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  • Following from Afar

    Posted on March 19, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen

    "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

  • Sword of the Spirit

    Posted on March 18, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    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

  • It's Over

    Posted on March 18, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha

    "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

  • A Nation Exalted

    Posted on March 17, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    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

  • Willing to Accept

    Posted on March 16, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “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

  • Helmet of Salvation

    Posted on March 15, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    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

  • 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.

  • Stressed-Less Living

    Posted on March 15, 2013 by Stephanie Clayton

    Stephanie

    "Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave." Psalm 107:19-20 (NIV)

    As I sat in my abnormal psychology class, my face turned red and my heart raced. I remembered the small black box hiding under my blouse. A few days before, the cardiologist had given me a monitor and instructed me to hit a button on it every time my heart sped. It was happening again, and this time in a classroom.

    That day, my class was learning about people who have frequent physical complaints with no organic cause. What if that was me?? What if my heart issues were nothing more than stress and anxiety? I actually hoped the doctor would find something physically wrong with my heart so she wouldn't scrawl "crazy girl" on my medical chart.

    Over the next few months, with more testing, my doctor determined low thyroid levels were the organic basis for my heart problems. I began taking prescription medication, however my heart issues continued. Curious as to why, I began writing down what was happening during the times my heart raced.

    It occurred when I made a class presentation and when I walked alone in a dark parking lot. It happened when I faced confrontation and when certain people came around me. After a week of writing these triggers down, I realized my heart issues were in part related to anxiety.

    A Christian girl shouldn't struggle with anxiety, should she? Especially one majoring in counseling. I wanted desperately to hide the struggle attacking me physically and emotionally, but it was getting difficult to function. Christian counseling helped me process the cause of my anxiety. I also dug into God's Word. Psalm 107:19-20 spoke volumes to my situation.

    "Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave."

    I chose to believe and trust in the scripture map found in Psalm 107:19-20. Cry out... trust Him to save me... His Word would heal me... and I would be rescued from the grave.

    To begin, I got real with God about my pain. He already knew my heart, but crying out to Him helped me swallow my pride and acknowledge that He is capable of what I am not.

    Next, I chose to trust that He would save me. When I doubted the promises of His Word, I prayed that He would help me overcome my unbelief.

    Then I acknowledged the healing power of His Word. At first, I believed lies such as I am unlovable and will never be good enough. These lies were much louder than the scriptures I read. However, the more I repeated verses and altered my behavior to His commands, belief began to manifest.

    Last, I consented to a rescue from the grave. I hadn't been eager for freedom because anxiety was a method of control. As long as I worried, I felt in control. If Christ was going to rescue me from the grave of anxiety, I would have to give up control and trust Him. And that seemed scary! But even scarier was the idea of continued physical and emotional death. Choosing to trust Him involved a shift in my focus. I chose to see and accept the good in my life and to focus on what I could learn in this difficult season. Trusting Him meant choosing joy in the present over despair.

    It's been several years since that day in abnormal psychology class wearing my heart monitor. I've come to realize that although stress, anxiety, and worry will always try to attack us, they don't have permission to infiltrate our heart and mind. Only God has permission to do that. We can battle anxiety with Scripture truth that God is in control, has plans for us, and there is no need to be anxious over circumstances. He is our healer, rescuer, Savior. He is our freedom from the grave of anxiety, stress, and worry.

    Dear Lord, help me trust You, consent to Your healing, and spend time in Your Word and in prayer. Rescue me from my distress and from the grave. Thank You for caring about my life and that I can be free from stress. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Stressed-Less Living by Tracie Miles

    Reflect and Respond:
    Write out the scripture map from Psalm 107:19-20. Cry out... trust Him to save you... His Word would heal you... and you would be rescued from the grave.

    Over the next 24 hours, walk each step out.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 94:19, "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Stephanie Clayton. All rights reserved.

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

  • Shield of Faith

    Posted on March 14, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16

    The shield of faith is the first line of defense against the devil’s fiery arrows. It is forged on the Almighty’s anvil with the Holy Trinity’s alloy. Faith in the Father, Son and Spirit are three metals of faith that cannot be destroyed. The heat of adversity cannot melt them. The cold of relational conflict cannot break them. And the onslaught of suffering cannot bend them. Yes, the shield of faith is a heavenly refuge for the righteous to know and feel the assurance of God, three in one.

    Do you take up your shield of faith, or do you take itfor granted, while it lies on the ground, ineffective? A horizontal shield of faith is no help, but a vertical one marshals heaven’s forces. Your part is to hold onto and hold up your shield of faith; His part is to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. He extinguishes arrows of doubt with His reassuring words in Scripture and His calming presence in prayer. He extinguishes arrows of pride with your humble service.

