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Daily Devotion

  • I Once Was a Shell of a Girl

    Posted on January 27, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

    Have you ever believed the injustices of the world were too big for you to make a difference? I have felt that way. So instead of doing something, even something small, I did nothing.

    I thought big, world-sized problems required big, powerful people.

    But then a friend told me about spending time with rescued victims of sex trafficking. I knew that conversation was meant for more than just two friends connecting. I couldn't just say, "Wow, how awful," and go about my normal life. I had to do something. Even if it was something very small.

    My small act didn't solve the evils of the world, but it did help combat the evil being done against one. And that small gift tendered my heart to do more.

    A few years later, I spent almost a week living and serving in a shelter for girls rescued from sex trafficking. Coming face to face with those affected by evil was starkly different than just hearing about it. I listened to their stories, saw their tears, and held their hands.

    What I heard and saw horrified me on deep, deep levels. I kept thinking, How can this be going on in America? How was I so unaware?

    And yet the reality is I personally know the horrors of being taken advantage of and feeling powerless. As a young girl I was caught in a vicious cycle of sexual abuse by a family "friend" for years.

    His threats kept me silent. Over time that silence turned into overwhelming shame. Hatred cloaked my soul in darkness. And that bitterness seeped into the deepest crevices of my heart, changing how I saw myself. A girl can get completely lost inside the caverns of hate and lose every bit of what used to make her feel alive.

    I once was a shell of a girl ravaged by evils done to me.

    But now I'm a girl who has hope bigger than the hurt. Light brighter than the darkness. And a life full of truth as God set me free from those death chains of hatred.

    How did I find that pathway to healing? Someone told me about Jesus.

    Jesus promised me a new life by following Him. As I did, He saved me by His love, comforted me by His grace, and freed me by His truth. Christian counseling helped me understand how to forgive and challenged me to share the hope I'd found. Every time I shared my story, it miraculously deepened my own healing. Every time I comforted another hurting woman, my own soul found deeper comfort.

    The Bible reminds us that God has comforted us "so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ" (2 Corinthians 1:4b-5, NASB).

    Your story and circumstances may be different, but we all need healing and comfort of some kind. Seek that comfort from God today. But don't stop there.

    God doesn't comfort us to make us comfortable. He comforts us to make us comfort-ABLE ... able to help others.

    Seek out someone to help today. And if you need a small place to start, I want to introduce you to a friend named Becky who was rescued and gave her life to Jesus just a few weeks ago. (For more on Becky's story, read the related resources portion below.)

    If you want to be part of the miracles happening in Becky's life and the lives of other women being helped right now, here are three ways:

    * Be aware there are women needing help.

    * Pray for these women and the organizations seeking to rescue them.

    * Buy a bracelet made by Becky or one of the other women being helped by a ministry we've partnered with called Fashion & Compassion. When you buy a bracelet, you get the name of the "rescued" woman who made it. You can pray for her specifically as you wear this beautiful reminder that small gifts matched with your prayers make a big difference.

    And if you have a story of hope like me, share it. Love. Comfort. And believe small gifts aren't small at all.

    Dear Lord, thank You for being our Comforter. Wrap Your loving arms around each woman struggling with hurt and pain in the world right now, Father. Please show me how I can help them specifically. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What small thing could you do today to help those who are hurting in the community around you? Pray for them and then take action however you can.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 62:7, "My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Put Into Practice

    Posted on January 26, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  Matthew 7:24

    The purpose of learning truth is so that it can be used. Unused truth expires and becomes stale. When you hear truth and put it into practice, you are wise. When you hear truth and ignore its application, you are foolish. Foolish is the man who acknowledges truth outwardly but never applies it inwardly. His foundation for faithfulness is fragile, so when the winds of adversity swirl and blow, his character collapses under the crushing power.

    Someone may show up for the Bible study or attend a soul-stirring retreat and hear truth but never change for the better. How can this be? This happens when people do not follow through with what they know to be right and true. There is a disconnect between their head and their heart. The discipline to stop bad habits and start new ones is rationalized away with convincing excuses. We deceive ourselves by saying, “I don’t have enough time,” “I am not spiritual enough,” “I will get around to this one day,” or “God will understand if I wait.”

