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Daily Devotion

  • Enemies of Jesus

    Posted on May 2, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” John 7:33-34

    Enemies of Jesus are ever looking for ways to dismiss, discredit, and destroy Jesus. Like the lost religious leaders of His day, they want to drive Christ out of their presence. The agnostic intellectuals of today dismiss Christ as a crutch for their cultured conscience. Contemporary theologically liberal leaders try to discredit Jesus’ miracles as mere myth. Proud atheists seek to justify their godless behavior by destroying the absolutes that accompany God’s existence.

    The sad news is those who seek to drive out God from the culture are unable to simultaneously seek the good news of Jesus Christ. Enemies of the Lord do not know and understand the Lord. Ironically, the more the faithless attempt to flush faith from society the more faith is fueled. Like migratory birds move together toward a warmer climate as harsh weather arrives, so the faithful move closer to the warm heart of Christ when religious intolerance is tolerated. Enemies of Jesus may seem to be winning, but they’ll soon be surprised they have lost their chance to seek Christ.

    “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10)

    Furthermore, a persecuted people of God is an opportunity to display the power of God. History proves that a church under fire is positioned to receive the Holy Spirit’s fire. It’s when the church blends in with the culture that it becomes irrelevant and impotent. So, praise God for the enemies of God. Their fight against faith must mean that faith means something. It does. It means freedom. Authentic freedom is inward before it’s outward and where freedom is, the Spirit takes up residence.

    Thus, we who know Jesus must pray for the enemies of Jesus. We pray for them to seek to know Him, not ignore Him. We pray for them to seek to worship Him, not dismiss Him. We pray for them to seek to glorify Him, not discredit Him. We pray for them to seek to be saved by Him, not destroy Him. Lastly, fight the faithless with grace, love, and acceptance. It’s the irresistible life of Christ that draws others to Christ. Let’s use surrender as our strategy to engage the enemies of God. Our surrendered life to Jesus disarms His antagonists and challenges them to seek Christ!

    “Once you were alienated from God and were enemiesin your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciledyou by Christ’s physical bodythrough death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:21-22).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach me how to pray for Your enemies and model for them the life of Christ. #wisdomhunters

    Related Readings: Psalm 74:10; Nahum 1:2; Matthew 5:44; Romans 5:10; James 4:4

    Post/Tweet today: Its the irresistible life of Christ in us that draws others to faith in the gospel of Christ. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Losing This Battle is Not an Option

    Posted on May 2, 2014 by Sharon Glasgow

    Sharon

    "My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV)

    By the time our daughter Heather turned 2, all my prideful pre-parenting thoughts had come back to me. How many times had I unfairly judged another mama and promised myself my kids would never act like that?

    You know that behavior: flailing around in their mother's arms, pitching a fit on the grocery store floor or throwing a tantrum in line at the movies. However, my daughter's strong will was unrelenting. She tried my patience constantly ... and often acted like that.

    I'll never forget one particularly difficult night. It had been a long grueling day of battles, and it was bedtime. (Praise God for bedtime.) Heather had hurt her baby sister, so I told her to apologize. She refused.

    Everything in me wanted to just put Heather to bed, but I knew I couldn't let this go. So in a stern voice, I told her, "Go to your room and I'll meet you there." Thankfully, she obeyed and walked to her bedroom.

    I thought a battle had been avoided ... until she looked back at me with that iron will glaring. She stood there with one foot in the room and one foot in the hall.

    "Get in your room, Heather." My tone meant business, but she wouldn't budge. I thought to myself, I'm just too stinking tired for this.

    At that point, I remembered Proverbs 3:11-12, a verse I memorized before Heather was born: "My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in."

    As I weighed my choices, the Lord spoke to me through that verse. And I knew He was saying: Losing this battle is not an option. I took a deep breath and decided no matter how long it took, I would not allow Heather's disobedient will to triumph over my exhaustion. I loved her too much.

    She finally sat down, half in the room, half out. And I joined her in the hall. We stayed there for hours that night. I wasn't mad, just determined. My daughter would know after this night that her mama means what she says. There was no TV. No toys. Not even a scrap of paper to draw on.

