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Monthly Archives: May 2014

  • I Am Sorry

    Posted on May 31, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.  2 Corinthians 7:10

    “I am sorry” are three freeing words. “I was wrong”; “You were right”; “I apologize”; “Please forgive me”. All of these phrases communicate culpability. Sincere sorrow means taking responsibility. You initiate peace because your desire is to repair the relationship. Disharmony and disconnection are not acceptable options. Yes, someone may take advantage of your goodwill, but that’s in God’s hands. Have faith that God expects behavior that brings reconciliation. You put the relationship at risk if you resist humbling yourself and apologizing. Someone has to start by saying, “I am sorry”. It is smart to extend your apology as soon as possible. A more powerful apology occurs when you admit your error, transgression, or sin before you are found out. You take the first step in asking forgiveness because you know it is the right thing to do.

    Godly sorrow sends a message of change, for you want to change for Christ’s sake. You have sinned against your Savior and those you love. The pain inflicted is not worth continuing with the same bad habits. No one ever regretted repenting of sin. Godly sorrow leads to repentance, which results in transformation. Change occurs around a humble and honest heart. So, where do you start? Family is a logical place to extend your apologies. You hurt your parents by breaking off communication and care. Perhaps you have intentionally gone out of your way to not go there. There is a widening rift in the relationship. Now is the time to reach out and recover your relationship with your mom and dad. Take the time during the holiday season to pay a surprise visit or place a long overdue phone call. Start the conversation by saying, “I am sorry”.

    Sincere sorrow is a relational magnet, and trust reoccurs around repentance. When others sense you have really changed, they extend trust. However, they may withhold that trust until you prove yourself worthy of it. People who have been burned in the past by shallow and insincere sorrow will not automatically engage. They need time to see that your apology is authentic. Sorrow that does not lead to change results in relational death. Sincere sorrow hurts your heart, causing you to weep visible or invisible tears of remorse. It makes you sick to think you let down the One who loves you the most.

    On the flip side, be patient with those who ask your forgiveness. Forgive them and give them a chance to change, while releasing your anger and their broken promises to Jesus. Give them over to the Lord and pray for their repentance. God can do more with a person’s heart in a minute, than a lifetime of your nagging could ever accomplish. Do not hold them in contempt. Rather, entrust them to Christ. Give time for repentance to root out bad habits and destructive behaviors. Lies can be extracted by the everlasting love of God and replaced with His transforming truth. Accept apologies at face value and hope for the best. Pray for the work of the Holy Spirit to have His way in a humble heart. Be quick to forgive and just as quick to ask forgiveness. Replace fear with faith. Your sorrowful confession connects with Christ and with others. Therefore, take the first step and apologize. Ask for forgiveness, and surrender to your Savior. Become broken, for brokenness leads to freedom. Say, “I am sorry”, and see how your Savior blesses your apology.

    Post/Tweet today:. Sincere sorrow is a relational magnet, as trust reoccurs around repentance. #wisdomhunters

    Taken from the May 31st reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 1”

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


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

  • Sickness for God’s Glory

    Posted on May 30, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.  John 11:4

    Sickness is an opportunity for God to be glorified and for observers to believe in Jesus, God’s Son. This perspective is easy to forget, because sickness is often a struggle. The physical body can be extremely demanding. It can writhe in pain, convulse from seizures, sweat from fever, ache from infection, and fatigue from fighting cancer. Some feel so badly, they are ready to go home to heaven. In the meantime, illness can be a hard, but meaningful moment for God’s glory.

    Furthermore, the Lord uses sickness to draw people to each other and to Himself. A sick child causes mom and dad to come together on their knees on behalf of their precious one. Elderly parents are an invitation for adult children to spend time together and to work together for the betterment of their parent’s quality of life. Sickness can reveal a heart of giving or a heart of taking. As we serve the sick, those who need Jesus see His love in action.

