10 July 2014

Influential Respect

An excerpt from the devotional "The Excellent Wife Day by Day" by Karen Eiler.

"She does him good and not evil all the days of her life . . . Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land."

Proverbs 31:12, 23

Austin and Nolan are best friends who grew up together, went to the same church and school, and now work for the same company.  They both come from good Christian homes, have similar interests and education, and are both really great guys.  They're good at what they do, and are fairly equal in their qualifications for their jobs.  However, Nolan is much more successful in his career, and was recently promoted to management, while Austin seems to be constantly struggling.  The difference?

Well, we're not quite sure, but it's interesting to note how different their wives are.  Nolan's wife is loving, supportive, and respects her husband greatly.  Austin's wife, on the other hand, criticizes him constantly.  It seems that there is little he can do to please her, and the tension at home affects his emotions and consequently, his job performance.

The old adage, "Behind every successful man is a good woman" is one we don't hear very often any more, but it is still just as true as it ever was.  Part of being a "good woman" is respecting, supporting, and believing in your man.  As much as he may not want to admit it, your husband feeds off your approval and respect.  Consequently, you have more influence in your marriage than you may have realized.  Respecting your husband builds him up and helps give him the strength to face the challenges of the day.  Your respect gives him confidence and energy, enabling him to be more productive at work and more effective as a leader in the home, church and community.  Like the excellent wife of Proverbs 31, whose husband was "known in the gates" (vs. 23), you can have a profound effect on your husband's reputation, just by being respectful and supportive. But a lack of respect from you will tear him down and make him feel inadequate in every area of his life.

This devotional book can be purchased from Gracebooks NZ by clicking HERE

11 April 2014

Freedom from Entangelment

An excerpt from the devotional "Becoming a Woman who Walks with God" by Cynthia Heald.

No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.
2 Timothy 2:4

Alone in a Roman prison, nearing the end of his life at the hands of the Emperor Nero, Paul wrote his second letter to his young disciple, Timothy.  One of the great concerns on the apostle's heart was to encourage Timothy in lifelong faithfulness as a soldier of Christ.

In this epistle we are privileged to learn many important insights for abiding in Christ.  One key to remaining strong in our Christian service is to maintain our focus on the concerns of the Lord - to avoid becoming entangled in "the affairs of everyday life."

To entangle means "to twist together so that disengagement is difficult; to complicate, to confuse."  Do you ever feel that you are so enmeshed in obligations that disengagement is difficult?

Early in my Christian life, the Lord made it clear to me that I needed to keep my involvements to a minimum so that I could be available for the unexpected He wanted to bring into my life.  I've learned over the years that confidence in handling the commitments I make is no guarantee that life will be smooth and unencumbered.  When the unplanned intrudes, my life quickly becomes complicated and confused.

This factor of the unexpected has become part of my understanding of what it means to stay free of entanglement.  I have learned to make short-term commitments and to be very careful in accepting a responsibility over the phone.  I'm still in the process of learning to pray in order to seek the Lord's pleasure before I agree to take on a responsbility.

I know few people who do not struggle with complicated lives.  When we allow these complexities to pre-occupy us, they draw our focus away from Christ.  Instead of focusing on pleasing the One who has called us into His service, our lives become driven by our over-involvement in the affairs of everyday life.

It is time once again to heed the words of our Lord to Martha.  We worry and fuss over so many things, but there's really only one thing needful: to sit at the feet of Jesus.  This is what will lead us into a lifetime of faithful service - a life that pleases the One who has enlisted us as His soldier.

This devotional book can be purchased from Gracebooks NZ by clicking HERE

17 October 2011

love = respect

from the devotional book "The Excellent Wife Day by Day" by Karen Eiler

Week 2, Day 4
My daughter's roommate was having lunch with some friends, and the discussion turned to relationships.  Emily asked the guys this question: Would you rather be loved or respected?  Her friend Malachi said, "I don't get it.  What's the difference?"

It may surprise you to learn that your husband would be equally confused by this question.  The truth is that, when it comes to their wives, guys have love and respect so inextricably linked in their minds, there is no real difference.  If they separate the two concepts, they'll almost always choose respect over love.  Yes, it's that important!  Most men would rather be respected than loved by their wives.  In fact, if your husband thinks you don't respect him, he is going to feel you don't love him.

There are many reasons to respect your husband and many benefits to the wife who consistently demonstrates respect.  Of course you should do it because its commanded, but let's just take the word should out of the equation.  I'm assuming you love your husband and, because you love him, you want to do him "good and not evil all the days of [your] life" (Proverbs 31:12).  If that is the case, then you need to understand that the best thing you can do for him is to respect him.  That is the how of love; loving your guy the way he wants to be loved means making sure he knows, beyond all doubt, that you respect him.

