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Daily Devotion

  • Sacrifices of Praise

    Posted on October 3, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the LORD." Psalm 4:5 (NLT)

    I have a confession to make. After many years of walking with Jesus and seeking Him to fill me, I still struggle with unmet longings.

    Maybe you can relate. Have you ever wanted something so badly your heart ached with each thought of it? It seems like life would be so much better if you had that one thing.

    There would be more happiness.

    More contentment.

    More fulfillment.

    More satisfaction.

    More peace.

    You can envision yourself with this thing, this person, this opportunity. And all things are better. So, why doesn't God give you this longing of your heart? This longing of my heart?

    Could it be because He wants us to willingly let it go?

    Ouch.

    That's not the answer I want. Why would God let the aching desire linger and not make things happen? He could. He's certainly able. But when He doesn't, it seems unfair. Not good. Confusing.

    It's easy to get down when we're constantly let down. We hope this thing will happen ... we'll meet this right person ... we'll get this job ... we'll finally be healed ... we'll get that chance ... we'll see that family member turn his or her life around. Time and again it doesn't happen. That's when it's easy to slip.

    That's where trust steps in and reminds us we can't ever learn how to live real faith if we never need real faith.

    As an offering of trust, we must give up that which could so easily bring us down.

    Not give up as in discouraged surrender. But give up as in placing this desire in the hand of God and saying, "Either way, I will see Your answer as the good answer and walk in trust."

    I like to call these types of releases in my life sacrifices of praise, like Psalm 4:5 tells us to do: "Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the LORD."

    Lord, I sacrifice chasing this so I might more fully and with more focus chase You. I release this grip of desire. I praise You for who You are, what only You can bring, and how You will fill whatever gap this release might leave.

    Yes, I still struggle with unmet desires.

    But not as much today as I did yesterday.

    And that is good. Not easy. But good.

    Dear Lord, I want to offer You sacrifices of praise with a willing heart. Cultivate in me an attitude of obedience as I choose to trust Your plans above my desires. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What can you offer up as a sacrifice of praise to the Lord?

    Take small steps each day as you walk in obedience and give that thing up to God.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 62:8, "Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." (NIV)

    Isaiah 26:4, "Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Everyone Has a Story

    Posted on October 2, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. Philippians 3:4-7

    Everyone has a story. Maybe your story is similar to mine. A story of my parent’s divorce at age five followed by confusion, hurt and blame. A story of insecurity and distrust based on a constant state of transition and multiple moves. Embarrassed by being the new kid in the class, over and over again. A story of a coach who loved Christ and loved his wife, who led Bible studies and encouraged me in my undeveloped faith. At 19, Jesus entered the screen play of my life as Lord.

    Married my high school sweetheart, whose family’s faith in God flourished. My bride was and is my best friend. She is also the best wife and mom I know. My father-in-law became my mentor of hard work and how to love my family. Sold my service business, graduated with a Masters of Divinity, worked in large churches, started three ministries and experienced the joy of my Dad’s salvation. Blessed with four daughters, three sons-in-laws and four grand babies. Have survived by God’s grace, prostate cancer, abusive stepfathers, rejection and financial challenges. My story.

    I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 2 Timothy 1:5

    So, each day we look into the eyes of each person the Lord sends our way and we inquire about their story. A rough persona may  mask  a big, insecure heart. A hyper happy person may be hiding  intense hurt that needs the healing touch of God’s grace. A fatigued face may have been up most of the night with a special needs child. A sad soul may struggle under a financial burden and a joyful co-worker could use our support and affirmation. Learn another’s story.

    Above all else, the story of Almighty God’s grace, love and judgment is the main attraction. Our stories are the warm up band, but His story is what others really want and need to hear. When we submit our story to Christ’s story our story becomes complete and His story becomes the focal point of our life. His humility becomes our humility. His love becomes our love. His sacrifice becomes our sacrifice. His forgiveness becomes our forgiveness. His story becomes our story.

    The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master. Philippians 3:7-9, The Message

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray Your story of love and forgiveness becomes my story of love and forgiveness.

    Related Readings: Jeremiah 9:23-24; Psalm 73:25; Matthew 1:1-17; Acts 16:1, 22:22-29

    Post/Tweet today: Our stories are the warm up band, but His story is what others really want and need to hear. #everyonehasastory

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

  • Going Solo

    Posted on October 2, 2013 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn

    "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

    The toll of an emotionally draining week had reached its peak. Though I was trying to use various diversions to clear my mind, my thoughts were overpowering. All I wanted was to curl up in a ball and fall apart. Worry was winning.

    My husband sensed the pain that was showing from my welling eyes. Like any good friend, he asked, "What's going on?"

    Determined to keep my composure, I chose to fight my battle alone. "I'm okay" slid out before I caught my lie.

