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Author Archives: Lysa TerKeurst

  • Triggers

    Posted on January 2, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." Ephesians 3:17-18 (NIV 1984)

    I was elated one day when the number on my scale dipped below the plateau weight I'd been stuck at for two weeks. I did a little happy dance and thought, "Finally, I'm making some real progress in this journey. It's going to be such a great day. I'm super motivated. Bring on the raw veggies. Nothing's gonna stop me now!"

    Too bad things didn't stay that way. Life can be unpredictable and includes many variables, kind of like math. I'm no math whiz, but I do remember there being these things called polynomials. Polynomials are algebraic expressions that include real numbers and variables.

    That's the way my food issues are—they contain real numbers and variables. I suspect yours do as well. And while we must pay attention to the real numbers by eating less and moving more, we would do well to consider the variables in our lives as well.

    Variables are those daily triggers we didn't account for but will detour even the best intentions. Triggers can be as large as the stab of loneliness from a broken relationship or the memory of a childhood trauma. Triggers can be as small as a discipline "chat" with a teen out past curfew or stumbling across fresh doughnuts in the office break room. They can prompt the thought, "Life will be better if I eat that."

    Triggers have nothing to do with physical hunger or the need for legitimate nourishment. They are lies we've thought so routinely they've become well-worn paths to careless eating. Life is not made better because we overindulge in an unhealthy choice.

    The best thing we can do in these triggered moments is to pause and ask ourselves, "Do I want to eat this right now because I need nourishment or because I'm feeling empty emotionally or spiritually?"

    If I need nourishment, I can choose a healthy option. If I'm just feeling empty, I must realize food can fill my stomach but never my soul.

    The only way to negate an emotional eating trigger is to match it with truth. The truth is this: "I'm not physically hungry right now, but I need to be filled in another way."

    The Bible tells us that we can be rooted in love, not emptiness; that we have power to choose truth; and that as we comprehend the love of Christ, we will be filled to the measure of all the fullness—not of that brownie—but of God. Let's look at Ephesians 3:17-18 together: "So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ" (Ephesians 3:17-18 NIV 1984).

    Here's the great thing about truth: it contains no variables! Truth is stable, secure and a surefire way to get me through the unpredictable moments of life.

    Take time to pause and use God's truths to challenge your triggers. And, when you're truly physically hungry, that pause will give you the moment you need to choose a healthy snack. Then you will be truly full.

    Dear Lord, please help me to battle each of my triggers today with truth. Your truth. Moment by moment. I understand that food can fill my stomach but never my soul. Only You can fill my soul, and I am thankful for that. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    This week write down what triggers determine an unhealthy pattern with your eating habits.

    Pause and use God's truths to challenge those triggers.

    Power Verse:
    Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Afraid to Turn the Next Corner

    Posted on December 26, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8 (ESV)

    You know how some people love the thrill of being surprised? They love surprise parties. They would love to show up at work today and be told they are being whisked from their desk for a surprise vacation in just a few hours.

    They would love to have one of those makeover shows show up at their house with a film crew and be told they're getting a whole new wardrobe.

    Surprises feel thrilling to them. Like how some people feel when a roller coaster ride they thought was over suddenly takes off again and starts doing upside-down loops. They throw their hands in the air and embrace the thrill of the unknown.

    They call that fun.

    I don't.

    This dislike of surprises can usually be managed with all the things I mentioned.

    My friends know not to throw me a surprise party. No one is looking to give me a surprise vacation or new wardrobe. And before getting on a roller coaster, I thoroughly check it out and know its patterned route.

    But life is different.

    Life twists and turns and throws loops into those places we think will be flat and smooth. Because that's what life does. Sometimes it just catches us off guard.

    And at the end of the day, I guess that's why I don't like to be surprised. I can't stand to get caught off guard. It makes me feel exposed and afraid.

    But slowly, I'm learning it's not all bad to be surprised.

