"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)
"I just want a boy to like me," she said with a sigh.
My heart understands her desire. As I sat around my kitchen table with my small group of high school girls, I realized again how some things never change.
We all want to be wanted. Whether you're a girl wanting a date with the guy in math class or a woman hoping for an invitation to lunch with a friend, each one of us wants to be wanted. To know we matter. To be chosen.
Wanting to be wanted is a good thing. It doesn't mean we're incredibly needy. It means we're normal. In fact, God created us with this desire. Here are two reasons:
1) So we would want a relationship with Him.
God created us for the sake of love. He has so much love to share and He wants a relationship with us. He chose us; now we choose Him.
2) So we would want relationships with others.
God also created us with the desire to share our lives with others, for friendships and family too.
Things get tricky and difficult when we reverse the order of these desires, which we easily do.
Whether we want to be loved by a boyfriend, a friend or a husband, when we go looking to "the one" to meet our needs before we fall in love with The One, we can get ourselves in a world of trouble.
Today's key verse from Matthew confirms the importance of this order. In this passage, an expert in the law asked Jesus the most important commandment. Jesus answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 22:37-39).
Jesus is clear on the order. The first command is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind. Then we are to love others.
God didn't intend for people to fill our hearts with love. In fact, they couldn't even if they tried! We aren't equipped to do a job that big, as God never wants another to take His proper place.
When we love God with all we have first, our love expands, multiplies even, and we have more love to give to others. And that love is healthy because our hearts' needs are met by Him first.
However, when we reverse God's order and seek the love of others before God, our love source and its purity diminishes. Then love can become self-focused and unhealthy because our own God-designed needs aren't met.
God created a love gap in us only He can fill. When we try to love others out of our human love, we can run out of love. We begin looking to others instead of overflowing on others.
God's order is best. Get filled by Him first. Spill over to others after that.
Lord, it can be so much easier to look for love from those around me, those I can touch and see. Help me to keep love in order by first loving You with everything in me, and then allowing Your love to spill over on those around me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond: What negative effects can occur in our lives when our need to be wanted drives our actions?
What positive effects occur when we love God first and others second?
Power Verse: Deuteronomy 10:12, "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, ..." (NIV)
© 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” John 1:43
Jesus sought out Philip and found him. This is the heart of our Lord: to seek us out and to find us. He seeks us out in our sin to find us. He seeks us out in our success and failures to find us. He seeks us out at school and work to find us. He seeks us out in our singleness or in our marriage to find us. He seeks us out in new seasons of life to find us. He seeks us--even if, we haven’t sought Him. He came to seek and to save us, because He loves us. He seeks us, so we will seek Him.
Like a loving shepherd looks for one lost sheep, our Lord comes after us with compassion. Like a focused woman searches her home for a misplaced piece of silver, God does what’s required to reach out and find us--His valuable possession. Like a loving father runs toward his repentant son, so our Savior meets us in our pain to minister His healing grace. Jesus finds us, so we will follow Him. He discovers us, so we will do something with Him. Disciples are active with God.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
What a privilege to follow the One who formed us in our mother’s womb and who formed the heavens and the earth. What a joy to join the One who rescued us from fighting for the devil, instead enlisting us to fight against the devil. Christ is our Commander-In-Chief from whom we take orders with an attitude of instant obedience. He is our Savior; we follow by faith. Christ is our model of character whom we seek to imitate with our actions. He’s our intimate friend with whom we commune.
Time is short--so, be an active follower of Jesus. Your love for the Lord and people can’t sit still. Heavenly intentionality defines engaged disciples. Be occupied with Christ’s agenda upon His return. There are a variety of opportunities to partner with the Spirit’s work. Perhaps you serve at Celebrate Recovery. Volunteer at a woman’s shelter or girl’s home. Lead at a men’s retreat or boy’s club. Facilitate a new believer’s class at church or park cars. Yes, just as exercise benefits bodily function, so active faith flushes out your soul’s spiritual toxins. Stay active with God!
“The same is true with faith. Without actions, faith is useless. By itself, it’s as good as dead” (James 2:17, The Voice).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Your loving grace activates my faith to lovingly engage others on Your behalf.
