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Daily Devotion

  • Our Thoughts Have Wheels

    Posted on October 22, 2012 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7a (KJV)

    The day started off just fine, but ended with confusion and tears. As a timid middle-schooler, I climbed the steps of my school bus eager to get home after a long afternoon.

    Sitting quietly in my seat, all of a sudden I got this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Although my surroundings appeared to be the same, something was not right.

    The bus was the normal sunshine yellow. The seats were standard black vinyl, displaying rips and tears from years of students. The floor was littered with the usual misplaced pencils, erasers and wadded-up papers. Yet, I felt out of place.

    That's when I realized I did not know any of the kids sitting around me. And I had never seen the bus driver before. Frantically, I searched for anything familiar. My cheeks grew hot and my heart raced with panic as I realized I was on the wrong bus.

    Although I WAS headed somewhere, it was NOT where I wanted to go.

    I'd been distracted by conversations with friends, thoughts of sleepovers, and how much homework I had. My thoughts were not focused on where I was going. The actions that followed caused me to end up somewhere I did not want to be.

    Thinking back on that day, I've considered how our thoughts determine a lot about the direction of our lives. Like my school bus, our thoughts will always take us somewhere, but it may not be somewhere we want to end up.

    If we spend time thinking about how our boss does not appreciate us, our thoughts will take us straight to a bad attitude at work and possibly poor performance.

    If we focus on how much we do for others and how little we feel appreciated, our thoughts will take us to a place of resentment, with lack of patience and love.

    If we spend an entire day fuming over something our husband or kids did, and mentally practice the harsh words we plan to say to them, those thoughts will lead us into a place of arguments, hurt feelings and damaged relationships.

    If we dwell on why God has allowed certain problems in our lives, we will transport ourselves into a state of insecurity and unhappiness as we stop trusting God.

    If we focus our thoughts on money, career, success and pleasure, we will find ourselves in the land of the lost—feeling frustrated and discontent.

    Our thoughts are powerful and need our navigation. If we allow them to run rampant in negative directions, focusing on things that lead us away from God's perspective, we will eventually end up stressed out - from the inside out.

    In today's key verse, God shows us why we should choose carefully what we think about, because our thoughts determine who we are and how we live.

    Reacting to stressful situations by becoming a chronically negative thinker will eventually increase our stress and possibly take us to a destination we would never choose.

    My childhood memory reminds me to consistently ask God to help me keep my mind on Him and on the thoughts He has for me. That way I can live according to His plans and with His perspective, seeking to be acutely aware of where my thoughts may lead me.

    Our thoughts really do have wheels. Where are your thoughts taking you today?

    Dear Lord, please help me take my thoughts captive, and focus on things that are pleasing to You. Please give me the desire to control my thoughts and maintain a Godly perspective about the circumstances in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    For more to manage stressful emotions and navigate negative thoughts, consider Tracie Miles' new book Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you been guarding and guiding your thoughts, or have your thoughts been leading you to a place you don't want to go? Is it possible that you've allowed negative thoughts to bring more stress into your life?

    Make a list of all the negative thoughts you have had lately. Ask God to help you replace those emotions and start new with a fresh attitude and a healthy, Godly perspective.

    Power Verses:
    Romans 12:2a, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (NIV)

    Ephesians 4:23-24, "Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy." (NLT)

    © 2012 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Enjoy Great Peace

    Posted on October 21, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. Psalm 37:11

     

    Meekness is a bridge to blessing. It is an attitude God honors with the enjoyment of His great peace. Meekness meanders, moving in and out of the halls of heaven. It sets us up to be served by our Savior. Meekness is the manner by which our Master can move us forward in His will. Our meekness transports us toward absolute surrender and obedience to God. It is the meek who tend to trust God. It is the meek who most want to faithfully follow Jesus. Indeed, meekness is most like Jesus. Jesus said of Himself, “I am meek…” (Matthew 11:29, KJV). It is here, with meek Jesus, that we find rest for our souls. However, meek does not mean we are weak; on the contrary, we are strong in our Savior.

