Revive Me #49–See God at Work

Revive Me, Week 49–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

See God at Work

I love the idea of keeping a prayer journal.  At ladies’ Bible class this past week, Anthea Carelse shared how she does hers.  I thought it was so great that I plan to do the same thing.  Instead of coming up with New Year’s resolutions, Anthea spends time creating her prayer journal for the year.  She thinks of and writes down her list of major prayer requests/ concerns.  She adds to it throughout the year.  She said that her favorite part is looking back a few weeks or months later and seeing how many she can cross off the list.  Anthea said that at the end of the year, she looks back over her prayer journal and can clearly see how most of her prayers were answered or in the process of being answered.  How faith building!

Anthea’s idea is a great one because it’s a reminder to see God at work.  When we do that, we will be more thankful for His love and attention.  We can always grow in our faith and in our gratitude.  Acknowledging answered prayers is an easy way to do that.

And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.

–1 John 5:14,15

“Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you”

(Elisabeth Elliot)

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Purchase a spiral bound notebook or pretty journal and be thinking about the specific prayer requests/ concerns you’d like to write down on January 1st.
  2.  Besides building faith and growing gratitude, keeping track of God’s work in your life can also keep complaining and the martyr complex at bay.  What other benefits can you think of that will come from acknowledging answered prayers?
  3.  Read the following verses and note the conditions mentioned for answered prayer:

1 John 5:14,15-

John 15:7-

Matt. 7:7-

Psalm 37:4-

James 5:16-

Luke 18:1-

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Image cred: Huffington Post

 

 

Revive Me #16–Be Marvelous!

Revive Me, Week 16–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Be Marvelous!

“Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, ‘I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.'”

(Luke 7:9)

Reading about something that causes Jesus to marvel catches my attention.  What did that man do to amaze Jesus?  In the beginning of Luke 7, we read about a centurion whose slave was about to die.  He sent for Jesus.  When the centurion heard that Jesus was on the way, he sent messengers to Him to say He needn’t “trouble Himself” to come all the way under his roof.  He said, “Just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (v. 7).  He spoke of Jesus’ authority and power.  Simply put, the centurion’s speech revealed his great faith.

Words can also reveal weak faith.  When the disciples of Jesus experienced a storm, they said, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” Jesus said, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” (Matt. 8:23-26).

Peter took a few brave steps onto the water but then he “became frightened” and began to sink.  He cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Jesus said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:28-31).

What does your speech reveal about your faith?

Is it obvious to those around you that your faith is great?  No matter what life throws at you, you’re quick to speak of the authority and power of Jesus.  You happily turn control over to Him.  You exude confidence and peace because of your trust in the One who can heal the broken and calm the storms.

Or  does your speech reveal a little faith?  You’re a fretter.  You’re easily overwhelmed.  You allow the things of this world to intimidate you.  When you experience a storm, your words reveal your fear.  When you begin to sink, your cries reveal your doubt.

I want Jesus to marvel at my faith, don’t you?

This week, be marvelous!  Create opportunities to declare your great faith.

Suggestions for the week:

1.  Marvelous is a terrific word.  Look it up.  Just reading the definition and its synonyms will make you feel good.

2.  Study the accounts of the centurion and his great faith (Matt. 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10).  Also study the accounts of those who dismayed Jesus by their little faith (Matt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8).  What situations did these individuals find themselves in?  How did they react?

3.  Think of your specific storms.  How have you reacted?  Have you allowed fear and worry to weaken your faith?  What will you do and say to show your great faith?

4.  Be mindful of opportunities this week to cause others to marvel at your great faith.

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Growing Your Faith

This quarter at the Bear Valley Bible Institute International, I’m teaching “Personal Spiritual Growth” in the Women’s Program.  There are 24 wonderful women in the class.  One of their recent assignments was to write a 6-page paper about growing their faith.  Not only did I learn a lot while grading their papers, but it also gave me additional insight into their good and tender hearts.

