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Tag Archives: 2 Corinthians

  • The Crushing Times

    Posted on October 23, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)

    No one wants to have their heart crushed. But being wounded in deep places happens. Sometimes it just seems to be a part of the rhythm of life.

    And when these hard times come, we feel it all so very deeply. And we wonder if others have these hard, hard moments. After all, we don't snap pictures of the crushing times and post them on Instagram.

    We just wonder if we have what it takes to survive ...

    ... when the doctor calls and says he needs to talk to me in person about the test results.

    ... when the teacher sends one of "those" emails about my child.

    ... when someone I love closes their heart and turns their back on me.

    ... when I feel so utterly incapable and unable and afraid.

    I suspect you know the tear-filled place from which I speak.

    So, let's journey to the olive tree and learn.

    To get to the place I want to take you, we must cross the Kidron Valley in Israel.

    Kidron Valley Map

    John 18:1-2 tells us, "When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples" (NIV).

    Jesus often met in the shadow and shade of the olive tree.

    The olive grove mentioned above is the Garden of Gethsemane. In this garden is where Jesus, just before his arrest said to Peter, James and John, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," (Mark 14:34, NIV).

    Jesus knew the crushing-heart feeling. He felt it. He wrestled with it. He carried it.

    And I don't think it was a coincidence the olive tree was there in this moment of deep sorrow for Jesus.

    Garden of Gethsemane

    The olive tree is such a picture of why our hearts must go through the crushing times.

    The crushing times are necessary times.

    First, in order to be fruitful the olive tree has to have both the east wind and the west wind. The east wind is the dry hot wind from the desert. This is a harsh wind. So harsh that it can blow over green grass and make it completely wither in one day.

    The west wind, on the other hand, comes from the Mediterranean. It brings rain and life.

    The olive tree needs both of these winds to produce fruit ... and so do we. We need both the winds of hardship and winds of relief to sweep across our lives if we are to be truly fruitful.

    The crushing times are processing times.

    Another thing to consider about the olive tree is how naturally bitter the olive is and what it must go through to be useful. If you were to pick an olive from the tree and try to eat it this month, its bitterness would make you sick.

    For the olive to be edible, it has to go through a lengthy process that includes:
    washing,
    breaking,
    soaking,
    sometimes salting,
    and waiting some more.

    It is a lengthy process to be cured of bitterness.

    If we are to escape the natural bitterness of the human heart, we have to go through a long process as well ... the process of being cured.

    The crushing times are preservation times.

    The final thing I want to consider about the olive is not just how bitter it is, but also how strong and hard it is when picked straight from the tree. If you are harvesting olives for oil, you must pray for a soaking rain to come if you hope to get oil from the olives. It needs a hard rain of at least two to three hours so the water can make it all the way up the roots, through the tree and to the olives.

    Then the olives can be picked and preserved.

    And the best way to preserve an olive for the long run? Crush it and extract the oil from it.

    The same is true for us. The biblical way to be preserved is to be pressed. And being pressed can certainly feel like being crushed.

    But what about our key verse, 2 Corinthians 4:8, where it says we are "pressed ... but not crushed"? Let's read verses 8 and 9 in the King James Version: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; ..."

    This was one of the biggest "aha" moments for me standing in the shadow of the olive tree: crushing isn't the olive's end.

    Crushing is the way of preservation for the olive. It's also the way to get what's most valuable, the oil, out of the olive. Keeping this perspective is how we can be troubled on every side yet not distressed ... pressed to the point of being crushed but not crushed and destroyed.

    But here's the thing I must remember as I think back about my time with the olive tree:

    When the sorrowful winds of the east blow, I forget they are necessary.

    When I'm being processed, I forget it's for the sake of ridding me of bitterness.

    And when I'm being crushed, I forget it's for the sake of my preservation.

    I forget all these things so easily. I wrestle and cry and honestly want to resist every bit of this. Oh, how I forget.

    Maybe God knew we all would forget.

