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Tag Archives: Romans

  • Citizenship Stewardship

    Posted on November 3, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”    Acts 16:37

     

    Citizenship in a free country is a gift from God, and not to be taken for granted. It is a stewardship with privileges and responsibilities. Millions of men and women gave their lives so that generations to come could live as citizens of a republic, united around principles founded in the Word of God. Citizenship gives you freedom for good or evil, so remind the culture of wise thinking and value-based living. This is the purpose of the regular election of government officials, for your vote is their performance review. Voting is a responsibility of citizens to provide feedback to the God-ordained institution of government. This authority is used by God to carry out His purposes. The Bible says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. God has established the authorities that exist. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1-2). Therefore, elect men and woman of principal who, as statesmen, will risk losing their House or Senate seat because they govern by unwavering values founded in the Scriptures. They value life, especially in those who are unable to defend themselves.

    The unborn and the elderly are on the top of their list of whom to protect. They value marriage, one man and one woman engaged in holy matrimony. They reject a redefinition of marriage from those driven by money and immorality. They value national security because freedom is not free. It requires sophisticated vigilance from terrorism and nuclear threat. Most importantly, they value God and His Word. There is a humble submission and respect to the authority of Almighty God. So your vote matters because your citizenship matters. Newly initiated citizens are fresh to freedom, so their determination, participation, and appreciation makes them grateful citizens. See yourself as one of the world’s privileged few. Stay abreast of the issues and the position of the politician who represents you. Do they reflect your values? Are they consistent? Do they follow through with their commitments? If not, be a good steward and remove them from office. Replace them with someone hungry to do what’s right, in the right way. 

    Public service is a public trust. Pray for trustworthy men and women motivated by principal. Daniel was a government official of integrity. “At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.” (Daniel 6:4). Hold accountable those cowards who hide behind compromise or enrich themselves with personal profit. God is in control, but He expects participation from people of the state. Look for leaders who will return prayer and the fear of God back into the public arena. Expect the language of the Lord to pepper their speeches.

    We are citizens of a greater kingdom who have a temporary assignment to engage in our earthly kingdom. Therefore, steward well your citizenship while you can. God expects engaged citizens.

    Taken from the May 28th reading in the 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God”… http://bit.ly/InvUdR

    Post/Tweet: Public service is a public trust. Pray for trustworthy men and women motivated by principal. #trustworthy

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources
    A registered 501 c3 ministry

    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Acts, Romans, Stewardship, Daniel

  • Gift of Leadership

    Posted on October 18, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:8

     

    Gifted leaders are first and foremost good followers of God. They recognize the Gift Giver as their authority, so they do not lord over others—rather they submit themselves to the Lord. Because the leader respects Christ, he or she respects those they lead. Because they love the Lord, they love their team. Because they serve Jesus, they serve those who serve with them. Yes, a gifted leader is able to influence and educate a group toward an agreed upon goal. Leaders have followers.

    Are you called to lead but feel inferior? If so, seek your confidence in Christ. Go to the Resourceful One for reassurance. Resistance does not mean you are a bad leader; on the contrary it may be a validation that you are moving in the right direction. Indeed, some struggle in getting on the bandwagon of change—it threatens their security. So stay the course and lead prayerfully, patiently and lovingly. Trust the Spirit’s small voice that affirms your actions—God is with you.

    “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:9-12

    You know you have the gift of leadership if you can see the big picture and inspire others toward that God-given vision. You understand the sequence of steps required to reach the objectives. You perceive potential problems and are courageous and wise to make adjustments. You motivate the team to embrace transitions as necessary to stay relevant. You create a culture of accountability with real-time updates. No one wants to let anyone down in the execution process.

    Your gift of leadership is a weighty responsibility, but you are not alone. Almighty God is your “go to” for humility, holiness and wisdom. God gives you what you need to accomplish what He wants. Furthermore, use your leadership role to invest in other emerging leaders. It is harder to grow leaders than it is to lead. Therefore, be intentional and prayerful to train up faithful men and women who will train others. You steward your leadership best by birthing other leaders!

    “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” Psalm 78:72

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me, so that in humility I can lead others in Your ways.

