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Proverbs 31

  • The Right Order of Love

    Posted on March 11, 2014 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn Cowell

    "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)

    "I just want a boy to like me," she said with a sigh.

    My heart understands her desire. As I sat around my kitchen table with my small group of high school girls, I realized again how some things never change.

    We all want to be wanted. Whether you're a girl wanting a date with the guy in math class or a woman hoping for an invitation to lunch with a friend, each one of us wants to be wanted. To know we matter. To be chosen.

    Wanting to be wanted is a good thing. It doesn't mean we're incredibly needy. It means we're normal. In fact, God created us with this desire. Here are two reasons:

    1) So we would want a relationship with Him.

    God created us for the sake of love. He has so much love to share and He wants a relationship with us. He chose us; now we choose Him.

    2) So we would want relationships with others.

    God also created us with the desire to share our lives with others, for friendships and family too.

    Things get tricky and difficult when we reverse the order of these desires, which we easily do.

    Whether we want to be loved by a boyfriend, a friend or a husband, when we go looking to "the one" to meet our needs before we fall in love with The One, we can get ourselves in a world of trouble.

    Today's key verse from Matthew confirms the importance of this order. In this passage, an expert in the law asked Jesus the most important commandment. Jesus answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 22:37-39).

    Jesus is clear on the order. The first command is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind. Then we are to love others.

    God didn't intend for people to fill our hearts with love. In fact, they couldn't even if they tried! We aren't equipped to do a job that big, as God never wants another to take His proper place.

    When we love God with all we have first, our love expands, multiplies even, and we have more love to give to others. And that love is healthy because our hearts' needs are met by Him first.

    However, when we reverse God's order and seek the love of others before God, our love source and its purity diminishes. Then love can become self-focused and unhealthy because our own God-designed needs aren't met.

    God created a love gap in us only He can fill. When we try to love others out of our human love, we can run out of love. We begin looking to others instead of overflowing on others.

    God's order is best. Get filled by Him first. Spill over to others after that.

    Lord, it can be so much easier to look for love from those around me, those I can touch and see. Help me to keep love in order by first loving You with everything in me, and then allowing Your love to spill over on those around me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What negative effects can occur in our lives when our need to be wanted drives our actions?

    What positive effects occur when we love God first and others second?

    Power Verse:
    Deuteronomy 10:12, "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, ..." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. 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 Matthew

  • You Are Worthy

    Posted on March 10, 2014 by Wendy Blight

    Wendy Blight

    "Whatever you ask for in My name, I will do it so that the Father will get glory from the Son." John 14:13 (The Voice, emphasis added)

    A few years ago, I received the best birthday present ever. At first, it seemed liked the gift was a weekend with my friend. But God knew I needed something more, something deeper, something that would heal an ache in my heart and change me forever.

    Lendy and I had been friends since college. We even worked together after graduation. So when my husband suggested a weekend getaway with her for my birthday, I was thrilled.

    Through the years, I had admired Lendy's relationship with God, longing for the faith she had. Lendy graciously mentored me as I grew in my faith until I moved away. So, being reunited with her sounded like just what I needed.

    While on a walk, Lendy asked if she could pray over me. What a gift! Of course, I jumped at the chance.

    Lendy had no idea how desperately I needed prayer. I hadn't told her about the anxiety churning inside me. I'd been teaching Bible study for years, but recently feelings of unworthiness invaded my soul. Why did God call me? What qualifications did I have? I had no seminary degree. No formal Bible training at all. I was an attorney, for heaven's sake!

    Yet every week I stood and taught, sharing my concerns with no one, not even my husband. I feared the women in my class would lose confidence in me as their teacher if they knew the feelings of unworthiness harbored in my heart.

    But God knew. He had heard the cry of my heart and responded in a most gracious and loving way.

    After our walk, Lendy took me to a quiet spot and placed her hands on my shoulders and prayed. She prayed for my marriage and family. As she spoke of me as a teacher, she moved her hands from my shoulders to my head and anointed me with a fragrant oil she had brought. Her words poured over me like a healing balm:

    "Wendy, you are worthy."

    Tears fell. She repeated the words again and again.

    "You are worthy."

    More tears.

    She cupped my face in her hands, looked intently in my eyes and declared one last time:

    "You are worthy."

    God knew the ache in my heart, my desperate need to know I was worthy ... and called by Him to teach His Word. God orchestrated that weekend so that someone I loved and trusted breathed life back into my ministry.

