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Proverbs 31

  • The Perfect Parenting Formula

    Posted on June 26, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa Terkeurst

    "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2a (NIV)

     

    When I was a young mom, I was desperate for a formula. I truly thought there must be a formula I could plug my family into that would yield great kids. And there were plenty of moms who tried to convince me they had the formula.

    "Bottle feed and never let them sleep in your bed."

    "Breastfeed until they are 3, and give them the security of sleeping between you and your husband every night."

    "Don't ever send them to pre-school. It will be detrimental to their social development."

    "Send them to pre-school right away — it's crucial for their social development."

    "TV is good."

    "TV is bad."

    "They must read by age 5."

    "Let them take their time learning to read. You'll ruin their love for books if you force them."

    "Step in and model healthy conflict resolution when they argue with their siblings."

    "Let them handle things on their own."

    "Be there 24/7 for your kids."

    "Don't be a helicopter mom. Give your kids room to discover who they are without you hovering over them."

    Seriously, it's a wonder we moms figure anything out with all the conflicting information and advice we get. I spent the first five years of motherhood convinced I was messing my kids up beyond repair. And it wasn't for lack of trying. Heavens no. I was serious about gathering every morsel of information I could and trying with all my might to decode "the formula."

    Well, here's the deal. I now have kids ranging in ages from 26 to 15, and this is my very best advice in regards to the formula: There isn't one.

    There is no perfect parenting formula. What works for one child may not work for another. The seemingly perfect algorithm one family follows could be disastrous for another.

    We weren't made to follow formulas. We were made to follow Jesus. Period.

    This is true with parenting, but it's also true with every other aspect of our lives as well. We were made to follow Jesus' lead in our marriages, our jobs, our ministries, our churches, our friendships, our everything.

    In Romans 12:2 Paul so powerfully reminds us, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will."

    We weren't made to be robotic followers of this world's formulas. We were made to be transformed into the unique person God appointed to fulfill the assignments set before us. So, on a practical level, what does this look like?

    It's a simple woman who humbly acknowledges how much she doesn't know about life and readily admits how much she needs Jesus. Not just in a spiritual sense ... this woman needs Jesus in every way. All throughout her day, she can be heard whispering heartfelt pleas to her Jesus saying, "Show me the way, show me the way, show me the way."

    And as she does this, she loosens her grip on all the formulas thrown at her and courageously embraces His gentle voice behind her saying, "This is the way, now walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21).

    Dear Lord, help me to follow You and You alone — not a pre-planned formula. Help me to see that I need You more than anything else today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 8:5, "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." (NIV)

    John 10:27, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What parenting formulas (if any) have you been following or holding onto?

    This week, take some time to pray over each of them to discern if they are in accordance with God's plan for you and your family.

    © 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 Romans

  • Sometimes God Doesn't Choose the "Perfect" Girl for the Job

    Posted on June 25, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. 'Go, look over the land,' he said, 'especially Jericho.' So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there." Joshua 2:1 (NIV)

     

    I used to believe if God needed something important done, He would ask someone who had it all together. You know those women. They never yell at their kids or have an emotional meltdown in the craft store over which tie-die kit to buy. They know what they're having for dinner each night and come to Bible study with their homework done.

    If God is going to assign an important job to someone, it's going to be a woman like that. A "good church girl." Right?

    That's what I thought until I read the story of Rahab in the book of Joshua. It gave me hope that sometimes the best woman for God's job doesn't have a perfect life or a perfect faith.

    In fact, Rahab's story tells me sometimes God chooses women with rough resumes, gritty pasts and dauntless attitudes to get a hard job done. Which is why God chose Rahab when He needed a brave and bold person to protect His warriors.

    Rahab was a prostitute who lived within the walls of the city of Jericho. Jericho was a great city, except for the fact that God told the Israelites to conquer it.

    The people who lived in Jericho weren't following God, but they had heard of Him and how He helped the Israelites win many battles. When the residents of Jericho learned the Israelites were camped outside their city, they were rightly concerned.

