• The Zondervan Study Bible

Proverbs 31

  • Even in the Midst of Dirty Dishes

    Posted on June 29, 2015 by Family Christian

    Sharon Glasgow JUNE 29, 2015

    Even in the Midst of Dirty Dishes
    SHARON GLASGOW

    "Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: … whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 4:9-10,11b (ESV)

    My friend Stella and her husband have been missionaries for more than 60 years, and have led countless people to Christ. At the time of my visit, she was in her eighties and still serving. Another friend, Sheli, and I were honored to stay with her for a week to minister alongside her.

    We traveled 30 hours to her home in Takamatsu, Japan, and arrived late in the evening. Stella ushered us into her kitchen for a hearty meal, then prayed for us before we all went to bed. When the sun was barely up the next morning, we feasted on an enormous breakfast in her tiny kitchen.

    The kitchen was crowded, her appliances old and worn, dishes piled high in the sink from her lavish food preparation — yet the atmosphere felt entirely like home. As she and her husband read Scripture and encouraged us, tears welled in my eyes, the love of Christ enveloped us; it overwhelmed me.

    Immediately after breakfast, Stella began cooking again; this time for 100 women. She’d rented a banquet hall and invited friends, telling them an American would be speaking and there would be food. We cooked and set up tables for the luncheon, and then I was ushered to the front to speak. Her objective in hosting the event was to build relationships in hopes that those who came for lunch would come back again for church on Sunday. Many did!

    While driving home after lunch, she told me she’d invited a large group to the house for dinner that night. I couldn’t imagine how we could clean up the mess we’d left behind and simultaneously prepare another meal. How would we get it all done? She didn’t seem concerned. Instead, she was fueled by the energy of what the Lord had done at the luncheon.

    There have been times I’ve worried more about my kitchen than how I could serve others. I’d fret over the size and messiness. But I was inspired as I watched this woman who had no concerns about the dirty pots in her sink. Stella didn’t let an un-swept floor keep her from ministering. She set the table beautifully and welcomed her guests. She and her husband prayed and read Scripture. Hearts melted.

    Years have passed since that week in Japan and I think of my friend Stella whenever I have company. Over the course of her life, she has ministered to thousands in her home, and many have come to know Jesus there. Her ministry had nothing to do with a spotless kitchen. In fact, her kitchen was a mess. But whenever God opened a window of opportunity, she seized it.

    I want my service to be like Stella’s. Hers is like that described by the apostle Peter in today’s key verse, grounded "by the strength that God supplies." I want to long for people to know Jesus more than I long for the perfect kitchen.

    God cares more about what’s happening among the people in our kitchen than He cares about the state of it. My missionary friend taught me that it is possible to share God’s love, demonstrate His character and offer hospitality — even in the midst of dirty dishes.

    Dear Lord, show me ways to serve through the resources You’ve given me. Help me care more about people than things like dirty dishes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Proverbs 31:15a, "She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household." (ESV)

    Proverbs 31:25-27, "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    The secret to making guests feel comfortable is more about the condition of your heart than the condition of your home. For tips on helping others feel refreshed, not impressed, check out Karen Ehman’s book A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others.

    Visit Sharon Glasgow’s blog for more encouragement on offering hospitality in the midst of messiness.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Your kitchen is a perfect place to show hospitality. Don’t wait for it to be perfect to invite guests. God will supply the ability you need to minister in your kitchen, and He will be glorified.

    Would you be willing to invite people to stay for dinner if they dropped by unannounced — even if your kitchen were a mess? Why or why not?

    Can you think of a person, family or neighbor who doesn’t know Jesus yet, whom you could invite for dinner? Make a call or send a text and get it on the calendar.

    © 2015 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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

  • Who Am I Like?

    Posted on June 26, 2015 by Family Christian

    Wendy Pope JUNE 26, 2015

    Who Am I Like?
    WENDY POPE

    "Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children." Ephesians 5:1 (NLT)

    "Mommy, my friend needs new crayons," bellowed my then 5-year-old as he climbed in the family van after school.

    In a true mommy-has-all-the-answers kind of way I confidently responded, "Well, his mommy will buy him some new crayons."

    The next day Griffin and I had the same conversation. Only this time Griffin added, "His mommy can’t buy him more crayons." To which I replied, "Well, your teacher will get him some crayons."

    Later, when I called Griffin to dinner I noticed he was quite delayed; usually he was the first one to the table. What happened next stirred my soul.

    Me: "Griffin, what kept you from coming when I called your name?"

    Griffin: "I was going through my crayons to take some to my friend."

    Me:

    Yes, I was speechless. Griffin’s example of selflessness weighed heavy on my heart for several days. What an extraordinary act of generosity for such a young boy.

