Thursday, December 29, 2011

Foxes in the Vineyard - Introduction

What adjectives come to mind when you look at the above picture? What random thoughts does it invoke?

Oh, I love this picture. No, I didn't take it and I have no clue where it was shot. (I found it on Clip Art.) But to me, this picture represents on a small scale what I desire my relationship with Jesus Christ to look like. A place of sweet, unbroken fellowship, filled with the beauty and peace of my Savior! This thought brings such joy to my soul!

Now, what about the picture below? I think of the words desolate, gloomy, forsaken, and empty. The vibrant life that was seen in the first picture does not exist here. What once might have been a place of beauty and grandeur has now been reduced to a heap of rubble and stray twigs.

Unfortunately, this is the condition of many hearts today: ruined, forsaken, and empty. They do not have the joy of the Lord, but instead are ruled by depression, anger, and bitterness.

Why is this? How could a beautiful, fruitful garden like the first picture become so cold and dark like the second?

Neglect. Abandonment. Apathy.

Which garden does your soul compare more closely to?

This was the very thing the Lord convicted me about a couple weeks ago. I was reading Song of Solomon 2 and reached verse 15 where the beloved is talking to his bride. He entreats her with these words,

"Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom."

Just as the bridegroom of Song of Solomon entreats his bride with these words, so our Bridegroom beseeches us to catch the foxes in our lives, the foxes that are ruining our vineyards, our garden, our soul.

I just love the imagery in this verse. Our love for Him being pictured as the vineyard in bloom, preparing to blossom. But just as we are beginning to cultivate our garden, to fall in love with Jesus Christ, the little foxes of this life (our pride, selfishness, bitterness, anger, etc.) come sneaking in and destroy the blossoming vineyard.

How tragic, how devastating! Praise God that we are not powerless against this destruction, that He has given us victory through His blood. That is why He urges us to catch the foxes and remove them. Just as a gardener must stay alert and kill any weed or potential danger invading his garden, so we must learn, through His strength, to watch and completely destroy any sin desiring to creep its way into our relationship with Jesus Christ.

How important is this relationship to you? It will show by how jealously you guard it.

Lately, I have been praying, asking that the Lord would show me any "foxes" that have crept into my garden unnoticed and were ruining the blossom of love between us. Oh, He is quick to lovingly answer His children, is He not?! :)

The Lord convicted me of two areas in my life that I had not guarded and had, therefore, allowed sin to reign. I will address each of these in the next two blogposts.

I urge you, fellow servants of Christ, to go before our great King and ask Him to reveal any area where His garden has been ruined or neglected in your life. The beauty of this truth lies in the fact that not only will He show us our sin and welcome us back to His open arms, but He will clear away the ugly rubble with His own hands and plant seeds of new life and joy within cultivate again a blooming garden.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Calvary Road Quote

I am in the process of reading The Calvary Road by Roy Hession (a must-read for all believers, I think) and while reading, found a passage that is very near to my heart.

"He humbled Himself to the manger,
And even to Calvary's tree;
But I am so proud and unwilling
His humble disciple to be.

He yielded His will to the Father,
And chose to abide in the Light;
But I prefer wrestling to resting,
And try by myself to do right.

Lord, break me, then cleanse me and fill me
And keep me abiding in Thee;
That fellowship may be unbroken,
And They Name be hallowed in me."

Enjoy the rest of your day, my friends, and have a very merry Christmas, rejoicing in the birth of our Savior!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Holiness and Justice of God

This morning, my family watched an incredible illustration from R.C. Sproul. It is a 2 part clip, equaling a total of 13 minutes. This clip was taken from the end of a sermon, but the short illustration that he gives is very challenging and worthwhile to watch.

Oh, isn't this so convicting?! How many times have I flippantly gone before the throne, knowing that I will receive His forgiveness and grace, and thrown a quick, "Sorry Lord. Will you please forgive me?" before Him without any grief or realization of what my sin actually cost Him?! I don't deserve any bit of His grace, yet I have become so accustomed to it that I almost demand it, like Mr. Sproul said. Oh, that He would show me a glimpse of His holiness, that I would forever remember my sin and what I rightfully deserve!

His grace leaves me speechless. Not only has He saved me, cleansed me, and given me the righteousness of Christ, but He has included me into the Bride of Christ and is sanctifying me until the Day of His return. And then, not only that, but the Lord Almighty has adopted me...ME, the worst of sinners, as His beloved daughter and made me a fellow heir with Christ! Hallelujah!

Isn't His grace astounding?!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Roar of the Lion

A couple weeks ago, I listened to Mr. Eric Ludy's sermon entitled "The Voice of the Lion". Between listening to that and feeling burdened to see the men and women in our generation rise up for Jesus Christ, I was inspired to write this today.

