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  • When I’m Thirsty For More

    When I’m Thirsty For More by Leah DiPascal

    “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” John 4:13-14 (NIV)

    Have you noticed that water is becoming somewhat of a fancy trend?

    Growing up I only had one option. Tap water.

    That is, unless I was brave enough to drink from the river just outside our neighborhood or sip on rainwater as part of a school science experiment.

    Today, grocery store shelves are lined with a plethora of water options: spring, mineral, flavored, sparkling … the list goes on and on.

    Bottled water might be wrapped in snazzy labels. But the truth is, water in its most basic form is essential for living. And when you don’t have any, it quickly becomes the most valuable commodity, wrapped in fancy packaging or not.

    I was reminded of this truth last week when our family went on a hiking trip through the mountains. Instead of getting an early start, we waited until after lunchtime and set out during the hottest part of the day.

    I thought I packed enough water, but miles into our hike we ran out. As the sun beat down on us, and my mouth started to dry out, all I could think about was my need for water. And how I was determined to get some in order to quench my thirst.

    Today’s key verse is from a story in the Gospel of John about a woman who also took a long walk during the hottest part of the day. You might know her as the Samaritan woman.

    She was in need of water and taking necessary measures to get some. When she approached a well, she encountered Jesus, and the subject of water quickly came up.

    Initially, Jesus asked for water, but as their conversation continued, He in turn offered her water. Not from a natural spring or the well she was using. Instead, Jesus offered the gift of living water.

    “Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water … Anyone who drinks this [well] water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life”’ (John 4:10, 13-14 NLT).

    Jesus knew this woman had made some poor choices. Life was difficult, and she’d developed a habit of looking to others in hopes they would meet her physical and emotional needs. It was a type of thirst she couldn’t seem to quench.

    Maybe this living water would make her life easier? She had no idea this encounter with Jesus would change her life forever.

    There may be times when we find ourselves thirsting for more — more recognition from others, more money in our checking account, more love from a spouse, more things to call our own.

    We can embrace a trend of putting our hope into earthly possessions or certain people, believing they will quench our deepest desires. But the shallow water this world offers through its temporary fixes and short-lived fortunes will only bring us momentary satisfaction. Eventually we’ll thirst for more.

    Like the woman at the well, Jesus invites everyone to receive His Living Water, which is the gift of His Spirit, along with forgiveness, redemption and grace.

    He is the Fountain of Water, bubbling up within us, that gives eternal refreshment and strength for our souls. Only Jesus can fully quench our deepest desires and fill us with His overflowing love.

    Are you feeling parched today? Like the woman at the well, open your heart and hands to receive all that Jesus wants to give you, so you never have to be thirsty for more again.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Spirit, which is the Living Water that quenches my soul and satisfies my deepest desires. Fill me to overflowing with Your love and joy, so I never have to thirst again for the temporary things this world offers me. Let my heart spring up with Your hope and peace from this moment forward. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Isaiah 58:11, “The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Imagine going a whole day without water. How would your body respond from being deprived of what it needs? Would you feel weak, thirsty, sluggish?

    It’s the same when we go through our days without tapping into the Living Water (Holy Spirit) — our soul will be deprived of what it needs. The “thirst” we long to quench can only be satisfied through knowing Jesus and having a personal relationship with Him.

    © 2016 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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

  • Division in a Family

    Division in a Family by Wendy Pope

    “A messenger soon arrived in Jerusalem to tell David, ‘All Israel has joined Absalom in a conspiracy against you!’” 2 Samuel 15:13 (NLT)

    Reconciliation often seems easier with friends, co-workers or even acquaintances than with family.

    Several years ago, a few issues caused division in my family. Both sides felt equally justified in their anger toward each other. Family gatherings changed dramatically. Eventually we called a truce, but when we gather around the table for a holiday meal or to celebrate a birthday, things still feel tense.

    Oh the deep cuts a family feud can make, especially between a child and a parent. We see this in 2 Samuel 15:13 when King David’s son, Absalom, turned against his father: “A messenger soon arrived in Jerusalem to tell David, ‘All Israel has joined Absalom in a conspiracy against you!’” (NLT)

    Absalom was angry with his father and in retaliation he turned an entire nation against King David. If only this son had sought reconciliation instead of revenge, things could have been different. Interestingly enough, Absalom’s name means "peace of my father." Sadly, he chose not to reconcile his anger and rather brought strife, instead of peace, to David.

