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  • Max Lucado Before Amen

Daily Devotion

  • Sacrificial Spirit

    Posted on July 18, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. Hebrews 11:24-26

    To sacrifice is to give up something for a purpose greater than ourselves. Moses gave up status for servanthood. He gave up the fleeting pleasures of sin for cruel mistreatment with the masses. He gave up fame and fortune in disgrace for the sake of Christ. Moses gave up rewards on earth as he looked ahead to his rewards in heaven. Yes, examples of sacrificial living energize others to sacrifice. The sacrificial spirit of past saints give inspiration, as do sacrificial givers of today.

    Who comes to your mind as an example of sacrificial living? A mother who sacrifices her comfort to comfort her children? She sacrifices her leisure time to serve the disabled, the elderly or the chronically ill. A father who sacrifices his career for a focused season of service to his family? He sacrifices his hobby so he is able to volunteer at church, attend school events and serve on a board. Soldiers sacrifice for their country. Teachers sacrifice for their students. Civic leaders sacrifice for their citizens. Pastors sacrifice for their flock. And spouses sacrifice for their spouse.

    Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1

    Where is Christ calling you to sacrifice? Vocationally, you may need to give up an advancement opportunity and status for availability and humility. Spiritually, you may need to give up an unhealthy habit for a righteous routine. Relationally, you may need to give up a fertile field of temptation for guardrails of accountability. Physically, you may need to give up excessive food intake for smaller portions. Financially, you may need to give up accumulation for distribution.

    Above all else, think and pray often on the ultimate sacrifice of life Jesus gave so we could have life in Him. He laid down His life to lift ours up in abundance. He took on the form of a servant so we could be free to serve Him. He gave up the accolades of a conventional teacher so we could become students of His unconventional teaching. He sacrificed for our sin so we could be forgiven and free not to sin. He gave up His life so we could give back our life on His behalf!

    By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. Isaiah 53:8

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow in me a sacrificial spirit that quietly serves others.

    Related Readings: Romans 3:25; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5; Galatinas 6:9; Ephesians 5:2

    Post/Tweet today: To sacrifice is to give up something for a purpose greater than ourselves. #sacrificialspirit

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

  • A Little Girl's Dance

    Posted on July 18, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32 (NIV)

    My touch has always comforted my youngest daughter, Brooke.

    I remember running errands when she was a baby, knowing we should have been home an hour earlier for her nap. But also knowing there were things that had to get done, I pressed on, hoping for the best. She started getting fussy. Soon, whines and whimpers escalated into a full-blown meltdown.

    Although I couldn't do much to comfort her while driving, I could reach my arm into the backseat and gently pat her leg. It took a few minutes, but eventually she settled down and reached out her tiny hand to hold mine.

    A few years later, Brooke had a performance with her praise dance team from school. She loved getting on a stage, so I expected her to be full of smiles and giggles. But just a few minutes before the performance began, a very distraught Brooke made her way to the audience to find me.

    With tears streaming down her cheeks, she explained that the teacher had moved her from the front row to the back row, and she didn't know the back row's part. I reassured her, "Honey, just get up there and watch the other girls for cues and follow in step. You know this dance. You'll be fine."

    She sobbed back, "I won't be fine if I mess up, and I know I'm going to mess up."

    That's when it occurred to me. She would need my touch to get through this. But we both knew it would be impossible for my arm to reach all the way up to the stage. So I quickly whispered, "Brooke, lock your eyes with mine, and Mommy will touch you with my smile. Don't look at anyone else. It doesn't matter if you mess up. What matters is that you keep your eyes on me the whole time. We'll do this together."

    Quietly she asked, "The whole time, Mommy?"

    "The whole time, Brooke," I replied as I watched my brave girl walk away to take her place.

    Several times during the dance, Brooke fell out of step. She knew her steps weren't perfect, so her eyes brimmed with tears. However, the tears never fell. With her eyes perfectly locked on my smiling face, she danced.

    My smile was not based on her performance. My smile was born out of an incredible love for this precious, courageous little girl. As she kept her attention focused solely on my smile and the touch of my gaze, it was as if the world slowly faded away and we were the only ones in the room.

    This is the way God wants me to dance through life.

    Though I can't physically see Him, my soul pictures Him so clearly. In my mind's eye He is there. The touch of His gaze wraps about me, comforts me, assures me, and makes the world seem strangely dim. As long as my gaze is locked on His, I dance and He smiles. The snickers and jeers of others fade away. Though I hear their razor-sharp intentions, they are unable to pierce my heart and distract my focus. Even my own stumblings don't cause the same feelings of defeat.

