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Monthly Archives: March 2013

  • For A Season

    Posted on March 21, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

    Most everything in life is for a season. Jobs are for a season. Relationships are for a season. Hobbies are for a season. Homes are for a season. Small children and teenagers are for a season. Grandchildren are for a season. Youth is for a season.  Economic upturns and downturns are for a season. Family vacations are for a season. Formal education is for a season. Income generating years are for a season. Good health is for a season. Life on earth is for a season.

    Perhaps you find yourself in a season within a season. You are eager to move on to a new stage of life, but the Lord still has lessons for you to learn before you transition. Or, you may not want to let go of where you are for fear of what lies ahead in the next chapter of your life. Either way, Jesus will show you the right way, and He will walk with you through the process. So, enjoy this season (do not wish it away), slow down, engage with God and all He wants you to experience.

    Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord. Jeremiah 8:7

     

    What does the Lord require of you in this season? You have an 18 year span of time for your child to be under your roof and under your direct influence and authority. Now is the time to travel less at work or not at all, so you can be all there for your son or daughter. Moreover, it is stressful as a mom to give 24/7 emotionally, physically and spiritually. But, your sacrificial love carries Christ’s love into the life of your child.  Yes, the intensity of parenting is for a season.

     

    Is it time to let go of your role at work? It may be better stewardship for a leader with a different gift mix to be responsible. Don’t wear out your welcome. It's better to transition out on friendly terms than to be forced out in resentment. The peak of your performance is the best time to prepare for a new season of service. Wisdom watches for the winds of change and rides them on the wings of faith. Hold this season with an open hand and your next season will be significant!

     

    Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:20-21

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the patience to enjoy You and others in this season of waiting.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 20:4; Song of Songs 2:12; Acts 14:17; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:3

    Post/Tweet today: Wisdom watches for the winds of change and rides them on the wings of faith. #change

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Ecclesiastes

  • Why I'm Breaking Up With My "Quiet Time"

    Posted on March 21, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1 (NIV)

    I'm taking a break from having a quiet time. Because sometimes I can get in a rut. Even with good things. And having a daily quiet time is a good thing. Until it becomes more about routine than actually connecting with God.

    When God becomes routine rather than revival, it's time to switch things up.

    Otherwise, I might start seeing this time as less important. It becomes the second or third thing I do. After other things. Seemingly more pressing things. Before I know it, it's been days since I connected privately and personally with Truth.

    And then my soul feels a bit off and sluggish. Like when my stomach has been denied food, a desperation starts creeping over other parts of my body. That happens with soul hunger too.

    Only the triggers for stomach hunger are much more apparent. My brain quickly reminds me, "You feel awful because you need to eat."

    Sometimes my brain isn't as quick to pick up on soul hunger. So I just lumber forward but wonder, "What's wrong?" I think of a list of reasons ... I'm tired, I haven't had enough fun, or my butt looks big in these jeans.

    And while some of those things may be true—it's not why I feel off.

    I need more time with God.

    Not more quiet time.

    More listening time. Like the writer in Psalm 63:1 needed. "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." (NIV)

    This morning as I sat with God with nothing but willingness to listen, three things popped into my mind. I can't say "God spoke to me" but it felt right. I need to do some new things as I listen.

    Study wisdom by reading a chapter in Proverbs everyday.
    Ask God to reveal "my verse" for the day and think of ways to apply it. I listen.

    Read something from someone I admire.
    I need to study leadership in this season of my life. So, I pick up a book written on this topic by someone I admire and glean from their wisdom. I listen.

    Read something from someone I trust.
    There's a book I'm reading right now that is whimsical and grounded all at the same time. It makes me feel like this writer gets me. They get my struggles and offer up advice I know I can trust. I listen.

    Maybe you think all this still sounds like a quiet time, but to me it's different. It's a listening time. A time to shake things up a bit and get outside my normal routine. A time to listen to God speak. And He does speak ... through His book of wisdom, through someone I admire, and through someone I trust.

    And this morning? My soul felt that thrilling and comforting full feeling. Complete. Satisfied. Deeply nourished.

