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Daily Devotion

  • Gracious God

    Posted on June 21, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them. Nehemiah 9:17

    We serve a gracious God who does not desert us in our time of need, or reject us when we walk away. He knows our secret sins and still loves us, in spite of our indiscretions. Our sin breaks His heart, but it does not disqualify us from His grace. David felt this when he prayed to his gracious God, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16). Your need  is God’s opportunity to extend you grace.

    You may ask, “How do I qualify for God’s grace?” Breathe. If you are alive, you qualify. His grace reaches a wife who feels worthless because of the verbal and physical lashes from her husband. The grace of God goes out to a brain-cancer victim who waits in major uncertainty on an unproven clinical procedure. Your gracious God offers buckets of grace at your point of fear, rejection, anger, dismissal, job loss, divorce, and addiction.

    Indeed, we are all candidates for God’s grace daily; so take the time to appropriate His great gift. In prayer and by faith, receive what your Sovereign Lord offers in abundance. Isaiah says it beautifully: “O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress” (Isaiah 33:2). In your bankrupt business and broken soul, His grace is sufficient to see you through. Gulp down gallons of grace.

    Moreover, because you have the grace of God at your disposal, be a dispenser of grace. In the heat of relational conflict, it is not about you and your way. It is about the Lord’s way. His remedy for relational angst is grace. Give grace to the ungracious, and God will bless your efforts with healing and understanding. People who live in fear have no concept or understanding of faith, but your gracious response gives them a glimpse into grace.

    When they lash out, listen. When they accuse, forgive. When they are angry, stay calm. When they are critical, pray for them. When they give up, be there for them. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). Grace is the governor that keeps the relational engine running smoothly. Be a grace giver, and you will never lack people to love!

    Prayer: Do I regularly receive a fresh infusion of God’s grace into my mind, soul, and spirit? Do I liberally live out grace and give grace to the ungracious and undeserving?

    Related Readings: Proverbs 22:11; Joel 2:13; Ephesians 3:7; Philemon 1:25

    Post/Tweet today: Our need for grace is God’s opportunity to extend us grace, so we can be gracious with others. #wisdomhunter

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Nehemiah

  • Money’s Distraction

    Posted on June 20, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21

    It is easy for money to become a distraction. Just the making and management of money takes effort and focus. Indeed, money becomes a subtle master if it is not held in check. Our affections gravitate toward what we think about. If the majority of our waking moments are consumed by the thought of making more money, then we are distracted.

    Yes, we need to do our work with excellence as unto the Lord. However, if making money becomes our consuming focus, then its devotion competes with God. Billions of people wake up every day to make money, but are they making money or is money making them? If my life is consumed by money, very little is left for a life well spent.

    “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13).

    Time and energy for others become scarce in the wake of compulsive money making. You may think that your current obsession with making money is for the long-term purpose of autonomy. This is flawed thinking, because a follower of Jesus Christ is never totally autonomous—they are tethered by trust to the will of God. We have a built in eternal expectation in our community and to Christ that results in accountability and service.

    Yes, finances afford you options, but only options that are under the purview of God’s will. A life of unshackled leisure and self-indulgence is not a life well spent for the Lord. He may free you up to serve Him and others, but not to sit and soak. Too many options can be a distraction. So, where is the balance? How can you avoid money’s distraction?

    Stay close to Christ and let Him love you. He will love you away from money’s allurement and into heavenly investments. Let Him love you away from the seduction of possessions. Then you will want to reciprocate love to your lover. If your love quotients are met by stuff, then your affections will gravitate to the moneymaking mistress.

    When you allow money to love you, you feel a debt to materialism. Your emotions and energies feel obligated to love back. An affair with money and possessions leaves nothing for the lover of your soul. And, without an intense love relationship with your Creator, you will become sad and dissatisfied. Loving God satisfies the soul.

    Fortunately, there is a solution to money’s distraction. Let God love you—then you are compelled to love Him. Money’s distraction is derailed by a love relationship with Jesus. When you love Him wholeheartedly, there is no room for money to distract. Then give generously to whom He loves, especially the poor. Generous givers love God, not money. Eternal rewards await those who send ahead what they cannot keep.

    “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” (Matthew 6:19-21, NLT).

    Prayer: How can I use money as an expression of my love for the Lord and people?

