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Proverbs 31

  • The Healing Power of Kindness

    Posted on August 27, 2015 by Family Christian

    Kenisha Bethea AUGUST 28, 2015

    The Healing Power of Kindness
    KENISHA BETHEA

     

    "On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’" Matthew 9:12-13 (NIV)

    For several years I struggled with daily headaches. Sometimes mild. Sometimes debilitating.

    The headaches affected every area of my life. I hesitated to make long-range plans with friends for fear of having to cancel. I hesitated to make day-of plans because by 6 p.m. I could be holed up in a dark room with only enough strength to lie down and whisper a prayer for relief.

    I couldn’t even serve in church the way my heart desired. And although I loved my job, it was a chore to get out of bed and get the day started.

    I’d grown accustomed to the pain, so I lived with it until one day my boss sweetly bossed me into a doctor’s appointment. She even offered to go with me.

    It turned out the headaches were a small symptom to a big problem that was going on internally. My doctor immediately changed my diet and started me on several natural supplements. Some weeks I did great, but most weeks I struggled. Big time.

    One day I didn’t take my supplements because I left them at home. Another day I would eat a slice of cheesecake because … well, it’s cheesecake. Then I would replay my shortcomings in my mind and be terrified for my next doctor’s visit.

    Each week I just knew it was the week my doctor would say: "Kenisha, I’m sorry, but I can’t continue to work with you. Come back and see me when you’re ready to get better."

    One day, on the verge of tears, I walked into my doctor’s office and fessed up. I was shocked when he said: "Kenisha, you are making a lot of changes all at once. It’s okay if you messed up. You’ll get there, but cut yourself some slack. We will help you."

    Later, as I reflected on his words, I wondered, Why on earth didn’t he bash me, or at least give me a stern lecture about the molecular structure of sugar and its effect on the human body? He’s the picture of health and he’s so knowledgeable. He really could’ve let me have it.

    That’s when the words of our key verse came to mind: " … It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick" (Matthew 9:12b).

    Jesus said these words to the religious leaders of His day who hated that He and His disciples spent time with sinners and tax collectors — the latter of which had a terrible reputation for being dishonest. Even one of Jesus’ disciples, Matthew, had been a tax collector before he left that life to follow Jesus.

    Later that evening, I read Matthew 9, verses 12 and 13 together. I sat and cried. Instead of sacrificing me on the altar of his knowledge and experience, my doctor chose to reflect Jesus, the Great Physician, with his kindness toward me. It was that kindness that left me encouraged and feeling better about my journey to health.

    The truth of this verse is something Matthew knew then, and we can know today: Before Christ, we were spiritually ill and dying. But when Jesus came into our lives He healed our sin-sick souls. His kindness melted our hardened hearts. He showed us The Way, because if we could do it ourselves, we wouldn’t need the One who is called the Great Physician.

    Father God, thank You that You have never turned me away, but instead You sent Your son Jesus to show me The Way to You. Help me be patient with myself as You continue Your work in me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 53:5, "But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed." (ESV)

    Romans 2:4, "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?" (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Ever wonder about your value to God, or if God could really use you for a divine purpose? Get your copy of Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past to Create a Beautiful Futureby Tracie Miles and embark on a journey of healing, life transformation and the discovery of purpose.

    If today’s devotion inspired you, you might appreciate Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Life, a book containing 100 of our favorite devotions.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Take several moments to remember what your life was like before Jesus. Write a prayer of gratitude to Him for healing you, and cleansing you from your sin.

    If you don’t already know Jesus, get to know Him today. It will be the best decision you ever make in your life.

    © 2015 by Kenisha Bethea. All rights reserved.

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

  • And God Said, "Ta-da!"

    Posted on August 21, 2015 by Family Christian

    Liz Curtis Higgs AUGUST 21, 2015

    And God Said, "Ta-da!"
    LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

    "For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation." Psalm 149:4 (NASB)

    Feeling less than likeable? A far cry from beautiful? Today’s encouragement from God’s Word might be just what you need to change your view.

    First, the Lord takes pleasure in you. He doesn’t simply accept you, forgive you or put up with you. He delights in your company. He celebrates your place in His kingdom. "As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you" (Isaiah 62:5b, NIV).

    What about your family history, your personality, your popularity? People worry about those things, but not the Lord.

    So, your education, your resume, your bank balance? Impressive or not, none of that changes how God values you.

    Even your behavior doesn’t alter His kind affection for you. His love is unconditional and irrevocable. God doesn’t love you because you’re wealthy or clever or good. He loves you because you’re His. "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1a, NIV).

    Even more good news? The Lord says you are beautiful. Not just slightly attractive or marginally appealing. Beautiful. You are lovely to look at because "God created mankind in his own image" (Genesis 1:27a, NIV). And that includes you.

