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  • 7 Bible Verses to Share with Your Daughter about her Identity in Christ

    blogJuly11

    The right friends, the right opinions, the right pant size – tween girls are at an age where they’re feeling pressured to look and act a certain way. Society, the media and their peers are all competing to be their source of self-worth. Your precious daughter is in one of the most delicate and influential seasons of her life – it’s up to you to be the voice of truth.

    It’s our hope that these verses will inspire a larger conversation with your daughter about who she is and whose she is. We encourage you to ask God for guidance as you communicate what it means to be a Daughter of the King.

    7 Bible Verses about Identity

    You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. – Song of Solomon 4:7 NIV

    I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. – Psalm 139:14 NKJV

    This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! – 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

    He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV

    Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. – Ephesians 1:4 NKJV

    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

    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

    Be intentional about speaking truth to your daughter. Challenge her to memorize a verse, pray these promises over her life and remind her to just have fun while remembering Jesus. Spark your tween girl’s faith with our exclusive new line of Cupcakes & Jesus clothing and accessories. It’s sweet, sparkly and speaks truth to your daughter using messages that remind her to be bold, shine bright and show the love of Christ.

    How do you teach your little girl about what it means to be a child of God?

  • Decisions, Decisions

    Decisions, Decisions by Karen Ehman

    “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:12-13 (NIV)

    I have a confession. I love to get my way. Oh, I go about it rather cryptically, appearing to just be logical or thoughtful, but really — deep down inside — I know what I want. And usually, I know just how to get it.

    Perhaps this is why I love going to the coffeehouse. I can step up to the counter and rattle off to the barista my high-maintenance order, and my coffee turns out just like I did like it: “a grande, decaf, skim milk mocha, with 1‑½ pumps of coconut flavoring, 1‑½ pumps almond flavoring, light whipped cream, slight drizzle of chocolate, extra hot and double-cupped, please.” (See, I told you it was high maintenance!)

    While it works at the coffeehouse, sometimes with the people closest to me, getting my way gets in the way of my relationships.

    Usually it goes like this: We are traveling as a family and need to decide where we’d like to eat. I know which restaurant I want. Unfortunately, the members of my family like a different eatery. So, I’ll try my best to convince them my choice is better.

    Or perhaps it’s time to spruce up the living room with a fresh coat of paint. I want to decide what color is best. My husband may have his own opinion, but somehow I’ll manipulate the situation so “sage green” wins over his “boring tan.”

    From matters as small as what brand of ketchup to buy, to huge decisions such as purchasing a house, I am very vocal — and equally convincing — when it comes to getting my way. And my large-and-in-charge bossy ways can cause conflict and friction with others.

    This dilemma really isn’t new. Our ancestor Eve exhibited this behavior back in the Garden of Eden when she decided she knew better than God. She ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God commanded her not to eat. Humankind’s relationship with God experienced its first conflict, and sin entered the world.

    Today, to get our way, we might employ various tactics: reasoning, arguing, pleading or even pouting — anything to secure the outcome we desire. But one day when reading today’s key verse, I gained a fresh insight on this familiar scripture.

    In John 15:12-13, Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I used to think about the dramatic ways one might lay down their life, like getting in harm’s way to save a friend from a deadly injury. Or a soldier might willingly give up his or her life on the battlefield. While these are certainly true and noble, I have come to think of this passage in a more practical way.

    What if we gave up our quest to get our own way in everyday life?

    What if we stopped needing to be the one in our relationships — especially our marriages — who decides all of the time? Laid down our will and desires for how life goes that day and deferred to another. It doesn’t mean we don’t contribute our thoughts, or make our case, but we don’t insist on all decisions going our way. This action of laying aside our desires for another’s certainly is a way to show love.

    It hasn’t been easy, but viewing this verse as an encouragement to stop trying to get my own way and let others decide has been so freeing! I have learned others have good ideas and allowing someone else to choose helps me become less selfish. Yes, laying down our lives in even the smallest ways shows love for others and reverence for Christ. And it helps us decision-loving gals learn to let go and let others have a say.

