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Proverbs 31

  • Will God Forgive Me?

    Posted on January 2, 2015 by Suzie Eller

    SUZIE ELLER

    SUZIE

    "And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly." Luke 22:62 (NLT)

    We waited on the front porch. Moonlight filtered through the trees as tires crunched over the gravel driveway. When he stepped from the car, we rose. He saw us and hung his head.

    He had come to live with us because he needed a safe place. That night he was supposed to be home at a certain time. Hours had passed beyond that curfew, and worry had led us to wait in the cool night air.

    We said we’d talk in the morning.

    The next day I walked into the living room and he sat on the carpet, head in his hands, rocking back and forth.

    "Do I still get to stay here?" he asked.

    Surely, he knew we wouldn’t reject him.

    Except he didn’t know. Nothing in his former experiences led him to that belief. He expected punishment, perhaps not physical, but at the minimum he thought he was no longer welcome.

    My husband and I knelt beside him. We placed our arms around him and began to pray.

    Years have passed since then. Today that beautiful young man is a dad. A loving husband. A pastor and a strong man of faith.

    In the New Testament, we encounter another man who worried if he’d be forgiven: Peter, a man who loved Jesus with his whole being. Yet, in Luke 22, on the night Jesus was turned over to the authorities, Peter denied he ever knew Jesus. Peter fled the scene weeping bitterly. Angst and grief were his companions.

    Thank goodness the story doesn’t end there.

    Later we find Jesus talking with Peter on the shore (John 21:17). In the brief conversation, Jesus reminds Peter of who he is.

    And Whose He is.

    Yes, Peter made a big mistake. One that seems impossible to overcome, but Jesus sees beyond the mistake to the heart.

    Over time, Peter became a teacher and speaker, leading crowds to Jesus (Acts 2:14-36) and watching as miracles unfold. He authored 1 and 2 Peter, two books of the Bible that have influenced millions around the world and across generations.

    After his failure, Peter could have rejected Jesus one more time by refusing His love. He could have ignored the words Jesus spoke and allowed failure to define him forever.

    Instead, He accepted that His Savior forgives a repentant heart. That Jesus loved Him still.

    Maybe you failed and you failed BIG. Your greatest regret is feeling you let Jesus down, and it’s the last thing you ever wanted to do.

    In this crossroad moment, you have a choice.

    You can let shame keep you stuck.

    Or, you can lean into Jesus’ love for you.

    Maybe you have amends to make. With His help, make them.

    Maybe getting up seems hard because condemnation weighs so heavy. Release that burden. One day you’ll look back at this pivotal moment and realize getting up led you right back into the arms of Jesus.

    Maybe your former experiences have led you to believe failure equals rejection. That when you fall, you’ve blown it and there’s no way back. Except that’s not truth. This is:

    God will finish the work He began in you (Philippians 1:6).

    His response to your repentant heart is forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

    Your Heavenly Father transforms you as you accept that gift (2 Peter 1:3).

    The young man who once lived with us grew through his mistakes. That incident wasn’t the first or the greatest challenge we walked through together, but every time he leaned into love rather than running away from it, he stood stronger.

    Until one day he knew who he was.

    And Whose he was.

    Your God still loves you. His plan has not been erased because of your mistake. In this crossroad, run toward His open arms and begin anew.

    Dear Jesus, though I want to hide from You, help me to reach for Your love and forgiveness. Teach me through this, and let it grow me. Thank You that I have a future because of You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Acts 3:6-8, "Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Instead of running from your mistake, change your viewpoint as you look for ways to grow through it.

    What is one thing you can you learn from it? What did you hope might happen, and what actually took place? What might you do differently next time?

    © 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • My New Year’s Prayer

    Posted on January 1, 2015 by Wendy Blight

    WENDY BLIGHT

    WENDY

    "Now listen daughter, don’t miss a word … the king is wild for you. Since he’s your lord, adore him." Psalm 45:10-11 (The Message)

    Don’t miss God’s Word for you today: the King is wild for you.

    Not only is He wild for you, He gave His life for you.

    His Name is Jesus.

    He is …"the One who is, the One who was, and the One who is coming" (Revelation 1:4,The Voice).

    Did you hear John’s words? He is coming.

