Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Further Still

“And He went on further still,
and fell on His face, and prayed….”
Matthew 26:39
Have you ever felt God calling you “further still” with Him? It is those times when He is ministering to you so personally and so deeply, and gently calling you to go further in your relationship with Him.  Trusting only Him in the raw pain of betrayal or hurt. 

These Gethsemane seasons of “further still with God” are places where it’s just you and Him as He beckons you to step into deeper levels of intimacy and trust. As you pray and search His scriptures, you listen for and hear His still, small voice. During these “further still” seasons with God, He matures your faith, broadens your trust, and reveals intimate treasures from His heart to yours. It’s a beautiful time when you crave and desperately need less of the world and more of Him.

Extended time in prayer with our Heavenly Father brings clarity and comfort during these seasons. Just as Jesus was called further still with God, He labored in prayer. "The betrayal and arrest of Jesus was preceded by an extended time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. As He stepped out of the garden to present Himself to His enemies, Jesus had been alone praying and agonizing for hours." Anne Graham Lotz

I have been in those “further still” seasons with God. He calls me out of my comfort zone into unfamiliar, but prepared and safe places. Whether it is presenting myself to my "enemies" or charting new ground with the Lord, He calls me to bravely trust Him and His perfect plan.

During those seasons, He tenderly lifts my head so I fix my gaze upon Him alone. My husband lovingly gives his counsel to me, and my sisters in the Lord pray on my behalf. I am so thankful for my husband and friends, yet I know that as God calls me “further still,” I am the one who has to continue stepping forward with confidence and trust in Him. No one can do that for me. He reminds me to look to Him alone, to seek to please Him and not people.

It is a time of His refreshing and necessary cleansing. In his book Reflecting His Image, KP Yohannan writes, “You see, when it is only God and you, you are more apt to face your pride and your sins. With everyone else we argue these things away and look wonderful and smile. But when we are all alone before God, we face ourselves, and the cleansing and purification will take place. We become less phony the more we are with the Lord.”

Is God calling you further still today? Our Heavenly Father is completely faithful and entirely trustworthy. He stands with His strong and loving arms opened wide beckoning you to take steps of faith in your walk with Him. Though the place you step may be unfamiliar, remember He has gone before you. He wants you to see more of Him – His flawless character and His amazing love. He has a heart full of treasures to unearth for you.
"For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid...for I myself will help you,' declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."
Isaiah 41:13, 14

© 2011 by Sharon Sloan. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sitting In The Sycamore Tree

Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. (Luke 19:1-7)

Sitting in the sycamore tree today, I know Jesus is coming...I am on His path. He looks directly into my eyes and speaks to me face-to-face and invites me to have Him as a guest in my home.  The most highly-honored Guest to dwell in my heart, I receive Him with great joy.  If ever a self-invited guest was welcome in my heart and home, it is Jesus. 

He is coming my way, just like He did with Zacchaeus, and the woman at the well, and so many others. 

Today, I am asking for His salvation to come.  Eternal salvation I already possess, by His grace and mercy.  In Him, I am completely secure.  So, I look for His saving grace today.

Perched in the sycamore tree, I have postured myself to see His movement, His work, His salvation in a difficult situation.  I look to Him because in the pain and unfairness, He will cleanse my heart.  Placing my heart on His sacred threshing floor, I ask Him to create a pure heart in me.

Waiting on Him, I long to hear His whispers, "Make haste and come...I have salvation today."  While I could get lost in the confusion and hurt, He calls me to Himself and saves me.

Sitting in the sycamore tree, looking and waiting for Him.  Trusting and resting in His perfect love and sovereignty. 

Though there is a chaotic crowd around that could cause me to lose my view of Him, I have climbed up the sycamore tree where I quietly sit and wait for Him.  

The view is beautiful from here because I know He is mindful of me and sees me. Amazing love. Forever grace.

I know I won't be here long, and I am glad because He knows I am afraid of heights.  I could be scared, but I choose to trust, to wait, to know.  For I know in Whom I trust.  His embrace, His salvation, His grace...He is on the way. 

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house...for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Luke 19:9-10

Monday, November 7, 2011

All That and A Bag of Chips

"When we see and recognize God in the details of our lives,
our intimacy with Him is deepened."
~ Charles Stanley
One morning late in the Summer of 2007, during my quiet time with the Lord, He put a few things on my heart that He wanted me to do.  I jotted them down on a notepad I keep at my devotion spot. Now, this doesn't happen frequently, but that morning I knew He had a few specific "divine assignments" for me. (It is remarkably humbling and exciting that He uses us as vessels, isn't it?)

