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Proverbs 31

  • Will I Ever Accomplish Something Great?

    Posted on April 9, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah DiPascal

    "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

    Have you ever thought to yourself, "God could never use me"? I have ... many times.

    I spent years watching from the sidelines as some of my closest friends accomplished great things. Rewarding careers. Successful families. Thriving ministries.

    If only I were smarter. If I could just meet the right people. If I had a little more courage. Then surely God would use me.

    What did others have that I didn't? I loved God. He loved me. So why wasn't I on the approved-to-be-used-by-God list? What was the problem? Would my big moment to shine ever come?

    I was under the false impression that if God chose me to accomplish great things for Him, it would include an elaborate theme with plenty of fanfare. Boy, was I wrong.

    Sure, God certainly knows how to manifest grand and elaborate: A snow capped mountain range. A sunrise bursting with color. A field of wildflowers in full bloom. He even gives people tremendous platforms to fulfill His wondrous plans. People whose names we all know by heart.

    God also chooses people like you and me to do great things for His glory. But sometimes our assignments look very different than we think they should. Although the world tends to focus on famous people, high positions and big platforms, God looks at the intent of the heart.

    While admiring the successful journeys of others and wondering why God wasn't choosing me, I overlooked something important. He was using me — as His masterpiece — to accomplish good things that were already planned for me years ago (Ephesians 2:10).

    While I was dreaming up grand ideas, God was waiting for a grateful heart.

    While I was longing for elaborate platforms, God was looking for a humble spirit.

    While I was dreaming of success, God was watching for a willingness of obedience.

    A grateful heart when diapers needed changing and toys were left all over the floor. A humble spirit when dirty clothes sat in piles waiting to be washed and dinner needed to be prepared. A willingness of obedience when God whispered to my heart "Apologize first and say you're sorry."

    Looking back over the years I can now see that some of my greatest accomplishments happened within the simple walls of my own home. Serving my family in messy ways and being stretched beyond what I thought was my breaking point.

    Saying "yes" when I wanted to say "no." Helping with last-minute homework assignments. Holding little hands during bedtime prayers.

    There was no sea of spectators. No cheers from the crowd. No standing ovations. Only a simple family, living life one day at a time, trying to do what was right in God's eyes.

    What great things has God chosen for you to do? Remember, you are His masterpiece, a one-of-a-kind creation, created to fulfill important plans no one else can do.

    Are your God-given assignments wrapped in baseball caps and sneakers?

    Are your grand moments filled with princess tiaras and bedtime stories?

    As you tirelessly serve your family and sometimes wonder if anyone notices, be assured that God does. He sees you as His greatest asset! Your willingness to serve your family brings Him great joy.

    And when will our big moment come? When we get to shine?

    I imagine it will be one glorious day when we humbly kneel before our Heavenly Father and He lovingly speaks our names saying, "Well done my faithful daughter. You have accomplished great things in My Name."

    Lord, help me to accomplish all the plans You've chosen for me. Give me wisdom and discernment to know what path You've laid out for me to follow. Thank you for creating me as Your masterpiece and may I delight in You as I serve my family well. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are you living out God's plan for your life? If not, what is holding you back from accomplishing great things for Him?

    What are some ways you enjoy serving your family? Plan something special for your family to do together. Take pictures and create a memory board to hang up in your home.

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 16:3, "Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed." (NLT)

    1 Samuel 16:7, "God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (NET)

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Everyday, Ordinary Glory

    Posted on April 8, 2014 by Lisa-Jo Baker

    Lisa-Jo Baker

    "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Colossians 1:17 (NIV)

    It's late. Only 9 p.m. But so late. The night shift will soon begin, and the day shift with bath times and teeth brushing battles is just winding down. With my husband Peter finally home, I slink away to steal some quiet and maybe a few moments of sleep between shifts.

    But they find me.

    They pad down the hallway, long shadows stretching around the corner and into my room before deep breaths whisper, "Mama, can we stay by you?" Then they sandwich beside me and we begin the losing battle against not speaking.

