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Proverbs 31

  • Vulnerable Strength

    Posted on January 14, 2014 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!" Luke 6:32 (NLT)

    Do you meet aggression with aggression and call it strength? Sometimes I do and it leads me to a place I never intended.

    Not long ago a friend told me someone had revealed her secret, and she wondered if I knew who it was. Though I told her no, she asked again. And yet again. Finally I realized she suspected I was the leak.

    My first reaction was surprise, then frustration.

    If you really knew me, you'd know I don't tell secrets.

    I didn't do anything wrong.

    I answered your question. Why are you still asking?

    There were many things I could have done in that instant, but somehow proving I was right was more important. Though I didn't raise my voice, it was clear in my stance and terse response that I was angry.

    Moments later, the Holy Spirit began to show me the bigger picture. My friend's questions were borne out of frustration and fear as the spilled secret could have created damage. Sadly, rather than have a conversation, I took a stand.

    Often, our default in these types of situations is to defend ourselves by meeting aggression with aggression. To throw a punch when we feel punched, whether that is verbal or passive aggressive.

    But is this really strength?

    In Luke 6, Jesus is teaching the disciples a hard truth. Life is not always fair. You might be accused unjustly. You might take a punch that hurts. Someone may move from friend to frenemy and it won't feel good.

    It's easy to respond in love in comfortable situations and with people who are kind. But what about the harder places? Jesus is showing the disciples that rather than aggression, there's a vulnerable strength that can heal conflict and lead to resolution.

    Vulnerable strength isn't a verbal assault. You speak the truth in love, but you let it settle rather than hammer it in.

    Vulnerable strength isn't an emotional outburst, rather it's working through misunderstanding.

    Vulnerable strength isn't one-sided, but it's stepping into another person's shoes for a moment to expand your understanding of the conflict.

    But this is the hard part. You might still get punched verbally, and you might still be at odds. Vulnerable strength doesn't guarantee a happy ending.

    When aggression is met with aggression, there are bound to be casualties. Vulnerable strength reduces the potential for casualties and paves a path for resolution. And if not, then as Luke 6:35 says, "you will truly be acting as children of the Most High ..." (NLT).

    Wouldn't it be unfortunate if we made it to the end of our lives and only loved those who loved us? What might we miss in those harder places of our faith?

    As I changed my approach to vulnerable strength rather than aggression, my friend and I worked through that painful conversation. Thanks to the Holy Spirit's prompting, I have an opportunity to move the focus from what I think someone does wrong, to what I can do better.

    Dear Lord, I have been focusing on what others said or did, instead of asking for Your insight. I have called aggression strength, whether it's been passive, or lashing out, or shutting out. Today, may I love others who seem unlovable with vulnerable strength. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Find a quiet place. Write down a recent offense and how it makes you feel. Then ask God to help you answer these questions:

    1. What were they trying to say? (Step into their shoes for a moment.)
    2. How did I respond? (Shift the focus from their wrongdoing to your potential to grow.)
    3. In what ways might I have responded differently? (How might this have impacted the direction of the conversation?)

    Power Verses:
    Matthew 5:46, "If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much." (NLT)

    1 Peter 1:2b, "May God give you more and more grace and peace." (NLT)

    © 2014 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • The Three-Word Prayer God Loves

    Posted on January 13, 2014 by Stormie Omartian

    Stormie Omartian

    When my husband, Michael, and I were first married and differences arose between us, praying was definitely not my first thought. In fact, it was closer to a last resort. I tried other methods first, such as arguing, pleading, ignoring, avoiding, confronting, debating, and—of course—the ever-popular silent treatment. And the results? Not surprisingly, they were less than satisfying!

    When I did pray, often resentment, anger, unforgiveness, or an ungodly attitude clouded my communication with God. While I may have had a good reason for these emotions, my prayers were not coming from a right heart. What's more, I was praying that my husband would conform to my ideal image of him. My prayer was for God to change him into the person I wanted him to be.

    However, as I went to God in prayer every day, something unusual started to change—me. I was the one God decided to work on first, not my husband. Gently, the Lord began to soften my heart. Humble it. Mold it. And reconstruct it. As He did so, He erased the bitterness and resentment that were affecting my attitude and damaging my marriage.

    And this is how I came to discover a three-word prayer God loves: Change me, Lord.