    God brought His Word alive to me: Wendy, "whatever you ask for in My name, I will do it so that the Father will get glory from the Son" (John 14:13, The Voice, emphasis added).

    Since that day, I've been teaching and writing with greater confidence ... trusting God with every message. God answered my prayer and breathed life back into my ministry so that as I study and teach His written Word, and share the hope found in Jesus, He receives glory.

    Friend, you're reading this devotional because God has heard the cry of your heart. He is speaking to you so that His Word will encourage you and speak into your life as it did mine.

    God hears our cries, and He answers our prayers so that He will receive all the glory as we grow together in His Word and journey toward living "so that" lives.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for hearing the cry of my heart. Thank You for answering that cry because You are faithful to Your Word. Help me hear and obey so that You will receive all glory and honor and praise. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What is the cry of your heart? Have you asked God to answer that cry? If not, will you do that today? Write a prayer inviting Him to be at work in a longing, insecure or doubting place in your heart.

    Power Verse:
    Hebrews 4:16, "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (NIV, emphasis added)

    © 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 John

  • Three Ways to be the Best Friend Ever

    Posted on March 7, 2014 by Micca Campbell

    Micca Campbell

    "Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself." 1 Samuel 18:1b (NIV)

    Growing up, my best friend knew everything about me. She knew which boy I liked, my favorite song and all my dreams. She knew my secrets too, like who kissed me at the skating rink. Friendships like that are rare, and these days I find myself longing for a friend like that.

    Making good friends in our constantly-moving society is getting harder. It's not that we don't want close relationships, but people come and go so fast it's difficult to establish long-lasting friendships.

    But it's more than that. Some of us have been hurt and betrayed so often we keep others at arm's length. Perhaps you had a close friend once who proved to have looser lips than you thought. Behind your back she spilled your secrets to others. You felt betrayed and rightly so. Now, you suffer from hurt, unforgiveness and distrust.

    While it's tempting to wish God would bring me a good friend, more often than not, He asks me to be a good friend to someone else first. That's when I need to go to Scripture for a reminder of what true friendship looks like.

    God knows the agony of broken relationships and our need for godly role models. That's why we're allowed to look into the lives of two biblical characters who succeeded at a long, intimate friendship. Their names are David and Jonathan.

    We find their story in 1 Samuel 18 and 19. Jonathan, son of King Saul, was David's closest friend. The king despised David because he was growing in popularity and because God had anointed David to be king — instead of Saul's own son. These facts enraged King Saul, and he commanded his aids and Jonathan to assassinate David. But because of Jonathan's love for his friend, he refused to betray David.

    Love isn't the only fruit of true friendship. It consists of sacrifice too.

    Jonathan is a picture of sacrifice. He removed his robe and gave it to David, along with his armor, sword, bow and belt. Jonathan was the potential heir to his father's throne, but we see him sacrificing his future as he gives David his place as king. We learn from Jonathan's action that true friendship means a willingness to sacrifice for each other. It's the choice to put another's needs, desires and wishes above our own.

    Loyalty is also a mark of true friendship.

    We're told that Jonathan went to his father and spoke well of David. He reminded the king that David had done nothing wrong. In fact, David had been loyal to Saul.

    Jonathan impresses me. It's tough to do the right thing and stand up to authority. We learn by his actions that a true friend is a loyal defense before others, and one who won't talk badly about you when you're not around. True friends stick up for each other and are ready to defend when others attack.

    Finally, true friends trust each enough to be themselves.

    When Jonathan told David that his father was out to kill him, the two were forced to say goodbye. The text in 1 Samuel 20:41 tells us that they "wept together." I love that.

    When your heart is broken, you can fall apart and a good friend understands. She won't try to correct you in your misery or tell you to straighten up. True friends let each other hurt. They weep together. They listen to fears. They don't bail; they stay. They allow you to be yourself — no matter what "self" looks like.

    God challenges me to be a better friend with the story of Jonathan and David. I check my heart to see if I'm loyal, loving, selfless and trustworthy, then I ask God to help me be that kind of friend and bless me with the same.

    A good friendship takes time. If things get rocky, don't walk out. Work it out. Give your relationship time to grow because a true friend is a rare and precious gift.

    Dear Lord, help me be a friend like Jonathan. And bless me with the same. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What kind of friend am I?

