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  • Gossip

    Posted on October 9, 2012 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki

    "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14 (NIV 1984)

    We hadn't seen each other in a few weeks so I was excited to catch up on my friend's life. Arriving at the restaurant we hugged, took our seats, and ordered some sweet tea. Immediately, we started talking about what had been going on in our lives and dug into a discussion about the previous month's events.

    Just a few minutes into our catch-up session, a person's name {who I didn't care for} came up. My friend told me a story that made me dislike this person even more. I then told my friend a story about this same person that made her dislike them more too.

    And so our conversation went ...

    When I left the restaurant, there was a sick feeling inside me. My thoughts wandered through our conversation and I felt deeply convicted it'd been nothing but idle talk.

    The crazy thing was, in the midst of the conversation, I didn't even realize what was happening. I thought I was just catching up with an old friend. But the reality is, I was gossiping.

    I wish I could tell you this eye-opening moment changed me and I never spoke badly of someone again. But I am a woman who consistently finds herself in need of God's grace, mercy and forgiveness.

    Today's key verse, Psalm 19:14, has been helpful for me to remember how God desires my heart and words to be filled with things that honor Him.

    Scripture is teaching me so much about my words. I'm learning I am accountable to God for them (Matt. 12:36). I see by guarding my words, I can keep myself from a lot of problems (Prov. 21:23). And I'm understanding how I have the ability to speak life or death through the words I use (Prov. 18:21).

    As I've been allowing these Truths to shape my character, I've begun to understand how my slip-ups (sin) move me further away from God. One of the greatest deceptions of sin is that we often don't realize what we've done until it's too late.

    But thankfully God is always willing to forgive us and empower us to become stronger in Him.

    So how should we handle conversations like these?

    Preventing gossip is one of the greatest ways to not get caught up in it. Some days I have to consciously say to myself, "I don't want to dishonor anyone with my words today." I've asked God to make me aware of conversations that don't bring honor. "A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly." (Prov. 12:23 NIV 1984)

    Another way we can handle gossip-centered conversations is by ignoring them. Just because we've heard the latest juicy scoop doesn't mean we have to continue to spread it. "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret." (Prov. 11:13 NIV)

    Lastly, confronting the friend who we're gossiping about is important. If we have an issue with someone, we should go directly to that person. It takes more courage to confront someone than it does to ignore him or her, or talk about them behind their back. If something's bothering us, we should deal with it with the right person. "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over." (Matt. 18:15 NIV)

    I'm still working through this. I felt horrible for how my conversation went that day at the restaurant. But, I'm challenged to prevent, ignore or confront conversations like these. I want my words and my heart to be pleasing to God.

    Dear Lord, as I continue to work out my word-struggles with You, thank You for Your grace, mercy and forgiveness. Please help me to keep these Truths close to my soul so I can better represent You with my words each day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Visit Nicki's blog today for 10 ways to speak life to someone today.

    Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

    30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do you have a friend you easily gossip with? Why not share this devotion with her today and commit to hold each other accountable to prevent, ignore or confront?

    Why do you think gossip is such a struggle? Leave a comment today and let's discuss this.

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 18:21, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Self-Flattery

    Posted on October 8, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin. Psalm 36:1b-2

     

    Self-flattery is foolish. It has no fear of God. Self-flattery follows a false faith that is forged out of convenience, not commitment. Self-flattery sees itself as the center of attention instead of Almighty God. It is enamored with itself. It defines and executes its own agenda. It is soft on sin. However, God-fearers see their sin and flee from its presence. It is not invited into their circle of influence. Furthermore, a person who flatters himself has neither a proper view of God nor any respect for Him. Respect for God flows from fear of God but self-flattery demands respect. They need to know that others hold the same high opinion of themselves as they do.

    Self-flattery heaps praise on itself in substitute for penance. This is dangerously absurd. Even the silliest bird does not set a trap for itself. Smoothing over our conduct or soothing our conscience may set us up for failure. We can justify anything, but we had better be ready to suffer the consequences. There is a limit to our self-congratulation. Eventually, God and others grow impatient with our obnoxious ways. Our inability to own up to our actions—or lack thereof—lowers our standing with God and man. Self-flattery is a losing proposition. It loses respect instead of gaining respect. It grows discontent instead of being content. It feels worse instead of feeling better. Self-flattery fails.

