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Daily Devotion

  • You are Never Alone

    Posted on June 24, 2014 by Renee Swope

    Renee

    "Now he had to go through Samaria ... and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?'" John 4:4, 6-7 (NIV)

    Alone again. That's what she must have thought as she walked alone to the well that day. No friend laughed by her side. No small fist gripped her skirt. No sister to help pass the time.

    Maybe it was better that way. Being alone was easier than hearing the condemning words and seeing the scornful looks of others. But she wasn't alone for long. She didn't know who He was and couldn't help but wonder why He was talking to her, a Samaritan woman.

    When He spoke, she heard gentleness in His voice. Kindness and humility in His simple request for a drink. In His eyes she saw acceptance, not judgment. Love, not hate.

    Many of us know her as the Samaritan woman, but I like to call her Sam. It makes her feel more like the real woman she was. A woman who struggled with hurt, rejection and loneliness.

    Today's key verse says Jesus "had to go through Samaria" (John 4:4). Yet theologians would tell us Jews considered Samaritans to be the scum of the earth and would do everything to avoid them. In fact, usually they would travel around Samaria — but not Jesus.

    He had to go through Samaria. Could it be because He knew Sam would be there?

    Typically women traveled together to the well in the cool of the day, escaping the heat of the sun since they carried heavy jars filled with water back to their homes. But Sam walked by herself during the hottest part of the day.

    Instead of avoiding the scorching sun, many believe she went to the well at noon to avoid the scorching pain of others' rejection and judgment. Sam had been married five times, and now she was living with a man who wasn't her husband.

    The weight of the water-filled jar in the heat must have been almost unbearable, but the weight of her neighbors' words, reminding her of her failed marriages, was more than she could take.

    When Jesus met her, Sam was running an errand and running from those who knew of her failures, shame and imperfections. Pursuing her with His perfect love, Jesus timed it so she would run into Him.

    He initiated conversation and asked her for the one thing she had to offer: water. It wasn't much, but it was a start.

    Sam stopped and listened. She let Him speak words of assurance and acceptance into the broken, insecure, empty places of her heart.

    In the same way Jesus intentionally pursued Sam in one of the loneliest parts of her day, He is there in the midst of your sometimes lonely, imperfect life. He is there when your disappointments and failures leave you empty and make you doubt your worth and purpose.

    He is there when you're going through the motions, aware of what needs to be done but unaware of how you're going to do it all.

    He is there during endless days filled with projects, diapers or laundry when you're wondering if you'll ever find meaning in the monotony.

    He is there when you're criticizing yourself and questioning whether you have what it takes to be a godly woman.

    He sees you. He notices all you do, and He knows what you long for. In fact, Jesus is the only One who can meet your deepest need to be known, accepted and pursued simply because of who you are.

    Today He is pursuing you with His gift of perfect love — love that is patient and kind, love that keeps no record of your wrongs, love that won't give up on you or me.

    Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, He is there. Will you take time to stop and talk to Him and then quiet your thoughts so you can listen to His voice?

    Dear Lord, thank You for pursuing me. I want to know and rely on the love You have for me and live in the security of it! When I feel afraid, insignificant or alone, help me turn to You and remember You are there! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Jeremiah 31:3b, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How does it make you feel to knowing Jesus is pursuing you in every moment of every day? Take a minute to tell Him what assurance you need from Him today.

    © 2014 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today - June 23, 2014

    Posted on June 23, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Imagine But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blamelessand at peace with him. 2 Peter 3:13-14

     

    Imagine a place you have never been before. No sin, sorrow or death, but full of righteousness, joy and everlasting life. No deranged shooters of school children, but many children sitting on the lap of Jesus. No demons, but armies of angels. The Hallelujah chorus being sung by a heavenly choir that no human ear has heard. Yes, praise and worship that brings pure joy to the worshipper and to the one being worshipped, Jesus Christ. Imagine God’s glory fully exposed.

     

    Imagine this new world created by God for God and His children. A world without end, cleansed by the Holy Spirit. A church without blemish presented to its glorious groom, Jesus. No more church splits, child abuse scandals or leadership failures. Gone are church politics, abuses of power and misuse of money. The church and Christ are one. Oneness with the One who gave His life for His bride, rose from the dead to give her life and ascended to heaven to receive her. Imagine the unimpeded and uninhibited intimacy of Christ and His bride--love perfected.

     

    “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess” (Hebrews 4:14).