I asked the ladies if any of them would be willing to share what they considered to be their best thoughts from their paper with you.  Here is what I received:

  • “Sometimes it is easy to be down on ourselves. That really is where Satan would like to keep us. He would like to keep reminding us that we are not worthy of the love of our Savior. Some are defeated because of thoughts like this. But we only have to remember Paul’s story to know what a lie this is. He shows us right here how unworthy he feels and really, all of the terrible things he did that might make us agree with him. But the love of Jesus and His grace is for all of us!” —Abigail Warnes
  • “Now that we know we have baggage, we must focus on making a conscious effort in training ourselves to change this behavior and eliminate the baggage.  You can do this by replacing these thoughts with scripture, spending time helping someone else, or focusing on how these situations may glorify God. Romans 8:28 shows us that all things work together for those who love the Lord. Over time these things seem to be less important, and it may even motivate you to mend past relationships. A verse that personally helped me is Romans 12:21, “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  It showed me that by replacing these negative thoughts with positive ones and actively doing for others instead of being self-absorbed, God will give us that peace that surpasses understanding in Phil 4:7. I honestly believe once we begin doing these, that’s when we find the true joy and the past has no relevance in the present.”  —Bonnie Saldana
  • “If you aren’t growing spiritually, your mind is still on the fleshly and you are dead (Romans 8:5,6).  God can use anyone’s situation, but He uses you to the fullest when you let go of the past.”  —Christa Bassett
  • “There are many flashing lights in this world that can pull us towards them, but if we are focused on becoming mature in our faith we can overcome those desires and know that what the Lord provides for us is enough (Matthew 6:33). Our worldly passions can lead us to many undesirable attitudes about “THINGS,” so when we can get these desires under control, we can soar to a higher spiritual calling rather than to the desires and riches of this world (1 Timothy 6:17).” —Monica R. Gibson
  • “Another way to become spiritually mature is to train ourselves to know right from wrong (Hebrews 5:14).  We are bombarded every day by what other people believe to be truth–in schools, on TV, in magazines, on the radio, on the internet, in books written by scholarly men, by scientists, the list could go on.  What source are we using to determine truth?  If we rely on others to tell us what is true, we leave ourselves vulnerable to false teaching (Gal. 1:6-9).  The Bereans gladly searched the Scriptures daily to make sure what they were hearing was accurate (Acts 17:11).  We need to behave as the Bereans, and be eager to search the Scriptures daily to train ourselves on what is truth and what is error (2 Tim. 3:16,17).  This is the only way we will be able to stand on solid ground when we are presented with having to defend the truth.”  —Carol Melton
  • “Though putting on the nature of God takes effort, it is rewarding.  He makes provisions for us in our struggles. Like the story of the house swept clean of demons, we must replace the bad with something good. ‘Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart’ (2 Tim 2:22).” —Brenda Woolery
  • “The past can weigh us down and has the ability to hold us back from growing. Sometimes it can be hard to forgive ourselves from our past. Paul certainly struggled with this. He states, ‘Even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief’ (1 Tim 1:13). It can become a ball and chain around our leg stopping us from running the race as we should.”  —Tracy Threlfall
  • “You can’t grow in your faith if you’re still living in the past.  Being stuck in the past can keep you from moving on toward spiritual maturity.  Your faith will grow as you see that knowing Jesus is the most important thing in life.”  —Laura Jensen
  • “When we are baptized, ALL our sins are washed away.  God remembers them no more!  From that point on, when we stumble, we ask forgiveness and He removes those sins also.  We are told in Colossians 1:13,14, ‘He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.’  If God can do that, why can’t we forgive ourselves?  I believe Satan puts doubt in our minds and makes us recall memories in order to confuse us and draw our minds away from God.  James 4:7 tells us, ‘Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’ (ESV).  1 Peter 5:8 says, ‘Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.’ If we can keep doubt in perspective, we will know it comes from the devil.  And if we keep our focus on God, we can resist the devil’s attempts to discourage us.”  —Brenda Stow

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10 Things I Want My Sons to Have When They Leave Home

Our sons are almost 21, almost 19, and 16 years old.  I want them to be happy and healthy, but more than anything, I want them to have their own genuine relationship with God.  Here are 10 things I pray they will have when they leave home:

I.  HONESTY

God is love, so when I hear that He hates something, it catches my attention.  Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven things God hates, and lying is mentioned twice!  Honesty tops my list of Ten Things because of what honesty prevents:

  • Deceiving self.  Self-honesty is crucial to personal Christianity.  How will my sons know if they’re in a right relationship with God if they’re deceiving themselves in their self-evaluation (1 Cor. 11:28)?  The Bibles says, “Test yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5).  The very word test implies honesty.
  • Making excuses.  Excuses are cover-ups for short-comings.  They’re what we come up with when we try to remove the blame or responsibility for something.  ”Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.”  I want my sons to build their houses on the rock.  According to Jesus, that means they will hear His words and DO them, not make excuses for what they’re not doing (Matt. 7:24).
  • Moral Dilemmas.  Dishonesty leads to moral dilemmas in so many areas of life– business relations, taxes, academics, moral ethics.  Dishonesty produces a life of double standards.
  • Distrust.  One lie can destroy years of trust, trust that will take a long time to be restored.  A dishonest person won’t have good relationships with coworkers, with elders, with his wife & children, or with his church family.

