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Daily Devotion

  • Where Your Tears Go

    Tracie

    "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

    If there is one thing I'm known for, it's crying.

    When one of my little ones scraped their knee, didn't make the sports team, or were hurt by a friend's harsh words ... I cried.

    The first time my sixteen-year-old daughter pulled out of the driveway with her new license, when a boy broke her heart, and as she strolled across the stage last year in her blue graduation gown, I cried.

    So when it came time to move her into her dorm room a couple months later, I feared my tears might be uncontrollable.

    Although I was proud she was going to college, and it was time for her to spread her wings, the thought of her leaving seemed unbearable. The idea of not seeing her sweet smile every day, coupled with concern over her well-being, made my heart heavy.

    I had a flashback of tears shed many years ago as my little girl, dressed in her tiny denim skirt and purple butterfly shirt, stood waving goodbye from the door of her kindergarten room. As I turned to leave my daughter in her dorm room, my waterworks started.

    There were tears of happiness, gratitude and excitement. Tears of sadness, anxiety and motherly worry.

    A part of me wondered if I should be crying in this situation. Many mothers would be thrilled to be dropping a child off at college. Was I being selfish with my tears?

    In that moment of mixed emotions, I desperately needed God's comfort and reassurance, and I found it in Psalm 56:8.

    In Psalm 56:8, God reminds us He is intimately concerned with every aspect of our lives. God doesn't judge whether our sorrow is "valid." But because of His compassion, He catches every tear that is shed. It doesn't matter how big or small, trivial or important, the sorrow might be.

    In this Psalm, David expressed grief over his situation, which was truly dangerous. Saul wanted his own son to be king of Israel and was hunting David in order to murder him.

    This forced David to constantly be on the move as he tried to escape. David was grieved, fearful and unsure about the future. Apparently tears flowed as he poured out his feelings to God. "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book" (Psalm 56:8).

    David drew comfort in knowing that no matter what he was going through, God had great compassion on him and gathered all his precious tears in a bottle. David trusted God with his life and his future. He wasn't embarrassed about his tears, and we need not be either, even when we wish we could hold them back.

    Life challenges us. Children grow. Seasons of change bump into our normal status quo. When this happens, tears often spring up and efforts to contain them fall short.

    Dropping your child off at kindergarten, college or any grade in between can evoke a variety of anxieties and emotions. As back-to-school season approaches, let's remember God has compassion on us and our children.

    He is present with every tear shed, and we can count on Him to collect them. No matter what sorrow we face today, we can have confidence God cares.

    Dear Lord, thank You for loving my children even more than I do and for having compassion on them and me. Help me feel Your comfort and reassurance when I face new seasons of life and emotional challenges as a mother. Please tuck my babies under Your wing, guide them in their decisions and keep them safe. Amen.

    Related Resources:

    A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

    The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.

    Reflect and Respond: Has there ever been a time when you felt God collecting your tears?

    Consider how God has touched your heart with His promise of compassion in your life. Take a moment to acknowledge Him and thank Him.

    Power Verses: Psalm 147:3, "He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds." (NLT)

    Psalm 91:4, "He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Reliable God

    Boyd

    You are my strength, I watch for you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely. Psalm 59:9-10

    Life will let us down, people let us down, but the Lord is always reliable. What He says, He does. What He does, He does with an eye on what’s best for His children. Our great God and Creator of the universe is as reliable as the sun rising in the East and setting in the West. He is as dependable as water in the deepest oceans and snow on the highest mountain tops. The One who is the only “I Am,” was, and is, and is the One to come. Without question Christ is 100% reliable.

    Therefore, we watch for the Lord to work and answer prayer. We anticipate His grace to govern our hearts and to open doors for Him to be glorified through our lives. We look for the Almighty to bring justice to the outcasts of society. We celebrate churches who care for the poor and the needy. We pray for governments to create moral boundaries for a civil society. We lead our families to carry Christ’s legacy to the next generation. All as we watch for God’s wonderful works!

    Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God. Isaiah 50:10

    Our Savior Jesus Christ is reliable to give us strength for life’s journey. He gives physical strength to soldiers in the heat of battle. He gives emotional strength to defeat our demons of depression and sirens of self-reliance. He gives spiritual strength to traverse over mountains of disbelief and hills of doubt. God is reliable to reveal a way of escape when we feel trapped by temptation’s snare. Our ego tends to grow in the good times, but our character grows most in the difficult times. Praise Jesus for His strength never tires. He’s our ever available refreshment.

