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Proverbs 31

  • Welcome to the Bad Mom's Club

    Posted on June 3, 2014 by Kathi Lipp

    Kathi Lipp

    "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

    It was an "I'm crushing this motherhood thing!" kinda morning.

    Backpacks? Check.

    Justen's Colonial Day costume? Check.

    School lunches? Check.

    Crushing it.

    Then, at work, came Justen's teary phone call: "Mom? I left my costume at home!"

    Normally I didn't interfere with natural consequences, but I could tell Justen was broken-hearted. I promised to bring his costume in time for the Colonial Parade.

    I got to school just as all the kids were lining up to change and raced to hand Justen his bag. But the teacher stopped me, saying: "If Justen can't remember to bring his costume, then he'll not be wearing it in the parade."

    What? It was an honest mistake. And who was she anyway to tell me how to discipline my kid?

    My son marched onto the stage ... the only child still in school uniform.

    He was upset. But as soon as the parade was over and the kids were enjoying their orange slices, he'd recovered.

    But me? Not so much.

    I knew that while Justen stood there in his blue polo, every person in that audience saw the invisible sign hanging around his neck: "Bad Mom" and thought: Obviously, if Justen's mom had her act together, he would be sporting his George Washington costume.

    Have you ever been there? Overwhelmed by the shame of failing as a mom?

    I tried to hide my failures, hoping nobody would see my weaknesses. But what I've learned is that when I'm fearless enough to admit that I don't have this mom thing completely down, I'm finally humbled enough to admit my need.

    Second Corinthians 12:9 reminds us that God's "grace is sufficient" and that His "power is made perfect in our weakness." Which means the weaker we are, the more we experience God's power.

    So, how do we allow God's strength to overpower our weaknesses?

    Have grace for other moms.

    And I mean a ton of grace. I'm talking, "I'm giving you a look of solidarity, mom whose child just ended up in the principal's office for saying a bad word because his friends dared him to. I realize it could just as easily have been my kid."

    The phrase "My child would never ..." needs to be banished from our vocabularies. I can promise you that every mom's kid has done something shame-producing. And every kid's mom is sure she's the only one who is failing.

    Have grace (and some mercy) for myself.

    Years ago, I would fall into the "bad mom pit of despair" when one of my kids threw a fit in public. I would kick myself for days because I wasn't a better mom with kids who said, "Yes, Mother" and "May I help?"

    But as my friend Kim would say, "Have you been to Target lately? There is a meltdown happening in Every. Single. Aisle."

    One meltdown is, well, a meltdown, not a report card on your parenting.

    Beg God for help.

    Perhaps we turn quickly to God for the big stuff. But do we seek Him out when we forget the George Washington costume?

    I, along with two friends, actually did start The Bad Mom's Club simply because we were all feeling like failures at the same time. Don't you love it when God gives you company in your pit of despair?

    When one of our kids is "going through it," whatever "it" may be — bad attitudes, bad behavior, bad choices — we have two other moms ready to listen, to pray like it's their own kid, and when we ask for it, offer advice.

    Because that's what it's all about. Admitting our weakness, holding it up to God, and letting His blanket of grace cover it.

    Dear Lord, I pray that I would look for Your grace in my strength and in my weakness, so that everyone who sees the good and the ugly in my life knows that I live each day with Your power sustaining me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 40:29, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." (NIV)

    Isaiah 41:10, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When you're in that Bad Mom pit, who do you turn to?

    How can you encourage another mom who is hanging out in the pit with you today?

    © 2014 by Kathi Lipp. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

  • Am I Devoted to God?

    Posted on June 2, 2014 by Micca Campbell

    Micca Campbell

    "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." Psalm 73:25 (NIV)

    I long to be fully devoted to God, but it amazes me how far things can get out of line when I'm not paying attention.

    In weak moments, I can spend money on myself that I've saved to give away. I've sat halfway through a sitcom before realizing I'm laughing at things contrary to the will of God.

