April 28, 2017

Perfect Prayers

SeekingHimLogo

Answer me when I call to You, O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles.
Have mercy on me [be gracious to me] and hear my prayer.
Psalm 4:1 NLT

I like the simplicity of David’s prayer.  Reminds me of a Max Lucado devotional entitled, Prayer’s Aren’t Graded:

“Jesus downplayed the importance of words in prayers. We tend to do the opposite. The more words the better! We emphasize the appropriate prayer language, the latest prayer trend, the holiest prayer terminology. Against all this emphasis on syllables and rituals, Jesus says in Matthew 6:7: ‘Don’t ramble like heathens who talk a lot.’  There’s no panel of angelic judges with numbered cards.”

I love the line “There’s no panel of angelic judges with numbered cards.” Sometimes we pray like we think there is. God doesn’t count our words or measure our syntax. He doesn’t edit our grammar. God looks at our heart.  As the Scriptures tell us:

Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible,
but the Lord sees the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7b (HCSB)

For You look deep within the mind and heart, O righteous God.
Psalm 7:9b (NLT)

In this verse David used only a few words, but he prayed with passion.  David’s prayer came from deep within his heart.  Take a look at James 5:16b (AMP):

The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man
makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].

It doesn’t say the ‘perfect’ prayer.  It doesn’t say the prayer of 100 words or more.  It says the “earnest (heartfelt, continued)” prayer.  God already knows what is on your heart.  He just wants you to share it with Him.  It doesn’t really matter how you share it, as long as you do share it with Him.  Even if you can’t put it into words or express it verbally.  Romans 8:26 (AMP) states:

So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness;
for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought,
but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf
with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance.

Prayer doesn’t have to be fancy.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  It just needs to be heartfelt.  It needs to be uttered with passion.  Even if it is only to call His name – Jesus!  God honors fervent prayers by being merciful and gracious to us.

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~   ♥   ~   *

Holy Father, I am so thankful my prayers do not have to be perfect to be heard. You know what is in my heart and You long for me to share it with You.  Thank You for the intimacy prayer brings.  Thank You for the mercy and grace you extend to me, undeserving as I am.  May I lift up my requests to You with heartfelt passion.  In Your Holy name I pray, Amen – It Is So!

Esther – Chapter 2:11-15

Chap2_1Peter3_3-5

 

Hello again, sisters!

In Esther 2:11-15, we see Esther in a rather exciting, yet anticipatory time in her life. The King is looking for a new queen, and Esther has been chosen out of many beautiful women in her province to be considered for the position. (Almost like the ultimate “Dating Game” – only the ancient royal Persian version!) Before any of the women were presented to the King for his consideration, they underwent an incredible beauty treatment – six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and cosmetics. Six months for each treatment! (Anyone complain to you about how long it takes you to get ready??  Now that’s high maintenance!)
For those of us who are married, remember when you would get ready for a date with your husband? (Some of us may have to reach back in the memory bank a bit….) For those of you who are single – think about an important date or event that caused a bit of preparation. I remember when I was dating my husband…I wanted just the right outfit, something that made me look good, but not that I was trying too hard; something appropriate for the outing. I needed the right makeup, the right shoes – you get the picture. Sometimes I would shop for something new (even though my oldest shirt would have been new to him!), and I definitely called my Mom, sister, and several friends to get their opinions on how to present myself. On date night I would spend quite some time preparing myself to put my best foot forward.  I would be nervous and excited and would count the minutes until I heard his knock on my door.  Sound familiar to any of you?
Likewise, in our own lives, we are preparing to meet our King—Jesus!  We know that when we are presented as his Bride that we want to be our best.  The wonderful difference in our scenario is that 1) we know that when we belong to Jesus, He has already accepted us, so we need not fear rejection when we meet him; and 2) Jesus is not concerned with how we look on the outside; He looks at our heart (1 Samuel 16:7).  So if Jesus is not looking for our best outfit, but looking for our best “inside person,” how do we get that ready?  What beauty treatments are going to help us make that wonderful presentation of our ultimate selves to the King?
Darlene reminds us of a lovely Scripture.

1 Peter 3:3-5 (NIV)
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands.

Now let me just put this argument to rest …. Does this Scripture say that it is unbiblical to braid your hair, wear jewelry or get dressed up?  NO.  What it says is that your beauty should not be skin deep.  Hair, jewelry, and clothes are all perishable and therefore are undependable.  They aren’t the mark of true beauty, which comes from the inside.  No one and nothing can take away your true beauty!