    Dear Lord, I'm seeking to grow a stronger relationship with You today. Help me to break out of the routine so that I can connect with You and hear You speak. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    It's important to exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world. In the just released Unglued Devotional, Lysa TerKeurst shares practical ways of capturing meaningful time with the Lord.

    And if you missed Lysa's New York Times bestselling original Unglued book, click here to get your copy today.

    Take time to gather with a few trusted girlfriends who get your struggles and study Unglued together. Click here for more information on the Unglued Bible Study bundle.

    Lysa shares more of her encouragement in the new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible from Proverbs 31 Ministries, filled with devotions from her and the P31 Team. Click here for more information.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What do you need to break up with so you can connect more closely and listen more intently to God?

    Write a list of things that you are placing as priorities before your time with God. Consider how you can prioritize so that God comes first, and to make sure that your time with Him isn't just another thing on your "to do" list.

    Power Verses:
    Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (NIV)

    2 Chronicles 7:14, "... if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


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

  • Do Your Best

    Posted on March 20, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land. Numbers 13:20

    Do your best and trust God with the rest. Your best in the hands of your Heavenly Father is all He needs to get done what’s needed. He can bless less than your best, but normally His favor rests on your best efforts. His blessing stays with those who remain trustworthy stewards of their time, gifts and skills. As you are faithful with what you have, the Lord may very well expand your capacity. Excellent stewardship is a low risk investment with a high return probability.

    Are you in school? If so, do your best in your studies, so you develop a disciplined mind,  managing well your parent’s money. Are you a writer? If so, do your best to write when you don’t feel like writing,  trusting you can break through any writer’s block. Are your parents alive? If so, seek out a relationship of love and honor. Children who care for their parents model for their children how to become compassionate caregivers. Do your best and trust God with the rest.

    Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

    Commit your free time to becoming better at what you are called to be and do. Perhaps you take an online class that is a survey of the Old or New Testaments. Teach or lead, so you are more accountable to model what you tell others to do. Maybe you serve the mentally challenged and the physically handicapped in ways that make them feel special and beloved by their Heavenly Father. Do your best with the time you have and trust God with the rest that needs to get done.

    Most of all concentrate on being your very best for Christ. In your thoughts, think on things that are lovely, wholesome, true, noble and without shame. With your eyes, watch images that feed your spirit with good and starve your flesh from bad. Read books and experience films that ignite your imagination with big God ideas  that deepen your love for humanity. Listen to music that lifts your spirits and leads your spirit in worship. Do your best to become His very best!

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am committed to do my best and to trust You with the rest.

    Related Readings: Jeremiah 42:3; Proverbs 16:3; Ephesians 1:13; 2 Timothy 4:9; Titus 3:12

    Post/Tweet today: Do your best with the time you have and trust God with the rest that needs to get done. #doyourbest

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Numbers

  • I Like Soccer Balls

    Posted on March 20, 2013 by Family Christian

    One boy with a love for soccer imagined more and filled children’s hearts around the world. You’re the captain of your life. Become part of the change, and put your faith into action.
    What does it mean to live a life of generosity?


    This post was posted in Missions and was tagged with Giving, Soccer, Africa, I Like Giving

  • The Day Forgiveness Set Me Free

    Posted on March 20, 2013 by Renee Swope

    Renee Swope

    "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. ... Forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:2, 32 (NIV)

    I thought I was over the hurt. I was sure I had moved on. But as my thumb slipped under the seal of the invitation to my 10-year college reunion, it hit me: I had not forgiven her.

    During our last semester at school, the harsh tone and accusing anger of a friend had been more than my heart could handle, especially in the middle of my year-long battle with depression. A deep sense of sadness and self-doubt, that I couldn't explain or escape, had left me feeling depleted.

    When she questioned something I had done and expressed deep frustration toward me, I didn't have the mental or emotional strength to process her criticism without being pulled into a pit of condemnation.

    If I attended our class reunion I would likely see her and other friends who had gotten tangled in our mess. With that possibility came a flood of memories and emotions that made me feel the same yuck I felt the day our friendship ended. The day that pretty much ruined the last few weeks of our senior year.