    I knew God used ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. And I began to wonder about some of my favorites from the Bible … and myself: Who am I like? Do I have the tenacity to accomplish a lengthy assignment like Noah? Am I courageous and daring like Esther? Can I patiently wait years for God’s plan to unfold like David? Would I have the character of the Good Samaritan or the thoughtfulness of my 5-year-old? Could I have that?

    Though it’s good to be inspired by the actions and faith of others, our key verse instructs us to imitate one person, Jesus. Imitating Jesus is quite a tall order. Most times I try to be like Him, but I miss the mark. Can you relate?

    If I’m honest, some days I’m more like the rogues in Scripture than Jesus. I don’t enjoy that comparison as much, but it’s worthwhile to ask tough questions.

    Is my heart stubborn and spirit unwilling to obey God like Pharaoh? Am I prideful and audacious like Samson? How often do I deny Christ like Peter before the crucifixion? Am I pious like the Pharisees?

    Unfortunately, I have to answer yes to some of these. At times, I submit to my sinful nature. I make decisions with pride and arrogance that are contrary to what God wills and wants.

    God expects me to forgive her even though she deeply wounded me? Forget it. That woman doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.

    I asked and asked him to help me, but he didn’t. Now God wants me to help him? I don’t think so.

    If he needs help, why doesn’t he get a job instead of standing on the corner asking for handouts?

    The more we rebel against God’s ways, the less tender our hearts become. Distance invades our intimacy with the Lord, which leads us on a dangerous path away from Him.

    It’s then that we should pray and ask Him to reveal areas of rebellion. Our response to His revelation? Immediate repentance followed by immediate obedience. The result will be an agreeable spirit and a softened heart, like Jesus, with a desire to imitate Him in all we say and do.

    We each have certain aspects of our personalities that are similar to Noah, Esther and David. If we are willing to admit it, we can be a little like Pharaoh, Samson and the Pharisees, too. However, our goal should be to liken ourselves to one hero in the Bible … Jesus: obedient, humble, compassionate, truthful and so much more.

    Dear Lord, I ask You to help me walk upright, imitating You in everything I say and do. Quicken my spirit when I fail, so I might repent and be restored to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ephesians 5:1-2, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (ESV)

    Philippians 2:1-4, "Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 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)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Spark your love for God’s Word with Wendy Pope’s Bible study Trusting God for A Better Tomorrow: A Psalms Bible Study.

    Visit Wendy’s blog for more encouragement.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is one character trait Jesus bears that you would like to imitate?

    Make a list of things that hinder you from being like Jesus. Pray and ask God to help you overcome these things. Be prepared! If you struggle with selfishness, for example, you may sense God asking you to donate some belongings, volunteer your time consistently, give up your efforts to always park in the spot closest to the store, or something else. Listen for His direction.

    © 2015 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • 3 Steps to Overcome Fear

    Posted on June 25, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lysa TerKeurst JUNE 25, 2015

    3 Steps to Overcome Fear
    LYSA TERKEURST

    "The Lord is near. 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 4:5b-7 (NIV)

    When my kids were younger and had a bad dream, they always knew they could find safety and security from their fears by calling me near.

    Sometimes I’d make my way to their room and climb in with them. But more times than not, they wanted to sleep right beside my bed. Something about mommy and daddy being "near" quieted their souls and calmed their hearts.

    How like our Heavenly Father when we get entangled in fear as well.

    Today’s Scripture includes a popular verse people like to quote about fear, found in Philippians 4:6-7, "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."

    I love this verse. I’ve taught my kids this verse. And as I’ve spent time studying it, I’ve noticed something really interesting. There are four very powerful words that come right before the, "Do not be anxious" part.

    Because the verse right before it (Philippians 4:5) ends with, "The Lord is near." And because the Lord is near, we don’t have to be anxious. We have the assurance of His soothing presence.

    When I put this verse in context and see how God promises to be with me and those I love, this verse takes on a whole new meaning for me.

    It’s His presence plus His promise that chases away our anxious thoughts.

    And to truly understand that, we must also look at how the next verse (Philippians 4:8) instructs us, "Finally, brothers and sisters, 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)

    In other words, God instructs us to "park our minds" on that which is true and right and worthy of praise. But, oh how hard this can be sometimes.

    Because just like my kids, I can have such a runaway mind where I focus on my fears and blow them way out of proportion. So this "park your mind" concept has been huge for me and as my kids have grown, I’ve consciously made an effort to teach them to park their minds on God’s truth as well.

    The next time you find yourself or your child being pulled into fear, try these three steps:

    1. Pray Honestly — Encourage your child to honestly tell God what they’re afraid of and ask Him to help them not live in that fear. Pray for His protection and assurance.

