Beauty Supplements

Your daily dose of true beauty advice… When my paralysis finally began to sink in, when I realized it was permanent, I felt like my life had come to a dead end. I had absolutely no strength to fight off that … Continue reading

Beauty Supplements

Your daily dose of true beauty advice…

Worry is a failure to understand God’s priority, [Luke 12] verses 22 and 23. “He said to His disciples, ‘For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life as to what you shall eat nor for your body as to what you shall put on, for life is more than food and the body more than clothing.’”

Now here’s the point: God didn’t create you just to survive. God didn’t create you just to have you eat and wear clothes so that you can make it. God did not create you to fulfill some physical goal, or objective, or purpose or design.

Your life is far more than eating. Your life is far more than clothing. You must understand the divine priority…if you belong to God and you are in His Kingdom, He has a plan and a purpose for your life. That’s the reason you live. And as long as God has a plan for your life, He will feed you and clothe you until the plan is complete. So what is there to worry about?

There is really no place for worry and no place for fear, and no place for anxiety if you understand that the priority with God is far more than just surviving, it’s far more than making it through the winter, it’s far more than getting at least one or two meals a day, far more than that.

God’s purpose in giving you life, God’s purpose in giving you a body is not material, it’s not physical, and it’s not earthly, it is immaterial, spiritual and heavenly. We were made for His glory.

We were made to serve His glory, to serve His purpose, to honor Him, to bring attention to Him, to proclaim the gospel, to live out Christ and the power of the Spirit in the world. And as long as that’s the divine priority…for us, He will sustain us to the end of His purpose.

~John MacArthur inAnxiety-Free Living, Part 2

Photo: OBMonkey

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I sit so tall in my wheelchair that I need a van with a raised roof. The trouble is, I can’t see the road. My friend, Careen, and I once drove from Chicago to Urbana and I didn’t see a single cornfield or farmhouse for 3 ½ hours! She kept describing lovely country landscapes, but it only frustrated me. I wanted to see. I’m the sort of person who likes to know what lies ahead. If I can’t see the whole road, then at least a few feet?! 

We are like that spiritually. We say to God, “If you don’t mind, thank you for showing me where I am going. I don’t need to see the whole road, but at least a little bit.” We think our faith has to be supported by a bit of evidence. A hint, a signpost, a whisper… something to give us a clue as to what God is doing. We wrongly assume that faith is the ability to take a couple of puzzle pieces and be able to envision the entire picture. Not so. Faith that must be supported by the five senses is not genuine. Jesus said to doubting Thomas, “You have believed me because you have seen me, but blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Our insistence upon discerning what’s up ahead is natural, but it is a hindrance to real faith. It’s why God constantly encourages us to trust him in the dark (Isaiah 50:10). True faith means resting in who God is. He has charged himself with full responsibility for your eternal happiness and he stands ready to take over the management of your life. He is wise and good. Trust him with what’s ahead.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “What’s Up Ahead,” January 2 Devotional

Photo: OBMonkey

Christmas Hope for the Barren (Part 2)

This post first appeared on Precious Adornment in December 2010. 
Read Part 1 HERE.

“There was a priest named Zechariah…And he had a wife
from the daughters of Aaron, and her name
was Elizabeth…But they had no child”

Luke 1:5,6,7

Gifts Are Not a Given

I wonder how many times Zechariah and Elizabeth asked the question “Why?” during their bleak years of childlessness.

Why, God? Why haven’t you given us a child?

Lord, why haven’t we found favor in your eyes?

Why have you blessed them with a son when they don’t even keep your commandments?

Oh, Father, why have you given them another child when they already have
so many?

As years stretched into decades, Zechariah and Elizabeth undoubtedly faced the temptation to grow bitter and resentful as they watched God bless friends, family, and strangers with the gift they desperately desired and perhaps even felt at times they deserved. They were blameless after all. Surely if any two people deserved the blessing of children, Zechariah and Elizabeth would be those people. 