    My steps so often betray the desire of my heart, but it is not my perfect performance that captures His attention. Rather, it is my complete dependence on Him that He notices.

    He then whispers to my heart, hold on to Me and what I say about you. For My words are the truth of who you are and the essence of what you were created to be. I then imagine Him pausing as He adds, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).

    His truth frees me from the chains of doubt and insecurity. His truth frees me from feeling unable and inadequate to try and pursue God. His truth washes over me as I tentatively whisper, "I want to be a woman who says 'yes' to God."

    And in that moment, with my eyes locked on His, I am.

    Dear Lord, I want to keep my eyes on You as I dance through the highs and lows of my life. Direct my steps today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    This devotion was taken from Lysa TerKeurst's new book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God Devotional, which releases August 1! Click here to pre-order your copy!

    Reflect and Respond:
    Take some time to reflect on verses where God says who we are to Him, such as Ephesians 1:3-8, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, and John 1:12.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 121:1-2, "I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Stress Busters

    Posted on July 17, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Ephesians 1:3-4

    Too blessed to be stressed is the attitude of those who keep God’s goodness top of mind. His blessings in Christ produce peace of mind, a calm heart and a secure soul. The focus of gratitude to the Lord for His favor causes Jesus followers to fall on their knees in thanksgiving and praise. There is no room for stress when the righteous stress the generous gifts of God. The blessing cup of Christ is not just half full, it is overflowing. Yes, praise to God produces indescribable peace.

    How has your Heavenly Father blessed you? Count your many blessings, name them one by one. Salvation in Jesus probably jumps to mind first. Your opportunity to work and provide for your family is a huge benefit of God’s blessing. Citizenship in a country that protects and promotes freedom of religion, speech, business and the ability to bear arms cannot be taken for granted.
    We are blessed with health, prayer support, modern medicine, education, family and friends.

    In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? I am under vows to you, O God; I will present my thank offerings to you. Psalm 56:11-12

    Fear builds stress, while trust in the Lord tears down the trusses of distrust. When we forget God’s record of faithfulness we construct structures of stress. He was faithful yesterday, He is faithful today and He will be faithful tomorrow. The goal is not for us to eliminate stress, but to let it pass through when it intrudes into our heart and mind. Like an uninvited sales person who shows up demanding attention, we may listen for a moment, but politely decline and send them away. Yes, prayerfully and courageously off load the burdensome spirit of stress.

    Glory hallelujah, your Heavenly Father has your back. He does not want you backed into a corner of confusion without hope. Lean into the Lord and let Him deflate your distress. Don’t allow another’s crisis to become your crisis. Dismiss drama and replace it with a reasoned response. Above all, praise and thank God for His spiritual blessings above and for His earthly blessings in Christ. Enjoy Him and enjoy life, liberty and love. Stress rushes to the exits of your life when the fire of your faith focuses on God’s blessings. Yes, you are too blessed to be stressed!

    Though while they live they count themselves blessed. Psalm 49:18

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I celebrate and give You praise for Your goodness and blessings.

    Related Readings: Psalm 84:4-15; 94:12, 106:3, 107:38, 112:1-2; 1 Peter 3:14, 4:14; Revelation 4:13

    Post/Tweet today: Stress rushes to the exits of your life when the fire of your faith focuses on God’s blessings. #stressbusters

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

  • Is God's Strength Still Available for Me?

    Posted on July 17, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis

    "'Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.' And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said." 2 Chronicles 32:7-8 (NIV)

    Strength is an appealing characteristic. Strong wills. Strong arms. Strong jaws. Strong emotions. We admire them all.

    We love movies with strong heroes.
    We watch sports with strong athletes.
    We look up to strong leaders.

    Yet it's easy to compare our own motivations, muscles and minds with others who appear strong, and feel quite insignificant and weak in the comparison. We whisper things in our hearts that no one hears. Things like:

    If only I were that strong ...
    ... I'd say no to the temptations that no one sees.
    ... I'd follow my dream to change careers.
    ... I'd go to college.
    ... I'd be the mother or employee I KNOW I could be.