    As today’s verse, Psalm 149:4b, tells us, "He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation." You are beautiful beyond description when you’re covered in His grace.

    We are endlessly obsessed with our earthly appearance, doing everything possible to look our best, to measure up, to please others. Yet invariably, we look in the mirror and are disappointed with the results.

    But not God. He knew exactly what He was doing the day He knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

    Some women are quick to say, "Maybe God was pleased when He made me, but I’m not sure He’s happy with how I turned out …"

    Listen. God knows your first breath and your last (Psalm 139:16), He counts every hair on your head (Matthew 10:30), and He stores all your tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). Our God? He is not surprised or disappointed with how you turned out. He loved you then, He loves you still and He will love you forever.

    We get in trouble when we compare ourselves to others, always finding someone who is younger, taller, thinner, more athletic, more graceful … the list goes on.

    But God does not compare. God does not clone. Each of us is a unique work of His creation. You are God’s definition of beautiful for you, beloved. Are you ready to see yourself as God sees you?

    Here’s a simple exercise I’ve been teaching women for ages. Every morning, stand in front of a mirror (fully dressed, of course), stretch up your arms with joy, and say it like you mean it: "Ta-da!"

    Feels good, yes? Looks good, too. You can’t say it without smiling, which always improves things. "Ta-da!" is the LRV (the Lizzie Revised Version) of "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good" (Genesis 1:31a, NIV).

    We’ve all known beautiful women who, when they opened their mouths, quickly lost their appeal. And we’ve also known average-looking women who love the Lord with all their hearts, and it shows on their radiant faces. Gorgeous.

    When the light of Christ shines through us, we are utterly transformed. That’s the real story, the hope of glory, the ultimate "Ta-da!"

    Father God, many of us have struggled with our appearance or sense of worth all of our lives. Let this be the day we turn away from the world’s lies and embrace the truth of Your Word and the beauty of Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 139:14, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." (NIV)

    Ecclesiastes 3:11a, "He has made everything beautiful in its time." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Liz Curtis Higgs’ newest book, It’s Good to Be Queen, explores how you can become as bold, gracious and wise as the queen of Sheba, as it addresses thorny life questions and considers which qualities best serve a godly queen of any realm.

    Stop by this week, as Liz explores why "He Is Worthy of Our Praise," on her blog.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Since God’s opinion of us is the one that truly matters, we need to remind ourselves daily that we give Him pleasure and He considers us beautiful.

    Is there a verse in today’s post you want to memorize? Or an idea you want to study further? To help you see yourself the way God does, Liz Curtis Higgs has created laminated cards with some of today’s encouraging message plus vinyl "Ta-da!" stickers to pop on your mirror. Ten winners will receive a "Ta-da!" card from Liz, chosen at random from all who comment on today’s post.

    © 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

  • Am I Messing Up My Kids?

    Posted on August 20, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lysa TerKeurst AUGUST 20, 2015

    Am I Messing Up My Kids?
    LYSA TERKEURST

    "‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’" John 9:3 (NIV)

    Okay moms, as another school year is upon us … let’s get gut-honest. Have you ever had these thoughts tug at the corners of your mind: What have I done wrong? Am I messing up my kids?

    I’ve had two in-depth conversations recently with friends, and the same theme was woven throughout both conversations. Our kids sometimes struggle and when they do, often our first thought is: What have I done wrong as a mother?

    Certainly good can come from a healthy assessment of how we’re doing in our crucial role as moms. However, when the question comes in the form of a personal assault rather than a call to action over a specific area of improvement, it’s not healthy.

    It’s paralyzing. It’s draining. It’s defeating. It’s evidence of a hole in the spiritual filter of our minds.

    So I’ve been determined to fill my mind with God’s truth. I figure the more truths I have to fill my mind with, the more untruths will get crowded out.

    I’ve been taking a book of the Bible and focusing on one verse from each chapter. Then I reflect on what this verse says about God and how it speaks to me personally.

    The other day, before a conversation with one of my friends, I read John 9. In that chapter, Jesus meets a man who was blind from birth. His disciples ask Him, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:2b, NIV).

    Then this verse jumped out at me and seemed to swirl in my thoughts constantly: "‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him’" (John 9:3).

    Because this verse kept bumping into my conscious thoughts, I knew it was crucial to think on it, pray through it and let it seep into some deep places needing this truth.

    Then later, when I was talking with my friend, there were little hints of that question: What have I done wrong as a mother?

    What a delight it was to have that verse right on the top of my mind. Like a healing balm, I soothed my friend with the truth that what her son is going through right now has nothing to do with her mistakes or even his for that matter. God is helping her son work through some fears that will eventually be a mighty display of spiritual depth in his life.

