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Proverbs 31

  • New Year's Traditions

    Posted on December 31, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NIV)

    While driving my kids to school one morning, I asked what their favorite Miles' Family Christmas traditions were. My daughters answered in unison, "We don't have any traditions."

    I was shocked and a little annoyed as I replied, "You mean all these years I have been trying to make memories for you, and you honestly think we don't have any special traditions?!" My holiday spirit diminished as my blood pressure rose.

    They meekly asked me to remind them about these traditions. I provided them with an exhaustive list of family holiday activities and events that we've participated in every year since their births.

    When I stopped to take a breath, one said, "Oh, I just thought those were things we do every year. I didn't know they were traditions."

    I was relieved all my Christmas efforts had been noticed. And smiled realizing the problem was a simple lack of understanding the word "tradition."

    The conversation wouldn't leave my thoughts, so when I got home, I read the definition of "tradition." The first definition was, "the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice." The second definition read, "a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting and a continuing pattern of culture, beliefs or practices."

    Through the misunderstanding with my children, God showed me annual activities and events aren't the only things we should pass down to our kids. Rather I should be concerned about spiritual traditions - the passing down of faith - as even more important.

    I had been fretting over my children remembering that we drank hot chocolate while putting up our Christmas tree one month out of the year, when I should have been focusing on the spiritual traditions throughout the entire year.

    With a bit more research, I realized God gave us guidance on how to do this in Deuteronomy 11:18-19. He was talking to the Israelites in this passage, but the wisdom applies today:

    "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (NIV)

    This verse changed my thinking about traditions. Now my New Year's resolution each year is to focus on the spiritual traditions I can pass down throughout the entire year in the Miles' home. Traditions that will matter long term and make a difference in the hearts of others.

    Deuteronomy 11 guides me in making these resolutions. They include reading the Bible with my kids and applying it to everyday life. Also important are talking to them about God and praying with them, memorizing verses together, and understanding Scripture so that all we do reflects the love of Christ.

    I don't want these spiritual traditions to be passed down simply by word of mouth, but by practice. As a parent, I have to live out these traditions in my own life to lead my kids to pick them up. The tradition of reading, living out, and loving God's Word is a tradition worth passing down.

    Dear Lord, forgive me for losing sight at times of what is really important. Help me see ways I can build spiritual traditions in my home that will impact hearts and lives for generations to come. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Consider what traditions you focus on in your home. Are they all attached to a holiday, or are there spiritual traditions that create a bond to Jesus year-round? Ask God to show you what new traditions you can begin in your family to help them learn God's Word.

    If your children were asked what your spiritual traditions were, what would they say?

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." (ESV)

    © 2013 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 Deuteronomy

  • What's Mine to Do?

    Posted on December 30, 2013 by Family Christian

    Renee Stearns

    "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

    As I stood on a barren hillside in an ancient land, I felt small. My husband Rich and I were staying overnight in a small village in the West Bank – an area occupied by the Israeli government but populated by Palestinian communities. We were there to see how World Vision was helping to fight poverty and bring peace to this hurting and isolated community.

    That hillside had once been covered with olive groves, but Israeli forces replaced them with a security wall. Proponents claim the wall was necessary for protection, but it cut through the middle of communities, separating neighbors from their jobs, schools and each other. The ancient olive groves were just another casualty of generations of conflict.

    The community had purchased replacement trees, but they stood in plastic buckets rather than in the ground, presumably so they could be moved if construction vehicles came back.

    Earlier that day, I had hiked among the buckets with Rawah, a high school senior who was leaving soon to attend university. As we walked, she shared her dreams for the future, exuding the optimism every young student should have.

    Other community members were skeptical. "What's the use?" one villager asked me. "Our children have no future. They go to university and then return home prepared to do jobs that don't exist. They become tour guides instead of world leaders."

    Here, it seemed, children's futures were no safer than the olive trees.

    The conflict between Israel and Palestine is complicated. Its roots go back millennia. Since modern Israel's birth, the relationship has often been violent. Unsurprisingly, the vulnerable have suffered the most.