    Meekness is a conduit for what Christ has for us. He has an inheritance for His children. What is His is ours. He owns the land and all that is within its expanse. We see His quiet white clouds cover the mountaintops like soft sheets. As the sun rises, its warmth pulls back the submissive sheets of cloud cover and introduces us to the day. He has given us His earth for our great enjoyment. It is on the side of the green mountain of His creation that we sit quietly and contemplate Christ. His peace prods our pride to be still and know Him. He hushes our hurried spirit to be silent before Providence. A silent tongue often exhibits a wise head and a holy heart. We have His earth to enjoy now and to inherit in eternity. The meek understand this priceless privilege. They enjoy great peace. 

    Even as we suffer, we topple tribulations with trust in Jesus while we rest in His great peace. Christ’s consolations carry us along the way. His peace is a platform for His faithfulness to perform. As if watching an engaging drama on stage or in film, we wait until the end for the plot to fully unfold. If we jump to conclusions or draw premature assumptions, we may get caught up in bad beliefs or false fears. So life is a stage where God’s great drama plays out. We are not to fret over what seems to be fearful or a forgone conclusion. God’s plot is still unfolding by faith. His will is being revealed. His cast of characters is still in development. While His plot thickens, we trust. Until the end, enjoy His great peace.

    We may not have an abundance of stuff, but we have great peace. It is better to do stuff with our Savior than to have stuff without Him. He is our wisdom when we face complex circumstances. He is the one to whom we cling during a crisis. We silence our murmuring so that we can be silent before Him. It is in silence before our Savior that His great peace saturates our soul. It engulfs our edginess with eternal assurance. On earth we may seem deprived of some things from an  enjoyment aspect. But, there is coming a day where this accursed earth will be no more, and we will enjoy the benefits of His new earth without sin, sickness, or sorrow. We will inherit the land of our Lord. In the meantime, go to God for His great peace. Like a river of love, it attends to our soul with soothing security and peace. Enjoy God’s great peace in Christ. Fret not, but have faith in Him. He seeks the meek.

    Taken from Reading #26 in the 90-day devotional book, “Seeking God in the Psalms”…  http://bit.ly/InvUdR

    Post/Tweet this today: Even as we suffer, we topple tribulations with trust in Jesus. #trust

    Download the free Wisdom Hunters app… http://bit.ly/OVrYb9

  • Profitable Patience

    Posted on October 20, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

     

    Life is normally lived waiting. We wait in lines; a teenager waits for his or her next birthday; we wait for job promotions; we wait for news from the doctor; we wait for the next meal; we wait for our future spouse; we wait for a lawsuit to be settled; we wait for a meeting to conclude; we wait for those who have yet to keep their commitment. Every time we turn around we have an opportunity to wait. Why wait? Because most of the time, it’s what’s best and most beneficial. A vegetable gardener is a prisoner to waiting, but this is an asset, not a liability. A tomato is much tastier when it is red, large, and juicy, rather than green, small, and hard. The smart gardener will wait for the vegetables to ripen, though he will nurture the soil along the way and keep the weeds out.

    There is a waiting cycle that must be completed before there is worthwhile fruit. If you didn’t have to wait, you may have been satisfied with how things have always been done. Now you have the opportunity to think differently. Maybe there are other people or resources that can contribute to your project or plan. So, when things do not go as planned, see it as an opportunity to improve the plan. Or providing help to another may be the very thing, as waiting is a lesson in loving others in spite of themselves; even providing valued assistance during this parenthesis in your own life. 

    Most importantly, learn how to wait for the Lord. What a valuable asset to wait upon. The Lord God Almighty is worth the wait. It is worth waiting for His joy, because it comes to uplift you, and bring a smile to your face; it is worth waiting for His peace that calms your soul, and allows you to sleep at night; it is worth waiting for His wisdom that provides discernment in the middle of conflicting options; it is worth waiting for His strength that propels you through adversity and gives you confidence and perseverance for life’s journey; it is worth waiting for His hope that lifts you up and out of your despair and depression.

