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Daily Devotion

  • How to Survive the Stress of Summer

    Posted on July 1, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    The threat of summer craziness was becoming a reality. I settled in a chair at my kitchen table, surrounded by the clutter of information sheets regarding work obligations, sports practices, mission trips and church activities. Pulling out my family calendar, I mapped out the summer months.

    After writing down all our commitments, I stared at the endless scribbles etched across practically every date. We had only one free week during the entire summer. With a heavy sigh and swirling thoughts, I felt a twinge of stress and anxiety slowly rising up in my chest.

    I couldn't help but wonder, isn't summer supposed to be footloose and fancy-free? What happened to sleeping in and time to rest and unwind? Are relaxing summer days merely a thing of the past?

    Now, it seems like the summer can instead be filled with days when the kids are bored and whiny, camps get cancelled, work interferes with vacation plans, the AC goes out, and traffic is horrendous. Days when we lose our patience, harbor a bad attitude, and have had quite enough of family time. Days when we feel powerless against the exhaustion of our busy schedule and stress rules the roost.

    It may seem that easy summers are long gone. However, we can make it through the hectic days and stay at peace despite the chaos. In Psalm 29:7 God promises He will help with whatever we face: "The LORD gives his people strength. The LORD blesses them with peace."

    There are several keys to God's peace overriding the mayhem. When we remember to focus on God's sweet goodness, instead of all the scribbles on our calendar, we can be proactive in managing summertime. We can receive God's calm, even in a busy and sometimes stressful time of the year. Here are some specific ways to do so:

    Focusing on all the good things God has done for us, instead of the challenges of summer.

    Remaining calm and praying for God's peace when the demands of family and life seem overwhelming.

    Asking God to give us rest and strength when we begin to feel stretched thin and worn out.

    We can also take some additional steps to keep summer stress at bay. Such as:

    Take daily mini-vacations. Try to set aside at least five minutes per hour to stretch and take a break.

    When you take days off from your work or daily routine, unplug completely—meaning no phone or emails.

    Keep a checklist or a detailed calendar of all scheduled activities.

    Do something for yourself once a week: take a bubble bath, read a good book, spend time outdoors or take a nap.

    Busyness and stress can heat up quicker than the summer sun. But it is possible to stay cool on the inside. Whether we are low in spirit or low in energy, depending on God and seeking a daily infusion of His strength and peace can ensure a less stressful summer.

    Dear Jesus, sometimes I allow the chaos of summer to distract me from spending time with You. I neglect to claim Your peace and allow myself to get bogged down with the stressors of the season. I get frustrated with my children, rather than treasuring this time with them. Help me to focus on You when I begin to feel overcommitted and to seek Your peace with each rising sun. In Your Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace in Your Chaotic World by Tracie Miles

    I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do the stressors of summer zap your strength and rob you of your joy and peace in Christ?

    What can you do differently this summer than you have done in the past to prevent summer stress?

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 13:6, "I've thrown myself headlong into your arms—I'm celebrating your rescue. I'm singing at the top of my lungs, I'm so full of answered prayers." (MSG)

    Proverbs 8:30, "Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Live in the Moment

    Posted on June 30, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    For the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.”    Luke 1:49

     

    Master living in the moment. By God’s grace, it can be done. Mary did it. She could have missed the Mighty One working in her presence in the present, but she didn’t. She took the time to trust God with an impossible outcome. Birthing a baby conceived by the Holy Spirit challenged her categories. It forced her to ponder in the present. She chose to be with her heavenly Father in the here and now. Nothing would keep her from living with  and for the Lord in this defining moment.

     

    She could have lived in the past, worried over the rampant rumors of her perceived unfaithfulness. She was pregnant out of wedlock. People did not understand a pregnancy created by God, without a man. She could have lived in the future, paralyzed by fear over what the human father of her child might do. He might have deserted her. He might have divorced her. He might have denied her. But when all was said and done, she refrained from living in the past or the present. She chose to live in the moment.

     

    Mary lived in the moment because she trusted her Lord with issues out of her control. She could not control what other people thought or what other people might do. Therefore, she drank in the present like a tall glass of homemade lemonade on a hot summer day. Living in the moment fed her faith and satisfied her soul. Her son, Jesus, would save the people from their sins, and He would also save her. She captured His significance, and Christ captured her. He is with you in the moment too, so you can live in the moment.