Related Readings: Ezekiel 35:12, 16; Matthew 7:21; Luke 15:3-31; Galatians 5:6; James 1:22
Post/Tweet today: Jesus rescued us from fighting for the devil, instead enlisting us to fight against the devil. #activewithGod
© 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry email@example.com /www.wisdomhunters.com
After 22 years as the main creative force behind Newsboys, followed by his 2011 solo success On Fire, Peter Furler could be excused if he'd decided to mellow out a bit or rest on his laurels. Instead, the writer behind 27 #1 radio singles has come back with one of the strongest albums of his career, Sun and Shield. Reteaming with longtime producer/lyricist Steve Taylor for the first time since Newsboys gold-certified Adoration album,Sun and Shield finds Furler & Band — featuring Dave Ghazarian (Superchick, Audio Adrenaline) on bass and Jeff Irizarry on drums — combining an ambitious collection of new songs with a more muscular, band-driven sound that harkens back to the glory days of Take Me To Your Leader. Sun and Shield is the sound of an artist at the peak of his creative powers.
I recently had a one-on-one interview with Peter to discuss his new album, his family and what he's excited for.
Dan: Peter. New album, Sun and Sheild. Can you tell me a little about it?
Peter: Yeah, it's called Sun and Shield. It comes out March 11. Of course, you can get it at Family Christian. Dan's already had a little preview of it so we were talking about that earlier and really happy with it. I kind of went in to make a record that was three-piece rock. We set some limitations. These days you can go into a studio and you can fix a good performance or an average performance. We were just hoping to capture a great performance, as opposed to... Everyone's got their Instagram accounts and they can capture a good photo and put some filter on it. Or someone goes out and hunts for that right shot. So we were hunting for the right shot on this record, just trying to capture the moment, what happened there on the day and not having to embellish it with a lot of tracks and repairs and such, with software. I'm really happy with it. It's kind of a photo album for me when I hear certain tracks. I remember the day and the time recording it.
Dan: So the title is Sun and Shield and that's also the first single. Can you tell us what that means to you and what the title and the track is about?
Peter: Well, it comes from the Psalm 84. It talks about God bestowing honor and glory, and that he doesn't withhold favor from us. And He is... There's times we need the sun. We need... It was actually talking about the times of battle, back when David was fighting battles. There was a time where they needed the sun, and there's obviously another time where they need the shield. It's really just that. That's what that was about. It's about hanging in there in our faith and moving forward, and getting rid of the clutter that holds us back, and traveling light, so to speak. The whole record is again, just another piece of the journey of our faith. And as a singer and a songwriter, just trying to express that, how I've experienced it.
Dan: Very cool. There are some familiar faces on the cover. It isn't just Peter Furler. It's Peter Furler and Band. Can you tell us about the new lineup?
Peter: When I finished up with the Newsboys I never really, at first I didn't know if I was going to make music again, but then the songs kept coming. So I put out a solo record which I never thought I would do. I never had any aspirations to be a solo guy. In fact, that scared me. When I did make that record, I put it out, and then I'd gone on tour with that record. As I was touring that record, I began to put together a band. Dave Ghazarian, formerly of Superchick and Audio Adrenaline, has been a great friend of mine for a long time, and he was playing in that band, and Jeff Irizarry who's been playing drums for me since I left the Newsboys.
It just seemed natural. It was one of those natural things. It wasn't like a strategic marketing plan. It was like, we were just on the road touring, and I'd come to this record. It was like, man, I want to do this as a band, I want to do it as a three-piece. I want to keep it just simple and go back to reintroduce three-piece rock into CCM. We haven't seen or heard of that for a while. And again, uncluttered without the performance tracks and all that stuff. I didn't even plan that. It's not that there's anything wrong with that. That's up to somebody if they want to do that. But for us, it was like, man, this new generation of crew that are coming through, we need to show them that it can be done live and you can make a lot of sound with just three guys.
Dan: There's another familiar name on the album - Steve Taylor. Can you talk a bit about the mystery there?
Peter: Steve and I, we obviously co-wrote all of the Newsboys songs, or most of them, together. He's been a collaborator with me for many years, a great friend. I just got off the phone from him. He says, "Hi." He's somebody that I've just always looked up to and admired his integrity. He was somebody that when I was making this record I knew I would need help and the right kind of help. I was working on a project with him. I'm also playing drums in Steve's band. We had been working on a record for a few years which is coming out later. It had John Painter and Jimmy Abegg in that band. I was the drummer in that band. We kind of moved from making that record to making the Peter Furler Band record. It was just natural, just cool things were happening, and we were making music just for the love of it. No record deal. No management. No anything, except just kind of wild ambition and just loving music. It's been a really cool time. I don't know what happens after this but that's not for me to worry about.
