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Tag Archives: Matthew

  • When Worry is Part of Your Personality

    Posted on June 5, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

    His comment wasn't meant to be critical, but it immediately pierced my heart.

    I was explaining to my husband how worried I'd been about several situations and reciting the reasons why my worry was justified. He gently reminded me that worrying wouldn't help anything, and I quickly replied, "But I can't help it!"

    Then he said with a smile, "I know you can't. Worrying is just part of your personality."

    Deep down I knew I worried too much, especially when it came to my children's safety, their happiness and situations I couldn't control. But I didn't want to be labeled a "worrier," and I certainly didn't want to admit worrying was "part of my personality."

    Yet, if I were honest with myself, I knew it was true.

    Although I trust God and know He is in control, the human side of me often tends to worry. I'm thankful God isn't surprised by my worry, and wants to help me overcome it. Jesus even addressed this very issue when He taught His followers in what we now call the Sermon on the Mount.

    In this teaching, Jesus shared detailed instructions for how Christians should live their daily lives and how faith should shape behavior — including how to deal with worry.

    In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus specifically told His followers not to worry about food or clothes because God would provide for their needs, just as He does for the birds of the air. This promise of provision and protection applies to all areas of our lives, including help with our problems and easing our inner-most anxieties.

    Jesus knew the people of that time struggled with worry, just as we do. At times it is hard to trust God with the concerns that weigh heaviest on our hearts. Instead of trusting Him to handle what we cannot, we waste the opportunities of today worrying about the possibilities of tomorrow. God wants us to leave our problems in His hands, rather than let them become a stumbling block in our faith.

    Sometimes it takes a gentle reminder, such as my husband's innocent words, to remind me of this promise. I needed to stop holding onto my worries and quit continually reminding Jesus to be as concerned as I was. Instead, I should daily turn those worries into prayers. I have since committed to worrying less and trusting Jesus more and have experienced the freedom that comes with truly entrusting my needs to Him.

    Although we all have things in our lives that lead to worry and reasons to be concerned, what peace we can enjoy if we consciously choose to lay down each day's worries at God's feet and leave tomorrow's worries up to Him, too.

    Lord, forgive me for not trusting You with my problems and for letting my worry become a wedge in my faith. Give me the strength to put them in Your hands and avoid trying to take them back. Help me learn to trust You more and believe You are always in control of my life and the things that worry me most. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Peter 5:7, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." (NLT)

    Luke 12:29-32, "What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself." (MSG)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What worries are most heavily weighing on your heart today that you need to turn over to God?

    Have you been trying to handle everything on your own, without God's help?

    Read Matthew 6:25-34 and ask God to speak to your heart through these verses.

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Getting Past the Pain of Change

    Posted on May 28, 2014 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn

    "After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light." Matthew 17:1-2 (NIV)

    I remember what it felt like to have my heart broken as a young woman. Even today, my heart feels a little pain trigger when I hear another has experienced the hurt of rejection.

    I remember the questioning: Why, God? Why not him? Why break up now?

    When God asked me to choose Him over him, my young heart obeyed, but not without a struggle. Lacking history with God, I hadn't yet experienced the blessings of obedience. So I obeyed and hoped God knew what He was doing.

    Through the breakups and broken hearts, God was moving me to a new place where He could reveal a side of Him I hadn't experienced. I had to move "out of love" with a boyfriend in order to move "in love" with Him.

    My deceived heart told me I was someone because I belonged to someone. God had a different message. He wanted to reposition me so I would know True Love.

    Jesus had to change my position to change my perspective.

    Out of His great love for me, Jesus didn't leave me in the position where I was completely dependent on another person for love. Instead, He moved me to what was a lonely place so He could change the way I saw love.

    It seems God often needs to change someone's position so they can see things in a fresh way. In today's key verse, Jesus had more to show three of the disciples, so He led them up a high mountain by themselves. A place away from others. A place not easily accessible. But a place where He would change their perspective. Here, before their very eyes Jesus' face shone like the sun, and they heard God speak: "This is my Son" (Matthew 17:5a, NIV).

    When the disciples had a change in their position, they experienced a change in their perspective on who Jesus was. It's possible their self-perspective changed as well.