    And so, He created the olive tree.

    Dear Lord, speak to me in whatever way You need to. Whatever part of this is for me personally, may I see, receive and be revived. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: James 1:2-4, "You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." (MSG)

    Are you going through a crushing time? Look back on the points Lysa made: crushing times are necessary, and allow for processing and preservation. Write out how your situation may fall into one or all of these categories.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

  • When God Says No

    Posted on September 26, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal Evans Hurst

    "For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us." 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NASB)

    We were running errands.

    My 5-year-old son was in his spot in the back seat chatting away, mostly asking me for stuff.

    "Mommy, can I have ...?"

    "Mommy, can you take me ...?"

    "Mommy, can we go to ...?"

    You know that place somewhere between kids being so adorably cute and totally driving you bananas?

    Yup. I was there.

    Every answer to his questions was "No."

    I was on autopilot: No. No. No.

    Then that boy of mine said ...

    "Mommy, I wish that every time you said 'no' you really meant 'yes.' That would be more funner."

    "You mean that I would always mean the opposite of what I actually said?"

    "YES! Just like that! Come on Mommy let's p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e."

    I agreed to the rehearsal request. I mean ... why not? All I had to do was keep giving the same response I'd been giving for the last 15 minutes.

    "Mommy, can we go out for lunch?"

    "No."

    My son raised a fist of victory in the air and said, "ALRIGHT!"

    "Mommy, can you take me to the store?"

    "No."

    He broke into applause.

    "Mommy, can we go to the park to play?"

    "No."

    That cute boy waved his hands in the air while saying, "Yeaaaaaah!"

    And then it dawned on me ... my son was on to something.

    He was choosing to believe my "no" was actually a "yes" and that changed his attitude.

    It changed his response. It changed his reaction.

    It made me wonder: What if we responded to God in this way? What if we believed that even when He said no, it was because He was really saying yes?

    Because He is.

    We have a good Father in God, who, just like a good earthly father, desires to give His children what's best for them later even if He has to say no to something they want right now. The question is: Do we really believe that He's good? If we did, wouldn't that be cause to celebrate, whether He says no or yes?

    It's hard when prayer requests go unanswered or desires go unmet. I can easily feel deflated and frustrated with God. Hope turns to hopelessness, confident expectation becomes disappointment and faith turns to despondent despair.

    But what if we really believed God was good?

    What if we believed that He was always saying yes — maybe not to what we are asking Him for right at that moment — but saying yes to His best.

    What if we trusted His heart, even when His hand seemingly withholds the very thing we so desire?

    What if we chose to celebrate all of the previous yes answers He's given us despite His current no?

    I think it would change how we respond. I think we would find joy, keep hoping and smile despite what we see.

    I know how badly you want your yes but hang in there.

    Keep hoping. Keep praying. Keep believing.

    And if God says no? Choose to give thanks.

    I have been walking with God long enough to know that many times God has said no because He had a greater yes in store for me.

    I have been walking with God long enough to know that even if I don't like His answer, I can respond to Him with expectation, hope and joy.

    I have been walking with God long enough to know He's good and although He doesn't always give me what I want, He always gives me what He knows I need.

    In some way, shape or form, He's always saying yes.

    Father God, today I choose joy because I believe You are always saying yes. Sure, there are places of disappointment in my life and there are things I would like to be different, but I choose to give thanks. Starting today, I choose to respond to You as if You are always good — a Father who has my best in mind. Because You are good. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Matthew 7:9-11, "Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" (NASB)

    Psalm 100:5, "For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Where is God telling you no? How have you responded to Him as a result? How has today's devotional changed your thinking?

    Have you walked with God long enough to experience a no that later you could see was only because He had a greater yes? If so, share your journey in the comments so that another might be encouraged to hang in there.

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

  • Welcome to the Bad Mom's Club

    Posted on June 3, 2014 by Kathi Lipp

    Kathi Lipp

    "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

    It was an "I'm crushing this motherhood thing!" kinda morning.

