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Family Christian

  • Intimacy through Brokenness

    Boyd

    The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

    Intimacy with God goes hand in hand with your brokenness. Your desire for intimacy with your heavenly Father will be accompanied by brokenness, as it escorts you into intimacy with eternal God. It is your date with destiny. A broken and contrite heart delivers intimacy with the Almighty. Do not despise your broken condition. Rather, delight in its opportunity for intimacy. You long to know Jesus in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering (Philippians 3:10). These prayers were not in vain. Your brokenness is answered prayer. The answer may not be exactly what you expected. You may have anticipated a smoother route, a paved road free of bumps or potholes. But the path of personal and intimate relationship with Christ is not always easy.

    Most of the time, intimacy requires difficulty. It is at this point of pressure and discomfort that some people disembark the train of intimacy. It is much easier to talk about an intimate relationship with Christ than it is to arrive at this point through brokenness. However, this is an exercise in convenience. It is like placing a “Do not disturb” sign on the door of our life, in place of the “Clean up my room” invitation. Brokenness is inviting God to come in and cleanse your life. He stands at the door of our heart and knocks (Revelation 3:20). When you invite Christ into your broken life, He comes in. Intimacy is then unleashed on His terms, not yours. It is only when you surrender in total desperation and total dependency on God that you experience authentic intimacy.

    Intimacy with God through brokenness is not unlike what you experience in relationships with people. Hardships and brokenness are meant to grow you closer to other people. A crisis will either drive you further away from someone or closer together. God’s best for you is to make you relationally stronger with one another during a season of brokenness. But brokenness is not a one-time phenomenon. It is an ongoing part of the committed Christian’s life. It’s not as if you swallow this hard pill one time and are then set for a lifetime of intimacy with God. Once God has marked you with brokenness, you are positioned for Him to build on this firm foundation. He will still use mini brokenness throughout your life. These regular occurrences are bricks of brokenness connected together by the cement of His grace.

    Over time, a life of brokenness becomes a stalwart structure of sanctification designed by God. Your brokenness is meant for your betterment. Indeed, you are much better when you experience a defining moment of brokenness. It deserves your embrace, rather than your rejection. If you fight brokenness, you delay God’s best. You circumvent intimacy with Christ if you bypass brokenness. Focus your energies on changing yourself, not your circumstances. Christ will handle the circumstances while you adjust your attitude. A life of brokenness is an invitation to intimacy. His closeness and salvation are worth this time of brokenness. Don’t buck brokenness. Instead, rely on Him and get to know Him at this deeper level of intimacy. You are much better broken because brokenness leads to intimacy with God.

    Post/Tweet today: A broken and contrite heart leads to intimacy with the Almighty. #wisdomhunter

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Follow God’s Word

    Boyd

    When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law.… He is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees. Deuteronomy 17:18–19

     

    No one is above the law, and certainly not above God’s law. From the earliest origins of government, God instructed the rulers to write, read, follow, and obey His Word. God knew the tremendous wisdom and character needed by a leader to govern fairly and effectively. Integration of God’s principles is developed by  lifelong habits. The more you rise in power and responsibility, the more you need to understand the wisdom of God.

    You cannot lead like Christ without comprehending and applying Scripture. Without the influence of the Bible, your decisions become shallow, sentimental, and self-serving. Decisions untethered from the truth contribute to moral decay and cultural confusion. You are on solid, historical ground in expecting a biblical worldview from your local, state, and national leaders. Do not expect a state church, but expect a state influenced by the church.

    Our expectations of government leaders should be grounded in God’s eternal Word. He is the gold standard for conduct and character. What do your state and national senators and representatives believe about the Word of God? Where do your mayor and councilmen stand? Your leaders are a reflection of you. The best minds our culture has to offer are anemic without the filter of faith on their thinking. Intelligence without intimacy with the Almighty, leads to pride and self-rule. The Bible is our baseline for belief and behavior.

    We are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Therefore, can we expect our political leaders to represent their people with a biblical understanding, and to decree laws based on biblical standards? Yes, otherwise the logical conclusion to no biblical standard for belief, is a messy morality.

