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Family Christian

  • God With Us

    Posted on December 25, 2012 by Family Christian

    Boyd Bailey

    “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” Matthew 1:22-23

     

    Wow! The Creator came to dwell with His creation. The all knowing One came to teach teachers and students limited by their lack of knowledge and understanding. The ever present One came to comfort hurting people stuck in their suffering. The all powerful One came to serve weak people, empowering them with His Spirit. The Almighty sent His only son Jesus into the world, fully God and fully man. Yes, the Word became flesh! 

    God is with us to face down our fears by faith. God is with us in our doubts. God is with us in our hurts, applying His healing balm of grace. God is with us in our transitions to grow our trust in Him.  God is with us at work and at home. God is with us in our uncertainty.  God is with us when we feel His presence and when we don't feel Him near. God is with us in our successes and in our failures. God is with us and for us for His glory!

    "And surely I [Jesus] am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NIV)

    God is with us in our modern technology and our antiquated activities. The Lord is with us in our big cities and our small towns. Jesus is with us when we feel joy, laughter and loss. Christ is with us to comfort us in our pain and encourage us to persevere for Him. He is with us in the ups and the downs. He is with us and He is in us to work through us!

    Therefore, because Christ is with you, you can be confident of His wisdom and direction. Fools flounder for lack of faith, but you have the Faithful One as the facilitator of your circumstances. Immanuel entered the earth by birth and entered your heart by new birth. Your Savior Jesus has saved you from your sins and your Lord Jesus commands you to follow His ways and experience His life. He gave His life and came to life for your life!

    “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for being with us on earth and for being my life.

    Related Readings: 1 Kings 8:57; Isaiah 8:10; Psalm 46:11; Acts 10:41; Ephesians 2:6

    Post/Tweet today: Immanuel entered the earth by birth and entered your heart by new birth. #Christmas

    © 2012 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, Isaiah, Christmas

  • A Christmas Prayer

    Posted on December 25, 2012 by Renee Swope

    Renee Swope

    "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)

    Thousands of years ago God gave us the gift of His one and only Son, born in a humble manger. Making room in our hearts for Jesus through prayer during this busy day is a gift we give to Him, and ourselves. Right now, let's quiet our racing thoughts and take a moment to enjoy the hush of Immanuel—God with us.

    The Manger of My Heart
    This Christmas, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
    Fill me with Your presence from the very start.
    As I prepare for this Holy day and gifts to be given,
    Remind me of the gift You gave when You sent Your Son from Heaven.

    The first Christmas gift, it was the greatest gift ever.
    You came as a baby born in a manger.
    Wrapped like the gifts I find under my tree,
    Waiting to be opened, to reveal Your love to me.

    Restore to me the wonder that came with Jesus' birth,
    when He left the riches of Heaven and wrapped Himself in rags of earth.
    Immanuel, God with us, Your presence came that night.
    And angels announced, "Into your darkness, God brings His Light."

    "Do not be afraid," they said, to shepherds in the field.
    Speak to my heart today, Lord, and help me to yield.
    Make me like those shepherd boys, obedient to Your call.
    Setting distractions and worries aside, to You I surrender them all.

    Surround me with Your presence, Lord, I long to hear Your voice.
    Clear my mind of countless concerns and all the holiday noise.
    Slow me down this Christmas, let me not be in a rush.
    In the midst of parties and planning, I want to feel Your hush.

    This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
    Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.
    Dwell within and around me, as I unwrap Your presence each day.
    Keep me close to You, Lord. It's in Your wonderful Name I pray.

    God's presence in our lives is a gift we can open not only today but every day of the year.

    Dear Lord, I'm so thankful for the gift of Jesus, Immanuel, my God with me. Help me be still when I feel frazzled and remember You are God. I want to make room for You in the manger of my heart this Christmas and unwrap Your presence each day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    When you feel anxious, empty or stressed, pause and pray each word of today's Christmas prayer. Why not print it and share it with family today?

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 91:1-2, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'" (NIV)

    © 2012 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Isaiah, Christmas, Prayer

  • Night Before Christmas

    Posted on December 24, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” Luke 2:4-5

     

    It was the night before Christmas and Jesus, who was from the line of David, was to be born in the city of David. He was coming, not as a King, but as a Savior to shepherd the souls of hurting humanity In God’s eyes His Son had always been and always would be. But to mankind the birth of Jesus was the defining moment in history (His story!). Calendars began to divide time: BC (before Christ) to AD (Anno Domini: in the year of our Lord). 

