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Tag Archives: Psalm

  • Reliable God

    Posted on August 22, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    You are my strength, I watch for you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely. Psalm 59:9-10

    Life will let us down, people let us down, but the Lord is always reliable. What He says, He does. What He does, He does with an eye on what’s best for His children. Our great God and Creator of the universe is as reliable as the sun rising in the East and setting in the West. He is as dependable as water in the deepest oceans and snow on the highest mountain tops. The One who is the only “I Am,” was, and is, and is the One to come. Without question Christ is 100% reliable.

    Therefore, we watch for the Lord to work and answer prayer. We anticipate His grace to govern our hearts and to open doors for Him to be glorified through our lives. We look for the Almighty to bring justice to the outcasts of society. We celebrate churches who care for the poor and the needy. We pray for governments to create moral boundaries for a civil society. We lead our families to carry Christ’s legacy to the next generation. All as we watch for God’s wonderful works!

    Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God. Isaiah 50:10

    Our Savior Jesus Christ is reliable to give us strength for life’s journey. He gives physical strength to soldiers in the heat of battle. He gives emotional strength to defeat our demons of depression and sirens of self-reliance. He gives spiritual strength to traverse over mountains of disbelief and hills of doubt. God is reliable to reveal a way of escape when we feel trapped by temptation’s snare. Our ego tends to grow in the good times, but our character grows most in the difficult times. Praise Jesus for His strength never tires. He’s our ever available refreshment.

    Lastly, our Heavenly Father is our fortress. He is high above our conflict and confusion. He bids us to join Him and rest. When we enter into the gates of His fortress with thanksgiving, our thoughts are drained of anxiety and our perspective gains peace. We sleep well at night knowing our first defense is Almighty God. The fiery darts of the enemy fall harmlessly to the ground, blunted by the rock of our righteous Lord Christ. He is 100% reliable for strength and protection!

    The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for being 100% reliable in the good and bad times.

    Related Readings: 2 Chronicles 14:11; Psalm 9:9, 62:2, 71:3; 2 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 4:16

    Post/Tweet today: Our ego tends to grow in the good times, but our character grows most in the difficult times. #reliableGod

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

  • Daily Burden Bearer

    Posted on August 20, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19

    Believers in Jesus have the Lord who daily bears their burdens. He is a Savior who is not crushed by back breaking circumstances. He reinforces the tentative trust of those under the weighty issues of wealth, sickness, leadership responsibilities, and becoming single again. Yes, a burden becomes too much to bear when it is managed alone. This silent suffering is soul abuse. But in Christ we have the righteous and resilient resources of heaven to persevere through pain.

    Therefore, make sure to engage the eternal grace of God to get you through temporary trials. You do not have to fake it to make it because faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master will give you the godly gumption to get through. Partner with the Holy Spirit to lift from your fleshly shoulders any feelings of doubt, false guilt or the fantasy of living a problem free life. He who lifted your sin burden at salvation remains a strong burden bearer today. God supports you daily.

    Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22

    Just as a nurse cuddles and carries a newborn, so your Heavenly Father cradles you in His sustaining care. Any back and forth movement you may feel against your faith is the soothing rock of your comforting Savior, Christ Jesus. When He holds you close to His breast, you can rest in Him. Resist fear’s desire to pull away and flee from the palpable peace of God. A soul snuggled against the chest of deity will not be shaken. What He holds close, He keeps secure!

    Hallelujah, praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior who daily bears our burdens. We praise Him in the morning, we praise Him in the noontime and we praise Him in the evening for removing our anxieties with His loving lift of compassion. Because He is our burden bearer we are freed to help carry the burdens of those stuck in sin or beat down from life’s challenges. What a joy divine to be Jesus to someone who needs to see Jesus. Thank your Burden Bearer, Jesus Christ!

    Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
    Prayer: Heavenly Father, what a joy to know You bear my burdens daily, so I am free to help others bear theirs.

