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Daily Devotion

  • God With Us

    Posted on December 25, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” Matthew 1:22-23

    Wow! The Creator came to dwell with His creation. The all knowing One came to teach teachers and students limited by their lack of knowledge and understanding. The ever present One came to comfort hurting people stuck in their suffering. The all powerful One came to serve weak people, empowering them with His Spirit. The Almighty sent His only son Jesus into the world, fully God and fully man. Yes, the Word became flesh!

    God is with us to face down our fears by faith. God is with us in our doubts. God is with us in our hurts applying His healing balm of grace. God is with us in our transitions to grow our trust in Him.  God is with us at work and home. God is with us in our uncertainty.  God is with us when we feel His presence and when we don't feel Him near. God is with us in our successes and in our failures. God is with us and for us for His glory!

    "And surely I [Jesus] am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NIV)

    God is with us in our modern technology and our antiquated activities. The Lord is with us in our big cities and our small towns. Jesus is with us when we feel joy, laughter and loss. Christ is with us to comfort us in our pain and encourage us to persevere for Him. He is with us in the ups and the downs. He is with us and He is in us to work through us!

    Therefore, because Christ is with you, you can be confident of His wisdom and direction. Fools flounder for lack of faith, but you have the Faithful One as the facilitator of your circumstances. Immanuel entered the earth by birth and entered your heart by new birth. Your Savior Jesus has saved you from your sins and your Lord Jesus commands you to follow His ways and experience His life. He gave His life and came to life for your life!

    “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for being with us on earth and for being my life.

    Related Readings: 1 Kings 8:57; Isaiah 8:10; Psalm 46:11; Acts 10:41; Ephesians 2:6

    Post/Tweet today: Immanuel entered the earth by birth and entered your heart by new birth. #Christmas

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • A Light in the Dark

    Posted on December 25, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha

    "I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!" Luke 2:30-32 (NLT)

    "Don't get out of the car by yourself. Just honk when you get here and I'll come out."

    As I drove down the darkening street I questioned the wisdom of the 13-year-old who had just given me those instructions. Maybe one of the other youth group leaders should have come with me. Wouldn't honking alert the drug dealers in the neighborhood that Jake had warned me about?

    Turns out I didn't get an answer to my question. Approaching his house, I squinted in the dim evening light. The silhouette of Jake throwing a football in the air was fading against the night sky.

    Christmas carols escaped from my rolled down car window. Songs of the Christ child's birth and God's glory in the highest. Lyrics proclaiming that salvation had come—for me, for Jake, his neighbors, the world.

    "Hey buddy. How are ya?" Such a lame question in light of all he'd seen. His father in a jail cell just a few months prior. His father overdosed in his bed last week. His father in a casket three days earlier.

    Jake helped me carry the pizzas I'd brought over for his family. Couches brimmed with aunts and uncles; chairs overflowed with young cousins vying for a spot to sit. His mom, Norma, and several friends surrounded the kitchen table. Many had come long distances, weary travellers searching for peace.

    These pizzas would ease their hunger, but not their hurt. They wouldn't be truly comforted until they found what they were looking for: a light in the darkness of their grief.

    That dismal day as the television flickered in the living room ... as Norma declared she was moving out of that memory-laden house ... as Jake talked about playing football in a different school district ... I prayed, Lord please let them see You.

    My heart understood some of their hurt. I've been the one to receive meals. I've made plans to escape the memories and grief. And I've set my sights on what I wished would rescue me from painful circumstances.

    Maybe you've longed for that kind of help too? Eagerly looked for a light in the darkness? There was a man, Simeon, in Luke chapter 2 who had the great joy of pronouncing that help had come.

    Let's look at Simeon's amazing proclamation: "At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

    'Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!'" (Luke 2:25-32 NLT)

    Simeon knew that true help, true salvation, wouldn't come through anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ.

    That day standing in Jake's living room, I knew the same thing. No matter how many meals were delivered, or whether or not they moved to a new school or neighborhood, without the hope of Christ, they'd always be looking for something else to be their hope, their light. The same is true for me, for you.

