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  • What Keeps You Up At Night?

    What Keeps You Up At Night? by Katy McCown

    “I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 63:6-7 (NLT)

    Darkness blanketed my quiet house. No one was stirring, not even a mouse. Yet my heart would not be still.

    Just a few hours before, my heart danced to the sweet sounds of my husband, Luke, tucking our boys into bed. The spaghetti dishes piled up in the sink didn’t even bother me.

    The buzz of Luke’s phone interrupted my party. Who could be calling at this hour? When Luke met me in the kitchen, my dancing heart had ceased.

    “Someone’s calling you,” I choked out. “The number is from work.”

    The voice on the other end confirmed our fears — a job change, effective immediately.

    And when I say immediately I mean like by breakfast the next morning our family would be in a new city hundreds of miles away.

    Let the packing begin.

    Working at the pace of an Olympic sprinter, I washed clothes and folded them into piles, sorted them and threw them into bags. I arranged for doggy care while we figured out where on earth we’d live in this new place, then gathered snacks for the journey ahead.

    Finally, with only a few hours to spare I tried to force my eyes shut, and tried to shut down my mind. But this night, I couldn’t find the off button. In the midst of my midnight mayhem, a friend sent a message to say, “God’s up. You don’t have to be.”

    Her timely words remided me of a principle my kids learned one day at violin lessons.

    “Don't squeeze. Just kind of sink all the way to the bottom,” the teacher instructed.

    As she taught her eager students to play new notes, she noticed they took their effort a little too far. They focused hard and fixed their eyes on the strings. They wanted so badly to do it right.

    But their work didn’t produce the results they’d hoped for. The note screeched off the strings and the sound pierced the air, forced and unpleasant.

    My boys looked confused. They’d tried so hard, and it just wasn’t working. “What did I do wrong?” they wondered. That’s when the music teacher loosened their grip.

    “Sink don't squeeze,” she said. “The note will play itself. Simply place your finger on the string and let it sink all the way down.”

    What if God's plans for us are like those strings? Created. Arranged. Ready. We simply need to sink into them.

    But sometimes we don’t. We squeeze instead of loosening our grip. We encounter a challenging assignment and assume God brought us to it, but left us alone to do it. So we work really hard and give it all we’ve got, all the while screeching out a substitute version of the beautiful melody God intended.

    Our key verse gives us another option, "I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 63:6-7). King David penned these words in the wilderness, on the run from a vast army led by his own rebellious son.

    Yikes! If there were ever a moment to be up at night worrying, this would be it.

    David did lie awake at night, but not for the reasons we’d expect. Instead of fearing for his life or devising a plan of escape, he couldn’t stop thinking about God.

    When you find yourself squeezing and not releasing, maybe move your mind from the goal to the Giver of the goal.

    After I read my friend’s wise words that night, my heart shifted. Instead of counting all the things still left to do, I counted on God’s greatness, power and provision. I even giggled as I considered my great big, powerful God watching me scurry about thinking it’s all up to me.

    If you’re confused and exhausted today, wondering why your best effort hasn’t played the tune you hoped for, maybe it’s time to loosen your grip. Sink into God’s love for you, then rest in the shadow of His wings.

    Dear God, I want my thoughts to swirl with praises to You instead of churn with anxiety over the assignments You give me. Help me shift my thoughts to the richness of Your presence and provision. And as I do, let me sink into the wonderful plans You have for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (NIV) Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (HCSB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Make a list of the things that keep your mind racing and commit to pray about these things daily.

    Call a friend and ask her to pray with you.

    © 2016 by Katy McCown. All rights reserved.

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

  • Desperate for Reassurance

    Desperate for Reassurance by Lysa TerKeurst

    “Whatever is true … think about such things … And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8b, 9b (NIV)

    If you’ve ever heard me give my testimony, you know part of what I share is being a little girl twirling around next to my daddy, wishing I could know that he loved me.

    Maybe in his own way, he did love me. But something was broken in our relationship that left me feeling desperate for reassurance.

