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Tag Archives: Ecclesiastes

  • Encouragement for the Hurting

    Posted on July 3, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal

    "He has made everything beautiful in its time ..." Ecclesiastes 3:11a (NIV)

    Sometimes life hurts.

    Am I the only one who wants to tuck her tail, give up and stay home forever with a stash of chocolate and great coffee?

    Sometimes I want to straight up hide. I hope I'm not alone.

    However, yesterday I was reminded that while life does hurt at times, life also has days that feel really good.

    Because yesterday, during his swim lesson, my son swam the entire length of the pool. Twice.

    He swam from the deep end to the shallow end and back again.

    Every mother is proud when her child learns to do something new. But not every mother gets to know the joy of seeing her child do something she thought she might never see.

    My son was a shoulder dystocia baby. He got stuck in the birth canal and as a result acquired nerve injury during delivery. That meant for months he had no use of his right arm. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I watched my newborn son throw, wave and extend one arm, while the other arm lay still.

    My heart was like a stone. I felt guilty, grieved and heartbroken for my baby who did not have perfectly moving limbs. I cried every day for months.

    I cried because I wondered how hard his future life would be with only one fully functional arm.

    I wanted to figure out how to avoid the hurt.

    I was angry with God for allowing a bad thing to happen.

    And I was on a mission to fix it. We spent time and money seeing various out-of-town doctors and trying different therapies — none of which changed the bottom line. He was injured. For life.

    But here's what I didn't know then that I want to share with you now: eventually things get better.

    Even when the source of our pain may leave a scar or a memory of deep heartache, time brings a healing like no other.

    Yesterday, my son swam the length of that pool. Twice — with both arms moving — and then he asked if he could try out for the swim team.

    Over time, things have gotten better, thanks to God's power and the gifting He has given many capable medical professionals.

    I'm not going to sugarcoat things. My son still has an injury and his arm will never be perfect. My mother's heart will always want to fix that, but I can't.

    But you need to know that time has brought healing. With the passing of time, I have learned the depths of pain I experienced are matched equally with the heights of joy. God can make all things beautiful with time.

    How is that possible?

    God changes us and our perspective.

    He allows us to see what He sees. He shows us that when things are not always as perfect, easy or as straightforward as we would like them to be, they still can be beautiful.

    This isn't always easy to learn. You or someone you love may have to live with the reality of a mind, body or soul injury. With all your heart, you may always want to fix, change or redo something ... and you can't.

    Some things may never be perfect. But with time, God can take the hard and make you happy. He can take the sorrow and make you smile.

    He can turn the mountain you are climbing of grief or regret into a place where you can view the beautiful landscaping He has created on your behalf.

    Resist the urge to tuck your tail and hide every time you run into the hard, because you will not only be hiding from the bad, you will be exempting yourself from the good that's down the road.

    God makes things beautiful in time. Hang in there. Have the courage to allow time to pass between your place of pain and unveiling of joy.

    Father God, I wish I could fix everything. I wish I could make it all just the way I want it to be. Truth be told ... I get frustrated when I can't. Help me to wait on You and Your timing. Give me courage to trust You and believe that You are good, despite how things may feel. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 71:16-17, "I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone. Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What in your life do you wish you could "fix" on your own? Do you think you are trusting God despite what's "broken"?

    Have you ever experienced God making things beautiful with time? Click HERE to leave a comment and share your thoughts today, as it might give others hope as they wait on God's timing.

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today - June 24, 2014

    Posted on June 24, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Unlimited Vacation There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

     

    I have mixed emotions returning from vacation. Mostly, I am rested and revived; but a part of me wants to remain at the beach or linger in the mountains without deadlines, bills to pay or problems to solve. This suspended time of freedom from responsibilities, I have to admit, is tempting to wish for all the time. Staying up late, sleeping in, eating more fried foods, reading and having uninterrupted conversations with my sweetheart is heavenly. Fun, but only for a limited time.

     

    I have to remind myself that vacations are meaningful, but they are not real life. If my life were a continuous vacation, it would cease to be a vacation. I would not be vacating from work and the real world, I would be in my own little world without true meaning and purpose. Only vacations with a limited shelf life are appetizing and enjoyable, otherwise they lose their novelty.  Vacations are the Lord’s reward for hard work and faithful stewardship. We vacate to recalibrate.

     

    “All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 2:23).

