12/1/05

Encouragement for Today

 

“The Heart of the Matter”

Jolene Philo, Graduate of She Speaks Conference

 

Key Verse:

Romans 12:16, “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.” (NAS)

 

Devotion:

For several years now, Bible memorization has been my thing. I’ve always had a good memory, and a number of years ago I was convicted of the fact that God gave me that ability for a reason ... so I could hide His Word in my heart. Since that time, I have diligently labored to learn the Fighter Verses printed in our church bulletin each week, and God has blessed my obedience. However, a few years ago He taught me that He wanted more than obedient performance of a task. He wanted a right heart within me as I obeyed.

 

I was taking my morning walk about two years ago, working away at Romans 12:9-21. “Man,” I thought, “I’ve nearly got this nailed down. I am really moving through these Fighter Verses. Pretty soon I can move on to memorizing some longer stuff.” (As you may have noticed, I tend to get a little overly task-oriented.) I was feeling pretty good about myself as I finished my walk and came into the house.

 

As I headed to our bedroom, my 14-year-old daughter Anne came down the stairs. “Mom,” she said, her eyes aglow with the light I knew meant I was going to lose five to ten minutes to this conversation.

 

  “Yes,” I sighed.

 

“I was just reading in my Bible and found this passage on love that was so good, I’m going to memorize it so I remember what love really is.”

 

“Oh, yeah, honey, what was it?” I edged toward the bedroom, hoping to shave a few minutes off the conversation since I was, as usual, running late.

           

“It begins like this. ‘Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love...’ and it goes on and on like that. Isn’t that a great description of love? It’s from Romans 12.”

           

Her words stopped me dead in my tracks. She was excited about hiding in her heart the essence of love. I’d been excited about how many verses I’d memorized. With which one of us was God more pleased? Even I, Miss Task-Oriented, could see the answer to that question. Anne pleased God by responding to His Voice, applying what He said to how she lived.

 

Since that day, I’ve tried to pay more attention to what a verse means than to how many verses I memorize. I think about how to apply in my life each verse I commit to memory. I concentrate on how God wants me to use that verse to change my life, to make me more like Him. That shift in focus has made a difference in how I treat people, how I respond to pressure, and how I perceive myself in relationship to others and to God. In following my daughter’s example of applying God’s Word to how I live, my haughty heart has been humbled, and I have grown.

 

May I challenge you with the following verse?

 

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly affection; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:9-15, NAS)

 

My Prayer for Today:

Dear Father, I want to live a humble life that pleases You. Use the people around me and the everyday situations of life to show me where my haughty heart needs to be humbled, and use Your Word to change my heart and my life so both honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Application Steps:

Choose one verse of Scripture a week to meditate upon each day and perhaps memorize. Each day as you focus on the verse, ask God to show you how to apply it in your life and to give you an opportunity to do so. When He gives you the opportunity, take action!

 

Reflection Points:

Are there other areas in your spiritual life where you focus more on getting things done than on being changed by God through them?

 

What do you need to do in those areas to shift the focus away from what you are doing to how they will draw you closer to God?

 

Are there practices you need to abandon because they have become stagnant rituals rather than life-changing disciplines?

 

Is there a mature Christian woman you can talk to and pray with about reviving your

spiritual walk?

 

Power Verses:

 

I Timothy 6:6, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” (NAS)

 

Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but the interests of others.” (NAS)

 

Proverbs 3:5-7, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” (NAS)

 

Galatians 5:22-26, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” (NAS)

 

Additional Resources:

 

Journey of a Woman’s Heart (4-tape set), by Renee Swope

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_journeyWoman.htm

 

Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God, by Sharon Jaynes

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_becomingAWoman.htm

 

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart, by Lysa TerKeurst

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_whoHoldsKey.htm