    While she sat, I folded laundry, paid a few bills and made my grocery list — in between asking if she wanted to apologize. Her eyes were getting heavy, and I knew she wanted to win the battle, but I remained firm.

    Finally, three hours after her bedtime she apologized to her sister and to me. I kissed her goodnight as I tucked her in bed; she hugged me and smiled like I was the greatest mom in the world. All was good in our home, at least for that night.

    That wasn't our last battle. But over time they became fewer and fewer as I consistently disciplined my children, just like the Lord disciplines those He loves. Why? Because He longs for us to be wise, to avoid making harmful mistakes and to grow in His grace. That's what I want for my five daughters.

    I spent a lot of time in prayer and sitting in doorways as my girls grew up. Each one was different from the other, each requiring a different form of discipline. They're grown up now, and I'm delighted to say that Heather and her sisters love the Lord and walk in His ways.

    I love my children and know they are worth all the time invested in the disciplining. Even the many long, sleepless nights.

    Lord, I need You more than ever. I need Your strength, wisdom and leading to raise my children up in the way they should go. Help me! I feel inadequate most days. I know that through You I can do all things. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Raising children takes a lot of mental, spiritual and physical bandwidth. Are there things in your schedule you could delete that would give you greater ability to parent well?

    Are you consistent in disciplining? Do you follow through with the rules? Do you discipline in love? Write a list of things you need to work on to be the parent God calls you to be.

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 29:17, "Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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

  • Temptation and Accountability

    Posted on May 1, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. 1 Corinthians 10:13  The Message

    Temptation loses its teeth in the face of accountability. Just as a home security system alerts us when an intruder invades the premises, so loving accountability warns us of pending danger. Yes, temptation has its greatest influence when operating in isolation, but when exposed to a caring community, its illusions are dismissed. People who love us want what’s best for us. They are more objective and expose our unwise inclinations. Accountability keeps us honest.

    Everyone’s battle is everyone’s battle. Thus, we are wise not to fight alone. There is a very practical reason foxholes are not manned by one individual. We cover each other’s backs when in close proximity to one another; we engage the enemy. Victory comes to a band of brothers or sisters who seeks the best interest of the group. Prayers for purity push back the taunts of lustful thoughts from the tempter. We do better when we know our friends closely observe our lifestyle.

    “So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).

    Pornography is a rampant problem that grips our culture. It destroys relationships, corrupts the moral infrastructure of society, and steals the respect of its victims. We’re all one mouse click away from unseemly images on the worldwide web. How can we guard our hearts and minds from pornographic pain? An effective plan is to give 24/7 access to our computers and mobile devices to our spouse and accountability partners. Invite them to inspect what’s expected of us.

    Until we get real about our real issues of temptation, we will not experience lasting change. In our independent pride we will fall, but out of our interdependent humility we will stand. We all struggle with similar sins, why not name them and confess to friends our need to come clean. Our heavenly Father shows us favor when we are not ashamed of sharing our struggles. It’s much better to be humbled before a small group that loves us than humiliated before a large group who doesn’t know us. Temptation suffered alone succumbs, but together we overcome!

    “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the courage to confess my temptations to a small group who care about me.

    Related Readings: Job 31:33; 2 Samuel 12:13; 1 Corinthians 12:27; 2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Timothy 3:7

    Post/Tweet today: Temptation suffered alone succumbs, but together we overcome! #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved

  • The 5 Best Things to Say to a Friend Today

    Posted on May 1, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:12-13 (NIV)

    I remember sitting in the smelly middle school gym like it was yesterday.

    I'd survived the awkward and much-dreaded moments of changing into my PE uniform in the girls' locker room. And now I sat on the hard bleachers listening to the squeak of tennis shoes, the uneven cadence of bouncing balls, the teacher's sharp whistle and the girls laughing behind me.

    They weren't laughing with me. That would have meant I was accepted, wanted and invited in to be a part of their group.

    No, they were laughing at me.

    I was the subject of their gossip. I was the punch line of their jokes.

