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Family Christian

  • Hidden Hardships Behind Closed Doors


    "On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul." Psalm 138:3 (NASB)

    Hidden behind the door of many homes is the reality of hardship. A devastated home isn't always apparent on first impressions, is it?

    Take Susanna Wesley's life for instance. A quick glance reveals she was married to a preacher in the late 1600s. They had 10 children, two of which grew up to bring tens of thousands of people to Christ: John and Charles Wesley. Sounds like a sweet story, doesn't it?

    But if we look behind the door of her home, hard conditions were the norm. Her husband, Sam, couldn't (or wouldn't) manage their finances well. They disagreed on everything from money to politics. This couple actually had 19 children; sadly, nine died in infancy. Sam left Susanna for long periods of time—sometimes over something as simple as an argument—leaving the duty of raising their children to her alone.

    One of their children was unable to walk. Another couldn't talk until the age of six. Susanna herself was desperately sick most of her life. Their home burned to the ground twice; everything they owned crumbled to ashes. One of her daughters became pregnant out of wedlock. They had no money for food or necessities. Sam even went to debtor's prison.

    Long before Susanna had an inkling of how difficult her married life would be, she made the Lord a promise. When she was young, Susanna committed that for every hour she spent in entertainment, she would give the same amount of time to Him in prayer and in the Word.

    Taking care of the house and raising so many kids made this commitment nearly impossible to fulfill. She had no time for either entertainment or long hours in prayer! This wife and mother worked the gardens, milked the cow, schooled the children and managed the entire house herself.

    It would have been understandable if Susanna reneged on her promise to the Lord. But she didn't. Instead, she gave the Lord two hours a day in prayer!

    As you can imagine with 10 kids, she struggled to find a quiet place to get away with God. So she advised her children that when her apron was over her head, that meant she was in prayer and couldn't be disturbed.

    Susanna was devoted to her walk with Christ, praying for her children, and growing in the knowledge of the Word ... no matter how hard life was.

    This dedicated woman's story may have never been known to anyone but the Lord and her children, except for the fact that her example greatly inspired two of her sons. They both said that their mom influenced them more than any other person.

    John and Charles Wesley became powerhouses for the glory of the Lord. John preached to nearly a million people in the 1700s. He brought revival everywhere he traveled and taught the Word of God! Charles wrote over 9000 hymns, many of which we still sing today.

    In the middle of great hardships, Susanna consistently tapped into her source of strength. She connected intentionally with the Lord every day. It's amazing how her choices influenced not only her family, but also countless individuals, families and worshippers over the years.

    Hidden behind the door of my home, I want my children to see a mom who prays, no matter how busy I am or how hard my circumstances. I'm going to continue letting Susanna's example influence me. How about you?

    Dear Lord, I need Your wisdom, peace and strength. Help me to rely on You and not myself. In Jesus' Name, amen.

    Related Resources:

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

    Reflect and Respond: How much time are you spending with Jesus every day in prayer and in the Word?

    Make a plan for how you can increase your time with Him. When your kids grow up, how will they describe how you handled hardships?

    Power Verses: Proverbs 31:28a, "Her children arise up, and call her blessed ..." (KJV)

    1 Chronicles 16:11, "Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually." (KJV)

    © 2013 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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

  • Vision Regained


    Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Romans 11:3-4

    We tend to exaggerate our plight when we feel alone and distant from the Lord and His followers. The half full glass of water looks half empty, when we are empty of the grace and mercy of God. Elijah struggled with spiritual amnesia. He forgot the thousands of faithful believers who had not capitulated to the idol of Baal. His aloneness blurred his judgment. Like the sun’s rays burn away morning mist, so clarity comes from prayer time with God’s son Jesus.

    Those who feel lonely need community and the closeness that comes from another who understands. We are all vulnerable to the trap of fatigue that fuels our fears.  This misguided state of mind fosters a feeling of abandonment, however the truth is many others experience what we experience. We are not alone in our genuine commitment to Christ. Yes, there may be a closet Christian at your work waiting for you to offer them a prayer. Look for other lovers of the Lord!

    Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city. Acts 18:9-10

    Do you need to regain your big vision of God and His extraordinary work in you, through you, around you and across the planet? He has reserved for Himself millions of righteous saints who have not wavered in their love for Jesus. Some suffer from paranoid persecutors with their zealous death threats, yet these humble believers believe: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Like a warm blanket of comfort the world is encircled by Christians with a big vision of God.

