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Family Christian

  • The Day Forgiveness Set Me Free

    Posted on March 20, 2013 by Renee Swope

    Renee Swope

    "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. ... Forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:2, 32 (NIV)

    I thought I was over the hurt. I was sure I had moved on. But as my thumb slipped under the seal of the invitation to my 10-year college reunion, it hit me: I had not forgiven her.

    During our last semester at school, the harsh tone and accusing anger of a friend had been more than my heart could handle, especially in the middle of my year-long battle with depression. A deep sense of sadness and self-doubt, that I couldn't explain or escape, had left me feeling depleted.

    When she questioned something I had done and expressed deep frustration toward me, I didn't have the mental or emotional strength to process her criticism without being pulled into a pit of condemnation.

    If I attended our class reunion I would likely see her and other friends who had gotten tangled in our mess. With that possibility came a flood of memories and emotions that made me feel the same yuck I felt the day our friendship ended. The day that pretty much ruined the last few weeks of our senior year.

    Holding the envelope in my hand, that hurt took hold of me again. Instead of simply deciding how to RSVP, I stood at the edge of a pit filled with insecurity that threatened to pull me back in.

    After weeks of holding onto the invitation I finally decided I was tired of living as prisoner to my hurt. I wanted freedom. The kind of freedom I'd come to know in the ten years in between. The freedom of forgiveness Jesus died to give me.

    I spent hours praying and reading my Bible over the next month. Listening to worship music and messages on forgiveness, I asked God to drench me with His perspective and give me His assurance so I could walk into my reunion as a secure child of God.

    By the time I arrived, my mind was filled with God's grace and promises. I literally wanted to find my old friend and restore our relationship. The confidence that came as I followed God's command to seek and offer forgiveness came as a surprise.

    Forgiving those who hurt us is hard. Often we are afraid to forgive because it might open us to be hurt again. Or we're afraid if we bring something up it might unearth bitterness we don't want to deal with, so its left buried.

    But any time we bury a hurt alive, it will keep rising from the dead to disturb us.

    God used today's verses to show me how to let forgiveness set me free from the hurt I had buried. "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. ... Forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you." (Eph. 4:2, 32)

    Forgiving in the way this scripture describes has helped me recognize I need God's grace as much as anyone else. Although pardoning an offense is not easy, it is possible when we follow God's plan of being humble and gentle, patient and bearing with those who've hurt us. It's so worth what it takes to be set free.

    Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves when we offer it to others. In doing so, we don't forgive so we can forget. We forgive, as we have been forgiven, so we can find freedom from our past and live with confident hope for our future.

    Lord, I need Your help. Help me process my hurt with You and let go of any bitterness that keeps me from wholeness and hope. Empower me to forgive just as You have forgiven me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Conflict is hard and unhealed hurts can make us doubt ourselves, as well as our ability to have healthy relationships. In her life-changing book: A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises, Renee Swope empowers us to overcome the hurts that hold us back as we move forward in the confident assurance of all God has for our lives!

    Reflect and Respond:
    Is there unresolved conflict or unforgiven hurt that could be holding you back you from living in the freedom Jesus wants for you? Journal thoughts that came to mind while reading today's devotion and commit to take one step towards the freedom of forgiveness God is calling you to today.

    Power Verse:
    Colossians 3:13, "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Forgiveness, Ephesians

  • Spiritual Prayers

    Posted on March 19, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Ephesians 6:18

    Prayer is not meant to be perfunctory, but powered by the Holy Spirit. When I am preoccupied and attempt to pray, I short-circuit the Spirit’s work. However, when I pray in the Spirit there is full contact with Christ,  my mind engaged,and my heart  fully focused. The flesh seeks a quick fix, but the Spirit desires a deep affection that develops over time. The Spirit is like a key that unlocks the door of my spirit. He searches the rooms of my life for total trust and obedience.