    2. Read God’s Truths — Be intentional about helping your child find the courage they need by showing them Scriptures about overcoming fear. Tuck God’s Truth into their heart and arm them with the most powerful tool available — His Word!

    3. Verbalize Trust in Him — Help your child quote the Scriptures they’ve memorized on dealing with fear. Encourage them to quote the verse slowly and intentionally, to claim the truths contained within, and to verbalize their belief in God out loud.

    Yes, I’m convinced the more we fill our minds with God’s Word, the more crowded out our fears will become.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the promise that You are near. I’m so grateful that my kids and I can give all of our fears over to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Genesis 28:15a, "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go." (NIV)

    Isaiah 41:13, "For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Live A Life Of Love

    Help a child discover that God is always with them as they overcome new or scary circumstances with Lysa’s children’s book, It Will Be Okay: Trusting God Through Fear and Change. Included in the book are 10 powerful Scriptures to memorize with a child as you navigate their fears together! Click here to purchase your copy for a special, limited time price of $10.99.

     

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Think of a fear or worry your child is having right now. Consider how you can specifically walk them through the three steps Lysa talked about in the devotion today.

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Strength of Weakness

    Posted on June 24, 2015 by Family Christian

    Michele Cushatt JUNE 24, 2015

    The Strength of Weakness
    MICHELE CUSHATT

    "That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)

    It was the opportunity of a lifetime, I knew.

    For years I’d dreamed of being a writer. In between mothering a houseful of monkeys (a.k.a. children), I’d hunker down over my laptop and wrestle with words. But navigating the tension between dream and duty seemed impossible.

    Until, one day, an email landed in my inbox.

    "We’d like to invite you to be one of our speakers …"

    A speaking invitation. To a national conference.

    Hope rallied. I stared at the screen in disbelief. A break, finally! I couldn’t mess it up.

    But soon after, the unthinkable happened. Three short months before the speaking date, with a single phone call from my doctor, my world collapsed.

    Cancer. Of the tongue.

    It made zero sense. I was a healthy 39-year-old mom. I ate right, exercised. Heck, I even flossed. That deserved bonus points.

    But cancer is no respecter of persons, I’d learn soon enough. It plows through a life like an unmanned car, destroying individuals, families and dreams without the slightest hesitation.

    What followed in the months after that unexpected phone call involved an upheaval that’s still hard to describe. Only those who have endured the unthinkable understand how quickly a life can change. Unending doctor appointments. Countless tests and scans. Major surgery to remove part of my tongue. Long, painful months of recovery.

    But the physical trauma was only a fraction of my nightmare. The hardest part was the unanswerable questions:

    God, why? Where are You in all of this? Will I ever eat or speak normally again?

    Will I live?

    By the first day of the conference, I’d shrunk to a fraction of myself. Cancer had zapped my strength. Fear and unknowns had claimed my confidence. I considered canceling. Who was I to talk about peace and faith? I had nothing to offer. Nothing except my broken and battered self.

    Intent on keeping my promise, I made my way to the conference venue. But moments after arriving, pain gripped me again.

    God, help me!

    Grabbing ibuprofen, I headed for the water fountain. That’s when I heard my name.

    "Michele, hold on," a female voice whispered. It was Erika. One of the conference staff. Before I could answer, she grabbed my behind.

    Yes. Erika’s hand. On my derrière.

    "Excuse me?" I might’ve slapped her. We didn’t know each other that well.

    "Hold on a minute." She maintained her grip. "You lost your skirt."

    What?!

    "Your skirt fell. I’m pulling it back up."

    Sure enough, the long chocolate brown skirt I’d meticulously ironed and donned an hour before had dropped well below the tree line. An unfortunate consequence of months of weight loss. In a room filled with conference staff and speakers I wanted to impress, I’d exposed the lesser version of myself.

    Isn’t that nice.

    Even so, something shifted. What began as my mortification became my salvation. For a lifetime, I’d exhausted myself trying to be "enough," to deliver the polished and put-together me I believed God and the world demanded.

    Then cancer. Fear. A shaken faith. And a skirt malfunction.

    That’s when God delivered an unexpected healing. You see, there’s nothing wrong with doing my best. And excellence certainly has its place. But in all my trying I’d missed a beautiful truth: The strength of weakness.

    As our key verse of 2 Corinthians 12:10 reminds us, when we are weak, we are strong. Yes, I’d been striving to be good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, faithful enough. But in the process, I’d forgotten Jesus’ offering of relief:

    "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," (Matthew 11:28, NIV).

    Rest. Rest.

    It’s what this cancer-fighting, failure-feeling mama needed. A grace-loving God big enough to take the pressure off her and put it squarely on Himself.

