The advantages of pleasing God rather than man

I know, I know. I was not supposed to post until January but I won’t be long this time. I’ll just copy/paste those few words written by Puritan Richard Baxter which highlight the benefits we have in choosing to please God rather than man.

The Advantages of Pleasing God Rather than Men

 

by Richard Baxter

1. If you seek first to please God and are satisfied therein, you have but one to please instead of multitudes; and a multitude of masters are hardlier pleased than one.
2. And it is one that putteth upon you nothing that is unreasonable, for quantity or quality.
3. And one that is perfectly wise and good, not liable to misunderstand your case and actions.
4. And one that is most holy, and is not pleased in iniquity or dishonesty.
5. And he is one that is impartial and most just, and is no respecter of persons, Acts x. 34.
6. And he is one that is a competent judge, that hath fitness and authority, and is acquainted with your hearts, and every circumstance and reason of your actions.
7. And he is one that perfectly agreeth with himself, and putteth you not upon contradictions or impossibilities.
8. And he is one that is constant and unchangeable; and is not pleased with one thing to-day, and another contrary to-morrow; nor with one person this year, whom he will be weary of the next.
9. And he is one that is merciful, and requireth you not to hurt yourselves to please him: nay, he is pleased with nothing of thine but that which tendeth to thy happiness, and displeased with nothing but that which hurts thyself or others, as a father that is displeased with his children when they defile or hurt themselves.
10. He is gentle, though just, in his censures of thee; judging truly, but not with unjust rigour, nor making your actions worse than they are.
11. He is one that is not subject to the passions of men, which blind their minds, and carry them to injustice.
12. He is one that will not be moved by tale-bearers, whisperers, or false accusers, nor can be perverted by any misinformation.

 

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Tips for studying and a goodbye note

styduy

Via Pinterest

A few days ago, a young friend of mine who also happens to be a reader of the blog asked me if I could write a little post where I would share, as a university students, a few tips on studying and faith. I felt the question was oriented toward how to obtain a balance between the two, in other words, how to make room for God and His word throughout the day. Far from knowing everything, I just wanted to share a few tips that helped me during the last few years; and, to be honest, writing them down also prepares me for the upcoming exams- it is good to have a reminder every once in a while .Oh, and speaking about exams, this post is timely because it will be the last one this month ! I am starting to revise for my exams of January and therefore, part of my discipline as a student is that I get rid of what could distract me.

So here are a few things I found useful during my studies:

 

  1. I learned that starting the day with God and ending the day with God is the best “frame” for the day. Charles Spurgeon once said “It is a good rule never to look into the face of a man in the morning till you have looked into the face of God”; a brother was once preaching about something and mentionned that Christ got up early to pray: “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35). Just as we eat in the morning, it is good and necessary to feed our souls. To spend time with the Lord. I won’t list all the reasons why but one of them is that 1) As someone said, He is the Maker of time, and there is always a way to make time for Him 2) His words are full of wisdom and you will need them throughout the day. Trust me. Sometimes I will read a short passage of the Bible, or I will read the “text” of the day in a devotional (I have a few: during my first year of University, I used to read Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest; now I have a devotional by C.H Spurgeon). This morning, I read a few verses of 1 Timothy. Something I really love is the book of Proverbs, too ! It is jam-packed with wisdom for the day. You just can’t imagine how being influenced by the Word and obeying it dramatically changes your discipline for the best.
  2. Time is not ours. We ought to be good stewards of the time that was given to us. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Colossians 3:23). I constantly have to ask myself, “Was this hour of work done heartily for the Lord ? Or was I complaining all the time ? Checking Facebook ? Wasting my time ?” When we work for the Lord, being grateful for the means and abilities the Lord gave us and using them the best we can, it changes a lot of things. We won’t try to stick to the bare minimum. So often we are discouraged because no one sees our work, or because no one acknowledge it. We feel lonely… but our Master sees it ! “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
  3. Working joyfully makes everything easier. Sure studies are not always easy, but try to make it more pleasant ! It will help you see it less than a chore, and more like a challenge. One of the thing I like to do is to light a candle on my desk; get myself a hot drink and the rule is that I should never leave the candle unattended (since it’s not safe !) and that the drink should continually be hot as to study for extended periods of time, and to go take a break just for getting another beverage or to take a short break. This way, the candle prevents me from leaving the room ! Make your desk a pleasant place, even your favorite place in the whole house !
  4. In order to avoid the temptation of going on the internet,  print, if possible, everything you will need beforehand. That’s what I’ll do this winter. I’ll print all my infectiology and hematology documents instead of constantly opening my computer ! If you really need Word or Open Office, give yourself a limited period of time to type your document and only use your computer for researches purpose, because…
  5. If you really need to take a break, avoid social media and internet at all costs ! Well, now this is my opinion but I think that most of the time, I think a profitable break is a 15 minutes cardio session, or, in my case, a 8-15 minutes Ballet Beautiful Workout; or a 20 minutes cleanup, or a 10 minutes little DIY just to relax. Physical Exercice will help your brain release endorphins, which will leave you energized and those little molecules are also a good antidepressant ! I also find Facebook a distraction, but also a bad place to go to during exam study sessions for a good reason: When I open facebook there are always people who will try to talk to you about how bad things are going for them with that lecture, that they just want to give up, and often, that leaves you depressed. Clearly. So I always make sure to let people know that I will not be available on FB and on text messages during this period of the year because I need to focus on my goal.
  6. Discipline has a price but it pays: look at ants. Look at bees. How organized and hardworking they are, and how their work pays.
  7. Stick to a schedule as to see the progress of your work: that helps when it comes to motivation to cross an item off the list.
  8. Michael Jordan. Yes, Michael Jordan.Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (1 Cor 9:24-25) Sometimes, when my motivation was low, I would open Youtube and watch Michael Jordan interviews. To see that an athlete like him, a legend of basketball, was not accepted in his highschool basketball team when he was younger, but worked so hard that he finally managed to be the Prince of the NBA had a big impact on me. Of course there will be a need for self-control. Of course. But at the end, you will never regret it. It will teach you so many things.