    What can I do this week to show loyalty, love, sacrifice and trust to a friend?

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 17:17, "A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need." (NLT)

    © 2014 by Micca Campbell. 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 Samuel

  • Don't Say You'll Pray for Me

    Posted on March 6, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 25:11 (NIV 1984)

    I've been convicted about empty statements. These are words I say to make a conversation a little more comfortable in the moment. But do I really mean what I say?

    Empty statements can also be little promises that give a needed lift to someone. Yet without a plan to actually keep that promise, do I really intend to keep it?

    It's not that these statements are wrong, bad or ill-intentioned. But they are empty at best and potentially hurtful at worst. People in my life deserve better than that.

    I want to be a woman who exemplifies God's Word by keeping my word.

    The Bible is clear that our words matter; our words carry weight. Proverbs 25:11 says, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Our words can be gifts.

    But if we speak words with no follow-through, they can be hurtful. It's like holding out a gift but refusing to give it.

    Here are three empty statements I want to stop saying if I don't have a plan for follow-through:

    1. I'm praying for you.

    Obviously, I do want to pray for people. And sometimes when I say this, I have great follow-through. But other times I forget.

    A great intention doesn't make for a great prayer.

    So, I need to pray for that person right then and there, or I need to keep a journal in my purse to write down prayer requests.

    2. Let's get together sometime.

    Either I need to pull out my calendar and schedule time with someone or be honest about my current time constraints. The people-pleaser in me struggles with this.

    When people say this to me without any follow-through, it hurts. While I can't change what others say to me, I can make a heart policy to not do this to others.

    3. I'm good, how are you?

    Understandably, sometimes this is the right, polite statement to say when I'm quickly greeting someone. But I will also say this to others with whom I really should be more open and honest.

    I'm reluctant sometimes to let even close friends know needs bubbling below my "I'm good" statements.

    If I will be braver to open up, it will give my friends permission to do the same.

    So, there they are. My three empty statements and my convictions to do a better job of saying what I mean and meaning what I say.

    Let's commit to being women who keep our word. Right now. Today. Not only will it strengthen our friendships but it will make our relationship with the Lord more authentic as we live out His Word.

    Dear Lord, thank You for convicting me about using empty statements. My words can be powerful tools and I want to use them for Your purposes. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Which one of the three empty statements resonates with you the most? (Keep a prayer journal in your purse, schedule a specific time to get together with someone or open up with how you're honestly feeling.)

    This week, make it a point to put action into place when using that statement.

    Power Verses:
    1 John 3:18a, "My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love." (MSG)

    James 1:23-25, "Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it — they will be blessed in what they do." (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 Proverbs

  • Overcoming the Doubts of Motherhood

    Posted on March 5, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NIV)

    It was another one of those days when I wondered why God ever thought I was capable of being a mother.

    I haven't always thought that way. When my children were younger, parenting seemed easier. I nursed their little wounds, played their favorite games, helped with homework and tucked them into bed each night with prayers and goodnight kisses.

    But years passed and my sweet little ones started maturing, with their own opinions, hormones, friends, social lives and tempers. My heart broke with each disagreement. Frustration rose with every disrespectful word. My fears elevated, worry became my middle name and at times it seemed every ounce of patience had dripped out of my body.

    So on that particular day, when it seemed I could do nothing right, insecurities and doubts flooded my mind.

    With a heavy sigh, I slipped away to my room, sunk onto my bed, rested my head in my hands and prayed. I asked God for guidance, understanding and patience (lots of it). I prayed for the strength to continue standing strong in my parenting beliefs, even if they made me unpopular with my children and their friends. I prayed for peace and joy to fill my heart, even when our house didn't seem peaceful or joyful.

    But then a confession slipped from my lips: "Lord, I obviously don't know how to be a parent now. I feel painfully inadequate and incapable of doing it right."

    Through a quiet whisper to my spirit, the word "confidence" popped into my thoughts. God gently reminded me that depending on my own strength would eventually shake my confidence because deep down, I know my weaknesses.

    Despite how hard I tried to be the mom God called me to be, I always fell short in my own eyes. Plus, I allowed difficult situations or comparison to other parents to shake my confidence. I needed to start depending on His strength to find my confidence instead.

    Later that day, I searched for scriptures relating to "confidence" and came across today's key verses, which soothed this mama's heart. The apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians reassures us that although life can cause us to doubt our capabilities, we can always find strength and confidence by trusting in the Lord.

