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Proverbs 31

  • Moms: Let's Make This Pledge

    Posted on October 10, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today,' so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)

    I really want to be a great mom. I want to raise kids who love the Lord, are respectful, kind, and smart, and all the other things we want for our kids.

    So, I pray. I read parenting books. I teach manners, kiss the skinned knees, and help the teen process her first broken heart. I plan the family dinners, the date nights, and the vacations. I keep track of who needs what and when. I set the appointments and the discipline parameters and the alarm clock so we can get up and do it all again tomorrow.

    And through every minute, I am hyper aware of my frailties and faults.

    My heart wants to be incredibly patient and organized and excited about reading books out loud.

    But then I get tired. And overextended. And suddenly my day finds me getting snappy, losing track of all those papers sent home from school, and skipping pages to hurry to the end of the book that started off with such promise.

    There is a gap between my desires and my reality.

    I bet this is true for many moms, so we should all understand those hard places, right? But somewhere in the day-to-day, we can forget how important it is to support each other as moms and sisters in Christ. We can forget the need to foster a sense of community. And as soon as we forget these things, it's much easier for thoughts of judgment to creep in.

    In those moments, it's crucial to remember that being a source of encouragement for others is biblical. Our key verse, Hebrews 3:13 tells us to "encourage one another daily" so that we aren't "hardened by sin's deceitfulness" which causes us to judge.

    So, I was just wondering if we might all make a little pact together today. To build each other up. To not judge one another. Ever. Even when we parent differently. Even when my kids act like I never taught them manners.

    Might you give me the benefit of the doubt? Just assume it's a bad moment, but this isn't an indication of all our moments.

    And then I'll give you the benefit of the doubt when your child messes up.

    Or I hear you snap in Target and make threats to your kids that betray every good intention you had that morning. When you prayed. And read the parenting books. And taught manners, kissed skinned knees, planned the dinner, and all the other zillions of things you did so well.

    Instead of judging you, I will love you.

    And maybe you can love me too.

    Yes, I think we moms should pledge to encourage one another each day. And never judge one another. We're all desperately trying to do this mothering thing right.

    Dear Lord, forgive me for not extending grace at times to others. I am a woman who desperately needs it, so I should be a woman who freely offers it. Help me to build others up and to love them as You love us. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think of a mom you know who really needs encouragement and support in this season of her life. Make a list of three things you could do or say over the next few weeks that would communicate intentionality and love toward her.

    Power Verses:
    Ephesians 4:29, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (NIV)

    1 Thessalonians 5:11, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (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 Hebrews, Mothers

  • A Remedy for Loneliness

    Posted on October 9, 2013 by Van Walton

    Van Walton

    "... those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25 (NLT)

    I've spent much of my life as the new kid on the block. My daddy's job took him to numerous foreign countries, so I grew up living in far-away and strange places. When we returned "home" to put down permanent roots in the United States, I felt like a lonely outsider.

    This nomadic childhood followed me into my adult life as my husband's career moved us cross-country many times.

    As the newcomer in school, women's Bible studies, and jobs, I experienced not having friends, being excluded, and feeling different.

    Though these isolating seasons were tough, something wonderful grew out of them: my relationship with God. Spending time with Him, I gained a new perspective on loneliness while reading Scripture. One verse in particular stood out to me: "... those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed" (Proverbs 11:25).

    Reading this challenged me. Rather than cast responsibility on others to reach out to me, I could reach out to them. By doing so, I found I could bless them and revive myself! It took some time, but over the years I've discovered several key elements to living out this verse: learn to be a good friend, intentionally include others, and develop an interest in diversity.

    Last year during the annual family night at the school where I teach, I spotted a mother sitting alone in a large room. God nudged me, and I knew what to do. I wasn't surprised she was by herself, because as I drew closer, I recognized her as the mother of one of our international students.