    There are many forms of self-flattery. When we think we are smarter than God, ignoring the principles laid out in His word, we flatter ourselves. When we think we have hope in heaven but we act like hell, we flatter ourselves. When we live for today as if death were a million miles away, we flatter ourselves. When we treat others with contempt, then expect them to follow our ways, we flatter ourselves. When we say we trust in the Lord, but borrow money and presume on the future, we flatter ourselves. Self-flattery longs for approval, but it is denied from those who really matter. There is a better way. The better way rises above self-flattery's deception. It needs awakening from its slumber, as did the church Jesus spoke about (Revelation 3:17).

    The road away from self-flattery is self-denial. Self-denial refrains from flattery. It is determined to know God. It is sensitive to sin and loves the Lord. The fear of God is in the forefront of those who deny themselves for the cause of Christ. Self-denial keeps God in holy awe, keeping self away from unhealthy admiration. It makes much of God and little of self. When we see God we admire Him and cease to flatter ourselves. Knowing God allows us to really know ourselves and discern between the two. The wisdom of God instructs us to place proper weight on what God wants versus what we want. Self-denial sends us into a whole other mindset, away from self-flattery. Its focus is being who God wants us to be and doing what God wants us to do. Self-denial serves others, deferring to them and what they value. It thinks more highly of God and His children. Self-denial replaces self-flattery with faith in God. Faith in God frees us to be secure in Him. Our identity is in Christ. We do not have to impress others or ourselves. He is all that matters. Replace self-flattery with faith in God. Faith in Him energizes an eternal self-esteem.

    Taken from Reading #25 in the 90-day devotional book, “Seeking God in the Psalms”… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Post/Tweet this today: Knowing God allows us to really know ourselves. #intimacy 

    Get free eBook “Infusion” by inviting 5 friends to Wisdom Hunters http://bit.ly/PEbaBJ

  • Why I Wear a Toe Ring

    Posted on October 8, 2012 by Karen Ehman

    Karen

    "Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves." 1 Peter 2:16 (NIV)

    I remember begging my mom to get my ears pierced. I was in 5th grade and only one other girl in my class had hole-less lobes. I pleaded my case. "But Mooooooom! EVVVVV-ERYONE has their ears pierced but Heidi and me!"

    That year on my birthday, she took me to the Meijer Thrifty Acres grocery store where a nice lady in the jewelry department pierced them for me.

    The pain was worth the cool.

    When I was in college, my friend Carmen got one ear double pierced. She said she did it to remind her that she belonged to the Lord; that she was His slave.

    You see, in the Old Testament, slavery wasn't unjustly forced like in our modern world. It was more of an occupation; a servant with civil and religious rights. A slave worked for his master for six years and then had the option to leave. However, if he wanted to continue his servanthood, he could. As a symbol of his loyalty, his ear was pierced. Exodus 21:5-6 says this about slaves:

    "But suppose the slave loves his wife and children so much that he won't leave without them. Then he must stand beside either the door or the doorpost at the place of worship, while his owner punches a small hole through one of his ears with a sharp metal rod. This makes him a slave for life." (CEV)

    I loved Carmen's idea of having a small hole in her ear as a sign of life-long service to the Lord. An earring to remind her that she chose to serve God in all areas of her life. However, I am a wimp. And the pain of the first ear piercing was enough for me!

    But a few years ago, while shopping downtown with some friends I had an idea. What if I wore a sterling silver toe ring as a sign of my service to the Lord? My friends and I each bought one.

    I wear this toe ring everyday to remind myself that I am a voluntary slave of Christ. And that I love my Master and the things He's given me to serve, like my family, church, neighbors and others.

    When I see it, it reminds me that I'm not in control, God is. And it helps me realign my preferences with His when I want to be the boss of my life and my circumstances. When I grow weary of serving God selflessly, I am reminded that I belong to Him.

