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Author Archives: Lynn Cowell

  • I Don't Want to Fit In

    LYNN COWELL

    LYNN

    "Then a herald shouted out, 'People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king's command! When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar's gold statue. Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.'" Daniel 3:4-6 (NLT)

    I knew I needed to stop talking about him, but as a new bride, I just couldn't. Fresh and new, I could often be found gushing about my amazing husband!

    However in my work environment, I quickly realized being happy and being married wasn't all that popular. The positive comments I made about my husband stood out from the daily hubby-bashing of my peers. So it didn't take me long to find my own complaints about marriage to add to the conversations.

    I worked to find something negative about Greg to throw in the fire. But although my words fit in well with my peers, making negative comments hurt my heart. I knew better. It wasn't a matter of simply letting something slip; I was choosing to be someone I was not.

    When we hear the words "peer pressure," we often think of just teenagers. But pressure to conform doesn't go away once we leave our school days. It isn't limited to any one age, gender or status group. In one form or another, every culture is influenced by the pressure to belong.

    In our key verse today, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon commanded "people of all races and nations and languages" to bow down and worship an image of himself. All people, of all types, were subject to his pressure to conform.

    We, too, are under pressure to conform daily.

    To bad mouth our spouses. To keep our clothes, cars or condos up to date. To meet society's demands about body image. Daily we can be pushed to "bow down" to the gods of bellyaching, buying and beauty.

    Although my early marriage days are long gone, I still experience the pressure of society's standards.

    But I've decided I don't want to do it any more. I don't want to fit in, if fitting in means going against God's best for His glory and my good.

    Like the three brave young men who stood up to King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3 and bravely refused to bow down to the gold statue of the king, we too can be brave and refuse peer pressure. We can reach out to Jesus for the strength, courage and determination to not "bow down" to culture's definition of behavior. Boldly, we can choose to be women who exude the traits of Jesus — the fruit of the Spirit. And in turn, we can teach our children to be bold too.

    When we display love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control we become different. And it's a difference that is gorgeous and godly.

    Jesus, it is all too easy for me to just go along each day with what society calls "normal." Yet You call me to stand up and stand out for You. Help me today to choose to be different and choose to allow Your life to flow through mine. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (NIV)

    Romans 12:2, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (NKJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: In what ways do you face the daily pressure to conform to culture's norms?

    Do a word search using the concordance of your Bible, or an online version, to discover what God's Word has to say about this particular struggle.

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Letting Love be my "Go-To" Outfit

    Lynn

    "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience ... Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." Colossians 3:12,14 (NASB)

    Traveling sure can be hard on us girls! Trying to cram everything we'd like to bring into a space that's just a fraction of what we're used to. What a challenge!

    Airline travel is especially hard. In the interest of saving money, I often choose carry-on luggage only. Which means there's only one small bag to hold everything I need.

    Since space is limited, when I pack I have to take my time. I've got one shot to make the right decisions. One chance to be sure I have the perfect outfit for each scenario I'll find myself in. Dress or pants? New shoes or comfortable ones? Cute purse or functional?

    How I can struggle with deciding something as simple as how I should dress!

    Yet there are times when I don't just struggle with how to dress on the outside. I struggle with dressing my inside, too!

    Like the decision between wearing my new shoes or the broken-in ones, my heart-choices easily gravitate toward what "feels" comfortable.

    In a conversation with my husband, my mind naturally thinks of what I want to say rather than listening to the words he is speaking.

    When dialogue with my kids becomes heated, I can slip into demanding respect, before I fully hear what they are trying to say. I'm sad to admit it, but caring about my own needs, my feelings, my desires and my agenda often comes first.

    I want to change that.

    Just like when I'm packing, I want to slow down, carefully choose the words I say, the attitudes I have and the actions I take. Each day, I've got one shot to make the right decision.

    Today's key verse tells us the first step in making these right decisions is choosing the best "outfit" to put on our hearts each day: "... put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience ... Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity" (Colossians 3:12b, 14).

    I want love to be my "go-to" outfit, my first choice, my initial reaction. But getting to the place where love becomes completely natural can be a bit uncomfortable, like breaking in a new pair of shoes. However, by daily pushing past the messages of our me-first culture, love can become my favorite "go-to" choice. Instead of overreacting to situations that arise in my family, at work or in my friendships, I ask God to help me respond in love knowing I have the power of Jesus working through me.