The lesson that Zechariah and Elizabeth had to learn through their suffering is the same one that childless couples must grasp today. Children are not a given; they are a gift. Just as God causes rain to fall on both the just and the unjust, so too, does He bless both the righteous and the unrighteous with the gift of children.

Why? Oftentimes the answer to that question belongs in the category of “secret things” that belong to the Lord and not to us (Deut. 29:29). When the wisdom of God’s plan remains unclear to us, we must cling to the truths He has revealed:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
~Isaiah 55:8-9

Gabriel’s message to Zechariah contained an important command—the baby was not to be given a family name, but one God had chosen for him. “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John” (Luke 1:13).

The meaning of this name would forever remind Zechariah and Elizabeth of the undeserved gift God had given them in their son: John—“Jehovah has shown grace.” Children are not given because of our goodness, but only because of God’s grace.

The Impossible Made Possible

Psalm 113:9 had probably worn a deep groove in Elizabeth’s heart: “He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!” As a young wife awaiting her first child, that verse surely provided Elizabeth with hope that her barrenness would not last forever. That little glimmer of light grew gradually dimmer with each passing year.

Somewhere along the way for Zechariah and Elizabeth, the chances of having children moved in their minds from being improbable to impossible. Elizabeth’s biological clock had stopped ticking, and the barrenness she’d hoped was only a temporary obstacle became a permanent condition.

At least that’s how the situation appeared until Gabriel arrived with the good news that God doesn’t work according to human timetables. Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayers had been heard. They would have a son, and he would bring them joy and gladness.

The hope of Psalm 113:9 would at last become a living reality. Why? Because nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).

If you are facing the pain of childlessness this Christmas, let the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth fill your heart with hope in the goodness of God. The entire Christmas account revolves around God’s sovereignty over the womb, His love for His children, and His power over the impossible.

As you follow the Lord in righteousness, you can rest quietly in the knowledge that your prayers are not being ignored, but are being filed away in the faithfulness of God. Like Elizabeth and Zechariah, one day you will see; one day you’ll understand the wisdom behind His plans for your life. Until that time, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14)

Photo: Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

Christmas Hope for the Barren (Part 1)

This post first appeared on Precious Adornment in December 2010.

“There was a priest named Zechariah…And he had a wife
from the daughters of Aaron, and her name
was Elizabeth…But they had no child”

Luke 1:5,6,7

They say Christmas is the happiest season of all, but for many, the joy of this special day remains tainted by a lingering sadness. The celebration of Christmas in our culture emphasizes families, tradition, and togetherness. But for those still awaiting the blessing of children, holiday celebrations often draw attention to the emptiness filling the space where little ones ought to be. While others eagerly anticipate Christmas mornings accompanied by laughter, smiles, and childlike joy, those facing the pain of childlessness often struggle to look forward to the day at all.

I imagine that Zechariah and Elizabeth knew all about the pain of spending special days as a couple instead of as a family. For decades they would have observed holy days and religious ceremonies with children all around them, none of which were their own. Zechariah and Elizabeth had no doubt cried more tears and prayed more prayers together over her barrenness than anyone around them would ever have guessed. Yet year after year, their tears and prayers went seemingly unnoticed…until one day when everything changed, and the Lord transformed years of sorrow into tears of rejoicing.

In the familiar story of Zechariah and Elizabeth in Luke 1, there is fresh hope for those in the midst of childlessness—hope, not only for Christmas, but for every day of the year.

Blameless, yet Barren

The pain of childlessness is often compounded by the pain of being misunderstood by others. Although infertility is one of the most sensitive trials a couple may ever face, complete strangers often feel no qualms about turning the topic into small talk. The absence of children is often wrongly equated with a lack of desire for them and frequently sparks thoughtless comments.

So, how many years have you been married now?

Isn’t it about time you get started on a family?

Planning to try for kids any time soon?

Although people rarely ask questions like these with ill intent, such conversations tear sharply into the already tender wounds of those who simply can’t conceive. Zechariah and Elizabeth were undoubtedly well-acquainted with this pain.