    We cease to be a God-fearing nation when everyone does what he or she thinks is right; someone has to be wrong for right to mean anything. May God save us from wisdom that leaves out instruction from the Lord’s law.

    “Jesus replied, ‘Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?’” (Mark 12:24).

    Prayer: How can I be an exceptional student of Scripture? Whom can I elect to government whose heart is governed by God?

    Related Readings: Joshua 1:8; Jeremiah 13:10; John 2:22; Acts 18:28

    Post/Tweet today:. Christians do not expect a state church, but we do expect a state influenced by the church.  #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Pursuit of Wisdom

    Boyd

    If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt. James 1:5-6a

    Pursuit. It is what we all experience. We pursue dreams, we pursue jobs, we pursue opportunities, we pursue a husband or a wife, we pursue hobbies, we pursue friends, we pursue adventure, we pursue good health, we pursue success, we pursue significance and we pursue happiness—to name a few of our positive pursuits. Indeed, what we pursue becomes the focus of what we do.

    Pursuit is stated clearly as a priority in the United States Declaration of Independence: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Over the course of history, the human race as a whole would agree that the pursuit of good things is an inalienable right of individuals. Conversely, we can choose to chase after unhealthy pursuits like: greed, lust, power and pride. Wise pursuits facilitate good outcomes, while foolish pursuits produce bad results.

    “The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame” (Proverbs 3:35).

    Our pursuits make up who we are, thus it’s important that we pursue the right things. If you were honest, would a pursuit of wisdom make the top ten list of your life pursuits? Ask God if wisdom is His priority for your pursuits. If wisdom is the knowledge of what’s right and the judgment to rightly act on that knowledge, then anyone is capable of learning and applying wisdom. Perhaps—based on the day of the month—you begin by daily reading one of the 31 chapters in Proverbs. God gives wisdom to believing seekers.

    “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

    Does the pursuit of wisdom motivate your actions? Is it a part of your portfolio of pursuits? If not, consider moving it up toward the top of your list. After all, wise-decision making affects all of your other pursuits. It could be argued that a life full of wisdom will lead to the most fulfilling life, but a life void of wisdom sets the stage for foolish living. What we pursue becomes the focus of what we do, so endeavor to seek God’s wisdom.

    “Cynics look high and low for wisdom—and never find it; the open-minded find it right on their doorstep” (Proverbs 14:6, The Message)!

    Prayer: Do I passionately pursue wisdom from God? How can I align my pursuits with His?

    Related Readings: Job 28:27-28; Ecclesiastes 4:13; 10:12; 1 Corinthians 3:18

    Post/Tweet today: What we pursue becomes the focus of what we do. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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  • Why I No Longer Cry Over Burnt Bread

    Alicia

    "If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11 (NIV)

    I was squashed between kindergarteners in the school cafeteria when my 6-year-old son, Joshua, made an announcement that gave me the giggles. I hid my mouth behind a napkin to cover my smirk and realized that at one point in my life, my son's innocent words would have spawned tears instead of chuckles.

    It started when the little boy next to me lifted a sandwich out of his lunch box.

    "That's huge!" Joshua exclaimed as he poked at the lukewarm carrots on his cafeteria tray and gazed longingly at his classmate's lunch.

    The sandwich was big. Oversized slabs of cheese and slices of ham nestled between two thick slices of bread. I wondered how much cash it would take to talk a kindergartner into trading his mealtime masterpiece for my soggy sloppy joe.

    "Can you even get that in your mouth?" I teased as my lunch companion freed his sandwich from plastic wrap and lifted the culinary sensation to his mouth.

    "I'm used to big bread," he replied. "It's my mom's specialty."

    Joshua raised an eyebrow and studied the specimen in his classmate's hands. "You mean your mom makes the bread you eat?"

    The little fellow nodded happily.

    My son looked at me with wide-eyed wonder, then shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Oh, my mom's specialty is burnt bread."

    I nodded in agreement. "If the crust's not charred, the bread's not ours," I said with a laugh.

    The sandwich muncher beside me didn't even blink at my corny rhyme, but Joshua applauded me with a big smile.

