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User Archives: Karen Ehman

  • Click to Change

    Posted on December 18, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 (AMP)

    "Look, Miss Karen! When you click here you can change the color of her fingernail polish just like that!" I was watching my friend's pre-teen daughter for the weekend. She was parked on the couch playing around on a nail art website on my computer. Each time she clicked on a different color nail polish bottle the color instantly changed on the model's hands.

    Clicking a mouse to change things on our computer screen is so simple. If only real life were the same!

    Many times I look at my circumstances and wish I had a special mouse so I could click and change everything I don't like. But life's not like that. While there's much I can change, there's much more I can't.

    And when I focus on all I can't revise, my heart can feel defeated. There are people I can't change, finances I can't control, and circumstances that leave my heart feeling shattered. If only I could recolor bad attitudes or rewrite difficult experiences, then I'd feel better. Right?

    Wrong.

    I've discovered that changing other people or circumstances isn't really a fix for my often-troubling situations because it isn't something I can make happen. I can't control other's behavior, only mine. Here is where the solution lies.

    Even when circumstances and people stay the same, my attitude towards them and my perspective can change. What can bring about this transformation?

    God's Word.

    It can snap me back to attention, soften my heart and help me view my life through a different and God-honoring lens. It can align my heart and actions with God's so I don't do or say things today I will regret tomorrow. As Hebrews 4:12 states, it helps to expose, sift, analyze and judge the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.

    In a very practical way, God's Word makes it all click and that clicking makes me change.

    Spending time daily in the Bible is imperative to bringing about this change, and we at Proverbs 31 Ministries have committed to help women around the world interact with God's Word daily through our many ministry avenues. Just this past year God impacted the lives of over 600,000 women daily through our free Encouragement for Today devotions. We celebrated with over 4,000 women who made first time decisions for Christ, and our team responded to over 10,000 prayer requests.

    It isn't just the volunteers and staff who get to be a part of helping bring God's transforming work. So does everyone who gives a financial gift — no matter the size — to Proverbs 31 Ministries.

    We value every gift and giver. The ones who give hundreds ... the ones who go without lattes each month and share their saved $25 ... the ones who donate $5.

    Yes, $5 makes a big impact.

    Together, we offer perspective-changing truth that can renew a woman's heart and mind no matter what age or stage of life she's in.

    Together, we point women to the Healer, made known on the pages of Scripture, who can make their spirits whole.

    Together we can teach women how to study the Bible, forgive and mend a friendship, strengthen a marriage, or effectively parent children.

    Do you want to change the world by offering hope, help, and even life from behind your computer screen? We'd love for you to join us. When we give our collective "littles," God transforms them into a big movement that can alter lives both now and for eternity.

    With a click of your mouse, you help change the world.

    We'd be honored if you would join us.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the life-altering and perspective-changing power of Your holy Word. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    When is a time that God's Word helped to change your bad attitude or wrong perspective?

    Will you forward this email to a friend who needs to receive encouragement from God's Word?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 119:11 "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Hebrews

  • Search Carefully

    Posted on December 2, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 'Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.'" Matthew 2:1-2 (NLT)

    Our family has a tradition we've kept running for over 20 years. Every December, we pick a night to enjoy barbecue chicken pizza and peppermint stick ice cream. Then we pile in our old tan Buick and venture off to look at the area's Christmas lights. A snow flurry is always a plus and makes the bright lights dance in the distance.

    When our kids were young, they'd each pick a story character to look for in the decorations. They'd keep a running tally of what they saw amongst the seasonal displays. Kenna might look for snowmen, Mitchell for reindeer. And Spencer loved to discover a green Grinch or two. Whoever picked the most frequently spied character won a small prize.

    Our family tradition evokes sweet memories for this mom. However, there was one troubling aspect of our yearly adventure. No matter how hard we searched, we rarely discovered a nativity display with the Christ child lying in a manger.

    Yes, secular characters brought giggles to our wide-eyed, pajama-footed children, but the main person of the holiday—the whole point of Christmas—was seldom to be found. We did locate a few homes that displayed a nativity, but we had to search diligently for them.

    As we go through December we, can easily be inundated with responsibilities. While trying our best to "get it all done," it is easy to miss the Christmas Child. We scurry and scamper to put on a big bash while practically ignoring the One whose birthday it really is.

