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  • It’s My Time

    It’s My Time by Leah DiPascal

    “A woman name Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in purple fabrics who was [already] a worshiper of God, listened to us; and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention and to respond to the things said by Paul.” Acts 16:14 (AMP)

    Every morning while it’s still dark outside, I sneak into my kitchen and make a dense cup of coffee before settling into my favorite chair.

    As the clock quickly ticks away, I grab a lightweight blanket and toss it over my lap, simultaneously reaching for my well-worn Bible. A deep breath in and a slow exhale. I know one thing for sure …

    It’s my time. It’s His time. It’s our time to be together.

    Before everyone wakes up and the day’s chatter begins, I get to be with Jesus. And for a few quiet moments, I don’t have to share Him with anyone.

    The routine may seem ordinary to some, but the words are always fresh to me. A new chapter from a different part of the Bible. What will He show me today?

    Sometimes I understand the text right away. Other times … not so much. I read it once, twice, maybe even three times. Then I pause and whisper, “Lord, open my eyes to see the wonderful things in Your Word. Help me understand what You’re trying to show me.”

    I don’t want to miss a single thing in God’s Word that could make a significant difference in my day.

    I don’t want the distractions of the clock or the weight of daily assignments to pull my thoughts away from His.

    I’ve come to meet with Jesus. To gather only with Him for a momentary Sabbath rest. To pray, ponder, understand and respond.

    In today’s key verse, we meet a woman named Lydia. She and her friends had gathered for prayer on the Sabbath when they encountered the Apostle Paul and his traveling companions just outside Macedonia, near the riverbanks.

    Scripture tells us Lydia was already a worshiper of God. But as Paul shared the Good News of Jesus and His redeeming work on the cross, we learn, “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention and to respond to the things said by Paul” (Acts 16:14b).

    I absolutely love this statement! Oh, let’s not breeze past or miss any of its significance.

    The word opened in the original Greek is dianoigõ, which means, “to open thoroughly what had been closed. To open one's soul (mind, will, emotions), to rouse in one the faculty of understanding or the desire of learning.”

    In those priceless moments down by the riverside, God opened Lydia’s mind to pay attention and understand a fresh revelation of Jesus. He deposited a desire in her heart to learn more about the gospel of grace which Paul was generously sharing.

    Friend, let this be our heart’s greatest desire — today and every day!

    In our special moments with God, let’s ask Him to gently open our hearts wide so we can receive a fresher revelation of Jesus. No matter how much we think we know about Him, let us long to know Him more!

    Let’s yearn for a deeper understanding of His character and attributes. Let’s wake up every day saying, “Good Morning Jesus,” and embrace the desire to spend time with Him before anyone else, discovering His truths, memorizing His precepts and rejoicing in His promises.

    And in those quiet moments as we read through the pages of our Bible, if we come to a part we don’t understand, let’s pause and whisper ever so sincerely, “Jesus pull back the veil so I can see You more clearly and hear You more distinctly. Open my eyes to see the wonderful things in Your Word.”

    And when He does, let’s respond with a wellspring of joy and gratitude that will quench our souls and make our spirits soar!

    Lord, soften my heart and open it wide to receive all the love You have for me. Give me a greater desire to spend time with You. Teach me Your ways and help me understand Your attributes as I read my Bible. I want to know You more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word.” (TLB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Take some time to read the story of Lydia in Acts 16. As you read, ask God to open your heart and mind to discover details in the text you’ve never noticed before. Write these new truths down and then share what you’ve learned with someone else.

    © 2016 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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

  • When You Forget Who You Are

    When You Forget Who You Are by Susie Larson

    “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak.” 2 Corinthians 4:13 (NIV)

    Ever had one of those weeks when everything that could go wrong did go wrong? You can’t find your groove, and your circumstances repeatedly trip you up and stress you out?

    I remember one such week for me.

    I battled insomnia in the worst way, which made me feel prickly all over. My children were out of sorts, too. They were under the weather and crabby and seemed to cry over the littlest things. I felt irritable and easily frustrated — so tired that my skin hurt.

    At one point I passed by a mirror and winced. I didn’t at all like the reflection staring back at me. I saw only the worst version of myself.

    Tired. Crabby. Exhausted. Brain-fogged.

    Which was especially uncomfortable since I had a speaking event coming up that weekend.

