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Family Christian

  • Learn to Rest

    Wendy

    "He restores my soul." Psalm 23:3a (ESV)

    My words poured through frustrated tears. "I try to be so organized. Every night I make a 'to do' list. I wake up in the morning furiously giving my best to complete every task. There are never enough hours in my day to get them all done. I wake up the next day to do it all over again, only this time, the unfinished tasks from yesterday's list carry over to today's. I'm so tired!"

    My dear friend and mentor calmly interrupted, "Wendy, you must learn to rest."

    Taking a deep breath, I whispered, "Is resting something I have to learn?"

    "Yes," she said firmly, "you must learn to rest."

    "Okay," I told her. "I'll go to bed earlier and when I feel super tired, I'll take a short nap."

    Back then I thought the cure to my weariness would come from resting my tired body and delaying my duties for a time with a catnap. But that wasn't what she meant. My friend knew there was a difference between being physically tired and needing to catch up on some zzz's, and being worn out in our hearts, minds and souls.

    The truth is, we aren't weary simply because our schedules are full. We are weary because our spirits are depleted. Within each one of us resides a soul that desperately needs renewal and restoration, something an overloaded schedule doesn't always allow.

    It's easy to hide our exhausted souls. On the outside we may appear well-organized, emotionally stable, and put together. But on the inside we are often hopelessly overwhelmed and completely stressed out. The remedy for our weariness will not be found in a nap, but in God alone.

    In the Old Testament, Psalm 23 speaks of God as our Shepherd. That passage says our Shepherd "restores" our souls. When I looked a bit deeper into the original meaning of "restore," I learned so much more about God's promise to bring life back to my tired soul.

    The Hebrew word "restore" in Psalm 23 is shuwb. It's a word most often translated "to return or go back." It speaks of God's people returning to Him and means "movement back to the point of departure." The use of the word "restore" implies we must return to God to receive our restoration.

    In the New Testament in John 10:14, Jesus tells us He is our "Good Shepherd." This is from the Greek word poimen. It literally means "shepherd," referring to one who guides, guards, and provides for his flock. When we return to our Shepherd, Jesus, He will guard us, guide us and provide for our every need.

    Our Good Shepherd can only restore our souls when we turn our hearts and our minds away from the noise and busyness of the world back to Him. Sitting alone with the Lord leads us to peace and gives us the strength we need to move forward.

    Do you need restoration? Take this little test.

    Does every word your husband speak irritate you?

    Does every errand you have to run for your kids breed resentment?

    Does every morning bring feelings of stress and anxiety?

    If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, you are running on empty, operating out of your own depleted resources.

    Learn to rest.

    Return to your Good Shepherd.

    Invite Him to restore your soul.

    Receive a fresh filling of His love, mercy and grace.

    When you do, He will replace your weariness with strength, your resentment with thanksgiving, your irritability with patience, and your anxiety with peace.

    The Lord is waiting.

    Meet with Him. He will refresh and renew you, enabling you to go out into the world to serve your family and friends filled with a newfound sense of His peace, love, and joy.

    Dear Lord, help me be still before You. Give me the rest only You can give. Renew and restore my weary heart. Fill me to overflowing. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner by Wendy teaches you how to have a quiet time and grow deeper in your walk with God.

    Reflect and Respond: Have you neglected spending time alone with God? For the next seven days, return to your Good Shepherd. Open Psalm 23, read a portion of the passage each of the seven days, and invite the Lord to refresh and restore your soul.

    Power Verses: Jeremiah 6:16, "This is what the LORD says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls...'" (NIV)

    Psalm 62:5, "Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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

  • Heartfelt Forgiveness

    Boyd

    This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart. Matthew 18:35

    Forgiveness is a serious matter to our Heavenly Father. It is so significant that He gave His only son, Jesus, on a cruel Cross as forgiveness for our sins. Forgiveness wipes clean a debt that was humanly impossible to pay: only the sinless One can forgive sin. Because of God’s monumental mercy on us, He expects us to extend this unconditional grace to our offenders. Gratitude has a long memory of His great grace. We forgive freely because God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven us!

