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Author Archives: Family Christian

  • Our Wedding Night Changed Our Marriage

    Kim Kimberling JULY 28, 2015

    Our Wedding Night Changed Our Marriage KIM KIMBERLING, PH.D.

    "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31 (NIV)

    When I tell people that my wife Nancy and I have been married 45 years, I almost always hear "Wow!" and "That’s great." I appreciate those comments, but where we are today has been a journey. We didn’t have an awesome marriage for a very long time.

    In fact, starting out as barely 20-year-olds, we really had no idea what marriage was all about. Our fights almost did our marriage in before it began. After six years of marriage, the future was dark, we had a new baby and we needed a miracle.

    Of all the things we did wrong, there is one thing we did right. I wish I could say I brought it to the marriage, but I didn’t. Nancy did.

    Let me paint a picture for you.

    On our wedding night after we left the reception and finally made it to our hotel room, Nancy made a request of me that God has used in our marriage since that day.

    As we got ready for bed, Nancy went into the bathroom to change. I changed in about 30 seconds and waited for her sitting on the side of the bed. An eternity later, she emerged from the bathroom looking like an angel. She walked over to me, took my hand, sat beside me on the bed, looked into my eyes and said, "We need to pray."

    In case you were wondering, that was the last thing I thought my new bride would say to me in that moment. But the real surprise was that I looked her back in the eyes and said, "OK."

    We knelt by the bed in our hotel room, held hands and prayed a prayer we both knew and were comfortable praying together: The Lord’s Prayer.

    Since that first night many years ago, we have prayed together almost every day. Through all the ups and downs of life and marriage, praying together daily is the glue God has used over and over to keep us close to Him.

    During the darkest times in our marriage, as we continued to pray together, we saw God show up over and over to keep us together.

    First, God used an older lady in our church to minister to Nancy. As Nancy shared our story, this wise woman lovingly encouraged Nancy to stay in the marriage and that God would make something beautiful out of it.

    Second, as we continued to talk about our marriage and our struggles, it became obvious that neither one of us really wanted a divorce.

    Finally, we made a vow never to bring up divorce again and to let God build our marriage His way.

    As we purposely put God first each day, our marriage began to change. It was not overnight; in fact, it was a process that continues to this day. But God taught us how to fight for our marriage instead of fighting each other. It was marriage-changing.

    We learned to stand side by side with God and take on anything and everything that the world threw at us. We learned firsthand that if God is for us no one can ever stand against us (Romans 8:31b). It is a truth that I pray every married couple can embrace because it is a truth that will close the gap between where your marriage is and where God wants it to be.

    Father, You truly are the Great Healer. I pray that I may see Your plan for my marriage. Make the changes You want to make in me. In us. I pray to be so connected to You and my spouse that we may stand together against all that would come against our marriage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 17:15, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Dr. Kim Kimberling’s new book, 7 Secrets to an Awesome Marriage: Strengthen Your Most Intimate Relationship, will help you have the marriage God designed for you.

    For lots of great free resources for your marriage, click here.

    Enter to WIN a copy of 7 Secrets to an Awesome Marriage by Dr. Kim Kimberling. In celebration of this book, Dr. Kim’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, August 3.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Today, where is God in your marriage?

    If God is not the center of your marriage, what needs to be your next step? It may be praying together on a regular basis, or talking to a trusted mentor. If you and your spouse need further help, it may be time to talk to your pastor or a Christian counselor.

    Whatever your next step is, do it today! It will make a difference in your marriage tomorrow.

    © 2015 by Kim Kimberling, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Zondervan for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

  • How Long Until Naptime?

    Whitney Capps JULY 27, 2015

    How Long Until Naptime? WHITNEY CAPPS

    "Relent, LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:13-14 (NIV)

    A wise friend told me once that in parenting the days are long, but the years are short. At the time I had three little boys at home, ages 5, 4 and 2. I was in the midst of long days. I woke up to the sound of little people; it was a steady soundtrack throughout my day:

    "Mommy, I need …"

    "Mommy, can we …"

    "Mommy, he just …"

    I had a soundtrack playing in my head, too: "How long, Oh Lord? How long until naptime?"

    It’s a paraphrase of Moses’ words from today’s key passage from Psalm 90. Moses was pleading with the Lord for relief. He was pleading with the Lord for rest. That’s a prayer we parents know all too well.

    Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Moses gives us valuable insight for how to punctuate these desperate, quiet groanings: "Satisfy us in the morning."

    Satisfaction from the Lord is not just what I want, it’s what I need. Because, let’s be real, not much is going to change in my day-to-day activities.

