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User Archives: Leah DiPascal

  • The Ultimate Promise Keeper

    Posted on November 4, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    LEAH DIPASCAL

    "The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does." Psalm 145:13b (NIV)

    A couple years ago, a loved one broke a promise to me. At first, I was shocked. This was someone I completely trusted. Someone I had shared my secrets and dreams with for years. We did life together and I believed with all my heart I could rely on this person.

    My shock quickly turned to anger and regret. Anger that I'd been betrayed. Regret that I trusted this person in the first place. Moments of awkward silence and days of heartache followed.

    How would I ever trust again? Could this relationship ever be repaired? What good is making a promise if it's going to be broken?

    Anyone can make a promise, but let's be honest. How many of us have actually kept every promise we've made in our lifetime? A promise only has real value if it holds hands with commitment, faithfulness and perseverance.

    Broken promises hurt. They have the potential to sever relationships, bring heartache and wound deeply.

    In this tough world we live in, struggles and heartache are inevitable, and they may leave us wondering: Whom can we trust? Is there anyone out there who actually keeps every promise?

    The answer is a glorious YES and we find proof in today's key verse. Psalm 145:13b tells us, " ... The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does."

    If you're like me and someone you love has broken a promise to you, this verse is like a brilliant sunrise, illuminating hope in the midst of your dark and dreary circumstances.

    I've discovered three truths in this passage I'd love to share with you today:

    God makes promises. Who are we that God would promise us anything? Yet, out of His love for us, He established many promises that are not hidden or secret. We can easily find them in Scripture. "God is not a human that He would lie ..." (Numbers 23:19a, NIV). When God makes a promise to us, it will be accomplished through His sovereignty.

    God is trustworthy. We can count on God to fulfill His promises. He is dependable, reliable and worthy of our trust. God has already kept His greatest promise, by sending Jesus to die on our behalf so we can have eternal life in Him (John 3:16). If God fulfilled this sacred promise out of love for us, how can we doubt He will keep the other promises He has made?

    God is faithful. Not just sometimes or when He wants to be. God is faithful in all He does (Deuteronomy 7:9). God is loyal to those He loves. He is 100 percent devoted to His children and nothing will ever change that. The vow He made to you is eternal.

    Life is challenging. People will disappoint us. And, yes, as much as we try, we may even fall short in keeping some of our promises to others. But no matter what happens in life, we can hold on to this profound truth: God will never break His promises. Never. He is trustworthy and faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).

    God will do what He says He will do. And that, dear friend, is something we can confidently rely on forever!

    Lord, thank You for always keeping Your promises and loving me even in those moments when I haven't been faithful to You. Grow my faith and help me see You working in my life, so I can come to know You more. Let my trust in You increase as I learn to rely on Your faithfulness. Help me keep the promises I make to others. And when others have broken promises to me, let me never forget that Your promises and devotion extend for all of eternity. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 18:30, "God's way is perfect. All the LORD's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection." (NLT)

    2 Corinthians 1:20, "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Has someone broken a promise to you recently? Have you resolved the situation? If not, pray and ask God to show you how He wants to mend this relationship and your broken heart.

    Reflect on how trustworthy God is from today's key verse (Psalm 145:13b) and ask Him to help you become more trustworthy and faithful to others. Ask Him to give you wisdom and perseverance when it comes to keeping those promises you've already made.

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. 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

  • The Waiting Game

    Posted on October 6, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah DiPascal

    "The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him." Lamentations 3:25a (AMP)

    Sometimes I see God answer my prayers right away. I'm excited, thankful and ready to tell everyone about His goodness. Then, there are those other times when my prayers linger and miracles seem far away. As time creeps on, my doubts creep in.

    I used to think waiting on God to answer my prayers was like playing a game. Who would last the longest? Would I continue to ask, plead and persevere? Or would I give up first because I was tired of waiting? Or maybe God would give me what I wanted because He was tired of hearing all my whining and complaining.

    If my prayers were answered quickly, I'd give Jesus a quick spiritual high-five, shout Hallelujah! and then move on to my next request. But, if time went on and my miracle didn't show up, I'd get discouraged and frustrated. My waiting turned to worry. My perseverance shifted to pouting.