    Yes, sin abounds, but grace abounds even more. Evil grabs the headlines, but good still seeds the majority of stories less read. For every terrorist who thumps their chest in contempt, thousands bow a humble knee in prayer to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Regain your vision by renouncing a victim mindset and reengage in church. Celebrate ten blessings before you take one concern to Christ. Embrace God’s global vision of hope . Hope in Him!

    I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:20

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, keep my focus on You and on the million faithful ones, who have gone before me in the name of Jesus.

    Related Readings: 1 Kings 19:10-14; Matthew 28:20; Philippians 1:21; 1 Peter 1:13

    Post/Tweet today: Embrace God’s vision of hope that is global in scope. Hope in Him! #visionregained

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

  • Pat Williams on Adoption, Basketball and Living Life with Passion

    Pat Williams is a basketball Hall-of-Famer, currently serving as co-founder and senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. As one of America’s top motivational speakers, he has addressed thousands of executives in organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies and national associations to universities and nonprofits. Clients include AllState, American Express, Citrix, Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Disney, Honeywell, IBM, ING, Lockheed Martin, Nike, Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Tyson Foods to name a few. Pat is also the author of over 80 books, his most recent title being The Difference You Make: Changing Your World Through the Impact of Your Influence.

    Pat and his wife, Ruth, are the parents of 19 children, including 14 adopted from four nations, ranging in age from 26 to 40. For one year, 16 of his children were all teenagers at the same time. Currently, Pat has 12 grandchildren and counting…with twins due in July. Pat and his family have been featured in Sports Illustrated, Readers Digest, Good Housekeeping, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Focus on the Family as well as all of the major network and cable television news channels.

    I sat down and talked with Pat about his legacy as a father. To find out what motivated this man.  What follows is a candid overflow of his heart. This man is truly living with a passion.

    John: Pat, you certainly have had quite the legacy within both the basketball industry and within the sports community, but then you've also had a legacy over on the adoption side of things as well. Can you share a little bit, before we get in and talk about your book, can you share a little bit about how you and your wife were introduced to the concept of adoption or foster care, and why you as a family have pursued that?

    Pat: For the first 10 years of our marriage, my wife talked non-stop about adopting children that didn't look like us. She talked about almond eyes and I just couldn't fathom it. We had three birth kids and life was good. Finally at the 10-year mark, it became a major issue. Big issue. I realized that I had to take the initiative and get moving on this. Long story short, we learned about two little girls from South Korea who were available. We talked to our children and let them vote.

    John: This was a family process then?

    Pat: Family discussion and a vote. The vote was unanimous, let's do it. What an adventure that was. On September 12, 1983, these two little girls, two and three years old, arrived from Seoul, escorted by a couple of off duty flight attendants. There they were in the Philadelphia airport, handed to us, the new parents of two Korean girls. That launched it. Then I caught the bug. I kept thinking we can take two more. What's four more boys, or two little girls from Romania. At the end of 10 years, we had 14 adopted children. People ask all the time, "Was there a master plan here?" There wasn't. We just kept hearing about these children and felt God saying, "I'll provide." He always did, amazingly. We had enormous food bills and clothing, it was just massive. But to this day, God has always provided what we've needed to get the children raised and educated. I think there's a verse in the book of James. He's very, very big on widows and orphans. God has a special heart and these obviously were orphaned kids that we adopted. That promise is that if you take care of the orphans, God will make sure it works. That's what I've learned. I wish I could tell you that we've got a whole bunch of widow stories, but I don't at this point.

    John: I appreciate your honesty here.

    Pat: Maybe someday.

    John: Someday. Do you think, Pat, that adoption and foster care, the idea of looking at James 1:27 and putting that verse as a stamp on your family, has that influenced the work community that you have been participating in? Have other people within the sports category approached you or they been influenced by that type of methodology?

    Pat: Well, let me just say this, John, when we adopted these children, as years went on, we certainly were not reluctant to do media events. We did many of them, even though the kids were not all that thrilled about it. Nevertheless, we did a great deal of television and newspaper work. My thought was, let’s get the word out and see if we can inspire some other families to get into this whole adoption world. There are millions of kids that need homes, not all of them are available, but there certainly are a bunch of them. That was really the method behind the madness there. We did everything we could to spread the word and inspire other families. From time to time, we will hear from somebody, either with a letter or in person, who said, "We heard about your story, that was the trigger for knowing we needed to go and adopt." They'll talk about their two adopted kids from somewhere in the world. That always makes me feel good, real good actually.