    As part of the reconnaissance, Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, sent two spies into the city. The Bible seems to indicate they made a beeline into an unusual place of refuge: Rahab's home.

    Now why would God direct them to the house of a woman? And one who didn't have the best reputation?

    There are many reasons why God might have chosen this particular woman to help the spies. But the one that strikes the deepest chord in my heart is that other people might have underestimated Rahab's potential based on her past and present circumstances. But not God.

    Rahab had guts and grit. When the spies arrived, instead of quivering in fear, Rahab thought fast and hid them on her roof. Then she redirected the king's men, making a way of escape for the spies.

    God could have chosen someone with a perfect pedigree to help. But on that day, inside the walls of the city, facing warrior spies in danger, none were available.

    Rahab, however, was in the perfect position, with the perfect disposition, to do the most good. And God must have seen something tender in the heart of this life-hardened woman and knew He could trust her.

    I love this about God. When God looked at Rahab, He didn't see her profession or her past. He saw her potential.

    And in spite of the challenges and choices of her life, He knew there was a part of Rahab's heart that was open to Him. And Rahab did not disappoint.

    The story ends with the spies escaping and God destroying the city of Jericho and everyone in it — except for Rahab and her family.

    I'm so glad Rahab didn't send the spies away, explaining that she didn't have the best track record with men. Instead, she used her smart, quick mind to devise a plan. She used her boldness to defy the king's men. She drew from her bravery to protect her family. She risked greatly, and it paid off.

    Rahab's story tells me that although I might list all the reasons why God wouldn't use me, God prefers I take my personality, my experiences, even the parts of me that seem less-than-pleasant and give them to Him ... every part of me.

    It doesn't mean He's going to leave me as I am; God is always refining me. But in His hands, my mess has meaning.

    Have you ever stamped "disqualified" on yourself due to your personality or something in your past or present? If so, I pray Rahab's story encourages you. God has a plan, and He wants you, in all your uniqueness, to make it happen.

    Sometimes God doesn't choose the "perfect" girl for the job ... and I'm so glad He doesn't.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for looking deeper than what others see, and for seeing my potential. Please help me trust that You want me just as I am and have a plan to use me in Your kingdom. Help me to trust You and Your plan for my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    I Samuel 16:7, "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'" (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What good characteristics did Rahab have, based on what we can tell from her story in Joshua 2?

    Many times we disqualify ourselves based on our wrong choices, or the flaws we see in our personalities. As God looks at you through His lens of love and potential, what does He see?

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • You are Never Alone

    Posted on June 24, 2014 by Renee Swope

    Renee Swope

    "Now he had to go through Samaria ... and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?'" John 4:4, 6-7 (NIV)

    Alone again. That's what she must have thought as she walked alone to the well that day. No friend laughed by her side. No small fist gripped her skirt. No sister to help pass the time.

    Maybe it was better that way. Being alone was easier than hearing the condemning words and seeing the scornful looks of others. But she wasn't alone for long. She didn't know who He was and couldn't help but wonder why He was talking to her, a Samaritan woman.

    When He spoke, she heard gentleness in His voice. Kindness and humility in His simple request for a drink. In His eyes she saw acceptance, not judgment. Love, not hate.

    Many of us know her as the Samaritan woman, but I like to call her Sam. It makes her feel more like the real woman she was. A woman who struggled with hurt, rejection and loneliness.

    Today's key verse says Jesus "had to go through Samaria" (John 4:4). Yet theologians would tell us Jews considered Samaritans to be the scum of the earth and would do everything to avoid them. In fact, usually they would travel around Samaria — but not Jesus.

    He had to go through Samaria. Could it be because He knew Sam would be there?

    Typically women traveled together to the well in the cool of the day, escaping the heat of the sun since they carried heavy jars filled with water back to their homes. But Sam walked by herself during the hottest part of the day.

    Instead of avoiding the scorching sun, many believe she went to the well at noon to avoid the scorching pain of others' rejection and judgment. Sam had been married five times, and now she was living with a man who wasn't her husband.