    Lastly, our Heavenly Father is our fortress. He is high above our conflict and confusion. He bids us to join Him and rest. When we enter into the gates of His fortress with thanksgiving, our thoughts are drained of anxiety and our perspective gains peace. We sleep well at night knowing our first defense is Almighty God. The fiery darts of the enemy fall harmlessly to the ground, blunted by the rock of our righteous Lord Christ. He is 100% reliable for strength and protection!

    The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for being 100% reliable in the good and bad times.

    Related Readings: 2 Chronicles 14:11; Psalm 9:9, 62:2, 71:3; 2 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 4:16

    Post/Tweet today: Our ego tends to grow in the good times, but our character grows most in the difficult times. #reliableGod

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

  • Messy Marriages

    Lysa

    "But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God." Jeremiah 17:7 (MSG)

    I threw the cup of orange juice across the kitchen. It felt good to do something, anything, to release all the surging anger and frustration. And I didn't even mind cleaning the pulpy, sticky mess.

    It felt soothing to know how to clean something. I knew how to wipe away this mess. And I liked seeing the mess disappear.

    If only my marriage mess could be fixed with soap, water and a handful of paper towels.

    I whispered, God, why does this have to be so hard?

    Have you ever been there?

    I think many of us have. Whether we're in a really tough marriage or just in a rough patch, marriage can be messy. Hurtful. Lonely.

    No one ever told me about this side of marriage before I donned the white dress and danced to MC Hammer at the reception.

    But after 20 years of learning, growing and pressing through the messes to see something beautiful form in the midst of it all, here's what I know ...

    Jesus loves those in messy marriages.

    He loves my husband, Art, and me in the midst of it all. Jesus doesn't love the mess of hurt, isolation and bitterness. Those are things He wants us to work on. But He never stops loving us.

    Jesus loves me. His grace is strong enough to extend His love into every part of me. The good parts. The broken parts. The ugly parts. The bitter parts. The loving parts. Even the parts that throw orange juice.

    And Jesus loves Art. His grace is strong enough to extend His love into every part of my husband. The good parts. The broken parts. The ugly parts. The bitter parts. The loving parts. And even the parts that look at me like I'm crazy when I throw orange juice.

    Since Jesus loves both of us, He's the best source of help for our marriage. I don't say that without a deep awareness of how stinkin' hard it is to go to Jesus when I'm mad as fire at my husband.

    And I certainly don't say it in naive simplicity. Gracious, I know some of you are facing marriage situations that rip your heart into a thousand pieces every day.

    But still, I know Jesus is the best source of help.

    Honest cries for help lifted up to Jesus will not go unheard. He sees. He knows. He loves. And Jesus will direct you as long as you stick with Him.

    Jeremiah 17:7-8 in The Message version reminds us:

    But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They're like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers-Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.

    So, how do I stick with Jesus? I proclaim I'm sticking with Jesus:

    Jesus, I'm sticking with You. I'm giving You what I don't understand and what I can't fix. I'm giving You what I don't like about me. I'm giving You what I don't like about him. And I'm giving You what I don't like about my marriage. I'm listening for Your instruction. I'm positioning myself to go where I'll hear Your truth. To talk to others who love You and serve You. And to read wise instruction from the Bible. Amen.

    Jesus loves those who are in messy marriages. I know. Though Art and I have a wonderful marriage now, we can still hit some rough patches now and then.

    But you'll be happy to know I haven't thrown orange juice across the kitchen lately.

    Dear Lord, so much of me wants to stick with my anger and frustration. But I'm choosing to stick with You. Today I'm going to hold my temper, hold my tongue and hold on to Your Truth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

    The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.

    Reflect and Respond: Have you honestly waited on the Lord for His guidance? Today, make a choice to seek His wisdom through His Word and ask for wise counsel from a trusted, Christ-following friend.

    Power Verse: Ephesians 4:26, 29-32, "'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry ... Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

    And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Spirit Led Praying

    Boyd

    In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

    Hallelujah, the Holy Spirit is our lead in making known our prayers to heaven. Just as a pace car leads other high octane automobiles around a racetrack, so the Spirit of God is out in front to make sure our revved up activities follow a sustainable pace.  Spirit led praying is intimate and engaged with the Lord. It avoids tipping God with meaningless mumbles, but instead seeks to communicate Christ’s heart to our heart. Our weak feeling prayers are made strong by the Spirit.

