Essentials for Life for Women: Your Back-to-Basics Guide to Simplifying Life and Embracing What Matters Most

Essentials for Life for Women: Your Back-to-Basics Guide to Simplifying Life and Embracing What Matters Most

by Marcia Ford

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Overview

Helps women put first things first so that she can live a more confident, fulfilled life.

How does a woman keep the cares of this world, and the enticements that it offers, from choking out the essentials of following God? Essentials for Life for Women helps them get back to the basics of what matters most with a fresh perspective on four core essentials of the Christian life:

  • What do I believe?
  • How do I grow closer to God?
  • What should my character and life reflect?
  • How do I live my life every day?

Essentials for Life for Women offers fifty daily or weekly readings that each include a key life principle, scripture and quotes, meditation, and an application. Each discussion offers hope and a sense of peace and well-being by focusing on life with an eternal perspective.

The content offers spiritual truth while the interior graphic design, including sidebars and visuals, enhances the readability and the impact of each core essential.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780785229711
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 04/13/2010
Pages: 222
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

MarciaFord is an editor, journalist, and author of twenty-two books including The Sacred Art of Forgiveness and Finding Hope. A book reviewer for FaithfulReader.com and freelancer for her local NPR affiliate, Marcia lives with her husband in the Rocky Mountains.

Read an Excerpt

Essentials for LIFE FOR WOMEN

Your Back to-Basics Guide to Simplifying Life and Embracing What Matters Most
By Marcia Ford

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2010 GRQ, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7852-2971-1


Chapter One

Generosity

In a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. 2 Corinthians 8:2-5 NKJV

No one has ever become poor by giving. Anne Frank

Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others. Barbara Bush Generosity

Get to Know God, Your Creator

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible reveals who God is-the powerful and mighty Creator, to be sure, but also the loving and merciful God who wants to have a relationship with every person on earth, and that includes you. He already knows you; it's time to get to know him.

When you respond to God's invitation to be in relationship with him, you begin to discover the depth of his love for you and the special purpose he has for your life. You realize that there's a reason you are alive in the world today, and that reason has everything to do with the fact that God is real, God is personal, and God cares about you. As your awareness of God's activity in your life grows, life itself takes on greater dimensions. Life becomes bigger-much more than simply surviving another crazy day.

In fact, part of God's purpose for your life is that you take your rightful place in a drama that has been unfolding since he created the first humans. This drama is the greatest love story of all time-not a story of earthly passion, but one of eternal purpose. God began to set the stage for this story when he created the earth and everything in it, all for the benefit of his crowning achievement, women and men. His purpose in creating the entire universe-including the galaxies, stars, nebula, quasars, planets, and even the rosemary you planted last week-was to share it with you. That's the extent of his love for you-it stretches all the way out to infinity.

This is the point of all creation: that you can know God as deeply and intimately as he knows you. As a woman, you know the value of intimate relationships-and you know they can't be forced. Genuine intimacy requires a willingness to invest in the relationship. God gives you that choice; you can choose if you want to be in a loving, intimate relationship with him. God's love is so great that he is willing to let you decide if you want to get to know him. He knows he risks losing you, but he also knows that a coerced relationship is no relationship at all. His gift to you is the freedom to choose.

Make no mistake about it, though-God continues to pursue those who reject him using any means he can. And one way is by placing reminders of his existence everywhere. His fingerprints are evident throughout the universe. A stunning sunset behind a snowcapped mountain range, waves crashing against a shoreline, the grandeur of a rugged canyon, and the simple eloquence of an apple orchard all depict the care God took in fashioning the earth. He made certain that creation reflected his artistry. When words fail to convince people of God's existence, the wonder and beauty of creation often win them over.

And God revealed himself in the Bible. In essence, he wrote a long letter describing his plan to break down the barriers that were keeping people from being in a relationship with him-or wanting to be in a relationship with him. In the Bible, God told about his efforts throughout early history to show his love and forgiveness to the very people who repeatedly rejected him. He told about sending Jesus to earth, and why it was necessary for him to die.

Jesus in turn revealed a great deal about God. He revealed how it was possible to follow God's plan and find joy in the process. He showed people that there was a much better way of living than what they were experiencing, that life was meant to be bigger-much more than simply surviving another crazy day, even in Jerusalem.