    Related Readings: Exodus 32:21; 1 Samuel 18:16; Isaiah 48:21; 1 Timothy 6:11-12; 1 Corinthians 1:10

    Post/Tweet: God gives us what we need to accomplish what He needs. #leadership

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Psalm, Romans, Leadership

  • Christians and Halloween

    Posted on October 18, 2012 by Family Christian

    The following post is from a Grace To You blog post. It was written by Travis Allen. Grace to you is a ministry of John MacArthur. John is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry.

    Halloween. It's a time of year when the air gets crisper, the days get shorter, and for many young Americans the excitement grows in anticipation of the darkest, spookiest holiday of the year. Retailers also rejoice as they warm up their cash registers to receive an average of $41.77 per household in decorations, costumes, candy, and greeting cards. Halloween will bring in approximately $3.3 billion this year.

    It's a good bet retailers won't entertain high expectations of getting $41.77 per household from the Christian market. Many Christians refuse to participate in Halloween. Some are wary of its pagan origins; others of its dark, ghoulish imagery; still others are concerned for the safety of their children. But other Christians choose to partake of the festivities, whether participating in school activities, neighborhood trick-or-treating, or a Halloween alternative at their church.

    The question is, How should Christians respond to Halloween? Is it irresponsible for parents to let their children trick-or-treat? What about Christians who refuse any kind of celebration during the season--are they overreacting?

    The Pagan Origin of Halloween
    The name "Halloween" comes from the All Saints Day celebration of the early Christian church, a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of the martyrs. All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day, began the time of remembrance. "All Hallows Eve" was eventually contracted to "Hallow-e'en," which became "Halloween."

    As Christianity moved through Europe it collided with indigenous pagan cultures and confronted established customs. Pagan holidays and festivals were so entrenched that new converts found them to be a stumbling block to their faith. To deal with the problem, the organized church would commonly move a distinctively Christian holiday to a spot on the calendar that would directly challenge a pagan holiday. The intent was to counter pagan influences and provide a Christian alternative. But most often the church only succeeded in "Christianizing" a pagan ritual--the ritual was still pagan, but mixed with Christian symbolism. That's what happened to All Saints Eve--it was the original Halloween alternative!

    The Celtic people of Europe and Britain were pagan Druids whose major celebrations were marked by the seasons. At the end of the year in northern Europe, people made preparations to ensure winter survival by harvesting the crops and culling the herds, slaughtering animals that wouldn't make it. Life slowed down as winter brought darkness (shortened days and longer nights), fallow ground, and death. The imagery of death, symbolized by skeletons, skulls, and the color black, remains prominent in today's Halloween celebrations.

    The pagan Samhain festival (pronounced "sow" "en") celebrated the final harvest, death, and the onset of winter, for three days--October 31 to November 2. The Celts believed the curtain dividing the living and the dead lifted during Samhain to allow the spirits of the dead to walk among the living--ghosts haunting the earth.

    Some embraced the season of haunting by engaging in occult practices such as divination and communication with the dead. They sought "divine" spirits (demons) and the spirits of their ancestors regarding weather forecasts for the coming year, crop expectations, and even romantic prospects. Bobbing for apples was one practice the pagans used to divine the spiritual world's "blessings" on a couple's romance.

    For others the focus on death, occultism, divination, and the thought of spirits returning to haunt the living, fueled ignorant superstitions and fears. They believed spirits were earthbound until they received a proper sendoff with treats--possessions, wealth, food, and drink. Spirits who were not suitably "treated" would "trick" those who had neglected them. The fear of haunting only multiplied if that spirit had been offended during its natural lifetime.

    Trick-bent spirits were believed to assume grotesque appearances. Some traditions developed, which believed wearing a costume to look like a spirit would fool the wandering spirits. Others believed the spirits could be warded off by carving a grotesque face into a gourd or root vegetable (the Scottish used turnips) and setting a candle inside it--the jack-o-lantern.

    Into that dark, superstitious, pagan world, God mercifully shined the light of the gospel. Newly converted Christians armed themselves with the truth and no longer feared a haunting from departed spirits returning to earth. In fact, they denounced their former pagan spiritism in accord with Deuteronomy 18:

    There shall not be found among you anyone...who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord (vv. 10-13).

    Nonetheless, Christian converts found family and cultural influence hard to withstand; they were tempted to rejoin the pagan festivals, especially Samhain. Pope Gregory IV reacted to the pagan challenge by moving the celebration of All Saints Day in the ninth century--he set the date at November 1, right in the middle of Samhain.

