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Daily Devotion

  • Forgetful Friends

    Posted on September 28, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him” (Genesis 40:23).

    Sometimes friends forget. They forget birthdays, anniversaries, commitments, and what is important to their friends. The forgetfulness of friends facilitates frustration and disappointment. After all, some of these friends have been past recipients of your help and encouragement. You have been there for them during their days of discouragement. Now when the tables have turned and you are in need, they do not seem to be near.

    Maybe they are too busy with life, maybe they are buried in their own troubles, or maybe they have simply forgotten you. Unfortunately, some friendships are tentative and unpredictable. When adversity strikes, you are able to filter out false friends from forever friends. Fair-weather friends will fly in and out of your life. Some friendships are expedient for the moment while others compound in loyalty and love as the years pass.

    However, be careful not to place expectations on your friends. Expectations increase the chances for disappointment. Friends will let you down if you hold lofty expectations over them. If your friends feel the pressure to perform a certain way, they will push back in fear or resentment. Friendships are meant for release—not control.

    Companions are a gift from Christ. Steward them well so you can be trusted with more. It is tempting to take our friends for granted, especially long-term friendships, because they are low maintenance and tend to get the least attention. But, in reality, even old friends need nurturing. They need a phone call, a visit, or written correspondence. They need time. Friendships grow or atrophy, but care and attention fertilize a friendship.

    Moreover, make it a goal for your spouse to become your best friend. You and your spouse sleep and eat together. You raise children together. You manage the home together. You budget money together. You hurt together. You laugh together. You vacation together. You are growing old together. Since you spend so much time “doing life” together, it is imperative you fortify your friendship. You are not just tolerating each other for the children’s sake. Your goal is to become best friends, so when the children move out, you are not bored and relationally bankrupt. Fun friendships are intentional.

    The marriage relationship is a friendship not to forget. If you ignore this friend, you will wake up one day with regrets. Remember your spouse’s birthday, your anniversary, and all those little things that make him or her feel special. When you remember a friend, you honor a friend. When you remember a friend, you feed a friendship. Friendships fatigue for lack of attention. Remember a friend today. Remind this friend how special he or she is to you and to God. Love this friend, and expect nothing in return. Be a friend and you will have friends.

    “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24 nkjv).

    Prayer: Am I a friend worthy of friendship? What friend do I need to love and encourage?

    Related Readings: 1 Samuel 20:42; Job 16:20–21; Proverbs 27:10; John 15:13–15

    Post/Tweet: Some friendships are expedient for the moment, while others compound in loyalty and love as the years pass. #forgetfulfriends

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

  • Unintentional Sin

    Posted on September 27, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “If the entire Israelite community sins by violating one of the Lord’s commands, but the people do not realize it, they are still guilty.” Leviticus 4:13

    Unintentional sin still has very real consequences. For example, I can forget to report extra income to the Internal Revenue service, but I still owe the taxes and interest on the overdue obligation. Or, I can make a flippant remark to my spouse or children as a weak attempt at humor not realizing how badly I hurt their feelings. My good intentions mean well, however the consequences of sinful actions still need genuine forgiveness.

    It’s not enough to say, “I didn’t mean to”, or “That’s not what I meant”. Inadvertent actions that bruise relationships, question our integrity, or violate the Lord’s commands require a response of confession and repentance. It’s woefully inadequate to blame memory loss or ignorance on behavior that assumes things are ok when sin is present.

    “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

    This is especially true with children for they need behavioral boundaries. Parental love defines and enforces limitations with their little ones (soon to be big ones!). Children need to understand in their formative years that respect, honesty and obedience are rewarded but disrespect, dishonesty and disobedience are punished. Grace gives good guidelines.

    Perhaps with your older children you draw up a one page “contract” that clearly defines appropriate attitudes and actions. Access to their cell phone and car can be contingent on carrying out the commitments outlined in the agreement. Other family members can witness what’s written down with their supportive signature and prayers. Indeed, intentional actions that create clarity and accountability impede unintentional sinning.

    “Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, Amplified Bible).