    Feeding kids. Running errands. Wiping faces and bottoms. Checking homework. Driving carpool. Scrubbing toilets. In the midst of all of that (and your list looks similar, right?) we need the Lord to satisfy us, feed us and make us full before life empties us.

    Moses knew about the Lord’s daily satisfaction. Each morning, the Israelites would arise and gather enough manna for the day. They were fed, filled and satisfied each morning by the Lord’s supernatural provision of food in their desert wanderings.

    They were not permitted to gather extra. They couldn’t store it up for the next day. The Israelites were given just enough for the day in front of them. God’s satisfaction was immediate and effective, but just for today’s demands. Tomorrow would have fresh bread for the gathering.

    We read in Deuteronomy 8:3b how Moses told the Israelites that the real message of the manna was that they were not satisfied by the bread but "on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD" (NIV).

    Moses, a man who knew a thing or two about dealing with demanding, whiny, difficult people, knew that the Word of the Lord would give him hope for the day’s struggles. God’s Word would give him patience as he waited. God’s Word would help him worship. God’s Word would turn his eyes from his day’s circumstances and fix them instead on the character of his Lord.

    It’s an ambitious prayer. It’s a prayer that believes God’s Word is powerful — and every bit as powerful as the God who breathed it. I believe it’s that powerful. Do you?

    It’s okay if you’re not sure. It’s okay if you’ve never really experienced its power. But can I ask you to try again? God’s Word has really, truly changed my days.

    Sometimes it’s overwhelming to know where to start. I understand. I used to kind of do the "flip and dip" approach to reading my Bible. You know, flip it open and dip in, hoping something sticks. For me, that was terribly inconsistent and frustrating.

    What worked was reading a small portion of the Bible every day. Like the Israelites received the Lord’s satisfying care every day, that’s just what I needed, too.

    I didn’t need to read chapters and chapters to sustain me for the week. I just needed my daily portion.

    And just like the Lord was faithful to the Israelites, He is faithful today to all who turn to Him. Amazingly, God’s Word sustains me through each day so I can make one more sandwich, drive to one more practice and read one more bedtime story … with a smile.

    Oh Lord, I feel like I run on empty. I need to be filled, but sometimes I try to fill myself with rest, television, social media or food. Nothing fills and prepares me for today’s demands like Your Word. Help me feast daily on the bread You have provided in Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Nehemiah 9:20-21, "You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen." (NIV)

    Proverbs 30:8, "Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Transform your time with God and download The First 5 app for free! First 5 is now available and we’d love for you to join us as we start our very first study in the book of John!

    Continue your journey with the book of John Experience Guide. The Experience Guide is designed to accompany each day’s teaching and grow your faith, as you reflect, respond and learn what makes the book of John so unique. Purchase yours today!

    Visit Whitney Capps’ blog to receive practical tips on how to let the Word of God shape your day.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What activity fills your "free time" but rarely fills your heart?

    What is usually the first thing that grabs your attention in the morning? Do those thoughts shape your day?

    © 2015 by Whitney Capps. All rights reserved.

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

  • How to Finally Stop Procrastinating

    Glynnis Whitwer JULY 24, 2015

    How to Finally Stop Procrastinating GLYNNIS WHITWER

    "The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing, while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied." Proverbs 13:4 (NRSV)

    My husband and I used to laugh and say if it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done. Then we’d stay up all night to finish a project due the next day, or make the whole family stressed because of our stress. It wasn’t funny.

    I laughed it off at the time because I didn’t really think it was a problem. Everyone procrastinates on something, I reasoned. Plus, what more could I do? The problem certainly wasn’t with me.

    On the surface, there were always reasons why I couldn’t get everything done. Good, solid reasons. Like I’d taken on too much work. Or my family needs were too demanding. And the technology which should have made my life easier, actually made it harder sometimes. Who couldn’t understand that? I reassured myself.

    Then faced with a deadline, I snapped at everyone, stayed up late and rushed to finish what needed to be done. Consequently, everything suffered. My family was shortchanged, my work was sub-par and I became a person I didn’t like very much.

    Those issues affecting me were all legitimate. But there was still another issue afoot. One that took some soul searching to identify. And that was an internal desire for ease rather than challenge.

    This truth about myself hit hard when I read Proverbs 13:4, today’s key verse: "The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing, while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied."

    At first, I didn’t think this verse applied to me. How could I be lazy when I’m always busy?

    In fact, I didn’t know any woman around me who was lazy. So why did we all tend to complain about not being able to get important things done?