"Send chips to Lysa TerKeurst" was the first assignment for me. Yes, that's what He impressed on my heart. I've gotta tell ya....I did wrestle with the Lord a bit on this. "Chips, Lord? You want me to send chips? I have never sent anyone chips! That seems so random.  Can't I send her some cute note cards or some pretty earrings?  What woman wouldn't love that? You really want me to send chips? This is a little embarrassing!! Why would someone want to receive chips randomly?" 

I knew it was Him whispering to my heart. So, I was resolved to obey and send the chips after dipping myself in the Word and knowing "to love is to obey." (1 John 14) However, still feeling a bit red-faced about how Lysa would feel about receiving potato chips randomly, I didn't rush to obey in sending the chips.

My stubborn pride was rearing its ugly Potato Face head.

Each morning after my quiet time, I would look at my note: Send chips to Lysa. "Yes, Lord, I will.  I'll get to that." 

Finally, after a few weeks of my putting that assignment off, the Lord mercifully spoke to my heart "Sharon, send the chips TODAY!"  I am thankful for His patience. "OK, I get it Lord. Today is the day. I know I am obeying you, so the purpose of this somewhat embarrassing, random chip-sending assignment is in Your faithful hands."

It had been on my "Summer Fun Things To Do List" for several summers to take our two children to the Herr's Snack Factory for a tour, which is just an hour from our home. In August 2007, just a week or so before receiving this blessing-to-serve assignment from the Lord, I was moved one morning and I called my mom and said, "Mom, we are coming to pick you up...we are going to Herr's Factory today with the kids!" It's no mistake that, after wanting to do this for several summers, a day in late August 2007 was the day we spontaneously did it. It was shortly thereafter that God told me to "send chips" and I was freshly familiar with the variety of Herr's chips!

Getting on-line to
www.herrs.com I ordered a box of 42 snack-size bags of chips to send to Lysa. I did have fun picking out the varieties and flavors I thought the TerKeurst Family might enjoy, but the nagging thought of "this seems so random" lingered in my head.

When I finished my order, the Herr's site indicated it would take up to 7-10 days to fill the order, and then several more days for it to ship and arrive at the TerKeursts. That seemed fine to me. They weren't expecting the chips, so it was no rush really. According to Herr's customer service, they'd get them in a few weeks. I made a mental note of it and exited the site. My heart was content knowing I had obeyed the Lord (albeit tardily). I was, however, still wondering what Lysa would think about randomly receiving CHIPS!

The NEXT DAY, I received an e-mail from Herr's customer service advising me that the order was processed and had SHIPPED. IN ONE DAY!

TWO DAYS AFTER THAT, I received an automatic e-mail from UPS telling me that the CHIPS had been delivered! In 3 days from when I placed the order, it was processed and the chips were delivered to Lysa's front porch! Again, I noted this in my head but did not have any idea the significance of it all. To be honest, I thought business at Herr's and UPS must be pretty slow to have handled this so efficiently in 3 days!

In reality, the workers at Herr's and UPS were unknowing servants of our awesome God to answer Lysa's prayer and carry out His command to me.

My heart was at peace knowing the chips had arrived and that I had obeyed the Lord. The joy and peace that accompanies obedience was good enough for me. I thanked Him and went on with life, content with that quiet little treasure in my heart between Him and me.

A week or so after getting the e-mail notification from UPS, and just after arriving home from a scrapbook retreat with my girlfriends, I read the CHIP STORY (click here)  on Lysa's blog. Literally, my jaw dropped and I lost my breath. Oh my! Here, Lysa had whispered a quiet prayer to the Lord about CHIPS!  Her daughter had requested a variety of chips for her school lunches, and Lysa wanted to bless and honor her daughter's request.  Lysa wrote how the chips were "a love letter straight from the Lord! He loves me, cares about me, fills in my many gaps, and loves for me to experience Him in the most wondrous ways."

Chips! Yes, indeed, He wanted me to send CHIPS! And in His grace and mercy, even in my delayed obedience, He delivered the chips to her porch on time and at the exact moment it would speak to her heart of His love, faithfulness and provision!