    “The strong spirit of a man sustains him in bodily pain or trouble, but a weak and broken spirit who can raise up or bear” (Proverbs 18:14, The Amplified Bible)?

    Are you struggling with sickness? If so, seek to experience the intimacy of God’s glory in the middle of your illness. Your afflictions can be eclipsed by His glory. Similar to the stamina of a mother caring for a needy child, His glory engulfs your soul with energy to endure chronic pain. The sweet spot of His sweet Spirit provides security in your sickness. Christ’s peace guards your heart and mind to get through intense health issues. God’s glory gives you hope and healing.

    Is someone you love suffering from an illness? How can you glorify God in your love for them? Start with a simple prayer for the Holy Spirit to strengthen your sick friend by His grace and love. Share Scripture with them, such as Psalm 59:16-17 for comfort and peace. Your faith in God is a rock to those whose world is being rocked by adversity. Be available to support them by caring for their children or raising funds to pay for their medical bills. Prepared to give a reason for their hope in Him,God’s people love and serve like Jesus, glorifying Him.

    “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, use my illness or the sickness of a loved one to bring glory to my Savior Jesus Christ.

    Related Readings: John 9:2-3; 2 Corinthians 3:18, 4:6; Colossians 4:6; Hebrews 1:3

    Post/Tweet today:Your faith in God is a rock to those whose world is being rocked by adversity. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


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

  • Don't Miss the Ride of Your Life

    Posted on May 30, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah Dipscal

    "Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (HCSB)

    I watched my family as they waited in line for the heart-pounding experience of riding the Griffon. We read about this roller coaster in the theme park brochure, but now it was time to put words into action.

    My sons kept looking back from the line, motioning for me to join them for the cliffhanger thrill ride. With a convincing smile, I shook my head no and pointed to my camera. My reason for not riding was to take pictures of them during each upside down loop and heart-pounding free fall.

    After their turn, my husband walked up with an exhilarating smile and said, "You missed out on an awesome ride!" As our sons shared the hair-raising moments and laughed about each other's reactions, I felt a twinge of sadness and disappointment.

    Truthfully, saying no to my family's request that day had more to do with fear and less to do with capturing family photos. I was afraid of the unknown, and when given the opportunity, I opted to stay safely away from the risk and inside the padded walls of my comfort zone.

    For years I was aware of this pattern in my life. When faced with adventurous opportunities, fear and uncertainty often held me securely within the boundaries of my comfortable space. Then I'd be disappointed that I missed out.

    I longed to be brave but instead allowed the enemy to convince me I was a coward. I dreamed about being adventurous, but compared myself to others, which left me feeling less than and discouraged.

    Then one day I came across Joshua 1:9 and the words resonated deep within me: "Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

    I'd read this verse many times before, but that time I realized being brave wasn't just a personal want-to in my life. God was commanding me to live strong and courageous.

    God originally spoke these words to Joshua (Moses' successor as leader of the Israelites) while presenting him with a new opportunity. Joshua's assignment was to lead more than two million people into a strange new land, claiming it as their promised territory.

    Now that's what I call a hair-raising experience! And way more difficult than riding a roller coaster at a theme park.

    God could have chosen someone else for this great task, but He specifically selected Joshua.

    First, there was a command: "be strong and courageous ... do not be afraid or discouraged." And it was wrapped inside a promise: "for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

    What if Joshua had allowed the unknown to keep him from saying yes to God? What if he gave insecurity and doubt permission to keep him firmly within his comfort zone?

    Joshua would have missed out on the blessings. He would have missed his calling in life. He would have missed the adventure with God.

    Is God presenting you with a new opportunity? Is He asking you to go back to school, start a new career or accept a new ministry position?

    Without God it can be scary. But with God it can be a great adventure! Just as God was with Joshua, He promises to be with us. We may not conquer nations, but with God by our sides anything is possible.

    I'm learning to be brave. To trust God more when He gives me new opportunities. I don't want to miss out on anything God has for me because of fear, doubt or insecurity.

