Ditch the Distractions and Delight in the Lord

Well it’s day two of the new year and I finally have my #oneword. Like several of you I’ve decided to forgo resolutions and focus on just one word for the year.  After much prayer, and several applicable and awesome words, I finally settled on the best word for me in this season of life, and that is delight.

I chose delight because it’s the one word that God kept bringing me back to over and over again.  More than anything else, I desire to bring God glory with my life. One way to ensure that I do that, is to delight in Him.

~Psalm 37:4~ Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

According to blueletterbible.org delight means to be happy about, and take exquisite delight in.  Merriam-Webster defines delight as a high degree of gratification or pleasure, joy, and extreme satisfaction.

The Lord wants us to find happiness, gratification, pleasure, joy, and extreme satisfaction in Him.  Not in food, family, or friends, but in fellowship with Him.

He wants us to go to the source, to be filled to overflowing so we have everything we need to pour out on those he’s entrusted us with ministering to.

The word delight is found in 50 verses in the KJV.  Some of my favorites are:

  • Psalm 94:19~ In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.  When we’re overcome with worry and have runaway thoughts, it’s helpful to talk it out with friends or family, but only the Lord and his word can bring true peace of mind and pleasure of soul.
  • Psalm 119:16~ I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. Instead of turning to my phone or to-do list, I need to remember to put time in reading and studying the word first. I just read a blog post by Gretchen Saffles from Well Watered Women about putting the #wordbeforeworld.  You can read it here: http://wellwateredwomen.com/blog/i-resolve-2018-wordbeforeworld
  • Song of Solomon 2:3~ As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons.  I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.  Instead of looking for satisfaction elsewhere, I need to sit under the shadow of my Savior who satisfies my soul with his affection, shades me from the heat of affliction, and sweetens my heart with his attention.

Delight isn’t just for us, there are a few places that delight pertains to the Lord.  Here are a few:

  • Proverbs 11:1~ A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.  The Lord delights in fairness and justice, as he is a just Judge. He gets great pleasure from us doing the right thing, and maintaining a proper balance in life.
  • Proverbs 12:22~ Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.  I had my kids memorize this verse early on, as their natural sinful tendency is to lie to keep themselves out of trouble.  Instead of confessing their wrongdoing, they would hide it or blame their siblings.  It’s not just important for our kids to know this verse though.  We need to deal truly in life, and be honest with ourselves and others. Prov. 28:13, 1John 1:9.
  • 1Samuel 15:22-23~ And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.  The Lord, as a perfect Father, delights in obedience. Stubbornness is viewed by God as iniquity and idolatry because it exalts my will above the Lord’s.  I could sacrifice so much for him, but if I ignored his gentle prompting to give him preeminence, I’d be in rebellion.

Simply put, the Lord delights in integrity. He wants our life to line up with his word, for us to be women of character.  As we start a new year, it’s the perfect time to examine our walk and see where God wants us to improve to bring him greater glory.

If I had to sum up my walk with the Lord in the past few months, the one word that would characterize me lately would be distractedThat needs to change.

Social media, shopping, shows on Netflix… they’ve all stolen my attention from my Savior. And he wants it back. Hence delight.  

Despite my failures the Lord remains faithful, compassionate, and gracious, because that is who he is.  He is such a good God!

~Psalm 103:14~ For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

I’m going to delight in the Lord by being intentional to spend time in the word before anything else gets my attention.  I’ll delight in him by replacing worry with prayer, complaining with praise, and fear with faith.  I’ll choose to feed my Spirit with the scriptures, solid biblical teaching, and spiritual songs instead of catering to the lusts of my flesh.

I’m not always going to get it right, and neither are you.  We’ll make wrong choices and be inconsistent.  At times our #oneword will be forgotten.

No matter how many times we mess up, God’s mercy endures forever.  God restores us to right fellowship when we repent of our foolishness.

