Monthly Archives: April 2014

An Excellent Wife – A Woman’s Perspective

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. (Proverbs 31:10)

Do any other wives out there read Proverbs 31 and feel just a bit lacking in the “more precious than jewels” department?

I strive to be an excellent wife. That is my goal. And my sweet husband tells me that I am. But I compare myself to all this excellent wife does, and in my estimation I come up way short.

I realize this passage speaks of an ideal wife–the wife God created me to be. And I am flawed…very flawed in some areas. I have much to learn to become like this woman.

But one thing I know to be true: My value is not in what I do or don’t do, my value is in whose I am. And I belong to the Lord.

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The value of a precious jewel is determined by many factors. The most valuable gems are durable, able to withstand a lot of pressure and not easily broken. They are pure, without imperfections. Their transparency allows for light to shine through and be reflected back out in brilliance. A large size is preferred. And most, importantly, they are authentic. These jewels are rare things of beauty.

As I think about precious jewels and these characteristics, I realize that these qualities are found in us when we walk closely with the Lord. As Proverbs 31:30 says, “…a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

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What are these jewel-like qualities of an excellent wife?

  • She has strength. As she places her life in the hands of the Lord, His Spirit fills her with strength to withstand whatever troubles come her way.
  • She is pure. She strives to live a righteous and holy life. And in the eyes of the God she is pure with the righteousness of Christ.
  • She is transparent. She allows others to know her weaknesses and in doing so God’s glory shines through her life.
  • She is large. (No, not in the physical sense.) She is large in heart and spirit, showing love to all.
  • She is authentic. She doesn’t pretend to love the Lord and her husband. She lives out that love every single day.

Without the Lord, I cannot be an excellent wife. Without the Lord, my value is not rare and precious. But God the Creator fashioned me after His own image.

I have a lot of rough edges and hard stuff that needs to be knocked off of my soul. But when I place my life in the hands of the Master Craftsman and allow him to cut and shape and polish me into His likeness, I am a rare and precious work of art.

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As wives, we shine forth with God’s glory as we humbly submit to Him in our marriages. As we help our husbands, support them, love them, respect them, and submit to them, we follow Christ’s example and become more beautiful with His beauty.

Let’s strive to live each day in faithful obedience to our heavenly Father that He might shape us into His likeness and we might become this most cherished of treasure for our husbands…that God’s glory may shine with His brilliance!

O Lord God, may I fear you all the days of my life. May I honor You with everything I do that I might become the excellent wife You have called me to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This post has been linked up with Woman-to-Woman on 
www.4Hisgloryblog.com.For more posts on Proverbs 31,
just click on the link.
All Scripture from English Standard Version.
Images:
Hand in Hand by Jeremy Brooks via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Rings by ilovebutter via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
heart ring light by MorrowLess via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0), 
   black/white filter added

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Filed under Love, Marriage, Sacrifice, Thankfulness, Wife, Woman-to-Woman

An Excellent Wife – A Man’s Perspective

My sweet husband, DAVID PENLEY, is sharing with us today. I am linking up with Woman-to-Woman on http://www.4HisGloryblog.com and thought I’d get the husband’s perspective on the scripture of the week: Proverbs 31:10.
 
 

Men, what is of great value to you?

A new Ferrari or Porsche (my dream car as a teen)? A high-paying job that you’ll be respected for? A son who quarterbacks for the Dolphins or Cowboys or (enter your favorite football team here)? Or maybe a son who is the winning pitcher in game seven of the World Series or wins the Masters? A summer home on the lake or oceanfront or in the mountains? All of the above and more? You get my point.

D's Jewel Collage

What about your wife? Is she of great value to you?

A godly, committed, faithful wife is worth more than all of those things combined.

“An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” – Proverbs 31:10

She is quite a treasure, “far above jewels,” and I am to look at her and treat her as such. I am to see her as being of greater worth than the most valuable thing I can think of.

God tells us how to cherish our wives throughout His Word, but my favorite command has become the simple, yet profound words in Ephesians 5:25-26: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”

We men talk about loving our favorite teams, our jobs, our cars, and so on. But that kind of love is not what is mentioned here. The word translated love is the same word found in John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” It is also found in Ephesians 5:2:Walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

This is real love—sacrificial love. It is putting our wives’ needs, desires, good, well-being, above our own. It means spending time with her, talking to her, doing things she wants to do, even if it means putting our desires aside. It sometimes means not watching that game we think is so important. (And we are blessed to have technology today so we can record it to watch at a later time.) It means making a sacrifice in order to show love to our wives.

