Sitting at His Feet & Serving with Joy (July)

July2014By Rachel Crosswhite

Martha quickly kneaded her bread dough and formed it into a perfect loaf shape. This meal had to be just right, because a good friend of hers was there in the small village of Bethany visiting Martha and her sister, Mary. The friend was in the next room, and it was Jesus! Mary and Martha had looked forward to this day for some time, for they dearly loved Jesus.

As she shoved the loaf into the oven, Martha grumbled to herself: “Why am I the one doing all this work for our meal? Mary should be helping, but there she sits with Jesus!” Martha hurriedly began working on the other food, thinking similar thoughts. Once or twice she stopped a moment to peek into the next room, hoping to see her sister getting up to join her in the preparations. But each time Mary was always in the same place – listening with close attention to Jesus’ words.

Finally, a sweaty, frustrated, and irritated Martha, her arms akimbo, marched into the room where Jesus and Mary sat. She asked in an exasperated voice: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me alone to serve? Tell her then to come help me.”

Jesus gently rebuked her. “Martha, Martha! You are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha felt so ashamed. “I’m sorry,” she murmured, taking a seat on a stool by Jesus’ feet. “I got so caught up in other things that I forgot how I should be taking time to listen to you instead.”

Jesus smiled, and this time, spoke to both of his friends. Martha listened attentively, and her heart was filled with happiness. She knew that this time she was making the right decision: sitting at the Master’s feet, and being spiritually fed. The meal she was preparing could wait. For now, she was feasting on food that would satisfy her soul.

[Based off of Luke 10:38-42]

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As we learn from this story of Martha, we should not allow the cares of this world, as important as they may be, to take from our time with the Master. Time with Jesus – should be one of the most important things we do each day.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you.”
(Matthew 6:33)

The Holy Scripture tells us, I love them that love me: and those that seek me early shall find me. (Prov. 8:17) We should desire to be with our Master, to be more like Him.

Mary, for instance, was sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening very carefully to all he was telling her. She took the time to quietly listen, to meditate, to seek Him.

Glory ye in his holy name:
let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
 Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.” 
(1 Chronicles 16:11)

Mary had peace in her heart – her heart rejoiced – because she sought the Lord.

What Martha was doing was not wrong – there is nothing at all wrong with doing household chores, or of eating or sleeping. Those things are necessary things! The point is…what comes first when the Lord is speaking? Shall we live without thinking about the Lord, (except on Sundays), or live in the Spirit and abide in the Lord’s presence every day of the week? Dishes and food and beds can wait – remember, they are not eternal. Let us begin living our eternal life now by sitting at the Lord’s feet, listening to Him, today. Let us choose the better part that can never be taken from us.
My prayer is that I will always have time for my Master, and not let anything else be more important than Him – I don’t want to be like Martha, who was so busy, that she forgot how Jesus was most important.

Make me to understand the way of thy precepts:
so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.”

(Psalm 119:27)

~Rachel Crosswhite {Guest Writer}

This Month’s Desktop Wallpaper
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Modesty: An Act of Love (June)

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By Kaitlyn Smith

“One of the first evidences of a real lady is that she should be modest. By modesty we mean that she shall not say, do, nor wear anything that would cause her to appear gaudy, ill-bred, or unchaste. There should be nothing about her to attract unfavorable attention, nothing in her dress or manner to give a man an excuse for a vulgar comment. When we dress contrary to the rule of modesty we give an excuse for unwholesome thoughts in the minds of those who look upon us, and every girl who oversteps these bounds makes herself liable to misunderstanding and insult, though she may be innocent of any such intention.”
~M. Hale

What we wear is very important, to men and to God. The clothing we put on gives out a message, a message that will be read by everyone you see. Most clothing we see today gives the message that we ladies are rejecting the femininity that God gave to us, that we are ashamed of the gospel, that we are in rebellion against the headship of man and Christ, that we could care less about honoring God with our bodies, that we are perfectly okay with leading our brothers in Christ into temptation.

As Christians, we should be reflecting Christ, and giving a message through our clothing, that would be pleasing to Him. One that tells the world that we are His servants, that we seek to honor Him with our lives, that we are secure in what His Word teaches and that we do not need the approbation of men, that we care for fellow believers and have no desire to tempt them with thoughts that would be sinful.

