Monday, September 29, 2014

The Riches of God's Word

"I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches." ~Psalm 119:14

We are to rejoice in God's Word in the same way we would rejoice in money and riches. If I were to give a little boy $20, wouldn't his face light up? Wouldn't a smile stretch from ear to ear? How would he react? How would he treat it? That is how we should treat the Word of God, with all rejoicing.

I liked The Treasury of David's comparison of God's Word and riches:

"Riches are desirable as the means of procuring the necessaries of life; but God's testimonies supply the necessities of the soul.
Riches are desirable as a means of procuring personal enjoyment; but God's testimonies produce the highest joy.
Riches are desirable as a means of attaining personal improvement; but God's testimonies are the highest educators.
Riches are desirable as a means of doing good; but God's testimonies work the highest good."

Spurgeon also says this:
"He [David] compared his intense satisfaction with God's will with that of a man who possesses large and varied estates, and the heart to enjoy them. David knew the riches that come of sovereignty and which grow out of conquest; he valued the wealth which proceeds from labour, or is gotten by inheritance: he knew "all riches." The gracious king had been glad to see the gold and silver poured into his treasury that he might devote vast masses of it to the building of the Temple of Jehovah upon Mount Zion. He rejoiced in all sorts of riches consecrated and laid up for the noblest uses, and yet the way of God's word had given him more pleasure than even these. Observe that his joy was personal, distinct, remembered, and abundant. Wonder not that in the previous verse he glories in having spoken much of that which he had so much enjoyed: a man may well talk of that which is his delight."

So my question for you is, do you rejoice in the testimonies of God as much as all riches?

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Psalmist's Treatment of the Word

A couple of weeks ago, I studied in depth verses 1-16 of the 119th Psalm. I found it amazing the actions that were taken in regards to the Word. Take a look:

-Walking in the Word (1,3)
-Keeping the Word (2,4,5,8)
-Seeking the Word (2,10)
-Looking into the Word (6)
-Learning from the Word (7)
-Praising because of the Word (7)
-Taking heed according to the Word (9)
-Not wandering from the Word (10)
-Hiding the Word in your mind (11)
-Declaring the Word (13)
-Rejoicing in the Word (14)
-Meditating on the Word (15)
-Contemplating the Word (15)
-Delighting in the Word (16)
-Not forgetting the Word (16)

To me, this paints a beautiful picture of how we as Christians should treat the Word. It is not something that sits on our bedside table and is read once a day. It is our foundation, our life. We base everything we do upon the Word and nothing is done without it. The Word should become part of our very beings. It should constantly be on our thoughts and our minds. We should be thinking of it, speaking of it, reading of it. It should be our focus, our passion. And in this way, we will become blessed (vs. 1-3).

I encourage you all to let the Word become a part of you. May these verbs describe the actions you and I take in regards to the Word. May it become our life, our all. God bless!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Longing for the Word

"My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times." ~Psalm 119:20

I've been meditating a lot on what it means to long for God's commands to the point of breaking.

This past weekend, I was enjoying a good book, and I mean a really good book. I would describe my desire to read that book as longing, sometimes even wanting to bust when I couldn't read it. I took it everywhere: in the car, walking around, in my bed, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, everywhere! Me and that book were inseparable. And I read it everywhere we went: in the car, in the bathroom, and while getting changed, eating, combing my hair, etc. Sometimes when we walked around Niagara Falls (that's where I was this past weekend), I would start reading my book whenever they stopped for a minute or more to look at something. No spare moment was wasted; I read as much as possible. When my parent's wouldn't let me bring the book into the restaurants, stay up late reading it, or turn the car lights on to glance over another page or two, I sometimes became grumpy or even (I am sad to admit) disrespectful. I enjoyed that book so much. It was the first thing I read in the morning and the last at night.

The Lord allowed all this to happen so that I might have a powerful and very vivid picture of how we as Christians should treat the Word of God. All of us could agree that God's Word is a hundred times more valuable than that book, but do we really treat it that way?