     

    Living in the moment is what the Lord longs for you to do. It’s where He does His best work. He knows that living in the moment engages you with His will, as it is lived out in the present. So if you are with your children, be with them. Laugh with them, cry with them, listen to them, play with them, and pray for them. Lock eyes with your little ones and be with them. Turn off your mind and heart and keep them from running ahead to other issues, problems, and people. These distractions will still be standing in line for your attention when you get back to work. Value living in the moment, and you will live in the moment; for you do what you think is important.

     

    Technology was made for man, not man for technology. So turn off your phone, shut down the computer, and most important, discipline your mind to be present. Bend your mind to listen well and honor others with your purposeful presence. Your undivided attention in the moment says you love and care. Trust God with all the impossible outcomes that await you. You have this one moment and then it is gone forever. So be engaged today and be with the ones you love. Live in the moment, and other things will take care of themselves. Do this one thing, and you will live the life God intended for you. Master living in the moment with the discipline and love of your Master. Seize the moment for your Savior, for other people, and for yourself.

     

    Post/Tweet: Bend your mind to listen well and honor others with your engaged presence. #inthemoment

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • God’s Departure

    Posted on June 29, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    But he did not know that the Lord had left him” (Judges 16:20).

     

    God will never leave the follower of Jesus Christ, but His blessing, favor, and power can. In fact, His favor can leave you, while you are totally unaware of your loss. This is scary. To think that I can go through life believing I am okay with God when, in reality, I totally miss Him is a precarious position in which to live. It is lonely and dangerous to live outside the favor of God, and sometimes it leads to destruction.

     

    Relationships, reputations, and finances can be obliterated when we choose to go our way and not God’s way. Do not think you can ignore your spouse and children and think things are still okay with God. Exposure to online pornographic sites does not enhance God’s power in your life. Seething anger and unresolved resentment do not cultivate a spirit of understanding God’s wisdom and perspective; rather, they hinder your prayers. So how can you know if you are living with God’s blessing, favor, and power or without it?

     

    First of all, be honest with yourself. Are you running from God or toward God? Are you who He wants you to be, or are you masquerading, trying to be someone else? Is your anger out of bounds and out of control, or are you under the influence and forgiveness of the Holy Spirit? These are important questions for us to continually ask ourselves.

     

    Then, it is important to be honest with others. We all have blind spots that stunt our spiritual growth. Look to others who truly love you, who can help you identify these sinful tendencies, and who will hold you accountable not to go there. Sin exposed to the light will dry up like a red worm on a hot July sidewalk, while sin concealed in the dark will flourish like rank mildew and mold in a cold, moist, infected cellar.

     

    We do better when others are watching. It is better to be humbled before a small group that knows and loves us than to be humiliated before the masses who do not know us well or care as deeply. Lastly, remember your commitments to Christ, and fulfill them by His grace. Do not stray from your basic discipline of learning and applying God’s Word and prayer. Wake up. Do not miss Him. His favor may have already left.

     

    Prayer: How do I best stay accountable to God and man? Am I experiencing the favor and blessing of the Lord? If not, what is hindering me?

     

    Related Readings: Matthew 25:1–13; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 3:7

     

    Post/Tweet: Sin exposed to the Lord’s light will dry up like a red worm on a hot July sidewalk. #ligthoftheLord

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • Friend of God

    Posted on June 28, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    "And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.” James 2:23

     

    What does it mean to be a friend of God's? It’s like a child who becomes an adult and begins to relate to their dad or mom like a friend, but they still treat them with honor and respect. So it is with your heavenly Father—in the infant stages of faith you cannot fathom friendship until you mature through the elementary applications of: submission to God, trust in God, obedience to God, fear of God, and love of God and people.

     

    Once we relate to our heavenly Father in holy surrender, dependence, and belief we are in a position to appreciate engaging Him as a friend. But this friend relationship cannot bypass His Lordship in our lives. Candidates for friendship with God have to first travel down the path of perseverance, brokenness and character development. Friendship comes with a history of faithful service to Jesus;  not with a flippant attitude but one of awe.

     

    “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Jesus extends friendship to His faithful disciples.

     

    Do you enjoy this level of intimacy with Jesus? Is your friendship with Him a healthy mixture of laughter and joy, weeping and grief, encouragement and accountability and confession and forgiveness? Friendship with Jesus means access to grace and truth that’s revealed in His word. Your qualification for friendship has the benefit of His blessing.

