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Monthly Archives: May 2013

  • Trust or Suspicion

    Posted on May 28, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place. Revelation 22:6

     

    When expectations are unmet, a gap of concern  is created. It could be a promise that was made, but lacked follow through. Or a person uncharacteristically acted in an incompetent manner, but took responsibility for their actions afterward. Perhaps a spouse was inconsistent in their behavior, but when all the facts were factored in, all made sense. When facing these life disconnects we can chose to bridge the gap with trust or suspicion. Trust is relational lubricant that assumes the best.

     

    Can our Heavenly Father be trusted when there seems to be a chasm between what He has said, and our reality? Of course, we are finite in our understanding, but He is infinite. We never need to hold our Savior suspect over something that doesn’t make sense. On the contrary, we rest knowing Christ has already connected the dots and He can be trusted with the outcome. The Lord’s track record of trustworthiness is unblemished. Trust Him to inspire your next steps.

     

    Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 2 Samuel 7:28

     

    What happens when someone breaks your trust? It takes time for a broken trust to be repaired. Chronic offenders can be forgiven, but they lose their status of trustworthiness. Indeed, to be trustworthy is to be worthy of trust.  Relational equity builds  over time and is not overdrawn due to broken promises. Trustworthiness is a gift you give to those you love. Yes, your consistency to do what you said you would do is a gift of security to those who love you.

     

    Therefore, by God’s grace, make it your emotional default to trust, not suspect. Take the high road of valuing the relationship over an outcome. However, make sure there is clarity regarding expectations. Discuss and then write out expectations, so all parties are aligned. Most of all, fill in the gap of uncertainty with faith in your Heavenly Father. He is true to His word and will not leave you in a state of insecurity. He is true to what He told you He will do. He is worthy of your trust!

     

    The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. Proverbs 12:22

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow me in my trustworthiness and mature me to trust You and others.

     

    Related Readings: Exodus 18:21; Psalm 19:7, 111:7; Job 15:31; Acts 12:20; 2 Timohty 4:11

     

    Post/Tweet today: God is true to what He told you He will do. He is worthy of your trust. #trustworthy

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • The Beautiful, Wonderful, Simple Life of an Artist.

    Posted on May 28, 2013 by John van der Veen

    Bonnie Mohr is wife. A mom. A farmer. An artist. And normal. She wrote once, "My work is a reflection of who I am, and what I believe.  It is simple, and it is truthful!  It defines moments, places, and things in life that are good, pure and right.    I believe that if you engage  your life and everything you believe in whole-heartedly , with conviction, passion and love…..everything else will fall into place."

    If you are reading this and thinking, "I have never heard of Bonnie Mohr." You are probably wrong. Her paintings have been seen by thousands, if not millions of people. It's because of Bonnie's simple approach to both her life and work that drew me to want to sit down with her and find out what is on the other side of that brush.

    So read on. I hope that you will not just get to know Bonnie in a better way, but you will understand more of her passion.

    John: Bonnie, you grew up in a large family, correct?

    Bonnie: Yes. There were eight children: seven girls and one boy. I was the second oldest. We grew up on a small, family dairy farm in Southern Minnesota. I really would have to refer to that as a simpler time compared to way we raise our children now. Especially with social media and the technology era that we live in. I grew up on a dairy farm and because most of us were girls, we grew up as a strong family unit. We worked as a family. Us girls, we milked cows and stacked hay and picked beans, and picked up rocks in the field.

    We grew up in a world where less is more. It was also a world of hand-me-downs and shopping at the garage sales, and, I guess you’d say, really just being happy with what we had. It was kind of a nice way to grow up. Our family believed in church and togetherness. My parents gave us a strong foundation to go on with life and we learned to make the most of what we had. So that’s my upbringing.

    John: Have you and your husband raised your kids in a similar fashion then?

    Bonnie: Totally. Our strategy is to allow our kids enough freedom to grow and fit into the world of today, while instilling a strong foundation. What a lot of kids lack today are strong roots and the basics that prepare them for life. By that, I mean work ethic and responsibility and trustworthiness; about the ethics of life and going to church. We follow in line with a lot of families in that our kids participate in sports and are involved in different clubs and activities, and so we don’t always have those sit down meals three times a day—like I grew up with.

    I find that our lifestyle is more on the fly and more on the go, but the advantage we have to raising our kids today is that we do live on a farm, and a dairy farm on top of it, which is quite labor intensive. A lot of the learning about responsibilities just naturally happen on a day-to-day basis around here. It’s not like we have to think of ways to try and raise our kids to be good, responsible young citizens. It’s a lifestyle. Farming has all the hard work and sacrifice and commitment that goes into a very rigorous lifestyle, and it’s one that’s almost hard to make a living at.

