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Daily Devotion

  • Good Listener

    Posted on August 24, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’” (Matthew 17:5).

    What does it mean to listen well? Think of those you admire as good listeners. What are some of the traits they exhibit which mark them as excellent listeners? Perhaps it is their engaging eye contact, their warm conversation, or an empathetic ear. You feel understood and valued. Good listeners affirm what you say by repeating what you say with an illustration or an example from their life. They listen to learn, affirm, and instruct.

    Those who learn good listening skills develop robust relationships. They embrace an “others first” way of thinking that places their own need to be heard down the priority list. Like a rare and exotic flower, they open themselves up in a beautiful way that invites you to smell the brilliant colors of their character. Indeed, good listeners are magnetic in the way they attract the good and the bad into their sphere of influence. If you are a good listener, be wise by investing in those who really want to change and follow after the Lord.

    “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance” (Proverbs 1:5).

    You can be assured that the Lord listens to you and the desires of your heart. He is not preoccupied with problems or people;  you have His full attention. He is always available to hear your cry for wisdom, healing, and direction. The Almighty’s attention is focused on His children who come to Him by faith. His listening ear is near and dear.

    “But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer” (Psalm 66:19).

    Furthermore, make it a daily habit to listen well to your heavenly Father’s heart. He sent His Son Jesus to teach us the truth about life and death, heaven and hell. We listen to the Lord Jesus because He was God speaking in the flesh. Why was the Almighty so pleased with His Son that He admonished us to listen to Him? Jesus modeled listening to His heavenly Father, so God gave Him the words to speak on His behalf. The Lord is pleased with good listeners. He gives discernment and insight into His solutions to human needs.

    So listen well by first listening well to the Lord. He will instruct and teach you in the way you should go. Once you have heard from Him, humbly listen to others,
    discern their needs, then connect them to Christ and His ways. Indeed, good listeners lead others to love God and listen to His heart. Listen well, and watch God work!

    “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8).

    Prayer: How can I be a good listener for Christ’s sake? What is God telling me to do today?

    Related Readings: Job 15:8; Proverbs 4:10; Proverbs 19:20; Ecclesiastes 7:5; James 1:19

    Post/Tweet: Good listeners lead others to love God and listen to His heart. #goodlistener

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

  • Healthy Nourishment

    Posted on August 23, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. Daniel 1:15-16

    There is a stewardship of feeding a healthy body which God desires for His children. The Creator of the body has defined dietary guidelines that prove themselves beneficial to physical wellness. Who would know better what to put into the mouth and ingest into the stomach than the One who made us?  The original designer of an all natural diet is the One who commands fruits, nuts and vegetables to grow. A return to natural food is a return to the way the Lord expects us steward this body he has given us.

    For many of us in our youth we had the physical capacity to eat more variety and quantity of food, however, as we grow older and gain wisdom (and weight!) we can make more educated decisions about our food choices. Safe to say, whatever stage of life we find ourselves we are smart to be very selective in what and how much food we eat. Normally if we plan a menu in advance and dine at home, we have more control over our consumption of calories and nutrition.

    Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. 1 Corinthians 6:19

    Yes, partake in your Maker’s diet and He will make you healthier than if you follow a haphazard approach to healthy eating. For example, focus on small portions of lean protein such as beef, chicken or fish accompanied by a fresh salad, vegetables and fruit. Moreover, God may call you to be a vegetarian for a season to slow down your intake of meat. Temperance tames your appetite. But be cautious as food obsessions make the menu an idol. So, start by simply consuming small amounts of fresh food. When you manage well the Holy Spirit’s temple (your body), you manage to feel better.

    Lastly, limit the intake of beverages other than water. Any excessive drinking of soda, alcohol, coffee, tea or juice will add too many calories eventually contributing to obesity and disease. Liquid calories and nutritional values should be monitored with equal resolve as solid. In addition, keep an eye on your intake of sugar and sodium, as they are two unhealthy culprits from dining out at restaurants. Most of all, see yourself as a wise physical manager of your Creator’s body. Check out God’s specific guidelines in Leviticus 11:1-47 and in Acts 10:9-16. Be like Daniel, keep your appetites under the Spirit’s control so the world desires to ask you why.

    Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. Exodus 23:25

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am grateful to You for creating my body, I want to follow Your guidelines for healthy eating.

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Leviticus 11:1-47; Malachi 2:15; Acts 10:9-16; 1 Corinthians 6:13

    Post/Tweet today: When we manage well the Holy Spirit’s temple (our body), we manage to feel better. #healthynourishment

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

  • Where Your Tears Go

    Posted on August 23, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

    If there is one thing I'm known for, it's crying.

    When one of my little ones scraped their knee, didn't make the sports team, or were hurt by a friend's harsh words ... I cried.

    The first time my sixteen-year-old daughter pulled out of the driveway with her new license, when a boy broke her heart, and as she strolled across the stage last year in her blue graduation gown, I cried.

    So when it came time to move her into her dorm room a couple months later, I feared my tears might be uncontrollable.

    Although I was proud she was going to college, and it was time for her to spread her wings, the thought of her leaving seemed unbearable. The idea of not seeing her sweet smile every day, coupled with concern over her well-being, made my heart heavy.

    I had a flashback of tears shed many years ago as my little girl, dressed in her tiny denim skirt and purple butterfly shirt, stood waving goodbye from the door of her kindergarten room. As I turned to leave my daughter in her dorm room, my waterworks started.

    There were tears of happiness, gratitude and excitement. Tears of sadness, anxiety and motherly worry.

    A part of me wondered if I should be crying in this situation. Many mothers would be thrilled to be dropping a child off at college. Was I being selfish with my tears?

    In that moment of mixed emotions, I desperately needed God's comfort and reassurance, and I found it in Psalm 56:8.

    In Psalm 56:8, God reminds us He is intimately concerned with every aspect of our lives. God doesn't judge whether our sorrow is "valid." But because of His compassion, He catches every tear that is shed. It doesn't matter how big or small, trivial or important, the sorrow might be.

    In this Psalm, David expressed grief over his situation, which was truly dangerous. Saul wanted his own son to be king of Israel and was hunting David in order to murder him.

    This forced David to constantly be on the move as he tried to escape. David was grieved, fearful and unsure about the future. Apparently tears flowed as he poured out his feelings to God. "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book" (Psalm 56:8).

    David drew comfort in knowing that no matter what he was going through, God had great compassion on him and gathered all his precious tears in a bottle. David trusted God with his life and his future. He wasn't embarrassed about his tears, and we need not be either, even when we wish we could hold them back.

    Life challenges us. Children grow. Seasons of change bump into our normal status quo. When this happens, tears often spring up and efforts to contain them fall short.

    Dropping your child off at kindergarten, college or any grade in between can evoke a variety of anxieties and emotions. As back-to-school season approaches, let's remember God has compassion on us and our children.

    He is present with every tear shed, and we can count on Him to collect them. No matter what sorrow we face today, we can have confidence God cares.

    Dear Lord, thank You for loving my children even more than I do and for having compassion on them and me. Help me feel Your comfort and reassurance when I face new seasons of life and emotional challenges as a mother. Please tuck my babies under Your wing, guide them in their decisions and keep them safe. Amen.

    Related Resources:

    A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

    The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Has there ever been a time when you felt God collecting your tears?

    Consider how God has touched your heart with His promise of compassion in your life. Take a moment to acknowledge Him and thank Him.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 147:3, "He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds." (NLT)

    Psalm 91:4, "He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Reliable God

    Posted on August 22, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    You are my strength, I watch for you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely. Psalm 59:9-10

    Life will let us down, people let us down, but the Lord is always reliable. What He says, He does. What He does, He does with an eye on what’s best for His children. Our great God and Creator of the universe is as reliable as the sun rising in the East and setting in the West. He is as dependable as water in the deepest oceans and snow on the highest mountain tops. The One who is the only “I Am,” was, and is, and is the One to come. Without question Christ is 100% reliable.

    Therefore, we watch for the Lord to work and answer prayer. We anticipate His grace to govern our hearts and to open doors for Him to be glorified through our lives. We look for the Almighty to bring justice to the outcasts of society. We celebrate churches who care for the poor and the needy. We pray for governments to create moral boundaries for a civil society. We lead our families to carry Christ’s legacy to the next generation. All as we watch for God’s wonderful works!

    Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God. Isaiah 50:10

    Our Savior Jesus Christ is reliable to give us strength for life’s journey. He gives physical strength to soldiers in the heat of battle. He gives emotional strength to defeat our demons of depression and sirens of self-reliance. He gives spiritual strength to traverse over mountains of disbelief and hills of doubt. God is reliable to reveal a way of escape when we feel trapped by temptation’s snare. Our ego tends to grow in the good times, but our character grows most in the difficult times. Praise Jesus for His strength never tires. He’s our ever available refreshment.

    Lastly, our Heavenly Father is our fortress. He is high above our conflict and confusion. He bids us to join Him and rest. When we enter into the gates of His fortress with thanksgiving, our thoughts are drained of anxiety and our perspective gains peace. We sleep well at night knowing our first defense is Almighty God. The fiery darts of the enemy fall harmlessly to the ground, blunted by the rock of our righteous Lord Christ. He is 100% reliable for strength and protection!

    The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for being 100% reliable in the good and bad times.

    Related Readings: 2 Chronicles 14:11; Psalm 9:9, 62:2, 71:3; 2 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 4:16

    Post/Tweet today: Our ego tends to grow in the good times, but our character grows most in the difficult times. #reliableGod

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

  • Messy Marriages

    Posted on August 22, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God." Jeremiah 17:7 (MSG)

    I threw the cup of orange juice across the kitchen. It felt good to do something, anything, to release all the surging anger and frustration. And I didn't even mind cleaning the pulpy, sticky mess.

    It felt soothing to know how to clean something. I knew how to wipe away this mess. And I liked seeing the mess disappear.

    If only my marriage mess could be fixed with soap, water and a handful of paper towels.

    I whispered, God, why does this have to be so hard?

    Have you ever been there?

    I think many of us have. Whether we're in a really tough marriage or just in a rough patch, marriage can be messy. Hurtful. Lonely.

    No one ever told me about this side of marriage before I donned the white dress and danced to MC Hammer at the reception.

    But after 20 years of learning, growing and pressing through the messes to see something beautiful form in the midst of it all, here's what I know ...

    Jesus loves those in messy marriages.

    He loves my husband, Art, and me in the midst of it all. Jesus doesn't love the mess of hurt, isolation and bitterness. Those are things He wants us to work on. But He never stops loving us.

    Jesus loves me. His grace is strong enough to extend His love into every part of me. The good parts. The broken parts. The ugly parts. The bitter parts. The loving parts. Even the parts that throw orange juice.

    And Jesus loves Art. His grace is strong enough to extend His love into every part of my husband. The good parts. The broken parts. The ugly parts. The bitter parts. The loving parts. And even the parts that look at me like I'm crazy when I throw orange juice.

    Since Jesus loves both of us, He's the best source of help for our marriage. I don't say that without a deep awareness of how stinkin' hard it is to go to Jesus when I'm mad as fire at my husband.

    And I certainly don't say it in naive simplicity. Gracious, I know some of you are facing marriage situations that rip your heart into a thousand pieces every day.

    But still, I know Jesus is the best source of help.

    Honest cries for help lifted up to Jesus will not go unheard. He sees. He knows. He loves. And Jesus will direct you as long as you stick with Him.

    Jeremiah 17:7-8 in The Message version reminds us:

    But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They're like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers-Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.

    So, how do I stick with Jesus? I proclaim I'm sticking with Jesus:

    Jesus, I'm sticking with You. I'm giving You what I don't understand and what I can't fix. I'm giving You what I don't like about me. I'm giving You what I don't like about him. And I'm giving You what I don't like about my marriage. I'm listening for Your instruction. I'm positioning myself to go where I'll hear Your truth. To talk to others who love You and serve You. And to read wise instruction from the Bible. Amen.

    Jesus loves those who are in messy marriages. I know. Though Art and I have a wonderful marriage now, we can still hit some rough patches now and then.

    But you'll be happy to know I haven't thrown orange juice across the kitchen lately.

    Dear Lord, so much of me wants to stick with my anger and frustration. But I'm choosing to stick with You. Today I'm going to hold my temper, hold my tongue and hold on to Your Truth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

    The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you honestly waited on the Lord for His guidance? Today, make a choice to seek His wisdom through His Word and ask for wise counsel from a trusted, Christ-following friend.