Tears streamed down my face! "Chips, Lord, chips! You wanted me to send chips! You reached down from heaven to put chips on the porch of a mommy who wanted to bless her daughter and fulfill her request for some chips for her school lunches. You filled in a gap for that mom. You care about chips, Lord! You care about the details of our lives! You love us so intimately and so perfectly! Thank you, Lord! Thank you that you spoke to my heart and entrusted this precious divine assignment to me! Thank you that you confirm to me that Your sheep hear Your voice, and that you want to use me, Lord. Thank you, Lord, for letting me see the fruit of obedience."

"Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are His deeds, and His righteousness endures forever. He has caused His wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate...the works of His hands are faithful and just." Psalm 111:2-4, 7

"I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; You display Your power among the peoples. With Your mighty arm You redeemed Your people." Psalm 77:11-15

May God be glorified and may our relationships with Him grow deeply intimate as we testify about His deeds on our behalf. And what a joy to be part of God's answer to a quiet prayer of another mom four states away!  God bless my very salty friend Lysa!

He is involved in the details! His love is ALL THAT AND A BAG OF CHIPS!

"He gave me understanding in all the
details of the plan."
1 Ch. 28:19 (NIV)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Guest List

“Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’”
Luke 14:12-14 (NIV)

My husband and I were on the “B List” for a particular wedding banquet.  Honestly, we were excited to be on the guest list at all, so being “B List” guests did not insult us. Someone we watched grow up was getting married. Their parents were prominent in the local community and several hundred people could have easily been on the guest list for their child’s wedding. We were honored by the invitation, even as "B List" guests.

Creating guest lists can be difficult. The above verse from Luke 14 teaches godly guest list etiquette. Jesus tells us that when we have a banquet to “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.” As a woman who enjoys hosting birthday parties for our children and gatherings for our family and friends, guest lists have become something sacred to me. They are an offering to the Lord. Jesus says to look beyond the obvious guests on your list, such as family and close friends, and reach out to the outcasts and downtrodden.

While there may not be those who are physically crippled, lame or blind in our lives, there are those who are hurting, who feel unwanted and unworthy of an invitation.

When my children and I make their party guest lists together, we prayerfully ask the Lord to put those on our hearts who would be blessed by receiving an invitation. Perhaps a friend who is not able to host birthday parties themselves. Or someone who is dealing with paralyzing emotional pain. Maybe someone whose parents are going through a divorce. Perhaps a friend who is shy and tends to be socially isolated. Or the one who has rough edges, is not easy to be around and doesn’t see God’s loving acceptance of them. The poor, the lame, the crippled and the blind.

Truth is, without Jesus and His redemptive love, we are all “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.”

Even in Christian circles, we can feel like the outcast or the unwanted guest. We’ve all experienced that “I wasn’t invited” feeling. An invitation speaks of acceptance, inclusion, care, love, worth and friendship. God’s Word tells us to extend invitations to unassuming guests.

The Lord of Hosts lovingly beckons us to come to His wedding banquet. As we unfold and accept His invitation, we are seated at the table of the King. Just as we are chosen by God to be guests of honor at His eternal celebration, let’s invite unlikely guests and place them at the top of our own guest lists. You are honoring God by inviting the poor, lame, crippled and blind. “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31, NIV). And to add to the joy of honoring God, He has promised us that “you will be blessed…you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14, NIV).

 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.’”
Luke 14:23

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Hebrews 13:2

“So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table.”
Jeremiah 52:33
Your Devotional Journal
Saying grace ~ Bringing my heart to God in prayer.

My Portion ~ Where Has God met me in His Word today?

Nourishment ~ How does God want to mold and change my heart?

Second Helpings ~ Where does God want me to be a doer of the Word and take action?

Time for Dessert ~ What can I share with others from what God showed me today?

"You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the LORD your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you..."
Joel 2:26

Monday, October 31, 2011

Letting Our Light Shine Bright Tonight!

Like the cold of snow in time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him, for he refreshes the soul of his masters.
Proverbs 25:13

We enjoyed an autumnal snow storm here in Bucks County Pennsylvania this past weekend!  It was beautiful to see the snow on crimson-colored leaves and orange pumpkins.  God indeed holds the treasuries of snow!  For He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth’... (Job 37:6)

Today ~ Halloween ~ the one day a year all of our neighbors come and visit out home.  Our heart and doors are opened wide as we say "welcome".  As unto the Lord, we desire to make the most of these brief visits.  CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW WE WANT TO LET OUR LIGHTS SHINE!