    In a similar way we define our conversion to Jesus as a new birth into His kingdom. The calendar of our soul is clearly categorized as before Christ and after Christ. The night before our new birth we were lost in our sins. But at the daybreak of our faith, we stepped into the light of forgiveness and  were saved from our sins. Indeed, Jesus was born into the world to seek and to save the lost. He was born, so that we could be born again!

    “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

    Have you made room for your Lord Jesus at the inn of your soul or is He in the hay barn of your heart? The world’s activities are loud, busy and demanding. It’s easy to drift under their demands and forget the words of our Lord, “Follow Me.” Yes, once the excitement of your new found faith wears off the world can wear you down. So, be intentional as humble shepherds and wise men to search out your Savior. Give Him gifts of gratitude.

    Like Joseph, be responsible in care of the mundane: be compliant to the government, know the condition of your family, identify their needs and give them security. Indeed, it’s out of your every day obedience to Christ’s commands that He births faith, hope and love. Your heavenly Father takes care of you, as you take care of His business. Christmas Eve is a celebration of Christ’s entrance on  earth and  the joy He brings to all who believe!

    “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:3

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Christ’s birth and for my new birth of faith.

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 20:7; Isaiah 9:6; Daniel 6:4;  John 4:14, 7:42

    Post/Tweet today: Jesus was born so we could be born again. #Christmas

    © 2012 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 Luke, Isaiah, Christmas

  • Giving, Not Getting

    Posted on December 24, 2012 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families ..." Psalm 68:5-6a (NIV 1984)

    "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" The loudspeaker blared out the joyful lyrics of the familiar holiday song that snowy Christmas Eve afternoon.

    Everywhere I glanced, people were searching for last-minute gift purchases, holiday baking ingredients or that one final string of twinkle lights that would make their Christmas downright Norman Rockwell perfect.

    However, as I stood in line paying for the ingredients for my assigned Cheesy Potato casserole for our family gathering, a lump formed in my throat. Soon my lips quivered and hot tears fell onto my wind-chapped cheeks.

    How can everyone be so happy? Why is the world going on as if nothing happened? My friend Julie died last night leaving behind a husband and eight children who need her. Doesn't anyone care?

    I wanted to scream. And I wanted Christmas to be cancelled that year. There was no holiday cheer in me and I thought the rest of the world should follow suit and just 'humbug' the whole celebration.

    Our family made it through that holiday. My young children, although sad about their friends' mother's death, perked up Christmas morning, eager to open their gifts. My husband and I carried on with our normal life and, over the next few months, tried to help lighten the load of our now widower friend.

    Several in our circle of friends made meals on a weekly basis. A college girl offered to clean their home. One of Julie's sons joined our home school for kindergarten a few days each week. Although we still experienced great heartache knowing our friend wasn't coming back, lightening her husband's load and cheering the children made us feel as if we were fulfilling the mission God had for us.

    Ever since that year, our family has become even more aware of the fact that for many, Christmas isn't the most wonderful time of the year. It is downright painful.

    Loneliness looms. Depressions darken. Even suicides soar. While scores of us delight in the season, drinking the sights, sounds and smells, others are numb from pain and despise the season.

    And so I'm reminded of what a sweet neighbor of mine once told me, "Christmas is an excuse for making someone's life better." She was so right! There are souls waiting to be encouraged and included at the holidays. If only we would cease our own sometimes self-focused hustle and bustle long enough to see!

    After that sad season, we've made it our mission to reach out at the holidays more than we play the commercialized "gimmee game."

    Christmas is not about getting. Its very essence is giving.

    When our family has been intentional about being Jesus' hands and feet at the holidays, He has allowed us to brighten the lives of many. We sing Christmas carols to shut-ins, decorate homes and address Christmas cards for widows, shop for the needy, bake for the brokenhearted, and often include the lonely in our normal Christmas activities as if they were part of our family.

    Because really, they are. Maybe it is your family God wants to set a lonely soul in this year.