    Hallelujah! The King is coming!

    And on that day He will come:

    • riding on the clouds in all His glory. (Revelation 1:7)

    • wrapped in a blood-soaked robe, bearing His name: the Word of God. (Revelation 19:13)

    • eyes ablaze with fire and crowns adorning his head. (Revelation 19:12)

    • with His royal title etched on His robe and thigh: "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." (Revelation 19:16)

    Until that glorious day, Jesus gives us a great promise. He is preparing a place for us. And when that place is ready, He will return for us.

    He asks only one thing: Make yourselves ready.

    Words from our key verse speak to how we make ourselves ready: "Now listen daughter [that’s you, sweet friend], … Since he’s your lord, adore him" (Psalm 45:10-11).

    Daughter of the coming King, your King who is wild for you, who is captivated by you, asks one thing as we await His return. He asks for our adoration … our honor (NIV).

    The first step of preparation is to walk in the reality of His sacrificial love … to know that no matter our past, Jesus makes us beautiful. His sacrifice erases every drop of sin. He makes all things new! So, if you don’t feel beautiful today or if you feel shame, guilt, hopelessness or unworthiness, remember this: Your King, Jesus, redeems. Your King restores.

    If you’re like me, perhaps you fear that if people saw the real you, the secret things you hide from the world, they wouldn’t like you. Remember, your Savior knows everything. Nothing is hidden from His eye. And not only does He like you, He’s wild about you.

    Today, let’s band together as sisters in Christ to honor and adore our King, to prayerfully prepare our hearts to walk in the newness of who we are in Jesus.

    Please join me in praying this New Year’s Prayer:

    My New Year’s Prayer:
    Dear Jesus, You are awesome in glory and majestic in power. You are the King over all the earth, and You are my King. Today begins a new year for me. Thank You for Your promise that You’re preparing a place for me. With that promise tucked in my heart, I can stand secure in You as Lord of my life. Thank You for sealing me with Your Spirit and engraving my name on the palm of Your hand.

    Thank You that You have made and are making me beautiful in Your sight. Help me to confidently walk in that beauty. Prepare my heart for my reunion with You at the foot of Your eternal throne.

    Awake my soul morning by morning to meet with You. Fix my heart on Your steadfast Word. Show me my sin. Humble my heart to repent of it. Sift me if You need to, Lord. Destroy in me anything that steals my affection from You. Give me an obedient, surrendered heart.

    Draw me close so that I can hear even the faintest of Your whispers. Saturate me with Your love so that I can love lavishly and give generously. Ignite a fire in my heart for more of You. Infuse me with the fullness of Your Holy Spirit power and use me as Your vessel. Revive me when I am weary.

    Strengthen me from within to walk in the plans You have for me, to follow Your will, even when it’s hard. Enable me to trust You in all things. Show me Your ways and move my heart to walk in them.

    I love You, Jesus! And I ask all this in Your precious and holy Name.

    And all God’s girls say, "AMEN!"

    Just think of it! One glorious day, my sisters, we will kneel as one family before the throne of the One whose Name is above every Name. Unimagined joy will fill our hearts as our eyes lock on those of our Reigning King, and we finally see Him face to face!

    All of us at Proverbs 31 Ministries love you deeply and wish you a glorious and blessed New Year!

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 49:16, "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write your personal New Year’s Prayer and tuck it in your Bible to pray throughout the year.

    © 2015 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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

  • When Rushing Takes You in the Wrong Direction

    Posted on December 31, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    LEAH DIPASCAL

    LEAH

    "Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind." Proverbs 21:5 (MSG)

    I dropped the grocery bags on the counter and glanced at the clock. It’s way past dinnertime.

    I shoved the dirty dishes to one side of the sink and quickly began washing the vegetables that rolled out from one of the bags on the counter. I could feel my heart racing as I grabbed a sauté pan and looked for the pork chops hiding somewhere in the refrigerator.

    Why am I always running late? No matter how hard I try I just can’t seem to get my act together. I’m tired of rushing all the time. Why won’t anyone notice and help me?

    In record time, I had potatoes in the oven, a fresh salad made and my stowaway pork chops sizzling on the stove.

    Hopefully no one’s noticed what time it is yet. Breathe, Leah … breathe!