    How could I possibly prepare my heart when I couldn’t even find my footing? But then, deep within my soul, I sensed God’s invitation to trust Him with the surface parts of me, things I could barely stand to acknowledge, as well as to trust Him with the deepest parts of me that still needed healing and wholeness.

    Amid the temptation to loathe myself and cringe at my weakness, I put my foot down and prayed: “Lord, even here, even now, I belong to You. And despite my bleary eyes and messy hair, I’m still Your treasure — a spoken-for heir of God. This is true because You say it’s true. So I speak it out loud for my own ears to hear and I choose to believe it until my heart fully knows it. Thank You, thank You for seeing past my frazzled exterior and for valuing the treasure of my soul. I wrap my arms around Your grace. I seek Your face in this place. And I will finish this race because You promised to get me safely home. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.”

    Something stirred in my heart after that prayer. I knew God’s words were true regardless of how I felt about myself.

    Just like we read in 2 Corinthians 4:13, we too can believe and therefore speak. How? First, we dare to believe; we grab God’s truth as our very own. Then, it’s our choice to believe; we walk and talk like it’s true.

    When faith makes its way into our ears, it also finds its way into our hearts. Often when my ears hear my mouth say truths God has reflected in His Word, I’m changed. I’m strengthened. And I remember once again I’m not who I was. I’m not what I do. I’m someone God loves and enjoys.

    In life, we’ll walk through storms which smash against us. We’ll try to find our footing amidst pelting rain and whipping winds. Sometimes those storms are of our own making. Sometimes they’re the natural elements of a fallen world. And sometimes we’re turned upside down in a storm that had nothing to do with us and everything to do with someone else’s rotten choices.

    No matter the reason for the storm, at times we’ll find ourselves responding in ways that are beneath us. We’ll say things we wish we hadn’t. We’ll be forced to reckon with our humanity and with our very real need for a Savior. (Praise God we have one!)

    During such times it helps to remind our souls that we love because He loved us first. We can walk in God’s promises, not because we’re perfect, but because He is perfect. We can enjoy God’s presence because He’s the One who invited us there in the first place. We can and will be used greatly by Him because He knew all about our frailties long before we were ever aware of them, and He planned ahead of time to redeem us from them. Amazing grace!

    Thank You, Lord, that Your words are true and I can fully believe them. Even when I trip up, You’re there to catch me. You don’t look the other way in disgust. Your grace is enough for me! There is no one like You! I will believe. I do believe. I will, therefore, speak with boldness and great power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 8:17, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are you kind to your soul? Do you see yourself as an heir? Dare to believe (and speak) what’s true about you because of Jesus.

    © 2016 by Susie Larson. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Baker Publishing Group 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

  • The 5 Best Things to Say to a Friend Today

    The 5 Best Things to Say to a Friend Today by Lysa TerKeurst

    “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:12-13 (NIV)

    I remember sitting in the smelly middle school gym like it was yesterday.

    I’d survived the awkward and much-dreaded moments of changing into my PE uniform in the girls’ locker room. And now I sat on the hard bleachers listening to the squeak of tennis shoes, the uneven cadence of bouncing balls, the teacher’s sharp whistle and the girls laughing behind me.

    They weren’t laughing with me. That would have meant I was accepted, wanted and invited in to be a part of their group.

    No, they were laughing at me.

    I was the subject of their gossip. I was the punch line of their jokes.

    And it hurt.

    I imagine you know that hurt too. Change the scenery and people, and this same hurt can be found in most of our lives:

    • When your coworkers all make plans to go to lunch, but you weren’t invited.
    • When that other preschool mom says, “Several of us moms are concerned with how aggressive your child seems on the playground.”
    • When everyone else’s social media makes marriage look dreamy and uber-romantic as you’re crying yourself to sleep.

    Then a friend steps in with a gentle smile and a few simple words of encouragement and suddenly you’re not alone.

    I want to be that friend for you today.

    In the midst of whatever made your heart feel knocked off-kilter, can I whisper what I believe are the 5 best things one can say to a friend? And then might you give the gift of saying these things to a friend today?

    This list is from our key verses, Romans 12:12-13, in a section titled “Love.”

    1. “You’re wonderful.”

    (Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope …”)

    The world is quick to tell us all the ways we fall short. We are hyperaware of our faults and frailties.