A soul that breaks with longing for the Scriptures spends every moment of his free time in it. He abandons all else in its pursuit. He takes God's Word with him wherever he goes. It is laying beside his computer, where he reads a chapter or paragraph while waiting for a class to begin or a friend to respond or a file to load. He takes it with him in the car, and lays it beside his bed at night. A day spent without a good portion for time spent in the Word is an unsuccessful day, in his mind. He constantly wants to be in the Word. When he goes even an hour without drinking from the springs of living water, he is drawn again to the springs as a deep pants for the water brooks. God's Word is his one consuming thought, and its praises are always on his lips. This young man truly longs for God's Word with every bone in his body.

What about you and I? Do we long for the Word of God? Do we treat it as more valuable than any other possession?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hebrews 13:15: A Call to Praise

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” ~Hebrews 13:15

This verse has been powerful in my life.  God calls us to continually offer Him the sacrifice of the praise of our lips. So let’s break down this verse, looking at each word individually in order to gain a deeper understanding of what it says.

    Therefore: Because God is so good, and because we await His return, and because He is coming back to rule over all the earth, we must offer the praise of our lips to Him.
    By: It is not on our own power that this is possible, but only by Him.
    Him: He has done it all. We are weak, He is strong. We are sinful, He is perfect. By His blood, His name, His grace, and His strength, we can move mountains for His glory. It’s all about Him.  He will give us the power to give praise to Him continually.
    Let: This is defined as to cause, to assign, to permit to enter, to make an adjustment, to allow.
    Us: This is an action that we, by His grace, must do.  We can’t just sit back and expect it to happen, but we must get up from the chair and do something.
    Continually: This is something we are to do all the time—no exceptions.
    Offer: Defined as an expression of readiness to do or give something if desired. We must be ready to willingly, of our own will, give what is ours to Him who bought it with His blood.
    The: Pretty self-explanatory.
    Sacrifice: This is the act of forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.  Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim. We are giving up something, much as our flesh wants to keep it, in exchange for something so much better, Christ’s name being glorified.
    Of: Nothing needed here.
    Praise: We are to express our appreciation of God and the mighty things He has done. Declaring Christ’s works to all who we see. Expressing our admiration of God and His greatness.
    To: We do all the above to one Person, with the goal of bringing Him glory.
    God: All of our praise is to be offered to God. He is worthy of all of our praise, and because of His holiness, we offer the fruit of our lips.
    That is: Defining what the sacrifice of praise is.
    The: I think you have the general idea.
    Fruit: Basically the outcome of our lips; our words.
    Of: Nothing needed here.
    Our: Not God’s, not the preacher’s, not our peer’s, but ours. Even if no one else around us is praising Him, it is our job to be offering the fruit of our lips to Him.
    Lips: The things God has given us to talk with.
    Giving: Synonymous with offering. It must be done willingly and with sincerity.
    Thanks: Expressing our appreciation and gratitude for all He has done. Notice, it does not say complaining or grumbling.
    To: Who our thanks is directed at.
    His: Not ours.
    Name: What identifies Him as the King. His name has exceedingly great power. We must give glory and thanks to His name.

It is my prayer that you too may by Him continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God,  giving thanks to His name.

Note: This is my final article in our series about praise.  I pray that this was helpful in deepening your walk with the Lord through praise.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hannah: A Heart of Praise