    People camp out to see a rock star, or pay big bucks to meet the President; so waiting on God should be a cinch. Waiting is being fundamentally patient with God. He is running the universe, He knows what is going on, and He knows what is best for you. He knows. He knows. He knows. You can trust Him in your waiting. Use this sabbatical-like time to get to know your heavenly Father more intimately. Use this time to love your family and others, like no other time in your life. Allow Him to mold your character so that others will comment to themselves that you are somehow different. You are different because you have been with Jesus. Waiting is not just a passage to God’s blessing. It is God’s blessing. Wait for the Lord, because He is worth the wait. The Bible says, “I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God” (Psalm 38:15).

    Taken from October 20th reading in the 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God”… http://bit.ly/InvUdR

    Post/Tweet: Waiting is not just a passage to God’s blessing. It is God’s blessing. #wait

    Download the free Wisdom Hunters app… http://bit.ly/OVrYb9

  • Gift of Evangelism

    Posted on October 19, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Ephesians 4:11-12

     

    Every follower of Jesus can and should be a witness of His amazing grace. But, there are some specifically gifted to share the gospel. The good news of salvation from sin in Christ somehow makes its way into the conversations of an evangelist. These bold believers are compelled by the love of God to share the love of God. This gift of evangelism cannot be silent about the need for a Savior. Because their conversion to Christ was transformational, they pray for all to come to know Him.

    Many of us became believers because of the message we heeded from an evangelistic messenger. Maybe we heard on the radio, “You must be born again.” Perhaps a visiting preacher at church proclaimed Christ’s death on the cross as the payment for our sin, and His resurrection as the power to live the Christian life. A friend may have asked us about our assurance of going to heaven when we die. Or, in reading the Bible the fiery faith of the Apostles may have ignited our faith.

    “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

    Do you actively share the good news of Jesus Christ? Is your gift of evangelism vigorous and alive? Any gift that is unused becomes ineffective. Like a piece of idle, rusty machinery your gift can lock up for lack of use. If this is the case, ask the Holy Spirit to fall fresh on your faith. Let the Lord lubricate your life with courage—to loosen your lips as Christ’s witness. Yes, you share the gospel with humble passion, not in proud judgment. But don’t stay silent—be bold for Jesus!

    You talk about what you love. If you love cars, you read about, discuss and drive cars. If you love your family, you spend time with them and you tell others how they are doing. If you love Jesus, you are loved by Jesus, so that you can love others to Jesus. Love compels you to grow closer to Christ and out of your intimacy with Him, engage your lost world with soul saving truth. You can’t be quiet, because you have the cure for the curse of sin—faith in Jesus. Love speaks up.

    Furthermore, use your gift of evangelism to equip the saints of God to do the work of God. Your experience, passion and theological understanding are a bridge to help other believers share Jesus. You teach others who in turn teach others to turn to God. Don’t be shy in multiplying your influence by training up faithful evangelists for Kingdom advancement. Yes, stay in the reality of reasoning with others about Christ—but also, be wise to mobilize an army of witnesses for Jesus!

    “They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:4-5

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for those who shared the gospel with me Now use me to love others to Jesus with my words and deeds.

    Related Readings: John 3:14-15; Acts 13:46; Romans 1:2,16; Galatians 3:8; 2 Timothy 1:8

    Post/Tweet: Bold believers are compelled by the love of God to share the love of God. #bold

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw

  • Why Should I Care?

    Posted on October 19, 2012 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis

    "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matthew 9:36 (NIV)

    Our van drove snake-like, around tight corners and up steep mountain grades to reach a neighborhood in the hills above Quito, Ecuador. No fresh mountain air greeted us as we stepped carefully on to the streets. Instead the thick smells of garbage, outdoor cooking and animal droppings blanketed us.

    Walking through the tin shacks I understood helplessness as I never had before. There was no government support, no food bank down the street. Unless someone stepped into these people's lives with a helping hand, they would stay trapped in poverty.

    Something shifted in my heart that day. I had always been committed to missions and evangelism in an academic way. Sadly, however, there was always this secret part of me that thought people could ... no they should ... help themselves.