Because barrenness was considered to be a sign of divine disfavor in their culture, gossip and misconceptions regarding the couple’s sinfulness or inferior spirituality would have been commonplace. Even though others may have automatically assumed that Zechariah and Elizabeth stood guilty in God’s sight, the Scriptures actually record them as being righteous before Him. In fact, Luke says that they walked “blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). They were blameless, yet still Elizabeth remained barren.

Childless couples often agonize over the thought that infertility may be evidence of God’s judgment upon their lives. In the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, we find that childlessness was not a curse, but a vital component of God’s divine plan for their good and His glory.

No Unheard Prayer

After praying and asking God to answer the same request over and over again, many believers feel tempted to abandon both prayer and service to the Lord altogether. When prayers seem to go unanswered, a deficient understanding of God’s sovereignty and the purpose of prayer can easily allow a believer’s heart to become infected with sinful doubts about the character and nature of God. Zechariah and Elizabeth, however, continued faithfully trusting the Lord and believing His Word even though they’d never seen evidence that He was listening to their prayers for a child.

It wasn’t until the couple was “advanced in years” and Zechariah was fulfilling his duty as a priest in the temple that God sent Gabriel with the message they could only dream of receiving, “Your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son…” (Luke 1:13). Although they had long since given up hope that a child’s laughter would ever ring within the walls of their home, Zechariah and Elizabeth discovered that there are no expiration dates on God’s plans.

Their prayers had not been ignored; they had been heard and answered! As commentator Matthew Henry says, “Prayers of faith are filed in heaven, and are not forgotten, though the thing prayed for is not presently given.”

Zechariah had probably wondered time and again about the meaning of his name—“Jehovah has remembered.” Did God really remember him? After hearing Gabriel’s shocking message that day, Zechariah would better understand not only his own name, but also countless other aspects of his life which had never before seemed to make sense. 

God had never forgotten Zechariah and Elizabeth. He was only waiting—waiting to act on their behalf in a way which would clearly illustrate how marvelous and mighty He truly is. And Zechariah and Elizabeth would see, as we all do when we wait faithfully upon the Lord, that His plan was truly worth the wait. 

More to come…

Photo: Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

Beauty Supplements

Your daily dose of true beauty advice…

Child of my love, fear not the unknown morrow,
Dread not the new demand life makes of thee;
Thy ignorance doth hold no cause for sorrow
Since what thou knowest not is known to Me.

Thou canst not see today the hidden meaning
Of my command, but thou the light shalt gain;
Walk on in faith, upon My promise leaning,
And as thou goest all shall be made plain.

One step thou seest—then go forward boldly,
One step is far enough for faith to see;
Take that, and thy next duty shall be told thee,
For step by step thy Lord is leading thee.

Stand not in fear, thy adversaries counting,
Dare every peril, save to disobey;
Thou shalt march on, all obstacles surmounting,
For I, the Strong, will open up the way.

Wherefore go gladly to the task assigned thee,
Having my promise, needing nothing more
Than just to know, where’er the future find thee,
In all thy journeyings, I go before.

~Author Unknown

Photo: OBMonkey

Beauty Supplements

Your daily dose of true beauty advice…

God’s grace is illustrated and magnified in the poverty and trials of believers. Saints bear up under every discouragement, believing that all things work together for their good, and that out of apparent evils a real blessing shall ultimately spring—that their God will either work a deliverance for them speedily, or most assuredly support them in the trouble, as long as He is pleased to keep them in it. This patience of the saints proves the power of divine grace

He who would glorify his God must set his account upon meeting with many trials. No man can be illustrious before the Lord unless his conflicts be many. If then, yours be a much-tried path, rejoice in it, because you will the better show forth the all-sufficient grace of God. As for His failing you, never dream of it—hate the thought. The God who has been sufficient until now, should be trusted to the end. 

~Charles Spurgeon in Morning and Evening

Photo: OBMonkey

Safe in the Shadow of His Wings

A friend of mine shared this photo at our Bible study last week, and I thought it provided an incredible image of the warmth and security we have when we trust in God as our Refuge and Strength…

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.