When the Holy Spirit is your helper (like Hegai helped Esther), and you follow His beauty advice, the result is amazing.  Galatians 5:22 tells us what a beautiful woman looks like, one who is ready to meet her King (you might also know this verse as describing the fruits of the Spirit).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Our “beauty regimen” should consist of daily cultivation of the fruits of the Spirit.  I say daily cultivation because we don’t just wake up filled with all of the patience or gentleness we will need for the rest of our lives, do we?  Every day situations will present themselves that will require us to practice those fruits.  You want patience? Be careful what you pray for – you will only develop patience when you are placed in a situation that requires you to be patient.  The same for all of the fruits. The same for our lives of submission and obedience to Christ.

Every day we will be presented opportunities to follow, to submit, to obey, and to believe. We will become better followers when we make the choice to fall in behind the leader, and then act accordingly. Not the most submissive wife yesterday? You know what? That’s ok – but be different today. Rebelling against authority figures in your life?  Choose to be different today.  Resistant to the leading of Jesus? Change and be different today!  You can’t do anything about the past except repent of it, ask God to forgive you, and then choose to act differently today!  That is how we get ready for the King.  Daily ask God – “How can You make me more beautiful today?  Holy Spirit, can You show me how to be more like Christ today? Can You show me how to be more submissive…more obedient?”  Ask, and then trust that just like Hegai, the Holy Spirit will show you exactly what is needed today to be gorgeous—a radiant light that shines for the King!

Let’s Pray:

Holy Spirit, thank You for being our ultimate Helper! Help us today to see our beauty not as the world sees it, in the outward woman, but as our Father sees it. Help us in our “beauty regimen”, to make ourselves pure, holy and beautiful for our Lord Jesus.  Forgive us when we are resistant to Your leading.  Thank You for the great example of an obedient spirit in Esther, and help us to develop our own obedient spirit!  Thank You for Your abundant blessings and protection!  In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen.

Captivating: Chapter 8 – “Beauty to Unveil – The Essence of Woman” (pp 128-132)

But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him.  For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Isn’t it amazing that when God created man and woman, He gave them different characteristics that are unique, but at the same time represent His nature?  When we look at the essence of a man, it is portrayed in strength. This is shown when men take their rightful role to provide for us, protect us, speak up for us, and shield us from emotional harm and spiritual attack.   A strong man represents the Warrior characteristic of God.

Stasi shares that strength is what the world longs to experience from a man.  “The strength of a man is first a soulish strength—a strength of heart. And yes, as he lives it out, owns it, inhabits his strength, he does become more handsome. More attractive. As the fruit of an inner reality.”

The Essence of a woman on the other hand is Beauty, which represents the Captivating side of God.  In the Captivating study guide Stasi notes that “Beauty is a hard subject for women to talk about.  Our desire for beauty has caused us countless tears and untold pain.  The world’s view of beauty is unattainable for the majority of women… and yet we long for it.”

1Sam16_7

Our longing to be beautiful has led us to compare ourselves with others.  We have bought countless magazines, tried every diet ever created, bought beauty products just because our favorite actress or model is advertising them, our hair has gone through different phases (some days we want it short and straight; other days we want it long and curly).  Still at the end of day we feel the same—we don’t feel beautiful enough, tall enough, slender enough, and the clothes don’t fit the way they did on the mannequin.

It is not wrong to look beautiful.   We decorate our homes and put flowers on the table. We wear perfume, paint our toenails, color our hair, and pierce our ears, all in an effort to be ever more beautiful.  However, much of our struggle to accept who we are comes into play when we have bought into the ideologies of the world which idolizes outer beauty.

The Bible teaches that every woman is made in the image of God.  Every woman bears His image in her heart and carries within her the very essence of Beauty.  Apart from God, beauty gets twisted, used, and abused.  Being beautiful on the outside doesn’t mean a woman has a beautiful heart.

I heard this profound statement from one of the sermons of Bishop T.D. Jakes, “What is happening on the outside is a reflection of what’s going on the inside.”

Girlfriends, Beauty starts on the inside—deep down your heart.  When you believe that you are beautiful from your heart, it comes out on the outside and it doesn’t matter whether you are wearing yesterday’s fashion or today’s trendy clothes.  Your beauty radiates on the outside and it is seen by the way you carry yourself, the smile on your face, the way you talk, and the way you view life.

Beauty that comes from the inside is what this world longs to see from us.  It is such Beauty that speaks and people listen, it invites others in and makes them want to stay forever.  It is beauty that nourishes, comforts, inspires and it is transcendent.   It is this Beauty that draws us to God.