    Turns out it’s what the women at the conference needed, too.

    My friends, ministry — of the purest kind — isn’t about impressing others with a flawless life. It’s not about polished presentations, perfect families and always-put-together women.

    It’s about daring to expose our hidden imperfections and giving others permission to do the same. Becoming a fellow struggler, faith wrestler and hand-holder who delivers zero judgment but instead offers oceans of presence and grace.

    Why? Because we have a God who says we’re enough. Just as we are.

    Even when our skirts fall to the floor.

    God, heal me of my desperate striving! Help me to believe and rest in the truth that I am enough, because I am Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Lamentations 3:22-23, "Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Tired of trying to be "enough"? Undone: A Story of Making Peace With an Unexpected Life, by Michele Cushatt, will encourage anyone in the midst of a messy life that didn’t turn out the way she expected.

    Visit Michele’s blog where she shares life, encouragement and hope.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Undone by Michele Cushatt. In celebration of this book, Michele’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, June 29.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is one area of your life where you need to cease striving and receive Jesus’ rest?

    © 2015 by Michele Cushatt. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Zondervan Publishers for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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

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

  • Why I Buy Orange Marmalade

    Posted on June 23, 2015 by Family Christian

    Karen Ehman JUNE 23, 2015

    Why I Buy Orange Marmalade
    KAREN EHMAN

    "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

    The sound of clanking silverware and clinking dishes wafted through the air as my husband and I sat across from each other in a retro-styled diner looking over the breakfast menu. We’d been meaning for weeks to spend some time alone, or maybe even go on a real date. So we set our alarms for still dark o’clock and drove a half hour to the quaint eatery.

    I’m not a big breakfast eater, so a steaming cup of coffee with fruit and nut oatmeal was enough for me. My husband, however, loves breakfast. So he ordered one of the diner’s famous combo plates that included eggs, sausage and a few pieces of whole grain toast.

    He slathered some sweet cream butter on the toast. Then he began to dig through the gingham-lined basket on the table like a child digging through a toy box for a favorite plaything.

    I had to know, so I asked: "What are you searching for?"

    "Orange marmalade," he replied.

    "What? Isn’t grape jelly or strawberry jam good enough? You can’t seem to get enough of my homemade strawberry jam," I teased.

    "But orange marmalade is my favorite," he answered. "Loved it ever since I was a kid."

    Wow. There I sat across from my college sweetheart-turned-husband whom I’ve known over a quarter century, and I never knew this simple fact — he loves orange marmalade.

    Often in marriage — especially if there are children in the picture — we spend so much time just getting life done. Keeping up the house. Making appointments. Tending to the yard work. Shuttling children. Paying bills. And we stop noticing the little things about our spouses — the stuff we used to notice all the time when we were dating.

    In college, I took good notes on what my then-boyfriend enjoyed. I knew he was a lover of butter pecan ice cream, so sometimes I would pick up a hand-packed pint from the local ice cream parlor and deliver it to him when he was studying in the college library.

    Back then it seemed easy to put him first, to always be on the lookout for his interests and likes. Selfishness on my part didn’t really exist in our relationship. I was head-over-heels in love with this guy and intent on noticing his preferences and pleasing him.

    Sadly, as the days and months of marriage turn into years and decades, it’s easy for noticing to decrease and selfishness to creep in. Instead of longing to please our spouses, even in the little things, we often look to get our own way. Today’s key verse seems to be the perfect prescription for this dilemma. We are encouraged to look not just to our own interests, but also in humility look to the interests of others. There are so many ways to apply this verse in marriage!

    It may mean spending a weekend doing activities your spouse prefers. In my case, that would mean attending a jazz festival on a Saturday with my trumpet-playing husband, rather than hunting for antiques at a large indoor market, which bores him to death.

    Sometimes it might be a more important matter, and other times it could be a seemingly trivial thing. Again, in all things means not only looking to your own interests, but in humility looking to the interests of your spouse.

    In a culture of selfies and selfishness, let’s purpose to take notice of our spouse’s interests and show them love in even the smallest of ways. For me, that means I’m now surfing the Internet for a winning orange marmalade recipe. Well, that and buying a few jars of the store-bought variety for back up!

    Father, may I be on the lookout for ways to bless my spouse — both in the little interests of life and in the major issues of marriage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ephesians 4:2, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    To be inspired to live a life that’s other-centered, check out Karen Ehman’s book, A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart and Home to Others.

    Today, Karen is sharing a free PDF of "Get-To-Know-You-Again Questions" to ask your spouse on a date. She’s also giving away a special date-night-in-a-box gift to one reader. For details visit Karen’s blog.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When was the last time you took notice of your spouse’s likes and interests, and then made a point to do something with that information to bless him?