    Then reality washes over us like a splash of ice water, waking us from our daydream with an unpleasant start. Back to our weaknesses that seem destined to chain us to a resigned life. Bad habits, damaged relationships, unfulfilled dreams ... that's my life ... our despairing hearts sigh.

    Oh how I know those thoughts. For most of my life, I've battled feeling weak in certain areas, while strong in others. And my inconsistencies frustrate me. I could be brave when facing a huge project at work, but the thought of sharing my faith with my unbelieving father made me feel weak. I feel strong saying no to many obvious sins, but then weak when I don't say no to over-eating in the privacy of my home.

    And then I read stories like the one told of Hezekiah, king of Judah in 2 Chronicles 32. The story is worth reading in its entirety, but verses 7 and 8 speak truth that's worth repeating today: "'Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.' And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said."

    It's so easy for me to forget there is a source of strength available to me every moment of every day. It's free of charge. There is no "closed" sign in the window of heaven. And I don't get a recording when I call for help.

    For those who have chosen to follow Jesus, God's strength is available. That doesn't mean tomorrow I'll be able to run a marathon; it's not that kind of strength. But as I ponder the type of strength God promises, a clue is found in the word "confidence." Confidence not in myself, but in God's ability to effectively deal with any challenge I'm currently facing.

    As I've learned to turn to God for His strength, I've experienced the courage to press on in situations when my flesh wants to give up. I've experienced hope when relationships seem dead. I've experienced peace when fear threatens to overtake me.

    We serve a God of unlimited power, and yet it's so easy to forget and rely on our own imperfect strength. What if we accepted that God's life-changing power was really for us? What kind of difference would that make in our lives?

    Let's make this personal. What kind of difference would it make if you truly believed God's power was available ... to you?

    Heavenly Father, thank You for being my strength and power. So often I feel weak and inadequate. Thank You for reminding me that I don't have to do life on my own. Help me to look to You first when I need help, and not myself. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Take time today to read about God's immeasurable strength in His Word. Pick up your copy of the new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women. The Proverbs 31 team has written 366 devotions to unpack Scripture with you.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Most of us don't face war, but we do face battles every day that seem insurmountable. What "battles" do you face?

    If you believed with all your heart that God's power was available to you today, what would do differently? What would you attempt?

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 40:31, "... but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (NIV)

    Psalm18:2, "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." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Make Things Right

    Posted on July 16, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Matthew 5:25

    Make things right with those you have wronged or who have wronged you. If you stay engaged in a stalemate of accusations you may end up in court. Why involve civil authorities when Christ has given you a game plan for reconciliation? By faith, call an accusatory cease fire with your adversary. Take the first step to reach out and request a meeting or phone call. Better to get together with cool heads, than to separately stay mad, while matters escalate to a heated crisis.

    Humbly agree with your adversary. If they feel hurt by you, apologize for hurting their heart. If they feel misunderstood by you, say, “I’m sorry” and listen intently to what they are trying to convey. If they feel heard by you, you may not have to say a word. When you listen well you communicate love, respect and patience. Validate your accuser’s feelings and you validate them. Take responsibility for your actions and seek to be reconciled to your adversary.

    Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-25

    Furthermore, a fractured relationship with someone on earth hinders our relationship with God in heaven. We cannot stay focused by faith on our Heavenly Father, when we have broken the trust of another brother or sister. Our conscience will not be clear before Christ if it is not clear before the one we’ve offended. Yes, taking the time to build a bridge of acceptance over a chasm of rejection is evidence that God has reconciled us to Himself through His son Jesus Christ.

    Sometimes as we soften our hearts, their heart softens. As we calm the tone of our words and lower the volume of our voice, our accusers might do the same. As we take a step toward them, they may take a step toward us. Therefore, don’t wait on your adversary to make the first move. Make things right by deciding not to fight. Go humble yourself and agree with them so you both win. Make things right on earth so you are qualified to make things right with God in heaven.

    Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4:20-21

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the humility and courage to listen to the one I’ve offended.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 6:1-5; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 1 John 4:12

    Post/Tweet today: Take responsibility for your actions and seek to be reconciled to your adversary.

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

  • When You're Hanging on by a Thread

    Posted on July 16, 2013 by Micca Campbell

    Micca

    "The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all." Psalm 34:19 (NIV)

    I have a dear friend whose husband didn't want to be married anymore. Sure, she knew there were problems in their relationship, but this devastating news blindsided her. We prayed together. She sought counseling and even invited her husband along. Still, no matter her attempts to save her marriage, it was falling apart.