    At the same time, David could have played a more active role in seeking reconciliation. But for some reason, he chose not to do that. (If you’re not familiar with Absalom’s story, or would like some comfort that even key people in the Bible had imperfect families, read more of their story in 2 Samuel, chapters 14-18.)

    Is there strife in your family? Maybe get-togethers are awkward or always end in an argument. Or perhaps you have stopped talking to each other altogether. Many things can stand in the way of true reconciliation: pride, bitterness, anger, resentment and miscommunication.

    We can’t overcome these in our humanness, but instead we can cry out to God and tell Him we need His help.

    It is only then that we can “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32, NLT).

    The Lord created us to be in community with one another, including our families. To do this, we often need extra doses of grace and kindness! Some issues are tough and will take a lot of prayer and great discernment to work through. We can’t control what others think, do or say, but we can be responsible for ourselves.

    Let’s take some time today to examine our hearts for bitterness, rage, anger and harsh words and determine if we’ve misunderstood the intentions of family members we are feuding with.

    Lastly, let’s ask the Lord to clean our hearts so we can be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving. I think we’ll be surprised how different get-togethers, celebrations and family reunions are after God has cleansed our hearts!

    Lord, I thank You for my family. Reveal harbored feelings that have stolen our peace. I ask You for the courage to pursue peace we need and You desire. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 37:8, “Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper — it only leads to harm.” (NLT)

    James 1:19-20, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: If you are in the midst of a family feud, be honest with yourself about the part you have contributed. Repent to God of any sin and ask your family members for forgiveness. Pray for God to reconcile your family.

    © 2016 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • There is No Such Thing as a Perfect Decision

    There is No Such Thing as a Perfect Decision by Lysa TerKeurst

    “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:6 (ESV)

    When I was working on my book The Best Yes, I surveyed people through Twitter and Facebook with this question: What do you think is the biggest reason people struggle to make decisions?

    Overwhelmingly, fear was the answer.

    Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of what others will think. Fear of rejection. Fear of missing out on something better. Fear of making the wrong decision.

    I absolutely understand all these fears. I wrestle with them myself. And some wrestling with fear is good. It can keep us from making poor choices. For example, my kids’ fear of being restricted often keeps them from missing curfews.

    That kind of wrestling with fear is good. But other times I still feel like I’m wrestling with fear to the point where I’m paralyzed from moving forward.

    Do you have a decision to make right now where uncertainty is making you feel stuck?

    I often suffer from “analysis paralysis” trying to figure out which choice is the perfect decision. And if I can’t discern the perfect choice I feel paralyzed.

    Here’s a thought that keeps me from staying stuck: There is no such thing as a perfect decision.

    Perfection is an illusion.

    Are there good choices and bad choices? Yes, of course. But at this point in my life, I’m not getting tripped up as much in the good versus the bad decisions.

    More often now, I find myself stuck between a good choice and another good choice, trying to figure out which one is perfect.

    Should I let my girls take dance lessons they would love but that would require us to eat on the run? Or tell them no so we can have family dinners at home? Good and good.

    Should I teach that Bible study every Tuesday night at church or be at home to help my kids with their homework? Good and good.

    Should my 20-year-old daughter go on a date with the guy from our church or just keep things between them on a friendship level? Good and good.

    What about bigger good and good things?

    Should I go on a mission trip or to a marriage conference? Good and good.

    Should I quit my job to start that ministry I keep talking about or bring more of a ministry-heart into my existing job? Good and good.

    These good and good decisions happen every day. But here’s a secret answer you must know when trying to pick the perfect choice: There is no choice that will turn out perfectly in every way.

    As long as you desire to please God with your decisions, no decision you make will be completely awful. Nor will any decision you make be completely awesome.

    Every decision is a package deal of parts awful and awesome.

    In other words, since there is no perfect choice, I don’t have to be paralyzed by the fear that I’m not making the exact right decision.

    Again, I want to please God with this decision. Our key verse, Proverbs 3:6, promises that He will make our paths straight if we acknowledge Him in all we do. So I also want to demonstrate my trust in Him by actually making a decision — having made peace with the fact it won’t all be perfect.

