Biblical Womanhood · fellowship with God · God's Will · Prayer

A Heart for Prayer

This is a continuation of the review of the book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart, but Elizabeth George

Whenever spring arrives, you will find me taking bags full of items that are being sent out to donate.  They are things that are no longer of use to me.  They are weighing me down.  The truth is, however, that those bags typically sit in my garage for a long time before they finally get hauled away.  I know they need to go. I know it will feel good to get rid of them.  I know it’s the best thing, but I keep putting it off, until finally I’ve had enough and the task finally gets done! It feels so good to unclutter my home! I always wonder why I didn’t do it sooner!

While that is so freeing to me, the act of taking my load of sin, burdens and requests to the Lord is even better! We often carry that load around with us and the burden of it all is weighty and deadening to our spiritual growth.

Most Christians delay praying.  We put it off and resist it! We make excuses as to why we don’t pray.  Satan doesn’t want us to have that fellowship with the Lord, and we listen to his lies until we finally are at a breaking point and we pour out our heart to God.  The result is better than we could ever imagine. 

In her book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart, Elizabeth George shares seven blessings of having a fervent prayer life.  When I read these, I wondered why we put it off, why we don’t pray more.  Look at to these incredible blessings ~

  1. A deeper relationship with God. How can we have a relationship with the God who saved us if we don’t communicate with Him?  Just as you and I long for fellowship with our husband or friends, God longs to enjoy fellowship and communion with Him.  That happens when we pray. It’s not out of obligation, but because of a relationship. I Peter 5:7
    As a camel kneels before his master to have him remove his burden, so kneel and let the Master take your  burden.
  2. Greater purity. As we talk with God, the Spirit of God will reveal sin in our lives.  That leads us to confessing that sin and getting it right with Him.  Elizabeth shared about being convicted of gossip. She began to make it a real matter of prayer that God would help her defeat this sin.  “I faced my sin regularly in prayer. Sin led to confession, which let to purging.”  
  3. Confidence in Making decisions. – As we face decisions that need to be made, giving them to the Lord and making it a true matter of prayer will give us wisdom about what to do.  God will neve lead us to do something that is contrary to His word.  So as we pray about the decision, He will direct us in His truth.  We need to pray about everything.  Elizabeth lives by this mantra ~
    No decision without prayer.
    NO DECISION?  None.  “Should I go here?” 
    Should I say yes to this invitation?” 
    As we are directed by the Lord in prayer, we can have confidence regarding those choices. When God has led us to say Yes to giving the devotion at a baby shower, we won’t dread it or be afraid, because we remember that He led us to make that decision, and He will fulfill all the good pleasure of His will!
  4. Improved Relationships. Making specific prayer for those people closest to us will strengthen our relationships with them.  How does this happen?
    1. You can’t think about yourself and others at the same time.  
    2. You can’t hate the person you are praying for.  Jesus instructed us to pray for our enemies.  Matt 5:44 and God changes our hearts as we do so.
    3. You cannot neglect the person you are praying for. As we pray, we find ourselves involved in those people’s lives.
  5. Contentment. As we give to the Lord our wants, realizing that He will keep His promises to provide our needs, we will learn that “If He didn’t meet it, we didn’t need it. Paul said he was initiated into the secret place of contentment.  This secret place is the place of prayer.  If you’re praying about something and want it so badly, take it to your time of prayer. 
  6. God-confidence. As you face your own inadequacies, prayer will give you confidence in what He can do through you.  You will learn to trust Him. 
  7. The ministry of prayer. No matter if you have physical strength to go and do other ministries, you can always have a ministry of prayer. You don’t need to go anywhere, you don’t need anything except a heart to bring burdens to our God Who promises to hear us when we call out to Him. So pray for others! Pray about your own burdens! You be the one who reaches out to pray with a friend over the phone, or in your home. Be the intercessor for others because of your heart to pray.

Are you a praying woman? Or are you carrying around the load and weight of your burdens rather than taking them to the Lord? You’ll be so free if you’ll spend time sharing your heart with God. You’ll also wonder why you didn’t do this sooner. God wants fellowship with you. Call out to Him. Draw near. He will draw near to you.

Do you have a prayer journal? I have offered a pdf for my favorite prayer journal in past. I’m still happy to send it for free to anyone who emails me here at Refreshherblog@gmail.com.

You can find the previous chapter of the review of A woman After God’s Own Heart here.