    The upside of it, the silver lining in the cloud has been that if you’re trying to raise good kids, it happens almost in a natural manner on a farm, because of the things that happen here. They learn about life and death, they learn about care and responsibility. They learn about working together. They learn that our livelihood is contingent on the weather and circumstances that are out of our control. Truly, out of us eight kids growing up, there are only two of us now that live on a farm. And I’m the only one that is sort of repeating my own childhood in the way we are raising our children. I think it’s just a real rich blessing and I know that our kids are going to be set for life.

    Our job is to raise them, and I say we’ve got them until they’re 18 and after that they’ve got to be ready to go. Having a farm and being able to raise our kids this way has been just a huge, wonderful blessing for us and it feels good. There aren’t a lot of people who have that opportunity anymore.

    John: That’s very true. Bonnie, you had mentioned that in your family growing up, church was certainly an integral part. How did you become more aware of who Jesus is and how did you start to follow Him, as opposed to, say, riding the coattails of your parents?

    Renew

    Bonnie: I think everybody has his or her own journey in life to finding Jesus, and then with figuring out to what degree of commitment you’ll live your life for Him. For me, my life every day is a glorification to God and what He has blessed me with. I know that the blessings in my life are because of God and that it is He that works through me to create and fashion my life. I think as a kid growing up, I just followed in line with the rest of my siblings. We didn’t question going to church. We didn’t question who God was.

    We were taught who God was. We were taught what our religion is and we went to church. We grew up in an era where you didn’t challenge your parents or talk back. You were just obedient and disciplined. I’m really thankful that I was blessed to have that sort of an upbringing, because at a pretty young age I became aware of who God is and why we’re here. And that everything we have is a blessing from God, too. Thankfully, I married another Christian, and we were both Catholic. That was another blessing: not having to choose what religion we would raise our children with.

    Renew
    Come to the water
    Live in the moment, and Be.
    Refresh your mind. Rest your body. Renew your spirit.
    Regain a gentle heart and Peaceful soul.
    Reclaim Yourself.
    Restore in The Power that is greater than you.
    - Bonnie L. Mohr

    For me, once we started farming and my business was starting to grow and we were having children, the load got heavier and heavier. Managing and coping with the load of life, really hit a threshold for me when our third baby was born. I was still trying to be a farm wife and milk cows. I was up at night with babies and I was trying to paint and I was running my own business by myself.

    I guess the defining moment for me in life where I really made a 100% conscious decision that I needed God in my life--and that Jesus was my strength—was when that third baby came along. I crashed and burned. My wonderful, busy, happy life became too much for me. It was at that moment that I truly turned my life over to God. And I saw that because I was young and ambitious and strong and healthy, like a lot of people in life, I was wanting and expecting more faster and was in the “bigger is better” mindset.

    I wanted it all, so to speak. I couldn’t work fast enough and the days weren’t long enough and I was trying to do everything. But what I was really doing was living life with my own set of goals and values, and not asking myself what God and Jesus wanted for me. It was at that time that I turned my life over to God and decided that I would let him take the wheel. That I would be happy and enjoy and embrace every day of my life and whatever he put in my path for each day. That was a big turning point in my life. And ever since then, I’ve really lived my life more about what does God want me to do. What does God want me to do with what he’s given me? How am I able to serve him?

    Living

    I’ve really started to learn that the true root of my happiness is living my life for God and for Jesus. When you are open to that reality, all sorts of wonderful things start to happen to you, because you now are … you’re working for God. Your life is for Him and life here takes on new meaning and purpose all of the sudden, which makes it very exciting.

    The other part is that, I guess, for the first 15 to 18 years of my career, I thought I was going to be a cow artist. I grew up on a dairy farm and I was painting cows and rural America and domestic animals and the like. I have built a very substantial following in the rural American art field, and especially, in the cow world with dairy farmers. Kind of obtained a level of worldwide recognition as a cow artist. When I starting painting inspirational art, and when my life starting changing, I began to see and feel that there was a lot more to what was going to happen with my art. And now I really believe that the first part of my career was a warm-up for the more important stuff, for what’s coming ahead.

    "Life is not a race - but indeed a journey. Be honest. Work hard. Be choosy. Say 'thank you,' 'I love you,' and 'great job' to someone each day. Go to church, take time for prayer. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh. Let your handshake mean more than pen and paper. Love your life and what you've been given, it is not accidental - search for your purpose and do it as best you can. Dreaming does matter. It allows you to become that which you aspire to be. Laugh often. Appreciate the little things in life and enjoy them. Some of the best things really are free. Do not worry, less wrinkles are more becoming. Forgive, it frees the soul. Take time for yourself - plan for longevity. Recognize the special people you've been blessed to know. Live for today, enjoy the moment." - Bonnie Mohr

    I think really I’ve just started to tap into the second phase of my career, which I believe will be more inspirational art that holds great meaning and changes people’s lives. It’s been pretty amazing so far, and I’m more or less just a sponge soaking it all up right now. So I’m very excited about what type of work I will be producing down the road.

