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Daily Devotion

  • No More Guilt

    Posted on March 5, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

    Before beholding and believing in Jesus as the Lamb of God, we were all guilty before the Lord. Guilt is the result of being born a human being. None of us escapes sin’s influence and control, until we come to know Christ. Regardless of our degree of unrighteousness, we still need a sinless Savior to lighten our darkened hearts. Our own efforts at eradicating sin are a picture of pouring a bottle of water into an active volcano; pointless. Only Jesus removes the guilt of our sin.

    Has guilt got the best of you? Have you confessed your sin, but still feel crummy? Yes, guilt can come and go, based on our trust in God to remove its residue. Like the discarded, scaly skin of a snake, guilt is the empty shell we left behind when we believed in Jesus. Just like God gave Abraham a lamb to sacrifice for his sins, the Lord has provided a sacrifice for our sins in His son Jesus. Therefore, we place our faith in our sin bearer Jesus Christ, for He frees us from sin’s guilt.

    “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

    Moreover, we will make mistakes after we make Christ our master and Lord. Mistakes in the way we address someone with our words--harsh or insensitive. Mistakes in sloppy money management causing marital conflict. Mistakes in overindulgence of food or drink creating health issues. But, the grace of God is what keeps us from flagellating our conscience with guilt. Christ gives second, third, and fourth chances. Thus, we give in to grace and give up on guilt.

    Furthermore, by God’s grace we let go of holding guilt over the head of someone who has hurt us. Since Jesus has forgiven them, we can forgive them. “I can never forgive them,” is not an option for a Spirit filled follower of Christ. Because God is the judge of the guilty, we do not play God by holding offenders hostage with guilt’s manipulation. We are administrators of God’s grace, not man’s guilt. In Christ we are not condemned, so we are free to forgive another’s guilt.

    “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am grateful to You for removing the guilt of my sin, by Jesus, the precious Lamb of God.

    Related Readings: Genesis 22:8; Hebrews 10:22; James 2:10; 1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 5:6, 13:8

    Post/Tweet today: Give in to grace and give up on guilt. #nomoreguilt

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Overcoming the Doubts of Motherhood

    Posted on March 5, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NIV)

    It was another one of those days when I wondered why God ever thought I was capable of being a mother.

    I haven't always thought that way. When my children were younger, parenting seemed easier. I nursed their little wounds, played their favorite games, helped with homework and tucked them into bed each night with prayers and goodnight kisses.

    But years passed and my sweet little ones started maturing, with their own opinions, hormones, friends, social lives and tempers. My heart broke with each disagreement. Frustration rose with every disrespectful word. My fears elevated, worry became my middle name and at times it seemed every ounce of patience had dripped out of my body.

    So on that particular day, when it seemed I could do nothing right, insecurities and doubts flooded my mind.

    With a heavy sigh, I slipped away to my room, sunk onto my bed, rested my head in my hands and prayed. I asked God for guidance, understanding and patience (lots of it). I prayed for the strength to continue standing strong in my parenting beliefs, even if they made me unpopular with my children and their friends. I prayed for peace and joy to fill my heart, even when our house didn't seem peaceful or joyful.

    But then a confession slipped from my lips: "Lord, I obviously don't know how to be a parent now. I feel painfully inadequate and incapable of doing it right."

    Through a quiet whisper to my spirit, the word "confidence" popped into my thoughts. God gently reminded me that depending on my own strength would eventually shake my confidence because deep down, I know my weaknesses.

    Despite how hard I tried to be the mom God called me to be, I always fell short in my own eyes. Plus, I allowed difficult situations or comparison to other parents to shake my confidence. I needed to start depending on His strength to find my confidence instead.

    Later that day, I searched for scriptures relating to "confidence" and came across today's key verses, which soothed this mama's heart. The apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians reassures us that although life can cause us to doubt our capabilities, we can always find strength and confidence by trusting in the Lord.

    When we rely on God in everything we do, including raising our children, we can be confident He will equip us for this calling of motherhood.

    On those days when we doubt our strength, we can ask God for His strength to persevere.

    On those days when we feel like the least-liked person in our homes, we can ask for confidence to stand strong in our beliefs.