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A little over a year ago, I was hit with an illness that nearly killed me. I was in a coma for a while, my heart stopped, and my doctor actually used the word “miracle” when later telling me what he thought my chances of survival were at the time. My life has been changed forever. My speech has been effected to the point where I cannot preach and teach with great clarity—the two things I have done all my adult life. I was a prime candidate for depression and feeling sorry for myself.

I am convinced that two people kept that from happening. One is the Lord, who has been with me, healed me, encouraged me, and empowered me. The other person is the wife He blessed me with.

God has used my wife tremendously throughout my life, but He has used her in incredible ways over the last year. I would wake up in the hospital in the middle of the night to see her lying on the pull-out bed when she could have been much more comfortable at home. I heard her encouraging voice and words every day. She took me to my speech and physical therapy sessions and made sure I did my workouts at home. She held my hand and rubbed my shoulders when she knew I needed it. I could go on and on.

I knew I was a man blessed by God with the wife He had given me, but I saw this reality in a whole new light. I truly have “an excellent wife” whose “worth is far above jewels.” If nothing else, all of this has been worth it just to realize this.

I have certainly not been the husband I should have been through it all. I have had moments of frustration and have taken it out on her. But I now pray God’s Word every day with a sincere heart like never before: May I love Sabra just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. And please use me, Lord, to sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. The Lord knows my heart and knows these are not just words to me. I mean this with all my heart. My wife truly is a precious jewel to me.

I pray that we husbands realize the blessing we have in our wives. They are worth far more than any earthly treasure.

How can each of us show his wife how precious she is to us? Praying with her and studying God’s Word together is a good place to start. The excellent wife spoken of here will welcome this.

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Take some time to think about your wife’s interests and activities she enjoys. What things has she mentioned in the past that she would like to do with you? If you aren’t sure, spend some time with her and ask her. Then lay aside those things that get in the way of enjoying her company and show her love—the kind of love Christ has for us.

Our wives are indeed precious jewels. Let’s make sure they are treasured.

 

All Scripture from New American Standard Bible.

Images:
Ferrari F50 by Axion23 via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Clayton Kershaw by Bryce Edwards via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Eagles vs. Cowboys by Billy Bob Bain via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Hallstatt by Sander Hoogendoorn via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Couple on the Lakefront by Don Harder via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Kiss Me by Shutter Fotos via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0) 

 

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Filed under Love, Marriage, Sacrifice, Thankfulness, Wife, Woman-to-Woman

Smiling Through the Tears

Such a beautiful day–full of sunshine. Why, then, does it seem so cloudy?

A pleasant walk with my sweetheart. A nice rest by the waterfall. A soft breeze. Any other day, I would file it under “perfect.”

But not today. Something is amiss.

The stinging in my eyes won’t stop. And I realize that the slightest thing might just send a flood of tears pouring out.

I don’t want to cry. I don’t want to give in to this lack of peace…this unrest in my soul.

I want to live rejoicing in the Lord and giving thanks for all His wonderful blessings in my life. But somehow today I feel frozen. Like the world is swirling around me and I am so dizzy I can’t see straight.

Have you ever had one of those days? They can take us by surprise.

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I suppose it started yesterday, visiting our sweet friends at the hospital. The hospital. Once again. On Easter Sunday.

Meeting her in that empty cafeteria only accentuated the emptiness I knew she must be feeling. This past year’s barrage of cancer treatments has taken its toll on her husband’s body. And now things don’t look good. So much is uncertain…about what is causing his condition, about his life, about their future. Listening as she shared her broken heart, waves of sadness washed over me, remembering what it feels like to be sitting by the bed of the man you love watching him suffer and not knowing…anything. All I could do was listen and hug her and pray that God would bring a miracle.

Then this morning, when my husband got up, he seemed more quiet than normal. It was as if a cloud had settled in over us. I can usually hold it together when he is strong, but when he gets down? I start to crumble.

We went for our walk. And it was lovely. But quiet. Somber.

It is obvious to me now. Thinking about our friends and their struggle led us to focus on our own struggle of what the future holds. Our thoughts settled on what used to be and what won’t be again. But these thoughts are not where they need to be.

We need to keep our eyes on the One who is leading us forward–the Lord Jesus, to put our hope in Him and give Him praise. We must be still and simply rest in God’s loving arms…one. more. time….and never give in to worry or sadness. For God is always with us. He promises to never leave us. He will take care of us. He keeps His promises.

Psalm 56:3 reminds me to trust Him: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” For the Lord God is faithful and my life is in His hands.

