notable quotable

“One of satan’s strategies is to blind us to the lies we have bought into–to make us assume that because we know the Truth, we also believe the Truth.”
nancy leigh demoss

Letters written to Christian women ---after the manner of Titus 2.3-5

Meet Him In The Morning

LettersToMySistersHeadersmallestaDearest Sister~ 

It truly is a joy to me to share with other sisters in the LORD the good things He has done and is doing in our midst.  Though we cannot always see or understand the workings of the LORD, He is, indeed, at work and all God’s ways are good.  We can count on Him for that.

Consider being at the threshold of a brand new year, a clean slate, and unblemished path lies ahead.  By the time a week or two passes, however, you may have already crossed off a number of “New Year’s Resolutions” and you may have “slipped” a bit in your resolve to stay away from treats and snacks, you may not have gotten to the exercises you intended to do and you may already be behind eight or twelve chapters in your “Read-through-the-Bible-in-a-Year” program.  You may have spoken harshly to the children and you may have already stayed up too late to rise early in the morning. 

 So, all in all, you might resolve that you’re off to a very good start.  Really.  You know… really, it’s a very good thing for us to acknowledge… to take a look at our frailties and failings and stand right in front of our mirrors and see our sorry states of affairs.  It’s a very good thing to stand right there with our amended and scratched out list of “meant to do’s” and see that we truly “cannot do this.”  I think you know what I’m talking about.  I say it to my husband from time to time and I say it to the LORD, too: “I cannot do this!”  And then you know what?  It’s as if the LORD is just standing right there with His comforting outstretched arms saying: Come here, I have been waiting to help you… I have been waiting to carry you through this.  Come here… lay your burdens down and come to Me.

 Well, then, that’s what I must do.  And that’s what you must do, too.  We need to just set that paper down and put down the pen filled with the ink of good intentions and just get on our knees and wait on the LORD.  And so that’s what I am suggesting be your thought and your best hope for the year ahead: God being your Helper, that you will just do one thing—for only one thing is needed and that is to sit at the Feet of Jesus and hear His Word.

Remember Martha, all caught up in the well doing, the busyness of the day — the murmuring and the fretting over what needed to be done?  Remember how the LORD addressed her and her situation?  What did He tell her?  At first blush, it might seem as though He didn’t show consideration for all she was doing or attempting to do and it hardly seemed as though He valued her effort.  But you know, the more I read and mull over what He said to her, how He addressed her and how He advised her, I see that He gave her the most loving and helpful words He could’ve offered—  sort of an invitation and direction at once. 

(From Luke 10. 40-42) There she was working [murmuring], cumbered about with much [murmuring]  serving, and came to him [murmuring], and said [murmuring], “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve [and murmur] alone? bid her therefore that she help me [murmur, murmur].   And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

You see, He did see and understand her plight, her hard work and her feelings about it all. He did address the very things that were troubling her — though it may not seem so at first glance.  He acknowledged her work (O, yes, and her troubles), but He also showed her that what she was doing was *troubling* her and was not done in restful adoration or in service to Him.  Yes, Mary’s actions were in adoration and service — it’s just that when someone is sitting at the feet of Jesus it might seem to others to be a waste of time and yet, if done in sincerity and in truth, that very sitting at the feet of Jesus and hearing His Word is of the greatest importance and tremendous value.  The benefit of that time spent sitting at the feet of Jesus hearing His Word, will be reflected in the time of serving — that waiting on the LORD, hearing His word will be reflected in every step of the way.  Instead of being troubled and careful about many things, you will have chosen that good part— remember? …that part that Jesus says cannot be taken away. 

So, where is the sitting at the feet of Jesus, hearing His Word?  It’s your quiet time with Him every morning — it’s that most important time of your day: time in the Word of God.  And so, I offer this bit of encouragement to you as we begin the New Year together.  Take that tablet and that pen filled with the ink of good intentions and just set them aside.  In my best New York accent: forget about it.  But this one thing… please consider this one thing and don’t let anything dissuade you from implementing this one thing, for this one thing is needful: establish or reestablish a daily quiet time with the LORD.   Change your schedule, or change your habits or change your discipline… but don’t allow yourself to be too busy, too late or too tired to daily sit at the feet of Jesus, hearing His Word.  For in doing so, you will have chosen the good part, that shall not be taken away from you.   

