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  • Instant Obedience

    Boyd

    Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.  John 5:8-9

    Sometimes Jesus asks us to do something that seems impossible at the time. He wants our faith to intersect with His instructions, as far fetched as they may seem. We know from experience; as we exercise our faith--it grows. By faith, we first receive from our Savior forgiveness, grace, and eternal life. His unprecedented gifts are our opportunity to give Him our absolute allegiance. Once we surrender to our King and Lord Jesus, He empowers our will to obey His will.

    A 38 year-old man had waited for years, unable to beat his competition into the healing pool. But then the Healer showed up in person on the Sabbath and turned conventional wisdom upside down. Faith was still necessary, but not like the former process. Yes, Jesus gives us new methods to carry out His old mission. The majority may clamor to traditional places for His power, but the Spirit is available to us for creativity. He wants to use our fresh faith to facilitate His new ways.

    “See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).

    What innovative outcome is the Lord leading you to accomplish in His strength? What area of your life still needs Christ’s healing power? Don’t be afraid of failure, but embrace instead the liberty you have to launch a new idea. Some with a jealous eye will be critical, however you can rise up and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. Give God the glory and perhaps He will answer your naysayers by giving you success. It's hard to argue with the instant obedience of a humble life.

    Above all, receive Jesus Christ by faith into your life, as Savior and Lord. Furthermore, apply the healing power of His grace onto any hurt or guilt in your heart. Your instant obedience is an indicator of your love for Him. Obeying Christ’s command is not burdensome, but a blessing. Not a hinderance, but a help to knowing God. Not dreadful duty, but joyful service! Your instant obedience leads to intimate encounters with Jesus. Faith frees you to walk obediently with Him.

    “For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed” (Hebrews 4:2).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I want to obey You instantly, as an expression of my true love for You.

    Related Readings:Deuteronomy 11:13; Psalm 119:158; Matthew 9:5-6, 12:1-14; Hebrews 11:8

    Post/Tweet today: Jesus gives us new methods to carry out His old mission. #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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  • I Just Unfriended My Friend

    Nicki

    "My child, don't lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them for they will refresh your soul." Proverbs 3:21-22a (NLT)

    "Women are ridiculous," I said to my husband as I crawled into bed, tears dripping. He gave me an agreeable stare, since he had no words to console my aching heart.

    I'd just learned a friend lied to me. It was about something senseless, which just made it worse. As the hours ticked by, I wrestled through troubling thoughts.

    Why would she lie about THAT?

    Were we ever really friends?

    The combination of hurt and middle-of-the-night thinking was toxic, forming a very self-centered attitude in me. I decided I no longer had room in my life to deal with someone who had lied to me. So in my heart, I just unfriended this friend.

    I have other people I can be friends with, I thought as I drifted off to sleep.

    The next morning I realized how my emotions had distorted my perceptions. It concerned me how quickly I was willing to write off this friend, since we had been through a lot together. And I really did value our relationship.

    So I pondered the emotions swirling in my heart.

    In our cyber culture today, it's easy to sit behind computer screens and smartphones while we reject the reality of many things, including friendships.

    My profile on Facebook says I have 900 "friends." Social media convinces me I have hundreds of people in my corner. But in reality, I don't have 900 friends I could call in the midst of a crisis or even go meet for a cup of coffee.

    And that "unfriend" button is mighty tempting when someone hurts me. But the truth is, ending a relationship is much more complex than the way social media convinces me it can happen — as easily as clicking an icon.

    Social media is a relational tool, but it's not a relational reality.

    More than ever, I need to see my friendships through the lens of reality, and this verse helps me do this: "My child, don't lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them for they will refresh your soul," (Proverbs 3:21-22a).

    God has given us two trustworthy filters to help us see things as what they really are: common sense and discernment.

    In this situation with my friend, common sense, reminded me: You don't really have 900 friends, but you do have one or two people you can really count on. And you need to cultivate those relationships through good times and bad.

