What to Do About Those Negative Emotions

The man Jeri had thought would someday be her husband announced he was moving away and ending their relationship. The thought filled her with pain. 

"How do I stop feeling so connected to you?" she asked. "I guess you have to want to," he candidly replied. 

But strong emotions filled her heart and she cried until she became emotionally numb.

"God, I prayed about this relationship! How could you let this happen?" How do I get out of this desolate place?" she cried to the Lord.

God seemed to remind her, "I never promised that you would never suffer heartbreak or be exempt from suffering. But I did promise that whatever comes or goes, I will never leave you." 

Then He seemed to say, "Now speak to those negative emotions and command them to leave."

Obediently, she wiped the tears from her eyes, took a deep breath and began to speak encouraging words to herself in the power of God. A sense of joy and freedom flooded her heart and mind. What had seemed intolerable seconds earlier became another proof of God's love and faithfulness.

Charles Spurgeon said, "There are certain things in life that we need not pray about--moods, for instance. We will never get rid of moodiness by praying, but we will by kicking it out of our lives....We have to pick ourselves up by the back of the neck and shake ourselves; then we will find that we can do what we believed we were unable to do."*

When David and his men returned from battle and found Ziklag destroyed and their children taken captives, his men were all angry enough to stone David. "But David found strength in the Lord his God" (1 Sam. 30:6). He refused to give into the mood that filled the others. Perhaps that determination was one of the key things that set David apart from others.

Dear Jesus, help us to be aware of when we allow negative emotions to hinder what You want to do through us. 

"Rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4). (Written by Paul, the prisoner.)

*From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition, May 20, 2018

 

Prayer Matters

God eagerly receives our prayers because when we bear others' needs in prayer as though they were our own, we allow Him to do what He could not have done if we had not prayed.

I learned this years ago when a group of us gathered around a dear hurting friend. As we were praying and weeping over her, Jesus spoke to my spirit: "I'm so glad you're doing this, because now I can do what I want to do." Our praying opens up possibilities for others that they would not have if we had not prayed. We are, indeed, our brother's keeper.

For instance, as more and more people are praying for Muslims, God is revealing himself by dreams and visions to this group in many places. One Muslim was suddenly awakened by a shining white figure by his bed, saying, "I am the Way; follow Me." This identical experience is reported to have happened in various places. In fact, in one area this same thing has happened 19 times and the 19 converts somehow found each other and now meet to pray!

Mothers who understand how important their prayers are in helping their children be victorious spiritually make prayer a priority. When one mother learned that something very evil had happened to her son, she was devastated. She wept for three days before the Lord. 

"At the end of the third day God started reminding me of Jesus' prayer to His Father for the believers: 'I pray not that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil that is in the world.' Then He took me to the Lord's Prayer often. Praying this prayer has been a very big part of my life and prayer ever since."

As a result of her prayers, the evil that happened to her son actually brought him to a very personal acquaintance with Jesus that has grown and matured through the years.

Dear Jesus, help me to remember that when no one is praying, the enemy has an advantage.

"The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results" (Jam. 5:16 NLT).

Dr. Ronnie Floyd's Secret

"God used prayer and fasting to change my ministry," said Dr. Ronnie Floyd, Chairman of the National Day of Prayer. I heard Dr. Floyd give the following at Fasting & Prayer '96 in St. Louis.

He said as he grew up no one taught him how to fast, but he began to notice fasting in Scripture and out of a desire to draw near God, he decided to delve into what it meant and to practice fasting.  

Then in 1990, his wife was diagnosed with cancer. He felt God wanted him to fast and pray one day each week for her healing.  He did, and, in response to his obedience, God healed his wife.

He was burdened for his church and ministry and in March 1994, as he read about God's calling Moses, he felt God telling him, "Ronnie, I want you to fast and pray for 40 days now for spiritual renewal for the nation, the church, and your life."

"I have never been the same since," he confessed. "God had my attention on America, on the Church, and on the sins in my life." 

God spoke to him from Isaiah 57:15: "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit."

"Your biggest problem is your sin of pride," God said to him. "You are a young arrogant, proud pastor and I will break you to make you what I want you to be."

One Sunday morning, he got up shortly after midnight to pray.  After three or four hours, God came. "I was free like never before."