~Psalm 130:4~ But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

We don’t want to look back at the end of 2018 with regret. Let’s be diligent to seek his face, disciplined over our flesh, and determined to be killin’ it all year long!

Ditch the distractions and delight in the Lord. He is worthy!

~Psalm 119:35~ Make me go in the path of thy commandments, which I have loved.

Look Back- Remember the Goodness and Grace of God

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt

As this year comes to a close and a new one begins, I can’t help but wonder what adventures await us.  2017 has been a blur of busyness and blessings! Sometimes I get so caught up in the present, and excited about the future, that I forget to take the time to look back and remember the goodness and grace of God up to the present time.

It’s important to look back and praise God for his presence, power, provision, and people he’s placed in your life.  Look back at your prayer journal and see all of the answered prayers.  Look back at where you were last January, and where you are now.

How have you grown in your faith, character, and in ministry? What trials did the Lord bring you through? Who were you able to invest in and bring closer to Christ, or who helped you grow this year?

As you look back, remember to thank God for each and every answered prayer, and divinely appointed person who had an impact on your spiritual growth.  Praise him for his goodness and grace.

Psalm 107 is a song of remembrance of all God had done for the children of Israel.  It begins with: O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever, and closes with: Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD, with 41 verses in between recounting the story of God’s deliverance, chastening, provision, and character.

There are two sets of key verses that repeat themselves, and one key word, that I think we can learn from as we look back on 2017.

Four times we see:

  • Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. (v.6)
  • Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. (v.13)
  • Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. (v. 19)
  • Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. (v.28) (emphasis mine to show the slight difference in these very similar verses.)

and

  • Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (v.8, 15, 21, 31)

(These four verses imply that the people were lacking in the area of thankful and grateful hearts. They took advantage of God’s goodness and were forgetful of his works.)

The key word is: Mercy

While it only appears as this English word one time in this psalm, the Hebrew word checed appears 6 times as:

  • mercy (v.1)
  • goodness- 4 times (vs.8, 15, 21,31)
  • lovingkindness (v.43)

Checed is goodness, kindness, faithfulness, favor, and mercy.  This psalm perfectly combines God’s character and his conduct.

Even in his chastening for their disobedience and rebellion (and ours), he is at his core and in the very essence of his being, good, loving, and kind.  That’s evident in all he does.

This psalm also showcases God’s sovereignty.  Just highlight all of the verbs related to God in these verses!  Doing so you’ll see that he redeemed, gathered, delivered, led, satisfied, filled, humbled, healed, saved, brought, and blessed (and more).

What action words can you write down to recount how God has revealed himself to you this year?  Maybe you can write your own psalm of remembrance!

As I look back on all of the answered prayers, the miracles, the faithfulness, the love, and the fruit that has come in this year, I can’t help but praise God for his checed.

Did we have some tough times? Of course.  Were there trials and tribulations? Absolutely. Have I made mistakes and missed the mark?  You betcha!  But through it all, God’s mercy endures forever.

Pause to ponder the goodness of the Lord this past year. Look back on the Lord. Even in the heartbreak and hard times, he has been faithful.

He is good and is working all things out for good.

Believe it and move forward by faith, trusting that whatever lies ahead, the same Lord who was with you this year, will be with you in the next, and the year after that until he comes again or calls you home.

~Psalm 107:9~ For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

 

Invest

A call to invest…

Psalm 145:3-5~ Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.  I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.  

There are ladies in each one of our generations who don’t know the unsearchable greatness of our God.  There are those in the next generation who haven’t heard of his mighty acts or the glorious honor of his majesty.  If we don’t tell them, who will?

No matter your age or stage of life, your purpose is the same- to glorify God by carrying the truth to the next generation. Investing truth is my passion!

The purpose of Daily His Disciple, and my ministry to other women as a whole, is to encourage women to know the word, exhort them to live the word, and equip them to invest the word.  It’s also the goal of our entire women’s ministry at New Life Baptist Church, where my husband is the pastor.  I recently started teaching a bible study I wrote based on Titus 2, simply titled Invest.  

