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  • Maturing in Prayer

    Stormie

    "You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." James 4:2-3 (NKJV)

    During the first couple of years I walked with the Lord, my prayers went something like this:

    "God, help me get that job."

    "Jesus, please heal my throat."

    "Lord, send enough money to pay these bills."

    "Father, take away my fear."

    It took me a while to realize that those spur-of-the-moment prayers were not accomplishing much. I guess I thought the idea was to do the best I could on my own, and then if I needed a lifeline from God, I grabbed it. The only problem was I needed a lifeline every other minute.

    I loved the Scripture verse that says, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7, NKJV). I took God at His Word and was asking, seeking and knocking on a pray-as-you-go basis. I also took to heart the verse that says, "... you do not have because you do not ask" (James 4:2b).

    Great! I can easily remedy that, I thought, and proceeded to ask God for everything. But I still wasn't happy, and I didn't see the kind of answered prayer I desired.

    One day as I was reading James 4:2, my eyes were opened to the next verse, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3).

    Could it be that the "God give-me-this, do-that, wave-your-magic-wand-here, get-me-out-of-this-mess" kind of praying was not what God desired for my prayer life? In utter frustration I said, "Lord, teach me how I'm supposed to pray."

    He did exactly that!

    I came to understand that prayer is not just asking for things — although that certainly is part of it. Far more importantly, prayer is talking with God. It's getting close to and spending time with the One you love. It's seeking Him first, getting to know Him better, being with Him and waiting in His presence.

    Prayer is acknowledging Him as the source of power upon whom you can depend. It's taking the time to say, Speak to my heart, Lord, and tell me what I need to hear. It's partnering with Him. It's aligning our spirits with His to see that His perfect will is done. It's establishing ourselves and our lives as being connected to God.

    We can't receive God's best for our lives, and we can't push back the things that were never God's will for us, except through prayer. We can't leave our lives to chance. We have to pray about everything all the time, not just when things go wrong.

    We have to pray over anything that concerns us, no matter how big ... "For with God nothing will be impossible" (Luke 1:37, NKJV) ... or how small ... "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered" (Matthew 10:30, NKJV).

    The Bible tells us the basic qualification for prayer: "he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6b NKJV).

    The more you pray, the more you will find to pray about, and the more you'll be led to pray for others.

    Don't allow discouragement over unanswered prayer to cause you to doubt that God heard you. If you have received Jesus and are praying in His name, then God hears you and something is happening whether you see it manifested in your life now or not. In fact, every time you pray, you're advancing God's purposes for you. Without prayer, the full purpose God has for you can't happen.

    Dear Lord, Help me today to draw closer to You, in my words, my thoughts and my deeds. Help me share more of my life with You, and through that, help me discover Your perfect will. In His holy Name I pray, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: Looking back in your walk with Christ, how has your prayer life matured? In what ways does it still need to grow?

    Have you ever had a prayer answered? Does this memory help you when facing discouragement over unanswered prayers?

    Power Verse: Jeremiah 33:3, "'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'" (NKJV)

    © 2014 by Stormie Omartian. All rights reserved.

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

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  • Mentally Engaged

    Boyd

    We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:5

    Are you mentally engaged with eternal thinking? The world’s cares can be so demanding that they can cause us to disengage from capturing our thoughts for Christ. Like an AWOL soldier our thinking can wander into enemy territory and fall into false reasoning. Instead, the Lord desires that His children proactively capture every thought and make it obedient to Christ. Mentally engaged Christians are conscious to intentionally think well.

    Thoughts can be fleeting and flirt with sin, or they can be disciplined as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Indeed, intentional intellectual engagement with God’s word instructs us in integrity. It’s those who pay the price not to resign their thoughts to the trends of society who grow in their conviction to not compromise their character in Christ.

    “Love the Lord your God with… all your mind”(Matthew 22:37b).

