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Proverbs 31

  • Boldness

    Posted on November 29, 2013 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn Cowell

    "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14 (NIV)

    My daughter reclined in the hammock, face in a book. She chooses to read stories based in history, where the author's words transport her to another setting when life seemed grander.

    She often says, "Mom, I wish I was born in a different time and place."

    As a mom, it's easy for me to slip into similar thoughts too. To look around, observe the not-so-positive changes in our culture and wish for the seemingly tranquil world of generations past. To lament over how easy it must have been to raise kids, take care of your family, and share your faith back then.

    These thoughts have discouraged me and sometimes left me wondering, "Why keep trying? It's hopeless."

    Yet, when I read of Esther in the Bible, I am reminded that God has a purpose for placing me exactly where I am right now-in this time and place-just like He did for Esther.

    When Esther was a young woman, she was taken from her Jewish family and brought to Susa, the Persian King Xerxes' fortress, for twelve months of beauty treatments. This was done to her and other women in preparation to meet the king so he could choose a new queen.

    Esther found great favor with the king and he appointed her the new queen. Despite her good standing with King Xerxes, Esther hid the fact she was Jewish. But when a plot to destroy the Jewish people was revealed, Esther's family member, Mordecai, asked her to intervene and request help from the king to save them.

    By law, no one was to approach the king without being asked. Doing so would risk being put to death. Plus, the king hadn't summoned Esther in 30 days, an indication he was losing interest in her. But Mordecai reminded her, "... if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14 NIV)

    Esther understood the greater good and risked her life on behalf of the Jews. God appointed Esther to be in Susa at that specific time to rescue her people from the potential destruction. A bold girl in the right place at the right time saved an entire nation from annihilation.

    Like Esther, we can trust that God has placed us where we are "for such a time as this," for His purposes. Our assignment is important too. We are surrounded by people God loves and wants to rescue. Sharing Jesus with family, at our job, with our neighbors, and in our community could lead them to accepting God's love.

    Jesus willingly gave His life so we could approach our King for eternal life. He asks us to share this new life with those around us. Today, let's boldly step out and make ourselves available to God just as Esther did. God surely can use us to free someone from despair as we share the hope of eternal life!

    Although it's enjoyable to daydream about times past, the most important work we can do is today.

    Powerful and Wise God, You always know exactly what You are doing. Open my eyes today to see the rescue mission You want me to be a part of "for such a time as this." Empower me to be bold! Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do you know someone who needs reassurance they've been created "for such a time as this"? Send them a card, text, or email today, pouring in hope that God has them exactly where they need to be.

    Do you shrink back from being bold and sharing about Jesus and eternal life? Pray for conviction and courage to do so.

    Power Verse:
    2 Timothy 1:7, "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." (NIV)

    © 2013 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 Esther

  • A Morning Prayer

    Posted on November 28, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." Psalm 86:11 (NIV 1984)

    It is very early in the morning. Though my body begs me to go back to sleep, my soul stirs to get up and talk with Jesus.

    Though I can't physically see Him, I know He is present.

    I open my Bible to the book of Psalms and pray the verses I read to start my day. The more I do this, the less I hear the nagging things of this world. A beautiful melody of God's truth rises up and my worries fade in their light.

    His perspective on what troubles me overshadows my anxiety. This time alone with God prepares me for what I will need throughout the day. He's equipping me to handle what is ahead with His gentle boldness, quiet strength, and loving grace.

    In Psalm 81:10, God instructs me, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." (NIV 1984) He will give me what to say. What to say in happy moments and in aggravating moments. What to say when I feel insecure and what to say when I am confident. He also reminds me that sometimes it is good to keep my mouth closed and say nothing at all.

    Psalm 84:1 reminds me that God's dwelling place is lovely. So I ask for Him to dwell in me richly. I want God to be what radiates about me. Not my hair. Not my outfit. Not my efforts. But simply Him—shifting a wrong attitude, guarding my words, and whispering constant truths into my heart.

    Psalm 86:11 prompts me to ask God to "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart ..." (NIV 1984)

    Each of these verses lead my morning prayer:

    Lord, may nothing separate me from You today. Teach me how to choose only Your way today so each step will lead me closer to You. Help me walk by the Word and not my feelings.

    Help me to keep my heart pure and undivided. Protect me from my own careless thoughts, words, and actions. And keep me from being distracted by MY wants, MY desires, MY thoughts on how things should be.