     

    Imagine a home prepared by Jesus just for His followers. The light of His glory illuminates each room, with no need for electricity. Never a power failure, natural disaster or divorce. Think about God’s blessings on a new earth: peace, forgiveness, joy and love. He is the Blessed One who will give us all we need wrapped up in the abundance of His presence and provision. Worshipfully, we will reign and work for Him. Imagine serving the King of Kings--Jesus, for all eternity.

     

    Therefore, while we wait in this life we train in righteousness,preparing to reign with Him in righteousness. We avoid vain imaginings that distract us in the temporal, instead focusing on the eternal beauty of what awaits us on the other side. Yes, we look forward to being with the Lord forever. We can only imagine with our finite understanding what our infinite God has for those who love Him. We have tasted but a morsel, maybe an appetizer, from our salvation in Christ Jesus. Glory, hallelujah we have a full course meal in heaven that is an ongoing celebration of the Lamb of God, Jesus. Heaven is for real, so by His Spirit conceive what’s to come and prepare for His coming. Imagine!

     

    “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9, KJV).

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I yearn for that day to be with You forever. I can only imagine You and what You have in store for those who love You.

     

    Related Readings: 1 Kings 8:27; Job 25:2; Acts 7:55; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 19:1, 9

     

    Post/Tweet today: Imagine the unimpeded and uninhibited intimacy of Christ and His bride in heaven--love perfected. #wisdomhunters

    Free eBook when you sign up 5 friends for the free email devotional...http://www.wisdomhunters.com/invite-your-friends/

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved. www.wisdomhunters.com

  • A Key to Remembering

    Posted on June 23, 2014 by Amy Carroll

    Amy

    "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

     

    God used a hard circumstance to teach me a powerful lesson this week. I lost my keys. It was the ring with my car key, electronic door opener and house key. Because of my schedule that day, they could only have been in two places: inside the house or outside in my front yard. Where someone could pick them up. And break in. And murder my whole family. Can you feel my rising panic?

    I was calm at first, certain the keys would just be lying in an unusual place. This is something I can handle, my subconscious murmured, so I started to search. I scanned the house quickly, but the keys didn't appear readily. Then I crawled through each room on my hands and knees trying to get a new perspective and looking under furniture. Not there.

    Soon my husband and son got home, and we armed ourselves with flashlights to search the yard many times over. No keys there either.

    Since it was long past bedtime, I finally prayed half-heartedly, wedged dining room chairs under the doorknobs and went to sleep, tossing and turning through the night. In my heart, though, I was sure I would find those keys.

    As dawn broke, I re-searched all the places from the day before and places I'd missed. Frustration and fear set in. I began having visions of hundreds of dollars spent on rekeying locks and replacing the door opener.

    Finally, in a conversation with a friend, I asked her to pray earnestly. I hung up the phone, leaned against my fireplace and cried out to God: "God, You know we need that money for college tuition. I'm really afraid someone has found those keys and is going to break into the house. Please help me. You know where those keys are. Will You show me where they are?"

    I didn't have any immediate fresh ideas, so I headed to my back deck to uncover the flowers I had tucked under a sheet the night before to save them from a freeze. As I yanked off the sheet, something shiny caught my eye. My keys dangled off the side of the flowerpot, where they must have fallen as I worked the day before!

    As I headed into the house, my thoughts were overcome with wonder. I understand God is not on my timetable, so prayers aren't always answered immediately. But in this case, my prayer was answered instantly. Why had it taken me so long to turn to God?

    I thought about the month before when I got a callback after a mammogram. I instantaneously turned to God in prayer, and I continued to pray for one and a half weeks until I could be rechecked. In that harrowing, seemingly "big" circumstance, I experienced the blessing of peace that resulted from prayer long before I received all-clear results.

    I processed how often my own pride, the conviction I can handle things on my own, keeps me from instant prayer ... and from the comfort, peace and power of God's presence.

    Now I'm going to use my keys as a reminder. Will you use yours, too? Each time we pull them out to use, let's remember to humbly pray about the big and little things. As we do, we'll experience the peace of God together, washing over us as well as all our circumstances.

    Jesus, make me humble. Help me run to You in prayer for all things, the big and the little. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    James 5:16b, "... The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (NIV)

    Ephesians 6:18a, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests." (NIV)

    Psalm 123:1, "I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What are the big things in your life that need prayer? What are some things you've been managing yourself that you need to give to God in prayer?