    Soon a bell announced the lunch hour's end, and the kindergarteners hurried to line up for recess. My brown-haired boy waved and marched off to the playground, leaving me alone with my speckled pink cafeteria tray, a mound of lukewarm carrots and a smile.

    A decade ago my young son's honesty would have left me feeling second-rate. I would have raced to the library to check out a book on baking homemade bread.

    I've learned the hard way that I miss all sorts of sacred and significant moments when I live with the frantic insistence that I can do it all. When I'm striving to be good at all things, I miss the joy of small things.

    A good mom isn't good at everything. She's just really good at one thing. A good mom is good at being who God created her to be.

    The truth for bread-burning mamas like me sitting in school cafeterias and for gifted women like you sitting in mini-vans, corporate offices and rocking chairs is this: We weren't created to do it all.

    We were created to play one small role in a gigantic Kingdom tale. And if we spend our lives trying to mimic everyone else's script, we might miss the lines that are uniquely ours.

    On any given day, I can tell you a few things I do well. But, perhaps more importantly, I can tell you what I don't do.

    I learned a few years ago the importance of creating a list of what I don't do. If you're tired of feeling tired, make that list. If you're worn out from the comparison game, make that list. If you can't celebrate your talents and laugh at your limitations, make that list.

    Stick it to your bathroom mirror. Carry it in your purse. And refuse to apologize for being you.

    So, friend, if you've been created to bake homemade bread, by all means, bake away.

    If you've been fashioned to encourage others, speak life.

    If you've been gifted to sing, fill the earth with music, please.

    But whatever you do, don't try to do it all, or you just might miss the one thing that the world desperately needs you to do.

    Dear Lord, I am tired of trying to do it all. Help me identify my gifts and accept my limitations so I can play my part in Your mighty Kingdom tale. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 12:5-6, "So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't." (The Message)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Try to go one whole day without measuring yourself against anyone else. When you are tempted to compare yourself to someone, pray for her instead.

    Make that list of what you don't do and post it where you will see it each day.

    This week, say "no" to one thing that you weren't created to do.

    © 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

  • Threatened by Change

    Boyd

    Here is this man [Jesus] performing many signs.If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.  John 11:47-48

    Change can be our friend or our foe. It depends on our need for control. If we have to be in control, then our need for control can control us. Thus, we have the opportunity to trust Christ in exchange for our need to control. We play God when we feel like we have to be all knowing, when only the Almighty is omniscient. Frustration will follow a faith that requires a perfectly controlled environment, but peaceful is the person who embraces change and rests in Christ.

    The religious leaders were threatened by Jesus. His charisma, clear teaching and compelling character were competition to this gaggle of guys who sought to control the religious and political destiny of the nation. Yes, change is a threat to the status quo, because they feel like something better may replace their position and power. So, critics of change may create fear by promoting worst case scenarios to other insecure opponents of change. We shouldn’t be surprised if our belief in Jesus stirs up controversy. He is a threat to those who do not know Him.

    “There are six things the Lord hates... A false witnesswho pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (Proverbs 6:16, 18).

    Furthermore, Christ is a change agent. He changes the motivations of the human heart. Jesus introduces a joyless heart of greed--to a joy filled heart of generosity. The Holy Spirit sensitizes a self reliant heart, with one led by listening to the Lord. Our heavenly Father takes our heart that yearns for love, and lovingly takes us into His intimate care. Our life in Christ is not an add on to our old life, or even an extreme makeover. Salvation is a start over with our faith as our foundation.

    Therefore, followers of Jesus need not be threatened by His desire for change. Similar to an effective athletic team or successful company constantly look for ways to change for the better, so we remain pliable in asking the Spirit to reveal areas of needed growth in our character. A Christian without change is sleeping with the enemy, but a Christian being changed by Christ is a threat to the enemy. What change is He calling you to not only accept, but initiate? Change wins!

    “And he said: 'Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven'” (Matthew 18:3).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me not to be threatened by change, but to invite Your life changing Spirit, into my life.

    Related Readings: 2 Chronicles 6:37; Ecclesiates 8:1; Jeremiah 7:4-6;  Luke 9:29; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

    Post/Tweet today: Our life in Christ is not an add on to our old life; salvation is a start over with our faith as the foundation.  #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • When Worry is Part of Your Personality

    Tracie

    "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

    His comment wasn't meant to be critical, but it immediately pierced my heart.