    We definitely had our differences: a gap in our ages, language barriers that made us struggle to understand each other, and our different cultures. But we persevered and after a while we found common ground. She admitted to being lonely as a stranger in a foreign country. That I understood. Also, we were women, wives, mothers, friends. Most importantly we had a common faith.

    That night, I gained a new friend.

    We began to meet regularly. She told me about her recent conversion to Christianity and asked lots of questions. She had a few friends, like her, who had come to the United States to expose their children to an American education. These women also wondered about Christianity, the Bible, and Jesus. Could they join us?

    We began huddling once a week around God's Word, talking about the creation, King David, and grace.

    School ended. Summer started. They flew home. We promised to resume our studies this fall.

    As this new season begins, I'm anticipating our weekly meetings; I miss my new friends and the happiness and laughter they bring.

    Loneliness, if left unchecked, can lead to isolation, which may produce weariness, sadness and discouragement. This is not God's plan for our lives. He has called us to live in community, reaching out to others, serving, comforting, and fellowshipping.

    Let me encourage you to be aware of others–in your neighborhood, your children's school, your church. Ask God to lead you to other women who are lonely. We long to be included, to feel like we belong, to have caring friends. One of the best ways to do this is to refresh someone else! You'll never experience that woman's amazing friendship, or be revived by her, until you reach out and invite her into your life.

    Father God, You are a friend to the stranger, the wanderer, the lonely. Forgive me for sitting in my comfort zone and ignoring those around me who long for community. Remind me to practice hospitality, not just with my friends but with outsiders also. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How has loneliness robbed you of life's joys?

    What are some ways you can practice hospitality? Perhaps become involved in welcoming newcomers to your church or neighborhood.

    Power Verses:
    Romans 12:10-13, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love...practicing hospitality." (NASB)

    Hebrews 13:2, "Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!" (NLT)

    © 2013 by Van Walton. 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, Loneliness

  • Lord, I Need Your Help

    Posted on October 8, 2013 by Renee Swope

    Renee Swope

    "In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help." (Psalm 18:6 NIV)

    One evening after an intense "discussion," my husband, J. J., told me that no matter what he did or how hard he tried, it was never enough for me. He was right. I constantly found fault with him as a husband and as a dad.

    But when he implied that I was impossible to please ... well, that sent my already-out-of-control emotions reeling. I grabbed my coat and stormed out the front door. Hot tears streamed down my cheeks as I replayed our conversation in my head.

    I was determined to figure out what J. J.'s problem was and get Jesus to fix him. So I started filing complaints against my husband in what you might call a prayer. And I finally heard myself—all the ugliness, all the anger. That's when I realized, I need help. I needed God to help me figure out how—after seven years of a happy marriage—we had gotten to this ugly place.

    Instead of just crying, I found myself crying out to God for help.

    King David was much better at this than I was that day. He had a habit of crying out to God for help when he was in distress. One Bible scholar notes that the phrase, "'In my distress' refers, most probably, not to any particular case, but rather indicates [David's] general habit of mind, that when he was in deep distress and danger he had uniformly called upon the Lord, and had found him ready to help."*

    That night, when I stopped talking and started listening, I sensed God showing me I wanted J. J. to make up for all the ways my dad had fallen short as a father to me and as a husband to my mom. Years as a child in a broken home with a broken heart had led to a significant sense of loss and deep disappointment. Yet, up to that point, I had never grieved the happily-ever-after that I longed for but didn't have.

    My unfulfilled hopes had become bitter expectations. I became controlling and critical, thinking that if I could get J. J. to be the husband and dad I wanted him to be, maybe my broken dreams could be put back together. But I was wrong. Instead of expecting my husband to make up for my losses, I needed to cry out to God with my hurts and call on Him for help.

    Are there hurts that hold you hostage? Expectations no one could really ever meet? Need some help today? I know I do. And I know God is there, waiting for us to cry out to Him.