Scripture teaches us that if we “wound their (the brethren’s) weak conscience, ye sin also against Christ” (1 Corinthians 8:12). We are also told earlier in the same chapter to “take heed, lest this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak.”  While we are not held accountable for the thoughts of men, we are taught in the Word of God to “use not liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).  We are also told that “as we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). We should dress in a manner that would not tempt men to sin, if not just for the simple reason that we are Christians, and care for their souls.

  “Let us suppose that upon a street corner there stands a group of men and boys, among them being two boys whose minds are pure. You and another girl are dressed with very low necks, very thin blouses, and your skirts are quite short. The scantiness of your clothing attracts attention to your person. You may behave as perfect ladies, but as you pass the corner your appearance causes the wordly-minded to think and say vulgar things about you. The pure-minded boys hear, and their minds are defiled. You girls are as much to blame as the impure man or boy who said the evil thing.”
~M. Hale (Beautiful Girlhood)

We need to be careful of the neckline that a garment has.  Will our neckline stay close to our skin, or fall away if we bend over? Will it tempt men to sin in thoughts if we stoop down to pick up something that has fallen?  We also need to be careful of the length of a garment. As we are sitting, standing, walking up stairs, or bending over are we revealing too much? Are our shirts so short that they are coming up in the back when we move or lean over?

We also need to be careful about the material that a garment is made of, even if it appears to be long enough and has a good neckline. There is some material that is designed to cling, or that is so shear it can be seen through. This accentuates our body in very immoest ways. We shouldn’t want to place young men in a situation where they need to turn away from us in order to preserve their purity.

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We as ladies were not created to lead men into temptation, yet it is a struggle we have faced since we were first created, when Eve tempted Adam to eat the forbidden fruit: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband to eat also” (Genesis 3:6). We were created to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism), and that includes in what we wear.

 “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body,
and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
(1 Corinthians 6:20)

We should encourage young men to make and keep the same covenant that Job did in Job 31:1:

”I have made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?”

Being modest isn’t just about wearing something that covers our bodies; we also need to be careful about the way that we carry ourselves. If we have a provocative demeanor, then anything that we put on will be immodest, because our heart is not pure and modest. “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting of the hair, and of wearing of gold, and of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:3&4). It is said of the wise woman, in Proverbs 31, that “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, and she shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” “All the days of her life” means that she was honoring her husband while she was still a young girl, even when she did not know who he was. A godly woman is careful of her behavior around men and young men, of her dress, actions, and speech, all for the glory of her Creator. Dressing modestly, in consideration for others and in obedience to the Lord, is one of the most loving things we can do for the protection of our brothers in Christ.

 “Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence,
the richest gem in the diadem of their honor.”
(Noah Webster)

~Kaitlyn Smith {Guest Writer}

Feel free to tell your friends about this challenge and encourage them to join you as you “Encourage Your Siblings”!

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Is it True, Edifying, or Necessary? (May)

by Samantha Parker

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“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
(Proverbs 16:18)

Many of us have been told “You should never gossip.” “Okay!” we say. But what does gossip look like? Is it something you struggle with? If so, how can you guard against it? I think that most of us don’t realize that we have a problem with gossiping. Sure, we know of people who have that weakness, but we certainly know better. Beware of this attitude! It reveals a big problem – namely, pride.

So what is gossip after all? I had to look it up myself! Gossip is simply passing on unnecessary information. It is idle talk about someone else’s affairs, and often damages their reputation. Gossip typically (but not necessarily) involves details that are not confirmed true. We waste a lot of time that could be used to serve the Lord when we are “busybodies,” namely, the ones who are always trying to get the newest piece of information. (See 2 Thess. 3:6-12) This has been a tendency of mine, but over the years I have realized that I don’t need to know everything. As Paul told the Romans, we are to be wise unto that which is good and innocent concerning evil. (Rom. 16:19; see also 1 Cor. 14:20)

There is a saying that says, “loose lips sink ships.” How true! A few idle and thoughtless words can destroy a friendship or reputation. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Prov. 10:19, Prov. 21:23). “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” (James 1:19) Indeed, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Prov. 18:21) Note: Not only is death in the power of the tongue, but LIFE is as well! Our words have the amazing ability to build someone up, or to tear them down.