    Gradually I came to realize that it was impossible to truly give myself in prayer for Michael without first examining my own heart.

    And it wasn't just my relationship with my husband that required me to pray this powerful three-word prayer. My relationship with my son and daughter required it. My relationships with my friends required it. Most of all, my relationship with God required it.

    Change me, Lord.

    I went into my prayer time with the goal of asking God to change others—making them less critical and more obedient. Less fearful. More loving.

    I came out of my prayer time with my own heart changed. My mind changed. My attitude changed. My life changed.

    Now, if you're like I was, this might make you mad at first. "Wait a minute!" you might object. "I'm not the one who needs changing here!"

    But God sees the things we can't see. He knows where we have room for improvement. He doesn't have to search long to uncover attitudes and habits that are outside His perfect will for us.

    Sometimes God uncovers sin in our hearts. This is important to identify because it separates us from Him and hinders our prayers being heard as Psalm 66:18 tells us, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear" (NKJV). God wants our hearts to be right so the answers to our prayers are not compromised.

    Early in my marriage, I knew it was important to pray for my husband. And a favorite trio of three-word prayers was often on my lips: Protect him, Lord. Save our marriage. Change him, Lord. I was convinced that this was the right way to pray, that God and I had the same goal in mind—a changed husband who was able to better meet my needs. But God's way is not always our way. God didn't choose to make those first changes in my husband. He chose to make them in me.

    One of the greatest gifts I could give to Michael was the gift of my own wholeness. One of the most effective tools in seeing transformation in his life was my own transformation.

    You have to trust that God is big enough to accomplish all this and more.

    I learned to pray a new prayer: Whatever you want, Lord. Show me and I'll do it. Change me, Lord.

    Lord, create in me a clean heart and a right spirit before You. Give me a new, positive, joyful, loving, and forgiving attitude toward others. Where there is anything that needs to change in me, I pray You would enable that change to happen. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are you praying for God to change others but ignoring the possible change needed in you? What might God need to work on in your own life—selfishness, impatience, resentment—before your relationships with others can begin to change?

    When you begin to get frustrated with others, take a look at your own heart and pray Change me, Lord.

    Power Verses:
    1 Corinthians 10:24, "Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being." (NKJV)

    Psalm 139:23, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties..." (NKJV)

    © 2014 by Stormie Omartian. All rights reserved.

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

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm, Stormie Omartian

  • Who Sits on the Throne of Your Heart?

    Posted on January 10, 2014 by Wendy Blight

    Wendy Blight

    "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, ..." 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NASB)

    Monty and I began our marriage in a difficult place. Eleven months before we walked down the aisle, I was the victim of a horrific crime. This experience damaged me deeply. Few knew the fear and despair that had made their home in my heart.

    Intimacy was hard. It brought back too many terrible memories. I tried to be a "good" wife and make my husband happy. But I just couldn't.

    Yet, I needed Monty. Fear consumed me. He was my only safe place. Being home alone terrified me. So when he left to play basketball or go to dinner with friends, I pouted, cried, and complained that he wasn't putting me first.

    This caused a huge rift in our marriage. Days were hard and nights were long. Soon I began to imagine Monty looking elsewhere for the companionship he lacked with me. Jealousy grew within me and I demanded to know when and where he was at all times. When I couldn't get a hold of him, I panicked. My mind went places and imagined things it shouldn't.

    Jealousy infiltrated my heart.

    I knew these feelings were wrong. Even destructive. But I didn't know how to overcome them. As jealous thoughts took root, they became a mental obsession that fed me lies.

    My marriage and my husband were slipping away. Completely at a loss for what to do, I dropped to my knees and begged God to help me.

    Thankfully, God made a way to release jealousy's grip on me—and it was through loving Him. As I came to know God more intimately, the jealousy began to subside.

    God opened my eyes to see Christ in a new way ... as my Savior and my "first love." Until that time, love and security were found in Monty. My need for him was so desperate that I expected him to be my savior, defender, and protector from the evil in the world. I needed my husband more than anything else and felt safe only by his side.

    This created a very unhealthy relationship. We should never "need" our husbands, our children, or anyone more than Christ. Ironically, I was so afraid of losing Monty that I treated him in a way that could potentially have driven him away. No one on this earth can ever be our savior. We have only one Savior, and His name is Jesus.