    Make a list of both big and little things that need prayer. Break them into seven groups for the seven days this week. Set aside time each day this week to talk with God about your list. He'll be listening!

    © 2014 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Intelligent Design

    Posted on June 22, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. Psalm 147:4-5

    God is the intelligence behind the design of all creation. The creation of space is His design. Every galaxy, universe, star, planet, meteor, and asteroid is a result of His intricate design. He designed the craters on the moon so we could compare it to cheese. He designed the rings around Saturn so we could marvel at its majestic beauty. The tilt of the earth’s axis He designed to sustain life, but not spin out of control. He positioned the sun at just the right distance from Earth so it would warm, but not destroy. He knew all the planets’ gravitational pull toward the sun would be needed to orchestrate one big simultaneous swirl. Every flickering light in the sky, the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, and the North Star, are all embedded in the intelligence of His design.

    Intelligent design is rational and logical. The Lord’s intelligence is astounding and all encompassing. It cannot be measured or completely understood, but it can be adored and praised. His intelligent design is a facilitator of faith in Him. Intelligent design is an act of the Almighty,  more proof of His profound power and might. The pure snow-capped peaks of the highest mountains point in praise toward their divine designer in heaven. Their rugged stone faces are a reminder of the rock solid dependability of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Anyone who has ever scaled an Everest-like mountain, knows the intimacy and exhilaration of caressing the rugged face of God.

    When you engage with the intelligence behind the design of creation, you begin to dance with its creator, for intelligent design is not meant to be an end in itself. It is not just a lot of impressive scientific facts and statistics, but  is His coming-out party that complements His visit to earth in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Indeed, Jesus was enamored with the intelligence of His father’s design as a metaphor for life. He spoke of the birds of the air, the lilies of the valley, and the stature of man. He described the Holy Spirit as a calm and unseeing wind. The new birth was contrasted with physical birth.

    Above all else, Jesus was the “Word” in the beginning with God, installing intelligent design throughout all creation (John 1:1-3). Intelligent design is God’s invitation to faith. Anyone serious about his religion and equally serious about intellectual honesty, will trawl the depths of God’s design. The sincere search for truth will most likely lead them to Christ. Sincere seekers of a Savior through science will not be disappointed, but amazed, by engaging with the Creator Himself. Use intelligent design to galvanize your faith and give your evangelistic effort credibility. The truly intelligent invite Jesus Christ in as the interior designer of their soul. His outward and inward design is matchless and magnificent.

    Post/Tweet today:. The Lord’s intelligence is astounding and all encompassing. His intelligent design is a facilitator of faith in Him. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Gracious God

    Posted on June 21, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them. Nehemiah 9:17

    We serve a gracious God who does not desert us in our time of need, or reject us when we walk away. He knows our secret sins and still loves us, in spite of our indiscretions. Our sin breaks His heart, but it does not disqualify us from His grace. David felt this when he prayed to his gracious God, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16). Your need  is God’s opportunity to extend you grace.

    You may ask, “How do I qualify for God’s grace?” Breathe. If you are alive, you qualify. His grace reaches a wife who feels worthless because of the verbal and physical lashes from her husband. The grace of God goes out to a brain-cancer victim who waits in major uncertainty on an unproven clinical procedure. Your gracious God offers buckets of grace at your point of fear, rejection, anger, dismissal, job loss, divorce, and addiction.

    Indeed, we are all candidates for God’s grace daily; so take the time to appropriate His great gift. In prayer and by faith, receive what your Sovereign Lord offers in abundance. Isaiah says it beautifully: “O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress” (Isaiah 33:2). In your bankrupt business and broken soul, His grace is sufficient to see you through. Gulp down gallons of grace.

    Moreover, because you have the grace of God at your disposal, be a dispenser of grace. In the heat of relational conflict, it is not about you and your way. It is about the Lord’s way. His remedy for relational angst is grace. Give grace to the ungracious, and God will bless your efforts with healing and understanding. People who live in fear have no concept or understanding of faith, but your gracious response gives them a glimpse into grace.

    When they lash out, listen. When they accuse, forgive. When they are angry, stay calm. When they are critical, pray for them. When they give up, be there for them. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). Grace is the governor that keeps the relational engine running smoothly. Be a grace giver, and you will never lack people to love!

    Prayer: Do I regularly receive a fresh infusion of God’s grace into my mind, soul, and spirit? Do I liberally live out grace and give grace to the ungracious and undeserving?