    Father, forgive me for the times I try to get my own way without listening to others or letting them in on the decision-making process. I want to learn to lay down my life — in ways both big and small. Help me be more like Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (NIV) Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Will you dare today to defer to others in both small and big decisions? What is one area where you might do this in the next few days?

    © 2016 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • When I Feel Like a Fraud

    When I Feel Like a Fraud by Kristi Woods

    “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:2 (NIV)

    Sometimes I feel like a fraud. It happened again the other day.

    My child found trouble at school. His wrestle with a heart issue surfaced and accountability was deemed necessary.

    In the midst of his struggle, I also struggled. I wrestled with feeling like a Christian fraud: I thought you were supposed to be a good Christian mom. If you raised him right, he wouldn’t have these problems. What will others think?

    Thoughts roared. My worth quaked. I wanted to run and hide. I began to question how worthwhile my Christian mothering was, how sincere my own faith stood. The feelings pounded with force.

    But then I remembered where true help is found, and the view changed. In the midst of an emotional whirlwind, the Lord set my eyes on Psalm 121.

    Its message rang clear. True help comes from only one place: the Lord.

    Its lesson rooted deep. Its impact proved life-changing. And it was in dire need of use against feelings of fraud. I needed help!

    Portions of Psalm 121 rushed from my mouth: “I lift up my eyes. My help comes from You, LORD, Maker of heaven and earth.”

    I sputtered the confession a second time, clawing to escape fraud’s lie: “I lift up my eyes. My help comes from You, LORD, Maker of heaven and earth.”

    I assured myself with the confession three times. It was a coaxing of the necessary kind.

    Clinging to this truth mirrored hanging on a cliff, clawing for dear life. It was hard! The weight of past habits pulled on me, but I was determined.

    I did feel like a fraud, like a bad mom whose Christian flag apparently waved at half-staff or whose wilted flower lay lifeless on the dirt, kicked and trampled on by passersby.

    But that wasn’t truth.

    I did feel like a mom whose child might wrestle needlessly or walk away from their faith altogether. But that wasn’t mine to control. It was mine to pray over.

    I did question if there was something I didn’t handle or instill appropriately.

    But then, I purposefully stopped believing the feelings and intentionally looked to the Lord. And I was helped.

    As I climbed this mountain of despair, the Lord offered the only “arm-up” to true safety available. Grasping trust in His Word was thought-changing, like pulling up and over the cliff’s edge. Our God is a life-saving, thought-changing God.

    Our children, spouses, or others don’t define us. Truth does, His help assures.

    People are not our salvation. Jesus is.

    Others’ works aren’t stars on our performance chart. His grace has approved us, simply by faith.

    We aren’t what we feel and certainly aren’t a fraud when troubles rise. We are what God says we are — accepted, dearly loved and forgiven.

    Thankfully, help isn’t found in fraudulent feelings. They’ll tout their story and we might be tempted to believe, but true help is found by looking to the Lord, the very One who made heaven and earth. True help is found in His truth. On that, we can assuredly stand firm.

    Father, I desire to trust You in every area of my life. Forgive me for times when I’ve run to other counsel. Cause me to trust in and be changed by Your truth. Steep me in Your help for my worth, direction, wisdom and more. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (NKJV) Psalm 124:8, “Our help is from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What areas of your life do you depend on your own strength or the actions of others to feel successful? Offer this to God in prayer.

    Recall a time when God was your help, and offer Him your thanks for that situation and your trust for situations to come. © 2016 by Kristi Woods. All rights reserved.

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

  • Seeing Beauty Instead of Pain

    Seeing Beauty Instead of Pain by Lysa TerKeurst

    “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” Luke 8:14 (NIV)

    My life has not been a bed of roses.

    What an odd statement. It’s supposed to mean that I haven’t lived a life without snags and hurt. However, think of an actual bed of roses. Doesn’t it have both thorns and flowers?

    My aunt grew roses for years. She’s the one I lived with for almost a year when I was in middle school and my family was falling apart. I remember her telling me not to run through her rose garden. After all, she had what seemed like hundreds of other acres that unfolded in wide open fields. I could run there.

    But I didn’t want to.