    On those days when we question whether or not we're cut out to be a parent, we can find assurance knowing God will surely stay beside us during the journey.

    Most importantly, on those days when we find ourselves hiding in our bedrooms, we can boldly approach the throne of God, knowing with full confidence He hears our prayers and will give us wisdom to carry out this task of parenting.

    That was not the last day I felt inadequate and insecure about my parenting skills. But now when those feelings creep in, I remember to pause and seek holy confidence.

    The question we should ask ourselves when doubt creeps in isn't whether we're perfect parents. Instead, we can ask whether our children will look back and be thankful we loved them enough to pray and persevere through the hardest of days.

    And that alone will be a rich reward.

    Jesus, please strengthen me to persevere through the trying days of parenting children. Let me not waiver, but stand firm in what I know to be right, despite peer pressure from children, friends, other parents or society. Help me remember to be confident by believing You have equipped me to be the parent my children need. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have I allowed the challenges of parenting to cause me to doubt my abilities?

    Consider the most difficult struggles weighing on your heart today with respect to raising your children. Pause and talk to God about your feelings. Seek support and confidence in Him.

    Power Verses:
    Jeremiah 17:7, "But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him." (NIV)

    1 John 5:14, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Law and Grace

    Posted on March 4, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

    The law was given through the man, Moses. Grace and truth came through God’s son, Jesus. Moses saw the glory of God in a burning bush. Jesus displayed the glory of God in Himself. Moses took the life of a man. Jesus gave life back to a man. Moses spoke on behalf of God. Jesus spoke as God. Moses led God’s children out of human bondage. Jesus led those who believed in Him out of spiritual bondage. The law condemns the guilty, but grace forgives the guilty.

    Jesus came to fulfill the law, not destroy the law. How did He fulfill the law? In several ways. First, Christ was the fulfillment of the Messiah, as the prophets predicted. Secondly, His life fulfilled the moral law of the ten commandments. And thirdly, His death completed the ceremonial law as the final sacrifice of sin. Moreover, the Old Testament is foundational to the New Testament. The new covenant of grace fulfilled the old covenant of the law. Jesus fulfilled His law by His grace.

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).

    Since Christ has fulfilled the law, what is the role of the law for today? The law is meant to point us to faith in the Lord. We cannot keep God’s commands with perfection, so we need our perfect Savior Jesus. It is a declaration of dependence on Christ, since we have not kept from breaking at least one of the ten commandments: not lying, stealing, or coveting. It is a teacher than instructs in the way, the truth, and the life of Jesus. The law of God leads us to rely on the grace of God!

    Are you tired of trying to be good enough? Is your joy gone because your standard for serving God is higher than His? If so, seek to rest in the grace of God, not striving under the law of God. Submission to Christ gives you freedom in Christ. You are no longer a slave to statutes, but a slave to Christ. Grace frees you from needing to be good enough for God’s acceptance. In Christ, you have all you need to be free from the law’s guilt. Enjoy your freedom through grace!

    “Christ is the culmination of the lawso that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your law that leads me to depend on Christ’s grace.

    Related Readings: Jeremiah 31:31; Romans 8:4; Galatians 2:16, 3:19, 24; Hebrews 8:1-13

    Post/Tweet today: The law of God leads us to rely on the grace of God. #lawandgrace

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Time to Get Up

    Posted on March 4, 2014 by Kyle Idleman

    Kyle

    "So he got up and went to his father ..." Luke 15:20a (NIV)

    After high school graduation, I joined my senior class for a trip to Dallas, Texas. While there, for the first time ever I saw someone bungee jump. At several hundred feet off the ground, this was one of the tallest jumps in the country.

    We watched as a guy got ready to make the leap with nothing but a chord strapped to his ankles. He dove headfirst, and it was clear my fellow students were impressed.

    Trying to sound cool enough to bungee jump but too cool to actually spend the money, in that moment, here's what came out of my mouth: "I'd do that, but I'm not going to spend 40 bucks on it."

    Suddenly there was a little commotion behind me. One of the girls in my class pulled out a $20 bill and asked, "Would this help?"

    At that point, my back was against the wall. A girl had called my bluff — in front of everyone. I could've said, "Well, I'm not going to spend 20 bucks on it either," but that wouldn't have gone over well. So without stopping to consider the fact that I don't like heights, I took the $20 bill and got in line.