    The weight of the water-filled jar in the heat must have been almost unbearable, but the weight of her neighbors' words, reminding her of her failed marriages, was more than she could take.

    When Jesus met her, Sam was running an errand and running from those who knew of her failures, shame and imperfections. Pursuing her with His perfect love, Jesus timed it so she would run into Him.

    He initiated conversation and asked her for the one thing she had to offer: water. It wasn't much, but it was a start.

    Sam stopped and listened. She let Him speak words of assurance and acceptance into the broken, insecure, empty places of her heart.

    In the same way Jesus intentionally pursued Sam in one of the loneliest parts of her day, He is there in the midst of your sometimes lonely, imperfect life. He is there when your disappointments and failures leave you empty and make you doubt your worth and purpose.

    He is there when you're going through the motions, aware of what needs to be done but unaware of how you're going to do it all.

    He is there during endless days filled with projects, diapers or laundry when you're wondering if you'll ever find meaning in the monotony.

    He is there when you're criticizing yourself and questioning whether you have what it takes to be a godly woman.

    He sees you. He notices all you do, and He knows what you long for. In fact, Jesus is the only One who can meet your deepest need to be known, accepted and pursued simply because of who you are.

    Today He is pursuing you with His gift of perfect love — love that is patient and kind, love that keeps no record of your wrongs, love that won't give up on you or me.

    Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, He is there. Will you take time to stop and talk to Him and then quiet your thoughts so you can listen to His voice?

    Dear Lord, thank You for pursuing me. I want to know and rely on the love You have for me and live in the security of it! When I feel afraid, insignificant or alone, help me turn to You and remember You are there! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Jeremiah 31:3b, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How does it make you feel to knowing Jesus is pursuing you in every moment of every day? Take a minute to tell Him what assurance you need from Him today.

    © 2014 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 John

  • A Key to Remembering

    Posted on June 23, 2014 by Amy Carroll

    Amy Carroll

    "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

     

    God used a hard circumstance to teach me a powerful lesson this week. I lost my keys. It was the ring with my car key, electronic door opener and house key. Because of my schedule that day, they could only have been in two places: inside the house or outside in my front yard. Where someone could pick them up. And break in. And murder my whole family. Can you feel my rising panic?

    I was calm at first, certain the keys would just be lying in an unusual place. This is something I can handle, my subconscious murmured, so I started to search. I scanned the house quickly, but the keys didn't appear readily. Then I crawled through each room on my hands and knees trying to get a new perspective and looking under furniture. Not there.

    Soon my husband and son got home, and we armed ourselves with flashlights to search the yard many times over. No keys there either.

    Since it was long past bedtime, I finally prayed half-heartedly, wedged dining room chairs under the doorknobs and went to sleep, tossing and turning through the night. In my heart, though, I was sure I would find those keys.

    As dawn broke, I re-searched all the places from the day before and places I'd missed. Frustration and fear set in. I began having visions of hundreds of dollars spent on rekeying locks and replacing the door opener.

    Finally, in a conversation with a friend, I asked her to pray earnestly. I hung up the phone, leaned against my fireplace and cried out to God: "God, You know we need that money for college tuition. I'm really afraid someone has found those keys and is going to break into the house. Please help me. You know where those keys are. Will You show me where they are?"

    I didn't have any immediate fresh ideas, so I headed to my back deck to uncover the flowers I had tucked under a sheet the night before to save them from a freeze. As I yanked off the sheet, something shiny caught my eye. My keys dangled off the side of the flowerpot, where they must have fallen as I worked the day before!

    As I headed into the house, my thoughts were overcome with wonder. I understand God is not on my timetable, so prayers aren't always answered immediately. But in this case, my prayer was answered instantly. Why had it taken me so long to turn to God?

    I thought about the month before when I got a callback after a mammogram. I instantaneously turned to God in prayer, and I continued to pray for one and a half weeks until I could be rechecked. In that harrowing, seemingly "big" circumstance, I experienced the blessing of peace that resulted from prayer long before I received all-clear results.