    No matter where I'm going or what I'm doing today, I can confidently put on love — exactly the choice I will be most beautiful in!

    Dear Lord, as You know, loving others isn't always the easiest or most natural choice for me. Before I go any further today, help me to put on love, putting others needs and wants before my own. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 John 4:19, "We love because he first loved us." (NIV)

    Proverbs 31:25, "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future." (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When was the last time you chose loving others over loving yourself?

    Write today's key verse on a sticky note and put it on your closet as a reminder to put on love each day while you are getting dressed.

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Dying to My Selfie

    Lynn

    "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin ..." Romans 6:6 (NIV)

    Girls' weekend was finally here! I was so excited to be going away with my two girls and their friends, that when someone hollered, "Selfie!" I nudged my way into the picture just in time.

    The selfie is a spontaneous picture taken to capture ...

    To capture what?

    Sometimes, like our road-trip shot, it's to capture a moment we're enjoying and people we're loving. Other times, I wonder if it's more than that.

    "Mom, you always find a way to get in there!" one of my girls lovingly laughed from the back seat.

    My daughter's tease got me thinking ...

    Do I always find a way to get in on what is going on? If so, why?

    Do I turn selfie moments into opportunities to make the moment about me? Shift the attention toward me?

    Shouldn't I be past this?

    Sometimes the young girl we once were, the one who wanted to be noticed, the one who sought after a boy's attention or longed for her parents' approval, is not completely gone.

    Maybe there's a side of me still wanting acceptance and attention. This possibility makes me uncomfortable. I don't want to be an insecure woman.

    I want to be a woman who reflects love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I want to have selfless attributes of a heart that reflects Christ in me, the fruit of His Spirit on display. A lasting grace that isn't about getting attention, but about serving and loving others more than I love myself.

    I want that kind of beauty for me, and for my daughters as well.

    But to gain it, I have to give something up. I'm going to have to die first.

    Die to the me who is all about me.

    Die to my selfie.

    Because, when I die to me, another woman can emerge. A woman whose character is found in the love she gives, the joy she lives and the peace when she forgives.

    A woman who doesn't make her life about gaining attention, but giving it.

    Today's key verse reminds me that Jesus' work on the cross makes it possible for me to become this kind of woman: "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin" (Romans 6:6).

    Christ died so I don't have to struggle with the sin of self-centeredness, the pull to make life about me. Christ's new life in me means I no longer have to be a slave to needing attention. I can confidently put the spotlight on Him and others.

    And here is the intriguing twist: A woman who possesses this type of beauty, who chooses others above herself is hard to find, yet she is easy to spot.

    Jesus, I want to be beautiful the way You define beautiful. A woman whose life reflects Your life inside of me. Help me to die to myself so that You might daily live strong in me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Reflect on the past 24 hours. Can you spot a moment when you needed to "die to your selfie"?

    In that moment, were you able to recognize this difficult choice you were facing of choosing others over yourself?

    Today, ask the Father to help you recognize when you need to choose others over yourself.

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Unshakable Confidence

    Lynn

    "Mary responded, 'I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true.' And then the angel left her." Luke 1:38 (NLT)

    Lord, I'm not sure I can take one more rejection.

    No. No. No. Every email I received said the same thing, using different words. We don't publish that type of book. We don't publish writers we don't know. We won't publish you.

    Letting each rejection seep into my heart, many days I crawled into bed and cried. Why would God ask me to do something good, yet allow a process that made me feel so bad?

    But then I remembered Mary, who was much wiser than I. Her story is found in the Bible. Instead of building her confidence on something she could lose, or have taken away, she built her confidence on God.

    Picture this teenager. She's engaged to a great guy. Wedding plans are in motion. Life is good.

    Then suddenly, her happily-ever-after dreams are interrupted by an angel announcing this surprise:

    "Good morning! You're beautiful with God's beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you" (Luke 1:28, MSG).

    Flattered? Nope. She was scared! However, the angel assures her, "You have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus" (v. 29-33).

    My reaction would have been, What? Pregnant? I'm not married yet! There's no way!

    But when Mary received this news, we don't see fear or doubt. Her response isn't, "This will be the end of me! What will everyone say about me?"

    Mary doesn't ditch her confidence. Instead, as we find in today's key verse, her reaction is grounded in faith: "I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true" (Luke 1:38a).

    Mary responded with confidence because Mary's confidence began with her relationship with God.

    Not on something, like her reputation. That was outside her control.

    Not on someone, like Joseph. For all she knew, he would leave her once he learned she was pregnant.

