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  • Learning to Talk with God

    Learning to Talk with God by Lisa Harper

    Then Jesus said to them, ‘Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?’” (Mark 4:13, NIV)

    The single most difficult thing my adopted daughter Missy and I dealt with during our first few months together was not her HIV+ status.

    It also wasn’t the frequent hospital trips or learning (and remembering) how to dispense her twice‑daily doses of three different medications.

    It wasn’t even my futile, scalp-torturing attempts to learn how to micro-braid her gorgeous Haitian hair.

    The most difficult, sometimes heart-wrenching, aspect of our first nose-to-nose season was learning to communicate.

    On my five visits to Haiti during the adoption process, we’d managed to sort of understand each other with a few common words of Creole and English coupled with facial expressions and charades. I wasn’t prepared for the heartache our communication gap would cause once I finally brought her home to Tennessee.

    The harsh reality of that gap became glaringly apparent one night after we arrived home. I’d gotten her changed into pajamas and settled into her special pink and white bedding and was singing a lullaby to help her sleep.

    However, instead of becoming drowsy, she got more and more agitated. So I picked her up and did several things experts had advised me to do to let her know she was safe and secure. But my actions only seemed to make things worse.

    Finally, after more than an hour of her growing increasingly fearful and me vainly trying to soothe her, I got out the Creole dictionary and attempted to ask if she was in pain. The second I began trying to articulate that foreign phrase, her head snapped toward me, her brown eyes focused on mine with laser‑like intensity and she began talking as fast as she could.

    A torrent of unfamiliar words poured from her mouth. After a minute or two, when she could tell by my expression I didn’t understand, she put both of her hands on the sides of my face and began to speak very intently.

    Eventually I replied in English, “I’m so sorry baby, but I don’t understand what you’re saying.” At which point she dropped her hands to her side, looked away from me with hopeless resignation and began to sob uncontrollably.

    My little girl cried herself to sleep, and when her breathing finally settled into the rhythm of slumber, I walked into the living room, sank into the couch and cried until I didn’t have any tears left either.

    I felt like the precious daughter I’d longed for since I was a young woman and fought for through an arduous two‑year adoption journey had tried to give me her heart, and I didn’t have the hands to receive it. She threw a relational lifesaver in my direction with every ounce of her 4‑and‑a‑half‑year‑old might, and I missed it.

    What followed were some long, heart-wrenching hours. My own dark night of the soul. And it’s one of the main reasons one seemingly insignificant verse in Mark 4 — which I’d read hundreds of times before without really noticing — now packs such an emotional wallop for me.

    Then Jesus said to them, ‘Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?’” (Mark 4:13)

    I think Jesus was trying to give the disciples God’s heart, and they didn’t have hands to receive it. Just like that horrible evening when I fumbled Missy’s feelings, they simply couldn’t see what God wanted to communicate with them.

    Not many experiences have been more precious than the moments of real connection Missy and I shared in the days and weeks after that terrible night of total incomprehension.

    Gradually, Missy’s English has improved. And the ah‑ha look that lights up Missy’s face fuels both of us each time she learns a new English word or concept.

    Sometimes reading the Bible and learning to know God is like this. It’s hard in the beginning. Communication doesn’t feel natural as we’re learning how to talk with our Father in Heaven. But when we push through the hard parts, and actually grasp one of His promises or apply a scriptural principle to our lives, we are rewarded with our own spiritual ah‑ha moments.

    The delight in each new facet of knowing Jesus satisfies our souls in a way nothing else can — it leads us to pursue our Savior with more and more passion.

    Even more than Missy and I were made to be mother and daughter, you and I were made for deep connection with our Creator Redeemer! When we taste even a tiny morsel of the communion with the God we were created for, we’ll be ravenous for more!

    Heavenly Father, I long to talk with You. Thank You for your desire to communicate with us. Help me to be still, close my eyes and pay attention to all that You want me to hear. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 13:12a, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face to face.” (NIV)

    Mark 4:8-9, “‘Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.’” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Think of the last time a tribulation or storm threatened your faith. Did your spiritual roots and foundation hold firm or did you find yourself pulled away from Jesus and shaken to the core of your beliefs?