My mind flows to the psalmist’s comforting words in Psalm 23:“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Psalm 23.2-3

I need to lie down in those green pastures and allow the Lord my God, my Shepherd, to lead me beside still waters. Only He can restore my soul with His wonderful peace and joy. And make my heart smile.

Our feelings are very real. They come and go with the violent twists and turns and ups and downs of a rollercoaster. Jesus also had very real feelings…of sadness, of grief, of fear. These feelings are not sinful in and of themselves. But like Jesus, we must not let them master us or dictate our actions. What is important is to take those feelings that threaten to bring us down and lay them before the Lord. He will fill our hearts with His truth and remind us of His love and goodness and faithfulness. He will keep the smile in our hearts with the knowledge of who He is and that He is in control.

So on those days when the clouds roll in and tears begin to form, turn your focus to the Lord and lay it all before Him. Remember that He is in control. He loves you. And your heart will smile in the midst of your tears.

Help my soul rest in Your green pastures, Father. Restore my soul with Your quiet waters. Help me simply be still and know that You are God. In this is my peace. Help me to keep my eyes on You, the Great Shepherd. For in You is my soul’s rest.
 
The tears may yet flow. But I will smile through the tears, for I know You hold my heart in Your mighty hand. And You are here! O thank You, precious Lord!
 
 
This post has been added to the #inspireandgrow link-up at
www.echoesofmyheart.com. To read posts by other bloggers, just
click on the link above.
All Scripture from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
"Sheep, Field, Clouds" by Ingrid Taylar via flickr (license: CC BY 2.0)
"Sunlight on Water" by John Shortland via flickr (license: CC BY 2.0),
cropped, text added.

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Filed under #inspireandgrow, Comfort, Faith, Love, Peace, Prayer, Trust, Worry

Lord, hold me together…

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.


The cracks started appearing quickly in my comfortable little world.

I didn’t recognize them as such at first. My husband’s flu-like symptoms. Weakness. But as the evening rolled around, I could see them becoming clearer, more pronounced…growing.

By the time we reached the hospital, those cracks had become so large, my comfortable little world starting breaking apart. Piece by piece.

Then, just like a hammer blow, I heard those words: “He has a slim chance of survival.”

And I started to fall apart from the inside.

It was as if my heart was breaking, crumbling, and there was nothing I could do about it.

But in that moment, when I thought I would completely break with no hope of repair, my Hero came to the rescue.

Jesus.

He was there. At just the right moment. Before it was too late.

My Lord Jesus was the one that picked up all the pieces of my heart that had started falling apart and put them back together. HE was the glue that patched me up. He wrapped His bandage of love around me to keep me whole. While the forces that caused the cracks and fissures kept pounding away, Jesus would not let them do permanent damage.

I held onto Him tightly as He held on to me.

And the most wonderful thing about the way He mends our broken pieces? We come out stronger than we were before. A bonding agent that gives strength to the weak places—making them greater than before the cracks appeared.

Psalm 147.3

 

Jesus held onto me and drew me close to Him during many long days of pressure and new cracks that formed. He kept me from falling apart. He was the glue that held me together.

Those pressure days have passed. My husband, by the grace of God, is alive and well. Things are not like they were before. Lasting changes came into our comfortable little world. In many ways, it isn’t as comfortable as it used to be—by worldly standards. But, oh, the comfort of having the Lord by our side…on our side…holding us, mending us, making us stronger so that we may be more useful to Him and bring Him glory.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for being the glue that holds us together. Thank You for providing peace and strength and the comfort of your loving, healing hands holding us close. You are our Hero—the One with the power to make the broken whole…stronger. May we give You all the glory for the mighty work You do in our hearts and in our lives. Oh, thank You, Lord.

 

I’ve linked up this post with Five Minute Friday at www.lisajobaker.com. The prompt today: GLUE. These are supposed to be five minutes of writing. Well, I’m a little over, I must say. But it gets me writing and sharing. Hopefully, someday soon I’ll be closer to the five minute mark. Click on the link below to read Lisa-Jo’s post and many others. I’m always amazed at how one word can bring so many different thoughts.
 

Five Minute Friday

Beginning scripture - Psalm 28:7.
All Scripture from NIV, 1984.
Image by Sabra Penley.   

 

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Filed under Comfort, Five Minute Friday, God's Works, Healing, Hope, Jesus

Ready for Spring?

See! The winter is past, the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come…

Has springtime blossomed in your neck of the woods yet?

