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Monthly Archives: April 2013

  • Quality of Mercy

    Posted on April 30, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

    The quality of God’s mercy is not obstructed. Like the gentle and ceaseless flow of a bubbling brook, it refreshes all who come to drink. Those refreshed can fill their spiritual buckets and bless others who in their parched suffering have yet to taste heaven’s liquid love. Yes, the mineral rights of Almighty God’s mercy are inexhaustible and its riches are more than can ever be spent. His mercy shows compassion, nullifies judgment, covers pain and withholds what is deserved.

    Do you lift up prayers of gratitude for the rich mercy of your Heavenly Father? Is mercy your manner of speech and conduct? Mercy exists like the foyer of your home to welcome  the undeserving and those who feel shame, but not hope. Like a critical care unit in a hospital, make your home a ward of mercy for those who need healing, love and acceptance. Adult children show up where they will be accepted, not judged...cared for, not condemned. Mercy is tender.

    To give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God. Luke 1:77-78

     

    Our pride is unmoved by mercy; neither extending or receiving. With a granite like face, grace is absent. Our pride’s philosophy is an “eye for an eye,” with no eye on God’s eternal perspective of   mercy. We desperately need to daily approach His throne of grace and mercy with our needy hearts. Humility looks in the mirror first ata candidate for Christ’s mercy.

    Moreover, mercy is a perquisite step toward forgiveness. As we cry out, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” we are positioned to be forgiven and to forgive. Thus, cling to the mercy of Christ who graciously gives to you in abundance. Be a man or woman of mercy, as you experience from others their: insecurities, fears, struggles, rejection, arrogance and accusations. Lean into mercy, take responsibility where another won’t. Often, give and take this rich quality of mercy unobstructed!

    Prayer: Heavenly Father thank You for Your rich mercy; make me a person of rich mercy.

     

    Related Readings: Psalm 4:1, 6:2; Proverbs 28:13; Luke 1:50-58; Romans 9:23; 2 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Timothy 1:13

     

    Post/Tweet today: Like a critical care unit in a hospital make your home a ward of mercy for those who need healing. #mercy

     

    © 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, Mercy

  • Torched

    Posted on April 30, 2013 by Luann Prater

    Luann Prater

    "In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body." James 3:5-6a (NLT)

     

    I recently saw a plaque that read, "Lord, put an arm around my shoulder and a hand across my mouth." I smiled at the saying, but God snagged my heart to understand the power of my words during an early morning phone call.

    When I saw the caller ID, I cheerfully sang, "Good morning, good morning, hey it's great to stay up late!" (Envision Debbie Reynolds in the Singing in The Rain movie.)

    "We've got to talk. I'm upset," my friend replied.

    This wasn't how I wanted to start my day. My heart sunk into my shoes when my friend told me why she was upset. I realized the root of the problem was a miscommunication and my first thought was to defend myself.

    But that morning I had been in the book of James, and at this critical moment of conversation this scripture pushed its way to the top of my mind.

    "And the tongue is a flame of fire" (James 3:6a).

    This verse always reminds me of my 9th grade shop class where I learned welding and the truth that whoever controls the flame, controls the outcome. The power of the small concentrated fire from the welder's torch was lethal. I held in my hands the ability to rip metal in two and burn through tightly soldered seams like a hot knife through butter.

    Yet through this tiny flame that burned bright blue and hot yellow, I also had a different power, one that mended. I could repair what was broken and bring together what had been divided.

    You and I carry around a similar little flame; it rests inside our mouths. It's our tongue. We can fire up and encourage a broken heart or torch it with a careless word.

    So how do we control our tongue? For starters, it's helpful to keep our words to ourselves until we can sort through any raw emotions behind them. In James 1:26 we find that, "Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless" (NIV).

    That Hebrew word for "rein" means to restrain and pull back our first reaction. In other words, when you feel like spewing it, zip it. Our lips should be water tight, not allowing unnecessary words to leak out. Like Tupperware secure. In this way, we'll truly live out our Christianity by being examples of Christ's character: kind, loving, self-controlled.