    Simeon was a man of singular passion: to see the Christ Child with his own eyes and God's glory revealed. He knew that Jesus' birth meant salvation had come for those who would trust in Him and the work He would do when He died on the cross. His whole life would illuminate God's love to a desperate world. For those who believe that He is the Son of God and our risen Savior, we have the hope of eternal life spent with God and peace and joy here on earth.

    On this day when we celebrate Jesus' coming to earth, let's really focus on Him. He is our hope in despairing situations. And a joyful light to brighten even the darkest circumstances.

    Jesus, You alone are the hope the world needs. Thank You for coming from heaven to earth, from King to servant, from God to babe. Give me a singular passion to see You. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    When your hope dips low, pray for help in re-focusing on the great gift of Jesus and who God is.

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 9:6, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Night Before Christmas

    Posted on December 24, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” Luke 2:4-5

    It was the night before Christmas and Jesus, who was from the line of David, was to be born in the city of David. He was coming, not as a King, but as a Savior to shepherd the souls of hurting humanity. In God’s eyes His Son had always been and always would be. But to mankind the birth of Jesus was the defining moment in history (His story!). Calendars began to divide time: BC (before Christ) to AD (Anno Domini: in the year of our Lord).

    In a similar way we define our conversion to Jesus as a new birth into His kingdom. The calendar of our soul is clearly categorized as before Christ and after Christ. The night before our new birth we were lost in our sins. But at the daybreak of our faith we stepped into the light of forgiveness and were saved from our sins. Indeed, Jesus was born into the world to seek and to save the lost. He was born, so we could be born again!

    “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
    Have you made room for your Lord Jesus at the inn of your soul or is He in the hay barn of your heart? The world’s activities are loud, busy and demanding. It’s easy to drift under their demands and forget the words of our Lord, “Follow Me.” Yes, once the excitement of your new found faith wears off the world can wear you down. So, be intentional as humble shepherds and wise men to search out your Savior. Give Him gifts of gratitude.

    Like Joseph, be responsible in care of the mundane: be compliant to the government, know the condition of your family, identify their needs and give them security. Indeed, it’s out of your every day obedience to Christ’s commands that He births faith, hope and love. Your heavenly Father takes care of you, as you take care of His business. Christmas Eve is a celebration of Christ’s entrance on earth and the joy He brings to all who believe!

    “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:3

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Christ’s birth and for my new birth of faith.

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 20:7; Isaiah 9:6; Daniel 6:4;  John 4:14, 7:42

    Post/Tweet today: Jesus was born so we could be born again. #Christmas

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Calming Our Hearts

    Posted on December 24, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness." Psalm 145:7 (NIV)

    In the midst of the busyness of Christmas, I often pull away to calm my heart and quiet my thoughts with a cup of hot cocoa. I love to feel warm and peaceful while sipping a cup of steaming chocolate with marshmallows piled on top.

    But there is another reason I love cocoa. Each letter of my favorite winter drink helps me focus my heart on Christ and to live out Psalm 145:7, "They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness." (NIV)

    C – CHRIST "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit." Matthew 1:18 (NIV 1984)

    It's easy to focus on shopping and planning Christmas Day menus instead of seeking Jesus. Take a break today from searching for that last-minute present or perfect recipe to spend time praising God for the gift of His Son.

    O – ORNAMENTS "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV 1984)

    Decking the halls can be a lot of fun, but have we adorned our hearts with God's love and compassion, patience and kindness? When we do, our words and actions will glorify God and bless others.

    C – CHEERFULLY CELEBRATE THE SEASON "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 (NIV)

    Although Christmas is meant to be a joyous season, it's also a time we might struggle with depression and discouragement. Focusing on God's truth that we are valued and loved as children of God can remove that shroud of darkness and replace it with great joy. This month will be over in a few days, but the peace and hope we find in God's love are forever.