    John described self-deception’s affect on truth: “We deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8b). Truth and deception can never coexist. So, jettison deception and apply truth now. If you wait, you will wander from its application. Right now is the wisest time to receive His gift of grace and to engraft it into your life. You are responsible for the truth you have received. Therefore, steward it wisely. Use it before you lose it, and become a practitioner of truth.

    Lastly, apply truth in doses that can be ingested into your character. Do not be overwhelmed by multiple things in your life that need to change. Choose one thing, such as loving your spouse with abandon and sensitivity. Paul said in Ephesians 5:25 that the husband should “give himself up” for his wife. Without saying a word, serve in secret so your spouse can experience your unselfish care and concern. Get into their world by loving them at their point of interest. It may relate to entertainment, cooking, or yard work.  Whatever it may be, serve them in ways that tell them you care.

    At work, you have the opportunity to put the radical teaching of Jesus into practice by treating others as you want to be treated (Matthew 7:12 NASB). Think of a colleague who let the team down and is in need of forgiveness. If you were in their shoes, you would appreciate this gift of mercy. You can put into practice the Golden Rule because you are golden now that God has graced your life. God has filled you with His grace so you can live a gracious life. Focus on building the foundation of your life and your character one brick of truth at a time. This architecture designed by the Almighty will endure. Leave a lasting legacy to your children by putting into practice what you know to be truth. The teachings of Jesus are truth. Therefore, believe and apply. Put His principles into practice, and persevere.
    Post/Tweet today: Put into practice the Golden Rule because you are golden now that God has graced your life. #putintopractice

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • God’s Silence

    Posted on January 25, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him” (1 Samuel 28:5–6).

    Sometimes God is silent. He is silent in our prayers. He is silent in our circumstances. He is silent in our relationships, and He is silent in His Word. His silence can be deafening because it seems that His silence is ill timed. In most cases, His silence revolves around a real need you are experiencing. You may feel that God is disinterested or that He does not care. The silence of God can be an overwhelming place to occupy and still trust Him.

    Your predicament could be like a heavy bar bell on your chest with no spotter available to assist you. You feel all alone and unable to fix the problem or correct the issue. You do not even know where to start. You are in despair, at the tipping point of depression. Anger has clouded your reason, and heaven seems indifferent to your hurt.

    Or, on the other hand, you are “suffering” from success and prosperity; yet God feels distant and disconnected. You have honored Him in the process, but He has not seemed to honor you with His warm and affirming presence. What is going on?  What is God up to? What does He want you to do next for the good of His kingdom?

    Indeed, God’s silence is your opportunity to remain faithful, even when you are unsure of His intentions for your life. He is God and we are not; therefore, we do not have to pressure ourselves to figure out everything that is going on. Managing the big picture is in His job description, not yours; so rest in His silence. Refuse to become restless, resentful, or rebellious. But still you ask, “Why the silence?”

    There may be two possible reasons for God’s silence—sin or sanctification; or it may be a combination of both. When God withholds His blessing and direction for your life, it may be the direct consequence of the sin in your life. This is why regular confession and repentance of sin are critical for the follower of Christ. This is like breathing for your soul. Sin is like cotton in the ears of our heart; thus, God’s voice becomes muffled, unclear, and eventually silent. Your removal of sin clears the wax from the ears of your heart.

    God’s silence may be used for your sanctification. He is in the process of making you more and more like His Son Jesus Christ. This is not always fun, though it is needed to learn God’s ways and His purpose for your life. Even if He is silent, do what you know is right today, and trust Him with the next step for tomorrow. Do not let silence overwhelm you; rather, use it as a springboard to trust God’s faithfulness.

    “O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent” (Psalm 109:1).

    What do I need to learn during my silent times with the Lord? Will I still trust Him?
    Related Readings: Psalm 83:1; Isaiah 62:1; John 12:29; 2 Peter 1:18

    Post/Tweet today: God’s silence is our opportunity to remain faithful, even when we are unsure of His intentions. #God’ssilence

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Transparent Behavior

    Posted on January 24, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    So the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”I was very much afraid. Nehemiah 2:2

    Transparent behavior is authentic action. What we do matches who we are in our heart. The opposite of transparency is hypocrisy. A hypocrite hides behind a mask to manipulate their image into something it’s not. A transparent person, on the other hand, gives a true representation of themselves, what you see is what you get. The good, the bad and the ugly. Authenticity does not conceal real feelings to keep up a false identity. Transparent behavior is comfortable being real.