    I was explaining to my husband how worried I'd been about several situations and reciting the reasons why my worry was justified. He gently reminded me that worrying wouldn't help anything, and I quickly replied, "But I can't help it!"

    Then he said with a smile, "I know you can't. Worrying is just part of your personality."

    Deep down I knew I worried too much, especially when it came to my children's safety, their happiness and situations I couldn't control. But I didn't want to be labeled a "worrier," and I certainly didn't want to admit worrying was "part of my personality."

    Yet, if I were honest with myself, I knew it was true.

    Although I trust God and know He is in control, the human side of me often tends to worry. I'm thankful God isn't surprised by my worry, and wants to help me overcome it. Jesus even addressed this very issue when He taught His followers in what we now call the Sermon on the Mount.

    In this teaching, Jesus shared detailed instructions for how Christians should live their daily lives and how faith should shape behavior — including how to deal with worry.

    In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus specifically told His followers not to worry about food or clothes because God would provide for their needs, just as He does for the birds of the air. This promise of provision and protection applies to all areas of our lives, including help with our problems and easing our inner-most anxieties.

    Jesus knew the people of that time struggled with worry, just as we do. At times it is hard to trust God with the concerns that weigh heaviest on our hearts. Instead of trusting Him to handle what we cannot, we waste the opportunities of today worrying about the possibilities of tomorrow. God wants us to leave our problems in His hands, rather than let them become a stumbling block in our faith.

    Sometimes it takes a gentle reminder, such as my husband's innocent words, to remind me of this promise. I needed to stop holding onto my worries and quit continually reminding Jesus to be as concerned as I was. Instead, I should daily turn those worries into prayers. I have since committed to worrying less and trusting Jesus more and have experienced the freedom that comes with truly entrusting my needs to Him.

    Although we all have things in our lives that lead to worry and reasons to be concerned, what peace we can enjoy if we consciously choose to lay down each day's worries at God's feet and leave tomorrow's worries up to Him, too.

    Lord, forgive me for not trusting You with my problems and for letting my worry become a wedge in my faith. Give me the strength to put them in Your hands and avoid trying to take them back. Help me learn to trust You more and believe You are always in control of my life and the things that worry me most. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Peter 5:7, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." (NLT)

    Luke 12:29-32, "What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself." (MSG)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What worries are most heavily weighing on your heart today that you need to turn over to God?

    Have you been trying to handle everything on your own, without God's help?

    Read Matthew 6:25-34 and ask God to speak to your heart through these verses.

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Divine Christ

    Boyd

    Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. John 11:43-44

    As a warm up to His own resurrection, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The One who called Himself the resurrection and the life, brought a dead man back to life. This seventh miracle  recorded by John is the most outrageous. Who brings a man back to life after being dead cold  in the grave for four days? Only God can do this--Christ, 100% divine in nature, transcended His natural law of death with His supernatural law of love that brings back life. Jesus is God.

    Jesus in His humanity wept bitter tears, knowing there would very soon be tears of joy. He hurts when we hurt and He rejoices when we rejoice. Hallelujah our Lord Christ cares; in the middle of our crisis His calm comfort is available and His hope is on the horizon. Our divine Christ sees with compassion a dead end job, and gives us life with fresh vision and opportunity. Natural man may seek to squelch, even kill our dreams, but our divine Christ supersedes cynical claims. What man tries to destroy by discrediting, Christ can bring back to life in a full display of His glory.

    “God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not” (Romans 4:17).

    Has something you hold dear died? A relationship that may have spiraled down into a suspicion filled scenario where neither of you trusts the other? The ability to enjoy a dear one’s company, because they have moved away or their physical functions are impaired? Whatever has died, trust Christ to bring back to life something exceedingly better. Our best and brightest imagination of what’s possible with God retreats penniless, compared to the incomprehensible riches of His grace.