    O – OVERJOYED not OVERWHELMED "When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." Matthew 2:10-11 (NIV)

    Many of us are overjoyed to kick off the Christmas season but feel overwhelmed by the middle of the month, much less the day before Christmas. Reconnect with the wonder and awe of celebrating Christ as you bring a gift of gratitude to Jesus for coming as our Savior. When we focus our hearts on all God has done, we won't get as easily overwhelmed by all that we'd like to get done.

    A – ABUNDANCE "... I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10b (NIV)

    Whenever I think of Christmas morning, from my childhood to the present, the word abundance comes to mind. Abundance of gifts, food, and activities. But these things are temporary. What we need is the abundant life Jesus came to give us. Our hearts need His mercy, peace, and love—not only on Christmas day, but every day throughout each year.

    I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a cup of Christmas cocoa. Will you join me? Let's take time to ponder the verses above and make room for God's love to pour into our hearts. His abundant goodness is worthy to be celebrated!

    Dear Lord, thank You for giving me the gift of Your Son. Please help me not get so caught up in the earthly celebrations of Christmas that I forget to celebrate all I have in Christ. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you allowed the chaos of Christmas to overshadow your celebration of Christ?

    How can you share God's goodness with others?

    Power Verses:
    Number 6:25-26, "The LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Modest Means

    Posted on December 23, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “She gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Luke 2:7

    Jesus came into the world in a modest manger with parents who had modest means. Mary and Joseph were long on love but short on financial resources. But in God’s economy, a family first needs faith in their Provider and not in the provision. A family who prays together has a higher probability of staying together. A home rich in relational depth experiences true riches. Modest financial means can liberate one’s love for the Lord.

    You may receive a cool reception from those who feel superior because of their self proclaimed social status. Some look down on the work of your hands for their hands have not been soiled by sweat and physical labor. Pride breeds a smug countenance while humility births a kind and compassionate face. Indeed, modesty makes room for humility.

    “But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of.” 1 Corinthians 12:19, The Message

    Are you a little embarrassed that you don’t have the cutest clothes, the coolest car or the most decorated home? Don’t let the “comparison trap” trap you into not trusting God for His game plan and His good things. You may seem ordinary by the world’s standards, but your life surrendered to your Savior has extraordinary potential. Give Him all you have.

    Maybe you are newly married or you know a newlywed couple. This modest season is a prime time to learn contentment in Christ and how to serve Him and others unselfishly. Give over to the Lord your modest means and He will multiply it for His glory. Your limited time He redeems with creative opportunities, your humble finances He stretches beyond a strict budget and your rich relationships He makes richer. Dedicate your modest means to your Master Jesus, like a soft rain, He will refresh dry hearts.

    “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” Luke 16:10

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, take my modest means and multiply them for Your glory.

    Related Readings: Exodus 16:17; Proverbs 16:8; Luke 19:17; 1 Corinthians 12:23

    Post/Tweet today: A home rich in relational depth experiences true riches. #true riches

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • The Pull to be Everywhere During the Holidays

    Posted on December 23, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:4 (ESV)

    I loved holidays. Before marriage. Before the pull to be everywhere at the same time. Before most decisions left someone upset or angry or feeling left out.

    As a newlywed, I struggled with a desire to be in my own home on holidays, to start my own traditions with my husband. We were the first to be married in both families, and thus the first to break "how it's always been."

    Thanksgiving should have been a time to be thankful. All I felt was stretched thin. Christmas was meant to be joyous, but I was often frustrated from wanting to please everyone.

    As we had children, I tried to mask my frustration with enthusiasm. But inside I wrestled. If my husband and I chose to celebrate the holidays at our own home, someone was bound to be disappointed. When we went to every expected event, I would be exhausted from packing up three young kids, diaper bags, food, toys, presents, and the list went on.

    Fast-forward thirty years, and thankfully I once again treasure the holidays. But now that my kids are grown up and married with babies of their own, I understand the longing my extended family felt to be together on the holidays. An empty nest leaves gaps that traditions used to fill.

    Yet with three sets of in-laws, there are other families in the mix now. My husband and I know the pressure our kids might feel to come home for the holidays, and we don't want them to have the same frustrations we did.