    Related Readings: Proverbs 22:11; Joel 2:13; Ephesians 3:7; Philemon 1:25

    Post/Tweet today: Our need for grace is God’s opportunity to extend us grace, so we can be gracious with others. #wisdomhunter

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Money’s Distraction

    Posted on June 20, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21

    It is easy for money to become a distraction. Just the making and management of money takes effort and focus. Indeed, money becomes a subtle master if it is not held in check. Our affections gravitate toward what we think about. If the majority of our waking moments are consumed by the thought of making more money, then we are distracted.

    Yes, we need to do our work with excellence as unto the Lord. However, if making money becomes our consuming focus, then its devotion competes with God. Billions of people wake up every day to make money, but are they making money or is money making them? If my life is consumed by money, very little is left for a life well spent.

    “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13).

    Time and energy for others become scarce in the wake of compulsive money making. You may think that your current obsession with making money is for the long-term purpose of autonomy. This is flawed thinking, because a follower of Jesus Christ is never totally autonomous—they are tethered by trust to the will of God. We have a built in eternal expectation in our community and to Christ that results in accountability and service.

    Yes, finances afford you options, but only options that are under the purview of God’s will. A life of unshackled leisure and self-indulgence is not a life well spent for the Lord. He may free you up to serve Him and others, but not to sit and soak. Too many options can be a distraction. So, where is the balance? How can you avoid money’s distraction?

    Stay close to Christ and let Him love you. He will love you away from money’s allurement and into heavenly investments. Let Him love you away from the seduction of possessions. Then you will want to reciprocate love to your lover. If your love quotients are met by stuff, then your affections will gravitate to the moneymaking mistress.

    When you allow money to love you, you feel a debt to materialism. Your emotions and energies feel obligated to love back. An affair with money and possessions leaves nothing for the lover of your soul. And, without an intense love relationship with your Creator, you will become sad and dissatisfied. Loving God satisfies the soul.

    Fortunately, there is a solution to money’s distraction. Let God love you—then you are compelled to love Him. Money’s distraction is derailed by a love relationship with Jesus. When you love Him wholeheartedly, there is no room for money to distract. Then give generously to whom He loves, especially the poor. Generous givers love God, not money. Eternal rewards await those who send ahead what they cannot keep.

    “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” (Matthew 6:19-21, NLT).

    Prayer: How can I use money as an expression of my love for the Lord and people?

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 15:10; Job 22:23-25; Luke 11:41; 1 Timothy 3:3;

    Post/Tweet today: Finances afford us options, but only options that are under the purview of God’s will. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • When Kids Don't Go According to Plan

    Posted on June 20, 2014 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn

    "A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living." Luke 15:11-13 (NASB)

    It was true. He showed respect by asking for my permission. But after watching the movie previews, I had made up my mind. No child of mine was going to see that show. I had decided well before he asked the question. The answer was, "No." Without words, my son turned his back, returning to his friends.

    I wrestled inside with that decision, because for all practical purposes, my son was an adult. Yet, knowing the intense heartache that could come if one unwise decision led to another, I was determined to maintain control with my eldest child as long as possible.

    He could have lied and gone to the movie and told you something different, my head reasoned. Meanwhile my heart whispered, You still have time to influence his decisions; don't give up while he's still at home.

    After seeking wise advice from my husband, we decided to allow our son to make up his own mind that day, but not without tears in our eyes. I know the decision seems rather trivial to lead to watery eyes. However, as I reflected on why we got so emotional, it wasn't that the choice was hard; it was the act of letting go.

    I imagine the father in today's key passage wrestled with letting go, too. His son had given the speech ... the speech of a child who knows more than his dad: "Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me" (Luke 15:12).

    Here is where I stand amazed at the father. In Jesus' story, the father didn't nag, criticize or get angry with his son. The father didn't say, "You're not ready. This is the wrong decision. You're too immature. You don't know what you're doing."

    Instead, this wise and loving father prepared to watch his son learn hard truth ... on his own.

    Reading this passage makes my heart break. I come to tears just thinking of the pain the father experienced as he divided his property and possessions. I can almost hear the struggle of this father's heart. Perhaps he thought: This is all wrong. It wasn't supposed to go this way. I've spent my whole life investing in these boys. This isn't the way it was supposed to turn out.

    I've had similar painful thoughts.

    What parent doesn't experience that frustration, as we travel through this journey of having children and then letting them go?

    I think of the friend watching an unwise decision of another tear down a lifetime bond.