    Furthermore, what intentional guidelines do you have in place to preclude unintentional sin in your life? Educating yourself in the ways of God is fundamental, as defined in His word. Spend time listening to the Lord and to friends who hold you accountable with caring questions like, “Is your company compliant with government regulations?” “Are your motivations in alignment with Almighty God’s agenda? Be intentional to be right.

    “Would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21).

    Prayer: How can I be intentional with my attitude & actions not to be guilty of unintentional sin?

    Related Readings: Psalm 90:8; Ezekiel 45:20; Matthew 7:21-23; Hebrews 9:7

    Post/Tweet today: Intentional actions that create clarity and accountability impede unintentional consequences. #unintentionalsin

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

  • Be Happy Now

    Posted on September 27, 2013 by Valorie Burton

    Valorie

    "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)

    "I'm not happy with my job. I'm not happy with my body. I'm not happy with my life."

    It seems that at some point in our lives, we each struggle with unhappiness, a spirit of discontentment, with wanting more. I remember a couple of years ago being frustrated as I sat in my comfy living room chair, Bible open, listening to the Lord. Well, maybe it was more like talking at Him, telling Him what I wanted.

    What I wanted was to be happily married and have a family of my own. At 38, my "clock" was ticking, and I was still faithfully believing God for marriage and family.

    If God would just give me the desires of my heart, I knew I could be happy. That's when this thought came to me: Be happy now. If you don't learn to be happy while you're waiting for what you want, you'll never be happy when you get what you want.

    To be clear, happiness cannot be the sole aim of our existence. Living out my purpose by serving and loving others as Christ does is my ultimate goal. When I stop focusing so much on what I want, and focus my gaze on what God wants to do in and through me, contentment follows.

    In fact, happiness is an external indication of internal contentment.

    This realization stopped me in my tracks. The list of things I felt I needed to check off my list for me to be happy was tiring. The idea that I could choose happiness was refreshing. The first step was to embrace life exactly as it was; in other words, to be content. I counted my blessings more, started traveling, and did things that being single uniquely afforded me. Most importantly, I decided to wholeheartedly trust God.

    When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, the word he used for "content" actually means to be contented with one's lot in life. We can spend so much energy pushing against our reality when life doesn't turn out the way we planned it. But resisting what is, and trying to control what is beyond our control, can cause anxiety. Frustration takes over. Anger prevails.

    Instead of making the most of our circumstances, it's easy to lament the fact that things are not where we believe they should be.

    What if we stopped pushing against what is and learned to embrace our present circumstances?

    When that shift is made, it feels like a heavy burden is released from our shoulders. It can also feel scary at first. But truly accepting where we are helps us relax and see the good God has in our present circumstances. We cast our cares, content in trusting that all things indeed will work together for our good.

    When I embraced what is, I discovered happiness greater than any I'd experienced before. Just like Paul tells us to do in Philippians 4, I made intentional choices to be content with my present circumstances—and in the lot God had given me for that season. I stopped making happiness a destination and began making it my way of journeying through life.

    Lord, help me embrace what is and live each day with thankfulness for the life I've been given. Give me the grace to be happy while I wait for what I want, rather than insist that I cannot be happy until I attain it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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    Reflect and Respond:
    What current reality are you in that you are resisting?

    What would it look like for you to be content?

    Power Verses:
    Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (ESV)

    Psalm 16:5, "LORD, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future." (HCSB)

    © 2013 by Valorie Burton. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Harvest House Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

  • Value Others More

    Posted on September 26, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4

    The value of something or someone determines its importance. For example, if a hobby is highly valued it gets attention, even to the exclusion of relational investments in a needy child. It’s easier to get lost in leisure than to face the reality of a broken relationship. But by predetermining a high appraisal of someone, a high priority is credited them in hard times.

    Indeed, there is a tension between our own interests and the interests of others. After all, doesn’t the Lord want us to take care of ourselves? Of course He does—but it is not hiding behind our own issues and ambitions to the exclusion of placing others above ourselves. Humility esteems the good in others while recognizing its own struggles.