    Over the years, God has healed my heart in miraculous ways. Through God’s promises I’ve been reassured of all those things I wished my earthly father would have said. I know God’s love for me is deep, unwavering and certain.

    But there are still times I catch myself twirling again. Crying out again. Wishing I could feel totally secure. Hating my insecurities. And mad that this struggle I thought was over, surfaces still.

    Maybe it always will.

    And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

    For it keeps me desperate for a reassurance I can’t get any other way. It keeps me desperate for God.

    I can hear my husband tell me a hundred times that he loves me and no, my backside isn’t big … and yet I still feel my heart desperately twirling.

    I can stand in an arena with thousands of people clapping for the message I just gave … and still feel my heart desperately twirling.

    I can conquer my food demons and finally fit back into my skinny jeans … and still feel my heart desperately twirling.

    The only thing that stops the desperation, the uncertainties, the insecurities, the twirling … is for the Spirit of God to lay across my heart and make it still. The blanket of His presence and His protection is the only perfect fit for the deep creases and crevices carved inside me.

    I don’t know what tough things you’ve been through sweet sister, but I do know this: Brokenness is universal. We all have things in life that trigger deep insecurities and our own personal “twirling about,” searching for reassurance.

    But here’s the amazing thing.

    While brokenness is universal, God’s redemption is also universal for those who proclaim Christ as Lord. No matter what cracks and crevices we have in our hearts, if we seek the truth of God above all else, He is enough to fill in those raw places.

    “Whatever is true … think about such things … And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8b, 9b).

    Have you caught your heart twirling, desperate for reassurance lately? Today, spend a few minutes letting these truths fill your mind and seep into those desperate places of your heart:

    “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you; but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV).

    “I pray that you … may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17b, 18, NIV).

    “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV).

    “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness’” (Jeremiah 31:3).

    I pray these truths flood your heart with peace like they do mine. Peace that gives you permission to stop twirling and start to live like you are loved.

    Because you are.

    Deeply. Abundantly. And without end.

    Dear Lord, may Your spirit fall fresh upon each of us today. Remind us. Reassure us. Rest upon us. Help us to be still and know that You are our loving God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 36:5, “Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” (NIV) Psalm 48:9, “Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What things trigger your heart to feel desperate? Choose one of the Scripture-based truths Lysa shared to meditate on, and memorize it this week.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Seeing the Good in Correction

    Seeing the Good in Correction by Arlene Pellicane

    “Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.” Proverbs 15:32 (NIV)

    When someone corrects you, or points out an area where you might need to grow, what’s your first reaction?

    Let me guess. It’s probably not, “Thanks, I was really hoping someone would point out my mistake.” I’ll admit my natural tendency is to avoid correction, protecting myself from embarrassment or possible hard changes I need to make in my life.

    Recently, my husband James and I were talking with a new staff member in the hallway at church. When he asked what I did for work, I enthusiastically launched into my job description and apparently, I proceeded to turn my back toward my husband, totally leaving him out of the conversation!

    Of course I didn’t notice this. I was just leaning into the conversation — at least that’s what I thought. So James grabbed my shoulders and not-so-gently pivoted my body to include him in the circle. I thought that was rude!

    As we walked to the car, he said, “You know, you’ve done that before. You step toward the person you’re talking to and leave out whoever else is there.”

    I remained silent, as I justified my actions in my mind. I don’t leave others out. He is overreacting. Correction, whether big or small, is hard to swallow. I didn’t feel like learning or growing. I felt like being right.

    But after a few minutes (and replaying the scene in my mind), I had to admit I did turn my back toward James. I left him out of the conversation with my nonverbal behavior and owed him an apology. I wanted everything to be right again between us, so I apologized.

    I have learned that a good apology isn’t only saying “I’m sorry.” It’s also about saying “I’ll try my best not to do that again.” I’m so glad I accepted correction from James that day instead of ignoring it. It certainly improved that particular day, but it also helps now as I’m more courteous to him and other friends.

