Tag Archives: spiritual health

Don’t Leave Home Without It

One of the most successful advertising campaigns occurred in the 1980’s for American Express. Each ad would feature a prominent person, such as Roger Daltry or Peter Ustinov, but fail to identify them until the end of the commercial when their name appears on an American Express credit card. Upon revelation of the person’s identity, the viewer would hear, “Don’t leave home without it.”

Just as the American Express ad conveys the importance of taking your card everywhere with you, scripture discloses that the Holy Spirit lives in and goes with us. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NIV) Not only do we need our cell phone, keys, and billfold (yes, containing all those credit cards) when we leave our home, are we taking everything else we need? Did we properly prepare our hearts that day and ask our Heavenly Father to fill us up with His Holy Spirit? I have a real fear of leaving home without it.

The Holy Spirit—Don’t leave home without it.

Upon surrendering our life to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us. The apostle Paul assures us, “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 1:13b) This seal of salvation occurs at the time of belief in Jesus Christ. So, as believers we always have the Holy Spirit in us, but are we aware of His presence and are we taking the time to immerse ourselves in Him every day?

There are multiple functions of the Holy Spirit, and Paul continues explaining in verses 18 and 19 of Ephesians 1: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength.” (NIV) He prays for the Holy Spirit to open the minds of believers and to empower and strengthen them.

When the Holy Spirit opens the “eyes of our heart,” scripture becomes illuminated. God’s Word convicts us of sin. God’s Word reveals truth to us. When we pray for clarity prior to reading His Word, God unmasks the meaning. The Lord may provide a particular insight as He directs you to read it in context with surrounding scripture and as He points you to other relevant verses.

The Holy Spirit empowers us. When we’re weary from what confronts us, we can call upon the Lord to sustain and enable us. Whether we’re facing decisions concerning our aging parents or a conflict at work or a tension in a friendship, as we draw near to Him, the Holy Spirit will provide the stamina for those times we’re fatigued from the daily struggles.

God’s Holy Spirit will strengthen and lead us. Just as gasoline fuels a car so you can drive it, the Holy Spirit propels you as you live out your day. And, we can rely on the Spirit to caution us not to do anything that goes against scripture. Actions prompted by God will line up with His Word.

Do you desire to have scripture come alive as the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of your heart? Do you desire an inner empowerment only provided by the Holy Spirit? And finally, do you desire strength and guidance through God’s Holy Spirit? Please join me in committing to thanking our Lord each morning for His indwelling Spirit, asking Him to fill you to overflowing, and then, not leaving home without it.

Father God, I need you and I need your Holy Spirit active and present in my life. I ask your Spirit to open my eyes to your Word, to empower me, and to strengthen and guide me. Please fill me to overflowing—I don’t want to leave home without You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 119:18 (AMP): “Open my eyes [to spiritual truth] so that I may behold wonderful things from your law.”

Luke 24:45 (NIV): “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

John 16:13a (NIV): “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Winter 2016/2017

A Sharper Edge

“As iron sharpens iron, so one [woman] sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

You recognize the experience—a friendship where after a time you realize the other person is rubbing off on you and it’s not favorable. All starts out well, perhaps you met each other in church, you enjoy fellowship together, or better yet, both families get along. But then behaviors creep in and with time you notice actions that don’t line up with Biblical standards. You try to ignore it, because after all, it’s so much fun being with her and we all need some fun now and then. Continually you feel your conscience pricked, and ultimately you can no longer ignore the fact this friendship is unequally yoked.

Rather than iron sharpening iron, you’re like two rubber erasers becoming gummy, mealy, and rubbed off into nothing.

You don’t want to cave in to the potential trap of being critical and judgmental, but at the same time, their behavior strays and you’re questioning their ethics or morals. Friendship is precious and it’s vital to carefully choose those with whom we spend our free time. We desire relationships where each person sharpens and fine-tunes the other bringing out the best. As we hone our “edges,” we become more authentic and fruitful.

Many factors characterize a true friendship, but three stand out. To begin with, as a Christian, it’s important to choose friends with high moral beliefs. Secondly, is she a grateful and encouraging person? And finally, do we motivate each other further spiritually?

First, scripture is clear about relationships with people who lack moral integrity, as they may drag you down with them. Ephesians 5:5-7 (NIV) explicitly states, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a [woman] is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you … Therefore do not be partners with them.” When we find ourselves compromising our beliefs or observing actions not adhering to our value system, it’s time to move on. Listen to that still small voice.

Next, we find the admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV): “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Our Lord has blessed me with several grateful friends where we encourage one another and regularly thank each other for helpful things we do. It’s refreshing. It’s uplifting. And, it keeps me going.

