Wednesday, June 30, 2010

To Love or Quarrel?

Today’s Reading: Proverbs 27-29; Acts 5:1-21

“A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand” (Proverbs 27:15-16).

Are you starting to find a trend as you read through these Proverbs? King Solomon mentions the woes of a quarrelsome wife time and again. While I hope that I never become so quarrelsome that I can’t be controlled, I know the tendency is there. Sometimes I find myself getting so frustrated with something that I pick a fight, just so that we can hash it out. Luckily for me, my husband doesn’t play along, and so my “fires” quickly burn down. Before I know it, I’m no longer angry, and we can talk about the situation a little more rationally. I don’t know why I act this way. There’s really no explaining it. Perhaps I look at the world around me, and think that quarreling is part of a normal relationship, that there must be something wrong if my husband and I hardly ever argue about anything. This is what the world has taught me.
But God lays out a different set of rules. 1 Corinthians 13 shows us just how important love is in a relationship. This overarching type of love, agape, is patient, kind, and isn’t self-seeking. Showing this type of love in a relationship is the exact opposite of starting a quarrel. It’s showing restraint in a relationship and looking out for the best interests of the other person involved.
Even if it makes us abnormal, I’d rather live this married life with as few fights as possible. Instead, I’d rather focusing on loving unconditionally.

What about you? Do you pick love or a quarrel more often than naught?

Lord, please help me to always display patience and love in my relationships, instead of getting defensive and picking fights.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Evident Love

Today’s Reading: Proverbs 25-26; Acts 4:23-37

“Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a qquarrelsome wife” (Proverbs 25:24 NIV).

Sometimes I think it’s good to take stock on how I’m doing at this whole “wife” thing. I’ve only been a wife for 1 ½ years, so I know that I still have a lot to learn. It’s been tough learning how to live and communicate with someone so different than myself. Just the same it’s wonderful watching our relationship develop and flourish. I can honestly say I love my husband more today than I ever have. But is that always evident in my words and actions? Probably not. At times I pick at his faults, and point out how he falls short when it comes to loving me. At times I really don’t give him the love and respect he deserves. I’m so thankful he hasn’t made a dash for the roof as of yet (see verse above), but instead puts up with me and my faults. In fact, he’s more than willing to work through issues in our relationship, big and small. We’ve actually just started reading a book together called Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. So far I really like what this book has to say on relationships. Love and Respect are so important in a relationship. I pray that these values are evident in ours, as we continue to grow together in the Lord. I’d always rather have my husband next to me, instead of on the roof.

What about you? Is the love you feel for your friends and family evident in your life?

Lord, please help me to always have a loving attitude when I deal with those around me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

To Train a Child

Reading: Proverbs 22-24; Acts 4

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).

“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15 NIV).

“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with a rod, he will not die. Punish him with a rod and save his soul from death” (Proverbs 23:13-15 NIV).

Soon a little baby will be entering our lives. We’re so excited to meet this little one. Just the same, my husband and I are aware of the great task being placed before us. With the help of God, we plan to raise this child to be a strong, loving, follower of Christ. We are nothing without Christ; we want our child to see just how essential a relationship with Christ is in this life.

I’m sure raising a child will have its joys and struggles. We will be the ones who will have to set rules for our little one to follow. Sometimes, I’m sure, we’ll feel like the mean parent, having to take away privileges because our child didn’t obey. There are so many things that the two of us will have to figure out along the way. We’ve never had a child before, so this experience will be entirely new for us.

Just the same, I’m waiting for anticipation for the day when I can look my little one in the eyes and tell him or her how much I love them.

How do you handle discipline in your home?

What are your greatest challenges as a parent? Greatest joys?

Unfailing Love

Hello everyone, sorry for the lack of posts last week. I did have some thoughts from the readings, which I’m trying to catch up on now. For last Tuesday’s reading check out Check out Wednesday’s observations below:

Readings: Proverbs 19-21; Acts 3

“What a man desires is unfailing love” (Proverbs 19:22, NIV).