     

    When you are known as a friend of God you can be assured you will be labeled as an enemy of evil. FOG’s cannot be friends with both the world and heaven. There is a fidelity to faith and following the Lord that comes with friendship. It is an honor and privilege not to be taken lightly—indeed; it gives us credibility in our Christian life.

     

    “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

     

    Happy and content are those who can genuinely say they are a friend of God. Has your faith grown to this level of intimacy and friendship? Your heavenly friendship is best nurtured by humble submission to God. It grows as you relax in His presence and really learn to enjoy being with Him, listening to His heart and learning what it means to be a loving friend. Friends of God look forward to being with and blessed by their best friend.

     

    “Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house…” (Job 29:4).

     

    Prayer: Am I intentional in pursing a friendship with my heavenly Father?

     

    Related Readings: Exodus 33:11; 2 Chronicles 20:7; Luke 5:20, 34; 12:4-5

     

    Post/Tweet today: When you are known as a friend of God, you’ll be labeled an enemy of evil. #friendofGod

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • When You Need Help

    Posted on June 28, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." John 14:26 (ESV)

    Perhaps I was over-confident in my abilities. I thought all I'd need was a little help with the basics. But before the day was over I realized how wrong that thought process was. Especially when the day ended in frustrated tears.

    It was my first time snow skiing, so my friend assured me that when the time came, he would help teach me how to make it down the slopes.

    Somehow that instruction never happened, and before I knew it, my friend was quickly gliding down the freshly fallen snow while I stood gripping my poles and planting my skis deeply into the snow. As I watched him get smaller in the distance, I realized my helper was gone. Suddenly I was faced with a choice: turn back and take off my skis or get down the mountain alone.

    It didn't take long for me to realize I made the wrong choice. Every time I managed to dig myself out of a mound of wet snow, I'd find myself face-first again in a jumble of skis and snowflakes. I was exasperated by my lack of coordination and vowed to never ski again. No matter how many times I tried to do it on my own, I still desperately needed someone to teach me and guide the way.

    My challenging experience on that mountain reminds me of the conversation Jesus had with His disciples before His crucifixion recorded in John chapter 14. Jesus explained that although He had to leave, God would send a Helper, the Holy Spirit, to be with them always. Unlike my ski instructor who bailed on me, the Holy Spirit would never leave them alone.

    Jesus knew the disciples might soon forget all the lessons He'd taught them. That's why He promised the Holy Spirit would remain with them to help them recall all that He had taught. Jesus understood that life would get messy, challenges would arise, persecution would come, and temptation would cross their paths.

    Jesus knew they would need a Helper to make it through the trials of everyday life, and He promised that the Holy Spirit would always be with them to help.

    The Holy Spirit is always ready to help us too, if only we remember to ask. The problem is, it's easy to forget to seek His help, not only in difficult decisions or circumstances, but also in small trials and decisions we face every day.

    In the same way learning to ski requires the help of someone who has already mastered the skill, learning to walk in faith requires the help of the Holy Spirit who equips us to traverse through life by teaching us what we need to know and helping us recall what we have learned.

    After taking a few lessons from a great instructor I finally learned to ski. Now I can make my poles and skis work together to get down the steep hills. I'm thankful for my ski teacher's help.

    But as thankful as I am for those skiing lessons, I'm eternally grateful for the Holy Spirit who helps me navigate my way through life.

    God knew we would need a Helper. And whether we are on the top of a mountain, or in the deepest pit, the Holy Spirit will never leave us alone. We can count on Him to guide us every step of the way.

    Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending us the Holy Spirit to be our Helper. Thank You for always being there for me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Check out our Jesus Calling Twitter feed by clicking here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What is one thing you have been trying to learn or master on your own without seeking God's help?

    Ask the Holy Spirit to be your Helper today in that circumstance. Seek His instruction, guidance and wisdom.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 54:4, "Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul." (NAS)

    Psalm 30:10, "Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me; O LORD, be my helper." (NAS)

    © 2013 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Favor With Man

    Posted on June 27, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel. Daniel 1:9

     

    Sometimes the Lord lays on the heart of an unconverted heart the desire to help one of His children. Yes, God can use those unfamiliar with His purposes to carry out His purposes. An automobile soiled by road film can still transport good people safely to their final destination. The Spirit is indiscriminate in who may come under His influence for godly outcomes. He is not limited by the capacity of the righteous and can use the unrighteous to carry out righteous results.

