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User Archives: Suzie Eller

  • Running on Empty

    Posted on December 13, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!" Psalm 68:35 (NIV)

    We were in between moves, living out of suitcases. My husband was working in one state while I was staying in another to sell our home. I had a bad cold, and coughing had interrupted my sleep for nights. I was so tired that the rings under my eyes had rings under them.

    When my husband suggested we take time away from the packing, selling, and traveling, just to rest, I mentally listed the reasons we couldn't. How could we manage our many to-do's if we took time off?

    In all of these excuses, I was ignoring that I had become very, very tired.

    I was tired spiritually as we encountered hurdle after hurdle in the plan we knew God spoke into our hearts.

    I was tired physically from a week-long cold.

    I was tired relationally as I missed my husband.

    Our circumstances weren't awful. I had battled much more challenging ones in the past. So I reasoned that I needed to put on my big-girl pants and just keep moving forward. Admirable, maybe, if you're a machine, but I am a plain ol' human who had run out of steam.

    God knew it. My husband knew it. It was time for me to admit it. I needed time to rest and re-connect with God through prayer.

    In Psalm 68:35 the Psalmist writes of a living God whose might and power sustained the people with power and strength. I was in need of that kind of help.

    The writer of this verse responds to the Lord with great joy and praise. "You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!" (NIV) When we take our eyes off of worthless and powerless gods or even our own selves we rediscover the power and might of God. I needed to take my eyes off of the self-sufficiency of Suzie to rediscover what God had waiting for me.

    Kneeling, I surrendered my schedule, time, and need to just keep going. I confessed that I was exhausted and needed my Heavenly Father's strength to complete the tasks in front of me.

    That weekend I refueled as I nestled on a couch and prayed for a calm mind that was focused on the Lord, rather than all I had to do. I sat in God's beautiful creation and asked for Him to help me drop my stress over selling our home. I sensed His peace as I rested and took time to get better from my cold.

    When the weekend ended, I was me again. It wasn't that I walked away with all my challenges erased, but I left filled up with God's strength.

    Maybe you're like me. You are spiritually and physically tired, but you don't feel like you can take time to take a break. You think running full steam ahead is the strong way to handle things.

    If we continue to run on empty and never stop to let the Lord fill us up, we will eventually discover the limits of our own strength.

    Is it time for a prayer retreat of your own? Your special time with God might be in a park or a quiet place like the corner of a library. It's not the place that matters, but that you find one and take time to meet with the Lord.

    We schedule everything else. Why not take time to rest in our Heavenly Father? Let's take a break and allow Him to fill us up as we seek His strength for the days ahead.

    Dear Lord, I am spiritually and physically tired, and I have heard the whisper to stop and be refilled. Thank You for the sanctuary I find in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think about a tired friend who never stops to refuel. What advice would you offer her? How would you pray for her?

    We often have more empathy or mercy toward others. Today, take that same advice and pray, and embrace it for yourself.

    Power Verse:
    1 Chronicles 16:27, "Honor and majesty are [found] in His presence; strength and joy are [found] in His sanctuary." (AMP)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. 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

  • Time Capsule

    Posted on November 25, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." James 4:14 (NIV)

    When his mom held out the time capsule at one-year-old Jason's birthday, it seemed like a fun idea.

    "Add one item that represents this year and write a letter to Jason, telling him what you think life will be like 17 years from now." Letters were thoughtfully penned and placed in the time capsule, as well as newly minted coins, a toy car, headlines from the local newspaper, and other items.

    This year Jason turned 18. We were surprised when his mom pulled out the dented can with the faded blue and green blocks on it. Many family members had forgotten about it.

    For the next hour there were tears and laughter as memories came spilling out.

    Tears as Jason's dad read his letter, remembering a young father who hoped he wouldn't make mistakes with his little boy.

    Laughter as older cousins, now adults, read their letters expressing child-like birthday wishes in misspelled words.

    Tears as Jason's mom pulled out three separate letters from grandparents no longer on earth. As she read their words written to her once-little guy, she barely made it through.

    Laughter again as Jason held up a 1995 headline on the price of gas rising. "Man, wouldn't it be great to go back to those good old days!"

