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  • Unwrapping His Christmas Presence

    Renee

    "The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us')." Isaiah 7:14b (NLT)

    Plans for the perfect Christmas danced in my head. Almost everyone from my side of the family and JJ's side would be coming to our house at some point between Christmas and New Years. We'd never hosted Christmas dinner, and I was looking forward it.

    But, somewhere in the midst of all the preparations, I got tangled up in Christmas lights and unrealistic expectations. By the time everyone got here I couldn't wait for them to leave.

    It all started when my husband and sons petitioned for blinking colored lights on the tree. We don't do colored lights on the tree. I am a "white lights" kind of girl, I insisted.

    But JJ decided our decorating decisions should be a "family activity" that year. Who was this man and why had he not brought this up in pre-marital counseling? I wondered.

    The control freak in me started to freak out. Don't get in the way of my perfect Christmas with white lights that make me and my home feel peaceful.

    I'd dreamed of this day for years and wanted to have the perfect house, perfect menu, and perfect table settings. But hope was dashed the night before guests arrived when I couldn't find festive cloth napkins and it dawned on me that I didn't have a big enough pan to cook a turkey in.

    When Christmas came, I had a house full of people but an oh-so-empty heart.

    As I walked through my living room picking up wrapping paper, I wondered why my dreams of the "perfect Christmas" hadn't come true. Many of the elements seemed to be in place: kids playing together, grandparents on the couch snoring to Christmas tunes, and grown men playing sidewalk hockey in the driveway. We'd lit Advent candles and set out the nativities. Still, something was missing.

    Trying to escape the holiday noise, I went upstairs to my bedroom. Taking a deep breath, I opened my Bible to read the Christmas story in Luke chapter 2. Slowly, I let each word remind me of that first Christmas night and God's promise that came true in Bethlehem. " ... And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger ..." (Luke 2:7 NIV).

    A cross-reference led me to Isaiah 7:14b: "The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us')." (NLT)

    Closing my eyes, I pictured Mary wrapping baby Jesus up. Her hands carefully folding each corner of cloth, like a precious gift. That's when I realized what had been missing. In the hustle and bustle of creating the perfect Christmas, I'd neglected to unwrap the most important gift of all, the gift of Immanuel, God with us.

    Bowing my head, I opened my hands and my heart to God's presence. I invited Jesus to bring calm to my anxious heart. To bring His perspective to my expectations and to help me enjoy the gifts of my family waiting downstairs. Simply pausing to acknowledge and thank Jesus for being with me brought peace to my heart unlike anything white lights and perfectly cooked turkey could ever bestow.

    It ended up being the perfect Christmas after all.

    Dear Lord, no matter how busy life gets or how lonely I feel this Christmas, I want to unwrap the gift of Your presence. Help me see You, hear Your voice speak to my heart, and pay attention when You lead me with Your peace and perspective. I seek Your purpose in all of my plans. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: What days might be most challenging this month?

    How can you plan time on those days to soak in Jesus' perspective and peace?

    Power Verses: Isaiah 26:12, "Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us." (NIV)

    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 Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Earnest Simplicity

    Boyd

    Freely you have received; freely give. Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Matthew 10:8-10

    Jesus gives His disciples simple instructions with a simple strategy to simply share the gospel, heal the sick and cast out demons. He commissioned them to focus first on their own nation. The Lord encouraged an unencumbered life so His followers where free to focus on eternal life. Christ keeps it simple because He knows we are easily distracted and can drift into complex schemes that suck the life out of opportunities to give life. The gospel only needs clarity in communication, as the Spirit’s power uses this earnest simplicity to unleash heaven’s influence.

    Status, stuff, society, sin and self all move toward making matters more complex than is necessary in the Kingdom of God. Like an intricate spider web, the complexity of life can trap us in an inertia unable to respond in spontaneous service. By the time we are free to return a call or clear our calendar, the hurting person has moved on to someone who has time. The motto of earnest simplicity is ‘less is more.’ Because God has freely given to us, we are free to freely give to others. Avoid sin’s complexity so you are available to bless others with pure joy.

    Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but the righteous shout for joy and are glad. Proverbs 29:6

    Earnest simplicity does not mean we are all called to live a monastic life, but it does mean we are free from the seduction of stuff. An unencumbered life is not isolated from society, but it is free from culture’s control. A life with margin does not seek status, but it does use success as a platform to care for the unfortunate in Jesus' name. Enjoy your season of simplicity as a window for the sunbeams of the Son’s love to shine through your soul. Simplicity points to your Savior!

    Perhaps it's time to resign a role or responsibility that no longer requires your attention so you are available for impromptu interactions with hurting hearts. Sometimes it is the spur-of-the-moment ministry opportunities at your church that mean the most. Be on call for Christ and He will open doors for you to simply share the gospel with lost souls. Moreover, create margin with money, so in the moment you can freely give to those hungry for help. A little bit of immediate encouragement is the fruit of earnest simplicity. Keep it simple, so the Spirit can work in you!

    Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God. Hebrews 12:2-3, The Message

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, may I speak the simple gospel and simply live by faith in Your provision.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 15:16-19; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Hebrews 11:13-16; 1 Peter 1:17

    Post/Tweet this today: The Spirit’s power uses the clearly communicated gospel to unleash heaven’s influence. #earnestsimplicity

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

  • Bringing Hope

    Nicki

    "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!" Isaiah 52:7 (NLT)

    I stood in a field with two Kenyan pastors, resting after we'd traveled long distances.

    For five days we'd gone from hut to hut sharing the life-changing truth of Jesus. We prayed, listened to others, and I cried tears of disbelief over the devastating poverty.

    In our short time together these pastors taught me new definitions of boldness, courage, and passion for others to know the Lord. They would often walk 30 miles just to have the opportunity to share about Jesus with one family. Sometimes I barely even want to say hello to my 30-feet-away-neighbor who desperately needs God.

    Yes, these men were living examples of Isaiah 52:7, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!" (NLT)

    Biblical commentaries tell us the messenger in this passage was bringing good news to the Jews who had been enslaved for a long time. The messenger could be seen as he ran on the distant hills toward the people who'd been in captivity. He came with a message of great hope and joy to tell them they were free! Free from bondage, free from despair.

    There is another message this herald was bringing to all people, including you, me, my friends in Africa, and the whole world: the good news of the coming Messiah, Jesus. That good news is about His birth and His death and resurrection. It gives us the hope that came to earth as a baby, died as a man, and rose as our Savior to offer us eternal life. It's the same news the two men trekked all around the dusty Kenyan land to share.

    For days after I returned home the passion of these pastors consumed my thoughts. And brought to life the call I have to share the Word of God—not just with people in other countries—but with those around me.

    I learned so much from my Kenyan friends. I may not walk hundreds of miles to take the good news to others, but I can drive across town to minister joy to the homeless. I can cross the street to speak with my neighbor about how Jesus can set us free from the captivity of anxiety. And I can share the peace people are looking for.

    As weeks, months, and now even years have passed since my trip to Kenya, the memory of the pastors walking mile after mile to share about the Lord stays with me. And it continues to spur me on to be intentional to go out of my way to herald the good news talked about in Isaiah 52:7.

    To whom can you bring this good news?

    Dear Lord, life is hard, but You are good. Please ignite within me a passion to share the good news of Your peace and salvation with those around me. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: Christmas is a great time to reach out to those around you. Make a list of people in your neighborhood and/or community that you will talk to about Jesus this week.

    What are some ways you can share the good news? Here are some ideas: Conversation over coffee or at a Christmas party, handwritten notes in a card, Bible verses on Facebook or Twitter.

    Power Verses: Luke 2:10-11, "But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'” (NIV)

    © 2013 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

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

  • Fan or Follower

    Boyd

    Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. John 12:26

    Fans of Jesus stay a safe distance away as observers. Followers of Jesus engage up close as servants. Fans have fun at a Christian concert, but go on living for this life. Followers have fun at a Christian concert, but go on living for the life to come. Fans obsess over anxious thoughts. What if I lose my job? What if I lose my health? What if I lose my house? Followers rest in being with Jesus. They remain faithful where the Lord calls them to serve. They follow by faith.