    One may as well try and hold back the tide. The day, their highs, lows and secret wishes come trickling out. First in whispers and then in bold declarations! When they grow up they will be trash truck drivers, builders, policemen, game rangers, fathers and heroes.

    Their profiles against the hall light are brave and delicate at the same time. I can feel the sand, gritty against my foot where it's escaped socks and sandboxes, now taking up residence at the foot of my bed. Someone farts, someone else burps and my retreat is now a mini-locker room experience with my growing up boys-will-be-boys boys.

    I relive snapshots of the day from their perspective and discover how someone's minuscule boo-boo looms large in their memory and how someone else likes to be the leader during walks around the block.

    Who would have thought boys giggled this much?

    And in the dark and the tired and the small, everydayness of these moments I can feel it. The weight of glory. The glorious ordinary that is God's gift to us.

    Colossians 1:15-17 speaks of the glory of God in everything: "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

    And sandwiched between two talkative boys, I know there is no part of our everyday, wash-rinse-repeat routine of kids and laundry and life and fights and worries and play dates and kindergarten orientation and work and marriage and love and new life and bedtime snuggles, that Jesus doesn't look into it deeply and say, "That is Mine."

    In Him all things hold together. All things. This messy house and my fears and chaos and incomplete to-do lists.

    Turns out, I'm not defined by my mothering skills or my name on a business card. I'm not defined by what I accomplished today, or whether or not I lost my temper. I'm not defined by my jeans that I wish were a different size, or by my kids when they won't obey. I'm not defined by my wrinkles or tired eyes.

    I am, however, defined by the God who knows me by name ... by the God who promises that nothing I do or don't do can separate me from His love that is in Christ Jesus.

    Right where we are at the end of long days, long lists and long sleepless nights, Jesus meets us and in Him we are tenderly, patiently, lovingly held together. So we can be ready for tomorrow.

    Dear Jesus, thank You for not seeing anything boring or routine when You look at us. You don't see failure, insignificance or ordinary. But instead, You see one-of-a-kind daughters of the King. Thank You for entering into every part of our days, for delighting in all we cycle through, and for how You celebrate, grieve, counsel and comfort every step of the way. We love how You see wonder in even our most ordinary routines and how You hold us together even when we feel like we're falling apart. We love You, Jesus. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think about your routine today and identify something glorious that is buried in your everyday ordinary.

    What is one way you can start to remind yourself to be looking for wonder in your routine? For example, keeping a gratitude journal, setting an alarm throughout the day to stop and reflect, sharing something that each family member found special at dinnertime?

    Power Verses:
    Romans 8:38-39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NIV)

    Acts 17:28a, "For in him we live and move and have our being." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lisa-Jo Baker. All rights reserved.

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

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


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

  • I Just Unfriended My Friend

    Posted on April 7, 2014 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki Koziarz

    "My child, don't lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them for they will refresh your soul." Proverbs 3:21-22a (NLT)

    "Women are ridiculous," I said to my husband as I crawled into bed, tears dripping. He gave me an agreeable stare, since he had no words to console my aching heart.

    I'd just learned a friend lied to me. It was about something senseless, which just made it worse. As the hours ticked by, I wrestled through troubling thoughts.

    Why would she lie about THAT?

    Were we ever really friends?

    The combination of hurt and middle-of-the-night thinking was toxic, forming a very self-centered attitude in me. I decided I no longer had room in my life to deal with someone who had lied to me. So in my heart, I just unfriended this friend.

    I have other people I can be friends with, I thought as I drifted off to sleep.

    The next morning I realized how my emotions had distorted my perceptions. It concerned me how quickly I was willing to write off this friend, since we had been through a lot together. And I really did value our relationship.

    So I pondered the emotions swirling in my heart.

    In our cyber culture today, it's easy to sit behind computer screens and smartphones while we reject the reality of many things, including friendships.