Getting to know God is in some ways similar to the way you get to know another person. To discover more about him, spend time with him, read his "letter" (the Bible), and get together with people who love him and enjoy being in his presence.

what essential

God invites you to have a relationship with him. Respond to his invitation, and let him show you how much he loves you. Your relationship will grow according to the time and attention you give to him. Each day presents an opportunity for you to draw closer to him.

DO

take steps to know God better by reading the Bible and discovering his fingerprints in creation.

DO

show God how much you appreciate your freedom to choose by freely choosing to follow him.

DON'T

miss the opportunity of a lifetime-the opportunity to personally experience God's love.

DON'T

even consider living a "little" life ever again; let the dimensions of your life expand to accommodate God's activity.

Meet Jesus, the Son of God

Jesus is the link between heaven and earth. Through his ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection, the paradise that was lost in the garden of Eden was regained. Meeting Jesus is the most essential of all life's essentials, because getting to know Jesus is getting to know God. And that leads to a new way of living.

Jesus said this: "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9 ESV). God chose to come to earth in human form to show his love and mercy and to repair the severed relationship between him and humanity. People who had been cold to the judgmental, condemning God portrayed by the religious leaders of their day discovered in Jesus a warmth and a compassion that better reflected God's true nature. For the first time, many people found a sense of worth in this man and his teachings. The poor, the downtrodden, the sick, and the outcast all flocked to him, along with one particular group that had been routinely dismissed and ignored-women.

Grace Eneme, an evangelical leader in Africa, put it this way: "Christ was the only rabbi who did not discriminate against women in his time." As a teacher, or rabbi, Jesus invited women to participate in his ministry. To other rabbis, that was scandalous. But Jesus had little use for those who had distorted God's message in an effort to build themselves up and tear everyone else down. He ignored the scandal.

In Jesus, the people found a generous, welcoming spirit. Jesus gave them his time and attention, his wisdom and knowledge, his love and concern. And he gave them hope. For women, this meant, among other things, a release from the subordinate roles they had been forced to play. Jesus welcomed them into his circle of friends. He welcomed them as followers, as supporters, and as witnesses to his profound power. They watched as he healed the sick, the lame, the deaf, and the blind. They saw him restore the brokenhearted to a life of wholeness and joy. They witnessed his power to transform lives-including their own.

The gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell the story of the life, ministry, and purpose of Jesus. His every action revealed God's original intentions for humanity. He provided a way for God once again to walk closely with his beloved creation. To this end, Jesus lived a life of quiet, devoted obscurity until he was thirty years old. He then went forth with a simple message: turn back to the God who loves you and will help you live the abundant life. By the way he lived, Jesus demonstrated the kind of life God had intended for humanity all along.

But Jesus' teachings and way of living undermined the authority of the religious elite, who labeled him a rebel and a blasphemer. Blinded by their own selfish ambitions, the religious leaders failed to recognize him as Messiah and Son of God-God who had come to earth to restore his relationship with everyone, including them. Ironically, the very scriptures they quoted to accuse Jesus were those that proved he was the Messiah.

Threatened by his popularity, the religious elite ordered that Jesus be beaten and nailed to a cross to pay for crimes he did not commit: "He took the punishment ... that made us whole" (Isaiah 53:5 MSG). His death on the cross eliminated the final barrier between God and humanity. Every person could finally enjoy a personal, intimate relationship with God.

And then, in a final, dramatic act, Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus conquered death. He is as alive today as he was when he walked on earth. And he promises this: that the same power that raised him from the dead is able to raise you up to a new life in relationship with him.

God wants a face-to-face, one-on-one relationship with us. He demonstrated that by sending Jesus to earth as a flesh-and-blood human whom other humans could relate to. He has made the first move in having a relationship with you. You can return the courtesy by getting to know him.

what essential

Through Jesus, God showed the magnitude of his love for us. Jesus lived a perfect life but made the ultimate sacrifice by dying as a criminal on a cross. That made it possible for us to live in the presence of God. All that is required of any of us is to accept that sacrifice.

DO

read the gospel accounts to discover how Jesus modeled the abundant life for us.

DO

imitate Jesus by developing a generous, welcoming spirit toward everyone.

DON'T

depersonalize Jesus' death on the cross, but realize that he suffered and died for you.

DON'T

ever forget Jesus' radical outreach to women, which is as active today as it was when he lived on earth.