    This experience changed my motivation to reach out. Rather than simple obedience, urgency gripped me. I was starting to understand Jesus' compassion. Was this what He felt like? The disciple Matthew captured Jesus' heart with these words: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36 NIV).

    Jesus saw the helplessness of those He loved. Standing on a dirt street just south of the equator I got it. The helpless cannot help themselves. Just as the lost cannot find their way back on their own. They need someone to step in to their despair, into their darkness, and bring hope and help.

    My heart burned with a new understanding. It's not just those broken under the weight of poverty and injustice that Jesus cares about - although He loves them desperately. He cares about all who feel helpless. Like the divorced woman who wonders if anyone will ever love her again. Or the man who can't find a job. And the teenager looking for approval and acceptance in all the wrong places.

    These are the lost and helpless living on my street. And they need to hear about the hope that only Jesus can bring.

    Jesus gave His disciples an important command before He returned to heaven. He said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

    If I close my eyes I can see myself on another dirt road filled with the smell of animals and cooking, and I see Jesus' eyes of compassion staring at me. "Glynnis," He says. "Listen carefully. I'm going back to My Father, and I need you to go to those who are helpless. They don't all look the same, so don't make any assumptions. And you don't have to go everywhere, because I'm going to tell your sisters and brothers the same thing. But I want you to go where I send you."

    This command isn't just another Bible verse now. It doesn't go on my to-do list. It's been engraved on my heart. Now I get it.

    Dear Lord, forgive me for my lack of mercy. Help me to see the helpless, lost and hurting all around me. I want to have Your heart of compassion, and be willing to go where You send me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Read Matthew 28:18-20. This passage is called "The Great Commission." Does this command from Jesus have a high priority in most Christians' lives? Why or why not?

    Many Christians read this passage and think about traveling abroad to fulfill it. However, this command starts in our own homes, work places and churches. What changes can you make in your own life to start fulfilling the command of Jesus?

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 91:1-2, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'" (NIV)

    Luke 19:10, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Gift of Leadership

    Posted on October 18, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:8

     

    Gifted leaders are first and foremost good followers of God. They recognize the Gift Giver as their authority, so they do not lord over others—rather they submit themselves to the Lord. Because the leader respects Christ, he or she respects those they lead. Because they love the Lord, they love their team. Because they serve Jesus, they serve those who serve with them. Yes, a gifted leader is able to influence and educate a group toward an agreed upon goal. Leaders have followers.

    Are you called to lead but feel inferior? If so, seek your confidence in Christ. Go to the Resourceful One for reassurance. Resistance does not mean you are a bad leader; on the contrary it may be a validation that you are moving in the right direction. Indeed, some struggle in getting on the bandwagon of change—it threatens their security. So stay the course and lead prayerfully, patiently and lovingly. Trust the Spirit’s small voice that affirms your actions—God is with you.

    “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:9-12

    You know you have the gift of leadership if you can see the big picture and inspire others toward that God-given vision. You understand the sequence of steps required to reach the objectives. You perceive potential problems and are courageous and wise to make adjustments. You motivate the team to embrace transitions as necessary to stay relevant. You create a culture of accountability with real-time updates. No one wants to let anyone down in the execution process.

    Your gift of leadership is a weighty responsibility, but you are not alone. Almighty God is your “go to” for humility, holiness and wisdom. God gives you what you need to accomplish what He wants. Furthermore, use your leadership role to invest in other emerging leaders. It is harder to grow leaders than it is to lead. Therefore, be intentional and prayerful to train up faithful men and women who will train others. You steward your leadership best by birthing other leaders!

    “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” Psalm 78:72

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me, so that in humility I can lead others in Your ways.

    Related Readings: Exodus 32:21; 1 Samuel 18:16; Isaiah 48:21; 1 Timothy 6:11-12; 1 Corinthians 1:10

    Post/Tweet: God gives us what we need to accomplish what He needs. #leadership

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw

  • Is My Pain Talking?