    When I wanted to reject our relationship because I was hurt, discernment said: Your friend is human. At the core of her heart she cares about you and didn't mean to hurt you.

    We will always be susceptible to flawed perceptions in our friendships. But when we hang on to the realities God offers us through common sense and discernment I believe we will be much wiser with our perceptions.

    Using God's Word as my filter, rather than my emotions, allowed me to work through the hurtful issue with my friend. That experience made me a more compassionate friend and it strengthened our friendship, so that when I mess up (and I'm sure I will), hopefully she'll forgive me.

    God, we are so grateful for Your gifts of common sense and discernment. Give us the grace to use these filters when things get foggy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: Is there a friendship God might want to restore because one or both of you had a flawed perception about what was happening? Maybe today you could reach out to that person and begin the process of healing.

    Friendships thrive when we cultivate them. Invite a friend to meet you for some meaningful connecting time, this week or next.

    Power Verses: 1 Corinthians 13:12, "We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!" (MSG)

    1 John 3:2, "But friends, that's exactly who we are: children of God. And that's only the beginning. Who knows how we'll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we'll see him — and in seeing him, become like him." (MSG)

    © 2014 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

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

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  • Attractive Evangelism

    Boyd

    A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34–35

    Love is irresistible for those in search of a Savior. Everyone whose heart aches for authentic relationship will take notice when seeing Christians love one another. Parents who encourage and build up their sons and daughters are a magnet to their children’s friends who live lonely lives in discouraging and disruptive home environments.

    Have you thought of your home as a sanctuary for seeking souls? Every time a neighbor drops by, a friend stays overnight, or you host a party for your child’s team, you have an opportunity to model the love of Jesus toward those you know and to those whom you meet for the first time. Leverage love for the Lord, and He will draw people to Himself.

    “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13).

    Being a disciple of Jesus does have its benefits, and being loved is close to the top. When you placed your faith in Christ, you became a giver and receiver of Christian love. So do not resist the righteous care that Christ followers extend on your behalf. Be glad you model the love of God’s children that can melt the hearts of outside observers. “Why,” they ask, “do people give so much, expecting nothing in return?”

    How do you intentionally love your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you share relationships, money, your vacation home, your primary residence, or your car? It may be showing up during a health issue, praying for a job interview, babysitting their little one, or mowing their grass. Unbelievers take notice when believers lavishly love each other.

    “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).

    Our capacity to love is limited only by the Lord’s capacity to love us, to love in us, and to love through us. His love removes our insensitive heart and replaces it with sensitivity. The Almighty’s agape love arranges our priorities around the needs of others first and ours second. His love first comforts pain in people and then waits for the appropriate time to administer truth. This level of unconditional love is a conduit for the lost to know Christ.

    “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:11–12).

    Prayer: Am I receiving God’s love? Whom do I know who needs my unselfish love and attention?

    Related Readings: 2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 3 John 1:7-8

    Taken from the April 6th reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 2”

    Post/Tweet today: Unbelievers take notice when believers lavishly love each other. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • Fainting Faith

    Boyd

    "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?" Psalm 42:1-2

    A fainting faith is forever in search of its heavenly Father. There is a building intensity for intimacy with the Almighty. Sometimes your faith faints from sheer exhaustion. It passes out for lack of prayer or even during prayer. Do not allow divine duty to drive you for very long. This is not a sustainable pace or prayer-friendly posture. Rest instead in the continual call of Christ. Service to God without communion with Christ, leads to spiritual fatigue. Your soul’s life is sucked out because fainting faith leaves you in a state of spiritual fatigue. The scary thing is that you may be unaware that your faith is on the brink of fainting.