    My toe ring also reminds me that my relationship with the Lord is for life.

    Yes, I am free to do as I'd like. There are no laws in my country against chucking my faith and running away.

    However, my toe ring reminds me:

    "Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves." (1 Peter 2:16 NIV)

    Are you willing to commit to God with all your heart, mind and soul? To serve rather than be served? To carry out the wishes of your Master willingly and joyfully? Even though you are free, will you choose to be His slave today?

    A pierced ear or toe ring is optional.

    Dear Lord, may I be reminded continually that it is You that I serve, not the other way around. May my life show my love and devotion to You and my loved ones. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    If you liked this devotion, check out Karen's new book LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith. It will enable you to control what you should and trust God with what you can't.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Although the term slave rightly has a negative connotation given history and current-day sex trafficking, how can the word "slave" properly describe how we should relate to God?

    On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being never, 10 being always), how often do you react to life's circumstances with a joyful attitude and "whatever Your will is" perspective? What can you do to make that number go higher?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 119:17, "Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word." (ESV)

    © 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Spiritual Gifts

    Posted on October 8, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    "Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed"... "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them"... "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." 1 Corinthians 12:1,4,7

     

    One of Satan's schemes is to keep God's children ignorant or confused concerning spiritual gifts. However, His gifts are what empower followers of Jesus to carry out His will. The Great Commission to make disciples of all people, and the Great Commandment to love God and to love people are implemented best by the Spirit's inspired gifts. There are a variety of gifts, but they originate and are distributed by one Holy Spirit. All spiritual gifts come from God.

    Like the multi-colors of a rainbow make a compelling commercial for God, so His diverse gifts glorify Him. We are gifted by God for the glory of God. Moreover, we are gifted as a gift to the Body of Christ. Our spiritual gifts are for service, not self. They are for the good of the whole, not just the benefit of one. A gift's manifestation is suspect if the result leaves observers in awe of a person. Spiritual gifts flourish with humble and wise users.

    "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us." Romans 12:6

    We can admire another person's giftedness, but we reserve our reverence for Christ alone. It's ok to acknowledge how a gifted brother or sister in the Lord has blessed us, but it’s with the Lord that we leave the glory. Yes, enjoy the beauty of a gifted worship leader's worship, but without worshiping the man or woman. Learn from a gifted Bible teacher or writer without idolizing them or their abilities and give your primary praise to the Gift Giver, God Almighty! 

    Do you acknowledge your skills and abilities as a gift from the Holy Spirit? If so, have you dedicated your spiritual gifts to works of spiritual service? Thank God often for endowing you with the eternal energy and ability to carry out His will. Use your skills for service in the Kingdom of God, do not waste them on worldly pursuits. Also, be content with what Christ has given you, without comparison to others. Your unique giftedness is Christ's canvas of you. A world wakes up to watch your gifts glow for God. Your spiritual gifts are meant for spiritual service.

    "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me the gifts of Your Spirit which I use for Your glory!

    Related Readings: Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12: 8-10, 28; Ephesians 4:11

    Post/Tweet: We are gifted by God for the glory of God.

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw

  • Strength in God

    Posted on October 6, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 1 Samuel 23:16

     

    Strength in God is significant, as it is our stronghold when we are in serious trouble. It is our source of encouragement and motivation to persevere. Strength in God is easily accessible and always available. His strength is an unlimited reservoir of resolve. It may see us through the dying and death of a loved one. It lubricates the grinding grief of our heart and keeps us from total despair. The Lord’s strength is what gives us hope when our financial fortunes are tentative at best or have been swept away altogether. But His strength will see us through a maze of money mishaps.

    The sovereign strength of God is strong, unbending, and unyielding. Our confidence may be crumbling, our health may be hemorrhaging, or our relationships may be a complexity of confusion. Perhaps you discovered someone is not who he claimed to be. He lives two lives. Now the truth is unfolding and it is not pretty. In fact, he is coming after you because you are a threat to his secret life. So lean on the Lord, drawing your strength from your Savior. Prayer to the Almighty positions you to receive His power, so punctuate the power of God in your life with faith-filled prayer.