    Posted on October 18, 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5b (NIV)

    Have you ever been in a situation where something little felt really big? Maybe a look from someone that suddenly made you feel like they didn't like you. Or when someone doesn't return your phone call and you feel like it's an indication that you're not important.

    Usually these things aren't true.

    The look was just a look with no hidden meaning.

    The missed phone call was just a slip on that person's to-do list.

    But if we're not careful, those misguided feelings can create issues that distract us, discourage us, and trigger past pain that starts taunting us. They can fill our minds with thoughts that are not accurate.

    It happened to me on a certain Friday. My sister Angee and I got up at 3:00 a.m. and were in line at a store thirty minutes later. I know. I agree. That's crazy.

    But like a hunter stalking prey, I was after something. In this case, the buy-one-get-one-free washer and dryer. Angee was after a half-priced computer. When the store doors opened at 5:00 a.m., we both scored. Happiness abounded. Then we left to get some breakfast. This is the part of the story where the happiness faded.

    In the drive-thru, my credit card was "not approved."

    Let me get this straight. It was approved at the store just five minutes ago when I made a major purchase. But now for a little two-dollar bundle of egg, cheese, Canadian bacon, and an English muffin, suddenly I'm not approved?

    Not approved.

    Ouch.

    My sister wasn't fazed. She whipped out cash, paid for my breakfast, and headed to the next store on our list. But those words "not approved" hung like a black cloud over my head. It bothered the stink out of me. I knew it was just some technical glitch, but that's not what it felt like.

    When that girl leaned out of the drive-thru window and in a hushed tone said, "I'm sorry, ma'am, but your card keeps showing that you're not approved," it felt personal. Really personal.

    Suddenly, past pain from other times I'd felt rejected and my current embarrassment started running their mouth inside my head. You're nothing but a loser. You are unwanted. Unloved. Disorganized. Poor. Not acceptable. You are not approved.

    I wish I could tie up this story in a nice bow and give you a pretty ending, but I can't. It was anything but pretty. I felt awful. And I went to bed wondering if the Lord Himself might come down and say, "Lysa TerKeurst, I have had enough of your immature reactions. You are no longer approved to be a Bible study teacher. Look at you!"

    But that's not the Lord's voice. Our Lord doesn't whisper shameful condemnations.

    Spiritual convictions, yes. Personal condemnations, no.

    As I stared wide-eyed into the darkness that enveloped the room, I whispered, "Give me Your voice, Jesus. I need to hear You above all these painful thoughts. If I don't hear You, I'm afraid this darkness is going to swallow me alive." Nothing came. I couldn't hear a thing.

    I had a choice. I could lie in the dark replaying the awful events of the day, or I could turn the light on and read God's Word—His truth—which is the best thing to do when lies are swarming and painful thoughts are attacking like a bunch of bloodthirsty mosquitoes.

    Lies flee in the presence of truth. Comfort comes into our pain when we bring it to Jesus. And while reading God's truth that night didn't change the fact that I needed to make things right in my thoughts, it gave me the courage to do so.

    Dear Lord, please drown out the other voices ... please hush them ... and speak. I want to hear You above all the noise. Help me discern Your convictions and the devil's condemnations. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    For more encouragement and practical advice on how to remain self-controlled, check out Lysa TerKeurst's new book, Unglued. Available now!

    The accompanying Unglued Bible Study will help you understand what the Bible says about better ways to react. To order your copy, click here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are there lies you have believed about yourself? Bring them to light. Write 2 lies down on a piece of paper.

    Now get out God's Word and read about who He says you are. Use the power verses below to refute Satan's attacks against you and remember, Jesus doesn't speak in condemning tones but the enemy and our past pain often does.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 139:14, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." NIV

    Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." NIV

    2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here." NIV

    © 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Gift of Giving

    Posted on October 17, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:8

     

    Those with the gift of giving find great joy in contributing to a compelling cause or investing in a called individual. They are on the look out for opportunities where the Lord is at work. Givers can’t wait to give. They may even feel guilty or a little anxious if they cannot connect with a Kingdom need with their time, talent or treasure. Those with the gift of giving believe since God has mightily blessed them, they have the privilege and responsibility to participate in generosity.