    Lord, why haven't You answered my prayers? What are You waiting for? Can't You see me struggling? You're taking too long and I just don't understand why.

    I began to think God might be holding out on me. Maybe He really didn't care about me. Or, maybe my circumstances weren't important enough to Him.

    But as I grew in my relationship with the Lord and learned to understand His character, my attitude changed. I realized how much God loves me and knows the desires tucked deep inside my heart. He promises to meet my needs (Philippians 4:19), and His miracles are not a thing of the past.

    Today's key verse tells us that after we pray and ask God for a need, want or desire, we should wait with expectancy and hope.

    You might be thinking, Leah, you just don't understand. I've been waiting for God to answer my prayers for so long.

    Maybe you've resigned to believing there's no hope. Sure, you started out confident and faith-filled, but as time goes by you've started to wonder if any good can come from your circumstances.

    Maybe you've wrapped an invisible wall around your heart so you won't be disappointed if God doesn't come through for you.

    Friend, I understand. I've been there. I've felt that way, too, and it's a lonely place to live each day.

    So what does it look like to have an attitude of hope and expectancy as we wait on the Lord to answer our prayers?

    I've learned to intentionally shift my focus to three things:

    God's Promises: I read Bible verses and speak them aloud daily. As the power of God's Word weaves hope into my prayers, encouragement fills the empty places in my heart. I'm reminded once again of God's unfailing love and faithfulness.

    Praise & Worship: I listen to praise music throughout the day in my house, car and at work in my office. The lyrics and melodies splash over me with joy as I sing along. I sense God's peace and pleasure and in those sweet moments, my worries fade, turning my doubts into confident expectancy.

    Thanksgiving: I thank God for the answered prayers and miracles in my past. I remember how God always came through in those tough times of great need, and I thank Him in advance for His answers yet to come.

    If you've asked God for answers but find yourself waiting longer than you planned, take a moment now to thank Him in advance for His answer. Trust that He is working behind the scenes on your behalf. Don't give up. Look forward in hope and expectancy for Him to respond and remember that the Lord is good to those who seek Him.

    Lord, thank You for remaining faithful to me. Help me have hope and expectancy as I wait for Your answers to my prayers. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 30:15a, "This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength ...'" (NIV)

    Isaiah 30:18, "Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!" (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When was the last time you thanked God in advance for an answer to your prayers?

    Write Isaiah 30:18 on a 3x5 card and replace the word "you" with your name. Speak this verse aloud throughout today and wait expectantly as you seek the Lord in prayer.

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. 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

  • Overriding Your To-Do List

    Posted on September 1, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

     

    Leah Dipascal

    But Jesus told him, 'Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God.'" Luke 9:62 (TLB)

    I was a woman on a mission and nothing was going to stop me. Or, so I thought.

    With an over-ambitious mindset and a determined heart, I clutched my lengthy to-do list as if it were a sacred antidote for life.

    Having much to accomplish and only a few hours to spare, I whipped into a parking spot and made a mad dash towards the front doors of my local convenience store.

    On the way in, I noticed a group of people staring at something on the ground. Avoiding the distraction, I shifted my direction and headed towards another set of doors on the opposite side of the store. Then the unexpected happened.

    A nudge. A knowing. A whisper in my heart: "Go over to the crowd."

    At first, I dismissed it as curiosity. A random thought that needed to be ignored. But then it dawned on me ... I wasn't curious at all. In fact, I was much more interested in getting in, getting out and going my own way.

    I'm not involved, so it's not my problem.

    Then I sensed the whisper again: "Leah, I want you to go over there."

    With a smile on my face and joy in my heart, I made a beeline for the crowd. NOT. Instead, it went something like this: Heavy sigh. Slow turn. Unsettled feelings.

    I recognized God's nudge, and I wanted to obey. Really, I did. But, another part of me just wanted to keep walking.

    This distraction is going to throw off my schedule and keep me from accomplishing what I need to get done today. It's probably nothing.

    Reluctantly making my way back across the parking lot, I approached the crowd and saw a man on the ground. A heavy concoction of sweat, alcohol fumes and stale smoke filled the air.