    That vulnerable place reminds us we have needs beyond what we can manage. Feeling a little exposed and afraid reminds us we need God. Desperately. Completely.

    And into that gap between what we can manage on our own and what we can't, that's right where faith has the opportunity to grow deep roots. Roots that dig down in to the hope and joy and peace only God can offer.

    My faith doesn't just need to grow big, it needs to grow deep. Yes, I need deep faith roots, like the believer in Jeremiah 17:7-8, "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." (ESV)

    Deep roots keep us secure in God's love when fear comes.

    Deep roots anchor us with the truth that God is in control when surprises blow like strong, unruly winds.

    Deep roots hold us steady in the peace of God during the storm that didn't show up on the radar.

    Deep roots find nourishment in God's grace when the surface gets awfully dry.

    Deep roots allow for growth of faith in God not previously possible.

    I'm learning to not be so afraid of what might be around the next corner. Even if it does catch me off guard. I close my eyes and whisper to the Lord ... deeper still.

    Dear Lord, deep faith roots is what I desperately need. Help me to take steps each day in my journey of trusting You even if that means being in a vulnerable place sometimes. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    In what ways does knowing God will sustain you in hard times comfort you?

    What step can you take today that will plant you firmly near the Lord. For example, memorizing a Bible verse, praying, etc.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 9:10, "Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Most Searched for Answer

    Posted on December 19, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12 (NIV)

    Growing up I had a plan for how I could make my life good.

    Get a good education. A good job. A good husband. A few good kids. A good house. A good flowerbed out front. And a good mini-van parked in the driveway.

    Then life would be ... good.

    Eventually, I had all that good stuff. I was thankful for it all. I loved my family to pieces. The mini-van wasn't all I thought it would be, but I felt like an official mom driving it. So even that wound up being good.

    But something inside me still felt hollow. A little off. A little lacking.

    So, I reasoned I needed something else to do. A place where I could use my gifts and talents. And while these things were fun and satisfying on one level, they too fell short when it came to that deep place ringing with the echoes of empty.

    Empty is a heavy load to bear. The mystery of wanting to be filled but not knowing how or what could fill the deep soul is a gnawing ache. A search that can seem both futile and shattering at times.

    When you try and try, always feeling like the answer is just around the corner, and then it isn't, it can split your heart wide open and leak dry all your reserves.

    It can make you feel unsatisfied and frustrated with everything. Even those you love. Maybe especially those you love.

    So you fake a smile and keep putting one foot in front of the other. But eventually you stop peeking around the next corner hoping the answer is there. History tells you it isn't. And wrapped in that perception is the noose that strangles out all hope.

    Sadly, this is where many women live.

    I know this place because I lived there. I struggled there.

    And I guess I'm wondering if you or someone you love might be there this Christmas season. It's tough when everything around you screams "merry" when you feel anything but.

    It quite honestly stinks.

    So, I'm not going to pretend you'll suddenly feel super merry after reading this.

    But what I can promise is a string of words that explains a lot. An answer that is sure and solid and true and full of the breathless wonder of a hope rediscovered.

    "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12 NIV)

    No good plan is the answer.

    Even a good husband — good children — a good friend make a very poor God.

    No education or job or house can save you.

    Salvation can't be found in anyone or anything else.

    There is no other.

    Only Jesus.

    And I'm not just talking about saying we're Christians. Following the rules and following Jesus are two totally different things.

    Going through the motions of religion won't ever satisfy. It's only when we bend down low, open our hearts in complete surrender, and say, "Jesus, it's You. Only You. There is no other. There is no other possession or person or position that can ever fill the deep soul-place shaped only for You."

    This is my Christmas prayer. Though I've been saved for a long time, I want to recapture the essence of this "no other" reality.

    And really live like this is true.

    Because it is. True.

    Jesus, only You can save and fill and give what my soul desires. Please remind me to draw close to You and rely on the promise that You will draw close to me when I do. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Who do you rely on to fill the gaps? How would the dynamics of that relationship change if you released them from that duty and allowed Jesus to meet your needs?