    And the sister who struggles as a sibling heads in the wrong direction.

    Each scenario makes my heart ache.

    Maybe the father experienced the same type of emotions I'm sure I would have had: turmoil torturing my mind with all that could certainly go wrong.

    Yet, in his wisdom, the prodigal's father held back that swirling sadness from his lips. He knew some children learn best through experience.

    And we, as those who love them, need the wisdom of the Father to know which of our loved ones are wired this way.

    Then with all the grace our Heavenly Father will give, we have to get out of the way.

    Out of the way and onto our knees, praying our prodigals quickly discover even a "hired hand." Or they learn that, as Paul describes himself, "a prisoner" (Philemon 1:1) is more blessed than the one outside the umbrella of God's protection and blessings.

    Lord, we are desperate for Your wisdom. Show us, Jesus, when to speak and when to be silent. When we need to get involved, and when we need to get out of the way, so our loved ones surrender to You as soon as possible. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." (NIV)

    Proverbs 4:5, "'Learn to be wise,' he said, 'and develop good judgment and common sense! I cannot overemphasize this point.'" (TLB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is the driving force behind the words you want to share with someone making a wrong decision? Fear? Love?

    Ask Jesus to give you clarity and discernment on your interaction with your loved one. What words might you need to say or pray for them?

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Regular Replenishment

    Posted on June 19, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.  Proverbs 11:25

    Everyone is in need of encouragement. Each day life issues extract courage from every human being. Indeed, all are candidates in need of receiving courage from a caring soul. They need to hear, “Job well done”, “You can do it”, “You are a blessing”, “You are a gift from the Lord”, “I need you” and “I love you”. Like the gas tank in an automobile, people need a regular fill up of encouraging words, kind deeds and a listening ear.

    Spouses need encouragement so they feel loved, accepted, and respected. Children need encouragement so they feel love and the security around well defined boundaries. Work associates need the balance of many more  “well dones” to balance out the “why didn’t you?” All restaurant servers deserve a sincere smile and most deserve a generous tip. Encourage those the Lord sends your way each day; these are His divine moments.

    “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3).

    Furthermore—the replenishment of others is reciprocal. When we take a short amount of time to extend kindness and care, we receive the blessing of a thank you, a gentle hug, a grateful email, or the satisfaction of representing Jesus well. What a privilege to be a conduit for Christ and connect two people who grow to love and appreciate each other. Encouragers decrease—while others increase—and all are filled with joy by faith in God.

    When you give others hope—you become hopeful. When you give others peace—you become peaceful. When you give others faith—you become faithful. You give others comfort—you become comforted. When you give others encouragement—you become encouraged. When you give others Jesus—you become like Jesus!

    Who needs a handwritten thank you note? Perhaps you set a goal of writing two or three caring communications each day. Give a new Bible to the maintenance worker at your office—ask him or her the names of their children and give them Bibles. Invite a couple to dinner to love on and listen to how they are doing. Drop by to see a family with a special needs child, just to see how they’re doing—and pray with them. No one normally complains of too much encouragement, so be a regular replenisher of courage. Most of all, lead others to be refreshed by the Lord—His refreshment satisfies best.

    “He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).

    Prayer: How can I encourage my family and friends to be faithful followers of Jesus?

    Related Readings: Psalm 19:7, 68:9; Proverbs 25:13; Acts 3:19; 1 Corinthians 16:18

    Post/Tweet today: No one normally complains of too much encouragement, so be a regular replenisher of courage. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • All That Glitters

    Posted on June 19, 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs

    Liz

    "Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value." Proverbs 31:11 (NIV)

    The jeweler smiled as my fiancé and I touched the loose diamonds she'd strewn across a square of blue velvet. "So, what's your budget?" she asked, her tone hopeful.

    Bill gulped and answered, "$400." On a college teacher's salary, it was all he could afford, but I still winced when he said it. Even all those years ago, $400 meant a very small diamond. Teensy weensy.

    Except for the flaws. Those would be huge.

    The jeweler guided us to the other end of the counter. "I think we can find something here that will suit you." Out came another velvet square, but the diamond chips she placed on it nearly disappeared in the nap of the fabric.

    Bill listened as she explained clarity and carat weight, while my gaze drifted back to the larger stones still on display. Their many facets caught the bright store lights, winking at me, beckoning me.

    Diamonds are forever, I told myself. Surely there must be a way we could swing something larger.

    When no solution came to mind, I chose a pretty but petite gemstone and tried my best to be excited.