"Men, passionate for Jesus Christ, should possess a lion-like growl, a deep roar of the soul. This growl is aroused when the glory of His King is at stake, quickening the jealous heartbeat of this warrior and calling him to action. It is evident and ever-present in the way he speaks with friends, serves the broken, and intercedes for the lost and dying. We, as women, have been given the great privilege to encourage the men in our lives (our husbands, brothers, and fathers). We are called, not to brag about the fervor of our own growl, but to challenge them to rise up out of the mire of complacency and accept the call of their King; that they would reject the soft-spoken timidity of their culture and embrace the roar of the Lion."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Today's Struggles

Right now, I'm struggling.

The past few nights, I've been going to bed pretty late...which has left me feeling very tired today.

Because of this, I have been much more easily annoyed and irritated and have been struggling with thoughts of bitterness and self-pity. (But really, what do I have to feel sorry for myself about? Nothing.)

Oh, I have been trying to do this in my own strength today, struggling against my sinful flesh.

But, I cannot do it on my own. I can do nothing good, apart from Him working in me.

Lord Jesus, I am fighting for joy, but I am not strong enough to fight alone. Please take my emotions, my attitudes, my desires, and mold them into Yours. For the rest of this night, please grant me the joy, Your joy that I need to be victorious. My Jesus, I look to You now as the great Author and Perfecter of my faith. Work in me according to Your will, to the praise of Your glorious Name!

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)

Morning Dedication~

Oh, how I long to walk with Jesus throughout the day, continually fixing my eyes on Him! This morning, I was flipping through The Valley of Vision (a book of Puritan prayers and devotions) and reading what caught my eye. I came to a page entitled, "Morning Dedication". It is my prayer this morning. May He be my everything!

"Almighty God,
As I cross the threshold of this day
I commit myself, soul, body, affairs, friends, to thy care;
Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me.
Incline my heart to thy ways;
Mold me wholly into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay;
May my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound thy praise;
Let those around see me living by thy Spirit,
trampling the world underfoot,
unconformed to lying vanities,
transformed by a renewed mind,
clad in the entire armor of God,
shining as a never-dimmed light,
showing holiness in all my doings.
Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, hands.
May I travel miry paths with a life pure from spot or stain.
In needful transactions let my affection be in heaven,
and my love soar upwards in flames of fire,
my gaze fixed on unseen things,
my eyes open to the emptiness, fragility,
mockery of earth and its vanities.
May I view all things in the mirror of eternity,
waiting for the coming of my Lord,
listening for the last trumpet call,
hastening unto the new heaven and earth.
Order this day all my communications according to thy wisdom,
and to the gain of mutual good.
Forbid that I should not be profited or made profitable.
May I speak each word as if my last word,
and walk each step as my final one.
If my life should end today, let this be my best day."

"O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Behold our shield, O God, and look upon the face of Your anointed. For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in You!"
Psalm 84:8-12

Monday, December 12, 2011

A beautiful quote....

I came across a beautiful quote the other night while reading Authentic Beauty (Leslie Ludy), and it brought me to tears. Although the quote was found in Leslie Ludy's book, it is actually written by Amy Carmichael.

"Trust Me, my child," He says. "Trust Me with a fuller abandon than you ever have before. Trust Me, as minute succeeds minute, every day of your life, for as long as you live. And if you become conscious of anything hindering our relationship, do not hurt Me by turning away from Me. Draw all the closer to Me, come, run to Me. Allow Me to hide you, to protect you, even from yourself. Tell Me your deepest cares, your every trouble. Trust Me to keep My hand upon you. I will never leave you. I will shape you, mold you, and perfect you. Do not fear, O child of My love, do not fear. I love you."

-- Amy Carmichael

Oh, why do I forget these truths so quickly? Why do I run away from Him, instead of to Him, when my heart is struggling to obey? Oh, He is merciful, so merciful! May I draw ever closer to my Love and learn to trust Him with a fuller abandon than I ever have before!

O dear reader, run to Him...He is waiting.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Christian Thought Life

I listened to an incredible message this morning by Mr. Eric Ludy.

Here is a summary of the sermon from his site.

"Few of us were ever trained how to handle our thoughts. In fact, most of us have considered ourselves victims to the random, strange, perverted, and otherwise demonic thoughts that float through our minds. But that should halt today. The thought life of a Christian is not the playground for the enemy, but the stage upon which the Truth of Jesus Christ can shine. Jesus has given the saints of God everything they need in order to take command over their thought lives. The Christian is privileged to think on nothing but that which is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and of good report. "

This is a very powerful sermon and one that I needed to hear today! I encourage you to listen to it as well! You will be challenged! (Link below)
LinkThe Christian Thought Life - Eric Ludy

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I thought this was sweet...

“I may sound old-fashioned, but I want to think all women should be treated like I want my wife, daughters, and granddaughters to be treated. I notice today that good manners—like standing up when a woman enters the room, helping a woman with her coat, letting her enter an elevator first, taking her arm to cross the street—are sometimes considered unnecessary or a throwback. These are habits I could never break, nor would I want to. I realize today a lot more women are taking care of themselves than in the past, but no woman is offended by politeness.”

— Frank Sinatra