    Let's purpose that this year we'll search for Jesus carefully and diligently just as the wise men did in Matthew 2:1-2:

    "Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 'Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.'" (NLT)

    These wise men left their daily duties, homes, and studies and went out of their way, traveling many, many miles on camelback through the dry desert, to find Jesus. Like these men, we need to break away from our routines and busyness to take time to look for the Christ Child.

    It might mean stopping in the midst of shopping to sit quietly in our car, praying that God will help us center our thoughts on Jesus more than holiday tasks. Or perhaps it will require us to put down our to-do list in order to pick up our Bible to read and absorb the account of Jesus' miraculous birth.

    However it looks, let's search carefully for the Christ Child. He's there in the middle of the hustle and bustle. When we find Him, let's not keep the wonder of His love to ourselves. We can share it. Serve others. Bless intentionally. And lift our eyes (and those of our children too) off of ourselves and on to the real reason for Christmas.

    Dear Lord, help me to intentionally seek and find You just like the wise men did. May I share the love You give with those I encounter this season. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What fond traditions do you have of Christmas as a child? How can you build new traditions today that center on Christ and teach others to do the same?

    Grab your kids or some friends and head off on an adventure of blessing. Call a homeless shelter or nursing home to ask what needs they have, whether it be coats, blankets, food, cheer, etc. Whatever you do, leave a handwritten note for the recipient that declares, "Jesus came to earth briefly to live with us so that we could go to heaven to live forever with Him. Merry Christmas!!"

    Power Verses:
    Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." (ESV)

    Luke 2:11-12, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Matthew

  • Whom Can You Invite?

    Posted on November 27, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families ..." Psalm 68:5-6a (NIV 1984)

    "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" The loudspeaker blared the joyful lyrics of the familiar song that snowy Christmas Eve afternoon.

    Everywhere I glanced, people were searching for last-minute gift purchases, holiday baking ingredients or that one final string of twinkle lights that would make their Christmas downright Norman-Rockwell-perfect.

    However, as I stood in line paying for the ingredients for my assigned cheesy potato casserole for our family gathering, a lump formed in my throat. Soon my lips quivered and hot tears fell onto my wind-chapped cheeks.

    How can everyone be so happy? Why is the world going on as if nothing happened? My friend Julie died last night leaving behind a husband and eight children who need her. Doesn't anyone care?

    I wanted to scream. And I wanted the holidays to be cancelled that year. There was no cheer in me, and I thought the rest of the world should follow suit and just "humbug" the whole celebration.

    Although our hearts were heavy, we tried to make the most of Christmas, especially for our children who were sad about their friends' mother's death. Over the next few months, my husband and I carried on with our normal life and tried to help our widowed friend as best we could.

    Several in our circle of friends made meals on a weekly basis. A college girl offered to clean their home. One of Julie's sons joined our homeschool for kindergarten a few days each week. Although we still experienced great heartache knowing our friend wasn't coming back, lightening her husband's load and being there for the children made us feel as if we were fulfilling the mission God had for us.

    Ever since that year, our family has become more aware of the fact that for many, Thanksgiving and Christmas aren't the most wonderful times of the year. In fact, the holidays can be downright painful.

    Loneliness looms. Depressions darken. Even suicides soar. While scores of us delight in the season, drinking the sights, sounds, and smells, others are numb from pain and despise these months.

    A neighbor of mine had a good perspective on helping those who hurt. She once told me, "The holidays are an excuse for making someone's life better." She was right! There are people waiting to be encouraged and included during this season. If only we would cease our own sometimes self-focused hustle and bustle long enough to see!

    After that sad season, we've made it our mission to reach out at the holidays more than we play the commercialized "gimmee game." Thanksgiving and Christmas are not about getting. The very essence of both is giving.

    When our family has been intentional about being Jesus' hands and feet at the holidays, He has allowed us to brighten the lives of many. We get to show His love and character talked about in Psalm 68:5-6a, "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families ..." (NIV 1984)

    Others are welcomed at our table. We sing Christmas carols to shut-ins, decorate homes and address Christmas cards for widows, shop for the needy, bake for the brokenhearted, and often include the lonely in our normal holiday activities as if they were part of our family. Because really, they are.

    Maybe God wants to use your family to encourage someone this year. Let's use this Thanksgiving and Christmas to make someone's life better, richer in love, and fuller in the comforts of knowing they are noticed and cared for.