    John: I really appreciate you sharing that testimony, Bonnie. It sounds to me like God has done some amazing things in your life, and I know those words carry a lot of weight behind them, so I certainly appreciate that. I’m wondering if you could share a little bit about how you first became interested in being an artist and painter, and if there are any other mediums that you enjoy?

    Bonnie: I work only in oil. At the beginning, I started out in some acrylic and a little bit of pencil drawing, but oil is my number one choice because of the richness of it. And also because of, I guess, the qualities of oil paint and everything you can do with them. I’m fascinated with—frankly, in love with—oils for another reason, too. The masters used it. I think, if you’re going to do anything in life, why not try to be the best and stack yourself next to the best if you can. Why not try to emulate them? So because they painted in oil, it’s just my love and fascination also to paint in oil.

    I would love to do some sculptures some day, but there’s just so much for me to learn in this area yet that I don’t know if I’ll live long enough to get that far. As far as why I’m an artist, there’s really only one answer to that, and it’s because this is what God’s quest is for me. The likelihood of me becoming an artist, in my opinion, was about equal to me becoming an astronaut. I had no calling at a young age for it, other than that I was fascinated with color and design. There was something magical about artwork to me, though, and I was just drawn to it because of color and design. I had a silly fascination for anybody that could paint. I just thought that was so cool.

    I remember going to college for Dairy Production, with a minor in Communications, and one day while studying in my dorm room, I began thinking about how great it would be to spend my whole life doing something fun, like the way hobbies are fun. Like an athlete, a pro athlete, who gets to play football or basketball their whole life and get paid for it. I started thinking about using the talents that I’ve been given--and we each have something we’re good at—but then I kind of just put that thinking away in a box and put it up on a shelf somewhere and that was the end of it. It was the seed, perhaps.

    On a side note, on evenings and weekends when I wasn’t studying or going out or traveling, I used my art as expression of who I was. I enjoyed picking up a paintbrush and putzing with it. That was really the extent of it then. In fact, I have no formal training; I’m self-taught. I just have always had this fascination with art. I went to some art shows back in the ‘80s. I don’t know if you remember, but western and wildlife was huge and there were western and wildlife art shows all over the country. You could go to convention centers and attend art shows and look at artists’ work and things like that. I did that.

    I went to a couple of shows and walked around in great awe of these people who had this talent, this amazing talent. I really don’t know why, but I just thought, “I wonder if I could do that?” Thinking back to high school, I did take an art class and loved it. I’d say I was maybe average or slightly above average. As I got older, I continued to have this magnetic attraction for art and just kept wanting to do it.

    Living

    When we got married, my husband had a job where he traveled a fair amount and so I had time on my hands. I did pursue learning to teach myself to paint. At that point it was purely a hobby though. The more I worked at it—and it was a struggle since I’m not naturally that gifted or talented—the better I got. I’ve had to learn a lot, and I struggled, but I really worked hard. There are no artists in my family, and I didn’t know any artists personally. What it really boils down to, I believe, is that this is the path God wanted for me. I’m just a slow learner and it’s taken me awhile to get this far and develop my skill level.

    Living Today

    Today is a gift. Embrace it with joy and anticipation... realize the possibilities. It beckons you towards your destination in life. Be at peace - you are exactly where you are meant to be at this moment. God has carefully chosen the people, events, joys and challenges on your path today. The things you will encounter are stepping stones of what is to come. Make the most of today. Focus on "the present" - you will see and appreciate things you might otherwise miss. Follow your heart - search to find your purpose in life and you will find meaning and happiness.

    Use your talents, do your best, contribute. Make a difference, because you can. Be passionate about your journey - sing, dance, laugh, and love as you go. Give praise and allow time for prayer. The promise of tomorrow begins with the endeavors of today. Do not let the fast-forward pace of the world deprive you from savoring "the now." Seek things that fill you with love and bring you joy. Have faith, it fosters hope - it makes the difference. Believe, with God all things are possible.

    Live well - live today, for it is a gift.