    So, what a precious gift to remind a friend of specific ways she’s a wonderful friend, a wonderful mom, a wonderful Jesus girl, a wonderful wife, a wonderful co-worker, a wonderful person.

    2. “Me too.”

    (Romans 12:12, “… patient in affliction …”)

    What a blessing to remind a friend we all have afflictions, hurts, faults and tender places. We all get sick both emotionally and physically.

    The patient friend freely gives grace because she so desperately needs it herself. “Me too” acknowledges I’m no better than you, but together we are stronger. It’s such a loving and disarming admission that we’re all in this together.

    3. “I’ll pray.”

    (Romans 12:12, “… faithful in prayer.”)

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful to tell a friend you will absolutely be faithful in praying for her? I have someone who prays for me faithfully and even texts me Scriptures she’s praying. But here’s what I really love about her. She doesn’t just pray about my situations: She prays me through them.

    4. “I’ll share.”

    (Romans 12:13, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need …”)

    When we notice a need in a friend’s life, might we be willing to step in and be part of the solution? I have a friend who lost every possession she owned due to a chemical spill in her home. So, we threw her a “Job Party” (like the man in the Bible). Each of us brought a few things to help her family start over.

    We didn’t come close to fully meeting their financial needs. But we helped build a foundation of restoration and gave this family the assurance God was working on their behalf.

    5. “Come over.”

    (Romans 12:13, “Practice hospitality.”)

    Welcoming a friend inside the sacred space of our home is such a needed gesture. There’s just something about relationships that are less pixelated when we get eye-to-eye, voice-to-voice and talk. Really talk.

    Over broken bread we share broken hearts. And then we celebrate the parts of us that are still intact. We reach across the table and across our differences to grab hold of the glorious bond of friendship. Yes, these are 5 great things to say to a friend.

    And I’ve found as we purposefully ease the loneliness ache in others, we will see it is beautifully eased in us.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of friendship. Please show me who I can encourage today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Hebrews 13:16, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Think of a friend in need. Of the five statements above, which one can you put into practice with her today?

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • 6 Bible Verses to Pray Over Your Kids as They Head Back to School

    Your babies may be walking to the bus stop or driving themselves to high school for the first time. Either way, the end of August can be an anxious time for kids (and parents too!) Calm those back to school jitters and put your trust in God. Pray these verses and leave your little ones in the capable hands of the Father.

    Pray for Understanding I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. – Philippians 1:9-10 NLT

    Pray for Maturity Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. – 1 Corinthians 14:20 ESV

    Pray for Perseverance And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. – Galatians 6:9 NKJV

    Pray for Courage Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9 AMP

    Pray for Opportunity Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. – Galatians 6:10 NIV

    Pray for Godly Friendships Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. – Proverbs 18:24 MSG

    Use these verses to combat your fears and ask for favor during this time of transition. Looking to go deeper? Moms in Prayer will help you further explore how to pray for your children using Scripture. This bestseller is included in our Buy One Get One 50% Off sale on all books now through August 25!

  • The Best Decision My Parents Made During My Worst Time

    The Best Decision My Parents Made During My Worst Time by Hope TerKeurst Houser

    “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

    The teen years can be difficult. I had a season in my late teens that was heartbreaking for those who loved me most.

    Though I grew up in a solid Christian environment, some things went haywire for a period of time when my heart grew cold toward God and I was pulled in by friends making unwise decisions. It’s not like I wanted to rebel against my parents. I thought I could stray a little and still be fine.

    I was wrong.

    When my parents learned about some choices I’d made, they did something I’ll never forget and I’ll forever be grateful for: They pulled me in close.

    They didn’t shame me. They didn’t push me away. They didn’t label me.

    Yes, they were hurt. Yes, they cried. Yes, they drew hard boundaries in my life to protect me. But they didn’t make me feel like I was the sum total of my mistakes. They quickly admitted how desperately they needed grace; therefore, they would walk with me in grace. They prayed and asked God to give me relief from my unbelief. And they waited and watched for my heart to soften.

    Instead of focusing on how bad I’d been, they pointed to all the good they knew I could do. They showed me how the world was big, full of needs and that I had a role to play. I had an assignment in the great plans and purposes of God. They cast a vision for me that was much better and eventually so much more appealing than the poor choices I’d been making.