    As the crane lowered, I told myself: It's not that high. But once the platform was at ground level and I stepped onboard, my nerves began. The platform rose higher and higher until the crane finally lurched to a halt. I stepped to the edge and made a horrible choice: I looked down.

    Overcome with paralyzing fear, I turned to the crane operator and said, "I can't do it. I just can't do it!" But then a thought struck me, and I asked, "Would you just give me a shove?"

    Apparently I wasn't the first guy too scared to jump, but too embarrassed to ride the platform back down. The worker replied, "Well, we're not legally allowed to push someone off."

    Frustrated with his answer, I replied, "Do you have any other ideas for me?"

    "Well, sometimes it works if you just close your eyes and fall," he said, adding, "Anybody can do that."

    So I stepped to the edge, closed my eyes and I'm proud to say that ... well, I didn't so much as bungee jump, I bungee fell.

    It's one thing to say what you are going to do, but it's another thing to do it. Action is where a lot of us get stuck. We know what needs to be done, but when we step out onto the platform, we just can't move.

    This is an opportunity for an "AHA" moment. In Luke 15, the story of the Prodigal Son tells of one of these experiences. The younger son asked his father for his inheritance early, but then wasted it. After losing everything, he came to his sense and experienced an AHA moment. Moments like this always include:

    1. A Sudden Awakening
    2. Brutal Honesty
    3. Immediate Action

    In Luke 15:20 we read a simple phrase that changed the personal story of the Prodigal Son. Jesus simply said, "So he got up ..."

    He took immediate action. He recognized that it was time to get up. And unless our personal stories read, "So she got up," or "So he got up," then nothing really changes in our lives.

    I want you to see a connection between these two phrases in Luke 15:

    "He came to his senses ..." (verse 17)

    "So he got up ..." (verse 20)

    Without verse 20, verse 17 doesn't really matter.

    My question for you is: When are you going to get up?

    When are you going to join a Bible study group?

    When are you going to talk to one of your coworkers about your faith?

    When is verse 20 going to be a part of your story?

    It's time to get up.

    Dear Lord, please show me where I need to take action in my life and give me the courage and strength to move forward. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Remember, awakening happens to us, honesty happens in us, but nothing really changes unless action comes out of us.

    In what areas of life are you finding yourself stuck? Identify what's holding you back and make a plan to take action and overcome your obstacles.

    Power Verse:
    Luke 19:8, "But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, 'Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.'" (NIV)

    © 2014 by Kyle Idleman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks David C. Cook for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

  • Affirmation Before Instruction

    Posted on March 3, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction. Proverbs 16:21

    A heart that yearns to learn listens best to instruction preceded by affirmation. Genuine encouragement lets another know we care about comforting their heart as well as teaching their mind. Yes, children especially need to be continually corrected, but not without a hug, a kiss on the head, or a compassionate look into their eyes. Language laced in grace gets the best results. Patience is wise to wait and pray before it says what it’s pondering. Affirm, then instruct.

    Are you gifted with discernment? Do you have the ability to see and understand an individual or situation before the average person is able to comprehend? If so, be wise not to rush in with a remedy without preparing the person. Better to prayerfully wait another day, week or month, so your friend has time to discover for themselves what needs to be done. To offer advice without earning the right can create an apathetic reaction. Relational investments open ears to hear truth.

    “The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,and their lips promote instruction”

    (Proverbs 16:23).

    On the job we probably have co-workers who need to know we care before they will care about what we know. It’s not enough for us to leverage our supervisory position without building relationships. Our respect and reassurance open the door for some insecure individuals to be instructed. When someone feels understood, they seek to understand. Compassionate managers make themselves known and seek to know their team. Our gracious words promote instruction.

    Almighty God affirms, but also instructs. His Holy Spirit comforts, but also convicts. So, be grateful for the discipline of the Lord. He corrects, because He cares. If we despise God’s discipline we distance ourselves from His love. The Lord’s loving discipline affirms us. He corrects His children, so He can instruct His children. God’s precepts are received by a heart prepared by the Spirit, so learn from Him.

    “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to Him” (Ezra 8:22).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me to affirm others, before I seek to instruct others.