    - Bonnie L. Mohr

    Once I really got going with it and became serious about my art, I just did it on evenings and weekends while I had my other job. I was in marketing and communications for a publishing company. At that point my husband traveled and we didn’t have children, so I had time to work at it. In a very big nutshell, that’s really the process I went through. I guess, after about two or three years of actively pursuing art and teaching myself on a serious level, my skill level got to a point where I was painting quite well. I started showing my work and I landed a job with an IA company to paint one their bull studs.

    At that point, I decided I was going to try this full time, and I put in my notice at my job. My husband was very supportive and he just said, “You know, if it doesn’t work out, you can always get a job.” I made the decision that I wouldn’t wait until I was 65 to pursue my dream, or wake up one day and say, “I wished I would have done that.” I decided that I would try it in the here-and-now, and it’s been a big journey. I definitely have earned my stripes. It’s been wonderful, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this is the path God chose for me. I think that’s where faith really comes in, when you need to stick with it and pursue it. So, here I am.

    John: Bonnie, who would you say is your biggest influencer? Who do you look at and go to or listen to or read or whatever and find yourself inspired by that person?

    Bonnie: I have a couple of pieces of art, actually, hanging in my home that are by an Italian artist from the 18th century. William Adolf Bouguereau is his name. It’s very interesting; he’s painted a lot of religious images. He was actually French. His work is phenomenal. He has some great religious pieces that he did. I’d say right now, he is probably my greatest inspiration as an artist. Actually, hanging downstairs in the house I also have a couple pieces of other pieces I love by … Oh, geez; I’m drawing a blank right now. I’ll run down and check after a while, but I don’t know. I’d have to say that as far as artists those two are probably my favorite and as far as authors, I don’t know. I don’t really read a lot. Max Lucado.

    John: Yeah, Lucado.

    Bonnie: He’s a very inspiring man as well. I love some of his books. He’s sort of been an inspiration to me as well.

    John: What would you say to the young inspiring artist? The 8-year-old or 12-year-old young man or lady who looks at your work or at William Adolf Bourguereau’s work or anybody else’s and says, “Wow. I want to do something like that.” How do you encourage that young person?

    Bonnie: I think the thing I have learned is to dream the impossible, because it really is not the impossible after all. I truly believe that if you have a love of something, if you are passion-driven and want to achieve it—whatever it is—then there’s no replacement in the world for that passion and hard work. That’s probably what I learned as a kid growing up on the farm and that’s probably what has carried me to where I am today. Like I said, there’s really no logic to why I’m doing what I’m doing. I think I was just really true to myself and followed my heart. I prayed about it and I never gave up.

    I think we live in a world today that’s more of a disposable, fast-paced, instant gratification type of world, and unfortunately our younger generations are learning that they have the ways and the means to have what they want instantly, and so much, too. Fortunately, that’s not the way I grew up, because that’s really not the way it works when it comes to really great things in life. Really good things require hard work, dedication and persistence, and they require having a dream and, of course, conviction. That’s sort of the moral of my story, I guess, since nothing has come easy for me either. But I had, and still have, the desire to be successful. My belief, as I’ve said, is that if you work hard and pray about what you’re pursuing—and if you persist—you will probably succeed.

    Most people just never take it that far, from what I’ve seen. Many people give up. Then I think it’s all about being happy with what you have. Finding true joy and satisfaction in what you do have or already do is important too, because too many people in life just mope about what the next guy’s got and what they don’t have. Life can’t be about what they wished they could have, but about really plowing into their own life and what they do have. I think that’s it.

     

     

  • I Can't Forgive Myself

    Posted on May 28, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

    The workshop had ended. Most of the moms had left the room while she fidgeted with her bag. I could see she wanted to flee, but willpower and a great desire for freedom kept her feet rooted to the floor.

    We sat down and she blurted out: "I've been told for years that when I forgive myself I'll be free. But I can't do it. I've tried."

    I reached for her hands. "I've searched in Scripture. It's not there."

    She looked up in surprise. "What do you mean?"

    Forgiving ourselves. It's not there.

    There are a multitude of scriptures that show us how to offer forgiveness to others, as well as how to receive it. But none that asks us to remove the burdens from our own hearts.

    Thankfully 1 John 1:9 offers a promise. When we hold up our sin before God, He is faithful and just to forgive all our sins.

    Faithful to us? Yes, to us. But also faithful to who He is, and His plan for our forgiveness through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross as He bore our sin.

    But it doesn't end there. You see, when we are forgiven, our sin is reframed. Yes it still happened. But God removes it from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). We are seen as covered in mercy, spared from the punishment that was ours to take.

    My new friend had been trying for years to do a job that wasn't hers. By trying and failing, she saw herself as shameful. That shame affected every aspect of her life: her relationships, her role as mom, and her faith as she tried to please God through service or acts, all the while seeing herself as "less than."