Dan: I saw Mylon LeFevre's name on the song “Yeshua.” How did you get to having him on the record and the connection there?
Peter: That took about 23 years, that one, because I married his daughter 23 years ago. Mylon, for those that don't know, should know, he's one of the pioneers of contemporary Christian music. He's been my father-in-law for 23 years. We've talked about making music together and doing things through the years. That was a song that actually my wife and I wrote together. It might have even been her idea. She might have said towards the end... We'd actually tracked most of the music on it, and I'd sung it, and it did feel like something wasn't quite finished. I had Phil Joel come in and sing some BGBs, and I'm like, we're still not where it should be yet. My wife might have suggested or I might have thought this is the ones to get Mylon on. So he came in. We sent the tracks down to Texas. He lives in Texas. And he sang on them there. And he really took it to a new place. It's awesome to be able to sing with your father-in-law.
Dan: So what's the process like for you working on music?
Peter: Well, it's changed so much. It's kind of gone full circle in some ways. When we first started out, we had no budget. We were making records on probably the budget that mainstream acts had for catering. For us it was a, you had to really hone your chops, you had to really know all your tunes, and you'd have to go into the studio. I think our first record we made in 24 hours. We cut the ten songs; we mixed it; we did everything. And as time went on, technology helped us a little bit where you could track some stuff at home. Budgets got bigger for us as a band and as a group. But it did cost a lot to make records. Now, it's coming down to... we're sitting here chatting to each other, and people are watching in different parts of America. And it's like, I could be sitting here now recording a record on this laptop because that's where it's come. There's good and bad to that. I think the good for us is that we still want to limit ourselves. There's something really cool when artists have a limitation. The Beatles were a group that only had four tracks, or a couple tracks to record with when they first started so the song had to be great. We live in a day and age now where you can put a lot of lipstick on that piggy, you know what I mean?
Peter: So for us, we still want to keep within the limitations of working with not a ton of gear, but just the right gear and making sure the part is the right thing and the song is the right thing. I think in the future for us, I'd like to go back to that time of, not go back to the time, but go back to that process of writing the song in the change room and getting the lyric where you're satisfied, and getting the tune where you're satisfied, and the arrangement, and going in the studio and just knocking the song out in a day, and then releasing it, or something, doing something with it. You could do a record in 24 hours or something. It'd be fun to get back to that, put that challenge back.
Dan: When you are not hanging out in the bus and doing an interview with us, what keeps you busy?
Peter: I drive a lot. My wife and I bought an RV. People think I'm a bit crazy, but I do a lot of the driving. I enjoy that. Today I'm in a tour bus, because we had the weather up here so I just jumped on the bus. I kind of like it. It's different. That keeps me pretty occupied. I sleep at a lot of KOA campgrounds and Walmart Supercenters. But there's something about that that I like, in its season. Otherwise, you have walk and have a look at the city you're in. I took a walk today down in Grand Rapids, had a look around and grabbed a coffee, and chat with friends, and maybe grab a guitar and practice; write some songs.
Dan: Are there any RV experiences of people getting mad or experience that you've had?
Peter: There's always -- the RV community is this huge subculture in America. In Australia, they call them skiers and that's they're spending their kids' inheritance. Here there's like a real... What I love about it is when you're in these communities, and I've had many experiences. People are really friendly. And they don't know who you are which is really cool. They don't know what you do. You're just some Aussie guy who happens to be in the RV next to them. They're more curious how much water can your RV hold or where did you get your LP gas from? What's the best stop up here?
The other thing too is the simplicity of living, traveling light. When you're living in that environment, you're in a small space. You have to conserve your water, you have to conserve things, you have to be aware of the road ahead, or surviving that way. And these people are all kind of like that. Some of them have sold their houses. It's a real marriage connector because they're all these married couples and they're always, they’re really united. A lot of them have sold their houses and they're living in this RV and they're just traveling. They'll spend two months, when it's cold, down South, and then they'll head up North. They're continually on the move. They're very nomadic. There's something about that, they remind me maybe of some of the early Bible stories of people just looking for a home.