    Help me to embrace what comes my way as an opportunity . . . rather than a personal inconvenience.

    And finally, help me to rest in the truth of Psalm 86:13, "Great is your love toward me." (NIV 1984)

    You already see the ways I will fall short and mess up. But right now, I consciously tuck Your whisper of absolute love for me into the deepest part of my heart. I recognize Your love for me is not based on my performance. You love me warts and all.

    That's amazing.

    But what's most amazing is that the Savior of the world would desire a few minutes with me this morning. Lord, help me to forever remember what a gift it is to sit with You like this. Amen.

    I'm now ready to face today. Armed with truth. Surrounded by love. Filled with gratitude.

    Dear Lord, I love You. All that I've expressed above is the desire of my heart. I confess that sometimes my actions and reactions betray my love for You. Please forgive me. Thank You for Your grace that is able to recognize this new day as a new chance to walk closer with You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Set aside time today to personally pray through the verses in Psalms listed in this devotion. Personalize them by inserting things particular to you. For example: Psalm 86:11 talks about having an undivided heart.

    List out those things that divide your heart and pull you away from the closeness you desire with Jesus. Spend some time confessing these and asking for wisdom to know how to better handle them.

    Power Verse:
    Mark 1:35, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." (NIV)

    © 2013 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 Psalm, Prayer

  • Whom Can You Invite?

    Posted on November 27, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families ..." Psalm 68:5-6a (NIV 1984)

    "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" The loudspeaker blared the joyful lyrics of the familiar song that snowy Christmas Eve afternoon.

    Everywhere I glanced, people were searching for last-minute gift purchases, holiday baking ingredients or that one final string of twinkle lights that would make their Christmas downright Norman-Rockwell-perfect.

    However, as I stood in line paying for the ingredients for my assigned cheesy potato casserole for our family gathering, a lump formed in my throat. Soon my lips quivered and hot tears fell onto my wind-chapped cheeks.

    How can everyone be so happy? Why is the world going on as if nothing happened? My friend Julie died last night leaving behind a husband and eight children who need her. Doesn't anyone care?

    I wanted to scream. And I wanted the holidays to be cancelled that year. There was no cheer in me, and I thought the rest of the world should follow suit and just "humbug" the whole celebration.

    Although our hearts were heavy, we tried to make the most of Christmas, especially for our children who were sad about their friends' mother's death. Over the next few months, my husband and I carried on with our normal life and tried to help our widowed friend as best we could.

    Several in our circle of friends made meals on a weekly basis. A college girl offered to clean their home. One of Julie's sons joined our homeschool for kindergarten a few days each week. Although we still experienced great heartache knowing our friend wasn't coming back, lightening her husband's load and being there for the children made us feel as if we were fulfilling the mission God had for us.

    Ever since that year, our family has become more aware of the fact that for many, Thanksgiving and Christmas aren't the most wonderful times of the year. In fact, the holidays can be downright painful.

    Loneliness looms. Depressions darken. Even suicides soar. While scores of us delight in the season, drinking the sights, sounds, and smells, others are numb from pain and despise these months.

    A neighbor of mine had a good perspective on helping those who hurt. She once told me, "The holidays are an excuse for making someone's life better." She was right! There are people waiting to be encouraged and included during this season. If only we would cease our own sometimes self-focused hustle and bustle long enough to see!

    After that sad season, we've made it our mission to reach out at the holidays more than we play the commercialized "gimmee game." Thanksgiving and Christmas are not about getting. The very essence of both is giving.

    When our family has been intentional about being Jesus' hands and feet at the holidays, He has allowed us to brighten the lives of many. We get to show His love and character talked about in Psalm 68:5-6a, "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families ..." (NIV 1984)

    Others are welcomed at our table. We sing Christmas carols to shut-ins, decorate homes and address Christmas cards for widows, shop for the needy, bake for the brokenhearted, and often include the lonely in our normal holiday activities as if they were part of our family. Because really, they are.

    Maybe God wants to use your family to encourage someone this year. Let's use this Thanksgiving and Christmas to make someone's life better, richer in love, and fuller in the comforts of knowing they are noticed and cared for.

    Dear Lord, show me who needs to be reached out to this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Help me make someone's life richer, fuller and far less lonely. I want to be Your hands and feet. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Gather the family. Solicit responses to the following questions, "Who do you know that might be lonely at the holidays this year? Now, what creative way could we help to combat their loneliness and make them feel loved?"