    Do you use something (other than people) to fill your gaps, such as food, drugs/alcohol, busyness? What steps would you need to take to stop using them as a way to satisfy your soul?

    Power Verse:
    John 4:10, "Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, "Give me a drink," you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.'" (ESV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Place Where Disappointment Grows

    Posted on December 12, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want." Psalm 23:1 (ESV)

    The space between our expectations and our reality is a fertile field. And often it's a place where disappointment grows.

    When I was in high school, I had a friend whose sister had the coolest hairdo. It was cropped short with straight bangs that fell messy over one eye. She was that older sister who just seemed to have a handle on how to do everything with style.

    I somehow decided all of her coolness traced back to her hairdo. Like that was the budding spot from which the life I wanted could sprout.

    Never mind the fact her hair was thin and obedient. And mine was thick and rebellious.

    Never mind that her hair was sleek and straight. And mine was curly at best and frizzy at worst.

    Never mind that her bangs fell nicely over her forehead. And mine had a crazy cowlick causing them to grow up, not down.

    Yes, never mind reality.

    I set my expectation on the highest bar and willed my hair to fall in line.

    The hair dresser chopped. And chopped. And chopped. And tried to assure me I now looked JUST like the picture of the older sister.

    But that was a lie. I knew it. She knew it.

    And oh how some serious disappointment grew in the space between my expectation and my new reality. I still have nightmares of that disastrous hairdo where I wake up desperately grabbing at my head to make sure my hair is still there.

    But hair grows back. Bad cuts can be fixed. That type of disappointment can be remedied.

    Other situations aren't so easy. Maybe you have some space between a current reality and an unfulfilled expectation. If so, I imagine disappointment can be found growing there.

    Psalm 23:1 says, "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want." (ESV) The Hebrew word for "want" is chacer meaning, "to lack, be without, become empty." So, if the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not become empty. I shall not live in a constant state of disappointment where circumstances leak me dry.

    But ... I still do sometimes. And not just with my hair. It's other stuff as well.

    So, how do I let the Lord shepherd me so that the gap between my expectations and reality closes? I ask myself these questions when faced with disappointment:

    What do I need to learn? Maybe God has an appointment for me in the midst of this disappointment. If God wants me to see, learn, know, or grow in some way while I work through this unmet expectation, I have to be open to hear this from Him.

    Could it be that I'm so concerned with what I don't have, I've forgotten to be thankful for what I do have? Sometimes, it's not that my reality is bad. It's that I created too much space for disappointment to grow by placing my expectations too high.

    Is there something I can do to change this situation? If so, I need to ask God for the courage to make changes. If I keep hoping things will get better but don't make any adjustments, that's foolish. The space between my reality and my expectations will only change if I do.

    Now back to my high school hair situation. If I ever start flashing pictures of cute pixie haircuts I'm considering getting, somebody remind me of my high school hair debacle. Please. Pretty please. With a dollop of hair gel on top.

    Dear Lord, thank You for turning my disappointments into opportunities for growth and learning. Guide me in trusting You through every situation, even if I can't understand why it's happening. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How do you typically handle disappointment?

    Reflect on the three questions above and write down your answers. This will give you the opportunity to get a better perspective on your own particular situation and the way you handle disappointments.

    Power Verses:
    Romans 5:2b-5, "And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Embrace the Magnificent

    Posted on December 5, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all." 1 Chronicles 29:11 (NIV)

    A few years ago on a flight to Michigan, I had the distinct privilege of meeting AJ. He was sitting in the row in front of me and made sure to welcome me the minute I took my seat. It didn't take long for AJ to make everyone around us aware of how excited he was to be on this plane.

    His voice was loud, his exclamations seemed a bit child-like for a man his age, and his stuttered words made it difficult to completely understand him.

    But one thing was unmistakable to me: his passionate embrace of the magnificent.