    In the midst of the fun, I was reminded of how much and how quickly things can change. I thought about words I want to speak to those I love. By not speaking them, I am acting as if my friends and family (and I) will always be here, taking for granted what is right in front of me.

    The time capsule caused me to take a fresh look at those around me and really apply a lesson found in Scripture. James 4:14 says, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" (NIV). In other words, life is fleeting and we're wise to make the most of this very moment, because the next one is not certain.

    I paused at the door as we left the party, resolving that day to say the words in my heart, and say them often. To not miss an opportunity to encourage or say "I love you."

    Not far away, my mom made her way to the car. She turned and waved goodbye.

    You're so beautiful.

    My dad made a wisecrack as he passed by. He turns 80 next year.

    I love you, Dad.

    My sister, strong and lovely. She's had a hard year, but her faith has shined through.

    Do you know you are my best friend?

    My brother, Jason's dad.

    You've turned out to be such a great dad. I'm proud of you.

    My hope is that one day there will be a time capsule of my words tucked away in the hearts of those I love. Words clearly spoken that friends and family can recall when they think of me.

    What about you? Is there someone who needs to hear your sweet words? To know you love them? To hear that you are proud of them?

    Begin your own time capsule of words, depositing encouragement, a kind word, an "I love you" in the heart of a loved one. Don't hesitate to start. Right now is the only moment we're sure to have.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of today. Help me to use my words to encourage and show appreciation to the beautiful friends and family in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are there words you wished you had spoken in the last 10 years, but didn't? What prevented you from speaking them?

    Take an opportunity to tell a loved one that you love them or speak an encouraging word today.

    Power Verse:
    Job 8:9, "For we are only of yesterday and know nothing, Because our days on earth are as a shadow." (NASB)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. 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 James

  • Faith in Action

    Posted on November 13, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." James 2:17 (NIV)

    When I was 31 years old I received a diagnosis of breast cancer and affected lymph nodes.

    Three months later I stood in front of a mirror. One breast misshapen from surgery. Twenty extra pounds after a second surgery and early menopause. Skin translucent from chemotherapy meds flowing through my veins.

    I didn't recognize myself. I didn't recognize this new season. Life was uncertain at best, and scary on most days.

    I wanted to be strong for my three babies.

    I wanted to be strong for my husband, who was in protective mode, but also vulnerable as his young wife battled cancer.

    I wanted to be strong for my mom, who snapped pictures when I wasn't looking, to capture memories of the daughter she loved, but feared she'd lose.

    Where was I to find strength?

    In the midst of what often felt like rough seas, my faith in Christ became my anchor. Additionally, God provided people who helped carry my burden.

    Their strength became mine in a hundred small and large ways. How? By putting their faith into action as James 2:17 tells us to do: "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (NIV)

    Throughout the hard days of my treatment and recovery, I saw this verse lived out over and over.

    A neighbor and his wife mowed our yard every week while I sat through chemo. Many brought groceries. Others cleaned our house. Put gas in our car. Cooked meals.

    This faith in action eased the burden of physical and financial needs I felt I had to carry alone.

    Friends sat in the waiting room with Richard while I was in surgery. They took our children out to eat and brought them treats.

    This faith in action lifted the weight of worry over my beautiful children and husband.

    One friend noted my need for humor in the midst of so much bad news; her attempts at being funny were just the right prescription. Another brought balloons to chemotherapy. I sat with a needle in my vein, bright balloons attached to my chair, and a smile on my face.

    This faith in action bore my weight of sadness as I laughed out loud.

    There are days I pinch myself; it's hard to believe 23 years have passed since then. My "babies" grew up and have given me grandchildren. Richard and I are growing older together.

    Cancer is a word in my past, but faith in action is woven in my present.

    I'll never forget how small acts, piled upon one another, equaled big relief for a family in crisis.

    Sometimes we might think that faith in action is doing big things, and certainly it is; but small actions matter too.

    James 2:17 doesn't diminish the beauty of faith, but rather tells us to put action with it. Action moves your faith from being one of words to life-changing impact on others.

    Right now in your church, across the street, or somewhere in your community there is someone in crisis. Perhaps there's a friend or family member who is sick, grieving, confused or afraid, and you aren't sure what to say, or what to do.