Congratulations to Aaron Michelle Pentz -- the winner of "I Used To Be So Organized" by Glynnis Whitwer! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Order and Peace ~ Book Give Away!

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
1 Corinthians 14:33

"I Used to Be So Organized ~ Help for Reclaiming Order and Peace".  To be honest, I'd buy Glynnis Whitwer's newest book just for the title:  "I Used to Be So Organized"!  I feel like that describes me in a nutshell in this season of my life!  And I LOVE the cover of her book with the mismatched shoes!!

The old saying must be wrong.  You indeed can judge a book by its cover ~ this book is fabulous!

Glynnis' book, with a biblical and practical approach for reclaiming order and peace in the lives of Christian women, is giving me a sense of freedom and joy.  I feel normal again!  There is hope!

Each morning I pray Psalm 90:17 to the Lord and ask Him to establish, bless and make fruitful the work of my heart and hands that HE has for my day.  "And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands."  Psalm 90:17(NKJV)  As Christian women,  we desire to honor God in our lives and with our time and God-given gifts.  "I Used to Be So Organized" reminds us how His beauty is so graciously upon our lives as we allow Him to establish the work of our hearts and hands.

In her book, Glynnis shares biblical insights and boundaries for re-establishing order in our lives.  She helps us identify "time wasters" and walks us through the process of de-cluttering our hearts and homes.  Her tips for organization and for making our homes functional and yet welcoming re-energize us to live our lives with excellence for the purposes and glory of God.

I am giving away a copy of Glynnis' new book here at His Table For Two!  Just leave your name and a way to contact you should you win.  The winner will be announced on Monday morning, so comments are welcome through Sunday night!

The girls in my Gather & Grow Bible Study group all received Glynnis' book last Friday.  Already I have received exciting feedback. One of the gals asked if she could get eight more of them to give to her friends!  She said, "I usually don't stick with a book and finish reading it, but I can't put this one down!"  The content of Glynnis' book meets the expectations of the great title and cover!

Happy Weekend Everyone!  Make generous time for Him and meet with Him in His Word ~ you will be filled at His table!

I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out Your precepts.
Psalm 119:45

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Love Gave ~ Love Gives

 For God so loved the world that He gave
His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him
should not perish
but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

God is love. 
1 John 4:8

Love gave.  Love gives.  From Genesis to Revelation, I love how we are shown how God gave and gives.  He gives life.  He gives love.  Gracious, merciful, perfect giving.

And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food".
Genesis 1:29

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants...
Revelation 1:1

And it makes sense that He gives because everything belongs to Him.

Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God,  the earth with all that is in it.
Deuteronomy 10:14

Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.
John 17:7

We can give our most precious gifts without spending a penny ~ gifts of prayer, grace, love, friendship, time.  Love gives.  May we love well and in such a way that honors Him. 

As we prepare for the Christmas season and celebrating Christ's birth, we are giving here too at His Table For TwoThe Simple and the Significant ~ Untangling Christmas!  Congratulations to the two winners from Monday's post:

Edna Atongrind
And a serendipitous special bonus winner ~ Cyndee!!!

Congratulations girls! If we have not connected yet, please email me at histablefortwo@live.com !

And if you are not a winner here, you can still order Karen and LeAnn's book at http://www.untanglingchristmas.org/!

Share a scripture about how God's love gives!  We may just have another serendipitous winner!

God gave him rest all around.
2 Chronicles 20:30

For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave...
Isaiah 43:3

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
John 1:2

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her...
Ephesians 5:25

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.
2 Peter 1:3

Monday, October 17, 2011

Untangling Christmas ~ The Significant and The Simple

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12-12

The Significant and the Simple:  the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.  Christ, the Lord, our Redeemer.

Celebrating the Significant, the Gift, during the Christmas season usually leaves us stressed rather than blessed.  Simplicity gives way to chaos and our joy can be zapped. But before the hustle and bustle gets in full swing, let's take a collective big breath...there is hope!
Recently, I was invited to review a book by my friends Karen Ehman and LeAnn Rice, Untangling Christmas ~ Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holiday.  What a joy!  I loved the book AND I got a jump start to Christmas preparations!

Untangling Christmas is filled with great ideas for celebrations, gift wrapping, inexpensive presents and recipe planning.  Best of all, though, Karen and LeAnn remind us to daily keep our hearts before the Lord, who was born in the precious stable and laid in a manger, such that our hearts are truly peaceful and joyful during the Christmas season and beyond.