"And Hannah prayed and said:
My heart rejoices in the Lord;
   My horn is exalted in the Lord.
I smile at my enemies,
   Because I rejoice in Your salvation.
No one is holy like the Lord,
   For there is none besides You,
Nor is there any rock like our God.
   Talk no more so very proudly;
Let no arrogance come from your mouth,
   For the Lord is the God of knowledge;
And by Him actions are weighed.
   The bows of the mighty men are broken,
And those who stumbled are girded with strength.
   Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
And the hungry have ceased to hunger.
   Even the barren has borne seven,
And she who has many children has become feeble.
   The Lord kills and makes alive;
He brings down to the grave and brings up.
   The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
He brings low and lifts up.
   He raises the poor from the dust
And lifts the beggar from the ash heap,
   To set them among princes
And make them inherit the throne of glory.
   For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
And He has set the world upon them.
   He will guard the feet of His saints,
But the wicked shall be silent in darkness.
   For by strength no man shall prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces;
   From heaven He will thunder against them.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
   He will give strength to His king,
And exalt the horn of His anointed.”
1 Samuel 2:1-10 is a beautiful prayer of praise to the Lord.  Hannah pours forth her heart to her King, glorifying Him in her every word.
So often, we as Christians don't know what to pray, or how to pray it.  Let us look to our biblical examples, like the one seen here.  If you are struggling with how to praise the Lord, I would encourage you to memorize this prayer.  Repeating it will allow the truths to become more firm in your mind and as the Lord's praises begin to sink into your heart, your lips will more naturally flow with the glories of the Lord.
Will you be like Hannah, and give a sacrifice of praise to the Lord?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Call to Praise

Photo credit:
I love how Matthew Henry's Consise Commentary gives a call and exhortation to praising the Lord.  May it modivate you to join the ranks of the trumphant followers who have dedicated their lives to praising Him.
A psalm of praise. - We are here stirred up to praise God. Praise God for his sanctuary, and the privileges we enjoy by having it among us; praise him because of his power and glory in the firmament. Those who praise the Lord in heaven, behold displays of his power and glory which we cannot now conceive. But the greatest of all his mighty acts is known in his earthly sanctuary. The holiness and the love of our God are more displayed in man's redemption, than in all his other works. Let us praise our God and Saviour for it. We need not care to know what instruments of music are mentioned. Hereby is meant that in serving God we should spare no cost or pains. Praise God with strong faith; praise him with holy love and delight; praise him with entire confidence in Christ; praise him with believing triumph over the powers of darkness; praise him by universal respect to all his commands; praise him by cheerful submission to all his disposals; praise him by rejoicing in his love, and comforting ourselves in his goodness; praise him by promoting the interests of the kingdom of his grace; praise him by lively hope and expectation of the kingdom of his glory. Since we must shortly breathe our last, while we have breath let us praise the Lord; then we shall breathe our last with comfort. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. Such is the very suitable end of a book inspired by the Spirit of God, written for the work of praise; a book which has supplied the songs of the church for more than three thousand years; a book which is quoted more frequently than any other by Christ and his apostles; a book which presents the loftiest ideas of God and his government, which is fitted to every state of human life, which sets forth every state of religious experience, and which bears simple and clear marks of its Divine origin.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mary: A Life of Praise

Knocking boldly upon the door, Mary offered up a silent prayer that she and the One in her womb would be accepted at the house of her cousin. A virgin becoming pregnant was a thing to be digrased, so she didn’t know if Elizabeth would let her stay in her house, or if she would be thrown on the streets. Creek, went the door, revealing Elizabeth. Mustering up her courage, drawing strength from the One, true God, Mary greeted her cousin warmly.

Hearing that greeting Elizabeth went silent. This is a little awkward, thought Mary. What must be going through her head? Does she see the lump in my stomach?

But Elizabeth abated her fears, exclaiming, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

A tear sprang to Mary’s eye, realizing that not only was she accepted, she was blessed. Oh, the Lord is so good! Her heart overwhelmed with love for her King, and she could not keep it in.

Bursting into joyful song, she began,
My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.

Mary, a young girl, a beautiful virgin.  The Lord choose her, of all the millions of women in the world.  Why?  Because she was highly favored and pleasing to the Lord.  He delighted in her, because of her delight for Him.  He was her passion, her stronghold, her dwelling place.  His Word was her refuge, her comforter, her strength.  She knew her Lord in an intimate way, she knew of His character, and she loved Him for it.

God knew that placing His Son inside of her was wise, because she would love Him more than her life and treat Him as a King, because of the love that she had shown for the Father.  Her praise floated up to Him on a continual basis.  She was so in love with Him that she couldn’t contain her jubilant praises.