    Our heartfelt forgiveness gives us freedom. It frees us to be who God wants us to be. Forgiveness frees us from the need to pay back or heap guilt and condemnation on the one who hurt us. When we let go of anger, even bitterness, our emotional energy is free to comfort and care for the needs of other searching souls. A heart bound up in its own hurt cannot even care for itself. Indeed, forgiveness shifts our focus from the idol of self pity to the praise of God’s mercy.

    For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15

    You sin when you chose not to forgive. Furthermore, your fellowship with your Heavenly Father is stifled without your heartfelt forgiveness. Your intimacy erodes without the clean slate of forgiveness from Christ. So, how can you know if you have truly forgiven someone who has hurt, even violated you? You begin to bless them instead of curse them. You talk well about them behind their back. You pray for them to grow in God’s grace. Forgiveness frees you to love well.

    There is a risk involved in your heartfelt forgiveness. Your offender may continue their disrespectful, potentially harmful behavior. They may take advantage of your goodwill. Your forgiveness is no guarantee they will change, but you will change. Christ will conform you into His work of grace, mercy and love. God will deal with the unruly ones in His timing. Their conscience is the Holy Spirit’s auditor who will bring them into account. Your heartfelt forgiveness reveals God’s heart.

    Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, Your great forgiveness compels me to forgive freely.

    Related Readings: Luke 6:37; Ephesians 4:2, 4:32; Colossains 2:14; James 2:13

    Post/Tweet today: Our conscience is the Holy Spirit’s auditor who brings us into account. #accountability © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved. Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Reshaping Me

    Wendy

    "Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives." Galatians 5:25 (NLT)

    It was supposed to be a day filled with the simple pleasure of getting my hair cut. But rather than just a reshaping of my unruly mop, God planed a reshaping of my character.

    Others might find their simple pleasures in sunny spring days on the porch, cool fall evenings with the family toasting marshmallows, or the company of a good friend.

    Me? One of my favorite pleasures is hair cut day.

    It was one of those ordinary days, and a haircut was on my agenda. My appointment was a week overdue, my roots were screaming, and I was anxious to have my messy hair reshaped. Driving to the salon, I smiled thinking how much I would enjoy the experience.

    Little did I know God had a more important experience planned.

    After my cut, style, and primping time had ended, I grabbed my purse to pay for my new 'do. "Before I go," I said to my stylist, "I need to use your bathroom."

    Walking in, I immediately noticed the dirty ring around the toilet bowl, the matching ring in the sink, and well, the gross things that form around the base of the commode.

    Disgusted, I began to criticize and question the sanitation regulations of the salon. In the midst of my mumblings I sensed the Holy Spirit whispering things I didn't want to hear.

    "No. You can't be serious," I argued.

    Again I heard His whisper. Again I debated. I found myself teetering. Would I follow the Holy Spirit's direction or flush, wash, and leave?

    Frozen, I was unable to move toward the door. My only option was to yield. I looked around at the various cleaning products, took a deep breath, grabbed a handful of paper towels and a worn out toilet brush and began to obey the Spirit's direction.

    I wasn't thrilled or interested in doing a good job. I wanted to hurry and get out. But while on my hands and knees, scrubbing and wiping, the reshaping continued as I heard the whisper, "As you would your own."

    It wasn't enough that I had yielded; God wanted my heart to be right. So I continued cleaning, with greater fervor, as if it were my own bathroom. As I worked to change the bathroom, the Lord changed me. My pride turned to humility as I thought about the next person who would enter the restroom. Envisioning the look on her face as she smelled the fresh clean aroma and saw sparkling chrome brought me great joy. This joy melted away my stubbornness as I experienced God's delight.

    Today, tomorrow, or in the future you will be given the opportunity to follow the Holy Spirit's leading as Galatians 5:25 tells us to do. Maybe you will not be asked to clean a bathroom, but there is no doubt your choice to seize or ignore your opportunity will reshape your character. How will you respond?