    Backpacks? Check.

    Justen's Colonial Day costume? Check.

    School lunches? Check.

    Crushing it.

    Then, at work, came Justen's teary phone call: "Mom? I left my costume at home!"

    Normally I didn't interfere with natural consequences, but I could tell Justen was broken-hearted. I promised to bring his costume in time for the Colonial Parade.

    I got to school just as all the kids were lining up to change and raced to hand Justen his bag. But the teacher stopped me, saying: "If Justen can't remember to bring his costume, then he'll not be wearing it in the parade."

    What? It was an honest mistake. And who was she anyway to tell me how to discipline my kid?

    My son marched onto the stage ... the only child still in school uniform.

    He was upset. But as soon as the parade was over and the kids were enjoying their orange slices, he'd recovered.

    But me? Not so much.

    I knew that while Justen stood there in his blue polo, every person in that audience saw the invisible sign hanging around his neck: "Bad Mom" and thought: Obviously, if Justen's mom had her act together, he would be sporting his George Washington costume.

    Have you ever been there? Overwhelmed by the shame of failing as a mom?

    I tried to hide my failures, hoping nobody would see my weaknesses. But what I've learned is that when I'm fearless enough to admit that I don't have this mom thing completely down, I'm finally humbled enough to admit my need.

    Second Corinthians 12:9 reminds us that God's "grace is sufficient" and that His "power is made perfect in our weakness." Which means the weaker we are, the more we experience God's power.

    So, how do we allow God's strength to overpower our weaknesses?

    Have grace for other moms.

    And I mean a ton of grace. I'm talking, "I'm giving you a look of solidarity, mom whose child just ended up in the principal's office for saying a bad word because his friends dared him to. I realize it could just as easily have been my kid."

    The phrase "My child would never ..." needs to be banished from our vocabularies. I can promise you that every mom's kid has done something shame-producing. And every kid's mom is sure she's the only one who is failing.

    Have grace (and some mercy) for myself.

    Years ago, I would fall into the "bad mom pit of despair" when one of my kids threw a fit in public. I would kick myself for days because I wasn't a better mom with kids who said, "Yes, Mother" and "May I help?"

    But as my friend Kim would say, "Have you been to Target lately? There is a meltdown happening in Every. Single. Aisle."

    One meltdown is, well, a meltdown, not a report card on your parenting.

    Beg God for help.

    Perhaps we turn quickly to God for the big stuff. But do we seek Him out when we forget the George Washington costume?

    I, along with two friends, actually did start The Bad Mom's Club simply because we were all feeling like failures at the same time. Don't you love it when God gives you company in your pit of despair?

    When one of our kids is "going through it," whatever "it" may be — bad attitudes, bad behavior, bad choices — we have two other moms ready to listen, to pray like it's their own kid, and when we ask for it, offer advice.

    Because that's what it's all about. Admitting our weakness, holding it up to God, and letting His blanket of grace cover it.

    Dear Lord, I pray that I would look for Your grace in my strength and in my weakness, so that everyone who sees the good and the ugly in my life knows that I live each day with Your power sustaining me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 40:29, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." (NIV)

    Isaiah 41:10, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When you're in that Bad Mom pit, who do you turn to?

    How can you encourage another mom who is hanging out in the pit with you today?

    © 2014 by Kathi Lipp. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

  • I Am Sorry

    Posted on May 31, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.  2 Corinthians 7:10

    “I am sorry” are three freeing words. “I was wrong”; “You were right”; “I apologize”; “Please forgive me”. All of these phrases communicate culpability. Sincere sorrow means taking responsibility. You initiate peace because your desire is to repair the relationship. Disharmony and disconnection are not acceptable options. Yes, someone may take advantage of your goodwill, but that’s in God’s hands. Have faith that God expects behavior that brings reconciliation. You put the relationship at risk if you resist humbling yourself and apologizing. Someone has to start by saying, “I am sorry”. It is smart to extend your apology as soon as possible. A more powerful apology occurs when you admit your error, transgression, or sin before you are found out. You take the first step in asking forgiveness because you know it is the right thing to do.