    Related Readings: Psalm 81:16; Isaiah 9:4, 10:27, 46:4; Matthew 11:28-30; 1 John 2:6

    Post/Tweet today: He [Jesus] who lifted your sin burden at salvation remains a strong burden bearer today. #dailybearsburdens

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

  • The Gift of Listening

    Posted on August 20, 2013 by Renee Swope

    Renee

    "I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray." Psalm 17:6 (NLT)

    One night I heard my husband calling our dog to get her treat. He was actually trying to lure Chelsea, our thirteen-year-old dachshund, to her doggie bed. She was in her favorite chair and nothing was getting her to budge, not even the promise of a treat.

    I asked my kids if they thought Chelsea had "selective hearing" because she didn't want to go to bed or if she was going deaf. I had a feeling it was the latter.

    We reminisced and laughed about how Chelsea used to hear every little thing, from the icemaker in our kitchen to a leaf blowing outside. Then my son Andrew, who was nine at the time, looked at me with great concern. "Mom, I hope when you get old you don't go deaf like Chelsea."

    I laughingly told him it might be good if I can't hear everything when I get as old as Chelsea. She gets a lot more sleep, and she's not offended by the doggy jokes we make about her advanced age.

    My light-hearted response didn't wipe the concern off his brow, so I asked why he was afraid I wouldn't be able to hear him. He answered without hesitation, "Well, sometimes you don't hear me now. Like when you're on the computer and I ask you a question."

    Ouch! I had no idea my child thought I couldn't hear him. His answer almost sent me on a bad-mommy guilt-trip. Flashbacks popped up from times I'd heard him but hadn't listened because my focus was on someone or something else, like the computer and TV.

    Instead of defining that moment with guilt, I pulled Andrew close and told him I was sorry for not listening sometimes. I explained how me being on the computer is similar to him watching a movie. He gets so involved he doesn't hear me call him for dinner. He smiled recognizing his own "hearing loss" at times.

    Still, I didn't want that to be my excuse. So I promised him I would try to stop what I am doing when he comes to me. In my heart, I committed to look away from my computer or phone to really listen. His comment made me realize, we all long to be heard, don't we?

    Psalm 17:6 reflects our desire for God to hear us. The psalmist wrote, "I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray." It reminds me that in the same way I go to God because I want Him to listen and answer me, my child and others come to me because they want me to listen to them. When I stop what I'm doing and listen, it tells them that they, and what they have to say, are important to me.

    In our culture of constant contact through technology, it's easy for our attention to be divided and our focus to shift away from those who are in the room with us.

    Although we are physically present, often times we are mentally absent.

    That night God showed me the valuable gift we can give our children, spouses, friends, co-workers and even strangers. It's the gift of listening.

    We give it each time we stop what we're doing and turn our full attention to others when they talk to us. And, it's a gift God gives to us each time we talk to Him too!

    Lord, thank You for listening to me. Please help me be a better listener. It's easy to hear with one ear while the other is turned toward my computer, television or cell phone. I want to give the gift of listening because it communicates that I value those who want me to hear them. Make me aware and willing to push past this habit so that I can be a listener like You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

    The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Ask God to show you throughout the day how you are doing when it comes to really listening to those you live and work with.

    Make a list of people you will give the gift of listening to this week.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 54:2, "Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth." (NIV)

    Luke 2:46, "After three days they found him [Jesus] in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Quiet My Soul

    Posted on August 16, 2013 by Wendy Pope

    Wendy

    "But I have stilled and quieted my soul." Psalm 131:2a (NIV 1984)

    I'm a talker ... I always have been. When report cards came home, my parents never expected anything better than a C beside the word "conduct." One of my elementary school teachers politely called me "very social." Most were more blunt: "Wendy talks too much. She could learn more if she would talk less."

    Unfortunately, old habits die hard. I brought this trait of talking too much into the time I set aside each day to spend alone with God. I often fill my "quiet time" with my words ... lots and lots of words. I wonder if sometimes the Father looks to the Son and says, "I can't get a word in edge-wise with this girl! She could learn more if she would talk less."

    No, silence wasn't easy for this girl who likes to gab. Rather than waiting for God to speak to me, I wanted to tell Him what I thought would be good solutions to my problems. To-do lists ran through my head, instead of peace and quiet. It was easy to go on and on about the dusty shelves and piles of toys. But sit and listen? That felt unnatural, so I resisted and kept talking.