You may have many things on your heart and mind; many trials, troubles and regrets.  You may be weary in the battle and the task may seem too arduous for you to carry on.  The temptations  may seem too great to resist and the tension too intense to bear any longer.  You may be a mother of many young children and believe that you have no time to read and no time to pray.  It may be that you feel at the end of your rope.  In all these things that loom dark on the horizon I know Jesus will already be there to bear the load and the burden you cannot carry.  Taste and see that the LORD is good.  Maybe you already know this full well and are joyfully looking forward to the sunrise as you meet with the LORD. Whatever the case, when you meet Him in the morning He’ll already be there and will linger long after you’re gone.  He will fill you, refresh you, equip you, strengthen and guide you.  And you will then see there is nowhere you can go that the LORD will not already be waiting… waiting to demonstrate Himself strong on your behalf. 

Blessings to you as we journey through the door and onto the path of this new year.
with love, your sister in Christ, —pamela

Hindrances

Dear Sisters,
A truth I’ve come to highly value in my life is this:  Life’s Greatest Hindrances are its Greatest Teachers!

More and more I find that what I used to consider my greatest hindrances were, in fact, actually my greatest teachers.  I used to believe that all my troubles were attributable to lack of finances and consequently, thought all of them could be solved by a surplus.  I considered all the disadvantages and often almost totally overlooked the great trust and creativity I was developing and gaining over the years.   I used to overlook what God was placing right before my eyes.  Troubled with how things were going to work out—crippled by fear that they wouldn’t, days were difficult and money seemed so scarce.  Little did I know at the time that I would look back on the more difficult days and remember them with sort of fond, but perhaps bittersweet, emotion. 

I’m sorry for the young woman who was so fearful, but happy for the way the LORD did provide and for all they ways she learned to cope, learned to be creative, learned to be hopeful, learned to trust and increased in faith.  But the younger woman who used to live in my shoes was often plagued by the “what will people think” albatross, and was sometimes shackled by doubts and insecurities – as I suppose we all are from time to time, but when they become interwoven in every thought, then they’re like that heavy, paralyzing albatross.  The LORD worked through all those sorts of situations and blessed me with a sort of “blindness” to my situation—sort of a “rose coloured glasses” tenor to my life—and brought me through those valleys.  I began to see things less and less for what they were and more and more for what I hoped they would be.  Sure, the lack of finances still was a hindrance, but I stopped allowing myself to feel as though that defined me or my family.  I decided to stop getting tripped up in the trappings of the have’s and have not’s in life—they weren’t helping me.  I decided to not let my possessions define who I was or who I am—other people may have judged me in that manner—but I never wanted to be that shallow and I knew the LORD didn’t want that for me either.  He was taking me through the school of contentment.  Had I not had lack or lass, I’d not have learned to be very creative with what I did have and I suppose I might’ve become smug or assume it was all my doing when there were great increases and “successes.”  I surely know that whatever good has come, whatever gain I’ve experienced – successes, benefits or blessings have all been of the LORD.

Learning to trust God for things unseen or things unknown is perhaps more difficult for some than for others—I know that for myself, it was a struggle to trust:  that what I could not see was already seen and covered by the LORD.  My fretting and my doubting never helped me or the situation I faced, regardless of whether the situation was financial, physical or vocational.  Looking back, some of the times of the greatest doubt or greatest fear are now the sweetest memories to me.  

Some of the deepest valleys produced the richest fruit and it’s faith from those lessons that has guided me through the more recent years and the struggles or trials we’ve faced.  When trails have been forged or mountains scaled, the path is a bit less daunting each time it’s traversed and with each passing, faith is strengthened and trust is deepened.  With each passing year, the have’s and the have not’s are less and less noticeable to me and my concern is less self-focused.   Pride is an ugly thing I came to see… for it is often pride that keeps us from living and giving – pride is that gripping thing that prevents us from being transparent, from being open and vulnerable.  We all have it to some degree or another and sometimes when we very least anticipate it, pride wells up and swallows us. Gains and losses are the great equalizers in life—they happen to all of us.  Same with fear and doubt—but some people are just better at hiding fears and doubts than others.  It’s the admission of those fears and doubts that is the beginning of turning from them and yielding to the LORD.