     

    Daniel was surrounded by authorities unsure of Yahweh, but he never lost assurance from Almighty God. Do you find yourself in challenging circumstances? Do you feel like you are alone in your stand for what’s right? If so, look around you and pray for a man or woman who may not embrace your beliefs, but whom God may use to give you support and encouragement. At times, non Christians can be more supportive of God’s work than the fearful religious crowd.

     

    His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. John 9:22

    God may have given you far more favor with man than you realize. Even while you cease from work, His Holy Spirit is at work in the hearts of those in your circle of influence. When you choose to do the right thing, you give courage to others to do the right thing. Your rising tide of trust in Jesus raises the boats of belief with those around you. Expect favor even from enemies. You can trust the Lord with those out of His favor to be moved by the Spirit to show you favor.

    Therefore, look for the Lord to cause your manager to show you favor and compassion. Pray for the Holy Spirit to move over the heart of a person with whom you have differences, so they become reasonable and open to your standard of integrity. Trust God with your unsaved parents who in the past dismissed your devotion to Christ. However, in the future through your loving pursuit, forgiveness and gracious attitude your Heavenly Father can turn your father and mother to Him!

    When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them. Proverbs 16:7

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I trust You will cause those out of Your favor to show me favor.

     

    Related Readings: 1 Samuel 2:26; Proverbs 3:4; Nehemiah 1:11; Luke 2:52; 2 Corinthians 1:11

     

    Post/Tweet today: You can trust the Lord with those out of His favor to be moved by the Spirit to show you favor. #mansfavor

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • As Weak as Our Strongest Link

    Posted on June 27, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

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

    One day I tweeted, "We are only as weak as our strongest link." It wasn't a typo. It's something I've been thinking about for a while now.

    Often the Bible talks in counter-intuitive statements. Different than the normal flow. An unexpected rub against the grain.

    To gain, you must give up.

    If someone takes your jacket, give them your shoes too.

    When we are weak, then we are strong.

    Tough stuff. Good stuff. Heart-protecting stuff.

    The minute I start feeling absolutely confident in my own strength is the minute I am desperately weak ... and I don't even realize it.

    The Lord reminded me of this right before I stepped on stage to speak to 4,500 women at a large conference. One minute I was walking backstage to get my microphone on and the next minute I was on the ground with my face pressed into the cement floor.

    My heel had gotten caught in a crack in the floor and that's all it took to bring me down.

    My first thoughts were not spiritual.

    Have mercy, I've probably split my pants wide open and there is no time to change!

    I quickly picked myself up, put on the over-ear microphone, and went on stage. I felt so vulnerable.

    Inside my head I whispered, Lord, I'm not ready. I don't want to speak right now. I want to go crawl in a hole with a mirror so I can check my pants! I tried as discretely as possible to make sure the seams in my pants were in tact.

    My heart drummed wildly in my chest as I prayed, Jesus, I am completely desperate for You.

    And I imagine the Lord thought, Good. She's ready. Now, this is going to be powerful.

    I'd left my strength, confidence and self-sufficiency back on that concrete floor. Next to the crack that tripped me up. And my weakness made room for God's strength to take over.

    My weakness wasn't what could have messed me up that day. It was my strength.

    We are only as weak as our strongest link. Sometimes it's not our weaknesses that leave us vulnerable to attack. It's our strengths. Those places where we feel especially confident, invincible, and quite able. But, as a friend reminded me recently, "Our strengths can become strongholds if we're not careful."

    When Paul pleaded with the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh—the thing that made Paul feel weak—the Lord did not. Instead, the Lord reminded Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9a NIV).

    Paul took hold of this truth and went on to conclude in verse 10, "For when I am weak, then I am strong" (12:10b NIV). Which leads me to wonder if the opposite is also true ... where I am strong, then I am weak.

    I'm making a conscious effort to stay in tune with what strengths might easily trip me up. Really doing some soul-searching. Praying. Listening for direction and correction. Then, walking in complete faith. Because if we're going to call ourselves people of faith, we must live lives that require faith. For me this means accepting my weaknesses rather than boasting in my strengths.