    Not on some place, like her home. Mary actually left town to visit her cousin after she received this news.

    Did Mary understand everything God was doing? Unlikely. Or resent what He was doing? Doesn't appear so.

    Would others judge her? No doubt they would, but Mary did not allow people's opinions to prevent her from embracing God's calling, even if she didn't completely understand it. The lack of details didn't impact her confidence in His plans for her life, nor her trust in Him to take care of her.

    There have been times when I've based my confidence on others. As a teenager, I based it on a boyfriend's affection, a coach's affirmation or my parent's approval. If one of them failed to give the "Atta girl!" I craved, I saw myself as a failure.

    As a mom, I've built it on my kids and their performance. When they made a mistake, my confidence was shaken. I've based my security on my career and the success I wanted. Success hasn't always come, although rejection often has.

    Has there been a time when circumstances were less than perfect and your confidence was shaken?

    I'm learning that unshakable confidence is not built on someone, something or someplace, but on our unshakable God. This confidence is built over time, before confidence-shaking circumstances come. In the difficult times, God has taught me He alone is my firm foundation for rebuilding confidence. Only Him.

    As we face inevitable uncertainties in life, in our relationships, in our futures, let's start to rebuild our confidence on the One that can never be taken away: God. The only One who will never leave us or forsake us.

    Lord, it's easier to build my confidence on what I can see and what I know. Help me to build my confidence on You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Hebrews 10:35-36, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What have you been building your confidence on? Is it something you could lose or have taken from you?

    How can you begin to make a shift and build your confidence on God — His faithfulness and love for you?

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • When Kids Don't Go According to Plan

    Lynn

    "A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living." Luke 15:11-13 (NASB)

    It was true. He showed respect by asking for my permission. But after watching the movie previews, I had made up my mind. No child of mine was going to see that show. I had decided well before he asked the question. The answer was, "No." Without words, my son turned his back, returning to his friends.

    I wrestled inside with that decision, because for all practical purposes, my son was an adult. Yet, knowing the intense heartache that could come if one unwise decision led to another, I was determined to maintain control with my eldest child as long as possible.

    He could have lied and gone to the movie and told you something different, my head reasoned. Meanwhile my heart whispered, You still have time to influence his decisions; don't give up while he's still at home.

    After seeking wise advice from my husband, we decided to allow our son to make up his own mind that day, but not without tears in our eyes. I know the decision seems rather trivial to lead to watery eyes. However, as I reflected on why we got so emotional, it wasn't that the choice was hard; it was the act of letting go.

    I imagine the father in today's key passage wrestled with letting go, too. His son had given the speech ... the speech of a child who knows more than his dad: "Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me" (Luke 15:12).

    Here is where I stand amazed at the father. In Jesus' story, the father didn't nag, criticize or get angry with his son. The father didn't say, "You're not ready. This is the wrong decision. You're too immature. You don't know what you're doing."

    Instead, this wise and loving father prepared to watch his son learn hard truth ... on his own.

    Reading this passage makes my heart break. I come to tears just thinking of the pain the father experienced as he divided his property and possessions. I can almost hear the struggle of this father's heart. Perhaps he thought: This is all wrong. It wasn't supposed to go this way. I've spent my whole life investing in these boys. This isn't the way it was supposed to turn out.

    I've had similar painful thoughts.

    What parent doesn't experience that frustration, as we travel through this journey of having children and then letting them go?

    I think of the friend watching an unwise decision of another tear down a lifetime bond.

    And the sister who struggles as a sibling heads in the wrong direction.

    Each scenario makes my heart ache.

    Maybe the father experienced the same type of emotions I'm sure I would have had: turmoil torturing my mind with all that could certainly go wrong.

    Yet, in his wisdom, the prodigal's father held back that swirling sadness from his lips. He knew some children learn best through experience.

    And we, as those who love them, need the wisdom of the Father to know which of our loved ones are wired this way.

    Then with all the grace our Heavenly Father will give, we have to get out of the way.

    Out of the way and onto our knees, praying our prodigals quickly discover even a "hired hand." Or they learn that, as Paul describes himself, "a prisoner" (Philemon 1:1) is more blessed than the one outside the umbrella of God's protection and blessings.

