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ODJ: toughest critic


January 18, 2013 

READ: Proverbs 25:11-13 


Honest words can be painful, but what do your criticisms amount to? (Job 6:25).
 

Have you, like me, ever had a person in your life who in many ways is a friend, but is also your toughest critic? If so, do you wonder how to respond properly to this person? 
In my case I know my friend means well, but she often forcefully sends critical comments without seeking my consent to receive her insights. With that in mind I so appreciate how Paul pursued the consent of his friend Philemon (Philemon 1:14). 


When my ‘frenemy’ sent me an unsought email a few weeks ago, listing my faults and suggesting that I have only two areas of giftedness, naturally I was upset. Yet, rather than praying and asking God how to handle the insults, I did a Google search. I looked up “bully” and other synonyms that I felt described my overbearing, highly opinionated friend.


It was easy to find words and articles to confirm that my friend was speaking inappropriately to me, but I was still left without a solution. So I called a wise friend. She suggested that instead of turning to the Internet, I turn to God. “Ask the Lord to help you filter the letter,” she said. “Ask Him to help you cling to what is true and expose the lies. Ask God if the enemy is trying to tap into lies you believe about yourself through your friend’s letter.”


Her advice reiterated the proverb that states, “Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket” (Proverbs 25:11). It’s good for us to listen to advice (v.12), but we should ask God to help us discern whether or not the criticism is valid. If our messenger is trustworthy, even if the message brings conviction and points out areas where we need change, it will yield refreshment (v.13). Make sure you gain permission before bringing criticism to a friend. —Roxanne Robbins 


MORE
What do you think is the difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism? (See Proverbs 15:31.)
 
NEXT
When insulted by a friend, consider this passage by Andrew Peterson, “What defence have I but to flee? Not to flee from the enemy, but to the protection of the King” (Behold the Lamb, 2011). How can you be more Christlike in your criticism?
 

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ODB: There’s Power

January 15, 2013 

READ: James 5:13-18 

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. —James 5:16 

When my sister found out she had cancer, I asked my friends to pray. When she had surgery, we prayed that the surgeon would be able to remove all of the cancer and that she wouldn’t have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation. And God answered yes! When I reported the news, one friend remarked, “I’m so glad there’s power in prayer.” I responded, “I’m thankful that God answered with a yes this time.”

James says that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (5:16). But does “effective” and “fervent” mean the harder we pray, or the more people we ask to pray, the more likely God is to answer with a yes? I’ve had enough “no” and “wait” answers to wonder about that.

Prayer is powerful, but it’s such a mystery. We’re taught to have faith, to ask earnestly and boldly, to persevere, to be surrendered to His will. Yet God answers in His wisdom and His answers are best. I’m just thankful that God wants to hear our hearts and that no matter the answer, He is still good.

I like Ole Hallesby’s words: “Prayer and helplessness are inseparable. Only those who are helpless can truly pray. . . . Your helplessness is your best prayer.” We can do helplessness quite well.

— Anne Cetas

Lord, I’ve been taught many things about prayer—be
specific, be bold, be surrendered, be strong in faith,
be persistent. Today I recognize my helplessness and
Your power as I share my heart with You. Amen.

Prayer is the child’s helpless cry to the Father’s attentive ear. 

ODB: Time Out

January 5, 2013 

READ: Acts 11:19-26; 13:1-3 

Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. —Acts 13:3 

El Bulli restaurant, 2 hours north of Barcelona, is so popular that customers must reserve a table 6 months in advance. But noted Spanish chef Ferran Adrià decided to close the doors of his award-winning restaurant for 2 years so he and his staff could have time to think, plan, and innovate. Adrià told Hemispheres Magazine, “If we are winning all the prizes, why change? Working 15 hours a day leaves us very little time to create.” In the midst of great success, they took time out for what is most important to them.

The first-century church in Antioch experienced a time of exciting growth when “a great number believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:21). As a result, Barnabas and Saul came to teach the new believers (vv.25-26). But along with the hard work, they took time to seek the Lord through prayer and fasting (13:2-3). Through this, God revealed His plan for taking the gospel into Asia.

Few people can take 2 years off to think and plan. But all of us can build time into our schedule to seek the Lord earnestly through prayer. As we open our hearts and minds to God, He will be faithful to reveal the steps of life and service that honor Him.

— David C. McCasland

There is a blessed calm at eventide
That calls me from a world of toil and care;
How restful, then, to seek some quiet nook
Where I can spend a little time in prayer. —Bullock

Prayer is as important as breathing. 

Prayer

We don’t have to take turns coming to Him, nor must we wait for just the right opportunity. At any time and in any place we can lift our voices to the Lord with full assurance that He will hear us. And He does more than just receive our requests–He comprehends, He understands, and He perceives exactly what His children ask for in faith. So pray. God listens! — Richard De Haan

You’ll never get a busy signal on the prayer line to Heaven.