     

    A mind without rest becomes restless, drifting from its purpose. A mind with too much margin becomes marginalized. Thus, we seek a healthy mixture of work and play, reading to learn and to relax, traveling and spending time at home. Our goal is not a life of leisure to spend on ourselves, our goal is to stay engaged in growing God’s Kingdom. Our hearts stay clean by keeping our hands dirty in service. Our investment in others creates unlimited fulfillment.

     

    Have you taken an extended vacation from serving in your church or community? Or, is it time for a vacation so you can recalibrate for Christ? Either way, see vacations as a means to an end, not the long term goal. Even retirement years are an opportunity to reengage in mentoring and discipleship. Spiritual, emotional, financial and face time availability are God’s gifts to invest in others. Use limited vacations to seek the unlimited opportunities of engaging in God’s Kingdom.

     

    “But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33, The Amplified Bible).

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me into a healthy time allocation of vacating from work and engaging in Your Kingdom activities.

     

    Related Readings: Ecclesiastes 3:9-14; Isaiah 28:24; Romans 11:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:11

     

    Post/Tweet today: Our hearts stay clean by keeping our hands dirty in service with the Lord. #wisdomhunters

    Free eBook when you sign up 5 friends for the free email devotional...http://www.wisdomhunters.com/invite-your-friends/

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved. www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Enjoying the Seasons of Parenting

    Posted on May 23, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)

    "Are they going to laugh all night long?" my husband jokingly asked. "I don't know," I said, chuckling at his question. "But I hope so. It's a sound that makes my heart happy."

    My teenage daughter had invited her entire cheerleading squad to sleep over at our house after a basketball game. When they arrived, the house immediately filled with laughter and conversations as they gobbled up pizza and chocolate chip cookies.

    Later that night, sleep seemed to escape me. Not because of the cheerful noise billowing down the stairs from a house full of girls, but because I wondered how many more laughter-filled sleepovers I might have the blessing of hosting. Knowing my children are growing up quickly, I couldn't help but face the reality I was entering a new season of life.

    I began to ponder all I would miss with two daughters living away at college this fall, instead of just one. Although my son still has a few years left at home, I had to face the reality that this season of my parenting was coming to a close. And my heart felt heavy.

    I remember feeling these same emotions when my babies outgrew their cribs and moved to big-kid beds. When my daughters tucked away baby dolls and hair bows and focused on nail polish and fashion. When my son grew too old for his teddy bear. When they left elementary school behind and entered the scary world of middle school. When they stopped riding their bikes and instead, got behind the wheel of a car.

    As I lay in the dark pondering this changing season of my life, a warm tear trickled down my face. Yet I felt God's sweet comfort and His reminder that although life is ever-changing, He is constant. I started to pray and sensed God was showing me the importance of treasuring the current season of parenting, rather than mourning the ones already passed, because every moment with our children is a blessing.

    The idea of seasons of life is found in the book of Ecclesiastes, authored by King Solomon. After becoming king of Israel following his father King David's death, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and offered him anything he wanted. Instead of asking for riches or victories, Solomon asked God for wisdom and received the blessing of understanding life (1 Kings 3:5, 10-13).

    Although Solomon doesn't directly speak about parenting in Ecclesiastes, his wise advice certainly applies to this subject.

    Today's key verse reminds us life is a progression of seasons, with everything happening in God's timing and under His control: "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

    Then Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 highlights many of life's experiences that we find in the seasons of parenting, such as times to plant and uproot. Times to cry, laugh, grieve and dance. Times to embrace and turn away. Times to search and quit searching. Times to tear and to mend. Times to speak and to keep quiet. Times to keep and to let go.

    We find pieces of our parenting experiences scattered between the lines of this passage. As we accept there will be different seasons of parenting, we allow God to whisper specific encouragement to our hearts, fill our spirits with perseverance and understanding, and pierce our minds with the spiritual wisdom needed not only to make it through the seasons, but to appreciate them as gifts from God.

    No matter which season we find ourselves in, let's treasure it and bask in the blessings it brings. Embracing each season as it comes brings peace because we know we are right where God wants us to be and that He is preparing us for the season to come.

    My house may not always be filled with laughter in the middle of the night, but if I trust God is with me, I will always have joy in my heart.

    Lord, thank You for the privilege of being a parent, grandparent or caregiver to the little ones You've entrusted into my care. Help me enjoy every day of every season and lean on You when my heart aches for seasons gone by. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ecclesiastes 3:11a, "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time." (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Ever wished you were in a different season of parenting, rather than treasuring the one you are in? If so, reflect on the blessings you enjoy in your current season of parenting. Ask God to help you focus on these things when your heart feels discouraged, tired or sad.