    “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3).

    Pride places a lower priority on others and a higher priority on self. Pride does its due diligence and ranks the issues of others much lower in value than its own needs and wants. It’s only from the assumption of a humble heart that we are capable of valuing others as Christ values them. Jesus humbles us so we in turn can humbly serve others.

    Therefore, what interests the people in your life? What are your spouse’s interests? What do your children value? What are the personal goals of your work associates? Perhaps you do a relational audit around their interests and become intentional in helping them fulfill their needs and desires. It takes faith to first fulfill another’s agenda over yours.

    Paradoxically, when we place the needs of others above ourselves, God fills in the gaps. His favor shines on servants of Jesus—who without guile—go the extra mile on behalf of those who don’t deserve extra attention. God’s favor flourishes in your life when by faith you keep your faith, family and friend’s interests in high esteem above your own. Jesus is very clear that those who place others above themselves are greatest in His kingdom.

    “Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. But Jesus intervened: "Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It's not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant” (Luke 22:24-26, The Message).

    Prayer: Whose interests do I need to understand and value above my own?

    Related Readings: Ruth 1:16-18; Matthew 23:11; Luke 9:46-48; 22:27-30

    Post/Tweet today: It’s easier to get lost in leisure than to face the reality of a broken relationship. #valueothersmore

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

  • The Moment

    Posted on September 26, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "And yet I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." (1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:1 NIV)

    Each morning, I have a routine with my husband. It's simple. Nothing profound. Nothing for which we'd ever stop and snap a picture.

    It's just a moment.

    He asks me to help him pick a tie. He then goes away to fuss with this fixture of his professional job. Soon, he returns with a flipped up collar and a pressed down, knotted tie. He needs gentle hands to fold the collar over. Actually, he doesn't need. He wants gentle hands to fold the collar over.

    And I do.

    It's just a moment.

    But it's a moment when we follow the "excellent way" of love. In the intersection of this moment, we're once again saying to each other: I love you; I love you too.

    Now, please don't get an overly idyllic picture in your head of our marriage. Heavens, no. We have plenty of those "growth opportunity" moments too.

    But this moment with the tie, it's like a spot of glue ever tightening the bond between us day by day. It's so simple, and yet something I would miss with the deepest ache imaginable if today were the last of the moments.

    If today.

    Tears slip as I think about this. Dear God, help me think about this. Let me snap a hundred of these moments with the lens of my heart to be stored and appreciated and thought of as the great treasure they are.

    Let my mind park there.

    Let my heart relish there.

    Let my mouth dare to whisper what a joy this is. I love you. I love us. I love this moment each day.

    Our relationship isn't perfect; no relationship is perfect. We're two very strong-willed people with vastly different approaches to life. And, oh, how easy it would be to list all the differences. He likes the towel hanging in the same spot. I am more creative. But I stop the list there.

    I stop because great love isn't two people finding the perfect match in one another. Great love is two people making the choice to be a match. A decision. To fold his collar and snap the heart lens and find myself grateful to the point of tears. Tears of relishing today are so much better than tears of what was missed.

    It's just a moment.

    Or is it?

    Dear Lord, help me to appreciate each moment given to me. I want to park my mind on the daily moments I too often take for granted. Thank You for this joy, so simple but so sweet. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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    Remember
    Let me snap a hundred "I love you" moments with the lens of my heart to be stored and appreciated and thought of as the great treasure they are.

    Reflect
    In what ways can you turn everyday moments into treasures? It may be as simple as relishing a moment in your heart or it may mean beginning a new moment every day, such as folding a collar over a necktie.

    Respond
    Discuss your "moments" with your spouse, your family, or a friend. Ask what stands out to them as important and meaningful and choose together to relish them. Take a photograph or journal about one moment.

    Power Verses
    1 Peter 4:8; Psalm 90:12

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

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

  • Spirit Led Living

    Posted on September 25, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel.’ Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Zechariah 4:6

    The Holy Spirit is God’s fuel for living. He leads, convicts, comforts and gives courage. On the other hand the world promotes power and might. The world’s approach is forceful: If the door is closed knock it down, if you have the power and authority use it to make things happen. Lack of faith can panic and prematurely force unrighteous results.