    Just then I heard my teenage son hollering from the back door, "Mom, please come move your car out of the driveway. I want to shoot some hoops."

    In a mad dash, I headed for the door with my car keys in hand. I have to hurry – otherwise the pork chops are going to burn! I hopped in the car, shoved the gear stick in reverse and quickly backed up … right into my husband’s truck.

    Oh, yes I did!

    The crash was so hard and loud that my husband heard it from inside. In seconds we were surveying the damage. Let’s just say he was not a happy camper. And I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry my eyes out.

    I felt terrible about what had just happened but no matter how many times I apologized, my words couldn’t fix the huge dents in both of our cars.

    Keith was gracious and said it would be OK. But, it wasn’t OK. Not for me. I had made a careless and costly mistake that would have been avoided if I weren’t in such a hurry. My rushing had taken me in the wrong direction. Oh, and the pork chops on the stove? Completely burned.

    Maybe like me you sometimes include too many things in your schedule. Sure, we have good intentions and want to meet everyone’s needs. But how helpful can we really be if we’re rushing around all day, feeling anxious and unintentionally setting ourselves up for careless mistakes because we’re doing too much?

    I long to be a woman who chooses wisely and plans well. A woman who seeks the Lord’s guidance before setting her schedule, so that she can experience the peace of His presence instead of the anxiety of her hurriedness.

    Do you want to be that kind of woman too? What would our days look like if we embraced the pace of God’s steady grace rather than rushing ahead in our attempts to get more done? What if we actually lived like Proverbs 21:25 says, knowing that careful planning puts us ahead but hurry and scurry can put us further behind?

    Would we be more helpful to others and ourselves by slowing down, giving attention to what we’re doing and being present in our circumstances, instead of daydreaming about the next thing on our to-do list? I think so.

    As we enter the New Year, let’s decide to make a change and do things differently.

    Let’s ask God for insight when we create our schedules and move at a pace that pleases Him. Let’s be wise women who choose to avoid the trap of rushing which often leads us in the wrong direction.

    Let’s settle our hearts and watch the anxiousness wash away as we take God’s hand and walk in the gentle pace of His steady grace today.

    Dear Lord, give me Your wisdom as I plan my schedule each day. If I start to feel anxious because I’m trying to do too much, remind me to slow down, focus on what I’m doing and avoid the trap of rushing in the wrong direction. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

     

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Jeremiah 2:25a, "Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?" (MSG)

    1 Peter 5:6-7, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Learn how to rise above the rush of endless demands and experience the joy of an uncluttered schedule. Order a copy of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best Yes and start making wise decisions today!

    Stop by Leah DiPascal’s blog and enter her drawing to win a copy of The Best Yes. Discover the strategies Leah now uses to plan her daily/weekly schedule so that you too can be less rushed.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    If you find yourself rushing around weary and anxious because of the requests and demands of others, what’s one thing you can do differently that will help you feel less hurried and more peaceful?

    When was the last time you asked God to help you plan your schedule? Take a few minutes now and ask Him for guidance and direction.

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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

  • Words Matter: Especially the Ones We Say to Ourselves

    Posted on December 30, 2014 by Lisa-Jo Baker

    LISA-JO BAKER

    LISA-JO

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

    There are so many things I’m not good at.

    And apparently I have an inner monologue determined to record each and every one of them from the past year.

     

    There’s a voice in my head that tells me I am not enough. Some days it’s quiet and other days it’s super shouty.

    It’s the strangest thing to discover the back of your brain muttering mean things to yourself.

    The voice is so ordinary, so routine by now that I rarely stop to investigate. I just let the words run through my veins until they seem like a normal part of my DNA.

    This house will never be clean.

    You’ll never get caught up on the laundry.

    Your words won’t match up to hers.

    You’ve never lived up to your New Year’s resolutions.

    You’re never going to get caught up.

    You’re going to start another year already behind the curve.

    You’re just not good at this.

    I heard that voice in the car today. I was sitting in a coffee shop parking lot in our minivan. Alone. Maybe that’s why I listened without just letting it wash over me. Maybe that’s why I tuned in to the nefarious whispering I’d been ignoring until then.

