• The Zondervan Study Bible

Daily Devotion

  • 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

  • Sense of Urgency

    Posted on May 15, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. John 9:4

    Jesus had a sense of urgency. Not a frantic pace without purpose, but a focused diligence on doing God's work. He prayerfully sought to steward each day with an eye on eternity. He did not allow criticism to distract Him in defensiveness, or praise to fuel His pride in superior thinking. Rather, Jesus knew He was on a mission from His heavenly Father. Time was a precious gift from God that deserved doing His will. Yes, our Savior had a sense of urgency around God's priorities.

    Therefore, from the moment the light of day graces our face, we prayerfully face the day. The morning dawn is the Lord's invitation to engage in His activities. Since our sending agent is Almighty God, we don't take lightly our duty. He has us on assignment as heavenly ambassadors. Thus, this sense of a divine mandate begs a question, "How can we best serve our Master Jesus while we have the energy and opportunity?" By the Holy Spirit motivating our sense of urgency.

    "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light" (Romans 13:12).

    Furthermore, our work with God in this life is preparation for our work with Him in the next life. Similar to earth before sin (the Garden of Eden), heaven involves our activity and engagement on behalf of the Lord. Our work on earth is just a warm up for our work in eternity. Yes, our brief time of service is barely a book preface, compared to the volumes yet to be written throughout the ages to come with Christ. Our sense of urgency now, sets us up for our strategic service later.

    With this in mind, how do you discern God's plan for the day? Ask the Lord how it flows out of His overall purpose for your life. Prayerfully put off the deeds of darkness, so you are free to put on the activities of the day. Put off pride and put on humility. Put off fear and put on faith. Put off procrastination and put on doing. Mentor, volunteer at a church or ministry board, sponsor a missionary, provide counseling for a struggling couple, or have coffee with a friend just to listen to them. Each day engage in a Spirit-led sense of urgency that is intentional in the things of God.

    "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'" (Acts 20:35).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me a sense of urgency that is Spirit-led, with an eye on eternity.

    Related Readings: Isaiah 55:2; John 6:27-28; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Philippians 3:12-14

    Post/Tweet today: Our work with God in this life is preparation for our work with Him in the next life. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Might We Dare to Be a Little More Uncommon

    Posted on May 15, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "The Spirit told Philip, 'Go to that chariot and stay near it.'" Acts 8:29 (NIV)

    I have to admit ... when our guide pulled over to the side of the road at this unmarked, unremarkable looking place, I was underwhelmed. We filed out of the bus with a vague sense we were studying something in the book of Acts.

    There were no signs in this part of the Holy Land.

    No other tourists.

    Our teacher walked to a place covered with brush and pointed to a rocky path. We gingerly made our way behind him and soon came upon a road.

    With great enthusiasm the teacher said, "This road is where a man learned of Christ and received the Good News!" We walked a little farther and:

    "This place of water is where this man was baptized shortly afterward and went away rejoicing. We should rejoice! We should rejoice!"

    And then we opened the Scriptures to Acts 8:26-39, the story of the Ethiopian eunuch.

    Can I admit something to you I'm not very proud of? Even after reading the Scriptures, I wondered why our teacher picked this spot. We had so little time in Israel and wanted to see so much. I felt like there were bigger events that had taken place in much more well-known places. Shouldn't we focus on those?

    Why this place? Why this story?

    And then as quickly as we arrived, our teacher whisked us back on the bus with one final statement, "Individuals matter."

    Those two words have lingered in my thoughts and have honestly made this underwhelming stop one of my favorites to consider.

    Recently, I opened Acts 8 and reread it. Here are three things from this Scripture I want to let have their way with my heart and mind:

    1. Go near.

    Verse 29, "The Spirit told Philip, 'Go to that chariot and stay near it.'"

    This Ethiopian eunuch wasn't like Philip. He wasn't in his inner circle, comfort zone or part of his immediate sphere of influence. And yet, the Spirit instructed Philip to go close.