    The breakup I went through as a young woman wasn't the only time God changed my position to change my perspective. Moves, job changes, places I have held in people's lives and people's hearts ... my position is constantly changing. Each change brings another opportunity for God to change my perspective. Like the disciples, I can see Him in new ways I haven't seen Him before: my Provider, my Healer, my True Love.

    Can you see an area where your position is changing? It may be in your responsibilities as a mom, a new job, at home or in your calling. In this new place, your loving Father wants to show you His perspective of who He is and what He wants to do in you and through you. Open your heart past the pain of change and ask God to change your perspective to see Him in this new place.

    Lord, often change is painful and what I want isn't always what's best for me. Soften my heart to see past this pain and to see Your heart toward me. Give me Your perspective. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Judges 6:23a, "But the LORD said to him, 'Peace! Do not be afraid.'" (NIV)

    Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:

    Where is your world changing and you wish it wouldn't? Do you have a godly friend who has gone through this type of change before? Ask her to share her story with you to encourage you.

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Emotional Unfaithfulness

    Posted on May 22, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28

    There is a constant allure for emotional connection between a woman and a man. A pure motive of care for someone other than your spouse can easily turn into emotional unfaithfulness. An emotionally needy woman at work will give signs to seeking men who are unfulfilled at home. It seems exciting and inviting, but in the end—it wrecks homes.

    This juvenile junket flies in the face of what Jesus wants and expects. Married couples are meant to fulfill their emotional needs within their marriage experience. This is why it’s imperative to process past and present pain in a healthy manner, so communication and care flourish, thus feeding each other’s emotional desires. Husbands and wives hunger for emotional wholeness with the one they have become “one flesh” with, under God’s purview.

    “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

    Is the bond with your spouse beyond superficial sex? Remember the long talks before you were married—when was the last time you processed your feelings together in meaningful conversation? It may mean holding hands, looking each other in the eyes, and apologizing for hurting his or her heart. Engaged emotions stay engaged.

    Husbands, if you are emotionally dead you will kill your marriage. Learn to loosen up and express how you feel. Yes, it is uncomfortable to be vulnerable, but this is a process that God blesses in growing your relationship with your wife. And wives, do not look for emotional support from men other than your husband. Stay focused on Christ’s comfort, seek out professional help to heal your heart—and learn how to approach your husband.

    Emotional faithfulness causes a marriage to flourish with fulfilling encounters of loving communication and care. A statement like, “I am sorry you had to experience that pain”, begins to describe your dialogue. You simply listen and enter into their hurting heart, instead of prescribing solutions and offering pep talks. Emotional fidelity finds a home in relationships that seek to understand, comfort, and offer hope and timely truth.

    Most of all—seek truth found in God’s word together. Ignorance of proven principles that build healthy marriages is a recipe for relational disaster. Invite the Holy Spirit to jointly instruct your minds and knit your humble hearts together in love and kindness. Seek out other married couples to learn from who are good models of emotional faithfulness.

    “That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father andof Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3).

    Prayer: What relationship do I need to avoid because it is creating emotional unfaithfulness in me?

    Related Readings: Genesis 2:18a; Proverbs 15:1; 29:11; Matthew 7:1; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

    Post/Tweet today:Emotional faithfulness can help a marriage flourish with fulfilling encounters of loving communication and care. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Emotional Suffering

    Posted on May 21, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” Matthew 26:38-39

    Jesus suffered emotionally and physically. Anguish welled up in His soul from betrayal, aloneness, and the anticipation of a cruel death on a rugged cross. His righteous response was to cry out to His heavenly Father for relief—while trusting that His will be done. Do you find yourself in this tension of trust in God’s will? Are your emotions ravished by the pain of conflicting desires? It’s in our dark night of the soul that the Lord brings light.

    Your emotions may be on the brink of brokenness from relationships that compete for your attention. You can’t please everyone all the time—your stomach is knotted up—not sure what to do, you feel conflicted and confused. Maybe the loyalty of someone you thought valued your professional relationship has melted in the face of financial pressures. Solitude has diluted your confidence in your ability to understand what God wants.

    It’s during these times of emotional upheaval that we need to jettison feeling sorry for ourselves and determine not to give up on God and His game plan. Some people you thought would be there for you will wander away—but others you did not expect to show up—will come forward with faith in you and hope in heaven. So wait; worry will pass.