On June 4, 1995, Dr. Floyd told his church of his 40-day fast, and how God had dealt with him. That morning the Holy Spirit came, and people were on their faces before God, praying. They worshipped for two and a half hours. He spoke of another service in which, "The only comfortable place in that room was on your face before God." Although he didn't give a call to fast, nearly fifty lay people completed a 40-day fast.

Dear Father, fill every part of my life with the spirit of humility, and make it my consistent habit so that I have no thoughts and no desires except those that are the fruit of a humble spirit.

"For this is what the high and exalted One says-he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit" (Isa. 57:15).

The Kiss

For centuries both Jewish people and Christians have considered Solomon's Song of Songs to refer to our relationship with God. Amazingly, God looks upon His relationship with us in nuptial terms!

Spurgeon said, "Let me prefer this book above all others for fellowship and communion." When Charles Finney entered into a deep love relationship with Christ, he said, "The language of the Song of Solomon was as natural to me as my breath."

This book is Christ's ecstatic description of His passion for you and me. As we read we see ourselves as the maiden, and as the Lover describes her beauty, it is Jesus talking to us personally.

The maiden begins by saying, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth--for your love is more delightful than wine" (Song of Songs 1:2).

From the beginning, the rabbis associated Deuteronomy 8:3 with this passage: "Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." For 3000 years, the rabbis would speak of the kisses of God's mouth like this: "The kisses of the Torah are what we long for."

Origen, an early Church Father, said that when the Jewish Church prayed, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth" they were longing for a closer revelation. It was as though they were asking, "How long shall He send me kisses by Moses and the prophets? I desire the touch of His own lips."

Much of our Bible study can be compared to receiving kisses from the prophets. We glean insights from Bible  teachers and books, but when a fresh insight comes directly to us from the Living Word, it is like a kiss on our spirits. It gives us life! "They are not just idle words for you--they are your life" (Deut. 32:47).  

 

We do not speak of kissing the lips of Jesus--that would be sacrilegious. But there is a mystical meaning, and when we begin to grasp it, we will be enthralled with the beauty of receiving His affection through the Word. We may be in the midst of a crisis or have a special need and He gives us a promise from His Word and it is as satisfying as a kiss on the lips. True intimacy with God begins when His Word becomes precious to us.

Dear Jesus, keep me with a passion to come close to You as I read Your Word.

 

"The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold" (Psalm 119:72).

 

What Is True Spirituality?

In response to the devotional titled "You Carry His Presence," a lady wrote that her working years were spent as a legal secretary in a small law office. Her desk was at the window where she greeted clients. 

"Although the attorney was a Christian," she wrote, "he preferred that I not have a Bible in view on my desk. I do have a Bible bound like a law book so it was on my desk with other reference books. I often wished that I could share with clients, but always felt for them and had a ready smile. 

"Years later we closed the office as the attorney left the practice to go into the ministry. Many came by and shared how they had been spiritually uplifted by being there. I had no idea and had often wished that I could help them. 

"The only explanation was that they had unknowingly experienced the presence of Christ."

It is true that when we are with a non-Christian, we bring the presence of Christ. MacRina Wiederkehr said, "There is nothing so healing in all the world as real presence. Our real presence can feed the ache for God in others." Jesus is the real One, and His indwelling presence in us is a reality and makes a difference. His Spirit in us communicates with their spirit.

True Christ-like spirituality is not easy to define, but its presence or absence can often be discerned. Oswald Sanders said "[Spirituality] is the power to change the atmosphere by one's presence, the unconscious influence that makes Christ and spiritual things real to others."

Moses pleaded for God's presence when God called him to lead the Israelites. "What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" (Exodus 33:15, 16).

Jesus, if Your presence is not with me, I have nothing to mark me as distinct from anyone else and nothing that will draw others to You.

"The Lord replied, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest'" (Exodus 33:14). 

You Carry His Presence

The ark of the covenant was the central piece, the heart of the tabernacle. The ark speaks beautifully of Christ's presence resting in us and tells us that we are carriers of His presence. We can think of the ark as Christ in us, His Spirit being at home within our spirits.