    Jesus described mental engagement as a love relationship with Him. Does your mind pursue the Lord, as a suitor pursues his sweetheart? Sadly, some experience a joyful marriage of salvation with Jesus, but never grow in a fulfilling relationship that flows from loving Jesus, knowing Jesus, and obeying Jesus. Mental engagement initiates often.

    Perhaps you start with an hour less entertainment each week and replace it with contemplation on Christ and His ways. Attend an informal small group Bible study or a formal classroom study on a book of the Bible. By enjoying wholesome films that inspire faith and hope, you use media to mature your mind in Christ, not compete with Him.

    “Finally, brothers whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

    Excellent work requires mental engagement, especially when you are easily distracted by disinterest or another opportunity. Don’t mentally resign or retire when you are in transition to another job assignment. Be a good example of finishing well in your work.

    Your proactive plan to prohibit the devil’s half-truths rests in filling your mind with wise thoughts. Like a full cup of coffee that has no room for any additional liquid—so a mind full of Christ’s thoughts has no room for knowledge that’s against Him. Thus, allow your master Jesus to mold your thinking into His thinking and you will gladly act accordingly.

    “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct them? But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16).

    Prayer: How can I grow my thinking so I am mentally engaged in what matters most?

    Related Readings: Psalms 10:4; 139:17; Romans 7:25; 12:2; 1 Corinthians 1:10

    Post/Tweet today: Intentional intellectual engagement with God’s word instructs us in integrity. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • Stand Strong from Nick Vujicic

    Nick

    I am a bully’s dream, no doubt about it.

    No arms. No legs. No defense.

    Born without limbs for reasons never determined, I was blessed in so many other ways. My greatest blessing was a loving and supportive family. They sheltered and encouraged me for the first years of my life. But once I left the protective shelter of family for the hallways and playgrounds of elementary school, I felt like I had a target on my chest that said, “Bullies, aim here.”

    I felt alone in my fear of bullies, but I wasn’t alone. And neither are you.

    If you’ve been bullied, the first thing you need to understand is that their attacks, taunts, and mean acts aren’t really about you, any flaws you might have, or anything you might have done. Bullies have their own issues. They pick on you to make themselves feel better, to vent their anger, to feel more powerful, or even because they can’t think of anything else to do.

    I know it’s lame, but it’s true.

    When I was a teenager, I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out why bullies picked on me. There was one guy in particular who really got inside my head. He bullied everybody, but for some reason I took it personally. I obsessed over his motives. Finally I realized that his bullying wasn’t about my problems. It was about his.

    You may have a bully who has had the same impact on you, getting inside your head, knotting your stomach with stress, and tormenting your dreams because you can’t figure out why you are the target. I’m here to ease your mind and lighten that burden. Your bully’s motives don’t matter. You do.

    Your safety and your happiness are important to me and everyone else who loves and cares about you; so instead of focusing on why a bully is picking on you, let’s focus on helping you feel secure and happy again.

    Does that sound like a plan? I think so!

    But before we move on, I want you to know that there is no single infallible strategy for dealing one-on-one with bullies. And I certainly don’t recommend you resort to violence if you can help it! Don’t ever let a bully lure you into a fight. If a bully attacks you, defend yourself but get away as fast as you can. If you have any reason to think a bully is going to harm you physically, you need to talk to an adult who can help you before that happens.

    The Bullying Epidemic

    It’s important to understand from the beginning that many people share your pain in dealing with this problem. Being bullied, sadly, is as common as catching a cold or stubbing your toe. I travel all over the world talking to young people about this issue. No matter where I go, bullying is a major topic of concern. Teens in every school in every town and every country tell me they have mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual pain because of being bullied.