    But then it hit me, faced with a choice between two tasks, my tendency is to choose whichever seems easier. I tend to put off what’s difficult until I "feel more like it." But that day never comes because I never feel like organizing my tax information or tackling projects that highlight my weak areas.

    So my days were filled, but filled with less challenging work.

    And my to-do list got longer, overflowing with tasks and projects I’d much rather avoid. The crazy thing is I will even avoid good things if I think it will make me address an issue I’d rather not face … like clothes shopping and having to admit my size isn’t what it once was.

    Eventually I got around to doing my work, but usually with a wrong heart, with a shadow of the quality I could produce or with so much frustration that it affected everything else. Some fabulous opportunities I just abandoned, because how could I follow a dream if I couldn’t even keep my kitchen counters clear?

    I even realized I was disobedient to God in some areas. Of course, they were the hard things God asked me to do. I’d much rather obey God in the easy areas … but step out and take a risk? I’ll do that another day, thank you very much.

    Sometimes an "aha" moment is exactly what we need to change. When I realized my tendency to avoid discomfort, to choose ease over challenge, I felt like I could finally address my procrastination.

    Each time I caught myself thinking "I’ll do that later," I tried to identify my resistance for each task and face it. It wasn"t always easy, because my reasons for procrastinating were often complicated and overlapping. Like when my perfectionist tendencies collided with my fear of failure.

    But each time I addressed my resistance, and didn’t give in to it, I got stronger. It’s just like going to the gym and lifting weights. It might hurt, but the only way to strengthen anything is to face resistance.

    God’s Word did reveal a lazy tendency in me. And honestly, it’s still there. But with His help, I’m not avoiding it any more. And with His strength in me, I can face it and get more of the right things done.

    Procrastination is not a label of failure. Only a sign that God’s got more work to do in me. And that is great news!

    Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me and seeing my potential in spite of my many weaknesses. My heart longs to follow You with abandon, but my flesh is weak. Help me trust You more as I step into areas that are uncomfortable. I need Your bravery and strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Hebrews 12:11, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Glynnis Whitwer’s new book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, (releasing in August and available to pre-order today!) will help you get more of the right things done by facing your resistance to unpleasant tasks and overcoming them. This book will also be our next P31 Online Bible Study, kicking off in early September.

    As a thank you for pre-ordering Taming the To-Do List, Glynnis has prepared a bonus PDF titled "5 Habits of Women Who Get Things Done." Click here to pre-order your copy and the first 2,000 books ordered will receive an autographed copy.

    Visit Glynnis’ blog for more encouragement to overcome procrastination.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What tasks do you tend to avoid most?

    What resistance are you facing for these dreaded tasks? Identify it and decide you won’t let it stop you.

    © 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Giving My First Moments to God

    Lysa TerKeurst JULY 23, 2015

    Giving My First Moments to God LYSA TERKEURST

    "Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." Psalm 86:11 (NIV)

    It is very early in the morning. Though my body begs me to go back to sleep, my soul stirs to get up and talk with Jesus.

    And though I can’t physically see Him, I know He is present.

    I open my Bible to the book of Psalms and pray through the verses I read to start my day. The more I do this, the less I hear the ongoing naggings of this world. A beautiful melody of God’s truth rises up and my worries fade in their light.

    His perspective on what troubles me overshadows my anxiety. This time alone with God prepares me for what I will need throughout the day. He’s equipping me to handle what is ahead with His gentle boldness, quiet strength and loving grace.

    In Psalm 81:10b, God instructs me, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." (NIV)

    He will give me what to say. What to say in happy moments and in aggravating moments. What to say when I feel insecure and what to say when I am confident.

    He also reminds me that sometimes it is good to keep my mouth closed and say nothing at all.

    Psalm 84:1 reminds me that God’s dwelling place is lovely. So I ask for Him to dwell in me richly. I want it to be evident that I’m a girl who spends time with Jesus and that He’s working on me — shifting a wrong attitude, guarding my words and whispering constant truths into my heart.

    Psalm 86:11 prompts me to ask, "Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name" (NIV).

    Each of these verses leads my morning prayer:

    Lord, may nothing separate me from You today. Teach me how to choose only Your way today so each step will lead me closer to You. Help me walk by Your Word and not my feelings.

    Help me to keep my heart pure and undivided. Protect me from my own careless thoughts, words and actions. And keep me from being distracted by MY wants, MY desires, MY thoughts on how things should be.

    Help me to embrace what comes my way as an opportunity … rather than a personal inconvenience.