Dan: How did you make that transition to trying out that RV style, going from the lead of the Newsboys to driving around an RV?
Peter: I started the RV thing when I was in the Newsboys. We had done every form of travel. We started out in a beat-up old Dodge van, sleeping in that, no air conditioning, no heating, through Death Valley, CA, 110 degrees; to New York City- freezing. Then as you get more successful as a band, we moved to an RV then, and we'd all drive it ourselves. Then we moved up to a bus. Then we moved to several buses with drivers. Then we moved to our own plane. We kind of traveled just about every way you could as far as touring goes. For me, after doing it for so long so many ways, I just had this idea... I don't know really where it came from... but just to spend more time really with my wife. I just saw the future and I saw that someday the Newsboys will pass. But my relationship with my wife and building memories with her, that's what's going to have to last and last well.
So while I was sitting on a tour bus, I was online and looking at RV traders and trying to find an RV. We got back after one tour and I bought an RV. Everyone thought I was just crazy. The band thought I was crazy. The management thought I was crazy. I am crazy. So I bought this RV and I drove it. I did about 40,000 miles in that one. And we just loved it. We were having the greatest time. Then I bought another one and did about 70,000, so I did about 110,000 miles. And in that time, that's really probably where I began to learn to simplify. My wife and I, here we are, we're living in this RV, in this little space, conserving water, living just kind of day to day. You can't store a lot of things on it. And it really changed our lives. So we went back from that and we began - we really felt the Lord telling us to simplify. So we did. We began to pull out everything out of our lives that was pulling us, as opposed to... We want to be led by spirit of God but we were getting pulled in directions. And sometimes we're pulled in directions because of finances or because of ambition, or ideas we get where we were pulled in directions because of the culture. So for me, it was, we just wanted to cut some ties. It's not that they were all bad ties or all bad things. There were some great times and great memories. No regrets. But for us, now that's how we live. I have one pair of shoes, man, and I like it. That's all I have to take care of.
Dan: That sounds good.
Peter: It is good. It might not be for... I don't know if it's for everybody. I'm not anybody's judge. You know, I look at people... That's one thing the Lord's really showed me lately. Judge not lest you be judged. I've seen that happen in my life. I've seen it in others. You see people that are really critical of other people. They judge them. Something... There's just a law that operates where something happens that all of a sudden the judgment gets turned on them and so I think that's a good Scripture as one of your life scriptures. For me it is. I'm not saying what we do is for everybody. Every household has to work out its own gig.
Dan: Absolutely. And Peter, in closing, I want to thank you for your time. We absolutely love the new album and we can't wait for more people to hear is. So before we close, is there anything that you would like to say about the record or anything before we say goodbye?
Peter: Just thanks to Family Christian, thanks for taking my music and getting it to people and fair enough, I encourage people to support you guys. It's awesome. It’s work. I'm so thankful for my life that I get to do what I love to do. And I hope that for everybody, watching and listening, that you're doing what you love to do. So that's it. Best wishes to everybody. And Family Christian, thank you. I don't take it lightly. It's a big deal that you take my music and you get it to the people. That's a message that I feel to encourage people to lift them up. And when they hear music, they feel inspired. And you pour your heart into this music. It's so funny. You can go and buy a cup of coffee and a bran muffin, it costs you $7 now, and a CD that costs... that bran muffin and coffee probably cost $.50 to make and some dude made it in 30 minutes. Where a record you pour your heart and your life into it and it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and you sell that for 10 bucks. That's a good deal. So I do appreciate you getting the music out. It means a lot to us. Thank you.
Dan: We're glad to do it. So thanks for taking the time today.
Peter: Cheers, mate, you're a good man.
Check out Peter's new album by clicking here.
NEW ENGLAND, 1835
Alex Stafford was just like Mama said. He was tall and dark, and Sarah had never seen anyone so beautiful. Even dressed in dusty riding clothes, his hair damp with perspiration, he was like the princes in the stories Mama read. Sarah’s heart beat with wild joy and pride. None of the other fathers she saw at Mass compared to him.
He looked at her with his dark eyes, and her heart sang. She was wearing her best blue frock and white pinafore, and Mama had braided her hair with pink and blue ribbons. Did Papa like the way she looked? Mama said blue was his favorite color, but why didn’t he smile? Was she fidgeting? Mama said to stand straight and still and act like a lady. She said he would like that. But he didn’t look pleased at all.