    Moreover, God’s instruments for infusion of His strength are His people. Invite the encouragement of the Lord’s angelic agents. They are His ambassadors of goodwill and their righteous aura reflects His strength. These are special friends who remain true when challenging things happen to you. Stick with the ones who stick with you and do not be embarrassed to lean on others during these lean times. Like a transfusion of blood, you may need a transfusion of faith. Your prayer platelets have fallen below what’s normal to a level of dangerous discouragement. Ask for prayer so that God will strengthen you and keep you focused in the middle of your own gnawing needs. Ask in prayer to be an encouragement to those who have encouraged you. Do not deny others the opportunity to strengthen you with their presence and prayers.

    Lastly, be quick to strengthen others in the name of the Lord. Write a note of encouragement to a friend or leave an encouraging prayer on a coworker’s voice-mail. In some creative way, let those who are struggling know you are thinking of them. Prayer retains employees and engages friends. They will never forget those who reached out to them in their time of need. Each day, seek someone you can strengthen in your Savior’s name. In a sense, you are strength coaches for those you come in contact with on behalf of Christ. Your goal is to get them to God. His strength will stretch their faith way beyond your initial encouragement. Strengthen your family in the Lord and you will be strong. Strengthen your peers in the Lord and you will find eternal energy. Unselfishly strengthen others in the Lord and you will find strength for your soul.

    The Bible says, “Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all” (1 Chronicles 29:12).

    Taken from October 12th reading in the 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God”… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Post/Tweet: Stick with the ones who stick with you, lean on others during these lean times. #loyal 

    Get free eBook “Infusion” by inviting 5 friends to Wisdom Hunters http://bit.ly/PEbaBJ

  • Budget Your Time

    Posted on October 5, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

     

    There is enough time to do God’s will, thus He desires your stewardship of time. Just as money can be overspent, so can time. The twenty-four hours in a day, the seven days in a week and the fifty-two weeks in a year need budget restraints. Some days may go by slowly, but years seem to fly by quickly. A life well spent and prayerfully invested pays dividends for a lifetime and into eternity. But, a chronically reactive life wakes up one day, weary, wondering what have I done.

    Therefore, we are wise to lay out a life plan and adjust it over time. We prayerfully modify our calendar regularly so over commitment does not overcome us. It is much better to have fewer obligations than to find ourselves emotionally and physically spent—unable and unwilling to follow through. Time is a treasure from heaven that needs close attention and protection. We number our days, so at the end of each day, we are satisfied that we were successful for God.

    “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 

    Time can torture us or reward us. It can be a blessing of margin or a curse of busyness. Our life can feel like a boring treadmill of monotony, or a focused life of fulfillment. How do you budget your time? Do you invest time with Christ each day to hear His voice? Prayer is a time saver. Intimacy with your Lord Jesus gives you courage to say no to the unnecessary and yes to the necessary. The Holy Spirit’s discernment fills your mind when you spend time in quiet reflection.

    Furthermore, create boundaries that protect you from yourself. The enemy of the best is good opportunities. Your flurry of activity can easily facilitate fatigue and broken promises. Perhaps you review your calendar each week with your spouse or accountability partner. Invite another objective eye to monitor your appointments. Perhaps you wait to look at email or answer calls until after lunch. Use your mornings for creative thought, writing, reading and exercise.

    Avoid going into spiritual, emotional and physical debt for lack of attention. You have to be whole before you can help others become whole. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. Like a crisis on a plane; place the oxygen on yourself first so that you can assist others. Your relational accounts may be overdrawn; if so, quickly pay the penalty of alone-ness with honest and vulnerable conversations. Spend your time wisely with prayer and planning. By God’s grace manage your calendar or it will manage you. Trust the Lord to lead you along His timetable.

    “I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly.” Isaiah 60:22

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, my desire is to steward well each day along Your timetable.

