• The Zondervan Study Bible

Family Christian

  • Are You Hearing?

    Posted on February 26, 2013 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn

    "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ." Romans 10:17 (NIV)

    With a very busy day ahead of me, a dark cloud of stress was hanging overhead. I had written my "to-do" list, and asked the Holy Spirit to help me hear His timeline for when I should get everything done.

    Getting ready to tackle number one on my list, I felt an impression on my heart, "Start with worshipping Me." At first I thought, I don't really have time for that. But peace came as I acknowledged I didn't have time not to worship Him.

    Setting my list aside, I turned on worship music in my living room. As I listened to scriptures woven throughout the lyrics, I saw again how His Word was exactly what I needed to start my day.

    This year, I am purposing to listen. Dictionary.com defines listen as: to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing.

    To listen, I have to be focused on hearing, purposefully and selectively, because what I hear has the power to change to me.

    Romans 10:17 says, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." (ESV)

    When I hear God's Word, whether it is spoken, set to music or taught, my faith will grow. I need, then, to put myself in a place where I can hear (not just read silently) God's Word. I've begun to look for new ways to hear Scripture.

    One of those ways is reading the Bible out loud. This has a few great benefits. I stay awake (a serious consideration when it's early in the morning or late at night!). Anyone who hears me also gets to hear God's Word! And my faith is built.

    When little children first learn how to read, what does their teacher make them do? Read out loud. Why? Hearing builds comprehension; it helps us understand the material better.

    The same is true when it comes to reading God's Word. "Faith comes by hearing." Reading out loud helps build our comprehension of what Scripture is telling us, as well as our faith. This is good for us and our children!

    We can read the Bible out loud to children or better yet, have them read to us! Even if just for a small pocket of time: on the way to school, after dinner, before bed, or coming home from sports practice.

    Keep a Bible in the car, by your kitchen table, or near the TV. I once heard a great author say he grew up in a home with books everywhere. In every room, on every table, there was a book. It became a natural thing to just pick them up and see what each page held! Let's do the same with God's Word and make it easily accessible.

    Hearing God's Word is important. Let's start listening today by turning on some praise music, reading Scripture out loud and listening to sermons. Our faith will begin building quickly!

    Lord, I need to build my faith for all that You have given me in this life. Holy Spirit, whisper to me, showing me pockets of time when I can hear Your Word for myself and for my children too. Amen

    Related Resources:
    Do you need a resource to help a teen girl in your life build her faith through hearing God's Word? Lynn Cowell's new book Devotions for a Revolutionary Year - 365 Days of Jesus' Radical Love for You can help you do just that! Short devotionals, only 2-3 minutes each, can go a long way in helping her learn God's truth.

    Reflect and Respond:
    When are you currently hearing God's Word? Church services, online sermons, radio broadcasts?

    Power Verses:
    Colossians 3:16, "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts." (NIV)

    1 Thessalonians 2:13, "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Protective Love

    Posted on February 25, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Love always protects. 1 Corinthians 13:7

    Love gives a sense of security to its objects of affection. There is a deep desire to protect from physical harm and to keep from emotional injury. Love looks out for the best interest of those it shares intimacy with. It is like a trusted big brother who will not allow a younger sibling to be taken advantage of by an unscrupulous individual. Love serves as a scout who goes ahead of a loved one and sizes up any snares that lie ahead. Yes, it keeps those it cares for from dangerous detours.

    A protective husband understands the power of covering his wife in prayer. He boldly petitions the pearly gates of heaven for power against the gates of hell on behalf of his bride and children. You love the love of your life in a way that truly understands her deep need for security: physical, financial, emotional and spiritual. Your wife trusts the protection of your presence. Your spiritual strength gives her a sense of security and peace. A secure wife is a happy wife.

    You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way. 1 Peter 3:7, NASB

    Love also protects the reputation of those it respects. It is discreet when told in confidence of the struggles of a fellow follower of Christ. Loyalty has no longing to let go of information that may harm the good standing of a friend who serves Jesus. You protect the good name of those you care for because your love covers a multitude of sins. Bear the burdens of your brothers and sisters in Christ, without baring their baggage. Discretion is the better part of protective love.