    It started with me working with a precious group of women who grew up on the other side of the world. They moved to the U.S. after their homeland became too dangerous. Several of them had scars from being shot and each one had stories that shocked me.

    Working side by side at my dad’s restaurant, I fell in love with them. And watching their love for God and joy in Jesus changed me. A deep and unshakable mercy stirred a passion in me to go to countries where people are hurting.

    I’m in my 20s now, happily married, and working full time at Proverbs 31 Ministries. But that passion to help others has never left. Recently, I traveled to India to serve a group of people so rejected in their society that if they drink or eat from a clay dish in public, it has to be broken so others won’t get “tainted by them.” It broke my heart, and made me determined to learn more so I could help!

    I watched as others shamed them and pushed them away. I watched as others labeled them the “untouchables.” And an unrelenting desire rose up in me to pull them close. Just like my parents did when I was at my most desperate time.

    I will not push past this need. I will not be okay with them being labeled. I will find a way to help.

    That’s what you do when you’ve personally been touched by deep grace and unshakable mercy. That’s what you do when you realize drawing near to those who are brokenhearted is what the Lord did for us, as our key verse says: “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

    And you find ways to pass it on.

    Whether it’s your home, a restaurant down the street or in a slum halfway around the world, someone needs to experience the grace of God and a person who loves and believes in them. It changed my life.

    This can be hard and we don’t always know what to do. It was hard for my parents, and it’s hard for me when I see people in need. I may not do things perfectly, but with God’s wisdom and strength, I will try.

    Lord, give me relief from my unbelief. I don’t know how to change things, but I’m committed to living out Your truth today and being obedient to what You put in front of me today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 145:18, “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (NIV)

    Matthew 9:13, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Think of someone in your life who’s responded toward you with an abundance of grace. Say a prayer thanking God for them. If you’re still in touch, send a text, drop a note or make a call to say thank you.

    © 2016 by Hope TerKeurst Houser. All rights reserved.

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

  • What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

    What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do by Lysa TerKeurst

    “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

    I felt so fragile sitting in the parking lot, too sad to stop crying. And although I had a list of things that really couldn’t be put off another day, I was now entirely too tired to run errands or do much of anything. So there I sat.

    Alone.

    Moments earlier, a friend had called to tell me something she’d seen posted about me online.

    It was harsh and hurtful.

    I tried to give myself a little pep talk, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Who on God’s green earth came up with that ridiculous saying? It’s not true. I cried a little more.

    I pulled up the Facebook page my friend referenced, and there it was for all the world to see: Opinions about me flying through the Internet, intent on ripping me apart. As soon as I read the unkind words, daggers hit their mark deep inside my heart.

    It was only a handful of people, but they debated me as if I were a product sitting on a shelf, void of a soul. A soul that feels and breathes and cares so very deeply about everything.

    Instantly, I wanted it all to stop.

    I looked up and saw people walking into the store and felt so very envious of them. They seemed peaceful, happy or at least neutral. I suddenly wished for a less risky life.

    Why do I display my heart to all the world, typed in pixelated letters?

    Words like, “calling” and “disciple” suddenly felt like burdens, not blessings.

    I looked back at my phone and reread the hurtful remarks posted online. What’s a girl to do when she’s feeling desperate to fix something that can’t be immediately fixed?

    Should I defend myself?

    But I don’t want to sound defensive.

    Should I pray for others to defend me?

    But I don’t want to pull others into this.

    Should I just stay quiet?

    But then what if my silence just feeds their case?

    Every response felt like the wrong response.

    What do you do … when you don’t know what to do?

    Maybe you’ve sat in a parking lot crying, too. The circumstances might have been different, but the hurt is the same … that sliced-open feeling of being judged, misunderstood and wrongly exposed for the purpose of a good debate.

    I wish I had the perfect answer. I don’t. These kinds of situations are messy, complicated and unable to fit in formulaic boxes.

    However, I have an imperfect solution that will get us pointed in the right direction: Do the next small thing, the right way, right away.

    In other words, find some small right thing to do that negates the negativity. Do that right thing, right away, to prove to yourself what’s being said isn’t ALL true.

    There might be some small tangles of truth in the hurtful thing being said. We can pray about that and do something later when the hurt isn’t so fresh.

    But first things first. We have to stop the bleeding from the deepest wound.

    Do the next small thing, the right way, right away.