    Healing came as I grew to know my "First Love" as my defender, refuge, and strong tower. This understanding put my marriage in perspective. As God took His rightful place on the throne of my heart, Monty took his rightful place too. Our marriage changed dramatically.

    Of course, I never want to lose Monty, but I have come to know that I could and would be able to live without him because God now sits in His rightful place on the throne of my heart. He is my first love. My husband and children are precious gifts that He has generously given me.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for Your great love and faithfulness. Open my eyes to see anything or anyone besides You who holds first place in my heart. Help me through the power of Your Holy Spirit to replace it with You and You alone. I ask this in the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Reflect and Respond:
    Who or what sits higher on the throne of your heart than God?

    Write a prayer surrendering this place to Him.

    Power Verse:
    Mark 12:30, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 1 Corinthians

  • A Call to Action

    Posted on January 9, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food." Romans 14:20a (NIV)

    Five years ago I was stuck in a rut of wishful thinking and excuses with my weight. At the beginning of each day I would say I wanted things to be different. I would even make a plan to stop the snacks, increase the veggies, and say "no" to desserts.

    But then life would happen, and excuses were plentiful. My resolve would melt away like butter on a hot yeast roll.

    The next morning I would get up and weigh myself hoping that somehow, something would have happened over night. Despite my indulgences from the day before, maybe the numbers would have gone down.

    But the scale was not impressed with my wishful thinking. It could only tell the truth.

    Do you know who I'd get mad at?

    God.

    I'd beg Him to help me one minute while scarfing down an order of fries the next. And then I'd be doubly mad He didn't steer my car away from that drive-thru.

    I deemed myself a victim of tragic genetics, overactive taste buds, and a stomach that demanded large portions.

    What I failed to realize is there was a much more significant issue going on.

    More important than the ever-increasing size of my jeans was the deception going on inside my heart. My weight wasn't God's curse on me. My weight was an outside indication of an internal situation.

    Honestly, I might as well have taken Psalm 23 which talks about the Lord being my shepherd and my comfort and replaced His Name with various foods. I was relying on food to be my comfort, my ever-present help, my guide. Food was the thing that got me through the valleys. It became the friend I wanted to celebrate with in the good times.

    I don't write to point out anyone else's issue. There are certainly medical and genetic circumstances that can cause weight gain. But I discovered that my issue was spiritual. And no diet would be permanently successful until I got to the root of my problem—craving food more than God.

    I desired and depended on the instant high of physical gratification because I hadn't learned how to let God satisfy my deepest needs. This realization became a call to action.

    Maybe something is stirring in your soul. I know this is a tough issue. I've walked through the tears and the feelings of failure. But I wanted freedom. And I realized that if I wanted to have my deepest desires met by God and not food, I would need to restore God to His rightful place by changing my old thought patterns. Here are some examples:

    Old thought patterns: "I need these chips. I deserve this ice cream. I must have that extra large portion."

    New thought patterns: Chips will only taste good for the moment. But the calories are empty and will do nothing good for my body. 2 Corinthians 7:1 reminds me, "...Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit ... out of reverence for God." (NIV 1984)

    This ice cream will give me a sugar high but then I'll crash and feel terrible. Psalm 34:8 reminds me to get into God's Word and let it satisfy the hungry places of my soul: "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." (NIV 1984)

    This extra large portion will overstuff me and make me feel sluggish. I can't look to this food to soothe me. Psalm 34:5 says, "Those who look to [God] are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." (NIV 1984)

    Learning to do this has been a process that I have to intentionally choose day after day. Eventually, I lost the extra weight. But the real reward was what I gained with Jesus in the process. He became the best part of my journey. And I wouldn't have missed this new found closeness with Him for anything.

    Dear Lord, if this devotion is a call to action that I need to make, please help me. I want to see the root of my issue. I want to learn to crave only You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:


    Reflect and Respond:
    Keep a pocket-sized notebook nearby all week. Every time you crave food, ask yourself if you are hungry or if you are craving something else like comfort or peace.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 18:1, "I love you, O LORD, my strength." (NIV 1984)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • When the Dog Eats Your Company's Dinner

    Posted on January 8, 2014 by Sharon Glasgow

    Sharon Glasgow

    "If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11b (NIV)

    I prayed weeks for this dinner. The couple we invited needed Jesus. I wanted to roll out the red carpet and treat them like royalty; God knew they needed a big dose of His love.