    As I continued to process what had happened in my childhood and how it affected my marriage, I learned to ask God for help through each step of my healing journey. It took time, prayer, and courage, but God was my very present help.

    By the way, I'm crazy about my husband. And so very thankful for that day several years ago when I finally asked the Lord for help.

    Dear Lord, I need Your help, especially with _______________. Please show me where to start and be my help each step of the way. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember
    Hurts from your past can hold you hostage. God is there, waiting to heal you.

    Reflect
    In what ways do you file complaints against your husband (or other loved one) in what you might call a prayer?

    Respond
    Determine if your hurts are too deep to heal without outside help. If they are, consider seeing a pastor or counselor.

    Power Verses
    Psalm 46:1; Deuteronomy 4:7

    *Albert Barnes, Barnes' Notes on the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983).

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

    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

  • Habits of a Woman Who Doesn't Give Up

    Posted on October 7, 2013 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki Koziarz

    "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." Colossians 3:23 (NLT)

    For years I've dreamed of writing a book. Not to see my name on a cover or personal benefit. Rather, I want others to see God's faithfulness. Most days I'm motivated to press on, but other days it's difficult to maintain my "oomph."

    Another rejection letter hits hard. My toes get stomped on by a hurtful comment on my blog. Or defeat attacks, making me want to quit.

    But I believe this is a God-calling. These are words He has entrusted to me. A book He's asked me to write to tell others about His goodness. And so I try to push these negatives off. Colossians 3:23 inspires me to faithfully plug away another day: "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people."

    Maybe you can relate? For every step you take to fulfill your calling, something knocks you back three feet. Might I encourage you, as one who has been there—is currently there—to keep at it?

    Here are five habits I've discovered which characterize a woman who doesn't give up:

    1. She gets up each morning and follows through with her commitments, despite how she feels.

    Her feet are firmly positioned in the day's tasks. While quitting may seem like an option, she refuses to become someone others or God can't count on. Her heart understands that she must be found faithful in small steps to be trusted with big steps. "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much ..." (Luke 16:10 NIV)

    2. She approaches the Word of God with reverence.

    She opens God's Word and believes each day He has a personal message for her. She listens to sermons and teachings. Instead of automatically thinking of the friend who needs to hear that message, she knows there's something there for her. "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right." (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT)

    3. She longs for the grace of refinement rather than the grace of relief.

    She doesn't have a personal agenda to fulfill when she faces refinement. In fact, she longs for the grace of refinement, rather than the grace of relief, because she trusts how God will use this season of growth. She accepts the perspective godly people offer her in difficult situations. And she embraces the process of becoming better through her mistakes. "Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life." (NLT)

    4. She chooses to invest in the world with joy.

    Though life may turn on her, she chooses not to reciprocate. Instead, she strives to be emotionally generous towards others by investing in them with joy. As a result, when darkness threatens to loom over her she can easily chase it away by giving joy. "A joyful heart is good medicine." (Proverbs 17:22a ESV)

    5. She has a spirit of unbreakable determination.

    Though she may feel a little [or a lot] bent many days, she never lets the bending break her perseverance toward the things God has assigned her. In the midst of rejection, she thrives by standing firm on this verse, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10 NIV)

    Though I don't have all these down quite yet, I'm working on them. And each day I can see progress ... in my perseverance, hope, and manuscript.

    What about you? What has God called you to do? Start by adopting one habit today and commit your work to the Lord.

    Lord, thank You for filling me with purpose, faith and determination. Help me continue to do the work You've given me. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you given up on a calling God has given you? Why?

    What habit can you choose to begin today and what steps will you take to begin working for the Lord?

    Power Verses:
    Ecclesiastes 9:10, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might . . . ." (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 Colossians

  • For When You're Lost

    Posted on October 4, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn't she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:8–10 NIV)

    I was awash in a sea of three toddlers. Trying to do anything outside the house was an adventure. But one day I decided to brave a trip to the mall to shop for Christmas gifts. As I stood at the register, I asked my children to hold onto mama's jeans. Their tightly clutched fists let me know that they were close. After completing my purchase, I turned around and realized that two-year-old Ryan was nowhere in sight. The three tiny hands clutching my pant leg turned out to be one child holding on with two hands, and the other holding on with one while their brother made his escape.

