HIS PRINCESS EVERY DAY – FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2020

You Will Be Greatly RewardedI see you when no one else does. I see you meet others needs when no one is looking. I know when you give generously when there is no spotlight. Your name may never be on a plaque for the world to notice, but I see you, My faithful one. I know you need to be appreciated for who you are and all you do. But don’t give up. I will bring you a reward that can’t be bought in a store or found in the praises of people. I can’t wait to celebrate in heaven all you have done to further My kingdom. I’m so pleased with your dedication and good works. Until that great day—when I exalt you and your good works for the whole world to see—let Me give you a taste of those blessings here on earth. Thank you for your faithfulness, My princess. The best is yet to come.

Love,
Your King and your Rewarder

New Year Resolution

By Sharon May, Ph.D. and Alan Hart, MS, MAT

New Year Resolution

What are your New Year resolutions? We may have hopes of changing what we know we should, such as losing weight, exercising more, or eating healthier. Or have dreams for greater success, either at work, school, financially or with a project.

Certainly, making more money can solve some problems, and having more nice things and adventures can make you feel good for a while. But at the heart of a worthwhile life is the quality of one’s relationships. When we belong to a healthy community comprised of loving people, we do better in life. And so, what kind of a resolution would have the most impact on your life this year? How about a resolution to love better?

Take your marriage for example. Life is so much better and you are so much happier when you and your spouse are getting along. You know what it is like to be at odds with your spouse. Your day just doesn’t go as well. You feel burdened, as though a grey cloud follows you. And if days turn into weeks and months, maybe years, and nothing gets resolved, resentment builds and distance between the two of you grows.

Arguing and unresolved conflicts can easily fill your lives with stress, anxiety and even hopelessness, which often flows over into your work, parenting, and projects. Marital stress can make you more irritable, draining you of energy and making it difficult to concentrate. And when you ruminate over all that isn’t going well in your marriage, you can find yourself impatient, grumpy, and wondering whether or not you should be together in the first place. Life just feels heavier.

By contrast, when you and your spouse are able to enjoy each other, talk through issues and resolve conflicts, you feel more connected. This enables you to face the difficulties of life together. You find the courage to do the stressful projects at work, or parent the teenager, or tackle the chores of the day. The well-known “hand holding” research project by Coan and Johnson found that simply holding the hand of a spouse you perceive as a safe haven is a buffer to pain. Life is just better together if you can love better.

Another example is friendships. When you have someone you can turn to and share the joys and struggles in your life, you don’t feel so alone. Knowing someone is there for you provides comfort and strength.

A 2017 study in the journal Personal Relationships looked at 270,000 people in about 100 countries and found that as we get older, it is friends, even more so than families, that we associate with happiness and better health.

Research repeatedly shows that relationships are good for our emotional well-being and the quality of our lives. So, it would do us well to put ‘fostering friendships’ and ‘loving well’ at the top of our list of new year resolutions. The quality of our life depends upon it.

Three “resolutions” for your new year:

1. Foster at least 3 three close friendships. Start with the people who know and care about the small and big things in your life; friends who enjoy life with you, motivate you to make wise choices and help you be a better person.

Building these core, life-giving friendships will take time and energy. Every week, get to know what these friends are enjoying or working through or stressing out about—and not just through social media. Nurture these relationships in-person, face-to-face, or over the phone. Every month, invite one of these friends to join you in a fun activity.

You will be a better person and have a better quality of life if you have a few good friends. You’ll feel happier and have the courage to face the difficulties of life when someone is there for you.

2. Enjoy your spouse. I know you spend much of your week working and taking care of kids, pets and household responsibilities. And then sometimes spend the weekend arguing with your spouse. But even in the midst of conflict, try to make time to talk with your spouse about a fun topic, or play a game, put together a puzzle, or keep a weekly date night.

Research by John Gottman shows that it is not the arguing that deteriorates a marriage, but the lack of repairing and bookending conflict with good “connecting” time.

In other words, try and let go of the resentment of the moment and make time to enjoy each other. The more positive experiences you can share with your spouse, the more loving and kind feelings you will have toward each other. Then you will begin to see your spouse’s intentions more positively, which will allow you to repair hurts and let go of nonessential issues.

Double up on household chores to free up some fun time. Or take a chore and find a way to turn it into a fun activity. Light a candle, put on some music, dim the lights and cook or do the dishes together. Or pump up the music and clean the house together. But whatever you do, bookend your days and weekends with kindness, laughter and good times.