    But time got away from me—cleaning the house, making the dessert and all. I still had to run to the store to get the filet mignons. I know they're expensive, but I wasn't going to spare any cost for my guests—it would be a feast!

    I sat the grocery bags inside the front door and headed back out to light the fire in the grill. Our company would be there in less than half an hour! I ran back inside and reached for the steaks, only to pull out an empty package. Puzzled, I pulled out the other packages, all empty. What in the world??

    About that time my dog walked around the corner with his head cowered. He wouldn't look at me but took off to hide behind the couch. I followed him and didn't find a trace of a steak—just one shamefaced dog. He had done this kind of thing before, eaten entire pizzas, cakes, and whole plates of fried chicken without a crumb left. Yep, "guilty" was written all over his face.

    As I stood there shaking my head, I heard knocking at my front door. Our guests were early! Thankfully I remembered a chicken and dumpling casserole in the freezer. I turned the oven on and popped it in, then excused myself to the restroom, closed the door and prayed, remembering the words of 1 Peter 4:11b, "If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen" (NIV).

    "Jesus, help me. Help me get over my own expectations of what tonight would look like. I've asked You for weeks to lavish this couple with Your love. You don't need steaks to do that. Come and fill this place with Your presence. Give me Your ability to love and serve. Help me love like You do. Give me words to speak and Your strength to do it. I give this night to You. May it glorify You. Thank You Jesus."

    As I walked back to join my visitors, I realized once again hospitality isn't about the perfect meal, beautiful decorations, a clean house, or our hostess skills—it's about loving people the way Jesus loves them—wholeheartedly. When people feel loved, they don't care what you feed them or what your house looks like.

    That night turned out to be absolutely wonderful. Not because the chicken and dumplings tasted good. Or because my living room was tidy. But because God's love is powerful.

    When we take our eyes off of ourselves and focus on loving our guests, it takes the stress out of entertaining. Even when we feel inadequate, Jesus gives us His ability to love others when we ask Him. It's not about our efforts; it's about Him.

    Dear Lord, help me to invite others to my house. Keep my heart focused on loving people and not on my home or my cooking skills. Use me for Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources


    Reflect and Respond:
    What hinders you from inviting guests to your home?

    How can you show love to someone this week through your home or homemaking talents?

    Power Verse:
    2 Corinthians 12:9a, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness...'" (NIV)

    © 2014 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 1 Peter

  • The God Moment that Changes Everything

    Posted on January 7, 2014 by Kyle Idleman

    Kyle Idleman

    "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!'" Luke 15:17 (NIV)

    Not long ago, one of my daughters set my phone alarm tone to match that of her favorite animal. It's labeled "Horses Neighing." It should be called "Death by Stampede." At 5:30 in the morning my alarm went off and I shot straight up, wide-awake, a stampede charging through my bedroom.

    While changing it back to my standard alarm, I noticed a wide array of other options. Some of the sounds wouldn't do anything to get me up, like the one labeled "Harp." It trills a soft melody, and just listening to it makes me sleepy.

    The most effective alarm ringtone for me is labeled "Old Car Horn." Think in terms of a house alarm that you can hear on the other side of the neighborhood. Now imagine that you are sleeping inside the speaker. It's highly effective. And the great thing is this alarm has a unique backup system that's almost fail proof – my wife.

    But here's what I've discovered: the effectiveness of any alarm is in direct correlation to how much you don't want to hear it. In other words, until your desire not to hear the alarm outweighs your desire to keep sleeping—you're not going to wake up.

    Similarly, a sudden awakening takes place when God finally gets our attention. The alarm sounds, and this time we hear it. We immediately become aware of our present circumstances and the reality that something must change.

    The Prodigal Son experienced this in Luke 15. After taking his inheritance money from his father, wasting it and reduced to feeding pigs, the Bible tells us the son, "came to his senses ..."

    At this point the son sat straight up and suddenly realized what his life had become. When he ran away, he'd never thought his journey would have that ending. But now life had his attention, and he knew things had to change.

    Have you ever had a moment like this? The Holy Spirit opens your eyes, and you see something that you had somehow missed before. You have a startling realization that changes everything.

    You realize you've been trying to live out the Christian life from your own power and strength rather than out of the power of the Holy Spirit.

    You realize you weren't actually following Jesus; you were just following a list of rules and rituals.

    You realize you spent so much of your life wrestling with guilt and shame, because you thought being good enough would save you.