    Take a look at their needs and your means to meet them. Determine what you are able to do, then put your faith into action. Serve up a hearty dose of food, love, laughter, babysitting, or comfort!

    Dear Lord, thank You for showing me someone who needs You. May my faith in action be a blessing today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Reflect and Respond:
    Sometimes when a friend or family member is battling cancer, you might not know what to say. Ask about what mattered to them the day before they were diagnosed with cancer. Family, faith, interests, etc.

    Who do you know in need, and what is one act of kindness that would relieve their burden? Do that today.

    Power Verses:
    Romans 12:13, "When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. 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 James, Faith

  • When You're Not Sure You Belong

    Posted on October 28, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Romans 8:16 (NIV)

    The moment we found out a beautiful gift might be coming to our family will forever be etched on my heart. My daughter and son-in-law were about to receive something they had desired for over three years.

    We'll never forget the day they heard they'd been chosen by a birth mother to receive the gift of her child. A whirlwind erupted as we all came together to create a nursery and buy the necessities. Five days later a perfect little baby boy was born, and Josh and Melissa brought their long awaited, beautiful miracle home.

    Walking with them through the adoption process made me treasure even more these words in Romans 8:15: "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father" (NKJV).

    Initially, we didn't know the baby's name, what he might look like, or even his ethnicity. We didn't know how old he would be, or whether he would be a bubbly little boy or a sweet baby girl. All we knew is that long before my daughter and son-in-law held him in their arms, we loved him.

    Now that the gift of this precious baby being adopted into our family is a reality, his parents are changing diapers and slogging through sleep-deprived nights. It's not easy, but he is worth every bit of sacrifice they're making.

    No matter how exhausted they are, Luke is still wanted. Still treasured. Still loved. Still a miracle in every way.

    Sometimes we may look at God and wonder if we are a bother. After all, we're a work in progress. We get busy and forget to treasure our times with Him. We promise ourselves we'll grow spiritually and then lose our temper with a loved one. Why would God choose to love us, even when we mess things up?

    The answer appears in Romans 8:16, "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Perhaps today you struggle with accepting God’s love. You don't have to fear rejection, because you are adopted. God loves you just like Josh and Melissa love their son Luke, but in a God-like measure.

    Romans 8:14-16 promises that God's love for you is irrevocable. You are signed, sealed, and officially His child. Today, as His adopted child, ask the Holy Spirit to gently remind you one more time of Whose you are and how very loved you are by Him!

    Dear Lord, You are my Abba Father! Today I place all fear aside and place my trust in You. I walk into Your arms where I am welcome. Thank you for adopting me. Help me to rest in the assurance of knowing I am Your child Amen.

    Related Resources:


    Reflect and Respond:
    Write down Romans 8:14-16 and place it where you can see it every day. Read it out loud until it becomes anchored in your spirit.

    If Abba Father says you are His, that's the final word. How does that change the way you view your relationship with God?

    Power Verses:
    2 Corinthians 6:18, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." (NIV)

    Galatians 3:26, "So in Jesus Christ you are all children of God through faith." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. 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 Romans

  • For When You're Lost

    Posted on October 4, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn't she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:8–10 NIV)

    I was awash in a sea of three toddlers. Trying to do anything outside the house was an adventure. But one day I decided to brave a trip to the mall to shop for Christmas gifts. As I stood at the register, I asked my children to hold onto mama's jeans. Their tightly clutched fists let me know that they were close. After completing my purchase, I turned around and realized that two-year-old Ryan was nowhere in sight. The three tiny hands clutching my pant leg turned out to be one child holding on with two hands, and the other holding on with one while their brother made his escape.

    I buckled the kids in the monster-sized stroller, threw my package underneath, and blasted through the store calling out my two-year-old's name.

    "Have you seen my son? He's two. He has brown hair and he's tall for his age. Has anyone seen him?"

    Finally an older woman approached me. "Honey, I saw a little boy with brown hair just a few moments ago carrying a really large box out those doors."