    And finally, help me to rest in the truth of Psalm 86:13, "Great is your love toward me" (NIV).

    You already see the ways I will fall short and mess up. But right now, I consciously tuck Your whisper of absolute love for me into the deepest part of my heart. I recognize Your love for me is not based on my performance. You love me … shortcomings and all.

    That’s amazing.

    But what’s most amazing is that the Savior of the world would desire a few minutes with me this morning. Lord, help me to forever remember what a gift it is to sit with You like this. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    I’m now ready to face today. Armed with truth. Surrounded by love. Filled with gratitude.

    Dear Lord, I love You. All that I’ve expressed above is the desire of my heart. I confess that sometimes my actions and reactions betray my love for You. Please forgive me. Thank You for Your grace that is able to recognize this new day as a new chance to walk closer with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Imagine how different our days would be if we exchanged whispers with God before shouts with the world. The First 5 app is now available and will help you give God your first thoughts, by giving Him your first 5 minutes. Download it today for free!

    As a gift to you, we’ll be live-streaming a special message from Lysa TerKeurst at our She Speaks Conference on Friday, July 24. For more information, visit our website to watch Lysa’s message for free.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Challenge yourself to wake up a few minutes earlier this week to spend time with God. Soak in these moments and see how pausing for just a few extra minutes each day helps prepare you for all that will come your way.

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • My Relationship with My Stuff

    Amy Carroll JULY 22, 2015

    My Relationship with My Stuff AMY CARROLL

    "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35 (NIV)

    This morning I stood in my closet and considered all the multiples — multiple shoes, multiple scarves and multiple purses. Too much stuff!

    How have I gotten to this place again with a collection of more than I need? The most honest answer is that I use my things to define myself. I think my "perfect" purse makes me seem more perfect. I believe my cool shoes transfer their vibe to my persona. I hope my trendy scarf affirms my relevance.

    It’s time to clean out! Not only do I not need so much, but years ago I learned a memorable lesson about the soul-cleansing power of simplifying. I learned it while visiting a humble, cinder-block house in the mountains of Ecuador.

    Early on a Sunday morning, the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team and our local hosts loaded into buses that drove us out of the large capital city of Quito, into the gorgeous countryside and up the mountains.

    As the bus rounded a corner on the twisting mountain road, a stucco church with a red-tiled roof came into view. Our group clambered down the steps and walked toward the church flanked on either side by two rows of stunning, dark-haired, dark-eyed children clad in heavily embroidered clothing. Once their shyness melted away, these darling children climbed onto our laps and held our hands throughout the entire worship service.

    When the sermon ended, our team split into pairs to visit with the children in their homes. Our guides explained that their beautiful faces might cause us to overlook the harsh reality of their lives. So, with groceries in hand for the families, we set out to visit their homes and see their true living conditions.

    One of the mothers, Dolores, greeted us and invited us into her home to meet her family. Her husband, a builder working in Quito, wasn’t there that day, but evidently they had a loving relationship when he was home … he and Dolores had filled their tiny space with seven children!

    The home was tidy, but the floors were bare dirt and plastic sheeting served as a ceiling. There was running water and electricity but no appliances in the kitchen. The only sign of food was a small stack of maize in the corner. In the bedroom, we saw two beds for the whole family, and though we knew the mountain nights and winters to be cold, I didn’t see a furnace or any indication that the house was heated. Even so, it was obvious that Dolores was proud of her well-built home and of the hours her faithful husband had spent building it for their family. She glowed as she described the care and craftsmanship he invested for them.

    As we prepared to leave, my team partner asked Dolores a pivotal question: "Dolores," she began. "How can we pray for you and your family? What is your greatest need?"

    While we waited for the interpreter, I took a mental assessment of Dolores’ many needs. But my mouth hung open as I listened to her response: "My greatest need is to be able to teach my children about Jesus so they will follow the Lord all the days of their lives." Tears filled my eyes as my heart absorbed the lesson this Ecuadorian woman in humble circumstances taught me.

    Dolores’ prayer request revealed that her deepest desire isn’t for the perfect house or the signature outfit. She values relationships — with God and others — more than material things.

    That experience impressed this truth upon my heart: God created us for connecting, not collecting.

    As I clean out my closet, I want to value the same thing Dolores values. I vow to hold my "stuff" loosely and be defined by the closeness of my relationships.

    Lord, forgive me for my defining relationship with stuff. I want to be defined by You and my love for others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Philippians 2:3, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Learn to value relationships over resources in Amy Carroll’s brand new book, Breaking Up with Perfect: Kiss Perfection Good-Bye and Embrace the Joy God Has in Store for You.

