When We Don’t Feel Loved

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There are times when we doubt God’s love because He doesn’t seem to answer our earnest prayers. He seems to wait or hesitate not listen. Let us not think that because God delays, that His love is diminished. Quite the contrary, His great love for us may cause Him to delay because He knows what is best for us. The following thoughts are from a timeless devotional called Streams in the Dessert. Originally published in 1925, it’s truths continue to speak to our hearts today.

Hard Love

“When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.” (John 11:6).

In the forefront of this marvelous chapter stands the affirmation, “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus,” as if to teach us that at the very heart and foundation of all God’s dealings with us, however dark and mysterious they may be, we must dare to believe in and assert the infinite, unmerited, and unchanging love of God. Love permits pain. The sisters never doubted that He would speed at all hazards and stay their brother from death, but, “When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.”

What a startling “therefore”! He abstained from going, not because He did not love them, but because He did love them. His love alone kept Him back from hasting at once to the dear and stricken home. Anything less than infinite love must have rushed instantly to the relief of those loved and troubled hearts, to stay their grief and to have the luxury of wiping and stanching their tears and causing sorrow and sighing to flee away. Divine love could alone hold back the impetuosity of the Savior’s tenderheartedness until the Angel of Pain had done her work.

Who can estimate how much we owe to suffering and pain? But for them we should have little scope for many of the chief virtues of the Christian life. Where were faith, without trial to test it; or patience, with nothing to bear; or experience, without tribulation to develop it? –Selected

Check out Streams in the Desert for yourself.

10062: Streams in the Desert: An Updated Edition in Today"s Language Streams in the Desert: An Updated Edition in Today’s Language

By L.B. Cowman, edited by James Reimann / Zondervan

Filled with insight into the richness of God’s provision and the purpose of His plan, L.B Cowman’s Streams in the Desert has encouraged and inspired generations of Christians since its first publication in 1925. Now James Reimann, editor of the highly acclaimed updated edition of My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, again brings us the wisdom of the past in the language of today, by introducing this updated edition of Streams in the Desert. With fresh, contemporary wording and precise NIV text, the timeless message of the original flows unhindered through these pages, lending guidance and hope to a new generation of believers. Let Streams in the Desert lead you from life’s dry desolate places to the waters of the River of Life.

Also, don’t miss February’s $5 book deal – Unfailing Love. For more information Click here.

Anything but Boring

 

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Where are you with the Bible? Perhaps you’ve tried to read it and just haven’t connected with it. Or maybe you simply didn’t know where to start. On the other hand, you could be that person who has gone to Bible studies for years, and yet your interest in it has grown a little stale. Perhaps you’ve never had any interest in the Bible at all. When it comes to the Bible, we are all at different places. No matter where you are, my hope is that this book will bring you to a place of connection – connecting your life with the greatest book that has ever been written.

I was first introduced to the Bible when I was a little girl living in Detroit, Michigan. Yes, it was very cold (I mean the weather, not the Bible). We went to a church in downtown Detroit where our car was broken into more than once while we were attending services. The thing I remember most about the church was not the break-ins, but rather the kindness of our Sunday School teacher who gave us Bibles and taught us how to look up passages in the Holy Scriptures. She led me to memorize Psalm 23, even though the Bible was completely new to me. This teacher sparked a love in me for the Bible and ignited a desire to get to know this sacred book.

As I grew through my teenage years, I found great comfort in the scriptures to help me weather the storms of life. As I went to college, the Bible gave me hearty doses of wisdom and direction in daily living. When I got married the Bible became my companion in working through relationship and communication issues. It taught me that God understood my feelings even when my husband didn’t! As a young mom, the scriptures reminded me that God was my strength and would give me everything I needed. It taught me to not worry, but rather in a very real way to cast my cares on the Lord. There were also times when I felt distant from God’s Word as the busyness of life choked out my interest. Yet, as I look back over my life as a whole, the Bible has been my steady guide, teaching me about God’s unfailing love for me.

There are some people who may think the Bible is irrelevant or doesn’t pertain to our lives today, but I’m pretty sure those people haven’t read it! What could be more relevant than a book filled with stories of people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, all reflecting the human condition and the desperate need inside each of us for love and redemption? The beautiful theme throughout the entire book is not how bad we are, but how good God is. Every page is infused with God’s grace.

The Bible is a book about messed-up lives and God’s unmerited favor. There is no other book on earth that conveys the abiding love of Almighty God toward His people. Why wouldn’t you want to read a book like that? Throughout the centuries it has given strength and inspiration to artists, businesspeople, authors, musicians, athletes, and world leaders. It has offered hope to the ailing in hospitals to the suffering on the battlefields, and to the starving in poverty. Yet, to be honest, true poverty is the “poverty of the soul.”

