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Monthly Archives: November 2012

  • Relational Repair

    Posted on November 9, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

     

    Relationships are in regular need of repair. Like a well-driven car they require scheduled maintenance and tender care. Indeed, relationships fall into disrepair if neglected, taken for granted or misunderstood. Healthy relational repair requires humility and seeking to understand another’s needs. It is a prayerful process that is never finished this side of heaven. Past relational deposits are not adequate for current emotional connections.

    It is our real time relational repair that contributes to building trust and intimacy. Wise are we to keep short accounts by forgiving insensitive actions, angry outbursts and not harboring hurt. Yes, we can forgive without being reconciled, but by God’s grace there can be a return to good graces. We seek to move beyond forgiveness to reconciliation because Jesus has reconciled us to Himself. His grace reconnects severed relationships.

    “Blessed is the one? whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” Romans 4:8

    Have you forgiven a friend, but still feel disconnected by distrust? What will it take to mend your mistrust? Perhaps time will heal your wounds and grow your confidence in their character. Furthermore for your faith to be reinstated in a broken trust there needs to be intentionality. Pray for your friend or spouse to be reconciled to God and daily re-calibrated by His truth. Reconciliation with people begins with reconciliation to God.

    Jesus calls you to the ministry of reconciliation. This is not an option but an obligation. Like Christ, you do not count another’s sin against them. You show mercy because the Lord has shown you mercy. By faith lift the anchor on your ship of reconciliation and sail from the harbor of hurt. Jesus draws you to Himself, so you can draw others to yourself. The world takes notice when you repair relationships—bringing glory to the Reconciler!

    “For from Him [Christ] and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen” Romans 11:36 

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me a heart to reconcile with those whom I distrust.

    Related Readings: Psalm 32:1-2; Romans 11:15; Colossians 1:20-22; Ephesians 5:21

    Post/Tweet this today: We can forgive without being reconciled, but by God’s grace there can be a return to good graces. #trust

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources
    A registered 501 c3 ministry

    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 2 Corinthians, Romans

  • An Unaccepting Heart

    Posted on November 9, 2012 by Wendy Pope

    Wendy Pope

    "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit." Psalm 32:2 (NIV 1984)

    I spent many years regretting sins from my past; sins that had hurt others and myself. Day after day I would replay my decisions. Two decades later, the sting of past sin still had a hold on me.

    Yet I knew God had forgiven me; I'd asked Him to. So why couldn't I accept the freedom of His forgiveness?

    I wanted so badly to believe I was the person David mentions in Psalm 32:2, "Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit." Yet I struggled with accepting that God's grace could erase my sin, wiping it away as if it never happened.

    I think for many of us, this is hard to do. It sounds all well and good, but in reality we are still carrying the weight of sin we can't seem to forget or forgive ourselves for.

    Yet, His Word assures us that God does not count our sin against us. So how can we live in this truth?

    I've discovered through our key verse that the first step is acknowledging our sins: to ourselves and to God. Confession reconciles our heart with God's heart.

    The next thing is to begin filling our heart and mind with truth. Throughout the Bible, God teaches how an unaccepting heart can be changed and softened to accept His forgiveness. The following verses are truths from a loving God who longs to transform our lives through the grace of His forgiveness.

    My God doesn't condemn.
    "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 (NIV)

    My master is grace not sin.
    "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." Romans 6:14 (NIV 1984)

    My Savior Jesus has set me free, therefore I am free.
    "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36 (NIV)

    My old is gone; because of Jesus Christ I am new.
    "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV 1984)

    Are you lugging a load of sin that God has already forgiven and forgotten? Are you ready to stop living in shame, shackled by regret? Life is too short to exchange the freedom of grace for the bondage of our unbelief.

    Today, let's allow God to wash the hurt and regret from past sins away with the transforming power of His truth. And let's pray for an accepting heart that lives in the freedom of God's grace and forgiveness.

    Dear Lord, by faith I accept Your forgiveness and refuse to be a slave to forgiven sin any longer. Today, I confess and move on! I commit to believing Your transforming truths to live fully and freely in Your grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Confessions of an Adulterous Christian Woman by Lyndell Hetrick Holtz

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you been unaccepting of God's forgiveness? Spend time talking with God and allowing yourself to accept and live in the freedom of forgiveness.