    I processed how often my own pride, the conviction I can handle things on my own, keeps me from instant prayer ... and from the comfort, peace and power of God's presence.

    Now I'm going to use my keys as a reminder. Will you use yours, too? Each time we pull them out to use, let's remember to humbly pray about the big and little things. As we do, we'll experience the peace of God together, washing over us as well as all our circumstances.

    Jesus, make me humble. Help me run to You in prayer for all things, the big and the little. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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

    Ephesians 6:18a, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests." (NIV)

    Psalm 123:1, "I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What are the big things in your life that need prayer? What are some things you've been managing yourself that you need to give to God in prayer?

    Make a list of both big and little things that need prayer. Break them into seven groups for the seven days this week. Set aside time each day this week to talk with God about your list. He'll be listening!

    © 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 Philippians

  • When Kids Don't Go According to Plan

    Posted on June 20, 2014 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn Cowell

    "A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living." Luke 15:11-13 (NASB)

    It was true. He showed respect by asking for my permission. But after watching the movie previews, I had made up my mind. No child of mine was going to see that show. I had decided well before he asked the question. The answer was, "No." Without words, my son turned his back, returning to his friends.

    I wrestled inside with that decision, because for all practical purposes, my son was an adult. Yet, knowing the intense heartache that could come if one unwise decision led to another, I was determined to maintain control with my eldest child as long as possible.

    He could have lied and gone to the movie and told you something different, my head reasoned. Meanwhile my heart whispered, You still have time to influence his decisions; don't give up while he's still at home.

    After seeking wise advice from my husband, we decided to allow our son to make up his own mind that day, but not without tears in our eyes. I know the decision seems rather trivial to lead to watery eyes. However, as I reflected on why we got so emotional, it wasn't that the choice was hard; it was the act of letting go.

    I imagine the father in today's key passage wrestled with letting go, too. His son had given the speech ... the speech of a child who knows more than his dad: "Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me" (Luke 15:12).

    Here is where I stand amazed at the father. In Jesus' story, the father didn't nag, criticize or get angry with his son. The father didn't say, "You're not ready. This is the wrong decision. You're too immature. You don't know what you're doing."

    Instead, this wise and loving father prepared to watch his son learn hard truth ... on his own.

    Reading this passage makes my heart break. I come to tears just thinking of the pain the father experienced as he divided his property and possessions. I can almost hear the struggle of this father's heart. Perhaps he thought: This is all wrong. It wasn't supposed to go this way. I've spent my whole life investing in these boys. This isn't the way it was supposed to turn out.

    I've had similar painful thoughts.

    What parent doesn't experience that frustration, as we travel through this journey of having children and then letting them go?

    I think of the friend watching an unwise decision of another tear down a lifetime bond.

    And the sister who struggles as a sibling heads in the wrong direction.

    Each scenario makes my heart ache.

    Maybe the father experienced the same type of emotions I'm sure I would have had: turmoil torturing my mind with all that could certainly go wrong.

    Yet, in his wisdom, the prodigal's father held back that swirling sadness from his lips. He knew some children learn best through experience.

    And we, as those who love them, need the wisdom of the Father to know which of our loved ones are wired this way.

    Then with all the grace our Heavenly Father will give, we have to get out of the way.

    Out of the way and onto our knees, praying our prodigals quickly discover even a "hired hand." Or they learn that, as Paul describes himself, "a prisoner" (Philemon 1:1) is more blessed than the one outside the umbrella of God's protection and blessings.

    Lord, we are desperate for Your wisdom. Show us, Jesus, when to speak and when to be silent. When we need to get involved, and when we need to get out of the way, so our loved ones surrender to You as soon as possible. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." (NIV)

    Proverbs 4:5, "'Learn to be wise,' he said, 'and develop good judgment and common sense! I cannot overemphasize this point.'" (TLB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is the driving force behind the words you want to share with someone making a wrong decision? Fear? Love?

    Ask Jesus to give you clarity and discernment on your interaction with your loved one. What words might you need to say or pray for them?