    © 2016 by Lisa Harper. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks LifeWay for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

  • The Passing of Joey Feek

    We were saddened to hear that over the weekend our dear sister in Christ, Joey Feek, passed away after a two year battle with cancer, but we rejoice in the fact that her suffering has ended. All the pain and tears are gone and she now resides in Heaven with her Savior. As her husband Rory said on his blog, Joey’s “greatest dream came true.”

    joey

    Losing a loved one is incomparable to any other feeling in this world—a piece of you goes with them and leaves an unfillable hole within. But in Christ, we can find joy and comfort in the fact that death on earth means new life in Heaven. Our life on earth is just a snippet of the eternity we will spend with Christ if we believe in Him and accept Him as our Lord and Savior. An eternity spent without pain, without suffering, and without tears.

    Rory echoed this idea in his last blog post on the This Life I Live blog:

    “Though this is, and has been, a time of many tears of sorrow, it has also been a time of countless tears of joy ... When a person has been through as much pain and struggle as Joey’s been through, you just want it to be over. You want them to not have to hurt anymore, more [than] you want them to stay with you. And so, it makes the hard job of saying goodbye just a little easier.”

    We say goodbye to Joey today, but with the confidence that she is happier now than she’s ever been.

    Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25–26 NIV

    Join us in praying for Rory, their children and their friends and family during this difficult time.

    Photo Credit: joeyandrory.com

  • Lord I Want to Know You

    Lord I Want to Know You by Renee Swope

    “Those who know your name trust you, O LORD, because you have never deserted those who seek your help.” Psalm 9:10 (GW)

    I’d heard great things about him, but it wasn’t until we served together in ministry that I really got to know him. And I only discovered some of his unique personality traits by “doing life” with J.J. — like his dry sense of humor and the way he naturally encourages people without even trying.

    As our friendship deepened, J.J. became someone I could depend on. When I needed him, he came through.

    Like the time my mom was diagnosed with cancer and scheduled for immediate surgery, JJ offered to drive six hours to join me at the hospital so I wouldn’t be alone. I didn’t think he was serious and was hesitant to let him come when I was in such a vulnerable place of need. But he showed up, and I realized this guy was reliable.

    Over the years, I’ve seen how my relationship with God has grown closer in the same way. And I’ve noticed the same for others.

    At some point in our lives we hear things about God, but we don’t really get to know Him until we spend time with Him — talking, listening and observing who He is and depending on Him.

    We learn to trust God’s heart by interacting with Him and experiencing His character in personal ways, just like I did with J.J.

    In the book of Judges, chapter 6, an angel of the Lord appeared before Gideon and told him he would become a mighty warrior and defeat a huge army of his enemies. But Gideon didn’t believe him.

    You see, Gideon only knew about God. He had heard of His faithfulness in others’ lives, but he didn’t know God personally.

    It’s hard to trust someone you don’t know.

    Gideon told the angel of the Lord, “‘If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.’ And the LORD said, ‘I will wait until you return’” (Judges 6:17-18, NIV).

    When Gideon brought his offering, the angel of the Lord touched it with the tip of his staff and fire flared from the rock, consuming it. Then Gideon realized it was in fact the angel of the Lord and exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!” (v. 22b, NIV).

    Up to this point, Gideon had called Him “LORD.” But now he added the word “Sovereign” to describe his Lord because he had experienced God’s sovereignty.

    Confidence and trust increased when Gideon witnessed God’s power.

    Gideon must have looked terrified, because immediately, “the LORD said to him, ‘Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die’” (v. 23, NIV). I love what Gideon did next: “Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD Is Peace” (v. 24a, NIV).

    God had revealed His character by demonstrating His power and by giving Gideon peace to help him overcome his doubts and fears.

    Gideon not only knew about God, but now he was getting to know Him personally. He would learn that it’s much easier to trust someone you know — someone you have experienced life with in a personal way.

    Just like my relationship with J.J, whom I ended up marrying, my relationship with Jesus has grown closer over time. I’ve come to love Him as I have experienced His love for me. I’ve learned to depend on Him and trust Him deeply as I’ve come to know His heart and His character.

    We will not know God as Jehovah Rapha, our Healer, until we experience and recognize His healing in our lives — whether spiritually, emotionally, mentally or physically.

    We cannot know Him as Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, if we are not in need.

    We will not know Him as Jehovah Nissi, our Banner, unless we need Him for victory.

    When we take time to deepen and grow our relationship with Jesus, our confidence in Him deepens too. And we will live in the promise of today’s key verse: “Those who know your name trust you, O LORD, because you have never deserted those who seek your help” (Psalm 9:10).