    Will you choose to be courageous and step out of your comfort zone? Will you say yes to God and no to fear when He opens the next door of opportunity?

    What are you waiting for? The greatest ride of your life is just up ahead. So go get your seat next to God, strap into the safety of His presence and experience the adventure with Him!

    Dear Lord, You are my greatest adventure. Help me to trust and follow Your lead. When I start to feel afraid or discouraged, strengthen me so I can fulfill the assignments You've chosen for me. Thank You for always being with me wherever I go. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 32:8, "The LORD says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.'" (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What opportunity is God presenting to you today? What is keeping you from stepping outside your comfort zone and saying yes to God?

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. 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 Joshua

  • God’s Timing

    Posted on May 29, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.  John 11:5-6

    God’s timing is not always our timing. We see the immediate, He sees the long term. We feel pain and desire relief, He sees our pain and offers comfort. We pray for God to do something, He wants us to do something. We want conflict resolved, He wants our resolve to be trust in Him. We want to be an overnight success, He wants our character to grow with our success. We want financial security, He wants us to be generous with what we have. We want meaningful relationships, He wants us to initiate friendships.  We want health, He wants to glorify Himself.

    God’s timing is all about what He wants for us, not what He wants from us. Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, but He delayed His blessing. He delayed the blessing of healing for the greater glory of bringing Lazarus back from the dead. What we may perceive as the Lord’s indifference, is in reality, His loving patience and grace to provide something better. So, we may be deeply wounded by a broken wedding engagement, but in retrospect we see God’s protection.

    Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (John 11:4).

    God’s timing is all about God’s glory. The Lord’s heart is for relationships to reflect His glory. Thus, we patiently wait on a marriage partner who will bring God the most glory. Outer beauty with inner attractiveness is a catalyst for Christ’s glory. Fearful impatience can push us to settle for less than the Lord’s best. As you are waiting on direction from the Lord, be with the Lord. If Jesus feels distant, ask Him to soothe your soul. Learn how to love better by being loved better.

    If you just broke up with a long time love, perhaps you wait before you date. Take  a year off from dating and go deeper in your love relationship with your Heavenly Father. Let your heart heal. A year of intense intimacy with God is preparation for a life long marriage of joy built on Jesus. What feels like love delayed is love growing you into a mature man or woman of faith. Jesus wants to love you deeply, so you can learn to love deeply. A sentimental love of your Savior will not sustain you through suffering, but a radical love will. His timing is what’s best.

    “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the patience to wait on Your best and the humility to glorify You in the process.

    Related Readings: Psalm 115:1; Isaiah 30:18; Hosea 12:6; John 17:24; Titus 2:13; Jude 1:21

    Post/Tweet today:Fearful impatience can push us to settle for less than the Lord’s very best. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


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

  • Learn to Love Your Story

    Posted on May 29, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "I thank my God every time I remember you." Philippians 1:3 (NIV)

    This past winter, I stood in my kitchen laughing with one of my kids while picking hard macaroni out of the melted cheese in the crockpot. Apparently, noodles like to be boiled beforehand when making a slow cooker recipe for macaroni and cheese.

    About the time I posted an Instagram picture of the dinner fiasco, I heard another daughter upstairs yelling for towels.

    It took a minute for it to register why she was panicked. Then I saw the water leaking through my kitchen ceiling. Toilet water.

    I ran. No, I flew upstairs yelling, "Turn that silver knob thing behind the toilet. Quick! Turn it so the water will shut off!"

    Later that night, our couch-turned-dancing-springboard decided it would no longer tolerate overly energetic, snowed-in teens. RIP, dear couch.

    I'd laughed about the noodles. I'd dealt with the toilet water. I'd gotten quite miffed with the couch situation.

    Another day.

    Another page in what makes this life ... my life ... a story.

    Not so much like the stories of books and big screens.

    Those stories are a little shiner and seemingly perfect.