Discover Jesus as Your Friend

Women instinctively know that relationships are one of the keys to living a joyful, fulfilled life. And there is no more important relationship in your life than the one you have with God through Jesus. Jesus goes so far as to describe himself as your friend. But what does it mean to be friends with Jesus?

Think about your closest friends-the women with whom you laugh and cry, the women you love spending time with, the women who allow you to be yourself. Your closest friends are the women with whom you share your deepest feelings. Your hopes, fears, insecurities, questions-all that and more can be entrusted to a handful of friends, or perhaps just one friend, whose faithfulness has proven them to be trustworthy. The deeper the friendship, the fewer secrets you keep from one another.

Imagine having that kind of relationship with God. You can, through intimacy with Jesus. He called his followers "friends," because there was nothing he withheld from them (John 15:15). By not holding anything back from them, Jesus created a level of intimacy with his closest followers-his disciples-that elevated them to the status of friends. Psalm 84:11 assures us that God will not withhold any good thing from those who follow him and who live the kind of lives that bring joy to him. If that describes you, you are a friend of God.

Deep friendships require deep communication. With God, deep communication comes more naturally than it might with a newfound friend. When you know that the one you're talking to-and listening to-already knows everything about you and everything about the universe and everything about everything, the challenge becomes less one of trust and more one of figuring out what on earth to say to him. Since he already knows your deepest secrets, you may feel foolish talking to him about them. Relax. Yes, he's the all-knowing Creator, but he's also your friend, and he wants to hear you express your thoughts in your own words, straight from your own heart. If it helps, visualize Jesus sitting with you, his eyes riveted on you as you share your innermost feelings.

Jesus wants to be that kind of friend to you, someone you can talk with about anything and everything. He also wants to be a friend you can lean on in difficult times. And he wants to be a friend you can trust not only with your secrets but also with the desires of your heart. You know you've reached a new level of trust when you begin to share your desires with him and believe he wants to fulfill them. You actually start to have faith that what you ask for, you will receive (Matthew 7:7). On that deeper level, you begin to recognize how lavish God is with the gifts he gives his friends, his followers.

You deepen your friendship with God by reading about his life, meditating on his sayings, and talking things over with him in prayer. And you learn to "practice his presence" throughout the day by intentionally turning your thoughts toward him and consciously sensing his presence with you, no matter what you are doing. You sense him there beside you whether you are cleaning the house, volunteering at an animal shelter, or checking items off your to-do list at work. When a crisis hits, you know he is there. You never have to question that. But even if you don't sense his presence, he is there.

The more time you spend with him, the more clearly you recognize the things he wants you to do. He may ask you to reach out to the person in the next cubicle whose marriage is falling apart, or support an orphaned child in another country with your love and finances, or give your time to an organization working to end human rights abuses. As you respond to his desires, his concerns become your concerns-and your friendship with God reaches an even deeper level.

Jesus called you to be his friend because he wants you to share your joys and heartaches with him. He seeks friends he can work alongside to bring hope to the world. If you find yourself concerned about the things that concern Jesus, you can delight in a friendship with him.

what essential

When he was on earth, Jesus sought out people who wanted to walk with him every day and share his mission and purpose. He does the same today. Those who share his vision for a life of purpose and live it out on a daily basis are those who have the right to call themselves his friends.

DO

begin to see Jesus as a friend with whom you can share your deepest thoughts.

DO

believe that God wants to give lavishly to those he calls his friends.

DON'T

take your friendship with Jesus so casually that you overlook the fact that he is still the Son of God.

DON'T

forget that friendship requires communication, and with God that means spending time in prayer.

Experience the Holy Spirit, God's Presence

When Jesus left the earth, the Holy Spirit was sent to offer guidance, direction, and comfort and to help anyone who believed that Jesus was the Son of God. In essence, the Spirit is God's active presence on earth. He is the power source that enables God's people to accomplish what God wants them to.

At the Last Supper, Jesus talked about the one who would come after he left for heaven, the Holy Spirit-the third member of the Trinity, along with God the Father and God the Son. The Trinity is a difficult concept for even biblical scholars to comprehend and explain, but what's essential is that you understand that the Holy Spirit is God, and he lives inside those who follow God wholeheartedly, providing those who love him with a continual connection to his power and wisdom.