    Bad habits quickly gain the upper hand when I neglect to address them daily. Worse yet, a passion for self-indulgence can sometimes trump my devotion to God.

    Perhaps you can relate. If we aren't careful, it's easy to let worldly desires become obsessions, redirecting our love and devotion away from God.

    When I give more devotion to anything or anyone other than God, I'm being unfaithful. Why? Because I belong to God and He deserves my whole heart.

    Yet one of the most amazing things about our great God is no matter how unfaithful we are, God is never unfaithful to us. He is wholly devoted to His children, holding nothing back.

    Not love.

    Not forgiveness.

    Not mercy.

    Not provision, protection or His presence.

    Not even His Son.

    Our heavenly Father, by example, models devotion for us. Take another look. God is totally devoted to you. The question is, "Are you totally devoted to Him?"

    You already know my devotion isn't always what it should be. However, giving in to worldly passions isn't the only thing that exposes my lack of devotion. Holding back parts of myself from God is a sure sign of a divided heart.

    I tend to withhold my time, adoration, dedication, honesty and gratitude. Yet without full surrender on my part, I'll never become fully devoted to God. It's only when God means more to me than anything or anyone on earth that my heart will be fully devoted to Him alone. Then I can state our key verse with passion:

    "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you" (Psalm 73:25).

    Our key verse is attributed to a music director of King David named Asaph. And from this verse, it's obvious nothing meant more to him than God. Asaph knew God was far more excellent than any object on earth.

    God is our peace and joy. He is our salvation and security. He is our daily portion and strength. Nothing of earth's wealth, honor or fame comes close to God. Even in heaven there is nothing more superb than He. For that reason, Asaph proclaims, "earth has nothing I desire besides you."

    When you and I are able to say those very words and mean them, our devotion for God will shine. But that's not all. There are benefits to being fully devoted to God.

    A devoted heart draws near to God and experiences His presence throughout the day. A fully surrendered heart calls us to fellowship with Christ so that His power can equip us to carry out His plans. Devotion allows us to adore Him for who He is: a God who withholds nothing from His children.

    A love like that reminds me of the lyrics from an old hymn penned by Isaac Watts: "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."

    May the Holy Spirit stir our hearts until we can say, "There is nothing I desire besides you, Lord."

    Dear Lord, I'm so grateful for your immeasurable devotion to me. Work in me until I'm completely devoted to you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    2 Chronicles 16:9a, "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    A devoted heart is a surrendered heart.

    What keeps you from being fully devoted to God? Could it be worldly desires? Perhaps you're holding back a part of yourself. Identify what it is and write a prayer surrendering it to God today.

    © 2014 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Don't Miss the Ride of Your Life

    Posted on May 30, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah Dipscal

    "Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (HCSB)

    I watched my family as they waited in line for the heart-pounding experience of riding the Griffon. We read about this roller coaster in the theme park brochure, but now it was time to put words into action.

    My sons kept looking back from the line, motioning for me to join them for the cliffhanger thrill ride. With a convincing smile, I shook my head no and pointed to my camera. My reason for not riding was to take pictures of them during each upside down loop and heart-pounding free fall.

    After their turn, my husband walked up with an exhilarating smile and said, "You missed out on an awesome ride!" As our sons shared the hair-raising moments and laughed about each other's reactions, I felt a twinge of sadness and disappointment.

    Truthfully, saying no to my family's request that day had more to do with fear and less to do with capturing family photos. I was afraid of the unknown, and when given the opportunity, I opted to stay safely away from the risk and inside the padded walls of my comfort zone.

    For years I was aware of this pattern in my life. When faced with adventurous opportunities, fear and uncertainty often held me securely within the boundaries of my comfortable space. Then I'd be disappointed that I missed out.

    I longed to be brave but instead allowed the enemy to convince me I was a coward. I dreamed about being adventurous, but compared myself to others, which left me feeling less than and discouraged.