    As we rose into the sky he clapped and bounced in his seat. His eyes were wide as he turned to the man sitting next to him and exclaimed, "The clouds are huge!"

    That's when the nudging on my heart started. This gentle prodding to ignore the task-oriented part of me that wanted to work and tune out what was going on around me.

    Embrace this moment Lysa. Notice him. Notice Me.

    And that's how it is when God wants to get my attention. He interrupts my self-centered thoughts in such a startling way, it can only be Him. He sends my train of thought off the well-worn tracks and suddenly I find myself bouncing along in a meadow full of unpredictable adventure.

    Because there is something about God everywhere, every place we look. My mind parked itself on 1 Chronicles 29:11, "Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all." (NIV)

    Everyone else on the plane looked tired from their travels that day.

    But not AJ.

    He saw what no one else did. We were in a fast moving tube, taking off from the ground, flying through the clouds, being transported from one place to another many, many miles away in a matter of minutes. Minutes! Not days or weeks or months but minutes ... oh what would people a hundred years ago have thought of this feat?

    And there we all sat, bored. Not even bothering to look out at the clouds and notice. Too focused on the task at hand begging for our attention.

    We'd lost our passionate embrace of the magnificent. Our appreciation for noticing God and His provision had been strangled by what the world begs us to pay attention to.

    But I'm not interested in what the world classifies as important. I'm interested in where God wants to point my focus. I'm interested in humbling myself in childlike awe of all that He is.

    When we landed, AJ's excitement reached a new level. He clapped and whooped and rushed into the aisle of the plane tripping over others. When he spotted his mom waiting for him at the end of the jet way, he got even louder pumping his arms into the air telling everyone that was his mom! That was his mom, right there! There she is!!

    His mom's face reddened but kept the sweetest, gentlest look as she embraced her son. She sweetly pressed her finger to her lips signaling him to quiet down just a bit.

    That's when I reached her. With a lump in my throat and tears cresting my eyes I touched her shoulder, "Your son is amazing. Really, really amazing."

    How might we remember to embrace the magnificent on this ordinary day?

    Dear Lord, I praise You today for Your magnificence in all things. Humble me as Your child and guide me as I follow hard after You instead of the world. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How might you embrace the magnificent today?

    Take some time to write down five ordinary things that you appreciate. Then, list reasons why these ordinary things are actually special blessings from the Lord.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 145:4-5, "One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • A Morning Prayer

    Posted on November 28, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." Psalm 86:11 (NIV 1984)

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

    Though I can't physically see Him, I know He is present.

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

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

    In Psalm 81:10, God instructs me, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." (NIV 1984) He will give me what to say. What to say in happy moments and in aggravating moments. What to say when I feel insecure and what to say when I am confident. He also reminds me that sometimes it is good to keep my mouth closed and say nothing at all.

    Psalm 84:1 reminds me that God's dwelling place is lovely. So I ask for Him to dwell in me richly. I want God to be what radiates about me. Not my hair. Not my outfit. Not my efforts. But simply Him—shifting a wrong attitude, guarding my words, and whispering constant truths into my heart.

    Psalm 86:11 prompts me to ask God to "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart ..." (NIV 1984)

    Each of these verses lead my morning prayer:

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

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

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

    And finally, help me to rest in the truth of Psalm 86:13, "Great is your love toward me." (NIV 1984)

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

    That's amazing.

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

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

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

    Reflect and Respond:
    Set aside time today to personally pray through the verses in Psalms listed in this devotion. Personalize them by inserting things particular to you. For example: Psalm 86:11 talks about having an undivided heart.

    List out those things that divide your heart and pull you away from the closeness you desire with Jesus. Spend some time confessing these and asking for wisdom to know how to better handle them.

    Power Verse:
    Mark 1:35, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Treasure of Thrown-Away Food

    Posted on November 21, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)

    My son Jackson wrote a paper about the corruption and greed that caused the civil war in his native land. But Jackson wasn't just explaining a historical event – he lived in the midst of the horrific conditions of this war. You see, for the first 13 years of his life, Jackson lived in a forgotten orphanage in the third world country of Liberia, Africa.

