Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:7-8
Thank you for your instructional word! Please Lord, through your powerful Spirit, help us to submit to your authority, as well as resist the temptations or arrows of our enemy. As we do these things, thank you for the promises that the devil will flee and you will draw near. Amen.
It's been 34 years since I said "yes" to my man.
He had just pulled an all-nighter as a medical resident in a Memphis hospital. I had driven from Jackson, MS to visit him for the weekend in his home town, Hernando, where he was temporarily staying at his parents.
We were sitting on his grandmother's porch swing next door...
A small country town,
a white farm house,
a definite southern charm.
We were swinging slow; I was hoping much.
There were no hidden photographers, no cell phones in our hands, no thought of recording the event,
just him... and me...and a ring in his pocket.
After some small talk about nothing and then large talk about big things, he then quoted Proverbs 18:22: He who finds a wife finds a good thing...
Then, he got on one knee and told me something--I don't remember what it was, but it was sweet.
The next question was only 4 words, but at the same time, it was life-altering. After only 3 months of dating him, Mac asked, "Will you marry me?"
Wow, I had waited for this;
I had dreamt about this,
and here I was, living this!
Of course I said "yes," not in the least bit knowing what that meant other than a ring on my finger and an "I do" at the altar.
My dreams hadn't gone past my wedding day.
We got up from the porch swing and knocked on his Mimi's screen door. She was the first one to see the ring; the first to hug us; the first to congratulate us. It was a memorable celebration of three.
Shortly afterwards, I was met with an embrace from Mac's mama who was waiting at their house. I remember her saying, with her thick southern accent and deep rooted faith, that she had been praying for me, Mac's future wife, for years, and she was so thankful that God answered her prayer through me.
Those life-giving words filled my cup, and they didn't cost a dime.
The good news spread...by the house telephone that was attached to a wall. Excitement was in the air rather than on a feed.
Wedding plans were made, mostly by my task-oriented mama, some specifics by my dreamy self. Next came showers and gifts, southern style. (Anybody need a sliver tray, silver tea set, silver place settings?)
And so, just like that, we were married in my growin'-up-church in Jackson, MS, six months later to the day.
Mac and I have come a long way together these 34 years.
Lots of life. Lots of growth. Lots of change.
It's a different world than way back when I said "yes" to my man.
But if he were to ask me to marry him again now, I would hope he would do it the exact same way.
Just him...and me, and a ring in his pocket.
Yesterday morning,I went on a brisk walk. I needed a slight attitude adjustment and I thought some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise would help me out. Interestingly, but not conveniently, while I was in my forward progression down the street, so was a neighborhood garbage truck. It was rather uncanny; my pace and the truck’s duties seemed to line up perfectly. The large truck would stop to collect garbage while I moved ahead; but then, it would invariably catch up with me, and we’d be side by side again. This systematic timing went on and on. I turned right, and to my disgruntlement, so did the garbage truck. I couldn’t seem to escape its route or the awful smell that went along with it.
While breathing in the not-so-fresh-air, my mind made a connection: What if our thoughts and emotions had smells attached to them? What if the age-old phrase, your attitude stinks, were actually true in the heavenly realm? What odor would worry put off? Or bitterness? Or unforgiveness? 2 Timothy 2:16-17 refers to empty chatter spreading like gangrene—now that’s stinky for sure!
How do we rid ourselves of the “stink?” Soon after my walk, the Lord directed me to these verses: O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! May my prayer be counted as incense before you; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering (Psalm 141:1-2). Can it be that our prayers “smell good” to God?
I looked further into “incense offerings” and found Exodus 30:7-8: And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on (the altar). Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. My bible’s commentary explained that the incense represented the prayers and praises of God’s people. Also, the incense helped extinguish the smell of the dead animals that had just been sacrificed. With the explanation of this ancient practice, here is my present-day thought: maybe when we lay down our worry, pride, bitterness, or you-name-it-stinky-sin, and change them into prayers instead, then these new words become the fragrance that rises to heaven.
Today, let’s rid ourselves of the garbage-truck-odors, and then replace them with a lovely aroma of prayer instead. For me:
I will lay down worrying about my children, and instead, pray for each one of them by name.