    Sweet sister, have you caught yourself asking lately, "What am I doing wrong as a mother?" Maybe it is time to make some adjustments.

    Or maybe, redirect this line of thinking with a different question, How might God work in this situation so that His work can be displayed in my child’s life or in my life? Either way, remember this truth: You are loved by God and so is your child.

    Dear Lord, help me process my motherhood journey using the filter of Your truth and nothing else. I need Your assurance and guidance, God. I don’t want to do this without You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

    Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Make progress in your understanding of the Bible with Proverbs 31 Ministries’ new mobile app, First 5. Beginning August 31, we’re unpacking the book of Genesis studying one verse per chapter per day so God’s Word doesn’t feel complicated! Download First 5 today.

    Continue your First 5 journey with The Book of Genesis Experience Guide. The Experience Guide is designed to accompany each day’s teaching and grow your faith, as you reflect, respond and learn what makes the book of Genesis so unique. Purchase yours today!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Is there something your child has struggled with lately that made you feel like you’ve done something wrong as a mother?

    Prayerfully ask God if there is anything you can do better as a mom. Also, ask Him to help you see all that you’ve done right as a mom and how to accept that some of your child’s struggles have nothing to do with your actions at all.

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Who’s Setting Your Priorities?

    Posted on August 19, 2015 by Family Christian

    Glynnis Whitwer AUGUST 19, 2015

    Who’s Setting Your Priorities?
    GLYNNIS WHITWER

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

    Could my cell phone affect my to-do list? Could this little bit of gadgetry redirect my day, causing me to miss God’s best for me? I think so, and here’s why.

    Growing up, we had a house phone. Just one.There was no call-waiting beep or answering machine. And of course, no email or texting. So if you wanted to reach me, you had to keep calling until you got through. Or maybe head to my house and actually knock on my door. Quite frustrating when "someone" spent hours talking to a friend!

    Basically, the burden to communicate was on the person with the message to share.

    Today the responsibility to communicate has shifted. No longer is it your burden to reach me; all you do is type-type-type a message, hit send and all the responsibility floats through cyberspace and lands firmly on me.

    Multiply this by every which way people can reach me, and before I even wake up, I’m behind.

    This shift has silently affected all of us. A typical day starts with checking some sort of communication device to see who might have emailed, posted or texted. Then, before we begin to handle what’s most important to us, our day begins by responding to what’s most important to others.

    Without a concerted effort to stop this pull, we are drawn into the day’s rushing current like a tiny raft on a whitewater river. And rather than being proactive, our days are spent in reactive mode.

    Sound familiar? If so, you’ve probably also experienced the too-long to-do list that comes with it. After we’ve given the best of our time and energy to others, there’s little left to address God’s priorities for us. Consequently we put-off, delay and procrastinate our priorities.

    After years of shortchanging myself and my family, and often dishonoring God with disobedience, I realized I had things upside down! Things that mattered least replaced things that mattered most in my schedule. And work that would make the greatest impact on my life often fell to the bottom of my lists, then transferred to the next list until I either completed it with a fraction of my ability or abandoned it entirely.

    Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to figure out our best work. It sounds so easy to say, "Identify your priorities, and do those first." However, when we face multiple demands we can often feel helpless. And helplessness can lead us to escape, avoid or numb.

    When those feelings start to overtake me and I don’t know what to do, rather than make a self-defeating choice, it’s time to press pause. Sometimes, the best thing to do is nothing … except seek direction and wisdom from the One who knows what our best is.

    Given the chance, others will set our priorities for us. Yet God specifically has a calling for each of us that will only come from Him. To discern this, we need wisdom. Without God’s wisdom, we make decisions on facts and feelings. And the fact that I have 100 emails to answer and feel overwhelmed does not mean it’s wise to do so now.

    To find wisdom, I need to silence the demands of many, to hear the commands of One.

    God is faithful, and His Word promises we can receive wisdom. In fact, it’s a gift from God. Here is what James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."

    As my life becomes more interconnected with others, my priorities are harder to identify. There will always be new demands rising to the tops of my to-do list, giving me reasons to delay tackling my own priorities.

    There is hope. When we take our tiny raft out of the raging river, and sit on the banks with our Heavenly Father, He will give us wisdom for what to do next. Sometimes it’s answering an email, but it might be something else He has planned for today.

    Heavenly Father, You are the source of all wisdom, including my priorities and what my day should look like. Help me seek Your wisdom for my priorities rather than finding them in my inbox or social media accounts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Exodus 20:3, "You shall have no other gods before me." (NIV)

    Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Are you ready to start responding to God’s priorities for your life and experience the peace that comes with it? Join us for the next Online Bible Study of Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day. Study begins Tuesday, September 8.