    I listened and almost couldn’t believe what I heard. I was surprised, actually. Kind of amazed that I was capable of such petty meanness to myself. Because the thing about that voice is it’s a nitpicker. It delights in destroying the DNA of a day, a dream, a moment … bit-by-petulant-bit.

    But when I tuned in, the voice sounded more and more like static. Fuzzy, harsh, unforgiving and small. My friend Holley Gerth calls it "devil static" – the noise that tries to drown out the truth God is speaking into our lives and through our lives. The noise that crackles and cackles and tries to poke fun at who we are growing up to become. The noise that tries to derail us out of sheer embarrassment.

    I told that voice off today.

    Yes, I talked back to myself in an empty car.

    I spoke out loud the words that have been spoken over me by The Word — by the Voice who speaks the only words that matter.

    As our key verse reminds us, "… we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand," (Ephesians 2:10a, ESV).

    I called out that small voice in my head with all its mean and miserable words. And in doing so I could almost hear it deflate. I addressed that no-voice with my whole attention, reciting my inheritance in Christ, my royal claim as a child of God, my significance because of Him. Because He is enough I am chosen, cherished and beloved. And I could hear the static fizzling.

    I am not nothing.

    You are not nothing.

    We are daughters of the King. We are bought at a price. We are loved.

    And there is a much greater Voice, a voice with all the rich, resonant tones of Truth so filled with love for us that unlike that devil static, He will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

    With singing. Not hissing or criticizing or comparing or mocking, but with singing.

    Hold onto that as we head into this New Year. That the words we say to ourselves matter because the God who is The Word says we matter. And it’s time we start believing Him.

    Dear Jesus, help me see myself through Your eyes and Your words this year. Teach me kindness to myself and compassion to others. Make me a word sister to my friends and a word model to my children. Give me the gift of Your Word in my life and make them a lamp to light my way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (NIV)

    Zephaniah 3:17, "The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." (NIV)

    Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What lie have you been saying and believing about yourself this past year?

    What Truth from God’s Word can you use to replace the lies in the coming New Year?

    © 2014 by Lisa-Jo Baker. All rights reserved.

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

  • Click to Change a Life

    Posted on December 29, 2014 by Karen Ehman

    KAREN EHMAN

    KAREN

    "For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 (AMP)

    "Look, Miss Karen! When you click here you can change the color of her fingernail polish just like that!" I was watching my friend’s pre-teen daughter for the weekend. She was parked on the couch playing around on a nail art website on my computer. Each time she clicked on a different bottle the color instantly changed on the model’s hands.

    Clicking a mouse to change things on our computer screen is so simple. If only real life were the same!

    Many times I look at my circumstances and wish I had a special mouse so I could click and change everything I don’t like. But life doesn’t work like that. While there’s much I can change, there’s much more I can’t.

    And when I focus on all I can’t revise, my heart can feel defeated. There are people I can’t change, finances I can’t control and circumstances that leave my heart feeling shattered. If only I could recolor bad attitudes or rewrite difficult experiences, then I’d feel better. Right?

    Wrong.

    I've discovered that trying to change other people or alter their circumstances isn’t really a fix for my often-troubling situations, because it isn’t something I can make happen. I can't control another's behavior, only my own. Here is where the solution lies: Even when circumstances and people stay the same, my attitude toward them and my perspective can change. What can bring about this transformation?

    God’s Word.

    God’s Word can snap me back to attention, soften my heart and help me view my life through a different and God-honoring lens. It can align my heart and actions with God’s so I don’t do or say things today I will regret tomorrow. As our key verse of Hebrews 4:12 states, it helps to expose, sift, analyze and judge the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.

    In a very practical way, God’s Word makes it all click — and that clicking makes me change.

    Spending time daily in the Bible is imperative to bringing about this change, and we at Proverbs 31 Ministries are committed to helping women around the world interact with God’s Word daily through our many ministry avenues. In the past year alone, God impacted more than 750,000 women daily through our free Encouragement for Today devotions. We celebrated with over 5,000 women who made first-time decisions for Christ, and we led an additional 150,000 women from 120 countries through our Online Bible Studies.

    It’s not only the volunteers and staff who contribute to God’s transforming work. So does everyone who gives a financial gift — no matter the size — to Proverbs 31 Ministries.