    My profile on Facebook says I have 900 "friends." Social media convinces me I have hundreds of people in my corner. But in reality, I don't have 900 friends I could call in the midst of a crisis or even go meet for a cup of coffee.

    And that "unfriend" button is mighty tempting when someone hurts me. But the truth is, ending a relationship is much more complex than the way social media convinces me it can happen — as easily as clicking an icon.

    Social media is a relational tool, but it's not a relational reality.

    More than ever, I need to see my friendships through the lens of reality, and this verse helps me do this: "My child, don't lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them for they will refresh your soul," (Proverbs 3:21-22a).

    God has given us two trustworthy filters to help us see things as what they really are: common sense and discernment.

    In this situation with my friend, common sense, reminded me: You don't really have 900 friends, but you do have one or two people you can really count on. And you need to cultivate those relationships through good times and bad.

    When I wanted to reject our relationship because I was hurt, discernment said: Your friend is human. At the core of her heart she cares about you and didn't mean to hurt you.

    We will always be susceptible to flawed perceptions in our friendships. But when we hang on to the realities God offers us through common sense and discernment I believe we will be much wiser with our perceptions.

    Using God's Word as my filter, rather than my emotions, allowed me to work through the hurtful issue with my friend. That experience made me a more compassionate friend and it strengthened our friendship, so that when I mess up (and I'm sure I will), hopefully she'll forgive me.

    God, we are so grateful for Your gifts of common sense and discernment. Give us the grace to use these filters when things get foggy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Is there a friendship God might want to restore because one or both of you had a flawed perception about what was happening? Maybe today you could reach out to that person and begin the process of healing.

    Friendships thrive when we cultivate them. Invite a friend to meet you for some meaningful connecting time, this week or next.

    Power Verses:
    1 Corinthians 13:12, "We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!" (MSG)

    1 John 3:2, "But friends, that's exactly who we are: children of God. And that's only the beginning. Who knows how we'll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we'll see him — and in seeing him, become like him." (MSG)

    © 2014 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • I'm a Meddler

    Posted on April 4, 2014 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn Cowell

    "... aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you." 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (ESV)

    I did it again. Stepped in to a situation that didn't concern me. I told myself I was helping, but it wasn't my place to speak up. As usual, it backfired.

    Contemplating all that had happened that evening, Jesus spoke to me. Of course, not literally spoke to me, but He nudged my heart: You're a meddler, Lynn, and you need to be done with it. When you meddle, you are not trusting. When you meddle, you are saying I can't handle it. You know I can. So be done with it. No more.

    I'm a meddler.

    I like to say I'm a "fixer." That's what I have called it in the past, but truth is, that's just a nicer way of putting it.

    Not a gossiper. No, that is someone who intentionally separates and that's not my heart. I want to help. Really I do.

    I'm a meddler. Dictionary.com defines the verb "meddle" this way: "To involve oneself in a matter without right or invitation; interfere officiously and unwantedly."

    Without right or invitation. That's what I do. Seeing an unhappy, unhealthy or unholy situation I listen to the whisper in my head. Since I see it, I think I'm instructed to do something about it.

    But most often, I am not. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 4:11 says "... aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you."

    My place is to be quiet and pray. But I still prefer to fix, manipulate and get involved.

    In other words, I meddle.

    So, there you have it. Now that I see my actions for what they are, it's my responsibility to change. And in order to change, I will have to slow down before I take action or open my mouth. I'll have to ask myself: Are you meddling?

    Will I be tempted to meddle? Every day. Will I mess up? I hope not, but it's highly probable. I'm human. My desire, though, is to mind my own affairs and let Jesus get involved. I will ask Him for prayers to pray, not words to say.

    This change is going to be hard. But I know Jesus is serious about not meddling. Proverbs 26:17 says, "Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears" (ESV). In other words, meddling isn't smart! And that is not what I want to be; I want to be wise.

    Any other meddlers out there? Can you think of times when you got involved and you shouldn't have? Especially when the thing Jesus wanted you to do was to pray — and only pray? Let's pray for each other and ask Jesus to open our eyes to see and leave our troubles up to Him.

