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Daily Devotion

  • Praying With Confidence

    Posted on May 15, 2013 by Renee Swope

    Renee

    "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." 1 John 5:14 (NAS)

    I used to be hesitant to pray and found myself stumbling over my words when talking to God. I especially didn't know how to pray when struggling with uncertainty and doubts.

    Desperately wanting to say the right things, I believed if I prayed the right way God would listen and answer my prayers the way I wanted Him to.

    It took me a while, but I eventually got up the courage to talk with a friend about my fears and struggles. She shared how she had struggled with the same things. She also explained how, over time, she had discovered that prayer isn't about saying or asking the right things; it's about building a relationship with God by talking to Him.

    She also showed me how to take verses from the Bible and turn them into powerful prayers. Using God's Word as a guide gave me a new sense of confidence and direction when I didn't know what to say.

    One day I was reading 1 John 5:14, and noticed it says we can pray with certainty when we ask God for what is already part of His will: "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."

    Praying Scriptures increased my confidence over time, knowing that I was praying God's will when I prayed God's Word.

    Wanting my prayers to be filled with power and my heart to be infused with faith, I now look for Scriptures about God's will and God's ways. One is Hebrews 4:12 where God teaches us His Word is "alive and active." Praying that truth, I ask God to make His Word come alive in a situation and become active in the person's life I am praying for, including my own.

    Oftentimes when I pray now, I'll remember verses in the Bible that apply. For instance, when it feels like my plans are spinning out of control, Jeremiah 29:11 will come to mind. On those days, I'll pray:

    Lord, You know the plans You have for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a future and a hope. You say that if I come to You and pray, You will listen and will lead me. So, today I surrender my plans for Your plans. Please guide my decisions and thoughts to match Yours so I can experience hope and not harm. Even though things aren't going so great today, I trust the plans You have for me."

    God isn't looking for the perfect combination of words, and there's no formula to get it right. Now that the pressure to say the right things is gone, praying has become one of my favorite things to do—whether alone or with a friend.

    Sometimes I just sit still and let God whisper His promises into my thoughts and then I ask for their fulfillment in my prayers.

    Lord, I'm so glad I don't have to say that right thing to get Your attention. Thank You for Your Spirit that lives in me and leads me—in my daily activities and even in my prayers. Please show me verses You want me to pray so I can see Your Word come alive in my circumstances and become active in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    In her life-changing book, A Confident Heart, Renee Swope ends each chapter with a prayer weaving together powerful scriptures to help you overcome doubt and insecurity based on the topic and teaching in that chapter. Buy a copy for yourself or a friend!

    Follow us on Facebook.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Use God's Word as a guide to pray when you don't know what to say.

    Pick a verse today to begin praying.

    Power Verse:
    Matthew 6:9-13, "Pray then like this: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'" (ESV)

    © 2013 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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


  • Christian Duty

    Posted on May 14, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty. Luke 17:10

     

    Christian duty is illustrated by a master and servant relationship. The Master (Jesus Christ) is caring and clear in His expectations for His servants (Christians). The Master expects diligence and thoroughness in the tasks at hand. He does not patronize the sincere servant with flowery compliments, but allows the servant to enjoy fulfilling work for the Master’s sake. Honorable service done for our Master Jesus Christ is the duty of all His followers. This is fundamental.

     

    Our Heavenly Father does not owe us anything for our routine or radical efforts for His Kingdom. Indeed, our life in total is all His grace. Our relationships, our ability to work, our mental reasoning, our feelings of love and hope all spring from the heart of our Savior Jesus. It is our duty to do what Christ commands without complaint or expecting anything in return. Like a good soldier does his duty for God and country, so servants of Jesus are faithful to their charge.

     

    Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12

    Those of us who long for approval struggle when our service is absent commendations. Yet, this is a test to see if our motivation is for what we get out of obeying God, or for what we can give, by doing our duty in pure gratitude to Him. We become miserable, even angry, if we expect   special treatment by the Lord or His people because of our sacrificial service. Yes, unexpected blessings will come back to those who bless, but this is not why we give. Our duty has no claims.