    On the contrary, Spirit led living is about dependence. It is dependence on God rather than any other form of reliance. Money, might, and power are cheap imitations of God dependence. These temporal fortresses are fleeting. When all is said and done, they are undependable. Money, control and your title can be here today and gone tomorrow.

    But the Spirit of God wants you to grow in His awareness and follow His lead. Like a hurricane that gains strength as time passes, so does God’s Spirit. You cannot accomplish His best without the leadership and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. He may even lead you to places of discomfort as His desire is to place you in positions of dependence.

    The Holy Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, but the Word of God became Christ’s defense. He deflected the darts of the devil with the truth of God. It was an exercise of faith and obedience that drew Him closer to His heavenly Father. Instead of driving Him from God, it drew Him to God. The Holy Spirit’s goal is to get us to God.

    “Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” (Matthew 4:10-11).

    Submission to God revives the Spirit of God. Come under the authority of God and you have a source of strength that is limitless and energizing. God’s Spirit also produces fruit and creates character. This is another benefit of Spirit led living. It is not about techniques and tactics. It is first and foremost about the character of Christ transforming your life.

    Power explodes from within your heart rather than exploiting others with threats. There is quiet confidence that comes from a deep abiding in Christ. Spirit led moms pray more than they worry. They train and teach their children and all the while trust them with God. Anxiety is replaced with abiding. They do their part and trust God to do His part.

    Spirit led living is all about engrafting the Word of God into your life. The Holy Spirit ignites the fuel of God’s Word into a blaze of obedience. This is the power that changes lives and communities for the greater good of God. This exhibition of power may only make the headlines of heaven. Wait on God—Be Spirit led—Watch His power prevail!

    “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life” (John 6:63).

    Prayer: Where is the Holy Spirit leading me that requires uncommon faith and obedience?

    Related Readings: Exodus 31:3; John 3:34; Acts 4:25-31; 2 Timothy 1:7

    Post/Tweet today: Lack of faith can panic and prematurely force unrighteous results. But trust in God waits on His best. #Spiritledliving

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

  • Letting God Fill My Empty Places

    Posted on September 25, 2013 by Renee Swope

    Renee

    "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1 (NIV)

    It was a source she'd come to depend on. A place she went to get her needs met. But it was never enough; every day she came back for more.

    Filling her jar with water, the woman looked up and heard Him ask her for a drink. He offered her something in return: living water. Unlike the water she came to get that day, He said the water He offered would satisfy her so deeply she'd never thirst again.

    But she had a hard time believing His promise. "You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?" (John 4:11 NIV) She asked.

    What she didn't realize was that Jesus wanted to satisfy a deeper thirst in her heart—a longing He'd created to lead her heart to Him: the One and only Source that could satisfy her soul.

    All He needed to draw with was His Spirit, for it would draw her near to Him. And as far as the depth of the well, it was her heart He was looking into. She was the only one who could stop Him from reaching the empty places in her heart.

    I know that place of needing Jesus to look into my heart and show me the emptiness only He can fill.

    Like the woman at the well, I've depended on other means to get my needs met. Yet when I look to them, instead of Him, they are never enough.

    I've looked to people: family and friends, bosses and boyfriends, teachers and mentors, my husband and my kids. I've longed for their approval and the affirmation that comes with it.

    I've also looked to possessions and positions and accidentally put my hope in recognition. I've thought "if only I had or could ... then I'd be fulfilled."

    But no matter how much I do or get, it's never enough to fill me up. And it's not supposed to be.

    Why? Because the empty places in our hearts were created to be filled by God alone. The deepest thirst of our souls can only be quenched by Him.