    John: You've inspired, I'm sure, countless others. You have a new book coming out, called Coach Wooden's Greatest Secret. Why don't you just give us some background information about that. What is it about?

    Pat: Coach Wooden was a real hero of mine, as well as for millions of others. He let me into his life in the last decade of his life. I wanted to write a book called, How to be like Coach Wooden. He gave me his blessing, which I was thrilled about it. We did that book. I interviewed about 800 people who knew him or were in his world. That was all encompassing. Then, three years ago I had an idea, which we ended up doing. It was called, Coach Wooden, The Seven Principles That Shaped His Life and Will Change Yours. That goes back when he was in the eighth grade in a little country school in central Indiana. His father gave him a card with a seven-point creed on it. Coach Wooden lived his life by those seven points. That's the meat of that book. This latest book, called Coach Wooden's Greatest Secret, comes from having dinner with him one night years ago. I said to him, "Coach, is there one secret of success, perhaps, that you feel is preeminent, or really most important?” He thought for a minute, and then, in that understated way, said, "The closest I can come," (he wasn’t one to ram anything down your throat), "The closest I can come to one secret of success, is that it’s about a lot of little things done well." That was his little message over dinner that night at the Valley Inn near his home in Encino, California. As we begin thinking, I began to put together all these thoughts about where little things pay off. Little things done well really does make sense, if you do enough of them over a lifetime, it's going to be a pretty successful life. It's a good little reminder, I think, to people to focus on the little things, to do them well, patiently, and in the proper sequence. You really build a good foundation that way.

    John: What would be one of those little things that you have held close and dear to your heart through all these years?

    Pat: I think it would be the way I write books. I save everything, whether it's a story, a little quote, an antidote, or something I read in a book, I’ll mark it. For 30 years or so I've been doing that, just collecting daily something that might be valuable in a book somewhere along the line. If you were to come into my office and the credenza, you know, with the eight drawers that come out, I would think there're probably at least a million cards, which a woman types for me. She takes my material and types it on a card, which is really the research I do for books.

    John: What do you call that filing system?

    Pat: I call it priceless.

    John: [chuckles] Priceless, I love it.

    Pat: If you had ever told me 30 years ago that this would be the result of that accumulation, with no end in sight, but just day-by-day, little by little, I would have been amazed. I've been writing books for 30 years in my head, and these cards make it a reality. There they all are, by category, just capturing one day at a time--a little every day. I think Coach Wooden really has hit it on the head. Successful people just do what is right in front of them, however small; they just get it done. Then John would talk often about making each day your masterpiece. “Make each day your masterpiece.” I think about that a lot. The importance of taking each day—each simple, little day—and maxing it out. Draining the cup dry today. You can't change yesterday and tomorrow. Absolutely, suck the marrow out of the bones today. We can do that.

    John: Coach, as we're sitting here, you're kind of sitting on the edge of your seat, your kind of moving around, you are a passionate man. As I'm just noticing you, you seem like you are full of a passion towards something. What is the one thing you are most passionate about?

    Pat: I think I'm passionate about a number of things. Obviously, my family is a huge passion. I'm passionate about the Orlando Magic basketball team. I'm passionate, always, about the latest book. I'm passionate about my speaking world, my public speaking world. I'm passionate about Jesus. I'm passionate about my Christian walk. It will always be consistent and leave an impact on people. I'm not passionate about golf. I'm not passionate about fishing. I'm not passionate about stamp collecting, I'm passionate about those, maybe five areas of my life, and I stay pretty close to them.

    John: What has God been teaching you lately?