    I only wanted to run through the rose garden. I wanted to spread my arms wide open and run between the rows brushing my fingertips across all the velvety blooms. I wanted some of the blooms to burst and shower petals all around. Then I could gather the petals and spread them along my path.

    As if I could carve a new place in this world lined with beauty and void of adult words like divorce, rejection and hate … I wanted my world to be soft, pink and lovely. I didn’t want to think about my dad leaving our family. My heart couldn’t process how he not only didn’t live with us anymore, but he was also slowly pulling back from participating in our lives all together.

    So, I took a running start with my arms outstretched only to be shocked with searing pain within the first few steps.

    Thorns. Big, mean, vicious thorns. Thorns that ripped my flesh and opened up the flood of tears I’d been so determined to hold back. Suddenly, I hated that bush. I wanted to chop it down and beat it into the ground. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring myself to destroy something that produced such beauty.

    I stood back from the source of my pain and wondered, Should I call it a bush of thorns or a bush of flowers? Really, it could go either way.

    Suddenly I wasn’t just staring at a bush. I was staring at my life. My life. Such a bed of roses. Would I see the hurt or would I see the beauty?

    Luke 8:14 says, “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” The seed being referred to here is the Word of God. Isn’t it interesting that people who are choked by life’s circumstances and never mature are referred to as having thorns in the soil of their soul?

    Yes, life sometimes hands us thorns but we have the choice to park our mind on the thorn or on the beauty it can eventually produce in us, if only we’ll cling tightly to God’s Word. How a person thinks is how they will eventually become.

    If we dwell on the negative in life, we’ll become negative and God’s Word will have a hard time taking root in our souls. If, however, we acknowledge the negative but choose instead to look for the good that can come from it, God’s Word will take root in our souls and produce a lush crop of beauty.

    It all comes down to choice. That day in my aunt’s garden, I chose to be aware of the thorns but park my mind on the beautiful roses.

    And over the years, I have come to the place in my life where I realize I can focus on the hurt my dad’s absence caused or choose to focus on other things in my life. Beautiful things.

    It’s been more than 25 years since I’ve seen my dad. That’s hard on a girl’s heart. But where he fell so short, God has filled in many gaps. I don’t have to be the child of a broken parent the rest of my life, I can be a child of God. Loved. Truly loved.

    And that is a beautiful truth I can let flourish in my heart.

    Dear Lord, it can be really hard to focus on the petals rather than the thorns of life. But I want the soil of my soul to be healthy and ready to receive Your Word. Will You produce beauty in my life despite the thorns by which I’ve been so hurt? In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Mark 15:17, “They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Have you been focusing on the thorns or the petals in your life lately? If you have been dwelling on the pain, ask the Lord to help you see the beauty today.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Freedom From the Facade

    Freedom From the Facade by Amy Carroll

    “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 (NIV)

    There’s nothing like a picture from high school to remind you of your former goofy self. An old friend recently posted a picture of a group of us on a field trip that made me both giggle and blush.

    There I stood in the middle of the Smithsonian Museum, posed in a feisty Charlie’s Angels stance with my friends, big hair poofing and hip cocked like I owned the world. Remember that weird teen stage that was a mix of self-consciousness and arrogance?

    I laughed at the picture, and then I started to think about that girl — the Amy of decades ago.

    That opinionated girl who thought she understood the world … who had equal measures of sass, attitude and idealism … who always saw the best in people … who loved to be known as “a little different.” That girl has turned into a woman who now feels comfortable in her own skin, but she disappeared behind a facade of her own making — a mask of perfection — for years in between.

    I’m not sure when the change happened. Maybe it was when I tried to measure up in a legalistic church. Or maybe it was when I took on the weight of wanting to be the perfect wife and mom. But probably it was when I started valuing what others thought about me more than protecting the woman God had created me to be.

    Day by day, the true me started to disappear. One small choice after another led me down a path of hiding behind a facade of perfection rather than living the full and free life God had for me. Maybe you recognize yourself here too. You’ve started creating a false “I’ve-got-it-all-together” image to keep people from knowing the real you with your flaws and failures. It feels safer behind that wall, but it’s exhausting. And it’s soul-crushing.

