1.29.2018

Trading enemies for treasure.


“Whatever keeps me from my Bible is an enemy, however harmless it appears to be.” 
- A. W. Tozer

The older I get the more this statement rings true.
I wish I had always seen every 'reason' for not reading my Bible as an enemy.

Classes.
Homework.
Chores.
Errands.
Holidays.
Vacations.
Social events.
Time with family and friends.
Fatigue.
Work.
Trials.
Stress.

Though none of these are sinful or wrong, they cannot be used as excuses for neglecting God's Word.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth,
but you shall meditate on it day and night,
so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. 
For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
Joshua 1:8

Even at the age of 46, I have to fight the laziness and apathy of the flesh when it wants to keep me from the Scriptures. I could give reason after reason for not reading. Children's needs, lesson plans, serving Dennis, running a home, ministry, and the list goes on. But the truth is, even with all of the demands on my time on any given day, I always make time for the things I want to do.

I am given the same 24 hours that were used by Spurgeon, Müller, Elliot, Carmichael, Moody, and Taylor. They were not gifted one extra hour in the day, yet they accomplished more for the Lord in one decade than most accomplish in a lifetime.
And they did so after faithfully, consistently, purposely seeking the Lord - first - each day.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:1-3

“Whatever keeps me from my Bible is an enemy, however harmless it appears to be.” 

Lord, make me a woman who sees every reason, every excuse to keep me from making time to read Your Word and pray - as an enemy. And may I always be prepared to fight those enemies with the very treasure I most want to possess - the Sword of Truth.

1.28.2018

Yes!

Legacy is not about what people will say about you when you are gone.
Legacy is about what they did differently because they met you.
- Jack Easterly

1.26.2018

Repentance matters - and restoration brings JOY!

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love;
according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight,
so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment.
Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51:1-4, 6, 9-12

Sunday morning was WONderful!
Every Eastman was healthy, so all eight of us were able to go to church - together.
I was most excited as I had missed three weeks of worship while staying home to care for our children.
One of my favorite parts of Sunday is sitting quietly in the sanctuary reading my Bible before the service begins. Reading God's Word is always a sweet and sacred time, but there is something precious about reading it in the house of the Lord and in the presence of the saints. I cherish those minutes and am always refreshed when I close the Bible and join in corporate worship. 
Sunday is my day to soak in the Psalms. I feel like the quiet solitude of the sanctuary is a perfect setting in which to read the encouraging and soothing words found within the book.

Psalm 51 was the chapter for the day. A familiar passage that is used to comfort sinners when they have chosen to disregard God's commands and find themselves overwhelmed and burdened by their sin, just as David did two thousand years ago. Though a Psalm of repentance, where the author's agony over his sin is evident, the language is beautiful and draws our thoughts toward God.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love.
according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Even as David confesses his sin, He acknowledges God's attributes and offers up PRAISE.

There were two verses the Lord kept forcing my eyes to read again. Verses three and six.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
They fit together so well, for it is important that we identify and acknowledge our sin - by name - so we can confess it and repent of it. We cannot confess what we do not know.
A blanket statement, "forgive me of my sins," does not create knowledge of our transgressions.
We must ask the Lord to bring all of our unconfessed sins to mind - "my sin is ever before me" - so we can have "truth in the inward being."
Lord, I gossiped about a family member. Forgive me and guard my tongue.
Father, I did not speak truth when confronted. Forgive me for lying.
Dear God, I had no self-control yesterday, eating like a glutton, and I was lazy, refusing to move my body. Forgive me for not taking care of myself.
Lord, I am so quick to anger. I let the sun go down without surrendering it to You, and I am in sin when I let that happen. Please, forgive me, remove all bitterness, anger, malice, and wrath, and replace them with Your peace.
After detailed confession and repentance, I have spoken truth to the Lord, and to myself.
He is delighted. And I am forgiven.

Once forgiveness happens, there is restoration and joy!
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.