Bible study · Biblical Womanhood · spiritual growth

Strong Roots To Grow By

The fires that burned their way through the Great Smoky Mountains several years ago destroyed acre after acre of forestry, leaving only charred stumps where mighty oaks and evergreens had stood.  In an effort to restore the mountains to their beauty, forest rangers have placed small trees and plantings with hopes of restoring the color, blooms and life that had once been flourishing.

In our spiritual life, we must also have a time of planting.  We need times of digging our roots deep down so that we will not faint when the heat of life, trials and hardships come.  

In her book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart, Elizabeth George tells about a time of planting Fig trees. Thirteen were planted, and twelve did well, but one withered up and died. When her husband went out with a shovel to dig up the dead plant, he found that He didn’t need the shovel. The plant died because it had no roots, so it came easily out of the ground. That plant portrays an important spiritual truth – for us to have a heart of faith, we must be devoted to nurturing a root system deep in God’s Word! What’s going on in the root system becomes known to everyone! If the plant is flourishing, it’s because the roots are deep and strong. If the root dies, it’s because the roots are weak. So it is for us!

If you and I are going to be women devoted to God, we must have a root system anchored deep in Christ. 

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Our life must be hidden in Christ.

What will that look like?

  1. Roots are tucked away (unseen).  We must spend time unseen by others, and seen only by God.  Elizabeth explained that an iceberg is hidden under that water where 6/7 of the ice is hidden from view.  Even though a sailor can only see 1/7, the iceberg was something to be in awe of because of the part that was hidden away!  When you and I are in the public eye, they should be witnessing strength that comes  out of our time that is out of sight from others – the time we spend alone with God.

“The greater proportion of your day and life spent hidden in quiet, in reflection, in prayer, in scheduling, in preparation, the greater will be the effectiveness, the impact, the power, of the part of our life that shows.” Ray and Anne Ortland

The impact of your ministry to people will be in direct proportion to the time you spend away from people with God.  That will only happen by making wise choices. “We must say no not only to things which are wrong and sinful, but to things pleasant, profitable and good which would hinder and clog our grand duties and our chief work.” 

How do we know what to say no to?  It comes from that time in prayer as we give ourselves to God and ask Him to direct our paths – Prov 3:6

Henry Drommond said, “Talent develops itself in solitude.” Let’s think about a talent like piano playing.  When my girls were students, they didn’t learn by going around to all the recitals and hammering out their pieces.  It came from hours of practice alone on the piano bench.  If we’re going to learn the gift of prayer, of Bible study, memorization, or meditating on Scripture, it will only happen in solitude.  Those roots are growing while no one else sees. 

  1. Roots are for taking in. Elizabeth says that when we take in God’s Word, there’s an exchange that takes place.  

Weariness is replaced by strength
Weakness is replaced by power
Burdens is replaced by freedom
Frustrations is replaced by peace
Turmoil is replaced by calm

What do you need to give to the Lord in time alone with Him so He can give you His great exchange in its place?  Your roots need to take in His Word in order to receive it.

  1. Roots are for tanking up – Roots are a reservoir – Jeremiah 17:7-8 The person who trusts in the Lord shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river.  If we are tanking up on the life-giving water of God’s Word, we will…
    1. Not be afraid of the heat.  The reservoir we have stored up from the Word of God will sustain us through the fiery trials
    2. Bear fruit faithfully. Even when our situation is rough, we won’t wither up and die because we have the reservoir of God’s Word deep in our heart that will sustain us.  Psalm 84:7, 11

At times when perhaps we can’t even reach for our Bible, the well of water of God’s Word will feed us and sustain us during those difficult days.

D. Roots are for toughness – Without a network of roots, a plant will become top-heavy because it has no support.  Without a root system of God’s Word in our spiritual life, we will fall over and need to be supported when hard things come.

Elizabeth shared about how shipbuilders select a tree located on the top of a high hill as a potential and future mast for their ships.  They cut away all of the surrounding trees from that chosen tree. They take away the trees that would shield it from the harsh forceful winds.  As time passes, the winds would blow fiercely on that tree and it grows stronger and stronger until it was finally strong enough to be the foremost mast on the ship.  When we have a strong roots system, we will gain the strength we need to stand against the trials of our life.

Yes, but how?

  1. Develop the habit of drawing near to God.  Recognize that without this time, you are powerless!
  2. Design a personal time for drawing near to God – 
    1. When?
    2. Where?
    3. What aids?
  3. Dream of being a woman after God’s Own heart 
    Write down the growth you’d like to accomplish in one year – 

    Read through the Bible,
    Read 12 books
    Memorize 12 verses – chapters
    Be mentored for 12 months
    Mentor a younger woman
    Attend a Bible study 

How old will you be in 10 years?  What do you want to be like at that age?
Write it down.  Pray about becoming that woman for God’s glory.