I will lay down resentment towards my coworker, and instead, ask God to bless him.
I will lay down negativity, and instead, lift up praises to the One who gives me breath.
It’s humbling to think that our words can be counted as incense before the Lord. Let’s trust that he not only enjoys the sound of our voices, but that he also delight sin the sweet fragrance of our uplifted prayers.
Overthinking is under-trusting. This phrase came to me in the wee hours of the morning as I was tossing and turning over something HUGE in my life. Ironically, I now don’t even remember the reason for my fretting. At the time, however, I was all twisted up, both in my bedcovers and in my mind as I took turns playing the ShouldI/ Shouldn’t I and What if games. I’m not only the queen of second-guessing,I’m the queen of 222nd-guessing.
When I toss and turn, I’m like that double-minded individual that’s mentioned in Scripture who asks for wisdom but doubts when receiving it. “For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James1:7-8).
What is the remedy to these unnecessary wrestling matches within my mind? Here are three thoughts that helped me remember where to turn:
1. Choose to trust God’s promises.
It’s one thing to know God’s promises, but it’s another thing to believe them. In times of confusion, will I cling to God’s truth or will I hold onto my fabrications? Questions such as these: What if I’m making a mistake in this decision, or, Did I really hear from God, can be replaced with promises such as this: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you”(Psalm 32:8). In this verse alone, God is promising to instruct me…to teach me… to counsel me. So instead of twirling with anxiety, I can repeatedly thank him for these promises and then walk confidently by faith in his leading.
2. Choose to trust God’sSpirit.
I confess: I tend to overthink his Spirit. Sadly, this fleshly pause can sometimes lead to complete withdrawal. When God’s whisper enters my heart, nudging me to do his will, my choice is to either press forward in faith or shrink back in fear. Even if I happen to be “mis-hearing”him, can I not trust my Good Shepherd enough to lead me back onto his right path? Certainly, I can! He is that good. I must remember, God looks at my faith-filled heart, rather than my flawless steps.
3. Choose to trust wise friends and mentors.
These carefully selected people can help confirm God’s truth in my life. Sharing my thoughts with those who will listen, encourage, advise, and pray is a built-in blessing from God. He knows we need each other!
With these things in place, no moreover-thinking! No more tossing and turning with needless mind-games! Instead, fully trust! Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. (Jeremiah 17:7). It’s time for me to follow God’s lead without hesitation.
Will you join me? We’ve got kingdom work to do—no doubt about it.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your living word and your abiding Spirit. Thank you for wise friends and mentors that you have placed in my life. In times of over-thinking, help me to recall your truths and trust your voice. Keep my heart in line with yours and make my footsteps firm. I want to move forward in faith every single day, confidently living for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Forty Day Journey of Prayer is a devotional that helps guide the reader into a daily conversation with God. Each day begins with a focused-Bible verse or passage and then is followed by insights pertaining to it. Journal lines are provided to write out prayer requests and personal thoughts. As one commits to reading God's word and praying in this way for forty days, his/her relationship with the Lord will then be marked with both sweetness and strength.
Forty Day Journey of Peace is a devotional that takes the reader on a quest to find out what brings God's peace. It is divided into three sections: peace with God, peace within, and peace with others. Each day focuses on a selected Bible passage so the reader can discover and apply new insights. Further Scripture references and journal lines are provided to enhance and deepen the participant's journey of peace.
What if a secret to having a life-long marriage was to simply start out with healthy habits between husband and wife from the the very beginning? Or, what wisdom can a wife in her tenth or twentieth year of marriage gain as a refresher in her relationship with her husband? Chris Baxter's Twenty-five Years, Twenty-five Lessons: Letters to a Bride from a Seasoned Wife is a beautiful gift book written for wives of all ages. Within the106 pages of this decorative coffee table book are twenty-five valuable lessons that Chris learned throughout her marriage. Some of the subjects discussed are: putting on love, resolving conflict, laughing often, having a healthy hobby, and prayer. These Scripture-based lessons are written in letter-form to a specific young bride which easily engages the reader on a personal level. The twenty-five lessons are accompanied with lovely watercolor wreaths, luring the reader's eyes from one page to the next. This book is both beautiful in form, and magnificent in Words.