    Amy invites you to visit her blog today where she’s giving away a copy of her book Breaking Up with Perfect and a beautiful sign that says, "God created us for connecting, not collecting."

    You can also sign up for "Five Days to Himperfection," five devotions and freebies centered around ending the exhausting pursuit of perfection by clicking here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What material things have you used to define yourself? Your house? Your clothes? Your car?

    What do you have that you could give to bless someone else, build relationships or help you start to redefine yourself by love rather than by what you own?

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Why It’s Good to Be Bold

    Liz Curtis Higgs JULY 21, 2015

    Why It’s Good to Be Bold LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

    "Since we have such a hope, we are very bold." 2 Corinthians 3:12 (ESV)

    I’m a take-charge chick, so I always thought boldness was a good thing. Fearless, confident, adventurous? Yes, please. But when I asked a roomful of sisters in Christ, "Who wants to be bold?" only a few hands shot up.

    Uh-oh.

    Later, I chatted with some women in the audience, hoping to find out why boldness held little appeal to them. One told me, "I don’t want to seem pushy." Another said, "I’m too shy for that." And a third added, "I’m afraid I’ll come off as arrogant."

    Ah. Now I get it. When we go bold on our own, it can look pretty ugly. Demanding, controlling, my-way-or-the-highway. That’s not what we’re shooting for. A steamroller approach doesn’t honor God and seldom gets the job done. We don’t want to flatten people; we want to lift them up.

    It’s time for boldness to get a makeover, because His Word shows us it’s good to be bold.

    When the queen of Sheba challenged King Solomon to a battle of wits, she was decidedly bold. No other monarch in Scripture dared question the wisest man on earth. Others came simply to hear Solomon’s wisdom; Sheba came to test it.

    After Solomon answered every one of her difficult questions, Sheba confessed, "But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes," (1 Kings 10:7a, NIV). She came, she saw, she conquered her doubts, and in the end found what she was searching for: a God infinitely bolder than she was.

    Queen Esther demonstrated great boldness when she approached the throne of King Xerxes, saying, "I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish," (Esther 4:16b, NIV). What a role model for women in every century! Before she put her life on the line to save her people, she wisely asked them to fast and pray, that she might be given favor by the king.

    Boldness can be a risky business, but only if we do it on our own. When the Lord leads the way, we can follow Him without fear, knowing the outcome is always in His capable hands.

    Queens aren’t the only bold souls in Scripture.

    When the disciples prepared to share the gospel, they prayed, "Enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness," (Acts 4:29b, NIV). They knew they couldn’t drum up boldness on their own, so they called on God to help them be unafraid and unapologetic.

    The Lord quickly answered the disciples’ prayer: "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly," (Acts 4:31b, NIV). Boldness is really about God, then, and not about us. Rather than a personality trait, it’s an attribute of the Holy Spirit.

    Even if we don’t have a leadership role like Sheba or Esther, we can be bold because of the One who empowers us. When God resides in us and works through us, His strength sustains us. As our key verse today says, "Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold."

    What might boldness look like in our day-to-day lives?

    Starting a home Bible study and inviting neighbors who don’t know God. Praying with a stranger who has just shared her struggles with you. Visiting a women’s prison with a group from your church and sharing God’s love.

    When we let His boldness pour through us, we’ll discover, "He crowns the humble with victory," (Psalm 149:4b, NIV). God gives us a different sort of crown from the queen of Sheba’s gold one, but it shines far brighter. And it shines forever.

    Heavenly Father, I want to do bold things for You, but fear of others often gets in the way. Help me care more about serving You than pleasing people. When I hold back, nudge me forward. When I get scared, banish my fears with the assurance of Your love. Strengthen my heart and mind so I can boldly share Your truth with those who are hurting. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 28:1, "The righteous are as bold as a lion." (NIV)

    1 Corinthians 16:13, "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Liz Curtis Higgs’ new book, It’s Good to Be Queen, releases today and explores how you can become as bold, gracious and wise as the queen of Sheba.

    Study the Bible each week with Liz! Sign up for her Wednesday posts by clicking here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Being bold doesn’t need to come naturally. In fact, it’s more effective when it comes supernaturally.

    What person or situation in your life could benefit from your boldness — humbly sharing the good news of God’s forgiveness or speaking a hard truth in love? Ask God right now for the courage to move forward.

    © 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Value of Showing Up for a Friend

    Natalie Snapp JULY 20, 2015

    The Value of Showing Up for a Friend Natalie Chambers Snapp

    "When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words." Job 2:12-13 (NLT)

    "I just needed her, that’s all," she said with tears streaming down her face. "She didn’t have to do anything or say anything — I just wanted her to sit with me for a while."