    Next, we can choose our words wisely. James 3:3, says, "When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal" (NIV).

    Once we've reined in what we say, we choose words that steer the conversation along an encouraging, uplifting path, building up instead of tearing down.

    Last, we praise, not curse. In James 3:9 we discover that, "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness" (NIV).

    In Biblical times cursing was the opposite of blessing, and today we should view our words as carrying the same responsibility. Deep scars from hurtful words may never heal.

    When my friend lashed out on the phone, God helped me to rein in my first thought and wait until the right moment to respond. I felt led to choose three words, that when said sincerely, turn a conversation around:

    "I'm so sorry."

    It was true, the last thing I wanted or expected was for my friend to be hurt by an unintentional misunderstanding. I've made a decision to not react with torch-splitting, heated words, but to mend with encouraging conversation from my heart and lips. Would you like to join me? Remember, whoever controls the flame, controls the outcome.

    Dear Lord, remind us each day to use our tongues to glorify You and encourage others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    30 Days to Taming Your Tongue and the 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue (Workbook) by Deborah Smith Pegues

    Reflect and Respond:
    Identify the triggers that turn your tongue into a weapon.

    Today, choose to seek a mending moment with someone who needs a gentle answer.

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 12:18, "The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (NIV)

    Proverbs 15:4, "The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Luann Prater. 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 James

  • Worldly Wisdom

    Posted on April 29, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace” 2 Corinthians 1:12.

     

    Worldly wisdom has a way of reducing heaven’s wisdom to an afterthought. After  our worldly wisdom doesn't work, we pray and seek to discern the Lord’s ways.. It’s tempting to rely on what seems to work instead of seeking  the principles to live by based on  God’s economy. Worldly wisdom is not only inferior,  it is also a competitor with God’s grace.

     

    The Lord sees the world’s wisdom as foolishness and the world sees His wisdom as foolishness. Some who embrace the wisdom of the world say there is no personal God, but God says in His wisdom that this thinking flows from  a fool. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). Sadly, the world’s wisdom has no room for Jesus.

     

    “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21)

     

    Worldly wisdom is flashier and sexier in its appeal—it invites pride to perch over those who have not yet achieved a superior standpoint. Ironically, the created dismisses the Creator as antiquated and out of touch. The traditional tenants of an all knowing and ever present sovereign God are silly and irrational to this irreverent system of belief. But what worldly wisdom embraces as  truly enlightened, the Lord defines as educated fools.

     

    “Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20)

     

    Therefore, do not try to outsmart your Savior Jesus Christ with intelligence void of humility and the fear of God. Academics, without an infusion of faith in Almighty God, leads down a reckless path of disconnection from Deity. However, wise is the man or woman who is full of the grace of God, and who studies truth long and hard for the glory of God.

     

    Faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God is not a leap into the dark; rather it is a step into the light. Christian belief is based on the historical fact of His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. For some the Lord’s wisdom wins out over their own and  they begin to seek out  people and places that possess His knowledge. “I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness” (Ecclesiastes 2:13).

     

    Prayer: Am I embracing and believing the wisdom of the world or Almighty God’s?

     

    Related Readings: Isaiah 29:14; Jeremiah 8:9; James 3:13-18

     

    Post/Tweet today: What worldly wisdom embraces as truly enlightened, the Lord defines as educated fools. #worldlywisdom

    © 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 2 Corinthians

  • Phil Vischer Explains How to Talk to Kids About Jesus

    Posted on April 29, 2013 by Family Christian

    Phil Vischer made his first animated film when he was nine years old; by the age of fourteen,

    Phil Vischer

    he was convinced he would be a filmmaker when he grew up. After a brief stint at a Bible college, Phil struck out on his own, looking for a way to integrate his faith with his film making.

    We've all heard of VeggieTales and Phil's newest adventure, What's In the Bible.

    In the video below, Phil talks about Jesus being the Good News. He also explains the hardest part about telling kids the story of what Jesus did and why the cross matters.

     

    Phil Vischer made his first animated film when he was nine years old; by the age of fourteen, he was convinced he would be a filmmaker when he grew up. After a brief stint at a Bible college, Phil struck out on his own, looking for a way to integrate his faith with his filmmaking.