    Use index cards to make several copies of the transforming truths above. Place a copy in your purse, car, Bible, desk, and other places you often go. Read them as long as it takes to experience the blessed life David speaks of in Psalm 32:2.

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 1:18. "'Come now, let us reason together,' says the LORD. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'" (NIV 1984)

    Isaiah 43:25, "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more." (NIV 1984)

    Matthew 19:26, "Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" (NIV)

    © 2012 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm, Wendy Pope

  • The Rip Current of People-Pleasing

    Posted on November 8, 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa Terkeurst

    "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

    Bring up the phrase "people-pleasing" in a group of women and the responses are interesting. Most will quickly say they struggle with this to some degree. Those that say they don't struggle with people-pleasing eventually admit before the conversation is over that it's present in at least one of their relationships.

    People-pleasing is something we seem kind of resigned to having to deal with rather than determined to overcome.

    Why is that?

    We all want to be liked. There's nothing wrong with that. But as we travel the path toward love and acceptance let's take a look at two of the possible motivations behind people-pleasing.

    One motivation is to give love out of the kindness of our heart. In giving love we feel love. That's good.

    Another motivation is to give to others out of what we hope to get in return-love. In getting love from what we do, we feel desperate to do more to get more. That's dangerous.

    It's the second way that gets us into trouble with people-pleasing. It's not wrong to want to make others feel loved, happy, and pleased. But if we are doing it with the motivation of getting things in return, we will set ourselves up for trouble. Being in a constant state of trying to get love by doing more and more will lead to exhaustion.

    Exhaustion for the giver. Exhaustion for the taker. Exhaustion in the relationship all together.

    Ephesians 5:8-10 says, "... for at one time you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord." (ESV)

    I like the explanation of what the fruit or evidence is of us walking as children of light — doing what is good, right, and true — as we discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

    I am challenged to make this a filter for the decisions I'm making today. You see, I know I'm in the rip current of people-pleasing when I dread saying yes but feel powerless to say no.

    If I'm seeking to please the Lord, I will ask some questions before agreeing to do something for another person: Am I doing this with good motives, right intentions, and true expectations?

    Or am I doing this with:

    Fearful motives ... They might not like me if I say no.

    Skewed intentions ... If I do this for them will they be more likely to do that for me?

    Unrealistic expectations ... I just know if I give a little more, they'll affirm me and I'm desperate for their affirmation.

    Wherever we focus our attention the most will become the driving force in our lives.

    The more I focus on trying to figure out how to please people, the more of a magnified force people-pleasing will become in my life. The more I focus on trying to figure out how to please God, the more of a magnified force He will become in my life.

    My focus. My choice.

    Dear Lord, help me break away from my people-pleasing tendencies. Guide me in my daily decisions as I battle fearful motives, skewed intentions, and unrealistic expectations. I want to make You the focus, Father, so that You continue to become the magnified force in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Do you have some relatives that make holidays challenging? Lysa TerKeurst's New York Times Bestseller, Unglued, is a wonderful book to guide you in interacting with them

    Make time to focus on the Lord through study. A great resource to help you is the Unglued DVD and Participant's Guide. Click here to pick up your copy today.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you experienced the cycle of doing more to get more?

    Search your heart and ask, What are my motives? Am I seeking to please people or God in this situation? You may need to place healthy boundaries in your relationships with others so that you can learn when to say "yes" and when to say "no."

    Power Verse:
    1 Thessalonians 2:4, "On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ephesians, Galatians, Lysa TerKeurst

  • Friend of Sinners

    Posted on November 7, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Luke 7:34

     

    Jesus was a friend of sinners. Yes! Holiness helped unholiness. Godliness gave to ungodliness. Perfection served imperfection. The sinless mingled with sin. Christ was guilty of influencing the guilty toward God—for He was God. He ate with them, He drank with them and He laughed with them. His life of love was irresistible to those who lacked true love. His clear, authoritative teaching gave hope, forgiveness, and peace. Like spiritual sonar Jesus came to seek and save the lost. His heart broke for the broken.

    We are all sinners, yet there is a difference between a sinner who knows Jesus and a sinner who does not know Jesus. Because we have been saved by the grace of God, we know a better way than the way of waywardness. Like any good father our Father in heaven wants a relationship with His children. By faith in His son Jesus we have full access to Almighty God. We are friends with Jesus, so we can befriend others for Jesus.