    During one part of the paper, he described what it felt like to be naked digging through the trash looking for the treasure of thrown-away food.

    The treasure of thrown-away food.

    I can hardly type those words without crying. This is my son.

    And yet, despite the horrific conditions of his childhood, there was an unexplainable thread of peace woven through his recollection of the story. A powerful peace centered in the awareness of God's presence.

    The truly thankful person is a truly peaceful person. They have made a habit no matter what, to notice, pause, and choose.

    Noticing something for which to be thankful no matter their circumstance.

    Pausing to acknowledge this something as a reminder of God's presence.

    Choosing to focus on God's presence until His powerful peace is unleashed.

    Will we be a noticer? A pauser? A chooser? A person of thanksgiving no matter what circumstance we're facing?

    I find this truth about the power of thanksgiving over and over in Scripture. What was the prayer Daniel prayed right before being thrown in the lion's den and witnessing God miraculously shutting the lion's mouths? Thanksgiving.

    After three days in the belly of a fish, what was the cry of Jonah's heart right before he was finally delivered onto dry land? Thanksgiving.

    How are we instructed to pray in Philippians 4:6 when we feel anxious? With thanksgiving.

    And what is the outcome of each of these situations where thanksgiving is proclaimed? Peace.

    Powerful, unexplainable, uncontainable peace.

    "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7 NIV).

    One of Webster's official definitions of thanksgiving is: "a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness."

    I wonder how we might celebrate God's divine goodness today.

    I wonder what might happen if we decide in the midst of our circumstances today to notice, pause, and choose something for which we can truly be thankful.

    Dear Lord, will You help me notice things for which I can be thankful in each circumstance I face today? Will You help me remember to pause and acknowledge this as evidence of Your presence? And will You help me remember to choose to focus on Your presence until Your powerful peace rushes into my heart and helps me see everything more clearly? Thank You for the reality that being thankful changes everything. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Start a thankfulness journal where you daily list five things for which you are thankful. Do this for the next 30 days and see how much more peaceful your mindset about life becomes.

    Think of someone who is really thankful. Despite the circumstances they face, are they more peaceful? How does this inspire you?

    Power Verses:
    1 Chronicles 16:34, "Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." (NKJ)

    1 Chronicles 23:30, "They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD. They were to do the same in the evening." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • When You Don't Know What to Say

    Posted on November 14, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him." Nahum 1:7 (NIV 1984)

    Recently a moving truck pulled up to my friend's house. Sometimes moving signifies something exciting and new. Sometimes it doesn't.

    This move signified an end. A few hours into the process of emptying her home, the movers carried out her wedding portrait and asked, "Are you taking the photographs separately?"

    "Yes," she said, the irony not escaping her. Separately. That was how she'd be living now. Separate from their neighborhood. Separate from her husband. Separate from the way she thought life would be.

    She took the wedding portrait and through her tears she called me and said, "I don't know what to do with this portrait. What do you do with things that have no place anymore? We built a life together and now there's no more together."

    I knew better than to throw out something just to fill the uncomfortable silence. Trite sayings weren't going to curl up in bed with her and hold her unglued heart.

    Maybe you've been there. You were the one sitting in the midst of confusion or the one trying desperately to know what to say. In these difficult moments, we have to place our feet on the only solid ground there is—God's truth.

    His truth won't shift with feelings.

    His truth won't drown in a sea of tears.

    His truth won't leave you even when your gut honest cries don't sound so Christian.

    I finally said, "I don't have answers, but I do have prayers. And I'm going to write out conversations I have with God so you'll know He's not being silent right now. He sees you. He hears you. And through His truth He will comfort you."

    I pulled out my Bible and poured out the hurt and sadness. "God, please show me the right truths. Use my hand to write out some comfort from Your Word for my friend."