    There is no perfect job. There is no perfect school. There is no perfect spouse. There is no perfect church. There is no perfect way to raise kids. There is no perfect decision.

    Each of these choices will have just enough imperfections to make them some combination of good and not so good.

    So here’s where the certainty is: My imperfections will never override God’s promises. God’s promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on His ability to use well.

    Dear Lord, I trust You beyond any fear I have of making the wrong decision. Today, I hand over all my uncertainties to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are you getting ready to make a decision? First, determine if your main desire is to honor God. Then, write out different roads you think this decision could lead you down. Make sure it’s leading you in the direction you truly want to go.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Helping Those Who Fought for Our Freedom

    Becky Campbell and Son
    Becky Campbell with her son David.

    Becky Campbell founded Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund (CFSRF) in 2003 after her son, David, joined the service and was deployed to Iraq. As she and her husband watched television coverage of the war, she felt a strong desire to help the children whose parents who had been killed overseas. Their nonprofit ministry provides assistance to surviving children and spouses of U.S. military service members who lost their lives in the Iraq or Afghanistan Wars. They also help severely disabled veterans.

    And for the past 12½ years, the nonprofit she founded has provided more than $1.9 million in emotional, educational, financial and moral support to families of fallen heroes in the United States.

    We are amazed by their strong mission to support the orphan and the widow through James 1:27. Since our partnership began in 2007, you’ve helped us donate more than $135,000 to their cause. This donation went toward student scholarships to attend a four-year college, as well as funding housing and utilities costs for families who were struggling to make their payments.

    Veronica's Story
    As a teenager, Veronica Riddle planned to graduate from high school and join the Air Force, with hopes of obtaining an education while serving in the military.

    Veronica and Parents at Graduation
    Veronica with her parents after graduation.

    In 2008, that dream was placed on hold. While on tour in Iraq, Veronica’s father, Sgt. Scott Riddle, was involved in a severe accident, suffering a broken neck and traumatic brain injury. Despite his hospitalization, a two-year gap occurred from the time Veronica’s father applied for military disability pay and received it, which put financial strain on Veronica’s family.

    Due to her family’s financial hardship and father’s illness, Veronica changed her plans of joining the Air Force and remained close to home, helping her mother take care of her father.

    Veronica eventually applied for college at a local university, but she was unsure of how she’d afford her education. When she learned about CFSRF through an internet search, she applied for a scholarship and was awarded with the Severely Disabled College Grant for Salisbury University. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in 2014.

    Jesenya’s Story
    Sgt. Ian Thomas Sanchez was doing a security sweep in Afghanistan when he was killed by an IED, or Improvised Explosive Device. His wife, Tiffany, and daughter, Jesenya, endured many struggles from the devastating loss of Ian.

    One of them was the heartbreaking news of Jesenya’s brain tumor diagnosis at age 11.

    Jesenya underwent surgery to remove the tumor and was in in-patient rehabilitation for two months and out-patient rehabilitation for three years. Despite her health issues, Jesenya was a full-time honor student invited to travel to Barcelona earlier this year for a language immersion trip. CFSRF paid for Jesenya’s trip through a grant from their Children’s Enrichment Program.

    Did you know?
    Every day, 22 military veterans commit suicide. They volunteered to serve our nation, and every 80 minutes, one of them takes their own life.

    The difference is yours to make. You have an amazing opportunity to help severely disabled veterans and surviving children and spouses of fallen heroes. If you would like to support, donate $10* by texting FAMILY to 52000.

    *Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

  • You Are Loved No Matter What

    You Are Loved No Matter What by Lynn Cowell

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

    “Mommy, would you still love me if ...”

    At only 8 years old, my littlest one had begun to learn that some actions in life come with harsh consequences. She needed to know: If she really messed up, would I stop loving her?

    All those years ago, I didn't really think about this question my girl asked me. My heart is to love my children through anything they might experience, even if what they are going through is a result of a wrong choice they made. I assumed they knew.

    “There is nothing you could do that would make me stop loving you,” I comforted her. In answering her question, I didn’t see this as a monumental moment in my daughter’s life. I was simply being her mom, reassuring her of my continual love.

    It was not until a recent weekend, when my now 19-year-old girl told me just how important that reassurance had been to her: “Mom, I knew then that I could trust you forever.”

    Her words caught me off guard. I had no idea that my then-little girl needed such strong reassurance, at such a young age. She needed to know she could trust my love.