Because I know my Redeemer lives and ever lives to make intercession for me—for us—, I know that I can trust Him beyond a shadow of doubt, that what He has promised to do, that will He do—He promised to never leave me nor forsake me and He promises in His Word that He will complete that which He has begun.  What He’s begun in you – He will complete!

So the LORD has used trials as teachers, loss as gain, and lack: to fill me.   His faithfulness truly has been great and His mercies have been new every morning.  Now when financial set backs come or when there seem to lack of funds, I have learned to anticipate the Hand of the LORD and to watch for what He will do.  Twenty-four years in the swimming-pool business in the chilly Northwest has given our family ample opportunity to watch the Hand of the LORD both guide and provide—sometimes in the most surprising and unusual ways.  As with so many other things in life, I’m learning to see this much more quickly than I did in the early years.   He has proven Himself faithful… and I’m seeing this more and more in the seen, or outward things of life as well as in the unseen, or the inward things of life.

 One Who Understands

Of all life’s pain and sufferings nothing can surpass
Agonies of parents whose child’s taken in death’s grasp.
The emptiness, the anger, the denial and disbelief
Seem like your only companions as you struggle in your grief.
The awkward silence of others shows no words can convey
The depth of their sharing in the pain that’s come your way.
For platitudes and sympathy can do little to relieve
The pain of separation of the parent left to grieve.
Until you lose a child, no one can fully comprehend
The brokenness and sorrow that makes your heart rend.
But through shared prayer and God’s grace one can see a ray of light
In this time of deep loneliness of the soul’s darkest night,
For there’s One who’s borne this pain whilst even knowing why
His only Son had to suffer and then to slowly die..
For as His own Son once resurrected, returned at last to Him,
So too your own dear child will return to you again.
For by sharing the pain you’re suffering, God can take you by the hand
In the tender love and compassion of One Who understands.

© Glenys Robyn Hicks 2004

 

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.’
2 Corinthians 3.5

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Philippians 4.8

 always in His hands,  with love, pamela

He Is For You

LettersToMySistersHeadersmallestaHe is for you… Signed, sealed, delivered: He’s Yours!

 Dear Sisters ~

I am thinking of you today as I do most every day.   I ask the LORD to bless and care for the needs of the sisters… the women who subscribe to these letters, visitors to our website, blog, etc.  For I recognize more and more that each visit or each visitor is a story… a life with innumerable experiences, memories, needs and hopes.  And so, it is with that in mind that I am writing to you today.

I was reading and a little word seemed to leap off the page of my Bible.  The little word: for.  I imagine this happens with you, too.  You read along and then, seeming to jump off the page, you see a word you think you’ve never read before—even if you have underlined that particular verse or word!  That’s how that little word, *for,* was for me.  

I often think that Jesus is for us… sort of like I tell my children: I am for you!  I want the best for you… I want to serve you, to help you, to encourage you, to guide you, to provide for you… I am for you!  I am here… I will be here (LORD willing) when you get back… I will be here waiting for you.  I am going to do this job for you – or on your behalf!  I want to give them assurance and confidence and security.  It is eventually what I want them to see and know in Jesus –that He is for them… He’s gone on before them *for* them.  As they grow in grace and maturity in their walk with Him, I want that truth to govern their lives, their decisions and for it to be their firm foundation.  For they will encounter trials, they will have trouble in this life, they will face persecution to one degree or another and that being the case, I want them to have a sure foundation, I want them to have that anchor—that  sure anchor of Truth, held by the Truth. If I never pass on anything else to them, I will pass this on.

 Which hope we have as an anchor of the
soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth
into that within the veil;  Whither the forerunner
is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest
for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Hebrews 6.19-20

I’ve receive a number of letters from sisters in many different places who are discouraged. Their hope is waning – their faith is wavering.  Life’s trials are mounting and doubts have crept in.  It’s a very lonely road when you think you’re the only one traveling the path or the only one facing trials.  It doesn’t really help to know you’re not alone or, rather, to be told you’re not alone –or worse, to have another woman give you the “been there, done that” answer.  I don’t know of a worse answer to give a woman who’s undergoing a trial or a painful period of time.  But I do know one thing… there is hope in Jesus… and today I see that hope in that little word: for.  “The forerunner is for us entered…”  Jesus is for us entered.  He is for us!  We have His word on that… He *is* for us.