    I shared this uneasiness with God, knowing silence and stillness were things I needed to practice. During these times I felt God's gentle encouragement: Shhh ... be still. It's okay to be silent. You don't have to say a word.

    God was clearly trying to teach me something. His direction to be quiet was about more than resting my mouth-it was about resting my heart. I understood this when I read Psalm 131:2, "But I have stilled and quieted my soul." God wanted me to understand true rest ... His rest.

    As with anything, practice makes perfect. With great intention, I slowed my 90-mile-an-hour thoughts and parked them during my alone time with the Lord. Sometimes this required me writing out my to-do list prior to our time together. Or re-adjusting my priorities. Vacuuming was not as important as listening to God. Many times my thoughts would rev up, and I'd be talking without even realizing it! But I'd rein them back in and start over.

    My spirit felt renewed and at peace. In silence and stillness, I sensed God's direction for my day, peace for my circumstances and the soul-rest I needed.

    As we fill the reservoirs of our souls with true refreshment from God, we learn to relax as we experience real peace and rest that only comes from the silence and stillness of being with Him. We carry this refreshment with us as we face the challenges of our day.

    Do you have the gift of gab like me? Do you find it challenging to sit quietly with God? Ask Him to help you practice and enjoy silence and stillness. Your soul will find refreshing peace. God's rest is exactly what our restless souls need.

    Dear Lord, my soul is having a hard time being still. I lay down my resistance to silence and ask for your help to spend time in silence with You every day. I praise You in advance for what You are going to say to me in the silence. I thank You for the rest only You can give. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    What Happens When Young Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst and Hope TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    What keeps you from silencing your soul during quiet times with God?

    For five days spend five minutes in silence with God. Open the time of silence by repeating today's key verse, "But I have stilled and quieted my soul" (Psalm 131:2a). Keep a journal of your time with Him.

    Power Verses:
    Matthew 11:28-30, "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (MSG)

    Ecclesiastes 3:7b, "... a time to be silent and a time to speak." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Heart Secrets

    Posted on August 12, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart? Psalm 44:20-21

    Most all followers of Jesus have harbored secrets in their hearts. Secrets of unseemly deeds done in ignorance or intentionally. Perhaps, like Peter, they walked away from a friend in their deepest hour of despair or like an illusive criminal they carried a secret crime to their grave. If these secrets are not confessed to Christ and renounced in repentant behavior they erode away peace, joy and security. A twisted countenance needs to share its secret with his Savior Jesus Christ.

    Secrets of the heart do not fly under the righteous radar of heaven. God is aware and cares about the conflicts that war within our soul. At our conversion to Christ we renounced our old way of living, but similar to the nuisance of a rebel pack of stray dogs, we are still influenced by rebellious habits that need the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. The flesh may suppress an unhealthy habit for a time, but the Lord knows real time what’s hidden. Holiness exposes secrets.

    This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. Romans 2:16

    Avoid keeping heart secrets from Almighty God (He already knows). Sacrifice on the Lord’s altar of forgiveness any past or present secret life. Rely on the Holy Spirit to align who your Heavenly Father says you are, with who you really are on the inside. Don’t keep heart secrets from those who love and respect you the most. The more transparent you are with your struggles, the more they admire you. Secrets of the heart dissolve  in the face of full disclosure.

    Moreover, heart secrets do not have to be shameful, they can be celebratory. Like Paul, some special friends of God are caught up into the third heaven of intimacy and afterward are unable to put into words their intimate moment. Their inexpressible encounter becomes a spiritual secret shared only with their Savior Jesus. As we seek to know our Lord in secret places, He sustains us in our public service for Him. Thank God for special heart secrets between just the two of you!

    I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. Isaiah 45:3

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, expose my heart secrets by Your love and lead me to live in the light of Your righteousness.

    Related Readings: 1 Samuel 16:7; 2 Kings 17:9; Jeremiah 23:24; 2 Corinthians 12:1-12

    Post/Tweet today: The flesh may suppress an unhealthy habit for a time, but the Lord knows real time what’s hidden. #heartsecrets

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

  • Give God Guilt

    Posted on August 9, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. Psalm 38:4

    When we feel like we have come to nothing, our Lord Jesus is ready to make us into something. Guilt can cause our good deeds to grind to a halt or it can drive us to try to make up for lost time with frantic activity for God. Guilt motivated behavior is not sustainable, because like a scuba diver’s weight belt it weighs us down with sin and shame. We drift deeper into the murky waters of fear until we are unable to see the forgiveness and grace of God. Guilt overwhelms our heart.