    It's not too late to invite someone over for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow! Give them a call now.

    Power Verse:
    Matthew 25:40, "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" (NIV)

    © 2013 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 Psalm

  • The Lord Will Provide

    Posted on November 26, 2013 by Wendy Blight

    Wendy Blight

    "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." Genesis 22:14b (NLT)

    Every time I flew, for days preceding each trip, anxiety welled up within me. I couldn't sleep and I suffered with stomachaches, headaches, and a racing heart.

    As traveling for work increased, so did the flying. I arrived exhausted. I knew I couldn't continue living with this fear. I tried to justify this fear as different from other life-altering fears. But it wasn't. Fear is fear, no matter the cause.

    After one particularly difficult flight, I decided that was it! I was tired of this battle, so I purposed in my heart to do something.

    I had battled and overcome fear in the past, but under different circumstances. So I once again called upon God to help me. This time I prayed to God by one of His great names, Yahweh Yireh, which means "the LORD will provide." Praying to Yahweh Yireh reminded me that God saw my situation and could provide for my needs.

    Yahweh Yireh, I know You are with me when I fly. Your name tells me You know what I need, and You promise to provide it. I ask You and trust You to provide what I need to overcome my fear of flying.

    Step by step, He provided just what I needed to lead me to a place of freedom. I felt His gentle reassurance in my heart. I am right here, my child. I am your Yahweh Yireh. Remember the story of my servant, Abraham.

    I turned to Genesis 22 to refresh my memory. In verse 14 I read, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." (NLT) You see, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, the one God promised to provide and did.

    Without hesitation, Abraham took steps towards obeying God. He purposed in his heart to do the unthinkable because God asked him to. He trusted God to make a way to provide for the promise He had made. Even when Isaac asked his father where the sacrificial lamb was, Abraham exhibited great faith with his words: the Lord will provide. He then laid his son on the altar.

    Just as Abraham drew back the knife to sacrifice his son, the Angel of the LORD intervened. And in that moment, Abraham spotted a ram.

    God had provided a sacrifice.

    God did the same for me. What Abraham faced is on a totally different level than my fear of flying. But Scripture teaches us that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is the same God He was back then with Abraham as He is in the present with me. He met me on each and every flight in ways that only He could do. He knew what I needed and provided it.

    He divinely placed me next to pilots who explained the science of turbulence and the mechanics of planes. On one flight, I even sat next to an astronaut! Thank goodness I'm not flying into outer space, I thought! A friend began coming along with me who provided a comforting hand to hold ... or squeeze with all my might, depending upon the flight!

    With each trip, I grew more and more at peace. I found verses to pray when I flew. Memorizing and praying these truly helped me overcome my fear.

    What provision do you need from Yahweh Yireh today? Peace, financial wisdom, confidence, good health? Just as He provided for me, He will provide for you. Go to Him in prayer.

    I no longer dread traveling and sleep soundly the night before my flights. And most of all, I trust that Yahweh Yireh has His eyes on me and will provide what I need to bring me peace.

    Yahweh Yireh, You are the Lord who will provide. I invite You to intervene in my circumstances today. Be ever present in my heart and my life and provide everything I need to overcome my fear. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Where do you need God's provision in your life?

    Write a prayer that boldly asks Yahweh Yireh to provide for that need.

    Power Verses:
    Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

    © 2013 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 Genesis

  • Time Capsule

    Posted on November 25, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." James 4:14 (NIV)

    When his mom held out the time capsule at one-year-old Jason's birthday, it seemed like a fun idea.

    "Add one item that represents this year and write a letter to Jason, telling him what you think life will be like 17 years from now." Letters were thoughtfully penned and placed in the time capsule, as well as newly minted coins, a toy car, headlines from the local newspaper, and other items.

    This year Jason turned 18. We were surprised when his mom pulled out the dented can with the faded blue and green blocks on it. Many family members had forgotten about it.

    For the next hour there were tears and laughter as memories came spilling out.

    Tears as Jason's dad read his letter, remembering a young father who hoped he wouldn't make mistakes with his little boy.

    Laughter as older cousins, now adults, read their letters expressing child-like birthday wishes in misspelled words.

    Tears as Jason's mom pulled out three separate letters from grandparents no longer on earth. As she read their words written to her once-little guy, she barely made it through.