    This post was posted in Kids and was tagged with Featured, VeggieTales, Phil Vischer, What's in the Bible

  • Whatever Happens, Here's What You Should Do

    Posted on April 29, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." Philippians 1:27a (NIV)

    I felt completely justified to blow it.

    Look up inconvenienced, worried, nervous, annoyed and rushed in the dictionary and that's where you would have found me a few weeks ago. So when one more issue got added to my day, I lost it. And the worst part was I thought I'd earned the right to let off steam.

    It started with my husband asking for a favor. He had bought two trucks for his company and needed me to drive across town with him and drive one of them back. Since we live in a large metropolitan area, that meant a one-hour drive each way.

    However, the only available window of time that afternoon was sandwiched between four different things I had to do. In two and a half hours we had one son getting out of high school (who had to go with us) and another one needing to be picked up from college (which is also across town), our youngest daughter having to be picked up after that (which is near home), then the high schooler had a practice.

    Since I live this crazy chauffeur-life every day, it was up to me to schedule this cross-town trip and get everyone—and two trucks—picked up on time.

    Of course everything takes longer than you think it will. Not only were we initially running late, but then the man with the trucks was late. This meant I was going to be late getting everyone picked up. Watching the clock, I felt the passing minutes squeeze like a vice grip.

    Realizing there was no way I could do it all, I changed plans and sent the high school boy to pick up the college boy and then head back and get himself to practice. I would wait for the truck and then get our daughter.

    Now, this may have your head spinning, but it sounded easy in my mind.

    However, those two teenage boys got very confused with the change of plans. They weren't sure what they were supposed to do, despite what I thought were pretty simple instructions.

    Thirty minutes later they called me frustrated and annoyed. Unfortunately, I was also frustrated and annoyed trying to drive a HUGE diesel truck across town. With a right side mirror that I couldn't adjust. On a busy freeway. In the middle of rush hour traffic. Realizing I would be late picking up my daughter.

    College son: "Mom! What is going on?!? Why is Robbie picking me up and not you? Are we supposed to go get some trucks? Robbie doesn't know what's going on!!" the college boy snapped.

    And in that moment, the stress of the afternoon had built, and I let it explode, feeling very justified.

    Me: "Seriously? Seriously?!? You are frustrated? Well, let me tell you about being frustrated! ... (I'm sure you can imagine the rest).

    I hung up the phone angry.

    And then I remembered a verse I'd read that morning. Right there on the freeway, God made Philippians 1:27 very relevant:

    Whatever happens ... (like an errand taking longer, rush hour, annoyed teenagers, a side mirror that doesn't work, three kids to usher around town)

    Conduct yourself ... (You mean, control myself God? Keep things in perspective?)

    In a manner worthy ... (in such a way that shows who I really am, what I believe, what I value ...)

    of the gospel of Christ (and Whom I represent).

    Before I had a chance to call my son, he called me. I rushed to apologize. So did he. Thanks to God's Word in my heart leading me to ask for forgiveness, we ended our disagreement on the side that is worthy of the Word and the God Whom we serve, rather than the angry resentful side.

    Philippians 1:27. What a powerful Scripture this has been to me. Just thinking "whatever happens" keeps me in check. Because the interesting thing about that word "whatever" is it means "whatever."

    I'm not sure what you're facing right now ... whatever pressures, deadlines, carpools, boss, spouse or bills surround you. But I do know we each have a choice how we will respond. So take a deep breath and remember to walk in a manner worthy of Whom you represent.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for your patience towards me when I blow it. Your grace and kindness make me want to show that to others. Help me remember that I represent You in all I do and say. In Jesus Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst will help you deal with those moments when you want to lose it.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Under what circumstances are you most likely to react badly?

    What can you do to prepare for those moments so your reaction represents the Gospel of Christ?