    We value every gift and giver. The ones who give hundreds … the ones who forego lattes each month to share their saved $25 … the ones who donate $5.

    Yes, $5 makes a big impact.

    Together, we offer perspective-changing truth that can renew a woman’s heart and mind, no matter what age or stage of life she’s in.

    Together, we point women to the Healer, made known on the pages of Scripture, who can make their spirits whole.

    Together, we teach women how to study the Bible, forgive and mend friendships, strengthen a marriage and effectively parent children.

    Do you want to change the world by offering hope, help and even life from behind your computer screen? We’d love for you to join us. When we give our collective "littles," God transforms them into a big movement that can alter lives both now and for eternity.

    With a click of your mouse, you help change the world.

    We’d be honored if you would join us.

    Dear LORD, thank You for the life-altering and perspective-changing power of Your holy Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 119:11 "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." (ESV)

    Psalm 139:23-24 "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When is a time that God’s Word helped to change your bad attitude or wrong perspective?

    Will you forward this email to a friend who needs to receive encouragement from God’s Word?

    © 2014 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • I Can't Do Everything

    Posted on December 26, 2014 by Amy Carroll

    AMY CARROLL

    AMY

    "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me ... For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9,10b (NIV)

    "I don't want to go bowling," I said hearing a cringe-inducing whine creep into my voice.

    While my entire extended family enthusiastically prepared for a fun outing, I was dragging my feet. In reality, I don't dislike bowling terribly. I just really, really, REALLY don't like doing things I'm not good at. And I'm terrible at bowling.

    Avoidance or quitting is my natural default.

    Our self-esteem driven culture says, "You can do anything you want!"

    But the truth is I can't do everything.

    My dream as a little girl was to be a platinum award-winning pop star. I sang into my hairbrush and made sure I stood on the stage for every talent show my school held. But no matter how much I practiced, my heart-felt but average singing was met with tepid applause and sympathetic pats on the back from my friends.

    Yes, if I'd been born just a little later, I would be one of the pitiful audition examples on American Idol — a contestant who's convinced she's great while the rest of the world watches with wide eyes and gasps. My family, the world's greatest encouragers, would be at home cheering wildly while the rest of the world muttered, "Bless her heart!"

    No matter how many lessons I take or how much I practice, I'm never going to progress from the choir loft to the stadium stage. It's just not going to happen.

    Singing isn't a gift God has given me, and I don't feel His leading to take a leap of faith. If I were to audition, it would be foolish, because it would be a risk taken from my own desires and based on an unrealistic assessment of my gifts. Simply put, there's a clear difference between a foolish risk and an inspired risk.

    I think it's great for us to understand our limits. But I have another issue that's not so great. It's my propensity to give up too quickly when things get hard ... when I'm challenged to do something I'm not already good at.

    Recently I've been challenged to complete the most difficult process of my professional life. I've worked and struggled and fallen more times than I'd like to count. Day after day I've wanted to quit. And I've become painfully aware that this assignment is too big for me.

    But this assignment is an inspired risk. It's based on the beginnings of a gift God has placed in me and on His clear calling.

    So I've spent time on my knees asking God for direction and just a little more fortitude.

    He has faithfully encouraged me. God continues to point out He not only opened the door of opportunity, He surrounded me with others to help me develop this embryo of a gift.

    Instead of doing what our culture does, passing out false praise and "you can do anything's," God has instructed me to rejoice that I'm really not good enough ...

    To do it without Him.

    To accomplish it without the help of others.

    To finish without perseverance (which produces character, and character hope, Romans 5:3-5).

    Sometimes, when we're given a task beyond ourselves, we just need to rejoice. It's a good thing we're really not good enough. It's in those times of struggle, failure and ultimately growth that we find out God is enough.

    Lord, teach me to rejoice in the difficult assignments, because it's there I come to the end of my own abilities and learn to lean on Yours. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Philippians 4:13, "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (NIV)

    1 Corinthians 1:25, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is an inspired risk you believe God wants you to make?

    Write a prayer asking God to help you obey when He calls you to something that seems beyond your ability.

