Saturday, May 31, 2008

Forgive and Forget

He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west
(Psalm 103:12 NLT).

The battle of the wills has occurred in our home. My four year old daughter has been testing me like never before. I have been dumbfounded by this because she is normally a very easy going child. However, the past few months she seems to be confused about who is the parent and who is the child. This has resulted in some unfavorable behavior.

Unfortunately, this behavior has caused a need for some action on my part. Since my husband is usually at work when this happens, it is up to me to teach her right from wrong. I attempt to handle the situation as soon as it arises because I don't want any confusion as to why I'm correcting her. I've discovered that after the discipline and the storm blows over, she sincerely confesses her wrong doing, apologizes and then our relationship is restored. Afterward, I forget the offense and treat her as though nothing has happened, even though I know this same battle of the wills may occur again in the very near future.

God does the same thing in my life. I don't always do everything right and I, too, can have a rebellious spirit, but the Lord forgives and forgets my offense when I confess it and ask to be forgiven. Some things are easy to forget while others takes a long time. However, we should bring these things before God immediately and ask Him to help us. In Psalm 103:8-14 NLT it says,

The Lord is merciful and gracious; He is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He has not punished us for all our sins, nor does He deal with us as we deserve. For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. For He understands how weak we are; He knows we are only dust.

As God's children, let's not wallow in the past, but rather model forgiveness and strive to put the actions of others behind us and move on. Let's be a people who follow God's example.

Lord, forgiving others is not always easy for me. Please help me to follow Your example and not let the actions of others stay with me for too long. Help me to be a woman who forgives and forgets easily. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Crystal Beavin
May 29, 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Keeping A Gentle And Quiet Spirit

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God
(1 Peter 3:3-4 NLT).

Have you ever met a Christian woman and knew immediately that there was something different about her? It was probably her gentle and quiet spirit that you admired about her. We see in this verse that a gentle and quiet spirit is precious to God, but it also is attractive to others.

I looked up the words "gentle" and "quiet" in the dictionary so that I would know exactly what they mean. Webster's Dictionary defines gentle as: Not harsh, severe, rough or loud and it defines quiet as: Silent, making very little sound; still; tranquil; calm.

Unfortunately, many times the opposite has been true of my life. I certainly don't have a calm spirit all the time, but I can see how I've grown in this area. I think the number one way that has helped me to grow is just being aware of the things that make me lose my peace.

Cynthia Heald, in her book, Becoming a Woman of Excellence talks about some hindrances that can cause us to stumble in this area. Allow me to share the ones that I most struggle with and tell you how I deal with them...

Strife/anger (Ephesians 4:26): If I have a strained relationship or have no harmony in my home I will feel like a little black cloud is hanging over my head until I make peace with that person and ask God to help me in this situation. I try to get rid of that anger as soon as I can.

Unconfessed Sin (Psalm 32:3-4): When I do not confess my sins I am weighed down. When I confess them I am lifted from it and find forgiveness every time.

Unforgiveness (Ephesians 4:32): If I am holding unforgiveness in my heart, I will most definitely be unsettled in my soul. There will be no peace for me. When I am honest with God about this He helps me overcome this negative emotion. I pray to be a woman who forgives easily.

Self-centeredness (Philippians 2:3-4): This has caused more disturbance in my heart than anything else. When my mind is on myself too much, I am miserable, but when I start looking out for the interests of others and not just myself, it helps me to be more God focused and less me focused.

Anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7): When I am stressed about anything it causes me to feel agitated. I have discovered that when I make it a habit to pour our my heart to God when I'm worried, then I receive His peace.

Neglecting My Responsibilities (Proverbs 31:27): When I am not doing my best with the job God has given me, I know it immediately. Also, if I have over-committed myself I can feel that as well. I have a sense that something is not going right. I feel right when I live right.

Fatigue (Psalm 127:1-2): It's important that I am doing my work, but it's also equally important that I get my proper rest. When I don't get the amount of sleep that my body needs, I get grumpy and I find it very difficult to be kind and gentle. Getting in bed on time is a high priority to me.

These are only a few hindrance, but also a real enemy to having a gentle and quiet spirit. There are many more hindrance than these, but you get the idea. I made a list of these things and put it in my Bible. I review it often so that I can be aware of how I'm doing with this. I've added it to my prayer list so that the Lord will change me where I need to change. Whenever I find myself slipping in one of these area, I try to quickly get back on track.