In Ephesians 5:33, God commands you to respect your husband.  He is the only One who knows how you can best show love to your husband by showing him respect.  If you're struggling in your marriage, respect is likely one of the culprits.  If you're struggling with loving your husband, then learning to respect him will help you grow in your love for him.

You can buy this book at Christian Books by clicking HERE

29 July 2010

Cultivating Humility

Recently Nige and I have been reading together a book called A Gospel Primer for Christians by Milton Vincent and wanted to share the following short chapter:

"According to Scripture, God deliberately designed the gospel in such a way so as to strip me of pride and leave me without any grounds for boasting in myself whatsoever (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Corinthians 1:27-29).  This is actually a wonderful mercy from God, for pride is at the root of all my sin.  Pride produced the first sin in the Garden (Genesis 3:4-6), and pride always precedes every sinful stumbling in my life (Proverbs 16:18).  Therefore, if I am to experience deliverance from sin, then I must be delivered from the pride that produces it.  Thankfully, the gospel is engineered to accomplish this deliverance.

Preaching the gospel to myself each day mounts a powerful assault against my pride and serves to establish humility in its place.  Nothing suffocates my pride more than daily reminders regarding the glory of my God, the gravity of my sins, and the crucifixion of God's own Son in my place.  Also, the gracious love of God, lavished on me because of Christ's death, is always humbling to remember, especially when viewed again the backdrop of the Hell I deserve.

Pride wilts in the atmosphere of the gospel; and the more pride is mortified within me, the less frequent are my moments of sinful contention with God and with others (Proverbs 13:10).  Conversely, humility grows lushly in the atmosphere of the gospel, and the more humility flourishes within me, the more I experience God's grace (James 4:6) along with the strengthening His grace provides (Hebrews 13:9).  Additionally, such humility intensifies my passion for God and causes my heart increasingly to thrill whenever He is praised (Psalm 34:2)."

This book, The Gospel Primer, can be purchased from Gracebooks NZ.

29 August 2008

The Mother Who . . . Prays

Here is a chapter from the book, The Mother Who Seeks After God - Daily Devotions for Busy Mums by Laura Martin (Christian Focus Publications).

This book is not only great for busy mums, but also for any Christian woman.

The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
Proverbs 15:29

Have you ever considered the reality of Proverbs 15:29? The Lord, the Creator of the universe, the Almighty and Sovereign God actually listens to our prayers. Wow! Does that change anything for you with regard to your prayer life? It certainly does for me. In fact, it makes me feel more urgency in my need to "pray continually" (1 Thess. 5:17). Not pray literally twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. That's impossible. But certainly it does mean that we are to pray persistently and regularly.

As mothers we have an awesome responsibility to pray for our children. For their safety and wellbeing, for their salvation, their spiritual maturity and growth, their respect and awe of God, their hunger for biblical truth, their education, their futures, possible future spouses and children. Actually, maybe we do need to pray continually just to cover all of that! Suddenly prayer seems overwhelming. Before we know it we have allowed our prayer time to be one of those activities that we know we should be doing but which seem too hard and time-consuming and overwhelming.

Sound familiar? Dear mother, prayer is an absolute necessity in our lives and for the lives of those we pray for. Let's look together at some truths about prayer which will reignite our passion for prayer.

1. God is pleased by our prayer
Proverbs 15:8 says, "The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked but the prayer of the upright pleases him." When we pray as God would have us pray, with a pure heart, honestly seeking after His will for all of our requests, it pleases God. So when we pray for our child's salvation, it pleases God. In fact, the New King James Bible uses the word "delight" instead of "pleases". Doesn't it delight you to know that by praying with a pure heart, you delight Him?

2. God answers prayer
"Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." John 16:24
Do you know what it is to ask in Jesus' name? It is to ask for whatever is within the will and purpose of Jesus in a person's life. So when we end our prayer by saying "In Jesus' name" we are really saying "Because it is in accordance with Jesus' will." Isn't that an encouragement! God will only answer prayer if it is in accordance with what Jesus wills for a person.

3. God uses prayer for our growth
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." James 1:5-6
These verses are just one example of how God uses prayer to grow us in qualities needed to be more like Him. Have you ever thought about the qualities prayer develops? Here are a few: Perseverance, patience, humility, hunger for the truth and knowledge of God's will, reliance on God and not on others. Wow! Let's get praying!

4. God uses prayer to comfort us
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

These are just a few examples of the comfort we receive from God through prayer.

Prayer really is more than just a quick, one-sided conversation with God, isn't it? It's about relationship. A relationship which not only involves us and God, but also the ones we pray for. Prayer is a rich gift to give but the rewards we reap from praying are even richer!