We are all on a search of unfailing love. But where is it to be found? I know that my husband loves me with every ounce of his being. He would do absolutely anything for me. Yet, he’s still human. I’m sure there will be times throughout our life together that he lets me down, both in big ways and in small. Just the same, I trust him with my heart. He’s my lover, my best friend, and my companion on this road called life. And most importantly, he’s the person who always directs my focus toward God. From the beginning, our marriage has been based on the understanding that God needs to be number one. He needs to be the one we focus on day in and day out. He needs to be the one I ultimately look towards for happiness, fulfillment and love, because my husband has the ability to fail, God does not. God loves me with an unfailing love. The love my husband and I share together strives toward this agape, complete, love that God exemplifies. This love is whole, overarching and complete. It sees into our very hearts, and loves us right where we are. This love is so amazing that it’s hard to comprehend at times. But it’s there, and it’s oh so ready for the taking.

How is real, unfailing love evident in your life?

Lord, please help me to experience a dose of your agape love today.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hope Differed

Today’s Reading: Proverbs 13-15; Acts 2:1-21

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12 NIV).

I’ve been a dreamer for as long as I can remember. As a little girl I used to imagine what it would be like when I grew up. I pictured myself living in a little blue house with a husband and a family. I imagined being a famous writer, having my work known throughout the world. I imagined being happy, successful, and living close to all of my family and friends.
I had so many dreams as a child. But as I grew older, I ran into an awful thing called reality. In this world, people were not always honest; they took advantage of my sweet little heart. In this world not everyone liked me. I would lose friendships, jobs, and opportunities throughout my life. This world has been a lot harder then I imagined it as a little girl. Time and again my hopes have been crushed and pushed aside. My little girl heart has become bare and broken. I have had to lay it all at the feet of Jesus and ask Him to pick up the pieces.

And He has. He’s taken all those differed dreams, and created something far more beautiful out of them. He’s taken all of the things I thought I wanted, and changed them into the things He wants me to have. He’s looked into the depths of my heart and given me my true desires, the things I didn’t even realize I wanted. Because He knows me better than I even know myself.
As a little girl I may have dreamed of one thing, but He has a far greater reality in store for me.

What hopes and dreams have been deferred in your life? Has God ever blessed you with the unexpected?

Some verses to ponder:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 NIV).

Lord, thank you that your ways truly are not my ways. Help me to stand strong through life’s disappointments, and to always remember that you truly do have good things in store for me.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Battle of the Tongue

As I was reading through Proverbs today, I couldn’t help but pick up on some of the things God has been teaching me as a wife. I know that I often fall short, but I really do want to be “my husband’s crown.” It’s always been my goal to make our home a place that my husband looks forward to coming come to in the evening. In doing this, I’ve had to pray time and again for big doses of love, because I don’t always feel like being very kind. I don’t always feel like loving my husband the way I should. One of the big areas in which I’ve improved in the last 1 ½ years of our marriage is with my tongue. I’m slowly learning that there’s no excuse for harsh words or condescending tones, even if it is “that time of the month” or I’m pregnant. These times may work havoc on my emotions, but just the same, my husband still needs love from me. By reigning in my reckless words, I’m giving myself those few moments to think, and decide whether it’s really worth saying. More often than naught, the words are only foolishness. I don’t really mean them. And by not saying them, I’m able to build a foundation of love and kindness in our home.

I’m no where near perfect when it comes to my tongue, but I’m learning, slowly, and trying my best to become the kind of wife and future mother God wants me to be.

A Kindhearted woman gains respect (Proverbs 11: 6 NIV)

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown (Proverbs 12:4).

From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things (Proverbs 13:14 NIV).

Reckless words pierce like a sword (Proverbs 13:18 NIV).

The tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 13:18 NIV).

What Proverb spoke to you in today’s reading? What might God be teaching you through this?

Lord, please help me to continue to grow as a woman of God. Reveal any faults, and draw me closer to you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Zealous Love

Today’s Reading: Proverbs 8-9; John 21

“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘ It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards” (John 21: 7-8 NIV)

I love zealous love Peter shows in this section. In his excitement to be close to Jesus, he jumps right out of the boat and rushes toward the shore. The other disciples take a much more leisurely pace to greet their Savior, but Peter holds nothing back. He gets to the feet of his Master as fast as possible.
There are so many times when I, too, need to greet my Savior this way. As I look at all the pain and uncertainty in the world around me, I can’t help but come to the feet of my Savior and pray for help. As I come to the end of my own rope physically, and I can’t help but kneel before my Savior and ask Him for help.
Oh that I’ll always have a love like Peters. No, Peter wasn’t perfect, but he was always willing to come back and try once again. He was always willing to submit to his Savior and go from there.
Oh that I’ll always run, not walk, to the feet of my Savior.