I thought I would tie in some Saturday Study Snippets from the Daily His Disciple Facebook page, with the lessons from the Invest study, while I work on new content for the blog.

The first Saturday Study Snippet was this bible study tip: When we study the scriptures we need to ask ourselves three questions. (I’ll give you question one and two today, and the third on Saturday, so stay tuned!)

The first question is: What does the text literally mean to the people it was written to?  Basically, establish the historical context.(Here’s the entire post.)

Reading the scriptures this way, thinking about the original audience, will help you to properly interpret and apply the bible. Some great resources for determining the historical context of the scriptures are: Study Bibles, Halley’s Bible Handbook, Blue Letter Bible, or your favorite bible app.

Context of Titus:  The book of Titus is a Pastoral epistle, written by the Apostle Paul around 65 a.d. to one of his Gentile converts and fellow laborers-Titus.  Paul had left Titus in Crete to set up this local New Testament church.  He instructs him on how to select the leadership, warns him of false teachers in the area, gives the character and conduct guidelines of the people within the church, and exhorts them all to maintain good works as they eagerly await the Lord’s return.  The apostle Paul is instructing Titus to establish sound doctrine and sanctify disciples in this church in Crete.

Paul is stressing the importance of investing sound doctrine into every believer so that they are set apart from the wickedness they were in the midst of.

It’s sound doctrine that was needed to counter the false teaching.  It’s sound doctrine that corrects wrong thinking and promotes right living.  It’s sound doctrine that saves the sinner and sanctifies the saint.  It’s sound doctrine that establishes and grows a local New Testament church. 

The second study question is: How is God revealing himself, and what can I learn about God in this passage? Be intentional to look for the Lord!  Write down his attributes and actions, instead of just the principles and promises that pertain to you and your situation. (Here’s the entire post.)

God gave us his word so we can know him intimately and love him intensely.  But if we only read it to see how it applies to our lives or to get some comfort or peace for ourselves, without really seeking his presence, we’re missing out on a deeper relationship with the Author of our salvation.

 

~Titus 2:3-5~ The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Using our study snippet on this passage, we can learn so much about God:

  • He cares about the needs of women
  • He knows the areas we struggle with the most
  • He has a divine design for women
  • He knows we need relationships with other women
  • He is holy
  • He has a holy standard for his daughters 
  • He cares about our husbands and children
  • He is serious about his word

In three short verses we have a better understanding of our caring, holy, omniscient God!  Imagine how well we would know him if we were intentional about investigating the scriptures instead of merely reading them.  I’ll have the next question and more from the Invest study coming at ya later. In the meantime, start utilizing these two study snippets, and see how your knowledge and understanding of not only the scriptures, but also of the Savior matures.

~2Timothy 2:15~ Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

From Worry to Worship~ Shifting your focus from the “What ifs” to “What is”

Worry= a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.  

I was in this state of anxiety this week.

With the holiday,  battling writer’s block, and a tight schedule, I’ve gotten so behind on the blog. I also need to work on the first e-book I’ve started, and revamp my bible study material to teach the ladies at church. Along with that is a nagging sense of pressure to produce transparent pieces that minister to women on a practical level.  Writing is hard y’all!

As I brooded over all I needed to get done, the “what ifs” started popping in.  Things like “what if I get weeks behind on the blog, what if I lose my inspiration completely, what if I never get to finish that e-book, and what if I’m not prepared when it comes time to teach?”

Through some prayer partners, fellow writers, and in my daily time with Jesus, the Lord brought it to my attention that this was all self-inflicted worry.  I placed all these expectations on myself.  Standards without flexibility, giving myself no grace. (Have I mentioned I’m a recovering perfectionist?)

I had to go back and re-read my post on Proper Perspective, and re-apply the truth I had just taught. I needed to be reminded to rest in the Lord, remain in his word, and rely on his Spirit.