    Me: Lord, it's hard to watch my friend hurt so much. She begged You to help save her marriage and honestly we're confused why it still fell apart.

    The Lord: Does Job 17:11 express the way you're feeling? "My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart." (NIV 1984)

    Me: Lord, don't You see her tears? If seeing her sadness breaks my heart, it must break Yours too.

    The Lord: Recall the beauty of trusting the only One who can see what is and what is to come. Nahum 1:7... "The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him." (NIV 1984)

    Me: I do trust You. But for everything to end like this is so hard. It just seems pointless.

    The Lord: Nothing I allow is pointless. Even in the midst of hurt I will work good. Proverbs 19:20-21... "Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." (NIV 1984)

    Me: Why does she have to go through this?

    The Lord: You don't have to have answers. You just need to trust. Isaiah 55:9b... "My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (NIV 1984)

    Me: What about the desires of her heart Lord?

    The Lord: I am the only one who knows the full scope of those desires. Just encourage her to trust Me and make wise choices. Psalm 37:3-4... "Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." (NIV 1984)

    I sent this written out conversation with God to my friend. My note didn't fix her hurt or answer her questions. It didn't give her a place to put those things that seemed to have no place right now. But it did get her to open up God's Word and start having conversations with Him for herself. And as she moves on, this is a good first step to take.

    Dear Lord, I lift my hurting friend to You. For You are the only One who can ultimately lift her up. Through all the ups and downs in life, may she trust You in a very personal way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Reflect and Respond:
    What is a disappointment you've walked through? Write the verses above on index cards to carry with you and write the words "I believe" after each one.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 37:3-4, "Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • When Aggravations Accumulate

    Posted on November 7, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity." Ephesians 4:26-27 (NASB)

    I opened the front door and smiled at the delivery man, "Four large pizzas, right?"

    The look on the pizza guy's face told me the teenagers in my backyard were about to be disappointed.

    "Ummm, well, actually there are only two. Let me check your ticket ... oh, yeah you're supposed to have four. Give me 20 minutes and I'll be back with the other two." I took the two he had and said, "No problem. The kids can start on these and have round two when you get back."

    As I walked into the kitchen, my husband Art gave me a funny look. "I thought you ordered four pizzas."

    "Yeah, the delivery guy forgot two but will be back in a few minutes. No big deal," I quipped with a shoulder shrug.

    Art tilted his head. "You didn't even ask for a discount or coupons?"

    "I felt bad for the guy. It's not a big deal to ask the kids to wait a few minutes," I replied with a smile.

    Remembering the way I'd reacted earlier during a little "growth opportunity" we'd had, Art said, "Wow. I'd like to receive that kind of grace."

    Ouch. His point was well made. I'd gotten aggravated with something Art had done and let him know.

    Why is it I'm so quick to give a gentle answer to a stranger but spew on those I love? Perhaps it's because of accumulated impact.

    This was the only time I'd ever seen the pizza guy. My emotions toward him were completely neutral. When he made a mistake, I was able to let it go.

    But I have a history with Art. We do life together. If I let aggravations collect, my emotions ratchet up, creating more and more tension. Then, when something happens, I find it much harder to brush off the offense and offer grace.

    Accumulated aggravations equal accumulated impact.

    Therefore, it's crucial I don't collect aggravations. I've heard many times: "Do not let the sun go down on your anger ..." (Ephesians 4:26 NASB) I know it. But honestly, sometimes I ignore it. I collect aggravations because I'm too tired to talk. Or, I don't want to deal with it. Or, I try to convince myself it's no big deal to go to bed mad.

    But when I keep reading one more verse, Ephesians 4:27, I understand why I should deal with little aggravations while they are still little. They might not stay little long. Why? Because verse 27 finishes with a strong warning, "... and do not give the devil an opportunity" (NASB)

    Yikes.

    The devil is just waiting for an opportunity. I picture him hissing, "Go to bed mad ... and give me an opportunity." That just sends shivers down my spine.