Love gives.  That is clear throughout God's Word.  So in the spirit of love and in excited anticipation of the Christmas season, TWO Untangling Christmas ebooks are being given away here on His Table For Two this week!

Simply leave a comment and tell us in one sentence what is most Significant for you in your Christmas traditions and celebrations.  Also, be sure to leave your contact information (if I can't reach you through a blog of your own) and mention if you would like the ebook in PDF form, Nook or Kindle version if you are a winner. 70 days until Christmas... 

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”John 4:10  

Friday, October 14, 2011

How Are You? ~ by Samantha Reed

He sent His word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destructions.
Psalm 107:20

I'd like to introduce you to my sweet friend, Samanth Reed.  The Lord blessed me serendipitously with this unexpected friendship.  While I probably could be Sam's mother (by age), she graciously sees me like as older sister in the Lord.  Connected by heartstrings, though we are distanced by miles, Sam's humor, encourgement, humility and love reach through the computer screen and touch my heart. Her writing is uniquely beautiful as she shares her heart for the Lord with tangible transparency.
Sheila, Me and Samantha (July 2011)

Samantha hails from the North… but was raised in the South. Perhaps this unique medley of accents, food and temperature inspires her to write. She muses at Fields of Gold, is a contributor to Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Daily Devotions and is working on mixing her Yankee Belle experiences in her first novel.

Welcome Samantha Reed as she dips into God's Word...

How Are  You?

How are you? I’m posed this question many times a day, but haven’t delved into the truth lately. Cause truth is, there are only a few I want to be that honest with. And those I generally share the depths with are wading through extenuating circumstances. Filled to capacity, they’ve needed a place to pour out.

Cupped hands catch their words, worries, wants. Until my hands are heavy. I’m weary from taking in and not pouring myself out in return. I understand; they don’t have it to give right now. Yet, hour upon hour of listening… I’m not sure I have it to give right now either.

Irony is, my very name means “Listener.” Double irony is my life verse from 2010: “whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25). But I can not take more into a soul cram-full. And I can not pour out what is not there. I’m completely full, yet totally empty.

And so I selfishly check out in the name of self-preservation; retreat into myself, away from their words weighted with pain and trouble and questions. Distance my being from all words. Until the Word beckons me with cupped hands large enough to hold my needy soul, friend’s worn circumstances, the thin world.

I pour into the Word, a beautiful dip with crevices to hold my words. “How are you?” He asks.

I’m weary, Word. I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

I feel alone, Word. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

I can’t take much more, Word. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I pour out, He pours in. An ebb and flow more natural than the ocean’s tides. My needy soul needs His words; Him: The Word.

Over 4000 responded to this quote on Facebook, “Sometimes the girl who’s always been there for everyone else, needs someone to be there for her.” This tells me I’m not the only one looking for larger cupped hands to pour myself into. Can’t help but wonder… does this pull on a corner of your heart too?

Friend, community is God-given. But friend’s and family’s ability to be leaned on will ebb and flow. Hence our soul’s deepest need: friendship with the Lord. {Inhale deeply that delight: we’re friends with God.} Friends with the unchanging nature of the Word, Jesus. "For I the LORD do not change” (Malachi 3:6).

Will you take His cupped hand, reaching out to hold you, your cares, your friends and family members? Take His hand and take a walk through Him, the Word. Pour your truthful answers into Him and pour yourself into the fields of Scripture. Refreshment awaits. He’s asking, “How are you?”

{Hey friend… how are you? Can we create an online community here today to encourage? Please leave a comment letting us know how you are. Then leave a comment with a prayer for the person who commented before you. Thanks, friend!} ~ Samantha

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Blameless Heart

“I will walk in my house with a blameless heart.”

Psalm 101:2b (NIV)

Living a life of godly integrity happens within the walls of our own homes first. That’s really where we are authenticated. For me, what God sees and knows of me in my home and with my family is most important to me, rather than how others perceive me elsewhere. If I am living a life surrendered to Him inside my home and with my family, that life will flow naturally and freely everywhere else. It will be genuine and self-evident.

God sees and meets me when I spend quiet time with Him. God sees me when I love and serve my husband with respect and joy. God sees me when I handle His Word with tenderness and invest it into my children’s hearts. He also sees me when I fail miserably in these areas and fall to my knees for forgiveness as my heart aches with the godly sorrow that leads to repentance and thus brings forth His life. He sees and knows the real me.