    Dear Lord, show me who needs to be reached out to this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Help me make someone's life richer, fuller and far less lonely. I want to be Your hands and feet. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Gather the family. Solicit responses to the following questions, "Who do you know that might be lonely at the holidays this year? Now, what creative way could we help to combat their loneliness and make them feel loved?"

    It's not too late to invite someone over for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow! Give them a call now.

    Power Verse:
    Matthew 25:40, "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" (NIV)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm

  • God is Not Worried

    Posted on November 1, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the LORD is your security." Proverbs 3:24-26a (NLT)

    As a little girl I loved being outdoors. I could often be found playing kickball with the neighborhood kids or riding my bike around the block. I liked to splash in puddles and jump in piles of leaves. There was one aspect, however, about being outside that I didn't particularly care for: the critters.

    Spiders were scary ... dogs terrifying. And I couldn't even bear the thought of snakes. My intense fear of these creatures often kept me from fully engaging in play.

    Unfortunately, even when I didn't encounter creepy-crawlies outdoors, they occasionally wound up in my dreams at night. I would have the same reoccurring nightmare of snakes slithering toward me while I stood frozen, unable to run away. When I would wake up, I would be in a panic, heart wildly beating, palms sweating. I never thought my fears would go away until the one summer when I had no other choice.

    The summer I turned 20, I took a job at a nature center teaching four-year-olds. It didn't cross my mind that keeping company with critters would be a part of my duties.

    I had to capture insects to examine and release, scoop tadpoles to study pond life, and even hold the snakes that were kept in glass tanks in the main building.

    Although everything in me wanted to run away, there were little eyes on me. So, I whispered a prayer for strength, pushed past my fears, and made those kids think I was a critter-lovin' instructor whose calm demeanor (and lack of screaming!) showed them there was nothing to fear. If their teacher wasn't freaking out, why should they?

    Even though I worked through my fear that summer, as an adult now, I'm still tempted to "freak out" with fear. My imagination concocts all sorts of scenarios peppered with dread and doom. Sometimes I can't shake fear as I try to fall asleep.

    But I have come to trust this perspective-shifting truth: God is not worried. He's not in heaven wringing His hands, wondering just how everything will eventually turn out. He is in control. He is loving.

    God longs to use the circumstances of our lives to mold our mind, craft our character, and chase away the fears that threaten to slither in, paralyzing us and rendering us ineffective. Ever the patient and wise teacher, if He isn't freaking out, why should we?

    Proverbs 3:24-26a is a sweet promise to us, "You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the LORD is your security" (NLT).

    Now that passage doesn't promise that we won't ever encounter sudden disasters in life. But it does reassure us that we have no need to fear them. Why? Because the Lord—our gracious and wise teacher—is our security. He will be there to comfort and to guide as He teaches us the lessons we need to learn.

    With God as our security, we can have calm in our present. With God as our security, we can face the future without fear. And we can share this confidence we gain to inspire others, helping to keep them from unnecessary fret and worry.

    Why it even helps me deal with little critters that get inside my house without squirming. Well . . . without squirming too much.

    Dear Lord, help me place my fears in Your hands, knowing You alone are my security, both now and in the future. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources


    Reflect and Respond:
    What is your greatest reoccurring fear?

    Turn it into a prayer by asking God to be your security in the midst of uncertainty.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 112:7, "They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs, Worry

  • Me and My Mama Mouth

    Posted on September 30, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." (Proverbs 31:26 ESV)

    The other day my son, a smart preteen, was up to the challenge of washing the dishes. He didn't give me an attitude when asked. He wasn't disrespectful. He didn't drag his feet. So why was I battling the urge to harshly point out how he was doing it all wrong?

    Because he wasn't doing it my way.

    He started with the grimy pots, then moved to the plates and silverware. Finally, he had to bubble up more water to spit-shine the glasses. While working, he stacked plastic cups in a pyramid.

    Irritation welled up. An unkind reaction was itching to come out. I could easily have let my momma mouth take over: It uses way more water to wash the dishes in that order. Plus the water is filthy now! Stop playing with those cups while you work. You're so slow.

    I wanted to be a control freak. I wanted to fire off the unkind words hidden in my unspoken thoughts: The only way to do the dishes is my way. I see different as wrong. I interpret a preteen being a preteen—with a slight distraction of fun—as "slow."