Take the time and energy to make you marriage a relationship you enjoy. If you are in a rough season in your marriage, if resentment has accumulated and you are both disconnected, take steps to unravel your stuck places and heal your hurts. Life is too short to live emotionally disconnected from your spouse.

3. Remember that God is always there. Every moment of our day, God is with us. All we need to do is to slow down, look up and see God in the midst of our situation. Our relationship with God becomes a source of wisdom, guidance, and comfort. God is there for us, no matter what.

God also knows the importance of living life in relationship. We are created and wired to live not alone, but in community. Jesus’ friends were vitally important to him. Likewise, healthy relationships become for us a ‘safe haven’ to which we can turn knowing we are not alone—that someone will be there for us, no matter what.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13

“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:9

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgiver one another if any of you has a grievance against someone…” Colossians 3:12-13


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Do you know why God loves you?

Created for Connection

The Discipline of Worship

If you haven’t read my previous blog posts about my journey in discipline this year, I would recommend starting by reading my introductory blog here, as well as my other update blogs which you can find listed here.

What is worship?

I’m sure we all have different definitions for worship, but one thing is certain: it is more than simply singing a song in your personal time alone with God or in church on Sunday morning. As Foster states in Celebration of Discipline, “singing, praying, praising all may lead to worship, but worship is more than any of them” (p.159). Though we do need these forms of worship to give us avenues in which to experience true worship, these activities themselves are not truly worship unless there is a heart connection. Worship is our experience of God through our responses to his character, his works, and his love for us.

Furthermore, Foster also points out that worship can look different for everybody. “We are free in Christ to use whatever forms will enhance our worship, and if any form hinders us from experiencing the living Christ – too bad for the form” (p.159). He supports this statement by reminding the reader that the New Testament never gave instructions for the proper way to worship. Sometimes I feel the way I worship doesn’t quite fit in the traditional box of worship according to others, but it’s refreshing to be reminded that as long as my spirit is meeting with the Spirit of God, that’s all that matters. Worship doesn’t have to look any certain way to be authentic.

How do we worship?

While worship doesn’t have to fit into any certain type of box to be true worship, Foster did give some helpful tips for entering into worship in this chapter of Celebration of Discipline (the full list of the steps to worship can be found on pages 170-173).

One recommendation he gives that stuck out to me is to learn to practice the presence of God daily. This means not only to spend time engaging with him through meditating on his Word, praying, and worshiping him before you start your day, but also being intentional to turn your attention to praising and thanking God throughout your day. This simple act of refocusing your attention as you go about your normal tasks can be transformational.

A few years ago I spent some time intentionally practicing the presence of God in this way using insights I read in Celebration of Discipline as well as The Practice of the Presence of God, and I remember feeling so filled with joy and peace while I washed glass after glass at my job, simply because I turned my attention from myself to worshiping and praising God.

Another recommendation that he shared that stood out to me was to learn to offer a sacrifice of worship, meaning to choose to worship God even when you don’t feel like it. This reminds me of something one of my pastors said a few years ago: that he would often dance and lift his hands in worship even when he wasn’t feeling any of the joy or thankfulness that he was expressing. For a while I wrestled with that idea, never wanting my worship to be inauthentic or for my own edification. Something I’ve realized, however, is that as long as my heart is geared towards giving praise to God, my worship will be true.

The Fruit

On page 161, Foster shares something that is incredibly freeing for me: “The primary function of the Levitical priests was to ‘come near to me to minister to me’ (Ezek. 44:15). For the Old Testament priesthood, ministry to God was to precede all other work. And that is no less true of the universal priesthood of the New Testament.”

This is freeing mainly because I often find myself desiring to worship but feeling like there are other “more important” things that need to be done, even within my relationship with God. I feel like I have to balance my time practicing all of these different disciplines that I’ve written about in the past year in equal measure. But the fact is that relationship with God isn’t about checking off any boxes, it’s about cultivating a life that is wholly surrendered to God. That time spent in worship, ministering to the Lord, will never be wasted time, and even more than that, it’s one of my primary functions as a follower of Jesus.

And as we spend time praising God for who he is and thanking him for all he’s done, and even what he will do, we are moved into a deeper place of obedience (p.173). This obedience isn’t out of obligation, but instead is from a place of love and adoration for our King. This is the type of obedience and surrender that I long to walk in, so I will do my best to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog. Whether you’ve been participating in this challenge yourself or not, I’d love to hear how you’ve practiced the discipline of worship in the comment section below. Have a wonderful November!

His Wife Went Home Too Soon

How God Comforted Hudson Taylor

Article by

Pastor, Abu Dhabi

One of the most precious promises in Scripture is that God “comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:4). But for years I wondered, what does that mean? How does God comfort us? How do we actually experience this?