    And it hurt.

    I imagine you know that hurt too. Change the scenery and people, and this same hurt can be found in most of our lives.

    • When your co-workers all make plans to go to lunch, but you weren't invited.
    • When that other preschool mom says, "Several of us moms are concerned with how aggressive your child seems on the playground."
    • When everyone else's social media makes marriage look dreamy and uber-romantic as you're crying yourself to sleep.

    Then a friend steps in with a gentle smile and a few simple words of encouragement and suddenly you're not alone.

    I want to be that friend for you today.

    In the midst of whatever it is that's made your heart feel knocked off-kilter, can I whisper what I believe are the 5 best things one can say to a friend? And then might you give the gift of saying these things to a friend today?

    This list is from our key verses, Romans 12:12-13, in a section titled "Love."

    1. "You're wonderful."

    (Romans 12:12, "Be joyful in hope ...")

    What a loving thing to infuse joyful hope into your friend's life by reminding her why you think she is wonderful.

    The world is quick to tell us girls all the ways we fall short. We are hyperaware of our faults and frailties.

    So, what a precious gift to remind a friend of specific ways she's a wonderful friend, a wonderful mom, a wonderful Jesus girl, a wonderful wife, a wonderful co-worker, a wonderful person.

    2. "Me too."

    (Romans 12:12, "... patient in affliction ...")

    What a gift to remind a friend we all have afflictions, hurts, faults and tender places. We all get sick both emotionally and physically.

    The patient friend freely gives grace because she so desperately needs it herself. "Me too" acknowledges that I'm no better than you, but together we can get stronger. It is such a loving and disarming admission that we're all in this together.

    3. "I'll pray."

    (Romans 12:12, "... faithful in prayer.")

    Wouldn't it be wonderful to tell a friend you will absolutely be faithful in your prayers for her? I have someone who prays for me faithfully and even texts me Scriptures she's praying.

    But here's what I really love about her. She doesn't just pray about my situations. She prays me through them. I honestly don't know how she hasn't gotten tired of praying for some of my same issues for so long. I get so tired of me ... but she never does. What a gift. A gift I know I must pass on by being faithful in my prayers for others.

    4. "I'll share."

    (Romans 12:13, "Share with the Lord's people who are in need ...")

    When we notice a need in a friend's life, might we be willing to step in and be part of the solution?

    I have a friend who lost every possession she owned due to a chemical spill in her home. So, we threw her a "Job (like the man in the Bible) Party." Each of us brought a few things to help her family start over.

    We didn't come close to fully meeting their financial needs. But we helped build a foundation of restoration and gave this family the assurance that God was working on their behalf.

    5. "Come over."

    (Romans 12:13, "Practice hospitality.")

    Welcoming a friend inside the sacred space of our home is such a needed gesture. There's just something about relationships that are less pixilated when we get eye-to-eye, voice-to-voice and talk. Really talk.

    Over broken bread we share broken hearts. And then we celebrate the parts of us that are still intact. We reach across the table and across our differences to grab hold of the glorious bond of friendship.

    Yes, these are 5 great things, maybe even the best things, to say to a friend. So, today, I pause and say them to you.

    Now, I haven't quite figured out how to do that last one. It would be such a hoot trying to fit you all in my kitchen, but I sure am dreaming about it!

    Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of friendship. Please show me who I can encourage today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think of a friend in need. Of the five statements above, which one can you put into practice with her today?

    Power Verse:
    Hebrews 13:16, "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Tempter’s Tricks

    Posted on April 30, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    The tempter [the devil] came to him [Jesus] and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Matthew 4:3

    The devil tempted Adam and Eve to doubt God. He tempted Job to give up on God and he tempted Jesus to disobey God. Satan’s tactics have not changed. He still subtly and not so subtly seeks to steal, kill and destroy our faith. He sows seeds of doubt into our  taking seriously Christ’s commands. He plays mind games to get us to go against what we know is clearly right or wrong. The evil one masks a sinful choice by causing us to doubt God’s clear expectations. What God says does not require a second opinion, so we are wise to first do what He says to do.