    The small thing I decided to do was see their comments coming from a place of hurt, not hate. Hurt people hurt people. Something caused hurt to stir up in their hearts. Maybe I even inadvertently added to it without meaning to. Regardless, having compassion for them eased my pain.

    I called my friend who’d told me about the hurtful comments and said, “I don’t know what to do except be a picture of love in this situation. If I respond out of hurt, things will only get worse.”

    Our key verse, 1 John 4:7-8, reminds us of the importance of showing love to each other, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

    So, I must let love guide me.

    Love can empower me to feel hurt without becoming a person consumed by that hurt …

    I can feel offended, but I don’t have to be offended.

    I can feel insecure, but I don’t have to act insecure.

    I can feel angry, but I don’t have to respond in anger.

    That’s the choice love makes.

    And please understand I’m not all Pollyanna about this and able to walk it out perfectly. I have to give myself permission to be honest about my feelings. But I don’t have to compound the hurt by reacting out of those feelings. And I don’t want today’s reaction to become tomorrow’s regret.

    I never did make it into the store that day. And there are still days I feel so very fragile and vulnerable. Maybe you do too?

    Let’s allow God’s love to take us by the hand and empower us in each and every situation where we don’t know what to do.

    We can feel afraid, but we don’t have to be afraid to do the next right thing, right away.

    Dear Lord, I want love to guide me today. Help me do the next right thing right in front of me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 13:10, “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are you in a situation that feels hurtful? Look closely at the options in front of you and choose to do the next right thing, right away.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • A Different Beautiful

    A Different Beautiful by Courtney Westlake

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

    I sat my daughter, Brenna, on her changing pad as I snapped up her outfit after a diaper change. And as she looked around, chattering, her eyes fell on my feet, with toenails painted in deep pink.

    “Ow?” she asked, associating the color with blood and a hurt toe.

    “No, not Ow. Mommy put a pretty color of paint on my toenails,” I explained as best I could in toddler language. I showed Brenna my nail polish bottle, as she pointed to herself. “Me!” she exclaimed.

    I had really never even thought about painting Brenna’s nails, which are a product of a rare skin disorder she was born with. They grow in such a solid, thick yellow there have been times we’ve had to trim them with side-cut pliers.

    I didn’t know exactly how her nails — thick but sensitive — would react to polish. I worried about the polish getting on her skin and causing an adverse reaction. But as her bright blue eyes begged me to open the bottle, I said enthusiastically, “Yes, let’s paint your nails!”

    As I carefully applied the pink color to her two big toenails, Brenna leaned over my arm, watching intently. “Wow!” I exclaimed as I dabbed a final spot, waiting for her reaction.

    “Wooo-ow,” she whispered slowly.

    Two brightly colored toenails, one on each foot — and the admiration that followed as she held up her foot in the light streaming from the window. The kind of admiration that made five minutes of painted toenails come to life in a celebration.

    I slowly realized the beauty we were creating in those minutes and in the moments that followed as she proudly showed off her pretty pink toes for the next week, extending her foot to nearly everyone she came in contact with. Even if she wore shoes, she knew how beautiful they were underneath.

    It had nothing to do with the polish or the color.

    Rather, it was all about how she felt about herself. The way she felt as we painted together — loved and special. The way she felt around others — admired and engaged. Brenna felt beautiful because she was living in joy, in celebration, with those around her.

    Since Brenna’s birth, simple celebration is what we have discovered for ourselves, in and around some very hard parts of life. In the whirlwind of four years, there have been things you’d never expect to experience when you bring a child into the world.

    But with that has come a joy-filled life we also never expected, the kind of overwhelming richness that’s beyond comprehension. Even on the worst days, we can find beauty.

    Beauty extends from all pieces of our lives, just waiting to be noticed, appreciated, celebrated. And what our family has discovered is the best kind of beautiful — the truest beauty that God intentionally and lovingly created for us — is not only seen, but also felt.

    The most dazzling beauty in this world is not found in magazines or even seen in the mirror. It is felt deep within our souls, and it is released to those around us in the forms of love, kindness, compassion and generosity.

    In a version of myself I can hardly remember, I once believed beauty was something to strive for. But there is a different beautiful than the perfection our culture often worships. That beautiful is found not when we open our eyes, but rather when we open our hearts.