    You can be a gifted giver with a lot of money or with little financial resources. It is a heart liberal toward helping others that motivates your acts of giving. You are thrifty and love to save—not to spend on yourself—but to have additional surplus for lost souls and to feed and clothe the poor. You understand that the remedy for greed is generosity. The best medicine for selfishness is becoming big hearted toward other hurting hearts. Mostly, you give because God gives to you!

    “He [Cornelius] and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.” Acts 10:2 

    Your process for giving may be systematic or spontaneous—probably a combination of both. It is wise to invest regularly in your church. Give aggressively where the Word of God is accurately taught and applied. Where Christ is preeminent, the community is served and the world is reached with the gospel. Missionaries are a must for you, because your soul yearns for other souls to come to Christ. Furthermore, you look for family members and friends who need a little bit of financial margin to get them through a rough spot. Gifted givers discern needs.

    Perhaps a couple has not been able to connect because of their overwhelming work or home responsibilities. You may be their answer to prayer by paying for a baby sitter for two nights along with food and lodging for a long weekend get-away. Perhaps you enjoy giving gigantic gratuities to selfless servers of your meal. Moreover, you are free to give, because your Heavenly Father has freely given to you. God’s gift of grace keeps on giving. Indeed, Jesus’ poverty made you rich in what matters most.

    “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thanks for giving liberally to me, so that I can give generously for You.

    Related Readings: Psalm 68:9; Luke 21:4; 2 Corinthians 8:12, 9:7; Philippians 2:6-8

    Post/Tweet: The remedy for greed is generosity. The best medicine for selfishness is becoming big hearted toward other hurting hearts. #give

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw

  • Surviving Mommy Stress

    Posted on October 17, 2012 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." James 1:12 (NIV)

    Parenting and child-rearing are one of the top five stressors of the general population. I understand why.

    There are days when I feel like the stress of being a parent just might push me over the edge. Despite my unfailing love for my sweet children, sometimes the thought of a mini-vacation from parenting (if there were such a thing) sounds mighty enticing. Especially on the days when I am suffering from a severe case of mommy stress.

    When children are little, the demands they place on a parent are physically exhausting, to say the least. But as they grow into adolescents, the physical exhaustion is quickly replaced by emotional exhaustion.

    Instead of our bodies suffering through sleepless nights, lugging piles of laundry, and the constant smell of messy diapers, our hearts suffer with stressful worries. Worries like whether or not our children will make it home safely, if they're making the right friends, and if they are strong enough to stand up for what's right in the face of peer pressure.

    The journey of parenting children, from toddlers to teenagers, is a strenuous one. Each season presents it's own set of stressful challenges. We can easily pour ourselves out completely and end up feeling empty and discouraged. It's possible to even lose our desire to keep giving parenting our all.

    In today's key verse, James addresses the topic of persevering through all the many difficult trials in life - and at times, parenting can seem like a series of ongoing physical and emotional trials.

    "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." (James 1:12 NIV)

    I am encouraged by his reminder that even when situations are difficult, those who persevere will be rewarded - including parents who persevere through the hard years of child-rearing.

    I also find it interesting that prior to this verse, James tells us to keep a proper perspective on the situations which require perseverance. For example, James 1:2-5 confirms that everyone will face trials, and we must keep in mind that our perseverance will result in maturity and completion.

    He also says that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God who will generously provide the answers and help needed to get through our most difficult days. I don't know about you, but I need parenting wisdom and guidance on a minute-by-minute basis!

    As we persevere through the stress that comes with parenting, we can have hope knowing that God will provide us with strength and wisdom. He will be pleased that we didn't give up. That we kept seeking Him and trusting Him through each and every trial.

    Parenting is a high calling, and one that requires a lot of leaning on God, unwavering determination and unending perseverance. Don't give up!