Carrying the ark was the priests' first role mentioned in Deuteronomy 10:8. "The Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord." We, as His priests, are now the carriers of His presence. He "has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father" (Revelation 1:5, 6).

When we are with a non-Christian, we bring the presence of Christ to that person. Christ's presence within us is a reality and often makes more of a difference than we realize. A friend related that when the nurses spoke of her Christian mother's hospital room, they would say, "Something is different about that room."

A nurse told me that patients have asked her for no reason that she can determine, "You're a Christian, aren't you?" She carries Christ's presence with her.

A group of men would sit around in a store using foul language and telling unwholesome stories-until a certain woman walked in. They couldn't explain it, but as long as that woman was there, their language changed.

Sadhu Sundar Singh observed that salt, when dissolved in water, may disappear, but it does not cease to exist. We can be sure of its presence by tasting the water. Likewise, the indwelling Christ, though unseen, will be made evident to others from the love that He imparts to us and through us. 

When we're living in Christ, our presence is making a difference even though we are unaware of it.

Dear Lord, I pray my heart will be Your holy dwelling.  

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Ephesians 3:16, 17). 

 

God Sent You

Audine McChesney was going for a walk when she felt a strong urge to stop at a home across the street. She had briefly met the woman who lived there, and was sure they had nothing in common.

Still, Audine continued to strongly sense that she must go to her house. "I'm weak and must get home," she reasoned. Besides, what would they talk about? Even so, she could not walk past that house. Trembling, she went to the porch and rang the door bell. Immediately a lady opened the door, reached out her hand for her and invited her inside, saying, "Come in. The Lord sent you."

The lady had been on the phone but said a hasty goodbye and hung up, again saying, "God sent you. I need a prayer partner. Something terrible has happened, and I just couldn't tell my friend I was talking to."

Audine was a stranger, but she ventured, "Do you care to tell me?"

"Yes, I do," she said and proceeded to pour out her story. Her daughter who lived in another state had disappeared, and her son-in-law had called to ask if her daughter was staying with her. The son-in-law had been abusive, and the woman was distraught because her daughter was missing.

Audine breathed a prayer for strength and wisdom. God told her, "Take her burden as you would that of any sister in your church."

Audine dropped to her knees and began to pray. She said, "If ever the Holy Spirit helped me to pray, He did that afternoon. I prayed for three things: protection for her daughter, knowledge where the daughter was, and peace for the woman herself. We touched God for all three requests."

They got acquainted over tea and cookies, and when Audine left, she asked her to let her know when she heard from her daughter. Within a few hours, the woman called and exclaimed, "My daughter called and said that at the very time we were praying, her husband had gone to the office where she worked and tried to harm her. He was hindered, however, by personnel rushing from door to door, locking them ahead of him. 

Audine then knew why God wouldn't let her go by that house. Perhaps a tragedy was averted that day.

"His sheep follow him because they know his voice" (John 10:4).

Audine McChesney sent this account which we published in Women Alive magazine. 

Be Yourself

It's interesting to consider Jesus' comparison of Solomon and the common field lily. Jesus' audience, no doubt aware of Solomon's splendor described in 2 Chronicles 9, must have listened with wonder when Jesus said, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin...even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these" (Matt. 6:28, 29)

The little lily, simply being what it was created to be, did not toil nor spin to impress others. Yet, as a simple expression of God's creation, its glory exceeded that of Solomon, the most magnificent king. 

God took no less care when He created us. Although we may feel that we are no more than a common field flower, we can be confident that God would say that even Solomon with all his man-made glories cannot compare with the beauty He sees in us.

God loves each of the unique personalities He made, and He wants to express Himself through each one. We don't need to feel intimidated by another's ability or personality. It may be right for them, but for us it may be Goliath's armor. God allowed David to do what he was comfortable doing.

Perhaps we are never more ourselves than when we are listening to and responding to the Spirit. When we are free from self-consciousness we can live with a God-consciousness enabling us to comfortably "be ourselves."

Dear God, help us to allow You to freely express Yourself through us with no self-focus. 

"If we live the by the (Holy) Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit-If by the (Holy) Spirit we have our life [in God], let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit" (Gal. 5:25Amplified).

What Excites God?