    Jesus, I'm a woman who wants to be a fixer. But that's not really my place; it's Yours. Open my eyes before I step in, and empower me to resist the temptation to get involved. Teach me to pray instead, Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What particular circumstances draw out the meddler in you? Trouble between friends? Arguments between family members? Right now, ask the Holy Spirit for prayers to pray for those you love instead of words to say.

    Often meddling is fueled by fear. Ask yourself: What do I fear?

    Power Verses:
    Matthew 7:3-5, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (NIV)

    © 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 1 Thessalonians

  • If You're Feeling Overlooked and Unappreciated...

    Posted on April 3, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'" Acts 13:22 (NIV)

    Sometimes I wake up in the morning feeling a little grumpy. Time to do it all again. I'll buy food that gets eaten. I'll wash clothes that get dirty again. I'll sweep floors that will be littered with crumbs an hour later.

    Is there more to all this than just doing the tasks of everyday life?

    Before I jumped into the normal routine this morning, I sat with Jesus. And I found some big truths as I read my Bible and took a little glance into David's life. Despite how others saw him, his own tendency to sin, and lack of position in his own family, David had the sweet reassurance of God. And that was enough.

    Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

    To his older brothers, David was a pest. To his father, Jesse, he was just the youngest son. To onlookers, he was just a shepherd boy. But to God, David was the one destined to be king. And not just any king. He was from the bloodline from which Jesus would come.

    Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

    Even the way David was anointed to be the future king is a telling story. In 1 Samuel 16, God tells Samuel that He has rejected Saul as king and chosen one of Jesse's sons to be the replacement.

    Think of the list of qualifications that must have run through Samuel's mind for such a position: tall, smart, articulate, brave, groomed, well-mannered, a natural-born leader. Samuel saw some of these characteristics in Eliab, David's brother. "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his outward appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7, NIV 1984).

    Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

    Samuel had Jesse line up all of his sons before him. All of them were to be considered. Yet, Jesse didn't call David in from tending sheep. Was this an oversight? An assumption? A judgment call? A deliberate choice?

    Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

    Samuel passes on each of Jesse's sons and then asks, "Are these all the sons you have?" I imagine Jesse with a quizzical expression replying, "There is still the youngest ... He is tending the sheep." (1 Samuel 16:11, NIV) Surely one who spends his time taking care of animals is not the one to take care of a nation.

    Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

    As soon as Samuel saw David, he knew he was the one. David was anointed to become king. But he was not immediately ushered to the throne. It would be many years before David was recognized by the world. So, where did he go after being anointed as king? To a refining school? A government academy? Military training? Nope.

    He went back out to the fields and continued to shepherd his flock. A king doing lowly tasks. A king whose character was being refined in the fields of everyday life to prepare him for his calling.

    How like us. In the midst of smelly laundry, dirty dishes, snotty noses, misplaced keys, overdue library books, bills, and that birthday gift that still needs to be mailed to Grandma – there is training there. There is character building. There is attitude shaping. There is soul defining. All of which must take place for us to become what God intends.

    Do you ever feel overlooked by the world? Take heart – we are handpicked by God.

    I am not just doing tasks. I am building a legacy. I am shaping God's Kingdom. I am in the process of not only discovering my calling but that of my family as well. And I don't know about you, but it sure does make me look at my everyday tasks (yes, even the smelly laundry) in a whole different light.

    Dear Lord, I'm grateful that even when I feel overlooked, I can rest in the fact that I am handpicked by You. Help me to live my life for an audience of One. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What tasks have you viewed as mundane or pointless?

    Determine to change your perspective on those tasks today. When you're feeling discouraged speak these words out loud: "I am handpicked and called by God. This is my assignment today from Him and I'm choosing to see how important it is!"