 

It’s time for me to leave now ! I am going to make myself a good cup- I mean mug of tea, light a candle, stay in my room and study that dermatology lecture !

Have a blessed month of December, y’all ! Hope to be back at the keyboard at the end of January !

 

Stéphanie

 

Becoming a single woman of virtue

 

 

woman

Pinterest

The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.” (Matthew 6:22)

Above everything else guard your heart, because from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

I was thinking of the importance of guarding our eyes.

You see, I was raised in a conservative Christian family, and my mom (and aunts, with whom I am very close), always dressed in a beautiful, elegant, tasteful, modest manner. Modesty was never synonym of blandness for me, because they looked like true ladies.

And I am thinking about the legacy we are about to leave to the younger girls out there. All they see all day long are pictures of Victoria’s Secret models who not only don’t look like their real selves but also- and this is a tragedy for me- have every year a fashion show watched by millions of people. Every year millions of people sit in front of their TV for that massive celebration of the cult of sensuality.

Basically, the equation of our time is… lots of skin+a seductive behavior= you get all the attention you’ve longed for, girl.

And I am thinking about men, too. How these images distorted their vision of true beauty. How it destroyed them. It’s easy understand why those shows are so awaited and loved. It appeals to the flesh. But we know that nothing good will come out of it. It will kill them. It will kill us.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible about this topic is Proverbs 7:

“My son, keep my words

    and store up my commands within you.
Keep my commands and you will live;
    guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
    and to insight, “You are my relative.”
They will keep you from the adulterous woman,
    from the wayward woman with her seductive words.

At the window of my house
    I looked down through the lattice.
I saw among the simple,
    I noticed among the young men,
    a youth who had no sense.
He was going down the street near her corner,
    walking along in the direction of her house
at twilight, as the day was fading,
    as the dark of night set in.

10 Then out came a woman to meet him,
    dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.
11 (She is unruly and defiant,
    her feet never stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the squares,
    at every corner she lurks.)
13 She took hold of him and kissed him
    and with a brazen face she said:

14 “Today I fulfilled my vows,
    and I have food from my fellowship offering at home.
15 So I came out to meet you;
    I looked for you and have found you!
16 I have covered my bed
    with colored linens from Egypt.
17 I have perfumed my bed
    with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
18 Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning;
    let’s enjoy ourselves with love!
19 My husband is not at home;
    he has gone on a long journey.
20 He took his purse filled with money
    and will not be home till full moon.”

21 With persuasive words she led him astray;
    she seduced him with her smooth talk.
22 All at once he followed her
    like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer stepping into a noose
23     till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
    little knowing it will cost him his life.

24 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
    pay attention to what I say.
25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways
    or stray into her paths.
26 Many are the victims she has brought down;
    her slain are a mighty throng.
27 Her house is a highway to the grave,
    leading down to the chambers of death.” (emphasis mine)

Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.

Just like those beautiful, colorful spiders you find in tropical jungles, she has a poison. She will kill you.

Looking at that chapter, there are so many things we could see. The condition of her heart. Her demeanor, subtle at times: she even employs religious language. His lack of sense. The perfect recipe for disaster.

The woman described above, the world has plenty of that kind. And you know what, looking at my own heart, I know that if it wasn’t for the saving grace of Jesus-Christ and the new affections He puts in our hearts, i.e, a love of good things and a hatred for evil things, I would be like the proverbs 7 woman.