    Holding the envelope in my hand, that hurt took hold of me again. Instead of simply deciding how to RSVP, I stood at the edge of a pit filled with insecurity that threatened to pull me back in.

    After weeks of holding onto the invitation I finally decided I was tired of living as prisoner to my hurt. I wanted freedom. The kind of freedom I'd come to know in the ten years in between. The freedom of forgiveness Jesus died to give me.

    I spent hours praying and reading my Bible over the next month. Listening to worship music and messages on forgiveness, I asked God to drench me with His perspective and give me His assurance so I could walk into my reunion as a secure child of God.

    By the time I arrived, my mind was filled with God's grace and promises. I literally wanted to find my old friend and restore our relationship. The confidence that came as I followed God's command to seek and offer forgiveness came as a surprise.

    Forgiving those who hurt us is hard. Often we are afraid to forgive because it might open us to be hurt again. Or we're afraid if we bring something up it might unearth bitterness we don't want to deal with, so its left buried.

    But any time we bury a hurt alive, it will keep rising from the dead to disturb us.

    God used today's verses to show me how to let forgiveness set me free from the hurt I had buried. "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. ... Forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you." (Eph. 4:2, 32)

    Forgiving in the way this scripture describes has helped me recognize I need God's grace as much as anyone else. Although pardoning an offense is not easy, it is possible when we follow God's plan of being humble and gentle, patient and bearing with those who've hurt us. It's so worth what it takes to be set free.

    Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves when we offer it to others. In doing so, we don't forgive so we can forget. We forgive, as we have been forgiven, so we can find freedom from our past and live with confident hope for our future.

    Lord, I need Your help. Help me process my hurt with You and let go of any bitterness that keeps me from wholeness and hope. Empower me to forgive just as You have forgiven me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Conflict is hard and unhealed hurts can make us doubt ourselves, as well as our ability to have healthy relationships. In her life-changing book: A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises, Renee Swope empowers us to overcome the hurts that hold us back as we move forward in the confident assurance of all God has for our lives!

    Reflect and Respond:
    Is there unresolved conflict or unforgiven hurt that could be holding you back you from living in the freedom Jesus wants for you? Journal thoughts that came to mind while reading today's devotion and commit to take one step towards the freedom of forgiveness God is calling you to today.

    Power Verse:
    Colossians 3:13, "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Forgiveness, Ephesians

  • Spiritual Prayers

    Posted on March 19, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Ephesians 6:18

    Prayer is not meant to be perfunctory, but powered by the Holy Spirit. When I am preoccupied and attempt to pray, I short-circuit the Spirit’s work. However, when I pray in the Spirit there is full contact with Christ,  my mind engaged,and my heart  fully focused. The flesh seeks a quick fix, but the Spirit desires a deep affection that develops over time. The Spirit is like a key that unlocks the door of my spirit. He searches the rooms of my life for total trust and obedience.

    Spiritual prayers flow from praise and worship to Almighty God. Yes, songs and hymns offered in humility and gratitude ignite intimacy with our Heavenly Father. He receives the prayer aroma of His daughters and sons, as the sweet smell of a holy sacrifice to Him alone. The Holy Spirit is our prayer whisperer. He is able to soothe our heart and translate our cares into the language of our loving Lord Jesus. When our flesh is weak, the Spirit strengthens our spirit to pray in faith.

    In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

    Therefore, pray on all occasions. With bowed head recognize Jesus as the provider of a delicious meal. Before you partake of the tasty morsels, taste His grace. Pray and prepare your heart prior to a hard conversation, so any anger or harshness is replaced by patience and compassion. Pray as you think about a big decision; ask questions like, “Is my motive to glorify God?” “What counsel would I give to someone else in a similar situation?” Spiritual prayers have the Spirit’s leading.

    Moreover, variety is the spice of an effective prayer life. Yes, employ a plethora of prayers that protect you from familiarity that can breed boredom. Pray for patience, so you are slow to anger. Pray for the sick, so they might be healed. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel, so the seeds of salvation will grow in the hearts of lost souls. Pray for those who suffer, so their comfort comes from Christ. Pray for forgiveness, so your heart is healed and filled with the Holy Spirit!