    Most importantly, lean into the Lord’s long shadow of love. Your Heavenly Father longs to love you in a way that makes you feel protected by His presence and great power. His love protects you from selfish pride with His generous grace and humility. His love protects you from Satan’s schemes with His Spirit’s enlightenment. His love protects you from  unfaithfulness with His stellar faithfulness. His love protects you from disturbing fears with His calming presence!

    For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. Psalm 117:2

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father thank you for your protective love and  security.

     

    Related Readings: Daniel 9:4; Zephaniah 3:17; Colossians 3:19; Philemon 1:7

     

    Post/Tweet today: A protective husband understands the power of covering his wife in prayer. #prayer

     

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

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

  • Fueled or Filled?

    Posted on February 25, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis

    "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:9-10 (NIV)

     

    As a mother of three little boys my life was full ... full with tiny people loving me, following me, needing me. I was never alone ... and yet on so many days I felt empty.

    My schedule was full of responsibilities as I tried to manage a part-time job, church leadership, and clutter and laundry at home that seemed insurmountable. Yet in spite of an overflowing to-do list, I felt empty.

    There was a hunger for significance that days filled with people and activity could never meet. Rather than turning to the One who could speak meaning and purpose into my heart, I desperately tried to reclaim the life I had before children ... the me I was before children ... but it was always outside my grasp.

    I know others feel this way too. Our lives can be filled with people, projects, jobs, and fancy planners or apps to manage them all, and we can still be empty on the inside. Our hearts cry in quiet despair ... is there more to life than this?

    But this was NEVER God's plan. God created us to be filled by Him. Without Him we can feel full but still be empty. Here's an example of what I mean.

    I drive a Suburban. It's a workhorse of a vehicle, bought when we needed to carry three growing and athletic boys with all their equipment. Although it's over 10 years old, it still works great when it's got fuel.

    But what would happen if one day I decided to fill my car up from the garden hose? It's right by my driveway. I could just unwind the hose, open my gas tank and turn her on. Can you imagine how much money I would save? And I would save so much time!

    If I filled my car with water, and just left it in the driveway, you'd think I was ready to go. Now what would happen if I tried to take a road trip?

    Sometimes, we try to do as women, don't we? We look really good on the outside. And we may even feel full. But what we are filled with will not sustain us. In fact, if we go very far, we will break down.

    Here's the problem we need to be aware of. We have an enemy who tries to convince us we are full. John 10:9-10 says, "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

    This enemy has been convincing us for thousands of years that God can't fully meet our heart cries. Rather than turning to God to access His unlimited storehouse of wisdom, direction, comfort, and provision, we turn to idols. We seek to fill our God-hunger with what's tangible. Sight replaces faith and it's easy to forget our personal God.

    Although I loved and served God during those hard years, I forgot He was personal enough to fuel my empty heart with meaning and purpose. When a move across country stripped my life from all responsibilities outside my home, I was desperate enough to cry out to God rather than fill my days again with more to do.

    When He finally had my attention, God stepped in to the gap to reveal Himself in a personal way. My heart was finally being fueled, and in a way that satisfied rather than left me hungry.

    I've lived life both ways - filled but empty, and fueled and content. Interestingly my life is still full with people who need me, clutter and laundry that still need to be managed and work and church responsibilities. But the emptiness is gone. God is the source of true fullness that never leaves me wanting.

    Related Resources:

    I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer is a unique combination of biblical encouragement and practical advice to help avoid the busyness that fills but not fuels.

    If the clutter and laundry and everything else is overwhelming and pulling you away from God, Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst will encourage and spur you on.

    Reflect and Respond:
    In what specific ways are you fueling from the "garden hose" and not from the God? Ask Him to forgive you for turning to other things to satisfy you.

    Pause in this moment to connect with God. Pray for Him to fill you with His wisdom, direction, comfort, and provision.