    Pat: That life isn't always the way we plan it. Two and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, which I'd never heard of. It's cancer of the bone marrow, actually the blood in the bone marrow. That came out of nowhere. Obviously, it rocked my world and the family's world. I've been dealing with that for the last two and a half years. Responding quiet well to the treatments, which have gone well. I feel good, and am able to keep my full schedule. When an illness like that comes into your world, and you begin to think, "Lord, this is me, your buddy down here. You know, I've got a lot more to do for you, what's the deal here with this?" That was the initial reaction. Then, I realized that God was calling me to another ministry here in the closing years of my life, and it's a ministry to the world of cancer, which is such a huge issue in our country. Huge, one out of two men will deal with it in their lifetime, and one out of three women. Suddenly I'm in a fundraising position. I'm a hospital board member... I'm into things, who would have thought? At least once a day there's a phone call or an email about somebody who's struggling with some form of cancer and needs to talk. Needs a word of encouragement, just to hear that there's hope. I've been called into that world. I never saw that one coming.

    John: Coach, how can we be in prayer for you?

    Pat: Obviously, I covet prayers for my health. For a complete healing. People have prayed so consistently for me. I couldn't begin to thank them all. I'm so grateful. An old ball player, my good friend Bob Boone, who I've know for many, many years, called several months after all this happened and just said, "How are you doing, how are you doing?" I told him, "I'm really responding well; the doctors are pleased. I'm on the road to healing." And Boone, he said to me, "Boy," he said, "This prayer stuff works, doesn't it." That was pretty direct, wasn't it? I appreciate prayers for my health. I also really hope that this next book will impact people. We have so much to learn from the life of John Wooden, who lived till he was 99. He would have been 103 in June. He got close to 100. He was far beyond just a great coach, too, he was the greatest coach of all time. There’s so much wisdom there. So hopefully we're able to capture that in these books that I've done on him. This next one, Coach Wooden's Greatest Secret, is one I’m especially eager to see do well. We also covet prayers for our family, with that many children, 19, and now the grand children, which are coming pretty consistently. We've got 12 grandchildren and two more on the way in July, twin boys. There are a lot of moving parts in the Williams family these days.

    John: I love it.

    Pat: I appreciate that very much John.

    John: Great talking to you.

  • God's Got You


    "No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you." Joshua 1:5 (NLT)

    Two-year-old Luke stood at the edge of the pool. Yellow floaties hugged his arms. A swim diaper padded his bathing suit. Sweet little goggles made him look like a frog.

    I stood waist deep in water, my arms open wide. "Come on, buddy. You can do this."

    He edged closer and peered in, then backed away. After several steps back and forth, Luke finally sat on the edge and dipped his toes in the water. I slipped next to him, scooped him up and held him close.

    Into the water we went. "I got you, buddy. I got you," I whispered.

    He could have fought me, but he trusted instead. Over the next two hours, Luke gained courage to go farther and farther. Any time he felt frightened, he whispered under his breath, "I got you, buddy. I got you." It was his assurance that no matter how scary it felt, he was not alone.

    Sometimes knowing we aren't alone gives us the courage to press on. It's what Joshua needed when he was thrust overnight into leadership after the death of Moses. Up until that time, Joshua had served as assistant. But in his new role, Joshua led the nation of Israel, conquering the land God had promised and leading three separate conquests.

    While the Bible doesn't detail all of Joshua's emotions during this time, we read of numerous instances where God encouraged Joshua to be "strong and courageous." God must have known Joshua needed some reassurance.

    Perhaps Joshua had doubts. Perhaps his confidence waned. Maybe he even asked questions like, God, are You sure? Shouldn't You choose someone more qualified?

    God didn't dismiss Joshua's fears or shame him for having them. Instead He spoke clearly to Joshua, saying, "... I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you" (Joshua 1:5b).

    I got you, buddy. I got you.

    History shows that Joshua took steps of faith and served as a powerful, humble leader, trusting God through war, human frailty and victory.

    Maybe God has been asking you to take a leap into deeper faith, or to serve beyond what you think you are capable. He's asked you to lead. To love like Jesus.

    Perhaps you've come close, but backed away. Maybe you even dipped your toes in, reasoning that was enough.

    Questions linger. What does God see in me that I might not see yet? What if I fail? What if it's too hard or no one is on board with me? What if I don't recognize God's help and miss my opportunity?

    God is aware of your fears. And He whispers the same encouragement to you that He spoke to Joshua. He's got you.

    Not too long ago, I stood in the pool again. Luke wore his floaties. He had on his swim diaper. His cute goggles made him look like a little frog. I held open my arms, and my little guy jumped with glee into my arms.

    And this time, I didn't have to say it, because he knew it. It was ingrained on his heart.