God has given me this platform to proclaim the word and help women to know, live, and invest the truth.  He gives me every post, I just have to make sure I’m tuned into his leading through my quality time with him every day.  My job is to put the time in studying, praying, and living out the things I teach.  His job is everything else.

His timing is perfect, and so is his track record. I just need to trust him.

Maybe you’re as forgetful as I am, and you’ve had a similar experience lately.  Times where you find yourself wandering down the rabbit trail of “what ifs” when God desires you to stand firm on the path of “what is“.

Worry is a common stronghold for women.  We crave control, we’re problem solvers, we like to get things done.  So in the unknown that characterizes our walk of faith, it’s easy to fall into the snare of the “what ifs”. If you’re a:

  • Mom– What if my kids don’t get saved; live a life of sin; get cancer; die before me…
  • Wife– What if my husband cheats on me; leaves me; doesn’t get that job; doesn’t walk with Jesus…
  • Daughter– What if my parents get sick; I’m the only one to take care of them; I can’t afford their medicine…
  • Friend– What if they gossip about me; find a new friend; they like someone else more than me…
  • Worker– What if I don’t get enough hours; lose that promotion; get fired; can’t pay my bills…

We could sit and dwell for days on all the different scenarios that could happen.  But where’s the profit in that?  We don’t gain anything other than a few more wrinkles and alot of irritability.

What the Lord wants us to do is to think soberly about the circumstances of life, to discipline our thinking, so that we can worship him freely, without the restraints of unnecessary fears.

Jesus addressed worry in Matthew 6:25-34.  You should read it.  He starts and ends this passage with “take no thought”– basically don’t worry about the things of this life.  God is a perfect provider and will meet all your needs,  you can count on it.

~Matthew 6:33~ But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 

Don’t panic over your problems, put time in with Jesus.  Pray over it all, praise him for who he is and what he has done.  Proclaim the promises of what he will do.

Walk by faith and not by sight.

The apostle Paul also gave us instructions for winning the war with worry:

~1Corinthians 10:5~ Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Instead of stewing over situations outside of your control, and imagining things that may never happen, arrest those thoughts and apply the truth. Put your mind in submission to the word of God.

~Philippians 4:8~ Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Shifting our focus from the “what ifs” to “what is” true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtue, and praise, will naturally turn our hearts from worry to worship as we recount all the ways God is present, powerful, and perfect.

Even if you’re facing great uncertainty, a scary diagnosis, a wayward child, marital problems, or are buried under the weight of a busy schedule, no matter what- God is faithful. 

The Lord is willing and able to provide you with everything you need to extinguish worry before it engulfs you.  You have to be intentional to be sober minded and turn your thoughts toward him. Go from worry to worship today!

~Philippians 4:6-7~ Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Thankfulness 

Giving thanks for so many things today!

From my handsome and hardworking husband, to my four fantastic children who love Jesus, and the team of faithful followers we’re blessed to be able to do life and ministry with- my cup overflows!

Every day isn’t all sunshine and lollipops, but it’s a blessed life.

I’m grateful for the grace of God that supplies the strength we need to glorify him every day. He is so good to us!

There was a time when things weren’t so great though. My husband and I had kids and were married very young. We basically all grew up together.

We loved each other the best we could, but we were two selfish sinners endlessly seeking our own way. Needless to say, it was a rough ride for a long time.

You can click on the link below to read the rest of our story. It’s my first guest post I wrote for Inspirational Life. I hope it’s a blessing to ya! Be sure to checkout some of Rachel Lane’s posts on that blog as well. 🙂

Thanksgiving blessings,

Annie

p.s. If you’re in a troubled marriage, don’t lose hope. Jesus is in the miracle-working business! He repairs, restores, redeems, and revives relationships that are designed to bring him glory. He did it for us and he can do the same for you! Put Christ at the center of all you do, and pray without ceasing.

~Proverbs 3:5-6~ Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

via Thankfulness