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 58:11, "The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." (NIV)

    Matthew 6:33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Risk and Reward

    Posted on February 24, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.” Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to him in marriage. ​Judges 1:12-13

    Risk, many times, precedes reward, and reward may follow risk. War is risky because you endanger life and limb. The stakes are high. However, the rewards of war are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The victor enjoys the spoils of war, while those humiliated in defeat suffer loss. Marriage is risky because it entails the co-mingling of money, time, trust, and loyalty. What’s yours becomes hers and what’s hers becomes yours. You become one flesh, for it is a relationship of oneness (Genesis 2:24). But the rewards of marriage are love, joy, peace, companionship, sex, children, and spiritual/emotional maturity to name but a few. The many risks of marriage are overshadowed by the mammoth rewards it hands out to the husband and to the wife.

    ​Business and ministry are risky undertakings. You have prayed about an idea, and now you are on the precipice of launching your start-up enterprise. You have invested a tremendous amount of sweat equity and financial resources. Your spouse has been extremely patient, but now you are at the point of no return. The stakes are high; you may lose a ton, or you may gain a lot. There is a risk of failure, which means your confidence may crater and your reputation may reel from your inability to deliver. But the rewards are the sense of accomplishment and the ability to build an enterprise defined by a Christ-centered culture.

    Like David, your model of risk-taking may inspire others to greater vision (1 Chronicles 11:19). You have the reward of positioning yourself to invest in and influence Kingdom endeavors. Keep this your goal, regardless of whether you fail or succeed. Success will always be accompanied by mini failures. So stay focused on God and obedient to His calling. Risk and reward are kept in the right perspective through prayer. God will lead you by His Holy Spirit because these initiatives come from a divine directive. Therefore, there is no need to take unnecessary risks. Be patient, and God will lead you to just the right opportunities at just the right time.

    ​Over a lifetime, there are limited God-ordained opportunities that require risk. Therefore, allow the Almighty to guide you through the risky terrain of life. Avoid shortcuts and, instead, wait on Him.  Pay the price of patience and seize the moment only when your faith, His Word, and godly counsel validate your direction. Persevere in the process because God may ask you to do things that seem larger than life. He has prepared your way with people and resources, so follow hard after Him. And what may seem risky to others will be peaceful to you. When you draft off the wake of Holy Spirit directives, you are positioned for rewards. However, for some, the rewards remain dormant until death. Your risk may be living an obscure and obedient life to Christ, with the joy of remaining faithful as your only earthly reward. But the reward of knowing and obeying Him is eternal, and it is enough. The risk is rejection from people, but the reward is acceptance from Him.

    ​What a privilege to honor, serve, love, and worship Jesus. And then your greatest reward is when you see Him face to face and hear, “Well done” (Matthew 25:23).

    Post/Tweet: When we draft off the wake of Holy Spirit directives, we are positioned for rewards. #rewards

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Time to Go

    Posted on February 23, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).

    It is time to go when God says so, even though you are not sure where you are going. Abraham was a “friend of God” (James 2:23 nasb) who trusted the heart of God. He was secure in his faith, knowing his heavenly Father would not lead him astray. Are you okay with only the call of Christ as your next step? Is He calling you out of your comfort zone to a new level of faith and obedience? It is here that you hear Him quite clearly.

    Maybe He wants you to move with your company so your career can become the means of funding your passion for missions. Locals in foreign countries are keenly interested in teachers, housewives, doctors, bankers, and businessmen visiting their world. The marketplace is your ministry. It validates your value and confirms your character. The Lord will use your obedience to encourage the faith of others and especially the faith of your family.

    The faith of parents often procures the blessing of obedience on their posterity. When your teenage son sees you say yes to Christ’s challenge, he is more likely to say yes to wisdom when faced with issues of trust. Your daughter will not soon forget your family’s earnest prayers as you sought to see God’s best and to obey. Parents who obey God’s call create the same expectation for their children; so follow the Lord for them.

    Lastly, the call of Christ leads to His blessing on earth and in heaven. It may mean prosperity. It may mean poverty. Or it may mean something in between. The most important reward is that of your eternal inheritance. Leave a legacy of loving the Lord, and you will have loved your children. Follow Him faithfully; there is a much higher probability they will as well. Is it time to go? Then go with your best friend Jesus.

