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Proverbs 31

  • Combating Loneliness

    Posted on December 20, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    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.

    She succeeds until another round of laughter fills the Christmas party. Her resolve walks out as he walks up to her, extending a knowing hand. Fingers entwined, she falls in his snare. She can't stand him ... this companion called loneliness.

    In the midst of listening to marriage, baby, vacation, life-is-grand stories, she hears the voice of loneliness, high above the conversations: You'll never have this. You'll be lonely forever.

    She had promised herself she wouldn't turn her eyes to him this time. As she was getting ready for the party, she put this truth on: "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)

    But she forgot this hopeful promise as she fell into the trap of loneliness.

    By the time the clock chimed an acceptable hour to bid her goodbyes, she was eager to be gone. One step out the door and she lowered her guard too soon. Loneliness had saved his best for last. Powerfully, he pummeled lies until she believed: You will always be lonely.

    When he trotted off, leaving her alone, a different hand reached down. One that is gentle and healing. Let me help you up. Rough night, huh?

    She looked up to see His scarred hand extended.

    How'd You know I was here?

    He tells her He's been there the whole time, always near, at the ready to rescue any time she looked to Him for help. As she faced Him, He began to untangle the false claims of loneliness with truth: I am near (Psalm 145:18). I will never leave (Deuteronomy 31:6). I am your joy (Psalm 16:11).

    Hollow parts of her heart filled with the confidence of Jesus. She knew it was time to break-up with loneliness for good. Not just at parties, during holidays, or weekends with nothing planned.

    Maybe it's your time too? Truth is, loneliness can tag along whether you are alone or surrounded by family and friends, on special days and ordinary days.

    There's only one way to keep loneliness from being a constant companion in life. It is to make sure our "... eyes are ever toward the LORD ..." Psalm 25:15a (ESV).

    Let's keep our focus on God and call out to Him when we feel loneliness setting a trap for us: in the festive times, in the quiet times, at all times.

    Dear Lord, my eyes are ever toward You, for only You will release my feet from the trap of loneliness. Will You please turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted? Thank You for being near and being my joy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Christmas can be a time when loneliness is overwhelming. If you struggle with this, what can you do to combat loneliness?

    Choose a Bible verse to memorize that you will use to fight loneliness. Write it on a piece of paper or make it your phone/computer screen saver as a constant reminder of the nearness of Jesus.

    Power Verses:
    Deuteronomy 31:8, "It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." (ESV)

    Lamentations 3:22-26, "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD." (NIV 1984)

    © 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 Psalm, Loneliness

  • The Most Searched for Answer

    Posted on December 19, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12 (NIV)

    Growing up I had a plan for how I could make my life good.

    Get a good education. A good job. A good husband. A few good kids. A good house. A good flowerbed out front. And a good mini-van parked in the driveway.

    Then life would be ... good.

    Eventually, I had all that good stuff. I was thankful for it all. I loved my family to pieces. The mini-van wasn't all I thought it would be, but I felt like an official mom driving it. So even that wound up being good.

    But something inside me still felt hollow. A little off. A little lacking.

    So, I reasoned I needed something else to do. A place where I could use my gifts and talents. And while these things were fun and satisfying on one level, they too fell short when it came to that deep place ringing with the echoes of empty.

    Empty is a heavy load to bear. The mystery of wanting to be filled but not knowing how or what could fill the deep soul is a gnawing ache. A search that can seem both futile and shattering at times.

    When you try and try, always feeling like the answer is just around the corner, and then it isn't, it can split your heart wide open and leak dry all your reserves.

    It can make you feel unsatisfied and frustrated with everything. Even those you love. Maybe especially those you love.

    So you fake a smile and keep putting one foot in front of the other. But eventually you stop peeking around the next corner hoping the answer is there. History tells you it isn't. And wrapped in that perception is the noose that strangles out all hope.

    Sadly, this is where many women live.