    I’ve learned I can't assume my children know my heart as their parent. Our Heavenly Father didn't assume we would know the depth of His great love either, so He tells us of its magnitude over and over and over again in His Word. Today’s key verse reinforces this simple truth that our hearts need to hear again and again: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1a)

    Once we make the exchange of our life for His, we are His children. God lavishly expends His love upon us in great amounts and without limit. The more we understand God’s great love toward us, the more we can trust Him with all things, similar to my little girl learning to trust me.

    My love for my children is not based on how they behave or perform and the same is true for the love our perfect Heavenly Father has for us. No matter what, God’s love for us is constant. On the days we mess up completely and on the days we’re close to getting it all right, His love keeps pouring out to us. His love can then fill our hearts to overflowing so unconditional love spills over to those all around us.

    Friend, have you encountered this great love God has and allowed Him to come in and completely change your life? If not, today is your day!

    Oh Jesus! Thank You for Your never-ending love flowing to me every day. Please forgive me for my sin. I want to exchange my life for the new life You offer me. Help me take the steps I need to begin walking with You every day. Overwhelm me today with this truth and may Your love flow through me today, causing another person to see and experience Your unconditional love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 1:12, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (NIV)

    Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: If you have begun a new life in Christ, how are you sharing this powerful love so others can begin this new life as well?

    Name one person in your life you can begin praying for and look for an opportunity to share the good news of salvation with her.

    © 2016 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Longing in Me

    The Longing in Me by Sheila Walsh

    “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

    It was a moment I had prayed for and yet, honestly, it was a moment I dreaded too. My husband, Barry, and I have only one child, a son named Christian, and it was finally time to let go.

    Christian had been accepted into a college only a 3-hour drive from our home. That made this mom’s heart rest easier … a little!

    We’d been collecting things all summer long.


    A shower curtain and towels.

    A coffee maker.

    “You don’t drink coffee,” I said.

    “I think I’ll start now,” was his response.

    The list got longer and longer and the piles around the house got higher and higher.

    When I woke up the morning of his move I prayed the words of a Psalm that I pray every single day, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love …” (Psalm 143:8a). I paused there to let the weight of those words fill me. What a promise! God’s love will never fail.

    On days when I feel strong, His love is with me and on days when I feel vulnerable and weak, His love is with me.

    “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you.” I reminded my soul that this is a choice. I choose to place my trust in God when my heart wavers. I choose to trust God with my son’s life just as I choose to trust Him with my own.

    “Okay, Lord. Let’s do this!”

    We arrived at the school about the same time as half of the state of Texas, or so it seemed. Christian checked in at student housing and got his key. He’d be sharing a two-bedroom unit with his best friend, Brendan. That made my husband, Barry, and me very happy, as we love Brendan like another son.

    Let me pause here to say, August in Texas is really not the month you want to carry boxes up three flights of stairs. Halfway through my fourth trip I flopped down on the stairs and announced to anyone who was listening, “I’m too old for this!”

    By sunset we had most things in place. Barry and I were staying for the night in a local hotel so we left the boys in peace to enjoy their first night as college freshmen. We grabbed a quick dinner in a local diner and then flopped into bed.

    “Do you think he’s ready for this?” Barry asked. “Did we do enough to prepare him?”

    “I don’t know,” I replied. “But I do know he loves God, and even more than that, I know God loves him more than you and I ever could … I’m just wondering though, do you think he’ll ever remember to change his sheets?”

    The following day we stocked their refrigerator, vacuumed the rooms and took the trash and empty boxes to the dumpster. Then it was time to leave. I asked the boys if we could pray over them and their new home. I shared my morning verse, my daily prayer and reminded them that when you trust your life to Christ, He’ll direct your steps.

    Christian walked us out to the car. He hugged his dad and me and said, “Thank you! Thank you for loving me. Thank you for making this possible.”

    Then he turned and walked into all that God had for him his freshman year. I cried all the way home. Can you cry for three solid hours? Why, yes you can!

    Life seems to be full of moments that ask us to let go when we long to hold on.

    I don’t know what you face right now, what season of life you’re in, but my prayer for you is simple and from the heart. May you know the comfort and strength of the One whose love will never fail you, and whose mercies are new every single morning!