    Let's vow this Christmas to make someone's life better, richer in love, and fuller in the comforts of knowing they are noticed and cared for.

    Dear Lord, at this time when You sent Christ to earth, may I too reach out to make someone's life richer, fuller and far less lonely. I want to be Your hands and feet. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    LET. IT. GO.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith by Karen Ehman

    Reflect and Respond:
    Gather the family. Solicit responses to the following questions, "Who do you know that might be lonely at Christmas this year? Now, what creative way could we help to combat their loneliness and make them feel loved?"

    List the action steps you will take to make these ideas a reality. Mark the calendar to ensure it happens.

    Has there ever been a holiday season where you felt gloomy or alone? Did anyone do something to make you feel loved and included?

    How can reaching out to the lonely be a reflection of God reaching down from heaven to us on that very first Christmas?

    Power Verses:
    Matthew 25:40, "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" (NIV)

    © 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm, Christmas, Giving

  • First Christmas

    Posted on December 23, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manager.” Luke 2:11-12

     

    The focus of the first Christmas was Jesus. It was His day. There was no competition from commercialism seeking economic gain. The gifts were given to Him. God was the recipient of gratitude and generosity. He was glorified on this day of salvation for all who would come to believe in Jesus as God’s only Son. There was an appreciation for the Almighty’s descent into the decadence of humanity. There was no feuding from other faiths jockeying with each other for time in the Savior’s spotlight. On the contrary, there was a religious respect and humble worship from those who traveled great distances from their diverse origins of belief. On this day, Jesus unified sincere seekers of truth.

    The first Christmas, however, was not without controversy. Politically, He was a lightning rod (some things never change). Government leaders felt threatened, as if a traitor had infiltrated their influence over the masses. Involuntary spies were sent to validate His presence. Once His birth had been verified, the powers-that-be went to work. Insecurity and fear drive people to commit irrational acts, and it was no different back then. So what started as a celestial coronation for the Prince of Peace ended with jealous leaders taking severe and deadly action. The Christ-child was driven from their pitiful, but powerful presence. They destroyed other God-fearing people in the process. The community was cast into chaos when Christ was removed from their culture.

    We can learn from the first Christmas, to keep Christ central in worship and society. He is the wonder of our worship. He is the reason for our giving gifts. It is because we celebrate His birthday that we pause to pray, reflect, and plan to follow His will in a more robust and intentional manner. Our Master came to earth and made Himself like man. He took on the form of a servant, though He could have crowned Himself as King. He pointed us to the love and forgiveness of His heavenly Father. The Christ-child was born of a virgin. He was God who dwelt among us, but sometimes we forget Him, even on His birthday. 

    One reason we have failed to keep Christ in Christmas is that we have failed to keep Him in some of our churches. Why should the culture embrace the Christ of Christmas, when some of our churches have marginalized their Master? Let’s start by inviting the Almighty back into our churches with fresh and revitalized reverence in worship, evangelism, and discipleship. Let’s prayerfully and responsibly “lay hands” on leaders who fear God, hate sin, love people, and teach the Bible. Christmas is losing its luster for the Lord because Christians have forgotten to fear God.

    His birth is only significant if His death and resurrection are significant. The Christ of Christmas becomes compelling when we, as followers, flock to Him in faithfulness and obedience. Let all who name the name of Jesus revisit Him in the awe and worship of that first Christmas. Let’s exclaim with enthusiasm, to a hurting world, that He has come to heal broken hearts and revive sick souls. We unapologetically celebrate His birthday with passion because God is with us. He is transforming us into the likeness of His Son. Let’s make this Christmas like the first Christmas. Let’s invite the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with forgiveness, joy, hope, peace, and love while we worship our Lord together. The first Christmas fuels our faith and recalibrates us to Christ.


    Post/Tweet: Christmas celebrates Almighty God’s descent into the decadence of humanity. #Christmas

    © 2012 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 Luke, Christmas

  • Christ in Christmas

    Posted on December 22, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

     

    Christ in Christmas is like memorial in Memorial Day, mother in Mother’s Day, father in Father’s Day, labor in Labor Day, independence in Independence Day, and thanksgiving in Thanksgiving Day. However, in our attempt to not offend other religions and to become politically correct, we have diluted and desecrated the true meaning of Christmas.