    When you order Taming the To-Do List through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you’ll receive two Free Time Management Tools to help prioritize your best work over busy work! Your bonus includes printable planner sheets to organize your master to-do list and weekly assignments. To claim your freebies, please submit your receipt to TamingtheToDoList@proverbs31.org.

    Join Glynnis on her blog today where she’ll share 5 questions to help identify your God-given priorities.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What priorities in your life do you wish you invested more of your time into?

    What keeps you from living according to your priorities? What can you do differently this week to make a change?

    © 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • How to Live a Satisfied Life

    Posted on August 18, 2015 by Family Christian

    Sarah Mae AUGUST 18, 2015

    How to Live a Satisfied Life
    SARAH MAE

    "Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life." Genesis 25:8a (NASB)

    I was lying in bed one morning, my sweet daughter Caroline tucked in close, as I rubbed her head.

    She had come down a few minutes earlier to snuggle. It was early, 5:30 a.m., but the sun shone through my bedroom window, gently easing me awake.

    As I stroked her soft hair, I kept thinking about how much I love her and how she is growing up so fast. Six years old now.

    Four years ago I wrote about how exhausting it is to tend to little ones, especially at bedtime when you’re spent and just need a break. But how yet, even in the crazy hardness of it all, God made it so that our little ones would need us. Close, and soothing and available. I find that those words are just as true today. She still needs me, pulled in close, surrounding her with comfort and love.

    And so I do this. I let her get into bed with me in the early-morning hours because I don’t want to miss it — this precious time, this cuddly, sleepy, warm, tender time. I know it is only for a season, and one day, it will be gone. But I have the here and now; I have today to take it in and enjoy.

    And this is how I want to live, taking in these moments so that I can look back on my life and not regret that I missed them.

    Every day I get the opportunity to start new. Every day I can begin again. Maybe I missed it yesterday. Maybe I got too busy or I got sucked into Facebook, or I just didn’t want to play with my kids. Those are the moments that keep me up at night. Those are the moments I need God’s grace to cover me so I can start over. I need His help every day.

    This loving, this mothering, this living that I’m doing requires sacrifice and work, and I need daily reminders of this truth, or I will let the days carry me off, one rolling into another. I don’t want to regret my days because I don’t want to regret my life.

    Here’s the thing about regret: We can’t escape it because we can’t escape sin.

    We will have things and times and decisions we will regret over the course of our lives. The key to really living, to living unregrettably, is not to have no regrets, it’s to know and choose to begin again. It’s to be fully awake to our decisions. It’s to choose the direction of our lives the best that we can, with who we are and where we are. It’s to trust God, walking forward in faith, knowing that He delights in us as we delight in Him and the good things He gives us.

    We can live in such a way that at the end, we can die satisfied with how we lived.

    Satisfied. Not perfect.

    Abraham died satisfied with his life, but we know that he sinned and made poor decisions in his life. He didn’t live perfectly, but He followed God by faith, and he lived a well-spent life. He died satisfied.

    When we sin or fail or botch up something again, we can decide to move forward, learning from it, and beginning again and again and again. This is how we keep on.

    This is how we live a satisfied life.

    Heavenly Father, thank You that You don’t leave me in my mess. Thank You that Your mercies are new every day, and that I can begin again. Help me to never forget Your grace, and please help me to live a life that is well-spent. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, "I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor — it is the gift of God." (NASB)

    John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (NASB)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you’ve ever felt like the waves of life keep rolling over you and you can’t seem to get a hold of them, Sarah Mae gets it. Check out Sarah’s new book, Longing for Paris: One Woman’s Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure — Right Where She Is, where she talks more about how live a satisfied, meaningful, beautiful life.

    For more on living a satisfied life, visit Sarah Mae’s blog or LongingForParis.com.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Longing for Paris. In celebration of this book, Sarah’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, August 24.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Picture yourself near the end of your life, sitting in a rocking chair on your porch, reflecting over your years. What do you wish you had done more of? What do you want to change?

    Ask God to help you become fully awake to your daily decisions. They add up to a lifetime.

    © 2015 by Sarah Mae. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Tyndale House Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

  • If I Have to Fold One More Piece of Laundry …

    Posted on August 17, 2015 by Family Christian

    Wendy Pope AUGUST 17, 2015

    If I Have to Fold One More Piece of Laundry …
    WENDY POPE

    "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault.’" Philippians 2:14-15a (NIV)

    Dear Mom,
    I refuse to accept the fact that I have to do my responsibilities by myself. Love, Blaire

    My 6-year-old daughter wrote this letter to me in protest of her chores.

    Her bold stance cracked me up, and the articulate manner in which she stated her case made me proud.