    Related Readings: Psalm 25:8; Ecclesiastes 10:12; Luke 4:22; 2 Timothy 2:24

    Post/Tweet today: A heart that yearns to learn listens best to instruction preceded by affirmation. #affirmationbeforeinstruction

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Reviving an Abandoned Dream

    Posted on March 3, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis

    "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." Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

    I sat on the couch during small group, dabbed the tears dripping down my face, and hoped the others wouldn't notice my emotional response to the message.

    While watching a DVD teaching about God-given dreams, a tender, hidden spot in my heart was coming to life. It was uncomfortable. Scary, in fact. I wanted to move toward it and away at the same time.

    The teaching wasn't on nighttime dreams, but rather those dreams that often start in childhood when anything seemed possible. And we were unhindered by the realities of genetics or abilities. We were sure to be ballerinas or fashion models, ignoring the fact that we couldn't do the splits, or that our height/weight ratio might be less than desirable for the runway.

    Personally, I imagined the day my favorite band would invite me on stage. Hairbrush in hand, I practiced my moves and vocal range preparing for my big break.

    That day at small group, the dream fueling my simmering emotions wasn't the desire to sing. For years another dream had been stirring in my heart, a dream that had been dampened by doubts and the logistics of adulthood. My dream was to write.

    Pain and excitement mixed as I allowed the dream to come to life, much like a foot that's fallen asleep when the blood flow returns. Doubt whispered around every thought. Was this dream from God or me? Did I have anything worth saying?

    My heart felt vulnerable every time I pondered the idea. If I told someone my dream, would they give voice to the litany of taunts in my head? I wondered. And yet the more I prayed, the more convinced I became that God was asking me to write for Him. When I finally accepted that truth, my attitude changed. Writing wasn't just an interesting idea, it was an assignment.

    I wish I could say I immediately started writing. But I didn't.

    Tucking the dream in my heart, I procrastinated. For months. Which turned into years. Thinking about my dream was much easier than acting on it, because it was going to take a lot of work and sacrifice. And there was always a handy excuse.

    Until one Sunday, my pastor opened prayer time with these words: "God has asked some of you to do something and you haven't done it yet."

    The Holy Spirit was playing the drums on my heart as I shifted from foot to foot. There was no question; God was calling my name. A flood of people headed to the front alongside me to address their own abandoned assignments.

    My pastor's challenge was what I needed to shift from a passive to an active approach in my writing. To move from disobedience to obedience. To step into an unfamiliar world believing that if God had called me to it, He wouldn't abandon me.

    God often gives directions through dreams. Yet, those can be the hardest to embrace because they seem too big for us to accomplish on our own. And sometimes they seem downright selfish. So we let them drift away.

    But dreams are also how God increases our faith. When we step into active obedience of an audacious assignment, we see God move and do things only He can do. Our key verse shows that God has the power to accomplish any dream He gives us: "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" (Ephesians 3:20, NLT).

    It was 10 years ago when I embraced my dream as an assignment, and God has shown His power time and time again. There are still doubts and barriers to overcome, but my faith has grown each time God proves Himself faithful.

    Did God put a dream in your heart years ago? Maybe your dream was to adopt a child or go on a mission trip. Maybe it was to open your home to neighbors or lead teens at church. At the time your dream seemed too big or came with too many barriers. Now it's a hazy memory.

    May I offer the same challenge my pastor gave years ago? God has asked some of you to do something and you haven't done it yet. Will today be your day to accept your assignment?

    Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me a dream to serve You and others through my gifts and talents. Help me see this dream as an assignment from You, and I ask for Your power to help me take the next step. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What dream has God put in your heart that you know is an assignment?

    What next step can you take to obey God's calling on your life?

    Power Verse:
    Mark 9:23, "'"If you can"?' said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for one who believes.'" (NIV)

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Freely Give

    Posted on March 1, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:8

    What is your motivation for giving? Is it to freely give or to give expecting something in return? This is an ongoing tension for the generous giver. We give our time, our expertise, our money, our friendship, our commitment; we give our very life, with what expectation in mind? Disappointment follows gifts with strings attached, but gifts given freely lead to fulfillment. Can we be hilariously generous and still trust Christ?