    A teen in China told me that he’d tried to commit suicide eight times because of being bullied at school. A cute little Korean girl in Boise, Idaho, came up to me crying after I gave a speech on bullying. She said, “I get teased every day about being Korean because I’m the only Asian in the whole school.” I hear similar stories from bullying victims in Chile, Brazil, Australia, Russia, Serbia, and around the world. Bullying is everywhere, and it takes many forms. Most of us are familiar with childhood bullies who threaten to beat us up, make fun of us, or turn friends against us. Adults may experience bullying in the form of sexual harassment or as discrimination based on race, religion, sexual identity, or disabilities. Bullies can be your boss, coworkers, teachers, coaches, boyfriends, or girlfriends—anyone who abuses his power or position.

    It’s sad to say, but parents can be bullies too. Suicides are a major problem among young people in Asia, and part of the problem is that many teens are under incredible pressure to earn top grades so they can make it into the best schools and get the best jobs for the most pay. Parents naturally want their children to do well, but when a mother and father give love and support only if their child is successful in their eyes, it is a form of bullying. There was one case in which the parents burned their child with cigarettes because her grades were not up to their standards. That’s an extreme case to be sure, but I’ve encountered similar stories around the world.

    The most common bullying experience is being taunted or ridiculed for being “different” in some way. I’m the poster child for this. For most of my life, I’ve been a bully magnet. I’ve heard every imaginable nasty comment about my lack of limbs. Cruel jokes. Even physical threats.

    It didn’t help that my family moved a couple of times when I was in school. We went from one side of Australia to the other, then we moved to the United States and back again. At each new school, I wasn’t just the only kid with no arms and no legs; I was usually the only kid in a wheelchair. When we moved to the United States, I hit the bully-target trifecta: I was the only kid in my school with no arms and no legs, the only kid in a wheelchair, and the only kid with an Australian accent! Different? Me, mate?

    Sure, I stood out from the crowd, and the fact that I was often the new kid without friends made me an even easier target. But I realized early on that bullies would find a reason to pick on anyone. They called the smart kids “nerds,” the tall kids “bird legs,” and the short kids “runts.” If perfect people existed, bullies probably would mock them for being “too perfect.”

    Still, if you are being bullied, it hurts. It’s a terrible experience that often seems like it will never end. As someone who endured it throughout my teenage years and still runs into it from time to time, I want to give you hope and peace. You can rise above and beyond it.


    Excerpted from Stand Strong by Nick Vujicic Copyright © 2014 by Nick Vujicic. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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  • If You Really Loved Me, You Would ...

    Glynnis

    "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 (NIV)

    How could he do this to me?

    My mind raced as the digital numbers on the clock read 1:25 a.m. Then 2:15 a.m. I rolled on my other side, away from the clock's red glow, with the hope of finding sleep before my alarm rang in a few short hours. But racing thoughts made sleep impossible.

    Earlier that day, I'd learned about some bad choices my son made and then we'd had an argument. This news rattled my confidence as a mother and caused all kinds of questioning thoughts to keep me awake. Was I losing my son? Was he going down the wrong path for good? What did I do wrong?

    Somehow, during my middle-of-the-night mental rant, I worked myself to a dangerous place: I doubted my son's love for me.

    After all, my sleepy brain reasoned, if he really loved me, he would never have done what he did. He knew I wouldn't approve, and yet he still made that choice. How could he?

    After that thought had planted itself in my brain, my heart felt vulnerable and in need of protection. Something in my mind whispered, "take cover" and walls started to rise around my heart.

    It wasn't the first time I've wanted to retreat from what felt like rejection. Unfortunately, I tend to expect people I love to behave in ways I would ... to make choices I would. Or at the very least, to seek my advice and adapt their decisions based on my feedback. When that doesn't happen, I sometimes translate it as a lack of love.

    In those difficult moments, it seems safer to close off parts of my heart when I feel rejected or not validated. But I've learned that's a very lonely way to live. And it's far from the way God wants me to love.

    I've struggled with this kind of reaction for years, yet God continually challenges me to stop playing it safe. Loving others isn't easy. God didn't call me to play defense when it comes to love; He called me to play offense.

    In fact, God modeled this type of love by showing it to me first.

    Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Here's what this verse means to me:

    While I was making choices that would hurt God's heart, He sent His son, Jesus, for me.

    While I was rejecting God's ways, His Son was nailed to a cross for me.

    While I was choosing selfish ease and comfort over obedience, Jesus died on that cross for me.

    For me! And for you! We are women who don't always make good choices. We are far from perfect. We're messy, risky and difficult to love sometimes. And yet God chooses to go on the offensive to show us His love.

    My bad choices are just as hurtful to God as my son's bad choices were to me. Yet not once has God tried to place guilt on me by saying, "If you really loved Me, you wouldn't have done that."

    In fact, God did just the opposite. When God was justified to condemn me for my willful, selfish choices, He chose to remove my guilt rather than place more on me.

    Oh how this truth brings me to my knees! How can I place such heavy expectations on others when God doesn't place them on me? How can I withhold even an ounce of love to make a point, when I make so many wrong choices of my own?

    That night, I confessed my selfish thoughts to God and asked Him to help me be bold enough to be a woman of grace, not guilt. To be a mother who models His love and not my oh-so-flawed version.

    The next morning I embraced my son before he left for school. I spoke no words of condemnation, nor did I remind him of his choices. I texted him mid-morning: "I love you." He texted back the same.

    Later, my son walked in the kitchen. "Hey, Mom, can I talk to you?"

    We sat in the living room while he admitted how wrong his choices had been. Regret lay heavy; he was sorry. In fact, he was making a change going forward and was thankful for my love.

    Not every situation works out that well. But in this instance, I'm thanking God for His quick intervention in my heart and my son's.

    Loving others is messy, and I sure don't do it as well as God. But with His strength, I'll keep trying. It's definitely worth the risk.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me in spite of my wrong thoughts, words and deeds. Help me to love others in spite of theirs and hopefully turn their hearts toward You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: Have you withheld love from someone who has hurt you? How has it affected your relationship?

    What is one thing you can do this week to demonstrate love to that person?

    Power Verse: Romans 2:4, "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" (NASB)

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Careless Words

    Boyd

    But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:36–37

    My words are a reflection of my heart. When Christ captures my heart, my words are measured and meaningful. A heart pregnant with the Lord’s purpose produces good fruit for its recipients. When my heart avoids the Almighty’s instruction, my words become careless. They wound and bring harm to hearers who receive my insensitivity.

    We communicate better when we understand the gravity of undisciplined speech. There is an accountability to God that will one day gauge what we have said. No idle word will miss the microscope of our Master’s judgment. “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (James 1:26). The Holy Spirit bridles our tongues with words of great worth.

    So does your speech represent your Savior well? Do your words incubate in a heart of intimacy with God and accountability to man? Like a thoughtful and creative artist, use your words to paint a picture that provides understanding and instruction. Prepare your heart in prayer before you speak in a meeting or prior to a performance review. At home, resolve to be respectful in all matters of conversation and others will reciprocate.

    Careless words are best corralled by Christ’s calming presence. When He seasons our speech with grace, there is a gravitas that gains the attention of the most unsuspecting souls. It is when the Lord speaks through us that we experience the best communication. Indeed, a humble heart full of Christ’s courage carries the right words at the right time. Speak with bold clarity, and trust God with the results. Convert careless words to kind ones.

    “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6 nkjv).

    Prayer: Are my words measured in prayer? Do I speak with accountability to God in mind?

    Related Readings: Psalm 139:4; Proverbs 18:21; Job 15:3; Ephesians 5:4

    Post/Tweet today: A humble heart full of Christ’s courage carries the right words at the right time. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • Love Him

    Boyd

    Love the LORD, all his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full.    Psalm 31:23

    God commands His saints to love Him. He loves you so you can love Him. Love and the Lord go hand in hand, for you are locked into a love relationship with your Savior. The question is not if you love the Lord, but how you love the Lord. Yes, your love for Christ pales in comparison to His love for you. But you love because the Lord is worthy of your love. He longs for your love, and He invites and desires it. Indeed, God is honored and worshiped when His saints love Him. Your love holds Him in eternal esteem. What joy, for you can love the Lover of your soul. Unredeemed sinners cannot love the Lord because they are incapable of loving Him. This is a perk that only disciples of Christ can enjoy. Unless you have been converted by the free grace of God, you cannot love Him. Love for the Lord is not unlocked until you turn the key of faith. It affords you the opportunity to love the Lord. You will remain unfulfilled, lost, and confused until you are able to love Him.