    Godly sorrow sends a message of change, for you want to change for Christ’s sake. You have sinned against your Savior and those you love. The pain inflicted is not worth continuing with the same bad habits. No one ever regretted repenting of sin. Godly sorrow leads to repentance, which results in transformation. Change occurs around a humble and honest heart. So, where do you start? Family is a logical place to extend your apologies. You hurt your parents by breaking off communication and care. Perhaps you have intentionally gone out of your way to not go there. There is a widening rift in the relationship. Now is the time to reach out and recover your relationship with your mom and dad. Take the time during the holiday season to pay a surprise visit or place a long overdue phone call. Start the conversation by saying, “I am sorry”.

    Sincere sorrow is a relational magnet, and trust reoccurs around repentance. When others sense you have really changed, they extend trust. However, they may withhold that trust until you prove yourself worthy of it. People who have been burned in the past by shallow and insincere sorrow will not automatically engage. They need time to see that your apology is authentic. Sorrow that does not lead to change results in relational death. Sincere sorrow hurts your heart, causing you to weep visible or invisible tears of remorse. It makes you sick to think you let down the One who loves you the most.

    On the flip side, be patient with those who ask your forgiveness. Forgive them and give them a chance to change, while releasing your anger and their broken promises to Jesus. Give them over to the Lord and pray for their repentance. God can do more with a person’s heart in a minute, than a lifetime of your nagging could ever accomplish. Do not hold them in contempt. Rather, entrust them to Christ. Give time for repentance to root out bad habits and destructive behaviors. Lies can be extracted by the everlasting love of God and replaced with His transforming truth. Accept apologies at face value and hope for the best. Pray for the work of the Holy Spirit to have His way in a humble heart. Be quick to forgive and just as quick to ask forgiveness. Replace fear with faith. Your sorrowful confession connects with Christ and with others. Therefore, take the first step and apologize. Ask for forgiveness, and surrender to your Savior. Become broken, for brokenness leads to freedom. Say, “I am sorry”, and see how your Savior blesses your apology.

    Post/Tweet today:. Sincere sorrow is a relational magnet, as trust reoccurs around repentance. #wisdomhunters

    Taken from the May 31st reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 1”

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

  • When You're Tired of Coloring in the Lines

    Posted on May 9, 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort

    Alicia Bruxvoort

    "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

    I was elbow-deep in soapsuds when my 4-year-old's cries prompted me to drop my dishrag and race to the other room. Maggie had been coloring a picture, but when I reached her side, the paper lay crumpled and torn on the floor.

    "Honey, what's wrong?" I asked.

    "I can't color in the lines," Maggie complained.

    I retrieved the wrinkled paper and smoothed it with my palm. The kitty on the coloring page looked like it had been caught in a crossfire.

    "See?" my preschooler said, as she rubbed the crayon furiously over the holes on the paper.

    I could feel Maggie's frustration as I watched her shoulders tighten with each squiggly stroke. The more she pressed that plum Crayola upon the page, the more the picture ripped beneath her efforts.

    "I just can't make anything beautiful," Maggie declared.

    What a curious remark from this child who sculpts gourmet cakes from Play-Doh and creates masterpieces on the driveway with a fistful of sidewalk chalk. An artist indeed, my daughter doesn't yet know that beauty isn't always measured between the lines.

    Maggie sighed and set down her crayon, and I recognized myself in her try-hard weariness. There, in my 4-year-old's furrowed brow, I saw the mom who had once tried to live within a set of invisible lines.

    No one had written out the rules of good parenting for me. They were the result of my own expectations, noble ideas shaped by well-meaning mommy books, fabulous Facebook posts and my personal good-girl gospel.

    My lines declared that a good mom keeps a clean house, bakes bread from scratch and arrives everywhere on time. A good mom knows just what to do when her teen slumps into silence, when a toddler refuses to eat her veggies, or when a 6-year-old strings a web of lies.