    Glancing at his tattered clothes and swollen feet, I noticed the scratches on his arms and face.

    His eyes were swollen shut, and he wasn't moving. The crowd stood silently staring at his body. I couldn't tell if he was breathing, but I could hear the faint sounds of an ambulance in the distance.

    Help was on its way, so I could now be on my way. Then the whisper came again: "Kneel down and pray for him."

    Seriously Lord ... kneel down? Here in the parking lot? Can't I just stand here and pray silently for him? All these people will think I'm a weirdo. Besides, help is coming.

    "Kneel down and pray for him."

    So I did. Kneeling down next to the man, I stretched out my hand and gently placed it on his shoulder. I began to pray out loud. No one else said a word.

    At first it felt awkward. Uncomfortable. Crazy. But then I felt someone's hand rest gently on my shoulder. Within moments, a woman bent down next to me and placed her hand on the sick man's arm. Another hand extended. Another voice responded to the prayers.

    In just a few seconds, this unlikely mix of strangers transformed into a powerful prayer group. Right in the middle of a busy convenience store parking lot. An unwanted distraction became a divine appointment.

    No one objected. No one walked away. We continued to pray until the paramedics arrived, treated the man and left for the hospital. As the sirens faded into the background, I stood there astonished at what God had just done in our midst.

    Had I ignored the whisper I would have missed out on the miracle. I could have overlooked the distraction, but I would have missed my divine appointment. My "important" schedule paled in comparison to what I had just experienced: God tying hearts together and weaving a beautiful blanket of prayer over one of His broken children.

    In the midst of the ordinary, God breathed the extraordinary ... all within a circle of strangers willing to be distracted for a moment in time.

    Did you wake up this morning with a long to-do list and an ambitious mindset? When distractions come your way, try pausing for a moment to see if God is unwrapping a divine appointment for you. It may be disguised as ordinary circumstances. But as you peel back the layers, whispering "Yes Lord, I'll obey," you will no doubt experience His presence and glory!

    Lord, thank You for entrusting me with divine appointments, and let my answer to Your call always be yes. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Jeremiah 7:23b, "Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you." (NIV)

    Philippians 2:13, "... for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When was the last time God turned a distraction into a divine appointment for you?

    Do you struggle with discerning God's voice? Pray and ask God to give you a greater awareness of His presence.

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. 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

  • My Hidden Tattoos

    Posted on August 15, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah Dipascal

    " ... the LORD's declaration. 'I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.'" Jeremiah 31:33b (HCSB)

    I didn't mean to stare, but I couldn't help it.

    After exchanging a quick smile, she continued placing grocery bags into her cart, while my eyes glanced back at her arms.

    Tattoos covered every inch of skin from her tiny shoulders to her delicate wrists.

    Images of hearts, religious symbols, quotes and names of those I imagined she loved over the years. Woven together in a tapestry of flesh and ink.

    Some of the designs had faded with time, while others popped with fresh, bold colors. Forever inscribed with permanent ink from a tattoo machine.

    It was obvious she had a passion for art ... and a relationship with a trusted tattoo artist.

    If I ever wanted to get a tattoo, how could I possibly decide on one design? I thought to myself.

    As she gathered her things and left the store, I wondered about the sting of the tattoo gun and how it must have hurt.

    Lord, if I chose to go through the pain, where should my special tattoo be placed?

    To my surprise, today's key verse from Jeremiah immediately came to mind:

    "I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people."

    As a grin emerged from my soul, I whispered to Him, Thank You, Lord, as I pictured my heart covered with colorful tattoos.

    Inscribed Scriptures placed ever so carefully with great detail. Engraved instructions written by the holy finger of my Heavenly Father.

    Some had faded over the years. Weathered by life's trials.

    Others were stained with bold, fresh colors. Some were recently tattooed as I had claimed new promises.

    It was a fresh perspective right there in the grocery checkout line! Something totally unexpected, but wonderful at the same time. A teachable moment. His heart connecting with mine.

    Originally, God's teachings were written on tablets of stone (Exodus 31:18) and scrolls made from parchment or papyrus (Jeremiah 36:2). This was established under the old covenant.