    I know this place because I lived there. I struggled there.

    And I guess I'm wondering if you or someone you love might be there this Christmas season. It's tough when everything around you screams "merry" when you feel anything but.

    It quite honestly stinks.

    So, I'm not going to pretend you'll suddenly feel super merry after reading this.

    But what I can promise is a string of words that explains a lot. An answer that is sure and solid and true and full of the breathless wonder of a hope rediscovered.

    "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12 NIV)

    No good plan is the answer.

    Even a good husband — good children — a good friend make a very poor God.

    No education or job or house can save you.

    Salvation can't be found in anyone or anything else.

    There is no other.

    Only Jesus.

    And I'm not just talking about saying we're Christians. Following the rules and following Jesus are two totally different things.

    Going through the motions of religion won't ever satisfy. It's only when we bend down low, open our hearts in complete surrender, and say, "Jesus, it's You. Only You. There is no other. There is no other possession or person or position that can ever fill the deep soul-place shaped only for You."

    This is my Christmas prayer. Though I've been saved for a long time, I want to recapture the essence of this "no other" reality.

    And really live like this is true.

    Because it is. True.

    Jesus, only You can save and fill and give what my soul desires. Please remind me to draw close to You and rely on the promise that You will draw close to me when I do. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Who do you rely on to fill the gaps? How would the dynamics of that relationship change if you released them from that duty and allowed Jesus to meet your needs?

    Do you use something (other than people) to fill your gaps, such as food, drugs/alcohol, busyness? What steps would you need to take to stop using them as a way to satisfy your soul?

    Power Verse:
    John 4:10, "Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, "Give me a drink," you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.'" (ESV)

    © 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 Acts

  • Click to Change

    Posted on December 18, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

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

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

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

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

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

    Wrong.

    I've discovered that changing other people or circumstances isn't really a fix for my often-troubling situations because it isn't something I can make happen. I can't control other's behavior, only mine. Here is where the solution lies.

    Even when circumstances and people stay the same, my attitude towards them and my perspective can change. What can bring about this transformation?

    God's Word.

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

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

    Spending time daily in the Bible is imperative to bringing about this change, and we at Proverbs 31 Ministries have committed to help women around the world interact with God's Word daily through our many ministry avenues. Just this past year God impacted the lives of over 600,000 women daily through our free Encouragement for Today devotions. We celebrated with over 4,000 women who made first time decisions for Christ, and our team responded to over 10,000 prayer requests.

    It isn't just the volunteers and staff who get to be a part of helping bring God's transforming work. So does everyone who gives a financial gift — no matter the size — to Proverbs 31 Ministries.

    We value every gift and giver. The ones who give hundreds ... the ones who go without lattes each month and share their saved $25 ... the ones who donate $5.

    Yes, $5 makes a big impact.

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

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

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

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

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

    We'd be honored if you would join us.

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

    Reflect and Respond:
    When is a time that God's Word helped to change your bad attitude or wrong perspective?

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

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

    © 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 Hebrews

  • He Sees You Right Where You Are

    Posted on December 17, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified." Luke 2:8-9 (NIV)

    It's interesting who the Bible records as the first to hear the good news of Jesus' birth. It wasn't a king. Or a religious leader. Or a rich man. It wasn't to anyone in the center of attention and importance. It was to shepherds. Dirty, smelly shepherds.

    It's also notable that it wasn't broadcast in the day. It wasn't announced with trumpets on the temple steps as hundreds crowded to offer sacrifices. Or proclaimed in the marketplace in the middle of a busy day. It was night, in quiet isolation.

    The fields weren't where important people visited. Especially not at night. And that night the dark field was covered with sleeping sheep and tired shepherds. Just them. Outside the world's notice. Men performing a wearying task at a wearying hour.

    Of all the ways and to all the people and at all the times God could have announced His Son's birth, He chose this way, these people, and this time of night.