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Spiritual Cycles

    Posted on February 24, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

    Some start their spiritual quest with a sense of inquiry. Who is God? What is my purpose? Is the Bible true? How do I deal with my guilt and pain? It is a cycle of seeking. We have more questions than answers. We look for answers in the church and within our heart. We question individuals about their faith and we pray for faith. In our seeking the Holy Spirit draws us into a belief in Christ and we are converted. We find Jesus in our search for spiritual answers.

    After our life changing and life giving salvation experience, we share the answers we have discovered with spiritual fervor. We have the solution to life’s greatest questions of sin, sorrow and death. We are able to say with confidence and gratitude,  "Once I was spiritually blind, but now I can see my Savior." This cycle of discovery brings peace to our mind and security to our soul. Since our faith is fresh and intoxicating, we are we wise to balance our zeal with depth.

    “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:3).

    A third spiritual cycle expresses doubts and questions. Like John the Baptist in prison we ask, "Is Jesus really the son of God?" We seriously question our salvation, "Did I really believe or only have an emotional experience?" This time of honest evaluation can draw us closer to Christ or cause us to drift away. We are vulnerable to the disappointment of unanswered prayer. A test is meant to grow our trust in Jesus. This phase of uncertainty invites reassurance of God’s reality.

    Lastly, by God’s grace we graduate to the spiritual stage of healthy questions and answers. The more we mature in the faith, the more we realize the less we know. So, in a spirit of humility we seek to know and understand Jesus in oneness of heart. We inquire of the Lord to clarify how to apply His character to our behavior. We accept 100% the fundamentals of the faith, but we hunger to know the fullness of our heavenly Father’s love. Prayerful questions receive hopeful answers. In what cycle do you find yourself? Let God move you forward by faith in His loving process.

    “I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing” (Ezekiel 34:26).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me by Your Holy Spirit in Your seasons of spiritual growth.

    Related Readings: Exodus 34:21; Daniel 2:21; Matthew 11:2-6; Acts 14:17; Titus 1:3

    Post/Tweet today: Personal faith in Jesus brings peace to our mind and security to our soul. #spiritualseasons

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • Lonely

    Posted on November 12, 2013 by Amy Carroll

    Amy

    "Suppose someone falls down. Then his friend can help him up. But suppose the man who falls down doesn't have anyone to help him up. Then feel sorry for him!" Ecclesiastes 4:10 (NIRV)

    Lonely. It's not a word I thought I'd ever use to describe myself, but that's how I felt.

    For many years after a hard move I felt alone.

    Close friends had always been a part of my life, and the absence of intimate friendships left me feeling sore-hearted. I longed to have someone to meet for coffee or help me expend some of my many daily words on the phone. It would have been wonderful to have a woman who would both listen and share.

    Over time, I made new friends and re-established older friendships, and most days I feel connected and content. But I still remember what it felt like to be lonely. Recently, I read a study published by the American Sociological Review that cited statistics that showed half of Americans only have two close friends. And one out of four Americans say they don't have any close friends.

    Not a single one. That's a lot of lonely hearts.

    Why should we care? Scripture tells us in Ecclesiastes 4:10 that our friends are our helpers. When times get tough, they can help us navigate through them. "Suppose someone falls down. Then his friend can help him up. But suppose the man who falls down doesn't have anyone to help him up. Then feel sorry for him!" (NIRV)

    So how can we be part of the solution, to help guarantee no one falls down without having a friend to pick them up?

    If you're lonely ...
    During my lonely days I told myself this over and over: When you don't have a friend, BE the friend to others that you would like to have.

    "Amy," I'd say ...

    • "Would you love a friend who takes time to show that she cares by picking up the phone and asking about your day? Then pick up the phone and ask about someone's day."

    • "Would you love a friend who keeps confidences and is trustworthy? Then be trustworthy."

    • "Would you love a friend who asks you to go the movies or for a walk? Then ask someone to go along when you do these things."

    It's easier to stay isolated sometimes than to reach out, especially if you've been hurt or disappointed many times. I know too well. But I want to encourage you to reach out, show love and care about others.

    God taught me so many things during my loneliness. I learned to be more dependent on Him. I learned to appreciate the friendship of my family more. I took a hard look at some things that weren't so wonderful about myself and worked to change them.

    During lonely times of life, be intentional about connecting to God and others. There's so much to be learned in these times.

    If you're not lonely ...
    Think about your neighborhood, church, or an organization you are part of. If there are 40 women there, 10 of them feel like they don't have even one friend. Could God be calling you to be that friend?