    But as believers under the new covenant, God has chosen to place His Word on our hearts, at the very center of our being, making it familiar and readily available to us. He carefully positions His promises over our hearts to protect our emotions, desires and perceptions of ourselves and others.

    As life moves on and years go by, I long for the Master Artist to continue etching His Word on my heart until every inch is covered. Inside and out. I hope you do, too.

    Although these special tattoos aren't visible for everyone to see, I know they are there and that's what is most important to me.

    I can't wait to see my tattooed heart when I get to heaven one day. As I kneel before God and if I dare to ask, "Lord, do You have a tattoo?" I won't be surprised if He reaches out, and there in the palm of His hand, my name beautifully inscribed for all of eternity. A tattoo, of sorts, that will never fade away or be removed.

    "Can a mother forget her little child and not have love for her own son? Yet even if that should be, I will not forget you. See, I have tattooed your name upon my palm." (Isaiah 49:15b-16, TLB)

    Lord, Thank You for placing Your Word on my heart so that it's always available to me. When life is difficult and nothing seems to go right, help me remember You are near and Your promises are true. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 119:11, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (NIV)

    2 Corinthians 3:3, "And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Do you have a favorite Scripture verse? Is it one you've memorized recently or have you known it for a long time? Why not challenge yourself to discover a new favorite verse this week?

    How do you feel knowing God has written His Word on your heart? What words come to mind? Take a minute to thank Him and make a list of things you're grateful for today.

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. 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 Jeremiah

  • Trading Fears for Freedom

    Posted on July 4, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah DiPascal

    "But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?" Psalm 56:3-4 (NLT)

    {Editor's note & trigger alert: We are mindful today's devotion might stir up emotions for anyone who's survived intense trauma. We pray you are encouraged by Leah's message.}

    As a teenager, I lived a pretty sheltered life. I believed nothing bad would ever happen to me. Then one day, I found myself in the middle of a really bad situation.

    Being in the wrong place at the wrong time resulted in a pistol put to my head. A robbery that was a sudden and terrifying scenario for this naive teenage girl.

    "Don't move or I'll shoot!" The sharp words of my abductor rattled me to my very core. Shaking uncontrollably, I could feel the cold, hard surface of his gun pushing against my pulsating temple.

    As my heart raced, thoughts ran through my mind: I'm going to die. This is it ... my life is over. I wanted to run, but saw no way out.

    By the grace of God, I survived. But although I had no physical wounds, the memories of that experience settled deep within my heart. Like acid, it seeped into the center of my shaken soul and ate away at my once-upon-a-time teenage confidence.

    At night, my mind replayed the awful scenario. And during the day, I was afraid to go anywhere alone. Or even be left alone.

    What if I run into him again? Will he recognize me? What if he followed me home that day and knows where I live? What if he comes looking for me again?

    I didn't feel safe ... anywhere.

    I was afraid ... most all the time.

    I struggled ... the memories haunted me.

    Looking back, I realize my abductor abused me momentarily, but fear held me hostage for what seemed like a lifetime. It kept my thoughts in bondage and dictated my daily decisions.

    My biggest regret during that season of distress was not having God's Word hidden in my heart. If I had taken the time to not only read but memorize His Word, I could have traded my fears for God's truth of freedom found in John 8:32: "And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (NLT).

    On those sleepless nights, I could have claimed this promise instead: "When you lie down, you will not be afraid; you will lie down, and your sleep will be pleasant," Proverbs 3:24 (HCSB).

    When I was alone and scared my abductor might return, I could have replaced my thoughts with today's key verse: "But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?" Psalm 56:3-4.

    Have you ever experienced something tragic that's left you feeling afraid? Are your thoughts sometimes filled with "what-if" worries or scary scenarios that keep you awake at night? Does fear and anxiety hold you hostage today?

    If so, I understand. I've been there. God's Word is the answer to help you move beyond your fears to freedom with a new level of unshakable courage. Here's the key: Real and sustainable freedom from fears can only be found in Jesus Christ and through His powerful Word.

    Here's what I've discovered: What consumes our thoughts overtakes our thought life. We can't change what's happened in our past, but we can change how we respond to those difficult situations in the future.