Thank You, Lord, for such mercy and grace! We do not deserve it, yet You give it in abundance, day after day after day.

1.25.2018

An excellent and most encouraging letter!

This, one of many letters written by John Newton which were compiled into a book, was waiting for me in my inbox a few days ago. And I LOVED it!
Oh, to be able to write like this!
It is no wonder that he remains an honored, cherished, and beloved brother in the Lord almost two centuries after his birth. Truth. He speaks wonderful, encouraging, biblical TRUTH. And for this, I am thankful.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Dear Madam,
I perceive that your heavenly Father has again put you into the furnace, and I trust that He will divinely impress upon your heart, that there is a needs be for it - and that the outcome of your present trial shall surely end in good to your soul.

His Word tells us that trials are absolutely necessary, and why they are so - as He would not afflict those whom He loves, but for their real profit. So He chooses those afflictions for us, and appoints them for us at such seasons, and attended with such circumstances - as He sees will be (all things considered) most for our spiritual advantage. The afflictions and trials of His people are always sent, either to cure - or to prevent something still worse.

Satan is compared to a fowler, and we sometimes are as little upon our guard as a thoughtless bird -the danger is close to us, but we are not aware of it. But, as a sudden noise affrights the bird, and makes it take wing and escape the snare - so the Lord often disappoints the devices of the enemy, by sending a seasonable trial to His dear children, which arouses them, and makes them flee to Him for safety.

He is a good master to serve - I have found Him to be so for thirty years.

Cheer up, dear Madam, the Lord does all things well! Do not be afraid of storms - for you have an infallible Pilot who will guide you with His eye, uphold you with His arm, and is every minute bringing you nearer to the harbor of eternal rest and peace!

What changes of weather have we passed through, since the seeds of grace were first sown in our hearts! How often have we been ready to murmur at the appointments of the Heavenly Gardener! How hardly could we be persuaded that the afflictions, temptations, and trials which we have been exercised with - have, in their places, been no less subservient to our growth, than the more pleasing sunshine we have been sometimes favored with?

Yet, I trust, we are still growing and getting forward. Neither frost or floods have been able to destroy us; and Oh, Madam, (may our hearts rejoice at the thought!) the harvest is approaching! When He sees that we are fully ripe - when all that He has designed to do for us, in us, and by us, is completed - then He will separate us from these clods of earth, and remove us into His dwelling place, where we shall be done with fears and trials forever!

We shall not then live this poor dying life - neither shall we have to complain of an evil heart of unbelief. We shall not complain of a cold and careless heart - because we shall be at the fountain-head of all our best wishes and desires! We shall be enjoying, through eternal ages, that ineffable bliss which is prepared for all who love God, and who have been called by divine grace, out of the service of sin, Satan, and the world - to love and serve Him who is the Rock of eternal ages. Yes, my dear Madam, we shall, with unspeakable delight - see Jesus as He is, and be completely like Him! Let us, then, not be weary in well doing; for, in due season, we shall reap, if we fail not.

I am, my dear Madam,
Your obliged and affectionate Servant,
John Newton

(Letters of John Newton)

1.19.2018

Attitude is a choice.

Amy Carmichael's name has a permanent place on my Top 20 list of godly men and women I most admire. Her passion and absolute refusal to care about what people thought when she was obeying God's calling in a unique and nontraditional manner are astounding. Her energy, hard work, and ability to accomplish more in a day than most accomplish in a month would make the strongest man groan. And her unwavering trust in the Lord is inspiring. I have read her biography three times now, and am confident I will turn the pages again in my lifetime.

I am currently reading the children's version of her story to Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie (we are focusing on missionaries this year), and came across this excerpt. It gives a wonderful glimpse into the heart, mind, and character of Amy Carmichael. She had an unyielding opinion that Christian men and women have no business whining, complaining, being lazy, or quarreling among themselves because each one keeps the unsaved from seeing the beauty of the Gospel - and the Savior. And she led by example.