    But when I unload on junior, or anyone, it has the potential to damage our relationship and plant mental seeds of his mom's view of him, whether verbalized or implied (lazy, wasteful, distracted, and slow). It does not, as Proverbs 31:26 states, come close to resembling a woman who "opens her mouth with wisdom and speaks with kindness on her tongue."

    It's better if these potentially frustrating scenarios play out differently. So let's replay that scene with a Spirit-controlled response.

    As I see my son doing the dishes, I can make a mental note to explain how to do it next time in a way that will save water, money, and time. I can praise his efforts, keeping in mind his age and abilities. I can acknowledge his unique method. I saw the clever way you stacked those dishes. You always make work fun.

    I can ask myself questions that will help keep my mama mouth in check. Questions like: Does it matter now or will it matter tomorrow? Will it affect eternity? Is God trying to teach me something? Can I pause and praise instead of interrupt and instigate? Is this really an issue that needs addressing? Am I being a control freak? Do I need to let it go?

    The interaction wouldn't damage; it would nurture. It would be wise. Kind. And there would be no lost time, regrets, or need to call in the United Nations peace-keeping forces for intervention.

    This mama would be less control-freakish and more Proverbs 31-womanish. It might not come easily—trust me, it usually doesn't—but with the Holy Spirit, it is possible to speak with kindness.

    Dear Lord, may I purpose to temper my words with Your Holy Spirit as I interact with my family today. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember
    My mouth can be a powerful tool of encouragement or a weapon of destruction.

    Reflect
    Which of the questions posed in the devotion (Does it matter now or will it matter tomorrow? etc.) do you most need to ask yourself when tempted to over-control?

    Respond
    Think of an incident from the past where you did not use your words in a way that was kind or loving. Revisit the situation. How could you have spoken in a way that would honor God? Could you have used a different tone of voice? Word choice? Timing?

    Power Verses
    Psalm 139:4; Psalm 37:30

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst, Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 by Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs

  • Embrace the Wait

    Posted on September 2, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'" Lamentations 3:24 (NIV)

    My three young kids were playing near her feet in her assisted-living home. "How busy things must be at your house these days. Why I'd give anything to be able to spend an ordinary day with my children all little again. What joy!"

    What joy? What was my husband's 90 year-old grandmother talking about?! As a worn-out mom I wanted the kids to get to the next stages in their lives and fast! For one to walk, another to stop wearing diapers and the third to learn to read. I wasn't joyful. I was anxious.

    Now that two of my three kids have graduated from high school, I know what Grandma meant. I'd love to rewind the clock and experience one more ordinary day with my babies. If only I could make time wait, instead of waiting on time to pass.

    Even so, I still have a hard time applying this lesson in the wait. Each morning I wait in the school carpool line. In the afternoon, I wait for my son's football practice to wrap up. Sometimes the coach keeps the team after for a pep talk. Some days it's a lengthy one. And so I sit. The minutes tick by threatening to tick me off.

    You see, I don't like to wait.

    Just this past week I waited in line at the grocery store, sat in the waiting room at the dentist's office, and lingered at the airport, anxious to board my plane. I spent hours at the DVM (Department of Motor Vehicles) so my son could get his driver's permit.

    While these types of hindrances are short-lived, waiting for the next big thing can take longer and be harder. We wait on Prince Charming to appear, our house to sell, our child to take his first steps, a better job, financial relief, or physical or emotional healing to come to us or a loved one.

    Just like when my kids were young, instead of patiently embracing these harder times, I have a tendency to want to rush them. I long for my circumstances to hurry up and change. To fast-forward to the next thing. But Scripture teaches us how to make it through these difficult seasons.

    In those waiting times, even when life is hard, God says to us, I'll be what you need while you wait.

    God steps in to be our portion for that day. He is in the wait and we'll sense that if only we will look for Him rather than always looking ahead to the next stage of life.

    He was my portion as a little girl while I daydreamed about becoming a woman.

    He was my portion as a woman when I waited to become a bride.

    He was my portion as a new bride as I longed to become a mom.

    He was my portion as a young mom as I looked forward to easier days.

    And He is my portion now as I am learning to look to God when my impatient heart waits for the day when my husband and I retire and can travel more.

    The point of life is not to keep looking ahead, but to look to the Lord to be our portion at every stage of life. Will you seek Him as you sit and wait? It makes the lingering have meaning. And tethers our hearts to His as we use these times to pray and ponder His goodness. Yes, right in the midst of those in-between times. It even makes the waiting sweeter.

    But I still suggest you bring along a good book to the DMV!