    Dear Lord, thank You for the opportunity to know You as Savior and Lord. Today and each day forward I want to seize every chance I have to be more like You. Forgive me for ignoring opportunities in the past. Thank You for wanting to reshape my character. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: How is God trying to reshape your life? How are you responding?

    Today, yield to the opportunity God gives to obey Him.

    Power Verses: Psalm 119:10, "With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!" (ESV)

    Romans 1:5, "We have received grace and apostleship through Him to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations, on behalf of His name." (HCSB)

    © 2013 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Love Initiates

    Boyd

    Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? Luke 15:4

    Love takes the lead in looking out for the needs of another. Grace is a prayerful process of anticipating how someone may be hurting or feeling insecure in their loneliness. Love does not wait until a suffering soul solicits relief, rather compassion is a cure in search of a wounded spirit. Friends or family may wander away to do their own thing, but love keeps up with them. Mercy connects creatively with a cavalier comrade. Love leaves the many to care for the one.

    Is one person really worth our effort? Absolutely! Jesus died for us as individuals. A schoolmate or relative probably reached out to us when we were outside the faith. Yes, our prayers for a single soul need to be followed up with expressions of their worth to God and to us. Your love is irresistible in its affect on those sucked into the world’s system. Thus, give without expecting anything in return and you will see some return to their Savior. Go love for God.

    For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. Ezekiel 34:11 Moreover, your Heavenly Father is relentless in His love for you. Sin may have scattered you to the fringes of His green pastures, but He still desires you. Your soul may feel distant from faith’s security, if so, surrender back to your Great Shepherd’s care. If your confidence is crippled let Christ lift you in His arms of love and carry you back to the care of His faith community. The Lord of the Universe is concerned about your one concern, so cast your cares on Your Lover. Above all, receive the love of the Lord and the love of others. Pride resists help, but humility invites support from Jesus and His followers. Love retained is hope regained. Other green pastures beyond the fence posts of faith are a fallacy. Nothing can compete with Christ’s love. Allow Him to shepherd your soul through anger, conflict, rejection and disrespect. Your Heavenly Father initiates love for you, so you can propagate His love to lost people. Love initiates! He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely. Micah 5:4

    Prayer: Heavenly Father thanks for pursing me when I drift away from your love and care.

    Related Readings: Psalm 23:1-6, 119:176; Jeremiah 31:10; Luke 19:10; Hebrews 13:10

    Post/Tweet today: Pride resists help, but humility invites support from Jesus and His followers. Love retained is hope regained. #love

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

  • Q & A with LINDY BOONE MICHAELIS

    On June 19, 2001, Ryan Corbin, grandson of Pat Boone, accidentally stepped through a

    Linda

    skylight and fell three stories onto a cement floor. When he broke through that roof, Ryan fell into a very different life from the one he had before as the beloved son of Lindy Boone Michaelis and first grandson of entertainment icon Pat Boone. As Ryan lingered between life and death in intensive care at UCLA Medical Center, Pat and Lindy decided to take action, in a big way; they went on Larry King Live, shared their faith, and asked millions of TV viewers to pray for Ryan. And so, they prayed. Heaven Hears is an unbelievable story of answered prayer—and it’s not over yet. This book will inspire you to look for answers to prayer and to see God’s miracles.

    Lindy, yours is a book that no mom really wants to write because it’s in response to an experience that no parent ever wants to have. Please describe what happened to your oldest son, Ryan, on June 19, 2001.