    A fan of Jesus is emotionally whiplashed by life’s ups and downs. Their joy and peace rises and falls like the peaks and valleys of a stock market pricing chart. Similar to the double minded they are unstable in their faith commitment. If things go well, they are well. If things go bad, they are bad. Their spiritual voice grows hoarse cheering on other Christ followers who sacrifice all, but they don’t plan to give up very much for God. Fans are comfortable as spectators not servants.

    If you care for your orchard, you’ll enjoy its fruit; if you honor your boss, you’ll be honored. Proverbs 27:18, The Message

    As a follower of Jesus you see Him as your Savior and Master. You don’t passively watch Him work like you would an entertaining show, rather you actively roll up your sleeves and serve with Him as the Spirit leads. Beautifully and generously, the Lord invites you to enjoy the fruit of your labor. Years of sowing Biblical teaching into the heart of your child will grow a harvest of humility, love and laughter. What you give up for God, you get back bountifully from God.

    Furthermore, your Heavenly Father honors you when you follow and serve Him. Your fidelity of faith in Jesus is not mist on a mirror that quickly melts away. Instead, it is the continual flow of living water from your heart that bubbles out of your love relationship with the Lord. Your Heavenly Father honors those who honor Him with His abundant grace. He owns you, because He bought you with the blood of His son Jesus. The One who gave His all deserves your all!

    They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. Revelation 17:14

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, my heart’s desire is to be an engaged follower of Yours who serves where You want me to serve.

    Related Readings: Matthew 10:39; Mark 8:35; Luke 19:12-27; John 17:24; Colossians 3:1-2

    Post/Tweet this today: What you give up for God you get back bountifully from God. #fanorfollower

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

  • I Don't Want to Miss This Moment

    Glynnis

    "Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness." Proverbs 14:22 (NIV)

    Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about the wonderful ways you'll celebrate the next special day on the calendar?

    That usually happens for me when I go on Pinterest and see beautiful photos of food, crafts, decorations, and gifts. I imagine myself taking time to create the little extra touches that turn ordinary days into memorable ones. But then I look around me and the reality of an over-crowded life squashes my dreams.

    There have been too many special days that whooshed by me, leaving me with regret and wishing I'd stopped and enjoyed more moments. Too many times I should have paused to do good for someone.

    Increasingly I sense God asking me to be more intentional with my days. Maybe it's because of many years that are a blur now. As I look into the faces of children growing up too quickly, of parents aging, of friends packing to move, I often want time to stop so I can breathe in the holiness of the days God has given.

    Remember this moment, my heart whispers. Remember what this feels like.

    It's too common for me to look back and wish the simple moments had been celebrated more. That there'd been a few more pauses. More times when I'd said "you matter" with my actions.

    Not the big flashy moments. Not the expensive trips. But the humble quiet times that declare what we treasure. Our values. What makes us us. The everyday moments are the ones treasured in the hearts of those we love.

    Some women excel at these special moments. They turn from their computers and whip up an experience that leaves everyone feeling loved. Not me. Although I love special times, I'm not spontaneous.

    How do these moments happen for me? I have to plan for them. Not the moments themselves, but the opportunity for them to happen.

    Proverbs 14:22 shows us the importance of planning: "But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness." This verse inspires me to plan good things for those dear to me. And in doing so, we will experience God's love and faithfulness in greater measure. What a great promise from God's Word.

    Christmas is an ideal time for me to put this into practice. If I'm not careful, December can pass me by without any special notice. I might get something done, but it will be obligatory rather than a celebration of Christ's birth and a time to show His love.

    So this month I'm working on a plan. It's not set in stone, but it is a list of things that are important to my family and me.

    For example, my husband wants to cook a special breakfast treat called scrapple, a Pennsylvania Dutch sausage his father made. I'd like to read Advent devotions as a family to ponder the meaning of Christmas. My plan also includes opportunities to spend time as a family and reach out to others.

    So I'll pencil ideas in my spiral notebook, write out shopping lists, and research dates and times to add events and phone calls with friends. Planning to do good takes time, but I've learned when I plan my priorities, they get done.