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 15:10; Job 22:23-25; Luke 11:41; 1 Timothy 3:3;

    Post/Tweet today: Finances afford us options, but only options that are under the purview of God’s will. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Mark

  • When Kids Don't Go According to Plan

    Posted on June 20, 2014 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn Cowell

    "A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living." Luke 15:11-13 (NASB)

    It was true. He showed respect by asking for my permission. But after watching the movie previews, I had made up my mind. No child of mine was going to see that show. I had decided well before he asked the question. The answer was, "No." Without words, my son turned his back, returning to his friends.

    I wrestled inside with that decision, because for all practical purposes, my son was an adult. Yet, knowing the intense heartache that could come if one unwise decision led to another, I was determined to maintain control with my eldest child as long as possible.

    He could have lied and gone to the movie and told you something different, my head reasoned. Meanwhile my heart whispered, You still have time to influence his decisions; don't give up while he's still at home.

    After seeking wise advice from my husband, we decided to allow our son to make up his own mind that day, but not without tears in our eyes. I know the decision seems rather trivial to lead to watery eyes. However, as I reflected on why we got so emotional, it wasn't that the choice was hard; it was the act of letting go.

    I imagine the father in today's key passage wrestled with letting go, too. His son had given the speech ... the speech of a child who knows more than his dad: "Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me" (Luke 15:12).

    Here is where I stand amazed at the father. In Jesus' story, the father didn't nag, criticize or get angry with his son. The father didn't say, "You're not ready. This is the wrong decision. You're too immature. You don't know what you're doing."

    Instead, this wise and loving father prepared to watch his son learn hard truth ... on his own.

    Reading this passage makes my heart break. I come to tears just thinking of the pain the father experienced as he divided his property and possessions. I can almost hear the struggle of this father's heart. Perhaps he thought: This is all wrong. It wasn't supposed to go this way. I've spent my whole life investing in these boys. This isn't the way it was supposed to turn out.

    I've had similar painful thoughts.

    What parent doesn't experience that frustration, as we travel through this journey of having children and then letting them go?

    I think of the friend watching an unwise decision of another tear down a lifetime bond.

    And the sister who struggles as a sibling heads in the wrong direction.

    Each scenario makes my heart ache.

    Maybe the father experienced the same type of emotions I'm sure I would have had: turmoil torturing my mind with all that could certainly go wrong.

    Yet, in his wisdom, the prodigal's father held back that swirling sadness from his lips. He knew some children learn best through experience.

    And we, as those who love them, need the wisdom of the Father to know which of our loved ones are wired this way.

    Then with all the grace our Heavenly Father will give, we have to get out of the way.

    Out of the way and onto our knees, praying our prodigals quickly discover even a "hired hand." Or they learn that, as Paul describes himself, "a prisoner" (Philemon 1:1) is more blessed than the one outside the umbrella of God's protection and blessings.

    Lord, we are desperate for Your wisdom. Show us, Jesus, when to speak and when to be silent. When we need to get involved, and when we need to get out of the way, so our loved ones surrender to You as soon as possible. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." (NIV)

    Proverbs 4:5, "'Learn to be wise,' he said, 'and develop good judgment and common sense! I cannot overemphasize this point.'" (TLB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is the driving force behind the words you want to share with someone making a wrong decision? Fear? Love?

    Ask Jesus to give you clarity and discernment on your interaction with your loved one. What words might you need to say or pray for them?

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Luke

  • Regular Replenishment

    Posted on June 19, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.  Proverbs 11:25

    Everyone is in need of encouragement. Each day life issues extract courage from every human being. Indeed, all are candidates in need of receiving courage from a caring soul. They need to hear, “Job well done”, “You can do it”, “You are a blessing”, “You are a gift from the Lord”, “I need you” and “I love you”. Like the gas tank in an automobile, people need a regular fill up of encouraging words, kind deeds and a listening ear.

    Spouses need encouragement so they feel loved, accepted, and respected. Children need encouragement so they feel love and the security around well defined boundaries. Work associates need the balance of many more  “well dones” to balance out the “why didn’t you?” All restaurant servers deserve a sincere smile and most deserve a generous tip. Encourage those the Lord sends your way each day; these are His divine moments.

    “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3).