    My new friend described the pain of a missing friend, someone she loved, but who was nowhere to be found when her own life fell apart. She was having trouble forgiving her friend for what felt like abandonment.

    My friend was not alone in needing her friend. A man named Job, whose story is recorded in the Bible, also needed his friends in the midst of deep heartache.

    Job lost most of his family and earthly possessions. When three of his friends heard the news, they went to offer comfort, support and encouragement simply by showing up. Scripture tells us (as we see in our key verse) they sat with him for seven days and nights and didn’t say a word. Can you imagine?

    They showed up and were present at a time when Job felt beaten down and alone.

    So often, I’m afraid to show up when I know someone is hurting because I worry too much about the "what ifs." What if I say something insensitive? What if their pain triggers something in me? What if it will require more time and energy than I want to give? Ugly, but true, concerns.

    We live in a busy and fast culture of appointments, family activities and other obligations that can dictate our time and energy if we allow.

    Running at full speed keeps us from slowing down enough to walk with the hurting. We live a distracted, but less compassionate, life when we have so much going on that we fail to see the needs around us — and I know I’m guilty.

    When we close the door on distractions, we open the door to hearing from God because if we’re constantly plugged-in, it becomes harder to unplug.

    And it’s true we can utter words that will come off as insensitive but it’s what we do after we say those insensitive words that matters most. A heartfelt apology goes a long way. So does a simple "I don’t know the right words to say, but I’m here for you."

    After seven days, Job broke the silence by lamenting to his friends and wondering why such pain was happening in his life. Yet sadly, all three of his friends followed with thoughts that were less than encouraging.

    However, later in Job 32, his friend Elihu stepped in and spoke truth. He lovingly pointed out that Job was not without sin but these trials were not happening because of his sin. Then, he spoke soft truth and reminded them all that "God is greater than any human being" (Job 33:12b, NLT).

    Friends speak soft truth — even when the truth is hard. They also show up, stay in the game and offer love for those who are hurting.

    In other words, their presence is the present — a gift that will always be remembered by a hurting friend.

    Father, may I not be intimidated by the mistakes I could possibly make with a hurting friend and instead just be present for her. Help me to make time to just be there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 17:17, "A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Ever had a "friend break-up," struggled to forgive after being hurt by women or merely wished to learn how to be the best friend you can be? Pick up a copy of Heart Sisters: Be The Friend You Want To Have by Natalie Chambers Snapp today!

    If the thought of conflict makes you break into a cold sweat or you simply want to know how to biblically walk through conflict, you’re invited to join the "Five Days of Crawling Through Conflict With A Friend" Challenge. Click here for more information and to register!

    Enter to WIN a copy of Heart Sisters: Be the Friend You Want to Have. In celebration of her book, Natalie’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, July 27.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Do you have a friend who is currently hurting? What soft truth of encouragement could you offer her today? Drop her a note, send her a text or give her a call — then program a reminder in your phone or write it on your planner to do it again in a few days! Better yet, can you spend some time with her this week?

    Add your friend to your prayer list and commit to praying for her daily — and tell her you’re praying. Nothing speaks more love to a hurting person than a friend who is consistently praying for her!

    © 2015 by Natalie Chambers Snapp. All rights reserved.

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

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

  • Why I Stopped Praying Against Fear

    Julie K Gillies JULY 17, 2015

    Why I Stopped Praying Against Fear JULIE K. GILLIES

    "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

    Hi. My name is Julie. And for entirely too long my middle name might as well have been Fear.

    Fear influenced many of my decisions. Fear amplified my imagination in a bad way — I was the worst-case scenario queen. Fear even tried to prevent me from moving forward in obedience to what I sensed God calling me to do.

    So I did what any wise believer would do. I prayed. For years, I diligently prayed against fear. That God would take away my fear. That fear would leave me alone. That fear would vanish. That fear would be far from me.

    Eventually I realized those prayers would probably require me to live in a bubble, limit my interactions with people, never attempt anything that could be considered risky and quite possibly never leave my house.

    Ahem …

    But the truth is, until Christ’s return, fear will always exist on this earth. We live in a scary world where bad things happen. One look at the news headlines makes that clear.

    John 10:10 tells us that the enemy "comes only to steal and kill and destroy" (ESV). One of the primary ways he does this is through fear. The enemy’s intent is to keep our eyes riveted on our fears and stop us from trusting God. Stop us from making wise decisions. Stop us from believing things can change. Stop us from pursuing the seemingly impossible dreams in our hearts.