    Related Readings: Job 14:5; Psalm 39:4; Luke 1:20; Acts 17:26

    Post/Tweet: Christ gives us courage to say no to the unnecessary and yes to the necessary.

    Get free eBook “Infusion” by inviting 5 friends to Wisdom Hunters http://bit.ly/PEbaBJ

  • Renewing My Vows

    Posted on October 5, 2012 by Stephanie Clayton

    Stephanie

    "Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me." Psalm 50:14-15 (NIV)

    As a young girl I wanted desperately to be thin. Instead, I was the "chunky girl" on the swim team, the slightly overweight dancer, and always felt awkward in a two-piece swimsuit. When I turned 15, I discovered weight loss shakes and exercised constantly.

    It worked! I lost a good deal of weight and starting hanging out with the group I'd always admired.

    At that point I made an internal vow: I will never be overweight again.

    During my first pregnancy I was so paranoid about weight gain I ran three miles a day until the day I gave birth to my son Ryan. I was willing to pay any price to keep my vow. I served my need and desire to be thin.

    After Ryan was born, I craved being even thinner. My diet consisted mostly of sugar-free drinks and hard candy. Every now and then I'd squeeze in a meal or a few small bites of real food. Quickly I dropped another 10 pounds.

    When I got pregnant with my daughter, I had a scare that landed me on bed rest and forced me to discontinue exercise and to eat more. After Lauren's birth, I went the complete opposite direction and ate everything in sight, putting on over 40 pounds.

    I never really understood my battle with eating until a few months ago when I heard a sermon about generational bondage and internal vows.

    Growing up, I remembered my parents struggling with their weight. In fact, my family has struggled with food issues for generations. It was a pattern I vowed not to repeat.

    But rather than giving this bondage to the Lord, and looking to Him for freedom, I made a commitment to control things myself. I will NEVER be overweight again.

    But the vow I made took me not just one way in the wrong direction, but to both extremes. The only way I would find a healthy balance was to give my struggle to the Lord.

    I had to make a new vow with God, not myself, in a way that relinquished control to Him.

    Today's key verse reminds us that we can call on the Lord in times of trouble and He will deliver us as we seek to honor Him with our lives. Yet many times we choose to see if we can get through life's difficulties on our own.

    But what if we chose to sacrifice one of the greatest thank offerings of all? What if we sacrificed our need to control?

    Internal vows lead to self-centered striving.

    Vows made to the Lord lead to Christ-centered peace.

    Can you think of any internal vows you've made as a result of pain or struggles you've experienced in your family? Are there patterns that have existed in your family for years? It doesn't have to be overeating. Other examples of generational bondage are substance abuse, anger, sexual abuse, physical violence, etc.

    Internal vows may seem good on the surface, but they can be detrimental to our spiritual growth. We begin to serve our vows instead of the Lord. While it was good for my health that I did not want to repeat my family's patterns of unhealthy eating, it wasn't possible until I surrendered this area of my life completely to the Lord.

    I am now on my way to a healthy weight. Not because of my own strength, but because I have made my vow to Jesus. I'm learning to trust Him to help with every area of my life, including my food cravings.

    Dear Lord, when I rely on my own strength I become weary and fall. Help me place my trust in You. Your Word says that when I call on You, You will deliver and honor me! Thank You that there is freedom in the power of Your Name. I choose to look upon Your strength and guidance as I move forward. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst

    Stressed-Less Living by Tracie Miles

    Reflect and Respond:
    Draw your family tree. As you write down names, think about any internal vows they may have made. Also think about any internal vows you may have made from witnessing their struggles. Take time to reflect on any behavioral patterns you may identify.

    Write down one internal vow you have made. How you can begin to offer this struggle as a thank offering to the Lord, trusting in His strength and guidance as you begin to move forward?

    Power Verse:
    1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (NIV 1984)

    © 2012 by Stephanie Clayton. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Mastering the Waves of Adversity

    Posted on October 4, 2012 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!" Psalm 46:1-3 (NLT)

    My son and his friend made an excited dash toward the ocean with their brand new inflated boat. They were determined to ride in it, despite the unusually gusty winds. I watched as the raft flapped wildly in the air, nearly lifting the boys off the ground.