    I went to her room to explain, that although I appreciated her initiative, she still needed to complete her chores … and with a good attitude.

    Throughout Blaire’s young life, we taught her that her attitude was just as important as her responsibilities. Like most children, she still complained and argued.

    Sometimes it would have been easier for me to do her chores rather than train her to adjust her attitude. But I knew that wasn’t the best approach. So I prayed and asked the Lord how I could teach my children not to complain and argue about their responsibilities. God gave me this answer: Lead by example.

    One day, as the kids were watching a movie in the living room, I dragged in another basket of laundry and plopped it on the couch.

    As I folded, I started to murmur under my breath, "If I have to fold one more piece of laundry …" before I stopped myself. Looking back, I realized I often complained while completing my responsibilities.

    It was time I acknowledged to myself that I’d been setting the wrong example.

    Philippians 2:14-15a says, "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault.’"

    When we complete our responsibilities without complaining and with a happy heart, our children will know how to do the same.

    Children imitate what they see. At that time in my life the Lord was refining and pruning my attitude, and one area that needed care was how I approached my chores. My heart harbored negativity toward caring for my household tasks. This directly impacted my children’s behavior and dispositions. I determined to allow God to change my heart so I’d be a better example for my kids.

    I decided to:

      • Renew my heart each morning. (Psalm 90:14)
        I quickly realized how different my attitude was when I started each day with prayer.

     

      • Repent of the sin in my heart daily. (Psalm 51:10)
        I had to confess my wrong attitudes every day. Otherwise, my heart became heavy when I carried them from day to day.

     

      • Rend my heart. (Joel 2:12-13)
        What I put in my heart definitely came out. There were changes I had to make about what I put in my heart and mind. This meant adjusting what I heard and saw to keep a positive attitude.

     

    • Rest my heart when necessary. (Psalm 127:2)
      Rest needed to be more of a priority. It was hard with children and the amount of work I had to do, but I had to set a bedtime and stick to it even if the laundry wasn’t put away.

    Whatever duties are yours to finish today, set your heart to do them without complaining. You’ll bless the Lord and inspire those around you.

    Lord, thank You for encouraging me today with Your Word. I pray Your spirit will prompt me to respond to my responsibilities in a way that is pleasing to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Trusting God for a Better Tomorrow: A Psalms Bible Study by Wendy Pope is available in e-book and soft cover.

    Visit Wendy’s blog for more encouragement about cultivating a happy heart.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Ask the people around you to point out any time you complain. Sometimes we don’t notice it in ourselves, but others do.

    Look for the blessing in your responsibility. For example, if it’s folding laundry, thank the Lord for clean clothes. If it’s washing dishes, praise Him for running water. Gratitude kicks grumpiness out of the heart.

    © 2015 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Let’s Stop Begging for Acceptance

    Posted on August 14, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lynn Cowell AUGUST 14, 2015

    Let’s Stop Begging for Acceptance
    LYNN COWELL

    "Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong." Acts 3:7 (NIV)

    I shouldn’t even be thinking this.

    But that didn’t change the fact that I was.

    The parade of beautiful women dancing at the game during halftime sent my mind reeling.

    How did they get to be so … perfect?

    To be honest, my thoughts caught me off guard. Of all things! Body image is a topic I often speak and write about to girls and women. Why was I thinking these thoughts, especially considering most of the women were probably 20 years my junior?

    My body was in the bleachers, but my mind was at the gate.

    Let me explain.

    In Acts 3:1, Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John, were on their way to the temple to pray when they saw a crippled man. Every day this man was put outside the temple gate to beg. Because of its size and magnificence, the name of this entrance into the temple court area was called Beautiful.

    When the crippled man saw Peter and John entering the gate, he asked them for money. "… Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them" (Acts 3:4b-5, NIV).

    The crippled man had a need and he looked to others to meet it.

    As I read this encounter, the name of the gate struck me.

    Beautiful.

    I immediately thought of our children as they head back to school. Our culture’s obsession with external, physical beauty can put them in a place similar to the beggar. Ads, TV and social media constantly shout what acceptable looks like. And it doesn’t stop there. They might even receive signals to become beautiful from friends and yes, even from us, their family.

    Other times, pressure to arrive at Beautiful comes from within. Every day many of us go to our closets, mirrors or make-up bags for the tools we think we need to achieve beauty.

    The gate called Beautiful might be the scale we hope will tell us the right number, the gym we join to become the right size or the mall we cruise through looking for the right outfit.

    We go to the gate Beautiful and there we beg for what we need for that day: acceptance, approval and affirmation. It’s not enough to sustain us, though. Tomorrow, searching again, we’ll return.

    We’ll go back and so will our children. They’re watching us, taking their cue on how to be acceptable from us.