Lord, thank you for being more than enough today and everyday.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Doubting Thomas

Today's Reading Proverbs 5-7; John 20

"Then Jesus told [Thomas], "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20: 29 NIV).

I admire Thomas. He doubted that Jesus rose from the dead, and was honest about that doubt. He didn't pretend to believe, just to be a part of the crowd. Instead he was real, honest, and himself.
At times, it is hard to believe without seeing. As Christians in the 21st century, we live our lives believing in a God that we cannot physically see or touch. Instead, we look to the Word of God, historical evidence, and personal experience, to substantiate our beliefs. And boy is there a lot of proof! I've heard some amazing lectures, and read some amazing books that show how real our Savior Jesus Christ truly is.
But even at that, I find myself doubting from time to time. For me, it's not that I doubt the existence of Jesus Christ, no, I know He's real. Instead, a part of me doubts that He'll truly provide. A part of me thinks that I need to handle all of life's worries on my own. A part of me struggles to believe in miracles.
That is when, like Thomas, I have to be honest about my doubts, and ask God to help me believe. I have to ask Him to fill in the crevices where I fall short in this life, and to help me to believe in the seemingly impossible from time to time. I have to admit that I am truly nothing without Him.
And then, I believe.

Lord, help me in my moments of unbelief to turn and trust in you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Guarding My Heart

Today’s Reading: Proverbs 2-4; John 19:23-42

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4: 23 NIV).

What good advice from King Solomon. I have striven for many years to guard my heart. As a girl, this influenced the way I interacted with boys, the kinds of dating relationships I chose to be in, and the kinds of books I read and movies I watched.
As a married woman, my life has changed. I’ve now opened my heart up completely to one man, but I still have to guard my heart when it comes to the world around me.
For even now there are things to tempt and distract, and take me away from truly worshiping my Father in Heaven. Even now my heart has to be guarded.
In the past I’ve made some mistakes. I’ve opened my eyes to certain types of movies and books, and had to realize the garbage these things put in my life. And so, I adjusted my principles, made my rules stricter, and tried to keep my life cleaner.
Why? Because I love God more than anything. I want to live my life solely for him.
A good question for me over the last few years has been: would I let my child read this book or watch this movie? If the answer is no, then, for me, book or movie isn’t worth owning.
Each person has his or her own standards. What are yours? How do you guard your heart?

Lord, please help me to guard my heart each and everyday. Show me changes that have to be made so that I can live my life solely for you.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Parents’ Wisdom

Today’s Reading: 1 Kings 3-4; Proverbs 1; John 19:1-22

Hello my friends. Today our readings take us to King Solomon, a man with an amazing amount of power, wealth, and wisdom. The hand of God was upon his life, because He admitted that he didn’t have the knowledge to rule on his own (1 Kings 3:7-9). And so God blessed him with great wisdom, wisdom we can learn from even to this day. Many of his wise thoughts are written down in the book of Proverbs. I was especially caught by the words of Proverbs 1:8, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”
As I prepare to be a mother (3 months and counting!) I often wonder if I’ll have the wisdom needed to raise this little one along side of my husband. But then I look at my own parents, and all that they’ve taught me over the years. I’ve often heard that the older you get, the more you realize how wise your parents truly are. This is especially true in my case. Yes, my parents have their faults, but they really are great parents. They taught me to be a good steward of my money, to be discerning in the choices I make and company I keep, and most of all, to love God with all of my heart. Now that I’m married, I ask them for advice a lot less than I used to, but I admire their wisdom just the same.
They probably look at my child-hood and see all of the mistakes they made, but I look back and see all the great memories. All of the lessons learned. Because raising a child involves a lot of trouble shooting. The answer to a problem isn’t always right in front of your face. But my parents’ depended on God to raise me, and I think they did pretty well in the end. They showed me how to communicate, how to love, and how to be a good wife and mother. I admire them a lot for that. And I know I’ll continue to look at their example over the years as I mother a little one of my own. For my parents did right by me. And I hope to do the same by this little one.
What lessons have you learned from your parents, good or bad? How has their wisdom influenced the way you live your adult life today?

