When you and I take seriously our assignments from God, He blesses our obedience, and the resulting growth is astounding. Oh, there are pleasant tasks and bright moments, but there is also plain old hard work -- work that may be unexciting but gives birth to God's blessings.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
As we end this book committed to following hard and close after God and doing His will, let's consider what we can do to nurture, prune, and train our hearts so that we can enjoy the lovely fruit God intends His people to know when they honor Him. What can we do to place ourselves before God so that we can know His beauty and serenity in our hearts and under our roofs?
Plan Your Day
Making God's plan for our lives a reality calls for planning on our part. The first challenge we face is gaining control of one day -- today. We must tackle the day at hand, and it is helpful to consider each day's agenda at least twice.
First, the night before, take your planner (in whatever form is best for you) and list the next days events in chronological order. This would include appointments, classes, meetings, carpools, school and work schedules, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Ask the Lord in prayer to guide and bless your day, then turn off the light.
In the morning, welcome the day with the psalmist's words of praise -- "This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24). Then take out a sheet of paper and get ready to create a plan for practicing God's priorities throughout the day. Begin by praying.
Pray Over Your Plans and Priorities
What exactly should you pray about? Here are a some very practical, detailed steps as you pray and plan according to your priorities.
First write the word "God" on one side of your folded paper, and pray, "Lord, what can I do today to live out the fact that You are the Ultimate Priority of my life?"
As an answer to this question, the Lord may be leading you to certain actions like pray, read His Word, memorize Scripture, walk with Him, etc. Write it down.
Next, write the first name of your husband. Again, go to the Lord and ask, "What can I do today to let my husband know he is my most important human priority?" (And if you're not married, move on down the list.)
At that point, for instance, the Lord might remind you that you can choose to be "up" when your husband arrives home at the end of the day and to stay "up" throughout the evening. You can choose to be physically available to him. You can make plans for a special date night. And the list goes on and on.
Now it's time to pray, "Lord, what can I do today for my children (name them individually) to let them know that, after my husband, they are more important than all the other people in my life? What can I do to communicate this fact? How can I show each one my love? (Again, if you don't have children, move on down the list.)
Many times the answers to this question are "sweet speech," "kindness," "a servant spirit," and "no nagging." Just write down the answers and ideas.
As your children grow older, other ideas may come to mind like selecting a special card for each of them and writing a love note, or preparing a favorite snack for them after school.
Still later, when they are married, make plans to communicate daily with each through email. Send them good books as surprise gifts and encourage them in their personal growth and interests. Truly, the loving and praying and planning never cease. And then there are the grandchildren! Well, you get the picture.
Everyone lives somewhere, including you, married or not. So land here and start praying because this one's for everyone. Pray, "Lord, what can I do today regarding my home? What can I do today to make our home a little bit of heaven, our own home sweet home?"
Something like "be faithful in daily cleaning tasks" will appear on my home list. "Complete a task" may be another item on your list.
Lay your life before God and pray, "Lord what can I do today to grow spiritually? In what specific ways can I prepare for future ministry?"
"Read" may appear on your list. "Exercise" and "food selection" may show up often. Completing a Bible lesson, typing out a quotation that you want to remember, copying a Bible verse to display in your view, and getting to bed on time are other items.
"And, Lord," continue praying, "what can I do today to serve and minister to Your people?" This may be your longest list as you write down people to call, friends and missionaries to write, lessons to plan, organizing, researching, preparing food for church events or new mommies, or visiting the hospital. Because of this, you might ask the Lord, "Which one thing do You want me to do today?" Opportunities for ministry are alway all around us!
You have noticed continually that this book focuses on our top priorities, those God-given assignments found in His Word. But God knows there are other facets of life.
That is why in this category you'll list shopping for Christmas, browsing in a library or bookstore, getting together with a friend, planning another trip to visit a grandparent. Again, this list goes on and on.
Schedule Your Plans and Priorities
Now that we have our list, it's time to schedule! Items on the list only represent dreams and desires and convictions until we put them into practice. And scheduling helps us do just that. So at this point begin prioritizing with pen and planner in hand. Pray, "Okay, Lord, when will I have my devotions? When will I meet with You in our special place?" Then write "devotions" in a specific time slot on your schedule. "And when will I run that errand for my husband?" And then write it down. Go all the way down your list in this manner.
When your time of prayer and scheduling is over, you hold in your hand a master plan for the day -- a plan that reflects your priorities, a plan that enables you to be the woman after God's own heart that you and I desire to be. Wisdom always has a plan.
Proverbs 21:5, "The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty."
Following These Steps
You'll soon discover how comforting it is to get up from your time of prayer with a clear plan for your day. Your plan is most effective when it comes a s a result of much care and prayer -- when it comes as a result of committing your day and its activities to God for His glory!
Practice, Practice, Practice!
"Every day is a little life, and our whole life is but a single day repeated."
If you desire a good life, focus on having one good day, one quality day -- today. Concentrate on today and, at day's end, slip that single pearl onto your strand. The pearls on your strand will add up to a good life!
But what if yours was a day of failures? A day of neglecting things you wanted to focus on? We all have those days. But thanks be to God who enables us to forget the days that is done, to reach forward the next morning, and to press on toward the goad -- the pearl -- again and again and again!
Philippians 3:13-14, "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Peace as You Rest
When such a focused day is done, you'll probably be tired as you drop into bed. But you'll also know an unmatched peace in your heart. A peace that comes from resting in the Lord and doing things His way. A peace that comes from knowing that because you lived out God's priorities for you, all is well under your roof.
Posted by Karen Brock at 9:28 AM
Monday, June 1, 2009
Colossians 2:6-7, "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."
Proverbs 8:10-11, "Receive my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her."
A Word About Priorities
Because our lives are complex and demanding, we need a plan if we are to live by God's priorities and obey His call to us. God's order for priorities makes the day-to-day, moment-by-moment decisions easier and simpler.
Life management can bring order to our cluttered life and will enable you and me to see more clearly when the storms of life start to rage. God's unchangeable Word gives guidance when the tyranny of the urgent beats on our door, trying to shove aside the very few really important tasks in life. The grand duties and chief works of a Woman After God's Own Heart consist of:
- Loving God and following after Him with a whole heart,
- Loving, helping, and serving my husband,
- Loving and teaching my children and their families,
- Loving and caring for my home in order to provide a quality life for my family,
- Developing myself so that I have something to give to others, and
- Loving and serving God's people.
"The choices we make are key to the priorities we practice!"
From the first pages of this book, we've been trying to choose good over evil, better over good, an best over better. The importance of such choices cannot be overestimated or overemphasized. As we've all heard, if you want to know what you'll be like in the future, just look at the choices you are making today.
A Word About Others
The "other" categories have not been mentioned thus far in our study. We haven't mentioned parents, brothers, sisters, or extended family. We also haven't discussed jobs or careers, friends, neighbors, hobbies, pastimes, social life, or a myriad of other ingredients that make up your full and unique life.
So for now, simply add those "others" to the end of the list of the six priorities listed above because those six don't change. God will reveal your priorities when you pray, search the Scriptures and seek wise counsel.
A Word About Waiting
It's impossible to read the book of Proverbs and not get the message that wisdom waits. As a general principle for practicing your priorities, know that it is safer to wait and do nothing than to rush in and do the wrong thing.
Proverbs 19:2, "He sins who hastens with his feet."
It sure is easy for priorities to get out of whack and making the choices to get back on track can be tough, but if you are wanting to do God's will, then you are willing to make the right choices even though they're the hard choices.
Posted by Karen Brock at 1:33 PM