    I got you, buddy. I got you.

    Dear Jesus, I've stood right on the edge, waiting for You to choose someone else, or naming all the reasons I'm not equipped. Today I hear Your voice and I take that step, for You are with me. In Jesus' Name, amen.

    Related Resources:

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

    Reflect and Respond: Most large dreams or jobs are comprised of many smaller tasks. What is one small step you can take, beginning today?

    Why are you afraid to try? Ask the Lord to release you from that fear and to trust Him.

    Power Verses: Joshua 1:9, "This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Revived By God


    Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. Psalm 80:18-19

    A spiritual life can go unconscious for lack of belief in God, prayer to God or worship of God. Like a lifeless body on an emergency room gurney  a sudden shock of the heart is needed to revive the temporarily deceased. A revival is necessary where spiritual life once thrived, but is now  nonexistent or only emits a faint pulse. The Lord loves His children too much to leave them in a disconnected spiritual state. His breath fills a follower's lungs of faith with fresh air.

    Is your Christian life on auto pilot? Do you need a jolt from Jesus to bring your faith alive? One evidence of a revived spiritual life is the desire to turn toward the Lord and to turn away from sin. The compass of your soul is focused true north in Christ. Any deviation in direction is brought back into alignment around Almighty God’s agenda for your life. The tug of well meaning people on your time is kept in check, so you have plenty of margin to praise Jesus.

    For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15

    A humble and contrite heart unleashes the life of Christ in a spiritual life. So, we lowly approach holy God, who is high and lifted up and who longs to lift us up with our prayers of repentance and rejoicing. Our Heavenly Father is drawn to our desperate need for Him. He reaches out with both hands, lays them on our head and renews our mind with His truth. We call on His name, because He is worthy of our worship and because we need His face to shine on our face in faith.

    Your faith as a child was a good spiritual starting point, but it is only an appetizer to the feast of faith you have in Jesus Christ. Perhaps your appetite for God is starved and needs an intravenous line of love from the Lord Almighty to restore your spiritual life. His life gives you life. Therefore, engage the Holy Spirit with a humble spirit, and He will revive your spirit. Come before Christ with a contrite heart and He will restore the joy of your salvation. God revives!

    Then that person can pray to God and find favor with him, they will see God’s face and shout for joy; he will restore them to full well-being. Job 33:26

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, revive my spirit to follow Your Spirit, give me spiritual life through Your life.

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 30:3; Psalm 51:10-12, 85:6; Hosea 6:2; Acts 3:21; 1 Peter 5:10

    Post/Tweet today: Is your appetite for God starved? An intravenous line of His love will revive your spiritual life. #revivedbyGod

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

  • I Don't Want to Pick Up Any More Socks


    "She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27 (ESV)

    As a teen I loved hanging out at Miss Pat's house. Hands down, she made the best homemade noodles in the Midwest. Often you could find the creamy-white strips of flour, milk and eggs drying on her kitchen counter, waiting to be tossed in a simmering pot of chicken soup. Or you might find a fresh fruit pie cooling near an open window, making her family eager for suppertime.

    Miss Pat took all aspects of her home life seriously. Her house wasn't perfect. Still, she kept it cute and clean and made it a haven for her own family and others.

    With as much energy as Miss Pat devoted to homemaking, you might think that was all she did. But it wasn't. She was also active outside her home, including volunteering at her kids' school, teaching a weekly women's Bible study and serving as a youth group leader. Her love for Jesus was evident as she introduced numerous teens and women to Christ, including me.

    However, she reserved her greatest energy and most creative ideas for her first line of ministry—her own family and home. Miss Pat modeled how to influence others for Christ not only with the words we speak, but also the heart with which we run our home.

    Sitting around her kitchen table, I learned Miss Pat's secret for getting things done. She had a method for doing laundry ... a routine for her cleaning ... a game plan for getting groceries ... and a cheerful attitude while doing it all. In fact, now that I'm older, I think she modeled the Proverbs 31 woman very well.

    Proverbs 31:27 tells us about an unnamed wife and mother (often referred to as the Proverbs 31 woman) who worked like this. "She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness."

    Now that I have my own home and family, I'm inspired by these women. Especially during those times I find it easier to be idle rather than tackle work around the home. The snapshots of organized spaces and fabulous foods on my computer screen tempt me to spend hours peering at them rather than doing them.