    And then suddenly you realize a truth. That truth has always been true, but for some reason, you just didn't see it before. Like the Prodigal Son, it was the right time and the right place, and finally realization woke you up and brought you to your senses. AHA!

    This is an "AHA" moment, and within the parable of the Prodigal Son, I discovered there are three ingredients that are present in every AHA experience.

    1. A Sudden Awakening
    2. Brutal Honesty
    3. Immediate Action

    If there is an awakening and honesty, but no action, then AHA doesn't happen. If there is awakening and action, but honesty is overlooked, AHA will be short-lived.

    But when God's Word and the Holy Spirit bring these three things together in your life, you will experience AHA—a God-given moment that changes everything.

    Today if you are finally hearing the alarm and realizing you are far from your Heavenly Father, know you can turn to Him. Luke 15 shows us that God is a loving Father who is merciful, gracious, and caring. No matter how far we wander from God, He wants to do more than just help us—He wants to save us. And it starts with AHA.

    Dear Lord, help me to see the areas of my life that need transformation. Please give me a genuine Awakening, help me to be Honest with myself, and be with me as I take Action. Jesus, I surrender my life to you, and I thank You for the work You're doing in my life! In Jesus' Holy Name I pray. Amen.

    Related Resources:


    Reflect and Respond:
    Search your heart. Consider the areas of your life that need transformation. Identify one area that needs to change.

    Create action steps that will help you change the situation. Pray for God's strength. Then take action!

    Power Verse:
    John 6:35: "Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'" (NIV)

    © 2014 by Kyle Idleman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks David C. Cook for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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


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

  • Get a Grip

    Posted on January 6, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah DiPascal

    "When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy." Psalm 94:18-19 (NIV)

    We had only been married a couple years when my husband Keith surprised me with a snow skiing trip to the mountains. Although I had never stepped foot in snow, the idea sounded exciting and adventurous.

    I spent weeks preparing - purchasing warm, waterproof clothes, reading "how-to" articles, and daydreaming about us zipping down the slopes effortlessly. It was going to be wonderful. At least that's what I thought.

    As it turned out, my winter wonderland daydreams didn't quite match up to my wonder-less reality.

    Instead of swishing down the mountain together, I struggled in ski school with other beginners while Keith skied alone.

    I spent more time slipping and falling then standing upright. My bruises had bruises, and children were mastering the slopes better than me.

    After my first day of defeat, I opted out of ski school, determined to overcome my fears and do things my way. Anxiety mounted as I reached the top of the mountain and my skis slid onto the icy snow.

    Down to the ground I went–over and over again. Poles, skis, and goggles spewed all over the place. I was frustrated, miserable, and ready to give up.

    As worried tears ran down my face, Keith assured me we would make it down the mountain safely. He stayed close by my side. When I'd start to slip and fall, he was right there to hold me up.

    Slowly and steadily my confidence grew and when we reached the bottom of the mountain, my heart overflowed with joy.

    "Are you ready to go again?" Keith asked. While I wasn't immediately ready to head back up the mountain, my husband's loving faithfulness gave me the courage I needed that day. I knew he wouldn't leave me alone, that he would be there if I fell, and it made all the difference.

    It's been years since that trip, but oftentimes I find myself slipping and sliding along the tough slopes of life. Challenging circumstances can leave me frustrated, miserable, and ready to give up—just like that day on the mountain.

    Maybe you can relate. Are you facing a situation that seems bigger than a mountain? Do "what if" worries make you feel overwhelmed and ready to give up? Has life dealt you a powerful blow causing you to emotionally lose your footing from what was once a solid stance?

    I'm so thankful we have God's promises in Psalm 94:18-19 to securely hold us up when we're unsteady: "When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy" (NIV).

    When life's circumstances cause us to feel unsteady we can call out to God for help. His love for us is unfailing and He is always there to support us when our feet begin to slip. Challenges and difficult trials can make us feel uncertain but God is faithful to hold us up as we trust in Him.

    Safe within His loving grip we can have the confidence to keep going down the mountain of life. As we pause along the way, let's take time to look back and celebrate how far God has brought us. One faithful moment at a time.

    Dear Lord, thank You for holding me up with Your unfailing love when my feet slip on the slopes of life. Help me trust You will be there to catch me. May Your assuring words comfort my soul when I worry and feel unsteady. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Write down what is causing you to feel unsteady. Then write down one of the scripture verses listed below and turn it into a personal prayer to God.