The same was true of her trip to Elizabeth’s house.  Gratitude for God filled her and spilled out in song.  In this song of praise, Mary cited at least fifteen verses in the Old Testament.  She had filled her mind with words from the prophets and psalmists that praised God.  These became her language.  Whenever she opened her mouth, God’s Word poured forth.  And it was these words, purposefully hid in her heart that helped her to live out God’s plan for her to become Jesus’ mother.
Will you too choose to fill your heart and mind with the praises of God?  Will you meditate on the words of God in such a way that your soul can't contain your joy for the Lord?  Will you choose to delight in the Lord as Mary did?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Make Bible Reading a Priority

Is reading a necessary part of your daily schedule, or do you tend to push it off, claiming to have more important things to do?

George Mueller, after having read the Bible through one hundred times with increasing delight, said this: "I look upon it as a lost day when I have not had a good time over the Word of God. Friends often say, 'I have so much to do, so many people to see, I cannot find time for Scripture study.' Perhaps there are not many who have more to do than I. For more than half a century I have never known one day when I had not more business than I could get through. For 4 years I have had annually about 30,000 letters, and most of these have passed through my own hands.

"Then, as pastor of a church with 1,200 believers, great has been my care. Besides, I have had charge of five immense orphanages; also, at my publishing depot, the printing and circulating of millions of tracts, books, and Bibles; but I have always made it a rule never to begin work until I have had a good season with God and His Word. The blessing I have received has been wonderful."

Many people think that they know all there is to know in the Bible.  I used, in my pride, to think that I myself knew all there was to know.  If Mr. Mueller read through the Bible over a hundred times and still found blessings in it daily, then I think that we are wrong in this belief.

Mueller also said this:  "It is a common temptation of Satan to make us give up the reading of the Word and prayer when our enjoyment is gone; as if it were of no use to read the Scriptures when we do not enjoy them, and as if it were no use to pray when we have no spirit of prayer. The truth is that in order to enjoy the Word, we ought to continue to read it, and the way to obtain a spirit of prayer is to continue praying. The less we read the Word of God, the less we desire to read it, and the less we pray, the less we desire to pray."

Despite his busyness, Mueller still devoted much time each day to spending in God's Word.  No matter where you are in life, I highly doubt that you are as busy as Mr. Mueller was.  If he can fit time in for the Word, than you can too.  It is just a matter of priority.  Will you choose to make Bible reading the number one priority of your day?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Psalm 86: A Prayer of Praise

Now you may be wondering, of all the psalms I could have chosen from, why chapter 86?  Good question.   I chose it for several reasons.  First, I memorized verses 1-8 in the Bible Bee this summer, so I'm more familiar with this psalm that some of the others.  Second, I really like the way David incorporates praise in with his requests.  This is something I believe we need to emulate.  I've highlighted the praises of God.  Notice how they're woven throughout his prayer:
"Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me;
For I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am holy;
You are my God;Save Your servant who trusts in You!
Be merciful to me, O Lord,
For I cry to You all day long.

Rejoice the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
And attend to the voice of my supplications.
In the day of my trouble I will call upon You,
For You will answer me.
Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord;
Nor are there any works like Your works.
All nations whom You have made
Shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And shall glorify Your name.
For You are great, and do wondrous things;
You alone are God.
Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.
I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.
For great is Your mercy toward me,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
O God, the proud have risen against me,
And a mob of violent men have sought my life,
And have not set You before them.
But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me!
Give Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your maidservant.
Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me."
How can you incorporate praise throughout your prayers?  How can you weave a theme of praise while at the same time bringing your requests before God?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Housekeeping Information

Of general note:

If you answered the questions on my book's page, or contacted me via the contact page, I never received it.  I didn't understand the technology and how to use it, so although you might have been able to click "submit" nothing submitted.

Fortunately, that problem is fixed, and both forms are now in working order.

