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Daily Devotion

  • Well Meaning Mom

    Posted on May 9, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down,asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom. Matthew 20:20-21

    Sometimes well meaning moms can get ahead of God on their child’s behalf. They may see an opportunity for their son or daughter to succeed, so they seek to influence the process. But it's counterproductive to politic for a child to obtain a position prematurely. It's better for a child to learn how to wait on the Lord than to bypass lessons in faith, patience, and humility. An insecure, aggressive mother can edge out the Spirit’s work, instead of inviting in the Spirit’s influence.

    No doubt, the mother of James and John wanted the best for her boys, but she crossed a line  motivated by pride when she sought special favor. Perhaps she thought they deserved preferential treatment since Jesus’ mom, Mary, was her sister. However, an unqualified relative for a work role only creates confusion and indignation among other better qualified team members. Jesus knew James, John, and their mother, did not understand how suffering would precede this lofty position.

    “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).

    In an effort to promote our children before they are ready, we actually set them up for failure. It's pure pride to seek status for our son or daughter, just so it makes us look good. A person who obtains a highly regarded role before they are ready, is similar to giving a teenager a sports car before they have seasoned driving experience. A wise mom trusts the Lord to lead her offspring to listen to His small voice. She prays more than she tries to persuade. She wants wisdom.

    Therefore moms, seek Jesus with a humble heart on behalf of your children. Ask the Lord to educate your child in lessons of becoming the least, so He can use them the most. God blesses your beautiful example of serving others to teach and motivate your sons and daughters to serve others. A servant of Christ is the greatest position in God’s Kingdom. So mom, ask the Lord in prayer for your little ones to grow in joyful obedience to Him. Yes, suffering may precede your child’s success. What man manipulates does not last, but what God initiates is eternally blessed.

    “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him” (1 Samuel 1:27).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for my precious child. I pray you will lead him to decrease, so you might increase in his life.

    Related Readings: Psalm 66:9-10; Matthew 19:28; John 15:4-5; Philippians 3:10

    Post/Tweet today: Our consistent example of serving others teaches and motivates our children to serve others. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • When You're Tired of Coloring in the Lines

    Posted on May 9, 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort

    Alicia

    "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

    I was elbow-deep in soapsuds when my 4-year-old's cries prompted me to drop my dishrag and race to the other room. Maggie had been coloring a picture, but when I reached her side, the paper lay crumpled and torn on the floor.

    "Honey, what's wrong?" I asked.

    "I can't color in the lines," Maggie complained.

    I retrieved the wrinkled paper and smoothed it with my palm. The kitty on the coloring page looked like it had been caught in a crossfire.

    "See?" my preschooler said, as she rubbed the crayon furiously over the holes on the paper.

    I could feel Maggie's frustration as I watched her shoulders tighten with each squiggly stroke. The more she pressed that plum Crayola upon the page, the more the picture ripped beneath her efforts.

    "I just can't make anything beautiful," Maggie declared.

    What a curious remark from this child who sculpts gourmet cakes from Play-Doh and creates masterpieces on the driveway with a fistful of sidewalk chalk. An artist indeed, my daughter doesn't yet know that beauty isn't always measured between the lines.

    Maggie sighed and set down her crayon, and I recognized myself in her try-hard weariness. There, in my 4-year-old's furrowed brow, I saw the mom who had once tried to live within a set of invisible lines.

    No one had written out the rules of good parenting for me. They were the result of my own expectations, noble ideas shaped by well-meaning mommy books, fabulous Facebook posts and my personal good-girl gospel.

    My lines declared that a good mom keeps a clean house, bakes bread from scratch and arrives everywhere on time. A good mom knows just what to do when her teen slumps into silence, when a toddler refuses to eat her veggies, or when a 6-year-old strings a web of lies.

    No matter how hard I tried, my life kept spilling outside the lines.

    I was certain that a good mom never lies in bed at night wondering if she is ruining her children. (But sometimes I do.)

    A good mom never delivers her child to the wrong soccer field on the wrong day at the wrong time. (But maybe I've done that once or twice.)

    And a good mom never leaves the house with dirty-faced children or forgets to pack her kindergartener's lunch. (But I'm guilty of both.)

    Perhaps you've lived within a self-declared set of lines, too.

    Maybe you believe that good wives serve dinner by candlelight and always have the laundry done. Or that good friends always reply to texts and certainly never forget a birthday.

    Maybe, like me, the harder you try to live within the lines, the more your soul rips beneath the weight of your efforts.