What helped me with these questions, as much as anything, was the story of how God comforted Hudson Taylor (1832–1905). He met Maria Dyer on the mission field in China, and the two were married in 1858. In 1866, after some time back in England, Hudson and Maria returned to their beloved China. But on July 23, 1870, Maria became ill and died.

This was a tragic, heartbreaking loss for Hudson. But God deeply comforted him, as we see from two letters he wrote soon after her passing.

Two Letters of Grief and Hope

The first letter was written to William Berger, who was in London raising support and recruiting missionaries:

Many, many thanks for your loving sympathy in my bereavement. . . .

I do from day to day and every day so delight in the love of Jesus, satisfy my thirsty heart when most desolate from his fullness, feed and rest in green pastures in the recognition that his will has been done and is being done, as no words can express.

He only knows what her absence is to me. Twelve and a half years of such unbroken spiritual fellowship, united labor, mutual satisfaction and love, fall to the lot of very few . . . but were the loss less, I should know less of his power and sustaining love. (Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission, 197)

The second letter was written to Mary Berger, William’s wife:

No language can express what [Christ] has been and is to me. Never does he leave me; constantly does he cheer me with his love. He who once wept at the grave of Lazarus often now weeps in and with me. . . .

Often I find myself wondering whether it is possible for her, who is taken, to have more joy in his presence than he has given me.

At times he allows me to realize all I had in her, but have no longer. . . . And then he who will soon come and wipe away every tear comes and takes all bitterness from my tears and fills my heart with deep, true, unutterable gladness. (208)

How God Comforted Him

Hudson Taylor’s letters show us how God comforts us. First, God comforted him with tastes of his love and joy.

Constantly does he cheer me with his love. . . . Often I find myself wondering whether it is possible for her, who is taken, to have more joy in his presence than He has given me.

The loss of his wife left Hudson Taylor empty and heartbroken. But God gave him such satisfaction in his love and joy that his empty, broken heart was filled and healed. Like Moses prayed, “Satisfy us in the morning” — even in incredible grief — “with your steadfast love” (Psalm 90:14).

Second, God’s comfort does not remove our sorrow but shares with us in our sorrow.

At times he does allow me to realize all that I had in her, but have no longer. . . . He who once wept at the grave of Lazarus often now weeps in and with me.

God allowed Hudson Taylor to have times of great joy in Christ’s love, and also times of deep loss in Maria’s absence. But even in the times of loss, Hudson was comforted by the sense that Jesus was there, weeping in and with him. That’s how Isaiah describes God: “In all their affliction he was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9).

Third, God’s tenderness washed away his bitterness and filled his heart with gladness.

At times he allows me to realize all that I had in her, but have no longer. . . . And then he who will soon come and wipe away every tear comes and takes all bitterness from my tears and fills my heart with deep, true, unutterable gladness.

Grief over loss can easily become bitterness. But God gave Hudson Taylor such gladness that bitterness was removed from his tears, and joy filled his heart. As David said to God, “In your presence there is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11), even when we are overcome with sorrow.

Fourth, God’s comfort is so precious that it is worth every loss.

He only knows what her absence is to me. Twelve and a half years of such unbroken spiritual fellowship, united labor, mutual satisfaction and love, fall to the lot of very few . . . but were the loss less, I should know less of his power and sustaining love.

Hudson Taylor knew heartbreaking loss. But God gave him such an experience of his power and love that it more than made up for the loss and grief. Paul agrees: “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

How God Might Comfort You

But all of this did not happen automatically. Notice the part Hudson Taylor played:

I do from day to day and every day so delight in the love of Jesus, satisfy my thirsty heart when most desolate from his fullness, feed and rest in green pastures in the recognition that his will has been done and is being done, as no words can express.

Taylor says his heart was thirsty and desolate. But he did not stay there. Day to day, and every day, he sought to delight in the love of Jesus, and satisfy his heart in Christ’s fullness. This meant he prayed fervently for a deeper experience of Christ’s love, and he meditated earnestly on Scriptures describing Christ’s love.

Taylor also fed on and rested in the truth that God’s will was being done. He knew that ultimately God had taken his wife home, so he trusted and submitted to God’s will. The result was, as we read above, “Often I find myself wondering whether it is possible for her, who is taken, to have more joy in his presence than he has given me.”

Hudson Taylor was heartbroken over the loss of his wife. But God gave him such comfort that he wondered if his wife in heaven could possibly be experiencing as much joy in God as he was. That’s how deeply God comforted Taylor in his grief. And that’s how God can comfort you.