What kind of plant will you be in a year?  In ten years? What kind of root system will you have? It’s your decision. Make today count.

Biblical Womanhood · Christian growth · God's Will · spiritual growth

How Do We Have a Hot Heart for God?

I am going through one of my favorite books…again.  A Woman After God’s Own Heart, by Elizabeth George.  When I was a young mom, I began reading this book every other year because I found it so helpful for growth in every area of my life!
Now I have the blessing of going through it with a woman who is in the same stage of life as when I began studying these truths that Elizabeth carefully penned.  These principles are life-changing.  For that reason, I thought it would be helpful for me to share highlights from the chapters as I review them. I won’t give all the details, but will share the important truths from each chapter. I pray that you’ll find them as helpful as I have over these years.

Discipline – nothing great happens without it, and that includes spiritual growth.  We don’t grow by our grit, but by the steady commitment to being a woman who stays in God’s Word.  It cannot be a casual approach that studies when we have time, or only when there is a crisis.  But how do we have the discipline to be a woman after God’s heart?

We must choose God at every opportunity.

In Luke 10 we read the beloved story of Jesus visiting Mary and Martha. Mary chose to stop all activity and listen to the Lord. She ceased all other activity so she could do just that. 

Perhaps we need to ask – 

  1. What activity in my life is keeping me moving, anxious and unable to listen to the voice of the Lord in His Word?
  2. How do I find myself “interrupting Him” as Martha did?  

It’s hard to hear and heed God’s Word without the discipline to sit still and listen. We must make the choice to choose the one thing that is needed. Then after we’ve given it to the Lord, He takes over.  He does the Psalm 32:8 thing ~

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”

Each day, commit yourself afresh and anew to the Lord. Give Him your time, your possessions and your home – even if they are few, yourself – even as weak as you are, and ESPECIALLY because of your weakness!! Give him your husband and each child. Name each one. If you are not praying for your husband, who is? If you are not praying for your child, who will?

Andrew Murray said, God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.

Elizabeth says to “cultivate a hot heart for God.” Cultivate is to “Foster the growth of,” “To improve by labor.”To have a hot heart for God is to go against the culture of this world where we are only encouraged to “have it your way!”  But we have to do the work necessary to have that heart that is burning for Christ! 

I’m always intrigued to read obituaries in the paper.  When I see that a Christian has died, I always wonder how they are described by their family.  “She loved the beach” “She loved to bake cakes for others.” “She was the best grandmother.” I pray I can be remembered as a woman who had a hot heart for the Lord!

How do you want to be remembered? If it’s your desire to be a woman who follows God and has a heart for Him, then you must make a daily decision to choose God’s ways, make a commitment of yourself to the Lord daily, and then a cultivate a heart of spiritual fervency.

What you’re doing with your life today is contributing to how you will be remembered. Make today count.

Biblical Womanhood · joy · peace · Truth About Women

How Can We Biblically Deal with our Emotions?

Part 2 (You can find Part 1 here)

A good day can turn into a very bad day in a matter of minutes. Here’s how it goes –
1. I allow my feelings to dominate my thinking – (“This is the worst thing ever! I shouldn’t have to deal with this!” Neither of these statements are true.)
2. My reactions then reveal the emotional tidal wave by spilling from my mind into my heart. (I pout, am angry or I retreat)
3. My mouth speaks what I’m thinking. (I may accuse, complain or verbalize in other ways the things I feel)
4. The result is always regret. (Hurt feelings of others, distance in relationships, or spiritual coldness in my own heart)

However, when I begin to feel those emotions (and we will all feel things about our situations or relationships), I must make the immediate choice to deal with it in the three ways I mentioned last week. Then the blessed results of choosing right thinking will follow!
The results are…