    Make plans in the next week or two to surprise your spouse with a day — or even just a few hours — of the two of you doing something that interests him even if it is something you aren’t fond of.

    © 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • I Guess I Wasn’t "Fine"

    Posted on June 22, 2015 by Family Christian

    Glynnis Whitwer JUNE 22, 2015

    I Guess I Wasn’t "Fine"
    GLYNNIS WHITWER

    "See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1a (NLT)

    Standing on the risers in my grade school auditorium, the girl next to me scanned the audience, desperately looking for her father. Her parents were divorced and her dad had let her down more than once. He said he’d show up this time. But as the director’s hands signaled our final note, and there was no father in sight, my friend’s face revealed her pain.

    My dad wasn’t in the audience, but I didn’t expect him. My mom was there. And my dad? Well … he was home, probably reading a book. But compared to my friend’s sadness, my disappointment was minor, I thought.

    For so many years, I compared my growing up experience to others’, and thought, I’ve got nothing to complain about. Surely, I must be "fine." Others had it so much worse than I did.

    Sure, my dad never attended any of my choir concerts or saw me sing (from third grade through high school), but my mom never missed one.

    Although my dad wasn’t involved in my day-to-day life, my mom was my number-one problem solver.

    And even though my dad never said he loved me, I didn’t think I needed to hear those words. After all, my mother’s love more than made up for it.

    Other friends had missing or cruel fathers. They’d been openly rejected. Their parents divorced. Their house was chaotic. Not mine. I’d just had a quiet overlooking. One that I accepted as normal.

    And I really did believe my father loved me in his own way. I held no bitterness. His own father had died in an accident before he was born. Even as a child, I knew he didn’t have any father examples.

    I was fine.

    Yet over time, an independent streak took root. A hardness grew that kept me isolated from needing or wanting help. I developed a "pull yourself up by your boot straps" mentality that impacted my opinion of others who needed help, and my own weaknesses.

    I never connected it with my father’s passivity. I genuinely thought I was doing fine. Until someone challenged me to consider the impact my human father had on my relationship with my Heavenly Father.

    Only then did I consider the impact of all I had missed. No tender moments, no champion, no confiding of worries or requests for help. No father-daughter dates or advice on a boyfriend.

    The honesty caused a pain that surprised me. And I struggled with that same feeling of guilt as I compared myself to others and the truly hard lives they had. I didn’t want to dishonor my father. But I’d opened a door I knew God wanted open. So I pressed in to the honesty.

    My little-girl heart had tried to heal itself by developing an inner strength. Only that "strength" built a wall, instead of a bridge, to God’s heart.

    My independence had kept me from a deeper relationship with God. I loved God, but I didn’t really trust Him with my heart or my problems. He was a distant Father to me, more like a king on a throne than a Daddy holding my hand.

    Yet once I allowed the door of my heart to open, it started to soften as I forced myself to admit that in reality, I wasn’t fine. I did need help, and in a way my independence simply couldn’t provide. I confessed the hurt and pain that I had covered up in fierce self-sufficiency.

    And God whispered words of truth. He reminded me …

    … I never missed a choir performance.

    … You can come to Me for help; I’ll be there before you finish your request.

    … I started saying "I love you" thousands of years ago.

    Today’s key verse tells us God loves us as His children. So as an adult, I had to learn what it was like to have a Daddy who loved me perfectly.

    As God continues to prove Himself faithful, I’ve admitted this truth: Sometimes the pain from what didn’t happen is as real as the pain from what did.

    The healing I initially didn’t know I needed has made me a better person. But it’s still a work in progress. I still struggle to admit any weakness. And yet every time I do, I experience the realness of God’s love anew. My heart is becoming more merciful, gracious and kind … to others and myself.

    If you’ve dismissed your pain as insignificant compared to others, I invite you to experience the same healing I’ve received. God wants to fill in all those missing pieces and be your perfect Father.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me so perfectly and seeing that my heart needed Your tender healing. And thank You for being the perfect Father for me for eternity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 34:18, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (NIV)

    1 John 4:16, "So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them." (NRSV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    TODAY is the first day of our Online Bible Study featuring Suzie Eller’s book, The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places. There’s still time to join if you’re ready to accept God’s healing for your deepest hurts. Click here for more information.

    Visit Glynnis Whitwer’s blog for more encouragement.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Glynnis said, "Sometimes the pain from what didn’t happen is as real as the pain from what did." What is missing from your life that causes you deep pain?

    Present that pain to your Heavenly Father, and allow Him to fill in all the missing pieces.