    But here's the good news for try-hard women like us: God's not offended by our flaws and imperfections.

    God's Word tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9a, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

    That verse was what finally compelled me to trade my invisible lines of expectation for the compassionate contours of my Savior's grace. When I finally stopped obsessing over my flaws and began focusing on His faithfulness, my life took on a new kind of beauty.

    Maggie was still crying over the rips in her coloring page, so I tipped her chin and asked her to watch as I placed that picture, holes and all, against the window.

    Morning sunbeams streamed right through those holes in the paper and cast a glorious rainbow of light upon the carpet at our feet. Maggie grew quiet staring at the shimmers on the floor and slipped something small and purple into my hand. "I don't need my crayon anymore, Mommy. I like my picture just like that."

    So we stood at the window together, watching glory stream through the gaps.

    Dear Jesus, I am tired of living within my self-invented lines of expectation. Show Your strength through my weakness, Your sufficiency through my flaws. Make my life beautiful to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    It's Mother's Day this weekend, which can sometimes create angst either in our roles as adult children or as moms. Take some time to prayerfully consider the invisible lines you've created for yourself. What is one unnecessary expectation you could trade for God's grace today?

    Name three of your unique "holes." How could Jesus display His strength through your weakness or imperfection? Invite Him to shine His glory through your gaps this week.

    © 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

  • Patient People Wait

    Posted on May 8, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

    Patient people wait on God’s best. God things happen to those who are patient—those who wait. Patience is a virtue, but it is also a vehicle in which the Lord delivers His blessings. Like a loyal wife waiting for the gift of her husband’s return from war, so those who love Jesus wait on Him to return soon. Patience waits on God to rain down His favor.

    “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain” (James 5:7).

    However, as we wait we pray and we prepare. We pray for patience—knowing that Jesus Christ is completely trustworthy. We pray for boldness to declare God’s truth to those who have yet to fall in love with Jesus. Waiting is also the Lord’s time to prepare our character. Our character has to keep up with our success for us to remain successful.

    “Tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character” (Romans 5:3b-4a).

    Yes, it is hard to be patient when you really want something. But, why do you want what you want? Is your motive aligned with what the Almighty wants for you? Your heavenly Father knows what you need and when you are able to handle His blessing. Pride demands to have things now, but humility sees the worth in wisely waiting.

    Your tension may be the normal desire for a husband or for a wife. Or, maybe you feel trapped financially or your job is a dead end road. You seem to be doing the right things, but you are not happy with your progress. Thus, while you wait focus on intimacy with Jesus, let Him do a work of greater grace in your heart. Enjoy what you already have and you will appreciate what you get. Like Job, wait on God to give back more than before.

    “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:11).

    Patience is the fruit of the Spirit—it resides with God—available for His children. So, seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit each day. Wait for and anticipate good gifts from your heavenly Father. Christ manages the clock of life, so rest and regroup during His timeouts. In this parenthesis of time you can enjoy living for the Lord and others. Patience waits.

    “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised” (Hebrews 6:15).

    Prayer: How can I enjoy God and others during this time of waiting? Whom can I serve?

    Related Readings: Psalm 27:14; 37:7; Micah 7:7; Romans 8:25; Jude 1:21

    Post/Tweet today: Our character has to keep up with our success for us to remain successful. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Am I a Bad Mom?

    Posted on May 8, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "He says, 'Be still, and know that I am God'..." Psalm 46:10a (NIV)

    Have you ever struggled with letting a circumstance define you? This seems to be a lesson God lets me live over and over again. He wants to be my only definition of who I am.

    I am a child of God, holy and dearly loved.

    I know this. I teach this. I believe this. Yet it is so easy for me to slip into redefining myself when situations arise.

    Several years ago, one of my precious, precious, precious yet just-as-apt-to-sin-as-the-rest-of-us kids was called to the principal's office — on the very day I received an invitation to speak at a national parenting conference.

    With my head I was able to see the situation for what it was: My child is in the process of being shaped. My child is strong, and while this will serve her well later in life, strength in an immature little person begs to be disciplined. She is a sweet child who made a not-so-sweet choice.

    However, in my heart I felt like a failure. I wanted to decline the opportunity to speak and crawl into a hole. A part of me felt as though I'd personally been called to the principal's office, as the voice of condemnation started haunting me: You are a bad mom. You have a bad child. You have a bad home.