    The Bible says, “God’s intimate friendship blessed my house” (Job 29:4).

    Prayer: Where is Christ calling me to a higher level of faith and obedience?

    Related Readings: Nehemiah 9:7–8; Psalm 105:6–11; Acts 7:2–4; Galatians 3:6

    Post/Tweet: The Lord will use your obedience to encourage the faith of others and especially the faith of your family. #faith

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Love Loves Truth

    Posted on February 22, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Love rejoices in truth. 1 Corinthians 13:6

    Truth reveals hidden realities. Hence, the lover of truth daily discovers new opportunities to walk wisely in the ways of Christ. Because He is the Truth, a love relationship with Jesus illuminates truth by His Spirit and illustrates truth by His life. The fruit of truth grows in a life of educated faith. Those who romance truth in God's Word grow to know Him in deeper intimacy. Just as a loving husband pursues his wife, so loving followers of Jesus seek out His truth and His life.

    Is the foundation of your marriage based on honest truth or dishonest deception? If as a couple you commit to open agendas, pure motives and transparent communication, you value truth. Indeed, truth is a tool for loving correction, not a club for angry retaliation. You speak the truth in love to one another and so bear one another's burdens. You rejoice, as you truly do life together. Truth talking facilitates freedom to trust, as fear of a secret life fades away and is forgotten.

    Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 4:2 Love loves truth because it knows truth sharing is caring. When we love someone enough to not leave them in their ignorance we show we care. Love takes the time to explain and instruct, not complain and erupt. Yes, you patiently instruct your child in the teachings of Christ, so they will come to know Him and grow in His grace. Perhaps, you create a culture of apprenticeship at work so everyone has a mentor who models and teaches true best practices that develop leaders.

    Lastly, season your passion of truth with the spices of humility and grace. Truth is volatile in the hands of pride, but embedded in a heart of humble grace it experiences transforming results. Also, use humor to illustrate hard facts that seem harsh when spoken directly. Also, levity can lighten the mood when the seriousness of a situation begins to become real. Above all love Jesus, Truth personified. His Spirit will direct you in all truth, so you can live truth in a spirit of love.

    Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

    Prayer: Heavenly Father my heart is to know You and Your truth to help others be set free.

    Related Readings: Psalm 26:2-3; Romans 12:9; Ephesians 5:9; 2 John 1:1-3

    Post/Tweet today: A love relationship with Jesus illuminates truth by His Spirit and illustrates truth by His life. #lovetruth

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Wait Training 101

    Posted on February 22, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen

    "... but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

    Ever feel like God signed you up for an intense "wait training" class?

    You pray. You ask. You anticipate God's answer, but like an Internet page taking a long time to load, you must wait.

    And wait.

    And wait some more.

    I had to wait years before I became pregnant. During that time I attended baby showers while choking back tears.

    I had to wait nearly three years for our too-expensive-for-our-new-financial-situation home to sell. During that time, I pinched pennies and lost sleep.

    And I'm still waiting on many prayer requests: for a spiritually lost loved one, a family friend in ICU, a plan for my high school son's future. Waiting, waiting, waiting ...

    But just as physical weight training builds strength, so does spiritual "wait training." We are promised this in Isaiah 40:31:

    "... but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

    How can waiting renew our strength? After all, doesn't waiting seem to sap our strength as we worry and fret and drum our fingers impatiently? It's exhausting playing the "What if?" game in our minds:

    What if this doesn't work out?
    What if God's answer is "No"?
    What if the thing I fear the most actually happens ... what then?

    All of this worry-laden waiting drains rather than strengthens. How can we turn this around and actually find ourselves renewed?

    I have found that to shift my perspective in the waiting times replenishes my strength. I try not to think of those times of seemingly silence from God as waiting in the sense of sitting and anxiously anticipating a response. But as in waiting like a butler, maid or restaurant server.

    Those who "wait on the Lord"—as in serve Him, cater to Him, help Him accomplish His work; those who take His order and bring Him what He wants—they are the ones who renew their strength.

    They mount up with wings as eagles.

    They walk and do not faint.