    Luke 2:8-9 tells us, "And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified." (NIV) God saw those shepherds right where they were that night. He noticed their work; He noticed them. And He had a message of hope they desperately needed to hear.

    It's a message I've needed to hear many times. I've needed to know that God saw me in the dark. When I've felt alone. And in need of a message of hope.

    As a young mom there were many nights I held crying babies, wondering if I'd ever feel normal again. Would I ever get to sleep through the night, wear clothes without baby drool, or have an adult conversation?

    I've worked late, worried over finances, and wondered when help would come. Did God see me working so hard? Did He see me wrestling with problems or how tired I was?

    The message to the shepherds tells us God does see our hard work and long nights. And He doesn't sleep. He doesn't prefer those in authority. He doesn't leave us alone. And He has a message of hope for each of us.

    I see you, rocking your crying baby at 2 a.m., doubting you'll ever sleep again.

    I see you, up late studying while the rest of your classmates have fun.

    I see you, pacing the floor wondering when your teen will get home.

    I see you, working an extra shift to help pay the bills.

    I see you, sleeping on the couch fearing your marriage can't be repaired.

    I see you, sitting with a friend who received the worst news of her life that day.

    To you, the news of the angels to the shepherds is yours as well.

    Behold ... pacing mother, hardworking student, worrying wife ... to you is given "good news that will cause great joy for all the people." (Luke 2:10 NIV)

    To you ... exhausted mommy, anxious sister, steadfast friend ... "a Savior has been born ... he is the Messiah, the Lord." (Luke 2:11 NIV)

    It was no mistake God sent His angels to the dark fields and to the humble shepherds that night. He sent a message of good news to those who desperately needed to hear it.

    Today, in your place of darkness, isolation, weariness ... God sees you and sends the same message: A Savior has been born for YOU.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for caring about those who feel alone, forgotten, and weary. I confess I feel like that some times. Thank You for seeing my needs and sending Jesus to be the answer to all of them. In His Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do you ever wonder if God sees you? Trust that He does and spend some time in prayer today.

    Besides the reasons mentioned in the devotion, why else might God have chosen to announce His Good News to the shepherds?

    Power Verses:
    John 10:11, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (NIV)

    Psalm 121:3, "He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber ..." (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 Luke

  • The Giving Gift

    Posted on December 16, 2013 by Amy Carroll

    Amy Carroll

    "They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life." 1 Timothy 6:18-19 (ESV)

    It was time to decorate for Christmas. As I set up my new artificial tree, I pondered what to do with the old one. It still had lots of life in it and rather than donating it to an organization, our family wanted to add a personal touch and show love to a specific family.

    We wanted to put into action what we're told to do in 1 Timothy 6:18-19, "They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life." (ESV)

    When I went to my volunteer job at the domestic violence shelter the next week, I asked the manager for a suggestion. "I'd like to donate our Christmas tree to a mom who has just completed the shelter's program and moved into her own home," I explained. The manager gave me a woman's name, and my husband Barry and I made plans with her for delivery.

    On the night we were to meet Robin* and her children, Tasha* and Nathan*, Barry and I loaded the car with anticipation. We drove to her neighborhood and hauled the tree and bags of lights onto the porch. Before we could fully knock on the door, it was flung open to reveal the twinkling eyes of excited children.

    "I didn't expect a big tree!" Robin exclaimed. "I just thought it would be a little one to set on the table!"

    Tasha and Nathan literally danced around the room as Barry set their tree up and showed them how to put lights on it for the first time. While they decorated, Robin told me about her hopes and dreams for a safe future for her and the kids.

    As we drove away, my husband and I reflected on this truth; it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. It's a glimpse of God's image in each of us. We are created by a Father who delights in giving to His children.

    That night, we didn't just give a Christmas tree and some lights. We shared an evening of friendship, laughter, and joy. And gave the gift of time. We brought the love that only Jesus can give us for those we don't know.