    Furthermore—the replenishment of others is reciprocal. When we take a short amount of time to extend kindness and care, we receive the blessing of a thank you, a gentle hug, a grateful email, or the satisfaction of representing Jesus well. What a privilege to be a conduit for Christ and connect two people who grow to love and appreciate each other. Encouragers decrease—while others increase—and all are filled with joy by faith in God.

    When you give others hope—you become hopeful. When you give others peace—you become peaceful. When you give others faith—you become faithful. You give others comfort—you become comforted. When you give others encouragement—you become encouraged. When you give others Jesus—you become like Jesus!

    Who needs a handwritten thank you note? Perhaps you set a goal of writing two or three caring communications each day. Give a new Bible to the maintenance worker at your office—ask him or her the names of their children and give them Bibles. Invite a couple to dinner to love on and listen to how they are doing. Drop by to see a family with a special needs child, just to see how they’re doing—and pray with them. No one normally complains of too much encouragement, so be a regular replenisher of courage. Most of all, lead others to be refreshed by the Lord—His refreshment satisfies best.

    “He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).

    Prayer: How can I encourage my family and friends to be faithful followers of Jesus?

    Related Readings: Psalm 19:7, 68:9; Proverbs 25:13; Acts 3:19; 1 Corinthians 16:18

    Post/Tweet today: No one normally complains of too much encouragement, so be a regular replenisher of courage. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Proverbs

  • All That Glitters

    Posted on June 19, 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs

    Liz Curtis Higgs

    "Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value." Proverbs 31:11 (NIV)

    The jeweler smiled as my fiancé and I touched the loose diamonds she'd strewn across a square of blue velvet. "So, what's your budget?" she asked, her tone hopeful.

    Bill gulped and answered, "$400." On a college teacher's salary, it was all he could afford, but I still winced when he said it. Even all those years ago, $400 meant a very small diamond. Teensy weensy.

    Except for the flaws. Those would be huge.

    The jeweler guided us to the other end of the counter. "I think we can find something here that will suit you." Out came another velvet square, but the diamond chips she placed on it nearly disappeared in the nap of the fabric.

    Bill listened as she explained clarity and carat weight, while my gaze drifted back to the larger stones still on display. Their many facets caught the bright store lights, winking at me, beckoning me.

    Diamonds are forever, I told myself. Surely there must be a way we could swing something larger.

    When no solution came to mind, I chose a pretty but petite gemstone and tried my best to be excited.

    Bill touched my elbow. "Make sure you're happy with it, Liz, while I look around."

    I was happy with Bill, no question. The dearest of men, godly and kind. But was I happy with a diminutive diamond? Hmmm.

    Here's the ugly truth: As a single woman, I'd grown accustomed to buying whatever I wanted, even if that meant pulling out my credit card. My frugal fiancé, though, was a cash-and-carry kind of guy.

    Still, he did say he wanted me to be happy ...

    I waited until Bill was out of earshot before I leaned over the counter, waving the jeweler closer. "Could I look at the bigger stones again?"

    She placed them in front of me without a word. "I really like this one," I whispered, eyeing a square-cut beauty. "Suppose Bill gave you a check for $400 and I slipped you a check for the difference?"

    She looked at me evenly. "Are you sure that's how you want to begin this marriage?"

    Heat flew to my cheeks. "No, I ... uh ... guess not." I quickly turned away, ashamed to have my sins spread out like so many finely cut stones. Greed, deceit, covetousness, pride — oh, it was not a pretty sight.

    Then I recalled today's key verse from Proverbs 31, long committed to memory: "Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value."

    From across the room, I studied Bill — a man who deserved a woman he could trust with his heart and with his wallet — and silently begged his forgiveness for even considering such a thing.

    The jeweler was right. That was not how I wanted to begin my married life. Thank goodness I'd just been handed something even more valuable than diamonds: a second chance.

    When I turned back to the jeweler, we were both smiling. "You are absolutely right," I assured her. "The smaller stone will be perfect." And it was.

    Year in and year out, I flashed my ring like it was the Hope Diamond, because for me, that's what it represented: hope for a marriage built on honesty, not deception, and a forever kind of love that would outshine any sparkling gem.

    Now that our silver anniversary has come and gone, Bill — bless his generous heart —recently bought me a new diamond. Square-cut, of course.

    If there are flaws, I haven't noticed them. I'm too busy offering a prayer of thanks for a grace-giving God who overlooks my flaws and polishes me clean every morning.