    Quietly, I slipped away with Jesus and did what I'd done a hundred times before. I held those condemnations up to the Lord and asked Him to help me see this situation the way He wanted me to see it. Not the way others see it, not the way my heart is tempted to see it, but the way He sees it.

    Matthew 7:24-27 brings some perspective: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash" (NIV).

    Do you know what amazes me about these verses? Both the person doing right and the person doing wrong experienced hard times. In each case the rains came, the streams rose and the wind blew and beat against the house.

    Just because we're parents living out God's principles for life doesn't mean we won't face difficult circumstances.

    God's Spirit spoke to my heart that day and said, "Let Me invade your natural flesh reaction. Instead of letting your mind run wild with this, sit with Me for a while. Be still, and know that I am God."

    So I sat and prayed. I went from defining myself as a failure of a mom to being a praying mom who can face hardships in a godly way. The frustration diffused as I determined to look at the situation from God's perspective.

    God's truth reassured me. I am not a bad mom. My child is not a bad child. My home is not a bad home.

    This situation is a call to action.

    There is a character issue that needs to be addressed within the heart of my child. And kids are supposed to have character issues that need to be addressed. That's why God gave them parents. That's why God gave me this specific child. God sees within me the ability to be the one He's perfectly designed to raise this child.

    When hard times come and beat against our stability, we must determine to hear God's words and put them into practice. Then nothing can topple our peace, security or true identity.

    I'm not sure who else needed to hear that — but I know I did. So dry your tears, sweet mama. Today is a new day. A day when we will only be defined by God's truth and grace as we navigate this wild wonder called parenthood.

    Dear Lord, help me to be the mom You've called me to be today. I want to honor You in everything I do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 John 3:20, "If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write down a condemning thought you have often. Spend some time with God praying against this thought. Then, cross out that condemning thought and write down God's truth about who you are to Him instead.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Perfect Peace

    Posted on May 7, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.  Isaiah 26:3-4

    The world offers imperfect peace. It is temporary at best, as it comes in the form of materialism—a person—a pill—or a bottle. This caricature of peace prolongs pain and leads to long-term disappointment and disillusionment. Artificial peace restricts or rejects the peace of Almighty God, only to eventually come back and seek out what’s real.

    Are you able to sleep peacefully at night? Do you have an assurance deep down in your soul that Christ is in control and can be trusted? If not, let loose of the idols of worry and pride— redirect your energies to eternal solutions. Answers from above bring peace that’s within. Where there is trust in the Lord there is rest from fighting the enemy.

    “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7, NKJV).

    Accessing the Lord’s peace begins by first making peace with Him. In humble surrender and submission we unlock the control of our hearts to Christ and trust Him to give us what we need to follow Him and serve others. When we exchange our agenda for His agenda—in total trust—we in turn receive the peace of God. Peace follows trust. Peace with God results in the peace of God. Why wait until death to make peace with God?

    “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wehave peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).

    God’s peace gives us confidence to follow Christ in ministry, domestically and globally. His peace of mind is assurance that we can move forward in a relationship or a new responsibility at work. A home that is peaceful is a haven for family and for those who need a safe environment to feel secure and loved. Peace produces relational fruit that lasts.

    Can the Prince of Peace be trusted to get you through this challenge with your child or this season of suffering? Yes, of course He can and He wants you to experience His peace so you can be an ambassador of peace for Almighty God. People in turmoil who engage with your peaceful demeanor, want to know more about what you know and have.

    So, use the gift of peace that Jesus has given you as a platform to proclaim His truth. Give away this gift to all who will receive it—and oh what a difference it will make if only one life receives its benefits! You don’t have to look far for candidates: a single parent, the jobless, a confused child, a fearful parent, an addict, the sick or a lost soul. The perfect peace of God cuts through confusion and keeps your mind and heart on Jesus.

    “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:2-3).

    Prayer: Have I made peace with God? Do I access His peace and share it with others?

    Related Readings: 1 Chronicles 22:9; Psalm 85:8; Acts 10:36; Romans 14:17

    Post/Tweet today: Accessing the Lord’s peace begins by first making peace with Him. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • My Faith Declaration

    Posted on May 7, 2014 by Wendy Blight

    Wendy

    "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Romans 8:37 (NIV)

    It was a day like any other. She awakened to the usual routine: Rouse her children from bed. Prepare lunches. Pack bags. Drive carpool. Work out. Return home.

    A day like any other ... until she walked into the kitchen.

