From Our Hearts to Yours
One special Mother’s Day, my daughter Katherine gave me the gift of a little blank book. It was purple…and I still have it. Oh, believe me, I oohed! I squealed! I did everything but turn cartwheels to express my thankfulness to my sweet daughter. But then I faced a problem. I don’t know about you, but I never knew what to do with a wordless book. I mean, they are just so…blank!
Four months later was my tenth spiritual birthday in the Lord. I was having my daily quiet time. As I sat there, I looked backward over my first ten years of being a Christian. Soon I was profusely thanking God for His mercy, His grace, His care, His guidance, His wisdom, my salvation through Christ…. On and on my thanksgiving to God gushed. Then after dabbing my eyes and nose with a tissue, I turned my thoughts forward and I earnestly prayed to the Lord, “Lord, as I embark on a new decade of walking with You, is there anything missing from my Christian life that I should seek for the next ten years?”
Immediately, I knew in my heart what the answer was. It was prayer! Just like my little blank book, my prayer life was undeveloped. In fact, my prayer life was much like that of my young daughter, who prayed each night…God, bless mommy. God bless daddy. And, God bless the trees… I also offered up mere “fill in the blank” prayers.
My soul longed for communion with my heavenly Father that only the act of prayer provides. You” (Psalm 42:1; 63:1). And yet I also once squirmed at the thought of prayer. Why? Because even though I know praying to God will most definitely be rewarding and a blessing, I also know it is a serious undertaking. There is the challenge of finding and making the time, of seeking out and arranging for solitude, and of putting forth the effort that focused communion with God through prayer requires.
Do you, share these same mixed sensations? Then today purpose to heed God’s call to be a woman of prayer…no matter what! Embark on a journey of learning to live a life “on bended knee.” As the well-known saying goes, “Every journey begins with a single step.” And that’s true, too, of a journey into prayer. Even today I still remember the first step that I took toward seriously learning to pray. I passionately wrote in my little purple book, “I dedicate and purpose to spend the next ten years of my life in the Lord, Lord willing, developing a meaningful prayer life.”
Will you consider today writing in a blank book or on a clean piece of paper, “I dedicate and purpose to spend the next _______ developing a meaningful prayer life.” Then use these verses, an online Bible word search, or another valuable resource to guide you to the many prayers we can offer up to God and the many blessing He promises to His women who pray!
Psalm 55:16-17, Jeremiah 33:3, Matthew 7:7-11, 6:11, 6:33, 21:22, 26:41, Luke 6:28, James 5:13-16, Philippians 4:6, , 1 Corinthians 10:13, 14:15, Ephesians 1:18, Hebrews 13:15
Question: Which of these verses (or others) encourage you most about the importance of prayer?
When we first visited Kauai, Hawaii, where we now live, our daughter and son-in-law were stationed on the island. The area had recently experienced the ravages of Hurricane Iniki. As Jim and I drove around the island, we noticed not only the remaining evidence of destruction, but also the huge warning sirens on every beach and in every town. Having lived through a 6.7 earthquake in Southern California, we could well imagine something of the fear the islanders must have felt as those sirens wailed on that fateful day. But we could also imagine the peace they must have felt when those same devices ﬁnally sounded the all-clear signal.
Can you imagine having perfect peace when the sirens are signaling a storm or when the hurricane is actually roaring around you? That, my friend, is the kind of peace God makes available to you and me for the storms of life. Many people think of peace as the absence of problems, as the feeling that is experienced when all is well. But the peace of the Lord is not related to circumstances at all. In fact, God’s peace comes to us and endures…regardless of life’s circumstances.
Notice these truths about this peace that comes from God.
- Our peace has nothing to do with daily challenges or crises, and everything to do with knowing that our times are in God’s hands.
- Our peace has nothing to do with the conditions of our life, and everything to do with knowing that God is all-sufficient.
- Our peace is an inward repose and serenity of soul that indicates a heart at rest — regardless of our circumstances—as we place complete conﬁdence in God minute by minute.
True spiritual peace comes with knowing that our heavenly Father is continually with us — and indeed He is! God is omnipresent and therefore fully aware of every detail of our life — at every moment and in every place. He knows our needs—at all times and in every situation. As Psalm 139:7-12 teaches, we can never be anyplace — from the heights of heaven to the depths of the sea—where God is not present with us and available to us. Key to our peace, then, is not the absence of conﬂict, but the presence of God, no matter what the conﬂict.
Peace also comes with acknowledging that God will supply our every need as well as acknowledging His constant presence. The scriptures are filled with His promises that He is sufficient to face the circumstances challenge our peace.
Philippians 4:19 — “God [will] supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Do you realize what these promises mean to you and me? They mean that we will never have a real need, an imminent fear, or a challenging circumstance that God is not able to meet. What a reason for peace that truth is!