Pam told me that she and her husband were remembering what a difficult year their daughter is having as she teaches a group of 8th graders. As they were praying for her, they suddenly had the idea of sending her flowers. They became excited thinking about how happy she would be when she receives her flowers. Then Pam added, "I think God must get excited when He knows He is going to be doing something special for us."

Repeatedly God tells us that He, too, loves to lavish blessings on His children. When He grants us an answer to prayer or a special benefit, He wants us to remember it is coming from a God who is rejoicing because He can do us good. Perhaps this is what He meant when he said, "I will rejoice in doing them good...with all my heart and with all my soul" (Jeremiah 32:41). The psalmist said, "The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant" (35:27).

God created us for His pleasure (Rev. 4:11), and God never does anything in vain. We do what we were created to do-we give Him pleasure! His purposes are always fulfilled. 

So what gives joy to God? An opportunity to show us love. His love is not dependent upon our earning it. He is only sad when we doubt it.

Julie shared with me a song about God's love by Rita Springer titled "There Is No Striving." The lyrics say we cannot earn His affection because we can't earn something that is free. All He asks is that we believe. 

Jesus told Marjory Kemp, a 34-year-old widow, "More pleasing to me than all your prayers, sacrifices and good words is that you would believe I love you."

"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:17-19).

Dear Jesus, may we experience Your love, so we will be filled with all the fullness of God.

 

The Great Cost

For two years we lived in O'Fallon, Missouri, while my husband Daniel served with the Public Health Service in St. Louis. On Sundays we drove the 30 miles to Troy, Missouri, to attend church with my mother and then go to her home for dinner. She always had a delicious meal prepared. 

One Saturday we showed up at her house unannounced. We found Mother hard at work. Countertops were filled with dishes, the mixer was out, and pies and barbecued ribs were in beginning stages. Suddenly the cost to her of those dinners became apparent. What she so gladly and freely shared with us on Sunday cost her a day of work on Saturday. Never did we hear a murmur of complaint though. I like to think that she was so happy to have us share those Sundays with her that she never thought of complaining.

One of the beauties of God's grace is how completely He hides from our view the awful price He paid to forgive us for our sins. He never alluded to the cost to Himself. 

Think of what it must have meant to God the Father to allow His Son to step out of the glories of Heaven and enter into the form of a dependent infant. He was sending His son to be ignored, hated, and nailed to a cross. Perhaps worse of all, He knew that one day He would have to turn His back on His Son when Jesus hung on the cross. How would most human fathers have felt the day their son left on such a mission?

How could God let Him leave Heaven knowing what His Son would endure? But even more, how could He do that and celebrate with an extravaganza of joy? Surely the angels were expressing the mood of God when they sang with great exultation: "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people" (Lk. 2:10). 

Thank You, Father, for being so exuberant about securing my fellowship.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

 

A Mother Who Prayed

Wesley Duewel said that from his earliest memories, he knew a Spirit-filled, praying mother. He relayed the following about her experience of becoming Spirit-filled.

"One of the things that kept convicting my mother of her need of sanctification was going near the upstairs steps and hearing her mother on her knees weeping and praying that God would deliver her daughter Ida from her terrible temper. I never saw that temper, because God delivered her. 

"My mother went to a minister and said, 'I read these wonderful things in the book of Acts that God did in the early church. How can I have this experience?' 

"The minister said, 'Oh, that's not for you. That was just for the apostles back there.' 

"Mother was so distressed, but she soon received a letter from a sister saying, 'I have just been filled with the Spirit!' 

"'Filled with the Spirit!' my mother exclaimed. 'That's what I want! My sister's been filled with the Spirit! Lord, I'll not go to sleep tonight until I know that I, too, am filled with the Spirit.'

"She worked hard all day as a helper in the home of her older sister whose husband was the minister she had questioned, and so when night came she was tired. However, she went to bed determined to pray all night if necessary. She was so weary she went to sleep, though, and in the morning she cried, 'Oh, Lord, how can you sanctify me? How can you fill me with the Spirit if I'm so lazy as that?' 

"Again, she worked hard all day, washing clothes, taking care of the little children, and doing all the things she had to do, but that night she stated, 'Lord, tonight I am not going to sleep until I know I'm filled with the Spirit.' Once again she went to sleep in spite of her best intention.

