Grinding The Wheat in 2017

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that what I do here and on Instagram is equally for preaching to own heart as it is to encourage yours. I’d tell you that true hope isn’t in pretty prints but with the good news they proclaim. I want to be a John the Baptist with brush in hand, pointing to the One who actually brings life. May GraceLaced art be a starting point, not the end itself. Let’s not treat the Word as Spurgeon describes: 

There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in His service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. Truth is something like the cluster of the vine: if we would have wine from it, we must bruise it; we must press and squeeze it many times. The bruiser’s feet must come down joyfully upon the bunches, or else the juice will not flow; and they must well tread the grapes, or else much of the precious liquid will be wasted. So we must, by meditation, tread the clusters of truth, if we would get the wine of consolation therefrom. Our bodies are not supported by merely taking food into the mouth, but the process which really supplies the muscle, and the nerve, and the sinew, and the bone, is the process of digestion. It is by digestion that the outward food becomes assimilated with the inner life. Our souls are not nourished merely by listening awhile to this, and then to that, and then to the other part of divine truth. Hearing, reading, marking, and learning, all require inwardly digesting to complete their usefulness, and the inward digesting of the truth lies for the most part in meditating upon it. 

Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord, and be this our resolve this morning, “I will meditate in Thy precepts.”  (C.H. Spurgeon)

Friends: persevere in the grinding, gathering, plucking, and stooping low to drink from the Well offered to us. May all the beauty + truth you find here in 2017 merely adorn what is most satisfying: Christ himself.

We can’t drink from a cup that is already full of our agenda and striving, so to that end will you pray for me as I pray for you: That we would be emptied of our kingdom and filled up with His.

That’s my commitment as I seek to steward this space well; thank you for beginning another year with me here. 


In effort to grind the wheat this year, I’m beginning (again) another year-long reading plan with the ESV Bible App. You can choose from several plans, and read passages in app, or have it read to you. It’ll track your progress and keep you working through the Scriptures in manageable chunks.

I’d love for you to join me. It’s not going to be perfect, and some of us will have to set aside our ideas of a perfectly quiet house and unfettered time with all our commentaries open, plus endless hours to Bible journal — let’s be real; that’s not going to happen every day. Some us won’t make it all the way through without missing a single day, and it will drive us crazy, but that isn’t the point. It’s not about us, but about knowing Him and the promises of His Word, in its entirety. The point is to PERSIST:

I hear the app only has Bible reading plans for the iPhone version. If you’re an Android user, I will post daily reading charts as often as I’m able in my Instastories in the mornings: Instagram.com/graelaced. Join me there for encouragement!

Sometimes it’s not the words of my mouth that’s the problem – I’m fairly good at guarding those; it’s the meditations of my heart that can run unfettered, which in time, will reveal itslef in my speech too. I’ve been sharing on the blog and in Instastories about not just liking the bread, but #grindingthewheat in 2017. We do that by tethering the meditations of our hearts to the unfailing Word of God…not for a pep talk or for self-affirmation, but to align our desires with His. Our Rock and our Redeemer isn’t just faithful for salvation but for every day we’ll need hope for our tongues + minds in 2017! 


By the way….Did you purchase last year’s Garden of Truth calendar? Now that the year is over, are you re-purposing it and memorizing the scriptures? I hope so! Let me know how you are using last year’s calendar, I’d love to know.

And if you haven’t purchased a 2017 Hope In the Desert Calendar, don’t wait! They are 50-70% off in the Shoppe, depending on quantity. My hope is that you will let the Word minister to your heart day by day, and that these scriptures will be hidden in our hearts as we preach the truth to ourselves!


Praying for you as you grind the wheat and grow in the Word in 2017. It’s worth it…to persist and not give up. I’m standing and seeking along with you. 

Because of grace,

 

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Returning To Truth

It’s noisy out there in social-media-internet land. (I pray i never add to the noise, and if I do…stop reading this blog.)

I’ve always struggled to be in the Word regularly, and with the noise that I allow in…so often God’s word takes a backseat in the filling of my mind. 

I’m over at The Better Mom today, calling us who are feeling stuck in a world of opinions to return to the centrality of God’s Word. I invite you to join me there

We Make Time

There’s no magic formula or instant miracle that occurs when we meet with the Lord. In fact, when we seek to have a purely emotional experience, we are almost always disappointed.

And so, in our short-sighted desires for immediate gratification, we find ourselves running to every other thing that promises to provide change, hope, or transformation. 

And in those choices, we declare what we believe will truly make the most impact in our lives…in the things that matter most to us. 

Join me today at The Better Mom, as I share about that one thing we know will make a difference in our lives, but so often forget. 

Because of grace,

I’m so honored that you are here. If you enjoy this blog and would like new posts to come directly to your inbox, I invite you to subscribe to GraceLaced by email.

 

Fighting To Rejoice

Fighting To Rejoice | gracelaced.com
Some of the most joyful people in the world are those who have to fight to rejoice.

I spent much time last week meditating on Psalm 118 (and went on to draw it on our chalkboard at home), not because my heart is light and cheery, but because it isn’t, at least not without a fight.

I’m reading this verse differently these days,

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

I’m no longer singing it VBS-style, clapping and delighting in the hype of all the feel-good vibes. I have certainly had days and seasons of carefree happiness and lightness of heart; but honestly, rejoicing has become much more than just an upbeat song or the collective ethos of happy summer campers. In the context of the entirety of Psalm 118, I’m hearing these words differently. I’m hearing a song that cries out, that pushes past fear and holds on to trust. I don’t hear laughing (though there very well might have been); I hear heart-wrenching acknowledgement. Rejoicing has become a choice, a battle worth fighting for.

