Prizing Prayer’s Privilege

Sharing today from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

Prizing Prayer’s Privilege

I recently finished an unhurried, two-year exploration of Psalm 119. It was not my intention to hang out in those pages for so long. I initially came to it looking for a good Scripture memory assignment for our family. I knew Psalm 119 contained verses about Scripture memory and Bible reading, and I thought it would be great for us to learn those verses together, in context.

Other than that, my thoughts on Psalm 119 were this: It’s long. It’s repetitive. It speaks in generalities and seems to say the same things over and over.

But the Word of God is active and alive. Once our family memorized the first sixteen verses by singing them together (one of my favorite memorization tools!), I realized that Psalm 119 was so much more than repetitious and the means to an end of Bible-reading discipline. This was a private conversation I was overhearing. The Psalmist (most scholars feel that the writer was David) was engaged with God in secret prayer, and I was listening in. I wanted to milk each word for the beauty it held.

Simple Prayer

Have you ever been in earshot of someone whose public praying drew you into communion with God, too? The way they approach Him, speaking statements of faith that are shaped by the Scriptures, and even the things they thank Him for and ask Him for demonstrate that this person is on speaking terms with God. I have. It’s just one more beautiful way that God uses the Body to build up the faith of His people. I leave church reflecting on the prayer of a fellow saint as much as I do the sermon.

This experience is similar to what I discovered in Psalm 119. I see a man who knows how to be forthright about who he is without being self-righteous. He speaks of his great weakness, frailty, and life troubles without indulging in self-pity. He tells, without fear of disapproval, of his joys and sufferings. He lays every card on the table in complete honesty before God. He persistently asks for mercy for what should be the fear of every one of us—not to be left to himself. This man was keenly aware of the deceptive ways of his own heart.

I came to understand Psalm 119 as relentless, not repetitive. It is enduring and passionate in affirmations, resolutions, and simple requests to be delivered from the evil without and the evil within. The Psalmist wastes no words:

  • “I am yours; save me” (v. 94).
  • “Let your hand me ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts” (v. 173).
  • “Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!” (v. 154).
  • “Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law” (v. 153).
  • “When will you comfort me?” (v. 82).
  • “How long must your servant endure” (v. 84).

This is prayer that nourishes faith and hope and strengthens the soul. This is prayer that changes how we process life. The Psalmist has a vivid sense of how God’s good purposes work out, and he experiences hope and comfort alongside the painful realities of his life. Dozens of times he rejoices, delights, gives thanks, and sings praises. His pain drives him outward, hoping in God, rather than inward to despondency toward his circumstances.

When We Don’t Want to Pray

At times, our minds are empty, our hearts are cold, and we do not want to pray. Our Bibles become routine, and we see nothing new there. The Psalmist also spoke about this in verse 18: “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” He knew the temptation to become duty-driven only in prayer, as well as hooked on worldly distractions (v. 37). He recognizes that he is susceptible to focusing on the wrong things.

Read the rest here.

Always Let Your Bible Be Your Guide

Sharing today from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

Always Let Your Bible
Be Your Guide

It’s not wise to allow movies to inform our theology. I grew up with the Jiminy Cricket quote: “Always let your conscience be your guide.” In the children’s movie Pinocchio, Disney’s dapper cricket danced and sang, encouraging the wooden puppet—along with the magical Blue Fairy—to follow his conscience as a moral compass for life. “Take the straight and narrow path,” Jiminy sang, “and always let your conscience be your guide.”

Was Jiminy right?

Culturally, the conscience is thought to help with decisions, and the conscience is considered to be rooted in good morals and virtuous character. Yet in colleges today, morals and ethics students debate what good “morality” looks like, and practical applications are open to interpretation.

A guiding conscience, in some situations, is more like a “be true to yourself” mantra than a moral compass for choosing what is proper, moral, or right.

Following True North

When hiking, if our compass is only one degree off course, we likely won’t arrive at our destination. A good, functional compass won’t be skewed; it will point “true north.”

The Christian’s moral compass points “true north” to the Truth of the Bible. God’s Word is the foundation for the believer’s moral and ethical behavior, and consequences are serious when our moral compass is not correctly aligned with God’s Word.

The Westminster Confession says, “God alone is Lord of the conscience.” God has freed us from submission to “doctrines and commandments of men” that are contrary to Scripture, that go beyond His commands or conflict with His wisdom principles for living.

God’s Word must reign supreme in our conscience! Our moral compass must be captive to biblical truth, not the whims of culture or even the fluctuating leanings of our hearts. As Andy Naselli wrote, “That voice in your head is not necessarily God’s voice. Sometimes your conscience may be theologically incorrect.”

In the Bible, Adam and Eve were the first ones to follow their own conscience, but their moral compass was not aligned with God’s words—His clear command (Gen. 2:17; 3:3, 6). The result was disastrous! Deceived, their human conscience allowed them to make a faulty, rebellious choice.

Read the rest here.