    Furthermore, we need not feel frantic or afraid when we are unsure what to pray. The Spirit discerns what is necessary for our heart and mind and what is nonessential. Spirit led praying is like standing waist deep in a crystal blue swimming pool. We hear the outside world with all its competing noise, but when we softly lay back our head under water it becomes a quiet sanctuary. So, the Spirit immerses the ears of our soul under the interceding water of His wordless groans.

    The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15

    Your will meshes with God’s will as you pray in the Spirit. Holy alignment occurs with Almighty God’s agenda for your life. The sweet prompting of the Spirit resonates with affirmations and warnings. Like a smoke detector sniffing out any dangerous fumes, so by faith the Holy Spirit discerns any unholy heart alliance and warns you to exit from its influence. Yes, embrace those who follow the way of Christ and graciously let go of those who fail to bring God glory.

    Therefore, pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. The Spirit of the Lord is sensitive and creative to communicate prayers of thanksgiving and prayers of grief. He accepts your petitions poured out on behalf of a poor soul suffering through sickness. He invites your prayers for those enjoying success whose character needs to keep up with their accomplishments. Keep on praying for all the Lord’s people with Spirit led promptings!

    And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me by Your Spirit to pray by faith in my weak moments and in my moments of strength.

    Related Readings: Zechariah 4:6; John 20:22; 2 Timothy 1:7; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19

    Post/Tweet today: Your will meshes with God’s will creating alignment with God’s agenda as you pray in the Spirit.. #Spiritledpraying

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

  • Running on Empty

    Glynnis

    "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)

    People often ask me, "How do you handle it all?"

    Depending on the situation, I answer in a variety of ways:

    1. I'm wired this way. And that's partly true. I have a God-wired ability to stay focused in the midst of chaos ... most of the time. I'm more left-brained than my husband, and he's an engineer!
    2. I stay organized ... most of the time. Usually, I can find what I need when I need it. Usually, I prepare in advance. There are times when life gets the best of me, and someone wears the same socks two days in a row. But systems and schedules help me stay on top of responsibilities.
    3. My kids are older. We still have issues that derail my best-laid plans, but they're different than when my kids were toddlers and one tried to use my car keys to unlock the back gate, dropping them in the alley by accident. That threw me into a meltdown of monumental proportions.

    But when people ask "How do you handle it all?" it's usually when I've shared something that has changed my life more than anything else. An act of obedience my family made eight years ago has pushed me to the edge of myself, made me question who I am and question God about His choice of me for this assignment. But it's also made me cling to Him with more desperation than ever before. What is it?

    Adopting two little girls from Africa.

    I haven't written much about these challenges due to respecting my family's privacy. And I also don't want to discourage adoptive parents with how hard our journey has been. It's one of the most important things I've ever done. But also the most costly.

    In 2005 we adopted two girls, ages 8 and 10, from war-torn Liberia. We knew nothing about their background, other than it contained deprivation even other poor countries don't experience. No running water, no electricity, no school, no exposure to books or even television. Just basic existence for years.

    Welcoming these little girls into our family at first seemed easy. They responded well to our love. They thrived with good food and education. But very soon we realized challenges. And then very sad truths about what happened in Africa started being uncovered.

    One daughter has cognitive challenges that will impact her ability to live independently the rest of her life, and ours. With the other we faced behavioral challenges-significant issues based on an early history of neglect and abuse.

    Sometimes there are Hallmark-channel-endings, but that's not our story. We live every day with our daughters' wounds and challenges. And these hardships have deeply affected me and my husband. They have affected our three biological children.

    Here's what I've discovered: all my God-wired ability to think through chaos, all my attempts at organization and having older kids didn't prepare me for this.

    But God's strength did.

    So how do I manage it all? Every day I turn to God and rely on what 2 Corinthians 12:9 teaches me ...

    I don't have it in me to do this one more day, I need Your strength.

    I don't have the patience in me for this … I need Your patience.

    I can't think straight right now ... I need Your clarity.

    I'm not even sure I have love in me right now ... I need Your love.

    And I get my portion for that day. I get just enough strength, patience, and clarity to make it through. And a new definition of love that's stronger and tougher and more determined than I have ever experienced.

    I wish I could write more about my family's story, and maybe someday I will. But for now, it's brought me to my knees; it's made me more humble; it's made me less judgmental, and it's made me depend on God more than ever.

    God's strength is enough. But I had to get to the end of mine to learn that.