    Indeed, Jesus is the reason for the season. He is the explanation for eternal life. He is the answer from almighty God for grace and truth incarnate. He is the beginning and the end, a bright light in the darkest darkness. He is our hope on earth as we prepare for our home in heaven.

    If Christ is not in Christmas, then churches can convert to corporate offices and missions can morph into humanitarian agencies. Christ in Christmas creates a tension for those who have yet to trust, but to us who have been saved, it is the most significant celebration.

    “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Galatians 4:4–5).

    Christ in Christmas means you live for a purpose much grander than merchandise and commerce. Your children have a legacy of love for God and country, and service to others. You work as unto the Lord and give generously out of gratitude for God’s bountiful blessings.

    Christ in Christmas motivates you to live like you were dying and to die like you were living, all in a spirit of faith, hope, and love. By God’s grace you promote a Christian worldview populated by praying people and full of eternal opportunities, while on guard in Spirit-led discernment to Satan’s schemes and evil’s deceptive intentions.

    Christ in Christmas compels you to exclaim, “He was born so we would believe, He died so we would live, and He rose so we would rise!” Therefore, in humility and with pride, boldly keep Christ in Christmas. His birth is your excuse to brag about Jesus.

    The Bible says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

    Prayer: How can I keep Christ in Christmas with my church and family traditions and my everyday life and conversations?

    Related Readings: Isaiah 19:20; Malachi 3:1; Acts 2:36

    Post/Tweet: Christ in Christmas means we live for a purpose much more compelling than commerce. #Christmas

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mailwisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Luke, Galatians, Christmas

  • Modest Means

    Posted on December 21, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “She gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Luke 2:7

     

    Jesus came into the world in a modest manger with parents who had modest means. Mary and Joseph were long on love but short on financial resources. But in God’s economy, a family first needs faith in their Provider and not in the provision. A family who prays together has a higher probability of staying together. A home, rich in relational depth, experiences true riches. Modest financial means can liberate one’s love for the Lord.

    You may receive a cool reception from those who feel superior because of their self proclaimed social status. Some look down on the work of your hands for their hands have not been soiled by sweat and physical labor. Pride breeds a smug countenance while humility births a kind and compassionate face. Indeed, modesty makes room for humility.

    “But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of.” 1 Corinthians 12:19, The Message

    Are you a little embarrassed that you don’t have the cutest clothes, the coolest car or the most decorated home? Don’t let the “comparison trap” trap you into not trusting God for His game plan and His good things. You may seem ordinary by the world’s standards, but your life surrendered to your Savior has extraordinary potential. Give Him all you have.

    Maybe you are newly married or you know a newlywed couple. This modest season is a prime time to learn contentment in Christ and how to serve Him and others unselfishly. Give over to the Lord your modest means and He will multiply it for His glory. Your limited time He redeems with creative opportunities, your humble finances He stretches beyond a strict budget and your rich relationships He makes richer. Dedicate your modest means to your Master Jesus; like a soft rain, He will refresh dry hearts.

    “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” Luke 16:10

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, take my modest means and multiply them for Your glory.

    Related Readings: Exodus 16:17; Proverbs 16:8; Luke 19:17; 1 Corinthians 12:23

    Post/Tweet today: A home, rich in relational depth, experiences true riches. #true riches

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    Order our new book: Seeking Daily the Heart of God, vol. II... http://bit.ly/Tv6y9a


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Corinthians, Luke, Christmas

  • Q&A With Irene Hannon

    Posted on December 21, 2012 by John van der Veen

    Fiction readers rejoice! Irene Hannon has a new book available, titled Vanished.

    Irene Hannon

    Are you familiar with Irene? Irene is a bestselling, award-winning author who took the  publishing world by storm at the tender age of 10 with a sparkling piece of fiction that received national attention. Okay…maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But she was one of the honorees in a complete-the-story contest conducted by a national children’s magazine. And she likes to think of that as her “official” fiction-writing debut!

    Since then, she has written more than 40 romance and romantic suspense novels. Her books have been honored with two RITA awards—the “Oscar” of romantic fiction—and she is a six-time finalist for that prestigious honor. Her books have also won a Daphne du Maurier award, a Carol award, a HOLT Medallion, a National Readers’ Choice Award, a Retailers Choice Award and two Reviewers’ Choice awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. One of her novels was also named by Booklist as one of the top 10 inspirational fiction books of 2011.