"Finally, Amy boarded the SS ____ bound for Shanghai. Unlike the other ship, this one was a nightmare, with rats, and cockroaches infesting the vessel. For Amy, it brought back memories of living in the slums of Ancoats. But instead of complaining about the conditions of the ship, Amy found a large piece of cardboard, on which she wrote the words, "In Everything Give Thanks." She placed the cardboard by her bunk where she could read it before she went to sleep every night."
The result:
"Amy lived out what she had written because she made a big impact on the captain during the voyage. He told her he had never seen a passenger who had such a positive attitude amid the poor conditions on his ship. During the trip, he questioned Amy over and over about her faith until he finally announced he wanted to become a Christian just like her. Of course, Amy was delighted, and more so when he asked her to write out some Bible verses on cardboard so he could stick them on the walls of his cabin. It was his way of announcing to the whole crew he was now a Christian."

I keep thinking about this.
There is nothing wrong with stating reality.
"Rats and cockroaches infest the ship."
"My body aches."
"Our budget is tight and there is no extra."
"My job requires long hours."
"I am still single."
"My children and grandchildren live far away."
These are facts. Truths.

But it is wrong to complain about reality. Thus saith the Lord.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world... Philippians 2:14, 15

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:18

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:16-18

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1


"But instead of complaining ... Amy found a large piece of cardboard, on which she wrote the words,
"In Everything Give Thanks."
May we all emulate the obedience of Amy Carmichael. 
For our attitude truly is - a choice.

1.17.2018

A friend and a flame. My heart's desire.

I don't think it is a coincidence that my New Year's desire has been supported by continual quotes, readings, and sermons about the importance and beauty of Scripture that have been presented to me since the first of January. The Lord is trying to drive the point home with complete clarity. I feel like He is whispering in my ear ... "I want you to KNOW My Word, Michelle. The theme, the stories, the characters, the commands, the cautions, and the promises. Read it, memorize it, meditate on it, FEAST on it, and hide it in your heart. Everything you need for life lies between the pages. Dig for the truths. Search for wisdom. Seek ME. I reveal Myself in My Word. If you seek Me there - you will find Me."
And that is exactly what I want. To KNOW God. Fully, completely, intimately.

But it does not just happen.
Knowing God requires an active, intentional, and purposeful pursuit.
Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually! I Chronicles 16:11
He reveals Himself in the pages of Scripture, and we have full access to Him through prayer because of the death of His Son. 
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

Scripture.
Prayer.
Everything we need is tucked securely within them.
Praise God for such wonderful gifts!

I am currently reading the biography of John Huss (Jan Hus), a man who lived in the 14th century. In the first several chapters, the author describes the times in which he lived, and the men who influenced his unshakable devotion to His Savior. Matthias of Janow was one of these men, and I love the author's portrayal of him.
"Janow compared his own religious awakening to a religious fire which had entered his heart, and whose flames burned brighter as he lifted up his soul in prayer to God and to Jesus Christ, the crucified. The Bible had been his friend and bride from his youth up. It was to him the mother of love and knowledge. 'I have used in my writings,' he says, 'the Bible above all else ... because the Scriptures occur to me quickly and copiously and because the most divine truths are there set forth most lucidly and self-evidently ... I have always found in and through them satisfactory explanations for every question and consolation for my soul in all my persecutions, troubles, and sadness. I always flee for refuge to the Bible, which is my dearest friend.'"

This too is my prayer. That my Bible will be my dearest friend and closest companion throughout life, and that my heart will be aflame with a love for God that cannot be quenched.
May it be so, Lord, may it be so!

1.14.2018

AMEN!

A calm hour with God is worth a whole lifetime with man.
- Robert Murray M'Cheyne

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You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word. Psalm 119:114

1.12.2018

WHOA! This quote.

No Christian, if he is right with God, should ever need to hide anything in his life.
A. W. Tozer


Something to think about ... 
for the rest of my life.

Praise the Lord for Scriptures such as these to encourage me!