    The crippled man had to beg every day as well. I’m sure he never dreamed Jesus would meet his needs for good.

    We each desire value and significance. As our children head back to school, they also need to find approval in their world.

    Like the crippled man in today’s key verse, Jesus offers His helping hand to each of us. It’s the hand that will heal us, and put our begging days behind us. Jesus wants us to stop begging at society’s gate for what He freely gives.

    With the power of the Holy Spirit we can say: "No more!" No more will we beg when Christ died to give us the acceptance we need. Like the crippled man, let’s take His hand and look to Him each day for strength and approval.

    Dear Jesus, I don’t want to go to the gate of society’s definition of beautiful. I don’t want to pass this burden on to my friends and family, either. You are the One who has everything I need for significance and strength. Today, I come to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Peter 3:3-4, "Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on jewelry, or beautiful clothes, or hair arrangement. Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit that is so precious to God." (TLB)

    Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you know a young woman who needs to become strong in Christ, purchase Lynn Cowell’s book Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants for her. Magnetic is a study based on God’s view of strong and beautiful — the fruit of the Spirit!

    Bring today’s message to the women and girls of your community. Stop by Lynn’s blog today for more information on hosting or attending an event.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What things in culture trigger self-doubt in your life when it comes to seeing yourself as beautiful? Make a conscious decision to reject those today in light of who God created you to be.

    Ask God to show you how to develop beautiful strength in the life of someone around you.

    © 2015 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Best Marriage Advice I Ever Received

    Posted on August 13, 2015 by Family Christian

    Alicia Bruxvoort AUGUST 13, 2015

    The Best Marriage Advice I Ever Received
    ALICIA BRUXVOORT

    "Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed)" 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (VOICE)

    The best marriage advice I ever received was to stand on a chair and clap.

    I was 20 years old with a sparkling ring on my finger and shimmering dreams in my heart. And I was certain my upcoming wedding marked the beginning of my own happily ever after.

    I’d made it a habit during my engagement to meet frequently with my mentor about love and life and marriage. We’d huddle together in the back corner of the Student Union, chatting about the challenges of two selfish people becoming one. We’d discussed intimacy and affinity, fighting fairly and forgiving.

    And we prayed. Oh, how we prayed over the marriage that would soon change my name and my life.

    Then, one afternoon, I asked, "What’s your best advice for a happy marriage?" My mentor cupped her coffee mug and paused. Suddenly, she smiled and looked me straight in the eye.

    "Be your husband’s greatest fan," she said. "Find something to celebrate every day, then stand on a chair and cheer out loud for your man."

    She swallowed a giggle and glanced at her own wedding ring. "It may sound silly," she conceded, "but it’s worked for us."

    I laughed and promised to refine my cheerleading skills. And, for a while, I kept my word.

    As a newlywed, I stood on a battered old kitchen chair in our tiny white-walled apartment and applauded my man with gusto. I cheered when he landed a job delivering pizzas, when he made omelets for breakfast, and when he hauled home baskets of clean clothes from the laundromat. I cheered when he passed his school exams and when he fixed our leaky faucet.

    But I wasn’t the only cheerleader in our little family.

    My husband climbed on chairs, too. He applauded when I made a batch of un-burnt brownies. He cheered when I survived my first day of student teaching. And he whooped and hollered when I got my first article published in the local newspaper. My man rooted for me when the rest of the world seemed silent, and his cheers drowned out my own internal critic’s noisy clanging.

    Time passed, seasons changed and eventually those hands that had clapped with unabashed abandon became filled with babies, bills, diapers and the daily grind. And one morning, five kids and 10 years after I’d promised to be my husband’s greatest fan, I awoke to the hopeless hush of a weary heart.

    I watched a sweet older couple strolling hand-in-hand through the park as I sat in the sandbox with my little ones, and wondered how anyone could keep love’s flame alight for a lifetime. I was only a decade into marriage and some days, I felt like the spark in my heart was waning dim.

    That night, while my husband worked late, I complained to the Lord about the sorry state of my marriage. As the moonlight cast silver shadows on the dirty living room floor, God whispered, "When was the last time you cheered for your husband?"

    I’d rooted for my son when he’d caught a fly ball at his baseball game. I’d clapped for my daughter when she’d made it across the monkey bars. And I’d cheered for my toddler when he’d eaten all of his peas.

    But I couldn’t remember the last time I’d applauded my husband for anything.

    The image of a beat-up kitchen chair flashed through my mind, and hot tears filled my tired eyes. I dropped to my knees with a tidal wave of conviction flooding my heart and an earnest prayer spilling from my lips, "Dear Jesus, show me how to become my husband’s greatest fan once again."