    I buckled the kids in the monster-sized stroller, threw my package underneath, and blasted through the store calling out my two-year-old's name.

    "Have you seen my son? He's two. He has brown hair and he's tall for his age. Has anyone seen him?"

    Finally an older woman approached me. "Honey, I saw a little boy with brown hair just a few moments ago carrying a really large box out those doors."

    Seconds later, I saw him strolling through the mall with his little two-year-old gait, carrying an extra large shoebox. My son wasn't just lost. He had shoplifted a pair of men's shoes in the process.

    I scooped up my little lost shoplifter and held him close.

    Something had captured my toddler's attention and he wandered. I knew what might have easily happened to him if I had not found him. My love for him meant I'd push that stroller to the ends of the earth, calling his name, until he was safe in my arms.

    In his book Amazing Grace, K. W. Osbeck says, "If the New Testament teaches us anything, it teaches us about God's love in searching for lost men. Becoming a Christian in a very real sense is simply putting ourselves in the way of being found by God—to stop running from His loving pursuit."

    Maybe you have escaped God. One adventure took you to the next and suddenly you were lost in a crowd, wondering if you'd gone too far.

    You haven't.

    Stop. Right where you are. Let Him scoop you up.

    And that box of things you're carrying—those emotions, mistakes, choices you wish you'd never made—give it to Him. He'll return them to where they rightfully belong as He leads you back home.

    Dear Lord, I willingly climb into Your arms. Please accept this box of gathered mistakes and failures. Today I am joyfully found by You, In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember
    Stop. Right where you are. Empty your arms of that weight you've been carrying and lift it up to be scooped into your heavenly Father's embrace.

    Reflect
    Name one way you have been running. What would it look like to stop?

    Respond
    Imagine God scooping up you as the woman in the parable scooped up her lost coin. Write down God's response to finding you as well as your response to being found by God.

    Power Verses
    Psalm 145:18–19; Psalm 119:151

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst, Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 by Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

    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

  • Sacrifices of Praise

    Posted on October 3, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the LORD." Psalm 4:5 (NLT)

    I have a confession to make. After many years of walking with Jesus and seeking Him to fill me, I still struggle with unmet longings.

    Maybe you can relate. Have you ever wanted something so badly your heart ached with each thought of it? It seems like life would be so much better if you had that one thing.

    There would be more happiness.

    More contentment.

    More fulfillment.

    More satisfaction.

    More peace.

    You can envision yourself with this thing, this person, this opportunity. And all things are better. So, why doesn't God give you this longing of your heart? This longing of my heart?

    Could it be because He wants us to willingly let it go?

    Ouch.

    That's not the answer I want. Why would God let the aching desire linger and not make things happen? He could. He's certainly able. But when He doesn't, it seems unfair. Not good. Confusing.

    It's easy to get down when we're constantly let down. We hope this thing will happen ... we'll meet this right person ... we'll get this job ... we'll finally be healed ... we'll get that chance ... we'll see that family member turn his or her life around. Time and again it doesn't happen. That's when it's easy to slip.

    That's where trust steps in and reminds us we can't ever learn how to live real faith if we never need real faith.

    As an offering of trust, we must give up that which could so easily bring us down.

    Not give up as in discouraged surrender. But give up as in placing this desire in the hand of God and saying, "Either way, I will see Your answer as the good answer and walk in trust."

    I like to call these types of releases in my life sacrifices of praise, like Psalm 4:5 tells us to do: "Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the LORD."

    Lord, I sacrifice chasing this so I might more fully and with more focus chase You. I release this grip of desire. I praise You for who You are, what only You can bring, and how You will fill whatever gap this release might leave.