    For a while, even Scripture confused me on this matter, so I sought out a trusted friend to help me. Across the table, I exclaimed to her, “But the Bible does tell us to be perfect! Right there in Matthew 5:48 Jesus says, ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’” She just smiled and sent me home to do some studying and to look up the meaning of the word perfect in its context. I hurried home to do my assignment.

    As the root definition of the word flashed onto my computer screen, I sat in teary-eyed silence. The truer translation of the word perfect in this verse is to be “whole,” “complete” or “mature.” The Amplified Bible says it this way, “You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    I might be mixed up about lots of things, but suddenly I had clarity on a big step toward breaking up with perfect. God is calling us from the hollowness of self-made perfection to the wholeness of God-given completion. He is doing a perfecting work in us, freeing us day by day from our false image of perfection, until we live in the freedom, joy and fullness of life for which we were made.

    While our pursuit of perfection and a flawless image drains us of energy, God’s work of perfecting fills us with peace. We can trust that God is big enough to turn even our flaws into something usable and to redeem the failures of our past. Living in God’s image the beautiful unique women He created us to be, is a huge step toward true maturity.

    Creating an image is measuring up. Living in God’s image is filling up. Let’s step into His image and complete our own!

    Lord, I want to live in Your perfecting power, the work that makes me whole, complete and mature. Help me put down my mask of perfection and step into the freedom of living in Your image. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 18: 32, “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” (NKJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: In what ways have you chosen to create your own image instead of living authentically in God’s image?

    How has that choice shaped the way you feel about yourself or changed your relationships with others?

    Write out a prayer asking God to help you step out from behind the mask and to live in freedom.

    © 2016 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • How’s Your Heart?

    How’s Your Heart? by Boyd Bailey

    “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

    “How’s your heart?” This is the question he asked me almost every time we talked, which was often. But I will not hear these words from him anymore in this life.

    Recently after a 2-1/2 year battle with cancer, Scott — my friend and coworker — went to be with Jesus. I miss him, and selfishly, I need to hear his loving question: “Boyd, how is your heart?”

    To me, Scott was a spiritual doctor who cared about my heart’s condition. He knew the quality of my life depended on the health of my heart. He reminded me of my need for the Great Physician.

    Today’s key verse says everything flows from your heart — your hopes, your dreams, your fears, your anxieties, your anger, your forgiveness, your humility, your peace, your greed, your generosity, and your love. Yes, everything that makes you who you are is in your heart. So above all else, your heart needs a guard — and God is your guard.

    When the Holy Spirit fills your heart by faith, He flushes out sin and leaves enough room for the Fruit of the Spirit. Only a heart guarded by God can bear up under the influence of ungodliness. A heart submitted to Christ in prayer is protected by Christ with peace.

    “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, NIV).

    Unhealthy heart conditions include:

    • Faintheartedness
    • Loss of heart
    • A broken heart
    • A foolish heart
    • A hard heart

    The remedy for these spiritual ailments is a whole heart for Jesus.

    You may feel fainthearted today — weary in your faith and work. If so, take time to slow down, rest and allow the Holy Spirit to restore your heart to wholeness.

    A loss of heart is a reflection of hope deferred, which creates a sickly soul condition. But hope in Christ gives your heart peace and reassurance.

    Perhaps your heart is broken by past hurt or present rejection. Seek your heavenly Father to be forgiven and to forgive.

    Be on guard! A foolish heart forgets God or even stops believing God. Excessive worry can act like a form of atheism. When we are paralyzed by fear and anxiety, we sometimes behave as if God does not exist. So, we must guard against a foolish heart by gaining a heart of wisdom.

    Most disturbing is a hard heart — someone jaded by injustice and/or the lack of integrity in others. Fortunately, by faith in Jesus a hard heart can be replaced by a heart born from above. A heart from the Lord gives us a heart for the Lord.

    So, in honor of Scott, let me ask you, friend, “How is your heart?”

    Heavenly Father, I ask that You would give me Your heart of love, grace and forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Luke 6:45, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Which spiritual ailment in your heart needs you to apply God’s remedies?