    There is a whole new kind of beautiful to be discovered when we stop closing our eyes and our hearts to what is unfamiliar or unexpected. When we focus on the goodness we are feeling rather than seeing, we can learn what it truly means to celebrate beauty in life — the joy, the passion, the deep relationships with each other and God, plus the dazzling, fleeting moments in front of us that might not otherwise cause us to pause.

    Like painting with pink nail polish.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the glorious way You have brought beauty into this world. Help me embrace true joy, contentment and faith. Open my heart to those around me and empower me to demonstrate the love, kindness, compassion and generosity You’ve given me to share. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Peter 3:4, “You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Can you name two or three ways you can demonstrate true beauty to others today? © 2016 by Courtney Westlake. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Barbour Publishing 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

  • What Makes Rejection So Awful

    What Makes Rejection So Awful by Lysa TerKeurst

    “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” John 12:46 (NIV)

    My mouth was dry. My hands a bit numb. There was a stabbing tightness in my chest. My mind blurred as my thoughts became a fragmented kaleidoscope of a million pictured hopes I thought were just around the corner for me. For us. For the us that was now becoming … just me again.

    We were only dating. But my mind had already run ahead in time and built a life with this man. In the future we had romantic picnics to take, snowball fights to laugh through, a wedding to plan, a house to build and kids to name with his smile and my eyes.

    I’m not sure these were ever real to him. But to me, they were as real as the stone-cold coffee now sitting in front of me. The one I kept stirring to have something to focus on but that I never intended to drink. Drinking coffee seemed a bit too normal when my entire inner life had just been declared a state of emergency. Because suddenly, the rest of my planned-out life was aflame. I wasn’t just losing a boyfriend today. I was losing the connection to my dreams for tomorrow that would never be.

    His words made their way through my ears to my heart. I felt the full impact of their harsh landing. As they skidded their way across the most tender places inside me, their piercing weight burned and cut and ripped apart what I thought would be so very permanent. Rejection always leaves the deepest, darkest marks.

    That was decades ago. But I can pull up that memory as if it were yesterday. I have to search a bit in my past, but there it is. The wound isn’t pulsing with pain any longer. It’s more of a scar. Like a war wound, it’s just a story now.

    I pulled out my journal today and tried to capture the raw essence of what makes rejection so awful. But I couldn’t capture the depth of it with finely crafted words. Instead of diving deep with my thoughts, I let them come in simple, personal phrases:

    I like stability. I don’t like getting caught off guard. I like feeling known. I don’t like feeling thrown away.

    As I wrote this list, one line finally emerged to sum up rejection better than the others: I don’t want my normal to be snatched away. Life feels impossibly risky when I’m reminded how unpredictable circumstances can shatter and forever change what I know and love about my life. And in the fallout, some pieces never fall back into place.

    It’s like taking a photograph containing all the people you love and suddenly, some of them purposely cut themselves out of the picture. And the gaping hole left behind in some ways is worse than death. If they’d passed away, you would grieve their loss. But when their absence is caused by rejection, you not only grieve their loss but also wrestle through the fact that they wanted this. They chose to cut themselves out.

    Though you’re devastated, they’re walking away feeling relieved. Or worse, they might even feel happy. And there you sit, staring at a jacked-up photograph no glue in the world can fix. Normal? Taken. Not by accident. But very much on purpose from someone you never expected could be such a thief.

    Rejection steals the security of all we thought was beautiful and stable and leaves us scared, fragile and more vulnerable than ever.

    But God. He’s there. Jesus said, “I have come into the world as light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness,” (John 12:46). With Jesus I can walk out of this dark place.

    Yes, He is the One who can help me. Heal me. Show me what to do when I’m hurting. Therefore, I must do whatever He instructs me to do. I must embrace Him. And I know I can’t continue to fully embrace God while rejecting His ways.

    So I turn to Him. And really listen to where He’s leading with a willing heart.

    God drops a word into my heart. Like a swig of orange juice just after brushing my teeth, I recoil at the unexpected taste. Of grace.

    Why grace?! Because grace given when it feels least deserved is the only antidote for bitterness. Just because I’ve been hurt doesn’t mean I now have to live hurt. I can get mad and bitter and spread more hurt around. Or, I can choose grace and gentle responses and spread more hope around.

    Hurt people, hurt people. Healed people, heal people. And I want to be in that latter group.