    Nehemiah normally was full of joy, but on this day his countenance communicated distress. His family and friends were in trouble. We can chose to stuff our pain with a plastic smile or we can express our hurt with a saddened face. Trust is what facilitates our transparent behavior. If we trust God and others we take the risk to be real. There is freedom in letting go and letting the Spirit lead the conversation. Transparent behavior trusts God to work through honest interaction.

    Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7

    Do people feel comfortable around you? How can you make them feel safe to be themselves? One way is to be open about your own struggles and challenges. When someone hears of your temptations and need for accountability they feel you understand them. As individuals are understood they open up and feel the freedom to share their true feelings. Your love and confidentiality give people permission to be real. Acceptance encourages transparent behavior. A person’s vulnerability is an opportunity for us to help them, not hurt them. Reward being real.

    Furthermore, we are wise to not hide who we are with those who know us the best. When we are afraid, angry or hurt, ‘fine’ is not an acceptable answer to “How are you doing?” It blesses our spouse, family and friends when we let them in on our heart. Transparency deepens authentic relationships. A word of caution: being real does not mean to emotionally throw up on someone, but it does mean to prayerfully share struggles, dreams and joys. Let’s be honest with ourselves and God. He already knows, but it honors Him and helps us when we share our heart in prayer.

    I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. Psalm 142:1

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the courage to be real so others feel comfortable being themselves around me.

    Related Readings: Psalm 15:2; Proverbs 22:21; Matthew 6:16; Luke 22:42; Ephesians 4:15, 25

    Post/Tweet today: A person’s vulnerability is an opportunity for us to help them, not hurt them. #transparentbehavior

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Looking for Hidden Beauty

    Posted on January 24, 2014 by Amy Carroll

    Amy

    "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NASB)

    As a child who grew up swimming in the ocean off the coast of North Carolina, I was used to wading into murky waters. The sun sparkled brilliantly on the surface, but most of the time I couldn't see anything past a few inches from the top of the brownish Atlantic Ocean. My young mind whirled as my toes met with all kinds of unknowns.

    "What's that sharp edge?!"

    "Oooo ... a slimy thing!"

    "What just brushed past me?!"

    A sting from a jellyfish and watching Jaws fueled my active imagination and latent fears. I couldn't see what was swimming in the vast expanse around me, so I worried, "What's in there?"

    One rare day, I waded into the ocean and much to my surprise, my toes were in full view! I don't know what caused the unusual clarity, but that day our waters were like the crystal-clear blue seas of the Caribbean.

    Suddenly, I could see all the delights around me. Brightly colored seaweed, flashing silver scales of a fish, and shells were pushed along the bottom by the tide. The sight that remains sharp in my memory, though, was a yellow piece of seaweed with several exquisite black and white striped angelfish swimming around it.

    Was THAT what I had been worrying about?

    The little vignette looked like something I'd pay to see in a public aquarium. The beauty was riveting, and I was shocked to know these gorgeous fish had been there all along, hidden by the cloudy water.

    Life is so often like the lesson I learned that day. Most of the time we are wading through life without seeing every situation clearly, and it's easy to become fearful of what we can't see.

    But just because the beauty is hidden, doesn't mean there's no beauty to be found. I've often gone through hard times when I couldn't see where my next footstep would land. That's just a season, though, not the whole picture. We truly only see in part, but thankfully we can befriend the One who knows fully.

    If we could only see our lives through God's eyes, the lens of eternity, we'd see that just below the surface there is something beautiful. He has created each day and each moment with purpose. Sometimes our vision will be cloudy and other seasons will bring enough clarity to see the loveliness of God's concealed work.

    I remember sitting beside my friend's bedside as death approached. Watching her still face, I prayed for God's will to be done quickly and peacefully. Walking through that experience with her, a young mother with precious little boys, was a very murky time for me. I just didn't understand why her life had to end so soon.

    But as I prayed, God reminded me that every minute of her life was beautiful and precious, even those she spent near death in a hospital bed. Rather than just seeing the heartache and pain, God opened my eyes to see His good work in and purpose for my friend's life. Years later I still remember the beauty of her life. Her example of proclaiming God's goodness in the midst of a tragic reality modeled deep faith in her Father's reign over her eternal story.