     

    Therefore, your Christian duty needs no more than to diligently follow Christ’s calling. He is your Master and you serve at His bidding. He may have you engaged in the mundane tasks of motherhood or the boring basics of an entry level job. Wherever your Lord has you on assignment, do it with joy. Total submission to Christ is your best option, yes, repent of negotiating your own recognition and rewards. Christian duty done by grace glorifies God!

     

    Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. Ecclesiastes 12:13

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I submit to your service and trust you to lead me in Your calling.

     

    Related Readings: Psalm 16:2; Job 22:2; John 15:20; 1 Timothy 5:21

     

    Post/Tweet today: Wherever your Lord has you on assignment do it with joy. Total submission to Christ is your best option. #submission

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Worth the Effort

    Posted on May 14, 2013 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn

    "The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out." Proverbs 20:5 (NIV)

    There are two kinds of young women who live in my house. One speaks her mind freely; you don't have to guess where she stands or how she feels. The other is more reserved, holding her emotions and words in check.

    Neither one is right or wrong. Both are deep thinkers and deep feelers. Yet my girls couldn't be more different when it comes to how their thoughts and emotions are expressed. With one, I have a sense of her constant pulse as she daily shares her joys and struggles. With the other ... well, as my mother used to say about my father, "Still waters run deep."

    The writer of Proverbs 20:5 encourages us to make the effort to "draw out" people. As I have found with my daughter, there is much beauty and young wisdom in the deep well of her heart. And while it takes extra work to tap into that low-lying spring, it is often rewarded.

    In a culture where our conversations are often capped at 140 characters on Twitter or summed up in 2-3 sentences on Facebook or text messaging, real conversation may be in jeopardy. The days of front porches and Sunday dinners seem to be all but gone. Yet God's Word tells us a person's heart is deep waters-not something simple and concise that can be summed up short and sweet.

    Whether it is with our daughters, neighbors or girlfriends, we need unhurried moments to draw from each other's hearts. We need time to listen to the wisdom and work God is accomplishing in another's life. These types of conversations usually don't develop in a quick greeting of "How are you?" as we're moving from one task to another. But more often, they are in the intentional moments when we purpose to listen.

    In the original Hebrew language of the Old Testament, "purposes" in this verse means advice, counsel, and plans. Many times, when we take time to listen, we can discover plans our friend has tucked away in her heart. Sometimes it will mean realizing her hidden hope of visiting prisoners and sharing the Gospel with them. Or you might discover your child is reading the Bible on her own as she shares a verse she found.

    Drawing out others or engaging in purposeful conversation also helps us gain insight, wisdom, hope and encouragement when we listen to all God is doing in their heart. We can receive advice and counsel simply by listening to one of His children.

    Stop right now and look at your calendar. Pick a time—tonight, tomorrow or this weekend, and invite someone dear to you to spend time together. Whether it is your daughter whose life spins in and out of your home, or that girlfriend you haven't had coffee with in months, be intentional. Send her a text, give her a call, just make sure to make time. And to listen to the deep waters of her heart.

    Jesus, help me to slow down today, and listen. I need to be present in the present and intentional in investing in others by listening. Make me one who draws others out. Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Help a teen girl in your life learn to fill that deep well in her heart with Lynn's book Devotions for a Revolutionary Year - 365 Days of Jesus' Radical Love for You.

    Follow us on Facebook.

    Reflect and Respond:
    When was the last time you had a heart-to-heart with someone you love? How can you be more purposeful and make this a habit?

    Think back to a time someone asked you to share what God was doing in your life. How did that make you feel? Excited, joyful, loved?

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 18:4, "The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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


  • Place of Torment

    Posted on May 13, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ Luke 16:27-28

    There is a place of torment designated for those who die without trusting in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is a lonely place void of the Lord’s presence and His loving comfort. No courier can be sent from the other side to warn those on this side. A decision to follow Jesus must be made on earth to gain a future place in heaven. Those who reject the Lord before they die will be rejected after they die. But, salvation from a tormented soul is sure through faith in Christ.