    Look for ways to open your circle of friends to new people. Watch for that woman at church sitting by herself, the co-worker who eats lunch alone, or the neighbor who never seems to be invited.

    Reach out today to be part of one less life feeling lonely.

    Dear Lord, You are the friend who is closer than a brother or sister. In this time of loneliness and seeming friendlessness, show me how precious friendship with You can be. Please teach me everything I need to learn in this phase of life. Would You also prepare a friend for me and prepare me to be a trusted, valued friend? In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Reflect and Respond:
    If you are lonely, take a step to be around people with whom you have things in common. Sign up for a class, join a book club, or attend a women's small group at your church.

    What is God teaching you about friendship with Him through loneliness?

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes." (NIRV)

    © 2013 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Problems at Work

    Posted on October 8, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. Ecclesiastes 2:23

    Growing an enterprise is like raising a child. There are cycles of progress and enjoyment, and there are cycles of grief and pain. With great, even idealistic intentions, we launch a work around our passion, skills and experience only to see a set back at the inception. We question ourselves, ‘Did the Lord really call me to birth this new work endeavor or did I talk myself into this for the wrong reasons?’ Thus, wise are we to ride out the rough times and rely on God to get us through.

    Lack of vocational progress during the day can cause our minds restless nights. We remind ourselves of the preparation that preceded our step of faith to follow the Lord’s career change. We know in our heart that our Faithful Heavenly Father has foreseen the problems we face and He has solutions He wants us to apply. So, if money is sparse we creatively keep down expenses and maybe forgo a salary for a season. Finances test our motive to remain faithful.

    This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Revelation 14:12

    So, we honestly ask ourselves, “Are we laboring for the love of money or love for the Lord?’ The much grander goal of love for God will get us through uncertain times. Our work done unto the Lord positions us as candidates for His wisdom. Our loving Savior loves to give insight and assurance to incredible works done for His glory. Therefore, we lean into Jesus during lean times and He shows us a better way. We trust in The Way to show us the way. He owns the outcomes.

    Lastly look to the Lord’s people for counsel and even financial assistance to help you through this bump in the road. Dear friends are blessed when they can invest in your integrity and in the work of your hands. Your caring community is honored to pay forward what Christ has entrusted to them. Indeed, your work and business is His. Keep an open hand and heart. He will supply the means necessary to sustain the work. God’s work, done God’s way, never lacks God’s resources.

    The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach me to trust You with work issues. I commit my career to You.

    Related Readings: Numbers 23:19; Nehemiah 6:3; Psalm 4:3; 1 Corinthains 1:9; Philippians 1:6

    Post/Tweet today: Lean into the Lord during lean times and He will show you the way. #leanintotheLord

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Going Solo

    Posted on October 2, 2013 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn

    "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

    The toll of an emotionally draining week had reached its peak. Though I was trying to use various diversions to clear my mind, my thoughts were overpowering. All I wanted was to curl up in a ball and fall apart. Worry was winning.

    My husband sensed the pain that was showing from my welling eyes. Like any good friend, he asked, "What's going on?"

    Determined to keep my composure, I chose to fight my battle alone. "I'm okay" slid out before I caught my lie.

    Minutes later he asked again, "What's wrong?" My resolve couldn't hold up any longer and I blubbered, "I just can't get past this anxiety." Greg listened as the thoughts swirling in my mind came out. After I emptied my heart, he shared a story from Scripture, which helped me override my stress with thankfulness and trust.

    I am so glad the Lord preserved stories in the Bible of those who had issues as well. During this hard season I was in, Greg reminded me of Elijah. Like Elijah, sometimes when I struggle, I opt to struggle alone.

    In 1 Kings 19:3, even after seeing God work miracles, Elijah was undone by a threat. A queen was trying to kill him and he decided the way out was to run.

    We get a look into his thought process in 1 Kings 19:3-4, "Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. 'I have had enough, Lord,' he said. 'Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.'" (NIV)

    I don't blame Elijah one bit for running when trouble hit. I have that instinct myself some days. Running to social media or a chocolate goodie when my emotions are a jumbled mess is the easiest way out—at least temporarily.

    Where Elijah missed it, and I did too on my bad day, was when he chose to go solo.

    Elijah had a servant who was traveling with him, but he left the servant behind. He went farther into the desert alone, where his emotions only turned darker.