    And here I was, in the middle of it, meeting people whose lives were threatened by an ancient struggle that was bigger and more complicated than any of us.

    When confronted with a situation that's too big for me to handle, or when frustrated by the sheer injustice of something happening right in front of me, I used to tell myself, "This is not mine to fix."

    Sometimes that helped me remember I'm not always responsible for making everything right. However, sometimes it was an excuse to do nothing.

    Do you ever feel that way? Are the problems confronting the world, your community or even your family just too big to get your mind and arms around?

    Turn to God's Word and the reminder that Paul gives us in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (NIV) God has given us the strength we need, to do whatever He has called us to do.

    With God's wisdom and strength, I'm learning to ask: "What is mine to do?"

    For me, the answer was to help give a face to the conflict. I know I can't bring peace to the Middle East, but I can help people better understand that the lives of real men and women, boys and girls – on both sides of the conflict – are at stake. That, I can do.

    Don't give into the temptation to do nothing because you can't do everything. God doesn't call us to fix every problem, but He does call us to do something. Find out what that is and then, in His strength, do it with all your heart.

    Dear Heavenly Father, our world is so broken. But You've empowered each of us to do something to help heal it in Your Name. We can't do everything but You've entrusted us with something. Help us to identify our assignment and to seek Your strength to carry it out. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What are some problems you believe God is calling you to do something about?

    What can you do to address these problems? What must you entrust to God or others?

    Power Verses:
    Matthew 9:36-38, "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'" (NIV)

    Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Renee Stearns. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Thomas Nelson Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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


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

  • A Quiet Place to Rest

    Posted on December 27, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'" Mark 6:31 (NIV)

    "I want honey in my tea! And a lemon slice too! Oh, and can I use Great-Grandma's teacup, pretty please? I'll be careful," my then five-year-old daughter sweetly asked as we were enjoying our afternoon mother-daughter ritual.

    Each day while her two baby brothers napped, we pulled out china teacups and saucers from my collection and sipped herbal tea while I read a book out loud to her.

    This afternoon she was asking permission to use an heirloom piece that had been passed down through four generations in my mother's family. While I knew my little girl would be careful with the antique pink and white china cradled in her little hands, something else made me deny her request. I tried explaining it to her.

    "Sweetheart, I know you'll be careful, but we can't have hot tea in that cup. It has cracks. See?"

    I showed her a few tiny, hairline fractures on the side near the handle. It wasn't cracked all the way through and could actually still hold water without leaking. However, if hot liquid were to be poured into it, the crack would give way, causing the petite cup to shatter. (Been there. Broke that!)

    There was just no way for the fractured piece to withstand the stress of a steaming beverage.

    Our emotional lives are much the same. When we don’t allow time to rest and regroup from the stresses of life, we allow cracks in our spirit that make us emotionally and spiritually fragile. We keep going at break-neck speeds, rarely slowing down long enough to be refreshed.

    Mark 6:31 highlights the fact that even Jesus Himself found it important to get away for a while, to slow down and cease activity. The Bible records this event, "Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest'" (NIV).

    Jesus urged His disciples to get to a quiet place. In doing so they would find rest. Being alone and quiet would restore their weary spirits.

    For many of us, the stretch between Thanksgiving to New Years Day is a whirlwind of activity. In our fast-paced society, we rarely are intentional to create a quiet place and spend time resting. As a result, stress chisels away, creating tiny cracks that although barely visible, could cause us to shatter under the go-go-go pressures of everyday life, much less the holidays.

    Let's purpose to take time to slow down, get away, and rest. To find solitude in a hushed place alone with our Savior, even if only for an hour.

    If we make time to answer Jesus' call to go away with Him to a quiet place, we can crack-proof our spirits, making them strong and rendering us ready to handle life. A few quiet moments spent with Him can help make us strong enough to fulfill God’s assignments for us this season.

    Dear Lord, help me intentionally carve out time to reconnect with You in a quiet spot. I know You are waiting. I want to seek Your face and find true rest. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Remember a time when you got away for rest and quiet. What did it do for you emotionally?