If my husband sees and knows that I am seeking God daily and abiding in Him continually, then my heart is at rest and filled with joy knowing he has confidence in me. He knows I desire an authentic life before our God and in our home. My husband’s confidence in me because I love and fear the Lord is priceless. I want the same to be true of me as it is written about the Proverbs 31 woman. “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” Proverbs 31:11 (NIV) I want to be that crown on his head and jewel around his neck, and that must happen in our home with deep authenticity. It doesn’t happen in social settings with shallow facades.

We know that a wise woman seeks to have a blameless heart in her home. “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1 (NIV) The destructive hands of pride and selfishness will tear apart the beautiful gifts with which God has entrusted me. I so earnestly want to be the wise woman building up my home and family.

Walking with a blameless heart is a standard set by God, and I am reminded of that moment-by-moment (especially when I am grumpy!). The study note in my NIV Bible explains that blameless is “spiritual and moral integrity”. (Blue Letter Bible:  Psalm 101:2)  Even when we really blow it and our uglies are everywhere, our godly integrity, born by His grace and out of a vibrant relationship with Him, brings us back to a humble heart before the Lord. When we fail, God and those around us will see our true remorse and desire to be right with Him and with those we have offended. 

For a gal like me, to have a blameless heart and to  "pursue holiness" (Hebrews 12:14 NKJV) seem like lofty ambitions.  Yet, what a relief that God has wonderfully designed us to depend on Him for our godly integrity. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)  Abiding in His truth and yielding to the Holy Spirit, we can walk with a blameless heart and a clear conscience before Him in our own homes and beyond our four walls.  What peace and freedom that brings my heart!

I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.
Psalm 119:45

Gentle Father, You desire me to walk with a blameless heart. You have generously given me all I need for life and godliness. May my life honor you in my home and before my family first, such that Your life spills out to all those around me naturally. Strengthen my heart and hands that they may continually build my house in Your perfect love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does He withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.”
Psalm 84:11 (NIV)

Your Journal
Saying grace ~ Bringing my heart to God in prayer.

My Portion ~ Where Has God met me in His Word today?

Nourishment ~ How does God want to mold and change my heart?

Second Helpings ~ Where does God want me to be a doer of the Word and take action?

Time for Dessert ~ What can I share with others from what God showed me today?

"You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the LORD your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you..."
Joel 2:26

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Broken Heart ~ A Heart More Beautiful

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” 
Psalm 51:17 (NIV)

The condition of my heart matched the weather conditions outside as I drove my children home from school through the steady rain and dreary clouds. Bringing my children to and from school each day is precious, almost sacred, time to me as we enjoy captured moments together to talk, listen, sing and pray. This day, however, my heart ached with fresh wounds. I silently cried out to the Lord while Joshua and Gabrielle munched on a snack and conversed contently between themselves.

Years ago God had taught me a valuable lesson: if someone says something critical to me in a harsh spirit, and not in love, still take that to Him and ask Him if there is any truth in what was said.  “Is there something offensive in my heart You want to change, Lord?”, I wondered after receiving harsh words from an unexpected place. My heart lay bare and broken before the Lord. 

As we pulled into the garage, my sweet then-five-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, asked if she could put her rain boots on and go jump in the puddles. As my heart admired her enthusiasm, we worked together to dress her in her rainy weather finery. She gave me an extra tight squeeze declaring her appreciation. 

I went about my regular after-school-unloading-and-reorganizing tasks as my silent conversation with God continued. “Lord, the pain from this person's words seems unreasonable and unnecessary, and the criticism seems unfounded in truth. You know I want to serve You with abandon and show Your mighty works for Your glory. Please let me see Your faithfulness and purpose in this pain.”

A few minutes later, Gabrielle was in the kitchen excitedly handing me a paper heart she had stopped to make and surprise me with before going outside to jump in puddles. Gabrielle’s caring ways and artistic gifts are always a delight. On this rainy day, this hand-made gift served an even greater purpose.

As her precious hand lifted the paper heart up to mine, I noticed the heart had scissor cuts all through it, and I thought privately to myself that it didn’t look very pretty that way. Graciously taking the heart from her and kissing her head in thanks, I met my eyes with hers and she said, “Mommy, I made this heart for you. I put cuts in the heart because I thought the heart would be more beautiful that way.” 