    Elijah and I both could have used the truth in Ecclesiastes 4, "Two are better than one ... if either of them falls down, one can help the other up." When we share our troubles with another godly friend, she can often help us to see what we cannot. Her different perspective opens a new way of thinking that can lead to hope and faith and away from despair.

    When you add the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to that friendship, Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us our relationships become "... a cord of three strands... not quickly broken." Our pain, when shared, can be transformed to peace. Strength can take the place of sorrow.

    I eased my stress that difficult week by sharing my worries with my husband. Thankfully he directed me to God's Word where I found hope and encouragement in the midst of my anxiety. Is there a burden you are carrying that would be lighter if you shared it with someone? Make a way today to allow them to help you handle your load.

    Jesus, thank You that You have given us the gift of relationships. Give us the wisdom to know when and with whom to share our personal problems. Please strengthen us so we can help strengthen another. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Who is your "go to" friend who lifts you up when you fall down? Give them your thanks today!

    If you need a friend who makes you stronger, ask the Father to give you the type of friend described in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron; so one person sharpens another." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • When Change is Hard

    Posted on September 13, 2013 by Lisa Allen

    Lisa

    "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time." Ecclesiastes 3:11a (NLT)

    There's a cluster of photos in my living room that I love. They've been there for almost 20 years and tell our family's story: pictures of my kids' first steps, vacations, and graduations. The other day as I was dusting, our son's baby photo caught my eye. Well, not so much the picture, but the old frame around it.

    Though our furniture and décor tastes have changed in 20 years, our picture frames haven't. So I decided to give my photos a facelift by swapping the old frames with up-to-date ones.

    When I placed the almost 20-year-old photo in the new frame, the picture took on a whole new look. Though the photo didn't change, the reframing altered how I viewed it.

    Redecorating brought to mind a season in which God did some serious work in my own life. Life changes caused me to put a "new frame" around my calling, so I could view this time with God's perspective, not mine.

    You see, I had felt sure God called me to minister to women. Whenever I had the opportunity to do so, my heart overflowed. Though my days were often long and complicated, I somehow felt more energized by serving in my calling.

    Over time, however, doors in women's ministry at my church were closing. These transitions were healthy and good for the church, but they left me feeling like part of my dream and calling had died.

    I prayed for God to show me His will and sensed He had something on the horizon, but I couldn't see any tangible open doors to serve with women at my church. It turned out, He had other plans for me. Plans that helped me see this season, not as one of letting go and sadness, but of exciting new opportunities and joy.

    God stretched me beyond my comfort zone. Instead of serving women locally, He called me to serve globally in Burundi, Africa. Though this wasn't my "sweet spot" in ministry, my leadership abilities grew by leaps and bounds. Not only that, but with my free time, I took classes in a totally new profession which allowed me to help women in a fresh way. I learned and absorbed everything I could.

    Perhaps you are facing a season of change and would be encouraged by some "reframing" and a fresh perspective. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says God has made everything beautiful "for its own time." God has designed our lives into beautiful seasons, but there is a time limit on each one.

    Some seasons are wide-open doors for our passions and calling … and some seasons are closed doors when God asks us to grow spiritually, professionally, relationally, or maybe emotionally.

    A question that helped me in the season of waiting for my dream of working with women was, what does this time make possible? For every season, God has a purpose for us. During mine, closed doors made continuing education possible. Closed doors allowed me to travel to Africa twice. Closed doors helped me grow by ministering in a different culture.

    What about you? Do you feel like you are in a closed-door season? Ask God what this new time makes possible for you. Join a Bible study. Serve at a school. Mentor a young person. Pursue a dream. Take a class to help you develop professionally. These are all new frames you can put around this season of change.

    Father, thank You for the rhythm You have woven into our lives. I am grateful for this past season and recognize that You have made it beautiful in Your time. I am grateful for the upcoming season and ask You to give me a confident expectation. Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Billy Graham - The Reason for My Hope: Salvation

    In The Reason for My Hope, Graham presents the core message that has guided his life and calling for more than 70 years. Filled with new stories and timeless truth, he once again calls the world back to its spiritual priority as only he can.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Is there anything in this season causing you fear or anxiety over the transition? Write a Bible verse on a note card and tuck it in your car, on your windowsill or your clothes dryer to remind you about God's perspective on this new season.

    Ask God what this new season makes possible for you, and then take action!

    Power Verses:
    Daniel 2:21, "He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding." (ESV)

    Ecclesiastes 3:1, "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Lisa Allen. All rights reserved.

