour. Help me to find in the very prohibition thus to serve Thee, a new opening into Thy service. Inspire me with the knowledge that a man may at times be called to do his duty by doing nothing, to work by keeping still, to serve by waiting. When I remember the power of the “still small voice,” I shall not murmur that sometimes the Spirit suffers me not to go.
“When I cannot understand my Father’s leading,
And it seems to be but hard and cruel fate,
I Still I hear that gentle whisper ever
pleading,God is working, God is faithful, ONLY WAIT.”