    Ryan wanted to get some sun that afternoon. He and his friend and roommate Steve went up to the roof of their apartment building, and Ryan stepped on a skylight that was not protected with any border or railing. He stepped over it but not quite far enough to support his weight, and he fell three stories to a concrete surface in the courtyard of the building. Ryan was bleeding and unconscious, and his roommate Steve fortunately was there to call 911. They lived close to UCLA Medical Center and the paramedics arrived quickly, but we learned later that Ryan was not expected to survive the injuries he sustained. His lungs collapsed, his spleen burst, and he incurred massive internal bleeding. Ryan’s jaw was broken and a couple of ribs cracked. All his internal organs were traumatized and he labored to breathe. Ryan’s heart stopped a couple of times as medical professionals fought to save his life, and the huge concern was whether he had been deprived of oxygen for too long. And then of course no one can fall three stories and have that kind of impact without incurring a very serious injury to the brain. Ryan’s spleen was removed, his bones have healed, and his other organs have become stable again, but he is still on his recovery journey from a traumatic brain injury. One of your darkest moments was when you were airborne on your way back to California and had no idea what would await you when you arrived. How did you handle the sense of helplessness you felt?

    As it became more and more clear to me what I had been told about Ryan’s accident—and that the doctors and nurses couldn’t even risk moving him to the imaging room for a CT scan— I knew that his life was hanging by a thread. I felt unbearably trapped in that plane. Then I had a thought. I absolutely had to write or I would explode and have a meltdown in front of everybody. My hand started pouring out the feelings of my heart on the back of one of my husband’s work papers from his briefcase. My words were a mixture of my heart emotions and my passionate prayers to God to help me face what I was about to walk into. I begged him not let the pain be for no purpose.

    What was your life like prior to Ryan’s accident? We know you grew up in a famous entertainment family. Tell us how being a Boone prepared you to face the unthinkable. I grew up in the real 90210 on the corner of Beverly Drive and Sunset Blvd, right across the street from the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel. I always knew that my dad, Pat Boone, was famous and beloved by loads of fans everywhere we went. But at home, my parents were very down to earth and normal. They worked hard to keep us from feeling entitled or spoiled. My three sisters and I had structure and rules and chores and never missed a church service unless we were sick. I was a very happy, content child and I truly meant it when I accepted Jesus at a young age.

    I was 12 years old when I was baptized. I had watched my parents go through marital difficulties and witnessed a transformation in them, in their marriage and in their relationship to the Lord. Our faith took on more relevance to our day-to-day lives and became more than just about being “good” and attending church. Nothing truly prepares you in advance to handle pain, but it is so important to be grounded in the Word of God. When I hit the first major crisis of my life at age 45, I can’t say I was prepared but I had the tools available. I decided to plunge into all I had believed about God, prayer, faith, and healing and learn to use those tools more often and more skillfully. I immersed myself in God’s presence in order to regain my footing. I put what I had been taught to the test, and when I did that, my parents’ beliefs became more my own. It’s not hard to believe in a loving, all powerful God when you live in a Beverly Hills mansion, go to private school, and have every material need met as soon as it arises. But when faith has been tested,then it becomes yours. You cannot deny it when God comes to your rescue.

    If “it takes a village to raise a child,” then you must have relied on the support of family and friends to assist with Ryan’s ongoing care. Tell us about that.

    At first Ryan was so very fragile. He was in six facilities over a ten-month period. My mother and I shared the time at each facility during the day. I was there for six hours, and she spent six hours, and we overlapped our shifts so we had some time together each day. At night another family member, my husband Mike, Ryan’s dad Doug, his stepmom Vic, and other family and friends would sit with Ryan for three hours or so before a paid caregiver would come to stay the night and keep watch. Hospital staffs are stretched thin, and I couldn’t bear to have Ryan be alone, trapped without the ability to communicate and nobody with him to notice if he was in distress.

    We brought him home as soon as we could modify our home for a wheelchair and shower that could work downstairs. Ryan’s condition was still so complicated that our insurance allowed a high level of in- home nursing care. It felt as if we had the benefits of the hospital in our home. I prayed for God to bring us the right caregivers who would be with us day in and day out after the nursing care ran out, and I know that our prayers were heard and answered in such a sweet way. God brought us James and Joseph to work with Ryan from the time we brought him home, and later Chris joined us, to round out a three-person team of caregivers. We had been warned that keeping good caregivers was one of the challenges that we would face, but in our case Ryan has had amazing men that I believe were sent to us. They have the biggest hearts and really have bonded with Ryan. After 8 years Joseph moved away, but he left us in good hands with his brother-in-law Erwin. We feel blessed because Ryan has had such great guys to help him.