    © 2014 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • A Christmas Prayer for the Merry ... and Not-So-Merry

    Posted on December 25, 2014 by Family Christian

    "But the angel reassured them. 'Don't be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!'" Luke 2:10-11 (NLT)

    Editor's Note: Today, and always, we pray you experience God's love through the gift of His Son, Jesus. We wish you a very Merry Christmas! From your friends at Proverbs 31 Ministries.

    Father God,

    We thank You and praise You today for the miracle of Your Son's birth. Thank You for bringing great JOY to the whole world!

    Thank You for giving us the assurance that because You came to us in the form of a human, we who believe in Jesus can know with absolute certainty that we'll spend eternity with You.

    We thank You, Lord, for the many reasons we have been given a merry Christmas. And we rejoice for each blessing. New life. New love. A home. A job. New opportunities. Second chances. And more.

    We know, Lord, that You bring the sun and the moon and set the stars in motion. You tell the ocean where to stop and the snow when to start. And we thank You for the mighty gift of Your creation.

    Thank You, Father, for spiritual leaders and faith-filled friends who keep encouraging us when we are close to giving up.

    And although we have many reasons to rejoice today, Lord, we also know December 25th can be not-so-merry for a whole host of reasons. We pray for those who are experiencing loss this Christmas: relational, financial, spiritual and physical.

    We pray for those who are coping with loving a prodigal and our friends and family members whose hearts are far from You. We pray for those dealing with unemployment and addictions and chronic sickness ... and unending pain and frustrations of all kinds. Thank You, Lord, that You are The Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace, even in the midst of our not-so-merry circumstances.

    Finally, Lord, we ask You to grant us peace. Peace in our homes, peace in our churches, and peace in our hearts, when the world all around us spins out-of-control.

    Help us to stay focused on You, this Christmastime and always. Thank You for loving the whole world enough to send the greatest gift, Your Son, so that we might truly have a very merry Christmas.

    In Jesus' Name,
    Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    John 3:16, "For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." (NLT)

    Luke 2:10, "But the angel reassured them. 'Don't be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.'" (NLT)

    1 John 5:13, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (NIV)

    Psalm 95:1-2, "Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song." (NIV)

    Job 38:8-11, "Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, 'This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!'" (NLT)

    Psalm 72:12-14, "He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to him." (NLT)

    Isaiah 9:6, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (NIV)

    1 Thessalonians 5:23, "Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again." (NLT)

    Prayer © 2014 by Steph Raquel. All rights reserved.

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

  • God is With Us

    Posted on December 24, 2014 by Micca Campbell

    MICCA CAMPBELL

    MICCA

    "'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means 'God with us').'" Matthew 1:23 (NIV)

    I woke to the cooing of my 8-month-old son in need of a dry diaper and a bottle. By the time I got to his room, I was fully awake to my reality. It was Christmas morning. Sigh. I had dreaded the arrival of this day.

    It was the first Christmas after my husband's death.

    Most of my days consisted of loneliness and grief. I knew facing the holidays would be worse. I felt so alone.

    My heart was joyless. There was no one to wish a Merry Christmas. No gifts to open. No celebration. For me, it was just another ordinary day of going through the motions. I'd care for my son and try to survive the grief and loneliness.

    Have you ever been this lonely? Your situation may not be like mine, but I do know during difficult times God often feels distant. Uncaring. Unresponsive. Unaware. And yet, Psalm 139:7 challenged my feelings that Christmas Day.

    "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?" (NIV)

    The Psalmist was clear. God is everywhere. There is nowhere I can go that God is not already there.

    As I pondered this truth, hope began to rise in my heart. I am never alone because God is with me in every situation, good or bad.

    Isn't this the message of Christmas — God is with us? Isn't this the essence of our faith — God is with us?

    Perhaps this is what inspired Matthew to write our key verse: "'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means, 'God with us.')" (Matthew 1:23).

    That name, Immanuel, holds great significance for you and me.

    This Name tells us Christ didn't come that holy night to say "well done." He didn't come to pat us on the back or encourage us for just a time. He came to stay. God came to dwell among us and to reside within us forever.

    Sure, God has always been with us, but this truth took on a whole new meaning when Jesus was born. The astounding truth of Christmas is that God put on human flesh and became one of us. A babe, lying in a manger, was proof He had come and His name was the message. God is with us in human formImmanuel became one of us and suffered as we suffer so that He might understand our pain. So that He might know how to comfort and help us.