    After being married 17 years, I’ve come to embrace our key verse because I’ve found it to be true: “Those who disregard discipline despise themselves” (Proverbs 15:32a). If I had ignored my husband’s mild rebuke, tension would have reigned supreme in our home that day and I would still have terrible conversation manners (I might turn my back on you!). On the other hand, when I’m willing to humble myself and admit my own wrongdoing, I can find grace, reconciliation and understanding.

    It’s wise to make correction our friend, not our foe. When I don’t pay attention to counsel and correction from God’s Word and from truth-telling people, I’m not allowing myself to learn and grow.

    Hebrews 12:5-6 says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son” (NIV).

    Do not make light.

    Don’t ignore discipline when someone points out your mistakes. Don’t just brush it off. Don’t miss a moment of divine correction.

    When the Holy Spirit convicts your spirit, when you have unrest because you know you have to make something right, when you are reaping the consequence of bad decisions, embrace correction as a dear friend.

    God’s discipline is never meant to hurt us; it’s meant to redeem us. Unlike my story of turning my back toward James, God will never turn His back on us.

    Is there something the Lord is correcting you about today? Don’t harden your heart. Accept His words of correction and reap the peace and wholeness that comes from obedience.

    Lord, I open my heart to Your correction. Forgive me for ignoring Your discipline in my life. Thank You for loving me enough to guide me to truth and steer me away from sin and error. I will seek to obey Your commandments. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 15:31, “Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.” (NIV)

    Hebrews 12:11, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When someone who cares about you corrects you, how do you respond? Do you quickly defend yourself in your mind or do you truthfully consider the rebuke?

    What is one way you can be more open and responsive to God’s correction in your life?

    © 2016 by Arlene Pellicane. All rights reserved.

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

  • When Relationships Feel Like Obstacles

    When Relationships Feel Like Obstacles by Beth Moore

    “But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” Philippians 2:22 (NIV)

    I’ve come to believe there is a divine plan, an orchestration of events, opportunities and encounters, not only historically regarding the people of God but for each person of God individually.

    In the blinding ambush of the present, so much that happens in our lives seems random. However, retrospect helps us see those happenings through the lens of order, which may reveal something shocking. Ink splotches start to form edges and the edges start to look like puzzle pieces and, lo and behold, a handful of them actually fit.

    I often think about what I would have missed had my path been one straight line from A to B and B to C, rather than a sharp turn here and a soft veer there. With every curve and corner, God was sketching unforeseen triangles between Jesus, me and a handful of unrelated others.

    Second only to Scripture, God has used and continues to use key people to shape the phases of my calling and unlock something in me that proves crucial in the next season.

    Callings are organic just like the people God uses to invest in them. To decide at 25 that we know exactly what this thing is supposed to look like is to set ourselves up for failure, faithlessness, and boredom and to miss some of the most meaningful relationships of our lives. Don’t fix your feet in concrete. Keep moving and savor the fellow sojourners God deposits along your path, remembering to look back every now and then.

    A purposeful glance in the rear-view mirror will clearly show how desperately we needed what somebody brought us.

    So, what does this have to do with our key verse? Well, we’ve stepped in to the middle of a story where there had been some conflict between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-41). But Paul has not given up and Timothy, a young man of faith, is the evidence.

    But what if Paul had shut down after the falling out with Barnabas? Or, what if he’d decided to keep everything strictly professional and to forgo all things personal with Timothy? What if he’d bought into staying ahead of the game by withholding his heart? Or, what if he’d played “tick tock, the game is locked” and refused to make room in his life for anyone new?

    What if the next person on your path is meant to become one of the most important people in your entire journey? One of the very dearest? Most influential? What if he or she is the extension of God’s index finger pointing you that way?

    Here’s the scary part: The biggest obstacle we have to our next relationship may well be our previous relationship.

    This could be true whether our last relationship proved fabulous and satisfying or disastrous and terrifying. A relationship can either be so good we make no room for another or so bad we refuse to take a second risk. Our last loss can forfeit our next gain. A nightmare can kill our lifelong dream.

    You’ve probably encountered triads of people in which one person is detrimental to the relationship between the other two. So have I. It’s enough to unsettle any of us. Connectedness has too important a place in Christian theology for the enemy not to attempt to counterfeit it with disastrous triangulations.