I want to be a Proverbs 31 woman, a woman after God’s heart.I don’t want to be a Proverb 7 woman that dishonor God and destroys men (and women, by a bad influence as well !).

We learned the lesson the hard way back in Eden. The Devil makes evil looks beautiful and kills you. He invites you to bite into a glossy, poisoned apple. And the thing is, new temptations will come everyday. On TV. As you open Youtube. In your workplace. In the street. In your heart. And I am becoming more and more convinced that if we don’t put the Word of God as our first influence in our lives we will believe without knowing it the lies of this deceitful world.

As a single woman, I decided to dig deeper in the Word of God and allow it to shape me. To shape my desires. My affections. To replace the lies I’ve believed.

This post was full of random thoughts ! Sorry if there was no real “guiding thread” there but it was something I had at heart.

Before ending this post, I wanted to share an article found on Revive Our Hearts, titled “Becoming a Single Woman of Virtue”, written by Nancy Leigh de Moss. You can find it here.

Becoming a Single Woman of Virtue

“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” Proverbs 14:1

  1. Is there anything about my speech, actions, dress, or attitudes that could defraud the men around me?
  2. Am I building up my “house”—home, work place, church—(vs. tearing it down)?
  3. Am I taking in sensual thoughts and desires through books, magazines, TV programs,music, or movies that are not morally pure?
  4. Am I investing in the lives of those around me? Am I nurturing the heart of my siblings or others God has called me to bless?
  5. Am I looking to any man (pastor, counselor, colleague, etc.) to fill an emotional vacuum in my life? Do I go to a man rather than going to the Lord to meet my emotional needs?
  6. Am I cultivating a grateful, joyful spirit? Am I rejoicing in the Lord?
  7. Is there any behavior or relationship I am involved in that I am hiding? Am I engaged in anything now that I will not want my husband to know about if I marry in the future?
  8. Am I giving the best of my physical and emotional energy for the Lord?
  9. Am I discontent? Am I dwelling on thoughts that make me unable to find fulfillment through serving the Lord and those around me He has called me to serve?
  10. Am I cultivating a pleasant, gracious spirit in my words, actions, and attitudes that brings honor and glory to the Lord?
  11. Am I critical or judgmental? Do my parents have the freedom to be honest with me?
  12. Am I keeping my emotions, attention, and affection from every man to whom I am not engaged or married? Am I protecting the thoughts and feelings of my heart?
  13. Is my conversation ever loose, crude, or unbecoming for a woman of God?
  14. Am I discreet and restrained in the way I talk with men at work?
  15. Am I expressing admiration for a man that should more appropriately come from his wife?
  16. Do I communicate a meek, quiet, and submissive spirit?
  17. Does my demeanor tend to be “loud and defiant”? Do I dominate or try to control the men around me?
  18. Does my dress help men to keep their thoughts pure and Christ-centered? Is my dress feminine and modest?
  19. Am I a “door” or a “wall” (Song of Songs 8:9)? Am I a “loose” woman? Do I communicate to the men around me that I am “available”? Does my demeanor invite them to “partake” of intimate parts of my body, soul, or spirit? Do I engage in flirtatious speech, looks, or behavior?
  20. Have I purposed in my heart to be morally pure?
  21. Am I currently in a situation that is (or could become) compromising?
  22. Do I reserve intimate communication, looks, words, and touch for my future husband (if I marry)?
  23. Have I become a “refuge” for a man who may be struggling in his marriage?
  24. Have I surrendered my sexual desires in honor of the Lord, my future husband, and the marriages or future marriages of those around me? Am I walking in holiness and honor?
  25. Do I esteem and value any man more than the Lord? Do I love any man more than I love the Lord? Who comes first in my estimation?
  26. Would those who know me best say that I am a woman of moral virtue and purity?
  27. Am I in a situation that could appear to others to be compromising?
  28. Am I making myself accountable to another godly woman for my walk with God and others?
  29. Do I treat men with respect by keeping a proper distance from them, emotionally and physically?
  30. Have I erected (and am I maintaining) adequate “hedges” in my relationships with men? Have I defined what those hedges are?

I acknowledge and renounce my sinful involvement in _______________ and pray in the name and through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ that you would break this stronghold in my life. I realize, Lord, this sin has been a detrimental influence in my life [and marriage]. Lord, I humbly ask that You would forgive me and wash me in the blood of Christ, cleansing me from this sin. I ask you, Lord Jesus to take back the ground given to the enemy through my involvement and I yield that ground to Your control. I purpose to honor You in my heart, practicing purity and discretion in all of my relationships.