    That's not all. This baby Jesus didn't come only to walk among us. He came to deliver us and set us right with God. The coming of Jesus meant God the Father had now sent His Son to deliver the world from sin.

    What does this mean for you and me? It means no matter the challenge, you are not alone. Whatever your need — deliverance, strength, hope — Immanuel is present. He is not some far-off God. He is right there beside you this very moment.

    My days grew brighter as I looked for God's company amidst my pain. Eventually, I no longer trudged through ordinary days because my extraordinary God met me at my point of need. The secret is this. The more I learned to acknowledge His presence, the more of His presence I experienced. You can, too.

    No matter where you are this Christmas Eve, you are not alone.

    You may feel alone. It may appear that you are alone. But Christ is there with you. He sees you. He understands. And He can help you.

    Tomorrow can be different. You can celebrate Christmas morn with new joy because He — God Himself — has come to be with you. In His magnificent company, though you may be down and out, you are not without. You are not without His love or His all-sufficient strength. You are not without His safety. You are not without His care or provision. And you are not without His presence.

    This is the best news of all. Immanuel, God is with us!

    Lord, Thank You for your promised presence. I can move forward in faith knowing You are with me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Hebrews 13:5b, " ... because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How will you respond to the Christ child this Christmas?

    © 2014 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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

  • I Didn't Have The Courage

    Posted on December 23, 2014 by Renee Swope

    RENEE SWOPE

    RENEE

    "The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD..." 1 Chronicles 29:9a (NIV)

    I didn't want to go first. As much as I knew God wanted me to trust Him, I didn't have the courage.

    It was June 1989. I had given my life to Christ six months earlier and was on a college youth retreat. While reading my Bible one day, I sensed God wanted me to share my story. First with my large youth group, and then with others in the coming weeks. Not just the happy parts of my story; but also the hidden, redeemed-by-His grace parts.

    I didn't want to tell people the hard parts of my story, especially not my struggles with depression and anxiety. Yet I knew God wanted me to share the reasons behind the life-changing hope I'd found in Christ.

    I wish I could say I gave my story freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord, to use for His glory. Just like King David and his leaders gave their gifts to build a temple for the Lord, as we see in today's key verse, 1 Chronicles 29:9, I wish I could say my heart responded with a courageous "Yes!"

    But that's not what happened and here's why:

    I couldn't see the why behind God's will. Why would God want me to share my story? How could my story help people? Their smiles and seemingly happy-go-lucky Christian lives convinced me they were doing fine. I assumed their problems were minor and their need for Jesus was minimal compared to mine.

    I didn't realize pride had blocked my perspective. I thought I was afraid to share my story, but I'm pretty sure pride was the problem. Sadly, I was more concerned with what people thought about me than what they thought about God. Clinging to the details of my story like priceless jewels, I would not give my brokenness to use for others' good or for His glory.

    I didn't have the courage to go first. I had never heard Christians share their emotional and spiritual struggles. And I did not want to be the first. What if depression and anxiety were topics under a secret "things we don't talk about" category I hadn't been told about? That would be awkward. Maybe if someone else went first, then I'd go next.

    I didn't share my story that weekend or in the 10 years that followed.

    I didn't have courageous willingness like King David. But eventually I became like his leaders and like the people who saw their example and "rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD ..." 1 Chronicles 29:9a (NIV).

    You see, God brought women into my life who followed His lead even when they didn't understand the why behind His will. Women who recognized pride's ability to block our perspective and keep us from God's best.

    Women who were willing to go first, which gave me the courage to go next.

    Through my church, speakers at women's conferences and here at Proverbs 31 Ministries, God has surrounded me with women who give Jesus full access to their lives and their stories because they trust Jesus more than their fears.

    God uses women who are willing to go first — to give others courage to go next.

    I want to be that kind of woman. A woman who is willing to say, "I'll trust Jesus even when it's hard. I'll let my guard down so you can see Christ working in me. I'll be brave so you know you can be, too. Watch, I'll go first."

    Why? Because He's worth it and you're worth it. We're worth it, friend. We're worth the work it takes to follow Christ with all of our hearts and willingly give Him all we've got.