    “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.” James 2:23

    Are your friendships only with those within the faith? Are any outsiders a part of your circle of influence? If so, wonderful—if not, pray for a person who needs your loving hospitality. Like an athletic team you have a home court advantage when you invite someone into your home. Show them a good time, so they can see that God is good by your unselfish service. Sinners need a safe environment to feel accepted and be real.

    Maybe you accept an invitation from an unsaved friend on their terms. It may be a golf game, a tennis match, a hike in the woods or a party. Be pleasant, not preachy. Be a friend with no agenda but to love and be loved. Do not compromise your Biblical convictions — you are in the world without being of the world. Some will find you crazy for your crazy love, but love nonetheless. Sinners need a friend. Are you a friend?

    “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:1-2

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me a heart for those who need a new heart for You.

    Related Readings: Isaiah 41:8; Luke 19:10; Colossians 4:5-6; James 4:4

    Post/Tweet this today: We are friends with Jesus, so we can befriend others for Jesus. #friend

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources
    A registered 501 c3 ministry

    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Luke, James, Sinners

  • Me and My Mama Mouth

    Posted on November 7, 2012 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." Proverbs 31:26 (ESV)

    When I'm trying to control someone or some situation, I've noticed I have a little trouble controlling my tongue.

    For instance, the other day the dishes needed to be done. If I'd been the one at the sink, I'd have washed them in the proper sequence I learned in Home Economics class—from least to most soiled. Instead, my son, a smart preteen, was up to the challenge.

    He didn't give me an attitude when asked to do the dishes. He wasn't disrespectful, didn't drag his feet, and was doing the job. So why was I tempted to tell him in a harsh tone he was doing it wrong?

    Because he was failing to do it my way.

    He started with the grimy pots and pans, then moved to the plates and silverware. Finally, he had to bubble up more water to spit-shine the glasses last. While working he lolly-gagged, trying to stack some plastic cups in a pyramid.

    As I watched his unconventional ways, I could feel irritation welling up inside. An unkind reaction was itching to come out; one that was not tempered with the Holy Spirit. If I had not caught myself, I could have easily let my momma mouth take over and blurted out:

    "What are you doing? Don't you know it uses way more water to wash the dishes in that order? Plus the water is filthy now!"

    "Stop playing stack-up with those cups. Ugh! Why do you always have to play while you work? You're so slow."

    What was really going on? I wanted to be a control freak and fire off words that would have conveyed unspoken thoughts.

    I think the only way to do the dishes is my way.
    I see different as wrong.
    I interpret a preteen being a preteen, with a slight distraction of fun, as "slow."

    Any time I unload on junior (or anyone for that matter), it has the potential to damage our relationship and plant seeds in his mind of his mom's view of him, whether verbalized or implied (lazy, wasteful, distracted, and slow). It does not, as today's key verse states, come close to resembling a woman who "opens her mouth with wisdom and speaks with kindness on her tongue."

    This does not make for a happy home and I've come to know that it's better if these scenarios go down much differently.

    So let's back up the minivan and replay that scene again with a fresh dose of perspective and a God-honoring, Spirit-controlled response in keeping with Proverbs 31:26.

    As I see my son doing the dishes in an illogical order, I can make a mental note to myself to explain a way to do it next time that will save water, money, and time. When done, I can praise his efforts, keeping in mind his age and abilities.

    I can intentionally point out particulars in his unique method. "I saw the clever way you stacked those dishes. You always make work fun. I wish I were more like you."

    I can mentally ask myself questions that will empower me to maintain calm emotions and keep my "mama mouth" in check. Like ...

    Does it matter now or will it matter tomorrow?
    Will it affect eternity?
    Is God trying to teach ME something? If so, what?
    Can I pause and praise instead of interrupt and instigate?
    Is there really an issue here that needs addressing with my child?
    Am I just being a control freak and need to let it go?

    The interaction would be a learning experience for both of us. It wouldn't damage, it would nurture. It would be wise. Kind. And there would be no lost time, no regrets, and no need to call in the United Nations peace-keeping forces for intervention.