    The devil also tempts us to give up on God when our world is shaken. Like Job we may lose our children and see our finances slip away. Our health may fail and we may be tempted to think the Lord has failed us. However, it’s our faith in Jesus that offers stability during unstable situations. Almighty God is unmovable. He is a rock, refuge, and strong fortress against the deceptive tricks of the tempter. Yes, we lean into the Holy Spirit when unholy forces seek to force unfaithfulness.

    “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:22).

    Moreover, Satan appeals to our pride by tempting us to use power powered by the flesh. Our pride can easily run ahead of the Lord. Though a good outcome may come about, God does not get the glory when we are out in front of Him. Humility waits to be led and empowered by the Spirit. The devil also misapplies Scripture in an attempt to spiritualize his suggestions. He will twist the truth to sound inviting: “everything if done in moderation is ok.” Really? One click to a pornographic site is not ok, one car ride with a drunken driver is not ok, and one lie is not ok.

    Therefore, we come against the enemy’s tricks, lies, and deceit with the Word of God. We are naive and defenseless if we try to defeat the devil with our own clever devices. We will win however, if we keep our prayer guard up and if we spend time meditating on and applying  biblical principles to our behavior. This is why we are engaged, not nonchalant in our spiritual disciplines. We stay aware of devilish schemes that try to convince us we are the exception to the Lord’s expectations. By God’s grace we win the battle of the mind by renewing our mind with truth.

    “‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation’” (Luke 22:46).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, expose the enemy’s errors by the Holy Spirit’s illumination of truth.

    Related Readings: Genesis 3:1; 1 Thessaloinains 3:5; Philippians 2:16; James 5:11

    Post/Tweet today: What God says does not require a second opinion, so we are wise to first do what He says to do. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Why My Savior Complex Had to Die

    Posted on April 30, 2014 by Amy Carroll

    Amy

    "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28 (NLT)

    For years, something in me longed to be a savior. It was the space within my heart that lit with imagination when I watched heroes on TV save a falling baby with a mattress, rescue survivors from a mudslide or wrestle a hijacker to the floor of a plane. I aspired to be a woman with such daring, admired by thousands.

    That desire carried me on a trip to Kolkata, India, where I was determined to make a difference with my positive attitude and can-do spirit!

    I prepared with confidence and traveled with bravado, but when I arrived in the city, my assurance began to wilt. Walking out of the airport into the dead of the night, our team was surrounded at once with impoverished women and children begging. Shouldn't they be sleeping?

    Decrepit buildings lined potholed streets, patrolled by feral dogs and rifle-armed policemen. Rancid smells and unfamiliar sights assailed our senses.

    On the way to our hotel, we drove by a billboard proclaiming, "Kolkata: City of Joy." The very idea whiplashed my brain, and my deepest motives were exposed. What was I thinking? This isn't a job for me ... making Kolkata the City of Joy is truly a God-sized job!

    In that moment, my desire to be a hero was both exposed and crushed. My smile and positive attitude alone would not feed the hungry, free women from oppression or liberate captives from spiritual darkness with. No, only Jesus the Savior could meet such overwhelming need and make a difference! I was simply there to serve Him.

    Why did I want to be a savior? The truth was a mix of good and bad. I desired to help people, ease their suffering and introduce them to a loving God. But all that good was spoiled when mixed with my desire to feel virtuous, to gain recognition from others for the "noble" things I was doing and to feel I had met God's requirements.

    The works inspired by my savior complex might have looked good on the outside, but they were achieving self-gratification rather than pleasing God.

    Jesus is our true hero, the only real Savior. Jesus brings good news to the poor. He can bind up the brokenhearted. He provides freedom for the captives and releases prisoners from the darkness. Jesus brings God's favor, comforts those who mourn and cares for those in need. He gives us beauty instead of ashes, gladness instead of mourning and praise instead of despair (Isaiah 61:1-3). Jesus is beautiful and powerful and worthy of being the Savior.

    In Matthew 20:28, Jesus reveals His superhero, Savior secret to His followers, and it's a huge surprise: "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."