    This month I'm taking some time to schedule what matters most ‐ time honoring God and remembering His gift, time with those I love, and time sharing God's blessings with others. And in January, I'll start planning again.

    Heavenly Father, You model intentional love. You planned to send Jesus to earth and You planned a way for me to live with You forever. Help me to plan the same intentional love to those I care about. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: What's one thing you want to do this month? Write it on your calendar and to-do list.

    Do you resist planning? Why do you think that is?

    Power Verse: Psalm 90:12, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Out Serve

    Boyd

    “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you…” John 13:14-15

    Out-serve your spouse. This is not natural to our selfish self, but out-serve your spouse, and you will start to see positive differences in both of you. Service makes them feel cared for and makes you feel fulfilled; service makes them feel loved and makes you feel rewarded; service makes them feel respected and makes you feel significant. Of course, unappreciated service can wear you down over time, but trust God. Allow Him to supply the strength for your service. If the Lord is not empowering your service, you will eventually burn out and possibly become resentful. Bitter service does not last, but joyful service does. Serve your spouse out of gratitude to God for giving them to you. Serve them in the routines of life and when they least expect it. Serve them where they want to be served, not just where you want to serve them. It may be unloading the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn, maintaining the house, or taking care of the cars. Their service may include an organized family, dinner at home, being on time, keeping a calendar, or planning a trip. If you are unsure, ask them how they like to be served. Furthermore, carry this attitude of out-serving into your occupation. Be one who serves in the work place, especially if you are a leader or manager. Quietly and clandestinely clean up the break room, even wipe out the gooey microwave with its burst of flavors matted to the inside. Service from a sincere heart values and respects others. Our Savior modeled service. He did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His very own life as the ultimate act of service. When we enlist in the service of God’s Kingdom, we become His full-time servants. Service for our Savior is a thread that runs through the life of everyone who is led by the Lord. If Jesus is your model for leadership and living life, you serve. He served the least and the greatest; He served the sinners and the saints; He served the rich and the poor; He served singles and He served families; He served mad and He served glad; He served when He was tired and He served when He was rested. You could not out-serve Jesus because His service was motivated and fueled by His heavenly Father. Intimacy with the Almighty compels you to serve. Ironically, Jesus served others even at the point of His greatest need. When engulfed in His own personal crisis, He chose to serve others instead of being served. The night before facing imminent death, He served by washing feet. Use this same selfless strategy of service, and watch the world run to Jesus. In the middle of your own Last Supper experience, serve. When you are rejected, serve instead of retaliating. When you are forgotten, serve instead of feeling sorry for yourself. When you are hurt, serve instead of allowing your heart to harden. Furthermore, serve for Jesus’ sake and not your own. Make it a lifetime goal to out-serve all you come in contact with, especially those closest to you. To out-serve yields an outstanding outcome. An out-serve attitude is other-centered and Christ-focused. You can’t out-serve Christ, but you can be a conduit of service on His behalf. Seek to out-serve others for your Savior.

    Post/Tweet today: When rejected, serve instead of retaliating. When hurt, serve instead of sulking. #outserve

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

  • God Speak

    Boyd

    “They say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says’—when the Lord has not spoken” (Ezekiel 22:28).

    Be careful what you attribute to the Lord; make sure He is speaking and not ego, greed, or pride. Watch out for spiritual sounding souls, as they can be the culprits of Christless advice. They may talk about God and even invoke His will into discussions. Be wary of someone who assigns God’s will arbitrarily on a prayerless whim.

    Make sure what others are suggesting, even commanding, is not self-serving for them. God speaks through generous givers, not tawdry takers. God normally communicates through humility, faith, and accountability. If others have it all figured out for you, this is a flag. They may have a wonderful plan for your life and have missed God’s plan entirely. Avoid people who throw God’s endorsement around aimlessly.

    Pseudospirituality is nauseating to our Lord. How can He speak clearly, consistently, and with creditability through someone infiltrated with compromised character? This type of “God speak” creates a dysfunctional faith. It is faith built on man’s persuasion and persistence rather than God’s will. What starts out as a pure word from the Lord can evolve into a perverted word from man. Listen first to God; then validate it with man.