    I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. Ephesians 3:16

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray that my prayers are full of praise and thanksgiving to You.

    Related Readings: Isaiah 11:2; Micah 3:8; Mark 14:38; Acts 4:31; Colossians 1:9; Jude 1:20

    Post/Tweet today: With bowed head recognize Jesus as the provider of a delicious meal, before you partake of the tasty morsels, taste His grace. #prayer

     

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


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

  • Q & A for Dr. Alister McGrath, author of C. S. Lewis—A Life

    Posted on March 19, 2013 by Family Christian


    Alister McGrath is one of the world's leading Christian theologians. He is Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at King's College London, and Head of its Center for Theology, Religion and Culture. Before moving to King's College, he was Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University.

    Like Lewis, Alister was born in Belfast, and became an atheist as a young man, before rediscovering the Christian faith at Oxford University. His deep knowledge of Christian theology, history, and literature allowed him to interpret Lewis against a broad backdrop, presenting a fascinating portrait of the development of Lewis's mind and his impact on western culture.

    1. What stimulated your interest in writing a new biography of C. S. Lewis?

    I started reading Lewis in the 1970s, when I was a student at Oxford University, and my admiration for him has grown over the years. 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of his death, and it seemed right to mark the occasion with a new biography.

    2. Describe the parallels between your own spiritual journey and that of Lewis.

    Lewis and I have many things in common. We were both born in Belfast and spent our childhoods there. We were both students and then dons at Oxford University. Both of us were atheists who discovered Christianity at Oxford. And we both try to defend Christianity against its critics. I think these parallels made it easier for me to understand Lewis.

    3. You note that in the late 1940s, the famed “Kilns” where Lewis and his brother, Warnie, lived had become a dysfunctional household. What created the tension, and how did this affect Lewis’s writing?

    Lewis shared The Kilns with his brother, Warnie, Mrs. Moore, and her daughter, Maureen. Maureen left home after her marriage in 1940. Shortly after this, it became obvious that Warnie had become an alcoholic, and Mrs. Moore began to develop dementia. By the late 1940s, Lewis found himself acting as a full-time nurse to Mrs. Moore (who could no longer look after herself) while trying to cope with his brother’s frequent absences on alcoholic binges in Ireland and their aftermath. It was unquestionably one of the darkest periods of his life.

    4. Lewis was regarded by many of his academic colleagues at Oxford with suspicion or derision during that same period. Why did he experience such academic hostility?

    There were two sources of concern to Lewis’s academic colleagues at Oxford in the 1940s. The first was Lewis’s explicit commitment to Christianity, which irritated the more dogmatic academic atheists of his day. Yet the evidence suggests that this was not the major concern. Academic hostility towards Lewis really began to develop in the early 1940s, and largely rested on the perception that he had become a populariser rather than a serious scholar. This impression arose primarily as a result of The Screwtape Letters. These were seen by many of his colleagues as academically frivolous and lightweight. Lewis would probably have got away with this, if he had produced some major academic works around this time. But it was not until 1954 that Lewis produced a really serious piece of scholarship, which restored his academic reputation and helped secure his appointment as Professor of English Literature at Cambridge University.

    5. One of the most compelling aspects of your research involves the redating of Lewis’s conversion to theism. What led you to reexamine this chronology?

    I did not expect to raise questions about the traditional dating of Lewis’s conversion to theism. Yet the method of research I used forced me to this conclusion. In preparation for this work, I read everything that Lewis wrote in chronological order. After I had read everything for 1929—the traditional date of his “conversion”—I was puzzled. Nothing fundamental seemed to have changed.

    Yet beginning in February 1930, his writings show obvious signs of some kind of reorientation. I then examined the evidence for the traditional date of his conversion in minute detail, and concluded—for reasons set out clearly in the biography—that his conversion must have taken place a year later than everyone had believed. I think this is the most significant finding reported in the biography.

    6. In the course of your research, you conducted a complete, chronological analysis of the entire collection of Lewis’s letters and archives. How long did this take you?