    Power Verses:
    Ephesians 4:1-2, "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. 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 Philippians

  • Abundant Forgiveness

    Posted on April 28, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”    Matthew 18:21-22

     

    Sin’s offense hurts. There’s no doubt about it. It wounds indiscriminately, and it is no respecter of persons. Sin builds walls, as it separates and ravishes relationships. Just the sound of the word elicits negative emotion. It is deceptive, carnal, Christless, unfair, sad, and sometimes sadistic. Sin follows a process of desire, conception, birth, maturity, and death. James describes its diabolical development. “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15). So sin is not to be taken lightly. Certainly its infliction of pain cannot be ignored for long.

     

    Sin invites a response from the one it offends. One option is to fight sin with sin. This is messy and can be long and drawn out. No one (except Satan) really wins when sin battles sin. Sin is rampant, and no one is immune from its consequences. It divides, belittles, and brings on relational suicide. Nonetheless, when you are sinned against, you are to forgive. When someone’s sin assaults your attitude, you are to forgive him. When someone’s sin berates your work, you are to forgive him. When someone’s sin violates your trust or steals your joy or crushes your dreams or steals from you, you are to forgive him. This level of forgiveness is counter-intuitive and countercultural, but it is the way of Christ. Forgiveness is God’s game plan. You will lose if you don’t forgive, for unforgiveness is tortuous to the soul. It is unhealthy to the body and the emotions. Unforgiveness leaves hollow lives in its wake. However, forgiveness is able to let go and let God be the judge.

     

    Forgiveness cuts through the varying degrees of guilt and erases the entire debt. True forgiveness comes from the heart of the one offended (Matthew 18:35b). Forgiveness is not a flippant acknowledgement. It is a sincere removal of anything that is owed. When the offended one forgives, he wipes out the expectation of an apology, the payback, or the change. It is forgiveness, clear and simple. Forgiveness is letting go. It is letting go of the hurt, anger, and shame. When you forgive, you are free. You are free from the shackles of sin. When you forgive, you trust. You trust God to judge others in His time. His judgment is fair and just. God can be trusted with the consequences of sin’s offense.

     

    Continue to forgive others because your heavenly Father continues to forgive you. The Scripture teaches, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Without Christ’s forgiveness, you are lost and undone. Jesus does not deal in forgiveness quotas. The forgiveness of the cross was swift, full, final, and forever. Unlock your relational restraints with the key of forgiveness. Write a letter with tear-soaked ink that documents your forgiveness. Call or e-mail someone today and let them know that because you are forgiven, you forgive them. Set others free with forgiveness, and you will be free. There is freedom in Christ. Forgive fast and forgive often. The forgiveness of Christ is forever.

     

    Post/Tweet: Unforgiveness is tortuous to our soul. It is unhealthy to our body and our emotions. #forgiveness

    © 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 Forgiveness, Matthew

  • Worldly Wisdom

    Posted on April 27, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace” (2 Corinthians 1:12).

    Worldly wisdom has a way of reducing Heaven’s wisdom to an afterthought. Using our worldly wisdom, we pray and seek to discern the Lord’s ways only after our ways do not work. It is tempting to rely on what seems to work instead of asking what the principles to live by are, based on God’s economy. Worldly wisdom is not only inferior but also competes with God’s grace.

    The Lord sees the world’s wisdom as foolishness, and the world sees His wisdom as foolishness. Some who embrace the wisdom of the world say there is no personal God, but God says in His wisdom, this thinking flows from a fool. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). Sadly, the world’s wisdom has no room for Jesus.

    “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

    Worldly wisdom is flashier and sexier in its appeal. It invites pride to perch over those who have not yet achieved a superior standpoint. Ironically, the created dismisses the Creator as antiquated and out of touch. The traditional tenants of an all-knowing and ever-present Sovereign God are silly and irrational to this irreverent system of belief. But whomworldly wisdom embraces as the truly enlightened, the Lord defines as educated fools.

    “Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20).

    Therefore, do not try to outsmart your Savior Jesus Christ with intelligence void of humility and the fear of God. Academics, without an infusion of faith in almighty God, lead down a reckless path of disconnection from Deity. However, wise is the man or woman who is full of the grace of God and studies truth long and hard for the glory of God.

    Faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God is not a leap into the dark; rather, it is a step into the light. Christian belief is based on the historical fact of His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. For some, the Lord’s wisdom wins out over their own, and they begin to seek out those people and places that possess His knowledge. “I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness” (Ecclesiastes 2:13).

    Prayer: Am I embracing and believing the wisdom of the world or almighty God’s wisdom?

    Related Readings: Isaiah 29:14; Jeremiah 8:9; James 3:13–18

     

    Post/Tweet: Whom worldly wisdom embraces as the truly enlightened, the Lord defines as educated fools. #truewisdom

    © 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 2 Corinthians, Wisdom

  • Hypocrites Exposed

    Posted on April 26, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:49-50

    There are posers who profess to know God, but He will one day say to them, “I never knew you.” It is scary to think an individual can believe they are ok with the Lord when they are not. Maybe they heard the truth of the Cross, but they did not receive the truth by faith into their heart. There has not been an exchange of trust in themselves to a total dependence on Christ. Fools may have good religious feelings, but they have not surrendered to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.

    Have you truly trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Is your love and affection captured by the love of your Heavenly Father? If not, it is wise to be circumspect about your commitment to Christ. As Jesus stated, mingling with the good fish does not make you a good fish. A bad fish smells like a fish, looks like a fish and tastes like a fish, but it remains in its original state until it's drawn to heaven by God. Make sure the scales of sin are removed from your spiritual eyes.

    Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized. Acts 9:18

     

    It is uncomfortable to picture a loving God having a system of judgment that includes hell. However, would He really be loving if He did not punish sin and expose religious hypocrites for pretending to be something they're not--true followers of Jesus? We water down the Word of God when we feel like we have to apologize for the Lord’s consequences that accompany improper beliefs. Oh how He loves us, because on Judgment Day, wrongs will be made right in His sight.

     

    Therefore, in the meantime, pray for those who genuinely believe they are right with God but have yet to be born again. Teach those who are religious but lost about a desperate desire for the Lord that follows submission to the Lord. Help fellow church members move from a head full of knowledge to a heart full of passion to pray. Information about Jesus becomes alive, when you experience Jesus in a personal, loving and intimate relationship. Ask the Holy Spirit to flush out impostors today, before it is too late to change. Better  a hypocrite’s exposure now, than then.

     

    If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

    Prayer: Heavenly Father lead me into a genuine relationship with You through Your son Jesus.

    Related Readings: Matthew 7:21, 25:32; Romans 14:11; 1 Corinthians 14:21; Revelation 20:15

     

    Post/Tweet today: There are posers who profess to know God, but are not His possessions. #hypocrites

    © 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 Matthew

  • Richard Stearns - A Vision For All Of Us

    Posted on April 26, 2013 by Family Christian

    Richard Stearns

    Richard Stearns lives in a magic kingdom.

    That’s how he describes the wealthy existence of most people in first world countries like the U.S. As World Vision President, however, he’s also familiar with those living in a “tragic kingdom,” where food, clean water and medicine are chronically in short supply. Stearns says the common denominator between the two is what both are missing: both the Magic Kingdom and the Tragic Kingdom need a breakthrough of God’s kingdom.

    Richard Stearns encourages readers to discover their unique roles in God’s Kingdom, regardless of where they live. His new book, Unfinished: Believing Is Only the Beginning, describes how to find a life of true significance and meaning. “I believe there is a direct connection between the unfinished work of God’s kingdom and our sense of feeling incomplete in our faith,” writes Stearns. “This is inevitable, because there is a direct connection between our story and God’s story. If we are not personally engaged in God’s great mission, then we have missed the very thing he created us to do.”

    Below are some questions about his new book.

    Q: Since the release of your first book, The Hole in Our Gospel, you’ve spoken to thousands of people while traveling on behalf of World Vision. What are you hearing from Christians?