    Heavenly Father, help us to know that Your love for us will never fail. Be our comfort and strength whatever season of life we find ourselves in. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (KJV)

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

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Meditate on today’s key verse. If you’ve entrusted God with your life, trust He will guide you throughout every day and every season.

    © 2016 by Sheila Walsh. All rights reserved.

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

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

  • The Quiet Impact of One Woman

    The Quiet Impact of One Woman by Amy Carroll

    “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV)

    Feeling overwhelmed by the needs around me, I turned to a wise friend for advice. I knew Christie could help me because of the impact I saw her making in others’ lives. I poured out my worries then finally got to my question: “How do I attempt to meet all the needs and touch all the hurts of the women around me? It seems like too much, and I feel myself shutting down.”

    Christie pointed out I had taken on too much responsibility and self-imposed tasks. “Pray for one woman,” she advised. “One woman whom you can pour your life into.” I instantly knew what she meant and what I needed to do.

    Years before, when I was a teenager, a godly young woman named Layne had made me her “one woman.” I originally met Layne at a Bible study filled with high school and college students, and one day she casually shared that she was looking for a place to live while her house was being built.

    Her need sparked a brilliant idea, and I went home to beg my parents to invite Layne to live in the travel trailer parked in our backyard.

    Looking back, I can see this wouldn’t be a dream-come-true for anyone. Travel trailers are fun for about a week of vacation, but Layne moved in for nearly a year. Each day she got ready in a tiny bathroom where she could barely turn around!

    Although living in my backyard was challenging for her, Layne’s life changed mine that year. Just like in today’s key verse, where Paul encouraged Timothy to pass on his faith, Layne took every opportunity to share all that Jesus had taught her. She modeled self-control in her dating life. She taught me to love Scripture above my own opinions. She showed me how to be a long-term, loyal friend. She was an example of being a loving and respectful daughter.

    More than 30 years later, I can confidently tell you Layne’s influence has shaped the whole of my life. I was her one woman, and Christie challenged me to prayerfully choose a woman I could pour my life into as well.

    Over and over again, Scripture shows this is God’s pattern. Moses invested in Joshua and raised up a new leader. Hannah invested in Samuel and influenced kings. Paul invested in Timothy and built the church. Timothy must have followed Paul’s advice to invest, because here we are.

    I followed the advice to pray for and invest in one woman, too! With the visual of a lone woman before me and Layne’s example behind me, I constantly look for a woman who will teach me, as well as a woman in whom I can invest. It’s become part of my spiritual DNA.

    If you’re feeling burdened and overwhelmed by the needs of the people around you today, begin changing the world by investing in one woman. Your one woman might actually be the little girl who sits at your feet while you wash the dishes. She may be the woman in the cubicle next to yours or the woman who lives down the street. She may be in your small group or a woman who doesn’t own a Bible.

    It’s impossible to meet all the needs surrounding us, but by making a difference in one person’s life, our story becomes part of God’s story. By investing in another person what we’ve learned from Him, our story expands beyond our lifetime into eternity.

    Father, whom do You want me to entrust with the lessons You’re teaching me? Who needs me to pass on what You’ve given me? Show me my one woman today, and make me faithful to invest in her life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Titus 2:3-5, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Who has invested in you and what difference has it made?

    What valuable lessons has Jesus taught you that you can use to help someone else?

    © 2016 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • What’s in Your Heart?

    What’s in Your Heart? by Wendy Pope

    “Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies.” Psalm 24:4 (NLT)

    Many years ago, as I read the book of Exodus, I was appalled to learn how God’s people created and worshiped idols like the golden calf. Later, my disdain turned into understanding when I learned the definition of idol and uncovered my own false gods.

    An idol is any person or thing regarded or worshiped with blind admiration, adoration, intense love or extreme devotion. Studying this definition forced me to examine my life. When I asked myself what I adored and loved the most, sleep topped my list.

    For me, there was nothing compared to changing into my pajama bottoms after a long day, curling up in bed with a good book and not waking up until I hit the snooze button a couple of times the next morning. If my kids or husband interrupted my sleep, it must have been for a very, very good reason! Some days (OK, many days) my first waking thought was, “I can’t wait to go back to sleep tonight.”

    My extreme admiration for sleep had overtaken my desire to spend time with the Lord in the morning. Instead of getting up to read the Bible and pray, I’d roll over and dream. God wasn’t first, second or even third in my heart’s desires.