    As the centuries passed, Samhain and All Hallows Eve mixed together. On the one hand, pagan superstitions gave way to "Christianized" superstitions and provided more fodder for fear. People began to understand that the pagan ancestral spirits were demons and the diviners were practicing witchcraft and necromancy. On the other hand, the festival time provided greater opportunity for revelry. Trick-or-treat became a time when roving bands of young hooligans would go house-to-house gathering food and drink for their parties. Stingy householders ran the risk of a "trick" being played on their property from drunken young people.

    Halloween didn't become an American holiday until the immigration of the working classes from the British Isles in the late nineteenth century. While early immigrants may have believed the superstitious traditions, it was the mischievous aspects of the holiday that attracted American young people. Younger generations borrowed or adapted many customs without reference to their pagan origins.

    Hollywood has added to the "fun" a wide assortment of fictional characters--demons, monsters, vampires, werewolves, mummies, and psychopaths. That certainly isn't improving the American mind, but it sure is making someone a lot of money.

    The Christian Response to Halloween
    Today Halloween is almost exclusively an American secular holiday, but many who celebrate have no concept of its religious origins or pagan heritage. That's not to say Halloween has become more wholesome. Children dress up in entertaining costumes, wander the neighborhood in search of candy, and tell each other scary ghost stories; but adults often engage in shameful acts of drunkenness and debauchery.

    So, how should Christians respond?

    First, Christians should not respond to Halloween like superstitious pagans. Pagans are superstitious; Christians are enlightened by the truth of God's Word. Evil spirits are no more active and sinister on Halloween than they are on any other day of the year; in fact, any day is a good day for Satan to prowl about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). But "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). God has forever "disarmed principalities and powers" through the cross Christ and "made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them through [Christ]" (Colossians 2:15).

    Second, Christians should respond to Halloween with cautionary wisdom. Some people fear the activity of Satanists or pagan witches, but the actual incidents of satanic-associated crime are very low. The real threat on Halloween is from the social problems that attend sinful behavior--drunk driving, pranksters and vandals, and unsupervised children.

    Like any other day of the year, Christians should exercise caution as wise stewards of their possessions and protectors of their families. Christian young people should stay away from secular Halloween parties since those are breeding grounds for trouble. Christian parents can protect their children by keeping them well-supervised and restricting treat consumption to those goodies received from trusted sources.

    Third, Christians should respond to Halloween with gospel compassion. The unbelieving, Christ-rejecting world lives in perpetual fear of death. It isn't just the experience of death, but rather what the Bible calls "a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume [God's] adversaries" (Hebrews 10:27). Witches, ghosts, and evil spirits are not terrifying; God's wrath unleashed on the unforgiven sinner--now that is truly terrifying.

    Christians should use Halloween and all that it brings to the imagination--death imagery, superstition, expressions of debauched revelry--as an opportunity to engage the unbelieving world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has given everyone a conscience that responds to His truth (Romans 2:14-16), and the conscience is the Christian's ally in the evangelistic enterprise. Christians should take time to inform the consciences of friends and family with biblical truth regarding God, the Bible, sin, Christ, future judgment, and the hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ for the repentant sinner.

    There are several different ways Christians will engage in Halloween evangelism. Some will adopt a "No Participation" policy. As Christian parents, they don't want their kids participating in spiritually compromising activities--listening to ghost stories and coloring pictures of witches. They don't want their kids to dress up in costumes for trick-or-treating or even attending Halloween alternatives.

    That response naturally raises eyebrows and provides a good opportunity to share the gospel to those who ask. It's also important that parents explain their stand to their children and prepare them to face the teasing or ridicule of their peers and the disapproval or scorn of their teachers.

    Other Christians will opt for Halloween alternatives called "Harvest Festivals" or "Reformation Festivals"--the kids dress up as farmers, Bible characters, or Reformation heroes. It's ironic when you consider Halloween's beginning as an alternative, but it can be an effective means of reaching out to neighborhood families with the gospel. Some churches leave the church building behind and take acts of mercy into their community, "treating" needy families with food baskets, gift cards, and the gospel message.