    “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed” (Psalm 57:1).

    Be wise and avoid making life-altering decisions during times of extended emotional upheaval. If you vow to get someone back in passive defiance—it will eat away the joy in your heart. If anger is driving your decision to fire someone at work or to file for divorce, then wait and let the Holy Spirit stabilize your stress and strengthen your faith.

    Above all, seek the comfort of Christ during intense conflict and confusion. His warm embrace soothes your bruised feelings and heals your broken heart. Seek out friends whose acceptance, accountability, and prayers prove to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Alone you will simmer in sinful attitudes, but with God and godly company you will discover and follow His will. Emotional suffering is healed by heaven’s hope.

    “Faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven” (Colossians 1:5a).

    Prayer: What decision do I need to wait on until the Holy Spirit stabilizes my emotions?

    Related Readings: 2 Samuel 22:23; Psalm 9:9; Nahum 1:7; Acts 28:27

    Post/Tweet today:. Avoid making life-altering decisions during times of extended emotional upheaval.  #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • From Failure to Faithful Follower

    Posted on May 19, 2014 by Derwin L. Gray

    Derwin

    "And He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.'" Matthew 4:19 (NASB)

    If you've ever felt like a loser, I've got great news today! Jesus is looking for you, because He still transforms people who feel like failures into faithful disciples who change the course of history.

    My life is the perfect example. I come from a family brutalized by drugs, a lack of education and criminal activity. My childhood friends laughed at my house because it was a disaster. And I didn't go to church growing up. I was spiritually lost!

    I didn't even own a Bible my first few years in the NFL, but when the team would travel and stay in hotels, I noticed Gideon Bibles in the rooms. One weekend, I decided to steal one. It wasn't until I became a Christ-follower that I realized the Gideons intentionally place Bibles in hotel rooms so people can take them for free!

    Did you know all of Jesus' disciples would have been considered losers by their culture? No rabbi (or teacher) in the first-century Jewish world would have chosen any of the 12 guys Jesus called to be His followers.

    Let me give you some historical context to grasp the significance of Jesus choosing these men. For Jewish people, the education of their children was not only important, it was the key means of survival as the people of God.

    Beginning at age 6, children would begin to learn and memorize the Jewish Scriptures. Those who were particularly talented would move up the ranks and apply to become followers of a particular rabbi. Those who didn't qualify would be encouraged to learn the family trade.

    Jesus took the very opposite approach. Instead of waiting for the best of the best to apply to be His students, He went after the dropouts and asked them to become His apprentices.

    Jesus dumbfounded the world and transformed the course of history through 12 individual "failures."

    When Jesus called Peter to follow Him, Peter was shocked. The story of the day they met is in Matthew's telling of Jesus' life:

    Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him." (Matthew 4:18-22)

    When Jesus called Andrew and Peter, they immediately dropped their nets and followed Him. Perhaps for the first time, Peter didn't see himself as a loser.

    I wonder if Peter remembered back to the days when he'd realized he wasn't smart enough to be disciple-potential. Perhaps the day Peter met Jesus, Peter looked into the eyes of his father, who had taught him to fish, and no word was spoken. Perhaps the expression on his father's face conveyed pride and told Peter it was okay to go with the rabbi.

    Can you imagine Peter and Andrew's daddy going home to their mother and saying, "Sweetheart, you will never believe this! A rabbi called our sons to follow Him. This rabbi believes in our sons. He believes they can be like Him!"

    Andrew and Peter dropped their nets. They left their daddy and followed Jesus. And as they did, they left their former identity to find a new one, forged by the limitless love Jesus had for them.

    As I look at my life and all the things God has done, I cry. How could I not drop the nets of my pain, my insecurities, my doubts and fears and follow Jesus, too?

    Have you dropped your nets to follow Him? Or have you held back because you think you are unqualified?

    The truth is, you're not qualified to follow Him. And neither am I. But Jesus is calling losers and failures — like us — to become faithful followers of HIS!

    Dear Lord, thank You for removing the labels my past has given me. Thank You for seeing my potential and for calling me to follow You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Thessalonians 1:4-5a, "For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction." (NIV)

    Isaiah 62:2, "You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Have you ever put the label of "loser" or "failure" on yourself? How has Jesus replaced that label in your life?