    Lord, thank You for Your gentle, but firm, correction in my life and my marriage. I'm beyond grateful that You enable me to love and respect my husband. Be honored and glorified in our lives. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Philippians 2:3-4, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (NIV)

    James 3:13, "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Think of a similar situation when you might have veered in the wrong direction. How did the Lord keep you from stumbling?

    As you thought about a similar situation, what did that experience teach you about God's constant guidance and tender care?

    © 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs

  • Advantages to Accountability

    Posted on June 18, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. Proverbs 22:3

    Accountability is a check and balance to assure the best decisions. It is a process of involving wise people in the decision-making process so all options are weighed and considered based on their probability of success. Accountability works best for individuals with an open hand, whose desire is what’s best for the whole.

    For example, we may want to aggressively grow our enterprise, but wise counsel  recommends we expand with cash, not debt. Pride may want to charge ahead and dismiss sound advice, while humility is willing to listen and wait on God’s provision. Clarity comes to those who weigh all options and wisely chose the best.

    “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD” (Proverbs 16:2).

    What decision do you face that requires waiting, not moving ahead half prepared? Perhaps in the process of dating a special person, you both decide at the beginning of the relationship to wait a year before you begin talking about marriage. This guideline protects you from making a rash decision you may later regret. Ask another couple to hold you accountable, as you do better when others are watching.

    Who is a trusted advisor in your life that can steer you with solid counsel? Surround yourself with those who don’t directly benefit from what they recommend you do. They are objective, free from the temptation of private gain, based on your public behavior. Accountability is the Lord’s instrument to protect you from the penalty of prideful decision-making. Mistakes will be made—but accountability minimizes them.

    “The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men [who had grown up with him v.10]” (1 Kings 12:13-14a).

    Accountability is Almighty God’s answer to you trying to figure out life alone. Do not waste time floundering around by yourself—moreover; avoid dangerous decisions by slowing down and discerning the right path for you. The Lord will lead you, if you listen to those who know you well and who want His very best for you. The greatest advantage of accountability is remaining in God’s will and not discrediting years of faithfulness. We do better when others are watching, so open up and let them see what God already knows.

    “You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3).

    Prayer: What area of my life do I need to open up to the accountability of trusted advisors?

    Related Readings: Psalm 139:23-24; Proverbs 24:12; 26:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:1

    Post/Tweet today: Accountability works best for individuals with an open hand, whose desire is what’s best for the whole. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Proverbs

  • Just Nine Doors Down

    Posted on June 18, 2014 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.'" Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

    In the two years since we'd moved into our new neighborhood, I'd seen her on my walks. Sometimes she was rolling her trash can out to the curb. Or in her front yard watering her flowers. I'd smile and say "Hi" for a brief second.

    After all, my neighborhood is big; my life is busy. So I'd pop my headphones back in and keep walking to my house, just nine doors down.

    Awhile back, there were flashing lights, sirens and all things alarming in our neighborhood. A fire, maybe? ... I thought as I drove into my neighborhood, returning from an errand-running venture. My mama's heart raced. My 12-year-old son was home alone. Had he burnt some toast and set the smoke alarm system blaring? Or worse?

    As my car approached, I saw it was not my house, but another house nine doors down. Relief for my soul.

    And though the rescue vehicles were parked in front of my nine-doors-down neighbor's house, no fire appeared to blaze there either.

    Must have been a false alarm, I reasoned to myself.

    Two days later, I heard the awful news. No fire. No smoke. Just a terribly saddened soul.

    You see, just nine doors down, something happened in the mind of my nameless, flower-watering, smile-and-say-hello fellow human being. Something told her this life wasn't worth living anymore. And she agreed.

    Now her heart no longer beats. Her flowers still grow, but she can't water them anymore. I can still walk by her house, lost deeply in the Jesus-music blaring on my iPod. Staring straight ahead. Rushing to the next thing on my to-do list for the day.

    Nine doors down, there will be no more hand-waves. No smiles as I stroll by. And no more thoughts of, I should stop and find out her name. I haven't really met this gal yet. If I'd reached out and befriended her, would she have seen Jesus in our friendship?

    Could we have walked the neighborhood streets together? Maybe gone for coffee to get to know each other a bit? Would a glimpse of the perfect God in the life of an imperfect me perhaps beckoned her to have a relationship with Him, too? Would she have found God's purpose and peace instead of finding a way to end her emotional pain?

    God only knows.