    This took me fifteen months and involved long periods of reading and note-taking. But it was fascinating, seeing how Lewis’s ideas and style developed and how his authorial “voice” emerged. I took the view that you simply could not write a biography of Lewis without reading his total output.

    One result of this is that I quote from Lewis more than many of his earlier biographers so that my readers can hear Lewis’s voice, and not simply my own. I also explored archives, mainly in Oxford, and was able to turn up some important material never used by Lewis’s biographers that casts new light on his life, especially during the 1910s.

    7. Many readers are fascinated by the love relationship late in life between Lewis and Joy Davidman Gresham. You quote her son Douglas as stating that his mother originally went to England with one specific intention: “To seduce C. S. Lewis.” How did he come to assess the situation in that manner?

    Douglas Gresham bases his judgment on his memories of his mother from that time. We don’t know quite what led him to that judgment, but the evidence now available confirms his suspicions. It is clear from some of Joy’s writings of the period—especially a collection of “Sonnets” that have only very recently come to light—that she actively set out to seduce Lewis. We can hope to have some fine new biographies of Joy from significant scholars in the near future which will explore this matter in much greater detail.

    8. You write that Joy’s marriage to Jack was, in Lewis’s view, purely a marriage of convenience at first. At what point did Lewis’s feelings for her begin to change?

    Lewis initially saw his clandestine civil marriage to Joy as a chivalrous act which would enable her to remain in England and develop her career as a journalist and writer. The evidence strongly suggests that Lewis’s feelings towards Joy began to change when he became conscious that she was seriously ill. The realization that he might soon lose her seems to have triggered a deep sense of compassionand care, resulting in a romantic love for Joy that doesn’t seem to have been present earlier. It’s hard to date this development, but it’s clearly reflected in a letter Lewis wrote to the novelist Dorothy L. Sayers in June 1957.

    9. The friendship between Lewis and Tolkien cooled as the years progressed. Why did Tolkien’s views about Lewis darken?

    The relationship between Lewis and Tolkien was of major importance to both throughout the 1930s and into the early 1940s. The cooling seems to have taken place mainly on Tolkien’s side, reflecting three issues. The first was what seems to have been jealousy on Tolkien’s part about the growing influence that the novelist Charles Williams had on Lewis in the early 1940s. This was alleviated somewhat with Williams’s death in 1945. The second emerged in the early 1950s, when Tolkien began to suspect that Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia borrowed some of his own ideas without due acknowledgment. Third, Tolkien regarded Lewis’s views of marriage as inadequate and was dismayed by Lewis marrying a divorcée and hurt by the fact that Lewis failed to tell him about it. In any case, Tolkien cordially detested Joy personally. Yet Lewis always respected and admired Tolkien. One of my discoveries in researching this biography was a hitherto unknown letter in which Lewis proposed Tolkien for the 1961 Nobel Prize for Literature, which clearly reflects this high regard.

    10. Lewis’s death on November 22, 1963, was overshadowed in the media by the assassination of John F. Kennedy. How are we to judge Lewis’s life and legacy fifty years after his death?

    The most important thing is that more people read Lewis today than at any point in his lifetime. Although many—including Lewis himself—believed that his influence and reputation would quickly fade after his death, Lewis has bounced back. Partly this reflects the imaginative appeal of the Chronicles of Narnia, particularly now that some of the novels have been turned into major movies. But there is also substantial interest in Lewis’s literary and religious writings, some of which have established themselves as “classics.” My biography provides a solid base for future exploration of Lewis’s legacy, which I think is going to be significant for some considerable time to come.

    To download and read the first chapter of C.S. Lewis - A Life, just right click and "save as" here.

    A CS Lewis Biography


    This post was posted in Books, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, C.S. Lewis, Alister McGrath, Dorothy L. Sayers, Tolkien, Narnia, Nobel Prize, John F. Kennedy

  • Following from Afar

    Posted on March 19, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the high priest's courtyard. He was sitting with the temple police, warming himself by the fire. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but they could find none." Mark 14:54-55 (HCSB)

    At the back of the little country church, I clumsily thumbed through the pages of the worn pew Bible. It was Easter week and I was a senior in high school. I had given my life to Jesus just over a year prior at a youth campfire gathering and was still uncertain about the location of certain verses.