    When we rely on God in everything we do, including raising our children, we can be confident He will equip us for this calling of motherhood.

    On those days when we doubt our strength, we can ask God for His strength to persevere.

    On those days when we feel like the least-liked person in our homes, we can ask for confidence to stand strong in our beliefs.

    On those days when we question whether or not we're cut out to be a parent, we can find assurance knowing God will surely stay beside us during the journey.

    Most importantly, on those days when we find ourselves hiding in our bedrooms, we can boldly approach the throne of God, knowing with full confidence He hears our prayers and will give us wisdom to carry out this task of parenting.

    That was not the last day I felt inadequate and insecure about my parenting skills. But now when those feelings creep in, I remember to pause and seek holy confidence.

    The question we should ask ourselves when doubt creeps in isn't whether we're perfect parents. Instead, we can ask whether our children will look back and be thankful we loved them enough to pray and persevere through the hardest of days.

    And that alone will be a rich reward.

    Jesus, please strengthen me to persevere through the trying days of parenting children. Let me not waiver, but stand firm in what I know to be right, despite peer pressure from children, friends, other parents or society. Help me remember to be confident by believing You have equipped me to be the parent my children need. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have I allowed the challenges of parenting to cause me to doubt my abilities?

    Consider the most difficult struggles weighing on your heart today with respect to raising your children. Pause and talk to God about your feelings. Seek support and confidence in Him.

    Power Verses:
    Jeremiah 17:7, "But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him." (NIV)

    1 John 5:14, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. 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 2 Corinthians

  • Time to Get Up

    Posted on March 4, 2014 by Kyle Idleman

    Kyle Idleman

    "So he got up and went to his father ..." Luke 15:20a (NIV)

    After high school graduation, I joined my senior class for a trip to Dallas, Texas. While there, for the first time ever I saw someone bungee jump. At several hundred feet off the ground, this was one of the tallest jumps in the country.

    We watched as a guy got ready to make the leap with nothing but a chord strapped to his ankles. He dove headfirst, and it was clear my fellow students were impressed.

    Trying to sound cool enough to bungee jump but too cool to actually spend the money, in that moment, here's what came out of my mouth: "I'd do that, but I'm not going to spend 40 bucks on it."

    Suddenly there was a little commotion behind me. One of the girls in my class pulled out a $20 bill and asked, "Would this help?"

    At that point, my back was against the wall. A girl had called my bluff — in front of everyone. I could've said, "Well, I'm not going to spend 20 bucks on it either," but that wouldn't have gone over well. So without stopping to consider the fact that I don't like heights, I took the $20 bill and got in line.

    As the crane lowered, I told myself: It's not that high. But once the platform was at ground level and I stepped onboard, my nerves began. The platform rose higher and higher until the crane finally lurched to a halt. I stepped to the edge and made a horrible choice: I looked down.

    Overcome with paralyzing fear, I turned to the crane operator and said, "I can't do it. I just can't do it!" But then a thought struck me, and I asked, "Would you just give me a shove?"

    Apparently I wasn't the first guy too scared to jump, but too embarrassed to ride the platform back down. The worker replied, "Well, we're not legally allowed to push someone off."

    Frustrated with his answer, I replied, "Do you have any other ideas for me?"

    "Well, sometimes it works if you just close your eyes and fall," he said, adding, "Anybody can do that."

    So I stepped to the edge, closed my eyes and I'm proud to say that ... well, I didn't so much as bungee jump, I bungee fell.

    It's one thing to say what you are going to do, but it's another thing to do it. Action is where a lot of us get stuck. We know what needs to be done, but when we step out onto the platform, we just can't move.

    This is an opportunity for an "AHA" moment. In Luke 15, the story of the Prodigal Son tells of one of these experiences. The younger son asked his father for his inheritance early, but then wasted it. After losing everything, he came to his sense and experienced an AHA moment. Moments like this always include:

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

    In Luke 15:20 we read a simple phrase that changed the personal story of the Prodigal Son. Jesus simply said, "So he got up ..."

    He took immediate action. He recognized that it was time to get up. And unless our personal stories read, "So she got up," or "So he got up," then nothing really changes in our lives.

    I want you to see a connection between these two phrases in Luke 15:

    "He came to his senses ..." (verse 17)

    "So he got up ..." (verse 20)

    Without verse 20, verse 17 doesn't really matter.