Psalm 57:1

 

Beauty Supplements

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We’re looking at Psalm 37, one of the most beloved passages in the Old Testament, but one of the least-lived passages, I think. It deals with this whole issue of wrongdoing and evil in the world and how we respond
to it.

..[T]he thing we’re not to do is fret. We’ve seen that repeatedly in this passage. Then we’re looking at what we are to do, which is to look up, to focus our energy, our attention, our effort, our response on the Lord.

I’ve used a phrase, “to tether our hearts and our minds to the Lord.” That picture has been a vivid one to me as I think about how many of us tend to tether our lives to events and people and circumstances that can change. When those things give way, when they fail, when they break, we go with them.

Our emotions go up and down—our wellbeing goes up and down—because we’re tethered to things that can change. In fact, that’s a great definition of insecurity. Insecurity is connecting my heart or my mind or my emotions to things or people that can be taken away from me.

  • They can fall.
  • They can break.
  • They can die.
  • They can go away.
  • That makes me insecure.

If I want to be secure, I have to tether my mind, my heart, my emotions, my life to something—Someone, that is—that can never change, can never be taken away. That bridge, that secure place, that unchanging reality in my life is God Himself.

The Psalmist David says in this Psalm, don’t tether your heart to evil-doers, to wrong-doers…

I need to tether my heart to God Himself.

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “True Security

Photo: OBMonkey

Trusting God When He Takes Away

“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Job 1:21

Nancy Guthrie is a woman well-acquainted both with the depths of human suffering and the immensity of divine love. I heard her story for the first time during her recent interview with Desiring God and was truly amazed by the clear evidence of God’s sustaining grace in her life. As a mother who has suffered the tragic loss of two babies, Hope and Gabriel, to a rare disease known as Zellweger Syndrome, Nancy has been forced to wrestle with the whys of suffering at a level of intensity most of us have never known.

In a little book entitled Holding on to Hope, Nancy shares her story of loss along with a number of lessons on suffering drawn from her study of the life of Job. In the following excerpt from her book, Nancy highlights a precious truth regarding God’s redemptive purpose for our pain…     

Job’s life as he knew it had ended. His property had been destroyed, his children had died, and he was still covered with scabs. He had been to the depths, craving death, craving answers, craving restoration. His wife and his friends had provided no comfort.

But finally God spoke, and as God revealed himself in the whirlwind, Job realized that even though he had feared and followed God, he hadn’t really known God. Through suffering, however, God had revealed himself to Job in an unmistakable, intimate way. Job recognized that though he had known much about God before, he now knew God in a new, more meaningful way that would transform the remainder of his life.

When Job said, “I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes,” he was saying, “I knew about you, but I only knew you by the book. Now I know you because I’ve experienced you for myself! This is not just reading about or hearing about you; now I really know you!”

It is one thing to believe that God is faithful and will supply all your needs–even in the darkest of times. It is another thing to experience it. In the darkest of days, we’ve experienced a supernatural strength and peace that could only come from God. Perhaps you have too…

It is when we are hurting the most that we run to God. We recognize that we are powerless and that he is powerful. We pray and we see him more clearly because we’re desperately looking for him.

And in our looking for him, we find him to be more loving and faithful than we’ve ever seen him before. We discover an intimacy that we have never experienced before, perhaps because we’re looking for him so intently. That is always God’s purpose: to use whatever means he sees fit to bring us to a closer relationship with him, to create in us a faith that will give us the strength to keep holding on to hope–not a flimsy wishing or a hope that everything will be fixed in this life but genuine biblical hope that one day what is unseen will be seen. This faith is confidence in an eternal future in which God sets everything right.

[Holding on to Hope, pp. 85-88]

Watch Nancy Guthrie’s interview on Desiring God HERE.

Photo: Radu Andrei Dan

 

Beauty Supplements

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Paul said, “It is God who is at work in you” (emphasis added). The literal Greek places the emphasis on God: “God is the one at work in you.” God is so intimately involved in your life and so concerned about your spiritual well-being that He personally indwells you to effect what He commands.