    Above all, we look forward to the voice of Christ calling us forth from the dead. The final resurrection is anticipated by those dead in Christ, but is dreaded by those dead in their sin. The One who conquered death gives us the keys to escape death’s dungeon. What’s cloudy and overcast now, will be clear and sunny with Him. We may weep in the night of this life, but we will find the limitless joy of Jesus in the morning of our glorious resurrection body. In Christ, He sets aside our dingy grave clothes of sin, and robes us with His radiant robe of righteousness!

    “In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise You for the divine power of Your son Jesus Christ, who brings to life my life and love.

    Related Readings: Isaiah 26:19; John 8:58-59; Romans 6:4; Philippians 2:6; Revelation 22:12

    Post/Tweet today: Our imagination of what’s possible with God retreats penniless, compared to the incomprehensible riches of His grace.

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Why God Makes Me Do the Hard Stuff

    Chrystal

    "... for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:8 (NASB)

    Recently, I went to the gym to get in some cardio. Cardio makes me sweat, and sweat means my fat is crying.

    Hallelujah!

    Then I decided to go for some strength training. I don't like strength training.

    I found myself wandering around, trying to remember which machine did what and how much weight was the right amount. I looked like a lost puppy.

    I just don't like weights. They are unfamiliar. They are hard.

    My visit to the gym was the first time in a long while that I've attempted resistance training on my own.

    At various times last year, I'd been at the gym, hitting the weights ... but not by myself.

    Last year, my husband and I made a commitment to invest in our health and worked with a personal trainer.

    It. Was. So. Hard. And it involved a lot of weights.

    We were with someone who knew what they were doing, giving us direction.

    Someone successful in getting both of us to try new machines, routines and levels of resistance.

    Someone who worked us hard ... very hard.

    I didn't like it.

    Well, I didn't like it until I started seeing a change in my body.

    There is something about being pushed to lift a weight you think is too heavy that brings a new level of physical and mental strength — challenging you to attempt more reps than you would on your own.

    There is something about a person knowing what you are capable of doing, even when you don't know that for yourself.

    There is something about a trainer.

    In my spiritual life, I like to do what "works." I go to church. I pray. I read my Bible.

    But sometimes I'm challenged in the gym of life to hit the heavy stuff. But not by myself.

    When I made the commitment to have Jesus be the Lord of my life, I also committed to allow Him to be my personal Trainer.

    And I'm not gonna lie. Sometimes it's been hard. And involved a lot of heavy lifting.

    But I've learned that God is truly Someone who knows what He is doing.

    Someone who gets me to try new experiences, routines or levels of resistance.

    Someone who allows the hard ... the very hard.

    And many times I don't like it.

    That is, until I start seeing a change in my soul.

    There is something about being pushed to lift a weight that we think is too heavy that brings us to a new level of spiritual maturity — challenging us to go for a few more days, weeks, months or years in a situation we wouldn't even attempt on our own.

    There is something about a Person knowing what you are capable of even when you don't know that for yourself.

    There is something about the Trainer.

    Indeed, God the Master Trainer, has the health of our spirit and soul in mind.

    And because He knows where I need to be tested, challenged and stretched, He will not allow me to stay in my comfort zone.

    Although I could keep doing what "works" in my spiritual life, it's the uncomfortable situations God allows that strengthen and make me more "fit" in the faith.

    So hang in there. God is the Master Trainer. He knows what He's doing.

    Father God, I really don't like when life is hard. I don't like carrying heavy loads or pressing through difficult situations. Please help me see each and every uncomfortable circumstance You allow in my life as an opportunity for me to grow. Help me to trust that You are indeed the Master Trainer. Help me to believe and rest knowing that, even when life is tough, You know exactly what You are doing and have my spiritual strength and well-being at heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: James 1:3-4, "After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing." (CEB)

    2 Corinthians 4:17, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: In what area of your life are you having to do some "heavy lifting"? What heavy load is God asking or allowing you to carry?

    Take a moment to reflect on your life. Where do you see that you have grown spiritually? What circumstances has God allowed that have helped you to grow?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Son of God – Now Available on DVD!

    Son of God DVD
    Child of Mine by David & Beverly Lewis The Redemption of Henry Myers DVD A Long Way Off DVD
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    Children of the Day – Member Book by Beth Moore

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