    Heavenly Father, although I didn't know I'd be facing my current challenges, You did. Thank You for offering to step in the gap between my needs and my insufficient reservoir of strength with Your peace, wisdom, strength and love. Help me to lean on You when I feel like things are falling apart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

    The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.

    Reflect and Respond: The way to truly experience God's power is to get to the end of yours. What are you facing that makes you feel powerless?

    Ask God for one thing you need to make it through today. Then watch for His response.

    Power Verse: John 14: 27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Daily Burden Bearer

    Boyd

    Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19

    Believers in Jesus have the Lord who daily bears their burdens. He is a Savior who is not crushed by back breaking circumstances. He reinforces the tentative trust of those under the weighty issues of wealth, sickness, leadership responsibilities, and becoming single again. Yes, a burden becomes too much to bear when it is managed alone. This silent suffering is soul abuse. But in Christ we have the righteous and resilient resources of heaven to persevere through pain.

    Therefore, make sure to engage the eternal grace of God to get you through temporary trials. You do not have to fake it to make it because faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master will give you the godly gumption to get through. Partner with the Holy Spirit to lift from your fleshly shoulders any feelings of doubt, false guilt or the fantasy of living a problem free life. He who lifted your sin burden at salvation remains a strong burden bearer today. God supports you daily.

    Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22

    Just as a nurse cuddles and carries a newborn, so your Heavenly Father cradles you in His sustaining care. Any back and forth movement you may feel against your faith is the soothing rock of your comforting Savior, Christ Jesus. When He holds you close to His breast, you can rest in Him. Resist fear’s desire to pull away and flee from the palpable peace of God. A soul snuggled against the chest of deity will not be shaken. What He holds close, He keeps secure!

    Hallelujah, praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior who daily bears our burdens. We praise Him in the morning, we praise Him in the noontime and we praise Him in the evening for removing our anxieties with His loving lift of compassion. Because He is our burden bearer we are freed to help carry the burdens of those stuck in sin or beat down from life’s challenges. What a joy divine to be Jesus to someone who needs to see Jesus. Thank your Burden Bearer, Jesus Christ!

    Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 Prayer: Heavenly Father, what a joy to know You bear my burdens daily, so I am free to help others bear theirs.

    Related Readings: Psalm 81:16; Isaiah 9:4, 10:27, 46:4; Matthew 11:28-30; 1 John 2:6

    Post/Tweet today: He [Jesus] who lifted your sin burden at salvation remains a strong burden bearer today. #dailybearsburdens

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

  • The Gift of Listening

    Renee

    "I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray." Psalm 17:6 (NLT)

    One night I heard my husband calling our dog to get her treat. He was actually trying to lure Chelsea, our thirteen-year-old dachshund, to her doggie bed. She was in her favorite chair and nothing was getting her to budge, not even the promise of a treat.

    I asked my kids if they thought Chelsea had "selective hearing" because she didn't want to go to bed or if she was going deaf. I had a feeling it was the latter.

    We reminisced and laughed about how Chelsea used to hear every little thing, from the icemaker in our kitchen to a leaf blowing outside. Then my son Andrew, who was nine at the time, looked at me with great concern. "Mom, I hope when you get old you don't go deaf like Chelsea."

    I laughingly told him it might be good if I can't hear everything when I get as old as Chelsea. She gets a lot more sleep, and she's not offended by the doggy jokes we make about her advanced age.

    My light-hearted response didn't wipe the concern off his brow, so I asked why he was afraid I wouldn't be able to hear him. He answered without hesitation, "Well, sometimes you don't hear me now. Like when you're on the computer and I ask you a question."

    Ouch! I had no idea my child thought I couldn't hear him. His answer almost sent me on a bad-mommy guilt-trip. Flashbacks popped up from times I'd heard him but hadn't listened because my focus was on someone or something else, like the computer and TV.

    Instead of defining that moment with guilt, I pulled Andrew close and told him I was sorry for not listening sometimes. I explained how me being on the computer is similar to him watching a movie. He gets so involved he doesn't hear me call him for dinner. He smiled recognizing his own "hearing loss" at times.

    Still, I didn't want that to be my excuse. So I promised him I would try to stop what I am doing when he comes to me. In my heart, I committed to look away from my computer or phone to really listen. His comment made me realize, we all long to be heard, don't we?