    You may ask, “What about my stewardship in giving gifts responsibly?” Wise givers give prayerfully and responsibly, but not to the exclusion of the Spirit’s leading. If the Lord is leading you to invest time and money in a person, ministry, or church, then obey and trust Him with the outcome. Everything we have is His; so He is ultimately responsible for the fruit of generosity. He blesses His work, done His way.

    Because Christ’s gifts are not conditional, our gifts are not conditional. For example, at your conversion God freely gave you His Spirit for comfort, conviction, and direction. The Bible says, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians 2:12).

    So, even when we grieve the Spirit with our disobedience, He still remains. The gift of the Holy Spirit does not come and go from our life; He is here to stay. His resolve to reside in our soul is reassurance that we are not alone. In the same way, when people you trust are in turmoil, stay with them through the rough ride until things smooth out. Anyone can give in the good times; so be there to give when they need you the most.

    Faithfulness freely gives, not to gain, but to do good deeds. The Lord’s freedom to extend goodness to you compels you to freely give back goodness. Grace is a gift to be received gratefully and given liberally. Give freely, and observe how much more is freely given to you. Your heavenly Father gave you His Son because He loves and forgives you freely.

    “He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:5–7).

    Prayer: What are the Lord’s expectations for His gifts to me? Am I freed up to give freely?

    Related Readings: 1 Chronicles 29:9; Proverbs 11:24; Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 2:12

    Taken from the March 1st reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 1”

    Post/Tweet today: Disappointment may follow gifts with strings attached, but gifts given freely lead to fulfillment. #freelygive

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Full of Grace

    Posted on February 28, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. John 1:16

    The ups and downs of life tend to drain us. Physical challenges deplete our energy. Conflict can consume our emotions. Financial stress sucks the life out of our sense of security. The loss of a loved one leaves a hole in our heart. An empty nest is quiet; so quiet that it's loud with loneliness. Like a well-traveled car risks running out of gas, so we can run ourselves into spiritual, physical, and emotional emptiness. But God has provided the fullness of Christ to fill us up!

    Imagine our heart like the soil of a well-watered potted plant. A smart gardener regularly and precisely waters the dirt until it is moistened--but not flooded. In a similar way God applies His grace to our thirsty hearts, ones even bordering on dehydration. He gives us grace upon grace--not too much to drown us with spiritual pride, and not too little for us to labor in our own power. The grace of our Lord is a regular stream of strength for us to appropriate by faith.

    “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness” (Colossians 2:9-10).

    How do you receive the grace of God? You take hold of it by faith. You reach out to receive His ongoing gift of grace initially at salvation and continually as a maturing follower of Jesus. Imagine your faith as an unused rubber balloon with small capacity; once it expands by multiple breaths of air, its capacity grows. Similarly, the Holy Spirit desires to breathe in grace upon grace into your expanded faith. Your grace filled life protects you from the pain of burnout.

    The more your grace capacity enlarges, the more you are able to live graciously and serve others. A grace filled life does not want; since its needs are met it is able to meet the needs of others. It's a lifetime of continually taking hold of and receiving the Lord’s grace by faith. To bear fruit for Jesus is worth the test of perseverance. Why are some you know so free to give of themselves for God? Most likely they are fresh from experiencing the fullness of His grace in Jesus Christ. Your Lord is the fullness of grace, so you can be full by faith. Empty self and fill up with your Savior.

    “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught,and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow my capacity for Your grace by growing my faith in Christ.

    Related Readings: Romans 3:24; Colossians 1:19; Ephesians 1:23; 1 Timothy 6:19

    Post/Tweet today: A grace filled life does not want, since its needs are met it is able to meet the needs of others. #fullofgrace

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Was It A Morning Like This?

    Posted on February 28, 2014 by John van der Veen

    John

    This past Sunday morning I woke up, and went to start the coffee pot. It's part of the ritual that either my wife or myself do. It's what the beginning of a typical Sunday morning is all about. It is (sort-of) the calm before the storm of getting everyone in our home ready for church.

    I sat down on the couch with my Bible in hand and decided to have a bit of a quiet time. I can honestly say that I love having my quiet time. Time in the Word is time with God. It's the unexplainable phenomenon of the God of this universe, speaking with me.