“Isn’t she beautiful, Alex?” Mama said. Her voice sounded strange…tight, like she was choking. “Isn’t she the most beautiful little girl you’ve ever seen?”
Sarah watched Papa’s dark eyes frown. He didn’t look happy. He looked angry. Like Mama looked sometimes when Sarah talked too much or asked too many questions.
“Just a few minutes,” Mama said quickly. Too quickly. Was she afraid? But why? “That’s all I’m asking, Alex. Please. It would mean so much to her.” Alex Stafford stared down at Sarah. His mouth was pressed tight, and he studied her silently. Sarah stood as still as she could. She’d stared at herself in the mirror so long this morning, she knew what he would see. She had her father’s chin and nose, and her mother’s blonde hair and fair skin. Her eyes were like her mother’s, too, although they were even more blue. Sarah wanted Papa to think she was pretty, and she gazed up at him hopefully. But the look in his eyes was not a nice one.
“Did you pick blue on purpose, Mae?” Papa’s words startled Sarah. They were cold and angry. “Because it brings out the color of her eyes?”
Sarah couldn’t help it, she glanced at her mother—and her heart fell. Mama’s face was filled with hurt.
Alex glanced toward the foyer. “Cleo!”
“She’s not here,” Mama said quietly, keeping her head high. “I gave her the day off.”
Papa’s eyes seemed to get even darker. “Did you? Well, that leaves you in a fix, doesn’t it, darling?”
Mama stiffened, then bit her lip and glanced down at Sarah. What was wrong? Sarah wondered sadly. Wasn’t Papa happy to see her? She had been so excited that she was actually going to be with him at last, even for a little while.…
“What would you have me do?” Mama’s words were directed at Papa, so Sarah stayed silent, still hoping.
“Send her away. She knows how to find Cleo, I would imagine.”
Pink spots appeared on Mama’s cheeks. “Meaning what, Alex? That I entertain others in your absence?”
Sarah’s smile fell in confusion. They spoke so coldly to one another. Neither looked at her. Had they forgotten she was there? What was wrong? Mama was distraught. Why was Papa so angry about Cleo not being home? Chewing her lip, Sarah looked between them. Stepping closer, she tugged on her father’s coat. “Papa…”
“Don’t call me that.”
She blinked, frightened and confused by his manner. He was her papa. Mama said so. He even brought her presents every time he came. Mama gave them to her. Maybe he was angry that she had never thanked him. “I want to thank you for the presents you—”
“Hush, Sarah,” her mother said quickly. “Not now, darling.”
Papa flashed Mama a thunderous look. “Let her speak. It’s what you wanted, isn’t it? Why are you shushing her now, Mae?”
Mama stepped closer and put her hand on Sarah’s shoulder. Sarah could feel Mama’s fingers trembling, but Papa bent toward her now, smiling. “What presents?” he said.
He was so handsome, just like Mama said. She was proud to have a father like him.
“Tell me, little one.”
“I always like the candies you bring me,” Sarah said, feeling warm and proud beneath his attention. “They are very nice. But best of everything, I love the crystal swan.”
She smiled again, glowing with joy that Papa listened to her so carefully. He even smiled, though Sarah wasn’t sure she liked his smile. It was small and tight.
“Indeed,” he said and straightened. He looked at Mama. “I’m so pleased to know how much my gifts mean.”
Sarah looked up at her father, thrilled at his approval. “I put it on my windowsill. The sun shines through it and makes colors dance on the wall. Would you like to come and see?” She took his hand. When he jerked away, she blinked, hurt, not understanding.
Mama bit her lip and reached out a hand toward Papa, then stopped suddenly. She looked afraid again. Sarah looked from one parent to the other, struggling to understand. What had she done wrong? Wasn’t Papa pleased that she liked his presents?
“So you pass on my gifts to the child,” Papa said. “It’s good to know what they mean to you.”
Sarah bit her lip at the coldness in Papa’s voice, but before she could speak, Mama touched her shoulder gently. “Darling, be a good girl and go outside and play now.”
Sarah looked up, distressed. Had she done something wrong? “Can’t I stay? I’ll be very quiet.” Mama couldn’t seem to say more. Her eyes were moist and she looked at Papa.