I’m happy to report that deep in the heart of Texas spring is in full swing. The daffodils put on their showy display a few weeks back, always the first to burst into bloom and give us hope that warmer days are just around the corner.

Well, warmer weather is here. We’ve already broken out the shorts and flip-flops, and spring cleaning is on the schedule. The buzzing sounds of lawnmowers and weed-wackers greet the early weekend morning and the smell of fresh-cut grass permeates the air. The earth is a sea of green everywhere we look, in every hue imaginable.

And then there’s the wildflowers. God’s great celebration of the new beginning, like crowning jewels on the landscape. And Texas has a beautiful array.

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I love the verse above from Song of Songs 2:11-12: “The winter is past…flowers appear…the season of singing has come….”

Indeed, it is time to celebrate. And all of God’s creation seems to be singing His praise!

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Back in January, in the dead of winter, my sweet husband and I wrote out a bucket list of sorts–things we wanted to do for fun this year. Money is tight, so we chose things that cost little or nothing. And one of the first things my husband mentioned was driving around to see the wildflowers when spring rolled around.

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Yesterday we had the pleasure of hopping in the car, driving out west of town, and hunting for these little beauties. And what a colorful bounty of blooms we found!

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Many flowers come and go so fast we can miss their beauty. Like a celebration of God’s goodness, we must plan and schedule and make time to enjoy them.

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These glorious treasures remind me that the same is true of the people in our lives. Often opportunities to spend time and celebrate life with them come and go so quickly we can miss them. How often are we so busy and distracted and our schedules so loaded that we miss the precious moments God is providing? Moments that may never come our way again. Moments like spending a Saturday afternoon with my wonderful husband rejoicing in God’s blessings.

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I look at my grown children and wonder how their childhood was over so quickly. I feel my dad’s absence and miss the days of his smiles and silly jokes. I visit my mom, who is having more difficulty these days, and realize the days are growing shorter that I will get to share laughs and hugs with her. And my own sweet husband–my miracle man. I remember just how close to death he came and how each day is a precious gift with him. I don’t want to miss any of it.

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Like flowers that burst into bloom and quickly fade, so are opportunities to celebrate life with those we love.

We don’t know if the opportunity before us will ever come again. But the Lord has given it to us now. Let us take hold of it and not let go!

The season for singing has come! Let’s celebrate!

Dearest Father, thank You for the beauty of spring! Thank You that new life springs forth from the earth and Your glory is seen across the landscape. Let us not miss any of it, Lord. Help us to celebrate this life You have given us with those you have placed in our lives. Let us lift up songs of praise to You and rejoice in Your glory!…In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

All Scripture from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
Photos by Sabra Penley.

This post has been added to a link-up with Inspire Me Monday at http://www.angieryg.com. To read other inspirational messages, just click on the link below…

Angie Ryg

 

 

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Filed under Celebrate, Glory, Joy, Love, New Beginning, Thankfulness

When God Says “No”

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

What do you do when God says “no”?

What do you do when those prayers you’ve been lifting up finally receive an answer, and it isn’t what you had hoped? When the “no” comes at the end of heart-felt prayer about the very thing that makes your heart sing? Your work? Your health? Your relationships? Your passion? Your dream? What do you do when you hear “no”?

 

Three days ago, we received a “no” from God. In that moment, a prayer that has been ongoing for fourteen months came to an end. And I can’t help feeling a dream has died.

You see, my husband is a minister. For ten years he served as a pastor and has been a seminary professor for the last sixteen. Last year, a severe illness left him with a disability of several things needed for this calling. We long ago realized preaching was probably not going to be in David’s future. But the dream of teaching once again in a seminary classroom stayed strong in our hearts. We thought, “Just maybe….” While we knew it was possible that might never happen, we held out hope and lifted up prayers.

Receiving this sad news has, for a moment, taken the wind out of our sails. But just for a moment. For in the quiet stillness of a life slowed, we cry out to God all the more. Through our tears…through our fears.

What does a preacher/professor do with impaired speech, troublesome motor skills, and weakened memory? We don’t know. But of one thing we are sure–God knows. He knows it all. And as the quote above from Jeremiah 29:11 states, this is all a part of His plan. He isn’t surprised by any of it. And it is all in His control. What great peace this knowledge brings!

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My husband’s new weaknesses have halted this part of our journey–that of actively teaching at the seminary, but these same weaknesses are preparing him for another part–one not yet known to us. God is transforming my husband–indeed, both of us–for our next assignment. And in His time, God will breathe new wind into our sails to move us in a new direction. He will place in our hearts a new dream. The dream that is necessary to compel us onward toward God’s new work…a work in keeping with this season in our life.