Laura's book can be purchased from Grace to You NZ on http://www.gracebooks.co.nz/

5 August 2008

Prayer Organisation Part II

by Emilie Barnes

Why Pray?
A. We pray because our Lord prayed: "He walked away, perhaps a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed this prayer: 'Father, if you are willing, please take away this cup of horror from me. But I want your will, not mine.' Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthen him, for he was in such agony of spirit that he broke into a sweat of blood, with great drops failing to the ground as he prayed more and more earnestly. At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples - only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief" (Luke 22:41-45).
B. Prayer gives us the opportunity for confession.
C. Prayer brings discipline to our lives.
D. Prayer drawers us closer to our Lord.
E. Praying for others keeps us from selfishness.
F. Prayer helps us to love those we have difficulty loving.
G. Prayer keeps us from disobedience to God and temptations. "God . . . will provide the way of escape." (1 Corinthians 10:13, NASB)
"Pray God that you will not fall when you are tempted." (Luke 22:46)

How to Pray
"He knelt down and began to pray." (Luke 22:41, NASB)
A. "Don't recite the same prayer over and over as the heathen do, who think prayers are answered only by repeating them again and again. Remember, your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!" (Matthew 6:7-8).
B. A Helpful Reminder:
A - Adore God
C - Confess to God
T - Thank God for everything
S - Supplication and submission unto God
C. "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8, NASB)

What to Pray For

A. Make a list of all needs:
* Family (children, in-laws etc)
* Personal (finances, problems)
* Friends
* Church (pastor and his family, church leaders)
* Country (city, primeminister, etc)
* School (teachers, principal, students)
* Husband (work, etc)
* Self (home, anger, organising, etc)
* Missionaries

Delegate the above to a day of the week, Monday through Saturday (use tabs).
B. Sunday's tab will be used for sermon outlines and prayer requests.
1. Prayer requests will be added to the above categories.
2. Date prayer requests and date God's answers. Answers may be "wait" ("not now"), "no", or "yes". Always give thanks.
C. Let the children give prayer requests. "All things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive" (Matthew 21:22, NASB)

When to Pray
* Morning
* Noon
* Evening
* Meals
* Bedtime

Where to Pray
"When you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you." (Matthew 6:6, NASB)
A. Home - in the closet; while doing dishes, vacuuming, cleaning
B. In the car, while jogging, exercising, walking
C. With others - "Where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst" (Matthew 18:20, NASB)
1. Bible study groups
2. Women's prayer groups
3. With a girlfriend
4. On the phone with a friend

Wish Prayers
A. God already knows the desires of our hearts, and He wants us to ask Him for them. It's the attitude about those things that He is concerned about.
B. Check yourself by saying, "Lord, if it wouldn't be good for me to have this, then I really don't want it. But if it would be okay with You, I'll be very grateful and use it for Your glory."
C. Be prepared - God always answers. It may be an immediate "yes", a "wait awhile", an absolute "no," or "the timing is not right at present." Record these answers in your notebook by the item, and allow God to work in your life with His love in giving you what's best for your life. Remember to thank Him in all things. "Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20, NASB).

4 August 2008

Prayer Organisation

by Emilie Barnes

Admit your faults to one another
and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
James 5:16

Some of you may not have a prayer life at all. Others of you may have a very vital prayer life. Some of you want to have a prayer life but are fumbling with it because you don’t know how to incorporate it into your life or how to organise it. I was once in that position. I was fumbling in my prayer life because I didn’t know the steps to take. That’s what we want to discuss now – some steps to take in order to set up a prayer notebook and to organise our prayer life.

God is always with us. When the times are the lowest, that’s when He picks us up and carries us. Isn’t that wonderful? Some of us have experienced that. Some of us right now are in a position where we’re being carried through a rough situation or problem in our life. It’s wonderful to know that we have our Lord there in order to carry us when times get low and things get rough.

Often we don’t take the necessary time with our Lord in prayer and communication. But do you know what? He loves us anyway. He loves us unconditionally. And that’s why we need to pull together some type of system in our lives where we can spend valuable time in prayer. It doesn’t have to be long, either. Sometimes we get turned off because we feel it takes so much time, but it doesn’t have to be long.

How to Get Started
As with everything else, we need the proper tools and materials. I would recommend a small notebook, perhaps a small ring binder. Get some coloured tabs, some paper, some dividers, and a pen.

Be sure to have your Bible handy. Sometimes you may want to do a little Bible study with yourself as you go into your prayer time, so it’s always nice to have your Bible with you. As I pray, I find that many times God reveals something to me in His Word. If I’m praying for someone, I sometimes feel really impressed to drop that person a note and tell him I’m praying for him, supporting him. At times like this I like to be able to give a Bible verse, so it’s nice to have my Bible close by.

Colossians 4:2 (NASB) says that we are to “devote [ourselves] to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” Our attitude as we come to the Lord should be one of thanksgiving. Christ is waiting for us. His attitude toward us is love. And our attitude in return should be one of thanksgiving.