    That Good Friday, I was at a drop-in service. This wasn't a traditional service at an appointed time with a message and singing. People could stop by the church at any time to individually and quietly work their way through a devotional reading and accompanying verses.

    It was during that time of reflection that I met the Apostle Peter in the words of Scripture. Peter, who later became a bold witness for Christ, was not so valiant at the time of Jesus' betrayal and crucifixion. Although Peter claimed that even if everyone else ditched Jesus, he would remain faithful, Jesus knew the truth. The truth was that Peter would deny Christ not once, but three times in one night.

    Before Peter's denials came, something else came: a widening space between Peter and Jesus. Although Peter was a close companion of His, when Christ was suddenly arrested, Peter stopped his "right-beside-ya" stroll. Today's key verse from Mark 14:54-55 clearly states where he stood, "Peter followed Him at a distance" (HCSB).

    My teenage heart broke as those words stung my soul. They cut a bit too close. As a new believer I'd eagerly told others about Jesus. However, when I saw that my new-found faith wasn't so readily accepted by certain friends at school, I'd backed off from associating myself so publicly with Jesus. Like Peter, I was following at a distance.

    The remedy to my problem lay squarely in my hands. It was so obvious I almost missed it. The Bible.

    To walk closely with Jesus we have to walk ourselves daily through God's Word. Tethering our hearts to Scripture helps grow our friendship with Jesus. As a result, He becomes more important to us than others or their opinions of us. The more we learn about God's character, the more we fall in love with Him and the less likely we'll be to turn from Him when the crowds tempt to sway us. Or when fear of judgment or persecution comes.

    Have you been following Jesus at a distance? Walking far enough behind that you can still see Him but others don't see you right next to Him? Grab a Bible. Crack it. Get into God's Word and get His Word into you. No more lagging behind. Let's walk right beside the Lord, unashamedly, and allow others to see our desire to be near Jesus in hopes they will long to get to know Him too.

    Dear Lord, help me to follow through with my intentions of immersing myself in Your Word and then walking close with You day-by-day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Unpack Scripture with us on a deeper level! Our team has compiled 366 of our devotions in the new Proverbs 31 Ministries' NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women.

    If you want to learn to walk more closely with Jesus, check out Karen's new book and DVD curriculum LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Was there a time in your life when you felt you walked so closely with Jesus that others readily associated you with Him? When was it? Describe your relationship with Him.

    If over the years you feel that you have started following more from a distance, what factors do you feel contributed to this?

    What is one action step you can take to start to walk more closely to the Lord when it comes to reading, studying or memorizing the Bible? Write it out. Now, whose help can you enlist to enable you to follow through with that commitment?

    Power Verse:
    Matthew 16:24, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.'" (NLT)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


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

  • Sword of the Spirit

    Posted on March 18, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
    The Word of God is an offensive and defensive weapon wielded against the wiles of the devil. He flees in the face of the wisdom of Christ. A life steeped in Scripture is able to expose the enemy's half truths. For example, the devil lures a Christian to think the Lord will protect him, even if he acts irresponsibly. But, God is not backed into a corner and forced to rescue a fool. To tempt the Lord is to dishonor Him. Power is reserved for the Righteous One who reigns over all!
    Scripture makes us wise into salvation and wise in the ways of the Lord. What Satan means for harm, God grows into good. Yes, the Bible gives us strength for the journey, because walking with Jesus is an everyday exercise. We who are committed to Christ do not coast, but make our boast in the Lord as we busy ourselves with His work. Spiritual shenanigans like playing church are replaced by sincere service. Wisdom from the Word moves us to make a difference.
    For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
    The word of God gives you courage and conviction to engage the enemy. You study the Bible and apply its principles, so you can overcome the spiritual principalities that war against Almighty God as our absolute authority. Educated fools attempt to marginalize the Bible as an out of date history book, full of inconsistencies, but on the contrary, it is the living, breathing, inerrant word of the Lord that reveals Jesus Christ in all His glory. Scripture exposes Satan’s lies.
    Therefore, what is your system for embedding Scripture in your heart, mind and soul? Is your spiritual sword sharpened by success and suffering, or is it dulled by disillusionment? Your daily drip from a facet of faith will feed your soul and revive your spirit. Read a chapter in Proverbs based on the day of the month, or memorize verses in Psalms that speak to your felt needs. Keep your mind engaged in eternal truths, and you’ll successfully attack temporal untruths. The Bible is your baseline for beliefs and behavior. Bring it to mind and you will mind the ways of God!
    Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Proverbs 30:5