    No matter how hard I tried, my life kept spilling outside the lines.

    I was certain that a good mom never lies in bed at night wondering if she is ruining her children. (But sometimes I do.)

    A good mom never delivers her child to the wrong soccer field on the wrong day at the wrong time. (But maybe I've done that once or twice.)

    And a good mom never leaves the house with dirty-faced children or forgets to pack her kindergartener's lunch. (But I'm guilty of both.)

    Perhaps you've lived within a self-declared set of lines, too.

    Maybe you believe that good wives serve dinner by candlelight and always have the laundry done. Or that good friends always reply to texts and certainly never forget a birthday.

    Maybe, like me, the harder you try to live within the lines, the more your soul rips beneath the weight of your efforts.

    But here's the good news for try-hard women like us: God's not offended by our flaws and imperfections.

    God's Word tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9a, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

    That verse was what finally compelled me to trade my invisible lines of expectation for the compassionate contours of my Savior's grace. When I finally stopped obsessing over my flaws and began focusing on His faithfulness, my life took on a new kind of beauty.

    Maggie was still crying over the rips in her coloring page, so I tipped her chin and asked her to watch as I placed that picture, holes and all, against the window.

    Morning sunbeams streamed right through those holes in the paper and cast a glorious rainbow of light upon the carpet at our feet. Maggie grew quiet staring at the shimmers on the floor and slipped something small and purple into my hand. "I don't need my crayon anymore, Mommy. I like my picture just like that."

    So we stood at the window together, watching glory stream through the gaps.

    Dear Jesus, I am tired of living within my self-invented lines of expectation. Show Your strength through my weakness, Your sufficiency through my flaws. Make my life beautiful to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 8:26, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    It's Mother's Day this weekend, which can sometimes create angst either in our roles as adult children or as moms. Take some time to prayerfully consider the invisible lines you've created for yourself. What is one unnecessary expectation you could trade for God's grace today?

    Name three of your unique "holes." How could Jesus display His strength through your weakness or imperfection? Invite Him to shine His glory through your gaps this week.

    © 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

  • Worldly Wisdom

    Posted on April 27, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 2 Corinthians 1:12

    Worldly wisdom has a way of reducing heaven’s wisdom to an afterthought. Using our worldly wisdom, we pray and seek to discern the Lord’s ways only after our ways do not work. It is tempting to rely on what seems to work instead of asking what the principles to live by are, based on God’s economy. Worldly wisdom is not only inferior but also competes with God’s grace.

    The Lord sees the world’s wisdom as foolishness, and the world sees His wisdom as foolishness. Some who embrace the wisdom of the world say there is no personal God, but God in His wisdom says this thinking flows from a fool. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). Sadly, the world’s wisdom has no room for Jesus.

    “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

    Worldly wisdom is flashier and sexier in its appeal. It invites pride to perch over those who have not yet achieved a superior standpoint. Ironically, the created dismisses the Creator as antiquated and out of touch. The traditional tenants of an all-knowing and ever-present Sovereign God are silly and irrational to this irreverent system of belief. But what worldly wisdom embraces as the truly enlightened, the Lord defines as educated fools.

    “Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20).

    Therefore, do not try to outsmart your Savior Jesus Christ with intelligence void of humility and the fear of God. Academics, without an infusion of faith in almighty God, lead down a reckless path of disconnection from Deity. However, wise is the man or woman who is full of the grace of God and studies truth long and hard for the glory of God.

    Faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God is not a leap in the dark; rather, it is a step into the light. Christian belief is based on the historical fact of His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. For some, the Lord’s wisdom wins out over their own, and they begin to seek out those people and places that possess His knowledge. “I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness” (Ecclesiastes 2:13).

    Prayer: Am I embracing and believing the wisdom of the world or almighty God’s wisdom?