    © 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 Luke

  • All That Glitters

    Posted on June 19, 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs

    Liz Curtis Higgs

    "Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value." Proverbs 31:11 (NIV)

    The jeweler smiled as my fiancé and I touched the loose diamonds she'd strewn across a square of blue velvet. "So, what's your budget?" she asked, her tone hopeful.

    Bill gulped and answered, "$400." On a college teacher's salary, it was all he could afford, but I still winced when he said it. Even all those years ago, $400 meant a very small diamond. Teensy weensy.

    Except for the flaws. Those would be huge.

    The jeweler guided us to the other end of the counter. "I think we can find something here that will suit you." Out came another velvet square, but the diamond chips she placed on it nearly disappeared in the nap of the fabric.

    Bill listened as she explained clarity and carat weight, while my gaze drifted back to the larger stones still on display. Their many facets caught the bright store lights, winking at me, beckoning me.

    Diamonds are forever, I told myself. Surely there must be a way we could swing something larger.

    When no solution came to mind, I chose a pretty but petite gemstone and tried my best to be excited.

    Bill touched my elbow. "Make sure you're happy with it, Liz, while I look around."

    I was happy with Bill, no question. The dearest of men, godly and kind. But was I happy with a diminutive diamond? Hmmm.

    Here's the ugly truth: As a single woman, I'd grown accustomed to buying whatever I wanted, even if that meant pulling out my credit card. My frugal fiancé, though, was a cash-and-carry kind of guy.

    Still, he did say he wanted me to be happy ...

    I waited until Bill was out of earshot before I leaned over the counter, waving the jeweler closer. "Could I look at the bigger stones again?"

    She placed them in front of me without a word. "I really like this one," I whispered, eyeing a square-cut beauty. "Suppose Bill gave you a check for $400 and I slipped you a check for the difference?"

    She looked at me evenly. "Are you sure that's how you want to begin this marriage?"

    Heat flew to my cheeks. "No, I ... uh ... guess not." I quickly turned away, ashamed to have my sins spread out like so many finely cut stones. Greed, deceit, covetousness, pride — oh, it was not a pretty sight.

    Then I recalled today's key verse from Proverbs 31, long committed to memory: "Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value."

    From across the room, I studied Bill — a man who deserved a woman he could trust with his heart and with his wallet — and silently begged his forgiveness for even considering such a thing.

    The jeweler was right. That was not how I wanted to begin my married life. Thank goodness I'd just been handed something even more valuable than diamonds: a second chance.

    When I turned back to the jeweler, we were both smiling. "You are absolutely right," I assured her. "The smaller stone will be perfect." And it was.

    Year in and year out, I flashed my ring like it was the Hope Diamond, because for me, that's what it represented: hope for a marriage built on honesty, not deception, and a forever kind of love that would outshine any sparkling gem.

    Now that our silver anniversary has come and gone, Bill — bless his generous heart —recently bought me a new diamond. Square-cut, of course.

    If there are flaws, I haven't noticed them. I'm too busy offering a prayer of thanks for a grace-giving God who overlooks my flaws and polishes me clean every morning.

    Lord, thank You for Your gentle, but firm, correction in my life and my marriage. I'm beyond grateful that You enable me to love and respect my husband. Be honored and glorified in our lives. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Philippians 2:3-4, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (NIV)

    James 3:13, "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Think of a similar situation when you might have veered in the wrong direction. How did the Lord keep you from stumbling?

    As you thought about a similar situation, what did that experience teach you about God's constant guidance and tender care?

    © 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs. 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

  • Just Nine Doors Down

    Posted on June 18, 2014 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.'" Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

    In the two years since we'd moved into our new neighborhood, I'd seen her on my walks. Sometimes she was rolling her trash can out to the curb. Or in her front yard watering her flowers. I'd smile and say "Hi" for a brief second.

    After all, my neighborhood is big; my life is busy. So I'd pop my headphones back in and keep walking to my house, just nine doors down.