    Spiritual prayers flow from praise and worship to Almighty God. Yes, songs and hymns offered in humility and gratitude ignite intimacy with our Heavenly Father. He receives the prayer aroma of His daughters and sons, as the sweet smell of a holy sacrifice to Him alone. The Holy Spirit is our prayer whisperer. He is able to soothe our heart and translate our cares into the language of our loving Lord Jesus. When our flesh is weak, the Spirit strengthens our spirit to pray in faith.

    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. Romans 8:26

    Therefore, pray on all occasions. With bowed head recognize Jesus as the provider of a delicious meal. Before you partake of the tasty morsels, taste His grace. Pray and prepare your heart prior to a hard conversation, so any anger or harshness is replaced by patience and compassion. Pray as you think about a big decision; ask questions like, “Is my motive to glorify God?” “What counsel would I give to someone else in a similar situation?” Spiritual prayers have the Spirit’s leading.

    Moreover, variety is the spice of an effective prayer life. Yes, employ a plethora of prayers that protect you from familiarity that can breed boredom. Pray for patience, so you are slow to anger. Pray for the sick, so they might be healed. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel, so the seeds of salvation will grow in the hearts of lost souls. Pray for those who suffer, so their comfort comes from Christ. Pray for forgiveness, so your heart is healed and filled with the Holy Spirit!

    I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. Ephesians 3:16

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray that my prayers are full of praise and thanksgiving to You.

    Related Readings: Isaiah 11:2; Micah 3:8; Mark 14:38; Acts 4:31; Colossians 1:9; Jude 1:20

    Post/Tweet today: With bowed head recognize Jesus as the provider of a delicious meal, before you partake of the tasty morsels, taste His grace. #prayer

     

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Ephesians

  • Q & A for Dr. Alister McGrath, author of C. S. Lewis—A Life

    Posted on March 19, 2013 by Family Christian


    Alister McGrath is one of the world's leading Christian theologians. He is Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at King's College London, and Head of its Center for Theology, Religion and Culture. Before moving to King's College, he was Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University.

    Like Lewis, Alister was born in Belfast, and became an atheist as a young man, before rediscovering the Christian faith at Oxford University. His deep knowledge of Christian theology, history, and literature allowed him to interpret Lewis against a broad backdrop, presenting a fascinating portrait of the development of Lewis's mind and his impact on western culture.

    1. What stimulated your interest in writing a new biography of C. S. Lewis?

    I started reading Lewis in the 1970s, when I was a student at Oxford University, and my admiration for him has grown over the years. 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of his death, and it seemed right to mark the occasion with a new biography.

    2. Describe the parallels between your own spiritual journey and that of Lewis.

    Lewis and I have many things in common. We were both born in Belfast and spent our childhoods there. We were both students and then dons at Oxford University. Both of us were atheists who discovered Christianity at Oxford. And we both try to defend Christianity against its critics. I think these parallels made it easier for me to understand Lewis.

    3. You note that in the late 1940s, the famed “Kilns” where Lewis and his brother, Warnie, lived had become a dysfunctional household. What created the tension, and how did this affect Lewis’s writing?

    Lewis shared The Kilns with his brother, Warnie, Mrs. Moore, and her daughter, Maureen. Maureen left home after her marriage in 1940. Shortly after this, it became obvious that Warnie had become an alcoholic, and Mrs. Moore began to develop dementia. By the late 1940s, Lewis found himself acting as a full-time nurse to Mrs. Moore (who could no longer look after herself) while trying to cope with his brother’s frequent absences on alcoholic binges in Ireland and their aftermath. It was unquestionably one of the darkest periods of his life.

    4. Lewis was regarded by many of his academic colleagues at Oxford with suspicion or derision during that same period. Why did he experience such academic hostility?

    There were two sources of concern to Lewis’s academic colleagues at Oxford in the 1940s. The first was Lewis’s explicit commitment to Christianity, which irritated the more dogmatic academic atheists of his day. Yet the evidence suggests that this was not the major concern. Academic hostility towards Lewis really began to develop in the early 1940s, and largely rested on the perception that he had become a populariser rather than a serious scholar. This impression arose primarily as a result of The Screwtape Letters. These were seen by many of his colleagues as academically frivolous and lightweight. Lewis would probably have got away with this, if he had produced some major academic works around this time. But it was not until 1954 that Lewis produced a really serious piece of scholarship, which restored his academic reputation and helped secure his appointment as Professor of English Literature at Cambridge University.