If having a gentle and quiet spirit is pleasing to the Lord, I want to pursue it with all my heart. I don't want to take this lightly and miss out on being the kind of woman that God wants me to be. It all begins with being honest with Him about my current condition and not being satisfied where I am. Asking God to intervene in my life and to teach me how to be a woman of God is the first step to lasting change. Jesus promises us in Matthew 11:28-30,

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Lord, thank You that You are my Great Teacher. Thank You that You are the excellent example of someone who is gentle at heart. Help me to be more like You. Help me to make the necessary changes so that I can please You with my attitudes. Help me to be a gentle woman and to love You and others well. In Jesus' name. Amen.

C. Beavin
May 27, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Sweetest Perfume

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him (2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV).

Sitting at a community theatre recently I saw a woman I know approaching me. We exchanged pleasantries and then she gave me a hug. It was so wonderful seeing her and having a few minutes to catch up on things. When our conversation was over she went back to what she was doing, but I noticed something peculiar. I could smell her perfume on my clothes. The aroma of the perfume lingered on me the rest of the evening.

Aromas can be subtle yet they can powerfully influence our moods and our thoughts. Just as there are physical aromas there are also spiritual ones. The apostle Paul said in his second letter to the Corinthians that we are the fragrance of Christ.

"For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. (2 Corinthians 2:15 NIV).

The more time I spend with God in His Word and in prayer the more potent the fragrance is. His presence clings to me giving me the fragrance of Christ. This fragrance is like a sweet perfume to Christians, but to unbelievers it is repulsive.

We have to be physically close to someone before we can smell their perfume. The same is true spiritually. As we get close to others, and let them get close to us, they will see the Lord in us and hopefully open doors for us to share Jesus with them.

To unbelievers we may be the smell of death, but as we live our lives according to God's ways, they will notice a difference in us. They may reject our message, but if we keep demonstrating God's love to them, it will soften their heart and hopefully attract them to God.

We are the fragrance of Christ, let's make it the sweetest perfume in the world!

Heavenly Father, I pray that I would spend quality time with you and acquire the fragrance of Christ. I pray that when I am with unbelievers, they will be compelled to know You. Help me to live a life worthy of the calling I have received from You. In Jesus' name. Amen.

C. Beavin
May 23, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

What's Your Vision?

Where there is no vision, the people perish... (Proverbs 29:18 KJV).

God sometimes plants an idea in our minds to accomplish something for Him. He likes to work through His people to do what seems to be impossible. He uses common, ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

I've seen that in my own life many times. Several years ago I was dissatisfied with the amount of fellowship my teenage daughters were getting. As I prayed about it, I had a strong desire to start some kind of fellowship group so that they could build relationships with girls their own age. So, I took this vision and invited teenage girls to our home once a month for a time of fellowship. My girls loved it and it was something they looked forward to. As the years went by, the vision grew and the time of fellowship is now a Bible study with other moms involved.

We see this same thing in the book of Nehemiah when he had a vision to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He was a man of prayer and brought this idea to God before he pursued this vision. Prayers is the first thing we should do with these ideas. We want to make sure it is something that has come from God and not something we dreamed up on our own. Nehemiah did not rush to do something, he waited for God's perfect timing. When Nehemiah went to the city to see the walls, the Bible says,

"...I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem" (Nehemiah 2:12 NLT).

However, at the appointed time, Nehemiah shared his vision with enthusiasm, which motivated the Jerusalem leaders. God may give one person the vision and then inspire others to help carryout His plans. This was certainly true in Nehemiah's story...

But now I said to them, "You know full well the tragedy of our city. It lies in ruins, and it's gates are burned. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and rid ourselves of this disgrace!...They replied at once, "Good! Let's rebuild the wall!" So they began the good work (Nehemiah 2:17-18 NLT).

Often, one person's vision will stir up other people, making the vision a reality. What is the vision the Lord has put in your heart? Will you dare to share it with others as the Lord leads you?

Lord, thank You that you want to work through my life. Please give me the vision you want me to have. Help me to know your perfect timing and then give me the courage to share the vision. May You be glorified. In Jesus' name. Amen.

C. Beavin
May 21, 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008

Removing The Veil

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

The Bible says that unbelievers have a veil over their eyes and they cannot see the light of the gospel because their minds are blinded. Where the gospel of Christ is concerned, Satan has the ability to dull the thinking of unbelievers. Before I became a Christian I could hear the gospel and it seemed so confusing to me. The message went right over my head. But, after I gave my heart to Jesus I was able to understand what was being said. I know now that it was because the veil from my eyes was removed.