    Then one day I came across Joshua 1:9 and the words resonated deep within me: "Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

    I'd read this verse many times before, but that time I realized being brave wasn't just a personal want-to in my life. God was commanding me to live strong and courageous.

    God originally spoke these words to Joshua (Moses' successor as leader of the Israelites) while presenting him with a new opportunity. Joshua's assignment was to lead more than two million people into a strange new land, claiming it as their promised territory.

    Now that's what I call a hair-raising experience! And way more difficult than riding a roller coaster at a theme park.

    God could have chosen someone else for this great task, but He specifically selected Joshua.

    First, there was a command: "be strong and courageous ... do not be afraid or discouraged." And it was wrapped inside a promise: "for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

    What if Joshua had allowed the unknown to keep him from saying yes to God? What if he gave insecurity and doubt permission to keep him firmly within his comfort zone?

    Joshua would have missed out on the blessings. He would have missed his calling in life. He would have missed the adventure with God.

    Is God presenting you with a new opportunity? Is He asking you to go back to school, start a new career or accept a new ministry position?

    Without God it can be scary. But with God it can be a great adventure! Just as God was with Joshua, He promises to be with us. We may not conquer nations, but with God by our sides anything is possible.

    I'm learning to be brave. To trust God more when He gives me new opportunities. I don't want to miss out on anything God has for me because of fear, doubt or insecurity.

    Will you choose to be courageous and step out of your comfort zone? Will you say yes to God and no to fear when He opens the next door of opportunity?

    What are you waiting for? The greatest ride of your life is just up ahead. So go get your seat next to God, strap into the safety of His presence and experience the adventure with Him!

    Dear Lord, You are my greatest adventure. Help me to trust and follow Your lead. When I start to feel afraid or discouraged, strengthen me so I can fulfill the assignments You've chosen for me. Thank You for always being with me wherever I go. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 32:8, "The LORD says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.'" (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What opportunity is God presenting to you today? What is keeping you from stepping outside your comfort zone and saying yes to God?

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Learn to Love Your Story

    Posted on May 29, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "I thank my God every time I remember you." Philippians 1:3 (NIV)

    This past winter, I stood in my kitchen laughing with one of my kids while picking hard macaroni out of the melted cheese in the crockpot. Apparently, noodles like to be boiled beforehand when making a slow cooker recipe for macaroni and cheese.

    About the time I posted an Instagram picture of the dinner fiasco, I heard another daughter upstairs yelling for towels.

    It took a minute for it to register why she was panicked. Then I saw the water leaking through my kitchen ceiling. Toilet water.

    I ran. No, I flew upstairs yelling, "Turn that silver knob thing behind the toilet. Quick! Turn it so the water will shut off!"

    Later that night, our couch-turned-dancing-springboard decided it would no longer tolerate overly energetic, snowed-in teens. RIP, dear couch.

    I'd laughed about the noodles. I'd dealt with the toilet water. I'd gotten quite miffed with the couch situation.

    Another day.

    Another page in what makes this life ... my life ... a story.

    Not so much like the stories of books and big screens.

    Those stories are a little shiner and seemingly perfect.

    Those moms probably don't have cellulite because they don't eat mac and cheese. Their kitchen ceilings don't have stains because ... well because their kids don't use too much two-ply toilet paper. And their couches don't sag beyond repair.

    But I love my story. I love my story most of all.

    Why? How?

    Because I pre-decided that I would.

    I decided I would look at it all through the lens of noticing the rich evidence of life through each mess and mishap.

    Did I do it all perfectly? Nope, not at all.

    But even if we choose to be noticers with thankful hearts just once today, we'll start to look at our stories in a different way.

    A more beautiful way.

    While carrying the wet towels downstairs, I saw a pile of my kids' shoes by the front door.

    I remembered our key verse, Philippians 1:3, where Paul says "I thank my God every time I remember you." I have plenty of reminders each day to thank God for the people in my life. To rejoice over every piece of my story. Starting with those shoes.