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to Your word.
With my whole heart I seek You;
let me not wander from Your commandments!
I have stored up Your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O Lord;
teach me Your statutes!
With my lips I declare
all the rules of Your mouth.
In the way of Your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts
and fix my eyes on Your ways.
I will delight in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word. Psalm 119:9-16

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Psalm 119:1

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, 
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

1.08.2018

How will I be remembered?

When an author is able to make you weep as he describes the life and death of a man you never knew, he is a gifted writer.

I have long known the name, Charles Spurgeon.
I have heard stories about his ministry from more than one pulpit.
Read and repeated countless quotes that fell from his lips.
Read sermons and books penned by his own hand.
But never have I read about him.
His beginnings. His family life. His salvation story. His call to preach. His courtship and marriage. His struggles, his joys, his successes, and his sorrows.
This man accomplished more in one year than I have accomplished in my lifetime, and he did so with passion.
He preached with passion.
He prayed with passion.
He counseled and taught and served and wrote - with passion.

One of the best lines in this book is discovered after the author describes Spurgeon's death, his funeral, and the testimonies of the men who spoke in honor of their beloved friend and brother in the Lord.
"He had walked with God and lived in prayer."
Nine words.
Nine words that convey the reality of this man's extraordinary life.

One of the things I love about biographies of people who lived pre 20th-century is that most of the material comes from their own personal writings. Hundreds and thousands of letters were written and received in a lifetime because there were no other means of communication. Diaries and journals were kept. Not only of private thoughts but of everyday life, interactions with others, records of answered prayer, and God's dealings with His people. Their writings allow us to see multiple views of their character. Their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, successes, mistakes, likes, dislikes, and so on. Writing is a lost art. And one that will be sorely missed for generations to come.

But the Lord, in His providence, preserved the writings, sermons, and letters of this amazing servant. Accounts written by others about Spurgeon offer an even broader perspective that allows us to see him as he was. As I read Dallimore's account of this Prince of Preachers, I felt like I was walking beside Spurgeon as he grew up, when he accepted Christ, when he answered his first call as a pastor at the age of 17, when he married Susannah, had children, was beloved by his people, began dozens of ministries that served the poor and neglected people of London, was criticized harshly, felt like he was drowning in depression, suffered in physical agony through decades of illness, and preached every sermon with a passion to bring glory to God and lost souls to the Savior.

I never met Charles Spurgeon, but after reading about his life, after reading his own words recorded on paper, I feel like he was one of my closest friends.
And genuine tears of sorrow rolled down my cheeks when I read that "on the evening of Sunday, January 31, 1892, his earthly journey came to its close, and he 'departed to be with Christ.'"

It will take some time for me to work through the thoughts and emotions rolling within me after reading about this godly man who preached as though the choice of heaven or hell would be decided by the time he uttered his last word and prayed as though he was shaking the very gates of heaven until he received a response from God. My desire for godliness, for holiness, does not even cast a shadow on the reality of Spurgeon's daily hunger and thirst for God. His passion, his discipline, his immovable stance on the validity and inerrancy of Scripture, and his unquenchable desire to serve "the least of these" makes me take pause and consider ...
What am I doing for the Kingdom?
Am I about my Father's business?
Do I redeem the time given to me? Daily? Weekly? Year by year?
Am I faithful in the smallest of tasks as well as the important?
Do I know my calling? And if so, am I living it - in faithful obedience?
Do I know my God? Intimately ... wholly ... personally ... because I seek Him more than anything or anyone else?
Can others see Christ in me? Even if they do not know me well, can they see Him?

Scripture says, It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:2
That is the effect this biography, the life of this man, had on me.
Spurgeon's life was a life well-lived. And while he was admired as a spectacular orator, a gifted leader, a superb writer, and a man of great intellect, he was respected and beloved because -
"He had walked with God and lived in prayer."

And it makes me wonder ...
how will I be remembered?
Because how I live now is the legacy I will leave behind when the Lord calls me home - to glory.

