This post is part of the continuing series as we review A Woman After God’s Own Heart, by Elizabeth George.
I heard about a woman who was having a dinner party and fixed an elaborate meal. Everything was cooking, chilling and baked, ready for her guests that would arrive a couple hours later, but she found herself hungry. She sat down and ate a couple of large candy bars “just to tide herself over.” When it came time to serve her guests, she had no appetite for the lavish meal!
We are guilty of doing the same thing when we foolishly binge on things that have no value to our spiritual life. Let’s glean some great practical advice that Elizabeth George was given by a friend that will help us to grow spiritually because we’re feasting on God’s Wisdom.
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 –
What activity in my life is keeping me moving, anxious and unable to listen to the voice of the Lord in His Word?
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.
There are seasons that just make us want to dive into our areas of clutter and begin a donate campaign. The beginning of the new year, springtime, or a move all give us that proverbial shove to get rid of our piles!
We tiptoe into closets that are brimming with things we’ve stuffed inside, perhaps because we didn’t know what to do with them, or we were in too much of a hurry to put them in their proper place. Lurking on shelves, in shadows and under stacks, we find so many items that are no longer useful. Oh what freedom comes from filling bags with all the undesirable bits and bobs!
Early one recent morning I walked into my closet – my walk-in clothes closet where I also pray. I grimaced at the little pile I had hidden placed behind the door, but I ignored it, shut the door, and knelt to pray. It was then that the Holy Spirit brought to my mind that there are areas of clutter that are far more serious than that pile in my closet. It was so easy for me to see.
Oh yes, Lord! In my life I look around me and recognize the hording that slows my spiritual progress. It deadens my sensitivity to Your Spirit. It makes my testimony ineffective, keeping my eyes on earthly things, rather than the heavenly treasures.
A “pile” of spiritual clutter that came to my mind is found in Colossians 3:
covetousness, which is idolatry
Before you raise your eyebrows and think I’m living in immorality, (I am not), I was reminded that this list might sound like it’s directed to the “really bad sinner.” But the Spirit of God reminded me that if I allow any of this to enter my closet door through means of someone else throwing it in there, it’s still cluttering my life. That means I may need to “toss out” people I follow on social media that promote their sinful lifestyle. Comedians that laugh at what God calls pure may need to be added to the trash pile, and “entertainment” that uses profanity, promotes obscene language or nods “yes” to things God clearly condemns all must be added to the “donate pile.”
I also see that filling my minutes/hours/days with useless things is even more cumbersome to my life than hanging onto the sweater I loved but has a hole in the sleeve.
As I continued in my prayer time, I heard the Lord giving me directives on what to “toss” and what to add to my spiritual closet. Confessing my spiritual clutter was the only thing needed to unload the mess. I rose from my knees with a sense of peace. This time was needed. The shadows had revealed the lurking loads that were now clean, fresh and ready for enjoying, rather than sighing with the burden of knowing it is all there, but not dealing with it. It is gone.
Lest you think this is a boast of legalism where we have to “follow all the rules,” I must add that in Christ we are free. We are free to choose the path of righteousness that will lead to greater spiritual fruit, or we can choose the way that gives a short-lived satisfaction but yields only weeds and thorns that we will regret. We live with eternity in view , knowing that Christ could come today. I want my “closet” clean and ready to receive Him. I want others to see the joy of walking with Christ. I, too, love the precious things the Lord adds to my life each day. You know the happy feeling of dumping all that load of junk at the donation center? This is far greater!
If you ask the Lord to show you the clutter that needs to be removed from your life, He will faithfully reveal those things to you. Humble yourself before Him and be ready for the peace and joy that comes from your obedience.
In a couple of weeks, I will have completed another read through the Bible. That’s saying nothing about me, but I do want to say something about God’s Word – it changes me!
The reason I started reading through the Bible many years ago is because I had not really gotten the “whole story” in my head. I had broken up segments of the Old Testament happenings I’d heard since my childhood. I knew some of the psalms and loved Paul’s epistles, but reading all the way through the Bible has taught me and profited me so much!
Reading through the Bible has shown me the thread of redemption that is woven throughout all of Scripture. After the fall of man,, we see God providing, not just Adam and Eve’s present needs, but telling He would provide a sacrifice for mankind. Then all through its pages, we see pictures and types of Christ, coming to save us from our sin. From Abraham, Joshua, Moses, Joseph and the psalms, we are pointed to His suffering, death and resurrection!
Reading through the Bible has given me a greater love for God’s Word. I see the way Scripture commentates on itself. I see Christ on each page. I see the way the Word is knit together like the yarns of a scarf through the weaver’s shuttle. It’s a Book like no other book! It is alive! It is powerful! It is life-giving!
Reading through the Bible has caused me to grow spiritually. Oh, how dear it is to open my Bible and hear God speak Truth to my heart! The Spirit of God teaches me His character, gives me hope for the future, and convicts me of sin so I can get it right. All of this causes growth.
Reading through the Bible has given me a greater desire to memorize Scripture. Because I see its value to change me, I know it’s essential to have it hidden in my heart. Psalm 119 is full of reminders why I need to memorize – it gives comfort, it gives me words to answer others, it guides me, it keeps me from sin…and so many other reasons.
I will definitely be reading through the Bible in 2022. Whitney shared on her blog this week that she’s going to be doing The Bible Recap. That is a chronological reading. I’m praying about whether to do that or to repeat the Bible in a year on you version. It takes you through the old and New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. I love the variety. Through this plan I’ve also seen the redemption thread woven so beautifully.
Have you ever read through the Bible? If it seems daunting to you, realize you just take it one day at a time. I believe having a plan doesn’t overwhelm you, but it keeps you on track. Pray and ask God to give you a hunger for His word, and then make a plan to dive in come January 1, 2022.
You can go here to see a tool that has helped me as I’ve read the Bible.
It was early Sunday morning and I had gotten my coffee and journal and cozied myself on the sofa where I could read my devotions and enjoy the warmth of the sun on a cold November dawn. Looking around, I realized I had left my Bible in the other room. I glanced over to the bookcase beside the sofa, and I spotted one of my old Bibles that I had “retired” quite a few years ago. I pulled it off the shelf and seated myself once again. This Bible was like an old friend. It’s pages are worn, curled and marked, but oh, so loved.
I flipped the pages to go to where my Bible plan had brought me. It was II Peter 1. As the page opened, I saw flecks of dust dancing in the sunlight! It was proof that this Bible had been unused for some time, but when I read its pages, it said,
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue
My heart swelled as I read those words. How precious that the Lord has given us everything we need for this life in Christ, and where do we find it? In His word.
When my heart is overwhelmed, I can get strength from His Word.
When I am filled with fear, I can get faith from His Word.
When I am sad or worried, I can get peace from His Word.
When I feel alone, I am reminded of His presence in His Word.
To neglect the Word of God is to reject all that we need to do more than merely survive the day. I’m pretty sure we’re all interested in more than “just making it.”
It’s easy to get too busy, too involved in other activities, or too tired that we neglect God’s Word, and when we finally come to ourselves, we find our souls more dusty than the Bible’s pages.
If you’ve “fallen off the wagon,” in your reading plan, go get your Bible and open its pages to find just what the Lord wants to teach you about Himself today. It’s truth is deeper than the dust. It will show you the Way to go, the Truth you need to hear and the Life to guide you on your way… and all that is found in our Savior,
If you’ve neglected God’s Word, blow off the dust and dive in. You’ll be refreshed and strengthened for your path today.