    Why don't you get alone or seek a quiet place more often? List some things, people, or activities that prevent you from doing so. Now, make plans to seek a quiet time soon. Write it on your calendar and keep your appointment with God.

    Power Verse:
    Matthew 7:25, "The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn't collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. (HCSB)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Afraid to Turn the Next Corner

    Posted on December 26, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8 (ESV)

    You know how some people love the thrill of being surprised? They love surprise parties. They would love to show up at work today and be told they are being whisked from their desk for a surprise vacation in just a few hours.

    They would love to have one of those makeover shows show up at their house with a film crew and be told they're getting a whole new wardrobe.

    Surprises feel thrilling to them. Like how some people feel when a roller coaster ride they thought was over suddenly takes off again and starts doing upside-down loops. They throw their hands in the air and embrace the thrill of the unknown.

    They call that fun.

    I don't.

    This dislike of surprises can usually be managed with all the things I mentioned.

    My friends know not to throw me a surprise party. No one is looking to give me a surprise vacation or new wardrobe. And before getting on a roller coaster, I thoroughly check it out and know its patterned route.

    But life is different.

    Life twists and turns and throws loops into those places we think will be flat and smooth. Because that's what life does. Sometimes it just catches us off guard.

    And at the end of the day, I guess that's why I don't like to be surprised. I can't stand to get caught off guard. It makes me feel exposed and afraid.

    But slowly, I'm learning it's not all bad to be surprised.

    That vulnerable place reminds us we have needs beyond what we can manage. Feeling a little exposed and afraid reminds us we need God. Desperately. Completely.

    And into that gap between what we can manage on our own and what we can't, that's right where faith has the opportunity to grow deep roots. Roots that dig down in to the hope and joy and peace only God can offer.

    My faith doesn't just need to grow big, it needs to grow deep. Yes, I need deep faith roots, like the believer in Jeremiah 17:7-8, "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." (ESV)

    Deep roots keep us secure in God's love when fear comes.

    Deep roots anchor us with the truth that God is in control when surprises blow like strong, unruly winds.

    Deep roots hold us steady in the peace of God during the storm that didn't show up on the radar.

    Deep roots find nourishment in God's grace when the surface gets awfully dry.

    Deep roots allow for growth of faith in God not previously possible.

    I'm learning to not be so afraid of what might be around the next corner. Even if it does catch me off guard. I close my eyes and whisper to the Lord ... deeper still.

    Dear Lord, deep faith roots is what I desperately need. Help me to take steps each day in my journey of trusting You even if that means being in a vulnerable place sometimes. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    In what ways does knowing God will sustain you in hard times comfort you?

    What step can you take today that will plant you firmly near the Lord. For example, memorizing a Bible verse, praying, etc.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 9:10, "Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • A Light in the Dark

    Posted on December 25, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha Evilsizer

    "I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!" Luke 2:30-32 (NLT)

    "Don't get out of the car by yourself. Just honk when you get here and I'll come out."

    As I drove down the darkening street I questioned the wisdom of the 13-year-old who had just given me those instructions. Maybe one of the other youth group leaders should have come with me. Wouldn't honking alert the drug dealers in the neighborhood that Jake had warned me about?

    Turns out I didn't get an answer to my question. Approaching his house, I squinted in the dim evening light. The silhouette of Jake throwing a football in the air was fading against the night sky.

    Christmas carols escaped from my rolled down car window. Songs of the Christ child's birth and God's glory in the highest. Lyrics proclaiming that salvation had come—for me, for Jake, his neighbors, the world.

    "Hey buddy. How are ya?" Such a lame question in light of all he'd seen. His father in a jail cell just a few months prior. His father overdosed in his bed last week. His father in a casket three days earlier.

    Jake helped me carry the pizzas I'd brought over for his family. Couches brimmed with aunts and uncles; chairs overflowed with young cousins vying for a spot to sit. His mom, Norma, and several friends surrounded the kitchen table. Many had come long distances, weary travellers searching for peace.