    Larry King has been a longtime friend of your family’s, and early on he asked you and your dad to come on his network TV show to talk about Ryan’s accident and ask viewers to pray. Why did you decide to appear on Larry King Live, and what was the response? At the first request, I told my dad I couldn’t do the show and he should go on without me. I didn’t feel I could expose my pain and raw wound to the world. It felt too personal. But after thinking it over for a short while, I thought about what Ryan would want me to do. He loved the Lord. He believed God was going to use his life to point others toward Him. I believed in the power of prayer and realized this was a huge opportunity to ask the world to pray for Ryan. If Ryan hadn’t been in a coma and we could have talked about it, I knew he would have told me to go on and lift up Jesus and ask for prayer.

    I had recently read about Jesus praying aloud for his friend Lazarus, who had already died. Jesus publicly said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here that they may believe that you sent me." After this he called Lazarus from the grave and he lived! Even Jesus prayed in public for the benefit of the people there watching him. If he thought it was important to pray in public in his own pain (he had wept for his friend), I thought I was being signaled to go on that live broadcast and ask God to heal my son aloud and in faith.

    Your book is called Heaven Hears. Given the fact that Ryan’s health has not yet been completely restored, what are some of the ways in which you feel that God has heard and answered your prayers?

    I would so much like to have written this book with a different ending. I would love to report that Ryan miraculously got up out of his wheelchair and started walking, and that his behavior straightened out completely and his memory returned 100 percent intact. But when I look at the Bible as a whole, I see that some answers to prayer were a long time coming.

    Sometimes God’s promises aren’t immediately evidenced, and there are many Scriptures to point out why that could be. James 1:2-4 talks about considering it pure joy when you face trials because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance which must finish its work so that we may be mature and complete.

    My pastor, Rick Warren, often says that God is much more interested in our character than our comfort. This recovery journey with Ryan has grown the faith of every one of us in our family and caused us to go deeper in God. Ryan is still coming back to us. As we sat in the waiting room for weeks and weeks, we often put together jigsaw puzzles to pass the time. I think of Ryan like that, being put back together, piece by piece, and it’s so satisfying when another piece is found and slides into place. And with each piece I see the Ryan I know coming back, smiling at me. Each night Ryan and I both speak words of restoration to his brain, his body, and his behavior. I know heaven hears us call the Kingdom of heaven to earth. In the Kingdom, Ryan is already completely whole, and we are calling the manifestation of his wholeness to earth. I’m seeing it happen before my eyes, yet in the process, God is making all of us who are waiting and believing to be more mature and complete ourselves.

    If this story was yours and Ryan’s alone, you would not have written a book. What advice do you have for others who have faced tragic circumstances within their families?

    I wanted to write a book that I could share with families who are in that darkest part of their lives, afraid and confused. I know how it feels to have your world turned upside with nothing that makes sense. It’s lonely, and you feel that nobody can really understand the isolation. People come around but unless they have experienced that phone call about a beloved being hurt who is hanging between this life and the next, they don’t know what to say and can’t relate. But there were a few people who reached out to me who did know, for they had been there. These were survivors who came to comfort and encourage me. I also sought out books that offered hope about people who had suffered TBI (traumatic brain injury) and had better outcomes than doctors were telling them to expect. In many cases doctors take away your hope by telling you “what the odds are.” They don’t want you to be disappointed but rather pleasantly surprised if your loved one has a better outcome. But the nurses and often therapists offered stories of hope. Ryan’s story will offer hope to many people. Some may not want to hear that he’s not perfectly healed yet. That’s not the story they are looking for. I may have had that attitude early on. But some families would be delighted to see their loved one make the progress that Ryan has made. They need to have hope that their loved one can get better than they may have been led to believe and that they themselves will smile again. I didn’t think I ever would.