 In hope of eternal life, which God,
that cannot lie,
promised before the world began;
Titus 1.2

So, we have the promises of God.    Now, in time of stress or pain or trouble, we may not initially feel that the promises of God comfort us or that they relieve us of our pain or worry—but really—they should!  When we have our eyes focused on our troubles and trials, we are looking down or we are looking inward.  But when we look to or keep our eyes on the LORD, we necessarily take our eyes off our circumstances and look up.  We have no promises in ourselves.  We have no hope –in and of ourselves- our hope is in the LORD.  In fact, it ought to be a very critical indicator to us that we do not have our eyes fixed on Jesus if we’re fretting or feeling discouraged or whatever.  The Scriptures tell us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.  The enemy of our souls would have us do otherwise.  Remembering that in us, this is, in and of ourselves, there is no good thing, isn’t it remarkable that that’s just what the enemy would have us to concentrate on or to keep our eyes fixed on: our trouble, our worrying about our troubles. 

The enemy is not for us.  The enemy is against us — what’s more is not so much that he’s against us, but that he’s against Jesus and he uses us as pawns to attempt to detract from Jesus and our fretting or anger or discontent to deflect praise or eclipse in some way the glory of Jesus.  But Jesus is greater than he that is in the world.  We seldom think of that when we’re entrenched in angst over dilemmas in which we find ourselves.   That’s why the Word tells us to be renewed daily in the spirit of our minds.  We read that He will never leave us…  Why do we doubt Him?  Why do we look at our circumstances and dare to think they are insurmountable?  Why do we think God’s forgotten us?  He is for us!  His promises cannot fail, His Word cannot return void!  He is our comfort, He is our hope, He is our consolation.  The enemy is a liar… and every single day will attempt to prove to us that God has forgotten us or that we have finally done too many wrongs or that we will never have enough faith or hope or good works to be worthy of God.  Those are lies.  The enemy will remind us of past failures and those reminders often paralyze us or cripple us into believing or seeing our past failures as future indicators.  But that’s not what God says about us –that’s not what God thinks about us.  And we need to flee to Him and seek refuge in Him. 

That by two immutable things, in which it was
impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation,
who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:”
Hebrews 6.18

He is our refuge and strength… and He is *for* us.   That’s sweet news –sweet relief for whatever ails us.  When we walk with Him, we can see this is true… but when we’re walking alone, eyes on ourselves, neglecting the promises of God, we miss this.  And, O, we mustn’t miss this!   We need to repent of those thoughts, we need to repent of whatever sin is separating us from God, we need to repent of those things that we have believed that are *not* true about God.  And we need to lay claim to the promises of God in Jesus.  I do this by reading His Word…. Learning more and more about who Jesus is and what God says about who He is.  I seek to know Him more that I might obey Him –that I would be found in Him and that I would daily be conformed to His image.  It is this desire to know Him that keeps me pressing on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. If I don’t have any other reason to press on daily, this is reason enough.  If I cannot find any thing around me or in my life to keep me pressing on, this is enough.  But the enemy would be relentless in attempts to obscure this truth.  But God’s promises, God’s Word, God’s Truth and God’s eternal purpose cannot be obscured.

All the promises in God are: Yes!  Wait.  All the promises in God are Yes! and in Jesus: Amen!  How about that?!?!  Yes! and Amen!  It’s as if God is saying: My promises are Yes! and Jesus is my Amen — My promise, you have My Word on it, Jesus is my Seal.  Signed, sealed, delivered: He’s Yours!

 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in Him was yea.  For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. IICorinthians 1.19-20

Dear sister, if you are buried in hopelessness or if you are doubting or if your faith is wavering… then may I implore you to simply take a few more minutes aside and get your Bible… look up the verses I’ve mentioned today… even read the verses surrounding them for context and greater understanding and then pray… pray the LORD will show you what He wants you to do.  Pray He will comfort you and guide your steps and then, by all means, obey His Word — whatever  He’s leading you to do.    I have never-never-never gone to the Word, sincerely asking for His divine guidance and had Him turn His Word away or His Truths away from me – no matter what, no matter where, no matter how longs it’s been –He is there.  So, we go to the whole counsel of Scripture and we see Him.  He says (in Jeremiah 29.13) “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”   That truth is powerful.  Those immutable things: God cannot lie and we have strong consolation.  What blessing, what joy, what comfort!