    Life on earth is only a brief prelude to our eternal existence. The proud strut across life’s stage concerned only for themselves. The humble bow in dependence on Christ, prepared to meet their Maker after death’s final curtain comes down. Only fools jog down the path of the devil and his demons. Yes, evil on earth in compounded in eternity where the influence of Holy God is nonexistent. The place of torment is no place for those who have placed their total trust in Jesus.

    It has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:10

     

    Have riches kept you from a real relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you warning friends and family members today of the judgment to come outside of Christ? Yes, we are to engage lost loved ones with eternal truths wrapped in our care and concern. We love others at their point of emotional, physical and financial need, so we can share with them the significant spiritual truths of heaven, hell, sin and forgiveness. Love is relational lubricant that allows us to speak boldly.

     

    Lastly, be intentional to love those with riches. Who are the rich? One definition is: those who have extra beyond life’s necessities, or it could be someone who has more stuff than you. Serve the wealthy without expecting anything in return and you will earn the right to influence them for the Lord. Warn them not to let riches keep them from an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Challenge them to simple living so they can serve and give generously. Help another avoid the place of torment by abandoning themselves to Jesus Christ. He alone can save to the uttermost!

     

    Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I place my trust in Jesus Christ to save me from the place of torment.

     

    Related Readings: Psalm 62:10; Jeremiah 49:4; Luke 12:20-21; John 5:24; 1 John 3:14

     

    Post/Tweet today: Those who reject the Lord before they die will be rejected by God after they die. #besavednow

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Live Where You Live

    Posted on May 13, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11 (NIV)

    The spring air was crisp. Just right for a hike up Sparrow Hawk Mountain. Richard and I stood at the edge of the cliff, watching the winding river meander along the banks below.

    When we moved here three years ago, this quickly became one of our favorite places to hike. "It's so beautiful," I said. And then with a sigh, "I wonder if we'll live here after you graduate."

    Richard took me by my hands. "We live here now, Suzie," he said. "Don't you see that?"

    No, honestly I didn't. We had moved to this small college community when Richard went back to school to receive his master's degree. We stayed on as he earned the 3,000 hours needed for his license. I saw our move as temporary, and even though it had been three years, I mentally lived in limbo.

    I thought about our next move often. Where would God take us? Would it be somewhere new? Perhaps God would lead us back to our old community. I dreamed and planned it out over and over again. Not knowing where we'd end up made me discontented. I didn't feel settled or at peace.

    That day, after coming down the mountain, I wrote in big letters in my journal: Live where you live.

    It was time to put down roots right where I was, and be content in the present, regardless of where God might take us in the future.

    Paul the apostle never knew exactly where he might be next. He landed in extremely difficult situations for a few days, and at other times lingered with new friends. Sometimes the doors opened immediately for his next move, and at other times he waited for years. But Paul was content where he was, wherever that might be, in whatever situation he found himself.

    What was his secret? One commentary shares it like this:

    Paul learned to leave it to others if they would, to be discontented. But he, on his part, learned by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and the dealings of Providence (Hebrews 5:8), to be content in every state.*

    As I determined to "live where I live," rather than living with my thoughts and heart wrapped around a future I could not see, I began my days like this:

    Father, show me Your plan for today and help me accept it.

    God, let me not be so farsighted that I miss the miracles around me right now.

    Lord, help me to celebrate small gifts of this day.

    Slowly the door to contentment opened. I began to invest in the community I lived in, enjoyed the scenery even more, and developed relationships with those around me.

    It's been two years since our conversation in Sparrow Hawk. Richard and I found out this past month that we are moving. God did indeed open a door that will uproot us to a new state with a new church, new friends and new possibilities.

    I'm packing my house and preparing for the move, but just yesterday my neighbors dropped by with their girls.

