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Daily Devotion

  • Emotional Suffering

    Posted on May 21, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” Matthew 26:38-39

    Jesus suffered emotionally and physically. Anguish welled up in His soul from betrayal, aloneness, and the anticipation of a cruel death on a rugged cross. His righteous response was to cry out to His heavenly Father for relief—while trusting that His will be done. Do you find yourself in this tension of trust in God’s will? Are your emotions ravished by the pain of conflicting desires? It’s in our dark night of the soul that the Lord brings light.

    Your emotions may be on the brink of brokenness from relationships that compete for your attention. You can’t please everyone all the time—your stomach is knotted up—not sure what to do, you feel conflicted and confused. Maybe the loyalty of someone you thought valued your professional relationship has melted in the face of financial pressures. Solitude has diluted your confidence in your ability to understand what God wants.

    It’s during these times of emotional upheaval that we need to jettison feeling sorry for ourselves and determine not to give up on God and His game plan. Some people you thought would be there for you will wander away—but others you did not expect to show up—will come forward with faith in you and hope in heaven. So wait; worry will pass.

    “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed” (Psalm 57:1).

    Be wise and avoid making life-altering decisions during times of extended emotional upheaval. If you vow to get someone back in passive defiance—it will eat away the joy in your heart. If anger is driving your decision to fire someone at work or to file for divorce, then wait and let the Holy Spirit stabilize your stress and strengthen your faith.

    Above all, seek the comfort of Christ during intense conflict and confusion. His warm embrace soothes your bruised feelings and heals your broken heart. Seek out friends whose acceptance, accountability, and prayers prove to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Alone you will simmer in sinful attitudes, but with God and godly company you will discover and follow His will. Emotional suffering is healed by heaven’s hope.

    “Faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven” (Colossians 1:5a).

    Prayer: What decision do I need to wait on until the Holy Spirit stabilizes my emotions?

    Related Readings: 2 Samuel 22:23; Psalm 9:9; Nahum 1:7; Acts 28:27

    Post/Tweet today:. Avoid making life-altering decisions during times of extended emotional upheaval.  #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Does Anybody Really Like House Rules?

    Posted on May 21, 2014 by Amy Carroll

    Amy

    "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love." John 15:9-10 (NIV)

    From the day I drove off with my newly printed license, my parents made the house rules clear: Any tickets or accidents would be my responsibility. All was well until my friends and I took off for the beach my senior year, and I backed into a parked car before I even caught a glimpse of the ocean.

    I cried knowing I'd have to work all summer at my minimum wage, fast-food job to pay for the damage I'd done.

    The sting of that seemingly unfair rule smarted until I became a parent, and my son scratched the side of a car on a mailbox last summer. Suddenly, from the view of a mom, the same rule I'd resisted as a teenager taught my son responsibility and care.

    Yet with God, the ultimate loving parent, we don't always understand that the same principles apply. Sometimes God's directions seem arbitrary and unfair. Especially in a culture lacking clear boundaries of right and wrong.

    We find ourselves thinking things like, Surely we should get to decide how much of the truth we tell at work, when to forgive a critical friend or the limits of our sexual behaviors. We're adults now, after all. Rules are for children, right?

    Yet, God wants to give us a new perspective on the subject of commands and obedience. His ways are often the opposite of our ways, and today's key verse, John 15:9-10, shows us that a life of obedience to God is a reward, not a punishment:

    "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love."

    In these verses, Jesus calls us to remain in His love, a very safe place to be, by obeying His commands.

    The word "remain" in verse 9 can also be translated "dwell" or "reside." That helps me picture God inviting us into a dwelling place with protective walls built layer by layer with His commands.

    All caring parents have house rules. And God is the most loving parent of all. He has established a beautiful place where we're invited to live with Him, protected and cherished.

    But for a woman who struggles with feeling like she has to work to earn God's love, the conditional statement "if you keep my commands" has been hard to understand. I've had to dig deeper to understand how God's love and obedience work beneficially hand-in-hand.