    The Christmas season is a time we focus on giving gifts and doing good to others, but I want to emulate God's giving and goodness all year long. That starts by focusing on the way He gives. It's an overflow of His character and an example of how He calls us to share what we have with others.

    God gives lovingly. (Exodus 34:6)
    God gives freely. (James 1:17)
    God gives abundantly. (Psalm 132:15)
    God gives wisely. (Romans 16:27)

    As you're running errands, look to see who you can bless with a kind word or a cup of coffee. As you're putting up your decorations, think about whose home you could bring some festivity to. And as you pause during your day, remember who you can give the gift of prayer and encouragement to. Let's all develop our giving gift by giving more like our Father and by being a blessing to others!

    Lord God, You are my example for how to give good gifts. Please give me Your heart to be generous and a blessing to others. Help me be mindful of the receiver and to give carefully to ensure my gift is a blessing. In Jesus' precious Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What do you have that you could share this Christmas season?

    What steps do you need to take before you give to make sure the gift is a blessing?

    Power Verses:
    Matthew 7:11, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (NIV)

    2 Corinthians 8:7, "But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving." (NIV)

    *The names are fictitious in order to protect the safety of our friend and her children.

    © 2013 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 1 Timothy

  • Running on Empty

    Posted on December 13, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!" Psalm 68:35 (NIV)

    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?

    In all of these excuses, I was ignoring that I had become very, very tired.

    I was tired spiritually as we encountered hurdle after hurdle in the plan we knew God spoke into our hearts.

    I was tired physically from a week-long cold.

    I was tired relationally as I missed my husband.

    Our circumstances weren't awful. I had battled much more challenging ones in the past. So I reasoned that I needed to put on my big-girl pants and just keep moving forward. Admirable, maybe, if you're a machine, but I am a plain ol' human who had run out of steam.

    God knew it. My husband knew it. It was time for me to admit it. I needed time to rest and re-connect with God through prayer.

    In Psalm 68:35 the Psalmist writes of a living God whose might and power sustained the people with power and strength. I was in need of that kind of help.

    The writer of this verse responds to the Lord with great joy and praise. "You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!" (NIV) When we take our eyes off of worthless and powerless gods or even our own selves we rediscover the power and might of God. I needed to take my eyes off of the self-sufficiency of Suzie to rediscover what God had waiting for me.

    Kneeling, I surrendered my schedule, time, and need to just keep going. I confessed that I was exhausted and needed my Heavenly Father's strength to complete the tasks in front of me.

    That weekend I refueled as I nestled on a couch and prayed for a calm mind that was focused on the Lord, rather than all I had to do. I sat in God's beautiful creation and asked for Him to help me drop my stress over selling our home. I sensed His peace as I rested and took time to get better from my cold.

    When the weekend ended, I was me again. It wasn't that I walked away with all my challenges erased, but I left filled up with God's strength.

    Maybe you're like me. You are spiritually and physically tired, but you don't feel like you can take time to take a break. You think running full steam ahead is the strong way to handle things.

    If we continue to run on empty and never stop to let the Lord fill us up, we will eventually discover the limits of our own strength.

    Is it time for a prayer retreat of your own? Your special time with God might be in a park or a quiet place like the corner of a library. It's not the place that matters, but that you find one and take time to meet with the Lord.

    We schedule everything else. Why not take time to rest in our Heavenly Father? Let's take a break and allow Him to fill us up as we seek His strength for the days ahead.

    Dear Lord, I am spiritually and physically tired, and I have heard the whisper to stop and be refilled. Thank You for the sanctuary I find in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think about a tired friend who never stops to refuel. What advice would you offer her? How would you pray for her?

    We often have more empathy or mercy toward others. Today, take that same advice and pray, and embrace it for yourself.