    Laughter again as Jason held up a 1995 headline on the price of gas rising. "Man, wouldn't it be great to go back to those good old days!"

    In the midst of the fun, I was reminded of how much and how quickly things can change. I thought about words I want to speak to those I love. By not speaking them, I am acting as if my friends and family (and I) will always be here, taking for granted what is right in front of me.

    The time capsule caused me to take a fresh look at those around me and really apply a lesson found in Scripture. James 4:14 says, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" (NIV). In other words, life is fleeting and we're wise to make the most of this very moment, because the next one is not certain.

    I paused at the door as we left the party, resolving that day to say the words in my heart, and say them often. To not miss an opportunity to encourage or say "I love you."

    Not far away, my mom made her way to the car. She turned and waved goodbye.

    You're so beautiful.

    My dad made a wisecrack as he passed by. He turns 80 next year.

    I love you, Dad.

    My sister, strong and lovely. She's had a hard year, but her faith has shined through.

    Do you know you are my best friend?

    My brother, Jason's dad.

    You've turned out to be such a great dad. I'm proud of you.

    My hope is that one day there will be a time capsule of my words tucked away in the hearts of those I love. Words clearly spoken that friends and family can recall when they think of me.

    What about you? Is there someone who needs to hear your sweet words? To know you love them? To hear that you are proud of them?

    Begin your own time capsule of words, depositing encouragement, a kind word, an "I love you" in the heart of a loved one. Don't hesitate to start. Right now is the only moment we're sure to have.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of today. Help me to use my words to encourage and show appreciation to the beautiful friends and family in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are there words you wished you had spoken in the last 10 years, but didn't? What prevented you from speaking them?

    Take an opportunity to tell a loved one that you love them or speak an encouraging word today.

    Power Verse:
    Job 8:9, "For we are only of yesterday and know nothing, Because our days on earth are as a shadow." (NASB)

    © 2013 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 James

  • Am I a Mean Girl?

    Posted on November 22, 2013 by Dannah Gresh

    Dannah Gresh

    "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:3 (ESV)

    Sitting in the hair salon, I asked the stylist if she could get me a refill of my make-up. The sweet woman helping me returned with bad news.

    "We don't have the refills, but we have a new compact. Would you like that?" she asked, apologetically.

    Knowing how busy my schedule was, I answered matter-of-factly, "I'll have to get it somewhere else." I was annoyed and it showed.

    That's when I realized something: I have the potential to be a mean girl.

    How I wish I could have exchanged my bad attitude in the salon with the humble one I witnessed just one hour later at the grocery store.

    Standing in the checkout line, I watched as a white-haired lady began to put her groceries on the conveyor belt. She caught my attention because her sweater was funky and full of life.

    She'd already put a few items on the counter when the cashier said, "I'm sorry, ma'am. I'm closing."

    "Oh, sweetheart," that dear woman replied, as she placed her red cabbage back in her cart. "I bet you're just about to have a nice lunch. Or get off for the day. Oh, I hope it's that! Enjoy!" And off she went in her eccentric sweater and spunky spirit.

    She changed the entire atmosphere with her kindness to the cashier that had shooed her away.

    I want to be like that. But too often I'm not.

    When I got home, I turned to my Bible—the one thing that could help me change. I flipped it open to read the mean girl story of Sarai and Hagar found in Genesis 16.

    Sarai wasn't able to have children. Knowing this was important to her husband, Abram, Sarai told him to marry and have a child with her maid, Hagar. Sure enough, Hagar conceived.

    The Bible says, "When [Hagar] knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress" (Genesis 16:4 NIV). The Hebrew word for despise means "to be of little account." In other words, Hagar thought Sarai was unimportant. It didn't take long for Sarai to pick up on her maid's haughty attitude, and Sarai began to disdain Hagar and treat her poorly.

    Instead of caring about the hurt the other was feeling or talking through the burdens each woman was carrying, Sarai and Hagar allowed bitterness and envy to infiltrate their relationship. Their feud ultimately affected both their families, causing division.

    Many of us have experienced discord in our family because of two mean girls. A small misunderstanding and lack of clear communication can turn a simple conversation into a lifetime argument. This may result in families not talking to each other, spending holidays apart, or not helping one another in times of need. When women allow their inner mean girl to come out, it can divide entire families.