    It soon became clear to me that there must be a better way to pray. That praying against fear wasn’t enough, because fear still held far too much influence over me. And if God had not given me a spirit of fear, as our key verse declares, I wanted to sense a difference. I wanted to be brave and strong on the inside so fear could no longer shake me.

    So my prayers changed. Drastically. Instead of just praying against fear, I began to use God’s Word and pray for specific things. God-inspired things. Like courage and confidence and amazing peace.

    Though we might not always be fearless, by praying specifically for qualities found in God’s Word, we can fear less. If you’re battling fear on any level or in any area of your life, I’d like to invite you to do the same.

    Instead of praying that fear will be far from us, we can ask God to give us strong, bold and courageous hearts (Joshua 1:9) when fear comes near.

    Instead of asking God to take away all fear, we can ask for His grace to run toward the big, scary things with great courage (1 Samuel 17:48).

    Instead of praying that fear will leave us alone, we can pray that when we are afraid we will trust and have confidence in God (Psalm 56:3).

    Instead of asking God to make all fear in our lives vanish, we can pray that His peace which surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and supersede all fear (see Philippians 4:6-7).

    Praying this way changes us. It has changed me. I no longer make decisions based on fear. I recognize worst-case scenarios forming and instead of entertaining them I nip them in the bud. And I am moving forward in obedience to the things God has called me to do.

    God doesn’t promise to always take away all our fears. Yet He gives us the power, love and self-discipline necessary to embrace His life-changing truth. When we pray His living and active Word something amazing happens — God strengthens our hearts. He helps us trust Him, girds us with His amazing peace and enables us to move forward in courage.

    And we will fear less.

    Hi. My name is Julie. And my middle name is Brave.

    Dear God, Help me not be paralyzed by my fears, but when I am afraid, help me trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 34:4, "I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears." (NLT)

    1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Julie Gillies’ devotional, Prayers For a Woman’s Soul, will help you pray for and about yourself with topics that are relevant to you, including fear.

    Visit the Prayers For A Woman’s Soul Community Facebook Page for inspiring prayer encouragement.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Write the verse above that most resounds with you and keep it nearby. This week, every time you sense fear building in your heart, determine to pray God’s Word.

    © 2015 by Julie K. Gillies. All rights reserved.

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

  • I’m Not Hungry, But I Want To Be

    T. Suzanne Eller JULY 16, 2015

    I’m Not Hungry, But I Want To Be SUZIE ELLER

    "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus Christ throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

    I just ate a sub sandwich, whole-wheat chips and a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. If you tried to tempt me with something delicious at this moment, no matter how good it smelled, I’d probably turn you down because I’m full.

    That’s how it works in the physical realm, right? The more you eat, the fuller you become and the less you want.

    Spiritual hunger is the exact opposite. The more you eat, the hungrier you become and the more you want.

    A couple of years ago, I found myself in a spiritually dry season.

    I sat with my Bible but the words didn’t leap from the page like they once did. I prayed and a hundred other things rolled through my brain. Remember to pick up toilet paper at the grocery store. Did I pay the water bill?

    That lack of hunger made me feel a little lost. The temptation was to skip it, or breeze through it and call it a day.

    Except this one truth from Ephesians 3:20-21 kept coming to mind: We serve a God who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us.

    God longs to work within us.

    I can’t tell you why I wasn’t hungry for His Word or for prayer during that time, but I can tell you that it’s not the only time. Whether it was busyness or an attack of the enemy or just a hard place in my faith, I’ve learned that when this happens, it’s time to go "eat" some spiritual food.

    Whether I feel hungry or not.

    Stormie Omartian, whose books on prayer have reached millions, once battled anxious thoughts. A friend recommended she have a quiet time with God to soothe those thoughts. She read a chapter from the Bible in Psalms and Proverbs each morning, and then again at night. Within weeks she looked forward to her time of reflection and after several months she says, "Gradually it became God’s voice in my ear."

    The spiritual hunger principle had kicked in — the more you eat, the hungrier you become.

    If you’ve longed to connect with God and your lack of hunger has made you feel guilty or perhaps disconnected, please know that you are not alone.

    Don’t wait until you feel hungry to pray or open the Bible. God has work He desires to do within you. Thank goodness, it’s not a task. Nor is it a test that you fail.

    It’s an invitation from the God of the Universe, who adores you and desires to spend time with you.