    So I whispered, "Notice. Be a noticer. See all the fun represented here and thank God for these moments."

    Noticers see the lovely in front of them and learn to love their story.

    What might happen if you pre-determined to look through the lens of lovely today?

    Dear Lord, thank You for this message today. Help me be a noticer with a thankful heart no matter how messy my life (or house!) may appear to be. I'm choosing to rejoice in the imperfect beauty of all of it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Thessalonians 5:18, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (ESV)

    Psalm 19:14, "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:

    Think about an aspect of your life that often seems disorganized, frustrating or chaotic to you. Then, think of how this frustrating thing could actually be a blessing.

    For example, the pile of shoes by Lysa's front door could have been the last straw for her on a day full of house malfunctions and hard situations with her kids. Instead, she chose to see the shoes as evidence of life and laughter in her home. Determine to find the beauty right there in the messy place!

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Getting Past the Pain of Change

    Posted on May 28, 2014 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn Cowell

    "After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light." Matthew 17:1-2 (NIV)

    I remember what it felt like to have my heart broken as a young woman. Even today, my heart feels a little pain trigger when I hear another has experienced the hurt of rejection.

    I remember the questioning: Why, God? Why not him? Why break up now?

    When God asked me to choose Him over him, my young heart obeyed, but not without a struggle. Lacking history with God, I hadn't yet experienced the blessings of obedience. So I obeyed and hoped God knew what He was doing.

    Through the breakups and broken hearts, God was moving me to a new place where He could reveal a side of Him I hadn't experienced. I had to move "out of love" with a boyfriend in order to move "in love" with Him.

    My deceived heart told me I was someone because I belonged to someone. God had a different message. He wanted to reposition me so I would know True Love.

    Jesus had to change my position to change my perspective.

    Out of His great love for me, Jesus didn't leave me in the position where I was completely dependent on another person for love. Instead, He moved me to what was a lonely place so He could change the way I saw love.

    It seems God often needs to change someone's position so they can see things in a fresh way. In today's key verse, Jesus had more to show three of the disciples, so He led them up a high mountain by themselves. A place away from others. A place not easily accessible. But a place where He would change their perspective. Here, before their very eyes Jesus' face shone like the sun, and they heard God speak: "This is my Son" (Matthew 17:5a, NIV).

    When the disciples had a change in their position, they experienced a change in their perspective on who Jesus was. It's possible their self-perspective changed as well.

    The breakup I went through as a young woman wasn't the only time God changed my position to change my perspective. Moves, job changes, places I have held in people's lives and people's hearts ... my position is constantly changing. Each change brings another opportunity for God to change my perspective. Like the disciples, I can see Him in new ways I haven't seen Him before: my Provider, my Healer, my True Love.

    Can you see an area where your position is changing? It may be in your responsibilities as a mom, a new job, at home or in your calling. In this new place, your loving Father wants to show you His perspective of who He is and what He wants to do in you and through you. Open your heart past the pain of change and ask God to change your perspective to see Him in this new place.

    Lord, often change is painful and what I want isn't always what's best for me. Soften my heart to see past this pain and to see Your heart toward me. Give me Your perspective. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Judges 6:23a, "But the LORD said to him, 'Peace! Do not be afraid.'" (NIV)

    Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:

    Where is your world changing and you wish it wouldn't? Do you have a godly friend who has gone through this type of change before? Ask her to share her story with you to encourage you.

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • The Story of the Running Father

    Posted on May 27, 2014 by Sherri Gragg

    Sherri Gragg

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

    Everything was quiet. I sat very still with my Bible and journal on my lap by my front window in a picture of perfect peace. But my heart was heavy with familiar grief.

    I had been in church my whole life. "Amazing Grace" was as familiar to me as the lullabies my mother sang over my crib, yet somehow my image of God was less of a kind and gracious Father and more of an angry, distant judge. How could a holy God ever accept me, one so flawed?