    The way we treat others impacts everyone, especially our children. If they see a mean girl in us, they very likely will copy our behavior. However, if they find us loving others, they hopefully will copy our example.

    When we allow the mean girl in us to come out, it's usually because we see ourselves as more important than someone else. And that kind of vision is the opposite of God's instruction for us: to see others as more important than ourselves.

    Today, let's put into practice Philippians 2:3, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves" (ESV). It might not be easy at first. But seeing others as more important than ourselves will help keep our inner mean girl at bay and hopefully maintain peace in our families.

    Lord, I tend to see myself as if I'm in one of those mirrors that make images appear larger than they really are. Help me see the value in everyone I meet—from my own children to the cashier at the grocery store. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What encounters did you have in the last 24 hours that may prove there is an inner mean girl in you?

    Next time you feel your inner mean girl coming out, make an effort to be kind: ask the other person how they are, offer to help them with a task, or text them a quick note of encouragement.

    Power Verse:
    Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Dannah Gresh. All rights reserved.

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

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

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


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

  • The Treasure of Thrown-Away Food

    Posted on November 21, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)

    My son Jackson wrote a paper about the corruption and greed that caused the civil war in his native land. But Jackson wasn't just explaining a historical event – he lived in the midst of the horrific conditions of this war. You see, for the first 13 years of his life, Jackson lived in a forgotten orphanage in the third world country of Liberia, Africa.

    During one part of the paper, he described what it felt like to be naked digging through the trash looking for the treasure of thrown-away food.

    The treasure of thrown-away food.

    I can hardly type those words without crying. This is my son.

    And yet, despite the horrific conditions of his childhood, there was an unexplainable thread of peace woven through his recollection of the story. A powerful peace centered in the awareness of God's presence.

    The truly thankful person is a truly peaceful person. They have made a habit no matter what, to notice, pause, and choose.

    Noticing something for which to be thankful no matter their circumstance.

    Pausing to acknowledge this something as a reminder of God's presence.

    Choosing to focus on God's presence until His powerful peace is unleashed.

    Will we be a noticer? A pauser? A chooser? A person of thanksgiving no matter what circumstance we're facing?

    I find this truth about the power of thanksgiving over and over in Scripture. What was the prayer Daniel prayed right before being thrown in the lion's den and witnessing God miraculously shutting the lion's mouths? Thanksgiving.

    After three days in the belly of a fish, what was the cry of Jonah's heart right before he was finally delivered onto dry land? Thanksgiving.

    How are we instructed to pray in Philippians 4:6 when we feel anxious? With thanksgiving.

    And what is the outcome of each of these situations where thanksgiving is proclaimed? Peace.

    Powerful, unexplainable, uncontainable peace.

    "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7 NIV).

    One of Webster's official definitions of thanksgiving is: "a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness."

    I wonder how we might celebrate God's divine goodness today.

    I wonder what might happen if we decide in the midst of our circumstances today to notice, pause, and choose something for which we can truly be thankful.

    Dear Lord, will You help me notice things for which I can be thankful in each circumstance I face today? Will You help me remember to pause and acknowledge this as evidence of Your presence? And will You help me remember to choose to focus on Your presence until Your powerful peace rushes into my heart and helps me see everything more clearly? Thank You for the reality that being thankful changes everything. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Start a thankfulness journal where you daily list five things for which you are thankful. Do this for the next 30 days and see how much more peaceful your mindset about life becomes.

    Think of someone who is really thankful. Despite the circumstances they face, are they more peaceful? How does this inspire you?

    Power Verses:
    1 Chronicles 16:34, "Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." (NKJ)

    1 Chronicles 23:30, "They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD. They were to do the same in the evening." (NIV)

    © 2013 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 1 Corinthians

  • Adjusting Our Holiday Focus

    Posted on November 20, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "But the Lord said to her, 'My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.'" Luke 10:41-42 (NLT)

    As I stared at the hard wood floor covered in shattered ornaments and tangled lights, tears welled up in my eyes.

    The frustration over my fallen Christmas tree had pushed me to the breaking point. This was not the first time my decorated tree had crashed to the floor that week. It was the fourth.

    After a fun day of picking out a tree, my family brought it home and secured the tree in a stand. When the last ornament was hung, we turned on the sparkling lights and stepped back to gaze at our accomplishment.