    As women of faith, we find freedom from fear when we choose to capture those fearful memories, cover them with God's Word and begin building a healthy thought life as we place our trust in Him.

    Let's commit to focusing on thoughts that bring life, hope and freedom. Let's surrender our broken memories to God and allow Him to saturate them with His healing grace.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for being with me so that I'm never alone. Help me to replace my fearful thoughts with Your Word as I begin memorizing Scripture verses today. I believe I can live a life of freedom from fear with Your help. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 43:18-19a, "Forget what happened in the past, and do not dwell on events from long ago. I am going to do something new. It is already happening. Don't you recognize it?" (GWT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    You can start today by memorizing a few of the Scripture verses shared above. Speak them aloud or personalize them into prayers.

    How can you let God's Word change your thinking as it brings healing to painful memories and true freedom to your life?

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. 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

  • Lord, I Don't Know What to Do

    Posted on June 11, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah Dipascal

    "Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow." Psalm 25:4 (NLT)

    Do you ever feel like you're going in circles and not making any progress? At least not the kind of progress you were expecting.

    Are the constant appeals of our world pulling you in a million different ways, causing you to question if you're headed in the right direction?

    If you're like me, you have plans and dreams you want to fulfill. But life is confusing at times. And most days it seems like you're just surviving instead of living out those dreams or accomplishing your goals.

    Numerous distractions.

    Too many choices.

    Endless interruptions.

    There have been days I've felt like one foot was fixed to the floor, while my other foot scurried in every direction. Expending a lot of energy and mental fatigue, but going nowhere. Can you relate?

    Wouldn't it be awesome to wake up every morning and be assured you're on the right path towards your goals? To know with certainty that you're headed in the right direction? To feel confident with each step, without constantly questioning yourself?

    Too many times I've second-guessed a decision I was confident about. I want so desperately to follow God's will that I'll pray, but then feel uncertain, not wanting to make a wrong move. I wonder: Maybe this isn't what I'm supposed to be doing. Maybe this isn't part of God's plan for my life.

    As I've wrestled with indecision and insecurity, I've sought God's Word for help. A few months ago, I found a priceless nugget of truth in the Bible. It addresses our desire for guidance and shows us what to do when we need clear direction.

    King David composed these words in a beautiful psalm, tucked within the pages of the Old Testament:

    "Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you" (Psalm 25:4-5).

    These verses reveal David's humble and teachable heart. He wanted to be guided by God and led by His truth. David knew God was his Savior and placed all his hope in the One who created the right path for him.

    We find the answers to David's request for guidance only a few short passages away. Promises we can claim for our own lives:

    "The LORD is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands" (Psalm 25:8-10, NLT).

    Based on these verses, when our hearts are humble and truly seeking God's will, we can be confident of this:

    1. God will always show us what is right for us.
    2. When we get sidetracked, God will direct us back to the right path.
    3. We are not alone. God leads and teaches us along the way.
    4. God leads those who obey Him with unfailing love and faithfulness.

    If you're unsure about some things in your life, don't wait another day to figure it out on your own. Ensure your heart is in the right place of humility, and then ask God to help you. Once you've asked, trust that God is directing you.

    If you know you've gotten on the wrong path, seek God for direction instead of looking to the world for answers. As you take steps to follow and obey God's voice, He will lovingly show you the way.

    Months ago I asked the Lord to etch these verses onto my heart and mind, so I'd always have them with me — especially on days when I feel like I'm going in circles and lacking direction.

    Today, I'm praying these verses over you.

    Dear Lord, help my friend come to You when she's in need of direction. Remind her that the world can't offer what she deeply longs for, nor does it hold her future, but You certainly do. Thank You for guiding her today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 32:8, "The LORD says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.'" (NLT)

    Psalm 90:17, "Let the favor of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!" (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What area in your life is lacking direction: marriage, parenting, career, health?

    Find three Scripture verses (relating to that particular area) and personalize them into a prayer as you go to God for guidance.

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. 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

  • Don't Miss the Ride of Your Life

    Posted on May 30, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah Dipscal

    "Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (HCSB)

    I watched my family as they waited in line for the heart-pounding experience of riding the Griffon. We read about this roller coaster in the theme park brochure, but now it was time to put words into action.

