Monday, December 21, 2009

LIW :: Lady of Devotion

God longs for our devotion.  Not as an afterthought or wherever we can fit Him in (if we can fit Him in) our busy day.  He wants our wholehearted devotion.  He wants to be out all in all.  He deserves to be our all in all.  What's stopping you from giving it to Him?

Is it fear?  Are you afraid that once you let your guard down, you will be left vulnerable?  We are all Gods children.  He is here for us.  He will never leave us.  He loves us, not in spite of our imperfections, but because of who He is.  His love is unfailing, neverending, allencompassing.  He is the only one who can love us as we need to be loved.

Maybe it's your past that gets in your way.  No matter what you've done, where you've gone, how you've you strayed...God will always be there for you.  Come to Him with a grateful heart, ask for his forgiveness (and mean it!) and pledge to do better.  He will forgive you of your misdeeds and give you a clean slate.  Every time.  Jesus already paid our debt on the cross.

Maybe it's your current circumstances.  I don't know where you are in your life, but there is always room for God.  If you're in a dark place, seek Him.  He will shine the light that will lead you out.  Seeking God, devoting your life to Him, may not make you the most popular person around but it will give you a promise of life after death in Heaven with your Heavenly Prince.

Maybe it was your parents faith that is stopping you from seeking God.  Growing up, I had one parent who was a Christ follower and one parent who was agnostic on some days, muslim on others, atheist on still others.  That can be very confusing for a child.  Luckily, my mother held strong to her beliefs and did her best in raising my siblings and me in His light.  We have all been born again and have a thirst for His word.  Maybe you weren't as lucky.  Know that your parents are still human.  They did the best they could, but they're not perfect.  Learn for yourself.  Read His word and decide for yourself.

Your heart is the center of your being.  When you love someone, you are essentially giving them you.  You give your all to a significant other, to a friend, to a child, to a family member...God asks for no less.  He wants all of you...your heart, your soul and you mind.  When you love Him with all your might, only then will you find true love.  Make God an intimate, personal part of yourself.  Let Him eminate your soul.  He loves you as no human will ever be able to.
God is many things.  But He is not capable of doing evil.  He is not supersensitive.  He is not selfish.  He is not temperamental.  He is a sovereign God who loves you no matter what.  He sees all.  He knows your heart and your motives.  It is impossible to hide things from Him.  It is pointless to make excuses to Him.  He'll see right through you.  God is not hard to please.  He created you.  He loves you.  He notices every effort given to please Him and He delights in you. 

Seek God and you will know Him.  Seek God and you will feel His Holy Spirit.  Seek God and accept His forgiveness.  Seek God and accept His love.  Seek God with all you have.  Seek God and listen for His directions.  Seek God by enrapturing yourself in His word.  Seek God by following out His will.  Seek God and let Him in all areas of your life.  Seek God wholeheartedly.

When you give Him all of you, you are not keeping a piece 'just in case' something better comes along.  Devotion to God is an all or nothing deal.  You wouldn't date a guy who was holding out a piece of himself 'just in case' he finds someone better, and God deserves the same respect...if not more.
Seek Him with a clean heart.  Let Him absolve you of your sins.  Ask for His guidance in areas where you are prone to stray from His will.  I have a tendency to gossip.  It takes alot of restraint on my part to hold my tongue.  Without Gods help my tongue would be vicious.  What is your weakness?  Ask God to lend you His strength.
As single women, we have more time than we will ever have again to devote to the Lord.  We determine how deep our relationship with God will be.  So what's more importanto to you?  God or tv/internet/reading/shopping/whatever it is that dominates your time?

Monday, December 14, 2009

LIW :: Lady of Virtue

Virtue can be defined in many ways.  It is moral excellence.  It is righteousness.  It is goodness.  It is purity.  It is patience.  It is kindness.  It is abstinence.  It is wisdom.  It is vigilance.  It is carefulness.  It is thoughtfulness.  It is discretion.  It is everything God longs for us to be. 

Jackie likens our lives, our trials and tribulations, to that of a pearl.  Just as a pearl starts off rough, being sanded, and belted with grains of sand until it becomes a precious jewel, so do we become His precious jewels when we let Him use our life experiences to turn us into such.  Ever heard the saying 'when life hands you lemons, make lemonade'?  As cheesy as it may be, it's great advice.  No one lives a life without any downfalls...without any issues...without any problems.  What's important is how you respond to all of these.  Will you use the burdens in your life to glorify God?  Or will you turn from Him in your time of need?

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
- James 1.2-4

Trials are meant to test your faith and build your character.  That's not to say that God is inflicting pain on all of us.  Pain comes from the free will of others.  It comes from poor decisions we've made in the past.  It comes as a consequence to things that have already be done.  When you turn to God and follow his will, you are allowing Him to use these 'sands' to soften your inner 'pearl'. 

Every decision you make has an impact.  Some bigger than others, but an impact nonetheless.  Will you base your decisions upon the Lord?  Forsaking your will for His?  Or will you be more concerned with the world?  With a quick, easy fix?  Sometimes Gods way isn't the easy or popular way.  It can be hard.  It can take time and effort.  He is the God of all, and He knows better than you ever will.  Trust in Him and let Him make you into the pearl He desires you to be.

When you base your decisions on the Lord, you are not only working on the issue at hand.  You are also working on beautifying yourself on the inside.  Think of all the time you spend on your hair, your make-up, your outward you spend even half that time on your inner beauty?  Developing your personality, your mind and your heart is lasting work.  Your outer beauty will fade, no matter how hard you work at it.