    These pizzas would ease their hunger, but not their hurt. They wouldn't be truly comforted until they found what they were looking for: a light in the darkness of their grief.

    That dismal day as the television flickered in the living room ... as Norma declared she was moving out of that memory-laden house ... as Jake talked about playing football in a different school district ... I prayed, Lord please let them see You.

    My heart understood some of their hurt. I've been the one to receive meals. I've made plans to escape the memories and grief. And I've set my sights on what I wished would rescue me from painful circumstances.

    Maybe you've longed for that kind of help too? Eagerly looked for a light in the darkness? There was a man, Simeon, in Luke chapter 2 who had the great joy of pronouncing that help had come.

    Let's look at Simeon's amazing proclamation: "At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

    'Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!'" (Luke 2:25-32 NLT)

    Simeon knew that true help, true salvation, wouldn't come through anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ.

    That day standing in Jake's living room, I knew the same thing. No matter how many meals were delivered, or whether or not they moved to a new school or neighborhood, without the hope of Christ, they'd always be looking for something else to be their hope, their light. The same is true for me, for you.

    Simeon was a man of singular passion: to see the Christ Child with his own eyes and God's glory revealed. He knew that Jesus' birth meant salvation had come for those who would trust in Him and the work He would do when He died on the cross. His whole life would illuminate God's love to a desperate world. For those who believe that He is the Son of God and our risen Savior, we have the hope of eternal life spent with God and peace and joy here on earth.

    On this day when we celebrate Jesus' coming to earth, let's really focus on Him. He is our hope in despairing situations. And a joyful light to brighten even the darkest circumstances.

    Jesus, You alone are the hope the world needs. Thank You for coming from heaven to earth, from King to servant, from God to babe. Give me a singular passion to see You. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    When your hope dips low, pray for help in re-focusing on the great gift of Jesus and who God is.

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 9:6, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Calming Our Hearts

    Posted on December 24, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness." Psalm 145:7 (NIV)

    In the midst of the busyness of Christmas, I often pull away to calm my heart and quiet my thoughts with a cup of hot cocoa. I love to feel warm and peaceful while sipping a cup of steaming chocolate with marshmallows piled on top.

    But there is another reason I love cocoa. Each letter of my favorite winter drink helps me focus my heart on Christ and to live out Psalm 145:7, "They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness." (NIV)

    C – CHRIST "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit." Matthew 1:18 (NIV 1984)

    It's easy to focus on shopping and planning Christmas Day menus instead of seeking Jesus. Take a break today from searching for that last-minute present or perfect recipe to spend time praising God for the gift of His Son.

    O – ORNAMENTS "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV 1984)

    Decking the halls can be a lot of fun, but have we adorned our hearts with God's love and compassion, patience and kindness? When we do, our words and actions will glorify God and bless others.

    C – CHEERFULLY CELEBRATE THE SEASON "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 (NIV)

    Although Christmas is meant to be a joyous season, it's also a time we might struggle with depression and discouragement. Focusing on God's truth that we are valued and loved as children of God can remove that shroud of darkness and replace it with great joy. This month will be over in a few days, but the peace and hope we find in God's love are forever.

    O – OVERJOYED not OVERWHELMED "When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." Matthew 2:10-11 (NIV)

    Many of us are overjoyed to kick off the Christmas season but feel overwhelmed by the middle of the month, much less the day before Christmas. Reconnect with the wonder and awe of celebrating Christ as you bring a gift of gratitude to Jesus for coming as our Savior. When we focus our hearts on all God has done, we won't get as easily overwhelmed by all that we'd like to get done.

    A – ABUNDANCE "... I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10b (NIV)

    Whenever I think of Christmas morning, from my childhood to the present, the word abundance comes to mind. Abundance of gifts, food, and activities. But these things are temporary. What we need is the abundant life Jesus came to give us. Our hearts need His mercy, peace, and love—not only on Christmas day, but every day throughout each year.

    I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a cup of Christmas cocoa. Will you join me? Let's take time to ponder the verses above and make room for God's love to pour into our hearts. His abundant goodness is worthy to be celebrated!