    The secret is service. As we serve our Savior and those around us, we can become behind-the-scenes heroes in God's eyes. Humble service may not make the news, but it can definitely change the world.

    Years after my lesson in Kolkata, I walked into a new volunteer position with my same bright smile and positive attitude. The difference was I wasn't there to be a savior, but instead to serve my Savior.

    Jesus is the hero to admire; I'm just there to roll up my sleeves and stand beside Him as He saves the world.

    Jesus, I praise You as the only worthy Savior. Will You change my motives from a desire for admiration to a desire to humbly serve You? Please change my savior complex to a servant's mindset? I long to follow Your example in serving Your people. In Your Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have your motives to serve the Lord ever gotten mixed with a desire for recognition or to feel virtuous?

    What is one way you can serve someone anonymously this week?

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 43:11, "I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior." (NIV)

    Psalm 115:1, "Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." (NIV)

    Ephesians 6:7, "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people ..." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Trials and Temptations

    Posted on April 29, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

    What is temptation? It is a desire enticing you to make an unwise decision. To be tempted is not to sin, but it does mean a sinful desire is close to conception, awaiting birth. So, we are wise to see temptation coming and prepare not to fall for its power of deceit. Trials are an outward test that can lead to an inward temptation. When weakened by adversity we become a prime target of our adversary--the devil. So how can we be prepared to overcome trials and temptations?

    For example, a job promotion can be a good thing, but what if it requires the test of travel? Time away from home cannot be properly replaced by any amount of money. And what are the agreed upon guidelines (with ourselves and if married, with our spouse) to keep us from falling for temptation? The moral temptation is to not remain faithful. The ethical temptation is to compromise our honesty. Peer temptation is to give into juvenile behavior. Intentional preplanning deals best with temptation. Avoid compromising situations: alone with the opposite sex, nightclubs or inaccurate expense reports.

    “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their ownevil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin;and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15).

    Moreover, there are those who desire to get rich. It is tempting because of the allure of affluence: freedom, nice homes, new cars, power and prestige. This test of prosperity requires a generous spirit to truly prosper, otherwise money creates idols of its own making. Those blessed materially learn how to leverage their possessions for God’s kingdom and not their own. They recognize the Lord as the owner and themselves as stewards. Generosity trumps the temptation of greediness.

    Lastly, use trials to draw closer to Christ and not be tempted to pull away from Him. Don’t allow hard times to harden your heart, instead invite the Spirit to soften your heart. In His desert aloneness Jesus was tempted by the devil, but He answered his lies with the truth of Scripture. So, seek the Lord when He seems distant and He will draw you unto Himself. Furthermore, be transparent with mentors and friends who can support you in remaining faithful. Confessing your vulnerabilities weakens temptations grip. Christ provides a way of escape for patient endurance.

    “Because he himself [Jesus] suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me away from temptations into the joy of doing Your will.

    Related Readings: Job 1:12; Matthew 4:1, 6:13; 1 Timothy 6:9; Hebrews 4:15; James 1:13

    Post/Tweet today: The test of prosperity requires a generous spirit to truly prosper, otherwise money creates idols of its own making. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Every Doing Starts With a Step

    Posted on April 29, 2014 by Shelene Bryan

    Shelene

    "When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'" 1 Kings 19:13 (NIV)

    When I was about 13 years old, my family vacationed in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands with friends. We heard about a local waterfall with a smooth slide carved into the rocks. We were up for the adventure, so we went to check it out.

    The water slide looked spectacular. As we made our way to the top of the rocks that formed the slide, I noticed a handful of local kids jumping off of the adjacent towering cliffs into the water. Whew, that looked scary!

    After about an hour of fun on that wonderful natural slide (it's still the best water slide I've ever been on in my life), we started eyeing the cliffs and the local kids who were jumping. We looked at each other to see who would conjure up the guts to be the first mainlander to climb the cliff and jump.

    Seeing how I always wanted to beat the boys, I volunteered.