I want to bring us to the verse in 1 Samuel 16:7.  “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him.  For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.‘” God gave Samuel an assignment to go to the house of Jesse to anoint a king.  Jesse brought out seven of his sons and paraded them for Samuel to choose.  Jesse felt that they were suitable for the job but each and every one of them was rejected.  I am sure these men were tall and handsome, muscular, and probably had a military training as some had been part of Saul’s army.  As much as their looks and build were concerned,  they should have made the cut.  However, that’s not what God was looking for.  Apparently, there was another son, the youngest of them, who was out in the wilderness taking care of sheep.  No one remembered to call for him when Samuel arrived so they had to send someone to get him.  When David came, the Lord told Samuel to anoint him as king.

David was the least among his brothers and no one took notice of him.  But the Lord did.  The Lord saw David’s heart as he took care of the sheep, the way he rescued them from the lions and the bears.  David spent his time talking to God and getting to know Him.  This time was not in vain because it was what prepared David for the role of a lifetime, Israel’s king.

This may be your story, no one has noticed you and has not seen how beautiful you are.  You are the last to get the invitation to a party—if the invitation is even sent.  You are considered as a chaperone for your sisters, the least to be offered anything.  You long for someone to see the true you.  Do not be discouraged because the Lord knows and sees your heart.  He sees how beautiful you are and He calls you His beloved.  Let your beauty shine because that is the essence of who you are.

Beauty is the most essential and, yes, the most misunderstood of all the feminine qualities. We want you to hear clearly that it is an essence every woman carries from the moment of her creation. The only things standing in the way of our beauty are our doubts and fears, and the hiding and striving we fall to as a result.”  – Stasi Eldredge

Be Blessed!

Jackie

**********

LET’S PRAY:

Dear God, You are beautiful and I believe I bear Your image.  But You know that I don’t feel very pretty let alone beautiful.  Would You please come to this place in my heart…this core place…and reveal to me Your own beauty?  Please heal the places in my heart that have been assaulted and hurt regarding beauty, and establish Your truth here.  Do You think I am beautiful? How? Why? Please help me, Jesus.  It’s in Your name that I pray.  Amen.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:

When we speak of strength as being the essence of masculinity, we are not talking about big muscles.  In the same way, when we speak of beauty as being the essence of femininity, we are not talking about a woman’s outward features.  If God dwells in your heart by faith, and God is altogether lovely, what does that say about your new heart?


If you are interested in sending Jackie a private message in regards to this blog, please email her at: Jackie@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com

GCH:decaf – A Special Prayer

GCH_decaf

I wanted to take a moment today to say how thrilled I have been to meet some of the GCH:decaf girls that have been introduced this month, here on our blog!  God is doing some amazing things in the lives of these awesome women!

I pray over all of the girls in GCH:decaf, each day, and ask the Lord to bless them.  I also pray that He will guide them, and give them wisdom.  That He will protect them from the schemes of the enemy.  That He will keep them from temptation.  These young lives are so very important to Him, and to us.

We’ve been introduced to some amazing young women over these last couple of weeks, and I just want to reach out today and pray over each one of them.

Robin with her Soccer career.  Mary Ruth and her education.  Carlia and Trinicia and the love they have for each other as sisters.  Channa and her desire to make a difference in the lives of others.  Michaela and her continued walk with the Lord.  Diamond and her desire to hear God’s voice.  Amber and her continued relationship with Christ.  Zinni and her move to the USA soon!  Rebekkah and the continued wisdom God is giving her about dating.  Tristan and the ability to just be herself.  Miss Vicky and the amazing family God has given her!

_________

Lord, I lift up each one of these young ladies and I ask that You guide them, and direct their paths.  Protect them Lord, from the worldly temptations that could lead them astray.  Give them wisdom Lord, when dealing with life issues, and continue to keep them strong in their walk with You.  I ask Lord that You protect these girls, and lead them in the direction You want them to go.  Your Words in Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that You have plans for them, to give them hope and a future.  I pray for these plans to come to fruition in their lives, Lord.  Lord, Your way is perfect, and I pray that You will keep these girls on the path that You have designed for them.

I pray Lord that You will give them strength to deny temptations of this world.  Help them to be strong when faced with peer pressure.  Help them to say no to things that You do not want for them, Lord.  Help them to recognize Satan’s tricks before it’s too late.

Give them peace and comfort when they need it, Lord.  Give them endurance and persistence, and help them remember Lord that they can do all things through YOU who strengthens them.

Lord, we love these girls so very much, and we pray for nothing more than Your perfect will to be done in their lives.  In Your precious Name, AMEN.

Girls, may God bless you and keep you; make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you.  May He lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.  We love you!  Thank you for sharing your lives with us!

Blessings,

Christi Wilson, Founder of Girlfriends Coffee Hour

_________

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Proverbs 9:9 Give [instruction] to a wise [man], and he will be yet wiser: teach a just [man], and he will increase in learning.