    Those are good alternatives; there are others that are not so good. Some churches are using "Hell House" evangelism to shock young people and scare them into becoming Christians. They walk people through rooms patterned after carnival-style haunted houses and put sin on display--women undergoing abortions, people sacrificed in a satanic ritual, consequences of premarital sex, dangers of rave parties, demon possession, and other tragedies.

    Here's the problem with so-called Hell House evangelism: To shock an unshockable culture, you have to get pretty graphic. Graphic exhibits of sin and its consequences are unnecessary--unbelieving minds are already full of such images. What they need to see is a life truly transformed by the power of God, and what they need to hear is the truth of God in an accurate presentation of the gospel. Cheap gimmickry is unfitting for Christ's ambassadors.

    There's another option open to Christians: limited, non-compromising participation in Halloween. There's nothing inherently evil about candy, costumes, or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. In fact, all of that can provide a unique gospel opportunity with neighbors. Even handing out candy to neighborhood children--provided you're not stingy--can improve your reputation among the kids. As long as the costumes are innocent and the behavior does not dishonor Christ, trick-or-treating can be used to further gospel interests.

    Ultimately, Christian participation in Halloween is a matter of conscience before God. Whatever level of Halloween participation you choose, you must honor God by keeping yourself separate from the world and by showing mercy to those who are perishing. Halloween provides the Christian with the opportunity to accomplish both of those things in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a message that is holy, set apart from the world; it's a message that is the very mercy of a forgiving God. What better time of the year is there to share such a message than Halloween?

    Travis Allen
    Managing Director


    This post was posted in Kids and was tagged with Featured, 1 Peter, Romans, Hebrews, Deuteronomy, Colossians, John MacArthur, Halloween, 1 John, Travis Allen, Grace To You

  • Gift of Giving

    Posted on October 17, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:8

     

    Those with the gift of giving find great joy in contributing to a compelling cause or investing in a called individual. They are on the look out for opportunities where the Lord is at work. Givers can’t wait to give. They may even feel guilty or a little anxious if they cannot connect with a Kingdom need with their time, talent or treasure. Those with the gift of giving believe since God has mightily blessed them, they have the privilege and responsibility to participate in generosity.

    You can be a gifted giver with a lot of money or with little financial resources. It is a heart liberal toward helping others that motivates your acts of giving. You are thrifty and love to save—not to spend on yourself—but to have additional surplus for lost souls and to feed and clothe the poor. You understand that the remedy for greed is generosity. The best medicine for selfishness is becoming big hearted toward other hurting hearts. Mostly, you give because God gives to you!

    “He [Cornelius] and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.” Acts 10:2 

    Your process for giving may be systematic or spontaneous—probably a combination of both. It is wise to invest regularly in your church. Give aggressively where the Word of God is accurately taught and applied. Where Christ is preeminent, the community is served and the world is reached with the gospel. Missionaries are a must for you, because your soul yearns for other souls to come to Christ. Furthermore, you look for family members and friends who need a little bit of financial margin to get them through a rough spot. Gifted givers discern needs.

    Perhaps a couple has not been able to connect because of their overwhelming work or home responsibilities. You may be their answer to prayer by paying for a baby sitter for two nights along with food and lodging for a long weekend get-away. Perhaps you enjoy giving gigantic gratuities to selfless servers of your meal. Moreover, you are free to give, because your Heavenly Father has freely given to you. God’s gift of grace keeps on giving. Indeed, Jesus’ poverty made you rich in what matters most.

    “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thanks for giving liberally to me, so that I can give generously for You.

    Related Readings: Psalm 68:9; Luke 21:4; 2 Corinthians 8:12, 9:7; Philippians 2:6-8

    Post/Tweet: The remedy for greed is generosity. The best medicine for selfishness is becoming big hearted toward other hurting hearts. #give

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Acts, Romans, Giving

  • Gift of Exhortation

    Posted on October 16, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “Or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:8 NASB

     

    An exhorter encourages others in the ways of God. They have a genuine desire for their brothers and sisters in Christ to grow in Christ-likeness. Therefore, application of Biblical truth is the basis of their motivation toward maturity. For the exhorter, information without application leads to spiritual inoculation. Growing in grace is much more than hearing what’s required of a disciple; it’s doing the right things the right way. The exhortation gift provides a road map for righteous living. 