    I made my way up a path cut into the rock wall. As I stepped up to the edge of the cliff, where the overhang suspended me 30 feet above the water, I began to seriously appreciate how high I was. Basically I started to freak out.

    Tim, one of the younger boys in our group, joined me on the cliff. He said, "If you're not going to jump, move over and I'll jump. Are you chicken?"

    Before I could answer his challenge, a local man, who must have been watching me for five minutes as I contemplated jumping, said, "Just step off."

    "What?" I yelled.

    "Just step off," he repeated.

    "Yeah," Tim echoed. "Just step off."

    Just taking a step seemed easy. I took steps all day long. What was the big deal? It's just a step. With that, I moved to the edge, closed my eyes tight and simply took a small step forward. My body instantly plunged into space and I free fell with a scream of thrill all the way to the water. I came up out of the water feeling like a stunt girl on Hawaii Five-0.

    Are you standing on a "cliff," unable to jump? Are you feeling like God wants you to make a radical change, but you just can't? Some people are born jumpers. Others are more like I was: frozen on the edge of that cliff, unwilling to jump but willing to take a small step.

    Throughout history God has prodded His people with questions and suggestions to help us figure out what we are doing for Him. Kind of like that man's comment to me to step off the cliff.

    An example of this kind of question is asked of one of my favorite Bible characters: A prophet named Elijah. Elijah had a deep love of God. And in 1 Kings 19, God quietly called out to Elijah through a whisper in the midst of a series of riotous distractions.

    God asked a very simple question: "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

    The question was not for God's benefit and certainly not for His information. God already knew the answer before He whispered the question. God designed that question to help Elijah come to grips with what he was going to do.

    Nearly three millennia later, God asks the same question of me: "What are you doing here, Shelene?"

    His question asks me to consider where I am. It challenges me to see where I need to go. And then it prompts me to take my next step.

    I may not be a jumper, but I can take a step.

    Lord, help me recognize Your voice when You call. Help me recognize Your trustworthy character and trust that You have my best interests in mind. Burn into my heart the desire to do the tasks You want me to accomplish for You. Give me the strength and courage to take the first step toward what You want me to do. In His Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What insecurities are holding you back from taking a step toward the things God is calling you to?

    What small steps can you start taking this week?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 37:23-24, "The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Shelene Bryan. All rights reserved.

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

  • Forgiven People Forgive

    Posted on April 28, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32, NKJV

    Forgiven people forgive, because they are eternally grateful for the grace of God’s forgiveness in their heart. They are keenly aware that outside of Christ, they are cursed to a cycle of unforgiveness—lost in their sins. Thus, the Lord raised them up forgiven, so they in turn can forgive. Forgiveness on earth flows from forgiveness in heaven. It is something to be passed on today, not to be stored away for some unique future occasion.

    Unforgiveness encroaches on the health of our relationships. Its cancerous affect eats away at our enjoyment of God, family and friends. Suddenly, without advance notice, we lash out at those we love—because of someone we don’t love. Unforgiveness, like an inactive but rumbling volcano, waits to explode at any moment of disappointment. The embroiled embers smolder like sin and will erupt when pressure shakes its foundation.

    Do you hold a grudge that has a hold of you? Does resentment hang over you like a bad dream, only you never wake up? This level of emotional upheaval is no way to live for the Lord. His will is not for you to be preoccupied with people who have stolen your joy and hindered your fellowship with Jesus. Forgiveness frees you from the bitter taste of bitterness and replaces it with the sweet taste of grace. Thus, forgive like you’re forgiven.

    True forgiveness is sincere and all-inclusive. We are not in the position to judge who deserves forgiveness and who does not.. One test is to ask if you are tender hearted or hard hearted toward another. A hard heart has yet to be broken by heaven’s caring crush, it may take extended adversity to soften your heart to forgive.

    Why wait in anxious resentment when you can be freed today from hatred and relational apathy? Moreover, make your forgiveness specific. Communicate clearly you are forgiving an exact amount of money—they are no longer in debt to you. Did a relative abuse you as a child? Were you fired over office politics? Talk with them—if they have abandoned you or are dead, write a letter expressing Christ’s love and your forgiveness.