    5. One of the most compelling aspects of your research involves the redating of Lewis’s conversion to theism. What led you to reexamine this chronology?

    I did not expect to raise questions about the traditional dating of Lewis’s conversion to theism. Yet the method of research I used forced me to this conclusion. In preparation for this work, I read everything that Lewis wrote in chronological order. After I had read everything for 1929—the traditional date of his “conversion”—I was puzzled. Nothing fundamental seemed to have changed.

    Yet beginning in February 1930, his writings show obvious signs of some kind of reorientation. I then examined the evidence for the traditional date of his conversion in minute detail, and concluded—for reasons set out clearly in the biography—that his conversion must have taken place a year later than everyone had believed. I think this is the most significant finding reported in the biography.

    6. In the course of your research, you conducted a complete, chronological analysis of the entire collection of Lewis’s letters and archives. How long did this take you?

    This took me fifteen months and involved long periods of reading and note-taking. But it was fascinating, seeing how Lewis’s ideas and style developed and how his authorial “voice” emerged. I took the view that you simply could not write a biography of Lewis without reading his total output.

    One result of this is that I quote from Lewis more than many of his earlier biographers so that my readers can hear Lewis’s voice, and not simply my own. I also explored archives, mainly in Oxford, and was able to turn up some important material never used by Lewis’s biographers that casts new light on his life, especially during the 1910s.

    7. Many readers are fascinated by the love relationship late in life between Lewis and Joy Davidman Gresham. You quote her son Douglas as stating that his mother originally went to England with one specific intention: “To seduce C. S. Lewis.” How did he come to assess the situation in that manner?

    Douglas Gresham bases his judgment on his memories of his mother from that time. We don’t know quite what led him to that judgment, but the evidence now available confirms his suspicions. It is clear from some of Joy’s writings of the period—especially a collection of “Sonnets” that have only very recently come to light—that she actively set out to seduce Lewis. We can hope to have some fine new biographies of Joy from significant scholars in the near future which will explore this matter in much greater detail.

    8. You write that Joy’s marriage to Jack was, in Lewis’s view, purely a marriage of convenience at first. At what point did Lewis’s feelings for her begin to change?

    Lewis initially saw his clandestine civil marriage to Joy as a chivalrous act which would enable her to remain in England and develop her career as a journalist and writer. The evidence strongly suggests that Lewis’s feelings towards Joy began to change when he became conscious that she was seriously ill. The realization that he might soon lose her seems to have triggered a deep sense of compassionand care, resulting in a romantic love for Joy that doesn’t seem to have been present earlier. It’s hard to date this development, but it’s clearly reflected in a letter Lewis wrote to the novelist Dorothy L. Sayers in June 1957.

    9. The friendship between Lewis and Tolkien cooled as the years progressed. Why did Tolkien’s views about Lewis darken?

    The relationship between Lewis and Tolkien was of major importance to both throughout the 1930s and into the early 1940s. The cooling seems to have taken place mainly on Tolkien’s side, reflecting three issues. The first was what seems to have been jealousy on Tolkien’s part about the growing influence that the novelist Charles Williams had on Lewis in the early 1940s. This was alleviated somewhat with Williams’s death in 1945. The second emerged in the early 1950s, when Tolkien began to suspect that Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia borrowed some of his own ideas without due acknowledgment. Third, Tolkien regarded Lewis’s views of marriage as inadequate and was dismayed by Lewis marrying a divorcée and hurt by the fact that Lewis failed to tell him about it. In any case, Tolkien cordially detested Joy personally. Yet Lewis always respected and admired Tolkien. One of my discoveries in researching this biography was a hitherto unknown letter in which Lewis proposed Tolkien for the 1961 Nobel Prize for Literature, which clearly reflects this high regard.