Immediately, tears rolled down my face. I felt the Lord quiet my heart with His love and say to me, “Sharon, I am making your heart more beautiful through the wounds I am allowing you to experience. Be still, be quiet and wait on me. You will have a heart more beautiful.”

Noticing my tears of amazement, Gabrielle asked why I started to cry, and I told her that, through the paper heart she had made me, God reminded me how much He loves me and how faithful He is, especially when our hearts are broken before Him.

My child’s delight in the promise of fresh rain and the beauty of a broken heart had ministered His love to me.

Dear Lord, through  Your grace let my heart abide in You always. Keep my heart teachable and humble before You. Give me the willingness to trust You through the pain, knowing that  You are doing a beautiful work in my heart. Hold fast to me, My refuge and strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 “But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word."
Isaiah 66:2

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there Is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

“I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”  
Isaiah 57:15 (NIV)

Your Journal
Saying grace ~ Bringing my heart to God in prayer.

My Portion ~ Where Has God met me in His Word today?

Nourishment ~ How does God want to mold and change my heart?

Second Helpings ~ Where does God want me to be a doer of the Word and take action?

Time for Dessert ~ What can I share with others from what God showed me today?

"You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the LORD your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you..." 
 Joel 2:26

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Crave It! ~ "My soul thirsts for You"

"You are my God; early will I seek You;
my soul thirsts for You;
my flesh longs for You..." 
Psalm 63:1

"I crave it!  I thirst for God's word every morning...even before I make my coffee!"  My girlfriend's words made my heart leap for joy!  Her heart was being filled and satisfied at His table, in His word, by His truth.  A wife, mom of two wonderful children, a career helping children and a graduate student, my girlfriend is rising early to meet God is in His word.  She knows this truth ~ "God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."  Psalm 73:26

As girlfriends and sisters in Christ, I think the most meaningful things we can do are to pray for each other, point each other to Christ, encourage each other in His truth and study His word together.  My "I Crave It" girlfriend is also part of our Gather & Grow Bible study.  She knows the value of "the assembling of yourselves together" for Bible study, fellowship and accountability. 

Melissa Taylor and I were so humbled and excited that SO MANY of you expressed a desire to seek the Lord about leading a Gather & Group Bible study.  Please contact Melissa (Melissa@MelissaTaylor.org) or go here for more information and to get started.  Stay in touch with Melissa as she is preparing a great support network and will be arranging conference calls for leaders soon!  (By the way, Melissa is one of my favorite people in the world, too.  And she gives the best "over the counter" hugs with great enthusiasm and love!!)

I truly wish everyone could win the Made to Crave Bible Study Bundle.  Truly I do.  Betty Kreinbring will be receiving the MTC Bible Study Bundle!!!  Congratulations Betty! I will be emailing you.

Girls ~ be encouraged in what God has called you to do!  Seek Him.  He will lead you perfectly.  "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  Ephesians 2:10  

I would LOVE to know how God has been speaking to your heart the last few days in His Word!  Please be sure to leave a comment.  I would love to pray for you!

"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."
1 Peter 2:2

"I spread out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You like a thirsty land."
Psalm 143:6

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Assembling of Ourselves Together

"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together...but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."  Hebrews 10:24-25

Aaahhhh....the sweetness of "the assembling of ourselves together."  The nourishment and refreshment of face-to-face Bible study and fellowship are vital for us as Christians.  The Bible teaches us the importance of healthy face-to-face relationships with believers so together we can worship, study the Bible, fellowship, pray, break bread, encourage and challenge one another.  For Christian women, I believe the desire for us to gather and grow is woven into our heartstrings.  We are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together...and I think we crave His perfect design of gathering and growing in the core of our beings.

Acts chapter two teaches us the necessities for vibrancy and growth.  The believers gathered regularly "...with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God..."  (Acts 2:46-47)  Sounds inviting and refreshing.  Simple, vital, nourishing, life-giving gathering together.

This will be the fifth year I have facilitated and hosted a Gather & Grow Bible study group in my home.  A very precious group of women gather together to grow in Him and His Word.  We assemble to seek the Lord, to worship in song, to pray, to share struggles and to rejoice in praise to Him.  We read His Word, we laugh, cry, sing, listen and share.  We gather and grow...for Him and in Him.