    The boys tried to get in the boat for quite a while, but the strong winds made the water more like tidal waves than a gentle tide. The few times they made it in the raft, the rolling surf spit them out like limp seaweed.

    After being sucked under the rough waters multiple times, they finally admitted defeat. The waves had taken a toll on their spirits and the raft, rendering the boys and their boat deflated and helpless.

    Watching their frustration and defenselessness against the whitecaps, I was reminded of a season when I felt powerless to master the waves of adversity that had come crashing against me, one after another.

    It wasn't just one thing that was causing stress and worry, but a toxic mixture of problems. The economy was going downhill and severely affecting our family. My mother lost her job. My sister's chronic illness had gotten worse. Cancer tormented a loved one. One of my children faced a serious health issue, coupled with the normal daily challenges of raising three kids. The washing machine broke, the transmission in my car died, and a hailstorm seriously damaged our roof.

    Each day it seemed a new swell of problems engulfed me, adding to the accumulation of my concerns and stress.

    It was a long season in which I felt sucked under by a raging current, barely able to hold my head above water. I was completely deflated and helpless, just like that little raft.

    During that time, I clung to Psalm 46:1-3, "God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!" (NLT)

    These verses offer wisdom about persevering through our difficult times. They serve as a reminder to stay aware of our need for God, and that none of us are equipped to handle life on our own.

    You see, no matter how strong we think we are, there will come a time when stress gets overwhelming and we desperately wish we had somewhere to hide. Somewhere to take refuge from the storms, with Someone who understands what we're going through.

    I understood the frustration of two little boys who wanted to ride in their raft boat. After they rested and the wind lessened, I encouraged them to go back in the water. They tried again and finally found themselves floating in the boat, instead of hanging from it.

    God understands what we're going through. His Word promises He will help us in times of trouble. When adversity strikes, God offers the refuge and strength we need to weather life's storms.

    No matter the problems tossing us about today, we don't have to feel like we are simply hanging on. Instead, we can put our trust in the One who offers peace and strength to carry us through until we get to calmer shores.

    Dear Lord, I feel beaten down by storms of life, drowning in a sea of adversity and stress. I commit today to depend on You as my refuge. I place my hope and trust in You and commit to hanging on to You at all times. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Today's devotion is based on Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace in Your Chaotic World by Tracie Miles which releases today!

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you felt tossed around by life, getting damaged in the process? Have you asked God to be your refuge, strength, and help?

    Have you been trying to master the waves of adversity in my life, or have you been putting your hope and trust in God?

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 107:29, "He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves." (NIV)

    Psalm 9:9-10, "The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble; And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You." (NASB)

    © 2012 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Called to Wait

    Posted on October 4, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David… “David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers.” 1 Samuel 16:13, 21

     

    The calling of God includes seasons of waiting in faithful service. David was anointed and experienced the power of God, but it was over twenty years before he became King. Public responsibilities require private experience and success. The Lord’s calling starts with a thorny crown of commitment and grows into a shiny crown of respect. The flesh wants to influence the masses prematurely, but the Spirit is patient to pay the price of wise waiting, before proceeding.

    We have the opportunity to be faithful where the Lord has us. His power is prevalent through our humble prayers and our quiet acts of random kindness. Jesus doesn’t discount small deeds done in His name. Thus, whatever we do, we do all for the glory of God. We visit the elderly, we care for the dying, we rescue the unrighteous, we carry one another’s burdens and we shepherd the flock of God—all for Him. We win while we wait, because Christ is positioning us for influence.

    “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” 1 Samuel 17:45

    Do you face a giant obstacle that threatens to derail you from God’s best? Have you forgotten why the Lord has taken you through this trial? His call for you to wait is an opportunity to understand where to go next. In this parenthesis of time, He has prepared or repaired your integrity, so you can engage intense encounters with the enemy, without compromise. Jesus works out His will while you wait. He grows you to grow bold in your belief in Him.