    Power Verse:
    1 Chronicles 16:27, "Honor and majesty are [found] in His presence; strength and joy are [found] in His sanctuary." (AMP)

    © 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 Psalm

  • The Place Where Disappointment Grows

    Posted on December 12, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want." Psalm 23:1 (ESV)

    The space between our expectations and our reality is a fertile field. And often it's a place where disappointment grows.

    When I was in high school, I had a friend whose sister had the coolest hairdo. It was cropped short with straight bangs that fell messy over one eye. She was that older sister who just seemed to have a handle on how to do everything with style.

    I somehow decided all of her coolness traced back to her hairdo. Like that was the budding spot from which the life I wanted could sprout.

    Never mind the fact her hair was thin and obedient. And mine was thick and rebellious.

    Never mind that her hair was sleek and straight. And mine was curly at best and frizzy at worst.

    Never mind that her bangs fell nicely over her forehead. And mine had a crazy cowlick causing them to grow up, not down.

    Yes, never mind reality.

    I set my expectation on the highest bar and willed my hair to fall in line.

    The hair dresser chopped. And chopped. And chopped. And tried to assure me I now looked JUST like the picture of the older sister.

    But that was a lie. I knew it. She knew it.

    And oh how some serious disappointment grew in the space between my expectation and my new reality. I still have nightmares of that disastrous hairdo where I wake up desperately grabbing at my head to make sure my hair is still there.

    But hair grows back. Bad cuts can be fixed. That type of disappointment can be remedied.

    Other situations aren't so easy. Maybe you have some space between a current reality and an unfulfilled expectation. If so, I imagine disappointment can be found growing there.

    Psalm 23:1 says, "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want." (ESV) The Hebrew word for "want" is chacer meaning, "to lack, be without, become empty." So, if the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not become empty. I shall not live in a constant state of disappointment where circumstances leak me dry.

    But ... I still do sometimes. And not just with my hair. It's other stuff as well.

    So, how do I let the Lord shepherd me so that the gap between my expectations and reality closes? I ask myself these questions when faced with disappointment:

    What do I need to learn? Maybe God has an appointment for me in the midst of this disappointment. If God wants me to see, learn, know, or grow in some way while I work through this unmet expectation, I have to be open to hear this from Him.

    Could it be that I'm so concerned with what I don't have, I've forgotten to be thankful for what I do have? Sometimes, it's not that my reality is bad. It's that I created too much space for disappointment to grow by placing my expectations too high.

    Is there something I can do to change this situation? If so, I need to ask God for the courage to make changes. If I keep hoping things will get better but don't make any adjustments, that's foolish. The space between my reality and my expectations will only change if I do.

    Now back to my high school hair situation. If I ever start flashing pictures of cute pixie haircuts I'm considering getting, somebody remind me of my high school hair debacle. Please. Pretty please. With a dollop of hair gel on top.

    Dear Lord, thank You for turning my disappointments into opportunities for growth and learning. Guide me in trusting You through every situation, even if I can't understand why it's happening. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How do you typically handle disappointment?

    Reflect on the three questions above and write down your answers. This will give you the opportunity to get a better perspective on your own particular situation and the way you handle disappointments.

    Power Verses:
    Romans 5:2b-5, "And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." (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, Disappointment

  • Unwrapping His Christmas Presence

    Posted on December 11, 2013 by Renee Swope

    Renee Swope

    "The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us')." Isaiah 7:14b (NLT)

    Plans for the perfect Christmas danced in my head. Almost everyone from my side of the family and JJ's side would be coming to our house at some point between Christmas and New Years. We'd never hosted Christmas dinner, and I was looking forward it.

    But, somewhere in the midst of all the preparations, I got tangled up in Christmas lights and unrealistic expectations. By the time everyone got here I couldn't wait for them to leave.

    It all started when my husband and sons petitioned for blinking colored lights on the tree. We don't do colored lights on the tree. I am a "white lights" kind of girl, I insisted.

    But JJ decided our decorating decisions should be a "family activity" that year. Who was this man and why had he not brought this up in pre-marital counseling? I wondered.