    I asked her if she was willing to allow Christ to do what she had been unable to do for nearly a decade. Rather than forgive herself, would she accept the gift of forgiveness Christ so willingly offers?

    Later that week I received an email from her. She shared that when she walked through the front door that night, her husband said, "Something's different about you."

    It's been nearly three months since this young mom stopped trying to forgive herself, and scooped up the generous gift of God's grace instead. She is still surprised by the transformation. But more so, her family believes she found a miracle.

    One that had been waiting for her all along.

    Perhaps you carry shame. You've been trying to forgive yourself, but realize you can't undo the past. You've said you're sorry. You have changed. But the guilt or burden remains.

    Hand that shame to your Savior today, and allow Him to hurl it as far as the east is from the west.

    It's not your burden to carry any longer.

    Dear Jesus, You paid a heavy price for my sin, and yet I am still carrying it as if it is mine to absolve. I have said I am sorry. I am changing. But this burden isn't mine to carry. Today I joyfully receive Your gift of mercy and grace, and see myself as washed clean because of You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzanne Eller

    Reflect and Respond:
    Imagine a child carrying a large boulder on his back. There's a sign on the side of the road that says, "Place all boulders here," but he passes it day after day, the burden weighing heavier and heavier. What would you say to that child?

    Today, speak to your own heart as a child of God through these scriptures.

    • God desires to carry my burden (Psalm 55:22)
    • My Savior paid a dear price for my shame (Colossians 1:13-14)
    • God set me free, so today I will be free (Galatians 5:1)
    • My God sees me through His love, so I will see myself that way, too (Psalm 103:12)

    Power Verses:
    Psalm103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us." (NAS)

    Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • A Grateful Nation

    Posted on May 27, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.” Isaiah 12:4

    A nation born out of the womb of religious liberty has much to thank Almighty God for. We can thank Him that man's tyranny lives oceans away and we are free to worship, vote and treat our fellowman with civility and respect. “With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our fathers; you crushed the peoples and made our fathers flourish” (Psalm 44:2). He is the initiator and sustainer of our nation’s freedom; without the Lord we lose.

     

    A large lump fills our throats with the memory of men and women whose blood saturated the soil of foreign fields to preserve our freedoms. A nation like ours that encourages free enterprise, free speech, free press and free worship comes with a severe sacrifice. When was the last time you thanked the Lord for those on the front lines who risk their lives for your liberty? His blessing remains where gratitude is retained, so thank Him often.

     

    Indeed it is a country with character that positions itself for God’s blessing.  Therefore, don’t just ask God to bless America, but in addition thank Him for already blessing America. “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD : "He is good; his love to Israel endures forever” (Ezra 3:11a). A grateful nation gives God the glory for His goodness. Out of our national appreciation the world wonders what God can do for them.

     

    So when the United States of America appreciates Almighty God we become a shining light from shore to shore, as men and women around the globe take notice of our humble dependence on Him. Jesus described the collective role of God-fearing people, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14).

     

    If we extinguish our light by abandoning the faith from which we came, He will raise up other nations to take our place. However, He smiles when He sees a nation acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior; it sets a standard for those who admire our freedoms to see where they originate. Memorial Day is an opportunity to privately and publicly give God the glory and gratitude for His incredible favor and blessing on our nation.

     

    “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance” (Psalm 33:12).”

     

    Prayer: How can I lead our extended family in a sincere prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord? What are some specific freedoms I can thank God for in blessing my country?

     

    Related Readings: Psalm 102:15; Malachi 1:14; Acts 10:34-36; Revelation 15:4

    Post/Tweet today: God’s blessing remains where gratitude is retained, so thank Him often. #gratitude

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Birth, Behavior or Bloodline

    Posted on May 27, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis

    "Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called 'uncircumcised' by those who call themselves 'the circumcision' (which is done in the body by human hands)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ." Ephesians 2:11-13 (NIV)

    Some days I'm pleased with who I am. Some days I've really got it together. I start the day with some quiet time with just me and God. Normal morning hassles getting three kids ready don't bother me. Throughout the day I'm confident in my decisions and abilities.

    Other days I exhaust and frustrate myself, especially when I'm not quite so pleasant. Annoyance starts with the first step out of bed if I've overslept, or woken up too early thinking about all I have to do. Graciousness evaporates as I allow life's demands to dictate my mood. Insecurities prompt defensiveness. Doubt overshadows faith.

    One day I'm smiling and kind; the next day I'm scowling and grouchy. So which is the real me?

    We can all struggle with wondering who we really are, especially when we fall short of who we really want to be. And when the answer seems to be different day-by-day, it's easy to give up even trying to change ... to be a better person.