    The blood of Jesus Christ is the only remedy for sin’s guilt. Other pseudo solutions like drugs, alcohol, sex, work and play only mess with our emotions and leave us longing for real relief. Guilt is a warning light on the dashboard of our life that flashes when we are close to losing our peace and joy. It is a protector of joy not a killer of joy. Guilt drives us to God for freedom from mental or emotional pain. Confess to Christ, release your guilt and accept His total forgiveness.

    For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:10

    Beware of those who intentionally or unintentionally attempt to put you on a guilt trip. It could be they are shifting blame to you from their irresponsible behavior. Their own shame feels the need to shame those in their path. Avoid chronic carriers of guilt, they hurt innocent bystanders who stand near their exposed emotional wounds. Guilt is like a grenade whose pin is pulled, its insensitive shrapnel injures everyone in its path. Yes, be a righteous resolver of unresolved guilt.

    Do you hold unrealistic expectations over the head of a loved one? Do you demand of others more than the Lord expects of them? If so, guilt can easily drive a wedge in between your relationships. A friend or family member bound up in their own shame and guilt need God’s grace and your gracious response. Your forgiveness frees the guilty. Once you have been freed from guilt by God’s grace, you can lead others to receive the Lord’s love. He frees the guilty!

    They will be forgiven for any of the things they did that made them guilty. Leviticus 6:7

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, free me from the guilt of my past, so I can free friends from guilt in the present.

    Related Readings: Numbers 11:14, 14:18; Ezra 9:6; Luke 11:46; Hebrews 10:22

    Post/Tweet today: Guilt is a warning light on life’s dashboard that flashes when we are close to losing our peace and joy. #guilt


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

  • Letting Go

    Posted on August 9, 2013 by Amy Carroll

    Amy

    "He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands." Psalm 78:5-7 (NIV)

    Each year I take out one memory-soaked treasure after another from the boxes containing our family's Christmas and winter decorations. There's one I anticipate unpacking more than all the others. It's a framed photograph of my two little boys in brightly colored jackets sitting on a sled surrounded by fresh snow. Their heads thrown back with delight and laughter give testament to the joy of speed and a rare North Carolina snowfall.

    It's amazing how that one picture captures the childhood of my sons. Thinking about it makes my heart ache for days gone by. I reminisce about hours of playing with blocks and little arms wrapped around my neck.

    I never wanted those toddler hugs to end, but today, my once-little-boys tower over me, their deep voices filling our home. Gone are childish giggles, Play-Doh and picture books. Those things are replaced with teenaged practical jokes, car keys and college texts. The boys have turned into young men, and they've let go of juvenile ways. Now, if only their mama could let go!

    My oldest, Anson, is getting ready to head back to college for his sophomore year, and God's Word comforts me in this challenging transition. To parents who are watching their children sprout wings of independence, God gives strong direction followed by a powerful promise.

    Strong Direction ... our job as parents is to teach.

    There are several different scriptures that command us to teach:

    "Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them" (Deut. 4:9 NIV).

    "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up" (Deut. 11:18-19 NIV).

    Followed by a promise ... as we let go, trust our children will hang on to God.

    "Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it" (Proverbs 22:6 NLT).

    Teach and then trust.

    Parenting is a divine partnership, with God as the controlling partner. Our acts of obedience to teach our kids merge powerfully with His promises to carry them through to the end.

    My husband and I have faithfully and lovingly taught God's Word to our sons. Now we are trusting God to finish the work He has begun in them. The work may not be evident immediately and there will be bumps in the road, but teaching and then trusting helps this mama's heart to let go.

    Dear Lord, help me to faithfully teach Your Word and Your ways to my children and then trust You to set their paths. I let go of control and trust Your work in them. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are there biblical lessons you feel you haven't yet taught your child? Make a plan to do that before they leave your home.

    Ask your older child today how you're doing in the letting go process. Discuss freedoms he would like to have and how those freedoms can be earned.