    © 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • It’s Good to Seek Wisdom

    Posted on June 19, 2015 by Family Christian

    Liz Curtis Higgs JUNE 19, 2015

    It’s Good to Seek Wisdom
    LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

    "When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the LORD, she came to test Solomon with hard questions." 1 Kings 10:1 (NIV)

    Anytime my mother wanted to put me in my place — let’s say I was flouncing around the kitchen in some dime-store costume, wearing borrowed makeup and putting on airs — she shot me a stern look, one eyebrow arched: "Who do you think you are? The queen of Sheba?"

    If she meant to scold me, it didn’t work. Sorry, Mom. Being the queen of Sheba sounded positively delicious. To my way of thinking, she was Delilah, Nefertiti and Cleopatra all rolled into one — an exotic beauty from a foreign land with wealth, power and appeal beyond anything a small-town girl could fathom.

    Is that how you’ve imagined her too? Then it’s time to meet the real queen of Sheba and leave the Hollywood version behind.

    A leader of uncommon boldness and vision, this real-life queen traveled from the ends of the earth to seek wisdom, drawn to King Solomon’s doorstep because of his bond with the One true God, who was wisdom Himself.

    This remarkable woman journeyed for two months across an unforgiving desert — on a camel. All we have to do is cross the room, reach for our Bibles and God’s wisdom is ours for the taking.

    Maybe that’s the problem. His Word is so convenient, it’s conveniently forgotten. I’ll read it later. I’ll start tomorrow.

    Or we wait until we’re desperate for answers, then don’t know where to find them. We aimlessly flip from one chapter of the Bible to another, looking for a verse that will magically solve everything.

    The queen of Sheba took a different route. As we see in our key verse, she put her royal life on hold and made seeking wisdom her number-one priority. Here’s what she teaches us about wisdom by her good example:

    1. Wisdom requires time.
    We say, "Time is money," but the truth is, time is worth more than money. It can’t be bought, sold or bargained with. Each minute ticks by, never to be seen again. If we can spend 10 minutes each morning bathing in a hot shower, we can spend at least 10 minutes being cleansed by His Word. "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12, NIV).

    2. Wisdom requires sacrifice.
    When I first embraced the grace of God, He clearly instructed me to unplug my television and start reading the Bible. Do what?! It was hard at first, but as the months went by, I forgot about what I was missing and rejoiced in what I was learning. "The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding" (Proverbs 4:7, NIV).

    In case you’re curious, the television eventually returned, but with greatly diminished appeal. God’s plan, absolutely!

    3. Wisdom requires humility.
    I hate admitting I don’t have all the answers, yet that’s what seeking wisdom is all about. It’s saying, "Lord, I haven’t a clue, but You do." Admitting, "I don’t know, but I know the One who does." Only then will God’s wisdom be revealed for what it is: His and His alone. "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom" (Proverbs 11:2, NIV).

    As the queen of Sheba discovered, information is interesting and facts are fascinating, but wisdom is world-changing. Wisdom is the resource we bring to the workplace, the encouragement we offer to our friends, the gift we give to the body of Christ, the legacy we leave for our children.

    However full our schedules, adding just one more line to our to-do list can make all the difference: Open God’s Word. Find wisdom there today.

    Father God, help us never take Your Word or the wisdom it contains for granted. Give us a passion for learning and a thirst for Your Truth. Fill us with the courage to ask hard questions and seek wise answers from You alone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Proverbs 2:6, "For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." (NIV)

    Colossians 1:28, "He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Liz Curtis Higg’s new book, It’s Good to Be Queen, explores how you can become as bold, gracious and wise as the queen of Sheba. Pre-order your copy today and receive an exclusive collection of 4x4 Queen Cards that will put God’s wisdom front and center in your life.

    Visit Liz’s blog for more encouragement.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    More than 3,000 years ago, the queen of Sheba sought the wisdom of King Solomon and discovered its Source, making her a worthy role model for her modern sisters. Solomon likely penned most of the book of Proverbs in the Bible. Consider reading one chapter a day, starting today. If you do, you will have read the entire book of Proverbs in a month.

    Of the three needs mentioned here in our quest for wisdom — time, sacrifice, humility — which one is the most challenging for you? What step could you take this week to help you begin to overcome that obstacle and grow in wisdom?

    © 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

  • Helping Our Kids See God

    Posted on June 18, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lysa TerKeurst JUNE 18, 2015

    Helping Our Kids See God
    LYSA TERKEURST

    "Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’" Matthew 19:14 (NIV)

    My kids have always been fascinated when I’ve shared things I remember from my childhood. Those memories are especially meaningful when I point out how the stories relate to my life now.

    So much about our stories can be traced back to God working in our lives, and when we share them, our kids can see evidence that Jesus is real and intimately involved with us.

    What’s even more surprising is that they can later recall them in surprising detail! It’s amazing how well they remember the life lessons that I tie to the stories I tell.