    I want people to know that when their foundation is shaken and it all comes crumbling down, they cannot rely on medical specialists or their own strength of will. The only sure place they can stand is on is God’s Word. We can place our confidence in His unique ability to take our rubble and broken pieces and rebuild something amazingly beautiful. I want others to know that they can fight but to fight the right enemy -- take the battle to their knees and know that they have heaven’s armies to back them up.

    You and your family have begun a nonprofit foundation to help survivors of brain injury and their families. Tell us about Ryan’s Reach and the ways in which Ryan’s own story is still unfolding. We know we are fortunate because Ryan received a settlement after his accident which allows us to be able to afford caregivers. We are in the minority, though, and most mothers and fathers are the caregivers. We started Ryan’s Reach so that we can address the needs of families who have exhausted their resources and energy and need help.

    Ryan attends High Hopes Head Injury Program in Tustin, California—a day program for people over 18 years of age who have suffered a traumatic brain injury or stroke. We raise money primarily through two annual fundraisers which provide scholarships so others can attend this great program. High Hopes is a nonprofit, but it still requires approximately $2,600 a month to attend the program full-time. This is nothing compared to facilities that are for-profit. Most of the students at High Hopes are in no position to pay this, so they are in need of funding. We assist as many as we can, but we want to do so much more. Our vision includes increasing the numbers of scholarships we can fund and helping High Hopes grow to be able to accept more students. We also foresee a respite care element to our foundation, allowing parents and spouses to get a break. Many parents haven’t had a vacation or even a date night in a long, long time as it’s hard to trust others with the complicated needs of someone with TBI.

    To read more about Lindy's book, Heaven Hears, click here.

  • The Micromanaging Mama

    Karen

    "Don't let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools." Ecclesiastes 7:9 (HCSB)

    I couldn't think of anything more exciting than going to Sylvia's house for the afternoon. She had fancy clothes and the neighborhood's only built-in swimming pool. But best of all?

    Sylvia had one amazing dollhouse.

    There were bedroom sets with dressers, cloth curtains in the windows, and colorful spreads on the beds. There was a living room set with a tiny television and a kitchen with real-looking appliances in the trendy shade of turquoise.

    To top it all off, it came with a family - pliable, lifelike miniature human beings who smiled no matter how I posed them. There was even a trusty canine I named Scrappy.

    I could arrange the furniture any way I desired. The petite pots and pans were just the way I liked on the stove to simmer. The baby woke up from her nap just when I wanted. The family members entered and exited on my cue. No object missed a single prompt in the scenarios that played out at the ends of my chubby little fingertips.

    However, my perfect little world was easily shattered. Sometimes, when I had to go home to eat dinner, Sylvia wanted to play with her own toys. Later I'd return to find the house rearranged by someone who was not going along with my program.

    I never liked when someone messed with my plan. In fact, it made me angry.

    Today my days still revolve around a house. The furniture is bigger. The dishes and rugs are real. The people are too. And I still don't like anyone messing with my plan.

    Messing with my plan often looks like this: abandoned dirty dishes, shoes scattered haphazardly, newly washed windows dotted with sticky fingerprints, mud tracked floors, crumbs trailed, trash not taken out as asked, homework undone, pokey kids making the family late for church. Again.

    And sadly, messing with my plan can also find me behaving like this: sharp words strategically hurled, a caustic demeanor meant to snap my family to attention, or a "martyr mom" pose I suddenly strike to convey my "I-do-so-much-for-all-of-you-people-and-what-thanks-do-I-get?" message.

    At times like this, as today's key verse from Ecclesiastes 7:9 states, my spirit rushes to anger. When anger takes the lead, I can go from mild-mannered mother to micromanaging mama in three seconds flat to try and make my family "get with the program—and PRONTO!"

    Rushing to anger in an attempt to micromanage can lead to hurt feelings, crumpled spirits and fractured relationships in need of repair. Of course we should expect our children to do as they are asked, to perform their chores or remember their school responsibilities.