    Power Verse:
    Ephesians 4:26, 29-32, "'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry ... Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

    And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Spirit Led Praying

    Posted on August 21, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

    Hallelujah, the Holy Spirit is our lead in making known our prayers to heaven. Just as a pace car leads other high octane automobiles around a racetrack, so the Spirit of God is out in front to make sure our revved up activities follow a sustainable pace.  Spirit led praying is intimate and engaged with the Lord. It avoids tipping God with meaningless mumbles, but instead seeks to communicate Christ’s heart to our heart. Our weak feeling prayers are made strong by the Spirit.

    Furthermore, we need not feel frantic or afraid when we are unsure what to pray. The Spirit discerns what is necessary for our heart and mind and what is nonessential. Spirit led praying is like standing waist deep in a crystal blue swimming pool. We hear the outside world with all its competing noise, but when we softly lay back our head under water it becomes a quiet sanctuary. So, the Spirit immerses the ears of our soul under the interceding water of His wordless groans.

    The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15

    Your will meshes with God’s will as you pray in the Spirit. Holy alignment occurs with Almighty God’s agenda for your life. The sweet prompting of the Spirit resonates with affirmations and warnings. Like a smoke detector sniffing out any dangerous fumes, so by faith the Holy Spirit discerns any unholy heart alliance and warns you to exit from its influence. Yes, embrace those who follow the way of Christ and graciously let go of those who fail to bring God glory.

    Therefore, pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. The Spirit of the Lord is sensitive and creative to communicate prayers of thanksgiving and prayers of grief. He accepts your petitions poured out on behalf of a poor soul suffering through sickness. He invites your prayers for those enjoying success whose character needs to keep up with their accomplishments. Keep on praying for all the Lord’s people with Spirit led promptings!

    And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me by Your Spirit to pray by faith in my weak moments and in my moments of strength.

    Related Readings: Zechariah 4:6; John 20:22; 2 Timothy 1:7; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19

    Post/Tweet today: Your will meshes with God’s will creating alignment with God’s agenda as you pray in the Spirit.. #Spiritledpraying

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

  • Running on Empty

    Posted on August 21, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis

    "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

    People often ask me, "How do you handle it all?"

    Depending on the situation, I answer in a variety of ways:

    1. I'm wired this way. And that's partly true. I have a God-wired ability to stay focused in the midst of chaos ... most of the time. I'm more left-brained than my husband, and he's an engineer!
    2. I stay organized ... most of the time. Usually, I can find what I need when I need it. Usually, I prepare in advance. There are times when life gets the best of me, and someone wears the same socks two days in a row. But systems and schedules help me stay on top of responsibilities.
    3. My kids are older. We still have issues that derail my best-laid plans, but they're different than when my kids were toddlers and one tried to use my car keys to unlock the back gate, dropping them in the alley by accident. That threw me into a meltdown of monumental proportions.

    But when people ask "How do you handle it all?" it's usually when I've shared something that has changed my life more than anything else. An act of obedience my family made eight years ago has pushed me to the edge of myself, made me question who I am and question God about His choice of me for this assignment. But it's also made me cling to Him with more desperation than ever before. What is it?

    Adopting two little girls from Africa.

    I haven't written much about these challenges due to respecting my family's privacy. And I also don't want to discourage adoptive parents with how hard our journey has been. It's one of the most important things I've ever done. But also the most costly.

    In 2005 we adopted two girls, ages 8 and 10, from war-torn Liberia. We knew nothing about their background, other than it contained deprivation even other poor countries don't experience. No running water, no electricity, no school, no exposure to books or even television. Just basic existence for years.

    Welcoming these little girls into our family at first seemed easy. They responded well to our love. They thrived with good food and education. But very soon we realized challenges. And then very sad truths about what happened in Africa started being uncovered.

    One daughter has cognitive challenges that will impact her ability to live independently the rest of her life, and ours. With the other we faced behavioral challenges-significant issues based on an early history of neglect and abuse.

    Sometimes there are Hallmark-channel-endings, but that's not our story. We live every day with our daughters' wounds and challenges. And these hardships have deeply affected me and my husband. They have affected our three biological children.