Alex bent down to Sarah. “I want you to go outside and play,” he said quietly. “I want to talk to your mother alone.” He smiled and patted her cheek.
Sarah smiled, utterly enchanted. Papa had touched her; he wasn’t angry at all. He loved her! Just as Mama said. “Can I come back when you’re done talking?”
Papa straightened stiffly. “Your mother will come and get you when she’s ready. Now, run along as you’ve been told.”
“Yes, Papa.” Sarah wanted to stay, but she wanted to please her father more. She went out of the parlor, skipping through the kitchen to the back door. She picked a few daisies that grew in the garden patch by the door and then headed for the rose trellis. She plucked the petals. “He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not.…” She hushed as she came around the corner. She didn’t want to disturb Mama and Papa. She just wanted to be close to them.
Sarah dreamed contentedly. Maybe Papa would put her up on his shoulders. She wondered if he would take her for a ride on his big black horse.
She would have to change her dress, of course. He wouldn’t want her to soil it. She wished he had let her sit on his lap while he talked to Mama. She would have liked that very much, and she would have been no bother. The parlor window was open, and she could hear voices. Mama loved the smell of roses to fill the parlor. Sarah wanted to sit and listen to her parents. That way she would know just when Papa wanted her to come back again. If she was very quiet, she wouldn’t disturb them, and all Mama would have to do was lean out and call her name.
“What was I to do, Alex? You’ve never spent so much as a minute with her. What was I to tell her? That her father doesn’t care? That he wishes she had never even been born?”
Sarah’s lips parted. Deny it, Papa! Deny it!
“I brought that swan back from Europe for you, and you throw it away on a child who has no appreciation for its value. Did you give her the pearls as well? What about the music box? I suppose she got that, too!”
The daisies fluttered from Sarah’s hand. She sat down on the ground, careless of her pretty dress. Her heart slowed from its wild, happy beat. Everything inside her seemed to spiral downward with each word.
“Alex, please. I didn’t see any harm in it. It made it easier. She asked me this morning if she was old enough yet to meet you. She asks me every time she knows you’re coming. How could I say no to her again? I didn’t have the heart. She doesn’t understand your neglect, and neither do I.”
“You know how I feel about her.”
“How can you say how you feel? You don’t even know her. She’s a beautiful child, Alex. She’s quick and charming and she isn’t afraid of anything. She’s like you in so many ways. She’s someone, Alex. You can’t ignore her existence forever. She’s your daughter.…”
“I have enough children by my wife. Legitimate children. I told you I didn’t want another.”
“How can you say that? How can you not love your own flesh and blood?”
“I told you how I felt from the beginning, but you wouldn’t listen. She should never have been born, Mae, but you insisted on having your own way.”
“Do you think I wanted to get pregnant? Do you think I planned to have her?”
“I’ve often wondered. Especially when I arranged a way out of the situation for you and you refused. The doctor I sent you to would have taken care of the whole mess. He would’ve gotten rid—”
“I couldn’t do it. How could you expect me to kill my unborn child? Don’t you understand? It’s a mortal sin.”
“You’ve spent too much time in church,” he said derisively. “Have you ever thought that you wouldn’t have the problems you do now if you had gotten rid of her the way I told you. It would’ve been easy. But you ran out.”
“I wanted her!” Mama said brokenly. “She was part of you, Alex, and part of me. I wanted her even if you didn’t.…”
“Is that the real reason?”
“You’re hurting me, Alex!”
Sarah flinched as something shattered. “Is that the real reason, Mae? Or did you have her because you thought bearing my child would give you a hold over me you otherwise lacked?”
“You can’t believe that!” Mama was crying now. “You do, don’t you? You’re a fool, Alex. Oh, what have I done? I gave up everything for you! My family, my friends, my self-respect, everything I believed in, every hope I ever had.…”
“I bought you this cottage. I give you all the money you could possibly need.”
Mama’s voice rose strangely. “Do you know what it’s like for me to walk down the street in this town? You come and go when and as you please. And they know who you are, and they know what I am. No one looks at me. No one speaks to me. Sarah feels it, too. She asked me about it once, and I told her we were different from other people. I didn’t know what else to say.” Her voice broke. “I’ll probably go to hell for what I’ve become.”