    We see this deep thirst even in King David, who had everything: the highest position, unlimited possessions, and great power, yet none of it was enough. He described himself as parched and thirsty for God:

    You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. (Ps. 63:1 NIV)

    Then David went on to describe what he experienced when he drank deeply of God's love:

    I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands. (vv. 2–4 NIV)

    And the same thing happened to the woman Jesus met at the well that day. She drank deeply of His love and was filled to overflowing, and we can be too.

    Just like the woman at the well, God put a longing in our hearts that was intended to lead us back to Him. Only His unconditional acceptance, approval, and affirmation can fill the empty places in our hearts-the deepest thirst of our souls. Until God's love and acceptance is enough, nothing else will be.

    Dear Lord, show me the empty places in my heart and the ways I try to fill them. Then lead me back to You and show me how I can position my heart to be filled and fulfilled by Your promises and the power of Your love. In Jesus' Name, amen.

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    Reflect and Respond:
    What or who do you depend on to fill the empty places in your heart?

    What would change if you allowed God's unconditional acceptance and approval to fill the deepest thirst of your soul?

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 143:8, "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life." (NIV)

    Jeremiah 2:13, "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Lord Help Me

    Posted on September 24, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.” Matthew 15:25

    A life lived well requires help from the Lord. Life is like a ship on the open sea: we navigate through calm waters, rough waters, uncertain waters and beautiful waters—but all the time trusting its Creator. The source of our strength must be Christ, or we grow chronically tired. Faith in the Lord triumphs over fear and frustration—this especially is true when someone we love suffers severely and all we can do is lift them up to Jesus.

    Indeed, His help happens to those who kneel in humble dependency and cry out to Jesus, “Lord help me!” When the body writhes in pain, we cry for help. When a critical word crushes our spirit, we cry for help. When unanswered questions stalk our minds, we cry for help. When relational conflict emaciates our emotions, we cry for help. Help from heaven gives hope, healing and the energy to push through tough times and trust Him.

    “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him” (Psalm 28:7).

    His help gives joy where laughter has left. His help gives confidence in the middle of crisis. His help forgives when hurt has severed another’s trust. His help harnesses grace and bridles a toxic tongue. His help reaches to the poorest of the poor, the richest of the rich and everyone in between—with His saving grace in Jesus Christ. His help helps.

    How can Jesus help you? Do you need wisdom? Ask Him with a humble heart and He will hear and answer your request. His response may come in the form of godly friends who give you wise advice—so look around and listen intently—for the Lord speaks through those who truly love you. Jesus helps those who humbly seek out and trust wise counsel.

    “When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge” (Proverbs 21:11).

    Furthermore, who do you know that needs the Lord’s help? Have you, on bended knee, petitioned Jesus on their behalf? Be bold for their sakes and for the glory of God. Go to Jesus so someone can get to Jesus in healing and forgiveness. Be an advocate for others, as some don’t know what they don’t know—ignorance requires bold belief on its behalf.

    “May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day” (2 Timothy 1:18a).

    Prayer: What help do I need from the Lord? Whom can I seek help from the Lord for on their behalf?

    Related Readings: Psalm 30:2, 10; 33:20; Isaiah 41:13-14; Acts 20:35; Hebrews 13:6

    Post/Tweet today: God’s help gives joy where laughter has left. He gives confidence in the middle of crisis. #God’shelp

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

  • When Your Mess Becomes Your Message

    Posted on September 24, 2013 by Micca Campbell

    Micca

    "Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise." (Jeremiah 17:14 NIV)

    For twenty years, my brother was absent from our family because of drug addiction. Countless times, we thought he was dead; according to drug abuse statistics, he should have been. However, my brother is living proof that God is in the restoration business. It doesn't matter who you are, what you've done, or what has been done to you. God is willing and able to turn any tragedy into triumph.

    After entering many treatment programs with hopes of success and end results of failure, my brother finally found the answer: Jesus. It wasn't until he met the Lord that he experienced lasting healing and life change. Suddenly, all things became new.