    So keep your life’s pace governed by grace, or you will outrun your soul. Time with your Master requires margin. In fact, any significant relational investments take place in the margin of your life. Margin is like the white space on a page of paper. It makes reading enjoyable, digestible, and inviting to the eye. In the same way, lives with margin are inviting. You are not an interruption to people with margin because they know how to make time for those who matter. That’s how you should look at your time with Jesus. Carve out space on your calendar to be with your Savior. You can do this by faith, trusting that the Lord will make up for any lost time. Christ can get things done without you. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

    A deer, by instinct, has no other thought than to slow down and drink as often as needed. Your soul cannot stand sustained times without hydration either, but we sometimes fail to take the time. Jeremiah reprimanded the people for ignoring their need for the Lord, “…they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water” (Jeremiah 17:13b). Just as water is necessary for your body to function, so drinking from divine resources is required for your soul to sustain itself. Otherwise, your faith faints for lack of the Lord. Your soul’s thirst is a perpetual appetite that can only be quenched by Christ. Drunkards try to replace their soul’s longing with liquor. It doesn’t work, for it makes matters worse by seeking a substitute for their Savior. Drink is a synthetic savior for a thirsty soul.

    You can meet with the Lord immediately. He is always accessible. Get on your knees and pour out your soul in prayer. Drink in the love of the Lord. Guzzle down the grace of God. Sip on the joy of Jesus. Go to church and lift up your soul in worship to your great and mighty God. Drink in the praise and adoration of God’s glory with other sincere believers in Jesus. Your soul is satisfied in environments that engage you with eternity. Worship, Bible study, prayer, and community with Christ-followers quench our thirsty souls.  The world parches your soul, but heaven hydrates your heart. Your faith will flourish and not faint as you take the time to quench your thirsty soul. Drink often with Jesus. “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water” (Revelation 7:17). He refreshes.

    Taken from the April 5th reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 1”

    Post/Tweet today: Service to God, without communion with Christ, leads to spiritual fatigue. #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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  • A Father's Growing Faith

    Boyd

    The royal official said, “‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’Go,’ Jesus replied, ‘your son will live.’” John 4:49-50

    A father whose faith in Christ is imperfect, will grow the more he gets to know Christ. This nobleman had heard about Jesus, but did not realize the Lord could speak a word, and instantly yet virtually, heal his son. Geographic distance does not limit the healing power of God’s grace. We petition our heavenly Father on behalf of our distant child, and He hears us with a heart to heal their hearts. Job number one as a father is to stay faithful in bold prayers for our progeny.

    Included in the job description of fathers is to fix things. We fix leaky faucets or call a plumber! We fix toys trampled by little feet. We fix cars, lawn mowers and bicycles. Often we repair broken lamps, brittle chairs, wobbly tables and washing machines. As the servant leader of the family, financial shortfalls, relational conflict, and problem solving in general, fall under our responsibility. However, the real test of faith is when we face something out of our control.

    “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4).

    Faith can be an irritant for controlling fathers, because it sometimes means they have to wait. Results may depend on God and other people. Perhaps you are waiting for your adult son to become a better leader. You need him to take on more responsibility. He may, but there are some leadership lessons that come only with experience. Your son needs to hear you say it’s ok to fail and you will always be there to support him. Learning to wait on God grows your faith in God.

    Furthermore, what is our reaction as a dad when our child is stricken by a severe illness, injury, or insult? Will we seek the Lord’s mercy, or will we ignore the Lord, since we are mad? Our faith grows when we go to God for our suffering child. Our son or daughter may be made fun of for their faith in Jesus. If so, we need to pray with them for their offenders. Model for them forgiveness, not retaliation. If your child is sick, go boldly to God’s throne of grace--receive mercy, seek healing. God hears and often heals. Our needy children need to see our faith grow.

    “The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness” (Isaiah 38:19).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessing of my needy children. By Your grace, I need You to grow my faith.

    Related Readings: Genesis 20:17; Daniel 4:3; Mark 5:34; Hebrews 2:13, 11:1; 1 John 5:1

    Post/Tweet today: Learning to wait on God grows our faith in God. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • Man Alive from Patrick Morley

    Patrick

    As stories began to emerge after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, several survivors from the South Tower mentioned a courageous young man who mysteriously appeared from the smoke and led them to safety. They did not know who this man was who saved their lives, but this they remembered: wrapped over his mouth and nose was a red bandana.