    But, when they don't—because they are kids and like us, not perfect—how will we chose to behave? Do we choose to be like Jesus who would respond appropriately and with self-control or like a wild woman who somehow thinks yelling is effective although it has never, ever worked in the past.

    Will you join me in a challenge to pause before pouncing? To not rush to anger and instead rush to Jesus' side? It is there we can allow Jesus to temper our tempers and filter our words so we can behave in a way that honors Him—and our family members too.

    Dear Lord, teach me to rush to You instead of rushing to anger. I want others to clearly see You reflected in my actions and reactions. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    For a more in-depth study of the topic of this devotion, 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: Think back to a time when you rushed to anger over the condition of your home or the behavior of a family member. What happened?

    How could the situation have been different if you'd rushed to Jesus' side instead, seeking His wisdom and self-restraint?

    Power Verses: James 1:19-20, "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • Less is More

    Boyd

    But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men.  Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there.  If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”  Judges 7:4

     

    Less of some things can mean opportunity to trust in God with more things. This is why the sifting by your Savior need not be discouraging. His goal is not to harm you, but to strip you from any dependence on yourself or others and to rely solely on Him. Your financial limitations are an occasion to watch Him provide in ways that give Him the glory for your life. Less money means you have the occasion to trust Him with His creative provision.

     

    When some of your friends fall away it stings; but your best friend, Jesus, still remains. You can become involved with numerous relationships and miss engaging in intimacy with your Heavenly Father. Fewer true friends will lead to richer relationships and more time with God. If your life is driven by one new relationship after another you will drown in shallow living. Having fewer earthly relationships means you have more time for your Heavenly One. Less is more.

     

    Take the time to shed the weight of worry and watch God work. A surrendered life can be efficiently leveraged. However, a life independent of God is severely limited in its influence. He is positioning you for unprecedented leadership and influence. Now is the time to quit mourning your losses and move on. You have a new lease on life with the Lord, so follow His lead. Watch Him take your “five loaves of bread and two fish” (Matthew 14:17-19) and multiply them way beyond your efforts and enthusiasm. What God breaks He rebuilds to be dependent on Him, and more influential. This rebuilding process has simplified your life; so don’t revert to complicated living. Less is truly more.

     

    If “more is more” is your motto, you can easily become mean-spirited and hard to live with. A “more is more” mantra eventually becomes meaningless. You achieve and receive more, but to what end? There is no fulfillment outside of Kingdom-minded motives. If it is all about you, you will become miserable. If, on the other hand, it is less of you and more of Him, everyone is happy. This is how God works. “‘He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble’” (Luke 1:52).

     

    Therefore, lower the volume of activity and wait in quietness. It may be time to talk less and listen more. The calming presence of Christ is priceless, so tap into His reservoir of renewal. Less worldly thinking and more heavenly thinking leads to discerning the will of God. Don’t just stand in awe of His robust accomplishments through your meager efforts. Now is the time to use this momentum generated by your Master. God is on a roll and you have the privilege of joining Him. By faith, stop doing two things before you add one. Slow down so God can speed up. Focus on quality and watch Him multiply the quantity. God wants to do more with less so He gets the glory. Decrease, so He can increase (John 3:30, KJV). Less is more—less of you and more of Him.

     

     

    Post/Tweet: Shed the weight of worry and watch God work out His will. #Godworks

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • Doubt Paralyzes

    Boyd

    “Moses answered, ‘What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, “The Lord did not appear to you”?’” (Exodus 4:1).

    Moses experienced the “what if” trap. “What if they do not believe me or listen to me?” And several thousand years later we struggle with the same doubts. What if they reject me? What if they say no? What if they say yes? What if I fail? What if I am hurt? What if they do not understand? If God has led us thus far and if His track record is one of faithfulness, are we not really saying, “What if God does not do what He said He will do?” Doubt detaches us from trust in the character of Christ.