What do you look for in a man?  Do you want someone tall, dark and handsome with a nice car and a big house who can afford to take you to fancy dinners and buy you expensive presents?  Or would you prefer someone who has a heart for the Lord, who serves God whole-heartedly, treats others with respect and truly has a passion for life?  While the former does seem tempting...I'd much prefer the latter.  The only way to attract a man of character is to be a woman of virtue.  How can you expect a man of great character to want a woman of shallow worth?  It's what's on the inside that counts.  Pretty people are not the only ones blessed with marriage.  Now this is not to say that you shouldn't take pride in your outward appearance.  You should absolutely seek to look your best...just don't make your beauty your primary worth. 

"Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in Gods sight."
- 1st Peter 3.4

While your outer beauty fades with the sands of time, your inner beauty will only grow stronger as you continue to nurture it.  You cannot expect to catch a prince when you yourself are not a princess. Develop yourself so that you will be ready to share yourself with your god-sent. A godly man will take notice of a virtuous woman because of her godly character rather than for her flowing locks and sparkling eyes.

"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
- Proverbs 31.30

Our personalities are like that of a necklace where each 'bead' or trait is displayed.  Is your necklace full of pearls or of cracked, dirty beads?  No one is perfect, and no one expects us to be, but you can clean these dirty beads, repair the cracked, broken ones, by asking for Gods forgiveness and help.  You must realize that alot of the habitual sins you do or due to underlying cause.  Work to realize that cause and seek Gods help to resove it.
"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are -- no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought."
- Matthew 5.5

God is with us is up to us to decide to walk alongside Him.  When you seek to obey God on a moment to moment basis your are emptying yourself of your sinful ways and filling yourself with His Holy Spirit.  Will you release your sinful ways and allow God to make you into a His precious jewel?  It will most certainly take time and energy, but I strongly believe it will be worth it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

LIW :: Lady of Faith

In the third week of our LIW study, we broached the subject of faith. Seems pretty simple. Obviously I have faith. I mean, I'm a christian. I believe in God. I have faith that what I believe, what I've learned from the bible, what I feel in my heart, is true. But is that enough? Is it enough to just believe that He is the one true god? No, you must put your faith in Him in all areas of your life. This is where some soul-searching comes into play. Do my actions reflect my faith? If they do, is my faith anywhere close to what God wants from me?

Taking a long, hard...honest...look at your own life is not easy. We are quick to justify our actions. 'Well I only did that our of necessity.' 'I wouldn't have to do that if it weren't for the surrounding circumstances.' 'Everyone in my field has to act this way to succeed.' Justification is just a nicer word for excuse. God doesn't want our excuses. He wants our hearts, our lives, our faith. The root of our issues are not our extenuating circumstance, they lie in our motives. Where do your motives lie? Are they self-serving or God-serving?

'All a mans ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.'
- Proverbs 16.2
Imagine you have a big date. He's this great guy, so cute! You've been eyeing him for awhile and he has finally asked you out. How much time do you take to get ready? You do your hair, spend extra time on your make-up, go shopping for that perfect 1st date outfit. Now, how much time would you spend preparing your heart? Will you spend time in your bible? Will you pray for Gods will regarding this man? Will you listen to what He tells you?

When you spend daily time with God, you are building up the foundation of your faith. You may not be able to see faith, but it's not based on nothing. A faith in God is built upon His word. Reading the bible, praying, living out your every day interactions with His will in mind, will only make your faith stronger.

'Faith is the evidence of things unseen; the substance of things yet hoped for.'
- Hebrews 11.1

That is my absolute favorite bible verse. It is the pinnacle of what I believe. How true that the effects of God can be seen everywhere! It is the foundation for my life. I don't know how I'd get through a day without it. My faith rests solely in my Lord and Savior. While that is something that is completely undisputed in my heart and in my mind, it (regrettably) does not always rule my decisions. Satan can be so tempting, so alluring. He can make worldly things seem so appealing. It is much too easy too look with eyes of the world rather than eyes of faith.

God is in control. He will be there for you no matter what eyes you choose to look through, but how much easier would your life be if you chose to look with eyes of faith? Earthly things will not bring you security, only God can do that. Spend quality time in His word to refresh your eyes. The longer you stay from Him, the cloudier your vision will become. Satan will be quick to turn your eyes, bringing you to the opposite of faith. Fear. There is no fear with faith. Trust in God. Trust in His plans for you...even when they don't match up with the plans you've made for yourself.

Jesus may want you to be married. He may not. Either way, He will lead you there. He will bring your God-send to you. Going to a singles bar every night, having all your friends set you up with every single man they know, switching churches to one with more available men, choosing a career in a male-dominated field...none of these will bring you 'the one' if it's not in His will. That's not to say you should just stay at home and wait for Mr. Right to appear on your doorstep with a bow on his head. You should live your life for you and for God. Do His works. Follow His will. He has your best interest at heart. Who do you think knows, with your easily clouded judgement, or the Alpha and Omega?
'Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon ones thoughts.'
- Elisabeth Elliot

Relying on your faulty judgement rather than on Gods wisdom will only result in pain and heartache. You won't find completion in another person. Noone can fulfill you in the ways that He can. You don't need a man to live a full life. Don't be bitter about your singleness. Take peace in the knowledge that God has a plan for you. Instead take this time to deepen your faith. Never again will you get this time back.
'Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.'
- 1st Peter 5.7

He can handle whatever you throw His way. Will you put your faith in Him? Will you start making every decision with eyes of faith? I don't know about you, but I'm sure going to try.