Read an Excerpt
Spiritual Refreshment for Women
By Pamela Kaye Tracy
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
I Will Follow You
Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
My son exits the pool and walks across the cement. He leaves little footprints as he goes. Even as I follow him, they fade. Lord, You left big footprints. Yet because of the Bible, because of learned teachers, and because of an intense desire to follow You, we can still see Your footsteps, and instead of fading, they become bolder.
A Wild Ride
When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.
Most people love the bumper cars. They push the pedal to the floor and bump into as many people as time allows. This is a three-minute ride. Real life doesn't lend itself to this way of life. If we purposely knock heads with people, we're always feeling at war. Real life means thinking twice about initiating pain, purposely deflecting the hurts aimed in our direction, and not engaging in retaliation. That is an eternal heaven-bound ride.
Poor Little Rich Girl
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
The tabloids are full of stories about the rich and famous. Most of the time the stories tell of people who are lost—people who are looking for something. When we read about their lives, their mistakes, their endeavors, we should thank the Lord that not only have we found Him, but that we are poor in the eyes of the world. Our mansion is not on earthly soil. Our kingdom will not be lost. Our mistakes, our endeavors, will be forgiven.
"For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
The waiter was not happy about serving four women. His face plainly read, "They'll leave a little-or-nothing tip." He judged us by our looks, not by our worth. In one way or another, we're all guilty of doing this. The waiter didn't know how to judge. We do not always know how to judge. But You do, Father. You judge by our hearts, not by our looks or our pocketbooks.
Life in the Fast Lane
He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.
Think of the three-lane freeway. The inside lane has long been designated for speeders. They eat danger for breakfast. The middle lane is for Joe Average. He eats contemplation for breakfast. The outside lane is for the cautious. They eat responsibility for breakfast. Lord, You watch over us no matter which lane we travel, and You gently nudge us toward that outside lane because You want us safe.
Show Me the Money!
Then they believed his promises and sang his praise.
For almost every endeavor in life there are rules that should be followed. Too often, we want proof that there will be a reward before we make a true effort. Lord, Your promise is unfailing if we're only willing to believe and wait.
A Bug's Life
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.
The sign warns: Giant Ant Hill—Don't Sit Here. But it's the only clear spot on the grassy knoll. It calls to picnickers. First one group and then another spread out their blankets, only to move within a few minutes. Ant bites are no fun. If only we would feel such pricks of foreboding when we ignore God's warnings: Don't steal, don't lie, don't covet.... Just like the picnickers, we sometimes pretend the message isn't meant for us.
Clean at Last
"'And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'"
After four days in the woods, our feet are dusty, our hair is limp, and our faces feel like leather. Camping is hard work. Ask any man and he'll tell you the best thing about camping is the riding, the exploring, the grilling, the quiet. He's wrong. The best thing about camping is the shower you take right when you get home. Oh, how wonderful it feels to be clean! Lord, we can have that kind of feeling with You when You wash away our sins.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. "
Three stores were out of the merchandise. The first didn't carry it at all. What kind of store is this? The second suggested a sister store. Hah! Not a chance. The third suggested a major chain store. Finally, tired and irritated, the customer leaves without making a purchase. Lord, You never fail to deliver or tell us to go elsewhere. You are like one-stop shopping. You provide everything we need.
A Truly Great Man
For as in Adam all died, so in Christ all will be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:22
Some funerals go on for hours, with eulogies that tell of greatness. Some funerals go on for minutes, with eulogies that focus around the beatitudes. One funeral highlights works; the other highlights the heart. Lord, I pray that my funeral highlights a believer who is alive with You.CHAPTER 2
Not the Squeaky Wheel
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Recently I listened to a fellow Christian, a woman who is quiet by nature, as she talked about her humbling experience helping others in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. Her eyes were opened to the human experience, and she is a better, stronger person because of her deeds. Her heart was touched in a way that suddenly made me realize she knows and feels something I am still looking for. Open our eyes, Lord. Lead us.
"'If you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.'"
Jeremiah 7: 6–7
Lord, sometimes when something displeases me, I want it to change. I plan for ways to get it to change. I offer suggestions to remedy the situation and then sit back and hope for change. Lord, usually it is I who need to change. Help me, Lord, to be the branch that bends. Help me to change.
"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve."
The newspaper is spread out before us and opened to the movie listings. Have movies changed? Or have we changed? Most of the movies, we've never heard of. The others are ones we don't want to see. Change is an interesting concept. We either run toward it or we never see it coming. In this case, age has made us not only older but wiser. Some of these movies do not deserve an audience. Thank You, Father, for letting us grow into the knowledge that we need to feed our minds with what is good and pure.
"But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
The tree looked sturdy and strong. Yet, torrential rains down a limb, and now the once proud oak appears flawed. When people pass the tree, they only see the broken branch and not the rest. What remains is still sturdy and strong. Lord, that downed branch is like the shedding of sin. Take it away so we no longer carry the burden. Help the world know us not for our weaknesses but for the strengths we owe to You.
The Wisdom of Others
"'This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place.'"
Sometimes, Lord, the times when we think we've done an outstanding job, we find out that what we think and what others think are not necessarily the same. And nine times out of ten, the other people are justified in their thinking. Lord, help us to do the best we can and accept suggestions. We can grow only if we're willing to bend.
Days of Our Lives
"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever."
1 Peter 1:24–25
Look in the mirror. Can you still see the child who liked watching cartoons, the teen who liked bell-bottoms, the college student who liked makeup, the young woman who liked staying up late, the bride who liked to hold hands, the mother who liked to decorate à la Winnie the Pooh, the empty-nester who liked visiting her grandchildren? Lord, through all our ventures, You are the same and You guide us.