    Seconds later, I saw him strolling through the mall with his little two-year-old gait, carrying an extra large shoebox. My son wasn't just lost. He had shoplifted a pair of men's shoes in the process.

    I scooped up my little lost shoplifter and held him close.

    Something had captured my toddler's attention and he wandered. I knew what might have easily happened to him if I had not found him. My love for him meant I'd push that stroller to the ends of the earth, calling his name, until he was safe in my arms.

    In his book Amazing Grace, K. W. Osbeck says, "If the New Testament teaches us anything, it teaches us about God's love in searching for lost men. Becoming a Christian in a very real sense is simply putting ourselves in the way of being found by God—to stop running from His loving pursuit."

    Maybe you have escaped God. One adventure took you to the next and suddenly you were lost in a crowd, wondering if you'd gone too far.

    You haven't.

    Stop. Right where you are. Let Him scoop you up.

    And that box of things you're carrying—those emotions, mistakes, choices you wish you'd never made—give it to Him. He'll return them to where they rightfully belong as He leads you back home.

    Dear Lord, I willingly climb into Your arms. Please accept this box of gathered mistakes and failures. Today I am joyfully found by You, In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember
    Stop. Right where you are. Empty your arms of that weight you've been carrying and lift it up to be scooped into your heavenly Father's embrace.

    Reflect
    Name one way you have been running. What would it look like to stop?

    Respond
    Imagine God scooping up you as the woman in the parable scooped up her lost coin. Write down God's response to finding you as well as your response to being found by God.

    Power Verses
    Psalm 145:18–19; Psalm 119:151

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

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


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

  • God Gets Angry for You

    Posted on September 11, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord." Romans 12:19 (NIV)

    Not too long ago there was a bust on a major interstate. Authorities discovered teens as young as 14 being held against their wills. The trucking industry was being used as a way to force these victims into modern-day slavery.

    This not only makes my heart hurt, it makes me angry. I know without a doubt that God calls these precious girls beloved and worthy-not products to be sold.

    This bust is a reminder that evil exists around the world. We see it in news-grabbing ways like terrorism and mass shootings, but it's also hidden behind closed doors. It's on every continent and in our own neighborhoods.

    My emotional response to these types of evil is strong. But what about our Heavenly Father? Does He see it? Does He care?

    Without a doubt, the answer is yes. Scripture tells us evil is the result of sin showing up in human nature. So how does God respond to our sin?

    The Bible shows us God's heart is to forgive. When we seek forgiveness with a repentant heart, He grants it. Not only that, but God asks us to forgive bad behavior of others. His love in us gives us the ability to pardon flawed humanity with humility and compassion.

    Although God is ready to forgive us, the tone changes when Scripture talks about the evil one, Satan. Jesus described him in John 10:10 as "the thief [who] comes only to steal and kill and destroy."

    All sin grieves God's heart, but He displays a righteous anger over unrepentant, premeditated acts that attempt to steal, kill, or destroy His beloved. The Bible tells us God will demand justice. As Romans 12:19 says, "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord."

    You may think it is up to you to make someone pay for the wrong they have done. You long to let go of the anger and live again, but you feel chained to the past, chained to unforgiveness. It feels wrong to forgive what seems unforgiveable. When evil comes to your front door, or impacts those you love, you may struggle with feeling angry and secretly wanting revenge. You may think it's up to you.

    That's when God's righteous anger steps in to make us whole. When we realize God is angry for us, it removes a burden we aren't big enough to carry. His righteous anger overshadows our anger as we let it go, and He scoops it from our hearts.

    Does God care? The answer is yes. And the reason He's asking you to forgive is not to absolve another person's sin against you or to say that it was okay. It's so that you, His precious daughter, can live free.

    The enemy thinks he can steal dignity and peace from you, but as you release your anger to God, you keep your self-worth and calm instead.

    The enemy wants to kill your spirit, but you can find renewed life as find freedom in forgiveness.

    The enemy means to destroy you and your future, but God's redemptive power is released as you let God handle the burden of anger for you. With His help, you can forgive the unforgivable.

    Dear God, Your righteous anger toward evil overshadows the pain in my heart and allows me to forgive as You are righteously angry for me. Thank You for freeing my heart so that I may begin to heal. In Jesus' Name, amen.