    She heard a text alert from a phone on the counter. Not hers, but her husband's. A name she didn't recognize. A woman's name. Probably a new co-worker. Or a client. She trusted him. Right?

    Something drew her to the words on the screen. Reading through the intimate communication, waves of nausea overcame her. She scrolled through more texts ... words that pierced her heart.

    She heard her husband step out of the shower. What would she say?

    She said nothing.

    That night, she confronted him. He confessed, apologized and promised to end it. She wanted to believe him, but she knew how difficult that would be. The woman lived in another state. They worked and traveled together often.

    How could I ever trust him again? she thought to herself.

    Months passed. She discovered more texts and e-mails. So she asked him to leave, at least temporarily.

    She appeared at my door, tears streaming. She poured out her heart as she shared his betrayal. Betrayal that flooded the depths of her soul. My heart ached.

    She felt abandoned and alone. Words escaped me. But I knew she didn't need my words. She needed truths and promises from the One who would never betray her, never abandon her, never leave her. So I gave my friend a Faith Declaration to remind her of who she was in Christ and the promises that, no matter what happened, could never be taken away. Here's what I shared with her that day ...

    You are Loved

    "For I have every confidence that nothing – not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing – can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39, The Voice)

    You are Known by Almighty God

    "You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." (Psalm 139:15-16, NLT)

    You are Forgiven

    "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)

    You are Redeemed

    "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20, NLT)

    You are God's Masterpiece, Created with a Purpose

    "For we are the product of His hand, heaven's poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago." (Ephesians 2:10, The Voice)

    You are More Than a Conqueror

    "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (Romans 8:37, NIV)

    Has someone broken your heart? Betrayed you? Lied to you? Used you?

    Are you feeling lost? Alone? Defeated? Desperate? Unworthy? Unloved?

    You are not alone. Jesus understands. He identifies with our pain and suffering. Those He created betrayed Him. Those He loved abandoned Him.

    Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, understands.

    Through His living and active Word, He has given us truths and promises to heal our gaping wounds ... to bring hope to what seems hopeless ... to speak truth to the lies.

    Sweet friend, pray this declaration over your circumstances. Plant these seeds of truth in your heart. God will water them and grow deep roots of love, hope and faith.

    Heavenly Father, I pray this declaration over my life today. Plant these truths and promises deep in my heart, water them with Your love and make them come alive in my circumstances. I ask this in the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 119:50, "This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life." (KNJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Take time to read through and reflect upon the verses in the Faith Declaration. Which one spoke to you the most? Write it where you'll see it often.

    Write a prayer surrendering your circumstances to your Father in heaven and pray each of these verses over your situation.

    © 2014 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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

  • Suffer Grief

    Posted on May 6, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7

    Grief is a very real source of suffering. We grieve when we lose our loved one who has gone to be with the Lord. We may or may not totally get over their departure.  The memory of the little things we shared in life could linger with us until the day we go to be with them in glory. We also grieve when we lose a child to foolish flings. We watch with broken hearts, as we are unable to control the harmful decisions of an adult son or daughter. We can suffer grief from all kinds of trials that create troubles. Yes, troubles are a test to refine our faith and to lead us to praise God.

    Furthermore, suffering grief and/or trouble can be a tool for the Spirit to wean us from the world’s way of thinking. If anything other than Christ controls our peace of mind, it is a threat to our trust in God. The Lord’s plan is for us to suffer grief for a ‘little while'. Thus, we must resist the temptation to get sucked into the crazy cycle of being controlled by another person’s bad behavior. We temporarily grieve their immature actions, but then we leave them with God.

    “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

    Perpetual grieving is not the heart of God for His children. His desire is for praise and rejoicing to follow our faith refinement. However, during this interim of intense pain, He grieves with us as we process our hurting heart. His compassionate Spirit draws us into sweeter communion as we enter into a deeper and fuller understanding of our heavenly Father’s love and grace. We suffer grief to gain God and to lose ourselves. Grief makes real the precious promises of God.

    Most of all, lean into the Lord’s long suffering and unconditional love as you grieve. Get to know your special friend Jesus at a new level. Enjoy solitude for a season, but avoid a prolonged trap of isolation. Engage with individuals and a care group who can grieve with you. Grief is not meant to be experienced alone. Processed pain is productive, but unprocessed pain is destructive. Rejoice, though we suffer grief, we gain a greater grace and deeper love from our heavenly Father.