    10. Lewis’s death on November 22, 1963, was overshadowed in the media by the assassination of John F. Kennedy. How are we to judge Lewis’s life and legacy fifty years after his death?

    The most important thing is that more people read Lewis today than at any point in his lifetime. Although many—including Lewis himself—believed that his influence and reputation would quickly fade after his death, Lewis has bounced back. Partly this reflects the imaginative appeal of the Chronicles of Narnia, particularly now that some of the novels have been turned into major movies. But there is also substantial interest in Lewis’s literary and religious writings, some of which have established themselves as “classics.” My biography provides a solid base for future exploration of Lewis’s legacy, which I think is going to be significant for some considerable time to come.

    To download and read the first chapter of C.S. Lewis - A Life, just right click and "save as" here.

    A CS Lewis Biography


    This post was posted in Books, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, C.S. Lewis, Alister McGrath, Dorothy L. Sayers, Tolkien, Narnia, Nobel Prize, John F. Kennedy

  • Following from Afar

    Posted on March 19, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the high priest's courtyard. He was sitting with the temple police, warming himself by the fire. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but they could find none." Mark 14:54-55 (HCSB)

    At the back of the little country church, I clumsily thumbed through the pages of the worn pew Bible. It was Easter week and I was a senior in high school. I had given my life to Jesus just over a year prior at a youth campfire gathering and was still uncertain about the location of certain verses.

    That Good Friday, I was at a drop-in service. This wasn't a traditional service at an appointed time with a message and singing. People could stop by the church at any time to individually and quietly work their way through a devotional reading and accompanying verses.

    It was during that time of reflection that I met the Apostle Peter in the words of Scripture. Peter, who later became a bold witness for Christ, was not so valiant at the time of Jesus' betrayal and crucifixion. Although Peter claimed that even if everyone else ditched Jesus, he would remain faithful, Jesus knew the truth. The truth was that Peter would deny Christ not once, but three times in one night.

    Before Peter's denials came, something else came: a widening space between Peter and Jesus. Although Peter was a close companion of His, when Christ was suddenly arrested, Peter stopped his "right-beside-ya" stroll. Today's key verse from Mark 14:54-55 clearly states where he stood, "Peter followed Him at a distance" (HCSB).

    My teenage heart broke as those words stung my soul. They cut a bit too close. As a new believer I'd eagerly told others about Jesus. However, when I saw that my new-found faith wasn't so readily accepted by certain friends at school, I'd backed off from associating myself so publicly with Jesus. Like Peter, I was following at a distance.

    The remedy to my problem lay squarely in my hands. It was so obvious I almost missed it. The Bible.

    To walk closely with Jesus we have to walk ourselves daily through God's Word. Tethering our hearts to Scripture helps grow our friendship with Jesus. As a result, He becomes more important to us than others or their opinions of us. The more we learn about God's character, the more we fall in love with Him and the less likely we'll be to turn from Him when the crowds tempt to sway us. Or when fear of judgment or persecution comes.

    Have you been following Jesus at a distance? Walking far enough behind that you can still see Him but others don't see you right next to Him? Grab a Bible. Crack it. Get into God's Word and get His Word into you. No more lagging behind. Let's walk right beside the Lord, unashamedly, and allow others to see our desire to be near Jesus in hopes they will long to get to know Him too.

    Dear Lord, help me to follow through with my intentions of immersing myself in Your Word and then walking close with You day-by-day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Unpack Scripture with us on a deeper level! Our team has compiled 366 of our devotions in the new Proverbs 31 Ministries' NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women.

    If you want to learn to walk more closely with Jesus, check out Karen's new book and DVD curriculum LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Was there a time in your life when you felt you walked so closely with Jesus that others readily associated you with Him? When was it? Describe your relationship with Him.

    If over the years you feel that you have started following more from a distance, what factors do you feel contributed to this?