    Read and meditate on these Scriptures for more encouragement: Isaiah 26:3 Matthew 6:25-34 John 14:27 Ephesians 3:19, 6:18. © 2016 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Harvest House 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

  • Preparing for Marriage: 4 Must-Read Books for Newly Engaged Couples

    Love

    You’re engaged! Excitement sets in and your head spins just thinking about all of the details to work out – the dress, the venue, the invites. But what about your marriage? Planning for your life together after your big day is an important and often overlooked step. Set yourselves up for a relationship rooted in Christ with these must-read engagement and marriage preparation books.

    All books are Buy One Get One 50% Off at Family Christian now through August 25. Buy one for yourself and one for your soon-to-be spouse! Then discuss what you learned together.

    Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married Bestselling author and marriage counselor, Gary Chapman, put together this practical book to help couples prepare for marriage and learn the skills of working together as intimate teammates. This book is packed with wisdom and tips that will help you develop the loving, supportive and mutually beneficial marriage both men and women long for.

    Preparing for Marriage Begin the lifelong task of building a strong Christian marriage with eight sessions of fun, romantic study that will help you target areas for growth in your relationship. You can work through the book as a couple, with a pastor, with a premarital counselor or with a small group. Don't just plan your wedding, prepare for your marriage!

    Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Relationship experts Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott offer time-tested marriage principles to help couples debunk myths, establish lines of communication, fight a good fight, master money management, and become true soul mates with seven questions to ask before and after you marry.

    Before You Say "I Do" This popular and helpful interactive workbook is designed to strengthen your love relationship and deepen your bond. You'll find all you need for fun and thoughtful discussions as you explore what the Bible teaches about marriage, what makes you feel loved and how to handle conflict.

    What’s the best marital advice you received before tying the knot?

  • No One is Beyond the Reach of Truth

    No One is Beyond the Reach of Truth by Lysa TerKeurst

    “‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.’” Luke 8:39 (NIV)

    Do you ever find it stressful to talk about Jesus with friends and family members?

    I certainly do sometimes, but I think it’s important to think about. We’ve all got people in our lives who need us to break past our hesitations and share the reality of Jesus.

    I was profoundly reminded of this several years ago when I spoke at a Pregnancy Care Center dinner in Florida. At the end of the night, the center’s director asked a board member to come forward and close the evening in prayer. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw this board member was a guy I’d known in high school.

    Well, let me clarify that. I knew who he was. He didn’t have a clue who I was.

    He had been in the popular crowd — the star athlete who dated the beautiful girls. I was one of those girls in high school who was easy to miss. I felt invisible back then. And judging by the blank look on his face when I made the connection we’d graduated the same year, my assessment was pretty accurate.

    He apologized profusely for his wild behavior in high school and acknowledged that he could have been voted, “Least likely to grow up to be a pastor.” I agreed. But then again, I wasn’t exactly on the fast track toward ministry in high school, either.

    After we chatted for a few minutes, he got a very serious look on his face. Then he said something I won’t soon forget.

    “You know what is really odd, Lysa? All those years of high school and college, I was a very visible person. I had lots of friends. Then I got a college scholarship to play basketball at a major university and there were even more people who knew me. But no one — no family member, no peer, no girlfriend, no teacher, no coach, no professor, no fan — no one — not one person ever told me about Jesus. All those years, all those people, and not one time did someone try to tell me the truth. Finally when I was 21 years old, someone took that chance to share with me how they met Jesus, and it radically changed my life.”

    His statement startled me. And I hope it startles me the rest of my life.

    No one is beyond the reach of truth.

    Not the wispy, invisible girl who thinks of herself as nothing more than a little background noise. And not the star athlete revered by thousands.

    Everyone deserves to hear about Jesus sooner rather than later.

    And we must never assume that surely someone else would do a much better job than we would.

    Who in your sphere of influence needs to hear a bit of your HIS‒story this week? Don’t let Satan whisper that this message is meant for other people. It’s not. If you read this, it’s meant for you, sweet sister.

    And don’t fret trying to figure out the perfect words to say. It’s as simple and beautiful as Jesus’ command to the man in Luke 8:39, “… tell how much God has done for you.”