    In each season of our lives, even the ones moving through murky waters when we can only see in part, we can trust in the One who views it all. There is something beautiful happening just below the surface. May God give us eyes to see it clearly.

    Lord God, You are good. I trust You are doing beautiful things in my life even when I can't see them. Please help me trust when I don't see Your eternal picture clearly and hold on tightly to You until a new season of clarity. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How would things change if you truly believed that this season won't last forever—that it's only part of God's bigger, eternal picture?

    List some of the other seasons of your life. Looking back, can you see with clarity some of the beautiful work of God even in the hard ones?

    Power Verses:
    Ephesians 3: 20-21, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Prayer for Success

    Posted on January 23, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man. Nehemiah 1:11

    A prayer for success from a pure heart is profitable. So, we position our prayers out of reverence for Almighty God. It is not a rigid and rote prayer, but one that delights in holding the Lord’s name in high esteem. Yes, our Heavenly Father does not desire failure for His followers, but for them to flourish in His will. We ask boldly when we are compelled by His call on our life. We cannot sit still, so we seek God first and His Kingdom and watch Him open doors of opportunity.

    A prayer for favor with man begins by receiving favor from our Heaven Father. When He is pleased with what He sees in our heart, He wants to see us successful in our work. It is good to pray for the Lord’s favor with a servant spirit. Servants serve at the pleasure of their master. They are part of a much bigger kingdom, not their own. So it is for us, fresh from a soul cleansing from the Holy Spirit we are rid of any spiritual toxins and we are free to serve God with success.

    As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success. 2 Chronicles 26:5

    Notice Nehemiah’s prayer was in real time: today in the presence of the King. Your prayers for success need not be so far out that they lose their sense of urgency. It is your daily prayers for bread that keep you dependent on God. It is your specific prayers for God’s favor in upcoming meetings with influencers that the Spirit turns hearts to Kingdom matters. Who can you call on today to help carry out Christ’s calling? God’s provision awaits your explanation of the need.

    Who can you ask to arrange an audience with the decision maker at work? Perhaps you need to schedule a meeting with a school principal, pastor or politician. Be bold for the Lord is leading you to make a difference. Christ has made a difference in your life, so you can be a change agent for His agenda. Make sure to maintain a spirit of prayer when you engage those whom Christ has given influence and power. Trust God to grant you success in your service with Him. He will!

    In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. 1 Samuel 18:14

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant me favor with influencers, so I can successful serve with You.

    Related Readings: Genesis 24:12; Judges 18:5; 1 Samuel 18:15; Proverbs 2:7, 3:4; Luke 2:52

    Post/Tweet today: A soul cleansing from the Holy Spirit rids us of spiritual toxins and frees us to serve with Christ. #prayerforsuccess

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Replacing My Cravings

    Posted on January 23, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my king and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." Psalm 5:1-3 (NIV 1984)

    I rolled over and looked at the clock. Another day. Beyond all reason and rationality, I slid out of bed and stripped off everything that might weigh even the slightest ounce as I headed to the scale.

    I thought, "Maybe today will be the day the scale will be my friend and not reveal my secrets. Maybe somehow overnight the molecular structure of my body shifted and today I will magically weigh less."

    I yanked out my ponytail holder - hey, it's gotta weigh something - and decided to try again. But the scale didn't change its mind the second time. It was not my friend this day.

    Vowing to do better, eat healthier, and make good choices, I headed to the kitchen only to have my resolve melt like the icing on the cinnamon rolls my daughter just pulled from the oven. Oh, who cares what the scale says when this roll speaks such love and deliciousness.

    Two and a half cinnamon rolls later, I decided tomorrow would be a much better day to keep my promises to eat healthier. But tomorrow wasn't the day. Or the next. Or the next.

    I knew I needed to make changes. Because this wasn't really about the scale or what clothing size I was; it was about this battle that raged in my heart. I thought about, craved, and arranged my life too much around food. So much so, I knew it was something God was challenging me to surrender to His control. Surrender to the point where I'd make changes for the sake of my spiritual health perhaps even more than my physical health.

    I had to get honest enough to admit it: I relied on food more than I relied on God. I craved food more than I craved God. Food was my comfort. Food was my reward. Food was my joy. Food was what I turned to in times of stress, sadness, and even in times of happiness.