    For fifty-six minutes the man in the red bandana shouted orders and led people down a stairwell to safety. “I found the stairs. Follow me,” he would say. He carried one woman down seventeen flights of stairs on his back. He set her down and urged others to help her and keep moving down. Then he headed back up.

    A badly injured woman was sitting on a radiator, waiting for help, when the man with the red bandana over his face came running across the room. “Follow me,” he told her. “I know the way out. I will lead you to safety.” He guided her and another group through the mayhem to the stairwell, got them started down toward freedom, and then disappeared back up into the smoke.

    He was never seen again.

    Six months later, on March 19, 2002, the body of the man with the red bandana was found intact alongside firefighters in a makeshift command center in the South Tower lobby, buried under 110 stories of rubble.

    Slowly the story began to come out. His name was Welles Crowther. In high school he was the kid who would feed the puck to the hockey team’s worst player, hoping to give his teammate that first goal. He became a junior volunteer firefighter in Upper Nyack, New York, following in his dad’s footsteps.

    Welles graduated from Boston College, where he played lacrosse, always with his trademark red bandana. His father had always carried a blue bandana.

    After college he worked as an equities trader on the 104th floor of the South Tower. He had a habit of putting change in his pocket in the morning to give to street people on his way to work.

    Not long before September 11, Welles told his father, “I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this work.” He was restless for more. Crunching numbers for invisible clients just didn’t seem like what he was born to do. He dreamed of becoming a firefighter or public servant.

    On September 11, 2001, at the age of twenty-four, Welles Crowther became both. And also a hero, because he was willing to go up while everyone else was coming down.

    There Must Be More

    This story touches a need deep inside me—something so primal that I find it hard to put into words. But it makes me yearn to feel more alive. And every man with whom I’ve ever shared it has felt the same way.

    Like Welles, we all want to make a contribution and leave the world a better place. It is a primal need—one among many. By “primal,” I mean that as men we have a raw, restless energy that’s different from women. It needs to be channeled, chiseled, transformed.

    Over the last four decades, I’ve met one-on-one with thousands of men over coffee, in restaurants, in offices, online, after Bible studies, or just hanging out at the racetrack—men like you. I’ve listened to their stories. I’ve heard what they said and didn’t say. Christian men know—or strongly sense—that we were created to lead powerful lives  transformed by Christ.

    But something is blocking them. With a few inspiring exceptions, most men I talk to are confused about what a powerful, transformed life really looks like, regardless of how much “I love Jesus” they’ve got. They have high hopes for what Christianity offers but little to show for it. Their instincts are screaming, There must be more! When men try to put into words what keeps them from feeling fully alive, they invariably describe one or more of these seven symptoms:

    - “I just feel like I am in this thing all alone.” - “I don’t feel like God cares about me personally—not really.” - “I don’t feel like my life has a purpose. It seems random.” - “I have a lot of destructive behaviors that keep dragging me down.” - “My soul feels dry.” - “My most important relationships are not working.” - “I don’t feel like I’m doing anything that will make a difference and leave the world a better place.”

    Do you feel the angst? Do you see yourself on this list? As you can see, as men, our similarities dwarf our differences. These inner aches and pains—these yearnings—correspond to the seven primal, instinctive needs we’ll be exploring in this book.

    The High Cost of Being Half Alive

    I’d estimate that as many as 90 percent of Christian men lead lukewarm, stagnant, often defeated lives. They’re mired in spiritual mediocrity—and they hate it. Despite their good intentions, after they “walk the aisle” and “pray the sinner’s prayer,” most men return to their seats and resume their former lives. They don’t take the next steps. Almost imperceptibly, one disappointment at a time, the world sucks out their newfound joy and passion for life in Christ.