    Think about what "nets" you might be holding onto in your life. What positive changes could happen if you were to let go, and allow God's grace into that circumstance?

    © 2014 by Derwin L. Gray. All rights reserved.

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

  • Well Meaning Mom

    Posted on May 9, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down,asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom. Matthew 20:20-21

    Sometimes well meaning moms can get ahead of God on their child’s behalf. They may see an opportunity for their son or daughter to succeed, so they seek to influence the process. But it's counterproductive to politic for a child to obtain a position prematurely. It's better for a child to learn how to wait on the Lord than to bypass lessons in faith, patience, and humility. An insecure, aggressive mother can edge out the Spirit’s work, instead of inviting in the Spirit’s influence.

    No doubt, the mother of James and John wanted the best for her boys, but she crossed a line  motivated by pride when she sought special favor. Perhaps she thought they deserved preferential treatment since Jesus’ mom, Mary, was her sister. However, an unqualified relative for a work role only creates confusion and indignation among other better qualified team members. Jesus knew James, John, and their mother, did not understand how suffering would precede this lofty position.

    “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).

    In an effort to promote our children before they are ready, we actually set them up for failure. It's pure pride to seek status for our son or daughter, just so it makes us look good. A person who obtains a highly regarded role before they are ready, is similar to giving a teenager a sports car before they have seasoned driving experience. A wise mom trusts the Lord to lead her offspring to listen to His small voice. She prays more than she tries to persuade. She wants wisdom.

    Therefore moms, seek Jesus with a humble heart on behalf of your children. Ask the Lord to educate your child in lessons of becoming the least, so He can use them the most. God blesses your beautiful example of serving others to teach and motivate your sons and daughters to serve others. A servant of Christ is the greatest position in God’s Kingdom. So mom, ask the Lord in prayer for your little ones to grow in joyful obedience to Him. Yes, suffering may precede your child’s success. What man manipulates does not last, but what God initiates is eternally blessed.

    “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him” (1 Samuel 1:27).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for my precious child. I pray you will lead him to decrease, so you might increase in his life.

    Related Readings: Psalm 66:9-10; Matthew 19:28; John 15:4-5; Philippians 3:10

    Post/Tweet today: Our consistent example of serving others teaches and motivates our children to serve others. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Mercy Covers Betrayal

    Posted on May 5, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. Matthew 26:49-50

    Have you ever felt betrayed by a friend? A sense of being stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a loyal supporter? Maybe it happened at work and you found yourself falsely accused by a team member you thought was your ally. You experienced anger, vulnerability and aloneness. Or perhaps a close confidant shared your secrets with another who was wounded by your words. You extended total trust, only to be deeply disappointed by their indiscreet behavior.

    Jesus faced betrayal from a disciple in His inner circle. Though the Lord knew Judas was up to no good, He still received his affection and called him friend. Jesus’ mercy begins with a man or woman’s unseemly motivations and moves on to cover their actions. Interestingly enough, Peter and Judas each betrayed Christ and both were remorseful, but only Peter received the mercy and forgiveness of God. Judas’ all consuming guilt kept Him from seeing and receiving God’s grace.

    “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20, NKJV).

    Therefore, as we learn to receive and extend mercy, we experience emotional and spiritual health. As Jesus prays from the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do"  (Luke 23:34), so we forgive. Mercy is not manic about proving itself right, rather it trusts in the Righteous One--Christ--to make things right in His time. We give mercy generously since our Savior has lavished His mercy upon us. Mercy looks beyond the crime to forgive the criminal.

    Above all, do you enjoy the mercy of God? Is your sleep sweet because of the sweet forgiveness of your heavenly Father? Be like Peter--repent and rest in God’s mercy. Avoid being like Judas, who gave back the bribe, but would not receive God’s forgiveness. The Lord’s mercy is deep and wide enough to cover those who betray Him. Let go of guilt that steals your joy and replace it with the grace and peace of God. Your heavenly Father has not turned His back on you, His full mercy is available to hug and kiss you. Christ’s abundant mercy can heal your guilty heart.

    “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love” (2 John 1:3).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I receive Your abundant mercy, so I in turn can extend Your abundant mercy.