    Undeniably, God is love (1 John 4:16). The phrase describing God as "abounding in love" is found in Exodus, Numbers, Nehemiah, Psalm, Joel and Jonah. "His love endures forever" is repeated more than 20 times in Psalm 136 and dozens more times throughout Scripture. If God says it in His Word so many times, there's no doubt He means it! We can know for sure that God's love is always available.

    It is unchanging and always there for us, but we have a choice. We choose through the condition of obedience to remain in His love or through disobedience to walk out of its protection.

    Jesus' declaration of love feels like a warm blanket wrapped around me in a cold world. God, our heavenly Father, is drawing us into the beautiful life He created us for where His commands are simply the walls of the residence. Let's choose to move in and dwell in the presence of our Father's love.

    Lord, I choose to trust that Your rules are for my good and growth. I want to remain in Your love, and live a life of obedience to You. When I want to push against Your ways, help me to look around at the walls of Your dwelling of protection and be thankful. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    2 John 1:6, "And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love." (NIV)

    Psalm 119:14-16, "I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Are there any areas of life where you're not living in obedience to God's Word? How might that leave you unprotected or hinder your growth?

    Read through John 15. How is God's care for you and His desire for your growth pictured in this chapter? Journal your response to God's deep love for you.

    © 2014 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Influential Grandparents

    Posted on May 20, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4

    Grandparents have a significant role of influence in the lives of their grandchildren. Second only to the parents’ is an opportunity to lead their precious little ones toward a discovery of the Lord’s ways. Love qualifies us, while imagination inspires us. The one sentence job description for grandmothers and grandfathers is to influence them while leading the next generation to love God and people. We commend the works of God to our grandchildren so they learn to fear God.

    Gray hair does not guarantee wisdom, but it is indicative of a life that may have experienced lean times and perhaps prosperous days. Yes, bumps along life’s path prepares us to prepare our grandchildren. Setbacks and successes are the Lord’s crucible to purify our character. As we grow older and our hearing begins to falter, we must learn to listen better, speaking wise words like, “What we give away in life, we keep forever--what we keep in life, we have for a brief moment.”

    Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (Proverbs 16:31).

    Children and youth need our undivided attention and unhurried presence. We are a rock of unrivaled acceptance for them to run to. BiBi and Pop’s home is a haven of rest, an arena to be understood. We have the privilege of knowing them in a unique way--a way they have yet to understand themselves. We give them permission to be themselves. We compliment the inner and outer beauty of our granddaughters. We build up our grandson’s confidence to be a man of character with stellar skills. In their search for security, they see us as trusted confidants.

    Furthermore, make sure you are intentional in spending time with your grandparents. You may or may not have many occasions left to love them, learn from them, and be loved by them. You honor your parents when you honor your grandparents with your presence. Holiday trips may be an inconvenience, but nothing compares to their influence in your life, nurturing growth similar to a sprawling vineyard. If you take time for them to invest in you now, the seeds of their speech and the fertilizer of their faith will bear fruit throughout your life. Embrace and be embraced by the elderly.

    Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent” (Psalm 71:9).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me opportunities of quantity time to become a trusted confidant for my grandchildren.

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 4:9; Psalm 92:14-15; Isaiah 46:4; 2 Timothy 1:5; Titus 2:1-5

    Post/Tweet today:. Our one sentence job description as grandparents is to influence the next generation to love God and people. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • You're Stronger Than You Think

    Posted on May 20, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis

    "And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone." 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NIV)

    The first day of class, the exercise leader replaced the lighter weights I'd chosen with heavier ones. I tried to hide my skepticism as he said, "You're stronger than you think!"

    I shook my head in disbelief as he moved on to assess the next participant. No, I thought. I'm weaker than you think!

    It had been a few years since I'd been in an exercise class, and my confidence level was low. Never an athlete, I couldn't even do one push-up. And my legs felt like rubber bands after the first set of "warm-ups."