    You don’t even have to worry about how to arrange the perfect situation to connect with that person who came to mind. Just tell Jesus you are willing. He’s very capable of handling all the details.

    Our job is obedience. God’s job is results.

    Dear Lord, thank You for loving me before I even knew You. Give me Your eyes and Your heart to be able to see anyone who needs to know about You today. And give me the right words and the necessary courage to share with my friends and family members. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Philippians 1:27a, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (NIV)

    Romans 10:20, “And Isaiah boldly says, ‘I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.’” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Who could you share your story with this week? Pray. Seek God for the right words and the right opportunity. Take a step of faith. Trust that God will be glorified.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • When You Can’t Seem to Do Enough

    When You Can’t Seem to Do Enough by Alicia Bruxvoort

    “… And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.” 2 Corinthians 3:18b (TLB)

    I heard the sound of her frustrated howl before I eyed the sag in her slender shoulders.

    Those angry wails led me to the kitchen table where I found my first-grader hunched over her math homework with a pencil in one hand and a butter knife in the other.

    “What’s wrong?” I asked.

    “I can’t do this!” she moaned.

    I leaned over my slouching girl and glanced at the worksheet that was causing so much angst. Rectangles were printed across the white page with these simple instructions: “Measure the length of each box.”

    I watched as my 7-year-old attempted to align the edge of the butter knife with the base of the rectangle on her worksheet. She leaned in close and studied the glinting utensil as if the answer she sought might be scripted on the silverware’s silver teeth.

    I crossed the room and plucked a metric ruler from the desk drawer. “Maybe you should try a new measuring stick.” I handed the ruler to my discouraged girl and encouraged her to try again. “The right measuring stick changes everything,” I said with an empathetic smile.

    That’s a lesson I’ve learned first-hand.

    When my five kids were young, I lived in a constant state of discouragement. No matter how I stewarded my time, I ended most of my days with the nagging feeling that I hadn’t done enough.

    Sometimes I was defeated because I felt like I hadn’t done enough with my children. I hadn’t played tag or created a Pinterest-worthy craft with them; I hadn’t exposed them to classical music or worked on their ABCs.

    Other days, I felt like I hadn’t done enough on the home front. I hadn’t folded all the laundry or mopped the sticky floors. Sadly, no matter what I accomplished in a given day, my best efforts rarely measured up to the expectations inside of my head.

    Then one night, after listening to my rant about all the things I hadn’t gotten done, my husband gently challenged, “Maybe you’re using the wrong measuring stick.”

    With a sage smile, he suggested, “Instead of asking, ‘What have I done today?’ You should ask, ‘Who have I been today?’”

    At first, I shrugged off my man’s advice. But the more I pondered his quiet wisdom, the more I wondered if he was right. Had I been assessing my days with a butter knife?

    It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t feel natural, but little by little, I began to change the way I evaluated my days. Rather than focusing on what I’d done (or hadn’t done), I began to consider who I’d been:

    Had I been patient?

    Had I been kind?

    Had I been loving?

    Had I been generous? And grace-filled? And real?

    Humbly, I asked God to help me exchange the fickle rulers in my head for His faithful rule in my heart. And, eventually, my daily dose of discouragement was replaced by a steady stream of peace.

    Our key verse reminds us that God is far more interested in who we are becoming than in what we are doing. So, on those days when it feels like we aren’t getting anything done around us, we are wise to remember that God is always at work within us. “… And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him” (2 Corinthians 3:18b).

    God can use our productive and unproductive moments to grow us into the women He’s dreamed us to be. Our efforts may come up short, but God’s promises never will. And knowing that changes everything!

    So, let’s stop measuring our days with that butter knife of doing “enough.” Instead, let’s invite our Maker to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine according to His Spirit within us.

    And then, one day, when we pose the question, “Who have I been today?”

    We just might hear our Father whisper, “You’ve been a beautiful reflection of My Son.”

    Dear God, help me exchange the fickle rulers in my head for Your faithful ruler in my heart so I can grow to be more like You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Peter 1:2, “May you have more and more of His loving-favor and peace as you come to know God and our Lord Jesus Christ better.” (NLV)

    Ephesians 3:20-21, “I pray that Christ Jesus and the church will forever bring praise to God. His power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine. Amen.” (CEV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What faulty measuring sticks are you using right now? What can you do to exchange them for truth?