    God knew the desire for us to create idols would be tempting. It’s human nature to go after things we can see (hence the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind”), but as God’s people, we must remember to keep our spiritual eyes on Him.

    Friends, this is nothing new. Moses warned God’s people about turning their affections away from their Creator and onto His creation:

    “So do not corrupt yourselves by making an idol in any form … don’t be seduced into worshiping them … Remember that the LORD rescued you … in order to make you his very own people and his special possession, which is what you are today” (see Deuteronomy 4:16a, 19b-20, NLT).

    Everyone’s idols will differ: money, marriage, notoriety, security. Whatever our idols are, they can’t remain in our hearts. Why? In Psalm 24, David asks who can be near God. The answer is found in today’s key verse: "Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies" (Psalm 24:4).

    If we are to be in a close relationship with the Lord, we can’t have idols lingering in our hearts. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money” (NLT).

    Or sleep. Or ________ {you fill in the blank}.

    It may not seem like a big deal for us to desire wealth, fame, relationships or other seemingly insignificant things. But when these take precedence over God, it is a major issue to Him. Scripture tells us that He is jealous for our hearts and will not — nor should He — share His glory with another (Deuteronomy 4:24).

    Reality television has co-opted the word jealous: we see housewives jealous over handbags and luxury vehicles; chefs jealous over others’ delicious, well-executed dishes; bachelorettes jealous over fun dates other women go on. But they aren’t actually jealous; they are envious.

    Envy longs for what belongs to others.

    Jealousy passionately desires what rightly belongs to you.

    You and I belong to God, so when anything claims our affections, time, money, thoughts or desires more than He does, He becomes jealous. He loves us and knows nothing can fulfill us like He can and nothing is better for us than His ways. In fact, Psalm 24:5 says that when we purify our hearts of idols, we “will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God [our] savior” (NLT). God longs to be the one thing you long for the most.

    Every now and then, I still struggle with desiring more sleep than I need. But now, instead of settling in for an excessive snooze, it’s a lot easier to convince my sleepy bones to follow my heart’s true desire — to spend every moment I can with the One my heart longs for.

    Lord, investigate my heart, search every part. Reveal anything that is keeping me from having a right relationship with You. Forgive me for elevating anything and anyone above You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 10:14, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: To what or whom do you have blind admiration, adoration, extreme devotion or intense love?

    How will you safeguard your heart against giving that thing or person first place in your life where only God belongs?

    © 2016 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • No Matter What

    No Matter What by Lysa TerKeurst

    “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV)

    I remember the day Art and I settled in our hearts that we would choose God’s love and the pursuit of a relationship with Him, no matter what.

    We were in the hospital with our middle daughter who was 6 weeks old. She had seemed a perfectly healthy baby until an allergic reaction to the protein in my breast milk landed us in the intensive care unit. The doctors told us on the fourth day of our visit that Ashley needed emergency surgery, and they did not expect her to survive.

    They gave us five minutes to tell our baby goodbye.

    My heart was shattered.

    I so desperately wanted to scoop her up and run out of the hospital. I wanted to somehow breathe my life into hers. I wanted to take her place. I could handle my own death so much easier than the death of my child. Art prayed over Ashley, we both said our goodbyes, and then, with tears streaming down our faces, we let her go.

    When Art took me outside to the hospital parking lot, I collapsed into his arms. He gently cupped my face in his hands and reminded me that Ashley was God’s child to give and His to take back.

    “Lysa, God loves Ashley even more than we do,” he gently told me. “We must trust His plan.”

    Art then asked me to do something, and it changed my whole perspective on my relationship with God. “We have to get it settled in our hearts that we will love God no matter the outcome of Ashley’s surgery,” he said.

    At first I resented Art’s desire that we love God in this way. I feared it might give the impression it was alright for God to take Ashley.

    With all my being, I wanted to hold on to my child and refuse God. Yet, though I was heartbroken, I also felt God’s compassion. I felt Him drawing me close and pouring out His tender mercy. God knew firsthand the pain we were feeling because He’d felt it Himself. I knew that, ultimately, I had no ability to control my child’s future.

    With tears pouring from our eyes, Art and I released our sweet Ashley to the Lord and promised to love Him no matter what.