    To settle this question, I've had to dig deep. For I believe God wants me to know the answer. Knowing who I really am in God's eyes is a game changer. It changes my motivations, which changes my goals and inspires me to be consistent in who I am and how I act. God's truth about my identity serves as a filter for the world's lies and the judgment of others. It protects my heart from damage.

    So where do we find this definition?

    Are we defined by our birth? Are we who our parents are? Do their professional and personal successes or failures define us? Does it matter where we are born or to whom? Two of my children were born in an African war zone. Is that who they are?

    Or are we defined by our behavior? For years I defined myself by achieving success and accomplishing tasks. The more checks to the left of the items on my to-do list, the better I felt.

    There's a problem with both of these definitions. The first is out of my control. I have no say about where I was born or to whom. And it can give me a false sense of entitlement or discouragement. The second is undependable at best. Sometimes circumstances are out of control too. And even when my behavior is in my control, I can react from my human yuck-filled side.

    Thankfully, there is another way to define ourselves. It's found in our bloodline as a child of God. A lineage that was bought for us through the death of Jesus as Ephesians 2 tells us. "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ."

    His sacrifice defines who we really are: Loved. Chosen. Treasured. Ransomed. Forgiven. Worth it. When I accept and believe these definitions for myself, I'm inspired to change. I believe it's possible.

    Thankfully, we didn't have to be born in the "right" place, or behave "just so" to get this new identity. It's not based on our checkbook, scale or what our friends think of us. We receive it when we accept Christ as our Savior.

    Birth, behavior or bloodline? I know which one truly defines me. Do you?

    Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to die for me, so that our relationship could be reconciled. Help me to remember that it's in Your bloodline that I find my true identify. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Follow us on Pinterest for inspiring images. Click here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How would you act differently if your identity were found in Jesus' bloodline? If you truly knew you are loved, chosen, accepted?

    Power Verses:
    1 Timothy 2:5-6a, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people." (NIV)

    Romans 3:23-25a, "... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Remain True

    Posted on May 26, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    When he [Barnabas] arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.    Acts 11:23

     

    Remain true to the Lord, for He has remained true to you. Remain true because the grace of God compels you to. Remain true, for He knows what is best for you; remain true because you know it is the right thing to do; remain true while others encourage you; remain true because your obedience encourages others; remain true with all your heart so that the Kingdom of God advances aggressively for His glory. It is easy to sign up as a Jesus follower, but follow through requires faithfulness, so remain true to your commitment to Christ. It does matter that you follow through for Him. It matters to Him, to you, to your family, and to your credibility. It matters to those you have encouraged, those you are encouraging, and those you will encourage. It matters that you remain true.

     

    Satan will try to suppress your commitment by his limited power of disease, discouragement, and discontentment. He wants you to forget God’s faithfulness and fall into his trap of temptation. He wants you to walk away from your family and follow your own selfish desires. He wants you to think you are an exception to the rule of law and accountability. He will feed your pride until you starve humility into non-existence. Jesus said, “I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me…” (Revelation 2:13a). The hand of the Lord is on those who remain true with all their hearts. However, He moves on from those who drift into hypocritical behaviors of pretending one thing and doing another. Begin by exposing any unauthentic living, and seek to reconnect with Christ and others.

     

    The grace of God creates an environment of encouragement. You can encourage others to remain true because God’s grace has been extended to you. Grace encourages faithfulness. Grace realizes there is room for mistakes but still offers opportunities to remain true. Failure and faith can coexist. Encouragers engage others on a heartfelt level. You have the opportunity to come alongside husbands and wives, friends and relatives, new and mature Christians. You can encourage them to remain true to the Lord and to each other. Encouragement extends hope rooted in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Your eternally based encouragement is not sentimental or shallow. It is a heavenly hope evidenced by answered prayer.

     

    You encourage others exponentially when you petition Christ on their behalf. Cry out to your heavenly Father and ask that He keep your teenagers true to Him. Pray for your friend’s body to be healed by the hand of God; pray for married couples to learn how to love and respect each other under the influence of the Holy Spirit; pray for your Pastor to remain true to his calling and to the One who extended his call; pray for opportunities to pray with those you are encouraging. Prayer is without exhaustion in its encouragement. Above all else, receive encouragement from the Lord and others to remain true. Then simultaneously and spontaneously extend encouragement to others to remain true with all their hearts. Remain true because there is no limit to what the Lord can do. Giving up is not for you.

     

    Post/Tweet: The hand of the Lord is on those who remain true with all their hearts. #remaintrue

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Trust Enough

    Posted on May 25, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them’” (Numbers 20:12).