    Minutes later he asked again, "What's wrong?" My resolve couldn't hold up any longer and I blubbered, "I just can't get past this anxiety." Greg listened as the thoughts swirling in my mind came out. After I emptied my heart, he shared a story from Scripture, which helped me override my stress with thankfulness and trust.

    I am so glad the Lord preserved stories in the Bible of those who had issues as well. During this hard season I was in, Greg reminded me of Elijah. Like Elijah, sometimes when I struggle, I opt to struggle alone.

    In 1 Kings 19:3, even after seeing God work miracles, Elijah was undone by a threat. A queen was trying to kill him and he decided the way out was to run.

    We get a look into his thought process in 1 Kings 19:3-4, "Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. 'I have had enough, Lord,' he said. 'Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.'" (NIV)

    I don't blame Elijah one bit for running when trouble hit. I have that instinct myself some days. Running to social media or a chocolate goodie when my emotions are a jumbled mess is the easiest way out—at least temporarily.

    Where Elijah missed it, and I did too on my bad day, was when he chose to go solo.

    Elijah had a servant who was traveling with him, but he left the servant behind. He went farther into the desert alone, where his emotions only turned darker.

    Elijah and I both could have used the truth in Ecclesiastes 4, "Two are better than one ... if either of them falls down, one can help the other up." When we share our troubles with another godly friend, she can often help us to see what we cannot. Her different perspective opens a new way of thinking that can lead to hope and faith and away from despair.

    When you add the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to that friendship, Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us our relationships become "... a cord of three strands... not quickly broken." Our pain, when shared, can be transformed to peace. Strength can take the place of sorrow.

    I eased my stress that difficult week by sharing my worries with my husband. Thankfully he directed me to God's Word where I found hope and encouragement in the midst of my anxiety. Is there a burden you are carrying that would be lighter if you shared it with someone? Make a way today to allow them to help you handle your load.

    Jesus, thank You that You have given us the gift of relationships. Give us the wisdom to know when and with whom to share our personal problems. Please strengthen us so we can help strengthen another. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Who is your "go to" friend who lifts you up when you fall down? Give them your thanks today!

    If you need a friend who makes you stronger, ask the Father to give you the type of friend described in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron; so one person sharpens another." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Uniquely Gifted

    Posted on October 1, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    I wish that all of you were as I am.But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 1 Corinthians 7:7

    Our generous Heavenly Father uniquely gifts His children for His glory. It may be the gift of service, encouragement, teaching, mercy or administration. Regardless of one’s role, all gifts are necessary in the Body of Christ. One may quietly serve as a prayer intercessor behind the scenes, while another may boldly proclaim truth in front of the faithful. Yes, the Lord specially equips individuals for His good works. God’s gifting is His distinctive stamp of value on each one of us

    What do you do well? How can you discover your sweet spot of service for your Savior Jesus? One way is to develop abilities that come natural for you and engage in activities that energize you. The Spirit wires you in a way that brings both of you pleasure when you exercise your gift. For example, a generous giver finds great joy in giving and an evangelist is ecstatic when they share the gospel. An administrator is not content until everyone and everything is in its place.

    For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

    You may be an analytical thinker who loves crunching numbers, managing data and interpreting trends from both. Your gift of linear deduction is critical for business, finance and engineering. Perhaps you are great with people. People love your company, because they sense you know, understand and care for them. Thus, your ability to network, convene and lead others is valuable for accomplishing a big vision or executing a strategic initiative. Yes, steward well God’s gift.

    Moreover, seek to marry your passion with your giftedness. For instance, if you love to see someone encouraged, use your gift of writing to convey God’s love to their hungry heart. If you love children, use your ability to nurture and train, as a conduit for Christ’s truth. If you love sports, use your teaching gift to lead athletes in Bible study. If you love travel, use your aptitude for business to help entrepreneurs here and abroad. Be who God has uniquely gifted you to be!

    We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. Romans 12:6

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, use my gift from You to bring you glory. Marry Your gift with my passion.

    Related Readings: Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, 14:12; Ephesians 4:11-12

    Post/Tweet today: Develop abilities that come natural for you and engage in activities that energize you. #uniquelygifted

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

  • Voices of Accusation

    Posted on October 1, 2013 by Melissa Taylor

    Melissa

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

    Do you ever hear the whisper of condemnation? It hisses: you're not what you should be ... your past sins define you ... you'll never change.

    Unfortunately I do. Self-condemnation is a default for me. If I let it, it can wipe out my confidence as a woman, wife and mom.

    Thankfully, I'm just as familiar with God's truth as I am with Satan's lies. My heart has heard Jesus' gentle reminders of His love and goodness, like "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

    Although I know this truth God speaks over me, I've learned it's up to me to respond correctly. If I don't keep my ears tuned to His voice and my mind set on His thoughts, I forget God's truths.