    God help us. We must break out of the boxes of our normality and dare to go close to those we don't understand. We must not use words like, "those people" with pointed fingers, hard hearts and spiritually superior attitudes.

    By going close, we see things we need to see. We hear things we need to hear. And our hearts become tender in the way we must be tender.

    By going close, we might actually dare to let love guide our approach.

    2. Gain understanding.

    Verse 30a, "Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet."

    He ran. This took effort, energy and intentionality. Next, instead of wielding God's Word like a weapon and haphazardly throwing Truth at this man, Phillip listened.

    Then based on what he heard, Phillip asked this eunuch if he understood what he was reading. Philip discerned a need and sought to meet that need. Philip let the man's agenda come before his own.

    God help us. Instead of running alongside people seeking to understand them, we sometimes have tendencies to run them over with our agendas and perceptions and points of view. We must seek to be discerning, not demanding.

    3. Earn the right to share.

    Verse 31b, "... So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him."

    Once Phillip dared to go near and gain understanding, then he earned the right to share. Verse 35 goes on to reveal that Philip began where this man was and "told him the good news about Jesus."

    God help us. We must go to people. Listen to people. Start where they are, not where we want them to be. And from their point of need, lovingly share the good news about Jesus.

    And might I share one more thing Philip did that I love?

    Philip continued to travel down the road with this man for a bit. Verses 36-39 reveal, "As they traveled along the road, they came to some water ... Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him." And the eunuch went on his way rejoicing.

    Looking back at that seemingly uneventful day in Israel, I'm so thankful our teacher took time to bring us to this place. Remember, there were no signs and there were no tourists.

    This was an uncommon stop in the Holy Land.

    Uncommon.

    Might we all dare to be a little more uncommon, more often.

    Dear Lord, I want to love others like You do. Help me to be a little more uncommon today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 15:7, "So reach out and welcome one another to God's glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!" (MSG)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Which of the three thoughts Lysa shared today resonates with you the most?

    How might you tangibly show this to someone in your life today?

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Allure of Lust

    Posted on May 14, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God. 1 Thessalonians 4:4-5

    Lust is misplaced affection that can lead to perverted passion. It is an unhealthy drive to satisfy selfish desires. If unbridled, it breaks up relationships and controls a person¹s conscience. Lust treats people as objects of self fulfillment, instead of precious creations from Almighty God. Sadly, there is a point when perversion is so embedded in an individual's behavior that the Lord gives them over to their shameful lusts. It's a fire that consumes its host and exploits its prey.

    We who know God, know better. Before Christ, lust may have loomed over our lives like a dark storm cloud. After Christ, the love of the Lord shone forth to satisfy the longings of our heart and soul. God's grace breaks the chains of a conscience controlled by illicit images or led away by lewdness. The Holy Spirit replaces unholy spirits, so we put to death dangerous obsessions. In Christ we walk in intimate fellowship with Him. Lust's allure is expunged by God's ardent love.

    "God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones" (Romans 1:26).

    Are you longing for authentic love? Has lust lured you into a dark corner of loneliness? Start by exposing it for what it is--a very, very cheap imitation of intimacy. In many ways lust is like a piece of art bought at an auction, but later discovered to be a fake. It presents itself as real for all who bid on its deception. Get rid if this forgery that steals away your authentic love relationship with your heavenly Father. Let go of lust, so you can love well those who desire to love you well.

    Replace sexual lust with the joy and security of being satisfied by your spouse. Replace material lust with the grace of generosity. Replace the lust for power with the freedom in sharing your seat of influence with trusted advisors. Confess your areas of struggle with those who can stand with you. Most of all, lean into the Lord's loving arms of affection!

    "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" Colossians 3:1-2, KJV).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I long to be loved by You, so my security and identity rest in Your affection.

