Monthly Archives: May 2013

My Daily Bread

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Every morning I begin my day with my quiet time. I rise about 5 am, start the coffee pot and get my stack of books from the shelf and spend about an hour reading, writing, and praying before I start my busy day.  I am so grateful to my mom who modeled this practice for me daily as I grew up.  However, I think some people are confused about what devotions include, so I’d like to share my practice so that it may be helpful.

I have a notebook where I write down the things I glean from my study each day.  Often I begin my quiet time by jotting down the date and the pressing concerns of the day using phrases.  Sometimes this takes the form of a prayer or a letter that begins “Dear Lord,” but sometimes I’m not that lucid and my thoughts are scattered.

I recently purchased the tiny diary One Line a Day. This unique journal only has enough space to jot down a sentence or two about the day’s events.  Below it are spaces for the next four years of the same date, so as time goes on I can see where I’ve been and what I’ve been thinking each year. Lately, I’ve been jotting down the summary of the previous day before I begin my quiet time.

A staple of mine is a book that is literally falling apart. It has no cover and the last pages are falling out. I use them as book marks. It is a much-loved copy of Streams in the Desert that originally belonged to my dad.  I think I inherited it when my parents moved to New York. This devotion always has a verse and some thoughts that give great encouragement. I read this every day. I keep my Bible by my side and often look up verses that are referenced in a selection.

I love books of prayer by Stormie Omartian.  I just read through Lead me, Holy Spirit so I started reading through The Power of a Praying Woman again. I always underline important phrases that speak to the situation I am facing, and I date the book as I read through the prayer. I have even written my own prayers into the blank pages.  I often would close a Bible study class with a copy of these prayers.

Another every day resource is the In Touch magazine produced by Charles Stanley’s ministry.  Each monthly booklet has articles on a specific theme and then daily devotions.  I always read the Bible verses, underline important thoughts in the lesson and try to apply the principles.

I have decided to attend a writer’s conference this summer, so I am reading a few devotionals for writers.  Write His Answer is very helpful as it truly is a devotional directed at writers.  She includes Bible references to study and some questions for deeper thought.  It is a great encouragement. The other book is For the Write Reason by Marybeth Whalen. In this book, various writers associated with Proverbs 31 Ministries share their writing experiences and advice.  Each article is followed by a devotional on the same topic written by Marybeth.

I picked up a free book while visiting my parent’s church on Mother’s Day. It Takes So Little to be Above Average by FLorence Littauer is a real gem.  The book gives little snippets of how to improve oneself in all kinds of areas. I really enjoyed a selection about pruning that I read last week.

The amazing thing is the way the Holy Spirit speaks as I study the word and seek to apply what I learn.  This morning, I was reading through the various books that I have mentioned, in no particular order.  I wrote down “Seek First His Kingdom” as the main idea from a selection.  As I continued to read, the words “Seek first the kingdom of God and all the other needful things shall be added unto thee” were part of a second selection.  I wrote it down again.  In the final selection, “Seek first the kingdom of God” was there again. So, all morning as I prepared for work, then in the car on the way to work I tried to meditate on this and examine myself to see where I need to put Christ first.

I am a little bit stressed right now with a busy work schedule; my husband has applied for a job with better hours, the kids are busy with activities, friends, and plans for the summer. I am trying to cast my cares on the Lord and look to him for direction instead of ordering him around to work things out the way I’d like.

Starting my day with God and His word is the only way I can manage my busy life.  In the evening I read the One-year Bible right before I go to bed.

I highly recommend all these resources, and I hope that this gives you an idea of how anyone can begin to spend time with God.

Sowing and Reaping

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“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6

Recently I have been thinking about this idea of sowing and reaping. One of my children was very discouraged after not seeing progress in an area that is a great passion for this child. This child is diligent and self-disciplined; This child is a super student and has a heart for spiritual things. I was shocked by my child’s pain and frustration, and what’s worse, I had no words of encouragement, as this child is talented in a sport in which I have no expertise. After  listening to the hurt and being there for the tears, I continued to pray for my child to have success in this area of life that is so dear. I continued to meditate on the reason why my child wasn’t seeing success despite the practice and dedication.

God brought to mind Charles Stanley’s teaching on sowing and reaping.  His devotional in the One-year Bible reminds me that we reap What we sow, Later than we sow, and More than what we sow.

“A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7 My child is seeking to perfect a sports skill. That is going to pay off. When I read my Bible and pray, when I fellowship with unbelievers, when I cultivate my relationship with God, that is sowing to the spirit, and God’s Word promises that when we “Draw near to God, he will draw near to you.” (James 5:8)  When we persevere and discipline ourselves in any area of our lives, we know that we will reap positive benefits from that discipline.

We have to remember that success doesn’t come instantly. God makes all things beautiful in his time, in light of his eternal plan. God promised Abraham a son, but in his impatience, Abraham took matters into his own hands and created a lot of problems for his family.  Despite his sin, God was faithful to give him the gift of a son. Right now I am seeking God for his will regarding my time this summer. I hope to finish my Master’s Degree and write a book proposal. My son needs to get his license and a job; my daughter plans to attend a residential summer program for six weeks. My husband still seeks better pay and work hours as he works nights and weekends, causing our family time to suffer. As I pray about these plans, I want God to answer right now, but he keeps telling me, “Be still before the Lord and waiting patiently for Him.” Psalm 46:10.

Finally, God is so faithful that he promises we will reap even more than what we sow. The key is perseverance. If you are discouraged, do not give up. God is faithful! “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Gal. 6:9