We may seem to be drifting at this point, but we are in fact still serving, still moving forward with God’s ultimate purpose–for us to bring Him glory in all we do.

sailing forth

 

Our inability to see where this is leading is okay, because God is always with us as our constant companion and guide. As long as we keep our focus on Him and follow where He leads us each day, we will be moving in the right direction.

And one morning, when the time Is right, God will open our eyes to see where He is leading us. We’ll see a new dream on the horizon.

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For now, our mission is the same as that of every believer–to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our minds…and to love our neighbors with the love the Lord has shown to us. That is true no matter the calling, no matter the gifting, no matter the location or health or life situation. This is the Lord’s will for us–to bring Him glory in everything.

So when God says “no” in answer to a specific prayer request, I will give Him praise. For He has heard my prayer and answered. And He is leading us on to something else–another part of this great adventure.

When God says “no,” it can feel like the death of a dream. But in reality, it is simply the birth of something new.

I love these words from Isaiah 43:18-19: 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

And so we work in the waiting. Waiting in expectation for this something new.

Trusting God…rejoicing always…praying continually…and being ever thankful.

For when God says “no,” He isn’t leaving you without. He is simply saying “I’ve got something else for you.”

In Christ’s love,
Sabra
 
 
All Scripture from NI84.

Images:
"Ships that pass by..." by Gopal Vijayaraghavan via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
"Tucker Thompson sailing ship" by Jakob Steinschaden via flickr
     (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
"View from the bowsprit" by savagecat via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Morning Horizon by Sabra Penley

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Filed under Change, Expectation, Faith, God's Purpose, God's Timing, God's Works, Hope, Joy, New Beginning, Peace, Prayer, Thankfulness, Transforming, Trust, Waiting

Bearing in Love

Ephesians 4:2 – Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

I used to have a picture of a teddy bear that said “Love bears all things.” As I read the verse above, I immediately thought about that little framed picture.

Teddy bears still, to this day, make me think of comfort.

Teddy Bear

And that’s the word that came to mind when I read this verse—comfort.

Who isn’t comforted by someone’s humility and gentleness and loving patience?

Loving patience…bearing with one another in love.

Such a beautiful thing. But how often do I find myself instead getting irritated or annoyed with someone, just because they aren’t moving fast enough or doing things the way I would do them or maybe they messed up again?

That is not such a beautiful thing. In fact, it’s downright ugly. Ugly self.

Self…that inward focus that says I am most important and my desires supersede all others.

But what is it that Jesus said? “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

Deny self. Put others first. Isn’t that what Christ did on the cross?

I am to follow His example.

Put off self. Put on humility, gentleness, and loving patience.

Loving patience…bearing with one another in love.

This kind of patience is wrapped in gentleness and clothed in humility.

Jesus was gentle.

Jesus humbled Himself, even to death on a cross.

love bears all things

Jesus bore the weight of all our sins, endured the cross, in love…for us.

Us!

We who turn away from Him over and over…we who often don’t follow His ways…we who mess up time and again.

He, who was perfect, bore it all in love…loving patience…for us.

What comfort this brings!

How much more, then, should we (our imperfect, sinful selves) be lovingly patient with those around us? How much more should we treat others with gentleness and humble ourselves before them?

The next time I think someone is going too slow, let me remember how Jesus endured the cross…and lovingly wait.

The next time someone is doing something other than my way, let me remember how I am supposed to follow God’s way…and humbly and simply smile.

And the next time someone messes up, again, let me remember how very many times I have messed up myself and graciously help them clean up the mess.

Next time, I want to be like Christ Jesus and bring comfort to those around me through loving patience.

For “love bears all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

Gracious Lord, thank You for being so patient with me. Thank You for loving me and leading me by Your example how I am to live. O Lord, help me to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow You each day. Every time I start to get irritated or annoyed or impatient, help me remember all that You have given to me and how many times I have failed You. In humility and gentleness, Lord, help me to lovingly show patience to everyone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today I'm joining a link-up on Woman-to-Woman Wednesday at 
www.4hisgloryblog.com. Today's topic is patience. If you have 
time, we'd love for you to hop on over and read what more 
women have to say about this much-needed quality.

All Scripture is from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.

Wooden Christian Cross by Ian Britton via flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0.
Teddy bear photo by Sabra Penley.

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Filed under Comfort, Deny Self, Gentleness, Humility, Jesus, Love, Patience, Sacrifice, Self