    Every follower of Jesus needs an exhorter for encouragement and accountability. We need to know that someone really knows and understands us. They know us so well; they can tell when we are not doing well. They ask us questions that are to the point, but delivered with patience. The gift of exhortation gives us courage to continue and warns us when to turn around. They praise our strengths and protect us from our weaknesses. We are wise to invite exhorters into our life.

    “For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4, NASB

    Do you have the gift of exhortation? If so, make sure you are encouraged in the Lord and held accountable by His people. Prayerfully invite a select group of trusted saints to peer into your soul, warts and all. Like those you help—you need a spiritual examination. Just as you submit to a doctor for regular physical check ups, so your submission to trusted advisors for spiritual scrutiny helps preclude problems. Exhorters need exhortation to maintain a sustainable pace.

    Moreover, make sure to schedule for your sweet and supportive time with Jesus. He is your eternal exhorter of love, patience, trust, holiness and help. He gives your soul strength when you are weak. He gives your mind peace when you are worried. He gives your body rest when you are restless. He gives your emotions comfort when you are afraid. One simple, “I love you” from Jesus, lingers in your heart. Thus, be exhorted in the Lord and then exhort others in the Lord.

    “Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1, NASB

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for exhorting me in Your ways, so that I can exhort others.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 1:8; Philippians 4:4; 1 Timothy 5:1; Hebrews 13:1, 22

    Post/Tweet: The gift of exhortation gives us courage to continue and warns when to turn around. #exhort

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Romans, 1 Thessalonians

  • Gift of Teaching

    Posted on October 15, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “If it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach.” Romans 12:6

     

    Gifted teachers love examining, interpreting and explaining the Holy Scriptures. They can instruct in their area of expertise, but they especially enjoy bringing out the meaning of the Bible. Context is critical for teachers, because the integrity of rightly dividing the word of truth is fundamental. Teachers love to ask, what was the reader thinking and experiencing? Why did the Holy Spirit inspire the exact Hebrew or Greek word? Teachers thrive at knowing the “why” behind the word.

    If you are a Spirit-filled teacher you embrace the need for dependency on God in understanding His intended message. The same Holy Spirit that originally inspired the penning of the Bible’s profound writings is the same Holy Spirit that illuminates its meaning to modern day teachers. Your teaching gift positions you to perceive God’s heart through your humble heart. Beyond an academic exercise is a divine encounter. The best teachers are students of the Spirit’s teachings.

    “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

    Are you using your gift of teaching for God’s glory? Is it time for you to take a step of faith and teach for the first time or to step back into the role of teaching? Yes, teachers have a higher standard to live by because they know the truth and are accountable to apply the truth personally. The enemy will not sit still when you take a stand to affirm the claims of Christ. He will assault you with shame so you don’t feel worthy to teach the Word, but in Christ you are creditable.

    Moreover, your teaching gift is a gift for students hungry for Scripture. Like infants desire milk and adults enjoy meat, you are Christ’s chef to serve up a variety of menu items that educate in His principles for living. So, set your teaching table with a heart prepared in prayer and a mind equipped in study. Be concise, clear and compelling, and you will never lack an audience. Teach out of your weakness and whatever the Lord’s teaching you, and you will never need content. Be humble, be bold, be honest, admit mistakes and never stop learning. Teach, to make God smile. 

    “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach me, so I can humbly teach Your children.

    Related Readings: Ephesians 4:11; Romans 2:21; 2 Timothy 4:3; Hebrews 5:12

    Post/Tweet: The best teachers of Scripture are students of the Spirit’s teachings. #teaching

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with John, Romans, James, Teaching

  • Gift of Mercy

    Posted on October 11, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:8

     

    The gift of mercy is compelled to be compassionate. Its sensitive spirit hurts when others hurt and rejoices when others rejoice. Merciful followers of Jesus find great satisfaction in alleviating suffering and applying God’s grace to a wounded heart. Their tears of concern flow freely; they are pained to see others in pain. The merciful can be soft spoken and gentle in disposition. Behind the scenes they do quiet acts of kindness. They know how you are doing without asking.

    We all need those gifted with mercy to give us comfort in our time of need. We need their unconditional love when we don’t feel loved. We need their affirmation when we don’t feel affirmed. Just like our sympathetic Savior brings empathy to our empty soul, so those gifted in mercy empathize with our emptiness. Therefore, be open to their suggestion to visit the doctor, attend church or join a small group. Mercy is concerned for the condition of our body and soul.