Isaiah 43:4a Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee.

1 Peter 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. 

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for [the LORD sees] not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.

1 Timothy 4:8 For bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

Psalm 139:14-16 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made: marvellous [are] thy works; and [that] my soul knows right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, [and] curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all [my members] were written, [which] in continuance were fashioned, when [as yet there was] none of them.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

1 John 2:15-16 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Captivating: To Be Romanced – Beauty to Unveil

 

Ok, I have a confession. When it comes to movies, I’ve subjected every man I’ve dated to watching my favorite. Unfortunately for them, it’s not an action. It’s not a comedy. And some would say it’s not even in English. To what movie can I be referring? Why, to the one and only “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.

In the movie, Lizzy, a very headstrong young woman, is notoriously independent and has an extremely quick wit. Her sister, Jane, even warns, “One of these days, Lizzy, someone will catch your eye and then you’ll have to watch your tongue.” I love that about Lizzy. She doesn’t need a man. She even turns down men and marriage proposals because she’d rather be single and destitute than live unhappily with someone for the rest of her life. But if this is where the story would end, I doubt so many women across the world would claim it as their favorite as I do. Oh yes, the story goes on.

The strong, “don’t-need-no-man” Lizzy falls in love. She falls in love with a conveniently rich and handsome gentleman by the name of Mr. Darcy. As we watch the rest of the story unfold (I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen), we also see Lizzy herself unfold. Her true heart. The heart God created in her. The heart that longed to be romanced, the adventure she yearned to join, and the beauty that she ached to unveil to one, special man. In this dramatic tale, we see many sides of Lizzy: the lover, the warrior, and beauty.

[“At some core place, maybe deep within, perhaps hidden or buried in her heart, every woman wants to be seen, wanted, and pursued.”]

Our culture tells us to be ashamed of this desire – the desire to be romanced. But why? Romancing involves vulnerability. Much like Rapunzel, it involves waiting. Waiting is not glamorous or exciting. But we must wait on God’s timing for our prince to arrive and rescue us. It’s a helpless position, and certainly not one worthy of admiration. A woman of the 21st century doesn’t need to be rescued. Certainly she can rescue herself. But how silly would the story have been if the prince never came? If Rapunzel attached her hair to a nearby tree and climbed down the tower on her own. That’s a pretty lame story if you ask me. We need the prince and the death-defying rescue to create the adventurous story that we all know and love. Thus, our stories cannot be just about ourselves, our own power, and our own will. Our stories must include other people!

[“Made in the image of a perfect relationship (the Trinity), we are relational to the core of our beings and filled with a desire for transcendent purpose. We long to be an irreplaceable part of a shared adventure.”]

So cool! And I think it’s noteworthy that this “shared” adventure doesn’t necessarily have to be shared with a man. It simply involves people! This relates directly to our purpose for life as pointed out by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-39: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

I know that God has a great adventure in store for each of us – and as women, it’s our duty to seek it. Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” We must seek Him to discover these desires – the desires that He’s laid on our hearts from our very creation.

[“Many of us have hardened our hearts to this desire, the desire to be the Beauty. We, too, have been hurt so deeply in this area that we no longer identify, perhaps even resent, the longing. But it’s there.”]

How have you been hurt? I can recall many times throughout my life when I felt more like the Beast than the Beauty. Sometimes I am consumed with these hurtful memories. Sometimes they evidence themselves when I look in the mirror or can no longer fit into my favorite pair of jeans. But the Healer and Lover of our Souls has crushed all of those hurts. He gives us strength when we have none. He restores our hearts when we rest in Him and His love. God reassures us of our TRUE BEAUTY.

 

****************

 

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, we praise You for instilling in each of us these womanly desires. Lord, we know that You knew us even before we were born, before the world even knew we would exist. Father, I pray that as each woman seeks You throughout this study, that each of us would find ourselves in You. I pray that each of us would embrace the unique and special woman who You created us to be. I pray that each of us would embrace the desires You have laid on our hearts no matter what our culture says or our hurts from the past. Heal us, restore us, and renew us, Father. We surrender our hearts, our desires, and our lives to You because You alone are worthy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Your Assignment

I absolutely love that God has given each woman’s heart these desires pointed out by Stasi and John. The best part, I believe, is that each desire manifests itself differently in each woman.

Think back on your childhood. Can you see these desires evident in a particular instance? Share your stories please!

.
Praise Him!

Carissa



If you are interested in joining this amazing online Bible study, click HERE to sign up. Once you are registered, you will receive an email with further details.

If you would like to send a personal message to Carissa in regards to this blog, you may email her at: Carissa@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

.