    Yes, I still struggle with unmet desires.

    But not as much today as I did yesterday.

    And that is good. Not easy. But good.

    Dear Lord, I want to offer You sacrifices of praise with a willing heart. Cultivate in me an attitude of obedience as I choose to trust Your plans above my desires. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What can you offer up as a sacrifice of praise to the Lord?

    Take small steps each day as you walk in obedience and give that thing up to God.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 62:8, "Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." (NIV)

    Isaiah 26:4, "Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal." (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

  • Going Solo

    Posted on October 2, 2013 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn Cowell

    "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

    The toll of an emotionally draining week had reached its peak. Though I was trying to use various diversions to clear my mind, my thoughts were overpowering. All I wanted was to curl up in a ball and fall apart. Worry was winning.

    My husband sensed the pain that was showing from my welling eyes. Like any good friend, he asked, "What's going on?"

    Determined to keep my composure, I chose to fight my battle alone. "I'm okay" slid out before I caught my lie.

    Minutes later he asked again, "What's wrong?" My resolve couldn't hold up any longer and I blubbered, "I just can't get past this anxiety." Greg listened as the thoughts swirling in my mind came out. After I emptied my heart, he shared a story from Scripture, which helped me override my stress with thankfulness and trust.

    I am so glad the Lord preserved stories in the Bible of those who had issues as well. During this hard season I was in, Greg reminded me of Elijah. Like Elijah, sometimes when I struggle, I opt to struggle alone.

    In 1 Kings 19:3, even after seeing God work miracles, Elijah was undone by a threat. A queen was trying to kill him and he decided the way out was to run.

    We get a look into his thought process in 1 Kings 19:3-4, "Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. 'I have had enough, Lord,' he said. 'Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.'" (NIV)

    I don't blame Elijah one bit for running when trouble hit. I have that instinct myself some days. Running to social media or a chocolate goodie when my emotions are a jumbled mess is the easiest way out—at least temporarily.

    Where Elijah missed it, and I did too on my bad day, was when he chose to go solo.

    Elijah had a servant who was traveling with him, but he left the servant behind. He went farther into the desert alone, where his emotions only turned darker.

    Elijah and I both could have used the truth in Ecclesiastes 4, "Two are better than one ... if either of them falls down, one can help the other up." When we share our troubles with another godly friend, she can often help us to see what we cannot. Her different perspective opens a new way of thinking that can lead to hope and faith and away from despair.

    When you add the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to that friendship, Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us our relationships become "... a cord of three strands... not quickly broken." Our pain, when shared, can be transformed to peace. Strength can take the place of sorrow.

    I eased my stress that difficult week by sharing my worries with my husband. Thankfully he directed me to God's Word where I found hope and encouragement in the midst of my anxiety. Is there a burden you are carrying that would be lighter if you shared it with someone? Make a way today to allow them to help you handle your load.

    Jesus, thank You that You have given us the gift of relationships. Give us the wisdom to know when and with whom to share our personal problems. Please strengthen us so we can help strengthen another. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Who is your "go to" friend who lifts you up when you fall down? Give them your thanks today!

    If you need a friend who makes you stronger, ask the Father to give you the type of friend described in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron; so one person sharpens another." (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 Ecclesiastes

  • Voices of Accusation

    Posted on October 1, 2013 by Melissa Taylor

    Melissa Taylor

    "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 (NIV)

    Do you ever hear the whisper of condemnation? It hisses: you're not what you should be ... your past sins define you ... you'll never change.

    Unfortunately I do. Self-condemnation is a default for me. If I let it, it can wipe out my confidence as a woman, wife and mom.

    Thankfully, I'm just as familiar with God's truth as I am with Satan's lies. My heart has heard Jesus' gentle reminders of His love and goodness, like "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

    Although I know this truth God speaks over me, I've learned it's up to me to respond correctly. If I don't keep my ears tuned to His voice and my mind set on His thoughts, I forget God's truths.