The growth in each woman's heart through the Gather & Grow Bible study is a testimony to His faithfulness and His desire to grow us in His truth!  "So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow."  1 Corinthians 3:7  God brings the growth.  God's breath brings the increase.

The personal testimonies, notes and emails we have received from the women in Gather & Grow about how they have grown in the Lord are jaw-dropping amazing!  GOD is good.  GOD gets the glory.  It is all HIS doing. 

What really tickles me is when we hear from husbands of women in the group.  When the husbands are making a point of telling us the change in their wives, I do a happy dance.  Living a life of godly integrity happens within the four walls of our own homes first.  So when we hear from one of the husbands, we rejoice at God's good work all the more!  The husband of one of the gals in our group even gave our Gather & Grow group some alternative names ~ "Assemble & Resemble" and "Hang Out & Sprout"!  That is indeed, by His grace, what we do - Gather & Grow, Assemble & Resemble, Hang Out & Sprout.

Autumn 2011 made its debut as it peeked over the horizon at 5:05 this morning.  Autumn brings the start of Bible studies that journey together through winter and linger into spring.  Seasons of gathering together.  Seasons of growing together.

Are you feeling led by the Lord to host a Gather & Grow Bible study?  I'd like to pray for you and encourage you.  Please be sure to leave a comment with your prayer request.  It would be an honor to pray for you and your group.

If you feel led to host a Gather & Grow Bible study, I am giving away, as unto the Lord, a Made to Crave Bible Study Bundle (by Lysa TerKeurst)!!  This Bible Study Bundle includes a book, DVD teachings by Lysa and a Participant's Guide!!  Please leave a comment and share a bit why and how you feel led (be sure I have your contact information).  The winner of the Bible Study Bundle will be announced next week, and we will get it to you right away!!


(If you are unable to comment here, please go to https://www.facebook.com/HisTableForTwo and leave your comment under today's post.  Comments from here and there will be included in the MTC Bible Study Bundle give-away. Thank you.)

As we each daily meet with Him at our own Table For Two, we are encouraged to also gather with one another in His Word and in fellowship.  He meets us and fills us.  Gather & Grow with Him.  "You shall be filled at My table..."  Ezekiel 39:20

"So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."
Acts 2:46-47

Monday, September 19, 2011

All Things Are Ready...Come

"Tell those who are invited,
'See, I have prepared my dinner...
all things are ready. Come...”’
Matthew 22:4

"My God, and is Thy table spread
And does Thy cup with love o'erflow?
Thither be all Thy children led,
And let them all its sweetness know.

Oh, let Thy table honored be,
And furnished well with joyful guests;
And may each soul salvation see
That here its sacred pledges tastes.

Revive Thy drooping churches, Lord!
And bid our drooping graces live;
And more, that energy afford,
A Savior's love alone can give."

~ Philip Doddridge

"I delight in Your decrees;
I will not neglect Your word."
Psalm 119:16

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Your Invitation to Dine

"As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven...he who eats this bread will live forever.”   John 6:57-58

In its beautiful simplicity, the significance of the table moves my heart in awe of God's goodness.  He wants to meet with us daily and fill us with His truth.

The table represents communion with God, fellowship with Him, dwelling with Him and feeding on the Bread of Life. 

God invites us to come and dine with Him.  He invites us to come receive our portion daily.

Sometimes I approach the table in hushed reverence completely aware of my wretchedness and His holiness.  Other times, I limp my way there knowing my brokenness needs to be made whole by His perfect love. And still at times I dance my way to the table rejoicing in His faithfulness, mercy and provision. 

Whatever the condition of my heart, by His grace, I go.  Without pretension, I go.  I go because He is faithful to meet us in His Word and in prayer.

"Receive the Bible as it is in truth, the Word of God, which works mightily in those who believe.  Hold fellowship with God through the Word.  Take time to speak with Him about it, to give an answer to Him concerning it. Then you will understand what the Lord Jesus says: 'The words which I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.' (John 6:63)"
~ Andrew Murray

Let's dine with Him in His Word.  His gives us the richest of fare.  "Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare."  (Isaiah 55:2)


Saying grace ~ Bringing my heart to God in prayer.

My Portion ~ Where Has God met me in His Word today?

Nourishment ~ How does God want to mold and change my heart?

Second Helpings ~ Where does God want me to be a doer of the Word and take action?

Time for Dessert ~ What can I share with others from what God showed me today?

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!"
Psalm 34:8