    Here’s the good news, when the pen is in the hand of God, and He’s the one connecting the dots and drawing triangles, mutual joys abound, missing pieces are found and a network emerges for the sake of the gospel.

    Dear Lord, thank You for giving me strength to persevere. In all the ups and downs, tears and fears, conflicts and disappointments, thank You that Jesus was still infinitely better than the circumstances were hard. Help me remember all along, He was worthy of hanging in there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 15:5, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Name up to five key people in your spiritual journey. As you think about them, journal what God unlocked in you through each one.

    Say a prayer and thank God for the key people He’s used to influence your life.

    © 2016 by Beth Moore. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks LifeWay 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

  • Sitting at Home, Alone

    Sitting at Home, Alone by Lysa TerKeurst

    “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” Colossians 2:9-10 (NIV)

    They were laughing in their matching neon pink t-shirts with the words “Bethany’s Birthday Girls” printed on the front. They were going bowling after school. Then to get pizza. Then a sleepover.

    When Bethany passed out the shirts that morning I pretended to be too busy to notice. I stayed hyper-focused on unpacking my book bag into my locker. And then I hurried off to my first class.

    It was clear. Bethany had made a list of her friends and I hadn’t been included.

    I thought I would be. We’d gotten together before. I’d invited her to my pool party.

    “No big deal,” I tried to tell myself all day. I had plans that night too.

    To sit at home. Alone. And wonder why I hadn’t been chosen.

    It’s been years since I watched those neon pink shirts all pile into a station wagon after school and drive away.

    But it hasn’t been years since I’ve heard the negative inside chatter that ensued afterwards.

    “You’re not liked.”

    “You weren’t invited.”

    “You weren’t chosen.”

    Here’s what I wish I could have told my little non-wearing pink t-shirt self back then … and what I need to remember when those same feelings creep in today:

    Don’t put the whole of your identity into the smallness of this situation.

    Not getting invited that day felt like a defining moment. And maybe it was for the day of Bethany’s party.

    But it wasn’t a defining moment of my identity.

    It was a moment. And moments shift. People are fickle. People shift.

    In the moment Bethany made the list of who to invite to her party, I wasn’t on the top of her mind. Not because she didn’t like me, but simply because she hadn’t thought about it.

    It was a small situation.

    And I can’t put the whole of my identity into the smallness of this situation. Or any other for that matter.

    Have you ever done this? Let a moment define you? It’s so easy to do. And it’s certainly not a struggle that is new to mankind. We see evidence of this as the Apostle Paul has to address identity issues in our key verse.

    In his letter to the church at Colossae, Paul tells them that because of their faith in Christ, they are made complete in Christ.

    “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority” (Colossians 2:9-10, NIV).

    Complete. Whole. Full. Nothing lacking. No need for anyone or anything to give them their identity. The same is true for us as believers.

    What peace for my heart.

    I have been brought to fullness. I am filled up by Christ. With acceptance. With love. With all the fullness of an identity that can’t be shaken.

    I can place the wholeness of my identity in that reality … and see everything else as small in comparison.

    And when I walk around with that kind of fullness, I become free to let humans be human — fickle and fragile and forgetful.

    Yes. Full and free.

    Those are the words I want to define me.

    Dear Lord, I praise You for Your faithfulness to me in every situation. I don’t want to get hung up on the small things of this world. Please help me place the wholeness of my identity in who You are and the everlasting acceptance that You provide. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 2:4-5, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.” (NIV) John 1:12-13, “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What past hurt are you still processing that seemed like a defining moment in your life?

    Reflect on the verses in today’s devotion. Write them down in a place where you’ll see them every day. This will help you remember what God says we are to Him — His beloved children who have been saved through His grace.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • How to Study the Bible: 10 Practical Tips to help you Understand God’s Word

    The Bible is a love letter, a set of instructions, the inspired Word of God and so much more. But if we’re honest, it can also be confusing, overwhelming and intimidating. With so many authors, parables and translations, it can be difficult to wrap your head around all the Bible has to offer. Get into the Word and begin to better understand the Gospel with these Bible study tips.