    This mama would be less control freakish and more Proverbs 31 womanish. It might not come easily—trust me it usually doesn't—but with the Holy Spirit, it is possible.

    We can learn to speak with godly wisdom and kindness. And then there won't be any need for duct tape for the ole' mama mouth!

    Dear Lord, may I purpose to temper my words with Your Holy Spirit as I interact with my family today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    If you liked this devotion, check out Karen's new book LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith. It will enable you to control what you should and trust God with what you can't.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Which of the above questions do you most need to ask yourself when you are tempted to over-control and, as a result, use unkind words?

    How will you respond differently the next time you are about to speak in an unwise or unkind manner?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 139:4 "Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether." (ESV)

    © 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs, Karen Ehman

  • Kings and Presidents

    Posted on November 6, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1Timothy 2:1–2).

     

    Kings and presidents come and go, but while in office they require much prayer. Public servants need sincere supplications from servants of the Lord. These leaders of nations have the power to inflict harm or uphold justice. They can pass laws that lead to fiscal irresponsibility or wisely legislate financial protection for the country.

    It is God’s response to our prayers, not pundits, who reveals the wisest choices. Our president is a mere man, but he is a man under the authority of almighty God. His mandate is not first from earthly man, but first and foremost from his Father in heaven. Rulers, who recognize and embrace their accountability of the temporal to the eternal, rule most wisely.

    Pray our president will lead us to live faithful and contented lives under Christ’s lordship. Pray our commander in chief will receive inspiration and instruction from the Commander in Chief. Pray for our president to look into the future with eyes of faith and create a culture of character for our children and grandchildren.

    Pray for our president to honor the sanctity of life in the womb. Pray for our leader of the free world to lead us into a high view of holy matrimony between a husband and wife. Pray for our president to pray. Pray for him to lead with conviction, courage of heart, and humility of mind.

    Indeed, your prayers for the president are “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3–4 NASB).

    Prayer: What day of the week can I take five minutes and pray for our president to have the wisdom to make the best decisions and the courage to follow through, regardless of the consequences? 

    Related Readings: Nehemiah 1:11; Ecclesiastes 3:12–13; Romans 13:1–7; 1 Peter 2:9–13

    Post/Tweet this today: Rulers, who recognize and embrace their accountability of the temporal to the eternal, rule most wisely. #wise rulers

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources
    A registered 501 c3 ministry

    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Timothy, President

  • Jeremy Camp - A Reckless Faith

    Posted on November 6, 2012 by John van der Veen

    Jeremy Camp

    Family Christian: Congratulations on your new album! What can people expect to hear on this CD?

    Jeremy Camp: Thanks! People will hear music that encompasses a new season in my life. It’s more of an exhortation for people to go out and have a heart for the lost and understand what Christ has done in our lives.

    I hope it helps encourage people to go serve and love on everyone, no matter who they are! I am so overwhelmed by who Christ is and I have to go proclaim to everyone who He is and what He has done for all of us. That is what these songs are about!

    FC: "Reckless," the first single from the album, really challenges believers to live in radical faith. What inspired this song?

    JC: I feel that God has brought me to a season in my life where He is challenging me to live recklessly – not in a destructive way, but in an “all for Him” way.

    I’ve also been inspired by verses like Matthew 28 18-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

    FC: How have people responded to "Reckless"?

    JC: A lot of people have said that they have a lot of challenges in their life, especially fear, that this song has helped them overcome.  It’s helped them to have a renewed outlook on exactly how they are living their life for the Lord.

    FC: We're featuring your worship album, We Cry Out, as a Members Only title right now. It's full of songs that align our hearts for worship. So we wanted to know: what's a worship song that's meaningful to you right now?

    JC: I would say "Never Let Go" by Matt Redman. It fully relates to my life and all the things I have been through.

    FC: We'll soon be wrapping up 2012. What were some of the highlights of the year for you?

    JC: 2012 has been an amazing year and God has been doing some awesome things. One of the highlights has been starting our nonprofit called Speaking Louder Ministries. I’m excited to be able to use this ministry to serve communities in major cities around the world and host free concerts where I’ll be able to lead worship and share the gospel.

    We also signed a movie deal, released a Christmas album, revised and republished my book, I Still Believe, and of course been recording my new album!

    FC: Wow, that's a full year! What are you looking forward to in 2013?