    When running my home seems overwhelming, I remember Miss Pat and the Proverbs 31 woman. Instead of hoping the house cleans itself or a hot meal materializes out of the computer, I'm learning to make a plan and get to work. It's helpful to keep the mindset that it's a ministry to care for my home and family.

    This perspective helps me pick up my son's socks and make dinner without frustration. It gives me strength when I've already put in a full day's work. While I am doing these things for my family, I'm also doing them for God.

    There's no doubt that making our house a home, and all that involves, can be tiring. We need to balance true rest with work, while being on guard against laziness and resentful attitudes. Important questions to ask ourselves are: Am I laboring with a glad heart or do I grumble about the tasks at hand? Do I view keeping a home as a duty or drudgery, or do I find it a privilege and pleasure? Am I in need of rest, or am I putting off what has to be done because I just don't feel like doing it?

    Being an intentional homemaker is a tough yet rewarding job. We get to serve important people—our very own families.

    And the Boss? He's the best. What an honor it is to work for Him.

    Dear Lord, teach me to look well to the ways of my household and not be idle, knowing it is actually You I am serving. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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

    Reflect and Respond: What areas of work around the home are you hesitant to tackle?

    How might knowing you are working for the Lord encourage you to work with more diligence?

    Power Verses: Colossians 3:23-24, "Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ." (HCSB)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • Activity without Reality


    For I can testify about them that are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.  (Romans 10:2)

    Activity without reality leads to futility. This is a frustrating and demoralizing place to live. Finances can be like this, as you can sincerely spend yourself into false affluence. Reality is you have to pay for the assets that have been obtained by debt. Credit may cause you to check out of reality, but its consequences will roar back in real bills. Reality is you cannot continue spending more than you make. The only way for the math to work: income must exceed expenses. Debt may suspend reality for a time but will eventually come crashing down from the overwhelming weight of credit’s pressure. Finances are a reality check, for they are an indicator of God’s will. God speaks through money, or the lack thereof. Do not be afraid to wait and save before you spend. For example, take a low cost vacation you can afford instead of an extravagant one you can’t.

    Furthermore, be careful not to allow busyness to distract you from reality. Make sure you are engaged in the right activity, and are not just busy for busyness’s sake. Verify information before you take a person or circumstance at face value. Before you hire someone, call his or her references. Sincere commitment without collaborative understanding leads to dysfunction and anemic outcomes. This could not be truer than with religion. A religious zeal without engagement in reality becomes extreme, even fanatical. So go with God’s definition of reality, as He defines reality in His Word and validates it with His will. The most effective way to remain in touch with reality is to stay connected with Christ. Alignment with the Almighty assures reality. He is a reality check, along with wise counselors. This is why a humble and teachable spirit is a prerequisite to understanding reality. Do not allow your experience, success, and intelligence to blind you from reality. Ask questions and really listen for a reality check of where you are and where you need to go. People vote with their time and money, so don’t blame them if they are not responding, but ask them why. Most importantly, make sure your church activity is grounded in the reality of a relationship with God. Religious activity does not equal relationship. Spirituality without faith in Christ skirts the real need for repentance and redemption. Sincere spirituality based on wrong assumptions will get you into trouble. No amount of good deeds can substitute your need of a Savior. Confessing your sin and receiving Christ into your life is, in reality, the way to begin a relationship with Him. Relationship with God, by faith in Christ, is foundational to understanding the world’s realities. His perspective positions you to engage in reality with an eternal mindset. Prayer is your guide to what’s real; so go to God often for His reality check. Let Him define for you your need for change and maturity. Ask Him to use the realities of your situation to make you more like Jesus. Instead of denying or rejecting reality, embrace it. Reality is God’s reason for dependence on Him and others. Accept by faith the Lord’s reality check and rely on His grace. Activity grounded in reality is rewarding, so thank Him for keeping you in a place of blessing.

    Jesus stated this reality: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

    Post/Tweet: Debt may suspend reality for a time, but it will eventually come crashing down from the weight of credit’s pressure. #reality

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

  • Good Listener


    “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’” (Matthew 17:5).