    God does speak through His Word. Holy Scripture does not need any help as it stands on its own, tall and glistening in the glory of God. While you read and digest His Word, by faith you know He has spoken. He speaks loudly, precisely, and clearly from Scripture. “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”’” (Matthew 4:4).

    Use the New Testament as a filter for the Old Testament. This is the Jesus method of Bible interpretation. Seminary can be a good form of learning, but sitting at the feet of Jesus is better! As He speaks to you through His Word, validate it through wise counsel.

    God speaks loudly and precisely every day. He speaks through authorities, He speaks through our spouse, He speaks through our health, He speaks through our calendar, He speaks through friends, He speaks through strangers, and He speaks through circumstances, but most of all He speaks through His Word.

    Obey what you know, and over time what you are unsure of will become clear. Listen intently to the Lord and submit. Do not use or abuse this Christian privilege of hearing, knowing, and understanding God’s voice. He speaks; so humbly listen and obey.

    “The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’” (1 Samuel 3:10).

    Prayer: Is the Bible my primary resource for discerning God’s will?

    Related Readings: Exodus 20:1; Psalm 62:11; Acts 11:9; Hebrews 1:1–3

    Post/Tweet today: Holy Scripture does not need any help as it stands on its own, tall and glistening in the glory of God. #Godspeak

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

  • New Normal

    Boyd

    Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

    New normals are a test of our trust in the Lord. They call us to get on our knees in prayer and cry out to our Heavenly Father. They are transitions we go through in life when we move into new seasons: health challenges, a job transfer, a new church or an empty nest. New normals are more difficult because it is the first time we have experienced these realities. Patience, flexibility and trust facilitate adjustment to a new situation. Adapting to change and focus on God is necessary.

    For example, a close friend may move overseas or to another part of the country. Since you are geographically divided, you now keep up by email, calls and visits. Or, if you’ve lived as a single adult for years, but are now married, you focus on the person of your dreams. Hence, friends from your past life don’t receive the same attention as your best friend, your spouse. A new normal in relationships is hard. If you try to be everyone’s friend, you risk becoming no one’s real friend.

    Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets. Luke 6:26

    Make the best of your new normal by seeing God in the middle of your circumstances. Whether adversity or euphoria, either is an opportunity to draw closer to Christ. Accept new normals as your friend not your enemy.  It is a nudge toward the Lord, not a wedge between you and the Lord. Our Savior Jesus Christ specializes in doing new things. He makes a way of hope in our wilderness of worry and streams of faith in our wasteland of fear. See your new normal as God’s new thing.

    What is your new normal? A boss who is more demanding? A child who is pushing the boundaries of their freedom? Life after divorce? Life after a loved one’s death? Financial limitations? Relational stress? Abundant resources? More opportunities than you ever imagined? Steward well what you have, so the Lord can trust you with more of His blessings. Accept your new normal as an opportunity to adopt new ways to know God. Learn how to lean into the Lord. Your new normal is the next step in following Jesus. Perceive it, believe it, receive it, embrace it.

    He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true. Revelation 21:5

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, by grace and through faith, I accept my new normal as Your normal.

    Related Readings: Isaiah 48:6, 65:17; Jeremiah 31:22; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 21:4

    Post/Tweet this today: New normals are meant to be a nudge toward the Lord not a wedge between you and the Lord. #newnormals

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

  • The Power of Assumptions

    Wendy

    "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

    The assumption battle is one I have fought most of my life. I've questioned friends' motives, assuming they were against me. To avoid being hurt, I've detached from relationships with no valid reasons.

    Perhaps you've fought the same battle?

    Your friend didn't sit with you in Bible study like she usually does; she must be upset with you, so you avoid her at your weekly meetings. Another friend is invited to several parties you aren't; obviously the two of you are drifting apart, so you don't reach out any more. Your sister hasn't responded to your text and phone messages; she must have found another friend in whom to confide, so you stop calling her.

    It's easy to assume others are upset, have "more important" friends, or are too busy for us when their behavior changes. Anger and hurt can well up in our hearts and we may pull away from friendships in order to protect ourselves. There is a danger in assumptions: they can destroy relationships.