    “Even though I [Paul] was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” 1 Timothy 1:13

    Furthermore, if you have the gift of mercy, guard against being oversensitive. Your desire for harmony—at any cost—may suffer significant losses from unhealthy compromise. Your interest in pleasing everyone may result in pleasing no one. Mercy by nature is easily taken advantage of, so be careful not to cave in to the loudest voice or the most persuasive persona. Seek solace in Jesus and find certainty in His commands. Use your gift of mercy as a conduit for Christ’s truth.

    Ultimately the source of all mercy resides with the Merciful One, our Heavenly Father. His mercy rains down from above, as He reigns over all living creatures below. Because of His great mercy toward you, you can appropriate abundant mercy.  By God’s grace be quick to forgive and slow to anger. Look at those who are stuck in selfishness with sympathy. Indeed, pity people who are trapped in the pit of pride. Pursue the apathetic with authentic love—mercy initiates.

    “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the merciful, and grant me Your mercy to give away.

    Related Readings: Psalm 6:2, 9; Isaiah 55:7; Matthew 23:23; Jude 1:2

    Post/Tweet: Our desire to please everyone may result in pleasing no one. Mercy needs boundaries. #mercy

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Romans, James, 1 Timothy, Mercy

  • Getting Unstuck from My Thinking Rut

    Posted on October 11, 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2 (NIV)

    Have you ever had the thought, "What's the use? I'm just a stuffer." Or, "What's the use? I'm a just a yeller."

    That may be partially true, but I believe there is more to it than just claiming because we act a certain way, that's the way it will always be.

    Brain research shows that every conscious thought we have is recorded on our internal hard drive known as the cerebral cortex. Each thought scratches the surface much like an Etch A Sketch.

    When we have the same thought again, the line of the original thought is deepened, causing what's called a memory trace. With each repetition the trace goes deeper and deeper, forming and embedding a pattern of thought. When an emotion is tied to this thought pattern, the memory trace grows exponentially stronger.

    We forget most of our random thoughts that are not tied to an emotion. However, we retain the ones we think often that have an emotion tied to them. For example, if we've had the thought over and over that we are "unglued," and that thought is tied to a strong emotion, we deepen the memory trace when we repeatedly access that thought. The same is true if we decide to stuff a thought—we'll perpetuate that stuffing. Or if we yell, we'll keep yelling.

    We won't develop new responses until we develop new thoughts. That's why renewing our minds with new thoughts is crucial. New thoughts come from new perspectives. The Bible encourages this process, which only makes sense because God created the human mind and understands better than anyone how it functions.

    A foundational teaching of Scripture is that it is possible to be completely changed through transformed thought patterns. That's exactly the point of today's key verse, Romans 12:2.

    Scripture also teaches that we can accept or refuse thoughts. Instead of being held hostage by old thought patterns, we can actually capture our thoughts and allow the power of Christ's truth to change them:

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

    I don't know about you, but understanding how my brain is designed makes these verses come alive in a whole new way. Taking thoughts captive and being transformed by thinking in new ways isn't some New Age form of mind control. It's biblical, and it's fitting with how God wired our brains.

    I can't control the things that happen to me each day, but I can control how I think about them. I can say to myself, "I have a choice to have destructive thoughts or constructive thoughts right now. I can wallow in what's wrong and make things worse, or I can ask God for a better perspective to help me see good even when I don't feel good."

    Indeed, when we gain new perspectives, we can see new ways of thinking. And if we change the way we think, we'll change the ways we act and react.

    Dear Lord, teach me to trust You and to believe that even though my situation is overwhelming, You always have the best for me in mind. Give me Your perspective today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    For more encouragement and practical advice on taking our thoughts and actions captive, check out Lysa's new book, Unglued. Available now!

    The accompanying Unglued Bible Study will help you understand what the Bible says about better ways to react. To order your copy, click here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What is one area of your life where destructive thoughts seem to take control? Ask God to show you how to see the good in this area even though you don't necessarily feel good about the situation.

    Start right now, and continue each morning for the next 5 days to pray the verses below over the area of your life you described above. Sometimes changing our perspective requires an initial act of obedience.