    While it may be difficult for a child to recall a passage of Scripture they just read, most can recall in specific detail the accounts of a story.

    For instance, I love to tell them of the time my stepdad brought home a hand-me-down typewriter from his office. I placed my hands on the keys and wondered what it would be like to type pages of legible words. I loved the rap-tap-tap sound it made and envisioned myself finishing the final page of a book. I didn’t know enough words at that point to write an entire book, but one day I would.

    That story allowed me to point out that even back then, Jesus was preparing me for my calling as an author. And although my kids may not understand their own callings yet, by seeing me live out mine and knowing that the Lord put it in my heart at a young age, they understand the reality that God does indeed have a plan for their lives. This gives them access to Divine Truth.

    Jesus wanted children to have access to Him, as He said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14).

    Though my kids haven’t experienced all the ways God’s revealed Himself to me, I can use my story to teach them of things to come … if they are willing to take hold of Him for themselves.

    Author Dr. Tim Kimmel, in his book Why Christian Kids Rebel, explains the number one reason children walk away from the faith is because they never see it make a real difference in the lives of their parents.

    And I don’t want that to be the case in my family.

    So now, not only do I trace the hand of God in my past stories, I also constantly look for ways to exemplify Jesus today.

    I point out answers to things we’ve prayed about.

    I show them the many ways God provides and make sure they know where credit is due.

    I live my faith out loud so they cannot miss that Christ is the center of our home.

    He has become too real to deny.

    I pray my kids will start collecting their own stories of experiencing God. Then they can share the reality of Christ’s presence with their friends today and with their own children in the future. Yes, indeed, let the children have access to Jesus!

    Dear Lord, help me be a teacher of Your truth. As You continue to write the story of my life, reveal Yourself to me so I can tell my family of Your faithfulness. I want them to see the reality of Christ living in me and the difference You make in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Deuteronomy 4:9, "Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them." (NIV)

    Psalm 145:4, "One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts." (NKJV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Help a child look for the hand of God in their life with 4 Fun Ways to Grow Your Child’s Faith! Sign up to receive these FREE activity sheets today.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    In your quiet time this week, write down some memories from your childhood where you can see God’s hand at work. Then, reflect on a more recent memory where the reality of Jesus was evident in your life. Share these with your kids or family members.

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • How to Find Real Peace

    Posted on June 17, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lynn Cowell JUNE 17, 2015

    How to Find Real Peace
    LYNN COWELL

    "Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." Luke 1:78-79 (NIV)

    I left my dying father’s hospital room and searched in vain for my car. The parking deck hadn’t felt so dark and looming when I’d pulled in, but that was more than 24 hours ago. A new day had begun, but there was no shining sun.

    As I opened my door, it was all I could do to hoist my mentally and physically exhausted self up into my truck’s seat. It may have been my birthday, but not one ounce of me wanted to celebrate.

    There is no way I could have prepared for that day; it’s a strange feeling to take care of a terminally ill parent, especially when you’re a mom of little children. Would my eldest remember my dad? I knew my 2-year-old wouldn’t. I felt robbed. I’m too young not to have a dad.

    Tears streamed down my face. As soon as I started the car, lyrics from the radio spoke of a day when going to heaven will bring those of us who love and follow Christ new bodies. The day of ultimate healing.

    Jesus met me in my car that day. He reached down into my pit of despair. He made it clear to me that He was real and heaven is real, too.

    Before this day I’d prayed non-stop for God to heal Dad. I knew He could. As I read my Bible I came across stories of Jesus healing the blind, the lame, even raising the dead. I’d seen Him heal a friend’s child of cancer. There was no doubt in my mind that God could heal my dad’s cancer too.

    However, until that day in the parking deck, I had never considered my father’s passage to heaven as the ultimate healing. This realization poured a peace into my spirit like I had never experienced during his cancer battle.

    That peace filled my heart and stayed through the next day when he died. It was there the day of his funeral, and it’s been there each time I’ve thought of him since. God’s perfect love flowed to imperfect me and continues to remain in my life, quieting my fears of the future as well as the pains of my past.

    Perhaps there are days when you feel life isn’t fair. Maybe it even feels hopeless. At times like these, when we don’t feel Jesus’ love for us, we can reach out to Him, asking for His peace that goes beyond our feelings. A peace that surpasses our understanding (Philippians 4:7, ESV). A real peace beyond what we can comprehend or communicate. We can reach out to our Jesus and lay hold of the truth in today’s key verse: "Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."

    Father, no matter how I feel, help me remember and reach out for the peace Jesus wants to give me through His perfect love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." (NIV)

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

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Empower a young woman to learn more about allowing peace to rule in situations beyond her control with Lynn Cowell’s book, Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants. Purchase your copy here.