    As we serve, we become more aware of what the One we are waiting on desires. We become alert, attentive, and in tune with His wishes. We begin to take our eyes off of our problems and fix them on the Lord instead. As we do, we get a glimpse into His heart.

    Then, instead of the wait sapping our spiritual strength, it is renewed as we seek to do the Lord's will ... to make Him famous ... to give Him glory. Even in those long, hard times of waiting for an answer, we continue to serve Him.

    Will you sign up with me for Wait Training 101?

    You'll grow stronger spiritual muscles if you do. But we must commit to this perspective: we won't just "wait on the Lord," we'll wait on Him. Trust me, the tips He leaves are out of this world!

    Dear Lord, teach me to shift my perspective during those times of waiting and doubt. May I stop fretting and worrying, and busy myself serving You instead. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    If you want to learn to stop trying to make things happen and trust God instead, check out Karen Ehman's new book and DVD curriculum LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Name a time in your life when you had to wait on God for an answer. Rate yourself from 1 to 10 on how you did in the waiting (10 is patiently worshipping and 1 is freaking out).

    Now, think of something you are currently waiting on God for an answer. Write down two or three new actions you will take to "wait" on the Lord.

    Memorize either today's key verse, Isaiah 40:31, or one of the power verses below. During the times you are tempted to fuss and fret, quote the verses to yourself.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 40:1, "I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry." (ESV)

    Psalm 100:1-3, "Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • Sin Saddens Love

    Posted on February 21, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Love does not delight in evil. 1 Corinthians 13:6

    It breaks the heart of love to see sin break the heart of God. Love may warn a loved one of sin’s snare, but if their choice is to continue in unseemly behavior, the evil effects are vexing. Love for the Lord feeds fear of the Lord. A heart of holiness flows from a faith that fears God. There is a respectful and reverent attitude that accompanies disciples of Jesus who are deeply in love with Him. The righteous disdain evil like a cancer to the soul. There is no delight in doing wrong.

    Have you cracked the door of your life to sin that’s crouching outside ready to slither in? If so, slam it shut, because your love and loyalty is to the Lord. Do not succumb to unfaithfulness to your Savior Jesus, your jealous groom. Yes, God’s grace will allow you back into His good graces, but do not stray in the first place. Show Him your sincerity by not being captivated by sin’s sirens. Because you love God, you are able to love what He loves and hate what He hates.

    If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Genesis 4:7

    A husband and wife who embrace loving accountability enjoy delighting in the Lord and delighting in each other. As married couples we are committed to a covenant love relationship that only flirts with each other and not another. The mutual fidelity in our relationship contributes to a loving simplicity and avoids the drama filled complexities of infidelity. Sin complicates.

    Lastly, make sure your love for the Lord motivates your other relationships. The deeper you fall in love with Jesus the further away you will run from temptations and sin’s allure. Every day with Jesus does become sweeter than the day before. The evidence that you love Christ is you obey Christ. Wisdom is knowing the right thing to do and then doing the right thing. Therefore, run from wrong and walk with the Lord in a loving relationship. Love delights in doing right.

    If you love me [Jesus], keep my commands. John 14:15

    Prayer: Heavenly Father thank you for loving me so I am able to love and obey You.

    Related Readings: Psalm 103:17-18; Proverbs 14:9, 24:17; Jeremiah 13:17; 2 Timothy 2:19

    Post/Tweet today: The righteous disdain evil like a cancer to the soul. There is no delight in doing wrong. #wrong

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Sitting at Home, Alone

    Posted on February 21, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority." Colossians 2:9-10 (NIV 1984)

    They were laughing in their matching neon pink t-shirts with the words "Bethany's Birthday Girls" printed on the front. They were going bowling after school. Then to get pizza. Then a sleep over.

    When Bethany passed out the shirts that morning I pretended to be too busy to notice. I stayed hyper focused on unpacking my book bag into my locker. And then I hurried off to my first class.

    It was clear. Bethany had made a list of her friends and I hadn't been included.

    I thought I would be. We'd gotten together before. I'd invited her to my pool party.

    "No big deal," I tried to tell myself all day. I had plans that night too.