    Related Readings: Hosea 6:6; Proverbs 11:13; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25; Hebrews 4:16

    Post/Tweet today: Mercy looks beyond the crime to forgive the criminal. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • The Tempter’s Tricks

    Posted on April 30, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    The tempter [the devil] came to him [Jesus] and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Matthew 4:3

    The devil tempted Adam and Eve to doubt God. He tempted Job to give up on God and he tempted Jesus to disobey God. Satan’s tactics have not changed. He still subtly and not so subtly seeks to steal, kill and destroy our faith. He sows seeds of doubt into our  taking seriously Christ’s commands. He plays mind games to get us to go against what we know is clearly right or wrong. The evil one masks a sinful choice by causing us to doubt God’s clear expectations. What God says does not require a second opinion, so we are wise to first do what He says to do.

    The devil also tempts us to give up on God when our world is shaken. Like Job we may lose our children and see our finances slip away. Our health may fail and we may be tempted to think the Lord has failed us. However, it’s our faith in Jesus that offers stability during unstable situations. Almighty God is unmovable. He is a rock, refuge, and strong fortress against the deceptive tricks of the tempter. Yes, we lean into the Holy Spirit when unholy forces seek to force unfaithfulness.

    “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:22).

    Moreover, Satan appeals to our pride by tempting us to use power powered by the flesh. Our pride can easily run ahead of the Lord. Though a good outcome may come about, God does not get the glory when we are out in front of Him. Humility waits to be led and empowered by the Spirit. The devil also misapplies Scripture in an attempt to spiritualize his suggestions. He will twist the truth to sound inviting: “everything if done in moderation is ok.” Really? One click to a pornographic site is not ok, one car ride with a drunken driver is not ok, and one lie is not ok.

    Therefore, we come against the enemy’s tricks, lies, and deceit with the Word of God. We are naive and defenseless if we try to defeat the devil with our own clever devices. We will win however, if we keep our prayer guard up and if we spend time meditating on and applying  biblical principles to our behavior. This is why we are engaged, not nonchalant in our spiritual disciplines. We stay aware of devilish schemes that try to convince us we are the exception to the Lord’s expectations. By God’s grace we win the battle of the mind by renewing our mind with truth.

    “‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation’” (Luke 22:46).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, expose the enemy’s errors by the Holy Spirit’s illumination of truth.

    Related Readings: Genesis 3:1; 1 Thessaloinains 3:5; Philippians 2:16; James 5:11

    Post/Tweet today: What God says does not require a second opinion, so we are wise to first do what He says to do. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Why My Savior Complex Had to Die

    Posted on April 30, 2014 by Amy Carroll

    Amy

    "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28 (NLT)

    For years, something in me longed to be a savior. It was the space within my heart that lit with imagination when I watched heroes on TV save a falling baby with a mattress, rescue survivors from a mudslide or wrestle a hijacker to the floor of a plane. I aspired to be a woman with such daring, admired by thousands.

    That desire carried me on a trip to Kolkata, India, where I was determined to make a difference with my positive attitude and can-do spirit!

    I prepared with confidence and traveled with bravado, but when I arrived in the city, my assurance began to wilt. Walking out of the airport into the dead of the night, our team was surrounded at once with impoverished women and children begging. Shouldn't they be sleeping?

    Decrepit buildings lined potholed streets, patrolled by feral dogs and rifle-armed policemen. Rancid smells and unfamiliar sights assailed our senses.

    On the way to our hotel, we drove by a billboard proclaiming, "Kolkata: City of Joy." The very idea whiplashed my brain, and my deepest motives were exposed. What was I thinking? This isn't a job for me ... making Kolkata the City of Joy is truly a God-sized job!

    In that moment, my desire to be a hero was both exposed and crushed. My smile and positive attitude alone would not feed the hungry, free women from oppression or liberate captives from spiritual darkness with. No, only Jesus the Savior could meet such overwhelming need and make a difference! I was simply there to serve Him.

    Why did I want to be a savior? The truth was a mix of good and bad. I desired to help people, ease their suffering and introduce them to a loving God. But all that good was spoiled when mixed with my desire to feel virtuous, to gain recognition from others for the "noble" things I was doing and to feel I had met God's requirements.