Lord, I thank you for the wisdom and instruction of my parents. Please help me to exhibit this wisdom in my own life, each and every day.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Daunting Role of Parenting

Today’s Reading: 1 Kings 1-2; John 18:19-40

I read something today that reminded me how beautiful life really is. Check out the post here.

As this little baby continues to grow inside of me, I can’t help but wonder what they’ll look like, how they’ll sound, and what exactly God will do with their life. I know there’s a perfect plan in store for my little one. And I know that I live the following years amazed that God has chosen me for the daunting task of motherhood.
I don’t see myself as measuring up. In fact, I see myself as coming up miserably short. I’m such an imperfect human being. Yet God has chosen to place me in this beautiful role. He has a plan that even I can’t see.
In 1 Kings 1-2, we’re once again reminded of the mistakes King David made as a parent. His children were highly undisciplined and selfish. If they saw something they wanted, like the throne, they took it. Yet, God used David for good. He saw past the imperfections and called him a true man after God’s own heart.
I pray that God does the same for me. Yes, I can look at David’s situation and say that I’ll never have children as undisciplined and selfish as his, but the truth is, there’s just some things I can’t control. My baby will be born into this world as a sinner. It will be up to my husband and I to teach this little one a better way. It will be up to us to direct this little one toward God, the only one that can take and change a sinful heart into something beautiful.
In order to do this I will have to depend on the Lord like never before. I will need strength and patience as I face temper tantrums and disobedience. I will have to have unconditional love when my little one is at their most unlovable.
But already it’s there. While this little one is still in the womb, God has already started to give me a gift of love that is like no other. Because I see this little one as God’s perfect creation, faults and all, the way God intended.

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV).

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16 Amplified).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Every Morning

Today’s Reading: Psalm 143-145; John 18:1-18

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” (Psalm 143:8 NIV).

The sun always rises, Spring always comes, and God is always good. I’m so thankful that these words ring true in my life, because sometimes, it doesn’t seem like tomorrow will ever come. Sometimes the world is dark, and I wonder if morning will ever break through. Sometimes I feel like giving up. That’s when it’s nice to know that I have a God that will never give up on me. As Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord you God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (NIV). God is always there, ready to stand in for you, and for me. And ready to help us get to tomorrow, even if He has to carry us there. I’m so thankful for that. Each new morning reminds me of the wonderful promise that the world does go on, and that God will still provide today, and everyday.

What is your favorite part of the morning?

Lord, thank you that your mercies are new every single morning. Please help me to place my trust in you.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV).

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fragrant Prayers

Today’s Reading: Psalm 139-141; John 17

“May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141:2 NIV).

How often do I pray, really pray? Not often enough. Yes, I bless my food before I eat, and pray with my husband every night before we drift off to sleep. But I don’t often pray on my own. I have long wanted prayer to be such an integral part of my life that I pray without thinking. It is my desire to walk through my day and pray to God as I would talk to a person. This is what I’ve striven to do for years, but sometimes, even now, I get a little lax. I get caught up in the business. I focus on how I’m feeling today, what I do or don’t’ like, and how I don’t measure up in so many ways. I’m not sure I always truly believe that praying would make a difference, because I don’t always see the outcome. Yes, God always listens to me, but He doesn’t always respond with the answer or timing that I expect. His ways really aren’t my ways.
After reading the scriptures for today, I wondered what to write about. I skimmed back through the verses, and the verse on prayer really stuck out to me. Psalm 141:2 paints prayer as such a beautiful act of worship. David doesn’t show prayer as a time to get everything he “wants” or “needs,” but instead, as a form of worship that shows how amazing God is. He associates prayer with incense, fragrantly floating up toward the throne room of God.
I can almost see the Old Testament Israelite Temple now. The aroma of the incense must have been so powerful. It must have filled the entire temple with its rich odor. It must have invaded every fabric surface, including the priest’s robes. It must have been such a beautiful act of worship.
That is how I want my prayers to be, an act of worship to my God who is oh so holy and worthy.
And so I start again today, attempting to live a life filled with worship and prayer.