    The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. Psalm 28:7

     

    Obedience is evidence of faith that is alive and engaged in God’s agenda. We know we are surrounded by spiritual support when we enlist in the Lord’s army. If we become AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave) to Christ’s commands, we are exposed to the enemy’s artillery. A solo saint is easy prey for the enemy’s ploys. Therefore, we stay accountable to a community of faith, who shield us from ignorance and foolish decisions. Faith needs support from friends.

     

    Lastly, wait on God to bring reinforcements to your challenging situation. Stay in your trench of trust and the Holy Spirit will renew your spirit and give you peace and hope in the middle of the your adversary’s attacks. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength in your struggles. Take up your shield of faith and take on Satan. His arrows of deceit and discouragement are extinguished by your bold belief in God. Your shield of faith is reliable. It is insured by the Father, Son and Spirit.

     

    This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power. 1 Peter 1:4-5

    Prayer: Heavenly Father,I place my faith and trust in You to extinquish the enemy’s flaming arrows of doubt and discouragement.

    Related Readings: Psalm 115:9-11; Isaiah 31:5; Matthew 5:37; 1 John 5:4; Revelation 12:11

    Post/Tweet today: A horizontal shield of faith is no help, but a vertical one marshals heaven’s forces. #faith

     

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

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

  • The Cussing Thoughts

    Posted on March 14, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)

    The sky was blue. The snow crisp white. The mountain slopes full of choices to be made. Which run will we take?

    We decided to tackle a "blue run" first.

    The ski officials label the slopes by color. The same officials whose job it is to inform skiers exactly what they're about to get into. Yes, those of us crazy enough to strap glorified popsicle sticks to our feet and careen down a mountain need to be informed.

    Green for beginners. Blue for intermediates. Black for advanced and those who think they're advanced until they get too far to turn back. Bummer.

    We decided we would be smart. We wouldn't overestimate our skiing abilities by tackling the black runs. But blue? Yes, please.

    The perfect skiing adventure.

    Until.

    The moguls.

    We'd been on several lovely runs down the same slope when my husband Art suggested we try a different slope. Huh? I am emotionally allergic to different. I like to discover something that's good and stick with it. Why mess with what's working? With what feels good?

    "It will be great," he insisted and headed over to the new lift.

    Either I was going to follow him or be left behind. That's when I had my first not-so-nice thought. I call them cussing thoughts. It's not that I was actually saying cuss words. No, more like really negative thoughts that I wouldn't want to broadcast out loud.

    So, a new slope it would be.

    Things started out well. And then the slope got a little interesting. Have you ever heard, "Everything was going fine until we hit a bump in the road"? Yes, well, try a steep mountain full of nothing but bumps. Like the kind that could catapult you off the side of the mountain. Or snap your legs in half.

    As fear coursed through every fiber of my body, my mind filled with all things negative and derogatory. Things that were not going to make that trip down the slope an easy one.

    What I really needed was to resist the cussing thoughts so I could choose the corrected thoughts. Because dark thoughts are like a black run down the mountain. Once you get on the black slope of cussing thoughts they'll take you down to places you don't want to go.

    But in that moment, I didn't choose the corrected thoughts. I made that run so much more difficult by letting the cussing thoughts come in and bring me down.

    How like life.

    Every day we're going to hit bumpy spots.

    Someone will do something that rubs you wrong. Cussing thoughts or corrected thoughts?

    You don't get that opportunity you felt you deserved. Cussing thoughts or corrected thoughts?

    A cussing thought can become a corrected thought by asking three questions:

    * Is this thought in line with truth?

    * Is this thought in line with who I am?

    * Is this thought in line with who I want to be?

    God has taught me how to think using His truth but I have to make the choice to apply what I've learned.

    God has challenged me to live out Hebrews 10:23, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful."

    "Hold unswervingly. Hold. Unswervingly." What does this mean?

    God has challenged me to grow in my knowledge of Him but I have to choose whether or not to display this growth through my thoughts and actions.

    Think according to truth. Live according to truth. Then His hope will be displayed in my life.

    Just like mountain slopes have options for which run to take... so do I with the thoughts I think. Cussing thoughts or corrected thoughts. My choice.

    Dear Lord, I am so grateful for Your truth. Give me strength today as I hit some bumpy spots. Make my thoughts pure and in alignment with Your Word. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Feel like your thoughts are making you want to come unglued? In her New York Times best-selling book, Lysa teaches how to take control of your feelings in order to have godly reactions. Click here to purchase your copy of Unglued.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What cussing thoughts are you having today?

    Write down one you're struggling with. Then, write down a corrected, truth-based thought to replace it with.

    Power Verses:
    Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

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