    Trinity, who is six, showed me a turtle she had found. Macey, age two, climbed in the flower bed to peek at a purple-striped petunia.

    Yes, there are new adventures ahead, but today I celebrate the joy of having close neighbors, and am satisfied with sitting with a sweet toddler with a pretty petunia in her hair.

    Dear Jesus, You are the God of my future. You whispered plans in my heart, but the journey to that destination is just as important. Help me plant roots in today, and be content with what is in front of me as I trust You with tomorrow. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Walk In Faith by Karen Ehman

    Follow us on Facebook.

    Reflect and Respond:
    We often celebrate the greater events in our life, but today let's celebrate the smaller ones: A neighbor who is kind. A good meal. Laughter of a child. A beautiful sky.

    Breathe a prayer of thanksgiving as you celebrate each and every one of those gifts throughout the day.

    Power Verses:
    1 Timothy 6:6-7, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it." (NIV)

    * Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Php 4:11). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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


  • Happy Mother

    Posted on May 12, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.      Psalm 113:9

     

    What makes a mother of children happy? Is it just the child? If so, there would be a world of happiness. Children certainly contribute to a mother’s joy. Jesus said, “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” (John 16:21). However, offspring cannot be the only reason for a mom’s feelings of fulfillment. In fact, if a mother’s happiness is contingent on her children, she will quickly become discontented. There is a greater source of happiness based on gratitude to God and His glory. She can rejoice because God opens the womb and invites intimacy with Him.

     

    The Holy Spirit initiates the miracle of conception (Matthew 1:20). Pregnancy is a gift from Providence. The Bible says, “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3). Therefore, you can be extremely grateful for the gift of God’s child. Your son or daughter is a stewardship from your Savior. This new life is not competition for your time and money. Rather, it is an opportunity to serve, build your faith, and become more like Jesus. Have you written your Heavenly Father a thank you note for the gift of your child? Happiness comes to mothers who experience hilarious appreciation for the Almighty’s entrustment of children. Be eternally grateful for the Lord’s unspeakable expression of love through the life of your little one.

     

    Of course, children will frustrate you and let you down, just as you have your parents and God. So learn to liberally apply love, grace, forgiveness, and discipline in the same way you administer ointment to their ailments. Teach them the truth of Scripture, model faith for them, and joyfully watch as they enter into a personal relationship with Jesus. The Disciple John experienced this. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). Mothers experience happiness when they praise God for the privilege of being a parent. Your role as a mom is your glory to God. You smile because you know that as you serve your child, you are serving Christ (Mark 9:36-37).

     

    Therefore, be happy, because your Heavenly Father has blessed you. He has given you the gift of His son for your barren soul and the gift of a child for your joyful service.

     

    Post/Tweet: A mom’s role is her glory to God. They smile because they know as they serve  their child, they serve Christ. #moms

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • A Mom’s Mothering

    Posted on May 11, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:25–27).

     

    Moms are magnificent, especially the ones placed in my life by the Lord. My mom and the mother of our children, in particular, are emissaries of encouragement. They are messengers of comfort and care. No one loves more unconditionally than mothers. They see only the good and forget the bad. A mother’s love extends way beyond what is required creating a reservoir of hope.

     

    Furthermore, they are not afraid to speak the truth laced with an attractive attitude. It is not unusual for moms to become their child’s best friend. This is a natural outcome of their acceptance and relational relentlessness. Because their emotional intelligence quotient is high, they are able to discern and remedy heartfelt needs in an instant. Indeed, they are compulsive givers with a propensity to out-serve everyone.

     

    “Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing” (Psalm 100:2 nkjv).

    This outlandish outpouring of love concerns me. It does not bother me that moms love so generously. What troubles me is their need for unconditional love. Are moms being mothered to the extent that their needs are being met? An un-mothered mom is a good candidate for a miserable mom. If moms are not receiving what they need in emotional and spiritual support, they whither under the pressure. Like a flower in an arid climate, they need the saturating love, nurture, and security of their Savior Jesus.