“I’m sick of your guilt and I’m sick of hearing about that child. She’s ruining everything between us. Do you remember how happy we were? We never argued. I couldn’t wait to come to you, to be with you.”
“And how much time do I have left with you today? Enough? You’ve used it up on her. I told you what would happen, didn’t I? I wish she had never been born!”
Mama cried out a terrible name. There was a crash. Terrified, Sarah got up and ran. She raced through Mama’s flowers and across the lawn and onto the pathway to the springhouse. She ran until she couldn’t run anymore. Gasping, her sides burning, she dropped into the tall grass, her shoulders heaving with sobs, her face streaked with tears. She heard a horse galloping toward her. Scrambling for a better hiding place in the vines about the creek, she peered out and saw her father ride by on his great black horse. Ducking down, she huddled there, crying, and waited for Mama to come fetch her.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Excerpted from Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers Copyright © 2005 by Francine Rivers. 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.
"Whatever you ask for in My name, I will do it so that the Father will get glory from the Son." John 14:13 (The Voice, emphasis added)
A few years ago, I received the best birthday present ever. At first, it seemed liked the gift was a weekend with my friend. But God knew I needed something more, something deeper, something that would heal an ache in my heart and change me forever.
Lendy and I had been friends since college. We even worked together after graduation. So when my husband suggested a weekend getaway with her for my birthday, I was thrilled.
Through the years, I had admired Lendy's relationship with God, longing for the faith she had. Lendy graciously mentored me as I grew in my faith until I moved away. So, being reunited with her sounded like just what I needed.
While on a walk, Lendy asked if she could pray over me. What a gift! Of course, I jumped at the chance.
Lendy had no idea how desperately I needed prayer. I hadn't told her about the anxiety churning inside me. I'd been teaching Bible study for years, but recently feelings of unworthiness invaded my soul. Why did God call me? What qualifications did I have? I had no seminary degree. No formal Bible training at all. I was an attorney, for heaven's sake!
Yet every week I stood and taught, sharing my concerns with no one, not even my husband. I feared the women in my class would lose confidence in me as their teacher if they knew the feelings of unworthiness harbored in my heart.
But God knew. He had heard the cry of my heart and responded in a most gracious and loving way.
After our walk, Lendy took me to a quiet spot and placed her hands on my shoulders and prayed. She prayed for my marriage and family. As she spoke of me as a teacher, she moved her hands from my shoulders to my head and anointed me with a fragrant oil she had brought. Her words poured over me like a healing balm:
"Wendy, you are worthy."
Tears fell. She repeated the words again and again.
"You are worthy."
She cupped my face in her hands, looked intently in my eyes and declared one last time:
"You are worthy."
God knew the ache in my heart, my desperate need to know I was worthy ... and called by Him to teach His Word. God orchestrated that weekend so that someone I loved and trusted breathed life back into my ministry.
God brought His Word alive to me: Wendy, "whatever you ask for in My name, I will do it so that the Father will get glory from the Son" (John 14:13, The Voice, emphasis added).
Since that day, I've been teaching and writing with greater confidence ... trusting God with every message. God answered my prayer and breathed life back into my ministry so that as I study and teach His written Word, and share the hope found in Jesus, He receives glory.
Friend, you're reading this devotional because God has heard the cry of your heart. He is speaking to you so that His Word will encourage you and speak into your life as it did mine.
God hears our cries, and He answers our prayers so that He will receive all the glory as we grow together in His Word and journey toward living "so that" lives.
Heavenly Father, thank You for hearing the cry of my heart. Thank You for answering that cry because You are faithful to Your Word. Help me hear and obey so that You will receive all glory and honor and praise. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond: What is the cry of your heart? Have you asked God to answer that cry? If not, will you do that today? Write a prayer inviting Him to be at work in a longing, insecure or doubting place in your heart.
Power Verse: Hebrews 4:16, "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (NIV, emphasis added)
© 2014 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org
The vision of Obadiah. This is what the Sovereign LORD says about Edom—We have heard a message from the LORD: an envoy was sent to the nations to say, “Rise up and let us go against her for battle.” Obadiah 1:1
The vision God has placed in your heart cannot be ignored because it is His vision for you. Indeed, your God-given vision can be daunting, for it requires extraordinary faith that at times feels uncomfortable and overwhelming. Your leadership is challenged and stretched. You become assertive in ways that seem unnatural for your personality and temperament, but this is God’s way of growing you and implementing His vision simultaneously.