A Willing Heart
"Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you."
They say that more people are led to Christ by friends than any other way. When I first started attending my new church, I didn't know a single person. I sat in the back and felt alone. I'd forgotten the first rule of friendship: To have a friend, you must be a friend. I made up my mind to get involved, to say hello to people I didn't know, and to make my presence known. It's working! My actions reinforced the knowledge that I was never really alone. I always had a friend beside me. His name is Jesus.
No Editing Required
And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.
The movie, adapted from a favorite book, failed to deliver. Oh, how I enjoyed every word of that best seller, but who was in charge of making this movie? The names were the same, as was the location, and occupations, but the plot—the plot had been completely redone. Lord, people so often try to rewrite Your words. They all fail. The wonder of Your words is infinite.
My Cup Overfloweth
"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Six months ago, the top rack of the dishwasher overflowed with baby bottles and nipples. Three months ago, half the space went to sippy cups. Today there are a few cups and straws. Lord, as I watch my son grow and change, I'm reminded of how much You want us to grow and change, ever stronger knowing You.CHAPTER 3
Checks and Balances
"You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today."
2 Chronicles 6:15
Oh, Father, how often good intentions open our mouths, and promises flow out without consideration of how much time we really have to give. Promises of the mouth are easy; they take a second to make. Keeping those promises is hard. Fulfilling them takes more than a second. We often fail to keep promises. I'm so grateful You set the example. You humble us with Your fulfilled promises. You make us want to be better people.
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.
Glancing at my wedding ring I notice how the diamonds have dulled over time. Some might say, "Throw it out! Get a new one." Others say, "Leave it alone. It's fine." I take a toothbrush and some dishwashing liquid and scrub. Soon the diamonds look like new. Lord, thank You for my life. No matter how tarnished I am, how tarnished my life is, I can be cleansed and You continue to love me.
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
"If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it." Do you believe this saying? Sometimes I do. Lord, let us busy ourselves in Your ways. Let us constantly be adding one more thing to do that will draw us closer to You.
Just One More Thing
So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
1 Peter 4:19
I have an acquaintance who backs out of commitments at the slightest provocation. It amazes me to watch him blithely make other plans or even no plans at a time when he's expected somewhere. In some ways, though, he's saner than I am. He's not stressed, resentful, or overbooked. Lord, when the crowds pressed, when the disciples didn't listen, when You wanted sleep ... Did You feel stressed? What a difference You made because You kept Your commitments. We can make a difference, too.
And Two Shall Be Joined
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready."
Epiphany! Yet another biblical message understood! Lord, when I open my heart to You and welcome the Holy Spirit in, that's the marriage proposal. I say, "Yes!" When I'm immersed in baptism, that's the "I do!" Oh Lord, You are a faithful groom—one who will stand beside us forever if we let You.
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Lord, a friend just dropped a bombshell at my feet. She shared a past sin that has my mouth hanging open in surprise. My first thought is I don't understand. My second thought is Why should I understand? My third and final thought is Lord, help me to understand. Oh Father, help us all to continually ask for Your help so that we understand and so that our name will be written in the Lamb's book of life.
A faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.
The wedding ring has no beginning and no end. It is often used as an analogy, highlighting the unending love between a bride and groom. With a wedding ring, a spouse has agreed to a promise of commitment, but too often there is an end. With eternal life, God promised before the beginning of time. He gave us His Son to highlight the unending love between a Father and child. He has never strayed from that promise.
Follow the Leader
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
At the playground I watch two sisters: one big, one little. The big one jumps from object to object, never breaking a sweat. The little one cannot reach, but oh, she can stretch, and she so wants to follow her big sister's lead. She never gives up. Lord, I want to follow Your lead; and like the little sister, I sometimes feel I cannot reach. I will never give up, as I know You will never move too fast or too far for me. I'm committed to following You.
Reading between the Lines
Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.
2 Timothy 2:14
Lord, across this nation there are churches in peril because of debates over the interpretation of Your Word. Oh, Father, how sorrowful You must be over the lack of unity Your followers display. Father, help us look to Your Word. Help us to read Your Word and reach true understanding. Help us to know You.CHAPTER 4
Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. "
The promised storm came at midnight. Only instead of a bang as the weatherman predicted, it arrived with a gentle whisper. Rain pat, pat, patted against the roof over my head. One-syllable words, over and over: "I am here. I am here. I am with you. " Comforted, I return to sleep. There will be a rainbow in the morning.
Ask and Ye Shall Receive
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.
1 Timothy 4:13
The yellow piece of paper tacked to the bulletin board at the store catches my eye. Help For Mothers of Young Children. I taped the notice to my refrigerator. I often have questions; I always welcome help. The sturdy brown book on my coffee table catches my eye—Holy Bible. Inside is help available to everyone. I keep the Bible handy. It rests on the bedside table, it jumps to the coffee table, and sometimes it travels in my car. I often have questions; I always welcome help.
A Joyful Noise
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
At almost any time of the day, children happily romp, climb, stumble, and scream in our mall's indoor playground. Sometimes a security officer calls for attention and asks that the children speak in their indoor voices. What he doesn't seem to realize is that the indoor voices of more than forty children combined equals one very loud, outdoor-type voice. Oh, Lord, wouldn't it be grand if the noise of Your followers proclaimed the message of Your Word as loudly and freely as these children proclaim their joy at playtime?
Excerpted from Everyday Promises by Pamela Kaye Tracy. Copyright © 2007 Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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