    I bowed my head and began to weep and pray with the kind of honesty that only comes when we are at the end of all our strength.

    I know the Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, but I just can't seem to believe it. Every time I turn to You, my first impulse is fear!

    I give up. I can't do this on my own. Will You please heal my heart?

    Over the next year, God did for me what I had been utterly helpless to do on my own. He revolutionized my image of Him.

    One of the stories that meant the most to me on my journey was the story many of us know by the title, The Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32. I discovered that in the Middle Eastern Church the story goes by another name: The Story of the Running Father. The difference in the title reflects important cultural knowledge that the people to whom Jesus spoke would have known.

    In the biblical story, the son demands his share of the family's wealth, leaves home and breaks his father's heart in the process. Eventually the young man finds himself destitute in a foreign land and determines to return to his father's house with the hope of working as a servant.

    Scripture tells us the father sees his son a long way off and runs to him. It's the image of this running father that was so powerful to the hearers of Jesus' story.

    First, it was considered extremely undignified for a Middle Eastern man to run anywhere. Running was for children. Also, running required men to hike up their robes and expose their legs, which was considered humiliating and disgraceful.

    The reason he was running was even more significant. It was a very serious matter for a Jewish young man to lose his family's inheritance in a foreign land. If he did, and he had the gall to actually return to his village, his entire community would then bring him to justice through a custom called the Kezazah. Once the community discovered the money was lost, they would surround him and break a pot at his feet. Then they would announce that from that moment on he was cut off from his family and community ... as if he were dead.

    But this young man's father had been watching, and even though his son had broken his heart, he had been hoping for his return. He knew all too well what would happen when the villagers saw his boy. His son would be shamed and then the pot would fall, break, and his son would be lost. So, the father did what no first-century Middle Eastern man would do: he hiked up his robe and ran.

    He ran through the village streets as his neighbors stared in horror. He ran as young boys began running along behind, shouting and mocking him in his shame. He ran ahead of the crowd as they moved toward his guilty, filthy son. He ran ahead of all that was reasonable and fair. He ran ahead of justice, taking his boy's shame upon himself.

    When he reached the boy, the father quickly gathered his son into his arms, kissed him on each cheek and called for a banquet in his honor.

    This, Jesus tells us, is what God is like.

    For too long my image of God was one of a tyrant, or a cold and callous judge. But now whenever I think of God, I see Him running toward me, gathering up my shame in His wake, to redeem me with His costly love.

    My Father, thank You so much for running toward me. Help me rest in Your grace and trust Your great love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Jeremiah 31:3, "The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'" (NIV)

    Psalm 103:13-14, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What do you honestly believe about the nature of God? Take time to prayerfully consider this.

    What belief do you have that is holding you back from resting in God's love for you?

    © 2014 by Sherri Gragg. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Thomas Nelson 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 Romans

  • No, After You

    Posted on May 26, 2014 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13 (NIV)

    "I call shotgun, Mama Karen!" the strapping teen yelled as he approached my car after football practice.

    "No way, Javari! Get in the back. She's my mom, dude. I get the front!" my son Spencer hollered back, trying to jockey for the prime piece of vehicle real estate known as the front passenger seat. Then, while the two of them playfully argued over whose turn it was to ride next to me, their friend Grant quietly slipped in front, grinning with a smile of victory.

    Kids like to get their own way. So do adults. During my substitute teaching years, I spent many days getting children to take turns at recess or not cut in line at lunch. I broke up fights over seats in the library and over who was going to be captain during flag football.

    A morning commute in traffic will showcase how adults also like to get their own way and be first. Horns honk and nasty looks are exchanged as drivers vie for their spot on the road, sometimes speeding or cutting others off in the process. But how refreshing it is to meet a kind person in a traffic jam, one who waves you on and allows you to move over a lane. And when they do it with a smile, this rare gesture restores faith in the human race.