    I've never seen her so helpless, so troubled, so lost. She was hanging on by a thread. I understand the darkness she was in and know the weakness and heart-wrenching pain because I've been there. Most of us have experienced terrible news that took us by surprise and left us hanging on by a thread.

    Perhaps you're there now. You may be experiencing a broken relationship. Maybe you need to be saved from some addiction or financial trouble. Whatever the case, you feel alone, scared and weak. Your situation is hard, wrenching and painful. You're losing your grip on faith.

    I could tell that my friend was losing her grip on her spiritual foundation. In her deep despair, all she had was a thread of hope to hang on to. What was that hope? It is the promise of God found in Psalm 34:19, "The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all."

    Such was the case of Rahab, a prostitute whose story is told in the Bible. Rahab owned an inn near the city gate of Jericho, the city soon to be conquered by the Israelites.

    Rahab had heard about God's greatness and had come to believe He was the one true God. So she hid the two Israeli spies that Joshua, the commander of the Israelite army, had sent on a scouting mission into Jericho.

    The king of Jericho heard that the spies had been at Rahab's home, so he sent orders for her to turn them over. When the king's soldiers questioned her of the whereabouts of the spies, Rahab misguided the soldiers and sent them on a wild goose chase after the spies whom she had actually hidden on her roof.

    Once the soldiers were gone, Rahab asked the spies to save her and her household. She promised to keep silent about their mission if they would spare her family when the Israelites invaded the city of Jericho. The spies told her to hang a scarlet cord from her window as a sign to the Jews to protect her.

    Rahab obeyed and when the walls of Jericho fell, Rahab's life, and all those in her household, hung by the thread of hope that the spies would keep their word.

    They did, and she and her family were spared from the destruction when the walls of Jericho crumbled. Her household was passed over. Protected. Delivered.

    Like Rahab, the only thing my friend had between herself and total destruction was a thin thread of hope. It proved to be enough. Although her marriage came tumbling down, she was saved from total destruction. When all was said and done, she still had the love of God, the hope He offers and the peace He gives.

    Each of us needs a thread of hope—a reminder that just as Joshua saved Rahab, God can save each of us. He may or may not change our circumstances, but He can protect us from being taken under the falling rubble that surrounds us.

    He is there when we're hanging on by a thread. Even at our weakest point, a simple cry such as, "Lord, help me" invites the hand of God to take hold of our situation. And deliver us.

    Dear Lord, thank You that Your salvation is far reaching. It not only takes away my sin and provides eternal life, but also it helps me for today. Help me, Lord, as I throw to You a thin thread of hope. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    An Untroubled Heart by Micca Campbell

    Reflect and Respond:
    In what ways can you put up a thread of hope as an indication to God that you need Him to save you?

    Power Verse:
    Psalms 145:18, "The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Share God Stories

    Posted on July 15, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “When they [Paul and Barnabas] came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.” Acts 15:4

    Can a follower of Jesus contain the great works God does in and through them? Or, are they compelled to communicate Christ’s faithfulness, forgiveness, healing, answered prayers and salvation stories? Joy and gratitude to God cannot be contained in a life surrendered to the Lord. God waits for His works to be openly shared for His glory.

    The grace of God causes a man or woman to glow under its influence. Discerning Christians look at a soul captivated by Christ and know they have been with Jesus. So, we humbly tell of how the Lord is meeting our financial needs, delivering a friend from addiction, growing disciples and how He healed a fractured family relationship.

    “Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds” (Psalm 71:17). A soul might explode unless it shares God’s faithfulness.

    We are too sophisticated in our faith when we are shy and silent about God’s great work. We celebrate and communicate earthly accomplishments, why not do the same over highlights from
    heaven? Our earthly eternal endeavors have been bountifully blessed by the Lord. Everything good we experience finds its roots in the righteous acts of the Almighty.

    Therefore,give your friends and when appropriate, acquaintances and strangers, the gift of a God story, but be careful to keep Christ the central character. After all, it’s all about Him, not you. Godly people celebrate His work in your life and seekers are curious to hear what Christ can do for them. God stories fill hearts with faith and thankful praise.

    Lastly, do not limit the atonement of Christ to a select people group. God’s grace transcends all tribes, nations and cultures. Shortsighted is the soul that only sees people like themselves come to know the Lord. We share God stories globally because our Lord longs for all nations to hear of His faithfulness. His story brings glory and honor to Him.