    Know some young women who need help learning to live in God’s peace? Start a Magnetic Bible study and invite them to join! You will grow together as you become the women God intended you to be. Magnetic includes a free leadership guide plus you’ll find additional free resources to help you get started here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What one situation have you been in recently that threatened to steal your peace?

    If you didn’t experience God’s peace in that situation, take a moment to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you turn to Him at the moment it seems your peace will be threatened.

    © 2015 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Why Daughters Were Made to Dance

    Posted on June 16, 2015 by Family Christian

    Alicia Bruxvoort JUNE 16, 2015

    Why Daughters Were Made to Dance
    ALICIA BRUXVOORT

    "So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children." Romans 8:15-16 (NLT)

    She’s fresh out of bed, still clad in her pajamas, when she finds me outside sipping coffee with my husband.

    Her daddy is dressed in shabby jeans and a faded t-shirt, the patron uniform of Saturday morning yard work. But when that song she loves pulses from the radio, our littlest girl turns to him like he’s a tuxedoed prince and asks if he’d like to dance.

    There’s grass to mow and weeds to pull, but he sets down his coffee and accepts the invitation with a regal bow. I clutch my coffee cup and savor the sheen in my daughter’s eyes as her daddy twirls her around with a smile.

    And suddenly I remember the woman who once told me she didn’t need a daddy …

    We’d met at a church retreat where we’d learned about our identities as God’s daughters. She sat beside me, her hair wound tightly in a bun, with arms folded even tighter across her chest.

    On our last evening together, the speaker used a simple metaphor to retell our salvation story. It wasn’t perfect theology, but the imagery resonated with the women in the room.

    "Once upon a time there was a Father who created His children to dance. But those kids’ feet got shackled by sin and their hearts stopped beating to the rhythm of Heaven’s love. And, in time, they forgot who they were.

    "But their Father didn’t forget.

    "While His children stumbled and staggered, He devised a plan to set their feet free and teach them to dance again. He stretched out His arms on an old rugged cross and invited His children to return to His embrace and waltz with Him into eternity …"

    When the speaker finished, women jumped to their feet to worship with abandon. Except for the woman beside me.

    She sat silently until the music waned. Then with trembling lips she murmured to me, "I don’t need a daddy. I just need a savior."

    Her eyes brimmed with a lifetime of hurt and I asked if I could pray for her. Embarrassed, she shook her head no and headed for the door.

    I sat there alone, stunned and sad, and closed my eyes in prayer anyway. Moments later, I felt a hand on my shoulder. "I still think I’m too old to ask God to be my daddy," the woman explained. "But if I ever change my mind, I’ve always wanted to learn to waltz …"

    My attention returned to the dancing duo before me. My daughter’s arms flapped happily like a bird set free.

    And I see it clearly — how every daughter of God was made to soar in the safety of her heavenly Father’s arms.

    Then my husband holds our daughter close as the music slows, and together they sway to the song’s end. Maggie nestles her chin on my man’s shoulder and exhales a satisfied sigh. "I just dance better in your arms, Daddy!"

    I smile at my daughter’s declaration and wonder if the woman at the retreat ever learned to "dance." I hope she did.

    She was right, of course. We all need a savior. But according to our key verse, that’s not where our story ends. Once we’ve been set free from sin, God invites us to call Him "Abba," a loving and familiar term, similar to "Daddy."

    It’s there, in our heavenly Daddy’s arms, where we’ll learn to "dance" freely, living as His treasured children.

    Your steps won’t look like mine. And mine won’t mimic yours. But we can all grab our Daddy’s hand and let Him lead us step by expectant step into the life He’s dreamed for His girls.

    And, remember, according to my daughter, we all just dance better in our Daddy’s arms.

    Dear Jesus, I don’t want to miss the life You’ve dreamed for me. Guide my steps and teach me how to live as Your child: confident, joyful and free. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 30:11, "You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing." (NLT)

    Psalm 90:12, 14, "Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. … Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Proverbs 31 Ministries t-shirts are now available for pre-order until Friday, June 19. Pre-order yours today!

    If you’re looking to move forward and find healing for your deepest hurts so you can dance again, Suzie Eller’s book, and our next P31 Online Bible Study, The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places, might be helpful for you.

    Visit Alicia Bruxvoort’s blog for more encouragement and for your chance to win a giveaway just for Daddy’s girls.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is one step of faith God has been asking you to take lately? What keeps you from saying "Yes"?

    Make a point of lingering in your heavenly Daddy’s arms this week. Listen to worship music, write a prayer of praise or watch a sunset He’s painted just for you. Tell Him how much you love being His girl.

    © 2015 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

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