“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”
(Proverbs 14:1)

We get to choose: will we build up our house through encouragement, or tear it down with criticism? Do you want to be a builder? I sure do!

Many times we say things we shouldn’t because we want people to like us. We want others to laugh at our story. These are very self-centered feelings. Gossip is a very selfish thing. Before sharing something about someone else, evaluate your motives. Why are you telling them that story? Do you simply enjoy being the information source? My sister recently came across the following acronym, which reminds us of what we should do whenever we are tempted to gossip. Simply, T.H.I.N.K.!

  • T – Is it true?
  • H – Is it helpful?
  • I – Is it inspiring?
  • N – Is it necessary?
  • K – Is it kind?

Much damage can be done by someone who says a lot of words with very little content. “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.” (Prov. 13:3, Ecc. 10:12-14 ) When we go on and on without talking about anything meaningful we are, quite frankly, fools. Proverbs tells us that the babbling fool will come to ruin. (Prov. 10:8) Our goal should be to edify and encourage one another with our words.

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,
but that which is good to the use of edifying,
that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
(Ephesians 4:29-32)

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Jesus said: “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matt. 12:34-35). Guarding our words goes much deeper than simply being careful about what we say. It is a matter of the heart. What is in our heart? What are we allowing ourselves to think about and dwell on? Are we looking down on someone, pridefully thinking that we “know better”? We might try our hardest not to say anything negative or hurtful about “so and so”, but if deep down in our hearts we are thinking hurtful or untrue thoughts, sooner or later they will come out in our words. Out of the abundance of our heart, the mouth speaks! Sure, we never meant to SAY anything negative to anyone about that person, but because that is what we dwelt on, eventually, that is what came out in our words. Make sense?

Let us seek to guard our hearts, and naturally our words will be guarded. Philippians 4:8 tells us,

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Sometimes I would much rather meditate and think on untrue things, or unlovely things, or things I would be ashamed to tell anyone else. It is really hard to guard our hearts and thoughts, but God will help us if we simply ask Him. He can help us redirect and refocus our minds back on Him… replacing those wrong thoughts with thoughts that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy.

The solution is not to tape our mouths closed. Sometimes I think, “If only I could keep my mouth shut, I would stay out of so much trouble!” But good clear communication is very important and often lacking in our relationships these days. God gave us the ability to talk for a good reason. There must be a balance in our lives between talking too much, and not talking at all. This is a balance that we cannot obtain on our own. We can’t do anything, even something as basic as taking a breath, in our own strength!

Samantha and RebekahJesus’ own Words come to mind: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). It takes humility to realize that we desperately need the Lord Jesus. Without Him, we can do nothing! Will you join me, dear sisters, in asking the Lord for strength, wisdom, and grace in this area? Let us echo David in Psalm 141:3: “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”
(Psalm 19:14)

Seeking to follow Christ with you,
Samantha {Guest Writer}

P.S. Many thanks to my sister, Rebekah, who kindly allowed me to use her notes and insights on this topic!

This Month’s Desktop Wallpaper

Challenge Your Siblings to Seek the Lord (April Challenge)

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by Sarah L. Bryant

“I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.”
{Psalm 119:15-16}

The Word of the Lord never returns void. It is sharper than any two-edged sword.

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It pierces our soul and spirit, discerning the thoughts and intents of our heart. God’s Word is a light to our feet. It shows us the way to salvation in Christ and it reveals to us His very nature.

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It gives us hope for the future, and wisdom for how to live in a way that honors the Lord.

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Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? “By taking heed thereto according to Thy word.”

In light of the power of God’s Word in our lives as Christians, I am convinced that one of the most important things we can do in our youth is to study and memorize the Scriptures. This will establish a Rock-solid foundation in our lives that will never be taken away from us throughout the coming decades of our lives.

Sisters, it is so important that we not only seek God’s Word ourselves, but also encourage and challenge our brothers and sisters to love the Word - in their youth. We can set an example for them of putting our personal time with the Lord first in our daily lives, and encourage them to develop a solid habit of Scripture memory and Bible reading as well.

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
{Psalm 119:11}

For the past few years, I have created a Bible reading challenge for my younger siblings: to read the Bible EVERY single day in the year – and not miss one day. They will receive a prize or treat if they complete the goal. They all have diligently and eagerly embraced this challenge successfully! What a blessing to see their perseverance! The Lord is blessing them as they seek the Lord and make personal Bible study a priority and habit. It is so exciting to see the spiritual fruit of this diligence in their lives, because God’s Word never returns void.