    Dear Lord, help me embrace the wait and look for You to be my portion during the in-between times of life. In Jesus' Name, amen.

    Related Resources:

    Reflect and Respond:
    What next big thing are you waiting for in life? How could focusing on God as your portion help the wait to be easier?

    Power Verse:
    Romans 8:25, "But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (ESV)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Lamentations

  • I Don't Want to Pick Up Any More Socks

    Posted on August 26, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27 (ESV)

    As a teen I loved hanging out at Miss Pat's house. Hands down, she made the best homemade noodles in the Midwest. Often you could find the creamy-white strips of flour, milk and eggs drying on her kitchen counter, waiting to be tossed in a simmering pot of chicken soup. Or you might find a fresh fruit pie cooling near an open window, making her family eager for suppertime.

    Miss Pat took all aspects of her home life seriously. Her house wasn't perfect. Still, she kept it cute and clean and made it a haven for her own family and others.

    With as much energy as Miss Pat devoted to homemaking, you might think that was all she did. But it wasn't. She was also active outside her home, including volunteering at her kids' school, teaching a weekly women's Bible study and serving as a youth group leader. Her love for Jesus was evident as she introduced numerous teens and women to Christ, including me.

    However, she reserved her greatest energy and most creative ideas for her first line of ministry—her own family and home. Miss Pat modeled how to influence others for Christ not only with the words we speak, but also the heart with which we run our home.

    Sitting around her kitchen table, I learned Miss Pat's secret for getting things done. She had a method for doing laundry ... a routine for her cleaning ... a game plan for getting groceries ... and a cheerful attitude while doing it all. In fact, now that I'm older, I think she modeled the Proverbs 31 woman very well.

    Proverbs 31:27 tells us about an unnamed wife and mother (often referred to as the Proverbs 31 woman) who worked like this. "She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness."

    Now that I have my own home and family, I'm inspired by these women. Especially during those times I find it easier to be idle rather than tackle work around the home. The snapshots of organized spaces and fabulous foods on my computer screen tempt me to spend hours peering at them rather than doing them.

    When running my home seems overwhelming, I remember Miss Pat and the Proverbs 31 woman. Instead of hoping the house cleans itself or a hot meal materializes out of the computer, I'm learning to make a plan and get to work. It's helpful to keep the mindset that it's a ministry to care for my home and family.

    This perspective helps me pick up my son's socks and make dinner without frustration. It gives me strength when I've already put in a full day's work. While I am doing these things for my family, I'm also doing them for God.

    There's no doubt that making our house a home, and all that involves, can be tiring. We need to balance true rest with work, while being on guard against laziness and resentful attitudes. Important questions to ask ourselves are: Am I laboring with a glad heart or do I grumble about the tasks at hand? Do I view keeping a home as a duty or drudgery, or do I find it a privilege and pleasure? Am I in need of rest, or am I putting off what has to be done because I just don't feel like doing it?

    Being an intentional homemaker is a tough yet rewarding job. We get to serve important people—our very own families.

    And the Boss? He's the best. What an honor it is to work for Him.

    Dear Lord, teach me to look well to the ways of my household and not be idle, knowing it is actually You I am serving. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart and Home to Others by Karen Ehman

    Reflect and Respond:
    What areas of work around the home are you hesitant to tackle?

    How might knowing you are working for the Lord encourage you to work with more diligence?

    Power Verses:
    Colossians 3:23-24, "Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ." (HCSB)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs

  • Do You Have Enough?

    Posted on August 19, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'" Luke 12:15 (NIV)

    "On your mark. Get set. Go!!" my husband shouted as our three kids began the M&M race.

    The rules were simple. Each child had a bowl in a separate corner of the family room. In the middle of the floor sat a huge bowl of M&M's. The kids were to transport their candies one tablespoon at a time back to their individual bowls. If any dropped on the floor, they couldn't pick them up.

    The most important rule was this: when the timer rang, they had to stop in place. If the kids weren't sitting in their corner holding their bowl, all their M&M's would be forfeited.

    The clincher? We wouldn't tell them how long the timer would be set.

    Four-year-old Spencer, the family clown, giggled as he dashed back and forth, candies flying off his spoon. He kept going, thinking he would get the most by hurrying and scurrying.

    Methodical Mitchell was slow and careful so he could balance more candies on the spoon, not drop any and fill his bowl to the brim. But he forgot about the timer.