  • Joy  Eve lost her joy when she went on her feelings and failed to trust God. But we can follow Paul’s admonition and “Rejoice in the Lord always.” If there’s no one else or nothing else to think about with joy, our dear Savior is always the best place to meditate. In Him we have so many reasons to rejoice!
    He loves us unconditionally!
    He will never leave us!
    He lives within us!
    He’s made a promise He’s coming again!
    He’s praying for us!
    He has provided us access to the Throne of God!
    For this and so much more, He is the center of our joy.
  • Peace in your own heart and peace with others. Eve, lost peace with God when she sinned. Her relationship with Adam was scarred, too. Paul reminds us in Philippians 4 to “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” This literally means “don’t worry about anything.” That “feeling” you have can become a fretful thing. Pray instead and let the peace of God rule in your heart!
  • Spiritual and emotional health – Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.Prov. 31:25 If we want to be strong spiritually and emotionally healthy, we simply live in the strength that comes from resting in the Lord. We can be like the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:25 and have strength when we don’t lean on our emotions, but on our God Whom we are in awe of. We must realize that we can rest in His sovereign care for all that touches our lives and our feelings. When we have this kind of strength, we won’t end up an emotional wreck – no matter what we “feel.” Instead, we will be a woman of strength and honor.
    We hear a lot about emotional health. Here’s how to have it –

For good emotional health,

don’t depend on your emotions!

I don’t know about you, but I never like it when I’ve had times of emotional upheaval. Thank the Lord for His Divine help that enables us to mature in regards to our feelings.

If this post resonates in your heart at all, and you deal with fluctuating emotions as I have, make it a matter of prayer, asking God to help you apply #1-3 in the first part of this post.

Emotions are part of our make-up as women, but they should never be the boss of our lives! Let Truth override anything you may be “feeling.” Dig to find it in God’s Word. Ask loving questions of others. Then meditate on that truth instead.
You won’t have regrets for doing so.
Ask Eve.

Biblical Womanhood · joy · peace · Truth About Women

How Can We Deal Biblically With our Emotions?

Part 1

I love that God made women to be emotional beings. We feel sentiments, we sense problems, we discern issues. Sometimes we are spot on. Sometimes that intuition and sense of sadness, trouble or even excitement were all correct and we nod our heads, thankful that we followed through to care for ourselves or the other people involved.

However, because we are far from perfect, we don’t always get it right. Let’s face it, sometimes we can be totally off. On those occasions, we can also track our incorrect feelings to our incorrect responses. Been there? Me too! We are not alone, though.

When we open to the first Book of the Bible and see Eve in the garden, we are met immediately with a woman who missed it. When Satan showed her the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Scripture says,

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

She was looking at this whole situation and feeling that God had not been fair. He had withheld something that was good. Next we see that her wrong thinking/feelings, led her to act out her incorrect discernment when she took of the fruit and gave some to her husband, Adam.

There are several ways we can avoid jumping to conclusions as Eve did.

  1. Don’t go solely by your emotions. “I feel like…” Yes, sometimes we get it right, but emotions aren’t called “roller coasters” for nothing! If we go by what we “feel,” we’re very possibly going to end up with more than a crick in our neck. Like Eve, we will injure others in the process. Not going on our emotions is absolutely essential – especially when we are feeling things about God that are unlike His character!
    Elizabeth Elliot said, If you dwell on your own feelings about things rather than dwelling on the faithfulness, the love, and the mercy of God, then you’re likely to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  Our feelings are very fleeting and ephemeral, aren’t they?  We can’t depend on them for five minutes at a time.  But dwelling on the love, faithfulness, and mercy of God is always safe.
  2. Seek out the truth. If your feelings are pushing you to do something, find out the truth before you do anything. If Eve would have gone to the Source (God Himself), she would have been spared the awful consequences that followed. Ask loving (not accusatory) questions. You might say something like, “I’m feeling like this is happening. Am I correct or am I in error?”
  3. Believe the truth. It’s easy to ask someone that question, but we can be so convinced we’re right about what we’re “discerning” that if they refute what we’re feeling, we refuse the truth when they state it. Perhaps it’s out of a desire to be right. Or perhaps we’re so sure of our feelings that we think we need to inform the other person.

The truth of this situation is found in Genesis 2:17

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Eve needed to believe that God was so good to her and Adam. He had kept the evil from them! She found that out very quickly, didn’t she? You and I will often invite hardship, too, when we keep pressing into our emotions. What do we do then if we’re told that our feelings are inaccurate? We make a choice. We go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to help us replace our feelings with right thinking. Philippians 4:8 Every time the emotion rushes in, we choose truth instead. It’s like choosing to eat something sweet and delicious, or picking up something disgusting from the sidewalk and popping it into our mouth and chewing on it. It’s our choice to choose.

Next week I’ll continue this post and I’ll be sharing the result of choosing right thinking over our emotions. For today, ask yourself:

  • Am I going solely on my emotions about the issue bothering me?
  • Am I willing to seek out truth?
  • Will I believe the truth when I hear it?

The roller coaster of emotions make for dizzy days. Guard your heart by seeking out the truth.