    In today’s key verses, the Apostle Paul doesn’t mention standing on chairs or clapping our hands, but he does command us to celebrate always

    Not just when we feel like it. Always.

    This kind of celebration isn’t a well-planned party or inspired whimsy; this kind of celebration is a choice. It’s a deliberate barrage against ingratitude, a calculated attack on apathy.

    To celebrate our spouse always means looking for what’s right rather than bemoaning what’s wrong. We focus on hope rather than wallow in disappointment; we acknowledge extraordinary grace in life’s ordinary grit.

    To celebrate always is a daily decision to fan the flames of love in every season of the soul … ’til death do us part.

    Standing on furniture and clapping loudly is optional, but rejoicing in good times and bad is not. Of course, if I were you, I’d practice a few spunky moves when nobody’s looking.

    ’Cause after 22 years of sacred matrimony, I’ve learned that cheerleading may be hard on my kitchen chairs, but it’s good for my marriage!

    Dear God, I want to be my husband’s greatest fan. Grow in me a grateful heart and teach me how to celebrate my marriage in all circumstances. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 12:12, "Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer." (VOICE)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Dr. Kim Kimberling’s new book, 7 Secrets to an Awesome Marriage: Strengthen Your Most Intimate Relationship, can help you revive the spark of love in your marriage.

    Visit Alicia Bruxvoort’s blog for more encouragement and the chance to win a celebration package for you and your husband.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Find one reason to applaud your mate today. Stand on a chair and cheer or express a word of thanks through a text or a written note.

    Pray for your husband today. Confess any ingratitude to God and ask Him to give you one tangible idea to show your mate you’re his greatest fan.

    © 2015 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

  • When You Want to Quit

    Posted on August 12, 2015 by Family Christian

    Chrystal Evans Hurst AUGUST 12, 2015

    When You Want to Quit
    CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

    " … Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us." Hebrews 12:1b (NLT)

    My youngest son is an athlete at heart. He runs every race hard.

    During track season, he frequently walks off the asphalt in tears, heaving, because he has given every drop of his energy to running his race.

    At a recent track meet, my 6-year-old was the third leg runner on his relay team. As the runner before him got closer, my son moved forward and extended his arm back to receive the baton.

    At that point, they were in fourth place. Well this son of mine hates, and I mean HATES, to lose. So he sprinted fast.

    Too fast in fact.

    From the sidelines, we saw how much energy he exerted. He was trying to close the distance between himself and the three teams in front of him.

    He did it too.

    He passed the guy in third quickly.

    He zoomed past the guy in second.

    And before the first 100-meter curve was complete he had moved in front of the little guy in first place!

    He held that first place position for the second 100 meters. But somewhere around the 200-meter mark, his energy waned, his legs started "talking to him," and he started slowing down. He was tired after having spent so much energy catching up — and it showed.

    During the third 100 meters, he fell from first to second and it appeared that he would soon fall back to third. But right at the moment that the runner behind him threatened to catch him, my little runner heard a familiar voice.

    My husband was waiting for him at the last 100 meters. He was shouting to our little runner that the finish line was near. "Focus on the finish, son!

    "Don’t quit!

    "Hold your ground!

    "Dig deep and focus on the finish!"

    Between the sound of my husband’s voice and the breath on the back of his neck from the boy in third place, my son apparently found a new source of strength.

    The look on his face changed from numb exhaustion to a grimace of pure agony and determination all mixed together. A renewed focus made all the difference in his ability to fight to the finish. His legs starting moving faster as he held his ground and pushed to the end of his race to hand the baton to the team member to run after him.

    Life is like that sometimes. It’s like a race you’re trying to run, even though you’ve exhausted your resources and are simply out of steam.

    Yet the writer of Hebrews encourages us in today’s key verse to "run with endurance the race God has set before us."

    Maybe you’re worn out from doing too much, too fast. Maybe your body presents a challenge as you battle physical ailments that slow you down. Maybe your emotional or mental energy is low as you fight to maintain a positive outlook and trust God for His best, even though it seems like you only fall further behind in your finances, relationships or career.

    Focus on the finish, my friend.

    Don’t quit.

    I want to encourage you today to hold your ground and dig deep. Run that race with endurance.

    Whatever God has asked you to do, do it well. Your race will not last forever, so give it all you’ve got. I can’t promise that it won’t be hard or won’t require some serious determination, but I can promise you God is watching and cheering you on as you fight to the finish.

    Dear God, I’ve been running and I’m tired. I’m tempted to give up and quit trying, but I want to run my race well and live my life well for You. Help me to fight to the finish on this leg of my journey. Help me to renew my focus, hold my ground and dig deep. I want to run my race in a way that pleases You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you’d like to know more about embracing the race that God wants you to run, check out Kingdom Woman by Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst.