    Condemning thoughts come back and drown out the confidence I have through Christ.

    One morning I was struggling with self-condemning thoughts when I read these words written in my morning devotion: "Do not listen to voices of accusation for they are not from Me [God]."*

    I opened my journal and responded from my heart:

    Hello Lord, I often feel disappointed in my decisions and who I am and call myself names. But my negative thoughts aren't the only ones I hear. My feelings have been hurt by someone else's comments that cut me down and stole my confidence. Instead of feeling worthy, I feel like a loser. I hear You telling me not to listen to voices of accusation. Thank You for this reminder right when I needed it.

    The devotion continued, "Pause before responding to people or situations, giving My Spirit space to act through you. Hasty words and actions leave no room for Me."

    Again, I reached out to God:

    Lord, I spoke unkind words back to my friend. Thank You for gently reminding me to "pause before responding." You are so faithful to remind me of what You want from me.

    If left to defend ourselves from self-condemnation or the condemnation of others, we'd be defeated every time. Thankfully, we have the greatest defender in God and His Word. His truths re-build the confidence that condemnation breaks down.

    Our part is to know God's promises and believe and apply them! Staying saturated in His Word and taking time to listen to the Holy Spirit is the best way to overcome condemnation. We can supplement these through reading devotions, digging into books on our specific area of struggle, and participating in Bible studies. All these things help re-build our confidence that is in Christ.

    As we take the time to listen to Him today, let's ask God to remind us that He is with us; He loves us, and His Word is true: "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." That means you and me!

    Dear Lord, when I forget, please remind me that because of the cross and because You are my Savior, I am not condemned. Help me keep my eyes and thoughts on You. And to accept Your Word as truth so my confidence stays strong in You. In Jesus' Name, amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What condemning thoughts do you believe about yourself?

    What are some of God's promises you can use to replace your accusing thoughts?

    Power Verses:
    Exodus 14:13-14, "Don't be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm." (NLT)

    Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (NIV 1984)

    * Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young

    © 2013 by Melissa Taylor. All rights reserved.

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

  • Game of Thorns

    Posted on September 30, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

    Satan sends messengers to inflict thorns of temptation into the most spiritual followers of Jesus. His timing is shameless, as he attacks those most susceptible to spiritual pride. Perhaps a significant prayer has been answered or a loved one has just come to faith. Be on guard for the tormentor does not sit still when we experience special moments with the Lord and His people. Satan tempts mature believers, so if they fall they fall far,  disillusioning the faith of novices.

    It is these thorns in the flesh the Lord uses to keep us humble and faithful. Pride yearns to take credit and feed conceit, but humility gives all credit to Christ and remains meek. What’s best for us is not the removal of our afflictions, but the integration of God’s grace into our heart and mind. We can plead in prayer for relief, but not grouse in disappointment when our condition remains the same or worsens. God’s grace is sufficient in our weaknesses to perfect His power.

    I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

    Furthermore, health issues can be the thorn in your physical flesh that challenges your faith. Fatigue and feeling bad wears you down and demoralizes your determination. You weary over time as you get sick and tired of being sick and tired. Chemo can kill your spirit in the process of killing your cancer, thus you cling to Christ and trust Him in your torment. Turn treatment and therapy into a platform of God’s grace to share with your caregivers. Trust in God triumphs over thorns!

    Above all, look to the cross at the crown of thorns Christ wore for you. Each drop of His precious blood was shed for your soul’s salvation and for your hope and healing. Thorns in the flesh are not foreign to your Savior. Indeed, He suffered through their pain, but rose victorious from the grave. You win the game of thorns when you rest in the sufficiency of God’s grace. He makes you the most powerful for Him, when you feel the weakest within. Bow at His throne of grace, unperturbed by a thorn of disgrace. Yes, God’s glory shines through your surrendered life!

    And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach me to appropriate Your grace in the middle of temptations and trials.

    Related Readings: Numbers 33:55; Job 1:6-12; Matthew 4:10; John 19:2-5; 2 Corinthians 4:15

    Post/Tweet today: God’s grace makes you the most powerful for Him, when you feel the weakest within. #gameofthorns

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

  • Me and My Mama Mouth

    Posted on September 30, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen

    "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." (Proverbs 31:26 ESV)

    The other day my son, a smart preteen, was up to the challenge of washing the dishes. He didn't give me an attitude when asked. He wasn't disrespectful. He didn't drag his feet. So why was I battling the urge to harshly point out how he was doing it all wrong?

    Because he wasn't doing it my way.

    He started with the grimy pots, then moved to the plates and silverware. Finally, he had to bubble up more water to spit-shine the glasses. While working, he stacked plastic cups in a pyramid.