    Dear Lord, thank You for giving me the gift of Your Son. Please help me not get so caught up in the earthly celebrations of Christmas that I forget to celebrate all I have in Christ. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you allowed the chaos of Christmas to overshadow your celebration of Christ?

    How can you share God's goodness with others?

    Power Verses:
    Number 6:25-26, "The LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." (NIV)

    © 2013 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, Christmas

  • The Pull to be Everywhere During the Holidays

    Posted on December 23, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:4 (ESV)

    I loved holidays. Before marriage. Before the pull to be everywhere at the same time. Before most decisions left someone upset or angry or feeling left out.

    As a newlywed, I struggled with a desire to be in my own home on holidays, to start my own traditions with my husband. We were the first to be married in both families, and thus the first to break "how it's always been."

    Thanksgiving should have been a time to be thankful. All I felt was stretched thin. Christmas was meant to be joyous, but I was often frustrated from wanting to please everyone.

    As we had children, I tried to mask my frustration with enthusiasm. But inside I wrestled. If my husband and I chose to celebrate the holidays at our own home, someone was bound to be disappointed. When we went to every expected event, I would be exhausted from packing up three young kids, diaper bags, food, toys, presents, and the list went on.

    Fast-forward thirty years, and thankfully I once again treasure the holidays. But now that my kids are grown up and married with babies of their own, I understand the longing my extended family felt to be together on the holidays. An empty nest leaves gaps that traditions used to fill.

    Yet with three sets of in-laws, there are other families in the mix now. My husband and I know the pressure our kids might feel to come home for the holidays, and we don't want them to have the same frustrations we did.

    A few years ago we chose to put Philippians 2:4 in to action: "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (ESV).

    We told our children it's not the date on the calendar that makes holidays special. It's the heart behind them. It's spending time with people you love.

    So, sometimes we get together on Thanksgiving Day, or maybe the week after. Maybe it's Christmas only, while Thanksgiving is spent with other family members or by themselves. We remain flexible to our kids' needs and schedules. If they and our grandchildren aren't with us on a specific day, my husband and I fill that time with a new tradition with just the two of us. Last year Richard and I hiked. We had so much fun! Later, when we gathered to celebrate Christmas with our growing family, it was a blessed, unrushed time.

    There was an unexpected gift. What we discovered is that by looking out for their best interest—and not our personal desires—our kids love to come because there's no pressure. They let us in on their traditions. Regardless of the date, when we do get together we have fun! It's a gift we give our family and ourselves.

    Dear Lord, I'm grateful for so many things, and one of those is family who loves me enough to want to be with me. Help me share my needs with my loved ones, and to do it with grace and gentleness. Help me not to take it personally as they struggle with change. If I am the one that is inflexible, help me to bend and grow. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you shared your needs? Articulate them on paper. Share them at the right time, in the right attitude. Don't take responses personally. Change takes time.

    If you are the one struggling with change, are you willing to be flexible? Instead of focusing on a specific date, focus on the heart of the holiday.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 106:1-2, "Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for his is good! His faithful love endures forever. Who can list the glorious miracles of the LORD? Who can ever praise him enough?" (NLT)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Combating Loneliness

    Posted on December 20, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha Evilsizer

    "My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted." Psalm 25:15-16 (ESV)

    Don't look his way, her heart and mind insist.

    She doesn't want to look. Then again, she does. Though my friend did not check the "Plus One" box on her RSVP card, she wishes she had. Why had she come to this party alone? Maybe then she wouldn't gravitate to him.

    He's reckless and destructive. My friend knows better, but he's the only one who can relate to her. Even so, she avoids eye contact, hoping to make him believe she doesn't need him anymore.

    She succeeds until another round of laughter fills the Christmas party. Her resolve walks out as he walks up to her, extending a knowing hand. Fingers entwined, she falls in his snare. She can't stand him ... this companion called loneliness.

    In the midst of listening to marriage, baby, vacation, life-is-grand stories, she hears the voice of loneliness, high above the conversations: You'll never have this. You'll be lonely forever.