     

    Lastly, they value being valued and desire acceptance. They are secure, living in security, and long to be loved.

     

    Lord, lead me to model this for my mom and the mother of our children. Show me how to shower on them what they have rained upon relationships, season after season, in unselfish service. I want to give back to them in the same way they have given to me and our children. I long for You to bless moms!

     

    “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (Proverbs 31:28).

     

    Prayer: Lord, lead me to another mother whom I can mother on Your behalf.

    Related Readings: Ruth 1:22; 1 Timothy 5:4; 2 Timothy 1:5; Titus 2:2–4

     

    Post/Tweet: No one loves more unconditionally than mothers. They see only the good and forget the bad. #moms

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • Shrewd for Jesus

    Posted on May 10, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. Luke 16:8

     

    Christians can be guilty of not being shrewd for Jesus. I can falsely feel like the Lord will take care of things without my best efforts. On the contrary, Christ expects us to be as innocent as a dove and as shrewd as a snake (Matthew 10:16). Gentleness and astuteness go hand in hand. The gullible miss out on God’s best, but the shrewd know how to manage well the wisdom of God. Engaged and mature thinking considers creatively and calmly how to capitalize on a difficult situation.

     

    Apathy breeds despair and panic creates contempt. However, we who know God, have the mind of Christ. The Holy Spirit is our advocate, whose insights transcend conventional solutions during tough times. The Spirit will lead us as we move forward by faith, but if we remain immobile in an anxious state, we will fail. As children of the light we have heavenly resources at our disposal. God’s favor rests on us when we attempt to influence people for His purposes.

     

    Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 1 Corinthians 14:20

    How do you use your resources to reach people for Jesus Christ? One gauge of your effectiveness for the Lord is how well you make friends who grow in their faith. People are attracted to your authenticity and audacious faith. Bold risks breathed over in prayer become trophies of God’s grace and work. Use your business or work as a platform of creativity for Christ. Shun the status quo and lean into innovation. Last year’s success needs this year’s relevance.

    Lastly, do business with other believers who are excellent in their field. You support the economics of God’s Kingdom when you support other brothers and sisters in Christ. Yes, Christians will let you down, but learn how to work together and look for those whose values and maturity are similar to yours. Unite your community of faith around Christ. Use the synergies of other Jesus followers to leverage service to society and in the process build eternal dwellings!

    For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Corinthians 5:1

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me Your wisdom to be shrewd for Jesus.

     

    Related Readings: Exodus 1:10; Psalm 18:26; Ecclesiastes 11:1; Ephesians 5:8

     

    Post/Tweet today: The gullible miss out on God’s best, but the shrewd know how to manage well the wisdom of God. #shrewd

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • To Have and to Hold

    Posted on May 10, 2013 by Sharon Glasgow

    Sharon

    "Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful." James 5:11 (ESV)

    "Love is patient, love is kind ... It always protects ... always hopes ... always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

    As I sprayed the front porch with my water hose, dirt and bugs poured down the side of my house. Blasting those things was exhilarating. Everything came off under the pressure of that water. Everything except one big spider web.

    So I got a stool to stand on, edged in even closer, and blasted that web again. The silken threads thrashed to and fro with each gust of water. But the spider, the web, and her eggs stayed intact.

    They weren't going anywhere.

    Flabbergasted, I thought to myself, "Spiders must have an inborn instinct to have and to hold. Under the greatest pressure, they don't let go.

    It reminded me of a time several years ago, when a friend came to me in devastation. Her husband told her he didn't love her—in fact, he said, he had never loved her.

    "It's over," she told me.

    We talked and I then asked, "Can you hold on to the marriage for just a while longer? You have nothing to lose. You've already lost him."

    I told her to become his greatest admirer. Find the good in him. She did. It didn't work.

    I told her to make his favorite dinners and desserts. She did. It didn't work.

    I told her to make love to him as never before. She did. It didn't work.

    I told her to do the things she knows he likes done. She did. It didn't work.

    I told her to pray non-stop for him. She did. It didn't work.