    What is God doing in you right now? Share with a friend and celebrate His work.

    © 2016 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

  • There’s a Lady at the Gym Who Hates Me

    There’s a Lady at the Gym Who Hates Me by Lysa TerKeurst

    “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)

    There’s a lady at my gym who hates me.

    No, I’m serious. She sees me coming, and I can feel little poofs of disdain chugging out of her ears as her feet churn at 87 mph on the elliptical machine. I honestly don’t know how she goes so fast. I once tried to keep up with her.

    It was awful.

    And I think that was the day her infuriation with me began.

    Let me back up and confess my sins that started this whole thing.

    The elliptical machines are very close together and completely awkward with their angular moving parts. Think if a New York high-rise and an elephant had a baby … that would be these elliptical machines.

    Now, conjure up a picture in your mind of the most athletic person you know. The one who doesn’t have a drop of fat on her entire body, not even at her belly button, which should be illegal in my cellulite-ridden opinion. OK, do you have your person?

    That’s her. She’s honestly stunningly beautiful.

    Then picture a marshmallow dressed in a T-shirt and spandex pants. Her ponytail is rather tight, but not much else is. That’s me. Hello, world.

    So, I had to sort of get in her space just a tad to mount my machine, and I think I threw off her rhythm. That was sin number one.

    Then I decided to try to stay in sync with her because I wanted to teach all the folks at the gym that, though my legs and derrière might not look like it, I’m in shape. That was sin number two.

    And then there may have been a little issue with me taking a phone call while working out. In my defense this is not at all my common practice. But a friend called who really needed me.

    I tried to chat quietly, but when you feel like a lung might very well pop out of your mouth at any minute, it’s difficult to whisper-talk. Sin number three.

    Three strikes, and she deemed me out. Out of my mind. Out-of-line. Out-of-control.

    She abandoned her elliptical and huffed over to the treadmill. And I think she’s hated me ever since. But then the other day, something occurred. Something odd that stunned me.

    She smiled at me.

    It wasn’t an evil, I’m-about-to-whip-your-tail-on-the-gym-floor kind of smile. It was more like an, “Oh hey, I’ve seen you here before, right?” kind of smile.

    And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized her hating me has all been a perception thing on my part.

    Which got me thinking about all the many times I assign thoughts to others that they never actually think. I hold them accountable to harsh judgments they never make. And I own a rejection from them they never gave me.

    I know not every rejection is like this. Some are completely certified and undeniable.

    But we have to know there are also perceived rejections, like I had with my fellow gym-goer.

    I don’t even think I was really on her radar.

    But in my mind, I was absolutely in her crosshairs. And so goes the crazy inside our heads sometimes.

    Thankfully, the Lord reminds us in our key verse that He is able to “quiet” our crazy thoughts with His love.

    It makes me remember something I saw an author friend of mine do several years ago when she was signing a book. Her approach was simple. Before signing her name she wrote, “Live loved.”

    Not only an instruction, but a proclamation. One that arrests my soul and is so applicable to our discussion at hand.

    Live from the abundant place that you are loved, and you won’t find yourself begging others for scraps of love.

    It’s not deciding in your mind, I deserve to be loved. Or manipulating your heart to feel loved.

    It’s settling in your soul, I was created by a God who formed me because He so very much loved the very thought of me. When I was nothing, He saw something and declared it good. Very good. And very loved.

    This should be the genesis thought of every new day.

    I am loved.

    Not because of how terrific I am. God doesn’t base His affection on my wilted efforts.

    No, God’s love isn’t based on me.

    It’s simply placed on me.

    And it’s the place from which I should live … loved.

    Dear Lord, I'm so grateful I don’t have to walk around all day trying to figure out who likes me and who doesn’t. I can simply rest in the truth that I am completely and perfectly loved by You. Help me simply live loved today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 John 3:1a, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are there thoughts you’re projecting on someone else when they’ve never voiced those things out loud? Ask God to quiet you with His love and redirect your mindset today.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

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…to look after orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27
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