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me engage the devil by understanding and applying Your wise words.
    Related Readings: Isaiah 40:8; Jeremiah 23:29; Mark 7:13; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Revelation 1:2
    Post/Tweet today: Commitment to Christ does not coast, but makes its boast in the Lord and is busy about His work.

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry
    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


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

  • It's Over

    Posted on March 18, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha Evilsizer

    "My beloved spoke and said to me, 'Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.'" Song of Songs 2:10-11 (NIV)

    These lyrics caught in my throat the first time I sang them: "I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon the cross."* I cried as I stared at my circumstances, ashamed.

    I'd compromised big time in some areas and, until the warm truth of that song caught me off guard, I had turned a cold shoulder to the hope of forgiveness. Shame convinced me I wasn't worthy of another chance.

    Last summer, I met a young woman who needed one other chance too, maybe more. On a 75 degree, gorgeous-in-every-way L.A. day, I served a meal on Skid Row with The Dream Center team. There I was, navigating my way around pain and hypodermic needles. There she was, fidgeting outside the women's shelter.

    She melded into the gray of her tattered sweatpants. Washed out and muted, buried under the debris of a dark world, away from the Light for too long. Inching toward me, she stepped over others hibernating beneath cardboard boxes and frigid despair.

    Try as I might, I couldn't catch her eyes as she asked for help. Shame from past deeds had beaten her down. It made her doubt she was worthy of anything, much less another chance for a hot meal and cold drink. This timid woman had been pushed out of the food line. Unable to defend herself and in too much physical pain to stand in line again, she needed someone to make a way for her.

    Together, we walked to the front of the food truck (not gonna lie, it was fun breezing past her bullies). But I felt helpless handing her only scrambled eggs and water. Surely, she needed so much more.

    We all need more at some point, don't we?

    This frail woman needed to know God had more for her than this. That what she'd done to land on Skid Row could be forgiven—forgotten, even. This cold season could turn into a warmer one. I wanted to share this truth: "See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone" (Song of Songs 2:11 NIV).

    Winter, that gloomy season that should pass. But what if it lingers? What if one bad-for-us choice turns into 100 that beat us to our own Skid Row? What if mistakes convince us we don't deserve another shot?

    Been there? Me too. But letting the Light of truth in to our hearts turns our winter of doubt into a spring of hope.

    What we've done doesn't dictate who we are. The truth is, what He's done makes us who we are: forgiven, hopeful and worthy of another chance. We may not believe we deserve a second shot. But Christ's sacrifice on the cross and our gift of a new life through His death gives us one. When we ask for forgiveness and turn from our sins, our past is covered by God's mercy and grace.

    Never doubt, He'll always lead us past the bully of shame to the front of the line for so much more than eggs and water.

    God, it's hard to believe I'm worthy of another chance. But I'm taking a step of faith, choosing to accept that Your death means a new chance for me. I'll never know how much it cost, but I'm forever grateful. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    We'd love to help you find your second chance by reading this truth in God's Word! Our team has tucked hope-filled, encouraging devotions throughout the pages of the brand new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women to unpack Scripture with you. Pick up your copy here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Why is it difficult for you to believe you're worthy of another chance?

    Write down every reason you feel you're not worthy of Christ's love and forgiveness. Now, read them out loud and say after them, "But Christ died on the cross to forgive me once and for all. I've repented and I'm forgiven."

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 12:1-2, "You will say in that day: 'I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.'" (ESV)

    John 3:17-18b, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned ..." (ESV)

    *Light of the World (Here I am to Worship) by Tim Hughes. © 2000 Thankyou Music.

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Song of Solomon

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