People who do not yet know Jesus do not realize that they have a need for Him. There needs to be an enlightenment first before they'll ask Him to be their Savior. The Bible says,

...asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called—His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance. (Ephesians 1:17-18 NLT).
If Christians, who are already God's children, need to be enlightened to grow in Christ, how much more must it happen for the unbeliever?

The veil that hinders unbelievers from believing is a stronghold. A stronghold is simply a place where from which to hold something strongly. Satan has a strength that holds unbelievers in his prison. The good news is that Jesus came to set captives free! Jesus said in the book of Luke about Himself...

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me for He has anointed Me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free..." (Luke 4:18 NLT).
Clearly, this is the work of God. But, as Christians, what is our responsibility? We need to pray for the veil to be removed and the strongholds to be destroyed. I envision a stronghold as a brick wall. When a building is being torn down, a huge crane hits the wall with it's cement ball, crashing the building to the ground, one blow at a time. Just like that cement ball, our prayers help our loved ones be loosed from Satan's grasp. Sooner or later these strongholds will crash to the ground.

As we passionately pray for our loved one to come from the darkness into light, it may take a long time like knocking down a building with a cement ball, or it may happen quickly like knocking down a building with dynamite. Either way, we need to persevere and not give up hope. Praying for our lost loved ones will reap a harvest one day because of our intercession. Prayer is the weapon we use to fight against these strongholds. Let's not grow weary, but fight these battles one prayer at a time.

Lord, teach me to pray for those I love who do not yet know You. Deepen my burden to pray diligently for them. Help me to be faithful in prayer. In Jesus' name. Amen.

To learn more about praying for unbelievers, read Dutch Sheet's insightful book, How to Pray for Lost Loved Ones.

C. Beavin

May 16, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tabitha Opportunities

Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can't save anyone. Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, and you say, "Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well" - but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So, you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is not faith at all - it is dead and useless. (James 3:14-17 NLT)

At the moment, my favorite woman of the Bible is Tabitha, also known as Dorcas. I think it's interesting to note that both of her names in Hebrew means "gazelle." Gazelles are medium-sized antelopes found in Africa and in Asia. They are known as alert animals that are swift and can reach high speeds for a long period of time. I envision Tabitha like this. A woman of high energy.

She is only mentioned one time in a short story in the book of Acts. Tabitha was a believer in Joppa, a seaport town near Jerusalem, who was known for her good deeds. She was always helping the poor and doing kind things for others. The story tells how Tabitha became sick and died. Peter, the apostle, was in a nearby town so two men went to ask him to come quickly to where Tabitha was. As soon as he arrived, they took him to Tabitha who was in an upstairs room being prepared for burial. This room was filled with widows who were mourning over her. Peter asked everyone to leave the room and then he knelt and prayed for Tabitha. Calling in all the believers and widows, he presented her to them alive. Because of this raising of Tabitha, many people came to the Lord that day (see Acts 9:36-43).

One day, I read this story over and over. This woman astonished me. I was amazed at how the Lord raised her from the dead, but I was more captivated by the way she lived her life. Reading this short account of her life made me realize that there was something missing in my own life.

Obviously, Tabitha was a follower of Jesus because she is called a "Disciple." She was well loved by the people that knew her. She lived a life that was always doing good (vs. 36), helping the poor (vs.36), sewing clothes and helping the widows (vs. 39). We can tell by these few verses that she lived a giving life.

After studying Tabitha, I decided I needed to make some changes in my life. I asked God to forgive me for all the opportunities that He brought to me to do good and I let the busyness of life and sometimes laziness stop me from doing things for others. I asked Him to open my eyes to see the needs around me and to give me a desire to go the extra mile to help someone else.

It wasn't long before I started seeing things that I could do to be a blessing to others. During this time, I was at church and a friend's husband started telling me about how he and his wife was having a hard time because their newborn was having trouble sleeping. I told him I would be praying for them. I then left and went to service. While sitting there, the Lord spoke to me that this was an opportunity He was giving me to be a "Tabitha." After service I found my friend and told him I wanted to help them in some way. We talked about it for a few minutes and discovered there were practical things I could do to help them. I couldn't sit with their baby during the middle of the night, but I could help ease the load of other things for them. I was able to help them for about a month and I considered it a privilege to do it. This Tabitha opportunity was just the beginning of a new adventure for me.