    Related Resources:
    Billy Graham - The Reason for My Hope: Salvation

    In The Reason for My Hope, Graham presents the core message that has guided his life and calling for more than 70 years. Filled with new stories and timeless truth, he once again calls the world back to its spiritual priority as only he can.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Read 1 Peter 5:8. How is the evil one described?

    How might holding on to anger leave a person defenseless?

    Power Verses:
    Leviticus 19:18, "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD." (NIV)

    Colossians 3:13, "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. 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 Romans

  • God's Got You

    Posted on August 27, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you." Joshua 1:5 (NLT)

    Two-year-old Luke stood at the edge of the pool. Yellow floaties hugged his arms. A swim diaper padded his bathing suit. Sweet little goggles made him look like a frog.

    I stood waist deep in water, my arms open wide. "Come on, buddy. You can do this."

    He edged closer and peered in, then backed away. After several steps back and forth, Luke finally sat on the edge and dipped his toes in the water. I slipped next to him, scooped him up and held him close.

    Into the water we went. "I got you, buddy. I got you," I whispered.

    He could have fought me, but he trusted instead. Over the next two hours, Luke gained courage to go farther and farther. Any time he felt frightened, he whispered under his breath, "I got you, buddy. I got you." It was his assurance that no matter how scary it felt, he was not alone.

    Sometimes knowing we aren't alone gives us the courage to press on. It's what Joshua needed when he was thrust overnight into leadership after the death of Moses. Up until that time, Joshua had served as assistant. But in his new role, Joshua led the nation of Israel, conquering the land God had promised and leading three separate conquests.

    While the Bible doesn't detail all of Joshua's emotions during this time, we read of numerous instances where God encouraged Joshua to be "strong and courageous." God must have known Joshua needed some reassurance.

    Perhaps Joshua had doubts. Perhaps his confidence waned. Maybe he even asked questions like, God, are You sure? Shouldn't You choose someone more qualified?

    God didn't dismiss Joshua's fears or shame him for having them. Instead He spoke clearly to Joshua, saying, "... I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you" (Joshua 1:5b).

    I got you, buddy. I got you.

    History shows that Joshua took steps of faith and served as a powerful, humble leader, trusting God through war, human frailty and victory.

    Maybe God has been asking you to take a leap into deeper faith, or to serve beyond what you think you are capable. He's asked you to lead. To love like Jesus.

    Perhaps you've come close, but backed away. Maybe you even dipped your toes in, reasoning that was enough.

    Questions linger. What does God see in me that I might not see yet? What if I fail? What if it's too hard or no one is on board with me? What if I don't recognize God's help and miss my opportunity?

    God is aware of your fears. And He whispers the same encouragement to you that He spoke to Joshua. He's got you.

    Not too long ago, I stood in the pool again. Luke wore his floaties. He had on his swim diaper. His cute goggles made him look like a little frog. I held open my arms, and my little guy jumped with glee into my arms.

    And this time, I didn't have to say it, because he knew it. It was ingrained on his heart.

    I got you, buddy. I got you.

    Dear Jesus, I've stood right on the edge, waiting for You to choose someone else, or naming all the reasons I'm not equipped. Today I hear Your voice and I take that step, for You are with me. In Jesus' Name, amen.

    Related Resources:

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

    Reflect and Respond:
    Most large dreams or jobs are comprised of many smaller tasks. What is one small step you can take, beginning today?

    Why are you afraid to try? Ask the Lord to release you from that fear and to trust Him.

    Power Verses:
    Joshua 1:9, "This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. 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

  • When You Have a Choice to Make

    Posted on August 5, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." Isaiah 30:21 (ESV)

    According to recent statistics, I made 5,000 decisions today. Seriously?

    Well, I made a decision to get out of bed. I made a choice to put on my tennis shoes and run at 6 a.m.

    I chose peanut butter Cheerios™ over oatmeal. I decided which bills to pay. What to make for dinner. Whether to answer a phone call. Which clothes to wear. Whether the plants needed watering or if they could wait another day. I chose to fill up the small car instead of the gas-guzzler.

    I may have made more than 5,000 decisions today!