    Related Readings: Isaiah 29:14; Jeremiah 8:9; James 3:13–18

    Post/Tweet this today: What worldly wisdom embraces as the truly enlightened, the Lord defines as educated fools. #wisdomhunters

    Taken from the April 27th reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 2”

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

  • Mentally Engaged

    Posted on April 14, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

  • Eternal Optimist

    Posted on March 30, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

    Eternal optimists base their optimism on the eternal, not the temporal. The temporal is consumed with current circumstances, while the eternal experiences eternal security. The temporal is anxious about another adverse event, while the eternal is at peace with Providence. The temporal trusts what it can see, while the eternal trusts in the unseen. Do you glance at the temporal and gaze on the eternal? If so, you are an eternal optimist.

    By faith we see the Lord, who is unseen, and this compels us to obey Christ. Moses experienced this during a time of transition. “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). Your eternal optimism is what gives you the courage to carry on; so do not let temporal pessimists persuade you to lose heart. Stay fixed on your Savior, the author of your faith.

    Eternal optimism exits when fear gets the upper hand. Fear seeks to flush out your faith as irresponsible and irrelevant. However, it is faith that keeps you grounded in God, the definer of reality. The righteous learn to live in the reality of the Lord’s love and leadership. Pain and striving are temporary, but healing and peace are eternal. You can be optimistic, knowing by faith you can be certain of the unseen.

    “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

    Lastly, are you a temporal pessimist or an eternal optimist? Are you striving to survive or thriving to succeed? Look to the unseen, and you will one day understand. Engage with the Almighty’s agenda, and your focus will be forever and your results eternally significant. Can your family and friends depend on you to be an eternal optimist? Your hopeful attitude in the eternal gives them reason to be optimists.

    Live and exclaim out loud: “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:18).

    Prayer: Where is God calling me to see, with eyes of faith, the unseen, eternal optimism of Jesus?

    Related Readings: Psalm 73:26; Isaiah 51:10–11; Matthew 6:21; John 6:27

    Taken from the March 30th reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 1”

    Post/Tweet today: The temporal trusts what it can see, while the eternal trusts in the unseen. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

  • How Much Will This Choice Really Cost Me?

    Posted on March 27, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "... in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." 2 Corinthians 2:11 (NIV)

    A few years ago I sat at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with my daughter Ashley while an officer told her the importance of good choices. Ashley was getting her learner's permit and entering the scary world of teenage drivers.

    "We've had 320 teens killed this year in fatal car accidents so we want to do everything possible to keep you safe," the officer said sternly as she highlighted for Ashley all the many rules for new drivers. Then she suggested signing a contract with her parents incorporating these rules.

    I've never wanted to hug a DMV officer. But, it was all I could do not to reach across the desk and throw my arms around her. For you see, my husband and I had already created a driving contract that we've made each of our teenagers sign.

    I'm sure our kids have thought our contract was a bit over the top. After all, none of their friends have had to sign such a document with their parents. So, it was good to hear another adult speak truth into the life of my child.

    And what I loved most about the officer's sermonette on safe driving was her emphasis on the cost of wrong choices.

    How I wish we could all see the cost of our choices as clearly as a price tag on items in a store. If I know how much something is going to cost me, I make much wiser choices. But we have an enemy who schemes against us to keep the cost of dumb decisions concealed until it's too late.

    Satan wants to defeat, discourage and destroy our families. His attacks are not just willy-nilly attempts to trip us up or knock us down. He wants to take us out.

    That's why, as parents, we've got to boldly fight for our families. We must get intentional with teaching our kids to think through their choices. And we must get intentional about modeling good choices as well.

    Do you know why Satan's tactics are called schemes in 2 Corinthians 2:11? A scheme is a plan, design or program of action. Satan's schemes are well-crafted plans specifically targeted to do three things:

    1. Increase your desire for something outside the will of God.
    2. Make you think giving in to a weakness is no big deal.
    3. Minimize your ability to think through the consequences of falling to this temptation.

    Satan is a master of keeping that cost hidden until it's too late.