    It was as if the more I fell into God’s arms, the less the pain of the moment seared my heart. Feeling the power of God took away the fear of the unknown. I stopped thinking about the what-if’s and let my soul simply say, OK. God, in this minute I choose rest with You. I will not let my mind go to the minutes that are coming. I will simply be in this moment and face it with peace.

    That day we settled our love for God not just for this situation, but for all time. Though we did not feel at all happy, a gentle covering of unexplainable calm settled over our hearts. Knowing that the One who loved Ashley even more than we did was taking care of her, and that His plan for her was perfect, brought peace in the middle of heartbreak.

    The end of this chapter of Ashley’s life was miraculous and we are so grateful. Though the doctors can’t explain how, she made a full recovery. Who can understand why God answers prayer the way He does?

    I know the devastating other side of situations like this — where my little sister didn't recover, and we stood at her grave, helpless and heartbroken.

    But both situations have taught me that no matter what God’s answer, our hearts can be settled to trust and love Him. I don't have to understand; I just have to trust. This kind of total surrender brings about a depth of peace and relationship with God you can’t get any other way. It all stems from living out today’s key verse, loving God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

    Nothing in life is certain. Circumstances roll in and out like the ocean’s tide. And the unknown can sometimes seem so frightening.

    We can’t stop or control things that roll our way any more than we can stop the water’s edge.

    But we can make the minute-by-minute choice to let our souls rest in God.

    Dear Lord, I want to love You with all of my heart, all of my soul and all of my strength like Your Word instructs. Teach me how to give up the control I try to maintain as I experience uncertainties and hard times. Guide me in pursuing a love relationship with You no matter what comes my way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are difficult circumstances causing you to pull away from God? Ask Him to help you surrender them to Him today.

    Write out your own “no matter what” prayer — one you can turn to when times get tough.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Who Owns Your Stuff?

    Who Owns Your Stuff? by Karen Ehman

    “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” 1 Chronicles 29:14b (NIV)

    I was beside myself with excitement on that spring afternoon. With my brand new driver’s license in my purse, I snagged the car keys from my dad and took the Cutlass for a spin — all by myself! It didn’t matter it was an old clunker, complete with rust spots and faded army green paint. I was thrilled to call it “my car.” Although the title was in my dad’s name, I still felt the pride of ownership.

    Can you remember the thrill of owning something for the first time?

    Maybe your first watch? Or bicycle? Or maybe, after years of scraping and saving, it was the joy of owning your very first home! Whether large or small, we like our things. But it begs the question, who really owns our stuff?

    The Bible gives us a true perspective of what we call “ours.”

    In 1 Chronicles 29, we see King David preparing to build God’s temple. He mentions he will spare no resource toward the construction, but will donate his own possessions and personal treasures of gold and silver. Then, other Israelite leaders join in willingly and joyfully donating gold, silver, bronze, iron and precious jewels toward the building of the temple (see 1 Chronicles 29:6-9).

    After gathering the resources for the temple, David praises God in front of the whole assembly. Notice he doesn’t praise the people for their generosity, nor boast about himself and his charitable giving.

    Instead, David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

    “Praise be to you, LORD the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.

    Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.”

    He continues:

    “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you” (1 Chronicles 29:10b-11a, 14-17, NIV).

    Wow. Did you catch that?

    “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (1 Chronicles 29:14b).

    What an amazing perspective on our possessions. If the ancient Israelites were so willing to offer what God had given them, turning right back around and investing in building His temple, could we today use all that He’s given us to build up other believers and also to encourage others who might not know Him yet?

    It’s a subtle but crucial shift in perspective when we realize everything we work for here on earth really doesn’t belong to us. Instead it all comes from God. All our possessions are His in the beginning and at the end of our lives.

    The question comes down to this: Who owns your stuff? Will you willingly share so others’ lives may be bettered? The satisfaction from serving God in this way never rusts, tarnishes or fades.

    Dear God, help me remember that You own all my stuff. Help me have the same mindset as King David, to share it all with others so Your work can be done and others’ lives can be touched. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Matthew 6:20-21, “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (NLT)

    Psalm 50:10, “For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What do you remember about owning an item for the very first time? What about your first real paycheck? How can the subtle shift in perspective that God owns your stuff encourage you to be more generous?

    © 2016 by Karen Ehman. 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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