    I'd signed up for the early morning class out of determination to do things differently. It wasn't at all where I wanted to be at 5:30 a.m. two mornings a week, but earlier in the year, God challenged me to break out of my comfort zone.

    As I struggled to lift the heavier weights, I decided to glance at the women next to me. Normally when exercising I keep my head down and just try to survive. But that day I looked closer at my classmates. Some were older and spoke of grandchildren. Some looked like they were struggling too. I overheard one say she'd had a knee replacement.

    Hmmm ... if they can do this, certainly I can, too. Maybe I could try another class or two before quitting.

    The next class we all showed up, finding connection points over sore muscles. We laughed as we struggled to get off the mat. One said how hard it had been to walk up the stairs. I agreed.

    Maybe I wasn't the only one feeling weak. Somehow the idea encouraged me.

    Each morning, the thought of those other ladies showing up and rubbing sleep from their eyes motivated me to lace on my tennis shoes and head to the gym. Little by little, I felt more comfortable admitting my weakness, even laughing about it.

    In one particularly hard class, as I was the last one struggling to finish sit-ups, I heard a voice from my left, "You go, girl!" Something bold rose up in me at those words, and I thought, I can do this! Determination surged through me as I finished the last few sit-ups to the counts of my classmates.

    My positive attitude surprised me. Where did that come from? Although I was getting stronger physically, that wasn't the only area gaining strength. The encouragement from my classmates was making me stronger mentally, too.

    The first class, I wanted to keep to myself and hide my pain. But as the weeks progressed, the more I shared my struggles, the more others could speak into them. Their words encouraged me. Their presence reassured me I wasn't alone. Once again, God was teaching me how good it is to let others know I'm not perfect.

    This has been a problem for me all my life. I'd much rather be the one obeying our key verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:14: "And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone."

    I like being the one who warns, encourages and helps. I'm not so good at being patient, but otherwise I'm pretty good at obeying this verse. But for God's plan to be fully realized in the church at Thessalonica and in our lives today, at some point we need to be on the receiving end of this verse.

    This is the beauty of the body of Christ. God designed a loving check-and-balance system to deepen our faith and relationships. But in order for it to work, we have to accept being warned, encouraged and helped — allowing others to see our frailties.

    Unfortunately, there's a fierce and faulty independent streak in my thinking that fights being on the receiving end of help. My default approach is to hide my weaknesses, fears and insecurities, which opens a crack for unhealthy pride to sneak in.

    And yet what freedom there is in simply admitting: I can be a mess at times. When I acknowledge that, others can pray for me. They can encourage me. It's a double blessing of God's strength and that of others.

    God needs me to learn this truth. Admitting I need help breaks down my pride. It humbles me, which softens God's heart toward me. And it allows others to be obedient in caring for me.

    So, am I stronger than I think I am? Apparently so. But the best way to discover my strength is to admit my weakness.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for bringing friends into my life who help me grow stronger. Forgive me for the sinful pride that has kept others from getting too close. Help me to understand it doesn't make me weaker to admit my weaknesses. In fact, it opens me to get stronger. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Acts 15:40-41, "... but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Is it hard for you to share your struggles with others? What holds you back from being more open?

    Commit to telling one friend about a worry, fear or weak area of your life. Ask her to pray for you.

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Generous Grandparents

    Posted on May 19, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. Proverbs 13:22

    Grandparents have an opportunity to invest financial, emotional and spiritual capital into their children’s children. This return on investment may prove to be the most significant, if done prayerfully and proactively. Thus we pray, “How can I give to our grandchildren in a manner that blesses them the best, while honoring their parents and the Lord in the process?” Ultimately we trust God to take our generous gifts and use them to grow faithfulness for future generations.