    I began to read from Matthew chapter 5:

    3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    4 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
    5 Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
    6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
    7 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
    8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
    9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
    10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

    These verses are of course the famous "Sermon on the Mount." Jesus didn't name it that, He was just speaking. We named it that to help us identify better with what He was saying and when He said it.

    Regardless, I keep thinking about His words. I keep thinking about the moment that He said them the first time. How did people respond to them? Was He contemplating His future a few years from now? I thought that really, this sermon is about Him. For on the cross, He was the one poor, for He emptied himself of His glory of Heaven. He mourned. It grieved Him when He looked at the depravity of mankind. He was meek, for He had no home to call His own. He surely knew hunger and what it was like to be physically thirsty.

    He showed mercy. He was pure. He showed peace. AND He was persecuted. He was insulted and falsely accused. Jesus knows the words He is saying, because He came to a broken world.

    As my family went through the day, I felt like God's Word was the stool that kept me propped up. It was the Word of sanity that I needed to face the day. He knew me then and He knows me now. There is great comfort in that.

    What are you facing today? Whatever it is, hold it up side by side with Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. When we hold our lives up to the lens of Scripture we get a new perspective. For it helps us see better.

    What is your morning ritual? What Scriptures has God used to speak to you lately?

  • Scurrying or Seated?

    Posted on February 28, 2014 by Karen Ehman

    Karen

    "She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations." Luke 10:39-40 (NASB)

    I glanced at the clock on the wall. How was it 11:45 already? Where had the time gone? It was nearly noon and I wasn't even halfway through my to-do list for the morning.

    My day had started hours earlier when I had bounded out of bed with a goal of knocking off a bevy of tasks around the house, on the computer and in my little hometown. Scrawled out on a baby-blue legal pad, my plan included things to cook, calls to make and errands to run.

    I'd started whittling down my list as soon as my family left for school and work. Now at mid-day, I still had four or five items left undone and no way to accomplish them before my 1 p.m. dentist appointment to get a crown on my tooth.

    My spirit sank. What's my problem? I wondered. Did I underestimate how long each task would take? Or did I overestimate my ability to execute them quickly? Or, perhaps, it was a little bit of both.

    I also hadn't factored in the interruptions. A text from my daughter needing help on a tax form. An email from a friend wanting a recipe for company coming over later that day. A neighbor whose computer was on the blink and needed to borrow ours to make an order online. More distractions and delays.

    A little nervous about my dentist appointment, I called my friend Mary to ask for prayer. As we visited, I shared the details of my frustrating morning, and asked how her day was going. She replied that she hadn't completed what she'd hoped to either, concluding, "But I had a good long time alone with God this morning praying and reading my Bible which is what I needed most, so it's okay."

    My heart sank as I realized my problem: I hadn't taken time for the most important detail of the day. Spending time with God wasn't even on my radar. Maybe if I had spent time with the Lord I wouldn't have felt so much frustration at my lack of productivity.

    Our key verse today tells of another woman who put chores ahead of spending time with Jesus. The story in Luke 10 tells of two sisters and how they spent their time when Jesus came to visit. Martha was busy scurrying to get to the end of her "to-do list," but Mary chose a different path. She settled herself at Jesus' feet, soaking in His words and His presence.

    Later on we read that when Martha complained to the Lord that Mary wasn't helping her, He replied, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42, NASB).

    There's no doubt Martha's sister Mary also had things to do. So did my friend Mary. But in the case of each Mary, they chose to do the best thing first: position themselves where they could clearly hear from the Lord.

    Perhaps today we can set aside our to-do lists until we've mimicked the Marys. Let's vow to meet with God before we attempt to meet the challenges of the day. Yes, maybe that's the key. Let's stop scurrying and be seated instead.

    There is always plenty of room at His feet.

    Dear Lord, help me to take time today to meet with You before I try to tackle the tasks of the day. Give me the perspective that You are more important than my never-ending list of tasks. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Can you remember a time when you didn't get to the end of your to-do list? Now, think back. Did you have a time alone with God that day? How, if so, how did it make a difference?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 27:8, "You have said, 'Seek my face.' My heart says to you, 'Your face, LORD, do I seek.'" (ESV)

    © 2014 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

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