    Those moms probably don't have cellulite because they don't eat mac and cheese. Their kitchen ceilings don't have stains because ... well because their kids don't use too much two-ply toilet paper. And their couches don't sag beyond repair.

    But I love my story. I love my story most of all.

    Why? How?

    Because I pre-decided that I would.

    I decided I would look at it all through the lens of noticing the rich evidence of life through each mess and mishap.

    Did I do it all perfectly? Nope, not at all.

    But even if we choose to be noticers with thankful hearts just once today, we'll start to look at our stories in a different way.

    A more beautiful way.

    While carrying the wet towels downstairs, I saw a pile of my kids' shoes by the front door.

    I remembered our key verse, Philippians 1:3, where Paul says "I thank my God every time I remember you." I have plenty of reminders each day to thank God for the people in my life. To rejoice over every piece of my story. Starting with those shoes.

    So I whispered, "Notice. Be a noticer. See all the fun represented here and thank God for these moments."

    Noticers see the lovely in front of them and learn to love their story.

    What might happen if you pre-determined to look through the lens of lovely today?

    Dear Lord, thank You for this message today. Help me be a noticer with a thankful heart no matter how messy my life (or house!) may appear to be. I'm choosing to rejoice in the imperfect beauty of all of it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Thessalonians 5:18, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (ESV)

    Psalm 19:14, "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:

    Think about an aspect of your life that often seems disorganized, frustrating or chaotic to you. Then, think of how this frustrating thing could actually be a blessing.

    For example, the pile of shoes by Lysa's front door could have been the last straw for her on a day full of house malfunctions and hard situations with her kids. Instead, she chose to see the shoes as evidence of life and laughter in her home. Determine to find the beauty right there in the messy place!

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • David Crowder is back with Neon Steeple

    Posted on May 28, 2014 by Family Christian

    Neon Steeple by Crowder
    No Plan B by Carman
    Worship by Guy Penrod
    A Cappella by The Martins
    Only $5: 20th Century Masters Millennium Collections!

    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, David Crowder, DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline, Petra, Twila Paris, Avalon, The Martins, Guy Penrod, Carman

  • Prophet or Preserver

    Posted on May 28, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    He [David] said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.  2 Samuel 7:2-3

    Prophets push us to change for the better. They remind us of God’s standards of better behavior, better beliefs, and a better world. These gifted discerners cut through the chaos of a crisis  clearly defining what’s needed to correct the course of a life adrift, a country without moral moorings, or an organization in transition. Prophets are not always popular, because what they proclaim is not popular. Apathy snuggles up to the status quo, while prophets call for change.

    Preservers on the other hand, are content to maintain what’s been established. They are risk averse and want to protect what’s been gained over years of hard work. Some companies have risk management departments to assess the probabilities of success and failure. Preservers follow behind prophets to codify change, so it can be sustained. Thus, prophets and preservers are necessary in God’s game plan. One without the other weakens the overall effectiveness of both.

    “Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your handfinds to do, for God is with you” (1 Samuel 10:7).

    Nathan was a prophet who challenged David to follow hard after God. He also confronted David in his moral failure and called him to confession and repentance. Ironically, David wanted to build a temple for God, but the Lord left that assignment to his son Solomon. So, are you a prophet or a preserver? Perhaps you are a prophet, but God is leading you to invest more time in preserving relationships and results. The stewardship of your life work requires preservation.

    Furthermore, you may be a preserver who opposes change. You have calculated faith right out of the equation. A life led by the Spirit sometimes engages an unconventional course of action.  Thus, be open handed in your giving, open minded in your thinking, and openly Christian in your conversations. Invite a prophet into your life who will tell you in love what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Prophets and preservers complement well those who follow God’s will.

    “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33).

    Prayer:Heavenly Father, give me the humility to listen to prophets and the discipline to preserve Your ways.