    A few years ago we chose to put Philippians 2:4 in to action: "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (ESV).

    We told our children it's not the date on the calendar that makes holidays special. It's the heart behind them. It's spending time with people you love.

    So, sometimes we get together on Thanksgiving Day, or maybe the week after. Maybe it's Christmas only, while Thanksgiving is spent with other family members or by themselves. We remain flexible to our kids' needs and schedules. If they and our grandchildren aren't with us on a specific day, my husband and I fill that time with a new tradition with just the two of us. Last year Richard and I hiked. We had so much fun! Later, when we gathered to celebrate Christmas with our growing family, it was a blessed, unrushed time.

    There was an unexpected gift. What we discovered is that by looking out for their best interest—and not our personal desires—our kids love to come because there's no pressure. They let us in on their traditions. Regardless of the date, when we do get together we have fun! It's a gift we give our family and ourselves.

    Dear Lord, I'm grateful for so many things, and one of those is family who loves me enough to want to be with me. Help me share my needs with my loved ones, and to do it with grace and gentleness. Help me not to take it personally as they struggle with change. If I am the one that is inflexible, help me to bend and grow. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you shared your needs? Articulate them on paper. Share them at the right time, in the right attitude. Don't take responses personally. Change takes time.

    If you are the one struggling with change, are you willing to be flexible? Instead of focusing on a specific date, focus on the heart of the holiday.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 106:1-2, "Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for his is good! His faithful love endures forever. Who can list the glorious miracles of the LORD? Who can ever praise him enough?" (NLT)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Intimacy Trusts

    Posted on December 22, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.  Psalm 9:10

    Intimacy trusts. This is the outcome of knowing God. Knowledge is best when it exercises itself against the name of God. His name is above every name. It is at the name of Jesus that every knee will bow and confess Him as Lord. It is much better and much more desirable to know His name this side of eternity. No name is close to carrying the weight, reverence, respect, devotion, and influence than that of the Lord Jesus Christ. By knowing His name, we begin to understand the attributes of the Almighty. Patience, peace, holiness, love, discipline, mercy, and grace all emanate from the name of Jehovah, our one and only God of creation. Because we know Him, we trust Him. Because we trust Him, we want to know Him deeper and more fully.
    Faith is an intelligent grace. There can be knowledge without faith, but there can be no faith without knowledge. Knowledge carries the torch before faith and illuminates its path. Paul defined his faith experience when he proclaimed, “For I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12). A blind faith is as bad as a dead faith. Our heavenly Father wants us to have an informed faith. Devout ignorance confuses and makes wrong assumptions. It misses intimacy because it is based on a caricature of Christ. Know Him, and you will trust Him. He is there for us to seek Him. By faith, you find Jehovah, Jireh, Elohim, Shaddai, Adonai and Yahweh. Intimacy trusts when it rests in Almighty God.
    Intimacy trusts because there is a bond of belief that cannot be broken. When we wrap our rope of faith around the mooring of our Master, we are secure. No storm of life will cause us to drift, because we are anchored in Him. We trust Him because He is utterly and thoroughly trustworthy. His name has never been soiled by sin. Jesus is not only a good name; it is a great name. His name is wonderful. His name is beautiful. His name is to be honored and cherished because He is our God. Feel free to drop His name often to those who need encouragement or rebuke. No need to hold back the name of Jesus. Yes, mention His name with grace, but not apologetically. His is the name of whom we trust. We point people beyond ourselves to One who is much, much more capable. We name the name of Christ.
    Lastly, intimacy between individuals is trusting. This is the nature of intimacy with God or man. You cannot get to know someone authentically and not be positioned to trust them. If their genuine self overwhelms you with hypocrisy, you will lose respect and trust. But when you get close to genuine followers of Jesus, you see beyond their quirks. You appreciate their uniqueness and embrace their differences. You honor them for being who they are, and you better understand each other’s worlds. You begin to honor and respect those you get to know. Not only do we love them, we respect them. You get beyond your biases toward them and you believe in them.
    Intimacy trusts. The Bible says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13)

    Post/Tweet today: Because we know God, we trust Him. Because we trust Him, we want to know Him more deeply. #intimacytrusts

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Expecting a Baby

    Posted on December 21, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “He [Joseph] went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:5–7).