    Bill touched my elbow. "Make sure you're happy with it, Liz, while I look around."

    I was happy with Bill, no question. The dearest of men, godly and kind. But was I happy with a diminutive diamond? Hmmm.

    Here's the ugly truth: As a single woman, I'd grown accustomed to buying whatever I wanted, even if that meant pulling out my credit card. My frugal fiancé, though, was a cash-and-carry kind of guy.

    Still, he did say he wanted me to be happy ...

    I waited until Bill was out of earshot before I leaned over the counter, waving the jeweler closer. "Could I look at the bigger stones again?"

    She placed them in front of me without a word. "I really like this one," I whispered, eyeing a square-cut beauty. "Suppose Bill gave you a check for $400 and I slipped you a check for the difference?"

    She looked at me evenly. "Are you sure that's how you want to begin this marriage?"

    Heat flew to my cheeks. "No, I ... uh ... guess not." I quickly turned away, ashamed to have my sins spread out like so many finely cut stones. Greed, deceit, covetousness, pride — oh, it was not a pretty sight.

    Then I recalled today's key verse from Proverbs 31, long committed to memory: "Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value."

    From across the room, I studied Bill — a man who deserved a woman he could trust with his heart and with his wallet — and silently begged his forgiveness for even considering such a thing.

    The jeweler was right. That was not how I wanted to begin my married life. Thank goodness I'd just been handed something even more valuable than diamonds: a second chance.

    When I turned back to the jeweler, we were both smiling. "You are absolutely right," I assured her. "The smaller stone will be perfect." And it was.

    Year in and year out, I flashed my ring like it was the Hope Diamond, because for me, that's what it represented: hope for a marriage built on honesty, not deception, and a forever kind of love that would outshine any sparkling gem.

    Now that our silver anniversary has come and gone, Bill — bless his generous heart —recently bought me a new diamond. Square-cut, of course.

    If there are flaws, I haven't noticed them. I'm too busy offering a prayer of thanks for a grace-giving God who overlooks my flaws and polishes me clean every morning.

    Lord, thank You for Your gentle, but firm, correction in my life and my marriage. I'm beyond grateful that You enable me to love and respect my husband. Be honored and glorified in our lives. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Philippians 2:3-4, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (NIV)

    James 3:13, "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Think of a similar situation when you might have veered in the wrong direction. How did the Lord keep you from stumbling?

    As you thought about a similar situation, what did that experience teach you about God's constant guidance and tender care?

    © 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

  • Advantages to Accountability

    Posted on June 18, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. Proverbs 22:3

    Accountability is a check and balance to assure the best decisions. It is a process of involving wise people in the decision-making process so all options are weighed and considered based on their probability of success. Accountability works best for individuals with an open hand, whose desire is what’s best for the whole.

    For example, we may want to aggressively grow our enterprise, but wise counsel  recommends we expand with cash, not debt. Pride may want to charge ahead and dismiss sound advice, while humility is willing to listen and wait on God’s provision. Clarity comes to those who weigh all options and wisely chose the best.

    “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD” (Proverbs 16:2).

    What decision do you face that requires waiting, not moving ahead half prepared? Perhaps in the process of dating a special person, you both decide at the beginning of the relationship to wait a year before you begin talking about marriage. This guideline protects you from making a rash decision you may later regret. Ask another couple to hold you accountable, as you do better when others are watching.

    Who is a trusted advisor in your life that can steer you with solid counsel? Surround yourself with those who don’t directly benefit from what they recommend you do. They are objective, free from the temptation of private gain, based on your public behavior. Accountability is the Lord’s instrument to protect you from the penalty of prideful decision-making. Mistakes will be made—but accountability minimizes them.

    “The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men [who had grown up with him v.10]” (1 Kings 12:13-14a).

    Accountability is Almighty God’s answer to you trying to figure out life alone. Do not waste time floundering around by yourself—moreover; avoid dangerous decisions by slowing down and discerning the right path for you. The Lord will lead you, if you listen to those who know you well and who want His very best for you. The greatest advantage of accountability is remaining in God’s will and not discrediting years of faithfulness. We do better when others are watching, so open up and let them see what God already knows.

    “You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3).

    Prayer: What area of my life do I need to open up to the accountability of trusted advisors?

    Related Readings: Psalm 139:23-24; Proverbs 24:12; 26:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:1

    Post/Tweet today: Accountability works best for individuals with an open hand, whose desire is what’s best for the whole. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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