Why did the Psalmist in Psalm 118 say that he rejoices in this day that the Lord has made?

He rejoiced in this day because he could recall all of God’s faithfulness yesterday...

5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
7 The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

…because of who He is

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

And, from the other side of the Cross, we are able to understand the great grace and mercy bought for us by the shed blood of Christ. We have the privilege of knowing the Cornerstone, himself, and the salvation he provides. The marvelousness of the Lord’s doing…is the sin he bore on the cross.

We can rejoice in today, not because of the promises this day holds; rather, we can rejoice in today because of what promises that day fulfilled. 

Life is hard, friends. Perhaps your life has met very few challenges and heartaches. Perhaps you’ve rarely felt hurt, betrayal, loss, slander, loneliness, discouragement, or the fear of man. Or maybe you have…and you, too, must fight to REJOICE.

The truth is, rejoicing doesn’t come naturally to me. Worrying does. Anger does. Fearing does. Because of Christ, I’m no longer a slave to what comes naturally.

Friend, this is the day that the Lord has made…we can rejoice and be glad in it! Not because no enemies stand in your way, no hardships threaten your comfort, no fear overtakes your heart. No…we can rejoice today because the Gospel is the ultimate answer for all of these realities, and has made us fit to walk through the gates of righteousness, and into THANKSGIVING.

Fight for the rejoicing today, because Christ has fought victoriously over you.

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Linking up in community…

Welcome to GraceLaced Mondays, a link up dedicated to sharing any and all blog posts by like-minded lovers of grace–God’s grace! Grace is found in the everyday when you are intentional about taking note of it…and I invite you to share your story, great or small, of how everyday moments are full of Grace.

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Q & A {My Time In The Word}

Sometimes I receive questions from readers, the answers to which I hope may encourage and benefit others here at GraceLaced. I’m an unfinished work, and do not have wisdom in all things…but I count it a privilege to share here. You are welcome to contact me with your questions!

 

Hi Ruth!

I found your blog recently, and have been so touched and encouraged by what I’ve read. Thank you for being so transparent and willing to share.

Can I ask you what your time alone with God looks like? Do you have an order in which you go in or some sort of structure? When reading the Word, do you read the Bible only or do you use study guides? And if you use the Bible only, how do you choose which book in the Bible to read. Do you journal as you go along? This has been such a struggle for me lately. I want to grow in my walk with the Lord so much, and I’m failing miserably right now. (Where might you tell a new person in Christ to start reading in the Bible?)

Thanks, Ruth. Blessings on your weekend with your precious family!

I so appreciate this question about time in the Word. It is an area of great challenge in my own life through these many years of child-rearing. I grew up with very little discipleship and almost no discipline. I then leaned towards legalism until I really understood the Gospel and the grace of God. It’s amazing how a life-long commitment to earning favor, responding in guilt, or giving up, can form a cycle that is difficult to break. That’s my story…

So onto the details:

I currently read the Proverbs daily (corresponding to the day of the month) and working my way through Phillipians (reading entire book once a day, but focusing on a few verses day by day…) My hubby is preaching in Philippians so it helps.

I used to use the MacArthur Bible study guides which are small and good with historical and biblical info. I tend to get more out of a study like that with others, while benefiting more personally from reading Scripture for memory and meditation, followed by a daily dose of Spurgeon’s Mornings and Evenings. (It’s so good!) I do not currently keep a devotional journal.

I think each person really has to look at the balance between more discipline (so as to use self-control and routine) and reading the Word to simply BE with the Lord. We so often miss the JOY and delight of being with Him by being so focused on doing something for Him. Worship is the goal of our quiet time, not service…this is what I remind myself daily.

Some resources:

Shopping For Time is a good resource on prioritizing in a woman’s life. I wrote this post about getting up at 5:45am to have time alone in the Word. (I don’t currently get up at 5:45am!)

How To Worship Jesus Christ is a fabulous little book on true worship. I wrote about being rooted deeply to the Living Water here.

The Gospel Primer is a great concise book that helps you preach the Gospel to yourself each day. The Preacher wrote this post about saturating our homes with God’s Word.

If you are in a dry season in your walk with the Lord, or if you feel discouraged in your study of the Word…take heart! He is not through with you yet! 🙂 Ask the Lord for more desire for Him and for His Word. That is my prayer for myself. He is worthy! 

Monday’s Mind

I’m regularly amazed at how quickly I forget. How short my retention. How often I need to revisit the truth again and again…especially on a Monday.

What’s on your mind today? Did you wake up thinking about the laundry that is piling up? Did your mind wander back to stagnant pools of worry and concern? How quickly these thoughts fill our minds, making little room for what we were made to think on:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

– Colossians 3:1

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

– Philippians 4:8

There are many ways to set our minds on things above, and many thoughts that are praiseworthy, but none are as true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or as worthy of praise as Christ himself. Is it any wonder, then, that the writer of Hebrews also reminds us to set our mind’s eye on Christ as a means to escape weariness and discouragement:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

– Hebrews 2:2

If your Monday mind is filled with anxious thoughts and endless tasks, think again. Set your mind and fix your eyes on the perfecter of our faith: the one who is seated (not standing!) and at rest. The finished work of the Cross is our peace today. We can anchor our harried minds to it today and be at rest.

 

 

In All Circumstances

It’s not too difficult to give thanks when surrounded by family and feasting upon holiday fare. Neither are words of praise far from our lips when in times of good health, prosperity, and uncomplicated relationships. And yet, God’s word reminds us 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)

Three very clear instructions for the Redeemed this Thanksgiving…and the other 365 days a year. Rejoice, pray, and give thanks–always and continually. God’s will for us today, found.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!