    Big sister Kenna quickly clued in to the "catch" of the game. She too was careful transporting her M&M's. But after a few trips, she sat down with bowl in lap and waited.

    Moments later the timer went off. Spencer dove for his bowl. Mitchell, who was meticulously scooping, realized all of his tedious effort had come to nothing. Both boys were without a single M&M.

    In her corner sat their sister, now the proud owner of everyone's candies. One boy began to complain, the other to cry. They wanted their candy! We had them calm down to listen as we finished the Bible lesson. There was a point to this shenanigan.

    My husband read the story of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21. This man had a prosperous farm that earned him quite a deal of money. Instead of using his wealth to bless others, he tore down his barns and built bigger ones to stash his stuff.

    However, that very night, life's timer would go off and he would die. All of his earthly possessions would be of no value to him. In fact, they would be left for others. We related this story to our family game that day.

    You know, when I step back and look around, it's easy to see how I can seek excessive earthly treasures too. I spend money on things I don't need instead of giving to feed the poor or reaching out to people with the good news of Christ. Clothes, out-on-the-town outings, or money spent on luxuries for ourselves can fill our home and heart. I'm not only talking about really expensive items or trips. It can be as simple as a pair of sandals on sale.

    Even though three pairs of sandals sit in my closet that are in good condition, I can justify spending $15 on new ones. They're cute, match my favorite blue shirt and are half price! And I sure do want to get to the store early so my size is still there.

    Do I really need them? No. Do I want them? Yes. And here's where I have to do some soul searching and re-read the story of the greedy farmer from Luke12:15. In it, we're warned, "Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'"

    Am I hoarding my money for an abundance of possessions? Could I limit myself by setting a budget for splurges (like those sandals) and spend the money I save on needful things?

    While there is merit in saving for a rainy day, we should also share that which God has given us. This is exactly what our daughter did that day with her M&M's and her two baby brothers!

    Dear Lord, show me where I can spend less on myself and more on others. All I have belongs to You. May I use it for Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

    The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Keep track of what you spend on items that aren't necessities. How could you spend that money in a way that would help someone else?

    What areas are strongholds for you in the struggle with greed? Pray about what action God would have you take to curb your cravings for more.

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 28:25, "The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the LORD will prosper." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Luke

  • A Mistaken Identity

    Posted on August 2, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "He who belongs to God hears what God says." John 8:47a (NIV 1984)

    I poured a cup of coffee and logged on to my computer to peek at a friend's Facebook page.

    When I tried hopping over to see her latest pictures, I couldn't get her name to appear in the search bar. I was puzzled. This had always worked before. Glancing at the top of the screen, I realized I wasn't logged in to my own account. My son had forgotten to sign off when he'd been on earlier, so I was actually logged in as him instead.

    I couldn't get where I wanted to go because I had a mistaken identity.

    With a quick click of a mouse, I switched accounts and used Facebook as "me." Under the right identity, I was free to view friends' pages, leave comments with ease and get where I wanted to go.

    Sometimes in life we encounter the same issue-a mistaken identity keeps us from living out God's best for our lives. This may happen when a voice from our past or our own negative self-talk causes us to forget our identity in Christ. We log into our day and encounter wrong thinking that's not in sync with who we are. Those wrong thoughts lead us to doubt God's promise of a life filled with security. We can question our value that is rooted deep in His heart toward us.

    Instead of the truth of our identity, we hear: You can't do that. You aren't good enough. You'll never change. Why can't you be more like your sister? If only you were more ____________ instead of so ___________.

    When self-doubt screams and discouragement sets in, we need to recognize what's happening, log out of the lies we believe and log into God's truth. It's the only way to live in our true identity so we can navigate our lives according to God's Word.

    Here are some truths we can tell ourselves to remember who we are: I am the daughter of the Most High God. I am loved, redeemed and renewed. I am chosen, blameless and holy. I was bought at a great price. God knows me thoroughly and yet loves me completely. He has plans for my future that include hope, not harm; blessings, not banishment. I belong to Him.

    John 8:47a tells us, "He who belongs to God hears what God says" (NIV 1984). We need to listen to His Word, let it take root in our minds and allow it to eradicate any untrue, destructive thought patterns. Replacing the negative chatter with assuring scriptures will gently, but firmly, remind us we are children of God.

    Yes, if we "belong to God" we will hear what He says. As we log into His truths daily, no longer will we mistake our identity. We will know the confident reality of who we are in Christ.