    I am a woman who wants to love God, but so often I am too busy to really love the people He puts plainly in my path. But this love, as today's key verse declares, is more important than all the sacrifices we could make.

    I cannot beat myself up. But I can do something. So can you. We can pause, permitting God to tap us on the heart, gently interrupt us and rearrange our day.

    We can go deeper ... beyond a hurried "Hi!" to an authentic, "How are you?" When God knocks on our hearts, we can knock on their doors.

    Will you do it? Will you try? Then once you've reached out, leave the results to God. Our job is obedience. God's job is results.

    Trust me, it is AWFUL to get to know your neighbor through the tales and tears of her relatives at a memorial service. I wish I had made the time and gotten to know her personally.

    May we all respond to those taps on our hearts today and not ignore them. God just may use us as He saves a life.

    After all, remember it isn't that far of a walk ... just nine doors down.

    Dear Lord, I want to be aware of the times You tap my heart, asking me to reach out to someone. May I pay attention and respond, so they might know You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    James 4:17, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (NIV 1984)

    Proverbs 3:28, "Do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back tomorrow and I'll give it to you' — when you already have it with you.'" (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Was there ever a time you felt God nudging you to reach out to a neighbor, coworker or other person in your life, whom you didn't know very well? Did you? If not, how could you respond differently in the future?

    © 2014 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Mark

  • Truth Applied

    Posted on June 17, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

    Truth applied makes us fully alive. Indeed, most people know enough truth to live a worthwhile life. They know to be honest and not lie. They know to be content and not covet another person’s house, car, or spouse. They know to be patient and wait on the Lord to do a work of grace in a loved one’s life. They know to take responsibility and not blame someone else. They know to believe Jesus and to trust Him with their life.

    If we know the truth, why do we sometimes struggle with its application? Perhaps we are self-deceived to think the truth of Scripture is needed for someone else, but not for us. Truth is right and good— not just right and good for me to practice, or worse, to think I’m living it out, when I’m not. Feeling good or bad, or being educated doesn’t transform behavior. What alters our actions is an inward change expressed in outward obedience. The wonderful benefit of this practical process is that truth applied makes us fully alive.

    “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

    Truth is like a vaccination—that when administered—prevents you from being infected with foolish living. It is like a life-saving serum applied to sin’s poisonous snakebite—potentially healing you from relational, emotional, physical and spiritual death. There is no downside to honestly gazing into the mirror of truth—assessing your life—better yet inviting godly friends to look with you, and then by God’s grace, applying truth for change.

    “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

    Is there a dark area of your life that needs the bright light of truth to expose it and root it out? Are there bad attitudes and habits you blame on past pain and injustice? If so, lean into the truth and do not be satisfied until truth’s application frees you from mediocre living. Truth applied does make you fully alive—it is a dependable friend who walks with you through wise decision-making. Dismiss dishonest living and invite  freedom in honest living. Ask the Lord to reveal truth to you and empower you to live out the truth.

    “When you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:21-24).

    Prayer: What truth do I need to embrace and celebrate in the transformation of my life?

    Related Readings: Isaiah 1:19; Proverbs 23:22; Acts 6:7; Romans 6:16

    Post/Tweet today: Truth applied makes us fully alive—it is a dependable friend who walks with us through wise decision-making. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with James

  • But God ... He's Not Very Lovable Right Now

    Posted on June 17, 2014 by Jill Savage

    Jill Savage

    "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

    My emotions swirled in frustration during a particularly difficult season of my marriage. My husband's disillusionment with life, God and our marriage had taken him to a place of rock-bottom depression. It was one of the darkest seasons I'd ever experienced.

    "God, show me what you want me to do," I whispered in desperation.

    "I want you to love him." I heard deep in my soul.

    Immediately I responded, "But God ... he's not very lovable right now."

    "I know, Jill. Sometimes you aren't either," God whispered back.

    "Okay, Lord. I get that. You love me when I'm not very lovable. Show me how to do the same."

    That conversation with God launched a much-needed lesson about what real love looks like in everyday life as a wife and a mom.

    Love is a blend of affection, devotion and loyalty. It is part emotion and part commitment. Real love — unconditional love — is hope blended into the reality of life.

    Two years after that hard season of marriage, I found myself in a difficult season of parenting. As a mother of five, we'd faced plenty of parenting trials, but none quite as challenging or long-suffering as this season with one of our children. I knew God needed me to respond in love to my child who was anything but lovable in this hard time.