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 44:3, "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • My Goodness

    Posted on August 6, 2013 by Sheila Mangum

    Sheila Mangum

    Sheila

    "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Psalm 23:6 (NIV)

    It was well into the second quarter of the high school basketball game when the senior captain of the home team showed up late.

    Just that morning his mother unexpectedly passed away from a sudden hemorrhage. She'd been in remission after a five-year fight with cervical cancer when she took the fatal turn.

    Some of the team had been at the hospital with their grieving friend. Although they had an important game that night, the guys wanted to cancel it. Brokenhearted, the senior captain encouraged the team to play.

    You can imagine everyone's surprise when this young man came out to root for his team.

    His coach asked him if he wanted to sit on the bench with his teammates.

    "No," he replied. "I want to play."

    Game rules prevented anyone not on the pre-game roster to play unless the opposing team was granted a technical foul that would give them two free throws. It was a tight game, but his coach willingly traded the points to comfort his player.

    But that is not where the compassion stopped.

    The other coach wasn't interested in the free throws. He wanted to let the brokenhearted player just play. With no penalties. This coach and the referees argued over the rules until the referees won with, "Rules will not be broken."

    So, after a brief conversation with his coach, the visiting team's senior captain took his place on the free throw line.

    Giving his coach an understanding nod, he dribbled the ball and threw it two feet. The crowd stared in wonder as the ball rolled off the court. The second free throw landed at his feet. He had purposefully missed guaranteed points.

    This gesture of sportsmanship ignited a standing ovation. Applause roared throughout the gym. The crowd witnessed a rare act of kindness birthed out of the goodness of the visiting coach and captain's hearts.

    We don't often hear about people taking hold of opportunities to demonstrate such graciousness. But every day we can see God's goodness if we simply take the time. Psalm 23:6 tells us that "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

    Before the brokenhearted player even arrived at the game, God's goodness followed him, ready to show up when he needed it most. Goodness tapped two coaches on the shoulders. Goodness whispered in the hearts of a group of teenagers.

    God's goodness is here for us as well. We find it in His daily care and love, especially in times of hardship. But we have to "get in the game" to see it. If we're checked out of life, not spending time in prayer, or not actively seeking to recognize God's goodness, we'll miss it. True, His goodness might not always seem as evident as a team opting out of free points in a basketball game, but God's goodness is all around us.

    Could His kindness and love be the encouraging word or hug from a friend? Perhaps it's peace that comes unexpectedly. Or maybe it's the conversation with the grocery store clerk that brought a smile to your face.

    This young man who lost his mother probably had no idea how he was going to ease the pain that surrounded him. You may be wondering that very thing as well. This is why God promises, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18). God wants to be closer to you than the pain. One way He does this is by following you with His goodness and showing up through the hands and hearts of others.

    I cannot tell you who won the last Super Bowl. I don't know who the Major League's MVP is. There's no way I can spout off the NBA lineup. What I can tell you about is the day God's goodness followed a crushed young man into a gymnasium during a high school basketball game in Milwaukee and made His goodness known. I can tell you he played the rest of the game, scoring ten points that led to his team's victory.

    But most importantly, I can tell you that God's goodness is following you. Will you get in the game and look for it?

    Dear Lord, I praise You for Your goodness. Open my eyes that I will fully see Your marvelous ways. Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    God's goodness is following you and wants to be closer to you than the pain. Look for His goodness to show up for you.

    Who will you demonstrate God's goodness to today? How?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 3:3, "But you are a shield around me, O LORD, you bestow glory on me and lift up my head."

    © 2013 by Sheila Mangum. All rights reserved.

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

  • White As Snow

    Posted on July 29, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:7 (NIV)

    We were friends in youth group. That led to Saturdays at her house. Double dates. And slumber parties where we talked about boys and did each other's hair.

    But more than silly teen stuff, Michelle and I were among the few in the youth group who attended church with no family support. Consequently, we encouraged each other spiritually and often knelt and prayed together.

    A year after high school, sadly we lost touch. We moved to different cities. Married. Had children. Our lives no longer intersected.

    Until three decades later.

    Her message on Facebook caught me by surprise, and I couldn't wait to see her again. When we met she told me all that had transpired in thirty years, and my heart hurt for my friend.