II.  PURITY OF HEART

As a mother of three boys, I’ve felt many moments of indignation at all the sexual impurity bombarding us from all sides.  Purity of heart made my list of Ten Things because if my sons don’t have pure hearts:

  • They won’t see God (Matt. 5:8).
  • They will be in a war waging against their soul (1 Pet. 2:11).
  • They will be instruments of unrighteousness (Rom. 6:13).
  • They will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21).

With our sex-saturated society, the idea of raising pure-hearted boys may seem to be an uphill battle against overwhelming odds.  But our young men need to know that God’s promise still holds true:  “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

III.  COMPASSION

My sons will be guilty of hypocrisy if they’re big on keeping the law but lack compassion (Matt. 23:23).  Some do what they’re supposed to do and say what they’re supposed to say, but they’re hard on others.  They speak harshly of the shortcomings of others and act morally superior.  This is a heart problem.

Compassion will motivate my sons to see the good in others, to look for ways to build up and encourage, to see souls as the Savior does (Mark 6:34).

IV.  HUMILITY

If my boys leave home without humility, they leave home without having the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5-8).  Humility had to make my list of Ten Things because without it, my sons will head for destruction and dishonor (Prov. 18:12).  Humility affects their very relationship with God:

  • How close they’ll be to Him (Psa. 138:6,7)
  • Whether or not they’ll be guided & taught by Him (Psa. 25:9)
  • Whether or not they receive His grace (James 4:6)
  • Whether or not they’ll be exalted by Him (2 Pet. 5:6)

V.  SELF-MOTIVATION

Laziness can become a lifestyle.  In my [humble] opinion, there are a few habits that prevent men from really making a difference:

  • Dressing sloppily because they’re too lazy to tidy up
  • Keeping a disorganized office or work space
  • Being late to work or appointments; missing deadlines
  • Needing someone else to prod them along in order to complete assignments or commitments

Self-motivation, on the other hand, promotes:

  • The ability to tackle hard things instead of avoiding them
  • Discipline in areas of time-management, healthy eating, and exercise
  • The internal drive to always do their best
  • The desire to look for ways to serve and be involved, instead of waiting to be asked or waiting for someone else to take care of it
  • The wisdom to know when to ask for help instead of making excuses

VI.  GRATITUDE

Gratitude is the opposite of self-pity.  I don’t want every conversation my sons have to revolve around how hard things are for them.  I don’t want them to be needy for attention and sympathy.  I don’t want them to have a difficult time being happy and content.  They can’t be grateful and feel sorry for themselves at the same time!

Gratitude sees the blessings in life and sees problems as opportunities for growth.  Self-pity thinks, “Woe is me,” while gratitude quietly waits for God to fulfill His purpose in difficult situations.

My sons are going to face difficulties.  They’re going to be treated unfairly.  They’re going to be disillusioned at times.  Their mindset will determine how they handle it.  They can wallow in self-pity and complain about their circumstances, or they can be grateful for what they have, Who provides for them, and where they are going (1 Thess. 5:18; Phil. 4:11).

VII.  RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY

If my sons are allowed to disrespect authority in the home, they will carry that disrespect into the rest of their lives.  God commands His people to show respect for authority:

  • Children to parents (Eph. 6:1,2)
  • Wife to husband (Eph. 5:22-24)
  • Members to elders (Heb. 13:17)
  • Citizens to government (1 Pet. 2:13-17)
  • Servants to master (Eph. 6:5-8)

When rebellious men in the Lord’s church disagree with a decision made by the elders, they’ll say, “I don’t care what they say; I’m going to do it the way I want.”  Obviously these men were never taught to respect authority.  I want my sons to understand the importance of respecting authority even in times when they think those in authority are being unreasonable.  Those in authority who abuse their position will one day answer to God.  My sons need to make sure their own actions glorify God.

VIII.  FRIENDLINESS

Concerning friendliness, someone wrote, “It’s amazing what a warming influence it can have on an otherwise dreary world.”