    Here's what I've discovered: all my God-wired ability to think through chaos, all my attempts at organization and having older kids didn't prepare me for this.

    But God's strength did.

    So how do I manage it all? Every day I turn to God and rely on what 2 Corinthians 12:9 teaches me ...

    I don't have it in me to do this one more day, I need Your strength.

    I don't have the patience in me for this … I need Your patience.

    I can't think straight right now ... I need Your clarity.

    I'm not even sure I have love in me right now ... I need Your love.

    And I get my portion for that day. I get just enough strength, patience, and clarity to make it through. And a new definition of love that's stronger and tougher and more determined than I have ever experienced.

    I wish I could write more about my family's story, and maybe someday I will. But for now, it's brought me to my knees; it's made me more humble; it's made me less judgmental, and it's made me depend on God more than ever.

    God's strength is enough. But I had to get to the end of mine to learn that.

    Heavenly Father, although I didn't know I'd be facing my current challenges, You did. Thank You for offering to step in the gap between my needs and my insufficient reservoir of strength with Your peace, wisdom, strength and love. Help me to lean on You when I feel like things are falling apart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

    The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.

    Reflect and Respond:
    The way to truly experience God's power is to get to the end of yours. What are you facing that makes you feel powerless?

    Ask God for one thing you need to make it through today. Then watch for His response.

    Power Verse:
    John 14: 27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Daily Burden Bearer

    Posted on August 20, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19

    Believers in Jesus have the Lord who daily bears their burdens. He is a Savior who is not crushed by back breaking circumstances. He reinforces the tentative trust of those under the weighty issues of wealth, sickness, leadership responsibilities, and becoming single again. Yes, a burden becomes too much to bear when it is managed alone. This silent suffering is soul abuse. But in Christ we have the righteous and resilient resources of heaven to persevere through pain.

    Therefore, make sure to engage the eternal grace of God to get you through temporary trials. You do not have to fake it to make it because faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master will give you the godly gumption to get through. Partner with the Holy Spirit to lift from your fleshly shoulders any feelings of doubt, false guilt or the fantasy of living a problem free life. He who lifted your sin burden at salvation remains a strong burden bearer today. God supports you daily.

    Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22

    Just as a nurse cuddles and carries a newborn, so your Heavenly Father cradles you in His sustaining care. Any back and forth movement you may feel against your faith is the soothing rock of your comforting Savior, Christ Jesus. When He holds you close to His breast, you can rest in Him. Resist fear’s desire to pull away and flee from the palpable peace of God. A soul snuggled against the chest of deity will not be shaken. What He holds close, He keeps secure!

    Hallelujah, praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior who daily bears our burdens. We praise Him in the morning, we praise Him in the noontime and we praise Him in the evening for removing our anxieties with His loving lift of compassion. Because He is our burden bearer we are freed to help carry the burdens of those stuck in sin or beat down from life’s challenges. What a joy divine to be Jesus to someone who needs to see Jesus. Thank your Burden Bearer, Jesus Christ!

    Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
    Prayer: Heavenly Father, what a joy to know You bear my burdens daily, so I am free to help others bear theirs.

    Related Readings: Psalm 81:16; Isaiah 9:4, 10:27, 46:4; Matthew 11:28-30; 1 John 2:6

    Post/Tweet today: He [Jesus] who lifted your sin burden at salvation remains a strong burden bearer today. #dailybearsburdens

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

  • The Gift of Listening

    Posted on August 20, 2013 by Renee Swope

    Renee

    "I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray." Psalm 17:6 (NLT)

    One night I heard my husband calling our dog to get her treat. He was actually trying to lure Chelsea, our thirteen-year-old dachshund, to her doggie bed. She was in her favorite chair and nothing was getting her to budge, not even the promise of a treat.

    I asked my kids if they thought Chelsea had "selective hearing" because she didn't want to go to bed or if she was going deaf. I had a feeling it was the latter.

    We reminisced and laughed about how Chelsea used to hear every little thing, from the icemaker in our kitchen to a leaf blowing outside. Then my son Andrew, who was nine at the time, looked at me with great concern. "Mom, I hope when you get old you don't go deaf like Chelsea."

