Thoughts to Ponder Learned from Some of the Giants of the Faith

“Find your purpose, then lose your life fulfilling your purpose” (John C. Maxell).

Learning from the Giants, by John C. Maxwell, started off a little slow for me, but by the end, I was very happy to have persevered in listening my way through it. Maxwell imagined sitting in his study for a day, being visited by a number of the Bible’s great leaders. As I was usually driving while listening, I resorted to writing down my favorite memories of what Maxwell had to say after arriving at my destination, so they may not be perfect quotes, but I wanted to share some provocative bits of advice gleaned from his studies and commend the book to you as encouraging reading. (P.S.—You know how I love to share photos, too, so I picked out some pictures from my last trip to Mackinac Island, although they were chosen more for beauty than connection to the text.)

Queen Anne’s Lace

Elijah:
*God loves you, even on your worst days!
*Wait, serve, and learn while you wait.
*Our purpose must always be more important to us than our position.
*Find your purpose, and then lose your life fulfilling your purpose.
*Brokenness always precedes blessing.

Arch Rock on Mackinac Island

Job:
*Character is more important than reputation, so work on growing your character.
*Reputation is like a shadow; it has no substance.
*Character is what will enable you to withstand tribulation.
*At the end of Job’s life, he was filled with promise and not pain anymore!

Deborah:
*Be prepared for God to surprise you.
*Expect the unexpected.
*You must deal with your past before God will give you a future.
*God can make nothing out of you until you realize you are nothing without God. (Editorial Note: We are always the objects of God’s love, which gives us great worth, but I think Maxwell was pointing out that God loves the humble in heart.)

Jonah:
*God is a God of second chances.
*Mercy always runs downhill.
*But—think about what you missed by not living right from the beginning!

Joshua:
*God will only give you the promises you claim.

Daniel:
*Be motivated by conviction, not convenience.
*Greatness isn’t doing all you can do; it’s allowing God to do all He wants to do through you.
*You will never lose your way if you never lose your why.
*Courage is like muscle; it is strengthened by exercise.

With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).

Rise Up, My Love (161): Find or Die Trying!

SS 161 11.08.15Song of Solomon 5:8 “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.” Abused and rejected by those who should have helped her, branded as impure and unholy, the bride turns to other women in a desperate attempt for help. Frantically aware that her beloved may encounter any or many of the other women in Jerusalem before she can find him, she charges the daughters of Jerusalem to tell him that she is heartsick.

When a man is rebuffed by the woman he loves, he becomes particularly vulnerable to the admiration and affection of other attractive women, particularly if they’re available. This I call my Double Triple A Formula, and it can be used powerfully for good (or evil). A virtuous woman should keep herself attractive for her husband (Proverbs 31:22), always be available and affectionate (I Corinthians 7:3-5), and she should be a “help meet” to build him up spiritually so that she—and all others—can admire and appreciate him (Prov. 31:11,12,23). Unfortunately, a woman who does not meet these needs in her husband will usually find that there are many “daughters of Jerusalem” out there who would be more than happy to provide such services. As wives, we must routinely examine ourselves and our husband’s level of satisfaction with our marriage, least we become a stumbling block to him by our neglect.

The bride, acutely aware of her failure, makes the right choice—to seek him until she finds him. It has been said that true love has no eyes for itself, and the bride demonstrates the validity of such a saying. She does not care what it costs her, nor does she care what others think of her.

“But finding him may cost you your life!”
“Then I will die trying, because I cannot live without him!”

Such is the energy and determination of the true lover…the true disciple. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37-38).

Her search proved her worthy of Christ—well, are we ever worthy of Christ? In truth, I think not. But, for sure we are unworthy if we do not love him more than all the world, take up our cross, and follow him. That is our calling.

Do you ever suffer from “whatifitis?” I do. I wonder if the bride was heartsick from whatifitis. “What if my husband is so angry that He decides to find another wife?” “What if I can’t find him?” “What if someone rapes me?…kills me?…kidnaps me before I can find him?” “What if my ingratitude and lethargy have made him lose interest in me?” “What if he no longer finds me attractive?” “What if he’s unwilling to forgive me?” “What if the garden of my life has become so neglected and overrun with weeds that he refuses to be bothered with me anymore?”

No, dear fretting heart, though man is fickle and loves inconstantly, the Lord’s love burns with an unquenchable flame. Keep seeking: you will find Him. Keep knocking: He will open unto you. If the gardens in our hearts have fallen into disrepair—if our hearts have been utterly ruined and broken—who is better able to tend and mend than our Lord? If we come to him, he will never cast us out (John 6:37; 10:28). His mercies are new every morning and his faithfulness fills the earth and heaven.

What were Jesus’ words to the woman caught in adultery? “Neither to I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). He forgave; she was to understand that her actions were sinful and to stop sinning. This is ever his invitation and call to us, even as it was Jehovah’s tender words to his erring wife, Israel: “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy: break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12).

This is beautifully pictured for us in the response of the erring wife! She has seen her sin, repented, and taken up her cross—now if she can only find her Lord so that she might follow him!! “Oh Lord…the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early” (Isaiah 26:9).