    Power Verse:
    1 Corinthians 15:58b, "Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort." (MSG)

    © 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 Acts

  • No More Guilt-Induced Doubt

    Posted on April 2, 2014 by Renee Swope

    Renee Swope

    "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

    Mom said she'd be gone all day, and she encouraged me to come over and use her place to write. In a quiet house, hopefully, I could finalize my message outlines for our church women's retreat.

    We arranged plans for my mom to be home at 5 p.m. Then my husband, J.J., would come over at 5:30 p.m. with our boys. The children could stay with Grandma while J.J. and I went to a surprise party.

    Mom's quiet house was just what I needed to get into a good studying and writing zone. It was the perfect setting ... until she came home two hours early!

    She brought cement pavers in and set them on the floor. She walked out and returned to plop bags of groceries in the kitchen ... right where I was studying.

    Normally this would have been fine, but I wasn't done and I got the message that my time was up. Panic set in!

    Then, to make matters worse, as I put my notes away I knocked a water bottle over onto my laptop. My chest tightened with anxiety, and my eyes stung with tears. My perfect day was turning into the perfect storm.

    After mopping up the mess, I started getting ready for the party and waited for my husband to arrive. He didn't show up at 5:30, or 5:40. He wasn't answering his cell phone, and I didn't want to ruin the surprise party by being late. So, at 6:00, I decided to take Mom's car and have him meet me there.

    Just as I was leaving, he drove up. Surprisingly, he didn't look a bit hurried. In fact, my then 6-year-old son got out of the car first, walked up to me and said, "Daddy told us you would be mad!"

    That was an understatement! Frustrated and angry, I decided it was still a good idea for me to leave. But when I pulled out of the driveway, my husband waved for me to stop and asked, "Aren't you going to wait for me?"

    "No," I snapped. "Because you're acting like a [beep]."

    My 8-year-old son walked up and said, "Mommy! You just called Daddy a [beep]."

    Suddenly guilt-induced doubt made me start questioning everything, including speaking at the retreat. I'm not cut out for this. I'm not godly enough. I must have heard God wrong. I have no business teaching a message I can't even live.

    My husband and I ended up going to the party together, with our fake "everything is fine" smiles. But the next morning at church, I went straight to my women's ministry director, confessed what happened and told her I needed to step down from being the retreat speaker.

    Her response shocked me: "Renee, if you don't need this message as much as the women attending, then you are not qualified to teach it. But because you need it as much as we do, you are. You've been appointed and you are anointed to do this."

    I had never experienced such a demonstration of God's grace.

    That response showed me what it looks like to "approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

    It's hard to believe God could use us when we're such a mess, yet the Bible is filled with stories of men and women He used greatly — despite their downfalls.

    I ended up speaking at the retreat and shared what had happened. Although I feared some women might judge me, they loved me, accepting that I'm not perfect.

    Although guilt can make us give up on ourselves, God won't. Instead, He offers to take what feels like destruction and use it for reconstruction in our journey with Him.

    When we confess our wrong thoughts, words, and actions and receive God's forgiveness, our hearts can be set free from guilt-induced doubt and filled with grace-infused confidence.

    Lord, I come to You today to receive Your mercy and find Your grace to help me. Please replace my guilt-induced doubt with Your grace-infused confidence. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Has guilt ever made you doubt God could use you for His purposes?

    Jesus lived and died to save us from our sins and downfalls. Receive His forgiveness today and ask Him to replace your guilt-induced doubt with His grace-infused confidence.

    Power Verse:
    1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (NKJV)

    © 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 Hebrews

  • Am I On Camera?

    Posted on April 1, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal Evans Hurst

    "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them ..." Matthew 6:1a (ESV)

    My eldest son recently turned nine. Like most kids, he was excited to be officially "bigger." He walked around on his special day with his chest pushed out and his head held high.

    After a full day of justifiably being the center of attention, my son told me that because he was nine, he was going to wash the dishes.

    His dishes.

    He proceeded to go to the sink, squeeze the dish detergent and squirt a generous amount of soap on a dirty plate. He then proceeded to rub and scrub with vigor.