     

    A mature and robust trust in God can open the door of opportunity, while a flippant, immature, or irreverent trust can slam shut the door of opportunity. I have to ask myself an honest question: “Do I trust God with my whole heart or only when it is convenient?” There is such a thing as not trusting in God enough to honor Him as holy. How can I make sure I trust in God enough? I can say I trust God, but do I really mean it?

     

    Do I, deep in my heart of hearts, trust Him? Do I really trust Him with my job, my boyfriend or girlfriend, my future, my health, and my finances? If my trust is contingent on how I think things should go, then I really do not trust God. My trust has to be unconditional, good or bad, pretty or ugly. I will trust Him, even when I disagree or I am confused with my circumstances. Sometimes God tests you to authenticate your trust.

     

    “Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant” (2 Samuel 7:28).

     

    He wants you to know if He is sufficient or if you find Him lacking. The test is for your benefit because He already knows if you trust Him enough. You may be failing, just passing, average, or an honor student in God’s school of faith. Are you convinced that you trust in God enough? Or is yours still an infant faith wrapped in insecurity?

     

    Moving to the next level of trust is not always easy, but it is necessary for the maturing follower of Christ. The easy part is becoming a Christian; the hard part is being a Christian. This happens over time as God tests our trust to grow us up in Him. We can complain, or we can thank Him that He cares so much He does not want our trust to remain raw and disfigured. He is all about developing us into dedicated disciples of Jesus.

     

    Even enemies of Jesus recognized His total trust in His heavenly Father. “He trusts in God” (Matthew 27:43).

     

    Prayer: Is my trust wholly dependent on the Lord alone plus nothing else?

     

    Related Readings: Psalm 37:3–5; Isaiah 12:2; John 14:1; Titus 3:8

     

    Post/Tweet: The easy part is becoming a Christian; the hard part is being a Christian. #Christian

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Wise Dating

    Posted on May 24, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NKJV)

     

    What relational path honors the Lord and honors my dating? Ask objectively; is there agreement in faith, family and values? Dating relationships that honestly ask heart felt questions flush out communication and prepare a couple for success, as God defines success. Wise dating waits for God’s best and is not suddenly smitten by surface feelings.  If, for example, an older teenager, college student or single adult is “in love” with someone who does not practice faith in Jesus Christ, then the probabilities for a long-term successful relationship is very low. It’s hard enough to work through personality differences, diverse family backgrounds and character development without adding disagreement in the foundational issue of faith in God and obedience to Him.

     

    Start with belief in Jesus Christ and love for Him as your beginning point for being together in a dating relationship and you have a good base to build upon. Like a beautiful house with a cracked cement foundation are two pretty people without both being disciples of Jesus. Committed Christian relationships are not perfect, but they persevere.

     

    “Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (4:11-12).

    Be careful to not let the feeling of “being in love” trump the reality of the other person being a genuine follower and lover of the Lord. Emotions can accelerate bad decision-making, if not tempered by wisdom and accountability. This is why wise young people engage the wisdom and counsel of their dad and mom. Wise dating is accountable. You are accountable to the Lord and you are accountable to your parents. Choosing to date someone is not like spontaneously shopping for what’s on sale—it is a prayerful and prudent process. Much better to stop an unwise relationship in the beginning, than to later have to untangle a complex web of emotions and physical indiscretions. Be wise to date in groups—don’t be alone together in compromising situations. Wisdom is preemptive.

     

    Lastly, wise dating honors the Lord by honoring your body with purity. True love does not prove itself in sexual intimacy, because “love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:3). When you wait and save yourself for your wedding day—it’s honoring to your marriage and to the Lord. Focus your energy and emotion into spiritual growth—you will have no regrets. Wise dating prayerfully recognizes a greater objective that is purposed in Christ.

     

    “With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ” (Ephesians 1:8b-9).

     

    Prayer: Does my dating relationship honor the Lord? Am I accountable to Him and my parents?

     

    Related Readings: Genesis 24: 3-4; Psalm 24:3-5; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Ephesians 6:1-3

     

    Post/Tweet today: Emotions can accelerate bad decision-making, if not tempered by wisdom and accountability. #emotions

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

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

  • The Prescription Everyone Needs

    Posted on May 24, 2013 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn

    "My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye." Proverbs 7:1-2 (NIV)

    Constantly churning and aching, the pain in my daughter's stomach just wouldn't go away. From the time she was small she complained, but her doctor didn't seem to have a permanent solution.

    After years of discomfort and searching for answers, we finally found a doctor who was able to pinpoint the problem: my daughter's body was sensitive to the foods she was eating. Even though her friends could eat anything, she couldn't correctly process common, everyday items. Sadly, what she was taking in and storing in her system was working against her, instead of working for her.