    Condemning thoughts come back and drown out the confidence I have through Christ.

    One morning I was struggling with self-condemning thoughts when I read these words written in my morning devotion: "Do not listen to voices of accusation for they are not from Me [God]."*

    I opened my journal and responded from my heart:

    Hello Lord, I often feel disappointed in my decisions and who I am and call myself names. But my negative thoughts aren't the only ones I hear. My feelings have been hurt by someone else's comments that cut me down and stole my confidence. Instead of feeling worthy, I feel like a loser. I hear You telling me not to listen to voices of accusation. Thank You for this reminder right when I needed it.

    The devotion continued, "Pause before responding to people or situations, giving My Spirit space to act through you. Hasty words and actions leave no room for Me."

    Again, I reached out to God:

    Lord, I spoke unkind words back to my friend. Thank You for gently reminding me to "pause before responding." You are so faithful to remind me of what You want from me.

    If left to defend ourselves from self-condemnation or the condemnation of others, we'd be defeated every time. Thankfully, we have the greatest defender in God and His Word. His truths re-build the confidence that condemnation breaks down.

    Our part is to know God's promises and believe and apply them! Staying saturated in His Word and taking time to listen to the Holy Spirit is the best way to overcome condemnation. We can supplement these through reading devotions, digging into books on our specific area of struggle, and participating in Bible studies. All these things help re-build our confidence that is in Christ.

    As we take the time to listen to Him today, let's ask God to remind us that He is with us; He loves us, and His Word is true: "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." That means you and me!

    Dear Lord, when I forget, please remind me that because of the cross and because You are my Savior, I am not condemned. Help me keep my eyes and thoughts on You. And to accept Your Word as truth so my confidence stays strong in You. In Jesus' Name, amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What condemning thoughts do you believe about yourself?

    What are some of God's promises you can use to replace your accusing thoughts?

    Power Verses:
    Exodus 14:13-14, "Don't be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm." (NLT)

    Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (NIV 1984)

    * Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young

    © 2013 by Melissa Taylor. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Me and My Mama Mouth

    Posted on September 30, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." (Proverbs 31:26 ESV)

    The other day my son, a smart preteen, was up to the challenge of washing the dishes. He didn't give me an attitude when asked. He wasn't disrespectful. He didn't drag his feet. So why was I battling the urge to harshly point out how he was doing it all wrong?

    Because he wasn't doing it my way.

    He started with the grimy pots, then moved to the plates and silverware. Finally, he had to bubble up more water to spit-shine the glasses. While working, he stacked plastic cups in a pyramid.

    Irritation welled up. An unkind reaction was itching to come out. I could easily have let my momma mouth take over: It uses way more water to wash the dishes in that order. Plus the water is filthy now! Stop playing with those cups while you work. You're so slow.

    I wanted to be a control freak. I wanted to fire off the unkind words hidden in my unspoken thoughts: The only way to do the dishes is my way. I see different as wrong. I interpret a preteen being a preteen—with a slight distraction of fun—as "slow."

    But when I unload on junior, or anyone, it has the potential to damage our relationship and plant mental seeds of his mom's view of him, whether verbalized or implied (lazy, wasteful, distracted, and slow). It does not, as Proverbs 31:26 states, come close to resembling a woman who "opens her mouth with wisdom and speaks with kindness on her tongue."

    It's better if these potentially frustrating scenarios play out differently. So let's replay that scene with a Spirit-controlled response.

    As I see my son doing the dishes, I can make a mental note to explain how to do it next time in a way that will save water, money, and time. I can praise his efforts, keeping in mind his age and abilities. I can acknowledge his unique method. I saw the clever way you stacked those dishes. You always make work fun.

    I can ask myself questions that will help keep my mama mouth in check. Questions like: Does it matter now or will it matter tomorrow? Will it affect eternity? Is God trying to teach me something? Can I pause and praise instead of interrupt and instigate? Is this really an issue that needs addressing? Am I being a control freak? Do I need to let it go?