    A: There is a powerful common thread of longing that I hear from them—a yearning for a
    deeper sense of purpose and significance in their walks with the Lord. They want to discover that one thing that God is calling them to do. They long to feel that they are doing something important for God and that their lives really count for something. Many of them tell me they feel incomplete, as if something about their lives is unfinished. They are young and old, male and female, wealthy and not-so-wealthy. They are lawyers and real estate agents, homemakers and students, accountants and engineers, receptionists and CEOs. All of them want to experience the satisfaction of really knowing that their lives matter and that they are living in “the zone” of God’s calling and purpose for their lives. They want to feel complete and whole, living lives in which their faith is integral and not just something they do on Sundays.

    Q: What perspective can you offer those who are seeking God’s call on their lives?

    A: If I have learned anything about the purpose, meaning, and significance of life over the
    years, I have learned that, for a Christian, it is not found in any job, even a job like mine. It is not found in any human relationship, no matter how important. Nor is it found in any
    accomplishment, no matter how significant. Meaning, purpose, and significance are found only by aligning our lives with God’s purposes in lives committed to following Jesus Christ. That bears repeating: The meaning, purpose, and significance of our lives are found only by aligning our lives with God’s purposes, in lives committed to following Jesus Christ.

    In other words, it is not our work that brings purpose to our lives; nor is it our spouses, our
    families, our educations, our abilities, our money, or our accomplishments. Rather, it is the
    purpose of our lives that brings meaning to everything else. And we find the purpose for our lives only in Christ.

    Q: If it’s that simple, why do so many first-world Christians lack a sense of purposeful
    living?

    A: We all know the familiar expression “He can’t see the forest for the trees.” It is used to
    describe a person who is so absorbed in the things right in front of him that he has lost a sense of the bigger picture. I believe that this is exactly what has happened to many Christians in the twenty-first century—we have become so absorbed by the “trees” of our everyday lives that we have lost a sense of the bigger story within which our lives take place. We grow up, go to school, begin careers, get married, have kids, and struggle daily with life’s challenges.These are the “trees” of our lives that occupy most of our waking hours.

    Our church lives aren’t all that different. We go to church each week, sing some songs,
    and listen to a sermon. Maybe we even pray before meals, read our Bibles daily, and participate in small group Bible studies. But they can become just more trees in a life already cluttered with trees. What happened to the forest; what happened to the bigger story? Who are we? Why are we here, and where are we headed? How do we fit into God’s big story? A hiker who no longer has a sense of the bigger landscape around him becomes lost and confused, often wandering in circles because he is disoriented and no longer knows where he has come from or where he is headed. If we are ever truly going to find purpose and meaning in our lives, we first have to rise above the trees to rediscover the forest—we have to understand what God is doing in the world and how we fit in.

    Q: And this re-discovery of mission is the theme of your new book, Unfinished?

    A: As the title of this book suggests, there is some unfinished business for followers of Christ in our world: And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt. 24:14)

    I believe there is a direct connection between the unfinished work of God’s kingdom and
    our sense of feeling incomplete in our Christian faith, because there is a connection between our story and God’s story. If we are not personally engaged in God’s great mission in the world, then we have missed the very thing he created us to do. We are like birds meant to fly but living in a cage; fish meant to swim but floundering on the beach. It makes sense when you think about it. If the Author of the universe created us to play a key role in his unfolding drama but we have failed to find our place in that story, then of course we would feel incomplete.

    Q: How do you hope readers will respond to this mission?

    A: There are as many ways to join the great mission of Christ in our world as there are people. My book introduces just a few of the hundreds of people I’ve encountered who are living their own kingdom adventures. The one thing they all share is the unwavering belief that God made them for a purpose, to serve him and to build his kingdom. They have rearranged their lives to put Christ and his kingdom mission at the center. They have enlisted; they have joined the rescue mission to take back the world for Christ, to serve as ambassadors of his love and to herald the good news of the gospel.

    I hope readers respond by looking around them. What can you see? What is yours to do? In God’s expanding kingdom there is no unimportant job and no insignificant person. Is there a single mom who needs your encouragement, a child who needs your love? Do you see the elderly woman, lonely for a friend; a drowning teenager, hungering for a dad? Have you
    looked into the hearts of those you work with and seen the desperation in their lives? Is there an immigrant family struggling to adjust, needing a friend to guide them in a foreign place? Is there a social problem that you might mobilize people to solve? Do you have in your bank account the money that a floundering ministry needs to survive, that a homeless man needs to get a fresh start? Do you have skills and abilities that others need— in finance, as a doctor or lawyer, or as a handyman who can repair a broken-down car? Is there an issue of justice for which you can advocate, a wrong that you can right? Do you ache for the children who die from hunger, the orphans lacking a home, or the widow with children who just needs a loan? So many people are crying out to God for his help. Might you be the answer to one of their prayers?