    Dear Lord, I want to know You for who You really are. I desire to trust and follow You more and more each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the LORD is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Take a few minutes to say these names of God out loud and thank Him for being each of these things for you. “Lord, thank You that You are …”

    Emmanuel: My God with Me (Matthew 1:22-23) El Roi: The God Who Sees Me (Genesis 16:13-14) El Sali: God of My Strength (Psalm 28:7) Jehovah Rohi: The LORD My Shepherd (Psalm 23:1) Jehovah Shammah: The LORD Is There for Me (Ezekiel 48:35b)

    © 2016 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Q & A with Logan Wolfram

    FC: Your life has taken you from wife, to mom, to blogger, to CEO and Host of Allume and now to author! What has that journey been like for you?

    LW: Um….pretty nuts actually. If ever there was a person qualified to write about following God curiously into the unknown it’s me! And funny enough I’ve felt completely UNqualified for pretty much all of the tasks…but God, He makes his own set of qualifications for where He takes us and the first one is just “Will you follow me into the unknown?”

    But also, to really answer the question practically, it has taken a lot of shifting within my family and friends to accommodate the changes in pace. I’ve had to ask for lots of grace as I learn to balance new responsibilities that pile on top of the ones that were already there. Some days it means being ok with chicken nuggets for dinner and falling asleep putting my kids to bed at 8pm too. Honestly I’m just trying to steward the moments and the opportunities well so that when I stand before the Lord in the end he says “well done my good and faithful servant.”

    FC: Curious Faith. That is a curious title! How did you land on that for a title and theme of your book?

    LW: I talk about it in the book, but mostly the thought of curiosity as a theme of faith occurred to me when I was watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory one night with my kids. I was looking at these kids in Wonka’s factory and the thought struck me that in these 5 children I saw pieces of myself. Throughout the movie they were disqualified from the tour because of pride, selfishness, gluttony, impatience, etc, and the kid who won the whole kit and caboodle in the end was the one who was humble and curious and trusted the vision of the creator. Once that thought occurred to me, I realized that it totally applies to the Kingdom of God. God calls us to have a childlike faith, and by my estimation, that lands us squarely in the middle of a curious one too!

    FC: Writing a book like this often causes the author to deeply examine their own faith/life. What surprising thing(s) did you learn about yourself while writing Curious Faith?

    LW: Oh mercy! SO MUCH! Writing a book is so hard because I think throughout it’s such a clarifying process too. Not only do I have to wrestle with the Lord on things in my own life, but I have to do it to such a point that I can turn around and sufficiently explain the process and lessons to others. I have to REALLY REALLY learn what I’m talking about, otherwise I just won’t make sense. And also, after writing the book when life just started to get overwhelming, I’ll be honest and say pieces of me started to lose my own curious faith (which feels practically blasphemous to say that I lost my own curiosity after writing about it), but I went back and reread my own book and God used the testimony of my own words to reignite my own faith. It’s sort of like you write all this and then the enemy comes after you and the Lord allows it as if to say, “Did you mean what you wrote?” So the rubber of faith means the road of living and in the end what I can tell you is that “YES…I meant every word and still do!”

    FC: You say you want to help readers to “rescue your now”? What exactly does that look like?

    LW: It means that there is manna for today. There are blessings of God to uncover NOW. That even in the midst of not knowing where we are going, we can still be curious about what God has for us right where we are. In the book I wrote it this way and I think it sums it up, but “The certainty of our faith isn’t found in where we are going, but in the ONE we are following.” When you know WHOM you’re following, your now…your today…and even your unknown tomorrow can be rescued and given new hope!

    FC: If there is one idea you really want your readers to grasp from reading Curious Faith, what would that be?

    LW: Ack…that’s so hard! I wrote nearly 250 pages and I hope lots of it sticks! But the biggest thing I hope is that people fall in love with the Lord all over again. I pray that they remember who He is to us and who we are to Him…because it’s from that place of security that we walk in the freedom of a curious and open-handed life. When we remember that, and we apply it throughout different circumstances, we really do rediscover hope and possibility.

    FC: Speaking of reading, we would love to know what you are reading right now?

    LW: Right now I’m actually doing the Open Your Bible study from my sweet friends Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams of SheReadsTruth and I love it! Also as an author I get lots of books in the mail so I have a big stack that I’m desperate to get through faster than I have time to do! I got a book in the mail recently called Praying Upside Down by Kelly O’Dell Stanley and honestly I have a huge heart for prayer and was intrigued by it. It’s really good so far!