    Based on the doctor's advice, my daughter completely changed the foods she eats. But that wasn't enough to maintain a pain-free body. She also was prescribed supplements to her diet daily. These build up a storehouse of helpful nutrients that keep my daughter's body healthy and whole. She's a new girl!

    Like the daily supplements my daughter takes to build her up on the inside, the Bible tells us to do the same with God's Word. Proverbs 7:1 instructs us to "... keep my words and store up my commands within you."

    One of the meanings for the word "commands" in the original Hebrew language is "prescription." My daughter needed a prescription of supplements; often we need one as well. Our hearts and minds have messages and thoughts coursing through them that have the potential to harm. These untrue messages are working against us, and we need God's Word as the healing prescription.

    Here are just a few of His prescriptions that bring healing to me:

    For low self-worth: Take Psalm 45:11, You are enthralling to Me!

    For rejection: You are Mine, two times a day (Song of Solomon 6:3).

    A messy life: You are perfect to Me, at breakfast, lunch and dinner (Song of Solomon 4:7).

    When we store up God's commands and truths within us, we can access them quickly to take and combat ailments. He encourages us to not simply apply them like a quick ointment to a wound, but to "keep" His words. Cling to them and be secured by them.

    Proverbs 7:2 contains the benefit to keeping God's words and storing up His commands within us. "Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye." God promises that as we cling to and are secured by His Word, we will live. He will make us alive - preserve, refresh and rebuild our soul. I love how one of my study Bibles puts it: "Man gains life from God's words. Life is completely related to the Word of God" (Old Testament Lexical Aid Hebrew-Greek Bible).

    Not only does God's Word heal today, it can prevent future ailments. His truth is our daily supplement, building us up so we can stand strong against those things that come to attack our mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

    Whether you need healing or preventive measures, be intentional today to take God's Word as your prescription and store it deep within your heart.

    Dear Lord, I am making a choice today to take Your prescription; giving my heart and body exactly what I need for my well-being today. Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Help a teen girl in your life learn to keep and store up God's Word every day with Lynn Cowell's book Devotions for a Revolutionary Year - 365 Days of Jesus' Radical Love for You.

     

    Reflect and Respond:
    What ailment is your heart struggling with today?

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 4:20-21, "My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight; keep them within your heart." (NIV)

    Proverbs 2:1, 5, "My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you ... then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Comfort in Loss

    Posted on May 23, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “And many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.” John 11:19

    Have you lost someone or something close to your heart—a baby, a spouse, a friend, a job or an opportunity? A great loss requires great grace or the pain is unbearable. Why do some expecting mothers have a stillborn child and others don’t? Can we truly understand these puzzling matters until we get to heaven and  are able to ask, “Why Lord, why?”

     

    Where is God when emotions run raw and a great hole of hurt embeds in the heart? We don’t always understand the ways of God, but we can always count on Christ’s comfort. The Lord lingers long close to those caught in the pain of great loss. What others cannot totally understand, your Heavenly Father fully comprehends. Grace soothes aching hearts. Christ’s comfort nurses like cool cough syrup flowing down a swollen, inflamed throat.

     

    “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5). The Lord’s comfort is limitless in its capacity to cure.

     

    Furthermore, Christ comforts us, so we are able to extend His compelling comfort to others. Productive pain pays it forward in a faith-based solution to other sad souls. Giving is therapy in God’s economy, so those of us saved by grace are not stingy with its application. Who do you know that needs a listening ear, a silent prayer or a caring visit?

     

    If comfort is kept closed up in the closet of our busyness, then we miss out on one of life’s great joys. Shame on any servant of Jesus that only has time to hear the heart of the spiritually healthy. Be aware, as tears hover under the surface of a tender heart in your circle of influence. Look around; who is struggling with health, work or relational issues? Comfort them, as your influence ripples like a rock slicing through a still body of water.

     

    Noah was known as the comforter, “He named him Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed” (Genesis 5:29).

     

    Say a prayer for someone in despair; send flowers to a young mom who just lost her little one after the first trimester of pregnancy, network for an acquaintance in career transition, pay the rent for a struggling relative, or introduce someone broken to the uplifting love and saving power of Jesus Christ. Comfort is your platform to proclaim God’s grace. You cannot over comfort others, so join the Body of Christ in loving  another hurting heart.

     

    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

     

    Prayer: Where do I need Christ’s comfort and who do I know that needs His comfort and joy?

     

    Related Readings: Job 42:11; Psalm 86:17, 119:76; John 14:1; 2 Corinthians 7:6-7

     

    Post/Tweet today: Christ’s comfort nurses like cool cough syrup flowing down a swollen, inflamed throat. #comfort

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

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

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