    JC: I’m excited to see what God’s going to do next year and how He’s going to use this ministry. We are preparing to play overseas in several different countries that God has placed on my heart. Other than that, I’m really looking forward to releasing my book, I Still Believe, and the new album!

    FC: As we wrap up, what are some of the things God has been teaching you lately?

    JC: The biggest thing right now that I feel the Lord is teaching me to do is rest in Him and His goodness. To trust fully in ALL of His ways. To be still and listen. I know I still have a lot to learn about this subject of rest, but feel each day I am getting closer to understanding the fullness that God has for me in this.


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Matthew, Christmas, Worship, Jeremy Camp, Matt Redman

  • More Than Crumbs

    Posted on November 6, 2012 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "Give us today our daily bread." Matthew 6:11 (NIV)

    As I sat on the beach enjoying the sunrise I watched a few seagulls wander aimlessly, looking lost and confused. I wondered why there were so few, considering the normal flocks that swarm overhead filling the air with screeching cries.

    Then I realized they had no reason to be on the beach, much less to be excited or active. There were no people around to generate crumbs.

    I'm pretty sure seagulls can smell potato chip crumbs a mile away. They stay at a distance until they think someone has something they want. Then they come running, or should I say dive bombing. Even if no birds are in sight, one tiny crumb falls on the sand and suddenly dozens of seagulls swoop down out of nowhere.

    Memories of hungry seagulls interrupting our picnics at the beach made me chuckle until I felt God whisper to my spirit: Sometimes Tracie, you are just like those seagulls.

    In Matthew 6, Jesus shares with His disciples how to pray, in what is commonly referred to as the Lord's Prayer.

    Today's key verse is taken from the middle of the Lord's Prayer. In it Jesus reminds His disciples to stay in close union with Him through prayer, because He knows they need the spiritual nourishment and physical necessities only He can provide. Jesus calls His disciples to seek Him and trust His provision for their daily needs.

    Unfortunately, there are times I don't follow this wisdom and instruction. I may go days or weeks, aimlessly wandering like those seagulls on a deserted beach — flying through my tasks and routines, without consciously seeking God.

    But as soon as something happens that makes me mad, sad, worried, frustrated, discouraged, or stressed, I fly straight to God. Swooping in out of nowhere, I dive bomb into His presence. Expectantly, I wait for Him to give me a profound thought or an answer to prayer. In essence, to toss me some crumbs of spiritual encouragement.

    Unlike a seagull who seeks temporary satisfaction from random crumbs, I want to be consumed with a spiritual hunger that's never satisfied. A hunger that pains me if I fail to get a daily portion of God's wisdom, love and guidance. A hunger that when met, replaces my discouragement, worry and stress.

    I don't want to live with a seagull mentality, being satisfied with mere crumbs. Instead I want to enjoy the fullness of God's presence and a constant supply of His Word each and every day. What about you?

    Dear Lord, forgive me for not seeking You daily. I ask for Your physical provision and spiritual nourishment to get me through every day. Help me develop an insatiable desire for Your Word and to spend time with You in prayer. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World by Tracie Miles

    The One Year Chronological Bible

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you been putting God on the back burner, and then dive bombing for spiritual crumbs when life gets rough?

    How can you begin to make God a priority, and seek Him daily for your every need?

    Power Verses:
    Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (NIV)

    Psalm 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Matthew, Tracie Miles

  • Responsible Christian Citizens

    Posted on November 5, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Then the commander said, ‘I had to pay a big price for my citizenship.’ ‘But I was born a citizen,’ Paul replied. Those who were about to question him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains” (Acts 22:28–29).

     

    Citizenship in a free country means something, especially for Christian citizens. Citizens who are followers of Christ have a platform to live out the teachings of Jesus. A responsible Christian citizen models his Biblical values and principles modestly. Beliefs lived out are truly beliefs, while those unapplied are not real beliefs. 

    “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22–24).

    This applies to our political beliefs as Christian citizens. We can endorse an independent political party, but we are not autonomous from the Almighty’s influence. Paul was persecuted for his faith, but he still spoke the truth with humble boldness. If we say we believe in the sanctity of life, then we elect congressmen or women who do the same.