    I used to read today's key verse about laying down our lives, and thought of it as a person actually dying for another, which of course is the greatest love of all. But I have also come to think of "laying down my life" as the little choices which put others first.

    Putting others first doesn't come naturally to us. Our innate tendency is to reach for the biggest slice of pie rather than offer it to a family member. It takes a conscious effort to allow others to go before you or to let them have what you really want. This is why I have always been impressed at those who seem to do it regularly.

    My mother is one who made selfless choices, when as a single mom on a tight budget, she would wear the same threadbare coat winter after winter in order to make sure her children had warm jackets.

    I also think of Alma, whom I've known since she was the Sunday school teacher for the preschool class when my adult daughter was young. Conversations with this sweet woman are sure to revolve around you and your family. She rarely talks about herself, but instead wants to know how she can be praying for you and your loved ones. She is known by many as "the nicest woman in the world."

    Then there's the man at church who opens doors for others, helps visitors find a cup of coffee or locate a classroom, and does it all with a genuine smile. He is not an official usher. Just a kind soul.

    But I also know people who've given more. Like Andrew, my friend Tami's son. I first knew Andrew as an energetic toddler. Throughout his life he wanted to serve. To protect. To save. It was evident in his play as a child and with his future goals as a teen. Then one day, as a 19-year-old soldier, he laid down his life for his country on a battlefield far away.

    Most likely we won't ever be called to make the ultimate sacrifice, but could we vow to put others first a little more often? To intentionally look for ways to meet their needs while we put ours on hold? To, in a sense, lay down a little of our lives daily for another?

    When we do, we will be modeling Christ to a watching world as we learn to live a life that says, "No, you first."

    I'm in. Are you? If we ever meet in person someday, I'll hold the door open for you with a smile. Why, I just might even let you take the biggest piece of pie. {Maybe.}

    Dear Lord, help me to be unselfish, to intentionally look for ways to put others first in the little things in life. Maybe even in making the ultimate sacrifice if ever I'm called upon. When people look at me, I want them to see You instead. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 John 3:18, "Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action." (HCSB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    In America, today is Memorial Day, the day we honor those who have given their lives in service to our country. Take time to attend a parade or ceremony in your area or join in a call to pause, pray and remember with others around the country.

    Pray about a way you can put others before yourself today. Then, go and do it.

    © 2014 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Enjoying the Seasons of Parenting

    Posted on May 23, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)

    "Are they going to laugh all night long?" my husband jokingly asked. "I don't know," I said, chuckling at his question. "But I hope so. It's a sound that makes my heart happy."

    My teenage daughter had invited her entire cheerleading squad to sleep over at our house after a basketball game. When they arrived, the house immediately filled with laughter and conversations as they gobbled up pizza and chocolate chip cookies.

    Later that night, sleep seemed to escape me. Not because of the cheerful noise billowing down the stairs from a house full of girls, but because I wondered how many more laughter-filled sleepovers I might have the blessing of hosting. Knowing my children are growing up quickly, I couldn't help but face the reality I was entering a new season of life.

    I began to ponder all I would miss with two daughters living away at college this fall, instead of just one. Although my son still has a few years left at home, I had to face the reality that this season of my parenting was coming to a close. And my heart felt heavy.

    I remember feeling these same emotions when my babies outgrew their cribs and moved to big-kid beds. When my daughters tucked away baby dolls and hair bows and focused on nail polish and fashion. When my son grew too old for his teddy bear. When they left elementary school behind and entered the scary world of middle school. When they stopped riding their bikes and instead, got behind the wheel of a car.

    As I lay in the dark pondering this changing season of my life, a warm tear trickled down my face. Yet I felt God's sweet comfort and His reminder that although life is ever-changing, He is constant. I started to pray and sensed God was showing me the importance of treasuring the current season of parenting, rather than mourning the ones already passed, because every moment with our children is a blessing.