    Therefore, our generosity is not a subtle scheme to control our desired outcome (no matter how noble it might be), rather the goal of our gifts is to be a catalyst for God’s will. Our role as grandparents is not to tell our adult children and grandchildren what to do, but to support them in what they do. They are their own persons, hopefully under the authority of the Spirit’s leading, so we bring the most lasting value when we value them over their chosen path to follow in life.

    “Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it” (Ezra 10:4).

    Grandparents show respect when they confer with their adult children, before they give to their grandchildren. It could be as small a matter as a cream filled donut for breakfast, or as big an issue as opening a college fund. We ask permission before our big-hearted acts, so we have the full support of mom and dad. Well-meaning help will hurt if done outside the intentions of the parents. Next generation generosity is most effectively done in collaboration with our children.

    Most of all, invest spiritual capital into your grandchildren. Make sure your influence for the Lord is allocated heavily on the asset side of their spiritual balance sheet. Pray with them. Go to church with them. Read Bible stories to them. Share God examples of life change and answered prayer. Teach them old hymns while you feed the ducks. Having fun without instilling a faith influence is like taking a fevered child to the amusement park without offering any comfort or medication. Yes, your intimacy with Jesus is the most precious gift you can give your grandchild.

    “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children” (Psalm 103:17).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant me wisdom to know how to be the most generous with my grandchild.

    Related Readings: Genesis 48:11; Ezra 9:12; Psalm 128:6; 2 Corinthians 12:14; 1 Timothy 5:4

    Post/Tweet today: Our role is not to tell our adult child what to do, but to support them in what they do. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • From Failure to Faithful Follower

    Posted on May 19, 2014 by Derwin L. Gray

    Derwin

    "And He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.'" Matthew 4:19 (NASB)

    If you've ever felt like a loser, I've got great news today! Jesus is looking for you, because He still transforms people who feel like failures into faithful disciples who change the course of history.

    My life is the perfect example. I come from a family brutalized by drugs, a lack of education and criminal activity. My childhood friends laughed at my house because it was a disaster. And I didn't go to church growing up. I was spiritually lost!

    I didn't even own a Bible my first few years in the NFL, but when the team would travel and stay in hotels, I noticed Gideon Bibles in the rooms. One weekend, I decided to steal one. It wasn't until I became a Christ-follower that I realized the Gideons intentionally place Bibles in hotel rooms so people can take them for free!

    Did you know all of Jesus' disciples would have been considered losers by their culture? No rabbi (or teacher) in the first-century Jewish world would have chosen any of the 12 guys Jesus called to be His followers.

    Let me give you some historical context to grasp the significance of Jesus choosing these men. For Jewish people, the education of their children was not only important, it was the key means of survival as the people of God.

    Beginning at age 6, children would begin to learn and memorize the Jewish Scriptures. Those who were particularly talented would move up the ranks and apply to become followers of a particular rabbi. Those who didn't qualify would be encouraged to learn the family trade.

    Jesus took the very opposite approach. Instead of waiting for the best of the best to apply to be His students, He went after the dropouts and asked them to become His apprentices.

    Jesus dumbfounded the world and transformed the course of history through 12 individual "failures."

    When Jesus called Peter to follow Him, Peter was shocked. The story of the day they met is in Matthew's telling of Jesus' life:

    Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him." (Matthew 4:18-22)

    When Jesus called Andrew and Peter, they immediately dropped their nets and followed Him. Perhaps for the first time, Peter didn't see himself as a loser.

    I wonder if Peter remembered back to the days when he'd realized he wasn't smart enough to be disciple-potential. Perhaps the day Peter met Jesus, Peter looked into the eyes of his father, who had taught him to fish, and no word was spoken. Perhaps the expression on his father's face conveyed pride and told Peter it was okay to go with the rabbi.

    Can you imagine Peter and Andrew's daddy going home to their mother and saying, "Sweetheart, you will never believe this! A rabbi called our sons to follow Him. This rabbi believes in our sons. He believes they can be like Him!"