    My question for you is: When are you going to get up?

    When are you going to join a Bible study group?

    When are you going to talk to one of your coworkers about your faith?

    When is verse 20 going to be a part of your story?

    It's time to get up.

    Dear Lord, please show me where I need to take action in my life and give me the courage and strength to move forward. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Remember, awakening happens to us, honesty happens in us, but nothing really changes unless action comes out of us.

    In what areas of life are you finding yourself stuck? Identify what's holding you back and make a plan to take action and overcome your obstacles.

    Power Verse:
    Luke 19:8, "But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, 'Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.'" (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

  • Reviving an Abandoned Dream

    Posted on March 3, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

    I sat on the couch during small group, dabbed the tears dripping down my face, and hoped the others wouldn't notice my emotional response to the message.

    While watching a DVD teaching about God-given dreams, a tender, hidden spot in my heart was coming to life. It was uncomfortable. Scary, in fact. I wanted to move toward it and away at the same time.

    The teaching wasn't on nighttime dreams, but rather those dreams that often start in childhood when anything seemed possible. And we were unhindered by the realities of genetics or abilities. We were sure to be ballerinas or fashion models, ignoring the fact that we couldn't do the splits, or that our height/weight ratio might be less than desirable for the runway.

    Personally, I imagined the day my favorite band would invite me on stage. Hairbrush in hand, I practiced my moves and vocal range preparing for my big break.

    That day at small group, the dream fueling my simmering emotions wasn't the desire to sing. For years another dream had been stirring in my heart, a dream that had been dampened by doubts and the logistics of adulthood. My dream was to write.

    Pain and excitement mixed as I allowed the dream to come to life, much like a foot that's fallen asleep when the blood flow returns. Doubt whispered around every thought. Was this dream from God or me? Did I have anything worth saying?

    My heart felt vulnerable every time I pondered the idea. If I told someone my dream, would they give voice to the litany of taunts in my head? I wondered. And yet the more I prayed, the more convinced I became that God was asking me to write for Him. When I finally accepted that truth, my attitude changed. Writing wasn't just an interesting idea, it was an assignment.

    I wish I could say I immediately started writing. But I didn't.

    Tucking the dream in my heart, I procrastinated. For months. Which turned into years. Thinking about my dream was much easier than acting on it, because it was going to take a lot of work and sacrifice. And there was always a handy excuse.

    Until one Sunday, my pastor opened prayer time with these words: "God has asked some of you to do something and you haven't done it yet."

    The Holy Spirit was playing the drums on my heart as I shifted from foot to foot. There was no question; God was calling my name. A flood of people headed to the front alongside me to address their own abandoned assignments.

    My pastor's challenge was what I needed to shift from a passive to an active approach in my writing. To move from disobedience to obedience. To step into an unfamiliar world believing that if God had called me to it, He wouldn't abandon me.

    God often gives directions through dreams. Yet, those can be the hardest to embrace because they seem too big for us to accomplish on our own. And sometimes they seem downright selfish. So we let them drift away.

    But dreams are also how God increases our faith. When we step into active obedience of an audacious assignment, we see God move and do things only He can do. Our key verse shows that God has the power to accomplish any dream He gives us: "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20, NLT).

    It was 10 years ago when I embraced my dream as an assignment, and God has shown His power time and time again. There are still doubts and barriers to overcome, but my faith has grown each time God proves Himself faithful.

    Did God put a dream in your heart years ago? Maybe your dream was to adopt a child or go on a mission trip. Maybe it was to open your home to neighbors or lead teens at church. At the time your dream seemed too big or came with too many barriers. Now it's a hazy memory.

    May I offer the same challenge my pastor gave years ago? God has asked some of you to do something and you haven't done it yet. Will today be your day to accept your assignment?

    Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me a dream to serve You and others through my gifts and talents. Help me see this dream as an assignment from You, and I ask for Your power to help me take the next step. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What dream has God put in your heart that you know is an assignment?

    What next step can you take to obey God's calling on your life?

    Power Verse:
    Mark 9:23, "'"If you can"?' said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for one who believes.'" (NIV)

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. 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

  • Scurrying or Seated?

    Posted on February 28, 2014 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations." Luke 10:39-40 (NASB)

    I glanced at the clock on the wall. How was it 11:45 already? Where had the time gone? It was nearly noon and I wasn't even halfway through my to-do list for the morning.