    The idea of seasons of life is found in the book of Ecclesiastes, authored by King Solomon. After becoming king of Israel following his father King David's death, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and offered him anything he wanted. Instead of asking for riches or victories, Solomon asked God for wisdom and received the blessing of understanding life (1 Kings 3:5, 10-13).

    Although Solomon doesn't directly speak about parenting in Ecclesiastes, his wise advice certainly applies to this subject.

    Today's key verse reminds us life is a progression of seasons, with everything happening in God's timing and under His control: "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

    Then Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 highlights many of life's experiences that we find in the seasons of parenting, such as times to plant and uproot. Times to cry, laugh, grieve and dance. Times to embrace and turn away. Times to search and quit searching. Times to tear and to mend. Times to speak and to keep quiet. Times to keep and to let go.

    We find pieces of our parenting experiences scattered between the lines of this passage. As we accept there will be different seasons of parenting, we allow God to whisper specific encouragement to our hearts, fill our spirits with perseverance and understanding, and pierce our minds with the spiritual wisdom needed not only to make it through the seasons, but to appreciate them as gifts from God.

    No matter which season we find ourselves in, let's treasure it and bask in the blessings it brings. Embracing each season as it comes brings peace because we know we are right where God wants us to be and that He is preparing us for the season to come.

    My house may not always be filled with laughter in the middle of the night, but if I trust God is with me, I will always have joy in my heart.

    Lord, thank You for the privilege of being a parent, grandparent or caregiver to the little ones You've entrusted into my care. Help me enjoy every day of every season and lean on You when my heart aches for seasons gone by. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ecclesiastes 3:11a, "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time." (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Ever wished you were in a different season of parenting, rather than treasuring the one you are in? If so, reflect on the blessings you enjoy in your current season of parenting. Ask God to help you focus on these things when your heart feels discouraged, tired or sad.

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Even a Great Husband Makes a Very Poor God

    Posted on May 22, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

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

    I've often wished I could travel back 21 years ago and give my "young bride self" some advice. But since that's not possible, I love sharing what I've learned with others.

    Not so long ago, I had dinner with a friend in her twenties who would love to be married one day. During our time together, the conversation flowed freely about all sorts of things. Blogs. Writing. Leaving your comfort zone because God said so. You know, girl stuff. And then we moved on to the subject of relationships and marriage.

    I shared with my friend that when I was single, I thought marriage was all about finding the right partner. I thought if you found "the one," you'd be happy, secure and fulfilled.

    I do think it's good to have a list of standards you desire in a spouse. However, it can never be with the expectation that if you find that special someone, he'll right all your wrongs and fill up all your insecurities. The problem with this thinking is the pressure it will eventually put on your spouse.

    To expect another person to make you feel happy, secure and fulfilled will leave you disappointed at best and disillusioned at worst. Even a great husband makes a very poor God.

    Only God Himself can settle those deep heart-needs. Our key verse, Philippians 4:19 reminds us of this, "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."

    If a husband could meet every need his wife had, we'd have no need for God. Therefore, instead of just focusing on finding the right partner, let God work on your heart to help you become the right partner. The time to start working on becoming a wife is now. Before the white dress, delicate bouquets, unity candle, bacon-wrapped shrimp and reception punch, there is some heart stuff to consider:

    Getting married doesn't instantly make you selfless ... it makes you realize how very selfish you can be at times.

    Getting married doesn't make you feel loved ... it makes you realize love is more of a decision you make than a feeling you feel.

    Getting married doesn't take away loneliness ... it makes you realize true companionship comes not when you demand it, but rather when you give it to another person.

    So, what does marriage give? A beautiful chance to make the choice to ...

    Laugh whether or not the jokes are funny.

    Love by folding his collar over his tie every morning.

    Talk things through by addressing issues rather than attacking him personally.

    Cheer him on through both failures and successes.

    Look for a positive quality in him each day and take the time to tell him.

    Thank God for the privilege of being his wife.