    Andrew and Peter dropped their nets. They left their daddy and followed Jesus. And as they did, they left their former identity to find a new one, forged by the limitless love Jesus had for them.

    As I look at my life and all the things God has done, I cry. How could I not drop the nets of my pain, my insecurities, my doubts and fears and follow Jesus, too?

    Have you dropped your nets to follow Him? Or have you held back because you think you are unqualified?

    The truth is, you're not qualified to follow Him. And neither am I. But Jesus is calling losers and failures — like us — to become faithful followers of HIS!

    Dear Lord, thank You for removing the labels my past has given me. Thank You for seeing my potential and for calling me to follow You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Thessalonians 1:4-5a, "For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction." (NIV)

    Isaiah 62:2, "You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Have you ever put the label of "loser" or "failure" on yourself? How has Jesus replaced that label in your life?

    Think about what "nets" you might be holding onto in your life. What positive changes could happen if you were to let go, and allow God's grace into that circumstance?

    © 2014 by Derwin L. Gray. All rights reserved.

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

  • Thorough Works

    Posted on May 18, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    The Israelites had done all the work just as the Lord had commanded Moses. Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded. So Moses blessed them. Exodus 39:42­43

    We live in an instant society. We want relationships, money, and our eating experiences in an instant. In the process of making everything instantaneous, we have lost something. We have lost an appreciation for thoroughness in our work and in our relationships. We take shortcuts to finish on time, sacrificing quality, just to end up with an inferior outcome. Or even worse, we misrepresent the facts or lie outright to reach a goal because of the pressure we feel to produce. Thoroughness requires attention, trust, and tenacity.

    Whatever happened to thoroughness‹the discipline to plan ahead, provide accountability, cover the details, create a beautiful result, and celebrate the success? Instead, we plow ahead without proper understanding and procedures. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes, and we miss the opportunity to learn and benefit from one another.

    Indeed, thoroughness begins with a good example from the leader. Like Moses, Nehemiah stayed focused on the work at hand.

    "So I sent messengers to them, saying, 'I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?' They sent messages to me four times in this manner, and I answered them in the same way" (Nehemiah 6:3­4 nasb).

    Moses was a thorough leader. He listened patiently to God and then delivered in detail to the team what was expected and required to accomplish the project. He understood and applied wise management of people. He understood each of their individual gifts and skills. People who take pride in their work are the most thorough when they are competent in their area of responsibility and clear on expectations. They understand what is needed and when it is to be complete. Details and deadlines are friends of thoroughness.

    Lastly, thoroughness is dependent on the needed resources and relationships to carry out the project. Do not be afraid to be resourceful. Seek out the people and information needed to carry out your job. Your thoroughness will speak volumes to your boss and to your peers. Your thorough and excellent work is the best testament to your trust in Christ. In the end you are blessed because of the quality product or service you created. God is glorified through thoroughness and the enduring influence of your work experience.

    "I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began" (John 17:4­5).

    Prayer: What current project requires my thorough attention to detailed implementation?

    Related Readings: Genesis 7:5; Exodus 23:21­22; Matthew 28:20; 2 Timothy 2:15

    Post/Tweet today: Details and deadlines are friends of thoroughness. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Wedding Celebration

    Posted on May 17, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. John 2:1-2

    A wedding is a celebration of two people committed to Christ and committed to each other. This is cause for raucous laughter and tearful gratitude. The solemn vows of the bride and groom are accented by their smiles and kisses. The parents celebrate God's goodness in all its facets. It's good to see your child embrace a spouse who will cherish and respect your "baby." It's good to see your child happy and content. And it's good to see your child make wise choices and dance with joy. It is good to see your child obedient to his or her heavenly Father.

    Weddings where Jesus is invited are the best!