    Power Verses:
    2 Corinthians 4:8, "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair." (NIV)

    Isaiah 41:13, "For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." (NIV 1984)

    John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Gift of Prophesy

    Posted on October 10, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith.” Romans 12:6-7

     

    The gift of prophesy is compelled by the Spirit to tell the truth. It is not shy to confront sin and call out injustice. The prophetic calling has the courage to speak the claims of Christ with humble boldness. They have a vision of God’s holiness and are constrained to communicate His high standards of behavior. Moreover, some serve prophetically by praying over other believers with affirmation and instruction. They perceive where the Spirit is leading His servant to go next.

    We are blessed when those in our lives warn us of unwise opportunities and unscrupulous individuals. We are wise to embrace those who speak the truth in love and not marginalize their message. Wisdom flows from friends who clearly discern situations as detrimental. We win when they lovingly point out that our schedule is not sustainable. When we adjust our attitude of fear to faith, based on prophetic preaching, we feel protected. Wisdom honors the prophetic gift.

    “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.” 1 Corinthians 7:7

    Perhaps your perceptive spouse sees things you have not considered. Instead of dismissing their discernment, see them as a gift from God for your protection. Furthermore, if you have the gift of prophecy, be careful not to ignore the individual. Soften the relationship with the oil of love before you deliver the hard truth. Comfort is an affectionate appetizer that needs to precede the prophetic entrée of admonishment. A discerning heart gets to the heart of the matter with truth.

    Godly people who communicate a prophetic word in love deserve a listening ear. If you heed their concerns, your ultimate decision will benefit from weighing the worst-case scenario. Doom and destruction can be avoided by taking seriously the words of Christ’s warriors. Fools plow ahead with deaf ears, while the wise take a time-out and assess a variety of outcomes. So, slow down and listen to the discerning. A prophetic voice is God’s gift to walk wisely and patiently.

    “The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry. And a wise friend’s timely reprimand?is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.” Proverbs 25:12, The Message

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, place people with the gift of prophecy in my life so I can be the wiser, having listened to their words.

    Related Readings: Psalm 141:5; Proverbs 13:18; Ephesians 4:11, 15; 2 John 1:1-3

    Post/Tweet: The prophetic calling has the courage to speak the claims of Christ with humble boldness. #gift #prophecy

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Corinthians, Proverbs, Romans, Prophesy

  • Gift of Service

    Posted on October 9, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve.” Romans 12:6-7

     

    The gift of service sees a need and seeks to meet that need. It is the Spirit inspired ability to see beyond the surface to what really requires attention. Service motivated servants of Jesus get joy from rallying resources to raw realities. They are not shy about challenging the abundantly resourced to resource the woefully under resourced. The gift of service convenes other gifted people to collaborate for a cause. They are called by Christ to facilitate action and results.

    We all can serve the Lord and people, but for those gifted to do so it comes more naturally and easily. Indeed, self and Satan compete for our service to God and others. The flesh longs to be served rather than serve, and Satan seeks to divide our loyalties with the Lord. So purity in service flows from a heart harnessed by the Holy Spirit. When we first see ourselves as bondservants to our Savior Jesus we are compelled to serve for Him. Servants of Christ serve.

    “Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” Matthew 4:10
    Moreover, steward well your service gift, so you are not overwhelmed with the avalanche of needs that surround you. If you try to meet everyone’s needs you may meet no one’s needs. Even Jesus chose to give attention to some but not others. Your gift requires prayerful stewardship so it is not prostituted by pride. Approval may or may not come from those you serve unselfishly, so make sure you serve as unto the Lord. Serve Christ alone and you will not be alone in Him.

    Furthermore, lavish love on those whose service is exemplary and enthusiastic for Jesus. When you recognize and reward servants of the Lord, you place value on what God values. Those who consistently serve well need double doses of encouragement. If servants are not served they grow weary and weak in the Lord’s work. Yes, stay true to serve during trying times but also receive the service of others. Sometimes those who serve the most are served the least—so allow yourself to be served!

    “Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” Ephesians 6:6-8 

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, use my service for Your glory and for Your people!

    Related Readings: 1 Samuel 12:24; Psalm 22:30; Mark 10:45; Philippians 2:22

    Post/Tweet: If you try to meet everyone’s needs you may meet no one’s needs. #serve

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Ephesians, Matthew, Romans, Service

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