    My sons kept looking back from the line, motioning for me to join them for the cliffhanger thrill ride. With a convincing smile, I shook my head no and pointed to my camera. My reason for not riding was to take pictures of them during each upside down loop and heart-pounding free fall.

    After their turn, my husband walked up with an exhilarating smile and said, "You missed out on an awesome ride!" As our sons shared the hair-raising moments and laughed about each other's reactions, I felt a twinge of sadness and disappointment.

    Truthfully, saying no to my family's request that day had more to do with fear and less to do with capturing family photos. I was afraid of the unknown, and when given the opportunity, I opted to stay safely away from the risk and inside the padded walls of my comfort zone.

    For years I was aware of this pattern in my life. When faced with adventurous opportunities, fear and uncertainty often held me securely within the boundaries of my comfortable space. Then I'd be disappointed that I missed out.

    I longed to be brave but instead allowed the enemy to convince me I was a coward. I dreamed about being adventurous, but compared myself to others, which left me feeling less than and discouraged.

    Then one day I came across Joshua 1:9 and the words resonated deep within me: "Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

    I'd read this verse many times before, but that time I realized being brave wasn't just a personal want-to in my life. God was commanding me to live strong and courageous.

    God originally spoke these words to Joshua (Moses' successor as leader of the Israelites) while presenting him with a new opportunity. Joshua's assignment was to lead more than two million people into a strange new land, claiming it as their promised territory.

    Now that's what I call a hair-raising experience! And way more difficult than riding a roller coaster at a theme park.

    God could have chosen someone else for this great task, but He specifically selected Joshua.

    First, there was a command: "be strong and courageous ... do not be afraid or discouraged." And it was wrapped inside a promise: "for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

    What if Joshua had allowed the unknown to keep him from saying yes to God? What if he gave insecurity and doubt permission to keep him firmly within his comfort zone?

    Joshua would have missed out on the blessings. He would have missed his calling in life. He would have missed the adventure with God.

    Is God presenting you with a new opportunity? Is He asking you to go back to school, start a new career or accept a new ministry position?

    Without God it can be scary. But with God it can be a great adventure! Just as God was with Joshua, He promises to be with us. We may not conquer nations, but with God by our sides anything is possible.

    I'm learning to be brave. To trust God more when He gives me new opportunities. I don't want to miss out on anything God has for me because of fear, doubt or insecurity.

    Will you choose to be courageous and step out of your comfort zone? Will you say yes to God and no to fear when He opens the next door of opportunity?

    What are you waiting for? The greatest ride of your life is just up ahead. So go get your seat next to God, strap into the safety of His presence and experience the adventure with Him!

    Dear Lord, You are my greatest adventure. Help me to trust and follow Your lead. When I start to feel afraid or discouraged, strengthen me so I can fulfill the assignments You've chosen for me. Thank You for always being with me wherever I go. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 32:8, "The LORD says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.'" (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What opportunity is God presenting to you today? What is keeping you from stepping outside your comfort zone and saying yes to God?

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. 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 Joshua

  • Will I Ever Accomplish Something Great?

    Posted on April 9, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah DiPascal

    "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

    Have you ever thought to yourself, "God could never use me"? I have ... many times.

    I spent years watching from the sidelines as some of my closest friends accomplished great things. Rewarding careers. Successful families. Thriving ministries.

    If only I were smarter. If I could just meet the right people. If I had a little more courage. Then surely God would use me.

    What did others have that I didn't? I loved God. He loved me. So why wasn't I on the approved-to-be-used-by-God list? What was the problem? Would my big moment to shine ever come?

    I was under the false impression that if God chose me to accomplish great things for Him, it would include an elaborate theme with plenty of fanfare. Boy, was I wrong.

    Sure, God certainly knows how to manifest grand and elaborate: A snow capped mountain range. A sunrise bursting with color. A field of wildflowers in full bloom. He even gives people tremendous platforms to fulfill His wondrous plans. People whose names we all know by heart.

    God also chooses people like you and me to do great things for His glory. But sometimes our assignments look very different than we think they should. Although the world tends to focus on famous people, high positions and big platforms, God looks at the intent of the heart.