    The control freak in me started to freak out. Don't get in the way of my perfect Christmas with white lights that make me and my home feel peaceful.

    I'd dreamed of this day for years and wanted to have the perfect house, perfect menu, and perfect table settings. But hope was dashed the night before guests arrived when I couldn't find festive cloth napkins and it dawned on me that I didn't have a big enough pan to cook a turkey in.

    When Christmas came, I had a house full of people but an oh-so-empty heart.

    As I walked through my living room picking up wrapping paper, I wondered why my dreams of the "perfect Christmas" hadn't come true. Many of the elements seemed to be in place: kids playing together, grandparents on the couch snoring to Christmas tunes, and grown men playing sidewalk hockey in the driveway. We'd lit Advent candles and set out the nativities. Still, something was missing.

    Trying to escape the holiday noise, I went upstairs to my bedroom. Taking a deep breath, I opened my Bible to read the Christmas story in Luke chapter 2. Slowly, I let each word remind me of that first Christmas night and God's promise that came true in Bethlehem. " ... And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger ..." (Luke 2:7 NIV).

    A cross-reference led me to Isaiah 7:14b: "The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us')." (NLT)

    Closing my eyes, I pictured Mary wrapping baby Jesus up. Her hands carefully folding each corner of cloth, like a precious gift. That's when I realized what had been missing. In the hustle and bustle of creating the perfect Christmas, I'd neglected to unwrap the most important gift of all, the gift of Immanuel, God with us.

    Bowing my head, I opened my hands and my heart to God's presence. I invited Jesus to bring calm to my anxious heart. To bring His perspective to my expectations and to help me enjoy the gifts of my family waiting downstairs. Simply pausing to acknowledge and thank Jesus for being with me brought peace to my heart unlike anything white lights and perfectly cooked turkey could ever bestow.

    It ended up being the perfect Christmas after all.

    Dear Lord, no matter how busy life gets or how lonely I feel this Christmas, I want to unwrap the gift of Your presence. Help me see You, hear Your voice speak to my heart, and pay attention when You lead me with Your peace and perspective. I seek Your purpose in all of my plans. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What days might be most challenging this month?

    How can you plan time on those days to soak in Jesus' perspective and peace?

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 26:12, "Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us." (NIV)

    John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Renee Swope. 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 Isaiah, Christmas

  • Bringing Hope

    Posted on December 10, 2013 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki Koziarz

    "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!" Isaiah 52:7 (NLT)

    I stood in a field with two Kenyan pastors, resting after we'd traveled long distances.

    For five days we'd gone from hut to hut sharing the life-changing truth of Jesus. We prayed, listened to others, and I cried tears of disbelief over the devastating poverty.

    In our short time together these pastors taught me new definitions of boldness, courage, and passion for others to know the Lord. They would often walk 30 miles just to have the opportunity to share about Jesus with one family. Sometimes I barely even want to say hello to my 30-feet-away-neighbor who desperately needs God.

    Yes, these men were living examples of Isaiah 52:7, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!" (NLT)

    Biblical commentaries tell us the messenger in this passage was bringing good news to the Jews who had been enslaved for a long time. The messenger could be seen as he ran on the distant hills toward the people who'd been in captivity. He came with a message of great hope and joy to tell them they were free! Free from bondage, free from despair.

    There is another message this herald was bringing to all people, including you, me, my friends in Africa, and the whole world: the good news of the coming Messiah, Jesus. That good news is about His birth and His death and resurrection. It gives us the hope that came to earth as a baby, died as a man, and rose as our Savior to offer us eternal life. It's the same news the two men trekked all around the dusty Kenyan land to share.

    For days after I returned home the passion of these pastors consumed my thoughts. And brought to life the call I have to share the Word of God—not just with people in other countries—but with those around me.