    I grabbed a glass of water and rested my hip on the side of the kitchen counter to watch my birthday boy work. He scrubbed on that dish for more than a minute.

    That dish wasn't just clean, it was sterile, sanitized and thoroughly decontaminated.

    Then my sweet boy turned to me, cocked his head slightly to one side, donned a puzzled face and asked, "Aren't you gonna take a picture of me and put it on Instagram?"

    I almost spit my water in his face with laughter, shock and a bit of confusion.

    My son was doing a good thing with the desire to broadcast his good thing to the world. Apparently, being "on camera" was an important part of his good works.

    So I took a few minutes to explain the importance of doing things for the right reasons and not performing for the applause of others.

    And then I was convicted.

    Convicted because sometimes I do the same thing.

    How many times have I served others, not just because it was the right thing to do, but because it also lent claim to a bit of self-righteousness as others watched me do it?

    How many times have I put forth more effort to show kindness or compassion to people inside the walls of my church than to those living within the walls of my home?

    How often do I aim for excellence when someone is watching but forget to aim consistently for excellence simply because my God is always watching?

    And He's always most interested in my heart.

    The Bible is clear. God doesn't want my good deeds to be aimed at gaining the applause of people. He wants me to have a pure heart and motives undergirded by a desire to live a life pleasing to Him.

    Even if no one else is watching.

    When my little boy got busy washing his dish, my heart was overjoyed because I thought he was showing growth and maturity by doing a good thing — simply because it was the right thing to do!

    When his true motives were made clear, I realized there was still mothering work to be done. My precious son still has room to grow and mature. And that's OK.

    In my Christian journey there will be times when I will need work. There will be times where my heart is not quite right or my motives are not necessarily pure. I still have room to grow and mature. And it's OK.

    And that's OK if you do, too.

    The good news I've learned as I grow in Christ is that my heart can change. God is a loving Father who is interested in my heart and willing to take the time to teach me. He's willing to go the distance, guiding me along the path to spiritual maturity.

    The interaction with my son reminded me to do a "heart check."

    Even if no one is watching, when I'm not "on camera," I should always be conscious of the story my actions tell about my heart.

    Dear Lord, I desire to have a pure heart and pure motives, but if I'm honest, sometimes I miss the mark. Help me be aware that You are ever present and to live as though You are watching. Where I have developed the habit of keeping up appearances, teach me what it means to live for an audience of One. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    When was the last time you joyfully served others when there was no applause?

    How does your treatment of people outside your home compare to the treatment of the people down the hallway?

    How much excellent effort do you put forth if no one is there to see how hard you work at the task at hand?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 101:2, "I will be careful to lead a blameless life — when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Trials Come So That...

    Posted on March 31, 2014 by Wendy Blight

    Wendy Blight

    "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4, NIV, emphasis added)

    [Editor's Note: Today's devotional might serve as a trigger for some. If that's you, we pray this story encourages you and brings you hope. Please see our note at the end for additional resources.]

    Screams from my living room startled me. Walking into the room, I realized the noises came from the television. On the screen, a man viciously attacked a woman. My instinct normally would have been to grab the remote and change the channel. Instead I stood frozen, my eyes locked onto the scene.

    It took me back 26 years to my little college apartment. To the terrifying moment I found an armed, masked man hiding at the top of my stairs. Without warning, I returned to the feelings and fear I felt that day.

    Something was drawing me back to that moment reminding me of where I once had been and how far I had come.

    Watching the violation on the screen was like watching myself all those years ago.

    My mind snapped back to the present reality of the TV show, where the screen now showed the victim returning home to find a crime scene.

    Another flashback. I, too, had arrived home to find investigators everywhere, dusting for prints, bagging and tagging items, and methodically removing my personal belongings one by one. First, physical, replaceable things ... my bathing suit, sheets, comforter, and towel. And then, personal, seemingly irreplaceable things ... my dignity, security, value and self-worth.

    Following the day I was attacked, fear locked me in a prison and held me captive for nearly 15 years.