    My day had started hours earlier when I had bounded out of bed with a goal of knocking off a bevy of tasks around the house, on the computer and in my little hometown. Scrawled out on a baby-blue legal pad, my plan included things to cook, calls to make and errands to run.

    I'd started whittling down my list as soon as my family left for school and work. Now at mid-day, I still had four or five items left undone and no way to accomplish them before my 1 p.m. dentist appointment to get a crown on my tooth.

    My spirit sank. What's my problem? I wondered. Did I underestimate how long each task would take? Or did I overestimate my ability to execute them quickly? Or, perhaps, it was a little bit of both.

    I also hadn't factored in the interruptions. A text from my daughter needing help on a tax form. An email from a friend wanting a recipe for company coming over later that day. A neighbor whose computer was on the blink and needed to borrow ours to make an order online. More distractions and delays.

    A little nervous about my dentist appointment, I called my friend Mary to ask for prayer. As we visited, I shared the details of my frustrating morning, and asked how her day was going. She replied that she hadn't completed what she'd hoped to either, concluding, "But I had a good long time alone with God this morning praying and reading my Bible which is what I needed most, so it's okay."

    My heart sank as I realized my problem: I hadn't taken time for the most important detail of the day. Spending time with God wasn't even on my radar. Maybe if I had spent time with the Lord I wouldn't have felt so much frustration at my lack of productivity.

    Our key verse today tells of another woman who put chores ahead of spending time with Jesus. The story in Luke 10 tells of two sisters and how they spent their time when Jesus came to visit. Martha was busy scurrying to get to the end of her "to-do list," but Mary chose a different path. She settled herself at Jesus' feet, soaking in His words and His presence.

    Later on we read that when Martha complained to the Lord that Mary wasn't helping her, He replied, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42, NASB).

    There's no doubt Martha's sister Mary also had things to do. So did my friend Mary. But in the case of each Mary, they chose to do the best thing first: position themselves where they could clearly hear from the Lord.

    Perhaps today we can set aside our to-do lists until we've mimicked the Marys. Let's vow to meet with God before we attempt to meet the challenges of the day. Yes, maybe that's the key. Let's stop scurrying and be seated instead.

    There is always plenty of room at His feet.

    Dear Lord, help me to take time today to meet with You before I try to tackle the tasks of the day. Give me the perspective that You are more important than my never-ending list of tasks. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Can you remember a time when you didn't get to the end of your to-do list? Now, think back. Did you have a time alone with God that day? How, if so, how did it make a difference?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 27:8, "You have said, 'Seek my face.' My heart says to you, 'Your face, LORD, do I seek.'" (ESV)

    © 2014 by Karen Ehman. 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

  • I'm Scared to Pray Boldly

    Posted on February 27, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5:16b (NIV)

    I have to admit I'm sometimes scared to pray boldly.

    It's not at all that I don't believe God can do anything. I absolutely do. I'm a wild-about-Jesus girl. Wild in my willingness. Wild in my obedience. Wild in my adventures with God.

    After all, I think Jesus would rather rein in a wild stallion than kick a dead mule any day of the week.

    So, my hesitation isn't rooted in any kind of doubt about God. It's more rooted in doubts about myself and my ability to absolutely discern the will of God. The reality is sometimes God chooses not to do things. And if His will is no, while I am boldly praying for a yes, it makes me feel out of step with God.

    Can you relate?

    I so desperately want to stay in the will of God that I find myself praying with clauses sometimes, like: God please heal my friend, but if it's Your will to take her, I will trust You.

    I wonder why I don't just boldly pray: God, please heal my friend. And then stand confidently knowing my prayers were not in vain no matter what the outcome.

    The reality is, my prayers don't change God. But I am convinced prayer changes me. Praying boldly boots me out of that stale place of religious habit into authentic connection with God Himself.

    Prayer opens my spiritual eyes to see things I can't see on my own. And I'm convinced prayer matters. Prayers are powerful and effective if prayed from the position of a righteous heart (James 5:16).

    So, prayer does make a difference — a life-changing, mind-blowing, earth-rattling difference. We don't need to know how. We don't need to know when. We just need to kneel confidently and know the tremors of a simple Jesus girl's prayers extend far wide and far high and far deep.