    “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless: (Psalm 10:14).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, in my grief I receive your greater grace and deeper love that brings healing to my heart.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 17:21; Nehemiah 8:10; Zechariah 12:10; John 11:35, 16:20

    Post/Tweet today: Properly processed pain is productive, but unprocessed pain is destructive. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Cleaning up a Mess I Didn't Make

    Posted on May 6, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal

    "And I pray that you ... grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." Ephesians 3:17b-18 (NIV)

    When my middle son was 2 years old, he went through various stages that almost sent me to the mad house.

    One of the most irritating stages was his habit of taking off his diaper after putting him to bed. Many late nights we would have to put on a fresh diaper, change his sheets and put him back to bed.

    After awhile, we wised up. We started putting him into all-in-one pajamas that made it not so easy for him to accomplish his little feat.

    That pretty much solved the problem.

    Until one night, when my husband put the boys (ages 2 and 4) to bed. Unfortunately, he forgot about our precautionary measure of locking our toddler into his diaper.

    Before long, our eldest son shouted at the top of his lungs, "Mommy! It stinks in here! Somebody needs his diaper changed!"

    No worries. It happens, right?

    Soon we heard urgency in our eldest son's voice as he called out again, "MOMMY! COME QUICK! THERE'S A STINKY MESS IN HERE!"

    We entered their room. The smell that greeted me at the door was enough to make me want to run for my life.

    Friends, we are talking yuck e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e ... on the sheets, blankets, feet and smudged into the carpet. So that night, while many other mothers slept peacefully in their beds, guess what I was doing?

    Cleaning up a mess.

    At almost midnight and for close to an hour, I was on my hands and knees cleaning and scrubbing. I'll spare you the gory details.

    Believe it or not, the carpet today looks like nothing ever happened. Between my cleaning concoctions that fateful night and a borrowed steam cleaner the next day, I managed to handle the situation like a pro.

    Of course I did. I'm a mom. That's what moms do. We clean up after our children when necessary, because that's what love does.

    There is a lesson to be learned from the middle of this messy situation ...

    My son didn't mean to make a mess. He didn't intentionally deprive me of sleep or aim to make me uncomfortable. He didn't mean to make me suffer for his transgression.

    But I did.

    And why? Because that's what love does.

    Even when he wasn't showing me much love, I loved him anyway. And I showed my love by cleaning up a mess that I didn't make.

    My dear sister... don't you know Jesus loves us this same way?

    He saw us in our mess. He cleaned up after us. He was willing to suffer for our transgressions. And even when we aren't showing Him much love, He loved us first and continues to love us anyway.

    Because that's what love does.

    I believe with all my heart that as my son matures, he will be grateful and appreciate my sacrifices. I pray that eventually he will come to understand the width, length, height and depth of the love I have for him. Just like God's love for us, Paul prayed that the church at Ephesus "may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ" (Ephesians 3:18).

    In the same way, as we mature in our relationship with God and develop a greater understanding of why we needed His rescue, we can appreciate more and more His huge sacrifice.

    Here's the kicker – our lives, actions and attitudes should show it.

    Just like mothers find a way to do what seems

    ... inconceivable

    ... impossible

    ... or insurmountable ...

    so, too, our precious Savior found a way to rescue us from our plight.

    And I'm so thankful. Aren't you?

    Dear Lord, thank You for being willing to clean up my mess. Sometimes I'm a little bit of a mess. Other times, I'm a big mess and the yuckiness in my attitude or actions greatly impacts others. Yet You still love me. You loved me enough not only to clean up after me, but also to suffer on my behalf. I want You to know I'm grateful. Help me to walk worthy of the love that You have so lavishly offered me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ephesians 4:1b, "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." (NIV)

    Ephesians 3:19, "I ask that you'll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God." (CEB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    At some point and time we have all been a mess. If we're honest with ourselves, we still are! How does the fact that God loves you anyway make you feel?

    In light of God's great sacrifice for you, what is one thing you can do today that would show your appreciation for His great gift?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Mercy Covers Betrayal

    Posted on May 5, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. Matthew 26:49-50

    Have you ever felt betrayed by a friend? A sense of being stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a loyal supporter? Maybe it happened at work and you found yourself falsely accused by a team member you thought was your ally. You experienced anger, vulnerability and aloneness. Or perhaps a close confidant shared your secrets with another who was wounded by your words. You extended total trust, only to be deeply disappointed by their indiscreet behavior.