"The next morning, though, while lighting the fire, she sang in German a little song, 'Into my heart, into my heart, come into my heart, Lord Jesus.' Suddenly her faith took hold of God's promise, and she was filled with the Spirit.

"So I, from my earliest memories, knew a Spirit-filled, praying mother."

Wesley was the only son of my Aunt Ida. Wesley said his mother prayed two to three hours daily for him when he was a missionary in India. Today they are celebrating together in heaven. Multitudes will join them as a result of her hours of prayers and his fruitful ministry.

When Satan Had to Flee

One Sunday we attended church with my in-laws and a speaker from the Gideons spoke using the familiar Scripture "God's word would not return void." That night after everyone else went to bed, I went to my study planning to read and meditate on that verse. The verse before that, though, caught my attention and drew me into it and changed my thinking forever.

"As the rain and the snow come down from Heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:10, 11).

I had just begun home Bible studies and deeply desired to help the women grow spiritually. Now it was as if I heard Him say, "All you have to do is plant the seed I give you. I will do the miracle of turning it into bread."

This thought gave me great freedom to give what the Spirit had given me during the week as I studied. Then when I taught I would concentrate on saying what He gave me to say. My eyes were on Him.

I remember one day one of the gals in the class saying, "Aletha, I guess you're discouraged with our progress." I don't remember what I said, but I remember thinking, "I'm not looking at you; I'm looking at Jesus."

But one day, I was feeling so dry, and thought, "I have nothing to give the women." Satan whispered, "Sure, God would turn your seed into bread but you have no seed to sow." I couldn't argue with that.

He must not have known that my morning Scripture reading would include 2 Corinthians 9:10 "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness." 

When I told my young son about this promise Jesus had given me, he said "I guess the devil had to do a 100-yard dash then."

"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).

Thank You, Jesus, for Your powerful Word that makes Satan flee.

Ways God Leads Us

One day Patty called saying, "I think the Holy Spirit wants me to visit Larry. Please pray. I'm afraid to go."

Both she and Larry attended our home Bible study, and Larry was now in the hospital with cancer. We weren't sure he had made a commitment to the Lord.

Later, Larry's wife said, "Patty came into the room, and while we made small talk, I wondered why she was staying so long. Finally, she began telling how the Lord had delivered her from dealing drugs. The Holy Spirit used her testimony as a turning point for Larry's faith." 

The idea to visit Larry was from God. Often God's will for us comes as a spontaneous thought. The Spirit's guidance may be as simple as thoughts that remind us, "You haven't prayed today," or "She needs encouragement," or "Why not visit your friend in the hospital."

Rarely does God give dramatic guidance. If we are looking to Him, we can safely believe God is guiding us through our natural inclinations. He designed that the ability to decide He gave us should furnish the basis for many of our decisions. We can be relaxed, yet open and alert to any suggestion as we trust the Lord to give us wisdom. The more intimate our relationship with the Holy Spirit, the more natural we become. We can just "be ourselves" while trusting God to guide us.

Also, the Holy Spirit may guide by giving a sense of restraint. George Mueller said, "The stops of a good man, as well as his steps, are ordered by the Lord." The Divine approval to go ahead and the Divine restraint are equally important. The Spirit may give us an inner hesitancy, causing us to not say or write statements that we would later regret. He may restrain us from making unwise financial decisions. He may restrain us from praying a prayer that is not in His will. 

Father, what a privilege to trust You to guide us continually.

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27).

 

What Endures Forever?

"His love endures forever" appears to be a victory mantra of the Old Testament. The Israelites entered their battle against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir singing:

"Give thanks to the Lord,

 For his love endures forever."

They didn't go forward singing, "Give thanks to the Lord, For His power endures forever" although that would have been true, also. Instead, they were praising His unfailing love.

Perhaps God is much like a parent who provides for her child simply out of love--not merely because she has the resources. God provides for us because of His constant love. It is on the basis of this unfailing love that He likes for us to trust Him to answer our prayers.

The Israelites' words were a statement of trust. We are to be confident that what God is doing this moment and every moment is a manifestation of love. It's done solely because we are the objects of His affection. "Your loving kindness never fails" means there is never a moment that He's not expressing loving kindness to us.

