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  • Covenant of Love

    Posted on January 21, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments. Nehemiah 1:5

    Just as the Lord God made a covenant of love with His chosen people Israel, He covenants in love with His church the Bride of Christ. We are united with Christ in the bonds of love forever. Yes, those who fall in love with Jesus stand at the altar of trust and vow to remain faithful until death brings them into eternal oneness with their Lord. Our fidelity of faith is evidence of our genuine love and commitment to God. His covenant of love compels us to be loved and to love.

    We are loved by God unconditionally, even when we fail to reciprocate His love. Though the Lord’s love is jealous, He does not jettison us from His presence when we ignore Him. We may drift away from Him with our unwise decisions, but His love is available to bring us back to the security and serenity of His presence. Christ’s covenant of love to His forgiven bride keeps us humble and grateful. Like Esther, we seek to adorn ourselves with the beauty of His holiness.

    And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. Esther 2:15

    We love the Lord, because He first loved us. We pursue the Lord, because He first pursued us. We serve the Lord, because He first served us. We remain faithful to the Lord, because He remains faithful to us. Yes, we love Him and keep His commands, because of what His grace and love have already done for us. It is a divine gift that provides what we need most. Our greatest need is to be loved by our Heavenly Father. Christ’s covenant of love grows love in our heart.

    God’s covenant of love is not to be taken for granted. It is not an emotional acknowledgement we act on only when our feelings cooperate. No, when we entered into covenant with Christ we committed to Christ and to all He represents: love, obedience, generosity, holiness, service, worship, prayer, scripture, mercy, grace, forgiveness, evangelism, discipleship and the church. Since He keeps His covenant of love, we are the bride of Christ who loves, cherishes and obeys.

    And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your covenant of love that invites me to be loved by You and compels me to love You and others.

    Related Readings: Daniel 9:4; Matthew 22:37-40; 1 Corinthians 13:13, 16:14; Galatians 5:6;    1 John  4:7-12

    Post/Tweet today: Since He keeps His covenant of love, we are the bride of Christ who loves, cherishes and obeys. #covenantoflove

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • The Power of a Half Hour from Tommy Barnett

    Posted on January 21, 2014 by Family Christian

    Tommy

    My name is Tommy Barnett.

    I’m a pastor and have devoted my entire adult life to helping people connect with God and find better ways to live. I could fill up this book and more with all kinds of spiritual and practical ideas about what works in life and what doesn’t. I think it would be good stuff, but I have one practical idea that I know from my own experience rises far above all the others.

    I admit it’s not an overly unique concept, like the invention of the Internet, for example. However, it’s an idea that has helped me realize success and great satisfaction in all aspects of my personal and professional life. I mean everything—from personal goals and dreams to marriage to raising a family to relationships to work.

    I believe the idea can change your life, though, as it has changed mine.

    Most importantly, it has helped me serve God and others more effectively. Trust me, my idea is not rocket science; in fact, it’s so simple that anyone can understand and benefit from it.

    I believe the idea can change your life, though, as it has changed mine. I call it the power of a half hour.

    Many people think of a half hour as a minimal or meaningless gap in time, downtime to catch your breath between periods of major effort. But the truth is your half hours can determine the difference between success and failure. Your half hours direct and shape your future.

    You can literally change your world in thirty minutes. In the same way that your effect on the world is felt one life at a time, so is that effect delivered through the careful and thoughtful investment of your half hours. The beauty of this reality is that anyone can do it. You don’t need a PhD, and you don’t need a life coach to pull it off. All you need is to accept the idea, have a clear sense of your God-given purpose, examine your activity patterns, sensitize yourself to your time choices, and start taking advantage of the power of a half hour.

    Every half hour in your day is a power-loaded resource. Your choice of how to spend those minutes is the focus of this book, which I intend to make a practical conversation about a resource that we misunderstand, abuse, take for granted, and ignore.

    I want to help you become the person God intends you to be and accomplish His plans for your life. And in order to do that, you need to use your small increments of time wisely—not just the big slices of time that are devoted to both routine daily activities and major life events.

    I agree with Harvey Mackay who said, “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”

    I know that it’s not easy to find even a “free” hour in the world we live in. I also have learned that it’s difficult to accomplish a great deal in a quarter hour—especially if you need to communicate graciously and genuinely with another person within that time frame. But a half hour—it works!