    FC: So…..Curious Faith is releasing on 3/1. Do you have any plans after that? Another book in the making? Big family vacation?

    LW: Oh heavens I actually hope to sit still for a little bit. I’ll be returning from CHINA on the night of March 1 because my little brother is getting married on Feb 27th! He has been living and working in China for a few years and is marrying a precious gal who is Chinese, so we are loading up the whole crew and heading to China. I’m contracted for another book but plan to take a good while before diving into that. I always want to write out of the overflow, so I plan to be intentional about taking time to fill back up after all this book fun too!

    FC: We are so excited about Curious Faith and appreciate you taking the time to chat with us today. In closing, we’d love to ask how we can be praying for you and your family?

    LW: You know, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that the enemy doesn’t like when people follow hard after God. And if you’re following hard and being super public and inviting others to do the same, it just about puts a target on your back. When I feel the fiery arrows I figure I must be doing something right for the Kingdom of Heaven, but it can sure make the day to day messier and harder. And my family has seen that increase significantly since I started writing this book. And the closer it has gotten to launching, the more complicated things all around us have gotten too. Mostly I’d love to ask you to pray that our faith would continue to increase, that our family would grow stronger through the things the Lord asks us to walk into together, and that Jesus would be magnified even in our messy moments! And for stewardship of this all. It is my heart’s desire that I steward this opportunity in such a way that I honor the Lord and that the Kingdom expands because of my obedience in doing the small part God is asking me to do.

  • When I Forget to Be Grateful

    When I Forget to Be Grateful by Suzie Eller

    “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

    My arm was in a sling due to a broken collarbone, and pain spiraled if I moved it even a fraction of an inch. I couldn’t do a lot of things — one of them was fix my own hair — so I had to call Mr. Richard for help.

    That’s what my husband called himself over the next few weeks, as he stood behind me trying his best. He joked while he blow‑dried, brushed and straight‑ironed my hair. He only burned my ear once, but that jerky movement you make when 400 degrees hits the tip of your ear is not fun with a broken collarbone.

    I learned that my hair was versatile. One day it could be flippy and kind of cute. Another day I had super flat hair. Not as cute.

    My hair stylist was funny and handsome. We laughed a lot, but sometimes I was grouchy. Really grouchy.

    “Babe, it’s sticking up like a rooster tail in back.”

    “My scalp is smoking. Can you turn the heat down?”

    These were reasonable requests, but when I dipped into “that” tone I was really saying: I want to do things by myself. I’m tired of hurting when I move.

    What my husband might have heard is: You’re not appreciated. You can’t do it right.

    Though I should have been grateful, my frustration and pain opened the door to momentary ingratitude — and I walked through it.

    In Lamentations 3, Solomon shares a long list of complaints. Suddenly, in the midst of his diatribe, his words take a drastic turn.

    God’s love never ceases.

    His mercies are without end; they start new every morning.

    God is faithful.

    We don’t know what caused Solomon to take a U‑turn, but there are times when I sense God asking me to stop and consider where ingratitude is taking me.

    Ingratitude has the power to lead us down a road we aren’t intended to travel. It affects our closest relationships as others try to figure out how to change so we can be happy. Ingratitude blinds us to the good around us, while we are hyper‑focused on what we wish were different. It bleeds into our attitudes, which impacts anyone who accidently gets in the way. Ingratitude tries to overshadow the way we see our lives, even the really good parts.

    Stopping to consider what we are thankful for is a course corrector.

    We aren’t asked to pretend that there aren’t challenges, but to tackle them as we address the real need (which is a beautiful, strong response). The situation may be the same, but we are free to put our toes on a new path and spiritually and emotionally take a step in a different direction.

    When I look back at the six weeks that I slept in a recliner, typed with one hand and wore several different hairstyles created by Mr. Richard, I also see a sweet guy standing behind me with an earnest look on his face, saying, “What will Mr. Richard create today?”

    I can’t help but be grateful for that, or will I?

    Heavenly Father, I’ve been so focused on my temporary situation that I forgot to say thank You. Thank You for the people who show up. Thank You for laughter. Thank You that You are a safe place where I can share my feelings and needs. Thank You that Your mercies show up new every single day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 36:5, “Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” (NIV) Psalm 106:1, “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Intentional gratitude means stopping whatever you are saying or doing to take inventory.