    A wedding is a preamble to the constitution of marriage. It is a declaration of independence from self-interest. It is interdependence on each other and dependence on God. A wedding is costly, but not nearly as expensive as the marriage. A wedding mirrors a marriage's need for mentors, prayer support, and planning. A wedding done well is a template for marriage. You keep the fires of romance burning brightly. You plan together and communicate constantly. You spend budgeted money. You involve your family in ways that are appropriate and honoring. You keep God as the centerpiece of your life. A wedding is not a fleeting moment, but rather a memory to be relived over and over again. A wedding is a reminder of God¹s beautiful work of grace in a world full of hurt. It reinvigorates stale marriages. It staves off the pending demise of others. It affirms those who, by God's grace, have grown deeper and deeper in love since their own special day.

    Invite Jesus to your wedding. He is the ultimate wedding planner. He is interested in every detail of your public expression of faith in Him. Indeed, your public display of faith begins with your private devotion. Once you have developed a personal love relationship with Jesus, you can humbly exalt Him before friends, family, and the world. Private dedication precedes public declaration. An engaged couple who lack individual engagements of faith, is not ready for a wedding. A wedding requires much more than starry-eyed looks of love. Its prerequisite is a deep and abiding faith in God. Otherwise, the wedding becomes a big, expensive party lacking the teeth of commitment and follow through.

    A wedding without Jesus is like an orchestra without a conductor. There is a ton of potential represented by a lot of well-meaning individuals, but there is no defined direction. There is no overall harmony of the musical instruments of husband, wife, family, friends, and faith. Jesus integrates the lives of all these well-meaning players into a beautiful concert called marriage. The wedding is but a prelude of the marriage concert, but what a beautiful beginning it births. Jesus is a gracious guest always looking for ways to intercede on your behalf‹as the new couple‹and on the behalf of your guests. His model of servanthood will mark your marriage for a lifetime. Your faith in Christ is a marriage analogy, for He is the groom and you are the bride. Your wedding is a picture of the joy of your salvation. Your marriage is a lifelong consecration of that commitment. Keep inviting Jesus, the initiator of your wedding and the sustainer of your marriage.

    Post/Tweet today: A wedding mirrors a marriage¹s need for mentors, prayer support, and planning. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Unsolicited Blessings

    Posted on May 16, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    After saying this, he [Jesus] spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means "Sent"). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. John 9:6-7

    Sometimes God blesses us out of the blue. We don't see it coming, but when we encounter His goodness, we are overwhelmed with gratitude. Such was the experience of the blind man, who minding his own business, became the recipient of Christ's mercy. This feeble man of sorrows was touched by the Man of Sorrows. Our Lord does not look at a misfortunate man with contempt, but with compassion. Jesus came to save not judge, though His coming is judgment for those who stay stuck in their unbelief. God's unsolicited blessings manifest from His mercy.

    Moreover, there will always be contemporary critics who can't handle Christ's miraculous intervention. Strangely, instead of celebrating the wholeness of this man's body, the spiritually blind leaders shifted the discussion to a theological debate. Because they were not the instigators of this healing or the recipient of God's grace, they were opposed to Christ's act of mercy. We can expect the unenlightened to explain away our experience of the Lord's favor. Jealous distractors will try to demean Jesus by dismissing His divinity, but His blessings still remain.

    "Her (Elizabeth's) neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy" (Luke 1:58).

    Furthermore, when Christ calls us to obey, we obey. Though it may not seem as strange as allowing Him to smear the saliva stained mud of His mercy on our eyes with us washing it away, we will still trust and obey. Faith without obedience is without effect, but faith with obedience sees the Spirit's effect. Thus, we don't sit around and pridefully debate the origin of a man or woman's misfortune, instead we get our hands dirty in the mud of God's mercy and we lovingly serve!

    How do you regularly rejoice in God's unsolicited blessings? Perhaps over a meal with your family, each one shares how they've been surprised by joy. Or, as you engage people in every day life, make note of the Lord's favor in their lives. Pass on these nuggets of encouragement to friends and loved ones. Jesus miraculously intervenes all around you, so be aware and share. Be a steward of God's stories of faithfulness. His unsolicited blessings deserve your recognition and rejoicing!