    Some of our everyday choices are random, others weighty, but many of our decisions are choice points. Choice points are seemingly insignificant decisions yet they lead us in one direction or another.

    I choose whether to react in anger, or respond with understanding to my husband.

    I choose whether or not to create drama with a friend who hurt my feelings.

    I choose time with my Heavenly Father, or push that time to another day ... again.

    I choose whether or not to say those words that cause my child pain.

    Recently I was on a mission trip and the team was exhausted after nearly six days of intense travel. We had missed a train and stood on the platform in the moonlight. It was nearing midnight and cold and wet. Our next ministry event was early in the morning.

    The coordinator walked over. "I'm so sorry," she said. "I didn't mean for it to work out this way."

    There I stood with a choice to make.

    I could share my frustration. I could explain that my sleep tank was on empty. I could say nothing, while sighing with a martyred expression. Or I could choose to override my fatigued irritation and be gracious.

    As she waited for my reply, a gentle voice softly spoke to my heart: "This is the way, walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21).

    I knew it was definitely the leading of the Holy Spirit, just as Scripture promised. Yes, I was exhausted, but I reminded myself what a privilege it was to be there. Ease and comfort were not readily available to Jesus, and losing a little sleep was nothing in comparison to anything He went through. The Holy Spirit nudged me to recognize that everyone around me was just as tired as I was. He led me in the way to respond.

    "I'm fine," I said. "In fact it's been an amazing day and I can't wait to see what God does tomorrow."

    She grabbed me and pulled me in a huge hug. "Thank you, Suz."

    I wish I could say I handle every choice I have to make that way, but sometimes I fail and gripe, nit-pick, am critical and grouchy. It's my prayer that I'll remember how much my choices matter. You see, they don't just affect me; they affect those within the vicinity of my decisions.

    In the 5,000 decisions you make today, take a moment to pause before deciding. Ask the Holy Spirit for His guidance and counsel. And choose to follow as He leads the way.

    Dear Lord, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all my choices, and it makes me cranky. Today as I make my 5000 decisions, walk with me, remind me of how my choices affect others and help me follow Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    Keep a journal this week of choice points. Note those that lead you in the wrong direction. Are there common themes?

    If you were overtired, how can you implement rest?

    If you were trying to live a packed life with your spiritual tank unfilled, will you stop and fill it up?

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 16:9, "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." (ESV)

    Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. 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 Isaiah

  • White As Snow

    Posted on July 29, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:7 (NIV)

    We were friends in youth group. That led to Saturdays at her house. Double dates. And slumber parties where we talked about boys and did each other's hair.

    But more than silly teen stuff, Michelle and I were among the few in the youth group who attended church with no family support. Consequently, we encouraged each other spiritually and often knelt and prayed together.

    A year after high school, sadly we lost touch. We moved to different cities. Married. Had children. Our lives no longer intersected.

    Until three decades later.

    Her message on Facebook caught me by surprise, and I couldn't wait to see her again. When we met she told me all that had transpired in thirty years, and my heart hurt for my friend.

    So much had taken place, beginning with college and the party scene. She met men who said they loved her, but hurt her instead. Those unhealthy relationships led to more than one marriage. She endured abuse, and eventually began to believe that somehow it was what she deserved.

    Bravely, she left the abusive men. She went back to school and secured a job, taking care of her children on her own.

    But there was still something missing inside of the heart of this woman. Though she had once found sanctuary in an altar at a small church, she wondered if she had strayed too far to find her way back. Did too many men, too many parties, too much sin stand between her and Jesus?

    In Psalm 51:7-9, the Psalmist confronted those same fears. It led to this prayer of repentance.

    "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity" (NIV).

    Like the Psalmist, Michelle felt the sorrow of her sin and the path that had taken her so far from her once-vibrant relationship with God. But she also knew there was a place to find restoration.

    Not just to be forgiven, but to be restored, renewed, and to rejoice in Whose she was again.

    Michelle reached out for God's love saying, "I knew that I couldn't go back and try to fix the past. I could only make amends and claim the forgiveness that God had ready for me."

    Maybe you know of someone ... maybe you are that someone ... who believes you've gone too far.