Since then, God has opened many doors for me to be a blessing to others, to believers and non-believers too. The Bible says that ultimately, God gets the glory for the good deeds that we do.

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father (Matthew 5:16 NLT).

The story of Tabitha has changed the way I see people and their situations. I no longer hear people's stories and say that I'll be praying for them. I realize now that while I am praying for them, I can also be helping them. I now look for ways to be a Tabitha in their lives. Sometimes it may require time, money or my resources, but other times it may only be to give a hug. We may never know what an act of kindness can do for someone. It may even been an opportunity to share Jesus with them. God will bring the opportunities. We just need to be alert and open to His leading. I admire Tabitha for her display of servanthood. I want to follow the example of her charitable life, don't you?

Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions. (1 John 3:18 NLT)

Lord, I thank You for bringing this short story to my attention. Thank You for the life lessons I've learned from Tabitha. Continue to open my eyes to see the needs around me. Give me more and more Tabitha opportunities. Help me to bring glory to You as I serve others. In Jesus' name. Amen

C. Beavin
May 9, 2008

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Following My Leader

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophets themselves or because they wanted to prophesy. It was the Holy Spirit who moved the prophets to speak from God. (1 Peter 1:20-21 NLT).

For the past couple of weeks I've been reading books on "writing." They have helped me in many ways, but somehow I don't think I can follow all their advice.

These books tell me that I should write something every day, even when I don't feel inspired. Even though I agree that I should be practicing every day in writing, or in anything else I want to improve in, I don't know if I should force myself to write something about God. I think if I do, it will come off as phony. If I'm going to write devotionals or stories, I want it to come from what the Lord is teaching me in my heart and not just something I dreamed up on my own.

Reading the Bible this morning, after praying about this unsettled feeling in my heart about writing, I read a chapter in First Peter. It said,

Because of that, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. Pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a light shining in a dark place - until the day Christ appears and His brilliant light shines in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophets themselves or because they wanted to prophesy. It was the Holy Spirit who moved the prophets to speak from God. (1 Peter 1:19-21 NLT).

Even though I'm not writing Holy Scriptures and I'm no prophet, I think this truth applies to me. How many times in my life have I tried to do or say something for God and ended up making a mess of things? How many times have I run ahead of God and tried to accomplish something for Him that wasn't His timing or will? Unfortunately, too many times.

If the Lord wants me to write, I'll write. If He wants me to serve Him in a certain way, I'll service Him. But, I no longer want to do things for God if He's not in it. I want to be moved by the Holy Spirit. I want to follow the Leader.

Lord, thank you that when I look in Your Word I find You. You speak to the most practical areas of my life. Thank you that You care even about the smallest of issues. Help me to follow Your lead and not run ahead of You. In Jesus' name. Amen.

C. Beavin
May 7, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Child of Wonder, Child of God

A Devotional from my sweet sister, Pam.  I hope you enjoy it!

Read: Matthew 18: 1-4 , Matthew 19:14

Matthew 18: 1-4 "At the time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:13-14 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Yesterday, I discussed with my sister about having a bad day. Even though I gave no details, it was heavy on my heart and it felt like persecution. Now, my heart felt that way, but that feeling was being lead by emotions. This "persecuted" feeling stuck with me all last night.

This morning, I was reading my devotions, and God spoke to me from Matt. 18. In it, Christ was setting the example of letting "the little children" come to him. Now I know you are wondering "how does this match my feelings?" It's very simple, when people become angry with you, it is a brief moment in time. Little children are easy to forgive not only each other, but adults. Kids have a supreme ability to shrug things off and take things at face value. As adults, we tend to analyze things way too much and often.

I learned that I need to be just like that "child" coming to Christ. Run to him, not to the phone or others, and just let him rock the hurt away, like a child would. Then I can climb off his lap, and run and play like nothing ever happened. I want to be "childlike" in this respect.

Letting go of anger is a sore subject for me and personally hard. In the past, I would dwell on the hurt for days and days. I see now, through the help from the Holy Spirit, that I have grown in this area.

Praise God for his mercies every day!!!! How's that for growth!

Lord, how blessed we are to have a Savior that truly loves us unconditionally. Your mercies to us are new everyday. Help me, Lord, to continually seek you and be sensitive to your teachings. Amen

Pam Cottrill
May 1, 2008