    I learned so much from my Kenyan friends. I may not walk hundreds of miles to take the good news to others, but I can drive across town to minister joy to the homeless. I can cross the street to speak with my neighbor about how Jesus can set us free from the captivity of anxiety. And I can share the peace people are looking for.

    As weeks, months, and now even years have passed since my trip to Kenya, the memory of the pastors walking mile after mile to share about the Lord stays with me. And it continues to spur me on to be intentional to go out of my way to herald the good news talked about in Isaiah 52:7.

    To whom can you bring this good news?

    Dear Lord, life is hard, but You are good. Please ignite within me a passion to share the good news of Your peace and salvation with those around me. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Christmas is a great time to reach out to those around you. Make a list of people in your neighborhood and/or community that you will talk to about Jesus this week.

    What are some ways you can share the good news? Here are some ideas: Conversation over coffee or at a Christmas party, handwritten notes in a card, Bible verses on Facebook or Twitter.

    Power Verses:
    Luke 2:10-11, "But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'” (NIV)

    © 2013 by Nicki Koziarz. 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 Isaiah, Hope

  • I Don't Want to Miss This Moment

    Posted on December 9, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness." Proverbs 14:22 (NIV)

    Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about the wonderful ways you'll celebrate the next special day on the calendar?

    That usually happens for me when I go on Pinterest and see beautiful photos of food, crafts, decorations, and gifts. I imagine myself taking time to create the little extra touches that turn ordinary days into memorable ones. But then I look around me and the reality of an over-crowded life squashes my dreams.

    There have been too many special days that whooshed by me, leaving me with regret and wishing I'd stopped and enjoyed more moments. Too many times I should have paused to do good for someone.

    Increasingly I sense God asking me to be more intentional with my days. Maybe it's because of many years that are a blur now. As I look into the faces of children growing up too quickly, of parents aging, of friends packing to move, I often want time to stop so I can breathe in the holiness of the days God has given.

    Remember this moment, my heart whispers. Remember what this feels like.

    It's too common for me to look back and wish the simple moments had been celebrated more. That there'd been a few more pauses. More times when I'd said "you matter" with my actions.

    Not the big flashy moments. Not the expensive trips. But the humble quiet times that declare what we treasure. Our values. What makes us us. The everyday moments are the ones treasured in the hearts of those we love.

    Some women excel at these special moments. They turn from their computers and whip up an experience that leaves everyone feeling loved. Not me. Although I love special times, I'm not spontaneous.

    How do these moments happen for me? I have to plan for them. Not the moments themselves, but the opportunity for them to happen.

    Proverbs 14:22 shows us the importance of planning: "But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness." This verse inspires me to plan good things for those dear to me. And in doing so, we will experience God's love and faithfulness in greater measure. What a great promise from God's Word.

    Christmas is an ideal time for me to put this into practice. If I'm not careful, December can pass me by without any special notice. I might get something done, but it will be obligatory rather than a celebration of Christ's birth and a time to show His love.

    So this month I'm working on a plan. It's not set in stone, but it is a list of things that are important to my family and me.

    For example, my husband wants to cook a special breakfast treat called scrapple, a Pennsylvania Dutch sausage his father made. I'd like to read Advent devotions as a family to ponder the meaning of Christmas. My plan also includes opportunities to spend time as a family and reach out to others.

    So I'll pencil ideas in my spiral notebook, write out shopping lists, and research dates and times to add events and phone calls with friends. Planning to do good takes time, but I've learned when I plan my priorities, they get done.

    This month I'm taking some time to schedule what matters most ‐ time honoring God and remembering His gift, time with those I love, and time sharing God's blessings with others. And in January, I'll start planning again.

    Heavenly Father, You model intentional love. You planned to send Jesus to earth and You planned a way for me to live with You forever. Help me to plan the same intentional love to those I care about. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What's one thing you want to do this month? Write it on your calendar and to-do list.

    Do you resist planning? Why do you think that is?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 90:12, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (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 Proverbs

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