    Your relationship with the Lord is tolerable at best without an engaging and loving relationship, but loving your Creator completes you, His creation. Loving the Lord moves you out of the basement of loneliness to the balcony of basking in His presence. Love lifts you to the Lord, and He is drawn to your love. He loves to be loved by His children. Love of the Lord starts you out in faith and sustains your faith. Loving the Lord fuels your faith, energizes your soul, and galvanizes your beliefs. It inflames hope and feeds forgiveness. Loving the Lord is a catalyst for becoming more like Him. You take on the traits of whom and what you love. You reflect the object of your affection. Therefore, love Him because you want to be like Him. Love is a magnet that draws you toward your model for living. Transformation into the character of Christ is the goal for those who love Him.

    Indeed, your love for Him transforms your behavior. So, love the Lord with your whole being. Love Him with your body, soul, and spirit. Love Him physically by taking care of the body He created. Keep it pure and healthy. Love Him emotionally by processing and expressing your feelings. Allow Him to convert your anger into holy passion. Allow your love for Him to explode in emotions of thanksgiving, praise, and celebration. Love Him with your spirit. Connect with Christ in prayer and meditation on His Word. He reveals His will to seeking souls; so love Him in the morning, in the noontime, and love Him when the sun goes down. Since loving Him is right, you don’t want to be wrong.

    Post/Tweet today: Loving the Lord moves you out of the basement of loneliness to the balcony of basking in His presence. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

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  • Double Minded

    Boyd

    But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. James 1:6-8

    Double mindedness comes from doubt. Doubt about being in the right career. Doubt related to investing in the right relationships. Doubt in the Almighty’s ability to handle the circumstances or the people. Chronic doubt is a detriment to faith and hope, because it causes instability and insecurity. Has doubt and double mindedness frozen your faith?

    Do you feel torn between two people? Have your divided loyalties at work created conflict and confusion? Does your lack of conviction cause you to react like a whipsaw to the latest advice? Like a ship without a rudder or sail, you are tossed back and forth by the winds of change and conflict. Without confidence from Christ there is confusion.

    “I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty” (Galatians 5:10).

    Wavering faith is made stable by reassurance from the Lord’s faithfulness. There is nothing distrustful about wisdom from above. You can count on Christ to lead you through the valley of uncertainty, along the upward path of prayer to the mountaintop of trust. Challenges allow you to grow in grace—and live out the advice you give to others.

    So, determine by God’s grace to be single-minded, not double-minded. Your single-minded devotion to Jesus is simple, but powerful. Like the tip of a razor sharp spear, it cuts through the noise of competing voices and allows you to hear from heaven. This humble posture of believing prayer unlocks the Lord’s wisdom and discernment.

    Whatever Jesus says to be—be, and whatever Jesus says to do—do. Do not complicate your conversation with Christ with contingency plans. Rather, simply trust and obey the truth. Do what He says to do today and trust Him with tomorrow. The Lord will handle the little details and the big outcomes—your part is to remain faithful. Wisdom is what He wants you to follow by faith. Single-mindedness is stable and secure in all its ways.

    “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:8-9).

    Prayer: How can I grow in single-minded faith in the Lord? Who needs my focused attention?

    Related Readings: Isaiah 41:29; 50:7; Matthew 6:22-23; 1 Peter 1:13

    Post/Tweet today: Challenges are an opportunity to grow in grace and live out the advice we give others. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

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