    She had promised herself she wouldn't turn her eyes to him this time. As she was getting ready for the party, she put this truth on: "My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted." (Psalm 25:15-16 ESV)

    But she forgot this hopeful promise as she fell into the trap of loneliness.

    By the time the clock chimed an acceptable hour to bid her goodbyes, she was eager to be gone. One step out the door and she lowered her guard too soon. Loneliness had saved his best for last. Powerfully, he pummeled lies until she believed: You will always be lonely.

    When he trotted off, leaving her alone, a different hand reached down. One that is gentle and healing. Let me help you up. Rough night, huh?

    She looked up to see His scarred hand extended.

    How'd You know I was here?

    He tells her He's been there the whole time, always near, at the ready to rescue any time she looked to Him for help. As she faced Him, He began to untangle the false claims of loneliness with truth: I am near (Psalm 145:18). I will never leave (Deuteronomy 31:6). I am your joy (Psalm 16:11).

    Hollow parts of her heart filled with the confidence of Jesus. She knew it was time to break-up with loneliness for good. Not just at parties, during holidays, or weekends with nothing planned.

    Maybe it's your time too? Truth is, loneliness can tag along whether you are alone or surrounded by family and friends, on special days and ordinary days.

    There's only one way to keep loneliness from being a constant companion in life. It is to make sure our "... eyes are ever toward the LORD ..." Psalm 25:15a (ESV).

    Let's keep our focus on God and call out to Him when we feel loneliness setting a trap for us: in the festive times, in the quiet times, at all times.

    Dear Lord, my eyes are ever toward You, for only You will release my feet from the trap of loneliness. Will You please turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted? Thank You for being near and being my joy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Christmas can be a time when loneliness is overwhelming. If you struggle with this, what can you do to combat loneliness?

    Choose a Bible verse to memorize that you will use to fight loneliness. Write it on a piece of paper or make it your phone/computer screen saver as a constant reminder of the nearness of Jesus.

    Power Verses:
    Deuteronomy 31:8, "It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." (ESV)

    Lamentations 3:22-26, "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. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. 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, Loneliness

  • The Most Searched for Answer

    Posted on December 19, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12 (NIV)

    Growing up I had a plan for how I could make my life good.

    Get a good education. A good job. A good husband. A few good kids. A good house. A good flowerbed out front. And a good mini-van parked in the driveway.

    Then life would be ... good.

    Eventually, I had all that good stuff. I was thankful for it all. I loved my family to pieces. The mini-van wasn't all I thought it would be, but I felt like an official mom driving it. So even that wound up being good.

    But something inside me still felt hollow. A little off. A little lacking.

    So, I reasoned I needed something else to do. A place where I could use my gifts and talents. And while these things were fun and satisfying on one level, they too fell short when it came to that deep place ringing with the echoes of empty.

    Empty is a heavy load to bear. The mystery of wanting to be filled but not knowing how or what could fill the deep soul is a gnawing ache. A search that can seem both futile and shattering at times.

    When you try and try, always feeling like the answer is just around the corner, and then it isn't, it can split your heart wide open and leak dry all your reserves.

    It can make you feel unsatisfied and frustrated with everything. Even those you love. Maybe especially those you love.

    So you fake a smile and keep putting one foot in front of the other. But eventually you stop peeking around the next corner hoping the answer is there. History tells you it isn't. And wrapped in that perception is the noose that strangles out all hope.

    Sadly, this is where many women live.

    I know this place because I lived there. I struggled there.

    And I guess I'm wondering if you or someone you love might be there this Christmas season. It's tough when everything around you screams "merry" when you feel anything but.

    It quite honestly stinks.

    So, I'm not going to pretend you'll suddenly feel super merry after reading this.

    But what I can promise is a string of words that explains a lot. An answer that is sure and solid and true and full of the breathless wonder of a hope rediscovered.

    "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12 NIV)

    No good plan is the answer.

    Even a good husband — good children — a good friend make a very poor God.

    No education or job or house can save you.