    You are needed to help build God’s kingdom. This is where your adventure begins.

    As president of World Vision, United States, Stearns is responsible for fundraising among
    American donors, program management, and advocacy to the U.S. government on behalf of the poor and oppressed. Working in about 100 countries, World Vision (www.WorldVision.org) is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty.


    This post was posted in Books, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, The James Fund, World Vision, Richard Stearns

  • The Best Marriage Advice

    Posted on April 26, 2013 by Van Walton

    Van Walton

    "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path." Psalm 119:105 (NAS)

    A joyful wedding party celebrated the new couple on an evening wrapped in good cheer and candlelight.

    The bride and her father danced, followed by the groom and his mother. Adoring eyes framed the room.

    Finally, couples young and old hit the dance floor. After a few musical notes, the DJ announced, "All couples married a year or less, step off the dance floor." Then he asked those married five years or less to take their leave. And so the invitation, to make room for couples married 10, 20, 30 years, continued.

    While dancing with my husband, I noticed how few people remained.

    "40 years!" The DJ broadcast to us last three couples dancing.

    When the song ended, our friends, their children - now young adults - and our son, reached out with high-fives, pats on the back, and "Congratulations!"

    Many asked, "How romantic ... what's your secret to staying together?"

    The question came as no surprise and their idealic vision of marriage made me smile.

    Romantic? Not so much. I would describe our years together as lots of tears shed over misunderstandings. Selfishness. Loneliness. Hard and difficult times, pushing through emotions I didn't understand.

    Painful words. Challenging moments. Loads of opportunities to compromise. We were stubborn - both of us! As I look over my shoulder on the past 42 years, I know the real glue that has kept us together has been God and the power of His Word.

    When I wanted to criticize my husband for offenses real and imagined, I read that love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).

    When I felt lonely, I read that God was with me (Zephaniah 3:17).

    When I thought I was right and my husband was wrong, I read that I shouldn't think too highly of myself (Romans 12:2-4).

    When the daily grind of work, chores, errands drained me and my wild heart longed for more, I read that when I leaned on the Lord, through Him, I could get through anything (Philippians 4:13)

    Marriage is like a triangle. Want to grow close to your man? Grow closer to God. As both of you reach upward you'll not only come close to God, you'll grow closer to each other. And if you are in a marriage where your husband doesn't want to draw near to the Lord, you keep on anyhow. In Him, you'll find the support, love and hope your heart desires.

    A long time ago I was a young bride, asking older married women for advice. I heard a lot of things like keep the fun and adventure in your marriage. "Life is a gift," my mother taught me. "Don't let the sun go down on your anger," Daddy shared with me. "Know your husband" a friend encouraged me. Understanding my man's personality and love language taught me about conflict and acceptance.

    I wouldn't hesitate to share any of these wise words to newlyweds. But the very BEST advice I learned along the way? The greatest marriage counselor and guide is God and His Word.

    Marriage can be hard, but it's easier when we spend more time focusing on God's encouraging truths and less time concentrating on our husband's faults. Today, let's start a practice of turning to the Bible for answers about our marriage, thanking God for our husband and the Lord for His wisdom.

    Father God, You alone are perfect. Help me to keep my eyes on You. I know that no one is an easy forever-partner. Remind me daily to curb my critical spirit. Teach me to see my husband through Your eyes. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are you looking at your husband through Jesus' accepting and grace-filled eyes or do you see him through needs you expect him to meet?

    Before today is over, pick 2 verses to pray for your husband and 2 verses to recall that will give you wisdom for your marriage.

    Power Verses:
    Mark 10:6-9, "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Van Walton. 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, Marriage

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