    I knew this battle would be hard. But through it all I determined to make God, rather than food, my focus. Each time I craved something I knew wasn't part of my healthy eating plan, I used that craving as a prompt to pray. I craved a lot. So, I found myself praying a lot.

    Sometimes I wound up on the floor of my closet, praying with tears running down my face. And I gave myself permission to cry, just like the psalmist in Psalm 5:1-3, "Give ears to my word, O LORD, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my king and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."

    And that is literally what I did each day. Laid my requests before God and waited in expectation.

    Then, one morning, it finally happened. I got up and for the first time in a long while, I felt incredibly empowered. I still did the same crazy routine with the scale, no clothes, no ponytail holder. The numbers hadn't changed much, but my heart had. One day of victory tasted better than any of that food I'd given up ever could. I had waited in expectation using prayer as my guide and I did it.

    I can't promise you there won't be any more tears. There will. And I can't promise the scale magically drops as quickly as you wish it would. It probably won't. But it will be a start. A really good start.

    Dear Lord, You know me so intimately. You know how much I'm struggling right now. Please help me to replace my cravings with a reliance on You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How can you pray through your specific struggle?

    Do some research on Scriptures that apply to your situation. Write them down on notecards or make a list in your cell phone. When faced with your struggle, turn it into an opportunity to pray through these Scriptures.

    Power Verse:
    1 Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Right With God

    Posted on January 22, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. Nehemiah 1:6
    Confession of sin makes things right with God. Right in the sense that there is nothing between the Creator and His creation. There is a free flow of fellowship, because no action is hidden from the Almighty, but is laid out before the loving light of the Lord. What the conscience can’t bear in guilt, Christ bore on the cross in payment for sin’s guilt. This sense of right and wrong is the Holy Spirit’s influence in the wise thing to do. Confession is good for it aligns the soul with God.

    Moreover, it is our exalted and holy view of the Lord and leads us to confession and repentance. Yes, we worship the great and mighty God of heaven. He is high and lifted up in holiness and we are low and pressed down by unholiness. Through Jesus Christ He is the Savior of our soul. He created us by His Spirit and He convicts us of what’s unacceptable in His sight. So, the more we mature as a Jesus follower the more our sensitivity to sin increases. Confession is our friend.

    Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5

    A swift and sincere confession are what serves us and the Lord the best. It is immature and unhealthy to split hairs over the severity of our sin, instead humility quickly takes responsibility and repents from further action. For example, a leader of integrity will admit to their team when they break a trust by not doing what they say. The humble leader will ask forgiveness and promise to keep their word going forward. Relationships require regular doses of confession.

    Furthermore, those in leadership confess their sin and the sin of their community to Christ. They start individually and expand institutionally. When the trust of the tribe and its chief are broken with God, then confession is expected by all. Our nation’s moral walls will be rebuilt by our humble confession and repentance to God. Like Nehemiah we have a great work to do and it begins with being right with God. Confession trusts God and it builds trust with God and people.

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I confess my desperate need for You and I confess our need as a country to turn back to You.

    Related Readings: Numbers 5:9; Ezra 10:1; Psalm 38:18; Proverbs 28:13; Mark 1:5; James 5:16

    Post/Tweet today: Our nation’s moral walls will be rebuilt by our humble confession and repentance to God. #rightwithGod

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Things Have Got to Be Different This Year

    Posted on January 22, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis

    "When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, 'Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.' Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.' When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break." Luke 5:4-6 (NIV)

    "Something's got to change!"

    Have you ever said that in January? I sure have.

    It's usually when I'm frustrated with myself for something I'm not doing. For example, my broken-record complaints focus on the same three things: losing weight, better managing my work load, and spending more time with people I love.

    It's not for lack of trying my situations don't change; I work hard. But recently it dawned on me that I keep trying the same things in varying measures. I tried adding five minutes to my elliptical routine, and spent more time on my emails. Results: clothes still tight, inbox still overflowing. Time with family? I'm not sure more trips to the grocery store together qualify.

    The problem isn't my effort; it's my approach. Something has to change.

    There's a story in the Bible where Jesus told a disciple to change his approach. It happened at the very beginning of Jesus' ministry, as He was identifying and calling His disciples.

    In Luke 5, Jesus borrowed the boat of the fisherman called Simon Peter to teach the people on the shore. When He finished teaching, Jesus told Simon to put the boat in deep water and let down the nets.