The energy behind your spiritual progress is not your human abilities or resources, although God might bless you with an abundance of both. Nor is it the encouragement and support of other Christians, although the ministry of fellow believers is certainly a great blessing. It isn’t human pastors and teachers who instruct you in God’s Word and care for you as a shepherd cares for his sheep. It isn’t even the holy angels who are sent forth as ministering spirits (Heb. 1:14).

The real cause of all spiritual progress is this alone: God Himself is working within you to effect your sanctification. That’s why sanctification can never be totally deterred. The same God who justifies you sanctifies you and will ultimately glorify you (Rom. 8:30). Salvation will always produce the fruit of righteousness (James 2:17-26; Eph. 2:10). It’s inevitable; the unchanging, glorious, sovereign, majestic, righteous, holy, gracious, and merciful God, the God who rules all things and always does what He desires–that God is at work in you, and He is never thwarted.

~John MacArthur in Our Sufficiency in Christ

Photo: OBMonkey

Beauty Supplements

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Sitting one still and sunny afternoon in a tiny chapel on an island in the South, I thought I heard someone enter. A young woman was weeping quietly. After a little time I asked if I could help. She confided her fears for the future–what if her husband should die? Or one of her children? What if money ran out?

All our fears represent in some form, I believe, the fear of death, common to all of us. But is it our business to pry into what may happen tomorrow? It is a difficult and painful exercise which saps the strength and uses up the time given us today. Once we give ourselves up to God, shall we attempt to get hold of what can never belong to us–tomorrow? Our lives are His, our times in His hand, He is Lord over what will happen, never mind what may happen. When we prayed “Thy will be done,” did we suppose He did not hear us? He heard indeed, and daily makes our business His and partakes of our lives. If my life is once surrendered, all is well. Let me not grab it back, as though it were in peril in His hand but would be safer in mine!

Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now.

“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”–and the work thereof. The evil is not a part of the yoke Jesus asks us to take. Our work is, and He takes that yoke with us. I will overextend myself if I assume anything more.

~Elisabeth Elliot in Keep a Quiet Heart

Photo: OBMonkey

Living As Those Who Are Never Alone

“Whom have I in heaven but you?”

Psalm 73:25a

As Christians, we are the only people on earth who will never experience the pain of facing life alone. Our God will never leave us or forsake us–the truth of this remarkable promise sustains us through the best and worst of days. But even though we have the assurance of our Father’s constant companionship, that doesn’t mean we are immune to struggling with the painful experience of human loneliness. 

Elisabeth Elliot is a woman well-acquainted with the experience of being alone–waiting for years to marry the man she loved, losing him to a native’s spear, serving faithfully as a missionary in a foreign land, raising a daughter as a single mother, losing her second husband to cancer, withstanding the pressures that accompany life as a Christian leader, and now, experiencing the numerous losses that come in the latter stages of life. Yet through it all, Elisabeth has lived as a woman who was never truly alone.

How did she do it? The following is Elisabeth’s advice on what to do with loneliness…

Be still and know that He is God. When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste your soul. Use the stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.

Remember that you are not alone. Jesus promised His disciples, “Lo, I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.

Give thanks. In times of my greatest loneliness I have been lifted up by the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” This is something to thank God for. This loneliness itself, which seems a weight, will be far outweighed by glory.

Refuse self pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.

Accept your loneliness. It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that brings you to God. It will not always last.

Offer up your loneliness to God, as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others.

Do something for somebody else. No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, somebody who needs you. Pray that you may be an instrument of God’s peace, that where there is loneliness you may bring joy.

The important thing is to receive this moment’s experience with both hands. Don’t waste it. “Wherever you are, be all there,” Jim once wrote. “Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

[Faith That Does not Falter, pp. 32-33]

Photo: Vladimir Fofanov

What to Do When Your Faith Feels Weak

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.”

Psalm 34:4

During our walk with Christ, most of us will face times when our faith feels so puny and small it would make a mustard seed look big in comparison. In those moments of spiritual weakness, what should we do?
 
Winston Smith of CCEF offers some wise thoughts…
 

Photo: cristiano galbiati