    Let's do it. Are you with me? I'll go first.

    Lord, make me brave. Give me courageous willingness to go first — whether it's sharing my story or saying I'm sorry. And when I feel afraid, remind me that You went first so I could go next. From Bethlehem to Calvary, You have gone before me and You are with me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Proverbs 31 Ministries exists to be a trusted friend who comes along side of you and millions of women around the world each day — a friend who says: "You can do this. We know it's hard, but you're not alone. We are with you!" It's why we share our struggles and our stories held together with God's truth through our FREE daily devotions, radio shows and Online Bible Studies. But we can't do it without your help. Will you prayerfully consider making a year-end gift or becoming a monthly partner?

    Like King David and his leaders, we've invited our staff, board of directors and speaker team to go first with us in our giving by making a year-end gift or becoming monthly partners during our year-end campaign. We would love for you to join us as we invest in building God's kingdom through Proverbs 31 Ministries. Make a DONATION here. Thank you for your prayers and generous support.

    © 2014 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • If You're Longing For Home This Christmas...

    Posted on December 22, 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort

    ALICIA BRUXVOORT

    ALICIA

    "Jesus replied, 'Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.'" John 14:23 (NIV)

    In January, my son cried every night when the moon rose high.

    Moving boxes replaced our Christmas boxes as we started the new year in a new house, in a new town, in a new state 450 miles away from the only place Joshua had ever called home.

    When the Legos were abandoned and the pingpong paddles laid to rest, when the clamor of the day grew mute and the quiet of the night grew noisy, my littlest boy would lie in his top bunk and remember where he was.

    Or where he wasn't.

    The shadows danced differently on those new bedroom walls, and the wind rattled the windows in a curious cadence. The owl in the big evergreen sang to the stars with an eerie screech, and the streetlamp cast a golden beam on the closet door.

    I wanna go home, my son would cry as salty tears dampened his pillow. I wanna go home.

    Sometimes the words seeped angry. Other times, the syllables dribbled like a dirge echoing lonely in the darkness. But every time, I'd lie next to my snuffling son with my heart aching and my head quaking. And I would pray until he surrendered to sleep.

    Crammed between the cold wall and Joshua's little frame, I prayed for new friends and for fresh courage. For comfort and for peace. But most of all, I begged God to make our new place home.

    I prayed that line all through the long hours of that first homesick month until one morning I realized that my prayer had already been answered.

    I was lingering in the 14th chapter of the gospel of John when the 23rd verse made my heart leap.

    "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them."

    I shifted my gaze from the Bible on my lap to the moving boxes piled high in the corner, and I soaked in the comfort of my Savior's words.

    We may have left a house behind when we followed the moving truck east, but we hadn't relinquished our home.

    You see, home isn't a place, it's a Person.

    Home isn't a refuge from the storm. It's a Perfect Love that storms our hearts.

    Home isn't the light at the end of the road. It's an unquenchable Hope that lights our way.

    And right before Jesus went to Heaven to prepare a forever place for you and me, He reminded us of that simple truth.

    We don't find home by following a yellow brick road. Home finds us when we follow Christ's commands and choose to live as His beloved.

    Our zip code may change and the familiar may fade, but when we build our lives on the cornerstone of Christ, we are never far from home.

    Because home isn't summed up in an address.

    It's captured in a name. Immanuel.

    Matthew 1:23 says, "'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means 'God with us')" (NIV).

    Dear Jesus, I want to build my life on the unchanging reality of Your love, so that no matter where I go, I will always feel at home. Thanks that You are always with me. Teach me how to live in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (NIV)

    Psalm 90:1, "God, it seems you've been our home forever ..." (MSG)

    John 15:5, "I am the Vine and you are the branches. Get your life from Me. Then I will live in you and you will give much fruit. You can do nothing without Me." (NLV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    As you decorate for Christmas, pray about the ways you can "decorate" your heart, Christ's home, in honor of His birth. Ask God to show you if you need to sweep out some cobwebs of unforgiveness, hang a garland of prayer, or re-arrange your priorities to put others first.

    Set up a simple manger scene somewhere in your home and let it remind you of the gift of Immanuel — at Christmastime and always.

    © 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

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