    Consider it time with a really close friend. Stop by every day. Don’t worry about the clock. If it’s a few minutes, it’s a sacred few minutes. If those few minutes turn into something deeper, that’s beautiful too.

    Turn off distractions. If the grocery list pops into your brain, scrawl it down in your open journal and then keep feasting on your time with God.

    That dry season I encountered? It wasn’t forever.

    My lack of hunger slowly abated until I looked forward to my time with God every day. If it happens again — and it will — then I’ll take one bite, and then another. I’ll fill myself up with words from the One who can do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine.

    Heavenly Father, I’m not hungry, but I’m not going to allow my lack of hunger to keep me from Your presence. Thank You for meeting me where I am and for renewing my spirit and filling me up. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 John 2:27, "As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit — just as it has taught you, remain in him." (NIV)

    Psalm 81:10, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Could your prayer life use a little extra nourishment? You might appreciate Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado.

    Our summer Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study is covering Suzie Eller’s book, The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Contrast spiritual hunger with physical hunger. Have you been treating them the same?

    Consider ways you might start feeding your spirit. What does that look like for you?

    © 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • How We Answer Our Own Prayers

    Karen Ehman JULY 15, 2015

    How We Answer Our Own Prayers KAREN EHMAN

    "Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’" Luke 11:1 (ESV)

    A group of teenagers and I sat cross-legged on the church lawn, soaking in the warm summer sunshine. We’d just taken a break from a group game to sip something cold and visit. One of the girls had just returned from a mission trip in a developing nation and I couldn’t wait to hear about her experience.

    "So, Renee, tell us about your trip." I inquired. "What is the one thing you think you will remember the most?"

    I imagined her answer would have something to do with a child who captured her heart with a sweet smile. Or a church service she attended that was so very different from ours. Neither of these guesses were right.

    "Oh, that’s easy. I will always remember it was on this trip when I learned how easy it is in our culture to answer our own prayers."

    Her statement stunned me for a moment. I wondered, What in the world did she mean by that? Answer our own prayers? Only God answers prayer, right? But before I could pipe up and ask her to explain further, she continued.

    "You see, here in America, we bow our heads and say grace and ask God to ‘give us this day our daily bread.’ And then? We hop in our cars, run down to the grocery store and buy a loaf or two. We ask Him to keep us safe and warm. Then parents buy their kids the best car seats available, and we crank up the furnace whenever we feel chilly. It is so easy in our culture to provide the answer to our own prayers. But the people I met on the trip? They pray God will give them their daily bread, not knowing if they will have enough food to feed their families that night. Their prayers are bold. They ask God for things they can’t always provide for themselves."

    I had never thought of this concept before and it caused me to think about two things.

    First, I want to use my abundance to help answer someone else’s prayers. To share the privilege I have been given with others.

    Second, I need to learn to pray bold prayers, asking God for the things that only He can bring about. That is if they are in accordance with His will. To pray for requests in my life beyond the, "Lord, keep us safe and warm and well-fed. Amen." routine we can often fall into.

    Today’s key verse from Luke 11 gives me hope that I’m not alone in thinking my prayer life could use a makeover. Luke 11:1 reminds us that even the disciples wanted help learning how to pray. They saw Jesus praying and desired to follow His example.

    Ephesians 3:20-21 tells us God can do things we can’t even dream of. Even provide answers to questions that we often hesitate to even ask. This suggests we can be daring when we pray, asking God for great things done only in His great strength.

    My little chat with this spiritually sensitive teen changed me. I began to work into my prayers not only requests that God would help me be attentive to those who need my help, but also that He would help me make bold requests I can’t possibly answer myself. And then, that I would stand back and — in faith — watch Him work.

    How about you? Is your prayer list full of items you can cross off yourself? Perhaps it’s time you, too, began to ask, "Lord, teach me to pray."

    Father, teach me to pray more boldly. May I be both generous in giving and faith-filled in my prayers. Help me pray more confident prayers that can’t be answered on my own and can only happen through Your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 138:3, "In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul." (NKJV)

    Luke 11: 9-10, "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: For more on prayer, including a place to post your "I Can’t Answer it Myself" prayer request, visit Karen Ehman’s blog. She is also giving away a prayer time basket to one reader who comments.

    To be inspired to live a life that trusts in God, check out Karen’s book and DVD Bible study, LET. IT. GO.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What are some daily prayers you pray that are easy to "answer" yourself? List them on a piece of paper or a notes app on your phone.

    Now, under where you made that list, write down at least one bold prayer that you cannot answer yourself. Then, begin to pray daily about this request, asking God to align your will with His.

    © 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

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