    My brother didn't have the strength, willpower, or ability to free himself from bondage, but that changed when he surrendered his life to Christ. The same is true for us. No matter what the bondage is—drugs, lust, gluttony, pride, anger, or fear—until we renounce our sickness and surrender to Christ, we will never experience freedom. On the other hand, when we are willing to give King Jesus our mess, He turns it into our message. And that's exactly what happened to my brother. Not a day goes by that my brother doesn't look for opportunities to brag on God and share His message of hope.

    Such an opportunity arose one evening when my sister, brother, and I met together for dinner at a local restaurant. Our server was twenty-six-year-old Tiffany. Right away, we noticed two things about Tiffany. She had a natural gift for putting people at ease, and she was very pregnant. While we enjoyed her kind service, we had no idea that God would soon call us to serve her.

    It started when my sister refused to allow my brother to pay for her dinner. While my sister loves to give to others, she's not so good at receiving. I, on the other hand, understood that it gave my brother great pleasure to pick up the check. The Lord knows I didn't want to deny him his blessing!

    Poor Tiffany found herself caught in the middle. Eager to win her over to his side, my brother said to Tiffany, "You see, I was a drug addict for years. During that time, my sisters did a lot for me. Now, I just want to bless them."

    Tiffany's eyes widened. "You were a drug addict?" she inquired. "I would have never guessed."

    "Yes, I was," my brother replied. "But Jesus changed all that." Then he told Tiffany his life-changing story.

    "I went from being lost to being found; from being homeless to being a homeowner; from being an employee to owning my own business; from being bound by drugs to being set free in Christ."

    Tears filled Tiffany's eyes as we shared God's love with her. That's not all. Later that week, we confirmed God's love to her by presenting her with a gift for her baby.

    When you and I—like my brother—allow God to turn our mess into our message, He not only changes our lives, but He changes the lives of others too.

    Dear Lord, Your mercy astounds me. Give me opportunities to speak of Your hope so others may know Your goodness and salvation. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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    Remember
    No matter what your bondage, surrendering it to Christ is the pathway to freedom.

    Reflect
    What steps do you need to take today to move from bondage to freedom? Reflect with gratitude on how God has turned your mess into a message that can encourage or bring life change to others.

    Respond
    Go for it! Write out your story of surrender and ask God to provide opportunities for you to encourage others.

    Power Verses
    Luke 19:10; Ephesians 2:8-9

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

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

  • Bond Servant

    Posted on September 23, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Timothy 2:24-25, NASB

    We are all a servant to something—either a servant to the light or a servant to the darkness. Satan is served or the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is served—there is no middle ground. The wise and humble servant serves the Lord with a grateful heart. It is much better to be bound by the grace of God than enslaved by the lies of the devil.

    “I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:17b-18).

    What does it mean to be a bond-servant of Christ? It means owned by God. The lost stand on the slave block of sin waiting to be auctioned to the highest bidder. Halleluiah that heaven came down at the cross of Christ and purchased through His shed blood all who would believe. Purchase means possession—He is Master of all or not Master at all.

    Therefore, we no longer live in bondage to bad habits and bad beliefs. A bond-servant of Jesus is set free to humble service on behalf of his owner. We are not ashamed, because representing Almighty God in righteous living is the least we can do as an expression of our gratitude and joy. We empty ourselves and are filled with God’s grace. It’s His agenda, so we listen patiently waiting to hear instructions from Jesus on what to do next.

    “But emptied Himself [Jesus], taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8, NASB).

    True bond-servants invite being treated like a servant, as it models the way of Jesus. You volunteer for roles that require humble service, so you are not tempted to perch over others in pride. What responsibilities are you resisting that require being seen as a servant? Does it mean someone else will get the credit? Are you serving for an audience of One or to be seen by men? So, serve faithfully behind the scenes for your Savior’s sake. You are in good company—all respected saints saw themselves as bond-servants.

    “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John” (Revelation 1:1, NASB).

    Prayer: What role is the Lord calling me to serve that requires being treated like a servant?

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 32:36; Psalm 116:16; Galatians 1:10; Revelation 15:3

    Post/Tweet today: Much better to be bound by the grace of God than enslaved by the lies of the devil. #bondservant

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

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