Lastly, years ago I had the privilege of teaching, along with co-writing the curriculum for, an ESL (English as a Second Language) Bible study with a good friend. Collaborating as we did energized and propelled us on, and we continually challenged each other to grow spiritually and to move forward in our walk with the Lord. Strong friendships take into account the exhortation, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24, NIV)

We have choices concerning the friends with whom we surround ourselves. When we have a friend or friends who diminish rather than polish us, we find ourselves also rubbed away by the influences of this world. Is the company I’m keeping sharpening me? Am I sharpening those around me?

Father God, I submit my friendships to you and ask for your help in being a true friend to others. Teach me to be a woman who sharpens those around me through my values, thankfulness, and inspiration. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Proverbs 13:20 (NIV): “[She] who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”

Proverbs 18:24 (NLT): “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friends sticks closer than a [sister].”

1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV): “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Winter 2016/2017

Am I Allowing God to Manage My Growth?

In the heat of the summer, we had escaped to the mountains of western North Carolina. During one of those days, while strolling through the bonsai exhibition at The North Carolina Arboretum, my husband and I came across an inspiring plaque entitled “The Truth About Bonsai.” My thoughts focused on God’s consideration of me as I read the following excerpt:Am I Allowing God to Manage my Growth?

“Based on a one-on-one relationship between a person and a plant, it requires practice, persistence and patience. Bonsai gardeners lovingly tend to their subjects, and the plants respond with health and beauty. The art of bonsai is a study in vitality, produced by the thoughtful and careful management of perpetual growth.” (Arthur Joura, Bonsai Curator, The North Carolina Arboretum)

I envision God nurturing us, His children, with great love and patience. As He meticulously tends to us, He knows that in order for us to be productive, aspects of our lives will need either cutting back or entire removal. Jesus, while speaking to his disciples, declares, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2, NIV)

This necessary pruning by our Lord is what brings about productive maturity in our lives.

God’s pruning may involve saying no to the larger house and yes to the downsized version so there will be more money available for regular expenses and ministry. It may involve saying no or slow down to a whirlwind social calendar in order to concentrate on your family or on developing some true relationships. It may involve turning off the TV allowing you to devote time to reading the Bible. It may involve watching your words to allow your life to reflect the Lord. Or, it may simply involve saying no to another pair of shoes since you already have more than enough, and God wants your attention right now.

Personally, when I feel a tugging in my spirit or when a verse jumps off a Bible page at me, I know God has something to say. When I clutter my life with too many nonessentials, I’m unable to discern what that is. When I find I don’t have time for Bible reading and study, writing these devotions I know He’s called me to create, or for the ministries He prepared in advance for me to do it’s time to take a hard look at what is filling my time. When I’m busy with activities, fatigued from the day, and don’t have the energy to devote some time to my husband or grandchildren, then something is off-kilter. That’s when God is nudging me to allow Him to prune and redirect my life.

My desire is to live the abundant life God has designed for me, so I pray for the Holy Spirit to tend to me and prune out those activities, thoughts, and habits which distract me. Pruning hurts, but the result is a beautiful, productive life worthy of exhibition in a bonsai garden.

Father God, I’m thankful you generously love me and care for me. Your care is so deep, in fact, that you tend to me and speak to me about the life you have planned for me. Even though it may hurt at times, I want to allow You to carefully manage my growth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

John 15:5 (NIV): “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Romans 7:4 (NIV): “So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.”

© 2016 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Summer 2016

Get Active!

Brrrr, it’s either cold outside or rainy or snowing, and it’s difficult to get moving on days like this. running-573762_640It’s also easier to curl up with a novel or watch HGTV while consuming snack food. But lately, I’ve been pondering the implications of maintaining physical health in order to uphold our spiritual health. If we’re dragged out from lack of sleep, it’s difficult to focus on praying to our heavenly Father. If we’re neglecting a healthy diet, it’s difficult to read and study God’s Word with clarity. And finally, if we’re not physically active, it’s difficult to have the necessary stamina to walk with the Lord. I’m impressed with how we need to take care of ourselves if we desire spiritual fitness. Get to bed on time, make healthy food choices, and by all means, get moving. Go for a walk, ride your bike, swing a golf club or tennis racket, swim, or go to the gym. I’m not preaching a three-hour daily workout, but I know I need to be active every single day to reach my spiritual fitness goal. The apostle Paul doesn’t mince any words when he states, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NIV) We’re admonished to take care of our bodies, and I encourage you, dear sisters, to take the necessary fitness steps in your life.

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Filed under Archived Blog Posts, Winter 2016