    Think of three people for whom you are thankful. Tell that person. Whisper thanks to God. Let gratitude redirect your heart and day.

    © 2016 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • But Lord, I Can't DO That!

    But Lord, I Can't DO That! by Lysa TerKeurst

    “Moses said to the LORD, ‘Pardon your servant, LORD. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’” Exodus 4:10 (NIV)

    Insecurities. We all have them.

    These qualities about ourselves that make us lack confidence or assurance can be a positive call to action to make healthy changes in our lives.

    But insecurities can also hold us back from stepping into the assignments God calls us to.

    That’s exactly what happened in the place where we find Moses in our key verse today.

    Moses knew with absolute certainty what God was calling Him to do. God had confirmed it by speaking to him audibly through a burning bush telling him, “to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt ” (Exodus 3:10b, NIV).

    And Moses knew exactly what to say, what God planned to do, that God would be with him, and that God would provide for them with plunder from the Egyptians.

    So, what could possibly hold him back when things seemed so very clear?

    It was the same thing that might be holding you and me back at times.

    Moses doubted God had created him for the calling God gave him.

    In Exodus 4:10 Moses says to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, LORD. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

    The Lord comes back with very strong words to Moses, “Who gave human beings their mouths? … Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (v. 4:11a and 4:12)

    When we doubt we have what it takes for us to do what God calls us to do, we are doubting His creative abilities. He knew from the beginning of time what He would call you to do and therefore how you would need to be formed. God does everything with purpose and precision.

    The exact way He made you is in keeping with how He will use you.

    Trust this. Embrace this. Even if you don’t know all the details of your calling quite yet, thank God for making you perfectly equipped for your assignments ahead.

    And when insecurities start to make you doubt, flip it around and say, “God, I may doubt myself. But I will not doubt You. So, I will let Your perfection override my feelings of imperfection and do what You instruct me.”

    Heavenly Father, I confess that all too often I doubt I have what it takes to do the things You have called me to do. Remind me I have been perfectly equipped for the assignments You have given me. Help me not to doubt. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (NIV)

    Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What assignments from God are you currently trying to ignore? Does your hesitancy to obey have anything to do with insecurity? Prayerfully ask God to give you one step of obedience you can take today as you place your confidence in Him.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • What Got in Your Way?

    What Got in Your Way? by Nicki Koziarz

    “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

    I have this little issue. My husband calls it a perspective issue. I’m sure a licensed counselor would call it something fancier.

    Here’s the problem …

    I pretty much think every craft project I want to work on will take about five minutes to complete and will cost around $5. I have great ideas! They come to me all day. And then I start to move forward with those ideas because, again, in my head it’s simple: 5 dollars, 5 minutes.

    Most of the time my optimistic attitude is a great thing.

    But when the project becomes more than I originally thought, my perspective suddenly twists to one of “It’s impossible!” and I become a quitter.

    Can you relate?

    Maybe you had a dream in your heart. You started to pursue it and then … the kids, the marriage, the bills and a million other “the’s” got in the way. I believe people quit things every day without even realizing it. And then the days turn to weeks, weeks to months, months to years and then one day we look back and wonder if it’s too late.

    But here’s why I love today’s verse in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” It reminds me God is still able to accomplish anything in my life, as long as I stay open to His movement.

    There are things God wants to accomplish in and through your life. Plans that are still in place and waiting to prevail.

    I wonder if God is prompting us to ask the question: What got in the way?

    God doesn’t meet us at perfected completion; He meets us wherever we are in our process toward His promise. And sometimes in order to meet us, He needs to reveal the areas where we have allowed our perspective to get clouded.

    The past few months I’ve been brushing off some things I quit. With God’s help, I’ve allowed my perspective to be changed, shifted and refined. And through this process I realized that even when my own efforts (or lack of efforts) fail, God’s efforts don’t.

    I returned to a few passions, a few desires and a few purposes. All these years I’ve been asking God for “a new this” and “a new that” and it was as if He revealed to me I couldn’t get there until He found me faithful here. It’s like a fresh perspective within the same purpose.

    Because what He’s already purposed for my life will still prevail.

    I’m not a quitter.

    And neither are you.

    Just because it looked like it was over the first time, the second time or even the third time, doesn’t mean it’s finished. It just means something got in your way, but now you’re picking it back up.