    Awhile back, there were flashing lights, sirens and all things alarming in our neighborhood. A fire, maybe? ... I thought as I drove into my neighborhood, returning from an errand-running venture. My mama's heart raced. My 12-year-old son was home alone. Had he burnt some toast and set the smoke alarm system blaring? Or worse?

    As my car approached, I saw it was not my house, but another house nine doors down. Relief for my soul.

    And though the rescue vehicles were parked in front of my nine-doors-down neighbor's house, no fire appeared to blaze there either.

    Must have been a false alarm, I reasoned to myself.

    Two days later, I heard the awful news. No fire. No smoke. Just a terribly saddened soul.

    You see, just nine doors down, something happened in the mind of my nameless, flower-watering, smile-and-say-hello fellow human being. Something told her this life wasn't worth living anymore. And she agreed.

    Now her heart no longer beats. Her flowers still grow, but she can't water them anymore. I can still walk by her house, lost deeply in the Jesus-music blaring on my iPod. Staring straight ahead. Rushing to the next thing on my to-do list for the day.

    Nine doors down, there will be no more hand-waves. No smiles as I stroll by. And no more thoughts of, I should stop and find out her name. I haven't really met this gal yet. If I'd reached out and befriended her, would she have seen Jesus in our friendship?

    Could we have walked the neighborhood streets together? Maybe gone for coffee to get to know each other a bit? Would a glimpse of the perfect God in the life of an imperfect me perhaps beckoned her to have a relationship with Him, too? Would she have found God's purpose and peace instead of finding a way to end her emotional pain?

    God only knows.

    I am a woman who wants to love God, but so often I am too busy to really love the people He puts plainly in my path. But this love, as today's key verse declares, is more important than all the sacrifices we could make.

    I cannot beat myself up. But I can do something. So can you. We can pause, permitting God to tap us on the heart, gently interrupt us and rearrange our day.

    We can go deeper ... beyond a hurried "Hi!" to an authentic, "How are you?" When God knocks on our hearts, we can knock on their doors.

    Will you do it? Will you try? Then once you've reached out, leave the results to God. Our job is obedience. God's job is results.

    Trust me, it is AWFUL to get to know your neighbor through the tales and tears of her relatives at a memorial service. I wish I had made the time and gotten to know her personally.

    May we all respond to those taps on our hearts today and not ignore them. God just may use us as He saves a life.

    After all, remember it isn't that far of a walk ... just nine doors down.

    Dear Lord, I want to be aware of the times You tap my heart, asking me to reach out to someone. May I pay attention and respond, so they might know You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    James 4:17, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (NIV 1984)

    Proverbs 3:28, "Do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back tomorrow and I'll give it to you' — when you already have it with you.'" (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Was there ever a time you felt God nudging you to reach out to a neighbor, coworker or other person in your life, whom you didn't know very well? Did you? If not, how could you respond differently in the future?

    © 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 Mark

  • But God ... He's Not Very Lovable Right Now

    Posted on June 17, 2014 by Jill Savage

    Jill Savage

    "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

    My emotions swirled in frustration during a particularly difficult season of my marriage. My husband's disillusionment with life, God and our marriage had taken him to a place of rock-bottom depression. It was one of the darkest seasons I'd ever experienced.

    "God, show me what you want me to do," I whispered in desperation.

    "I want you to love him." I heard deep in my soul.

    Immediately I responded, "But God ... he's not very lovable right now."

    "I know, Jill. Sometimes you aren't either," God whispered back.

    "Okay, Lord. I get that. You love me when I'm not very lovable. Show me how to do the same."

    That conversation with God launched a much-needed lesson about what real love looks like in everyday life as a wife and a mom.

    Love is a blend of affection, devotion and loyalty. It is part emotion and part commitment. Real love — unconditional love — is hope blended into the reality of life.

    Two years after that hard season of marriage, I found myself in a difficult season of parenting. As a mother of five, we'd faced plenty of parenting trials, but none quite as challenging or long-suffering as this season with one of our children. I knew God needed me to respond in love to my child who was anything but lovable in this hard time.