    What does it mean to listen well? Think of those you admire as good listeners. What are some of the traits they exhibit which mark them as excellent listeners? Perhaps it is their engaging eye contact, their warm conversation, or an empathetic ear. You feel understood and valued. Good listeners affirm what you say by repeating what you say with an illustration or an example from their life. They listen to learn, affirm, and instruct.

    Those who learn good listening skills develop robust relationships. They embrace an “others first” way of thinking that places their own need to be heard down the priority list. Like a rare and exotic flower, they open themselves up in a beautiful way that invites you to smell the brilliant colors of their character. Indeed, good listeners are magnetic in the way they attract the good and the bad into their sphere of influence. If you are a good listener, be wise by investing in those who really want to change and follow after the Lord.

    “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance” (Proverbs 1:5).

    You can be assured that the Lord listens to you and the desires of your heart. He is not preoccupied with problems or people;  you have His full attention. He is always available to hear your cry for wisdom, healing, and direction. The Almighty’s attention is focused on His children who come to Him by faith. His listening ear is near and dear.

    “But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer” (Psalm 66:19).

    Furthermore, make it a daily habit to listen well to your heavenly Father’s heart. He sent His Son Jesus to teach us the truth about life and death, heaven and hell. We listen to the Lord Jesus because He was God speaking in the flesh. Why was the Almighty so pleased with His Son that He admonished us to listen to Him? Jesus modeled listening to His heavenly Father, so God gave Him the words to speak on His behalf. The Lord is pleased with good listeners. He gives discernment and insight into His solutions to human needs.

    So listen well by first listening well to the Lord. He will instruct and teach you in the way you should go. Once you have heard from Him, humbly listen to others, discern their needs, then connect them to Christ and His ways. Indeed, good listeners lead others to love God and listen to His heart. Listen well, and watch God work!

    “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8).

    Prayer: How can I be a good listener for Christ’s sake? What is God telling me to do today?

    Related Readings: Job 15:8; Proverbs 4:10; Proverbs 19:20; Ecclesiastes 7:5; James 1:19

    Post/Tweet: Good listeners lead others to love God and listen to His heart. #goodlistener

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

  • Healthy Nourishment


    At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. Daniel 1:15-16

    There is a stewardship of feeding a healthy body which God desires for His children. The Creator of the body has defined dietary guidelines that prove themselves beneficial to physical wellness. Who would know better what to put into the mouth and ingest into the stomach than the One who made us?  The original designer of an all natural diet is the One who commands fruits, nuts and vegetables to grow. A return to natural food is a return to the way the Lord expects us steward this body he has given us.

    For many of us in our youth we had the physical capacity to eat more variety and quantity of food, however, as we grow older and gain wisdom (and weight!) we can make more educated decisions about our food choices. Safe to say, whatever stage of life we find ourselves we are smart to be very selective in what and how much food we eat. Normally if we plan a menu in advance and dine at home, we have more control over our consumption of calories and nutrition.

    Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. 1 Corinthians 6:19

    Yes, partake in your Maker’s diet and He will make you healthier than if you follow a haphazard approach to healthy eating. For example, focus on small portions of lean protein such as beef, chicken or fish accompanied by a fresh salad, vegetables and fruit. Moreover, God may call you to be a vegetarian for a season to slow down your intake of meat. Temperance tames your appetite. But be cautious as food obsessions make the menu an idol. So, start by simply consuming small amounts of fresh food. When you manage well the Holy Spirit’s temple (your body), you manage to feel better.

    Lastly, limit the intake of beverages other than water. Any excessive drinking of soda, alcohol, coffee, tea or juice will add too many calories eventually contributing to obesity and disease. Liquid calories and nutritional values should be monitored with equal resolve as solid. In addition, keep an eye on your intake of sugar and sodium, as they are two unhealthy culprits from dining out at restaurants. Most of all, see yourself as a wise physical manager of your Creator’s body. Check out God’s specific guidelines in Leviticus 11:1-47 and in Acts 10:9-16. Be like Daniel, keep your appetites under the Spirit’s control so the world desires to ask you why.

    Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. Exodus 23:25

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am grateful to You for creating my body, I want to follow Your guidelines for healthy eating.

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Leviticus 11:1-47; Malachi 2:15; Acts 10:9-16; 1 Corinthians 6:13

    Post/Tweet today: When we manage well the Holy Spirit’s temple (our body), we manage to feel better. #healthynourishment

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

  • Where Your Tears Go


    "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

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