    10 Bible Study Tips

    1. Prepare Your Heart: Say a prayer of thankfulness before diving into God’s Word. This will align your heart and your mind as you seek to know Him more.
    2. Strive For Consistency: Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, try to set aside a consistent time every day to dig into scripture.
    3. Set The Tone: Listen to praise and worship music before getting started to focus your heart and your mind. Stock up on your favorite tunes with our Buy One Get One 50% Off sale on all music.
    4. Avoid Distractions: Be honest with yourself about what pulls your focus away from God and avoid it during your quiet time.
    5. Engage With Community: While individual time with God is important, spending time getting to know Him with your brothers and sisters in Christ can be incredibly effective.
    6. Make Time: If you can’t find time to sit in God’s presence, write down everything you do for a few days. You’ll likely notice patterns and identify areas that are consuming you.
    7. Change Up Your Technique: Don’t be afraid to use more than one devotional or tool to avoid falling into a rut. Use a Study Bible or document your journey with God in a Journaling Bible.
    8. Revisit Verses: The beauty of God’s Word is that it is alive. This means scripture may speak differently to you depending on what season you are in.
    9. Pick Out Patterns: The Bible is full of promises, warnings and instructions. Choose a color for each theme and highlight passages that relate.
    10. Ask For Clarity: Ask God for clarity when you don’t understand something. He is ready and willing to impart His wisdom if we simply ask.

    What are some of your go-to Bible study tips?

  • Why I Struggle to Pray for People

    Why I Struggle to Pray for People by Suzie Eller

    “Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent.” Exodus 33:10 (NIV)

    We slipped through the side door into a small room. Women sat on the floor, their books open, while a fan pushed around the sweltering 110+ degree air.

    When the lessons were complete, we were introduced. Shy smiles broke down the language and cultural barriers. A handful were Christian believers in the early stages of their faith. Others practiced a different religion.

    We asked if they’d share their stories. As one talked, she pointed to her mother standing at the back of the room. Tears pooled as she said that her mother was very ill.

    My immediate instinct was to pray for her, but I didn’t act on it.

    How would it be received? We were guests in their community, in their culture and in this classroom. But the feeling wouldn’t go away.

    As it neared time for us to leave, I whispered to the person who brought us to the class: “I want to pray for the girl’s mother. Is that OK?”

    “It’s always acceptable to pray,” she answered.

    She asked the girl’s mother to come forward. I rested my hands gently in hers and started to pray. The presence of God sweetly wrapped around us. It was tangible. It was so real. When I opened my eyes, I witnessed girls and women pressing forward, the cluster of faces totally expectant.

    They wanted prayer too.

    My friend, Lynn, and I prayed for each woman in that room, some of them twice as they came back for more.

    It’s always acceptable to pray.

    Or is it?

    Somehow I’ve allowed my American culture to influence this belief. I’ve been told that it’s intrusive. Unwanted.

    In today’s passage, we find Moses in the Tent of Meeting. It’s not a fancy place. It’s smack dab in the middle of the wilderness. But when Moses enters the tent to talk to God, the glory of God sweeps over the tent.

    Those standing at a distance are so enthralled with what’s going on before their eyes, they can’t help but worship.

    This is such a beautiful picture of prayer.

    Moses prayed, most likely for the thousands that wandered in the wilderness. Some believed. Others didn’t. Some followed. Others grumbled. Prayer ministered to Moses, but it also drew others to God.

    Has my fear of when and where and how to pray kept me from praying for others?

    I think it has, and it’s something I’m asking God to help me with.

    My friend in the hard place who’s lacking the words to ask for prayer? I can reach for her hand and let her know that she is not alone.

    That stranger in the airport who is flying across country to attend her grandma’s funeral? I can pray for comfort.

    There are numerous opportunities around us to pray for people.

    We can listen for the tender, gentle voice of God who loves that person, who knows when it’s the right time. He knows when a heart is receptive, or hurting, or wondering if anyone is aware of their pain.