    The interaction wouldn't damage; it would nurture. It would be wise. Kind. And there would be no lost time, regrets, or need to call in the United Nations peace-keeping forces for intervention.

    This mama would be less control-freakish and more Proverbs 31-womanish. It might not come easily—trust me, it usually doesn't—but with the Holy Spirit, it is possible to speak with kindness.

    Dear Lord, may I purpose to temper my words with Your Holy Spirit as I interact with my family today. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember
    My mouth can be a powerful tool of encouragement or a weapon of destruction.

    Reflect
    Which of the questions posed in the devotion (Does it matter now or will it matter tomorrow? etc.) do you most need to ask yourself when tempted to over-control?

    Respond
    Think of an incident from the past where you did not use your words in a way that was kind or loving. Revisit the situation. How could you have spoken in a way that would honor God? Could you have used a different tone of voice? Word choice? Timing?

    Power Verses
    Psalm 139:4; Psalm 37:30

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst, Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 by Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

    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

  • Be Happy Now

    Posted on September 27, 2013 by Valorie Burton

    Valorie Burton

    "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)

    "I'm not happy with my job. I'm not happy with my body. I'm not happy with my life."

    It seems that at some point in our lives, we each struggle with unhappiness, a spirit of discontentment, with wanting more. I remember a couple of years ago being frustrated as I sat in my comfy living room chair, Bible open, listening to the Lord. Well, maybe it was more like talking at Him, telling Him what I wanted.

    What I wanted was to be happily married and have a family of my own. At 38, my "clock" was ticking, and I was still faithfully believing God for marriage and family.

    If God would just give me the desires of my heart, I knew I could be happy. That's when this thought came to me: Be happy now. If you don't learn to be happy while you're waiting for what you want, you'll never be happy when you get what you want.

    To be clear, happiness cannot be the sole aim of our existence. Living out my purpose by serving and loving others as Christ does is my ultimate goal. When I stop focusing so much on what I want, and focus my gaze on what God wants to do in and through me, contentment follows.

    In fact, happiness is an external indication of internal contentment.

    This realization stopped me in my tracks. The list of things I felt I needed to check off my list for me to be happy was tiring. The idea that I could choose happiness was refreshing. The first step was to embrace life exactly as it was; in other words, to be content. I counted my blessings more, started traveling, and did things that being single uniquely afforded me. Most importantly, I decided to wholeheartedly trust God.

    When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, the word he used for "content" actually means to be contented with one's lot in life. We can spend so much energy pushing against our reality when life doesn't turn out the way we planned it. But resisting what is, and trying to control what is beyond our control, can cause anxiety. Frustration takes over. Anger prevails.

    Instead of making the most of our circumstances, it's easy to lament the fact that things are not where we believe they should be.

    What if we stopped pushing against what is and learned to embrace our present circumstances?

    When that shift is made, it feels like a heavy burden is released from our shoulders. It can also feel scary at first. But truly accepting where we are helps us relax and see the good God has in our present circumstances. We cast our cares, content in trusting that all things indeed will work together for our good.

    When I embraced what is, I discovered happiness greater than any I'd experienced before. Just like Paul tells us to do in Philippians 4, I made intentional choices to be content with my present circumstances—and in the lot God had given me for that season. I stopped making happiness a destination and began making it my way of journeying through life.

    Lord, help me embrace what is and live each day with thankfulness for the life I've been given. Give me the grace to be happy while I wait for what I want, rather than insist that I cannot be happy until I attain it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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    Reflect and Respond:
    What current reality are you in that you are resisting?

    What would it look like for you to be content?

    Power Verses:
    Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (ESV)

    Psalm 16:5, "LORD, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future." (HCSB)

    © 2013 by Valorie Burton. All rights reserved.

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

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


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

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