    Psalm 17:6 reflects our desire for God to hear us. The psalmist wrote, "I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray." It reminds me that in the same way I go to God because I want Him to listen and answer me, my child and others come to me because they want me to listen to them. When I stop what I'm doing and listen, it tells them that they, and what they have to say, are important to me.

    In our culture of constant contact through technology, it's easy for our attention to be divided and our focus to shift away from those who are in the room with us.

    Although we are physically present, often times we are mentally absent.

    That night God showed me the valuable gift we can give our children, spouses, friends, co-workers and even strangers. It's the gift of listening.

    We give it each time we stop what we're doing and turn our full attention to others when they talk to us. And, it's a gift God gives to us each time we talk to Him too!

    Lord, thank You for listening to me. Please help me be a better listener. It's easy to hear with one ear while the other is turned toward my computer, television or cell phone. I want to give the gift of listening because it communicates that I value those who want me to hear them. Make me aware and willing to push past this habit so that I can be a listener like You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

    The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.

    Reflect and Respond: Ask God to show you throughout the day how you are doing when it comes to really listening to those you live and work with.

    Make a list of people you will give the gift of listening to this week.

    Power Verses: Psalm 54:2, "Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth." (NIV)

    Luke 2:46, "After three days they found him [Jesus] in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Identity Crisis

    Boyd

    For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:3-4

    Traumatic events like divorce or a job loss can create a crisis of identity. I previously parented with my spouse, but now I raise my child alone. As a single parent I feel angry, ill equipped and financially stressed. Before I was let go from my job I managed a team and felt respected. Post firing I struggle just to manage myself. I feel unimportant. An identity crisis is an opportunity for Christ to remind me of my identity in Him. I am significant in Him, so I am important to Him.

    What feels out of control the Lord uses to bring His child under His control. A parent's identity is challenged after a child leaves home as a young adult, just as an individual struggles for significance after retirement. If who we are is wrapped up in what we do, we are set up for disillusionment. What we do will change, but our standing in Christ remains the same. Our value isn’t measured by our role, but by the abundance of God’s grace we enjoy. Relationships are what really count.

    Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! Philippians 4:1

    Because Christ is your life, your life is complete. There is no need to strive to be someone you are not, nor is it necessary to reach back and become someone you were that was only relevant for that season of life. Yes, the value of your life increases as you increasingly align with Almighty God’s character and will for your life. An identity crisis is the Lord’s opportunity to take your integrity to another level of influence. You walk securely when integrity instructs your actions.

    Therefore, by God’s grace die to the desire to be someone other than God’s workmanship in Christ.  Rest in your relationship with Jesus and enjoy the people He brings into your life for you to bless. It is the immaterial not the material that marks your real worth. Peace of mind, purity of heart and selfless service make you attractive to be around. As you love the Lord and others well it will be well with your soul. You are Christ’s bride, your identity is defined by His last name!

    The bride belongs to the bridegroom. John 3:29 Prayer: Heavenly Father, I rest in Your son Jesus as my life. My identity and security is in Him.

    Related Readings: Isaiah 29:23, 43:7; Psalm 45:1-17; John 17:13; Ephesians 2:10

    Post/Tweet today: Love the Lord and others well; it will be well with your soul. #identitycrisis

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

  • Do You Have Enough?

    Karen

    "Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'" Luke 12:15 (NIV)

    "On your mark. Get set. Go!!" my husband shouted as our three kids began the M&M race.

    The rules were simple. Each child had a bowl in a separate corner of the family room. In the middle of the floor sat a huge bowl of M&M's. The kids were to transport their candies one tablespoon at a time back to their individual bowls. If any dropped on the floor, they couldn't pick them up.

    The most important rule was this: when the timer rang, they had to stop in place. If the kids weren't sitting in their corner holding their bowl, all their M&M's would be forfeited.

    The clincher? We wouldn't tell them how long the timer would be set.

    Four-year-old Spencer, the family clown, giggled as he dashed back and forth, candies flying off his spoon. He kept going, thinking he would get the most by hurrying and scurrying.

    Methodical Mitchell was slow and careful so he could balance more candies on the spoon, not drop any and fill his bowl to the brim. But he forgot about the timer.

    Big sister Kenna quickly clued in to the "catch" of the game. She too was careful transporting her M&M's. But after a few trips, she sat down with bowl in lap and waited.

    Moments later the timer went off. Spencer dove for his bowl. Mitchell, who was meticulously scooping, realized all of his tedious effort had come to nothing. Both boys were without a single M&M.

