Recently, while preparing to speak at a women's conference, I embarked on one of the most intense seasons of spiritual warfare in my Christian walk. Though the topic was one I had a genuine passion for, I experienced a tremendous struggle whenever I sat down to study and craft the messages.
I'd been looking forward to exploring the material, but now my concepts were painfully slow in coming, and the harder I tried the more frustrated I became. It was frightening and demoralizing.
I reasoned that the warfare was due to the subject my host had chosen for the meetings. My prayers had definitely been more intense than usual. As the time for the gathering approached, I started seeing some reward for my efforts, but God was still refining the messages after I arrived at the conference site. read more
Most of us have experienced the folly of investing our hopes for fulfillment in this life alone. So we understand when we see women everywhere who are desperately clinging to their desires for earthly happiness, striving to obtain one more thing.
Worldly happiness is usually defined as having all our earthly desires met. And since there is an ever-increasing number of things we can desire, this striving leads to bondage—an insatiable, desperate seeking after more and more.
Most women would say that having someone to love them tops the list of their desires. I believe that so much of what we observe today as unsuitable behavior among women is just a display of desperate longing for a lasting assurance that deep down they are loved for who they are.
Both my parents grew up on farms in rural Washington County, Georgia. As a result, they were able to pass along a treasure trove of country wisdom inherited from their parents and grandparents.
One of the pearls they were frequently prompted to share when I was a kid was "not to put the cart before the horse." My folks wanted me to understand that the important challenges and opportunities of life require preparation and the proper ordering of priorities. Though in themselves these rudimentary steps aren't always the most exciting or the most visible to others, the broader lessons they provide--perseverance, faithfulness and obedience--are vital to one's ultimate success.
Truthfully, as a young girl given to much dreaming (day and night), I needed this counsel more times than I can remember. It was a known fact that I harbored more than a few lofty ideas about where I'd go in life.
We've all envisioned what we believed the future held for us. And a lot of what we've imagined has come true.
But timing is everything. And therein is the source of a great deal of our frustration. Whereas God's view is eternal, ours is limited--and we feel compelled by what we perceive to be our short "life span" here on Earth to do everything now.
But lately I'm being challenged by the Spirit of the Lord to come to a new place of authentic peace in God, not because all my dreams are coming true at the rate I expected, but because I'm coming to know Him (see Is. 26:3). In fact, I'm just beginning to know that I know that He loves me and can be trusted to open opportunities for me that are the best.
This is why I'm grateful to Stormie Omartian for her ministry. Stormie calls us to do "first things first," to cultivate a relationship of devotion to the Lord through prayerful communion with Him.
It's not a new concept but one we can easily leave in the dust as we rush out the door to accomplish everything on our agendas. This performance mentality often has led me into confusion about whether to hitch the wagon behind the horse or, well, you know.
Simply stated, biblical fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual
purpose. When you eliminate eating from your diet for a number of days, your
spirit becomes both uncluttered by the things of this world and amazingly
sensitive to the things of God.
The Bible records numerous circumstances under which God's people fasted.
The duration of the fasts recorded by Scripture, as well as the type of fasting
undertaken, differed a great deal.
Moses fasted 40 days when he received God's law (see Deut. 9:9). Joshua and the elders of Israel fasted
for about 12 hours after Israel's armies were defeated at Ai (see Josh. 7:6). The apostle Paul fasted 14 days while
he was in peril (see Acts 27:33-36). Jesus
fasted too—for 40 days before beginning His ministry (see Matt. 4:2).
These examples indicate that the duration of a fast often
has a lot to do with what a person is facing. They also exemplify the three
types of fasts modeled in Scripture—absolute, normal and partial. read more
During the holidays my family traveled to London, England, for a vacation. The trip was an analogy of a much more important journey each of us is on--fulfilling God's plan for his or her life.
For one thing, the preparation was longer than the journey itself. We prepared for months, checking flight times and prices and making certain all our paperwork was in order.
Some of the preparation was tedious and time-consuming. How true this is in the spiritual realm as well! In fact, the season of preparation God requires of us often drags out so long we get discouraged because we are eager to be going somewhere.
In spite of the heavy messages to the contrary you may hear from the pulpit, the pursuit of God is a happy--not a glommy--endeavor.
Sin and ill are the false notes struck by man across the harmony of God's will, and to strike upon or even remember such notes is instant banishment from the music of His presence. Where all is joy, there joy is all; and he who has not reached this joy does not know God--he is still a follower, and not a possessor, and he should refuse in his heart to remain satisfied with his condition, but climb on. Why stay behind? Climb on, climb on!
Often I have been mystified and disturbed by the attitude of many religious and pious people who appear to believe that to follow Christ is a way of gloom, of sadness, of heaviness. Often I have gathered from sermons that we are to give up all the bright and enticing things if we would follow Him, and the preacher goes no further! read more