    Just the other day, I listened as a friend described a bout with sickness. We were in a public place. Others milled around. Normally I would have listened, promising to pray later.

    Can I pray for you?

    Right there, right then. We bowed our heads and quietly reached for heaven. Some watched in curiosity. Others joined in. When we were through praying, I felt a hand touch my arm.

    Will you pray for me, too?

    Yes, absolutely yes.

    Do you struggle to pray for people?

    Listen to God’s voice. He’ll show you when to pray, and how. He knows who is standing at a distance, their hearts ready to worship Him too.

    Dear God, I’ve allowed my culture to tell me that prayer isn’t acceptable when there are people who long to feel Your presence. Give me the courage to say yes to Your invitation to pray for others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Exodus 4:15, “You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Perhaps you struggle to pray for people because you don’t want to offend. Ask God for His guidance.

    We have been given a Helper in the form of the Holy Spirit who will help us discern when to pray, and in a way that draws a person to God, rather than pushes them away. Read Romans 8:26-27 and thank God for His role in prayer.

    © 2016 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • If You’re Feeling Overlooked and Unappreciated…

    If You’re Feeling Overlooked and Unappreciated… by Lysa TerKeurst

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

    Sometimes I wake up in the morning feeling a little grumpy. Time to do it all again. I’ll buy food that gets eaten. I’ll wash clothes that get dirty again. I’ll sweep floors that will somehow need to be swept again before the day is even done.

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

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

    Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

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

    Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

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

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

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

    Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

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

    Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 15:58b, “Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.” (MSG)

    John 15:16a, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you …” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When have you felt overlooked or left out recently?

    When you’re feeling discouraged, speak these words out loud: “I am handpicked and called by God. I may be rejected by others, but I am forever cherished and accepted by the Most High God!”

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?

    How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You? by Rachael Carman

    “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15 (NASB)

    Like most mothers, I’d gotten into a daily habit of using certain phrases to keep my crew in line: “Make your bed.”

    “Stop hitting your brother!”

    “Go to time-out.”

    Sure, I also tried to throw in an occasional “I love you!” when I thought about it.

    One day, one of my seven children was being passively disobedient. I responded with a full-blown sermonette composed of frequently used phrases:

    “What part of this is unclear?”

    “Do you understand what I am trying to tell you?”

    “What is the problem?”

    “I will never ask you to do something that I do not believe you are able to do or that I am unwilling to help you try.”

    “Are you even listening to me?”

    Suddenly, time froze. It was as if I could hear God saying, “Rachael, are you listening to Me? I think I’ve been pretty clear. I have some things I would like for you to do, and I promise to help you.”

    My own chided child had disappeared during this moment of revelation, and I was left alone with my heavenly Father’s question: Rachael, are you listening to Me?

    I was convicted. I hadn’t been listening. I’d been hearing but not obeying. In fact, I had been ignoring the very sin in me that I was so quick to point out in my child.

    So often, the things we say to our children are the very things God wants us — His children — to hear:

    “Be still.”

    “I’m the Parent, that’s why.”

    “Pay attention.”

    “Please, just trust Me.”

    Take out the trash.”


    Look at the list of things you’ve been saying. Do you hear your heavenly Father whispering the same things to you?

    God is speaking. Our key verse puts it simply, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15).

    What do you hear?

    Is He asking you to be still and wait on His timing? Is He calling on you to take action? Is He asking you to trust and know that He is God? Maybe He simply wants you to know that He understands how you’re feeling.

    More than anything else, God wants you to hear that He loves you.

    Dear God, help me listen carefully to what You have to say to me. Help me hear and respond the first time with obedience and joy. Your Word speaks clearly. All of creation declares Your glory. Incline my heart to be still and know Your will. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 10:2-4, “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (NASB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Think back over the last several days. What things have you said to your children over and over? Which words do you want to resonate with them long after they leave your house? Which words would you rather they forget? Are there words you want to make an effort to say to them more often?

    Spend some time in prayer thanking God for your children (or other young people you influence) and what He is teaching you through them. Ask Him to help you as you seek to make changes to what you say to them.