    When our tiniest efforts meet God’s supernatural grace, we begin to experience the blessing of God’s plans prevailing in our lives.

    Lord, thank You for the grace You give us when we pick things up again. Help me to be a woman who doesn’t give up on the commitments I’ve made to You or others. I want to see Your plans prevail in my life. Show me what has gotten in the way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good‚ for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Is there something you quit that you feel God leading you to pick back up?

    Identify what got in your way and ask God for wisdom and direction. Share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section!

    © 2016 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

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

  • Letter from Holley Gerth

    Hello, friend!

    Since I first wrote my book You’re Already Amazing, almost one hundred thousand women have accepted my dare to embrace who they are and become all God created them to be. As I connected with many of them as an author, life coach, and speaker, I often heard women say they wanted more ways to apply the message in deeper ways or wanted to do the book as a study at church or with friends but weren’t sure how. You're Already Amazing That’s why I’m so thrilled to be bringing you the You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide and DVD. It builds on the foundation of You’re Already Amazing by giving you everything you need to do the book as a group study. It also offers brand-new concepts, bonus material and activities you won’t find anywhere else, and even more ways to apply the message so you feel like you have your own personal life coach every step of the way. This study won’t just give you more information—it will lead to true transformation.

    You really can know who God created you to be and what he’s called you to do, and you really can have a realistic plan for pursuing his purpose for you. I know that’s true because I’ve already seen thousands of women’s lives changed in powerful ways. Now it’s your turn.

    If you’d like to join me, check out a sample of the LifeGrowth Guide and videos online. Then perhaps gather a few friends (and your favorite coffee, tea, or other treats!) and get ready to embrace this life-changing truth—that you truly are already amazing!

    Cheering you on, Holley Gerth

  • How to Leave A Legacy of Love

    How to Leave A Legacy of Love by Perry Noble

    “Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14 (NIV)

    Our world is confused about love — what true love is and how it makes a difference. Too many of us have equated love with a feeling and based it on emotion. The only problem with that is as soon as the feeling is gone, the love follows. We’ve made it flowery and feeble when it’s actually the greatest gift that God gave us! (1 Corinthians 13:13)

    If we step back and look at the bigger picture of what love is — what God created it to be — it changes everything.

    The thing I’m realizing about life is no matter where you are or what season you’re walking through, you’ll find yourself in spaces that require you to lead, which come hand‐in‐hand with challenges to love.

    Career changes, new life phases — whatever it may be, we all get thrown into situations where we have to make decisions and choose to grow in who we are and how we love.

    The key to leadership is love, so I want to make sure that as I go through life, I leave traces of love behind me. Like our key verse says, I want to “Do everything in love.” I’ve been thinking about what that looks like in everyday life, and here are three ways each of us can leave a legacy of love:

    1. Seize opportunities to lead. No matter who you are or what you do, you are a leader.

    It’s hard for a lot of people to wrap their minds around that. They think they are too quiet or too loud, too unique or too ordinary, too opinionated or too meek, and the list goes on. The fact is God uniquely designed each of us with gifts and abilities to lead and love others. That includes YOU!

    • If you’re a mom, you are a leader to your kids.
    • If you’re the boss at work, you are a leader of your organization.
    • If you’re a student, you are a leader at your school.

    If we want to leave legacies of love, we need to welcome these opportunities and love the people who come along with them.

    2. Understand the power of your words. How different could our relationships look if we just committed to saying positive things like “thank you” and “great job” more often? A LOT.

    Our words carry more weight than we know.

    As leaders, our words can speak life into the people around us if we’re willing to run them through a filter of love. This doesn’t mean that we have to sugarcoat everything or shy away from the truth. It simply means we should be slow to critique and quick to compliment.

    3. Commit to helping others succeed. If I am successful in life, then good for me. But if those around me are successful? THAT will define me as a leader. It will be the legacy I leave.

    Our friends, coworkers, spouses and kids won’t remember us for what we accomplish, but instead what we helped them to accomplish and how we cheered them on along the way.

    They’ll remember how we loved them.

    I SERIOUSLY want everyone around me to live a life that exceeds their dreams as they become who God created them to be. That’s why I’m committed to seeing the people around me reach their goals.

    When people in our lives know we have their best interest at heart, they can trust us. That trust allows them to experience what true, unconditional love feels like — that love leaves a legacy!