    Claiming the Power of a Half Hour

    Here’s how we will approach turning your half hours into life-changing blocks of time. In the seven parts of this book, I will outline how seizing the power of a half hour can make such a difference in these major areas:

    • Impact
    • Purpose and goals
    • Faith
    • Character
    • Dreams
    • Relationships
    • Advancing God’s kingdom

    To help you remember key themes in this book, each chapter contains a Half-Hour Power Principle.

    By the way, researchers tell us that most people never finish reading the books they start. Because I think there’s too much helpful information in these pages for you to abandon the content before you get to the end, let me suggest that you do four simple but practical things as you read this book.

    First, read the book in half-hour spaces in your schedule. Each of the chapters in the book is short enough to read easily in a half hour. You might want to have more than one block during a day when you read the book, but start this practice as you engage with this book. In addition, at the back of this book you will find a Personal Power of a Half Hour Action Plan. This plan is set up to help you, over a thirty-day period, fully incorporate The Power of a Half Hour concepts into all major areas of your life. You have heard that it takes about a month to establish a new habit? I urge you to use this thirty-day plan to make the power of a half hour a habit you will never break!

    Second, if something strikes you as personally helpful, jot down notes about changes you need to make. Too often we are so intent on getting through a book that we forget some of the useful insights or challenges it provided.

    Third, pray that God will help you to implement the things you discover in these pages (or in your related reflections) that will improve your life experience. Fourth, and finally, express a commitment to someone you know and trust that you are going to integrate these simple changes into your lifestyle. Ask that person to check up on you once or twice a month to see how intentional you are being with your half hours. That simple act of accountability will help prevent the reading of this book from being just another helpful but forgotten task. (You may also wish to find mutual encouragement in learning the half-hour concepts by attending a small-group discussion. A guide for such a study is included at the end of the book.)

    I’ve been practicing these principles so long that I can now say I am a product of my half hours. I don’t always get it right, but I’m very much aware of the gift of life and the value of time. My half hours—the ones I carefully plan, as well as the unplanned ones I discover—are committed to doing His will in my life because I want to serve our God and others.

    I’ve been practicing these principles so long that I can now say I am a product of my half hours.

    If you get your half hours right, God will not only change your life but also use you to alter the lives of the people and organizations you influence. I sincerely believe the future is not going to be defined by those who rely on their intelligence, their talent, or their good looks. Instead, the future is dependent on the choices made by God’s people in the time that He has placed at our disposal.


    Excerpted from The Power of a Half Hour by Tommy Barnett Copyright © 2013 by Tommy Barnett. 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.

  • I Hate Saying "No"

    Posted on January 21, 2014 by Crystal Paine

    Crystal

    "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!' 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'" Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)

    I wanted to run away from it all. I was exhausted, stressed to the max, and overwhelmed.

    We'd recently moved to a new city so my husband could start a new job. I had a newborn, a two-year-old, and a four-year-old. Not only that, but my online business was keeping me busy.

    There were never enough hours in the day to do it all. It felt like no matter where I was or what I was doing, I had a massive weight of guilt hanging over me and whispering in my ear. They were actually more like hisses telling me I should be ten other places, focusing on ten other priorities that were desperate for my attention.

    My house was constantly a mess, and I was forever behind. Most days, I couldn't think straight or get much accomplished. I was just plain bone-tired from late nights working on projects, middle-of-the-night feedings for the baby, and early mornings completing business tasks before my kids woke up.

    But my Type A self wouldn't allow me to admit how bad things were to anyone. I just kept pressing forward, kept saying "yes" to that opportunity, and "yes" to this project, and "yes" to that responsibility. I told myself if I'd get a little more organized, or try a little harder, or sleep a little less, somehow I'd find a way to do it all.

    Like Martha in Luke's Gospel, I was an expert at staying busy with serving and doing. But I was never able to take time to slow down because I placed my worth and value in my productivity.

    So I just kept right on saying yes — even though it was destroying my health and my sanity ... and threatening to take my marriage, family, and business right down with it.

    Finally, I got to the end of my rope. I couldn't keep going like that. Something had to give. So I sat down with my husband and tearfully told him, "I can't do this anymore. I'm overwhelmed. I'm exhausted. Help!"

    I was expecting a big hug or words of sympathy. But instead, my husband looked at me sympathetically and said, "Crystal, you know that you are the one who is bringing most of this on yourself."

    That was the last thing I wanted to hear, and his words stung! However, I ended up having to admit he was right.

    I didn't have to say "yes" to every commitment and opportunity that came my way. Nobody and nothing was obligating me to do anything except me!