    Furthermore, heed His call to wait, so you can create a sustainable schedule of activity. Jesus has not called you to be everyone’s friend. Everyone’s friend is nobody’s friend. Relationships that are an inch deep and a mile wide die a shallow and slow death. But when you go deep with a few, you grow loyal and lifetime friendships. Create significant space in your calendar, so you can respond to Christ’s call. Budget your time, as you budget your money. God’s call to wait is your opportunity to become humble and wiser. Work faithfully while you wait and watch Him work!

    “We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow me in humility and wisdom as I wait on Your next step.

    Related Readings: Psalm 130:5-6; Proverbs 20:22; Isaiah 26:8; Lamentations 3:24-26; Jude 1:21 

    Post/Tweet: God works out His will while we wait. #wait

    Get free eBook “Infusion” by inviting 5 friends to Wisdom Hunters http://bit.ly/PEbaBJ

  • The Root of My Rot

    Posted on October 3, 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

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

    Recently, a friend of mine really hurt my feelings and I got all bent out of shape. And, honey, everyone in my house knew Mama wasn't happy. I tried everything to usher gentleness back into my tone and my temper.

    I quoted verses.

    I rebuked Satan.

    I bossed my feelings around with truth.

    I even tried to take a nap.

    But none of these activities soothed me.

    What really sent me over the edge though was when one of my people introduced a smell into my home that not even three strongly scented candles could mask. And I am super hyper-sensitive to smells.

    Unfortunately, as the mysterious, awful smell continued to waft through my home, I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was or where it was coming from.

    Finally, I realized my daughter had placed a bathroom trashcan in the middle of my bedroom floor so she could toss scraps of paper as she worked on a school project. Something had obviously been thrown away in that forgotten trashcan that had surpassed gross and moved into the final stages of rot.

    Or something had crawled up into that can and died.

    I didn't have the heart to find out what the rot was; I just knew the trash can had to go. Immediately.

    The smell was an outside indication of an internal situation. And the trashcan wasn't the only thing that stunk that night. So did my attitude.

    My reaction was an outside indication of an internal situation.

    The reason I couldn't be soothed by quoting scriptures, bossing my feelings, rebuking Satan, or even taking a nap is because God wanted me to be aware of my stink ... something inside of me that was gross ... a place starting to rot.

    I'd been hurt by a friend and didn't want to confront the issue or forgive the person who had hurt me. I'd stuffed bitterness in my heart and tried to pretend it wasn't there. But the rot was there and the stink from deep within my heart kept spilling out.

    God didn't want me to temporarily mask the situation by feeling better in the moment. He wanted me to address the root of my rot—to see it, admit it, expose it, let Him clean it up, and shut it down. Immediately.

    A little rot can spread fast and furiously if not dealt with swiftly and seriously.

    That's why it's so crucial to pay attention to our reactions today.

    How we react is a crucial gauge of what's really going on inside us.

    When people or issues or situations bump into our happy, it's not wrong to feel annoyed. But if that annoyance leads to a reaction out of proportion to the issue at hand, we can bank on the fact that this eruption has a root of rot.

    Here are some telltale signs of roots of rot:

    • I throw out statements like, You always ... You never ... Why can't we ever ...

    • I start gathering ammunition from past situations to build my case.

    • I use words and a tone outside my normal character.

    • I justify my reaction by pointing out how hard my life is right now.

    • I demand an apology, all the while knowing I should be giving one.

    These are not fun to admit, but here's the beauty of the situation: The quicker we see a root of rot, the quicker we can get rid of the stink and move forward.

    Dear Lord, thank You for bringing to light the rotting areas of my life. Help me to address these areas with Your grace and truth. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

    Related Resources:
    For more encouragement and practical advice on how to deal with difficult situations, check out Lysa's new book, Unglued. Available now!

    The accompanying Unglued Bible Study will help you understand what the Bible says about better ways to react. To order your copy, click here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Is there a situation in your life that you have stuffed down to keep the peace?

    Pray God will show you how to address this situation.

    Power Verse:
    Mark 11:25, "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

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