    Salvation can't be found in anyone or anything else.

    There is no other.

    Only Jesus.

    And I'm not just talking about saying we're Christians. Following the rules and following Jesus are two totally different things.

    Going through the motions of religion won't ever satisfy. It's only when we bend down low, open our hearts in complete surrender, and say, "Jesus, it's You. Only You. There is no other. There is no other possession or person or position that can ever fill the deep soul-place shaped only for You."

    This is my Christmas prayer. Though I've been saved for a long time, I want to recapture the essence of this "no other" reality.

    And really live like this is true.

    Because it is. True.

    Jesus, only You can save and fill and give what my soul desires. Please remind me to draw close to You and rely on the promise that You will draw close to me when I do. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Who do you rely on to fill the gaps? How would the dynamics of that relationship change if you released them from that duty and allowed Jesus to meet your needs?

    Do you use something (other than people) to fill your gaps, such as food, drugs/alcohol, busyness? What steps would you need to take to stop using them as a way to satisfy your soul?

    Power Verse:
    John 4:10, "Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, "Give me a drink," you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.'" (ESV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Click to Change

    Posted on December 18, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 (AMP)

    "Look, Miss Karen! When you click here you can change the color of her fingernail polish just like that!" I was watching my friend's pre-teen daughter for the weekend. She was parked on the couch playing around on a nail art website on my computer. Each time she clicked on a different color nail polish bottle the color instantly changed on the model's hands.

    Clicking a mouse to change things on our computer screen is so simple. If only real life were the same!

    Many times I look at my circumstances and wish I had a special mouse so I could click and change everything I don't like. But life's not like that. While there's much I can change, there's much more I can't.

    And when I focus on all I can't revise, my heart can feel defeated. There are people I can't change, finances I can't control, and circumstances that leave my heart feeling shattered. If only I could recolor bad attitudes or rewrite difficult experiences, then I'd feel better. Right?

    Wrong.

    I've discovered that changing other people or circumstances isn't really a fix for my often-troubling situations because it isn't something I can make happen. I can't control other's behavior, only mine. Here is where the solution lies.

    Even when circumstances and people stay the same, my attitude towards them and my perspective can change. What can bring about this transformation?

    God's Word.

    It can snap me back to attention, soften my heart and help me view my life through a different and God-honoring lens. It can align my heart and actions with God's so I don't do or say things today I will regret tomorrow. As Hebrews 4:12 states, it helps to expose, sift, analyze and judge the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.

    In a very practical way, God's Word makes it all click and that clicking makes me change.

    Spending time daily in the Bible is imperative to bringing about this change, and we at Proverbs 31 Ministries have committed to help women around the world interact with God's Word daily through our many ministry avenues. Just this past year God impacted the lives of over 600,000 women daily through our free Encouragement for Today devotions. We celebrated with over 4,000 women who made first time decisions for Christ, and our team responded to over 10,000 prayer requests.

    It isn't just the volunteers and staff who get to be a part of helping bring God's transforming work. So does everyone who gives a financial gift — no matter the size — to Proverbs 31 Ministries.

    We value every gift and giver. The ones who give hundreds ... the ones who go without lattes each month and share their saved $25 ... the ones who donate $5.

    Yes, $5 makes a big impact.

    Together, we offer perspective-changing truth that can renew a woman's heart and mind no matter what age or stage of life she's in.

    Together, we point women to the Healer, made known on the pages of Scripture, who can make their spirits whole.

    Together we can teach women how to study the Bible, forgive and mend a friendship, strengthen a marriage, or effectively parent children.

    Do you want to change the world by offering hope, help, and even life from behind your computer screen? We'd love for you to join us. When we give our collective "littles," God transforms them into a big movement that can alter lives both now and for eternity.

    With a click of your mouse, you help change the world.

    We'd be honored if you would join us.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the life-altering and perspective-changing power of Your holy Word. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    When is a time that God's Word helped to change your bad attitude or wrong perspective?

    Will you forward this email to a friend who needs to receive encouragement from God's Word?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 119:11 "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


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

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