    Since that difficult time in my life, I've grown to love the word "no." Not because it's fun to say, but because I've realized that when I say "no" to one thing that's a lower priority, it allows me to say "yes" to my highest priorities.

    As the story of Martha powerfully illustrates, Christ didn't come to make us Superwomen. He didn't come to give us the tools to become powerhouses of productivity. Instead, He came to give us abundant life, rest, peace, and joy.

    Saying "no"—even though it's hard to do—frees me up to say "yes" to what matters. And that's a beautiful thing.

    Dear Lord, help me to remember that You care much more about my heart than what I accomplish on my to-do list. Give me the courage to say "no" to those things in my life that are keeping me from being able to say "yes" to the best. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How am I bringing stress into my life by being unwilling to admit that I can't do it all?

    What mediocre things do I need to say "no" to in order to start saying "yes" to the best?

    Power Verse:
    Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Crystal Paine. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Thomas Nelson Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

  • Saddened by Sorrow

    Posted on January 20, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4

    Affluence tends to insulate individuals from society’s sorrows. An emotional wall is easily erected between one who has stuff and one lacking stuff. Those who once went without can quickly forget the stories of those who still suffer without. Nehemiah enjoyed the privileges of the upper crust in another country while his people back home groveled for a crust of bread. But word from his brother put a real face of the reality of the poor’s suffering. He wept in sadness.

    Society’s woes do matter to men and women who walk with Christ. He was a Man of sorrows who is our sympathizing Savior. Jesus was poor and He cared for the poor. He lived among them as one of them. Christ wept with those who wept over their sorrow. He cried with those who lost loved ones to death. He healed children gripped by dreadful diseases. He forgave guilty hearts of sin and freed hearts possessed by evil. Jesus was saddened by sorrow and He initiated solutions.

    He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Isaiah 53:3, NKJV

    Like helium in a ballon lifts it heavenward, so the Lord lifts up individuals encumbered by sorrow’s emotional, physical and spiritual fatigue. Thus, as we seek to serve society we first go forth in the name of Jesus. Remedies for physical infirmities without the good news of Christ prolong sin’s sickness. So, we are unashamed to share the gospel with social justice for it is the power of God unto salvation. The source of sorrow finds salvation in God’s grace and mercy.

    Yes, we mourn, fast and pray before the Lord of heaven before we go out in His name on earth. The Holy Spirit strips our heart of pride and replaces it with humility, lest we be an obstacle to engaging the culture with Christ’s love. Sadness is the outcome of sorrow, but gladness is the fruit of hope. Once resourced by God and man, we gladly go out to serve in Jesus’ name. His mercy changes our mourning into dancing. His salvation in Christ turns our sorrows into joy.

    Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me; Lord, be my helper!” You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever. Psalm 30:10-12, NKJV

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, in my sorrow I seek Your face. Use me to bring joy to those who suffer in sadness.

    Related Readings: Exodus 15:20; Isaiah 53:10; Psalm 31:9;  Hebrews 5:8; 2 Corinthians 7:7-11

    Post/Tweet today: Like helium in a ballon lifts it heavenward, so the Lord lifts up individuals encumbered by emotional fatigue. #sorrow

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Creative Extremists - Martin Luther King

    Posted on January 20, 2014 by John van der Veen

    "Though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love:
    "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
    Was not Amos an extremist for justice:
    "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream."
    Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel:
    "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."
    Was not Martin Luther an extremist:
    "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God."
    And John Bunyan:
    "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience."
    And Abraham Lincoln:
    "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free."
    And Thomas Jefferson:
    "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. . ."
    So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment.
    Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative
    extremists."


    The above is taken from Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail. Written April 16, 1963. You may find the whole letter here.
  • How God Makes Men from Patrick Morley

    Posted on January 20, 2014 by Family Christian

    Patrick

    When I travel and meet strangers, someone will often say, “You work with men. That must really be hard.”

    My response is always the same. “You’ve got the wrong guy! I have the best job in the world. Every day we see men coming to Christ and growing as disciples. God is powerfully at work in men’s lives!” With that said, we need to do a reality check. Men today are under severe attack. A counter-Christian pop culture ridicules men in general and Christian men in particular. The battle line against biblical manhood is clearly drawn and fiercely contested. As a result, legions of men struggle to sustain what they started and finish the race.