    Irene, who holds a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in journalism, juggled two careers for many years until she gave up her executive corporate communications position with a Fortune 500 company to write full-time. She is happy to say she has no regrets!

    In her spare time (like she has any), Irene enjoys cooking, gardening and singing.  A trained vocalist, she has sung the leading role in numerous musicals, including “South Pacific,” “Brigadoon,” “Oklahoma” “The King and I” and “Anything Goes.” She is also a soloist at her church. When not otherwise occupied, Irene and her husband enjoy traveling, Saturday mornings at their favorite coffee shop and spending time with family. They make their home in Missouri.

    Recently we sat down with her to ask her a few questions.

    FC: Irene, we are excited to read your new book Vanished. Tell us about it.

    Irene: Vanished is Book 1 in my new Private Justice series, which features 3 ex-law enforcement operatives who join forces to form a PI agency. In Vanished, reporter Moira Harrison is new on the job in St. Louis…but she’s no rookie to investigative reporting. She knows how to dig for answers and get results. But when she hits a pedestrian on a rainy night in a wooded area—only to have both the victim and the good Samaritan who stopped to assist disappear—she turns to P.I. Cal Burke, an ex-homicide detective, to help her sort out the puzzle. Cal is more than a little skeptical of her story, especially since the police have dismissed it. But as clues begin to surface, bringing them closer to answers, the danger mounts. Because someone doesn’t want this mystery solved—and will stop at nothing to protect a shocking secret that will destroy a life built on lies.

    FC: Who’s your favorite character in all your books and why?

    Irene: Ooohh…that’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child! I love all my characters, especially the heroes and heroines. I also enjoy getting into the heads of my villains and trying to figure out what makes them tick.

    FC: Are any of your characters based on real people?

    Irene: No. All the characters are imaginary. But I work hard to make them real for readers.

    FC: Are you a character in any of your books or is there one character you relate to the most?

    Irene: I think there’s a piece of me in many of my heroines. As for which one I relate to the most—I like them all and could be friends with any of them.

    FC: Tell us something about you. Favorite books? Music? Your favorite thing to relax?

    Irene: I love to read, though I wish I had more time to read for pleasure. I also enjoy taking walks, travel and spending time with my husband and family. I was once an avid figure skater, but again, there are only so many hours in the day. I do love to sing, and in addition to being involved in the music ministry at my church, I love to perform in community musical theater productions. In fact, I was in a show last summer!

    FC: What has God been teaching you lately?

    Irene: To keep my priorities straight. In the new year, I’m going to try very hard to turn off my computer by 6 p.m. every night and work less on weekends. Writing (and the requisite social media obligations) can be all-consuming, but people need balance in their lives and I need to do a better job at creating that.

    FC: What’s on your bucket list?

    Irene: I’ve been lucky to do many of the things I’ve wanted to do. But in line with the previous question, high on my bucket list is finding a way to simplify my life so I have more time to spend with the people I love.

    For more on Irene and her books, click here.


    This post was posted in Books, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Fiction, Irene Hannon

  • Looking Around

    Posted on December 21, 2012 by Rachel Olsen

    Rachel Olsent

    "Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap." Ecclesiastes 11:4 (NIV)

    Do you ever look around at other women and wonder how in the world they get so much done?

    Me too.

    It's frustrating to feel that you are somehow falling behind, or missing out on all the things you want to accomplish because you just can't seem to make it happen.

    So I started to analyze why it was others seemed to get more done than I did. Why did they reap more than me?

    Was I just not cut out to run at as fast a pace as them?

    I suspect there may be some truth to that. We all know people we'd classify as "high energy." Note: I'm energetic, but I'm not one of those perky morning people that I dislike, uh, er ... admire. Okay, envy.

    Was I just in a different season of life? I still have kids in the home - kids who cannot drive. Certain seasons of mothering or care-taking can be busier.

    But the more I thought about it, the more I realized these were not the full crux of my problem.

    No, the crux of my problem was waiting for everything to be perfect before I moved forward. If I didn't feel I could do something "right," I often didn't do it at all. If I couldn't control each move, or the outcome, I waited rather than began. And that meant a lot of things sat either un-started or unfinished.

