As Long as You Use Me  

When Christ makes His home within us, our response is a desire for Him to use us. I read a story* from China about the magnificent stately Bamboo who longed to be used by the King. One day the King had a job that he knew the stately Bamboo could do well.

"I want to use you today," the King said, looking at Bamboo's magnificent head of waving plumes.

"How wonderful!" thought the proud Bamboo, "that is just what I have been waiting for."

"But to use you, I will have to cut you down," the King said.

"All right," conceded Bamboo, "so long as you use me."

"I must strip you of all your natural glory," the King confided to him.

Bamboo thought about it. To lose his head of fronds of which he was so inordinately proud seemed a big price to pay, yet...he really did long to be used by the King. "Yes, King, if that is the only way," he said at last, "so long as I am used."

"I must split you in two all down your length, and scour out your heart, breaking down all the partitions," the King whispered to him.

"O King, whatever the cost--yes, I must be used!" Bamboo eventually cried.

So he was cut down, all the fronds stripped away from him; he was split in two down his whole length and all his heart scoured out of him. Then, with nothing left of his original natural beauty, the two lengths were laid end to end, and water from the King's spring was fed down to the rice fields in the valley below.

Dear Lord, let us long to serve You out of love that allows You freedom to flow through us.

"Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all" (Mark 10:43-44).


*Adapted from Living Fellowship by Helen Roseveare

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An Art You Can Practice

The image of a cow chewing its cud is often used to describe the practice of meditation. First the cow goes out and gets some grass and then sits down and chews it awhile and then swallows it. A little later, the cow regurgitates its cud and chews some more, then swallows again. We can visualize the cow processing and reprocessing the food until it is fully digested! 

Our meditation involves taking in the bread of God's Word, "chewing" on it by reading and thinking about it. Then it sinks down into our hearts, as we go about other things. Later that day, we'll bring it back again to our minds and reflect on it some more. Meditation is taking in the bread of God's Word, chewing on it, and digesting it until it becomes a part of who we are. As we meditate, the Word becomes so pleasant that we fully agree with the psalmist, "The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold" (Ps. 119:72). 

Meditation begins as we read listening with all our hearts. It requires that we pay attention to the details of Scripture, but it's different from Bible study. In Bible study, we analyze the text; in Scripture meditation, we take pleasure in it and enter into it. Then we carry His Words--perhaps just a phrase from our reading--in our mind, pondering, "How can I live this? What is God saying to me?" We bring verses to our mind throughout the day, thinking on them being alert for ways to apply His words. 

Dear Lord, I want to continually keep Your words before me seeking to live by them.

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.  17  It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

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Praise Even if It Seems Vain Repetition? 

When Audine McChesney's husband became desperately ill with encephalitis, the doctor offered no hope of recovery. Someone encouraged Audine to praise God for his healing.

Praise? How could she praise in such a dark hour? Her husband had been ill for months. She was weak and dependent on her two teenage sons. There was no income and their small savings was gone. She had prayed many prayers but still had no answer.

But Audine was desperate and decided to try what the friend suggested. Through the black depression of the enemy, she endeavored to offer up praise. It was a real sacrifice of praise, but God's Word told her to offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually. King David said, "His praise shall continually be in my mouth."

Audine admitted that she failed many times, but the Holy Spirit always helped her to return to praising. Praise enabled her to rise above her circumstances. God became very real in the midst of her storm.

One rendering of Psalm 50:23 says, "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me and to him that uses praise over and over again enough to form a trodden road will I show the deliverance of our God." Audine said, "God worked! In a few weeks, my husband was home and well."

Later her husband was desperately ill again. He had a stroke that caused damage to his brain resulting in memory loss and inability to communicate. But even in that, Audine found that praise brought her out of depression. At times her praise seemed like vain repetition, but it worked. 

Audine said, "Can't you just see the beautiful sight of the appointed singers marching ahead of King Jehoshaphat's army praising the beauty of holiness, when the heathen nations came against them! When they began to sing and praise, the Lord worked mightily for them, putting ambushments against the enemy. Surely God will do the same for us."

May my praise bring joy to You, dear Father.

"He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me" (Psalm 50:23).

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 Poor Ann Could Not Learn 

Ann Preston was a simple Irish lady who lived nearly 100 years ago. Her education began and ended in little more than a week, but in that time she exhausted the patience of her teacher. After many vain attempts to teach Ann the first letters of the alphabet, he gave her a tap upon the head as he remarked before the class, "Poor Ann! She can never learn anything." With this he sent her home in disgrace. 

Years later, Ann became a Christian and her first prayer was, "O Lord, couldn't you enable me to read one of these things?" She put her finger on John 4:14 and began to read: "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give shall never thirst." Eventually Ann could freely read the Word of God although she could never read any other book.

Her friend once put before Ann a paper and watched her try in vain to decipher some of the smaller words. Finally, Ann pointed to one word and said, "That seems to be 'lord,' but I don't think it is my Lord, as my heart doesn't burn while I see it." The friend looked at the paper and saw her finger on the word "lord," but it was a war report telling of Lord Roberts' achievements. 

The Bible is unlike any other book. "The Holy Spirit imparted a power to the words which makes them permanently living and effective," wrote W. E. Vine in Divine Inspiration of the Bible. Again and again the scriptures declare that these are supernatural words with life in them. 

The Gospel doesn't just tell of God's power. "The gospel...is the power of God" (Romans 1:16). When we willingly respond to the Word, we discover its power. A single phrase can comfort or transform us when we simply receive it and believe it.

Thank You, dear Jesus, that as I take in Your Word today, I receive power to obey.

"For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power" (Hebrews 4:12 Amp.).


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Was I Trusting or Worrying?  

After we began Women Alive! magazine, I would go to the post office each day, eager to see what was in our mail box. I began to notice that on the days many subscriptions arrived it was easier to rejoice than on the days when there were few. This bothered me. If I were really trusting the Lord, if this were His work and not mine, should it matter what came in the mail?

Late one night I was holding this matter before the Lord and asking that He search my desires. Would He help me to trust Him so my feelings didn't fluctuate with the mail? I wanted this to be His battle.

"Can you see that post office box as My hand?" He said. From that night, I could. In the months that followed, I could as easily give thanks for a few subscriptions as for many by accepting the mail as from Him. How freeing it was to not worry but to calmly leave the results of our advertising with Him. I learned to rest in the knowledge that He would provide. To remain at rest, however, I had to work diligently on the magazine. My rest depended upon an active faith.

Quietly resting is not synonymous with complacency. It is not casually hoping all will go well. It is vigorously doing all He tells us to do while resting in the knowledge that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love and trust Him. 

Thank You, Father, that You fulfill your promise that those who hope in You will not be disappointed.

God "is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]" (Eph. 3:20 Amp.)

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