    Jesus faced betrayal from a disciple in His inner circle. Though the Lord knew Judas was up to no good, He still received his affection and called him friend. Jesus’ mercy begins with a man or woman’s unseemly motivations and moves on to cover their actions. Interestingly enough, Peter and Judas each betrayed Christ and both were remorseful, but only Peter received the mercy and forgiveness of God. Judas’ all consuming guilt kept Him from seeing and receiving God’s grace.

    “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20, NKJV).

    Therefore, as we learn to receive and extend mercy, we experience emotional and spiritual health. As Jesus prays from the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do"  (Luke 23:34), so we forgive. Mercy is not manic about proving itself right, rather it trusts in the Righteous One--Christ--to make things right in His time. We give mercy generously since our Savior has lavished His mercy upon us. Mercy looks beyond the crime to forgive the criminal.

    Above all, do you enjoy the mercy of God? Is your sleep sweet because of the sweet forgiveness of your heavenly Father? Be like Peter--repent and rest in God’s mercy. Avoid being like Judas, who gave back the bribe, but would not receive God’s forgiveness. The Lord’s mercy is deep and wide enough to cover those who betray Him. Let go of guilt that steals your joy and replace it with the grace and peace of God. Your heavenly Father has not turned His back on you, His full mercy is available to hug and kiss you. Christ’s abundant mercy can heal your guilty heart.

    “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love” (2 John 1:3).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I receive Your abundant mercy, so I in turn can extend Your abundant mercy.

    Related Readings: Hosea 6:6; Proverbs 11:13; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25; Hebrews 4:16

    Post/Tweet today: Mercy looks beyond the crime to forgive the criminal. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • When Your Life Feels Like a Mess

    Posted on May 5, 2014 by Renee Swope

    Renee

    "But while Joseph was there in prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden." Genesis 39: 20b-21 (NIV)

    Do you ever feel like your days are filled with one messy relationship and situation after another? During those times, it's easy to label my circumstances and myself as "a mess," then wonder how God could ever use me, or my experiences, for good.

    To protect my heart from discouragement, I often ask God to remind me of times when He has worked in ways I couldn't have imagined, in my life and the lives of others. Recently He reminded me of Joseph's story (Genesis 37-50). It reads like a series of very unfortunate events!

    Imagine being beaten and thrown into a pit, sold as a slave and then relocated to a foreign country where you are falsely accused of a crime you didn't commit and banished to die in prison. And to make matters worse, what if your siblings had initiated this evil against you?

    That's only the beginning of what happened to Joseph.

    Looking behind the scenes of stories like his helps me see how God specializes in using messes to transform people into masterpieces of His grace. That's exactly what He did here:

    "[Joseph's brothers] saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him ... they stripped him of his robe ... and they threw him into a pit" (Genesis 37:18, 23b–24, ESV).

    Joseph was then taken to Egypt where he was sold as a slave to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. Could things get worse? They did when Potiphar's wife tried to seduce him, and despite Joseph resisting her advances, she accused him of attempting to rape her:

    " ... she called to the men of her household and said to them, 'See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. And as soon as he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me and fled and got out of the house.'"

    "As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him ... his anger was kindled. And Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison ..." (Genesis 39:14-15, 19-20a).

    In Potiphar's house, Joseph learned servant leadership and integrity; in prison, Joseph learned forgiveness, wisdom and patience. He had been wronged multiple times, yet he experienced God's guidance through the darkness that helped Joseph get out of prison:

    "And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. ... And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed" (Genesis 39:22-23, ESV).

    In a messy pit, the house of Potiphar and a cold dark prison, God prepared Joseph for the amazing future and role he would play in rescuing God's people and eventually bringing his family back together.

    Through it all, Joseph stayed close to God and allowed his difficult circumstances to make him more dependent on the Lord. And in turn, God molded Joseph's character into a great and godly leader — who was humble, loving, forgiving, patient and wise.

    Friend, you might feel like you're in a pit right now just like Joseph was, but don't despise the mess you're in — God is doing some behind-the-scenes work. He is preparing to unleash His limitless power in and through you!

    Dear Lord, thank You for reminding me that You are always with me, just like You were with Joseph. When I face hard circumstances, I want to lean in and depend on You for wisdom, patience and grace. In all these things, I will remember that I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 8:37, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:

    Do you ever look at the messiness of your circumstances and feel discouragement or even despair? Although Joseph had every reason to be depressed, he chose not to be by looking beyond where he was, to what God was doing.

    Read Joseph's story in Genesis 37-50 and make a list of ways God used messes and difficulties to transform Joseph's life for His glory.

    © 2014 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

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