    Related Readings: Exodus 16:34; Joshua 1:5; Proverbs 3:21; Matthew 9:17; Luke 1:28; Galatians 2:5

    Post/Tweet today:Apathy snuggles up to the status quo, while prophets call for change. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


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

  • Getting Past the Pain of Change

    Posted on May 28, 2014 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn Cowell

    "After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light." Matthew 17:1-2 (NIV)

    I remember what it felt like to have my heart broken as a young woman. Even today, my heart feels a little pain trigger when I hear another has experienced the hurt of rejection.

    I remember the questioning: Why, God? Why not him? Why break up now?

    When God asked me to choose Him over him, my young heart obeyed, but not without a struggle. Lacking history with God, I hadn't yet experienced the blessings of obedience. So I obeyed and hoped God knew what He was doing.

    Through the breakups and broken hearts, God was moving me to a new place where He could reveal a side of Him I hadn't experienced. I had to move "out of love" with a boyfriend in order to move "in love" with Him.

    My deceived heart told me I was someone because I belonged to someone. God had a different message. He wanted to reposition me so I would know True Love.

    Jesus had to change my position to change my perspective.

    Out of His great love for me, Jesus didn't leave me in the position where I was completely dependent on another person for love. Instead, He moved me to what was a lonely place so He could change the way I saw love.

    It seems God often needs to change someone's position so they can see things in a fresh way. In today's key verse, Jesus had more to show three of the disciples, so He led them up a high mountain by themselves. A place away from others. A place not easily accessible. But a place where He would change their perspective. Here, before their very eyes Jesus' face shone like the sun, and they heard God speak: "This is my Son" (Matthew 17:5a, NIV).

    When the disciples had a change in their position, they experienced a change in their perspective on who Jesus was. It's possible their self-perspective changed as well.

    The breakup I went through as a young woman wasn't the only time God changed my position to change my perspective. Moves, job changes, places I have held in people's lives and people's hearts ... my position is constantly changing. Each change brings another opportunity for God to change my perspective. Like the disciples, I can see Him in new ways I haven't seen Him before: my Provider, my Healer, my True Love.

    Can you see an area where your position is changing? It may be in your responsibilities as a mom, a new job, at home or in your calling. In this new place, your loving Father wants to show you His perspective of who He is and what He wants to do in you and through you. Open your heart past the pain of change and ask God to change your perspective to see Him in this new place.

    Lord, often change is painful and what I want isn't always what's best for me. Soften my heart to see past this pain and to see Your heart toward me. Give me Your perspective. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Judges 6:23a, "But the LORD said to him, 'Peace! Do not be afraid.'" (NIV)

    Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:

    Where is your world changing and you wish it wouldn't? Do you have a godly friend who has gone through this type of change before? Ask her to share her story with you to encourage you.

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. 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 Matthew

  • A Leader Worth Following

    Posted on May 27, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  John 10:11

    Some questions that humble me as a leader are; “Am I a leader worth following?” “Do I model the values of our work and home culture?” “Do I do what I ask the team to do?”  “Am I willing to give up my own interests for what’s best for everyone else?” And the question that looms largest, “Will I lay down my life for my family and friends?” For me to be a leader worth following, I will answer affirmative to these revealing questions. Mostly though, I must follow the good shepherd,Jesus.

    Jesus is the ultimate leader worth following. He is not “a,” but “the” Good Shepherd. He is good because He is God, and He grows good leaders. The good shepherd Jesus defends the sheep from aggressive enemies. Just as the shepherd David battled the lion and bear on behalf of his flock, so Jesus engages the enemy on our behalf. He sees danger coming before we do, so what may seem an unnecessary diversion may be His protection from a bad decision or bad people.

    “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty” (Proverbs 27:12).

    A leader worth following protects his or her people. He lays down his life, his interests, and his ego for the greater good. The other centered leader also invests in her team. She spends time in mentorship. Over lunch she systematically  helps the less experienced process their pressure points. The leader is vulnerable about her own issues and how she learned from others. A safe culture invites honesty, and the opportunity for professional growth.