    Faith is like walking over a bridge, where we cross over from relying on our strength to God's strength. It's a powerful walk to take.

    However, I really wouldn't recommend wearing high-heeled shoes.

    Dear Lord, reveal to me the places where I'm relying on my own power instead of Yours. Show me what strengths could be my biggest weaknesses, God, so that I can learn to serve You better. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    In her book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, Lysa TerKeurst shares inspiring stories from her own life along with biblical insights as she describes how to discern when God is speaking to you. Click here to purchase your copy!

    Reflect and Respond:
    What strength could easily trip you up today? Ask God to give you spiritual ears to hear any direction or correction He whispers.

    What would it look like to exchange your weakness for God's strength?

    Power Verse:
    Ephesians 6:10, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Ask Permission

    Posted on June 26, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” Daniel 1:8

     

    Some do what they want now and later ask for forgiveness. Those who work the system to their advantage miss seeing God work out His will in time. Daniel resolved to do the right thing, but he submitted to the lines of authority in his life. A wise reminder: we show respect to a boss, parent, teacher or civic official by seeking permission and not dismissing. Our submissive attitude is an opportunity for the Lord to work in the hearts of those who may not know Jesus.

     

    Whose blessing do you need before you move forward with your idea or decision? How will they feel knowing you took the time to include them in the process? Faith is a function of being comfortable in circumstances that are out of your control. By letting go of having to get something now, you are able to watch the Lord provide something even better later. Moreover, your quiet and compliant spirit is a channel for the Holy Spirit to draw others to Himself.

     

    Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:7

     

    Perhaps your parents have not given you permission to marry at this time, if so, be patient and trust the Lord will change their heart or yours in His timing. Maybe you have a much better way to move forward with a project at work, but your boss is not convinced it is legitimate. Pray and submit to the conventional, but trust God will use your creative solutions as a seed that grows into future changes. The Holy Spirit can convert people and circumstances as you wait on Him!

     

    Above all, make sure your Heavenly Father has signed off on your actions, before you barrel ahead with premature initiatives. Better to receive peace through patient prayer, instead of pain from impatient prayerlessness. Ask the Holy Spirit for permission before you proceed. Silence means wait, not now; no means I have something better in store for you and yes means move forward by faith. Thus, ask for permission now, so you won’t have to ask for forgiveness later.

     

    Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. Romans 13:5

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me courage to ask permission and faith to trust You with the answer.

     

    Related Readings: Nehemiah 2:1-6; Proverbs 3:6; Colossians 1:6; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 2:13

     

    Post/Tweet today: Ask for permission now, so you won’t have to ask for forgiveness later. #respectauthority

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • There's Power in His Words

    Posted on June 26, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis

    "'Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?' declares the LORD. 'Is not my word like fire,' declares the LORD, 'and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?'" Jeremiah 23:28-29 (NIV)

    "Glynnis, what do you think I should do?"

    Wrapping my hands around my coffee cup, I leaned back in my chair, took a sip and struck what I believed was a wise pose.

    On the outside, I was composed ... I crossed my legs and rocked back, looking at my friend intently.

    But on the inside ... oh that was a different story. On the inside, I was giddy. Someone wanted my opinion! Oh what joy that brought to the heart of this always-wanting-to-be-right girl. Gathering my thoughts, I took a deep breath and proceeded to unload what surely were words that would change her life!

    Her response was under-whelming.

    I expected to hear something like, "Wow! I hadn't thought of that. Thank you so much. I'm definitely going to take your advice."

    All I got back, "Hmmm ... okay."

    Insecurity bothered me for days. I second-guessed everything I'd said, wondering if somehow I'd offended her or came across as bossy or judgmental. I'd so carefully crafted each sentence, that I couldn't imagine where I'd gone wrong.

    I spent many years wanting to be the one people came to for questions. To be acknowledged. To have all the answers. And yet time and time again, my advice fell on deaf ears. Unless someone else gave the exact same advice I did a few days later. Then everyone thought it was brilliant. Awesome.

    Receiving this type of response bugged me for years. Until I realized God was using it to teach me a lesson. God needed to uncover a heart attitude behind my actions. Rather than pointing people to God's Word, I consistently pointed them to my words. And my words don't have the power to change lives like God's.

    As a young Christian, I knew God's Word was important. Reading the Bible became a central part of my life. But there were many years where it was more routine than life-changing. I read it because that's what "good" Christians did.