    Take small steps each day to trust God more as you remember His promises of holding you tightly no matter what comes your way.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 121:3, "He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber." (NIV)

    Psalm 37:23-24, "The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. (NIV)

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Unmixing Our Motives

    Posted on January 3, 2014 by Amy Carroll

    Amy Carroll

    "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:5 (NIV 1984)

    I'll never forget when mixed motives almost killed my true calling. Soon after accepting a leadership position in the women's ministry of my church, a friend on the team came up to me. "Oh! We forgot to tell you," she said with a grin. "You're in charge of the annual women's conference."

    Despite the surprise, I loved every minute of organizing the event. But as I interacted with our guest speaker, envy began to wind itself around my heart. If it could have spoken aloud, it would have said, "I want THAT!"

    I wanted her platform.

    I wanted her eloquence.

    I wanted her audience.

    I wanted her cute outfit.

    Fortunately, I recognized these "wants" as signs of covetousness rather than signs of my calling. I knew God had called me to be the women's ministry director during that season—not to speak. And each time I desired what that speaker had, it took my focus off what God had for me.

    So I asked God to kill the weed of envy that was choking the life from my calling to lead women. I asked Him to purify my motives and steer my heart to the women He had called me to serve.

    It's so easy for wrong motives to creep in to our hearts. You might not want to be a speaker, but maybe you're the mom who dresses her children to impress others. Or maybe you're the employee who takes charge of the room to show your boss your readiness for the next step up.

    There's nothing wrong with cute children or promotions, but so many times our motives trip us up. Instead of being pure, our motives get mixed with other things that sully the outcome—emotionalism, pride, and strong personal preferences are just a few.

    Several years after my prayer to remove my "speaker envy," God started whispering to me about speaking as I prayed and read the Word. My first reaction was to think, "There's that old, nasty envy again. God, purify my heart!"

    But this time was different. As I unpacked my motives, I realized God had really changed my heart. He'd refined my motives to just one, and that was to obey Him.

    Philippians 2:5 states our ideal position: "Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus" (NIV 1984). Our one motive should be to follow Him and become more like Him. That's the motive that should supersede and reign over any others. How do we practically live that out?

    I think the clue is in the following verses. "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness" (Philippians 2:6-7, NIV 1984).

    Our focus has to be on becoming nothing. Nothing is not our status or worth. We are always holy and dearly loved children of the King.

    Nothing is to be our chosen position as a servant.

    How does this look in everyday life? Jesus is our perfect example. He is everything: the Lord of lords and the King of kings. He is so incredibly powerful and important that Colossians 1:16 says "all things were created by him and for him" (NIV 1984). Despite His exalted position, Jesus showed the purity of His motives toward us by giving up all He had.

    As I've thought about how to imitate Jesus in my motives, I ask myself two questions when making choices:

    • Does this put me or others first?
    • Is this a choice to be more or to be nothing?

    These two questions expose any twisted motives and bring me back to my chosen position of nothing. Day by day, my motives are refined. It's a painful process sometimes, but it's a good process that ultimately produces pure motives with divine outcomes.

    Lord God, You are the only One with uncontaminated motives. I confess mine are often mixed with pride, emotion, or personal opinion. Please purify my heart. Forgive me, un-mix my motives, and help me move forward with a pure heart. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What decisions are you making today? Are they cluttered by impure motives like unforgiveness, fear, pride, or overwhelming emotions?

    Pray and ask God to show you any impure motives that might affect your decision-making, and then ask Him to remove the ones He shows you.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me." (ASV)

    Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Blog Summary for December 2013

    Posted on January 2, 2014 by Family Christian

    Here are some of the most popular blogs that have been read by our followers during the month of December.

    Michael Landon Jr. - Leaving a Legacy in Film

    Michael Landon Jr., son of the late television legend, Michael Landon, has been in the film

    business for over 25 years.  Educated at USC and a Directing Fellow graduate of the

    American Film Institute, he has worked in just about every capacity of the movie making process including film loader, 1st and 2nd assistant cameraman, stedicam operator, Director of Photography, apprentice film editor, production assistant, and actor.

    Read the full interview here.

     

    Phil Robertson. Father. Teacher. Theologian. Commander.