    Our imperfect family members need to know that our love is never in doubt. It always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.

    When God is the leader of our lives, He asks us to deny ourselves and follow Him. That means resisting the way we want to react and instead choosing to respond the way God wants us to respond.

    There's a battle that happens inside of us between doing things our way and doing things God's way. When we let God win that battle, we take a step of maturity in our faith. We also get to experience a sense of joy when we experience the victory of handling things God's way instead of our way.

    I opened my Bible to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and began to perform a parenting love audit as it related to my child:

    Love is patient. Am I patient with my child who is so different than I am?

    Love is kind. Am I kind when it takes my child twice the amount of time to do something than I think it should?

    Love does not envy. Do I wish my child were more like someone else's child?

    Love does not boast. Am I quick to share what my child does well or hide areas when my child doesn't seem to measure up?

    Love is not proud. Am I hesitant to share how I'm really doing or how my child is really doing out of a fear of what people will think?

    Love does not dishonor others. Do I ever dishonor my child, demanding that he be someone other than the unique person God has made him to be?

    Love is not self-seeking. Am I ever selfish in my interactions with my child?

    Love is not easily angered. How much energy do I waste being angry at my child?

    Love keeps no record of wrongs. Do I have an ongoing list in my head about everything my child has done wrong?

    Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Do I keep my mind focused on God's truth about my child?

    Love protects. Do I protect this unique human being God entrusted to me even when he challenges my authority?

    Love trusts. Do I trust that God has a bigger picture in mind for this child's life?

    Love hopes. Do I hope and believe the best for this child, or do I dread what tomorrow might bring?

    Love perseveres. Do I keep my mind on the future possibilities rather than focusing on the difficulties and challenges I'm dealing with today?

    Thank You, God, for loving me with all my faults. And thank You for the imperfect people I live with. I know You use their imperfections to help me mature and mold me to be more like You. I also know You use my imperfections in that process, too. Help me to keep Your Truth embedded in my heart, so I can love without stopping, even when they don't feel so loveable. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Corinthians 16:13-14, "Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you've got, be resolute, and love without stopping." (MSG)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Which family member most needs your unconditional love right now?

    How could applying 1 Corinthians 13, the "Love Chapter," to your challenge equip you to respond God's way rather than react your way?

    © 2014 by Jill Savage. All rights reserved.

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

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

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 1 Corinthians

  • Quality of Life

    Posted on June 16, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.  Proverbs 13:20

    What does it mean to have quality of life? Good health? Harmony at home? A happy heart? Financial security? Freedom of speech and worship? A fulfilling career? Grateful and content children? A meaningful marriage? A life of significance? Peace with God? Probably some of these elements and more make up a life worth living—a quality life.

    Moreover, the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships. Who we spend time with is who we become. If we spend time with those wise in their finances, and if we pay attention, we can become wise in our finances. If we are intentional in our faith, we will worship with those of great faith. Our life is a reflection of our relationships.

    “Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:16-17).

    So, how is your relational portfolio? Are you diversified with people who bring value to all aspects of your life? Conversely, are you intentional to invest time and interest in those who look to you for guidance? Quality of life flows from not just receiving wisdom, but from giving wisdom. Wisdom works both directions for the good of the relationship.

    Furthermore, be careful not to excuse bad behavior, because you are trying to relate to questionable company. Draw a line far away from eroding your character’s creditability. You can influence others for good, without being bad. In some situations, what you don’t do defines you more than what you do. Use business trips and vacations to model faithfulness, not foolishness. Stand for what’s right—when others agree to what’s wrong.

    “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

    Above all, quality of life results from your relationship with Christ. He is life itself and everything good in life flows from Him. When you grow in your personal relationship with Jesus—it affects the growth of your other relationships. Relationship building in heaven, builds relationships on earth. Ultimately, Jesus is the life to model and follow. The resurrected life of Christ gives you the spiritual stamina to experience a quality life.

    “Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this'? 'Yes, Lord,' she replied, 'I believe…'” (John 11:25-27a).

    Prayer: Who are the wise people I spend time with? Am I investing in quality relationships?

    Related Readings: Psalm 56:13; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Philippians 2:1-4; 1 John 1:7

    Post/Tweet today: The quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Proverbs

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