    Men lose heart, go silent, and anesthetize their pain. Then they give up, burn out, drop out, or just slowly drift away. It’s not just getting older; it’s an assassination of the soul. And isn’t that exactly what the enemy of our souls wants? As Jesus said, referring to the devil, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

    No man fails on purpose. None of us wakes up in the morning and thinks, I wonder what I can do today to irritate my wife, neglect my kids, work too much, and have a moral failure. But many of us will.

    The statistics are jarring:

    - 80 percent of men are so emotionally impaired that not only are they unable to express their feelings, but they are even unable to identify their feelings. - 55 percent of marriages experience financial dishonesty, and it’s usually the husband. - 50 percent of men who attend church actively seek out pornography. - 40 percent of men get divorced, affecting one million children each year.

    The collateral damage is staggering. Tonight, one-third of America’s seventy-two million children will go to bed in a home without their biological dad. But perhaps the greatest cost to the physical absence of fathers is the practical absence of mothers. Essentially, one person must now do the work of two. As a young woman who grew up without a dad said, “When my mom and dad divorced, I didn’t just lose my dad. I also lost my mom, because she had to work long hours to support us.” A man leaves. A woman weeps herself to sleep. A little girl prays, “God, why is my daddy always so angry with me?” The men problem has made Dr. Phil a very rich man.

    There has to be a better way.


    Excerpted from Man Alive by Patrick Morley Copyright © 2012 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.

  • I'm a Meddler

    Lynn

    "... aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you." 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (ESV)

    I did it again. Stepped in to a situation that didn't concern me. I told myself I was helping, but it wasn't my place to speak up. As usual, it backfired.

    Contemplating all that had happened that evening, Jesus spoke to me. Of course, not literally spoke to me, but He nudged my heart: You're a meddler, Lynn, and you need to be done with it. When you meddle, you are not trusting. When you meddle, you are saying I can't handle it. You know I can. So be done with it. No more.

    I'm a meddler.

    I like to say I'm a "fixer." That's what I have called it in the past, but truth is, that's just a nicer way of putting it.

    Not a gossiper. No, that is someone who intentionally separates and that's not my heart. I want to help. Really I do.

    I'm a meddler. Dictionary.com defines the verb "meddle" this way: "To involve oneself in a matter without right or invitation; interfere officiously and unwantedly."

    Without right or invitation. That's what I do. Seeing an unhappy, unhealthy or unholy situation I listen to the whisper in my head. Since I see it, I think I'm instructed to do something about it.

    But most often, I am not. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 4:11 says "... aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you."

    My place is to be quiet and pray. But I still prefer to fix, manipulate and get involved.

    In other words, I meddle.

    So, there you have it. Now that I see my actions for what they are, it's my responsibility to change. And in order to change, I will have to slow down before I take action or open my mouth. I'll have to ask myself: Are you meddling?

    Will I be tempted to meddle? Every day. Will I mess up? I hope not, but it's highly probable. I'm human. My desire, though, is to mind my own affairs and let Jesus get involved. I will ask Him for prayers to pray, not words to say.

    This change is going to be hard. But I know Jesus is serious about not meddling. Proverbs 26:17 says, "Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears" (ESV). In other words, meddling isn't smart! And that is not what I want to be; I want to be wise.

    Any other meddlers out there? Can you think of times when you got involved and you shouldn't have? Especially when the thing Jesus wanted you to do was to pray — and only pray? Let's pray for each other and ask Jesus to open our eyes to see and leave our troubles up to Him.

    Jesus, I'm a woman who wants to be a fixer. But that's not really my place; it's Yours. Open my eyes before I step in, and empower me to resist the temptation to get involved. Teach me to pray instead, Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: What particular circumstances draw out the meddler in you? Trouble between friends? Arguments between family members? Right now, ask the Holy Spirit for prayers to pray for those you love instead of words to say.

    Often meddling is fueled by fear. Ask yourself: What do I fear?

    Power Verses: Matthew 7:3-5, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

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