    In her corner sat their sister, now the proud owner of everyone's candies. One boy began to complain, the other to cry. They wanted their candy! We had them calm down to listen as we finished the Bible lesson. There was a point to this shenanigan.

    My husband read the story of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21. This man had a prosperous farm that earned him quite a deal of money. Instead of using his wealth to bless others, he tore down his barns and built bigger ones to stash his stuff.

    However, that very night, life's timer would go off and he would die. All of his earthly possessions would be of no value to him. In fact, they would be left for others. We related this story to our family game that day.

    You know, when I step back and look around, it's easy to see how I can seek excessive earthly treasures too. I spend money on things I don't need instead of giving to feed the poor or reaching out to people with the good news of Christ. Clothes, out-on-the-town outings, or money spent on luxuries for ourselves can fill our home and heart. I'm not only talking about really expensive items or trips. It can be as simple as a pair of sandals on sale.

    Even though three pairs of sandals sit in my closet that are in good condition, I can justify spending $15 on new ones. They're cute, match my favorite blue shirt and are half price! And I sure do want to get to the store early so my size is still there.

    Do I really need them? No. Do I want them? Yes. And here's where I have to do some soul searching and re-read the story of the greedy farmer from Luke12:15. In it, we're warned, "Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'"

    Am I hoarding my money for an abundance of possessions? Could I limit myself by setting a budget for splurges (like those sandals) and spend the money I save on needful things?

    While there is merit in saving for a rainy day, we should also share that which God has given us. This is exactly what our daughter did that day with her M&M's and her two baby brothers!

    Dear Lord, show me where I can spend less on myself and more on others. All I have belongs to You. May I use it for Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources: A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

    The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.

    Reflect and Respond: Keep track of what you spend on items that aren't necessities. How could you spend that money in a way that would help someone else?

    What areas are strongholds for you in the struggle with greed? Pray about what action God would have you take to curb your cravings for more.

    Power Verse: Proverbs 28:25, "The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the LORD will prosper." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • Follow-Up

    Boyd

    Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the LORD had commanded.  So Moses blessed them.  Exodus 39:43

    Follow-up is necessary for effective leaders. It is necessary in your work and family. It is necessary as you manage and hold others responsible. Follow-up means you care about the person who is performing the task and you care about the work being done. You follow up with your children because you care for them too much not to stay involved in their lives. They may seem distant and disinterested, but you still follow up. Relationships retreat for lack of follow-up.

    Ego and pride resist follow-up and expect others to initiate, but people forget. People do not place as high a priority on your activities as you do. They may even commit to a certain time, but because of busyness, fail to follow through. Extremely active people need more follow-up than is normally necessary. You may feel rejected when a person appears disinterested. They may be, but you are responsible to provide gentle reminders and reengage them at a more robust level. Effective follow-up is as much an art as a science. Yes, have a systematic style to your communications, but do not badger people by bombarding them with too much, too often. People do better when you “inspect what we expect.” So, take the time to inspect. Create margin for inspection and accountability. Follow-up is an appropriate time to revisit expectations. The longer disconnected expectations are left unaddressed, the higher the probability for misunderstanding and failure. Frequent inspection leads to clarification and correction. Small adjustments along the way defuse frustrations and avert subtle surprises down the road. Do not assume that someone understands the first time. Don’t assume you understand the first time.

    Make sure everyone is on the same page and that there is a coalition of efforts and resources. Also, be willing to adjust, as thinking and engaged people will discover a better way of doing things. Encourage and reward their wise and resourceful innovation. Follow-up frees people to give much needed feedback. Above all else, make sure the project and the process revolve around God’s principles of work and relationships. It is imperative that everyone be aligned around the Almighty’s agenda. His way is the best way; so do not compromise the non-negotiables that define the values and mission of the enterprise. Follow-up keeps a focus on the purpose of glorifying God. Follow-up is for the purpose of wise stewardship, excellent communication, and affirming accountability. Use your frequent follow-up as a way to bless the other person. Make the follow-up of the transaction or task a small percentage of the conversation. Use this excuse for relational engagement to find out about the person. Listen for their fears, their frustrations, and their dreams. People want to know they are cared for before they care to listen. Follow-up leads to follow through, all for a greater purpose than any one individual. Use your faithful follow-up as an opportunity to bless others on behalf of God. For example, Paul wrote out expectations and then followed up in person. “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:14-15).

    Post/Tweet: People want to know they are cared for before they care to listen. #followup

    © 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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