    I love my husband. I get aggravated with him. But I love him. So, I certainly don't want to open the door of opportunity for the devil to turn little aggravations into big ones.

    I put down the pizzas and kissed Art's cheek. "I love you and I'm sorry I didn't give you that kind of grace."

    To which he replied back with a big smile, "I still think we should have asked for a discount or coupons."

    Like I said, I love my husband!

    Dear Lord, I really want to follow Your example and live a life full of grace. Sometimes it is so hard to show grace to those closest to me. Help me. I don't want to give the devil any opportunities in my marriage, my relationships with my children, or in my friendships. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:


    Reflect and Respond:
    Think about the equation, accumulated aggravation = accumulated impact. Choose one relationship in your life. In what ways has allowing yourself to accumulate aggravations resulted in a lack of grace?

    What actions can you take to safeguard your relationships against the devil's attempts to create conflict and separation?

    Power Verses:
    Colossians 4:6, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (NIV)

    1 Peter 5:8, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • I Know How to Manipulate

    Posted on October 31, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:11 (NIV)

    Just because something great happens doesn't mean it is from God. I know this is true because I know how to manipulate and make great things happen.

    Honestly, I hate that word—manipulate. It rubs something rough and grainy into the softer places of my heart.

    But there it is. And I know it. Because sometimes I do it. I manipulate.

    I know how to sell an idea.

    I know how to go the extra mile.

    I know how to strategize to make my plan seem like a wonderful strategy.

    And not that any of this is intrinsically bad. Some of these things are qualities God can certainly use in good ways.

    But what if I use these skills and talents outside God's will? To push past God's timing, God's direction, God's plan to teach me stuff in the process?

    Sometimes I think He lets us push past His better plan to experience the consequences of our headstrong attitude. Boy, do I know all about that. I've jumped headfirst into something I thought I wanted, only to find extreme stress, fear, anxiety, and an overwhelming sense of regret.

    It's great to know how to sell an idea. But it's not great to do it outside God's will.

    It's great to go the extra mile. But it's not great to do it out of a desire to secure what I want—rather than out of a desire to serve another.

    It's great to strategize and have a plan. But it's not great if that plan stretches me so I seek my desires more than God's desires.

    I am learning to not always push so hard. Or run so fast. Or allow my personal desires to overtake waiting on God.

    Recently I had the opportunity to be considered for something huge. And I knew how to secure it.

    I knew the words I could use to sell my idea. I knew I could go the extra mile with my pitch and look impressive. I knew a strategy that could be implemented and the plan to propose.

    But what I didn't know is if this was God's plan or my desire.

    If I knew for sure it was God's plan, all my efforts wouldn't be manipulation—they'd be smart. But I didn't know.

    Therefore, all my pushing and plotting were manipulation. So, I stopped, backed off, and stepped aside.

    I waited.

    And then I doubted. It was hard to watch the opportunity slip away. But I reminded myself that this was a place where my trust in God had to step in. This was one of those times a deeper faith could be found. And so I trusted in the truth of Isaiah 58:11, "The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."

    Now, I can rest in the assurance that if something is to be, it isn't up to me. It's up to God. It's not that I just sit back and don't pursue things. I do. But, I give what I can give without manipulation. And then wait for God to give what only He can give. So, if He makes it happen without all my chaotic self-effort, then I will know it is His best.

    And if it doesn't happen, I will thank Him for saving me from myself.

    Dear Lord, I am so grateful for Your everlasting love and vision for my life. Help me to embrace the fact that Your plans are greater than mine. Humble my heart in the moments when I try to maintain control so that I can fully serve You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:


    Reflect and Respond:
    Do you ever catch yourself manipulating past God's plans to secure your own desire?

    God wants you to give up your own agenda and trust in His plans for your life! Set aside some time every day to reflect on Bible verses dedicated to this particular issue. Having this daily reminder of God's sovereignty will help you to recognize when your own desires are taking precedence over His will.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 9:10, "Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." (NIV)

    Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

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