In ancient times, the Israelites thought of God's Spirit in feminine terms, and recent decades have seen a return to this understanding. The common Christian view, however, is that God contains both male and female attributes. Still, many women who are followers of Jesus find they readily gravitate to the Holy Spirit because the Bible never depicts the Holy Spirit in masculine terms. Most translations do use masculine pronouns to refer to the Spirit, but unlike God the Father and Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit is free of any concrete association with either gender. It's easier for some women, particularly those who have suffered at the hands of men, to relate to the gender-free image of the Holy Spirit.

And then there's this passage in the Old Testament book of Joel: "I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit" (2:28-29 NIV). Women who have been denied the opportunity to serve God in ministry positions have found both comfort and validity in their assurance that God does indeed pour out his Spirit on women as well as men.

But the most powerful connection between the Holy Spirit and a woman is found in Matthew's account of the birth of Jesus. Matthew stated the fact in a most straightforward way. The unmarried and virginal Mary, he wrote, "was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:18 NIV). As astonishing as that news was, Matthew offered no further explanation.

Soon enough, though, an angel of God appeared to Joseph, who had second thoughts about marrying Mary when he discovered that she was pregnant. The angel told him, "Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:20 NIV).

It's no wonder that women of today sense a special connection with the Holy Spirit; the Spirit, who could have produced Jesus out of thin air, instead set an ordinary young woman apart for special distinction by choosing her to nurture the Son of God in her womb and give birth to him at the appointed time.

Women-and men-of today experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in a variety of ways: as one who teaches (John 14:26), reveals what is true (John 16:13), leads God's people (Romans 8:14), strengthens them in their weakness (Romans 8:26), and prays in their place when they don't know how to pray (Romans 8:26).

The Holy Spirit will help you develop spiritual strength and learn how to live a life that is pleasing to God. If you begin to veer off course, he will gently remind you of the words of Jesus and the wisdom of God, nudge you with a quiet uneasiness about the situation you find yourself in, or impress your conscience with a strong feeling that things aren't quite right.

The Holy Spirit enables you to accomplish everything God wants you to do. As you encounter obstacles, the Spirit shores you up and gives you the strength and courage to go on. Best of all, you can have the assurance that he will always be with you, no matter how rough the going gets.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Essentials for LIFE FOR WOMEN by Marcia Ford Copyright © 2010 by GRQ, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction....................11
1. Get to Know God, Your Creator....................14
2. Meet Jesus, the Son of God....................18
3. Discover Jesus as Your Friend....................22
4. Experience the Holy Spirit, God's Presence....................26
5. Understanding God's Goodness....................30
6. Know God's Word, the Bible....................35
7. Live as If Heaven Is Home....................39
8. Trust God....................43
9. Know How to Talk About Jesus....................47
10. Be Confident to the End....................51
11. Read What God Wrote to You....................56
12. Seek God Through Prayer....................60
13. Pray for Others....................64
14. Listen for God to Answer....................68
15. Live by Praise and Gratitude....................72
16. Know Your Part in God's Family....................77
17. Plan Your Getaways with God....................81
18. Live to Always Please God....................85
19. Keep God Near....................89
20. Understand the Fear of the Lord....................93
21. Do the Right Thing....................98
22. Trust in God's Purposes....................102
23. Keep Things Simple....................106
24. Attempt Big Things for God....................110
25. Let His Love Overflow....................114
26. Express God's Joy....................119
27. Enjoy the Peace of God....................123
28. Seek the Strength to Endure....................127
29. Wear Kindness and Compassion....................131
30. Grow in Your Faith....................135
31. Be Trustworthy....................140
32. Forgive Others....................144
33. Cultivate Humility....................148
34. Live on Purpose....................152
35. Change Your Attitude....................156
36. Watch What You Say....................161
37. Dare to Obey God....................165
38. Follow God's Lead....................169
39. Love and Accept Yourself....................173
40. Let Your Life Shine....................177
41. Be a Woman of Integrity....................182
42. Prepare Yourself for Good Things....................186
43. Be Honest with Yourself....................190
44. Love Your Family....................194
45. Be a Good Friend....................198
46. Be a Peacemaker....................203
47. Master Money....................207
48. Do Justice and Love Mercy....................211
49. Serve Others....................215
50. Prioritize the Essentials....................219

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