    While admiring the successful journeys of others and wondering why God wasn't choosing me, I overlooked something important. He was using me — as His masterpiece — to accomplish good things that were already planned for me years ago (Ephesians 2:10).

    While I was dreaming up grand ideas, God was waiting for a grateful heart.

    While I was longing for elaborate platforms, God was looking for a humble spirit.

    While I was dreaming of success, God was watching for a willingness of obedience.

    A grateful heart when diapers needed changing and toys were left all over the floor. A humble spirit when dirty clothes sat in piles waiting to be washed and dinner needed to be prepared. A willingness of obedience when God whispered to my heart "Apologize first and say you're sorry."

    Looking back over the years I can now see that some of my greatest accomplishments happened within the simple walls of my own home. Serving my family in messy ways and being stretched beyond what I thought was my breaking point.

    Saying "yes" when I wanted to say "no." Helping with last-minute homework assignments. Holding little hands during bedtime prayers.

    There was no sea of spectators. No cheers from the crowd. No standing ovations. Only a simple family, living life one day at a time, trying to do what was right in God's eyes.

    What great things has God chosen for you to do? Remember, you are His masterpiece, a one-of-a-kind creation, created to fulfill important plans no one else can do.

    Are your God-given assignments wrapped in baseball caps and sneakers?

    Are your grand moments filled with princess tiaras and bedtime stories?

    As you tirelessly serve your family and sometimes wonder if anyone notices, be assured that God does. He sees you as His greatest asset! Your willingness to serve your family brings Him great joy.

    And when will our big moment come? When we get to shine?

    I imagine it will be one glorious day when we humbly kneel before our Heavenly Father and He lovingly speaks our names saying, "Well done my faithful daughter. You have accomplished great things in My Name."

    Lord, help me to accomplish all the plans You've chosen for me. Give me wisdom and discernment to know what path You've laid out for me to follow. Thank you for creating me as Your masterpiece and may I delight in You as I serve my family well. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are you living out God's plan for your life? If not, what is holding you back from accomplishing great things for Him?

    What are some ways you enjoy serving your family? Plan something special for your family to do together. Take pictures and create a memory board to hang up in your home.

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 16:3, "Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed." (NLT)

    1 Samuel 16:7, "God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (NET)

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. 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 Ephesians

  • Why Shopping Will Never Satisfy

    Posted on March 14, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah DiPascal

    "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)

    We only had ten days to get everything packed and ready for the movers. Shipping boxes, wrapping paper and rolls of tape were everywhere. Every room called for attention, and I didn't know which direction to go first.

    With a squeezing economy and company cutbacks, our family made the hard decision to sell our home and do some major downsizing. Deep inside I knew it was the right choice, but the process was hard. Although I tried to put on a happy face, my heart was aching.

    Dragging myself from room to room, the amount of accumulated stuff overwhelmed me. Clothes, furniture, linens, accessories and enough kitchen appliances to open a diner filled every room.

    As I viewed all the things left to pack, I thought about my past shopping sprees where I'd picked up so many of the items. The early-bird door busters and all those neon yellow clearance stickers lured me in. The endless rows of shiny metal racks, boasting 50-percent-off treasures sealed the deal.

    I had prided myself thinking of all the money I saved buying everything on sale. Who was I kidding?

    The truth was our checking account balance was shrinking, yet I kept wanting new things and buying more. All the while, insisting these were purchases we "needed."

    But now, all of these bargains had to be boxed up, moved and put into storage. My "treasures" had become burdens. As I looked around at all the clutter, I wondered if it was my heart, not my home, needing to be de-cluttered.

    It was time to make some major adjustments in my thought life and begin living out today's verse in Hebrews 13:5, "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"

    God spoke to me that day with gentle conviction that it was time to stop making excuses for buying so much and be content with less.

    Kneeling in my storage room, I prayed and asked God to forgive me. I told Him I wanted to change but I needed His help. The process wasn't easy, but it was necessary.

    Ten days later when the movers arrived, everything was boxed and ready to go. Instead of heading to a storage facility, we delivered many of those boxes to a local children's home in desperate need of household items and clothing.