    What is one action step you can take to start to walk more closely to the Lord when it comes to reading, studying or memorizing the Bible? Write it out. Now, whose help can you enlist to enable you to follow through with that commitment?

    Power Verse:
    Matthew 16:24, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.'" (NLT)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Mark

  • Sword of the Spirit

    Posted on March 18, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
    The Word of God is an offensive and defensive weapon wielded against the wiles of the devil. He flees in the face of the wisdom of Christ. A life steeped in Scripture is able to expose the enemy's half truths. For example, the devil lures a Christian to think the Lord will protect him, even if he acts irresponsibly. But, God is not backed into a corner and forced to rescue a fool. To tempt the Lord is to dishonor Him. Power is reserved for the Righteous One who reigns over all!
    Scripture makes us wise into salvation and wise in the ways of the Lord. What Satan means for harm, God grows into good. Yes, the Bible gives us strength for the journey, because walking with Jesus is an everyday exercise. We who are committed to Christ do not coast, but make our boast in the Lord as we busy ourselves with His work. Spiritual shenanigans like playing church are replaced by sincere service. Wisdom from the Word moves us to make a difference.
    For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
    The word of God gives you courage and conviction to engage the enemy. You study the Bible and apply its principles, so you can overcome the spiritual principalities that war against Almighty God as our absolute authority. Educated fools attempt to marginalize the Bible as an out of date history book, full of inconsistencies, but on the contrary, it is the living, breathing, inerrant word of the Lord that reveals Jesus Christ in all His glory. Scripture exposes Satan’s lies.
    Therefore, what is your system for embedding Scripture in your heart, mind and soul? Is your spiritual sword sharpened by success and suffering, or is it dulled by disillusionment? Your daily drip from a facet of faith will feed your soul and revive your spirit. Read a chapter in Proverbs based on the day of the month, or memorize verses in Psalms that speak to your felt needs. Keep your mind engaged in eternal truths, and you’ll successfully attack temporal untruths. The Bible is your baseline for beliefs and behavior. Bring it to mind and you will mind the ways of God!
    Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Proverbs 30:5

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me engage the devil by understanding and applying Your wise words.
    Related Readings: Isaiah 40:8; Jeremiah 23:29; Mark 7:13; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Revelation 1:2
    Post/Tweet today: Commitment to Christ does not coast, but makes its boast in the Lord and is busy about His work.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Ephesians

  • It's Over

    Posted on March 18, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha Evilsizer

    "My beloved spoke and said to me, 'Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.'" Song of Songs 2:10-11 (NIV)

    These lyrics caught in my throat the first time I sang them: "I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon the cross."* I cried as I stared at my circumstances, ashamed.

    I'd compromised big time in some areas and, until the warm truth of that song caught me off guard, I had turned a cold shoulder to the hope of forgiveness. Shame convinced me I wasn't worthy of another chance.

    Last summer, I met a young woman who needed one other chance too, maybe more. On a 75 degree, gorgeous-in-every-way L.A. day, I served a meal on Skid Row with The Dream Center team. There I was, navigating my way around pain and hypodermic needles. There she was, fidgeting outside the women's shelter.

    She melded into the gray of her tattered sweatpants. Washed out and muted, buried under the debris of a dark world, away from the Light for too long. Inching toward me, she stepped over others hibernating beneath cardboard boxes and frigid despair.

    Try as I might, I couldn't catch her eyes as she asked for help. Shame from past deeds had beaten her down. It made her doubt she was worthy of anything, much less another chance for a hot meal and cold drink. This timid woman had been pushed out of the food line. Unable to defend herself and in too much physical pain to stand in line again, she needed someone to make a way for her.

    Together, we walked to the front of the food truck (not gonna lie, it was fun breezing past her bullies). But I felt helpless handing her only scrambled eggs and water. Surely, she needed so much more.

    We all need more at some point, don't we?

    This frail woman needed to know God had more for her than this. That what she'd done to land on Skid Row could be forgiven—forgotten, even. This cold season could turn into a warmer one. I wanted to share this truth: "See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone" (Song of Songs 2:11 NIV).