My apologies for anyone who filled out the forms beforehand.  Not my will, but His alone be done!

If you could, I would love it if you would resubmit anything that you remember from beforehand.  I'm sorry for any inconvenience this causes you, but your understanding is greatly appreciated.  :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Let Everything That Has Breath Praise the Lord!

"Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!"
 ~Psalm 150
"Worship is first and foremost for His benefit, not ours, though it is marvelous to discover that in giving Him pleasure, we ourselves enter into what can become our richest and most wholesome experience in life." p.58 "A Heart For Worship" by Lamar Boschman 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Praise in Prayer

What do you think of when I say the word "prayer"? Do you think of it as a tool to get you what you want? Do you think of it as a way to communicate with God, telling Him of all your troubles and concerns?

Is prayer all about you? Or is it about God?

Do you come to the throne room overflowing with the blessings of your Savior, giving thanks to Him?

I think prayer should be a way to communicate our praises to God. Prayer is the pleasant fragrance of God, pleasing Him as He sits in His heavenly throne room (See

Of course, prayer is most certainly a place where we can share our worries and concerns with the Lord and to bring our requests to Him (Philippians 4:6). But I think so often we make prayer about ourselves, when it's really about God.  Colossians 1:16 reminds us that "all things were created through Him and for Him" (Emphasis added).

In Colossians 4:2 we are exhorted to "continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving" (Emphasis added).  Thanksgiving is an important part of our daily prayer lives, and should be our priority when approaching the heavenly throne room.

 I encourage you, as you pray without ceasing today, to remember to give thanks in everything to Him (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Weave praises and thanksgiving into your every request (Psalm 150:1-6). Extol Him with music and song today. Instead of listening to classical music, or whatever else you listen to, listen to words that praise God, songs that worship Him.

Come before Him with thanksgiving (Hebrews 13:15), and watch how your day brightens, your doubts leave, and your hope arises. Turn your eyes upon Jesus my friends (Hebrews 12:2)!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

When You Read the Bible Through

I supposed I knew my Bible
Reading piecemeal, hit and miss,
Now a bit of John or Matthew,
Now a snatch of Genesis,
Certain chapters of Isaiah
Certain Psalms (the twenty-third!);
Twelfth of Romans, First of Proverbs—
Yes, I thought I knew the Word!
But I found that thorough reading
Was a different thing to do,
And the way was unfamiliar
When I read the Bible through.

Oh, the massive, mighty volume!
Oh, the treasures manifold!
Oh, the beauty of the wisdom
And the grace it proved to hold!
As the story of the Hebrews
Swept in majesty along,
As it leaped in waves prophetic,
As it burst to sacred song,
As it gleamed with Christly omens,
The Old Testament was new,
Strong with cumulative power,
When I read the Bible through.

Ah! Imperial Jeremiah,
With his keen, coruscant mind;
And the blunt old Nehemiah,
And Ezekiel refined!
Newly came the Minor Prophets
Each with his distinctive robe,
Newly came the Song idyllic,
And the tragedy of Job;
Deuteronomy, the regal,
To a towering mountain grew,
With its comrade peaks around it,
When I read the Bible through.

What a radiant procession
As the pages rise and fall,
James the sturdy, John the tender
O the myriad-minded Paul!
Vast apocalyptic glories
Wheel and thunder, flash and flame,
While the church triumphant raises
One incomparable Name.
Ah, the story of the Saviour
Never glows supremely true
Till you read it whole and swiftly,
Till you read the Bible through.

You who like to play at Bible,
Dip and dabble, here and there,
Just before you kneel, aweary,
And yawn thro’ a hurried prayer;
You who treat the Crown of Writings
As you treat no other book—
Just a paragraph disjointed,
Just a crude, impatient look—
Try a worthier procedure,
Try a broad and steady view;
You will kneel in very rapture
When you read the Bible through!