    Simon surely was skeptical. Can't you see him raising his eyebrows as he looks at Jesus then at the water? He explains he's been fishing all night and hasn't caught anything. What he doesn't say, but might have thought is: Day isn't the best time to fish. Besides, all these people on the shore have probably scared them away. And no disrespect intended Jesus, but you are a carpenter/preacher—I am a fisherman. I might know a little something about fishing.

    But to Simon's credit he obeys Jesus' unusual request to fish differently. The Scripture records they caught so many fish the nets began to break.

    This story challenges my status quo. It's a call to change my approach to problem solving. If I want things to be different this year, I must do things differently.

    For me, like Simon Peter, this starts with listening to and obeying the voice of Jesus for new directions.

    This is hard for a routine-loving girl like me. I'm not a fan of different because it often feels uncomfortable. I prefer to keep things the way they are ... except that doesn't always work.

    So I prayed about these three areas in my life, and asked God to show me a fresh approach for each. Being a faithful God, He gave me some options to shake up my routines.

    1. Rather than go to the gym at night and stick with the elliptical machine, He asked me to go in the morning and incorporate strength training. So I signed up for a morning exercise class at church.

    2. Rather than try to manage my emails by spending more time on them, I'm unsubscribing to every list. I'll visit websites and blogs on my schedule.

    3. Realizing I've become too inward focused, I've made a list of special days, activities, and places I want to go where I can invite others to join me.

    That day on the lake, Jesus invited Simon Peter to go into the deep waters—a place Simon had been many times before. But under Jesus' direction and with a new approach, Simon saw amazing results.

    Can the same be true for me? For you? As we start 2014, may we become women who listen for the voice of Jesus as He speaks new ways into old habits. May we raise our faces to the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit. And may we trust Jesus as He takes us in to deep waters, where under His direction, we'll see amazing results.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for being a God of new things. You have called me in to new life with You, and Your ways are higher than mine. Help me see those areas of my life that need a breath of the newness of Your Spirit. I want to be a woman who sets aside her comfort and routine to fish in deep waters with You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What problem have you been trying to solve in your life by using the same approach as always?

    Pray and ask God to show you one thing you can do differently starting today.

    Power Verse:
    Luke 6:46, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (NIV)

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Covenant of Love

    Posted on January 21, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments. Nehemiah 1:5

    Just as the Lord God made a covenant of love with His chosen people Israel, He covenants in love with His church the Bride of Christ. We are united with Christ in the bonds of love forever. Yes, those who fall in love with Jesus stand at the altar of trust and vow to remain faithful until death brings them into eternal oneness with their Lord. Our fidelity of faith is evidence of our genuine love and commitment to God. His covenant of love compels us to be loved and to love.

    We are loved by God unconditionally, even when we fail to reciprocate His love. Though the Lord’s love is jealous, He does not jettison us from His presence when we ignore Him. We may drift away from Him with our unwise decisions, but His love is available to bring us back to the security and serenity of His presence. Christ’s covenant of love to His forgiven bride keeps us humble and grateful. Like Esther, we seek to adorn ourselves with the beauty of His holiness.

    And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. Esther 2:15

    We love the Lord, because He first loved us. We pursue the Lord, because He first pursued us. We serve the Lord, because He first served us. We remain faithful to the Lord, because He remains faithful to us. Yes, we love Him and keep His commands, because of what His grace and love have already done for us. It is a divine gift that provides what we need most. Our greatest need is to be loved by our Heavenly Father. Christ’s covenant of love grows love in our heart.

    God’s covenant of love is not to be taken for granted. It is not an emotional acknowledgement we act on only when our feelings cooperate. No, when we entered into covenant with Christ we committed to Christ and to all He represents: love, obedience, generosity, holiness, service, worship, prayer, scripture, mercy, grace, forgiveness, evangelism, discipleship and the church. Since He keeps His covenant of love, we are the bride of Christ who loves, cherishes and obeys.

    And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your covenant of love that invites me to be loved by You and compels me to love You and others.

    Related Readings: Daniel 9:4; Matthew 22:37-40; 1 Corinthians 13:13, 16:14; Galatians 5:6;    1 John  4:7-12

    Post/Tweet today: Since He keeps His covenant of love, we are the bride of Christ who loves, cherishes and obeys. #covenantoflove

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

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