    Winter, that gloomy season that should pass. But what if it lingers? What if one bad-for-us choice turns into 100 that beat us to our own Skid Row? What if mistakes convince us we don't deserve another shot?

    Been there? Me too. But letting the Light of truth in to our hearts turns our winter of doubt into a spring of hope.

    What we've done doesn't dictate who we are. The truth is, what He's done makes us who we are: forgiven, hopeful and worthy of another chance. We may not believe we deserve a second shot. But Christ's sacrifice on the cross and our gift of a new life through His death gives us one. When we ask for forgiveness and turn from our sins, our past is covered by God's mercy and grace.

    Never doubt, He'll always lead us past the bully of shame to the front of the line for so much more than eggs and water.

    God, it's hard to believe I'm worthy of another chance. But I'm taking a step of faith, choosing to accept that Your death means a new chance for me. I'll never know how much it cost, but I'm forever grateful. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    We'd love to help you find your second chance by reading this truth in God's Word! Our team has tucked hope-filled, encouraging devotions throughout the pages of the brand new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women to unpack Scripture with you. Pick up your copy here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Why is it difficult for you to believe you're worthy of another chance?

    Write down every reason you feel you're not worthy of Christ's love and forgiveness. Now, read them out loud and say after them, "But Christ died on the cross to forgive me once and for all. I've repented and I'm forgiven."

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 12:1-2, "You will say in that day: 'I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.'" (ESV)

    John 3:17-18b, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned ..." (ESV)

    *Light of the World (Here I am to Worship) by Tim Hughes. © 2000 Thankyou Music.

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Song of Solomon

  • A Nation Exalted

    Posted on March 17, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34

     

    What makes a nation, any nation, great? Its goodness is what God blesses. Righteousness is the lever the Lord uses to lift up a nation as an example for other nations to follow. However, like people, a nation can fall from God’s grace. His blessing is removed when a haughty country shows no remorse for sin and even sanctions its use. A blessed nation will cease to be great when it forgets where it came from by jettisoning Jesus.

     

    It is when a nation is hurting that it needs healing most. The nation of Israel experienced this. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Have we drifted as a nation to not needing God? Has our sin found us out? Are we reaping what we have sown?

     

    “In that day you will say: ‘Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted’” (Isaiah 12:4).

     

    The good news is that an exalted nation does not have people sneaking out but instead sneaking in. Peoples of the world clamor to a country Christ has blessed. The best and the brightest are drawn like a moth to a light to live somewhere they can chase their dreams. It is out of its goodness that a nation becomes a magnet for mankind. Righteousness reposes in the heart of a great nation, supporting virtue and suppressing vice.

     

    Lastly, a crippled country can come back, but not without consequences. It starts with individuals repenting and taking responsibility for their actions. “How can I come clean with Christ?” “Have I been financially irresponsible?” “Has greed governed my giving?” “Has fear frozen my faith?” “Have comfort and ease become my idol?” The Lord exalts a nation that stays on its knees in dependence and awe of almighty God.

     

    “He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised” (Deuteronomy 26:19).

     

    God, what do I need to do in order for You to again trust our nation with greatness?

     

    Related Readings: Proverbs 11:11; Jeremiah 22:2–25; Matthew 12:21; Romans 16:25–27

     

    Post/Tweet: Righteousness is the lever the Lord uses to lift up a nation as an example for other nations to follow. #righteousness


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Proverbs

  • Willing to Accept

    Posted on March 16, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come” (Matthew 11:14).

     

    Hard words, hard people, and hard situations are hard to accept. Do you or someone you know feel like you are between a rock and a hard place? Do your options seem like they have dried up? Is your energy to press forward depleted? Perhaps it is time to accept the cold, hard facts of where you find yourself. Reality has a way of catching up with our denial.