    The works inspired by my savior complex might have looked good on the outside, but they were achieving self-gratification rather than pleasing God.

    Jesus is our true hero, the only real Savior. Jesus brings good news to the poor. He can bind up the brokenhearted. He provides freedom for the captives and releases prisoners from the darkness. Jesus brings God's favor, comforts those who mourn and cares for those in need. He gives us beauty instead of ashes, gladness instead of mourning and praise instead of despair (Isaiah 61:1-3). Jesus is beautiful and powerful and worthy of being the Savior.

    In Matthew 20:28, Jesus reveals His superhero, Savior secret to His followers, and it's a huge surprise: "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."

    The secret is service. As we serve our Savior and those around us, we can become behind-the-scenes heroes in God's eyes. Humble service may not make the news, but it can definitely change the world.

    Years after my lesson in Kolkata, I walked into a new volunteer position with my same bright smile and positive attitude. The difference was I wasn't there to be a savior, but instead to serve my Savior.

    Jesus is the hero to admire; I'm just there to roll up my sleeves and stand beside Him as He saves the world.

    Jesus, I praise You as the only worthy Savior. Will You change my motives from a desire for admiration to a desire to humbly serve You? Please change my savior complex to a servant's mindset? I long to follow Your example in serving Your people. In Your Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have your motives to serve the Lord ever gotten mixed with a desire for recognition or to feel virtuous?

    What is one way you can serve someone anonymously this week?

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 43:11, "I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior." (NIV)

    Psalm 115:1, "Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." (NIV)

    Ephesians 6:7, "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people ..." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • 6 Prayers to Pray the Week After Easter

    Posted on April 21, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: "He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him." Now I have told you.'" Matthew 28:5-7 (NIV)

    I don't think Easter is quite done with me yet.

    I know what glorious things this Holy Day says to the world at large.

    But what does Jesus want me to know, to think about, to wrestle through at this time of year? This season of new beginnings.

    So, I'm lingering here a bit longer.

    I feel like the girl who wears the same outfit to school two days in a row. Easter is done now. Time to put it back in the closet. Only for me it isn't. I want to wear it again today, tomorrow and many more tomorrows.

    After all, Easter is no longer a ritual to me. It's a revelation. A time where Jesus splits my soul along the fault line of a scar deep within: I was an unwanted child to my birth dad.

    Unwanted.

    But to Jesus ... I was wanted so much that He gave His life for me. It feels so personal. Even though I know God so loved the world, He gave His son, it becomes very individual if we let it.

    Be personal.

    With Jesus.

    Yes.

    So, in the midst of a world putting Easter away, might we let it sit with us for just a bit more?

    I keep my Bible open to the place where the angel spoke to the women at the tomb. And I tangle my thoughts around His words from Matthew 28 as six prayers emerge ...

    "Do not be afraid," - God, I hand over to You those things that make me so afraid. Resurrect the parts of my faith squelched by fear.

    "I know that you are looking for Jesus," - God, when my soul is searching, help me know the answer to every longing can be found in You.

    "He has risen," - God, the fact that Jesus is risen should lift my head, my heart and my attitude. Help me to live today as if I really believe this with every part of my life.

    "just as he said," - Jesus, You keep Your promises. Help me live as though I believe that with every part of me. Help me trust You more, obey You more and resemble You more.

    "Come and see," - Jesus, You had the angels invite the women in to see for themselves that You had risen. You invite me into these personal revelations every day. Forgive me for sometimes rushing about and forgetting to come and see for myself ... You, Your Word, Your insights.

    "Then go quickly and tell his disciples," - Jesus, I don't want to be a secret keeper with my faith. I want to be a bold and gracious truth proclaimer. For You. With You. Because of You. Me, the unwanted girl whom You loved, redeemed and wanted.

    In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Yes, let this miraculous Easter be personal. And prayerful. And linger a bit longer.

    Dear Lord, I want to let Your Truth sink deep down into my heart and soul today. Help me stay focused on You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Find Matthew 28 in your Bible and read through that chapter in its entirety. What verse sticks out to you?

    Take that verse and write it down or speak it out loud in prayer. Let God's Truth sink deep down into your heart and soul.

    Power Verse:
    1 John 3:16a, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

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