What about you? What do you find difficult about praying, if anything? What strikes you about the verse above?

Lord, may my prayers be like a fragrant offering to you, each and everyday. May they express my true heart and soul.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Take Heart

Today’s Readings: Psalm 109, 110, 138; John 16

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands” (Psalm 138: 8 NIV).

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b NIV).

Sometimes it’s hard to look past the rain and see a purpose in it all. Sometimes this world hands me things that I truly don’t understand. That is when I have to grab a hold of the truth that Chris has already overcome this world. The ultimate battle of good vs. evil has already been won. When I consider this, the battle’s I’m facing now don’t seem so hopeless. Yes, they may press me down, but that’s when I have to look up and focus on my Deliverer to rescue me.
I have to trust that God has a purpose and perfect plan in store for my life. What this purpose is, I’m not always sure, but I know that God sees the entire picture. He sees the entire book of my life here on earth and calls it beautiful.
What a thought! In the midst of this ugly, beaten down world, God sees my life as a work of art!
Sometimes it’s so scary to get to the end of one chapter, unable to see what’s ahead. There’s so many unknown at times. So many leaps of faith that have to be taken. But God is there, ready to catch each of us, and carry us on to a new, even more beautiful chapter of this life.

So take heart my friends. Christ has already overcome, and He’s ready and willing to carry you forward into new, glorious things.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Our Redeemer

Today’s Reading: Psalm 101, 103, 108; John 15

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion” (Psalm 103:1-4 NIV).

There are so many great verses to pull out of today’s reading. The image of God as our redeemer runs throughout scripture. Why? Because from the very beginning, God already had a plan to restore us to Him. He had a redeemer in mind. He knew that the only way to bridge the gap between Him and us was to send His one and only Son into the world. At that moment in time, Christ became our ultimate Redeemer.
Several years ago, I went through a time of depression. For whatever reason, Satan decided to attack me when I was at my happiest and most vulnerable. I was newly married with a beautiful future in front of me, so Satan decided to point out all of my weaknesses to me. I looked at my lack of job and at my appearance, and felt completely insecure and purposeless. After a lot of struggling, I started to find my footing once again. I came out of that dark time, but still greatly struggled with physical insecurities.
And then a friend pointed me to Psalm 103. She reminded me that God is ready and willing to take us out of the “pits” of our lives and heal us from whatever diseases that consume our bodies or our minds. He truly is our ready and waiting redeemer, if only we trust in Him.
What a wonderful reminder, and oh how hard I’ve clung to these verses ever since.

What pits do you find yourself in today? Do you need God to heal any diseases in your life, whether external or internal?

Lord, thank you for being my Redeemer each and every day. Please meet me where I am at this moment in time, and lead me to a better place.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Gift of Peace

Today’s Reading: Psalm 68, 72, 86; John 14

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV).

Do you have peace in your life? One of the great things Jesus Christ gives us is peace, if only we ask. I know I live a large part of my life jumping from one thing to the next, and worrying about the outcome of every little thing, big and small. I allow my heart to be “troubled” by these things, instead of resting in the amazing peace of God.
About a month ago, I was at the Ladies Bible Study at my church. We were watching a video series, and the speaker gave a great suggestion for gaining peace in our lives. She suggested that we not only give our issue over to God, but then replace it with scripture. This way, whenever Satan tries to attack us over the issue again, we can combat the attack with the word of God. What a great suggestion.
For me, worry is something I deal with on a daily basis. Everyday Satan seems to bring up something for me to worry about. Whether it’s a family member’s job, my relationship with a friend, or if I’ll carry my baby full term, I’m hounded on a daily basis with worry, instead of resting in peace.
In the past few years, I’ve learned to immediately bring these worries before the throne of God and lay them at his feet. I’ve asked him to replace these worries with peace. And he does, every time I ask.
But now I can take it one step further. After laying my worries at the foot of the cross, I can claim the words of John 14:27 as a reminder of God’s gift of peace to each of us as believers. What a wonderful gift that is!

What do you struggle with, and what verse could you claim to combat this struggle?

Lord, thank you for giving us your peace each and everyday. Help me to lay my burdens at your feet, and walk each day in your peace.