    Because I get to work with men as my vocation, I’ve been watching this battle play out and intensify at an alarming rate. Every week at our Bible study, I meet men who have professed faith in Christ but who, for the last five, ten, fifteen, or more years, have been living by their own wisdom. Many were told, “Just pray this prayer and everything
    will turn out okay.” But it hasn’t. They enlisted and were issued a weapon they’ve never learned how to clean and shoot. These men are not bad, just confused.

    Most men I talk with feel like there’s another man coiled up inside of them who desperately wants to get out. How about you?

    • Maybe your faith is being tested to the breaking point.
    • Maybe you’ve been down so long you feel God has abandoned you.
    • Maybe you thought God was going to use you, but now you feel like you’ve been sidelined.
    • Maybe you feel inadequate for your roles in life.
    • Maybe you’re in a tough situation and see no way out.
    • Maybe you are not genuinely content with who you are and what you do.
    • Maybe you feel like giving up.
    • Maybe you find it difficult to let go of the cares of this world.

    Can you relate? If so, I’ve got some really great news for you. It’s all wrapped up in the one sentence that best describes my own life: Because God is good, your life will not turn out like you planned. That’s because God has a better plan. A much better plan. So what is this plan, and how can you make it your own?

    God’s plan is made up of strikingly relevant, time-tested lessons written down and preserved for us in the Bible. It pulsates with stories about men who released and sustained the passion of their faith. They became the men God created them to be.

    And you can too.

    However, it’s shocking how many of these life-changing principles are gathering dust. It’s as though we’re afraid to tell men, “Following Christ is harder than it looks and takes longer than expected. But God does have a plan, and it comes packed with real answers and genuine hope.”

    So in How God Makes Men, I want to share with you the most powerful principles of manhood from ten of the most well-known men in the Bible. In each of their epic stories, we can see the hand of God at work—shaping them, leading them, making them into the men He always planned for them to become. That “always planned for them to become” is for you too. And it’s one of the main features we’ll be exploring together.

    How did God mold and mobilize these men? What were the obstacles they faced? What held them back? How did God get them uncoiled? And what was their part? As we spend time listening to their lives, we will come face to face with the gritty truth that can release and sustain the passion of our faith too. When added together, they’re not just ten amazing stories but one big story—yours!

    Here’s the promise of How God Makes Men. And it’s a huge one. If you will absorb and embrace the timeless principles offered by these ten men, you can get past the shallow cultural Christianity that wants to gut your manhood and get to—or back to—a more biblical Christianity.

    If you will let these ten men mentor you, then, like them, you will become the man God created you to be. You will release the power of God in every direction and detail of your life. You will know how to sustain the passion of your faith. And you will be well on the way to writing your own epic story. Why? Because God is way too good to let our lives merely turn out like we planned!

    You always knew that one day you would be called upon to take your place on the battlefront, right? This is that call. Together, we can turn this around. This is a battle we can win. We cannot, we must not, and by God’s grace we will not fail.

    If this is what you want, turn the page. I have some guys I want you to meet.


    Excerpted from How God Makes Men by Patrick Morley Copyright © 2013 by Patrick Morley. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, 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.

  • Home-Shaping

    Posted on January 20, 2014 by Karen Ehman

    Karen

    "My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge." Psalm 62:7 (NIV)

    They piled high on the living room coffee table: colorfully wrapped boxes with curly, coordinating bows and snappy gift bags with crisp tissue paper peeking out of their tops in anticipation. They accented the festivities as nearly three-dozen friends eagerly gathered for an open house for my friend Thida.

    A Cambodian native, Thida met Keith when he was studying abroad in her country. Now married and living in the United States, our circle of friends showered Thida with well-wishes and the heartfelt welcome of an old-fashioned housewarming party.

    What domestic treasures she opened that night! New fluffy towels in deep jewel tones, contemporary metal candleholders and spicy-scented candles, kitchen utensils and casserole dishes, picture frames and pots. Ever a soft-spoken and grateful soul, this sweet twenty-something new bride was visually humbled and verbally thankful with each package she unwrapped.

    Every so often, she would look at the crowd and utter the same phrase, "Oh ... I want to thank you so much for helping me to shape our home."

    We knew what Thida meant. She meant to "furnish" her home, to decorate and outfit it with needed and useful items. However, somehow when trying to get her sentiments across by speaking in English (her second language) the phrase she continually chose was "shape our home."

    As I heard sweet Thida utter these words many times that night, it struck a chord within my soul. In essence this group of siblings, aunts, cousins, and grandparents-by-marriage, along with an abundance of new friends, were doing exactly that!