Whether they’re going off to college, visiting a new congregation, or greeting their future in-laws, I want my sons to be able to initiate warmth and friendliness.  I want them to be quick to smile, greet, and assume the best in others.  I don’t want them to sit back and wait for others to approach them.

IX.  COMMITMENT

A lack of commitment will make my sons give up when their marriage relationship gets rocky.  It will make them neglect evangelism after only a few rejections.

Commitment will keep my sons from giving up or giving in.  It will be what keeps them going back to a job they dislike so they can pay the bills.  It will keep them knocking on doors to set up Bible studies.  It will motivate them to make the right choices and say the right things regardless of how they feel.  It is 1 Corinthians 15:58 lived out on a daily basis.
X.  FAITH
When my sons leave home, I want them to have a real, personal, genuine faith.
  • When my sons hear something different from what they’ve always been taught, where will they turn for answers?  My prayer is that they’ll always turn to God’s Word to define and secure their faith (Rom. 10:17).
  • When my sons feel discouraged, who will they lean on?  My prayer is that they’ll lean on the Lord (1 Pet. 5:7).
  • When they feel like they’re all alone in terms of moral convictions, what will they do?  My prayer is that they’ll have the courage to stand for what’s right even if no one stands with them.

For the faith of my sons to be real and enduring, it must be built on Scripture.  Not on family traditions or feelings.  Not on the level of love we have for them.  Not on our level of good works, or theirs.  For their faith to be living & powerful, it must be rooted in the Word of God (Heb. 4:16).

My sons may be in a new environment, but God’s Word will remain the same.  They may be surrounded by new people, but God’s Word will still hold true.  They may be tested in ways they’ve never been tested before, but God’s Word will always carry them through.  IF it’s the foundation of their faith.

Prayer for Today:  Lord, you know my daily prayer is that my sons will always put You first.

*This post can now also be found at A Wise Woman Builds.

Deeper and Deeper I Go

“It was when I walked alone with God that I learned the lessons He would teach.  I set aside a time and a place to meet Him, and I have never been disappointed.”  Oswald J. Smith wrote those words when he described what he called his “morning watch.”  Oh, how I want to know my Lord better!  I want to feel as close to Him as possible.  I want to be guided by Him, molded by Him, and secure in my relationship with Him.  I don’t want to be guilty of just going through the motions or coasting through Christianity.  I don’t want to have a faith that’s inherited or tied to associations.  I don’t want to have to wonder if my religion is genuine, personal, in my soul through and through.  How can I have the peace that comes from knowing I’m where I’m supposed to be in my faith, and in my relationship with God?

“This Book of Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” Joshua 1:8.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1a,2).

“I will meditate on Your precepts and contemplate Your ways.  I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your Word” (Psalm 119:15,16).

“Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).

If I want to be sure I’m doing all God wants me to, I must meditate in His Word.  If I want to rejoice in my relationship with Him, and have His approval, I will meditate on His Word.  Combining these verses with the definitions of “meditate” from Merriam-Webster.com, here’s how I can have a confident, meaningful faith (Romans 10:17):

  • Engage in contemplation or reflection of the Word day and night
  • Engage in mental exercise for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness of the Word
  • Focus my thoughts on the Word so I don’t forget what it says
  • Plan or project in my mind what I find in the Word

So I need a “morning watch” with God.  I think it must be separate from time spent preparing to teach Bible classes, or writing articles or lessons.  It needs to be deliberate, one-on-one time with the Father for the sole purpose of letting His Word instruct and strengthen me for the day.  Meditation.  To be sure of my faith, I can “receive the Word with all readiness, and search the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11).  A practical way to meditate on God’s Word is to grab a clean spiral notebook and pen, and use the S.O.A.P. method.

S- “Scripture”- Jot down your Scripture text, and read it through a few times.

O- “Observations”- Write down all observations you can make about the text.  Don’t try to figure out what it means yet.  Just observe what it says, word by word.

A- “Application”- Write down what you learned, and how your life will be different because of it.  Is there an action to take?  A change to make?  Did you learn something different from what you’ve always been taught?

P- “Prayer”- Pray about what you read and your understanding of it.  Ask God to help you absorb, remember, and put into practice His will.

“Into the will of Jesus, deeper and deeper I go,

Praying for grace to follow, seeking His way to know;

Bowing in full surrender, low at His blessed feet,

Bidding Him take, break me and make,

Till I am molded, complete.”

(Oswald J. Smith, 1890-1986)

Prayer for Today:  May time in Your Word be a precious, daily priority in my life.

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