    Furthermore, what are some ways you can invest in the character of those who look to you as their leader? You have to be good in order to teach others how to be good. Your generosity enhances a culture of generosity. Your care creates a caring culture. Expose your team to books, trainings and conferences that challenge and grow their character and skills. Begin a weekly or monthly educational process that infuses the values of the culture throughout the enterprise. A leader worth following is out front as an example, among the team to learn, and behind in prayer.

    “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father grow me into a leader worth following. Lead me to lead like Jesus.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 14:16; 1 Corinthians 4:16-17; Philippians 3:17, 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:2

    Post/Tweet today:A leader worth following is out front as an example, among the team to learn, and behind in prayer. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


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

  • The Story of the Running Father

    Posted on May 27, 2014 by Sherri Gragg

    Sherri Gragg

    "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 (NIV)

    Everything was quiet. I sat very still with my Bible and journal on my lap by my front window in a picture of perfect peace. But my heart was heavy with familiar grief.

    I had been in church my whole life. "Amazing Grace" was as familiar to me as the lullabies my mother sang over my crib, yet somehow my image of God was less of a kind and gracious Father and more of an angry, distant judge. How could a holy God ever accept me, one so flawed?

    I bowed my head and began to weep and pray with the kind of honesty that only comes when we are at the end of all our strength.

    I know the Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, but I just can't seem to believe it. Every time I turn to You, my first impulse is fear!

    I give up. I can't do this on my own. Will You please heal my heart?

    Over the next year, God did for me what I had been utterly helpless to do on my own. He revolutionized my image of Him.

    One of the stories that meant the most to me on my journey was the story many of us know by the title, The Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32. I discovered that in the Middle Eastern Church the story goes by another name: The Story of the Running Father. The difference in the title reflects important cultural knowledge that the people to whom Jesus spoke would have known.

    In the biblical story, the son demands his share of the family's wealth, leaves home and breaks his father's heart in the process. Eventually the young man finds himself destitute in a foreign land and determines to return to his father's house with the hope of working as a servant.

    Scripture tells us the father sees his son a long way off and runs to him. It's the image of this running father that was so powerful to the hearers of Jesus' story.

    First, it was considered extremely undignified for a Middle Eastern man to run anywhere. Running was for children. Also, running required men to hike up their robes and expose their legs, which was considered humiliating and disgraceful.

    The reason he was running was even more significant. It was a very serious matter for a Jewish young man to lose his family's inheritance in a foreign land. If he did, and he had the gall to actually return to his village, his entire community would then bring him to justice through a custom called the Kezazah. Once the community discovered the money was lost, they would surround him and break a pot at his feet. Then they would announce that from that moment on he was cut off from his family and community ... as if he were dead.

    But this young man's father had been watching, and even though his son had broken his heart, he had been hoping for his return. He knew all too well what would happen when the villagers saw his boy. His son would be shamed and then the pot would fall, break, and his son would be lost. So, the father did what no first-century Middle Eastern man would do: he hiked up his robe and ran.

    He ran through the village streets as his neighbors stared in horror. He ran as young boys began running along behind, shouting and mocking him in his shame. He ran ahead of the crowd as they moved toward his guilty, filthy son. He ran ahead of all that was reasonable and fair. He ran ahead of justice, taking his boy's shame upon himself.

    When he reached the boy, the father quickly gathered his son into his arms, kissed him on each cheek and called for a banquet in his honor.

    This, Jesus tells us, is what God is like.

    For too long my image of God was one of a tyrant, or a cold and callous judge. But now whenever I think of God, I see Him running toward me, gathering up my shame in His wake, to redeem me with His costly love.

    My Father, thank You so much for running toward me. Help me rest in Your grace and trust Your great love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Jeremiah 31:3, "The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'" (NIV)

    Psalm 103:13-14, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What do you honestly believe about the nature of God? Take time to prayerfully consider this.

    What belief do you have that is holding you back from resting in God's love for you?

    © 2014 by Sherri Gragg. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Thomas Nelson Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

    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 Romans

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