    Thida is from a country where, of the 14.5 million inhabitants, only a few thousand claim to follow Christ. Over 95% of Cambodians are practicing Buddhists.

    Thida began a relationship with Jesus through the example of an aunt and, although the rest of her family is still Buddhist, this strong woman now loves and serves the God of the Bible. She chose to break from her parents' tradition to begin a new life with Christ. And, aside from her aunt, she had no one who could help her learn what it meant to live as a woman and wife according to God's ways.

    Thida made a choice. Rather than choosing the false god of her ancestors, she chose the true God of the Bible. And she and her husband desire nothing more than to build their home and grow a family someday according to the ways of the Lord. And now we, as her circle of support in her new country of residence, will try our best to encourage her in her endeavors; to model a Christian home with our actions and decisions. Yes, you could say in essence that we all have made a covenant to help precious Thida do exactly what she declared—"shape her home."

    Do you know another woman who has made a decision for Christ? One who left her former ways to walk in the ways of the Lord? If so, there are eyes upon you, watching, soaking and learning. What will she see? Will you help her shape her earthly home, and her heart's home, with God's truths while building on the foundations of Christ?

    Home shaping is significant business. May we all be mirrors that reflect Christ to those who are watching, soaking and learning. And yes...perhaps even shaping.

    Dear Lord, may I be ever mindful there are others looking to me for an example of how to shape our lives according to Your ways. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What are some ways you try to weave the Bible's commands into your home life?

    How can you help others who are new in the faith to ground their hearts in God, His Word and His ways?

    Power Verse:
    Luke 4:8 "And Jesus answered him, 'It is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve."'" (ESV)

    © 2014 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • God Backfills

    Posted on January 19, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you.”
    Joel 2:25

    God can make up for wasted time. He specializes in redeeming rough seasons in our lives. What has become a torturous transition, He can use to love you into a closer relationship with Him. Where else can you go for eternal life than to the one who is eternal (John 6:68)? Allow God to backfill this blot on your past. He can rebuild what has been broken, even destroyed.
    You may have been embarrassed and humiliated but this is not beyond God’s long arm of restoration. Injustice may have invaded your unsuspecting life. Unaware and unexpectedly you lost everything you had spent a lifetime building. Poof, in a twinkle of an eye, it was gone. Your career was gone. Your family teetered on division. Your reputation was tattered and all but obliterated. Your joy was gone, your finances depleted, your energy sapped. And your faith was shot full of holes. Your desire to move forward in life was severely stalled.

    Worst of all, you wondered where the Lord was in all this reversal of fortune. You were on the fast track to bitterness because of your feelings of betrayal. You may have hit rock bottom, and now there is nowhere to look but up. Look up to Jesus. He is your hope, your rock, and your refuge. Look up to the Lord even though He may seem a million miles away. Now is the time to practice what you told others all those years. Trust God during this time of turmoil. God wants to backfill your loss. He can fill your pit of pity with hope (Psalm 40:2). Your broken relationships that are buried in a cistern of hurt, He can retrieve with forgiveness. Into your financial black hole, He can shine the light of His provision and opportunity.
    In Christ, your best days lie ahead. Submit to His healing. Let go of your hurt and pride,  hang onto Him. He is the best thing you have going for you. Let these failures forge a stronger faith in you and in your family. Face the fact that you are forgiven  and move forward in the power of the Holy Spirit. Lean on the Lord. He can handle it. He is your stability in this storm of insanity. God is there for you to rebuild your reputation, and to give you daily doses of hope and encouragement. Your eruption of raw emotion will grow you into a more sensitive and compassionate follower of Christ.

    He has brought you through this crisis of faith to allow you to coach others through the same. You are a living and breathing testimony of the grace and love of God. Project His faithfulness on other fledgling followers of Jesus. Let the Lord backfill the hole in your heart and life with His love and faithfulness. His filling of right attitudes and actions will bar the door of your mind from bitterness and backstabbing. Invite the Holy Spirit to backfill your soul with His fruit of love, joy, peace, self-control, purity, forgiveness, and humility. What God fills proves faithful. What God fills, He controls and comforts. Use the lessons of the past as a reminder for the Holy Spirit’s filling in the present. His backfilling results in faithfulness going forward.

    Post/Tweet today: God rebuilds reputations and gives daily doses of hope and encouragement. #Godbackfills

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Racial Reconciliation

    Posted on January 18, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles’” (Acts 22:21).