    Dear Lord, I have been stressed and overwhelmed in my role as a mom, and often feel guilty about it. I'm physically and spiritually exhausted. Help me remember that these feelings are normal and that I need to depend on You for strength and wisdom. Give me the desire and ability to persevere and find joy in the adventure of motherhood. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World by Tracie Miles

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you been feeling completely "poured out" in your parenting journey lately? Have you prayed for strength, wisdom, and joy in the midst of the stress?

    Ask God to give you a new perspective about parenting situations you're facing. Seek His insight into how He is building fruits in your children's hearts through your perseverance and commitment to Him.

    Power Verse:
    Hebrews 10:36, "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Forget About It

    Posted on October 16, 2012 by Karen Ehman

    Karen

    "For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." Hebrews 8:12 (ESV)

    In the midst of a heated conflict do you ever get historical?

    Not hysterical, as in acting totally out-of-control ... but historical. As in bringing up the past; reliving and rehashing former wrongdoings and offenses.

    "You'll never change!"
    "You're acting just like you did when ..."
    "There you go again. You always ..."

    I do this to others. But mostly I do this to myself.

    At times I have trouble remembering the name of the person I just met or where I put my cell phone. However, I'm keenly adept at remembering my sins from the past. Or the shame and guilt they carry with them as ammunition to target my heart and make me feel defeated. I can recount my sins as easily as I can say the alphabet.

    Oftentimes forgiving myself sometimes feels like it's impossible to do.

    When it comes to God however, we don't have to fear He will bring up our past sins and use them against us, throwing them in our face and refusing to forgive. In today's key verse, God says, "For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8:12 ESV)

    This verse reminds me of a story of a man who claimed to have dreams where God regularly visited him and they talked together. He shared this with his pastor who doubted whether this was actually true. So the pastor issued a challenge to prove whether or not the man's claims were valid.

    "The next time God visits you," he instructed the man, "ask Him to tell you the worst sin I've ever committed." Since this pastor had a wild background he was certain there were a lot of sins lurking there from which God could choose.

    Later when the pastor saw the man again, he asked him, "Well, did God visit with you again?" The man replied, "Yes, He sure did."

    "Okay then, tell me, what did He say was the worst sin I ever committed?"

    The man responded, "I asked and God looked straight at me and simply stated, 'Hmmm ... I don't remember.'"

    In God's Word we are told, "He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west." (Psalm 103:12 NLT) And, as today's verse says, He not only removes sins, He forgets them!

    His ability to forget is His way of giving us a new start. He hits the refresh button on our lives and enables us to start over, no mater what grievous wrongs we've committed. Or how often we've committed them.

    We must simply confess our sins to Him. He is faithful to forgive our wrongdoings and hit the restart button of our heart, giving us a fresh beginning.

    Perhaps it is time we "forget about it" - just like God does. If He chooses not to remember our sins, why do we keep shaming and blaming ourselves for them?

    Let's pray for the ability to forget and live like the holy and forgiven people God says we are when we bring our sins to Him. Instead of remembering our history, let's focus on the history of Jesus' death on the cross and His forgiveness and forgetfulness . . . of our sins.

    Dear Lord, help me grasp the truth that You do not remember my sins. Thank You for not only forgiving my sins, but for forgetting them as well. May I live as a new creation, holy and blameless as I seek to serve You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    If you liked this devotion, check out Karen's new book LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith. It will enable you to control what you should and trust God with what you can't.

    Confessions of an Adulterous Christian Woman by Lyndell Hetrick Holtz

    Reflect and Respond:
    What sins in your past or present do you tend to beat yourself up over? Make a list of them on a piece of paper.

    Now, read today's key verse again and then tear up the list and throw it in the trash. Promise yourself that, since God doesn't bring up the sins anymore, you won't either.

    Write out the verse to post in a prominent place for those times when you are tempted to shame yourself again. Memorize it if you must!

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 103:2-4, "My soul, praise the Lord, and do not forget all His benefits. He forgives all your sin; He heals all your diseases. He redeems your life from the Pit; He crowns you with faithful love and compassion." (HCSB)

    © 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

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