    “Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods” (1 Chronicles 16:23-25).

    Prayer: What story of the Lord’s faithfulness can I share today for His glory?

    Related Readings: Job 37:5; Psalm 86:10; Matthew 21:42; Acts 15:12

    Post/Tweet today: Joy and gratitude to God cannot be contained in a life surrendered to the Lord. #Godstories

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

  • Pause and Breathe

    Posted on July 15, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea." Psalm 46:2 (NLT)

    Recently as I was waiting to board a plane, I felt a little twinge of anxiety.

    I looked tentatively at the other passengers at the gate, wondering if any posed a threat. I found myself reading their faces, looking at their carry-on bags and speculating if anything dangerous might have slipped through.

    You see, the horrific events of previous months were heavy on my heart. My mind had been filled with school shootings, the Boston Marathon bombing, massive floods in the Southwest, the plant explosion in Texas, tornados, and tragedies overseas. As the news broadcasts so many calamities, innocent lives lost and people injured, it's easy to harbor fear and wonder: What's happening to our world? Why are people so evil? Can we ever feel safe?

    In that airport terminal, my mind was on the verge of drifting to a thousand what-ifs and whys when I remembered God's promise in Psalm 46. As I allowed His truth to sink in, I paused to take comfort in the fact that there was no need to fear, because no matter what, God is with us.

    Verses 1-3 assure us that "God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!" Interlude

    God is our Protector. He is where we find strength to get through tough times when we are afraid. When the earth crumbles, floods abound, avalanches roar, tornados threaten—He is our refuge.

    Yet, sometimes in the face of tragedy and heartache, we question God, doubting His promise of protection. Although God does have the authority and ability to protect us from every trouble, sometimes He uses the trials we go through to teach us, purify us and draw us closer to Him. Although at times it may seem that God has not protected us in the way we need or desire, we can rest in knowing that He is protecting us in the way He knows is best for us to learn to fully depend on God.

    Psalm 46:4-7 says, "A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God's voice thunders, and the earth melts! The Lord of Heaven's Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress." Interlude

    While I love the ocean, I don't long to dig my toes in the shorelines when there's a storm. But I wouldn't mind sitting on the banks of a peaceful river, even during a rainstorm. Just like the calm, flowing waters of a river, God weaves His peace and provision throughout our lives even in chaos.

    Psalm 46:8-11 says, "Come, see the glorious works of the LORD: See how he brings destruction upon the world. He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire. Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. The Lord of Heaven's Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress." Interlude

    Although the world is in disarray, God is still God. He is still on the throne. Still mighty. Still faithful. Still sovereign.

    In all three sections in this passage, each one ends with the word Interlude. The definition of interlude is to pause, break, breathing space, or rest.

    When we pause to focus on the truth that God is God, we find rest.

    If fear has been creeping into your heart lately, pause and remember that God is your protector; His presence is with you, and He is in the highest position of authority over this broken world. Ask Him to settle the anxiousness in your heart. Then, just breathe.

    Dear Lord, thank You for being a safe place to flee, for always providing peace in the face of anxieties. Fill us with joy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    An Untroubled Heart by Micca Campbell

    Reflect and Respond:
    Consider what fears, whether valid or imagined, have been burdening your heart lately. Search God's Word for a verse that specifically addresses that fear(s).

    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 Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Rest from Work

    Posted on July 14, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9-11

    It is hard for some people to rest from their work. They love their work, enjoy their work, and may even worship their work. Hard, smart, and productive work is good, but worshiping work is bad. It is reckless and leads to ruin. It may be relational ruin, physical ruin, or even financial ruin. But work that is worshipped gets out of hand quickly. God is the only one who deserves worship. It is good to be proud of your work with pure motivation and to produce quality, but do not allow work to become an end in itself. Your true identity does not come from work; if it does you are positioned for a roller coaster ride of emotion. One day you will feel secure and another day you will be swept away by insecurity.

    As a follower of Christ, your identity is found in Him. This is one reason why rest from work is vital. When you work all the time you tend to drift from your moorings of faith in Christ to faith in yourself. It becomes a trust issue. “Can God be trusted enough for me to rest from my work?” Of course He can handle the work that remains. He divinely redeems the time of your limited work and produces more lasting results; results that will last longer than if you had worked all the time. After all, you are His workmanship in Christ Jesus. When you take the time to cease working, God is allowed to accelerate His work in you. Some of God’s best work takes place when you don’t work. He works better when you don’t. His work is a work of grace, and it is a beautiful sight to behold. So, enjoy your Sabbath rest as He works on your heart. Allow Him to draw you to Himself so when you go back to work you are refreshed and revitalized.