    Lord, we are desperate for Your wisdom. Show us, Jesus, when to speak and when to be silent. When we need to get involved, and when we need to get out of the way, so our loved ones surrender to You as soon as possible. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." (NIV)

    Proverbs 4:5, "'Learn to be wise,' he said, 'and develop good judgment and common sense! I cannot overemphasize this point.'" (TLB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What is the driving force behind the words you want to share with someone making a wrong decision? Fear? Love?

    Ask Jesus to give you clarity and discernment on your interaction with your loved one. What words might you need to say or pray for them?

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Getting Past the Pain of Change

    Lynn

    "After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light." Matthew 17:1-2 (NIV)

    I remember what it felt like to have my heart broken as a young woman. Even today, my heart feels a little pain trigger when I hear another has experienced the hurt of rejection.

    I remember the questioning: Why, God? Why not him? Why break up now?

    When God asked me to choose Him over him, my young heart obeyed, but not without a struggle. Lacking history with God, I hadn't yet experienced the blessings of obedience. So I obeyed and hoped God knew what He was doing.

    Through the breakups and broken hearts, God was moving me to a new place where He could reveal a side of Him I hadn't experienced. I had to move "out of love" with a boyfriend in order to move "in love" with Him.

    My deceived heart told me I was someone because I belonged to someone. God had a different message. He wanted to reposition me so I would know True Love.

    Jesus had to change my position to change my perspective.

    Out of His great love for me, Jesus didn't leave me in the position where I was completely dependent on another person for love. Instead, He moved me to what was a lonely place so He could change the way I saw love.

    It seems God often needs to change someone's position so they can see things in a fresh way. In today's key verse, Jesus had more to show three of the disciples, so He led them up a high mountain by themselves. A place away from others. A place not easily accessible. But a place where He would change their perspective. Here, before their very eyes Jesus' face shone like the sun, and they heard God speak: "This is my Son" (Matthew 17:5a, NIV).

    When the disciples had a change in their position, they experienced a change in their perspective on who Jesus was. It's possible their self-perspective changed as well.

    The breakup I went through as a young woman wasn't the only time God changed my position to change my perspective. Moves, job changes, places I have held in people's lives and people's hearts ... my position is constantly changing. Each change brings another opportunity for God to change my perspective. Like the disciples, I can see Him in new ways I haven't seen Him before: my Provider, my Healer, my True Love.

    Can you see an area where your position is changing? It may be in your responsibilities as a mom, a new job, at home or in your calling. In this new place, your loving Father wants to show you His perspective of who He is and what He wants to do in you and through you. Open your heart past the pain of change and ask God to change your perspective to see Him in this new place.

    Lord, often change is painful and what I want isn't always what's best for me. Soften my heart to see past this pain and to see Your heart toward me. Give me Your perspective. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Judges 6:23a, "But the LORD said to him, 'Peace! Do not be afraid.'" (NIV)

    Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:

    Where is your world changing and you wish it wouldn't? Do you have a godly friend who has gone through this type of change before? Ask her to share her story with you to encourage you.

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • I'm Tired of Praying the Same Prayers

    Lynn

    "'Not so, my lord,' Hannah replied, 'I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD.'" 1 Samuel 1:15 (NIV 1984)

    Just not having a good day. I'm tired of praying these same prayers!

    I debated whether or not to update my Facebook status to reflect how I really felt. Not every day is a good day. This day was especially hard as I held my prayer journal. I thought, I just don't have it in me to pray those prayers again. I'm exhausted, worn out. I might be able to read my Bible, but pray? Not today.

    I decided to share the reality of my emotional state on Facebook. Hoping my words would encourage someone else who was having a bad day and struggling to pray for things that break her heart.

    There was another woman whose prayers were hard to pray. Her name was Hannah, and for years she prayed for and longed desperately for a child.

    Each year, Hannah traveled with her husband to worship the Lord. One year in particular, the burden of her prayer was more than she could take. The Bible says, "In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD" (1 Samuel 1:10, NIV 1984).

    As she prayed in her heart, her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. The priest thought she was drunk! "'Not so, my LORD,' Hannah replied, 'I am a woman who is deeply troubled ... I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief'" (vv. 15,16).

    Eli, the priest, sensed Hannah's pain and stepped into her situation with words to encourage, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him" (v. 17). The story tells us that Eli's words made a difference, and Hannah left no longer sad.

    While a priest didn't respond to my Facebook status, my dear friend Julie did. She had read my post and called, asking, "Are you OK?"

    With those three short words, my dam of keeping-it-all-together broke. "No, I'm not." The flood of weariness from unanswered prayers poured out.