    We cherished that moment . . . and cherished it again after the second round of decorating. But when the tree fell a third time and the surviving ornaments were sparse, the task of decorating became a chore. So when I heard the tree crash in the middle of the night, for the fourth time, I loudly vowed to never have a Christmas tree again.

    My Christmas joy had been replaced with frustration and a small dose of anger. I'd become consumed with winning the battle with this tree and decorating my house for upcoming guests. Before I knew it, my focus was no longer on what was really important.

    In Luke 10:41-42, Jesus told Martha that she'd lost her focus on what matters most: spending time with the Lord. Martha was so bent on planning the perfect dinner party and completing her tasks, she was too distracted to take time to enjoy the company of Jesus.

    Her pursuit of perfection left her frustrated with her sister Mary's lack of help to make things "just so."

    When Martha voiced her irritation to Jesus, He gently reminded her that she was worried about aspects that didn't matter. "But the Lord said to her, 'My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about'" (vs. 41). Jesus wasn't bothered with how fancy dinner was, or how clean her kitchen was, or if she had a perfectly decorated home. What really mattered to Jesus was Martha seeking Him.

    This season—when our focus should be gratitude and on the birth of Jesus—we can get easily distracted by other details. Gifts to buy and how much they will cost. Social outings and what to wear. Decorating our homes (inside and outdoors). Cooking and cleaning to prepare for guests or parties.

    It's easy to get swept up in many things and forget to stay connected with, and focused on, the one thing that really matters.

    Just as busyness, cooking, and cleaning pulled Martha's focus away from Jesus, the same can happen to us in the fast pace of the holidays. Whether basting the perfect turkey or re-decorating an unstable Christmas tree, if we allow it, there is plenty to distract us and lure us away from the one thing that matters most.

    Might we make a commitment to adjust our focus this holiday season? Let's slow down, pare down, and sit down with the Lord each day as we set our thoughts on being thankful. And remind our hearts to be blessed by the birth of our Savior, instead of being stressed over the season.

    Dear Lord, I tend to get stressed during the holidays. Help me stay focused on You, and not get distracted or frustrated this season. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:

    Have you allowed a particular frustration or disappointment to pull your focus away from Jesus?

    What holiday plans or activities might you need to adjust to stay focused on Jesus, and not seasonal busyness?

    Power Verse:
    Colossians 3:2, "Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth." (NLT)

    © 2013 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 Luke, Holiday

  • Slippery Friendships

    Posted on November 19, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha Evilsizer

    "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)

    The white snow clouds shadowed the faces peering down on me as I lay flat on the freezing ground. Squinting up at the group, my thoughts whirled: How did this happen? Are my bones broken? Did I take anyone down with me?

    Four winters in the mountains, coupled with countless sightings of others falling down, had taught me to watch where I stepped. I had gingerly led my Freshman Orientation group across campus as we picked our way through snowy sidewalks. But the brick steps outside the English building got the better of me.

    After carefully standing up, and gathering my book bag and pride, I spotted the culprit. A small patch of ice—that I thought was melted snow—winked up at me.

    Losing our footing happens, even when using caution. Stepping lightly isn't always a sufficient safeguard when walking into a potentially slick situation, especially one that involves our heart. Jeremiah 17:9 warns, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (NIV) My friend Mia learned this truth at her first job.

    In her new position, Mia often collaborated with people in other departments. She enjoyed getting out of her office and breaking up the day-to-day routine. There was one thing she most looked forward to though: meetings with her co-worker, Paul.

    Though their jobs were serious in nature, meetings with him were light-hearted. An hour of shuffling paperwork disappeared in laughter and conversation.

    Weekly meetings soon seemed like an eternity apart. To fill in the gaps, Paul and Mia emailed each other funny anecdotes. They'd catch a few minutes on the phone to tell about a snippet in their day. Eventually Mia and Paul shared lunches, inside jokes, and personal stories. When in a crowd, they'd gravitate to each other and sit together at staff meetings.

    I'd heard so much about Paul I wasn't surprised when Mia brought him up one morning over coffee.

    "I think I have a problem," she said. "I have a crush on Paul."

    Honestly, I wasn't surprised after all she'd told me about him—everything but one incredibly important fact: "He's married."

    In that moment, we both saw how little conversations and small confidences shared led her to fall for Paul. She'd stopped looking carefully where she was stepping and convinced herself they were "just friends."