—Amos R. Wells

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fashioned for Praise

"Our entire being is fashioned as an instrument of praise. Just as a master violin 
maker designs an instrument to produce maximum aesthetic results, so God 
tailor-made our bodies, souls and spirits to work together in consonance to produce 
pleasing expressions of praise and worship. When we use body language to express 
praise, that which is internal becomes visible." ~ Lamar Boschman 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Importance of Praise in Memorization

I want to take some time over the next few months to focus on praise, and it's importance in our every activity.

I'm not talking about just any praise, but rather the praise of the Lord.  He is our God, our Creator, our Savior.  Our everything.  So let us examine the importance of praise incorporated into our memorization.

Here I believe is the key verse:
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." -Colossians 3:16 emphasis added
As is shown in this verse, one of the goals of memorization is so that we can sing Psalms and hymns to the Lord.  Because most of the psalms are written in the form of praise, Paul is reminding us to keep our emphasis on praise.

As I memorize, I often like to stop and just take some time to praise God using the verses I have memorized.  For example, today I am working on memorizing some of Romans 2, which talks about how Jews should not judge others.  And then in the midst of all his exhortations and logical arguments, Paul talks about the righteous judgment of God.  As I read this this morning, I paused for a minute to meditate on the fact that His judgments are always righteous.  I came away from that memorization session with a smile on my face, knowing that I have a righteous Judge.

So, why should we memorize Scripture with the goal of praise?  Through memorization, we gain a deeper understanding of who God is.  That is our ultimate goal for memorization -to dive deeper in our relationship with Jesus Christ.  Praise forces us to think about Christ and think about who He really is.

Praise also brings glory to Christ, which is our ultimate goal in life, both with memorization and everything else we do.  God wants nothing more than to have His children sing His praises, and memorization gives you the knowledge you need to do it.

So all you memorizers, I encourage you to take time today to praise the Lord through the verses you are memorizing.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fasting Update

[If you are wondering what in the world I am talking about, you might want to check this out: Announcement]

Greetings fellow servants of the Lord!

It has been a couple weeks since my last visit here, and during that time my relationship with the Lord has flourished.  I have enjoyed beyond words the extra time I, by His grace alone, devoted to spending time at His feet.

Right now, I would like to share with you an evaluation of where the Lord has taken me in the past month through Bible reading, prayer, memorization and meditation.  I will also look at my goals and how well I completed them.  Remember however that fulfilling my goals was not the most important thing.  Above all, my desire was to grow deeper in my relationship with my King.

I am sharing this with you not to brag of what I have done (really none of this was done on my own strength) or to have you put me in any way on a pedestal.  I am just an ordinary sinner, who has been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, filled with His love and power.  Without Him, my idenity is summed up in one word: dust.  I share my story with you to encourage you in your own relationship with the Lord, and to remind you that it can be done, if the Lord is on your side. 

1. Bible Reading

I think of all four goals, I accomplished this one the best.  This daily time with my King was truly priceless.  About one hour of every day was spent at my Savior's feet.  I learned more of His character and through that knowledge grew to love Him even more.  I also feel like this daily devotional time spurred within me a greater love for His Word.  Daily emerging myself in the Scriptures fueled the flame of love for the amazing Word of God.  If you desire to love God and His Word more, I have a simple solution: read.  

I noticed that if I read all ten chapters in the morning that I was more joyful and my day was more productive.  When I waited till eleven at night (two hours after my bed time :)) my day just kind of felt lacking. God taught me how important God's Word is to the well-being of my days.  Without it, the day just doesn't seem rewarding or complete.  

Towards the latter part of August, I grew to appreciate in new depths the book of Proverbs.  That book is amazing!  :)  I started keeping track of what Proverbs says about the heart, and soon this proverbial book became the one I looked forward to most each day.  

The Word of God, as I have observed over the past month, really does change people.  By "hanging out" with Jesus in an intimate way, I found some of His character rubbing off onto me.  Now that is what I call a fitting reward.

2.  Prayer

Unfortunately, my goal for an hour of prayer each day didn't usually happen.  But I can say that not a day went by without prayer.  Prayer is my number 1 weapon of offense and defense.  But even more than that it is a way to communicate with the King of kings.  What an amazing privilege!  I turned to Him every day with my prayers and concerns and He patiently heard me.  