    Related Readings: Numbers 15:39; Matthew 5:28; Philippians 3:19-20; 1 John 2:16

    Post/Tweet today: Let go of lust, so you can love well those who desire to love you well. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Redefining My Label

    Posted on May 14, 2014 by Stephanie Raquel

    Stephanie

    "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope ..." Romans 5:3-4 (ESV)

    Have you ever been given a label you didn't choose? The type of label you're sure will stick with you for the rest of your life?

    When I was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer, that's exactly how I felt: I was the victim of a poor label-maker.

    The doctors said there was nothing I could have done to avoid getting my particular type of cancer. So it felt as if an enemy chose me to attack, for no apparent reason.

    My heart ached. Some days it felt as if I were in a boxing ring, with each new cancer-related challenge hitting me smack in the gut.

    As if the cancer diagnosis weren't enough, the trials continued. The "cancer" label affected my eligibility for health insurance and prevented me from giving blood. I know it sounds odd to be sad about not getting poked with a needle, but I often donated blood and absolutely hated being "punished" for something completely out of my control.

    Life seemed so unfair. Couldn't God give me a new label altogether?

    It took several years, but God changed my perspective and enabled me to see my cancer as a gift, filled with multiple life lessons that produced endurance, character and hope.

    Today's key verse helped me understand how God was using this unfair label to change my character: "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope ..." (Romans 5:3-4).

    This passage taught me an important distinction. The goal isn't to rejoice because of our difficult circumstances. But rather, to rejoice in knowing God is doing something in the midst of our suffering. Of course, this is much easier said than done, but I'm grateful (okay, mostly grateful!) God has given me several opportunities to work on this.

    Each of these traits in Romans 5 (endurance, character and hope) builds on the next. Since that fateful diagnosis, I've grown to see God had a purpose in what I suffered. In His grace, God allowed me to hold a mirror up to my life and closely examine it. Cancer helped my husband and me re-evaluate our priorities. Among other things, my family changed churches to find older, godly mentors, and my husband ultimately began his own business.

    This month I celebrate eight years as a cancer survivor — no longer labeled a "victim," but a "victor." My past may not always be worth celebrating, but my future definitely is! I'm so grateful we serve a limitless God who can redefine our labels no matter what we've done, or what has been done to us.

    Father God, I ask for Your patience as You turn trials into triumphs. Lord, help me remove the negative labels others have placed on me, and instead, live by the labels You put on me. Thank You for producing character and hope in me and helping me daily move from victim to victor. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ephesians 1:11-12, "It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone." (MSG)

    Psalm 60:12, "With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How have the labels from your past placed limits on your life? What would your life look like if you were to allow God to help remove the labels?

    Write down one negative label others have used to define you. Next, read Ephesians chapter one. Pray about how God wants to redefine your identity. Then tear up the old word, replacing it with a new word from the Ephesians passage.

    © 2014 by Stephanie Raquel. All rights reserved.

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

  • Genuine Faith

    Posted on May 13, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Even as he spoke, many believed in him. To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples." John 8:30-31

    To believe in Jesus is much more than just to believe Jesus. Genuine faith flows from a heart transformed by the truth of God, not just inspired by an emotional desire or intellectual interest. Those whose faith is only a flash of feelings will fall away, but those who embrace Jesus as Savior and Lord are never the same. Belief in Jesus conforms us into the likeness of Jesus. Our language is kind. Our face softens. Our eyes brighten. Our attitude is hopeful. Our is spirit joyful.

    Beginning faith is like meeting an attractive person, admiring their life, maybe even dating for a while, but the relationship is far from a marriage commitment. On the other hand, authentic or saving faith is wed to Christ. It is a lifetime covenant of learning, growing and becoming one. We who believe in Jesus are the bride of Christ. It is unconditional belief and fidelity based on His divine nature. Faith in Him is foundational to our relationship of hope, love and forgiveness.

    "But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2).

    In a manner similar to a man and woman who have been married for decades, so is our maturing faith in Jesus Christ. Their intimate knowledge of one another conditions them to anticipate the needs of the other. The familiarity of their individual thought processes creates space to patiently wait. The understanding of their unique communication styles causes them to frequently complete each other's sentences. As they grow older they act and look more like one another.