    I told her to tell him, "I vowed to you that I would hold on no matter what." She told him. But he didn't care.

    After a month she came to me with tears in her eyes and said, "It's not working Sharon."

    "He's not gone yet is he?" I said. "I know it's hard, but keep doing it ... because love always protects, always hopes, and always perseveres."

    She took a deep breath.

    She chose to keep doing it. And very gradually things started shifting. He started enjoying the dinners at the table and all the other things she was doing for him—even intimacy.

    A year later they found themselves passionately in love with one another. For the first time.

    Now, I know the story is not going to turn out the same for everyone. I've given the same advice to others without the same results. But I can give you this advice with confidence: when the storms come—and they will—hold on tight, just like the spiders on my porch.

    God calls us to have a love that perseveres and hopes. We can't choose what kind of love the other party will give in return, but there is power in God's kind of love—a holding-on kind of love.

    To have and to hold means you've got to hold on when the storm rages. And even if it knocks you off kilter, ask the Lord to give you strength to get back up and hold on some more.

    I finally got all the spiders and their webs off my porch. It looked beautiful.

    As I was gathering my cleaning supplies and enjoying the clean porch, I saw spiders crawling back up the wall.

    I smiled. If I can't get rid of them, at least I can learn a lesson from them!

    Dear Lord, help me to have a love that perseveres through hard times. Help me to love the way You've called me to love. Give me hope, strength and wisdom as only You can do. You know I need it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    For real hope for real life, soak up God's Word. It offers strength for trials, wisdom for tough decisions, and encouragement for weary moments. The new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women has the Proverbs 31 Ministries team's devotions interspersed throughout.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are there areas of your marriage that you need to work on? Have you lost hope because you haven't seen the fruit of all your labor?

    Ask God to help you and show you areas where you can grow. Ask Him to show you practical ways you can love better. Make an action plan of how you are going to tackle these areas.

    Power Verses:
    James 5:11, "We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful." (NAS)

    2 Thessalonians 3:5, "May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


  • Moral Police

    Posted on May 9, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. Luke 15:28-29

     

    Some religious people feel responsible for monitoring other’s behavior with moral smugness. They judge people’s motives, while their own heart becomes filled with a sense of superiority. These defenders of their definition of decency feel no need for mercy, nor do they offer mercy. The Bible becomes a “billy club” to whip people into shape with bouts of shame and guilt. Ironically, moral police lack moral authority. Their pronouncements are birthed from pride, not pity.

     

    The moral police person is driven by anger. They are not satisfied until everyone they know conforms to their standards. They become especially perturbed when a sinner repents and is accepted back into the fold of faith. Cynically they say, “Is his conversion real?” “If anyone deserves recognition and rewards for their behavior, I do, because I have always been a good person.” Indeed, their pious prayers preach down to those less religious. They become a closed minded judge and jury.

     

    But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry... But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry? Jonah 4:1,4

    Has your religious zeal drifted into the arrogant attitude of the older brother in Jesus’ story: jealous, judgmental and joyless? Are you bound up within because life doesn’t seem to listen to your demands? The same Lord you represent can free you from being a self appointed judge. Take a step off your religious pedestal of pride and kneel in humble brokenness. Confess the need to be free from an attitude of moral superiority and admit to being a chief of sinners.

     

    The moral police of Jesus’ day had Him crucified. Today we are called to be crucified with Christ, so we are reminded of our weak condition outside the love and grace of God. Yes, there are standards God expects us to obey. Christ calls us to a high level of moral and ethical behavior. However, it is the inner work of the Spirit that conforms us into the image of Christ. Truth transforms us from the inside out, so we walk in humility not pride. God is our judge.

     

    Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Matt. 7:1-3, The Message

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for judging others and neglecting my own proud heart.

     

    Related Readings: Luke 6:41-42; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5, 5:12; James 4:11

     

    Post/Tweet today: A person who feels morally superior is not satisfied until everyone else conforms to their standards. #moralpolice

    © 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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