    But Jeremiah 17:9 tells us our hearts are deceitful and sly. The word "deceitful" in the original Hebrew language is 'aqob, meaning slippery and insidious. In other words, our own hearts can cause us to lose our footing before we're even aware it's happening.

    When we fail to keep our guard up, we're at risk to fall down. And after the realization that we've gone too far, we may find ourselves asking: How did this happen? Are any marriages broken? Did I take anyone down with me?

    Looking back, if I had re-routed my tour around campus, I could have avoided the fall. And that's just what Mia did. She asked God for forgiveness and wisdom. Then she determined to change her pattern at work. Mia stopped spending time alone with Paul and limited their non-work interactions. It took time for her feelings for him to go away, and she admitted it was a bit awkward at first. But after a while they settled in to a professional relationship—nothing more, nothing less.

    Sometimes we don't recognize slippery spots on our own. But God does and if we ask, He will reveal these to us. Let's pause before taking another step in our friendships to ask the Lord for guidance. We might just spare our heart and avoid a damaging fall!

    Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of friendship … Yours and others. I want to point others—and myself—to You by my actions, words, and deeds. Help me do this by testing my heart and removing anything that could put me at risk of slipping. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    If you have a friendship with someone of the opposite sex, does their spouse—and your spouse if you're married—know about the depth of your friendship? If not, why?

    Ask the Lord—and a trusted, Christian friend—if you are on a slippery slope. What safety measures can you put in place if you have to work with this person regularly?

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 4:23, "Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life." (HCSB)

    Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. 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 Jeremiah

  • The Sacrifice of Thanks-sharing

    Posted on November 18, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." Hebrews 13:15-16 (NASB)

    Enough. That's what I have. Really, more than enough.

    More than enough clothes in my closet. Food in my fridge. Shoes spread on the floor. Cans in the cupboard.

    My children have books, warm jackets, tennis shoes, pencils, and opportunities for more. I have clean sheets, soft pillows, a kitchen table, and indoor plumbing.

    My husband and I have never taken our provisions for granted. Every day we are thankful for the blessings of our home and family. Yet eight years ago we were increasingly aware of what Luke 12:48b tells us, "When someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required." (NLT) We felt an obligation to do something more with our blessings.

    So in 2005 our family of five put a plan in place to share what we had. We had enough home, enough time, and enough love. Our gratitude to God for His blessings couldn't be kept to ourselves any more. We started with some rearranging. Two of our three sons moved furniture around so they could share a room, Then we bought two little white beds, pink curtains, and some dolls. I bought matching calico comforters and guessed at sizes of dresses.

    After months of planning to share what we had, two little orphaned sisters stepped off a plane gripping the hands of their new daddy and walked into our hearts and homes.

    They wore "African suits" bought from the place of their birth, brightly colored dresses that hung on tiny bodies. So proud they were to own their first new pieces of clothing, wanting to greet their new family in their best. As we wrapped our arms around these little girls, our family of five became seven.

    As weeks turned into months, and typical family issues mingled with trauma from our daughters' pasts, we learned God's call to share isn't always easy. Oh, at first it was great, before the first blush of excitement wore off. But the magnitude of sharing our lives with two wounded little girls was harder than we ever imagined.

    When worry about the future threatened to overwhelm me, God quietly reminded me that He didn't ask me to have the answers. That's His job. My job is just to share what He has given me–my love, my home, my life–with two not-so-little girls now who call me Mama. With a heart of thankfulness, and an open hand of generosity. That's all He's asking me. That's what blesses Him.

    God's Word confirms what pleases Him. Hebrews 13:15-16 teaches us that we must link thanksgiving with sharing. But it also says it will be a sacrifice: "Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (NASB)

    As we walk together as a family, we continue to learn that showing thanks to God involves sharing, and sharing involves sacrifice. God still calls us to share out of our abundance, and it still involves sacrifice. But when we share our lives, our homes, our money, our hearts, our skills, and our time as an outpouring of thanksgiving, God is pleased.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for Your generosity with me. I don't deserve Your favor, and my heart overflows with thanksgiving. Help me to show my gratitude through words and actions that are pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    At this season of Thanksgiving, what can you share with someone else?

    Do you struggle with sharing what you have? Consider if God is calling you to a deeper trust in Him as your provider.

    Power Verse:
    1 Timothy 6:18, "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." (NIV)

    © 2013 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 Hebrews, Thanksgiving

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