How good it is to think of God's power when we pray and to remind Him that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than all we ask or imagine. But I think God is even more pleased when we enter our prayer battles remembering His unfailing love.

The words "his love endures forever" assure us that now and always--not just ten years from now, but this moment--God is acting out of love for us and for those for whom we pray.

I can trust You, God, not because of my own righteousness, but solely because of Your loving character.

"Consider the great love of the Lord" (Psalm 107:43).

 

Why We Don't Wait

"We're a nation of quickaholics," says Sue Monk Kidd in her book When the Heart Waits. We have fast-food restaurants, jiffy markets, instant coffee, express lanes, and express mail. We can get our glasses in an hour and our oil changed in ten minutes. Fast-food restaurants were timed in Pittsburgh and the winner took forty-six seconds to serve a hamburger, fries, and a soft drink. The loser, a slow three minutes.

The danger is that the lure of the quick and easy will seep into our relationship with God. Jesus said for the disciples to go into Jerusalem to wait-to wait for the promise of the Father. In Luke they were to told to tarry until they received power. Expectant waiting yields power. 

Recently I was seeking the Lord's help. The Holy Spirit was helping me pray when the doorbell rang. I started for the door, but then heard the UPS truck and knew the driver had left a package outside my door.

At that moment I had a choice. I could have shown the Lord I was truly waiting on Him. But, I thought, I'll just bring the package in and then continue praying.

I was surprised to see that the package was a dress I had ordered. I almost succeeded in putting it aside, but thought, it wouldn't hurt just to peak at it. By the time I looked at the red dress and decided it was too large, the Spirit of prayer had gone. The hunger to know God's answer, to hear Him speak, had been deferred by a minor interruption. It was almost as if the Spirit, who is very sensitive to our desires, read from my actions, "She doesn't want Me as much as she said." I realized I had lost an opportunity to demonstrate to the Holy Spirit how very much I wanted Him. 

Dear Lord, deliver us from a complacency toward prayer that is the cause of our failing to wait. 

"I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God" (Psalm 38:15).

Do the Right Thing

One of the great tragedies of the 1970's in Kansas City was the collapse of an overhead walkway in the fashionable Hyatt Regency hotel. Over a hundred people were killed when the unsupported walkway crashed under the weight of people swaying to music and fell on those dancing beneath it.

After that catastrophe, one man reported that on his way to the Hyatt that evening, he had stopped at a filling station. Annoyed with the slow attendant, he spoke some sharp words before driving away. He arrived at the Hyatt moments after the collapse. Humbled, he drove back to the filling station and thanked that slow attendant for saving his life. 

At times we see our immediate situation and think we know what we want. We would quickly surrender our ideas if we could see the final outcome of some of our decisions.

Sometimes the cost of doing the right thing seems too high at the moment. However, we often realize later, that the cost of doing what we please is the costly choice. 

On the other hand, the rewards of daily surrender are far greater than we realize they'll be. We discover that once we decide to obey, God gives the grace needed. Elaine was having trouble obeying what she knew the Lord asked of her. Finally she said, "Okay, Lord, in this one thing, I'll obey You. I may never be able to do it again, but I will this one time." 

She determined to obey God by responding with a gracious, forgiving spirit in a difficult situation. "At first, it was not easy," she admitted, "but then I was surprised at the joy of obedience!"

Thank you, Lord, for grace to do the right thing.

"I call with all my heart; answer me, O LORD, and I will obey your decrees" (Psalm 119:145).

Satan's Two Lies

Satan has two lies he tells us to damage our confidence that God hears our prayer. First, he tells us that our prayers do such little good that it really doesn't matter if we skip prayer. 

Then after we've heeded his advice, he follows that with, "Because you're so unfaithful in prayer, there's no reason for you to think you can receive anything from God."

What he doesn't want us to remember is the old saying, "Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees."

David realized God heard him even when he thought he had been cut off. "In my alarm I said, 'I am cut off from your sight!' Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help" (Psalm 31:22). 

Thank You, Jesus, that You hear our faintest prayer.

"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you" (James 4:7-8).