    Click here to download a free printable Chrystal has made available for you to stay focused on your race.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What race has God asked you to run that seems especially difficult right now?

    What is the "finish line" you will focus on today as you "hold your ground" and "dig deep"? What will you do differently after reading today’s devotional?

    © 2015 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Nobody is a Nobody

    Posted on August 11, 2015 by Family Christian

    Jennifer Rothschild AUGUST 11, 2015

    Nobody is a Nobody
    Jennifer Rothschild

    "… In the very place where they were once named Nobody, they will be named God’s Somebody." Hosea 1:10 (The Message)

    She greeted me as I entered the cafeteria on Parents’ Day, with a voice as warm and sweet as hot chocolate. Our eldest son, Clayton, was a college freshman and this was the first time we’d been back to visit him. We’d met faculty members, the dorm resident director and lots of his new friends. So, when this woman greeted me, I politely asked, "Now, tell me who you are?"

    The woman hesitated. Her pause made me wonder if I had said something wrong. Maybe she wasn’t accustomed to being asked this question. Maybe, I thought, I should know who she is. I imagine she looked down and saw my white cane and realized I was blind, and that might be why she answered in such a kind tone: "Oh, Ma’am. I’m nobody. I just clean tables."

    I reached toward her and found her hand. "You are not a nobody! You are not just a table cleaner!" I told her. "My name is Jennifer. What’s yours?" She laughed and told me her name.

    As I said goodbye and walked with my son to our table, I thought to myself, That woman is not a nobody! Nobody is a nobody!

    And it’s true, isn’t it? Nobody is a nobody, and nobody is just a table cleaner. Or, just a mom. Or, just a clerk. Or, just a housekeeper. Or, just a teacher. Or, just an … anything! But we often find ourselves in places or seasons of life where we feel like a nobody. It can be hard to see our own value if we feel constantly overlooked, or when we associate our value with our virtue. You know, if we are good, we are worthy of being acknowledged. If we behave, we merit attention.

    There was a woman who lived back in the 8th century B.C. who probably felt like a nobody. Her name was Gomer. I bet if someone asked, "Who are you?" She’d probably shrug and say, "Oh, I’m nobody." Or, she might say, "I’m a mess. I’ve got a past I’m ashamed of. I was a prostitute. I’m nobody."

    But her answer should be, "I am not a nobody, I am Gomer. I am loved and accepted and, yes, I am prone to wander."

    Gomer had been a prostitute, but she became a prophet’s wife. Her identity changed when she said "I do" to Hosea. When you declared "I do" to Jesus, you received a new identity, too.

    You became God’s somebody! When you are in Christ, you are a new creation!

    You are not your current failures or your past mistakes. You are not your successes or your virtues. You are not what you do, what you did, what you haven’t done, what you should have done or what you wish you’d done. You are not what you have gone through. You are not what someone else has said about you. You are not a nobody! You are a chosen, loved woman whom God calls His beloved.

    His beloved … that is who God sees when He looks at you. Can you begin to accept the you God sees?

    Just like Gomer, you are a somebody — a loved, significant somebody. God chose you even when you felt like a nobody. He loved you while you were still a sinner (Romans 5:8). God didn’t choose to love you because you were some spectacular somebody. He didn’t choose to love you because you were already lovely. He loved you and, then, you became lovely. Your value comes from His inherent value.

    You’re already loved, so you just need to embrace how God sees you. Yet, how do you do this … especially on those days when you feel like a nobody?

    Here’s one sentence — just one little sentence — packed with big truth to help you when you feel like a nobody. Write it down, memorize it and repeat it to yourself: How I feel is not who I am.

    Now, say it to yourself out loud! How I feel is not who I am! Good job! Say it over and over. How I feel is not who I am!

    From one somebody to another, let’s remember the truth that we are not how we feel! We are God’s somebodies!

    Lord, because You are worthy, I have worth. Help me to find my identity and value in You and You alone. Protect me from the lie that says I am what I do or how I feel. I choose to walk in the truth today with Your strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Titus 3:4-7, "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you’ve ever felt unimportant or insecure, you’ll discover like Gomer, that you have never been invisible to God. Get a Free Audio Book and other freebies with your purchase of Invisible: How You Feel Is Not Who You Are, a brand new book by Jennifer Rothschild.

    To get Jennifer’s blog updates by email, visit her website.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Invisible: How You Feel is Not Who You Are by Jennifer Rothschild. In celebration of this book, Jennifer’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, August 17.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When was the last time you felt like a nobody?

    The next time you begin to feel like a nobody, remind yourself: You are God’s somebody. How you feel is not who you are. You are God’s chosen beloved.

    © 2015 by Jennifer Rothschild. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Harvest House for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

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