    There is a trap to avoid as you take a break from work and enter into God’s Sabbath rest. You can physically be away from work and still be at work mentally, so free your mind from this split-focused activity. Do not make your mind jealous over your body’s freedom from work. Rest your thoughts from work, and you will discover your thinking is more robust and innovative when you reengage in your work. During your Sabbath rest, shift your thinking to the bigger thoughts of God and His plan. Superimpose simple faith in Him over the complex issues that are assaulting your rest.

    Your mind, body, and emotions are all part of your Sabbath rest. If your Sabbath rest from work involves people, then relate to them with relevance and relationship. Let them see the sincerity of your involved presence. Do not act as if you wish you were somewhere else. Your rest is a time for you to relate the ways of God to others. Your life is a testament to God’s faithfulness. Let others read it up close and personal. Your Sabbath rest can be a catalyst for others to reengage with God. Set the example and watch others follow. Your Sabbath rest gives others permission to do the same. It’s not always easy to get to God’s rest, but once you arrive it is well worth the effort. His rest ignites your obedience and trust. So, rest from work and rest in Him. Then watch your work become better.

    Post/Tweet: Rest from work, rest in Him and watch your work become better. #restfromwork

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

     

  • Written Affirmation

    Posted on July 13, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Hiram king of Tyre replied by letter to Solomon: ‘Because the Lord loves his people, he has made you their king’” (2 Chronicles 2:11).

    The written word is a life-changing medium of communication that never goes out of style. For example, Holy Scripture has been passed down throughout history. It relates God’s heart and encourages people. Verbal communication can get lost over time, but the written word has the opportunity to persevere. So why not reach out and affirm with personal notes?

    Yes, it takes time to arrange thoughts and piece sentences together, but what a fantastic way to show others you love and care about them. You say that you care when you take the time to write how you feel about someone. Maybe it is just a ten-minute handwritten note or a one-hour handwritten letter; either way, love on paper lasts. It is a gift that keeps giving.

    God has written His love letter to you through the medium of the Bible. He has modeled the way. Indeed, people desperately need affirmation and care. Every day life has the tendency to suck energy and hope from people, but we have the noble task of infusing courage and life through the written word. You do not have to be a gifted writer to write.

    You simply need the heart; God will lead your hand. If your penmanship is unintelligible, use a keyboard. You have no excuse. The occasion may be someone’s birthday (spiritual or physical), a job promotion, a school graduation, a thank you, a sickness, a death, a wedding anniversary, or for no special reason but to say, “I am thinking about you.”

    How does it make you feel when you receive an unexpected note of encouragement? Someone writes to affirm you as a mom, father, husband, wife, grandparent, Bible teacher, homemaker, friend, or a mentor. You probably feel undeserving; yet you are filled with gratitude. When you receive written affirmation, pay it forward to someone else.

    Perhaps each time you receive an e-mail, note, or letter of affirmation, send one on to another needy soul. This is a gift that keeps on giving. Truth is stored in our hearts and minds with the ability to flush out lies of unworthiness and discouragement. It is not unusual for someone to physically file away written affirmation, only to taste its meaty morsels in future days of loneliness. Encouraging words transfer courage for living.

    Written encouragement is a balm for the wounded heart and food for the hungry soul. It never loses its luster and effectiveness. It is always there to draw on. Especially reach out to those who are snared by sin. Instead of ignoring or judging the fallen as they wallow in the consequences of their bad choices, affirm them. Take the time to write out who they are in Christ and what God thinks about them—children of God, chosen by Him, His workmanship in Christ, and joint-heirs with Jesus!

    Written affirmation is not a test where you are graded for grammar, spelling, and style. Rather, it is a tool in the hand of God that offers hope, peace, love, and encouragement to His children. Share your heart with pen and paper, and the Lord will love through you.

    I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

    Prayer: What types of written words from others affirm me? On what occasion can I write to encourage friends and family?

    Related Readings: Psalm 102:18; John 20:31; Hebrews 13:22; 1 John 1:4

    Post/Tweet: Written encouragement is a balm for the wounded heart and food for the hungry soul. #wrritenaffirmation

    © 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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