    My faith took a drastic leap forward when I realized God's Word had power when I believed it and acted on it. It had power because it was truth. It had power because it had the weight of heaven behind it.

    One of the first lessons God taught me was from James 1:5-6, where James tells of the importance of not doubting when we ask for wisdom: "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. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind" (NIV).

    I realized I doubted all the time. One day I decided to take God at His Word and stop doubting He would answer my prayers for wisdom. When I asked for direction, I trusted that my gut instinct was from God ... so long as it wasn't against His Word. The more I addressed doubt, the more my confidence grew that I was hearing from God. And the more I saw God move in my life.

    The power of God's Word changed my life drastically when I chose to believe and act on it. And while I still like to be asked for advice, now I point people in the direction of God's Words more than mine. The response is always life-changing.

    Heavenly Father, You are the source of true power and wisdom. Forgive me for all the times I've looked to myself for strength. I want to be a woman whose life is testimony to the power of Your Word to transform and renew. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    To read God's life-changing Word for yourself, purchase the new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible, which is on sale for 20% off now through July 5! Reading the Word is the best investment you'll ever make in your spiritual growth.

    Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    Why do you think God made sure His words and the story of His people were written down?

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 55:11, "... so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." (NIV)

    Matthew 7:24-25, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had it's foundation on the rock." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Prone to Wander

    Posted on June 25, 2013 by Amy Carroll

    Amy

    "Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits..." Psalm 103:2 (NIV)

    For years, we owned a dog named BC who was the bane of my existence. He definitely earned his nickname—Houdini. He was a long hound with short legs and truly an escape artist of the highest degree.

    There was no fence high enough and no enclosure secure enough to keep him contained. BC scaled or dug or jumped or schemed his way to freedom outside our yard on a regular basis.

    I think about those days and have to laugh. Because our whole family adored him—despite his wandering heart—we worked and worked to keep him home. We built a fence we believed would protect him from the outside world. My boys played and snuggled with him. BC was fed healthy dog food and yummy snacks. He had balls, toys and a soft dog bed.

    And yet he wandered.

    BC roamed our neighborhood, and sometimes we got reports of him on streets miles away. He always came home eventually (sometimes pursued by the dog catcher), but our family worried about him when he left the safe haven of home.

    How I identify with BC's wandering ways.

    These words from my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, pierce my heart each time I hear them:

    O to grace how great a debtor
    Daily I'm constrained to be!
    Let Thy goodness, like a fetter
    Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.
    Prone to leave the God I love.
    Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
    Seal it for Thy courts above. ~Robert Robinson

    God has created a place of safety for me within His Word. His commandments are designed to protect me, not restrict me. God gives me the good gifts of His mercy, grace and forgiveness to remind me to stay near. He pours His love on me and draws me deep into His family, and yet ...

    Sometimes my heart still wanders.

    I ignore His truth and make decisions that launch me outside the safety of His guidelines. I harbor wrong thoughts. I use words that minimize others. These choices and others can take me away from God's heart. And yet He longs to draw me home again.

    The opening verses of Psalm 103 provide a key to keep my wandering heart close to God: "Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits ..." (Psalm 103:1-2 NIV).

    By praising God and rehearsing His benefits, I train my heart to find contentment close to God rather than far from Him.

    When I want to wander, the verses that follow Psalm 103:1-2 list even more reasons to praise and thank God:

    "...who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's" (vv. 3-5 NIV).

    I spent 14 long years chasing BC around our neighborhood. My love for him kept me pursuing him and finding ways to keep him safe in our yard. God's love is the same toward us. Let's join with the Lord in staying in the protective boundary lines He's given us by praising and rehearsing His faithful ways. Doing so will bind our wandering hearts to God and keep us safe in the nurturing places He's created for you and me.

    Lord God, I thank You that You have given us such a long list of benefits for which to praise You. Settle my heart in the safety of Your home with a faithful and content heart. In Jesus' precious Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Scripture is the perfect place to search for the benefits of God. The NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women is also filled with 366 of our devotions. Pick up your copy, now 20% off, by clicking here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do you fill your heart and mind with the benefits of God that keep you close to His heart, or do you constantly allow your heart to wander from God's safety and care?

    Read Psalm 103 in its entirety and make a list of the benefits of God you find and rehearse them in your mind today.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 16:5-6, "LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

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