    Our imperfect family members need to know that our love is never in doubt. It always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.

    When God is the leader of our lives, He asks us to deny ourselves and follow Him. That means resisting the way we want to react and instead choosing to respond the way God wants us to respond.

    There's a battle that happens inside of us between doing things our way and doing things God's way. When we let God win that battle, we take a step of maturity in our faith. We also get to experience a sense of joy when we experience the victory of handling things God's way instead of our way.

    I opened my Bible to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and began to perform a parenting love audit as it related to my child:

    Love is patient. Am I patient with my child who is so different than I am?

    Love is kind. Am I kind when it takes my child twice the amount of time to do something than I think it should?

    Love does not envy. Do I wish my child were more like someone else's child?

    Love does not boast. Am I quick to share what my child does well or hide areas when my child doesn't seem to measure up?

    Love is not proud. Am I hesitant to share how I'm really doing or how my child is really doing out of a fear of what people will think?

    Love does not dishonor others. Do I ever dishonor my child, demanding that he be someone other than the unique person God has made him to be?

    Love is not self-seeking. Am I ever selfish in my interactions with my child?

    Love is not easily angered. How much energy do I waste being angry at my child?

    Love keeps no record of wrongs. Do I have an ongoing list in my head about everything my child has done wrong?

    Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Do I keep my mind focused on God's truth about my child?

    Love protects. Do I protect this unique human being God entrusted to me even when he challenges my authority?

    Love trusts. Do I trust that God has a bigger picture in mind for this child's life?

    Love hopes. Do I hope and believe the best for this child, or do I dread what tomorrow might bring?

    Love perseveres. Do I keep my mind on the future possibilities rather than focusing on the difficulties and challenges I'm dealing with today?

    Thank You, God, for loving me with all my faults. And thank You for the imperfect people I live with. I know You use their imperfections to help me mature and mold me to be more like You. I also know You use my imperfections in that process, too. Help me to keep Your Truth embedded in my heart, so I can love without stopping, even when they don't feel so loveable. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Corinthians 16:13-14, "Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you've got, be resolute, and love without stopping." (MSG)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Which family member most needs your unconditional love right now?

    How could applying 1 Corinthians 13, the "Love Chapter," to your challenge equip you to respond God's way rather than react your way?

    © 2014 by Jill Savage. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Moody 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 1 Corinthians

  • 6 Scriptural Prayers for Husbands

    Posted on June 16, 2014 by Wendy Blight

    Wendy Blight

    "So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11(NASB)

    My husband Monty and I are different. So very different. Early in our marriage, I loved those differences. But as the years have passed, they've been known to cause frustration ... arguments, slammed doors, and words that can't be taken back.

    Sometimes toxic thoughts and words fill my heart and spew forth from my lips. Thoughts that linger and take root. Words that cut deep.

    I'm too quick to take offense.

    I asked him to do this. If he cared about me, he would. He knows it's important to me. I shouldn't even have to ask.

    I get annoyed.

    He's late for dinner ... again. Couldn't he call? He knows we eat at the same time every night.

    I replay the hurt in my mind, and at times it consumes me.

    Please know that I share these thoughts as a wife who loves her husband deeply. But I'm also a wife who struggles to live out that love in a God-honoring way.

    Maybe you can relate. I wrestle with thinking unkind thoughts about the man I love more than anyone else. And then I remember the truth of God's Word, and He makes it personal:

    Wendy ... "whatever is in your heart determines what you say," Matthew 12:34b (NLT).

    Wendy ... "give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their body. Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life," Proverbs 4:20-23 (NASB).

    When I read that warning from Proverbs chapter 4, it signals me to change what fills my heart. It directs me to go to God's Word and find words of life for my marriage and my husband.