    To sit at home. Alone. And wonder why I hadn't been chosen.

    It's been years since I watched those neon pink shirts all pile into a station wagon after school and drive away.

    But it hasn't been years since I've heard the negative inside chatter that ensued afterwards.

    "You're not liked."

    "You weren't invited."

    "You weren't chosen."

    Here's what I wish I could have told my little non-wearing pink t-shirt self back then ... and what I need to remember when those same feelings creep in today ...

    Don't put the whole of your identity into the smallness of this situation.

    Not getting a pink t-shirt that day felt like a defining moment. And maybe it was for that day. I wasn't invited to Bethany's party. And that stunk.

    But it wasn't a defining moment of my identity.

    It was a moment. And moments shift. People are fickle. People shift.

    In the moment Bethany made the list of who to invite to her party, I wasn't on the top of her mind. Not because she didn't like me, but simply because she hadn't thought about it.

    It was a small situation.

    And I can't put the whole of my identity into the smallness of this situation. Or any other for that matter.

    My pastor used a verse in his sermon recently that echoes these same thoughts, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ" (Colossians 2:9-10).

    I have been given fullness. I am filled up by Christ. With acceptance. With love. With all the fullness of an identity that can't be shaken.

    I can place the wholeness of my identity in that reality ... and see everything else as small in comparison.

    Dear Lord, I praise You for Your faithfulness to me in every situation. I don't want to get hung up on the small things of this world. Please help me to place the wholeness of my identity in who You are and the everlasting acceptance that You provide. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    If you have a daughter or know another young woman who might need encouragement for her walk with the Lord, Lysa TerKeurst's book What Happens When Young Women Say Yes to God would be a perfect gift. Click here to pre-order your copy.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What past hurt are you still processing that seemed like a defining moment in your life?

    Reflect on our key verse and power verses. Write them down in a place where you'll see them every day. This will help you remember what God says we are to Him – His beloved children who have been saved through His grace.

    Power Verses:
    Ephesians 2:4-5, "But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." (NIV)

    John 1:12-13, Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Forgiven By Love

    Posted on February 20, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Love keeps no records of wrong. 1 Corinthians 13:5

    Record keeping of wrongs is taboo for those who love lavishly. Love funnels all its focus toward forgiveness and relational restoration. It refrains from retaining resentment which leads to wasted emotional energy. Yes, unforgiveness maintains a mental checklist of grievances that offers the enemy an entrance to encroach into a soul’s spiritual stability. Love is not an account ledger that credits rights and debits wrongs. Love is a white board that regularly erases infractions and hurts.

    Do you bear the burden of accounting for all injustices committed against you? Are you weary of wishing you had not been wronged? If so, look into the keyboard of your heart and by God’s grace press the delete button of forgiveness and erase external irritations. Start with a clean slate and your spirit will be set free to rest and enjoy God and people. Let go of harmful words that broke your heart and let the Lord mend it with love. A mind at peace is the fruit of forgiven love.

    Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them. Romans 4:8

    Since the Lord’s love doesn’t keep records of wrongs against us, we are wise to forgive ourselves of past guilt. The command to love ourselves includes not having a standard higher than God’s toward our transgressions. We are either forgiven of all or not forgiven at all. Jesus Christ’s redemption is not partial, but whole. He does not pick and choose cleansing based on the degree of our offense. Hallelujah we are categorically and fully forgiven of past, present and future sins!

    Therefore, since Christ doesn’t count your sins against you, you can’t count your offender’s sins against them. Your forgiving love chooses to wipe away hurtful infractions. Indeed, ask the Holy Spirit to repair relationships broken by another’s bad behavior: broken trust, broken promises, broken romance, broken cars, homes and bank accounts. Offer up your broken and contrite heart to God, receive His healing love and forgiveness and then extend His forgiven love to others.

    Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Psalm 32:1

    Prayer: Heavenly Father thank you for Your forgiven love, give me grace to lovingly forgive.

    Related Readings: Psalm 32:2, 103:12; Romans 4:6-11; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Colossians 3:13

    Post/Tweet today: Jesus has either forgiven us of all our sin or not forgiven us at all. #forgive

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

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