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My siblings all completed the 2013 Bible Read Challenge, so I took them all out for a fun breakfast together

What a blessing it is to seek the Lord with my brothers and sister, and to see the blessing and fruit of this in their lives. This is my fervent hope for my siblings:

“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily:
and thy
righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.”
{Isaiah 58:8}

Love you, little bro!

Sisters, continue to encourage and challenge your sisters and brothers to seek the Lord TODAY – while He may be found! Do not grow weary in well doing, for in due season the fruit will be reaped!

Wednesday is the last day of April – but not the end of our “Encourage Your Siblings” challenge! The goal of encouraging, exhorting, and praying for our brothers and sisters is one that should last a lifetime, and we pray that this past month you have firmly established that foundation to continue to build upon.

Do not forget to host a special party dinner for your siblings this week! Make this a fun project to work on together—plan the menu, decorations, special touches—make it unique and a very special time for your family. At dinner, together recite the verses that you memorized with your siblings this month.

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We would LOVE to hear about your sibling challenge this month, and your special dinner! Share your testimony (challenges@kingsbloomingrose.com), and if you’d like, send along pictures of you with your siblings, your special party dinner, or projects you did together.

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We are so thrilled that you took the challenge to invest in your siblings this past month. It is a joy to see you pour love and encouragement out into their lives. Continue to work along side them, encourage them in the Lord, and seek His Word together. As you sow, the Lord will bring the increase. “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). ♥

Grateful for the journey we share of learning together with our siblings,
Sarah Lee

“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,
while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.”
{Ecclesiastes 12:1}

 

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The Sister He Wants Me to Be (April Challenge)

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by Sarah Wiens

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies,
kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any:
even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
{Colossians 3:12-13}

It’s interesting being the middle child in a family with very large age gaps. Growing up, I was the youngest, and I longed for younger siblings. My older brother made it look very easy to be the oldest. He always had time to spend with me, even playing games with me that he did not particularly enjoy. I was sure that, if I had younger siblings, I would do just as well as he did as an older sibling – maybe even better!

Things changed when I was twelve years old . . . because that’s when I got younger siblings.

My two younger brothers and younger sister were adopted in May of 2008. I quickly realized that, rather than this being the end of the story, this was only the beginning! And, in all honesty, it looked like a rather scary beginning to me! My three younger siblings were not the sweet little angels I had imagined them to be . . . and, even more shocking to myself, I was not the sweet angelic older sister I had imagined myself to be, either.

There’s a lot I could say about my journey as a big sister. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve really been able to see the Lord’s hand at work. God brought them to us so they could hear the truth. It’s a mission field in our own home! That seems to be something I have to remind myself constantly, because it’s easy to write on the importance of being a good big sister – but it’s much harder to live out. It’s very difficult to give them my time when there are so many things that need to be checked off my checklist. It’s difficult to respond sweetly when my day is going chaotically. I know that Christ will give me strength to do what is right if I allow Him to control me, yet it is easy to give in to my flesh and just do what is natural. Being a big sister is hard.

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That’s when I have to think. When this season of life is over, how are my siblings going to remember me? With disdain, as they think about how selfish I was as I lived my own life and ignored them? Or with a smile, as they remember all the good times we had together? Most importantly, what are they going to think about Christianity from watching my life? These are sobering thoughts for me, as I think about my failures.

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing:
for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me…
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
{Romans 7}

Thank God that His mercies are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23)! Each day is a new opportunity, yet I would still mess up if I had to do it on my own. I cannot be a good big sister on my own strength. But Christ is willing to make me the sister He wants me to be. He can use me as a tool for good in my siblings’ lives. Will I let Him work?

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
{1 John 3:18}

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This month, KBR is hosting an “Encourage Your Siblings Challenge.” Throughout April, we are posting one article each week by big sisters, who will share encouragement and ideas for how to bless the younger siblings in our lives. We would love to hear your ideas as well – feel free to comment.

Feel free to tell your friends about this challenge and encourage them to join you as you “Encourage Your Siblings”!

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 Siblings Challenge April 2014

This Month’s Desktop Wallpaper