    Sweet sisters, this is something worth thinking about. And it is something worth talking about with our kids. Consider age-appropriate examples of how costly wrong choices can be. Be real, raw and bold as you walk them through different scenarios of temptations they might face.

    That DMV officer was certainly bold in her explanation of the cost when a teen driver gets distracted by their iPod, cell phone or friends acting silly. Hearing her explain to my daughter how costly others' poor choices have been made these "rules" seem more like life-saving gifts.

    Think how different life might be if we all paused and asked ourselves this crucial question: How much will this choice really cost me? If we teach ourselves and our kids nothing else this week than to ask this one question, we will have invested wisely. So, so very wisely.

    Dear Lord, I am reminded that boldly following You is so much better than any short-term experience that's not pleasing to You. Give me Your eyes so that I can see temptation and its many different faces. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think of a current situation in your life that requires a decision from you. Have you taken the time to consider the cost?

    Have you taken the time to help a friend, child or spouse think through considering the cost of their choices?

    Power Verses:
    John 10:10, "'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'" (NIV)

    Isaiah 30:21, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

  • Hope for When You Feel Hard Pressed

    Posted on March 12, 2014 by Sharon Glasgow

    Sharon Glasgow

    "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (NIV)

    We watched as our only working vehicle was hoisted onto the back of a tow truck. How would we manage without it?

    In an attempt to be wise with our money, we had chosen the cheapest place around to fix the car. But week after week passed and the car wasn't finished.

    Finally the repair shop called. Hope and relief faded instantly when the mechanic said, "No, your car isn't ready." He told me we needed to come and pay more because there was a leak. I was perplexed, as there hadn't been a leak prior to us taking it there.

    As we pulled into the parking lot, I was shocked to see the car! The leak was the least of the new problems. Three of the four windows were gone or broken! Our car had been vandalized, and the shop didn't have insurance to cover it. How? What? Why? No!

    Our trouble doubled when we learned our insurance deductible was higher than the cost of the new windows. Needing a working vehicle desperately, we ordered and paid for the windows out of pocket. Obviously, with the delays and windows, that repair shop was no longer cheap!

    To top it off, the guys from the glass shop called. They'd never had this happen, but each window they ordered for us arrived broken!

    These costly frustrations and time delays aggravated me to say the least. Everything in me felt like falling apart. Instead, I pressed pause before that could happen and tried to find perspective.

    The only way I know to find any perspective when facing hardships is to view them in light of God's Word. When trials come, and they will, it helps me to confront them with truth from Scripture. Without this perspective, it's hard to triumph over feelings of despair, anger and worry.

    God's Word reminds us that nothing surprises God, and nothing can overcome Him. A good place to turn for truth is our key verse today, 2 Corinthians 4:7-9:

    "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."

    The "treasure in jars of clay" referred to is the Word of God stored within us. The truth we find and believe in the pages of our Bibles gives us the perspective, hope and encouragement we need when we feel pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down.

    I definitely could have felt pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down with all that happened. Not having a vehicle to get my family around was hard. Health issues and mounting medical bills compounded the situation. But using God's Word as my perspective reminded me that God is my provider (Matthew 6:26), and I shouldn't worry (Philippians 4:6-7). Trusting in His truths gave me freedom from despair.

    We eventually got our car back — working and with all the windows — along with a pretty big bill. But we didn't have the stress and frustration, thanks to trusting in God and His Word.

    Life will always have seasons where we are hard pressed on every side. Yet in the crushing moments, God's all-surpassing power will prevail. What a comfort to know that truth in the middle of trying times. In the midst of despair, let's combat trials with Scripture. When we do, we are triumphant!

    Lord, open my eyes that I may see the wondrous things in Your Word while I'm in the middle of my trials. Help me to see Your glory and power. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Write down the things that are making you feel hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down.

    Now, find a Bible verse that speaks truth to those specific situations. Write the verses next to your situation and leave space to record how God provides.

    Power Verse:
    James 1:12, "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

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