    If we say we believe in a government that spends less and balances a budget, then we elect leaders who will make hard choices and implement fiscally conservative changes. If we say we believe in free enterprise, then we elect statesmen and women who support the system, even if it requires businesses to fail. Responsible Christian citizens care more.

    Because our citizenship is in heaven, we always keep an eye on eternity’s expectations while we deal with earthly issues. It is not creating an entitlement-motivated government that becomes the savior of the masses. On the contrary, it is a political system that ensures the freedoms and liberties of its citizens are not threatened and removed. A diverse people can only be truly unified around common values and principles espoused by God.

    “For through him [Jesus] we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:18–20).

    Prayer: Am I a responsible Christian citizen who expresses my convictions at the voting booth?

    Related Readings: Ecclesiastes 9:14–16; Acts 23:1–11; Ephesians 2:11–13; Titus 3:1

    Post/Tweet this today: A diverse people can only be truly unified around common values and principles espoused by God. #diversity

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources
    A registered 501 c3 ministry

    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Acts, Ephesians, Citizen

  • The Bitter Root

    Posted on November 5, 2012 by Wendy Blight

    Wendy Blight

    "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." Hebrews 12:15 (NIV 1984)

    Anger welled within me. How dare she ask this of me ... of us? I reread her email, which only fueled my fury. Rather than reply immediately, I decided to forward it to my husband for his advice. Any words I would have written to her directly would have been unkind.

    I poured out my "how dare she" thoughts. Bitterness took root as I typed and typed, spewing all my pent up frustration. When I finished, I reviewed my message with great satisfaction. I'd expressed myself well in a safe place to a safe person. Then I pressed send.

    In that moment, I glanced at the "to" box. I could not believe my eyes! Instead of hitting "forward," I'd hit "reply." My heart sank. All my hurtful words, all my vented anger, were in route to her, not my husband.

    I felt sick. Never had I experienced the myriad of emotions that filled my heart.

    What should I do? I called my husband and asked for his wisdom. We both agreed that I needed to email her, explain what happened, and ask forgiveness. It was the hardest email I've ever written.

    Her gracious response astounded me. She thanked me for my apology and ended with these words, "I forgive you, so let's just put this behind us."

    Tears streamed down my cheeks as her words of forgiveness melted the bitterness that had consumed my heart just an hour before.

    I'm sure she was hurt. My words were harsh. Yet she chose to overlook and pardon my offense.

    It's easy to forget that when we've been offended, we have two choices. We can go to God and surrender our hurt, or we can resist God and hold on to the hurt. We can extend grace or harbor bitterness.

    Bitterness is like poison that infects every area of our lives. The author of Hebrews compares bitterness to a root that overtakes our hearts and causes trouble not only in the infected area but also in many other areas of our lives. (Hebrews 12:15 NIV 1984)

    And although our feelings of bitterness, anger and unforgiveness may seem justified, they are not. Instead, they're often hurtful and destructive, to us and the person who hurt our feelings.

    God's Word teaches us to choose forgiveness and instructs us not to let the sun go down while we are angry. When we do, we give the devil a place to work in our hearts and in our relationships.

    Instead of allowing the enemy any room to grow between us, my friend chose forgiveness, extended grace and prevented a bitter root from taking hold.

    She became a living example of the grace expressed in Ephesians 4:32 which says, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (NIV 1984) Her wise example helped me move beyond my initial reaction of anger to her email.

    My friend's gracious decision to forgive prevented Satan from dividing our friendship. It also modeled humility. Her choice to forgive has changed how my heart will react toward others who offend me. From that day forward, I have prayed for God's grace, not bitterness, to flow through me.

    Dear Lord, search me and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any bitterness in me. Lead me to forgiveness, enable me through the power of Your Holy Spirit to let go of all bitterness and extend Your amazing grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God's Story by Wendy Blight

    Reflect and Respond:
    Is there someone in your life against whom you harbor unforgiveness? Take a step toward extending forgiveness. Maybe your first step is to pray; maybe it's a letter, or maybe it's a phone call.

    Prayerfully ask God what your next step is. Ask Him to equip you with everything you need to forgive. He will be faithful!

    Power Verses:
    Colossians 3:13, "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (NIV 1984)

    Ephesians 4:26-27, "'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Hebrews, Wendy Blight, Bitterness

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