    There’s nothing we can do to eliminate the pain of rejection. Oh, how I wish there were. With every fiber of my being, I wish I could remove it from my world and yours. But I can’t. The only thing to help my heart heal from these deep wounds is the constant pursuit of the sweetest grace.

    To love God is to cooperate with His grace. And since I’m so very aware of my own need for grace, I must be willing to freely give it away. Each hole left from rejection is an opportunity to create more and more space for grace in my heart.

    Father God, please help me be a woman who is quick to give grace, even when it’s the last thing I want to do. Thank You for the grace You extend to me each and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Who needs your grace and forgiveness today? Even if it’s someone you’re not in contact with anymore, think how you might release your hurt into God’s hands.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • A Tabernacle of Trash

    A Tabernacle of Trash by Amy Carroll

    “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (NIV)

    Looking around, I can scarcely take in a home so different from my own. I am at Raju’s house, a man who has spent his whole life as a rag-picker in India. Along with the rest of the community he leads, he spends his days sifting through a local dump, looking for materials to retrieve and recycle.

    His house is a hodgepodge of things he’s salvaged. The walls are draped in plastic, old blankets and sheets. Metal bicycle rims, tires and rusty car parts secure the tarp roof of his large tent home. Thin blankets on the floor are seats for children and adults who come to meet with me and the rest of our Proverbs 31 International Initiatives team. We are given plastic chairs of hospitality and honor.

    Raju circulates in the midst of the gathered crowd, smiling and greeting his guests. There are families that he not only loves, but that he pastors and teaches in the church and literacy class that meet in his home.

    When everyone is gathered, Raju stands and greets us through an interpreter before he prays. He bows his head and starts a stream of words I can’t understand. Later, we learn he prayed a blessing over us. All I know is I am suddenly overcome.

    Unbidden, tears stream down my face, and I steal myself against the sobs threatening to wrack my body. Through the sweep of emotion, I ask myself, What’s going on here? I can’t even understand what he’s saying. Why do I feel such awe and broken-heartedness?

    The weight of God’s Spirit fills the room. I can hardly explain it. It’s the most powerful, tangible presence of God I’ve ever encountered. As Raju prays, it’s truly as if God is sitting in the room with us.

    Suddenly, a tent made of trash became a tabernacle for the very presence of God.

    It’s been months since I sat in Raju’s house in the cloud of God’s power, but I’ve been reflecting on it ever since. Raju isn’t a man our world would consider wise. He barely has a fifth-grade education gained through one year of attendance in literacy classes, yet he has partnered with Mission India to teach others to read.

    He isn’t physically strong, yet this man leads his community with a fierceness and joy that none can deny.

    He might not be a man of material wealth, but as a pastor, he daily leads his congregation to the greatest riches of the King of Kings.

    He’s found the secret to joining Jesus in life-changing, Kingdom-growing work: God wants you to give Him your all, but all that’s essential is your heart.

    So often, I mistakenly think the essentials to having a life that counts is more Bible knowledge, more financial resources or more influence. But both Scripture and Raju’s life tell me differently. Our key Scripture tells us that God doesn’t just tolerate the foolish, weak and lowly. He chooses them. To make a difference, I don’t need more. I need a willingness to give more.

    Though the world may tell us we’re unworthy or unqualified, or that our very lives consist of “trash,” God can take a heart like Raju’s — or yours and mine — and change the world around us. All that’s required is our surrender and His power.

    Lord, I surrender my whole self to You for Your work. I know what I’m offering is completely insufficient, so I trust and find joy in Your sufficiency. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: James 3:13, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What have you felt is a limitation to you serving God?

    How does Raju’s story and today’s Scripture change the way you think about that limitation?

    © 2016 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Summer On The Go: Your Family Friendly Road Trip Playlist

    Summer is in full swing and families everywhere are hitting the road, heading to their vacation destinations. Whether you’re traveling across town or across the country, we’ve created a playlist that’s sure to quiet the ‘Are we there yet?’ chorus and keep your family entertained with the latest and greatest in Christian music.

    Start building your library of road trip tunes. All CDs are Buy One Get One 50% Off at Family Christian now through August 25.

    Summer On The Go Playlist

    Make the road trip fun for the kids! Give them permission to roll down the windows and belt out their favorite tunes as you enjoy a fun-filled journey together.

    What’s your family singing along to this summer?

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