    Listen carefully to your children. Then listen carefully to the Lord. His Word speaks loud and clear, and the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth as you seek Him and make a relationship with Him your priority.

    © 2016 by Rachael Carman. All rights reserved.

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

  • Three Things You Must Remember When Rejected

    Three Things You Must Remember When Rejected by Lysa TerKeurst

    “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.” Psalm 34:19 (NIV)

    I scooted into the restaurant booth beside my daughter Ashley. Her first-semester college grades had been posted for two days, but she’d refused to look at them. We decided to review them together at one of our favorite restaurants.

    Together is a great way to press through something you’re afraid could make you feel a bit undone.

    School hasn’t always been easy for Ashley. When she was in the eighth grade, her teachers requested a meeting with my husband Art and me. We were stunned to find out she was failing every class.

    It wasn’t from her lack of effort. She simply wasn’t grasping the new curriculum her school had switched to that year. And their only suggestion was to have her go back and repeat seventh grade.

    Immediately, I knew that would never work. I also think the school knew this wouldn’t work. So they offered to help us have her transferred to a different school.

    It wasn’t intended as a rejection. But it sure felt like one.

    Yet slowly, little successes at her new school gave her enough confidence to believe it was possible to turn things around. And by the end of that year, she was on the dean’s list. By the time she got into high school, she was making great grades and even graduated with honors.

    Now in college, she’d chosen an academically rigorous major. She’d given it her all. But the exams all carried a lot of weight toward her overall grades, and she just wasn’t sure how she’d done. And though that eighth-grade rejection was very far from her at that point, the fear still lingered.

    The enemy loves to take our rejection and twist it into a raw, irrational fear that God really doesn’t have a good plan for us.

    This fear is a corrupting companion. It replaces the truths we’ve trusted with hopeless lies. Satan knows what consumes us controls us. Therefore the more consumed we are with rejection, the more he can control our emotions, our thinking and our actions.

    So what’s a brokenhearted person to do? We must take back control from something or someone that was never meant to have it and declare God as Lord. To help us see how we can practice this when the worries of rejection try to control us, here are three things to remember and proclaim.

    1. One Rejection is Not a Projection of Future Failures

    It’s good to acknowledge the hurt, but don’t see it as a permanent hindrance. Move on from the source of the rejection, and don’t let it shut you down in that arena of life. It has already stolen enough from your present. Don’t let it reach into your future.

    Replace the negative talk that will hinder you. Replace it with praises for God, who will deliver you.

    2. There is Usually Some Element of Protection Wrapped in Every Rejection

    This is a hard one to process at the time of the rejection. But for many of my past rejections, I can look back and see how God was allowing things to unfold the way they did for my protection.

    In His mercy, He allowed this.

    3. This is a Short-Term Setback, Not a Permanent Condition

    The emotions that feel so intense today will ease up over time as long as we let them. We just have to watch how we think and talk about this rejection. If we give it the power to define us, it will haunt us long-term. But if we only allow it enough power to refine us, the hurt will give way to healing.

    As I sat in that restaurant with Ashley and helped her process her fears through the filter of truth, courage emerged that no matter what happened — good or bad — she could trust God.

    Finally, she clicked open the e-mail revealing her grades. Not only did she pass; she was on the dean’s list.

    I was so thankful that day hers were tears of joy. But I’m also well aware that in the tomorrows that come, things could be different. Rejections big and small just seem to ebb and flow in and out of life. Troubles will probably still find us. But the Lord doesn’t just deliver us from some of our troubles. Our key verse Psalm 34:19 tells us He delivers us from them all!

    And I’ll give that truth a big, huge AMEN!

    Father God, I don’t understand this situation. But I do understand Your goodness to me. Help me replace the fears threatening to consume me with truth. I know You love me, You are for me, and I absolutely can trust You with all of my heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Jeremiah 29:11, “‘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.’” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Look back at the three truths Lysa shared that you must remember when you’re feeling rejected. Which one do you need to proclaim over your life 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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Proclaim the Good News | Mark 16:15
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