    But thankfully that day watching that TV show, fear NEVER took hold!

    In the past when those emotions rushed through me, terror came and I ran wherever I could to avoid being alone with the paralyzing fear. But not that day. After turning the TV off, I boldly and confidently marched up my stairs, jumped in the shower and scrubbed off every one of those emotions.

    Afterward, the Lord impressed these words on my heart: Remember My promise. You have persevered, My child. Perseverance is finishing its work!

    God was speaking His own Word to me from today's key verse, James 1:2-4. Sometimes, God allows trials to test our faith. Our trials, though incredibly confusing and painful, initiate a process that teaches perseverance which deepens and matures our faith in a way nothing else can.

    My life is proof. Not only has God healed me from that horrific day many years ago, but He has turned it into a powerful testimony to bring hope to others and point them to Him.

    If you're in the midst of a trial, be encouraged, sweet friend. Our key verse teaches that God promises to mature and complete you through it. He also promises that you will be more than a conqueror through Christ who loves you. Pay attention to those words. Not a mere conqueror...but more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).

    As God washed these truths over me, He spoke this message into my heart:

    Not only can this trial not separate you from Me, Wendy, but with Me ... if you continue to look to Me and trust Me ... I will use it to mold you into the woman I created you to be. Wendy, you will be more than a conqueror so that I can mature you and use you to encourage and help others.

    Before you read further, reread the paragraph above and replace my name with yours. Let God's promises seep deep into your heart. Your trial has purpose. It forces dependence on God. It tests you. It molds you, eventually creating you into an overcomer, with a powerful testimony.

    Trials come so that God can work in and through them to transform us and then use us to bring hope and healing to His hurting people.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for having a purpose in my trials. Open my eyes to see Your hand at work and give me the courage to persevere so that You can mold me into the woman You created me to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are you facing a trial in your own life? What has been your response?

    Spend time reading Romans 8:37 (below) and James 1:2-4 (key verse). What truths do they speak into your trial?

    Power Verse:
    Romans 8:37, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (NIV)

    © 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 James

  • Living in a World Gone Wrong

    Posted on March 28, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" Psalm 10:1 (NIV)

    By the time I returned home that night, I was so agitated that sleep was impossible.

     

    I had travelled six hours by car and made the mistake of listening to news channels rather than my usual Christian music station. Throughout the drive, I became increasingly frustrated and irritated, as I heard one bad news story after another. My mind was spinning with thoughts, and my heart filled with emotions.

    The strongest emotion by far was sadness at the stark reality of our world gone terribly wrong.

    Stories of abuse, death, disaster, political corruption and a general lack of integrity are everywhere. At times it seems the voices and desires of those who are against God's ways shout louder than those who love Him and promote His ways. It frustrates me that things are getting worse instead of better.

    Driving down the interstate with my mind full of mental clutter, my heart felt heavy. I wondered what God's answer might be if I could ask Him, "God, what in the world is going on in this world? And when are You going to take action?"

    In Psalm 10, David expressed this same type of frustration and confusion. He asked the Lord why it appeared He wasn't doing anything about the wickedness of the world, or taking control of the cruelty, violence and injustices that ran rampant through their corrupt society. He questioned why wicked people were allowed to get away with their wrongdoings.

    David wanted to know when God was going to step in and do something. Anything. David prayed with a desperate heart, begging God's intervention.

    Maybe you have felt that way too. Maybe you are struggling with difficult circumstances, and you feel as if God is standing far away, not intervening with help. Maybe you have struggled while walking in God's ways, while others with less-than-godly motives succeed. Or maybe you too are frustrated with the direction our world seems to be headed.

    This is how David felt as well, but in Psalm 10:16-18a, we see his tone change from frustration to hope when he says, "The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed ..." (NIV). David took comfort in remembering and believing that God was with him, and in due time, He would prevail.

    In prayer, David voiced his deepest fears and honest feelings. He solicited God's wisdom for greater understanding, yet surrendered to trusting that God sees all, knows all and would handle it all when the time was right.