    Irritation welled up. An unkind reaction was itching to come out. I could easily have let my momma mouth take over: It uses way more water to wash the dishes in that order. Plus the water is filthy now! Stop playing with those cups while you work. You're so slow.

    I wanted to be a control freak. I wanted to fire off the unkind words hidden in my unspoken thoughts: The only way to do the dishes is my way. I see different as wrong. I interpret a preteen being a preteen—with a slight distraction of fun—as "slow."

    But when I unload on junior, or anyone, it has the potential to damage our relationship and plant mental seeds of his mom's view of him, whether verbalized or implied (lazy, wasteful, distracted, and slow). It does not, as Proverbs 31:26 states, come close to resembling a woman who "opens her mouth with wisdom and speaks with kindness on her tongue."

    It's better if these potentially frustrating scenarios play out differently. So let's replay that scene with a Spirit-controlled response.

    As I see my son doing the dishes, I can make a mental note to explain how to do it next time in a way that will save water, money, and time. I can praise his efforts, keeping in mind his age and abilities. I can acknowledge his unique method. I saw the clever way you stacked those dishes. You always make work fun.

    I can ask myself questions that will help keep my mama mouth in check. Questions like: Does it matter now or will it matter tomorrow? Will it affect eternity? Is God trying to teach me something? Can I pause and praise instead of interrupt and instigate? Is this really an issue that needs addressing? Am I being a control freak? Do I need to let it go?

    The interaction wouldn't damage; it would nurture. It would be wise. Kind. And there would be no lost time, regrets, or need to call in the United Nations peace-keeping forces for intervention.

    This mama would be less control-freakish and more Proverbs 31-womanish. It might not come easily—trust me, it usually doesn't—but with the Holy Spirit, it is possible to speak with kindness.

    Dear Lord, may I purpose to temper my words with Your Holy Spirit as I interact with my family today. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember
    My mouth can be a powerful tool of encouragement or a weapon of destruction.

    Reflect
    Which of the questions posed in the devotion (Does it matter now or will it matter tomorrow? etc.) do you most need to ask yourself when tempted to over-control?

    Respond
    Think of an incident from the past where you did not use your words in a way that was kind or loving. Revisit the situation. How could you have spoken in a way that would honor God? Could you have used a different tone of voice? Word choice? Timing?

    Power Verses
    Psalm 139:4; Psalm 37:30

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst, Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 by 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

  • Teachable Heart

    Posted on September 29, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying God is one and there is no other but him.” When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him,
    “You are not far from the Kingdom of God…” Mark 12:32, 34a

    Jesus affirms a teachable heart, for He knows it has potential to learn and understand the things of God. Thus, a teachable heart is positioned to receive truth, and has an attitude with more questions than answers.
    However, a teachable heart does recognize truth when it comes knocking. It invites truth in to be examined, understood, and applied. Truth invigorates the teachable heart, and there is a rush of spiritual adrenaline when it intersects with an open mind and heart. Pride plateaus in its learning, but a teachable heart continues to scale the mountain of truth. Thus, when God discovers someone who is teachable, He calls him wise. Wisdom comes from God; therefore, a teachable heart learns the ways of God. God is not offended by teachability, though there is a tension that arises when truth begins to facilitate changes in behavior and attitude. This change of heart seems somewhat innocuous from the outside looking in, but most of us do not like to be told what to do.
    Change doesn’t come easily, even as you understand that God has your best interests in mind. But the transformation is telling. Your character and behavior fall more in line with Jesus' and your spouse and children notice something different; your patience, rather than your intimidation, becomes dominant; your bad beliefs are replaced with good ones; so let your teachable heart start first with God.

    God is one. He is not many gods, but one God. He is not a mini-god, but the great and glorious God of the galaxies. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all one God. His oneness is to be worshipped and celebrated. Thus, your love relationship with the one true God is not to be rivaled by any other gods. Any acceptance of other gods is unacceptable to God. He is jealous for you. Your love for anyone or anything will pale in relation to your love for Christ.
    To love God is to make room for God in all aspects of your life. You love Him when you love others, when you give sacrificially, when you strive for excellence in your work, and when you pray for and forgive others. Love is action; therefore, love Him and allow Him to love you.
    Let His expectations mold yours, because what God thinks trumps any other thinking. The Holy Spirit within you has the answers to the questions that consume your thinking. Follow His internal promptings, not the external clamor. What you believed yesterday will be dwarfed by what you learn tomorrow. Know God, love God, and learn of Him. He affirms a teachable heart as one who fears the Lord.
    The Bible teaches, “Assemble the people—men, women, and children, and the aliens living in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 31:12). Stay teachable in your understanding of God.

    Post/Tweet: A teachable heart is positioned to receive truth. It has an attitude with more questions than answers. #teachableheart

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

  • 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

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