    So much had taken place, beginning with college and the party scene. She met men who said they loved her, but hurt her instead. Those unhealthy relationships led to more than one marriage. She endured abuse, and eventually began to believe that somehow it was what she deserved.

    Bravely, she left the abusive men. She went back to school and secured a job, taking care of her children on her own.

    But there was still something missing inside of the heart of this woman. Though she had once found sanctuary in an altar at a small church, she wondered if she had strayed too far to find her way back. Did too many men, too many parties, too much sin stand between her and Jesus?

    In Psalm 51:7-9, the Psalmist confronted those same fears. It led to this prayer of repentance.

    "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity" (NIV).

    Like the Psalmist, Michelle felt the sorrow of her sin and the path that had taken her so far from her once-vibrant relationship with God. But she also knew there was a place to find restoration.

    Not just to be forgiven, but to be restored, renewed, and to rejoice in Whose she was again.

    Michelle reached out for God's love saying, "I knew that I couldn't go back and try to fix the past. I could only make amends and claim the forgiveness that God had ready for me."

    Maybe you know of someone ... maybe you are that someone ... who believes you've gone too far.

    Repentance begins with sorrow or remorse over sin and leads to a change of direction. You turn away from your old life and turn toward God to accept His immense forgiveness. The burden of sin is removed as God cleanses you and takes your sin and replaces it with His righteousness.

    If this is you, return to the love of Jesus. Put the past behind you as you accept the complete forgiveness He freely offers. Don't wait one more moment. Your past may shape you, but it doesn't define you, and it certainly doesn't limit what God can do in and through you.

    Today Michelle is an example of what takes place when we are washed white as snow. She no longer feels ashamed or guilty for her past actions. A light heart and a joyful perspective have replaced these feelings. She volunteers in a rehabilitation home for women who have been abused or are homeless. Michelle delights when a woman opens her heart to receive God's cleansing and healing touch. She knows first-hand the hope and freedom that comes when anyone takes a U-turn back toward all God freely offers.

    Dear Jesus, it is no accident that I read this today. You are inviting me to change my direction and to run toward You for forgiveness. I do so freely and with joy. Thank You for washing me white as snow. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzanne Eller

    Reflect and Respond:
    When God enters the picture, your past is reframed. How can your past story be used to encourage others to live free?

    Tell one person your story today.

    Power Verse:
    Matthew 9:6a, "But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Oneness With God

    Posted on July 19, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    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. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me. Psalm 57:1-2

    Adversity is an avenue to Almighty God. When all spiritual trappings are stripped away the human spirit and Holy Spirit have seamless communion. Refuge in the Lord means utter dependence on His protection and reputation. He alone is good, as nothing good comes from fallen humanity. A confession of depravity shows desperation for Christ. Hard times soften hearts for oneness with God's heart.

    Have you run into a spiritual brick wall? Have your ways of relating to God lost their effectiveness? Once prayer was energizing, but now it has become boring at best, a drudgery at worst. You used to anticipate the dynamics of Bible study, but now it is a chore just to read a chapter. The Holy Spirit has often led your heart, but now He seems disinterested and distant. If you feel frustration over faith issues take heart, for a dark soul is ready for spiritual oneness.

    Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Philippians 2:1-2

    Oneness with the Spirit of God moves us beyond meditation to contemplation. In meditation we relate more to God, while in contemplation God relates more to us. Like a first time driver of an automobile moves from conscious decisions to unconscious ones, once we are united with Christ we willfully execute His will, unaware. Oneness with Almighty God creates an automatic response of obedience.

    Spiritual dullness is an opportunity to sharpen our understanding of His work all around us. Yes, we persevere by grace, because the Lord is doing a deep work of grace in our heart. Our goal to know Christ in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering never changes. However, how we get to know Him grows and changes over time. We become one in Christ by walking through dark days together. Refuge in God revitalizes our relationship.

    I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
    Philippians 3:10

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow me in oneness with You, so my will becomes Your will.

    Related Readings: Jeremiah 32:39; John 17:21; Colossians 2:2-3; Ephesians 4:2-6

    Post/Tweet today: Oneness with Almighty God creates an automatic response of obedience. #onenesswithGod

    © 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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