    Home improvement projects.

    Sewing projects.

    Writing projects.

    Work projects.

    Even my elaborate study-the-Bible plans.

    I spent a lot of time waiting until I felt fully ready, and all conditions seemed ripe before I would begin. That was a lot of time wasted. In fact, when I reflect on the things I have accomplished in life, I'm not sure I've ever felt fully ready for any of them when I started.

    I wanted ideal conditions. A primary lesson in the book of Ecclesiastes is learning to distinguish between the things we have control over, and the things we don't. For instance, we can't control the weather, the aging process, or the job market. Trying to control such things is futile. And waiting for the climate, our appearance or the work industry to be perfect before we embark on our dreams is just as useless.

    Will we never plan a picnic because it could rain? Will we not bother exercising because we're going to die at some point? Will we put off training for that new job we've always wanted because the economy could turn?

    The message of Ecclesiastes 11:4 is: Stop procrastinating! Don't be overly cautious. Quit waiting on perfection. Staring at the clouds stops you from sowing, which ultimately limits your reaping.

    True, the conditions might not be perfect. Your efforts might fail. Or they might have to be repeated for months before they yield significant results. But they also might succeed! And you don't know in advance what is going to work.

    Nothing will work, however, if we do not.

    We can't control the rain, the locusts of life, or the size of our harvest. But we control the planting. And nothing grows that isn't first planted with energy and fertilized with prayer.

    Ecclesiastes teaches us our inability to control the future should lead us into diligent work, not into depressed daydreaming while we watch clouds - and others - go by.

    While we can't control everything, we can do something about one thing. She who stares at the clouds - waiting - does not reap. But she who plants, reaps.

    Dear Lord, forgive me for the time I've wasted waiting for ideal conditions. Waiting until I felt sure I could succeed. I want to move out in faith. I want to plant and reap. I want to be a good steward of the time and opportunities You afford me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Lose the long list of resolutions — all your sweeping promises to change — and do something about one thing this year instead of nothing about everything. In Rachel Olsen's newest book, My One Word, she and co-author Mike Ashcroft lead you in choosing just one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year. Pick up your copy by clicking here!

    Reflect and Respond:
    What have you been putting off doing?

    How does procrastination, fear, or perfectionism prevent you from being a good steward of God's opportunities and callings?

    Power Verses:
    Philippians 4:13, "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (NIV)

    Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Word From God

    Posted on December 20, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “For no word from God will ever fail.” Luke 1:37

     

    God’s word never returns void and because of the Spirit’s inspiration, it is always successful. Mary and Elizabeth received a word from the Lord that He had blessed them with very special children. Sons who would represent their heavenly Father with a servant spirit and who would boldly proclaim the word of God. Yes, the Bible communicates Christ’s words in a transformational way, but Scripture requires respect. 

    Do you read the Bible for information or inspiration? Is your goal to study the Word, learn facts about God, or to know God? If you are a serious student of Scripture you will encounter Christ in your search for truth. The word of God is a hammer that chisels pride from your heart, a fire that brands truth into your brain, and a sword that slices ego from your soul. Watch for a word from God, for it will lead you to success.

    “Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? Jeremiah 23:29

    Moreover, as you take time to meditate on God’s word, it begins to marinate your mind with wise thinking. Beyond your personal interaction in prayer and study, make sure you are engaged with a small group of Christ followers who will challenge and sharpen your thinking. Life change results from a clear understanding of why you believe what you believe. Yes, ask your heavenly Father to fill your mind with what really matters to Him.

    Do you have a word from God for a major decision you are facing? If not, wait until you do, and then validate your thinking with other godly advisors. If you do, then proceed in the power of the Holy Spirit and trust the Lord with the results. It may not make sense in the short run, but you can trust Him in the long run. God’s word always wins out!

    “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

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, engraft Your word in my heart so I grow to know You better.

    Related Readings: Luke 11:28; Acts 12:24; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:9

    Post/Tweet today: Watch out for a word from God for it will lead you to success. #success

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    Order our new book: Seeking Daily the Heart of God, vol. II... http://bit.ly/Tv6y9a


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Luke, Hebrews, Jeremiah

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