    Repentance begins with sorrow or remorse over sin and leads to a change of direction. You turn away from your old life and turn toward God to accept His immense forgiveness. The burden of sin is removed as God cleanses you and takes your sin and replaces it with His righteousness.

    If this is you, return to the love of Jesus. Put the past behind you as you accept the complete forgiveness He freely offers. Don't wait one more moment. Your past may shape you, but it doesn't define you, and it certainly doesn't limit what God can do in and through you.

    Today Michelle is an example of what takes place when we are washed white as snow. She no longer feels ashamed or guilty for her past actions. A light heart and a joyful perspective have replaced these feelings. She volunteers in a rehabilitation home for women who have been abused or are homeless. Michelle delights when a woman opens her heart to receive God's cleansing and healing touch. She knows first-hand the hope and freedom that comes when anyone takes a U-turn back toward all God freely offers.

    Dear Jesus, it is no accident that I read this today. You are inviting me to change my direction and to run toward You for forgiveness. I do so freely and with joy. Thank You for washing me white as snow. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

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

    Reflect and Respond:
    When God enters the picture, your past is reframed. How can your past story be used to encourage others to live free?

    Tell one person your story today.

    Power Verse:
    Matthew 9:6a, "But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. 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

  • Looking for God

    Posted on June 18, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!" 1 Chronicles 16:11 (ESV)

    My granddaughter Elle is almost three. Recently we had a family event and Elle and her parents arrived before we did. It had been a few weeks since we had seen her, which is unusual. When we walked in the door, a wide smile filled her face and she ran into my arms.

    For the next several minutes Elle circled around the crowded room. Each time she made her way purposely back to me, placed both hands on my knees, looked me in the eye and said, "There you are!"

    It was as if Elle wanted me to know that, in the midst of a crowd, she delighted that I was in the room.

    I wonder if I show my Savior this same joy? I wonder if I seek Him like 1 Chronicles 16:11 teaches me to.

    In a crowded schedule, do I carve out time to find Him?

    The reality is that sometimes, if I am not intentional, my time with Him can get pushed to second or third place behind deadlines, bills to pay, errands to run, events to attend. And yet when I seek Him out and sit in His presence, I realize all over again how beautiful it is to worship Him, to feel the pleasure and love of a Heavenly Father.

    In my crowded thoughts, do I pause and say, "There You are!"

    Or do I let anxiety, anger, frustration, or worry take center stage, forgetting His promises of comfort, of strength, of peace in the midst of storms. Yes, He's there for He assures us that He is (Joshua 1:9; Romans 8:38-38; Hebrews 3:15). But do I ask Him to shine His Light on my troubled thoughts?

    In my crowded life, do I invite Him in to every area?

    Time with God is not confined to a prayer time or a few moments reading Scripture. Instead, we are invited to live and move and breathe in Him (Acts 17:28). That means that He is with us as we parent, as we go to work, as we reflect on a beautiful sunset, or as we comfort a friend. As believers, we don't just have to live. We live in Him, and He lives in us.

    Elle had many options that day. Aunts and uncles held out open arms. Toys and books were offered at every turn. Cousins gave her kisses.

    But she delighted in me instead. She didn't have to, for I love that little girl with every fiber of my being. But the fact that she loves me back with abandon is sheer joy for this grandma.

    How long has it been since you delighted in God? Or experienced His pleasure in your presence? He loves you; that we know for certain. But what if today you pushed aside crowded thoughts, a crowded schedule, and a crowded life to proclaim with delight, "There You are!"

    Dear Heavenly Father, I delight in You. Not for what I might receive, but simply because of Who You are to me. I love You with my heart, my soul, my mind. No matter the crowd I find myself in, with You is where I long to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    NIV Real Life Devotional Bible with devos from the Proverbs 31 Ministries team, including Suzie Eller.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Find a "There You are" moment in your thoughts or schedule today. Speak a word of praise or breathe a prayer of gratitude.

    How would things change if, instead of responding to situations with stress, doubt or worry, you looked for God in the moment? Instead of choosing these other things, decide to find the Lord and delight in Him in the middle of your moments today.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 92:4, "You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. 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 1 Chronicles

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