     

    It is okay to be optimistic, but not to the peril of ignoring your predicament. Are emotional reactions driving your decisions, or do you prayerfully process the facts clearly and objectively with wise input from others you trust? Do you need to give up something—your house, your car, your career, your travel, or your expectations? What is the Lord asking you to give up so that you can gain Him and His peace? Acceptance requires action.

     

    Furthermore, some people  require additional patience and grace to accept. Have others wronged you to the point that your resentment is blocking your acceptance of them? You may justify your rejection of them because of their rejection of you. For example, children and parents can let us down, devastating us, but Christians do not have the option of not accepting them for who they are. Love accepts even unworthy recipients.

     

    Do you find yourself in a situation where you do not feel accepted—a new job, in-laws, a new school, a new city, a new relationship? You can stew in self-pity, or you can take the initiative to reach out to your rejectors. Kindness reaches out and rejects rejection. “A man who has friends must himself be friendly” (Proverbs 18:24 nkjv).

     

    Above all, are you willing to accept God’s call on your life? When His will is uncomfortable and uncertain, will you still follow in trust? Start by accepting Christ by faith as your Savior and Lord, and then continue to accept His commands as evidence that you are His disciple. Acceptance of the Lord allows you to love Him and other people. Acceptance cannot continue alone but is accelerated and accompanied by the Almighty’s grace and love.

     

    Prayer: Do I wholeheartedly accept God’s plan for my life? Whom do I need to accept in love?

     

    Related Readings: Genesis 4:7; Ecclesiastics 5:19; Romans 11:15; 1 Timothy 1:15

     

    Post/Tweet: Doubt starves to death when it is not fed. It dissolves in the presence of Jesus. #doubt

     

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Matthew

  • Helmet of Salvation

    Posted on March 15, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17

    The helmet of salvation saves from past sin, empowers to overcome present evil and provides a future hope of Jesus coming back for His bride, the church. Salvation is much more than a moment in time conversion when a person is delivered from darkness into light. It is an ongoing experience of the Lord saving us from ourselves, saving us from sin and saving us from the enemy’s influence. The Spirit convicts us, Jesus saves us and the Father keeps us secure in Him.

    Moreover, our mind is a battleground over what we believe. Unscrupulous spiritual forces seek to create confusion and vain speculation. We are wise to take every thought captive for Christ, so none of our ideas are locked up in a prison camp of lies. Like a magician presenting a false appearance of reality, so Satan seeks to play mind games that create fear or false hope. However,  we wisely renew our mind daily by His cleansing word. Jesus saves us from stinking thinking.

    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. 2 Corinthians 10:5

     

    Does God’s good plan and future hope fill your head? Indeed, these hopeful thoughts breed healthy thinking that leads to wise living. You can be hopeful, because your provision is from the One who gave you the vision. You can be hopeful, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. You can be hopeful, because there is nothing that can separate you from the love of your Heavenly Father. You can be hopeful, because in Christ you have all you need!

     

    Therefore, put on heaven’s helmet of salvation. It may look unusual to a lost world, but your outward devotion reminds them of their inner need for a Savior. Be ever vigilant to protect your mind, since a blow to the head from trashy thoughts leads to bad behavior. Ask the Lord to deliver you from talking yourself into foolish decisions. Submit to Him and to trusted advisors who provide checks and balances in your decision-making. Fill your mind with Christ’s mind!

     

    Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

    1 Corinthians 2:16

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, save my thoughts from the influence of evil and fill me with righteous thinking.

    Related Readings: Isaiah 59:17; Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 4:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 5:8

    Post/Tweet today: The Spirit convicts us, Jesus saves us and the Father keeps us secure in Him. #salvation

     

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Ephesians

  • Grace, Gold and Christ. Gabby Douglas

    Posted on March 15, 2013 by John van der Veen


    Gabrielle Douglas
    is a two-time Olympic gold medalist. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, she made history, becoming the first US gymnast to take home a team and an individual gold medal in the same Olympics. Gabrielle began her training at age six, and became the Virginia State Champion only two years later. When she was fourteen, she left her family in Virginia Beach to train with coach Liang Chow in Des Moines, Iowa. Under Chow’s guidance, and with tremendous faith in God’s plan for her, Gabrielle competed in the Olympic Trials and walked away with the only guaranteed spot on the team. Since her Olympic triumph, Gabrielle has used her platform to inspire millions with a powerful message: With hard work and persistence, any dream is possible.