    An expecting wife needs extra sensitivity and a strong, supportive husband. She is emotionally vulnerable and physically overwhelmed at times. As with Mary, there may be some uncertainty of the ultimate outcome, but she trusts the Lord to care for her and her baby. The circumstances are challenging when you are away from the comforts of home and its familiar feel. Pregnancy is a transition that requires trust in the Lord.

    Husbands, your expecting wife needs you to step up like Joseph and provide leadership. This is not the time to lose faith or become frightened. Perfect love casts out fear; so overcome any apprehension with the Christlike love that dwells in your mind and heart. See pregnancy as a prayerful process to accomplish the plan of almighty God, as expecting moms and dads can expect great things from Him. Hannah and her husband Elkanah gave God the glory for the blessing of their son Samuel.

    “Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him’” (1 Samuel 1:19–20).

    Furthermore, a husband’s leadership needs to provide protection for his wife. Accompany her, as Joseph did, to new places and people who might take advantage of your sweet-spirited spouse. It makes your woman feel safe and secure when you buffer her from bad people or strangers with unseemly motives. Stay with her, and see her through stressful situations, like family members who can be awkward and insensitive toward your bride.

    Intervene and defend your wife if your children, parents, or siblings show disrespect, however subtle it might be. God made you one flesh in marriage; so if she is offended, you are offended. Of course, prayerfully confront all parties in a spirit of grace and humility, but with clarity. An expecting wife is beautiful to behold as she brings forth an innocent infant woven in her womb by God. Be there for her labor of love for the Lord and for His gift of a precious little one to love. Mary gave God the glory for her baby Jesus!

    “The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).

    Prayer: Whom can I support and pray for who is expecting a baby? How can I thank my heavenly Father for His gift of baby Jesus to me and to mankind?

    Related Readings: Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2; John 16:21; 1 John 4:18

    Post/Tweet today: An expecting wife is beautiful as she brings forth an innocent infant woven in her womb by God. #expectingababy

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Abundant Forgiveness

    Posted on December 20, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Then Peter came to Jesus and ask, ‘Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seventy times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

    Sin’s offense hurts. There is no doubt about it. Sin wounds indiscriminately. It is no respectr of persons. Sin builds walls. It ravishes relationships and it separates. Sin is a sorry excuse for wrong behavior. Just the sound of the word solicits negative emotion. Sin is deceptive, carnal and Christ-less. Sin is unfair, sad and sometimes sadistic.

    Sin follows a process of desire, conception, birth, maturity and death. James describes its diabolical development. “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15). So sin is not to be taken lightly. Certainly its infliction of pain cannot be ignored for long. It can kill relationships.

    Nonetheless, when you are sinned against you are to forgive. When someone’s sin assaults your attitude, you are to forgive them. When someone’s sin berates your work, you are to forgive them. When someone’s sin violates your trust, you are to forgive them. When someone’s sin steals your joy, you are to forgive them.

    When someone’s sin crushes your dreams, you are to forgive them. When someone’s sin steals from you, you are to forgive them. This level of forgiveness is counter-intuitive and counter-cultural, but it is the way of Christ. Forgiveness is God’s game plan. You will lose if you don’t forgive. Unforgiveness is tortuous to the soul. It is unhealthy for the body and emotions. Unforgiveness fills prescriptions and leaves hollow lives in its wake.

    It doesn’t matter who is the most right or the most wrong. Forgiveness cuts through the varying degrees of guilt and erases the entire debt. True forgiveness comes from the heart of the one offended. It is not a flippant acknowledgement, but a sincere removal of anything that is owed. When the offended one forgives, he or she wipes out the expectation for an apology, a pay back or change. It is forgiveness clear and simple. Forgiveness is letting go of the hurt, anger and shame. When you forgive you are free. You are free from the shackles of sin. When you forgive you trust God to judge others in His time. His judgment is just. God can be trusted with the consequences of sin’s offense.