    Our world has gone wrong due to the existence of sin, but we have a choice in how we respond. Instead of letting despair pull us further from God, or cause us to doubt His goodness, we can choose to lean on our faith and draw closer to Him instead, just like David.

    Let's choose to proclaim God's sovereignty today, trust in His ways and be a voice for His truths even when the ways of this world break our hearts.

    Lord, help me remember that You are in control, no matter how out of control this world seems. Give me the desire to stay grounded in You no matter what I see on the news, or what challenges I personally face, and to trust You wholeheartedly. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do I feel forgotten or overlooked by God, or do I doubt His sovereignty over this world?

    Read Psalms 9, 10 and 11. Consider how your life and the world we live in mirrors much of what David describes. Ask God to speak to you through these scriptures and fill you with comfort and hope regarding our world and the situations you face in your personal life.

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 21:2, "A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart." (NIV)

    Ephesians 6:13, "Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet." (MSG)

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • How Much Will This Choice Really Cost Me?

    Posted on March 27, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "... in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." 2 Corinthians 2:11 (NIV)

    A few years ago I sat at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with my daughter Ashley while an officer told her the importance of good choices. Ashley was getting her learner's permit and entering the scary world of teenage drivers.

    "We've had 320 teens killed this year in fatal car accidents so we want to do everything possible to keep you safe," the officer said sternly as she highlighted for Ashley all the many rules for new drivers. Then she suggested signing a contract with her parents incorporating these rules.

    I've never wanted to hug a DMV officer. But, it was all I could do not to reach across the desk and throw my arms around her. For you see, my husband and I had already created a driving contract that we've made each of our teenagers sign.

    I'm sure our kids have thought our contract was a bit over the top. After all, none of their friends have had to sign such a document with their parents. So, it was good to hear another adult speak truth into the life of my child.

    And what I loved most about the officer's sermonette on safe driving was her emphasis on the cost of wrong choices.

    How I wish we could all see the cost of our choices as clearly as a price tag on items in a store. If I know how much something is going to cost me, I make much wiser choices. But we have an enemy who schemes against us to keep the cost of dumb decisions concealed until it's too late.

    Satan wants to defeat, discourage and destroy our families. His attacks are not just willy-nilly attempts to trip us up or knock us down. He wants to take us out.

    That's why, as parents, we've got to boldly fight for our families. We must get intentional with teaching our kids to think through their choices. And we must get intentional about modeling good choices as well.

    Do you know why Satan's tactics are called schemes in 2 Corinthians 2:11? A scheme is a plan, design or program of action. Satan's schemes are well-crafted plans specifically targeted to do three things:

    1. Increase your desire for something outside the will of God.
    2. Make you think giving in to a weakness is no big deal.
    3. Minimize your ability to think through the consequences of falling to this temptation.

    Satan is a master of keeping that cost hidden until it's too late.

    Sweet sisters, this is something worth thinking about. And it is something worth talking about with our kids. Consider age-appropriate examples of how costly wrong choices can be. Be real, raw and bold as you walk them through different scenarios of temptations they might face.

    That DMV officer was certainly bold in her explanation of the cost when a teen driver gets distracted by their iPod, cell phone or friends acting silly. Hearing her explain to my daughter how costly others' poor choices have been made these "rules" seem more like life-saving gifts.

    Think how different life might be if we all paused and asked ourselves this crucial question: How much will this choice really cost me? If we teach ourselves and our kids nothing else this week than to ask this one question, we will have invested wisely. So, so very wisely.

    Dear Lord, I am reminded that boldly following You is so much better than any short-term experience that's not pleasing to You. Give me Your eyes so that I can see temptation and its many different faces. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think of a current situation in your life that requires a decision from you. Have you taken the time to consider the cost?

    Have you taken the time to help a friend, child or spouse think through considering the cost of their choices?

    Power Verses:
    John 10:10, "'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'" (NIV)

    Isaiah 30:21, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (NIV)

    © 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 2 Corinthians

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