    I laughingly told him it might be good if I can't hear everything when I get as old as Chelsea. She gets a lot more sleep, and she's not offended by the doggy jokes we make about her advanced age.

    My light-hearted response didn't wipe the concern off his brow, so I asked why he was afraid I wouldn't be able to hear him. He answered without hesitation, "Well, sometimes you don't hear me now. Like when you're on the computer and I ask you a question."

    Ouch! I had no idea my child thought I couldn't hear him. His answer almost sent me on a bad-mommy guilt-trip. Flashbacks popped up from times I'd heard him but hadn't listened because my focus was on someone or something else, like the computer and TV.

    Instead of defining that moment with guilt, I pulled Andrew close and told him I was sorry for not listening sometimes. I explained how me being on the computer is similar to him watching a movie. He gets so involved he doesn't hear me call him for dinner. He smiled recognizing his own "hearing loss" at times.

    Still, I didn't want that to be my excuse. So I promised him I would try to stop what I am doing when he comes to me. In my heart, I committed to look away from my computer or phone to really listen. His comment made me realize, we all long to be heard, don't we?

    Psalm 17:6 reflects our desire for God to hear us. The psalmist wrote, "I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray." It reminds me that in the same way I go to God because I want Him to listen and answer me, my child and others come to me because they want me to listen to them. When I stop what I'm doing and listen, it tells them that they, and what they have to say, are important to me.

    In our culture of constant contact through technology, it's easy for our attention to be divided and our focus to shift away from those who are in the room with us.

    Although we are physically present, often times we are mentally absent.

    That night God showed me the valuable gift we can give our children, spouses, friends, co-workers and even strangers. It's the gift of listening.

    We give it each time we stop what we're doing and turn our full attention to others when they talk to us. And, it's a gift God gives to us each time we talk to Him too!

    Lord, thank You for listening to me. Please help me be a better listener. It's easy to hear with one ear while the other is turned toward my computer, television or cell phone. I want to give the gift of listening because it communicates that I value those who want me to hear them. Make me aware and willing to push past this habit so that I can be a listener like You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

    The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Ask God to show you throughout the day how you are doing when it comes to really listening to those you live and work with.

    Make a list of people you will give the gift of listening to this week.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 54:2, "Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth." (NIV)

    Luke 2:46, "After three days they found him [Jesus] in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Identity Crisis

    Posted on August 19, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:3-4

    Traumatic events like divorce or a job loss can create a crisis of identity. I previously parented with my spouse, but now I raise my child alone. As a single parent I feel angry, ill equipped and financially stressed. Before I was let go from my job I managed a team and felt respected. Post firing I struggle just to manage myself. I feel unimportant. An identity crisis is an opportunity for Christ to remind me of my identity in Him. I am significant in Him, so I am important to Him.

    What feels out of control the Lord uses to bring His child under His control. A parent's identity is challenged after a child leaves home as a young adult, just as an individual struggles for significance after retirement. If who we are is wrapped up in what we do, we are set up for disillusionment. What we do will change, but our standing in Christ remains the same. Our value isn’t measured by our role, but by the abundance of God’s grace we enjoy. Relationships are what really count.

    Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! Philippians 4:1

    Because Christ is your life, your life is complete. There is no need to strive to be someone you are not, nor is it necessary to reach back and become someone you were that was only relevant for that season of life. Yes, the value of your life increases as you increasingly align with Almighty God’s character and will for your life. An identity crisis is the Lord’s opportunity to take your integrity to another level of influence. You walk securely when integrity instructs your actions.

    Therefore, by God’s grace die to the desire to be someone other than God’s workmanship in Christ.  Rest in your relationship with Jesus and enjoy the people He brings into your life for you to bless. It is the immaterial not the material that marks your real worth. Peace of mind, purity of heart and selfless service make you attractive to be around. As you love the Lord and others well it will be well with your soul. You are Christ’s bride, your identity is defined by His last name!

    The bride belongs to the bridegroom. John 3:29
    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I rest in Your son Jesus as my life. My identity and security is in Him.

    Related Readings: Isaiah 29:23, 43:7; Psalm 45:1-17; John 17:13; Ephesians 2:10

    Post/Tweet today: Love the Lord and others well; it will be well with your soul. #identitycrisis

    © 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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