    It felt freeing to give away more and keep less. To experience the Giver instead holding onto the material gifts. To trust the Provider and stop worrying about having enough. To simply be content.

    Maybe you struggle sometimes with contentment too. Do you ever find yourself buying something you really don't need? I know, it was probably on sale.

    Perhaps God is asking you to keep less and give away more. To be content with what He's given you and not feel like you have to buy more to be more.

    Friend, don't fall for the lies I did. Trust that God will provide what you need when you need it. If you have extra items, consider giving them away to someone in need and experience the freedom of being content with less.

    Dear Lord, You know me better than I know myself. Help me to be content with what You've given me. Take away my cravings for always wanting more. Teach me to desire You above all else. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    In what areas are you least content? Write them down in your journal along with the two Scripture verses below. Pray and ask God to help you become content with what you have as you trust Him to provide all you need.

    Get a box or kitchen trash bag and go through your closets. Place at least one item from each closet into the box or bag and take to a local charity.

    Power Verses:
    1 Timothy 6:6-8, "But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content." (ESV)

    Matthew 6:33, "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." (NLT)

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. 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

  • The Day I Almost Gave Up

    Posted on February 7, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah DiPascal

    "The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry for help ... The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:15-18 (HCSB)

    I gripped the steering wheel of my car and stared at the hospital emergency doors. My heart pounded furiously, like a time bomb waiting to explode. The pressure in my head was almost unbearable. The invisible weight on my chest felt like someone dropped a sledgehammer on me.

    Thoughts raced through my mind. I wanted to scream but could barely breathe a whisper. I just sat there lonely, afraid, shattered and completely empty inside.

    Should I check myself into the hospital?

    What if they admit me in the psychiatric ward and won't let me go home?

    Who will take care of my children?

    Will my husband still love me?

    What if my friends find out?

    Reaching for my phone, panic rushed over me like a tidal wave. A pool of tears cascaded down my face, as I cried, Jesus, please help me!

    Sitting in my car, unable to move, I continued to pray and ask God questions like, How did I get here? I'm a Christian for heaven's sake! Things like this just don't happen to Christian women – or do they? I feel like such a failure.

    Looking back now, I can see how years of worry and stress had brought me to that day.

    Concerns about my family's finances kept me up most nights. Stress over a high-pressured job caused erratic panic attacks. Worry about my children's health created knots in my stomach. Struggling to help my aging parents resulted in midnight crying sessions.

    My concerns consumed me. Worrying became an addiction, demanding my ongoing attention. I was trying to "hold it all together" on the outside, but on the inside, a sea of doubt and fear haunted me.

    Maybe you're in a similar place. Have the stresses of life caught up with you too? Are you worried about your finances, health, marriage, job or kids? Do you wonder if anyone sees your pain or even cares? If you're brave enough to cry out for help, will anyone rescue you?

    In today's verse, we are reminded we do have a Rescuer:

    "The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry for help ... the righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:15-18).

    God sees you and hears your cries for help, even when no one else does. He knows your heartache. He sees your pain. If your heart is broken and you feel crushed from all sides, God promises to be close to you. Though you may not see Him with you physical eyes, He is there.

    God rescued me that day in the hospital parking lot. After several hours of prayer, God calmed my heart and I called my husband. I reached out to close friends for help, and the healing started. Although I wanted an instant miracle, it took time, but God never left my side. He gently mended my broken heart and renewed my mind through His Word. He guided me along a journey that led to true freedom, for which I am forever grateful.

    Has the stress of life taken its toll, causing you to feel afraid, lonely or ready to give up? Is your heart broken today? Let God rescue you, friend. He is ready. He is willing. He is able.

    Dear Lord, it feels like my life is falling part. I desperately need You to rescue me. Thank You for hearing my cries and for delivering me from my troubles. Even when I am hidden from others, You see me, Lord. Thank You saving me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Read Psalm 139 and highlight every verse that tells of God's presence and protection over you.

    Write out a prayer thanking God for all the things you are grateful for today.

    Power Verse:
    Zephaniah 3:17, "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (NIV 1984)

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. 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

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