How sad to have all the comforts that life can offer, yet be empty or starved spiritually. The Bible is food to feed our hungry hearts, bringing fulfillment and nourishment to our soul. This is why we read the Bible—because like food—we need it for our very existence. It is filled with life-giving sustenance for those who hunger to know God’s grace and love. Cultural blogger Jim Denison wrote, “This hunger for the God of grace is universal. How could it not be? We were designed to need food, and will hunger for it until the day we die. In the same way, we were designed to need our Designer.” Yes, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

 

My hope is that you will explore the truths of the Bible and get to know what it has to say about God and about you. I know you will find strength, courage and hope as you read and meditate on the inspired words on every page. Thomas Manton wrote, “We can never exhaust all the treasure and worth that is in the Word.”

 

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Matthew 24:3

 

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This is an excerpt from Karol’s book, Becoming a Woman of the Word. To learn more about reading the Bible and getting to know God’s Word order your copy today. For more info click here.

Taking Time to Know Your Father

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Isn’t it wonderful to think that we are invited to spend time with our Heavenly Father each day? How amazing to think that the High King of Heaven allows us to fellowship with Him through prayer and reading His love letters – His Word. There’s no perfect routine or formula when it comes to spending time with God. For me, I start off each morning with my journal, my Bible and of course a cup of coffee. I simply just sit still before God.

In my journal, I always begin by writing out at least five things I am thankful for from the past day. Without exception, I end up writing much more than simply five things, as I begin to recognize all the ways God has blessed me. I also deliberately thank the Lord for at least one challenge in my life, as I consider what God is teaching me through the difficulty. And I can sincerely thank Him for His presence and peace as I walk through those challenges. Another habit I have started is to thank the Lord for at least one thing about my husband each day, because it keeps me focused on his positive qualities and that’s always a good thing!

After I spend time thanking the Lord then I open up His Word, for a time of reading. He has given us His Spirit to lead us into all truth, so I begin by seeking His guidance. I invite His Spirit to be my teacher and open my eyes to new truths. Spiritual truth must be spiritually discerned, and we need God’s Spirit to lead us. I like how author Andrew Murray (1828-1917) wrote about the importance of encountering God’s Word with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit:

 

We must refuse to deal with the written Word without the quickening Spirit. Let us never take Scripture into our hand, mind, or mouth without realizing the need and the promise of the Spirit. First in a quiet act of worship, look to God to give and renew the working of His Spirit within you. Then, in a quiet act of faith, yield yourself to the power that dwells in you. Then wait on Him so that not only the mind, but the life in you, may be opened to receive the Word. The words of Christ are indeed Spirit and life.

          Murray added this prayer:

Lord God, I thank You again for the wonderful gift of the indwelling Spirit. Father, give me the Spirit of wisdom. May I know how deeply spiritual each word of Yours is, and may I know that spiritual things can only be spiritually discerned. Teach me in all my contact with Your Word to deny the flesh and the fleshly mind and to wait in deep humility and faith for the inward working of the Spirit to quicken the Word. May my meditation on Your Word, my keeping of it in faith and obedience, be in Spirit and in truth, in the life and in power. Amen.[i]

 

During my quiet time with the Lord, I use the One Year Bible, which offers a daily Bible reading with an entry from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs in doable doses. This daily time of meeting with God is a time to read and meditate on the Bible and pray. You may choose other times throughout your week to study and dig into the Bible (which we will cover in chapter three), but for a time of regular reflection and daily growth, I encourage you to simply read and meditate on His Word.

For me personally, I also enjoy reading a devotional in addition to reading from His Word. Devotionals should not replace reading the Bible, but can supplement your quiet time. Most devotionals take a verse and expand on it with the author’s perspective or thoughts. At times, I may use a book with short chapters as a part of my devotional reading, such as The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer or The Names of Jesus by A.B. Simpson, or The Spirit of Christ by Andrew Murray or Here and Now by Henri J.M. Nouwen. It is a healthy practice to journal and write out what God is teaching you, so that you can reflect on it again or simply to help you identify and remember what you learned.

After a time of reading, I sit still and simply relax in His presence. I may go to the atrium and slip to my knees and praise and adore Him for who He is. I reflect on some of His qualities that I learned about in His word or in the devotional reading and glorify His name. After praising Him for His wonderful attributes, I humbly recognize my own sin, so I spend time confessing and opening up my heart before Him. Again, I’m still and allow His Spirit to remind me of anything that I need to confess that was not pleasing to Him. After confessing, I honestly can’t help but thank the Lord for sending Jesus as the payment for my sin. My heart rejoices that the Father has allowed me to be a part of His family through faith in Christ.

