LEAVES ARE ALWAYS GREEN

 

STANDING STRONG IN THE STORM

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream…its leaves are always green…” Jeremiah 17:7-8b

Trees were not plentiful in Israel and most grew by sources of water like an oasis or a stream. Jeremiah’s simile indicates a person with confidence in the Lord is like a deep-rooted tree by the stream whose leaves never die but are always green.

Aunty Esther was the first Christian I met inside China thirty years ago. She was a diminutive elderly Chinese medical doctor with a soft, kind voice that masks the many years of suffering through which she has passed.

“During the Cultural Revolution,” she says, “I was called in by my superior one day. At that time I was in charge of eight large pediatric wards in my hospital. “The communists were cracking down on people who did not toe the current party line. My superior warned me that I should deny my faith and join the communist party or I may have to face the serious consequences of job demotion and salary reduction.

“A few days later, I was rudely awakened by four nurses who roughly pulled me from my bed and marched me to the hospital. En route they stopped at a barbershop and shaved off half of my hair. In front of the rest of the staff, I was confronted to renounce my faith in Christ and join the communist party.

“I responded, ‘I can’t deny Jesus. I love Jesus!’ At the mention of his name they threw me down on the ground and cursed. Later, the communist cadre at my hospital tore the stethoscope from my neck and said, ‘You are no longer Esther; you are now The Fool.’

Esther continues. For the next eleven years she lived in the basement of the hospital and obediently submitted to her new task—cleaning the floors and toilets of the hospital wards that she previously headed. Her already meagre salary of 50 dollars per month was reduced to 15 dollars. And she had to buy the cleaning materials from it. The rest was used up on food.

But Esther practised the presence of Jesus in her job. She sang as she toiled. With a twinkle in her eyes she adds, “My hospital had the cleanest floors and cleanest toilets in all of China!” Hospital staff would come to her and with great envy question her source of joy in spite of her troubles. Esther responded, “When you have Jesus in your heart, it doesn’t matter what job you do or what position you have. It only matters that you love Him and are faithful and loyal to Him!”

When the Cultural Revolution period ended, Aunty Esther was reinstated in her original job and given back pay for all that she had been deprived during those eleven years. This amount enabled her to send one of her children to the USA for higher education. She faithfully carried on her public witness for Jesus until the day she died in her late nineties.

RESPONSE: I will allow my roots to grow deep in the Lord so that my leaves will always be green.

PRAYER: Lord, thank You for the example of faithful Aunty Esther whose life reflected Your love.

 

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How to Be Beautiful Today – iBelieve Truth: A Devotional for Women – January 14

2020Jan14

How to Be Beautiful Today
By: Alisha Headley

“Do not let the adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4

am 100% a girly girl. From the time I was little, I loved dressing up. I was absolutely obsessed with all things girl from outfits, to hair, to nails. I played Barbies almost every single day and would dress them up in new outfits frequently. My Barbie’s closet was every girl’s dream. I even hosted neighborhood Barbie days where the other girl’s in the neighborhood would come over with all their Barbies. We would each set up our houses on my side lawn and play outside for hours. I guess you can say I loved the beauty I could create Barbie into, and it changed from day to day depending on my what outfit I wanted to dress my Barbies in.

Barbie was considered perfect and beautiful in my eyes. Afterall, she had the perfect hair, perfect body, perfect makeup, perfect closet, perfect white mansion, perfect red corvette, and the perfect Ken barbie doll by her side. This is what was my definition from the time I was a little girl of beautiful.

What makes one so beautiful?

The world will tell us one thing. Models are typically tall and skinny. Nowadays, implants are the new thing amongst many different parts of your body. Looking young is the key to looking beautiful, right? That’s what the makeup commercials and magazines tell us. Sure, it’s ok to have your own preferences about what you find beautiful and what others find beautiful as beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But behind the physical appearances, what is TRUE beauty?

My husband found me attractive on the outside and I always strive to look good for him. I think there is nothing wrong with wanting to look desirable for your husband or to take care of yourself in general. Afterall, our “bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in us” (I Corinthians 6:19). However, as cliché as it sounds, ‘it’s what’s on the inside the counts.’  As the scripture states, God “looks at the hidden person of the heart”, and the “gentle and quiet spirit”, and that is “very precious in the sight of God.”

While dressing up has always been fun for me going back to the days of dressing up my barbies. What about what is in the heart? The hidden person? How are you dressing up your heart every day? The Bible gives us guidance as to what we should “put on”, and what we should “put off”.

Colossians 3:8 instructs us to “put off anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth, not lying to one another.”  And then later tells us in verse 12 to put “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering…forgiving one another…but above all else, put on love, which is the bond of perfection”. 

Although we are never perfect, and our physical appearance may never be perfect, it is LOVE that is what perfects us. It makes us whole and complete. Unfading true beauty is not dependent on the outer frame, but is achieved with perfecting Christ’s love and putting on the traits that make us beautiful from the inside. I hope you begin to see yourself the way God sees you. As He sees your heart! When you get dressed today on the outside, I encourage you to dress yourself on the inside as well. Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, forgiveness and love. Don’t leave home without these accessories of the heart. Put on a gentle and quiet spirit and rid yourself of all the filth. Love yourself friends and love others. And through your true beauty from the inside, others will experience Jesus and Jesus will be pleased with you. Beauty starts from the inside.


Alisha Headley is a writer and speaker who has a passion to meet the everyday woman in her everyday life with wisdom gained from personal experiences and Biblical truth. Alisha is a proud stay at home wifey and dog mama who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. In her free time, Alisha enjoys working out, traveling with her hubby, styling her outfits, and date nights where she eats her favorite foods.

You can find Alisha here:
Blog: www.alishaheadley.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/alisha.herlifeblog
Instagram: www.instragram.com/alisha.headley

For More Great Resources for Women, Visit iBelieve’s Faith Channel.

My utmost for His highest

u.jpgDo You Walk In White?

We were buried with Him…that just as Christ was raised from the dead…even so we also should walk in newness of life.  Romans 6:4

No one experiences complete sanctification without going through a “white funeral” — the burial of the old life. If there has never been this crucial moment of change through death, sanctification will never be more than an elusive dream. There must be a “white funeral,” a death with only one resurrection— a resurrection into the life of Jesus Christ. Nothing can defeat a life like this. It has oneness with God for only one purpose— to be a witness for Him.

Have you really come to your last days? You have often come to them in your mind, but have you really experienced them? You cannot die or go to your funeral in a mood of excitement. Death means you stop being. You must agree with God and stop being the intensely striving kind of Christian you have been. We avoid the cemetery and continually refuse our own death. It will not happen by striving, but by yielding to death. It is dying— being “baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3).

Have you had your “white funeral,” or are you piously deceiving your own soul? Has there been a point in your life which you now mark as your last day? Is there a place in your life to which you go back in memory with humility and overwhelming gratitude, so that you can honestly proclaim, “Yes, it was then, at my ‘white funeral,’ that I made an agreement with God.”

“This is the will of God, your sanctification…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Once you truly realize this is God’s will, you will enter into the process of sanctification as a natural response. Are you willing to experience that “white funeral” now? Will you agree with Him that this is your last day on earth? The moment of agreement depends on you. From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition

Bible in One Year: Genesis 36-38; Matthew 10:21-42