    Dear Lord, when I am tempted to think of myself in a way that is neither healthy nor true, remind me both of who I am and to Whom I belong. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzanne Eller

    Reflect and Respond:
    What are some counter-productive or self-doubting thoughts that race through your mind at times? The next time you sense this happening, read Ephesians 1:3-14.

    Power Verses:
    Romans 1:6, "And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ." (NIV 1984)

    1 John 3:1a, "Consider this: The Father has given us his love. He loves us so much that we are actually called God's dear children. And that's what we are." (GW)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with John

  • I Didn't Sign up for This

    Posted on July 3, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good ..." Genesis 50:20a (NLT)

    "I didn't sign up for this!" my friend moaned as we reviewed the printed class schedules we'd just picked up in the school office.

    While I had gotten all my desired classes, she had been assigned one she had absolutely no interest in taking. She couldn't imagine spending four months stuck in a classroom studying something she disliked.

    I tried to empathize, but truthfully I felt she was whining about a very minor issue. Her life, in my estimation, was absolutely fantastic. She came from a well-to-do family. Her parents had been happily married for over 25 years. She had a big extended family and fun get-togethers. She had straight teeth and a nearly-new car.

    I, on the other hand, came from a family rocked by divorce and financial struggles. I had only one brother with whom I didn't get along. My car was old and ugly. My teeth needed braces, but the funds had never been available.

    Hearing her complain about her schedule started my descent into self-pity as I compared my circumstances to hers.

    The more I thought about the unfairness of my life, I reached the same conclusion she had when she spied that unwanted class: "I didn't sign up for this!"

    My friend and I both felt stuck. However, our situations weren't life-threatening. They were issues we could work to change. We could learn the lessons God had for us by not always having a perfect life. And if truly unable to change parts of our circumstances, we could still change our attitudes.

    A young man in Scripture, Joseph, also found himself smack dab in a heap of hassles and difficult situations he never signed up for. His jealous brothers sold him into slavery. He was whisked away to live in a foreign land. To top it off, he was falsely accused of raping his master's wife even though he tried his best to stay away from her. He even wound up in prison.

    These unjust circumstances could have had him complaining, "I didn't sign up for this!" He could have retaliated against those who had caused his turmoil. But he didn't.

    Joseph maintained a God-fearing, God-honoring attitude throughout his ordeals, even as a slave with no freedom in sight.

    At the end of his life we get a glimpse into his continual Christ-like behavior. He'd risen from slave to governor of Egypt through his discernment and wisdom. When his brothers came to buy grain during a famine from the Egyptian authorities, they were shocked to see their younger brother—long thought dead—sitting in a position of power. They feared he would retaliate for the cruel things they did to him, but Joseph's response? "You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good ..." (Genesis 50:20a).

    Joseph refused to let life's hard knocks knock him off course, preventing him from living a life that pleased God. He believed in a God Who works all things together for good. By recognizing God's redemption of horrific circumstances, he found true spiritual freedom from self-pity, anger and retaliation. Instead he characterized what God wants of us in Micah 6:8b, "And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?" (NAS).

    Today when I am tempted to whine as I compare my life with someone I perceive has an easier one, I remember Joseph, the slave-by-force. I want to emulate his attitude, be spiritually free, and walk in the ways of God.

    It also prompts me to remember that today forced slavery still exists; women and children are forced into the sex-trafficking trade every day. These precious ones sit in atrocious circumstances due to no fault or choice of their own.

    We enjoy simple freedoms they never get to experience. Unless ... we band together, purposing to do something about this awful practice. Could we dare to get our eyes off of our sometimes minor problems and spend time doing justice, acting kindly and humbly walking with God to help free these slaves?

    No matter our circumstances, it's never too late to be free. Our God-honoring attitude that comes from a shift in perspective can help us find spiritual freedom. And our intentional actions can help others imprisoned in slavery find freedom, physically, spiritually and emotionally.

    Dear Lord, help me take my eyes off of my circumstances and fix them solely upon You and Your plan so I can find true spiritual freedom and offer freedom to others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Priceless: A Novel on the Edge of the World by Tom Davis

     

     

     

    Reflect and Respond:
    When you can't change the circumstances, how might you change your attitude, bringing it in line with Scripture?

    Power Verse:
    Romans 8:28, "We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose." (HCSB)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Genesis

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