Lord, You promise that You who began a good work in us on the day of salvation will never stop working until we join You in eternity. Thank You, for this promise, Father, because there is so much left to work in and through and out of me! I praise You that I am not the same woman I was five, ten, twenty years ago, and I implore You, please do not let me remain as I am now. Grow me. Mature me. Search me, O God, know my heart, see if there is any hurtful way in me - and remove it - so I might look less like me and more like You. I read of men like Spurgeon, Müller, Taylor, Edwards, and fall into the enemy's game of "compare and despair" because my life looks nothing like theirs. But You have not called me to be a Jonathan Edwards, a Hudson Taylor, or a George Müller, Lord. You have called me to be Michelle Renee Eastman, with all of my foibles, and You expect me to follow where You lead, obediently and with joy, doing the work You give me, day by day, year by year until I have accomplished Your will for my life. Fix my eyes on You, continually turning my face back to Yours when I choose to look away - because I want my own way. Smooth my rough edges, prune my dead branches, and fill me with a passion for Your word and prayer so that the fruit of Your Spirit spills over and affects everything I do, everything I say, and how I live. A holy life lived by a man like Spurgeon can inspire, challenge, convict, and encourage me, but it cannot be my own. You made him for one purpose, You made me for another. Use me as You will, Lord, for as long as You will, and may I walk obediently, fearing no man, and praising You day after day for all You have done. As Scripture says of Mary when she anointed Your feet with oil, may it be said of me, "She has done what she could ..." And she did it faithfully.

1.05.2018

Quote.

Loneliness is a required course for leadership. 
- Elisabeth Elliot

1.04.2018

May we be INSPIRED!

This book ... my first read of 2018 ... and I love it!
I will use it over and over for writing, speaking, and counseling because it is filled with practical, insightful, biblical TRUTH about the importance of reading, memorizing, and meditating on God's Word.
If you need to be encouraged to ramp up your Scripture reading, you will find success after spending a few hours between the covers of this wonderful book.
And if you want to learn how to read God's Word in a way that will change you from the inside out, you will also find success!
Our pastor recommended this little gem during a sermon, and I will be forever grateful to the Lord for prompting me to not only write down the title, but secure my own copy.

There are several quotes that have already caught my attention, but this one seems the most fitting. It is an excerpt from a sermon Charles Spurgeon preached on Colossians 3:16.
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

"In order that the word of Christ may dwell in you, it must first enter into you. You must really know the spiritual meaning of it. You must believe it, live upon it, drink it in - you must let it soak into your innermost being as the dew saturated the fleece of Gideon. It is not enough to have the Bible on the shelf - it is infinitely better to have its Truths stored up within your soul... There is no book so fitted or so suited to us as the Bible. There is no book that knows us so well. There is no book that is so much at home with us. There is no book that has so much power over us if we will but give ourselves up to it."

Amen?

May this verse and this quote inspire each of us to seek the Lord continually through His Word.

1.03.2018

In affliction - find comfort in God's Word.

"Before I was afflicted I went astray but now I obey Your Word." Psalm 119:67

The Bible is the book for the afflicted. We fly to it in times of adversity. It is then that we . . .
read it more attentively,
counsel with it more closely,
understand it more clearly,
relish it more sweetly, and
receive it into the heart more experimentally, as the engrafted Word.

Affliction illuminates the Bible - as though a new book had been composed - or another constellation in the spiritual hemisphere had burst upon the telescope of faith!

We know more of the Lord Jesus through one sanctified affliction than by all the treatises the human pen ever wrote!

Welcome whatever makes you more acquainted with God!
Despise nothing that will deepen your intimacy with Jesus.
Welcome the cross - though it may be heavy!

Welcome the cup - though it may be bitter. Receive it as a blessing sent to you from your Father - receive it as a heavenly message to your soul.

- Octavius Winslow

Lord, make me a woman who seeks Your Word first and fastest in times of blessing and in times of trial, so like the Psalmist I may say ... "If Your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long." Psalm 119