A Prayer to Pray: Lord, You lead me and you know what I need at every step along the way. Your peace is my refuge. I am blessed.
I’ve made a life-long study of time and life management. The reason this subject became so interesting to me is because the first 30 years of my life, and early stages of marriage, were characterized by miss-management, lack of direction, and frenzied frustration.
But, believe it or not this preliminary discussion will include nothing about day-planners or to-do lists. Surprised? No. It’s a matter of the heart that I discovered has the greatest impact on the way I prioritized the daily tasks in my life — contentment.
While not always, discontentment guides a lot of the activity and busyness in our lives. We are often working more, spending more, scheduling our kids for more, and pressuring others for more because of an insecurity or feeling of lack in our life. To better assess necessary versus unnecessary activities in our lives then we must look at what is driving our hearts.
The Apostle Paul, tells us in 1 Timothy 6:6 that “godliness with contentment is great gain” and gives us these instructions on contentment from his own life:
“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.” (Philippians 4:11)
Contentment is learned — Paul says he learned to be content! This gives us hope and encouragement. Contentment is not something that comes automatically with salvation. And contentment is not a fruit of the Spirit which we enjoy when we are walking in the Spirit. No, contentment is learned.
Contentment is not based on circumstances, but on the person of Christ — You and I possess all the true riches of heaven, both here on earth, and held in trust for us in heaven to come. In God, precious one, you and I have all that we need both now and forever:
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
Contentment is required whether you have little or much — Do you think that having much would cause you to be content? Or do you ever erroneously think, “If I just had a tiny bit more, I’d be content?” Well, the answer is no. In fact, having much can breed a strong desire and lust to have even more. Our desire should be God’s provision of “just enough.”
“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: …Give me neither poverty nor riches — but, give me only my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you, and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9).
Contentment should guide our actions — “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
These verses tell us where our priorities should lie. They also give us a guide to what our schedules should be full of—His every good work! In our busyness, we should be about the Lords business because we know He will provide for our every need rather than us scrambling to fill our every insecurity and discontent.
Better than the latest day-planner or iPhone app, God’s instruction for the heart is the best time-management advice ever!
Question: When you asses your priorities and desires do you find yourself operating out of contentment or discontent?
One day my daughter Katherine received an unusual phone call from a business student at her college who was making a catalog of diamond rings. He had everything he needed to create his catalog — the diamonds, a studio, a camera, the lights. But he needed one more thing — a pair of hands. A friend had told him, “Katherine George has the most beautiful hands I’ve ever seen.” Well, with that recommendation, Steve phoned Katherine.
When she arrived at the studio, Steve set up his camera and lights. Then he opened his suitcase and pulled out a piece of black velvet that was to serve as a backdrop for the diamonds. After turning on his studio lights, he removed the diamonds from his case, one by one for Katherine to model.
Instructing Katherine to slowly lift her hand up off the dark background toward the light as she modeled each ring, Steve explained, “When a diamond is placed against a dark background, the darkness makes it seem more brilliant. And, when the diamond is lifted toward a light, all of its facets are revealed and allowed to sparkle. A diamond is pretty all by itself, but putting it against a black background and lifting it up to the light enhances its radiance and glory.”
Oh, my friend! What a perfect picture of joy! True spiritual joy shines brightest against the darkness of trials, tragedy, and testing! And the blacker the background, the greater the brilliance. Similarly, life’s dark struggles make Christian joy more intense and our heartfelt praise more glorious. As one writer has noted, God “setteth in pain the jewel of His joy.”
With that image in mind, I consider the sacrifice of praise a slogan that is helpful in cultivating the fruit of joy. Let me explain. When life is good, praise and thanksgiving ﬂow automatically from my heart and lips. But when life turns black, praise and thanksgiving don’t ﬂow quite so easily! Instead, I have to deliberately choose to follow God’s advice and “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Although I don’t feel like praising the Lord or thanking Him, I do what God says, and that effort makes my praise a sacrifice. When I’d rather bask in self-pity or stay stuck in my depression, choosing to look beyond my pain makes my praise to God sacrificial.
But, when I do lift such a sacrifice of praise to God out of the darkness of my trials, I ﬁnd the Spirit’s joy magnified in my life — just as lifting a diamond to the light against a black background enhances its brilliance!
I need God’s joy — I admit it! And I (and probably you as well) most need His joy when things are black. We both need joy when we’re suffering and misunderstood, when we’re rejected and hated, and when we’re in emotional or physical pain. But our sacrifice of praise to God gives the Spirit room to touch us with His joy that overshadows these circumstances.
A Prayer to Pray: Lord, You provide a peace and joy that surpasses any happiness I receive from worldly pursuits and pleasures. It is lasting and true. I give you may sacrifice of praise today…and each day to follow. You are worthy, Lord, of such obedience.