    "Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence" (Psalm 21:6).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise you for the blessings prayed for and for the unexpected blessings.

    Related Readings: Job 33:26; 2 Kings 5:10; Isaiah 35:5; John 11:37; Hebrews 10:23

    Post/Tweet today: Faith without obedience is without effect, but faith with obedience sees the Spirit's effect. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Jumping Out of Airplanes

    Posted on May 16, 2014 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    "But Jesus said, 'You feed them.'" Luke 9:13a (NLT)

    Each Wednesday, a few women come through my door. They bring with them stories of past addiction, abuse, childhood dysfunction, and second and third chances.

    They also bring friendship. Laughter. Honesty. A heart for more.

    One week we went around the kitchen table and shared five things that described us. Not five things from the past, or five things we see in the mirror. But five things that described who we are as changed, Jesus-filled women of faith.

    When it was my turn, I shared three of my five things: I am kind. I am loved by God. I am an adventurer ...

    As I listed number three, I also casually mentioned how one day I'd love to jump out of a plane. Before I could move on, the conversation erupted.

    Jump out of a plane? Why? That's crazy!

    Our study took a quick detour. After several minutes, I realized our discussion had taken a God-turn as these women began sharing their deepest fears, such as: taking a healthy risk within a relationship; believing they were capable to lead others; going on a mission trip (which requires flying). Even riding a ride at an amusement park.

    Events and people from their past had convinced most of these women they were not intended to live adventurously, but rather to be limited by their past and fears. Did Jesus' disciples feel that way too?

    In Luke 9, the disciples approached Jesus with a big problem. The crowd was massive. They were in an isolated area, and there was no food.

    The disciples wanted the people sent away.

    Instead, Jesus turned to them and said, "You feed them."

    It made perfect sense for the disciples to ask Jesus to send the crowd away. In the natural, there simply wasn't enough food. In the natural, they were accustomed to Jesus taking charge. In the natural, they were faced with a crowd of 5,000 men accompanied by women and children, bringing the total to more than 20,000 people.

    "You feed them" was a call to step out of the natural and into the supernatural. It was a jump-out-of-the-airplane faith moment.

    Jesus wasn't asking them to do it in their own power. John 15:5b says, "apart from me you can do nothing" (NIV). Jesus was letting them know He was prepared to do a lot with the little they had to offer.

    I asked the women in my home what it might look like if they were to respond to Jesus' call to adventure.

    One said she'd ride rides with me if we went to an amusement park.

    Another expressed she was willing to open her heart to loving others, even if they were still a work in progress.

    Another, who has never been on an airplane and is scared of them, is a recovering addict who desires nothing more than to tell others about Jesus. She said, "I would be afraid, but if God told me to go on a mission trip, I'd get on an airplane because my God would be there with me."

    I wanted to dance in joy! Something significant was taking place. For no matter how small the adventures might seem to others, God could do big things with each of us.

    Have the words of others or your past put limitations on you?

    Have they caused you to fear, or to think that Jesus can't use you because of your story?

    Does it seem too hard, or too big?

    "You do it."

    That's Jesus, putting His vote of confidence in you, knowing He can supply all your needs.

    It's a call to move from walking in the natural to believing in the supernatural. To learn things about yourself that God has known all along, and to watch the miracle of faith unfold in your heart.

    Father, thank You for seeing beyond my fears, beyond my broken places, to the real me underneath. You see a strong woman of faith and a trusting child of God. Today, I trust that I can do all things through You, and with Your help. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ephesians 3:20, "Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." (NLT)

    Isaiah 43:18, "Forget about what's happened; don't keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand-new." (MSG)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write down five things that describe you as a woman of faith, separate from your past or the negative words of others.

    Take those words and hold them up in prayer. Ask God what He can do with what you have to offer.

    © 2014 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

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