    So I've committed to pray God's Word over my husband. Today, I'm sharing what I pray and invite you to join me in praying for your husband:

    Father, give my husband a discerning heart to know Your great love for him and the great plans You have for him and our family. Plans to prosper and not to harm, to give us hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

    Father, give my husband the mind of Christ, saturate it with godly wisdom. Help him to take every thought captive that is not in obedience to Your Word, and in so doing protect him from pride and temptation. (1 Corinthians 2:16, 2 Corinthians 10:5)

    Father, open the eyes of my husband's heart to understand Your Word, so that he won't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of his mind so that he may know Your good, acceptable and perfect will for his life and our marriage. (Romans 12:2)

    Father, help my husband to trust in You with all his heart, not depending on his own understanding, but acknowledging You in all his ways, so he knows what direction our family should take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

    Father, may the favor of the Lord rest on my husband. Bless and establish the work of his hands and his heart. (Psalm 90:17)

    Father, help us to live together in perfect unity by loving, honoring and respecting one another and serving each other for Your glory, honor and praise! (1 Thessalonians 5:13)

    Friend, when we replace our toxic thoughts with the precious Word of God and then pray those words, we pray the Word that is living and active, capable of changing hearts and minds. We are praying the mind and will of God, as revealed in His Word, into our marriages!

    So pray with hope, boldness and confidence! God will be faithful to honor His Word.

    Heavenly Father, replace my toxic thoughts with Your life-giving words and teach me to pray those words over my heart, my husband and my marriage. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Proverbs 4:23, "Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life." (NASB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Do you feel like things will never change in your marriage? List what makes you feel this way.

    Over the next week, pray boldly and confidently one or two of the above verses we prayed together. Write how God works in your heart and in your marriage.

    © 2014 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Faithful Heavenly Father

    Posted on June 15, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. Psalm 68:5

    Most people long for a faithful father who will feed them when they are hungry, love them when they are lonely, and care for them when they are crying. They long for a dad who will listen to them when they wonder, encourage them when they are discouraged, and discipline them when they do wrong. They are eager for a father who takes time for the trivial, extends wisdom in the middle of worry, and prays to understand God’s will. God placed within you a desire to be loved by your father. Some fathers do well at being a faithful father and others do not. Some are extremely successful, and others fail miserably. Fortunately, God is your model of a faithful father. Your heavenly Father fills the gaps left by your earthly father; He is your faithful Father.

    Your heavenly Father deserves your respect and commands your love. He says to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name...” (Matthew 6:9). He is a father who is totally trustworthy. You never have to doubt God’s word. What He says He means, and what He means He does. Your Father in heaven will not let you down on earth. Now, sometimes it doesn’t feel as if He’s faithful. There are times you don’t have answers for the questions that gnaw at your heart and confuse your mind. It may be that He is speaking but you are not listening. It may be that He is silent because He wants to grow your trust in Him. He will tell you what to do, in time, so while you wait, become better.

    Your faithful Father in heaven is the Father of Truth. Jesus is truth (John 14:6). Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). He acts as if he is interested in your life so he can destroy your life. He uses you for his interests. Therefore, reject the lies of the devil, and embrace the truth of the Lord. When you left the dark side of unbelief, you renounced your father, the devil, and embraced your heavenly Father through Christ. Be a lifetime learner of faithful fathering. Each season of fathering is different. What worked in the last stage of your child’s life needs to be adapted for the next stage.

    By faith, be flexible. As infants, they need your gentle touch. As children, they need your patient instruction. As teenagers, they need your example of love and forgiveness— someone has to be the mature one (1 Corinthians 13:11). As adults, they need your wisdom and friendship. In all seasons, they need your time and trust. Above all else, look to your heavenly Father as the baseline for your behavior. Being a faithful father does not mean perfection, but it does mean you depend on the Perfect One. You lean on the Lord for His loving care, so you can extend the same. Because of your faithful heavenly Father, you can be a faithful earthly father. Invite Him to love you and lead you into faithfulness.

    Prayer: How can I regularly receive the love and affirmation of my heavenly Father, so I can do the same for my children and grandchildren?

    Related Readings: Matthew 5:16; 7:11; 18:10-35; John 12:28; James 1:17

    Post/Tweet today: Our heavenly Father fills the gaps left by our earthly father; He is our faithful Father. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


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

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