    If you have never heard of Phil Robertson or the Robertson boys, well, you must be living under a rock.  The Robertson family has taken American TV by storm, along with it the hearts of almost every person. Along with Phil, his wife Kay and their boys, the reality TV show Duck Dynasty has been a gathering place for the whole family. In other words, it's been a breath of fresh air.

    Phil Robertson was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana, a small town near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.

    Read the full interview here.

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

    From “latch-key kid” to key player in the Man Up movement, Lecrae’s life is an example of God’s transformative power – and he’s not quiet about it. In his signature straight-shoot approach, new album Gravity calls Christians to open their eyes to the weight of need in their world and share the love of Jesus as never before.

    Read the full interview here.

     

    The Storm Inside - Sheila Walsh

    The chaos of life can be overwhelming, and women seem to get a heavier dose. Each day comes with its own pressures, heartaches and disappointments that slowly erode the joy, peace and closeness to God every woman needs. Chaos always feels like the enemy as it rages around us and inside us.

    In The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are, bestselling author and Women of Faith speaker Sheila Walsh invites you into ten life-changing, hope-filled transformations where hurt and heartache are divinely redeemed into joy and faith.

    Read the full post here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

    Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

    Read the full interview here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

    There’s no denying much of today’s music has the power to move the masses
    physically. Inventive beats and hooky choruses are the currency of the day. Now
    enter Capital Kings, a talented duo that blends pop, electronic dance music, and
    rap into an intoxicating musical mix that makes audiences want to move, and yet
    there’s a thought-provoking, life-affirming undercurrent. Capital Kings combine
    style with substance and introduce flash with a foundation.

    Read the full interview here.

    Mandisa - Finding Freedom by Overcoming

    Coming off her most successful album ever, Mandisa returned to the studio to record her new album, Overcomer. Her previous album, What If We Were Real, has sold over 270,000 albums and featured the breakout radio hits “Good Morning,” “Waiting For Tomorrow,” and the #1 hit, “Stronger.” The American Idol alum and three-time Grammy nominee continues to be a voice of encouragement and truth to women facing life’s challenges. Mandisa also continues to have unprecedented media exposure for a Christian artist including two recent appearances on Good Morning America.

    I sat down with Mandisa at a local coffee shop to talk about new music, coffee vs. tea, family and what it means to be an over-comer. What follows is a real conversation. Mandisa, some would say is a true artist. She is that for sure, but she is so much more. She is a warrior in a huge battle. She is a fighter - fighting for the truth of the Gospel. That can be summed up with one statement from her, "There is joy unspeakable!"

    Read the full interview here.

    Skillet. The Rock Band That Doesn't Quit

    Skillet recently made headlines when their last album, Awake, became one of just three rock albums to be certified platinum in 2012, forming an improbable triumvirate with the Black Keys’ El Camino and Mumford & Sons’ Babel. The news that Skillet had sold more than a million albums in the U.S. came as a shock to all but the band’s wildly diverse horde of fans, male and female, young and old—known as Panheads—whose still-swelling ranks now officially number in the seven-digit range. This remarkable achievement was announced just as Skillet was putting the finishing touches on their eagerly awaited follow-up album, Rise (Atlantic/Word).

    As soon as the master was turned in to the studio to finish post production on the new album, I sat down with John Cooper

    Read the full interview here.

    Running on Empty - devotional from Suzie Eller

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

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

    Read the full devotional here.

    Combating Loneliness - devotional from Samantha Evilsizer

    "My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted." Psalm 25:15-16 (ESV)

    Don't look his way, her heart and mind insist.

    She doesn't want to look. Then again, she does. Though my friend did not check the "Plus One" box on her RSVP card, she wishes she had. Why had she come to this party alone? Maybe then she wouldn't gravitate to him.

    He's reckless and destructive. My friend knows better, but he's the only one who can relate to her. Even so, she avoids eye contact, hoping to make him believe she doesn't need him anymore.

    Read the full devotional here.

    Which blog posts did you enjoy the best?


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Music, Movies, Interviews, John van der Veen, Proverbs 31, Alex Mosoiu and was tagged with Featured, Lecrae, Nick Vujicic, Suzie Eller, Mandisa, Capital Kings, Skillet, Phil Robertson, Michael Landon Jr., Sheila Walsh, Samantha Evilsizer

  • Triggers

    Posted on January 2, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

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