    Race divides. Inherently it needs reconciliation. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are expected to be on the forefront of racial reconciliation. Christ is colorblind. There is no preference between Jew and Gentile, black or white, yellow or brown. They are all precious in His sight. Yet every day, millions are disenfranchised or killed because of their cultural heritage and skin color. Where pride and ego drive the human race into different geographical and racial directions, Christ reunites. He is the racial reconciler.

    The feet of Jesus are on level ground for all races. Sin is the only explanation for one race’s sense of superiority over another. It breaks the heart of God. Jesus went far out of His way to love a racial outcast in the Samaritan woman (John 4). He was compelled by the Holy Spirit to reach across class, cultural, and racial barriers.

    In the same way and spirit, God is leading you to reach out to others different from you. He is calling on His disciples to be intentional in healing past hurts and serving current needs. Some will receive your sincere service, while others will question your motive. But when all is said and done, your part is to go and be a blessing. God’s part is to facilitate trust and healing. You probably do not consider yourself a racist. That is, you do not feel or act better than another human being just because of your race.

    However, to be silent or not intentionally reach out to another culture is passive racism. It is subtle, but the same ill effects occur. The offended or disillusioned ones are still stuck in their inferior state of mind, economics, and education.  It is the role of the church to bring down cultural barriers. We can model the way of racial reconciliation as Jesus did.

    Consider a year-long, weekly, one-on-one study with someone of a different race. Learn about his or her culture, history, and hurts. Indeed, racial reconciliation happens one person at a time, and it happens relationally. Do not wait on someone to come to you. You go to that person. Yes, it is a little uncomfortable, and yes, there will be misunderstanding. But Jesus is the standard bearer and relational mediator.

    Let the Bible be your foundational source of racial reconciliation. Start today on a cross-cultural mission. Is there someone at work or in your neighborhood? Invite the family into your home for a meal. Serve them every time you get a chance, and watch God work. Then the world will see—in Technicolor—that you are truly disciples of Christ because you love one another. Races will be reconciled, and God will be glorified. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

    Prayer: Why is Christ colorblind? Who can I build a relationship with that is of a different race?

    Related Readings: Genesis 11:1–8; John 4:1–42; Romans 10:12; Galatians 2:14

    Post/Tweet today: Pride and ego drive the human race into different directions, but Christ reunites. He is the racial reconciler. #racialreconciliation

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Relational Investment Plan

    Posted on January 17, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. Titus 1:4

    Relational investments compound into eternity. Yes, loving people takes time, effort and perseverance, but the dividends pay off handsomely. For example, we can regularly read a children’s bible to our little one and not see immediate character change, but hopefully over time they will accept the Scripture as God’s wisdom and love letter to them personally. Or, our efforts to encourage a friend may be frustrating, but at least they know we love them unconditionally.

    Who needs your intentional attention in this season of life? A co-worker? A relative? A neighbor?  Relational involvement is messy, so ask the Lord for His grace, patience and forgiveness to fill your soul. Go the extra third and fourth mile to serve, even if someone takes advantage of your good will. Better to take the risk to love than to hide your affections from a hurting heart. If you receive a cold shoulder for your care, keep a warm heart. Love is the best relational investment.

    A new command I [Jesus] give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34

    We love like Jesus when we share our life with people. We eat together, we travel together, we worship together, we pray together, we study the Bible together, we work together, we play together, we laugh together and we cry together. Perhaps there is someone who needs to live in our home for a defined period of time. They understand their exit strategy after six months and they agree to abide by the ground rules of mutual respect, church attendance and doing chores. Our home is an incubator for relational development. An open home opens hearts to Jesus.

    Furthermore, a solid relational investment plan requires a focus on faith. Equip another teachable soul in the tenets of trusting God. Pray with them, discuss the Bible with them, share your struggles with them and talk of the Lord’s faithfulness in your life. Or, you may facilitate a book club with a few friends, join a small group from your church or take a mission trip. Have a mutual fund of diverse friendships and you will never go relationally broke. Be grateful and give more than you receive in all relationships. Your relational investments will grow into true riches! Learn from a relational hero of mine Dan Glaze... http://bit.ly/KkUJQz

    We cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 1 Thessalonians 2:8

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, show me who I need to invest my life in with love and service for Your sake.

    Related Readings: Genesis 13:8; Luke 16:11; Acts 2:44-45; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Peter 1:22

    Post/Tweet today: Invest in a mutual fund of diverse friendships and you will never go relationally broke. #relationalinvestmentplan

    © 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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