    Before we know it, even without proof, what we assume becomes our truth. Our misguided feelings lead to misguided thoughts, which cause misguided responses. The result: ruined relationships.

    Living under the havoc of assumptions isn't the way God intended it though. Second Timothy 1:7 tells us, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (NKJV). Looking at the last part of this verse, we see God gives us the ability to think, reason, and understand.

    Through Christ, we have a mind that is well balanced and considers things in context. Our sound mind is stronger than our feelings, but we have to give our thoughts time to catch up with our emotions. A good way to do this is to pause and think clearly about the conclusions we've made.

    When an assumption rears its ugly head, simply take a moment to ask if this assumption is consistent with your friend's normal behavior. If it isn't, this would be a good time to ask a few more questions: Is my friend okay? Have I done anything to hurt her? How can I pray for her? Do I believe the best before assuming the worst?

    Repeat the pause until the assumption passes. The result: positive relationships.

    Ruined relationships can be prevented and assumptions can be put to rest when we stop and focus on our thoughts. God has blessed us with a sound mind to surrender to the truth and not allow our imaginations to run wild.

    Before the power of assumptions ruins a relationship in your life, pause. Settle your emotions and consider what you know to be true about your friend. Take a moment to pray for her and plan how to reach out to her. She might just be struggling with her own assumptions that you could help her clear up!

    Dear Lord, thank You for empowering me to overpower assumptions. I commit to believe the best before assuming the worst, and to not allow my emotions to jump to conclusions. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: What power have assumptions had on your life?

    Reach out and make an attempt to reconcile with someone with whom you made an assumption.

    Power Verses: 2 Corinthians 10:5, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (NIV)

    Philippians 2:4, "Don't be concerned only about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others." (GW)

    © 2013 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Strength in the Lord

    Boyd

    “I will strengthen them in the Lord and in his name they will walk,’ declares the Lord.” Zechariah 10:12

    The Lord is strength for the journey of life. Fatigue and discouragement can assault us like a bandit on a deserted dirt road. Life is constantly swinging its bruising punches. Before long we can become beat down with no energy to continue. We know in our heads we are a child of the King, but our hearts feel no royal resilience. Fatigue requires faith.

    Weariness is an opportunity for the Lord to strengthen you. He uses His people to energize and encourage one another. We are all needy and it is just a matter of time before we all have to learn how to receive. The Lord wraps His strength around the gift of a prayer warrior—someone who storms heaven on your behalf is a strength giver.

    Do not let divorce, death or disappointment exclude you from the Lord’s strength. Work will get you down. People will let you down. Failure will knock you down. Your greatest fears may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. Fight fear with fear. Let the fear of God strengthen you, as it fortifies your faith in Him.

    “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11).

    The greatest energy drainer may be serving God in our own strength. This is one of Satan’s most effective schemes. He wants to occupy us in good activity void of eternal energy. Serving God and others in our own strength means we are driven by what we can do for God, rather than what He can do through us. It’s the difference in being energized in our service or being drained by our service. Christ’s strength comes from being still.

    He strengthens your soul daily as you sit quietly before Him. His whisper of affirmation motivates you to walk with Him. It is learning to trust in Him, not striving for Him. This total trust replenishes your soul like an ice-cold sports drink to a cyclist ascending the tallest mountain in the blazing hot Tour de France. His spirit gives life and endurance.

    When you received Christ you received His strength. Strength already resides within you. He is available to you. Your Savior has no fuel crisis to reckon with, as His supernatural resources are infinite. You cannot go for encouragement too many times. Walk in His name and be energized by Him. His Holy Spirit infuses strength so be strong in the Lord!

    “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers” (Acts 9:31).

    Prayer: Does my strength reside in my righteous Savior or in my own exhausting efforts?

    Related Readings: Psalm 105:4; Isaiah 12:2; Luke 10:27; 1 Thessalonians 3:13

    Post/Tweet this today: Fight fear with fear. Let the fear of God strengthen you, as it fortifies your faith in Him. #strengthintheLord

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

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…to look after orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27
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