    If we are not careful, our beliefs and behavior can reflect this kind of irrational thinking about God. We really struggle at times (right before we take that step of faith) and wonder if God is really true to His Word and if He will come through for us. Yet we know that God has never failed us. His timing may have been different than we expected, but He has not failed usand He will not fail us. Knowing this, we still struggle with doubt. Why is this?

    “Then he [Jesus] said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe’” (John 20:27).

    Doubt is a normal part of the trust process. We go through doubt on the way to trust in the Lord. Even the most faithful followers of Jesus deal with doubt (see Matthew 11:2). However, the danger of doubt is remaining in doubt. Extended striving over doubt can paralyze you. It can paralyze your relationships, your finances, your career advancement, and, worst of all, your obedience to God. He is either trustworthy or He is not.

    Lastly, the greatest difficulty is when we are in the middle of tremendous adversity or uncertainty. God’s posture is one of continual compassion and sincere love. He is there to walk with you. He is leading you, and He will provide the needed skills, finances, health, and relationships for you to accomplish His will. Let Him use this time of trial to, once again, show that He is God.

    “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory”(Ephesians 3:20–21).

    Lord, how do You want to empower me to face my doubts and fears by faith in You?

     

    Related Readings: Jeremiah 1:6; Mark 11:23; James 1:6; Jude 1:22

     

    Post/Tweet: The danger of doubt is  remaining in doubt, so we move through doubt by faith. #doubt

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • Work Struggles

    Boyd

    To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. Genesis 3:17

    Work, many times, is work. Painful toil is a consequence of what happened in the beginning—God cursed the ground because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Labor became laborious; instead of paradise in the sinless Garden of Eden there was blood, sweat and tears mingled with sin. Work is not meant to be ease, but intense effort.

    “So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken” (Genesis 3:23).

    Is your work a struggle? Are you in one of the most stressful seasons of your career? If so, God doesn’t waste pain. It’s in your discomfort that He comforts and in your unease that He gives courage. If the Lord has your attention in an environment out of your control, stay true to what you can do and leave the results with God. In stress seek Jesus. “So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:20).

    Furthermore, see work as worship to Almighty God; a sacrifice of service you lay before Himfor the Holy Spirit to ignite with power and effectiveness. Lift your heart and head in humility; present your hands and feet by faith—all for God’s glory. Silently sing in sincere worship while you work. Worshipful music does for the ears what the Sistine Chapel does for the eyes—it's lovely to listen to for the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ.

    Lastly, look at your work as a testament to excellence on behalf of Jesus. Your ministry is your work and your work is your ministry. Monday through Saturday are not secular days of service, but a Christian’s sacred obligation to model their faith with first rate work. Perhaps you facilitate a Bible study at lunch, or before or after hours. Your outstanding effort in the enterprise earns you the right to prayerfully and graciously share your faith.

    So—when job security is jittery and insecure—exhibit  God's peace  in the form of calm contentment and patient perseverance. Work struggles are the scenario where others can see you act out what you say you believe. Perhaps your bold belief during adverse work conditions activates believers and leads unbelievers to begin their belief in Christ.

    “Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you” (1 Thessalonians 2:9).

     

    Prayer: Do struggles at work lead me to worship my Savior Jesus and model excellent work?

     

    Related Readings: Ecclesiastes 8:15; 2 Corinthians 11:26-31; Revelation 9:19-20

     

    Post/Tweet today: Our ministry is our work and our work is our ministry. #work

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

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

  • New Movie - The Book of Esther

    Good battles evil in this timeless story of Biblical heroism. The righteous Jew Mordecai and the despicable Haman square off for control of the young Persian King Xerxes. But Haman’s plans include something horrible for Mordecai and his people. It is up to Mordecai’s niece Esther to win the affection of the King, unmask Haman’s treachery and save the Jewish people. Based upon the Book of Esther, this delightful retelling emphasizes the values of courage, faith and obedience.

    Stars Jen Lilly, Robert Miano and Joel Smallbone (For King & Country).


    Behind the scenes:

    For more information on The Book of Esther, click here.

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