    Lastly, you continue to forgive others because your heavenly Father continues to forgive you. Without Christ’s forgiveness we are all men and women most miserable. Jesus does not deal in forgiveness quotas. The forgiveness of the Cross was swift, full, final and forever. Unlock your relational restraints with the key of forgiveness. Write a letter with tear soaked ink outlining your forgiveness. Call or e-mail someone today and let them know because you are forgiven, you forgive them. Set free others with forgiveness and you will be set free. There is freedom in Christ. Forgive fast—and forgive often.

    “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34a).

    Prayer: Whom by God’s grace do I need to forgive? Have I accepted Christ’s forgiveness?

    Related Readings: Genesis 50:17; Psalm 130:4; Luke 17:3; Ephesians 4:32

    Post/Tweet this today: Set others free with forgiveness and you will be set free. There is freedom in Christ. #abundantforgiveness

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Combating Loneliness

    Posted on December 20, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha

    "My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted." Psalm 25:15-16 (ESV)

    Don't look his way, her heart and mind insist.

    She doesn't want to look. Then again, she does. Though my friend did not check the "Plus One" box on her RSVP card, she wishes she had. Why had she come to this party alone? Maybe then she wouldn't gravitate to him.

    He's reckless and destructive. My friend knows better, but he's the only one who can relate to her. Even so, she avoids eye contact, hoping to make him believe she doesn't need him anymore.

    She succeeds until another round of laughter fills the Christmas party. Her resolve walks out as he walks up to her, extending a knowing hand. Fingers entwined, she falls in his snare. She can't stand him ... this companion called loneliness.

    In the midst of listening to marriage, baby, vacation, life-is-grand stories, she hears the voice of loneliness, high above the conversations: You'll never have this. You'll be lonely forever.

    She had promised herself she wouldn't turn her eyes to him this time. As she was getting ready for the party, she put this truth on: "My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted." (Psalm 25:15-16 ESV)

    But she forgot this hopeful promise as she fell into the trap of loneliness.

    By the time the clock chimed an acceptable hour to bid her goodbyes, she was eager to be gone. One step out the door and she lowered her guard too soon. Loneliness had saved his best for last. Powerfully, he pummeled lies until she believed: You will always be lonely.

    When he trotted off, leaving her alone, a different hand reached down. One that is gentle and healing. Let me help you up. Rough night, huh?

    She looked up to see His scarred hand extended.

    How'd You know I was here?

    He tells her He's been there the whole time, always near, at the ready to rescue any time she looked to Him for help. As she faced Him, He began to untangle the false claims of loneliness with truth: I am near (Psalm 145:18). I will never leave (Deuteronomy 31:6). I am your joy (Psalm 16:11).

    Hollow parts of her heart filled with the confidence of Jesus. She knew it was time to break-up with loneliness for good. Not just at parties, during holidays, or weekends with nothing planned.

    Maybe it's your time too? Truth is, loneliness can tag along whether you are alone or surrounded by family and friends, on special days and ordinary days.

    There's only one way to keep loneliness from being a constant companion in life. It is to make sure our "... eyes are ever toward the LORD ..." Psalm 25:15a (ESV).

    Let's keep our focus on God and call out to Him when we feel loneliness setting a trap for us: in the festive times, in the quiet times, at all times.

    Dear Lord, my eyes are ever toward You, for only You will release my feet from the trap of loneliness. Will You please turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted? Thank You for being near and being my joy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Christmas can be a time when loneliness is overwhelming. If you struggle with this, what can you do to combat loneliness?

    Choose a Bible verse to memorize that you will use to fight loneliness. Write it on a piece of paper or make it your phone/computer screen saver as a constant reminder of the nearness of Jesus.

    Power Verses:
    Deuteronomy 31:8, "It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." (ESV)

    Lamentations 3:22-26, "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. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.

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

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