    What if you forgive someone and they are unresponsive and unrepentant? You cannot control another’s response, only your own. Trust that the Lord is working and that your humble and sincere example will begin a work of grace in their heart. Love and kindness tear down walls of anger—grace and forgiveness build bridges of hope. Satan’s destructive deception is exposed and destroyed in the face of your forgiveness.

    “And that I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:10b-11).

    Prayer: Who needs my total forgiveness? What is the best method for me to forgive them?

    Related Readings: Micah 7:18; Jeremiah 33:8; Luke 7:47; Hebrews 8:12

    Post/Tweet today: Forgiveness frees us from the acidic taste of bitterness and replaces it with the sweet taste of grace. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • A Resurrection of Compassion

    Posted on April 28, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)

    As soon as I answered the phone, I heard the panic in her voice.

    My daughter had called to ask if she had possibly left her new iPod in the car that morning. After searching thoroughly to no avail, her worst fears became a reality — the music player was missing.

    I immediately went to the school and met with the principal to file a report about the missing iPod, where I learned there had been a rash of thefts since school had resumed after the holidays. When my daughter joined us, I could see the sadness in her eyes, hear the loss in her voice and sense the overwhelming regret pouring out of her heart.

    As she settled into the chair beside me, I knew she was beating herself up inside. The lost item had been a special gift. Now it was gone.

    Soon the tears she'd been holding back could no longer be restrained, as she expressed how desperately she wished she could go back in time. What if she had left it at home or in the car? Or not left her purse unattended? What if she had been more responsible?

    Hugging her tightly, I sent her off to class. But as she walked away, slumped shoulders carrying the weight of regret and sorrow, maternal emotion overcame me.

    I wanted to sprint down the hall like a mom on a mission, scoop her up into my arms, and whisk her home where we could snuggle up in a blanket, drink hot chocolate and watch silly cartoons. I felt an overwhelming compassion building up inside me.

    Although my daughter's pain was over a material item that could be replaced in time, in that moment, I just wanted to take away her hurt and regret.

    Could it be that my parental compassion is even a hint of what God feels for us?

    Today's verse reminds us that God feels an immense compassion for us, which far exceeds mine. In Lamentations 3, the prophet Jeremiah (believed to be the author) told God's people that although they had been unfaithful for many years, God would still have compassion on them. And because of that compassion, they could have hope.

    Thinking back on that day at school, I thought of the many years I lived with regret, desperately longing to go back in time and get a second chance. But shame and regret held my heart captive.

    I remembered the heaviness that came with shouldering all the "what ifs" and "if onlys," while beating myself up inside, knowing I couldn't change the past.

    But all those regrets lost their grip on me the day I embraced God's promises of unconditional forgiveness and love. When I finally understood His compassion, I realized that just like the iPod, my past mistakes were history too.

    When we struggle with our own set of "what ifs" and "if onlys," God wants to show us His faithfulness and shower us with compassion, even if we have been unfaithful or messed up more times than we want to count. If we accept Him as our Savior, we open the door for Him to erase our regrets and shame once and for all.

    Last week, on Easter Sunday, we came face to face with the depth of God's mercy, as we celebrated the greatest act of compassion ever known — the death and resurrection of Jesus.

    God was a Father on a mission, compelled by overwhelming compassion and a willingness to do whatever it took to scoop us up into His arms and atone for our mistakes, making them nothing more than history. He died to carry our burdens so we wouldn't have to, and so we could be free to live in peace, not regret.

    Jesus was resurrected so we can experience His mercies anew every day. Now that is an act of compassion worth celebrating.

    Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross for me, so that I might be freed from my past and have eternal life with You. I praise You for Your undeserved compassion and mercy. I love You. In Your Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have I been carrying the weight of regret rather than allowing Jesus to carry it for me?

    How can I live my life in such a way that expresses praise and thankfulness for His compassion and daily mercies?

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 78:38, "Yet He was compassionate; He atoned for their guilt and did not destroy them. He often turned His anger aside and did not unleash all His wrath." (HCSB)

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

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