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

  • Better Together

    Posted on September 6, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

    The flesh tends to roam alone with a false sense of security, but the Spirit knows the value of walking with like-minded friends and resting in Christ’s security. Even a lion, the respected King of the jungle, needs other lions to watch his back. Money may create a bubble of comfort, but genuine camaraderie cannot be bought with cash. Believers in Jesus are better together, they thrive holistically where intimacy is alive. Humility trusts in another to be better together.

    We are all better together. God’s divine math calculates one plus one equals ten on His scale of effectiveness. Your management skill set needs the complementary skill of leadership, and vice-versa. Your gift of encouragement is balanced by the gift of prophecy. Your ability to innovate requires someone who can implement. Your generosity needs a trusted budget planner. Your comfort and nurture is stronger when supported by disciplined accountability. Two trumps one!

    The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. Genesis 2:18

    An American dream may be autonomy, but the Lord’s plan is community. If we strive for self containment, we miss blessing others and being blessed. Engagement and integration with another requires prayerful intentionality. For example, at work we ask a team member how we can support their project; at home we use our strengths to cover another family member's weaknesses. Wise living rejects a silo approach to relationships but embraces the common good.

    Pride makes you feel like you are bulletproof, in need of no one; but all fall down. Pity those who have no one to pick them up, but what a joy to journey through life with ones who watch out for you. Your faith stays warm when insulated by faithful friends. Most of all, you are truly better together with God. Trust in Jesus Christ guarantees you are never, ever alone. He walks with you, He talks with you and you are complete in Him. Yes, you are better together, forever!

    And surely I [Jesus] am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I need You; we are better together, just as my faith flourishes within a community of Your faithful followers.

    Related Readings: 2 Samuel 10:11; Mark 10:8; Acts 2:44; Philippians 2:1; 2 Timothy 2:20

    Post/Tweet today: Believers in Jesus are better together, they thrive where intimacy is alive. #bettertogether

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Sharpened Skills

    Posted on August 4, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    If an ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success.  Ecclesiastes 10:10

    Life is not meant to be full of endless activity and busyness, without pause it loses its edge. A life worth living is one that takes the time to sharpen its skills. Skill-sharpening is an investment that will serve you well the rest of your life. Do not settle for mediocrity, by God’s grace seek to be the best in your life roles. Your commitment to sharpen yourself is much like that of a farmer. A wise farmer will use his seasonal down time to upgrade, replace, and repair his equipment. He literally sharpens the tips of his plow, rebuilds the tractor engines, and upgrades and cleans his equipment.

    A prepared farmer will not only survive, but will thrive with this type of motivation to always improve. In the same spirit, there is a time to execute and a time to regroup and sharpen yourself for the next initiative. A person with sharpened skills is an effective tool in the hand of God. He wants to use you to your full potential. Your part is to continually improve. Your activities and work will produce more lasting results when you take the time to hone heaven’s gifts.

    God wants to use your life to cut through life’s issues the way a sharp knife slices through a juicy ripe tomato. A skilled concert pianist practices the piano. A skilled writer searches out new words and becomes engrossed in sentence structure. A skilled speaker learns how to understand his audience and communicate his point in a variety of ways. A skilled mom quizzes other moms on how to become a better mother. A skilled golfer continues to hit balls way after the tournament ends; he smashes the little white spheres into the night. So, seek out new ways to keep your mind sharp and engaged in new ideas.

    Read about and learn from wise leaders of the faith whose writings have stood the test of time. Books are tremendous skill-sharpeners. Join a book club to ramp up your commitment and accountability. You can attend seminars or pursue a graduate degree. Use a variety of tools to stay sharp. Sparks fly when steel is sharpened, which means there will be some discomfort and growing pains. You are either moving forward or shrinking backward; there is no standing still. As you sharpen your skills, you are moving forward. You are stewarding God’s talents and gifts to their fullest. Swinging at issues with a dull life will lead you to the brink of giving up.

    Sharpen your mind with the Word of God. Nothing sharpens a mind like wisdom from above. God’s principles are like a whit rock on a battered blade. He smoothes the jagged edges of your roughed up life. Like an axe that has become chipped and blunt over time, your life is refurbished by God till it regains its radiant and shiny silver edge. Discover your skills through assessments and the counsel of others. A hint: when you operate within your skill set, executing the plan is almost effortless. Stay sharp, and your skills may swing open some impressive doors.

    Wisdom says, “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29).

    Post/Tweet: God’s wisdom is like a whit rock on a battered blade. He smoothes the jagged edges of a roughed up life. #sharpenskills

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

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