    From there, my friend reassured me she was praying for me, but it was her challenge that did my heart the most good. Her words enabled me to "go in peace," like Eli told Hannah to do.

    Julie encouraged me to pick up my prayer journal. Not so I could pray the prayers again, but to see God's faithfulness in the past.

    "Go through and read all the prayers God has answered in your life," Julie said. She assured me that remembering God's goodness would fuel me to keep praying and trusting God for those answers yet to come.

    I recognized wise advice, so I took my prayer journal and read of God's faithfulness to me and my family. In fact, I read it out loud. It made a difference in my attitude.

    God finally answered Hannah's prayer for a son after many years of prayer. And while I don't want to wait years to see answers to my prayers, Hannah's story inspires me to keep worshiping, praying and looking for His answers.

    Do you have a prayer you are weary of praying? Maybe it's time to focus on God's faithfulness in those answered prayers in your past.

    Dear Jesus, You are faithful, always. Though I may grow weary in praying for Your will and Your ways to be accomplished in my life, You never grow weary. Though I may not see what You are doing, I know You are working. Today, I rest in the comfort of what You have done in my past and all You will do in my future. In Your Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: Do you have a way to record answered prayers? If not, consider starting a prayer journal. Start by listing ways God has been faithful to you in the past.

    Do you know a friend who is waiting on answers to her prayers and might be growing weary? Call her today to encourage her. Help her see the prayers God has already answered.

    Power Verses: Romans 10:17, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ." (NIV)

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

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • I'm a Meddler

    Lynn

    "... aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you." 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (ESV)

    I did it again. Stepped in to a situation that didn't concern me. I told myself I was helping, but it wasn't my place to speak up. As usual, it backfired.

    Contemplating all that had happened that evening, Jesus spoke to me. Of course, not literally spoke to me, but He nudged my heart: You're a meddler, Lynn, and you need to be done with it. When you meddle, you are not trusting. When you meddle, you are saying I can't handle it. You know I can. So be done with it. No more.

    I'm a meddler.

    I like to say I'm a "fixer." That's what I have called it in the past, but truth is, that's just a nicer way of putting it.

    Not a gossiper. No, that is someone who intentionally separates and that's not my heart. I want to help. Really I do.

    I'm a meddler. Dictionary.com defines the verb "meddle" this way: "To involve oneself in a matter without right or invitation; interfere officiously and unwantedly."

    Without right or invitation. That's what I do. Seeing an unhappy, unhealthy or unholy situation I listen to the whisper in my head. Since I see it, I think I'm instructed to do something about it.

    But most often, I am not. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 4:11 says "... aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you."

    My place is to be quiet and pray. But I still prefer to fix, manipulate and get involved.

    In other words, I meddle.

    So, there you have it. Now that I see my actions for what they are, it's my responsibility to change. And in order to change, I will have to slow down before I take action or open my mouth. I'll have to ask myself: Are you meddling?

    Will I be tempted to meddle? Every day. Will I mess up? I hope not, but it's highly probable. I'm human. My desire, though, is to mind my own affairs and let Jesus get involved. I will ask Him for prayers to pray, not words to say.

    This change is going to be hard. But I know Jesus is serious about not meddling. Proverbs 26:17 says, "Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears" (ESV). In other words, meddling isn't smart! And that is not what I want to be; I want to be wise.

    Any other meddlers out there? Can you think of times when you got involved and you shouldn't have? Especially when the thing Jesus wanted you to do was to pray — and only pray? Let's pray for each other and ask Jesus to open our eyes to see and leave our troubles up to Him.

    Jesus, I'm a woman who wants to be a fixer. But that's not really my place; it's Yours. Open my eyes before I step in, and empower me to resist the temptation to get involved. Teach me to pray instead, Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: What particular circumstances draw out the meddler in you? Trouble between friends? Arguments between family members? Right now, ask the Holy Spirit for prayers to pray for those you love instead of words to say.

    Often meddling is fueled by fear. Ask yourself: What do I fear?

    Power Verses: Matthew 7:3-5, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Right Order of Love

    Lynn

    "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)

    "I just want a boy to like me," she said with a sigh.

    My heart understands her desire. As I sat around my kitchen table with my small group of high school girls, I realized again how some things never change.

    We all want to be wanted. Whether you're a girl wanting a date with the guy in math class or a woman hoping for an invitation to lunch with a friend, each one of us wants to be wanted. To know we matter. To be chosen.