    After our time together, my friend thanked me for our talk. She said it gave her a lot to think about. To be honest, it gave me a lot to think about as well.

    Dear Lord, only You can fill my heart, right my wrongs, and make me feel loved. I pray that You would show me how to keep my expectations of my husband in check. Help me be the wife he desires. And help me remember that marriage was never meant to make me happy all the time. Marriage is a decision to honor You by honoring the one you've entrusted to me to be my husband. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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

    2 Peter 1:3, "Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received!" (MSG)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    If you aren't married yet, think of some ways God might want to work on your heart before marriage.

    If you are married, think of a way you've tried to get your husband to fill a need only God can meet. Pray and ask God how you can rely on Him for this need instead of your husband.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Does Anybody Really Like House Rules?

    Posted on May 21, 2014 by Amy Carroll

    Amy Carroll

    "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love." John 15:9-10 (NIV)

    From the day I drove off with my newly printed license, my parents made the house rules clear: Any tickets or accidents would be my responsibility. All was well until my friends and I took off for the beach my senior year, and I backed into a parked car before I even caught a glimpse of the ocean.

    I cried knowing I'd have to work all summer at my minimum wage, fast-food job to pay for the damage I'd done.

    The sting of that seemingly unfair rule smarted until I became a parent, and my son scratched the side of a car on a mailbox last summer. Suddenly, from the view of a mom, the same rule I'd resisted as a teenager taught my son responsibility and care.

    Yet with God, the ultimate loving parent, we don't always understand that the same principles apply. Sometimes God's directions seem arbitrary and unfair. Especially in a culture lacking clear boundaries of right and wrong.

    We find ourselves thinking things like, Surely we should get to decide how much of the truth we tell at work, when to forgive a critical friend or the limits of our sexual behaviors. We're adults now, after all. Rules are for children, right?

    Yet, God wants to give us a new perspective on the subject of commands and obedience. His ways are often the opposite of our ways, and today's key verse, John 15:9-10, shows us that a life of obedience to God is a reward, not a punishment:

    "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love."

    In these verses, Jesus calls us to remain in His love, a very safe place to be, by obeying His commands.

    The word "remain" in verse 9 can also be translated "dwell" or "reside." That helps me picture God inviting us into a dwelling place with protective walls built layer by layer with His commands.

    All caring parents have house rules. And God is the most loving parent of all. He has established a beautiful place where we're invited to live with Him, protected and cherished.

    But for a woman who struggles with feeling like she has to work to earn God's love, the conditional statement "if you keep my commands" has been hard to understand. I've had to dig deeper to understand how God's love and obedience work beneficially hand-in-hand.

    Undeniably, God is love (1 John 4:16). The phrase describing God as "abounding in love" is found in Exodus, Numbers, Nehemiah, Psalm, Joel and Jonah. "His love endures forever" is repeated more than 20 times in Psalm 136 and dozens more times throughout Scripture. If God says it in His Word so many times, there's no doubt He means it! We can know for sure that God's love is always available.

    It is unchanging and always there for us, but we have a choice. We choose through the condition of obedience to remain in His love or through disobedience to walk out of its protection.

    Jesus' declaration of love feels like a warm blanket wrapped around me in a cold world. God, our heavenly Father, is drawing us into the beautiful life He created us for where His commands are simply the walls of the residence. Let's choose to move in and dwell in the presence of our Father's love.

    Lord, I choose to trust that Your rules are for my good and growth. I want to remain in Your love, and live a life of obedience to You. When I want to push against Your ways, help me to look around at the walls of Your dwelling of protection and be thankful. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    2 John 1:6, "And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love." (NIV)

    Psalm 119:14-16, "I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Are there any areas of life where you're not living in obedience to God's Word? How might that leave you unprotected or hinder your growth?

    Read through John 15. How is God's care for you and His desire for your growth pictured in this chapter? Journal your response to God's deep love for you.

    © 2014 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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


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

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