    Jesus is clear, "If we hold to His teachings we are really His disciples." Our faith is not perfect, but it is learning and growing. Is your life hidden in Christ? Has He captured your affections and ignited your imagination for Him? Yes, move beyond believing Him to  believing in Him! Make faith foundational by depending on Jesus for your every need. What's more, healthy Christians reproduce spiritual children, so pray your life is a channel for the Holy Spirit to convict lost souls to be born again. Our genuine faith goes to God daily to listen, learn, and be loved by Him.

    "Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son" (2 John 1:9).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow my faith to be genuine and acceptable in Your sight.

    Related Readings: Psalm 17:15; Ezekiel 1:28; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:19; 1 Peter 2:6

    Post/Tweet today: Our genuine faith goes to God daily to listen, learn, and be loved by Him. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • From Panic to Peace

    Posted on May 13, 2014 by Nancy McGuirk

    Nancy

    "So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

    Here I am, lying in bed, staring at the ceiling. No sleep. Body still, mind racing. Panic building.

    I forgot to contact Pat today. She's so sick and probably needed me.

    Did my daughter realize she hurt my feelings with that comment?

    What if I don't make my deadline?

    I should have exercised today.

    Why does life seem darker at night? Not just literally. It's as though Satan and his minions are just waiting for me to be alone so they can begin the battle for my mind.

    Recently I began to meditate on Philippians 4:6a: "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything" (NLT). Did the Apostle Paul really mean not to worry about anything? Is that even possible? Isn't worry just part of human nature?

    Yes, worry is part of our human nature. Unfortunately when sin entered the world, emotions like worry did too. However, our fallen human nature always clarifies what being separated from God looks like. And it often looks like fear.

    As God's beloved children, we are called to faith, not fear. Faith says, "God is in charge of my life; I will trust Him, even when circumstances might suggest He's not there. I believe God loves me and knows what is best for me." Faith always crowds out fear.

    My heart longs to live in faith; however, at times this is difficult. But here's the key: "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

    If I haven't made time to hear from God through His Word, I find my prayers being more of a monologue of fear-based worry.

    But when I make time to listen to God, I'm reminded of His promises and I become familiar with His voice. As a result, my prayers really do change from panic to praise. In bed at night, a dialogue evolves (no longer a monologue). When I turn to God with my concerns, I can hear His response. As John 10:27a tells us, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them ..." (ESV).

    God's Word reminds us to put the kingdom of God first and the things we need will be ours (Matthew 6:33, ESV). In other words, when I devote myself to God first, all the rest will sort itself out, and this brings peace.

    What is most pressing in your life right now? Whatever that is, put God's Word there instead. Replace worry with the truth of God's love and power. Then we can trust that God will do as He says: "keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed" on Him (Isaiah 26:3a, ESV).

    As I think about God's promises, panic turns to praise, praise turns to peace and peace turns to sleep. I begin to understand what Paul meant when he said, "Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand" (Philippians 4:7a, NLT).

    It is possible to experience God's peace. When we learn to cast our cares on God and trust Him to handle them, faith replaces fear. Worry sees problems, but faith sees the God who can handle the problems.

    God's Word changes how we cast our cares. When we choose to cast them onto Him instead of into the air, we'll find comfort in His promises. Then maybe we can finally get a good night's sleep.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for watching over me at night. Forgive me for the times I have worried. Help me to be devoted to You and Your love, not my circumstances. Instead of tossing and turning at night, I want to remember to turn the pages of Scripture in my mind. I want to rest in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 4:8, "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe." (NLT)

    Isaiah 26:3, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How can you make time in your day for more of God's Word? Write down your current worries and look for God's promises in response to each concern.

    Consider making a "to think" list each day, instead of a "to do" list. List the promises of God that apply to your life and meditate on them.

    © 2014 by Nancy McGuirk. All rights reserved.

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

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