    Wanting to be wanted is a good thing. It doesn't mean we're incredibly needy. It means we're normal. In fact, God created us with this desire. Here are two reasons:

    1) So we would want a relationship with Him.

    God created us for the sake of love. He has so much love to share and He wants a relationship with us. He chose us; now we choose Him.

    2) So we would want relationships with others.

    God also created us with the desire to share our lives with others, for friendships and family too.

    Things get tricky and difficult when we reverse the order of these desires, which we easily do.

    Whether we want to be loved by a boyfriend, a friend or a husband, when we go looking to "the one" to meet our needs before we fall in love with The One, we can get ourselves in a world of trouble.

    Today's key verse from Matthew confirms the importance of this order. In this passage, an expert in the law asked Jesus the most important commandment. Jesus answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 22:37-39).

    Jesus is clear on the order. The first command is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind. Then we are to love others.

    God didn't intend for people to fill our hearts with love. In fact, they couldn't even if they tried! We aren't equipped to do a job that big, as God never wants another to take His proper place.

    When we love God with all we have first, our love expands, multiplies even, and we have more love to give to others. And that love is healthy because our hearts' needs are met by Him first.

    However, when we reverse God's order and seek the love of others before God, our love source and its purity diminishes. Then love can become self-focused and unhealthy because our own God-designed needs aren't met.

    God created a love gap in us only He can fill. When we try to love others out of our human love, we can run out of love. We begin looking to others instead of overflowing on others.

    God's order is best. Get filled by Him first. Spill over to others after that.

    Lord, it can be so much easier to look for love from those around me, those I can touch and see. Help me to keep love in order by first loving You with everything in me, and then allowing Your love to spill over on those around me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: What negative effects can occur in our lives when our need to be wanted drives our actions?

    What positive effects occur when we love God first and others second?

    Power Verse: Deuteronomy 10:12, "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, ..." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Very Best Kind of Correction

    Lynn

    "For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights." Proverbs 3:12 (NASB)

    "This is going to hurt a bit." Not exactly what you want to hear when someone has her hands in your mouth, even if she is a lovely person.

    Holding up the tiny loopy band, the orthodontist assistant tries to comfort me with the promise of results, "This power chain is going to pull your teeth together quicker. But over the next few days you are going to hurt. We need the power chain to correct your gap; to get your teeth where you want them to be."

    Wearing braces as an adult is bad enough, but some days I wonder if the pain is worth the benefits to my teeth.

    There are days when I open up God's Word and He delivers the same message as the orthodontist assistant: "This is going to hurt a bit, but the power of My Word working on your heart will help get you to a healthy place."

    Hurt a bit? What kind of pain are we talking about here?

    "The pain of correction," God answers.

    As an example, God points out my worrying heart. His Word says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6, NIV). Retraining my thoughts can be a painful progress. Prayer requires discipline instead of allowing my thoughts to naturally gravitate toward worry.

    God has more for me. He lovingly compares the rigid way I responded to my child in the rush of the school morning with His way, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1, NIV). I am challenged to ask my child for forgiveness and choose gentleness instead of anger.

    He carefully draws my attention to the thoughts I allowed to brew about a rude email. "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Philippians 4:8, NIV). If my thoughts about her are not true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable, He says they must go.

    My heart squirms. Though I don't want to, my mind wonders: Is the discipline needed to change going to be worth it? Other times shame tries to find a corner in my heart: You know better; you should be past this point.

    Then I remember today's verse, "For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights" (Proverbs 3:12). My Father God corrects me because He knows I want to be a woman who honors Him. To become that woman there is going to be discomfort and sometimes pain involved.

    The phrases, "whom the Lord loves" and "in whom he delights" provide relief and encouragement when God's Word sets the power chain of correction into motion. My Father dearly loves me; He is crazy about me! As I dearly love and enjoy my children, the Father loves and enjoys me, only more so!

    This is the message I have to speak to my heart when it says God wants me to suffer because He is mad or disappointed in me. Not so. He wants what is best for me, including doing what it takes to grow more like Him.

    Lord, it can be hard to equate Your correction with Your love. Keep my heart soft and my mind open as I read Your Word. Discipline me because of Your devotion to me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: Do you struggle to equate God's correction with God's love? Make this a point of prayer with your Father God today. Ask Him to open your heart and mind to receive His love.

    In what area of your life is God applying correction?

    Power Verses: Job 5:17, "Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty." (NIV)

    Hebrews 12:6, "because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

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