A big vision accompanied by a large Lord, led by a leader of humble faith, is fun to watch. Some days you pinch yourself, wondering why God chose you to carry out this creative assignment on His behalf. Other days you tremble with feelings of anxiety, unsure of how the next few phases of the vision can become a reality. Money and time are both short, but your provision flows from the Lord (1 Timothy 6:17).
Yes, God is at His best when you feel overwhelmed with responsibilities and worry. He has prepared you and others for this vision of Kingdom significance. Do not oversell or understate the vision He has placed in your heart. Trust that the Holy Spirit will reveal its significance over time. A vision starts with an acorn of an idea, but then grows into an oak tree of influence. This takes time and outside resources that you cannot control. The more patient you are, the more vital the vision becomes; so do not present a half-baked vision. You know you want to be a mom, build a business, or serve overseas. This is good, but let your concept for Christ mature. Like an infant in the womb, the vision needs time to grow so it can be birthed in good health.
Lastly, the vision God has lodged in your life requires all of you to be fully focused. There are two focuses: the focus of the vision and your focus on the vision. Start by crystallizing the idea Christ has placed on your heart. If you cannot clearly articulate the vision in a sentence, it is not focused. Clear communication of the vision is concise and compelling. If others see it, they can conceive it.
Secondly, focus on the vision in prayer and do not be distracted by other good opportunities. Furthermore, the vision is top of mind for you, but it takes time to register in the hearts and minds of others. Your part is to cast the vision; their part is to catch the vision. So present the vision in a relevant way to your audience, and seek to align with those of like-minded passions. Communication of vision takes repetition. What is familiar to you may be foreign to your followers. However, in the process, the vision becomes better focused, you are more focused, and it comes into focus for others. This is the vision God has given you, so be true to the Almighty, the author of the vision. Your vision of God determines the quality and quantity of your vision. So stay fixated by faith on your heavenly Father, for the vision flows from Him.
Taken from the March 7th reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 1”
Post/Tweet today: A vision may start with an acorn of an idea, but then grow into an oak tree of influence. #thevision
© 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry firstname.lastname@example.org /www.wisdomhunters.com
When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:2–3).
Doubt seeks to destroy our faith. It is in our discouragement—even despair—that we begin to question God. “What did I do wrong?” “Lord, did you call me to this place of confusion?” “Where is my joy and hope?” “Are you even real or just a figment of my imagination?” Left to its natural conclusion, doubt crushes our faith in Christ.
Fortunately, faith does not have to take a furlough when we are frustrated and fatigued. It is in your confinement that Christ wants to remind you of His great power. So cry out to Him in your confused circumstances, and He will earnestly listen in love. “In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came to His ears” (2 Samuel 22:7). He does not leave His loved ones alone and in doubt.
It is okay to be in doubt, but it is not okay to remain in doubt. What doubt challenges your faith in God? Is it His provision, His promises, His presence, His character, or His care? When these questions assault your confidence in Christ, take a step back and review His track record. The reality of your salvation sets you on the productive path of peace and forgiveness. Answered prayer over the years is proof enough of His love and concern.
Furthermore, use this temporary time of distrust to go deeper with Jesus. The pressure you feel on all sides is your Savior’s way of soliciting your attention. When in doubt, seek out the Lord, learn to love Him completely, and discern more fully His profound promises. Use doubt to dig deeper into the truth of Scripture; marinate your mind. “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8).
When in doubt, stay steadfast in seeking out your Savior. Wait on Him, especially when you wonder what is next. Where there is true faith there may be a mixture of unbelief; so remain faithful, even when questions manipulate your faith. Perseverance will one day free you as a stronger and more-committed follower of Christ. See Jesus for who He is. Doubt dissolves in His reassuring presence. Doubt starves to death when it is not fed.
“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—the Lord, who remains faithful forever” (Psalm 146:5–6).
Prayer: What doubts do I need to acknowledge and release to God? Is Christ trustworthy?
Related Readings: 2 Chronicles 33:12; Job 36:16–19; John 20:27; Jude 1:22
Taken from the March 8th reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 2”
Post/Tweet today: Faith does not have to take a furlough when we are frustrated and fatigued. #Whenindoubt
© 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry email@example.com /www.wisdomhunters.com