5 Holiness Myths

Sharing today from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

5 Holiness Myths

What comes to mind when you think of a holy person? Some of us see the beauty of holiness lived out on a regular basis in our churches and homes. But others fail to see the appeal of a holy life lived out, either because they haven’t seen it in practice or because less-appealing counterfeits have filled their horizon. Sometimes it’s helpful to articulate what holiness is not in order to gain a clearer understanding of what it is and why we want it. Here are five false views that you may have encountered.

1. Holiness is an honorary status.

Some speak of saints as if they were some sort of extra-dedicated class of Christian, a select few who have earned a special status. But the Bible does not make this distinction. Paul calls all Christians saints (1 Cor. 1:2). He tells the Corinthians that they have been “washed,” “sanctified,” and “justified.” This is our position before God. We are sanctified “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” at the moment of salvation (1 Cor. 6:11).

Because we are saints in Christ, we are to “put off your old self” and “put on the new self” (Eph. 4:20–24). In other words, our practice should match our position. This growth in holy practice is what the theologians call “progressive sanctification.”

There are not two tiers of Christians. All Christians are saints, and all of us are becoming holy in practice.

2. Spirit-empowered holiness feels easy.

The idea that sanctification requires effort may seem unspiritual to some, but the Bible is full of athletic metaphors that encourage us to do just that. Paul told Timothy, “train yourself for godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7), and the author of Hebrews tells us to “strive for . . . the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).

Spiritual disciplines are essential for growth. As we study God’s Word and pray, our will and desires change to become more like Christ. As we daily resist sin and make God-honoring choices, we are working our spiritual muscles and making progress in the right direction.

Read the rest here.

Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly

Here is another excellent article from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Mic. 6:8).

This mandate in Scripture has shaped my passion for seeking justice in our broken world. The clarity of these words leaves us with no doubt as to how God wants us to spend our time on earth.

Act justly; love mercy; walk humbly with your God. I’ve always focused my primary attention on the acting justly and loving mercy portions of this command. These two seem challenging enough. It’s often overwhelming to navigate how to live out justice and mercy to the world around me.

There are millions of people worldwide experiencing injustice. How can I, a stay-at-home mom, give justice to the oppressed? It’s also so easy to feel personally entitled to mercy and yet deny giving it to others. How do I extend forgiveness to others when my flesh is not ready to release the offense? My own weakness renders me incapable of obedience.

As I’ve wrestled with the weightiness of how to act justly and love mercy, I’ve realized that it’s only possible to obey these commands in light of the gospel when we walk humbly with our God.

Humility is dependence on God. Walking in humility displays our reliance on His strength in our weakness to obey. Our obedience to God’s good commands must come from a place of humility as we rely on Him to accomplish it.

Humility in Acting Justly

Because of sin, we live in an unjust world. We are transgressors of God’s law and the consequence for our rebellion is death. But God sent His Son to live the life we could not live and die the death we should have died. God poured out His just wrath on His Son instead of on us. This great grace should humble us.

As image-bearers of the God of justice (Isa. 30:18) and recipients of our just status in Christ (Rom. 5:1), we reflect His heart to the world when we seek justice for all people.

Seeking justice can be overwhelming, considering the effects of sin in our world:

  • 150 million children are vulnerable in our world today due to fatherlessness and poverty.
  • 45 million image-bearers are living in modern-day slavery.
  • 65 million refugees are currently seeking refuge after fleeing their homes due to war, famine, and persecution.
  • Every year, over 50 million babies are murdered in their mothers’ wombs.

I look at those numbers, and then I look at me. I don’t see any way for me to make a difference. This is what my enemy wants me to think. He wants me to keep my focus on me and my strength so that I’ll believe that I can’t do anything to help. And if I were depending on myself to accomplish justice for the vulnerable, that would be true.

Read the rest here.

5 Things Not to Do in Your Marriage

Sharing today from the True Woman Blog at Revive Our Hearts.

5 Things Not to Do in Your Marriage

By Elisha Galotti

Romantic love never grows old. It’s a theme in classic literature, a thread through every Shakespearean play, and the storyline of countless Hollywood movies. But every writer, poet, and storyteller is only retelling a story already told. Romance originated with God. It is one of His amazing creations.

Even before the world broke with sin, the first man’s heart longed for the sweet romantic love of a bride. And God made him one.

The other day I said to my husband, “Imagine the kind of marriage Adam and Eve would have had before the Fall.” So we had fun imagining. They would have laughed so much. They would have enjoyed every moment together. They never would have fought. They never would have gotten irritated. They never would have been selfish. They never would have spoken an unkind word. Sex would have literally been amazing every time.

A perfect romance in a perfect marriage in a perfect world.

But then Eve was deceived, and Adam chose to believe a lie. In that instant, not only was there a fracture in their relationship with God but sin also infected the relationship between husband and wife. Romantic love—this gift created by God and given to His first people—was suddenly and forever changed.

Romance would never again be perfect.

The first couple began sinning against each other, and every wife and every husband since has known the same battle. Even in marriages that are loving, faithful, and happy, sin still plays a role.

Read the rest here.