It is important for us to pour out our concerns to our Father, because He doesn’t want us trying to carry our own burdens. His invitation is to ask, seek, and knock. Finally, I ask for His direction and leading throughout the day. It’s interesting how thoughts pop into my head about things that need to be accomplished or issues I need to address or even how to order my day. I write down the thoughts He brings to mind as I ask Him to direct my path.

So that’s how I come to the table with my Father. How about you? There’s no perfect formula, just the invitation to dine with Him. Let us not neglect such an inviting feast with the King of all glory. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

 

This blog is an excerpt from Becoming a Woman of the Word. Click here for more info.

 

[i] Andrew Murray, The Spirit of Christ (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1984), pp. 78-80.

 

Growing Stronger

One of my favorite daily devotionals is  Streams in the Desert  compiled by Mrs. Charles Cowman. The following story reminds me of the power of patience and allowing God to do His work in our lives. God uses the challenges we face in an essential way to strengthen our hearts and build our character.

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I kept for nearly a year the flask-shaped cocoon of an emperor moth. It is very peculiar in its construction. A narrow opening is left in the neck of the flask, through which the perfect insect forces its way, so that a forsaken cocoon is as entire as one still tenanted, no rupture of the interlacing fibers having taken place. The great disproportion between the means of egress and the size of the imprisoned insect makes one wonder how the exit is ever accomplished at all — and it never is without great labor and difficulty. It is supposed that the pressure to which the moth’s body is subjected in passing through such a narrow opening is a provision of nature for forcing the juices into the vessels of the wings, these being less developed at the period of emerging from the chrysalis than they are in other insects.

 

I happened to witness the first efforts of my prisoned moth to escape from its long confinement. During a whole forenoon, from time to time, I watched it patiently striving and struggling to get out. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and at last my patience was exhausted. Very probably the confining fibers were drier and less elastic than if the cocoon had been left all winter on its native heather, as nature meant it to be. At all events I thought I was wiser and more compassionate than its Maker, and I resolved to give it a helping hand. With the point of my scissors I snipped the confining threads to make the exit just a very little easier, and lo! immediately, and with perfect case, out crawled my moth dragging a huge swollen body and little shrivelled wings. In vain I watched to see that marvelous process of expansion in which these silently and swiftly develop before one’s eyes; and as I traced the exquisite spots and markings of divers colors which were all there in miniature, I longed to see these assume their due proportions and the creature to appear in all its perfect beauty, as it is, in truth, one of the loveliest of its kind. But I looked in vain. My false tenderness had proved its ruin. It never was anything but a stunted abortion, crawling painfully through that brief life which it should have spent flying through the air on rainbow wings.

 

I have thought of it often, often, when watching with pitiful eyes those who were struggling with sorrow, suffering, and distress; and I would fain cut short the discipline and give deliverance. Short-sighted man! How know I that one of these pangs or groans could be spared? The far-sighted, perfect love that seeks the perfection of its object does not weakly shrink from present, transient suffering. Our Father’s love is too true to be weak. Because He loves His children, He chastises them that they may be partakers of His holiness. With this glorious end in view, He spares not for their crying. Made perfect through sufferings, as the Elder Brother was, the sons of God are trained up to obedience and brought to glory through much tribulation.
–Tract, Streams in the Desert

“For I consider our present sufferings not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

This month, my devotional Pursuing God in the Quiet Places is on sale for $5. Click here to order your autographed copy. 

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Faithful and True

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Know therefore that the LORD your God is God;

 he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations

of those who love him and keep his commandments.

Deuteronomy 7:9

 

Faithful, and loyal; our Lord God keeps his promises to His people throughout the generations. He can be trusted. Perhaps you have felt the pain of a disloyal friend or unfaithful spouse or back-stabbing co-worker. The pain can run deep when you feel as though you have been betrayed. Our hearts long for someone we can believe in, someone we can trust, and someone who will be faithful through thick or thin.  The Lord your God is that faithful One.  We can place our lives into His hands for He will never abandon us or leave us. We are His beloved and His faithfulness is sure.

He is the ultimate promise-keeper. He loves you. He does not promise a perfect life or that your pathway will be challenge-free, but He does promise to be with you and be your strength through those rough times.  As His beloved followers, He will never leave us or forsake us. Take a moment right now to thank Him for His great faithfulness and dwell on His faithful love throughout the day today.

This is an excerpt from Karol’s devotional Pursuing God in the Quiet Places.   On sale this month for $5! Perfect for holiday giving or stocking stuffers.

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