    Letting that absolute truth slosh over into my soul snuffs out the flickers of hesitation. It bends my stiff knees. And it ignites a fresh, bold and even more wild fire within. Not bold as in bossy and demanding. But bold as in I love my Jesus with all my heart, so why would I offer anything less than an ignited prayer life?

    Jesus speaks specifically about igniting our prayer lives in Matthew 6, verses 6-8, "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (NIV).

    So let's ask. And ask again. Not so that we can cause God to move, rather so that we can position our souls to be able to see our sweet Jesus move in any which way He pleases.

    Dear Lord, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to bring all of my worries and cares to You. Thank You for providing me with exactly what I need. I trust that You have my best interest in mind today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How have you been praying lately? In boldness or in timidity? Why?

    Write down three bold prayers you would like to pray today. Pray them again tomorrow. And again the next day. Pray them for the next month even. And know with full assurance that the tremors of your prayers will extend far wide and far high and far deep. Pray and wait for God to respond.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 145:18, "The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." (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 James

  • When the Storms Rage and the Winds Blow

    Posted on February 26, 2014 by Sharon Glasgow

    Sharon Glasgow

    "... we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul ..." Hebrews 6:18b-19a (ESV)

    The howling, frigid wind whipped and beat the house mercilessly. The old spruce tree bent and screeched against the siding so loudly I couldn't go back to sleep.

    The ferocious storm raging outdoors matched the fierceness of the ones that had been buffeting my family for months. Storm after storm had hit us with no breathing room in between. Our son-in-law's heart surgery. My father-in-law's cancer diagnosis. Our daughter totaled one of our cars. Our only other car broke down. My husband's lingering kidney stone. Bills piling higher and higher. And the list went on ...

    My heart was tossed back and forth. Would our son-in-law's heart condition improve? Could my father-in-law's strength hold up through treatment? Worry battered my weary soul against the rocks of reality. What if Dale needed surgery? How would we pay off this mounting debt

    I lay awake pleading with the Lord for safety, reprieve and encouragement. Not from the storm outside my window, but from the one in my heart.

    Perhaps my pleading was similar to what Jesus' disciples did when they were in a boat and a windstorm suddenly came on the lake. As the boat filled with water, they wondered why Jesus continued to sleep and didn't respond to the raging storm as quickly as they wanted.

    The disciples feared the potential outcome of the storm. They pleaded with Jesus to help them — and He did (Luke 8:24, ESV).

    He calmed the storm and then asked, "Where is your faith?" (Luke 8:25a, ESV).

    I felt that same desperation that night as I called for Jesus' help with a questioning heart: Why? Why does it have to be so hard Jesus? The storms have been unrelenting. Instead of an answer, I sensed a question in return: Where is your faith?

    The question prompted an honest assessment of where I'd been putting my trust. The depth of my worry revealed I'd misplaced it. When the storms rage and the winds blow, and they will, my faith needs to be in Jesus, not the outcome of my circumstances.

    Hebrews 6:18a-19b tells us "... we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul ..."

    If we compare ourselves to a ship and the hardships of life to storms, then hope is the anchor that keeps us from being shipwrecked. But an anchor is dependent on two things: the cable that tethers it to the ship, and the solid ground.

    The cable connecting us to hope is faith ... an assurance of Jesus' love, goodness and power. Our faith believes He still speaks to storms and with a word, can calm them. Faith is being confident that His promises will carry us through this life safely into an eternity spent with Him. Now that's hopeful!

    And the ground to which our anchors need to be fixed? That is Jesus. He is firm and unchanging. As the waves rise and the winds howl, sometimes it's tempting to pull away from Him, especially when we ask, Why? But storms are opportunities to dig deeper in to our relationship with Jesus through reading and memorizing Scripture, and praying to and worshipping Him.

    The storms will rage, and the winds will blow. But to believe in the middle of it all, to have faith that leads to hope in Jesus, that's the secret to riding out the storms in life.

    Today, if circumstances and worry are tossing you about, cast your anchor of hope into Jesus and pray for the faith to believe His promises are true. He is powerful enough to calm your storms and keep you safe.

    Lord, help keep my eyes on You in the middle of the strongest storms. Increase my faith in You, in eternal things and be my hope. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What causes you to lose hope in the storms of life? Ask a few friends or family members to share with you about a difficult time that Jesus brought them through.

    Find a Bible verse to memorize that encourages your faith in Jesus.

    Power Verse:
    Hebrews 11:1, "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." (NLT)

    © 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 Hebrews

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