Teach Me, Lord, to Wait

E. M. Bounds said, "I think Christians fail so often to get answers to their prayers because they do not wait long enough on God." Often the most difficult period of waiting for God to answer our prayer is the time beyond prayer--the time of patient waiting. I can wait in prayer trusting God to help, but if I truly wait on Him beyond prayer--

1. I remember that God's work is by faith (I Tim. 1:4), and I keep working (trusting) even when it appears my faith is accomplishing nothing.

2. I don't look at apparent results because God's ways are not my ways. "Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come" (Hab. 2:3). Though the answer tarries, wait for Him. The answer will come. 

"Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?" the king of Israel asked in disgust. The Arameans had cut off the Israelites' food and water and they were hungry. 

Elisha had probably encouraged the king not to surrender but to wait for the Lord's deliverance. The king had had enough of waiting. What was his solution? Kill Elisha. Often, when we feel we can't wait any longer for the Lord to answer our prayer, our solutions are destructive also.

Elisha promised God would deliver in just one more day. The king's messenger scoffed at Elisha's assurance so he was not permitted to eat of the abundance God provided.

Those words "Why wait for the Lord any longer?" often seem to be the most appropriate just before God's gracious answer. (Read 2 Kings 6:24-7:20 for the entire story.)

"Wait for the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land" (Ps. 37:34).

Thank You, Lord, for teaching me that You delight in my waiting. Help me to delight in You enough to wait.

The Sacredness of the Mundane

Karen Mains said that she once hated housework. "The thing I hated most about it was that it kept me from doing the things I felt I was suppose to be doing. I pointed my finger at it. How could I write, visit lonely friends, make my significant mark upon the world? Knee holes etc. and all these things were interfering with my real goals."

Most of her change was due, she said, to discovering the sacred quality of mundane tasks. 1 Corinthians 10:30  reminded her that whether she ate or drank (or kept house) she was to do it all to the glory of God. In her home she could create a sacred place in a secular world. 

"My mind roams around the world while at the kitchen sink," she said. "I pray for our children while picking up their toys or doing the laundry. I whisper the names of missionaries while washing the dishes."

The faithful are willing to do any menial task out of love for the Lord. A minister reported, "Ministerial students come in and say they want an opportunity to serve. I can quickly tell who really has a heart for ministry. I tell them about a music room that needs to be cleaned. They do it and then come back and say, 'Now I want to do some real ministry.'" 

Many of us want to be used by God but we're like Lisa who said, "I asked God to let me serve Him, and He must have gotten mixed up because He has me serving people." God gives us opportunities to serve others that He recognizes as faithful service to Him.

Nearly 100 years ago, Kittie Suffield wrote these words in the hymn "Little Is Much When God Is in It."

"Does the place you're called to labor

Seem too small and little known?

It is great if God is in it,

And He'll not forget  His own."

"To the faithful you show yourself faithful" (Psalm 18:25).

The Spirit Said Don't Speak

As I stood to speak on Saturday morning of a women's retreat, I looked down at my notes and knew the Holy Spirit did not want me to use what I had prepared. The message in my spirit was clear: "If you forge ahead, you are on your own." 

I explained to the crowd what I was sensing and then, not knowing what to do, led in prayer. As I said "Amen," one of the leaders stood and asked if anyone else had something she felt led to give. A lady toward the back stood and hesitantly said she thought the Lord wanted her to give what she had prepared for an afternoon workshop. 

Her message was clearly what God had intended for that morning service. When she concluded, the women crowded around the altar to pray. I shudder to think of the disaster it would have been had I ignored the Spirit and attempted to speak in my own strength.

When Jordan lay before the Israelites, God gave them specific instructions. They were to follow the ark of the covenant. "See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you" (Josh. 3:11). 

They were to leave a distance of over a half a mile between them and the ark. They were always to allow God to set the pace. 

We, too, must allow the ark--the presence of Christ within us--to set the pace. When we refuse to rush ahead in our spirits, but move only as God goes before us, we'll always find His timing right and His path perfectly prepared for us.

Jesus was not ashamed to say, "I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me." (John 8:28). Just as Jesus was constantly dependent on His Father for every word and act, He now requires us to be always looking to Him. 

Dear Jesus, help me to never attempt Your work without knowing You are leading.

"We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you" (2 Chron. 20:12)