I pray He is, and will be, your all in all.

 With love and prayers for you, —pamela

 

Valleys

LettersToMySistersHeadersmallestaDearest Sisters—

I thought to encourage you this morning as the LORD has encouraged me.  I’m attempting to carefully guard my thoughts as it seems these days are days of uncertainty and despair all around us.  It’s as if the LORD is very quiet and a slow darkness is hovering over the land – well, that’s sort of how things look in the valley: a dim covering threatens to hide the light. 

A valley can be a very encouraging place – it doesn’t have to be a place of discouragement – though we’re often discouraged in the valleys of our lives.  Something I’ve had to remind myself lately, is that the valley is not someplace to set up camp or build a house – a valley is a place we pass through – a place God carries us through in order that He might prepare us for the next climb – the next monument in our lives.   We (or, I) too often think that the valley of despair is or is going to be a permanent place – my eternal dwelling place – and that’s simply not true.  But it surely seems like it sometimes.

I can recall passing through valleys in my life and being sure those valleys were permanent and the conditions were never going to change.  I suppose it wasn’t until I determined to look up – in the valley – and see the Hand of the LORD, and see that He had intended that time – that place – for my good and His glory.  I would not have seen that had I continued to focus on myself, my trials, my failings, my disappointments.  I only saw His glory when I looked up (still in the valley) to earnestly seek His face and His will.  Only then have I seen the Hand of the LORD in the valley.  I so often have missed that the LORD has prepared a valley for me so that I *will* seek Him – so that I *will* praise Him.

One of the hardest things to do in a valley is to sing praise to the LORD.  But I assure you, if you will but stop, set your burden down and lift your eyes and voice to the LORD, you will sing praises… you will see His glory and He will be your strength and song. 

“I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD:
I will make mention of thy righteousness,
even of thine only.”
Psalm 71.16 

When my way has seemed dark and the only hope or strength has seemed to fail, I find it difficult to have hope – yet, I know that Jesus is my strength and He only is my hope.  But I have to come to a place where I determine: *Thy* will – not *my* will!  One of the hardest things in the valley is not the path, but *my* will

But I will hope continually,
and will yet praise thee more and more.
Psalm 71.14

In the valley, I must continually buffet my will and set my resolve to trust in the LORD – the God of my salvation.  I cannot doubt in the valleys what He’s taught me on the mountaintops, and I cannot carelessly squander the marvelous gifts He’s given me along the way.  Doubt and despair are “gift squanderers” and murmuring and complaining drain the reservoir of joy.  That’s where resolve to trust – resolve to have faith in adversity is so needful.

I must determine to look up… for the LORD has promised to neither leave me nor forsake me.  He has said:  “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40.31)

I know that His pruning is for my good – for I know He loves me and is continually working that I might reflect His image and His glory.  So, though painful, His testings and His prunings are needed that I might yield much fruit.  No testing is pleasant for the moment – as no childbirth is pleasant for a moment – but then the great blessing that follows is immeasurable.

So then, my prayer becomes: O, LORD, please let me not fail to see Your Hand in this valley, and please have Your will and Your way in me – that I might give you all the praise, glory and honour due Your name.  O, please let me not miss the work you are doing in and through me and let me not dishonour You, nor prove faithless or selfish in this valley.  O, LORD, please direct my path, finish the work in me and help thou my unbelief – teach me and show me Your ways.  And… O, God – make me thankful! Make me a woman who ever lives to give You praise.

But the path of the just is as the shining light,
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
Proverbs 4:18

O, dear sisters… if your way is weary and the path looks dreary, I pray you will hold on – I pray that God will be your strength and your song and that you will not despair.  I pray that He will strengthen you to trust Him – He is able!

I pray for you, this, from Ephesians 3.17-21

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

Again, may you never forget in the valleys what God has taught you on the mountaintops.

 With sincere love,

your sister in Christ,  —pamela