    I sat down with Gabby to ask about her upbringing, life as an athlete and your ultimate goal.

    John: I'm wondering if I could ask you a few questions about your life and what God has been doing in and through you, and maybe if you could just give us a little precursor of what's going to take place in this next year for you as well.

    Gabby, how did you get interested in gymnastics? What started it all for you?

    Gabby: My oldest sister, she actually encouraged me. Before gymnastics she was doing a couple tricks and she taught me. She told my mom to put me in and after a while she put me in. I started my first rec class when I was six.

    John: You were only six years old?

    Gabby: Yes.

    John: Did everything just kind of started snowballing after that? You just became more or less addicted to it?

    Gabby: Yes I fell in love with the sport of gymnastics. I always loved to flip and tumble and compete. When I started my first rec class, I just loved gymnastics.

    John: Your sister was not jealous of you surpassing her at all, was she?

    Gabby: I don't think so. I think we were kind of doing our own thing.

    John: At what age, Gabby, were you when you started setting your eye on the Olympic stage?

    Gabby: I was about eight or nine years old, and I was watching the 2004 Olympics. Carly Patterson, she was the 2004 one of the gold medalists, and I saw her doing a skill called Uneven Bars. I saw what she was doing and I would kind of learn the same thing, and I decided I wanted to go to the Olympics at that time.

    John:  For someone who has not just gone to the Olympics, but has also taken gold in them, how do you keep your focus on Christ at the centerpiece of who you are?

    Gabby: It's always been a part of me. People tell me, how do you balance the two? It's not hard to balance since it has always been a part of me. I read on the plane, whenever I get it in. I read my bible. Every competition and every time I'm about to go out on the Olympic stage, I pray and say one Scripture verse before I go out just to get me confident and have a peace of mind before I go out there and compete.

    John: When you got there, did you find there were other believers that were like minded as you were?

    Gabby: No, not really. They were kind of focusing on themselves and so was I, and the other countries were too, so I kind of just kept to myself.

    John: You obviously had a support system, your mom was there with you.

    Gabby: Yes. My family went to London. They're my support system. I am so glad they could make it out to London and watch me compete. They were so excited just walking over to the arena. It was very thrilling having them watch me at the Olympics.

    John: What was it like when you found out that you got the gold? How did you feel in your heart?

    Gabby: Oh my goodness, I don't know if words can describe. It was just a wow moment. First thing I did was hug Chow and say thank you for everything, Chow. It was just an amazing feeling knowing that all the hard work and sacrifice, effort and money spent in the gym and mom spent, the sacrifices my siblings made. It was a lot of hard work and it took diligence to get me where I am today. It was a lot of emotion going everywhere.

    John: What is your goal now for the rest of this year, for 2013? What are you working on?

    Gabby: I am not quite back in the gym yet. I really hope to be back soon and I really want to attend 2016, another Olympics. That's my goal.

    John: What would you say to all the little "Gabbys" that are out there, that are four or six years old right now, that are thinking about gymnastics or thinking about your life, how would you encourage them?

    Gabby: I would just tell them take it one step at a time. There's no need to rush it, but still have your goals in line, but just have fun along the way. Competing is fun. After a competition you get goody bags and go to a banquet. I say just enjoy the ride and keep pushing yourself, give 100% at what you do.

    John: Gabby, how would you encourage somebody in their walk with Christ, especially another 17-year-old?

    Gabby: Walk with Christ, just pray, read your Bible, something just to get you motivated, whether it's your favorite scripture or whether it's your favorite quote, and something like that, I think.

    For more information on Gabby Douglas, click here.


    This post was posted in Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Olympics, Gabby Douglas

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