    So as you go about your day, do everything in love. When you’re shuttling your kids around, do everything in love. When you’re at your job, do everything in love. When you’re taking care of small details you’re convinced no one will ever notice, do everything in love.

    When you model what you consider important, those around you take notice. Celebrate love. Display it. The most lasting thing we can do with our lives and leadership is to love because love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). That’s why leaders who love are leaders who leave a legacy.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for lovingly leading us. Help us to love and lead others in a way that honors You and leaves a legacy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (NIV)

    1 Corinthians 13:8a, “Love never fails.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What opportunity could you seize right now to take a step toward leaving a legacy of love?

    © 2016 by Perry Noble. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Tyndale for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

  • I Still Love You, Lord

    I Still Love You, Lord by Tracie Miles

    “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 (NLT)

    The last few months have been one of the hardest seasons I’ve ever experienced. A situation in my personal life went haywire and left me with an aching heart.

    There have been days when I didn’t know if I could get through. Days when God’s strength and my faith were the only reasons I got out of bed. Days filled with “whys.” Days when I’ve questioned God about suffering, the unfairness of life at times and unanswered prayers. I’ve carried the weight of a myriad of overwhelming emotions, fear and heartache.

    If I’m honest, I can’t say I’ve felt thankful for my circumstances or focused on God’s promise of having a plan and a purpose for everything. I can say I have been upset with God at times, questioning His ways and feeling discouraged, fearful and down.

    Yet recently in the midst of an especially trying day, my heart was changed during a time of prayer. I heard myself say something that caught me off guard. It was just one simple statement consisting of five simple words that rolled effortlessly off of my lips:

    I still love You, Lord.

    Even though my mind was swirling with hurt and negative thoughts, my heart was swirling with love for God, even when I wasn’t really thinking about it. I realized I loved Him unconditionally, even though in that moment I had felt forgotten. I experienced a surge of peace and relief, prompting me to trust God’s ways, and then today’s key verse came to mind.

    Romans 5:8 reminds us of this beautiful, holy love which is not based on us meeting certain conditions, adhering to strict rules or proving our worthiness. A love we are blessed with simply because of who He is. It’s not because of who we are, but because of what He’s done for us, not because of anything we do for Him. It’s a love we don’t deserve, but enjoy nonetheless.

    When life is good, it’s easy and natural to love the Lord. But when life falls apart unexpectedly, it’s not quite so easy. In fact, it might even feel impossible. Those thoughts and doubts don’t make us a bad person or a failure at being a believer; they merely make us human.

    The upside is these thoughts can force us to ask ourselves a really hard question: Despite everything — will I still love Jesus with my whole heart, soul and mind?

    Our honest answer to this question serves as an indicator of whether we love the Lord all the time, or just in the good times — when He gives, and when He takes away, when He answers our deepest prayers, or when it seems He isn’t listening at all.

    Maybe you can relate to the emotions and feelings I’ve been experiencing. Maybe you are facing a difficult time, an undeserved hurt or a painful loss. Maybe you’ve been wondering if God hears your prayers, or if He has forgotten you. Maybe you’ve doubted if He loves you, and if you could still love Him, in the face of your hardships.

    Sweet friend, you are not alone.

    Even the most faithful followers of Jesus have times when they find themselves doubting not only His love during difficult times, but maybe even His existence. Times when they wonder if His love is meant for them, or just everyone else. The truth is, those thoughts are from the enemy who wants to cloud our minds, make us bitter and pull us away from God. But Scripture tells us God sent His Son to die for us, even though we were still sinners, because He loves us unconditionally.

    This brief encounter with God helped me refocus on how blessed I am to have His love, especially when life isn’t perfect.

    God’s love is unconditional, with no strings attached. I’m so thankful for His gentle whisper on that particular day which reminded me how important it is to love Him unconditionally in return.

    Dear Lord, forgive me for doubting Your ways or Your love for me. Fill me with peace and joy. Equip me to focus on Your everlasting love, push past my doubts and love You unconditionally despite my circumstances. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Jeremiah 31:3b, “… I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (NIV)

    Job 1:21b, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (NIV)

    1 John 4:9‑10, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What’s one thing causing you to doubt God’s love for you? How might focusing on how much He loves you unconditionally change your heart and attitude?

    Repeat these words daily as much as needed: I still love You, Lord.

    © 2016 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

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…to look after orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27
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