For example, one day I was dealing with impure thoughts toward a certain young man (I can't even remember who it was now).  I recommitted myself to the Lord and to complete emotional purity.  That day my sister and I went with some two other young ladies to pick blueberries.  In the absence of any guys, we  had a chance to discuss "womanly" things, reminding ourselves to remain emotionally pure.  Then we watched the documentary Awakened, which encouraged me to strive for purity in every way and to be seeking God.  I also read a couple of articles on purity from the King's Blooming Rose.  Finally, as I finished my Bible reading that evening, the Lord showed me Proverbs 12:4, which talks about a good woman being the crown of her husband.  I want to be his crown even now, by saving myself for him.  The Lord provided a clear answer to my prayer.  He hears and answers in His faithfulness!  The name of the Lord be glorified!

The times that I did choose to spend a good chunk of time in prayer, I found it to be spiritually refreshing and encouraging.  My journal records this,
The reason I really feel a growth spiritually today is because my time spent at the Lord's feet in prayer.  The Lord helped and enabled me to spend forty minutes dedicated to praying.  It was a spiritually refreshing experience, and it was during that time that I really felt close to the Lord.
 Although my journal records many days when my prayer life wasn't what I had hoped, overall the Lord used my times of prayer to bring me closer to His heart.

3. Memorization and Meditation

Firstly, the goals.  I had hoped to memorize Colossians and Jonah, and though I was able to memorize both books, it wasn't in the time frame I had hoped for.  :)  I actually only memorized the book of Colossians over this past week.  I am disappointed in this, because I realize that if I had spent more time in memorizing, I would have had more chances to really meditate and not be so rushed, but I think God still used my mistakes to bring me closer to Him.

Overall, I feel immense growth because of my investment in memorization.  Just the time spent daily over the last week in the presence of my King has been extremely valuable, not to mention the rewards of His Word hidden in my heart.

One of the key lessons that I learned in this area came as I memorized the book of Colossians.  I noticed that as when I read the four chapters, I tended to miss some key points and information.  But as I memorized, it forced me to slow down and actually pay attention to the words and the hidden message.  This gave me a new depth of understanding of the book of Colossians.

One of the greatest lessons the Lord taught me through the book of Colossians is that of thankfulness.  Over this past month, God reminded me over and over of the importance of thanksgiving in my prayers and throughout my day.  Look at these verses from the book of Colossians: 
"We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you." ~1:3
"Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light." ~1:12 Note: This was part of Paul's prayer for the people of Colosse, that they would give thanks to God. 
"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving." ~2:6-7 emphasis added
"And whatever you do in word or deed,do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."  ~3:17 emphasis added
 "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving." ~4:2 emphasis added
Thanksgiving is such an important part of our lives, and unfortunately, I had been neglecting that, focusing on my needs, rather than my King.  God used the truths that I had memorized to bring me back into a place of love for Him.

The times I have spent in memorization have been so encouraging.  Listen to this (from my journal):

Today the Lord really provided encouragement to me through memorization.  As I hid His Word in my heart, I felt joy that comes only from the Lord penetrate  my soul.  By obedience to His commands, I was rewarded with a joyful spirit.  I am reminded once again of how important memorization is to the Christian walk.
4. No Internet

I highly encourage "fasting" from the internet for a month or two.  Getting away from the influences of the screen, not feeling the pull to constantly check on things, has been really refreshing.  Not to mention that in place of screen time, I have had some more "God-time."  :)  Although it is not always easy, it is always worth it.

Overall, I would say that this past month has been a great time of growth and worship.  Although I made mistakes, and didn't accomplish some of my goals, God was faithful and brought me closer to Himself through my dedication to Him.

I encourage you to spend time with your Savior over the next month.  You saw what it did for me, now I want you to experience what it can do for you.  In everything, may God alone be glorified!