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  • When Only a Friend Who Gets It Will Do

    LIZ

    "At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth." Luke 1:39-40 (NIV)

    When I was pregnant with our firstborn, I carried around a well-marked copy of the book, What to Expect When You're Expecting, counting on its practical wisdom to get me through those scary (yet exciting) months.

    With our next child, I turned to a close friend who was also expecting her second. We exchanged advice, discussed at length the many joys and discomforts of pregnancy, and cheered each other on as our delivery dates drew near. If you need a listening ear, a friend who is walking the same path is a great place to turn.

    Surely that was the case 2,000 years ago for Mary and Elizabeth, who didn't even expect to be expecting. Mary was a virgin, betrothed to Joseph. Elizabeth was an older, barren woman, married to Zechariah the priest. When we first meet them in the Bible, neither woman could imagine being pregnant. But God was already on the move.

    When Gabriel brought Mary the good news of the Son she would bear, the angel offered this word of encouragement: "Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month" (Luke 1:36, NIV).

    No wonder Mary took off for Zechariah's house! Elizabeth might actually believe her miraculous story. Today's key verse assures us young Mary "got ready and hurried," eager to connect with the one person who would understand her situation: a pregnant kinswoman who shared Mary's faith in a wonder-working God.

    If you're bursting with news about something the Lord has done in your life — an answer to prayer, a long-awaited blessing, a surprising provision — you don't want to spill the beans to just anyone. Like Mary, you long to tell somebody who will get it. A friend who will say, "Praise God!" instead of, "Lucky you."

    Besides, who else could Mary tell? Her young friends? Her neighbors in Nazareth? "Hey, I just had a visit from an angel, and I'll be giving birth to God's Son."

    Right. Not happening. Mary needed Elizabeth, just as we need a friend who will listen without judgment and offer wise counsel because she's been there — or is there right now.

    The moment Mary arrived, another miracle occurred. "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb" (Luke 1:41a, NIV). If a mom-to-be eats something sweet or drinks something cold, an unborn child often responds with a swift kick. But this was different: "and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit," (Luke 1:41b, NIV).

    Can you fathom the emotions and sensations that must have washed over Elizabeth? An urge to laugh and cry at once, a sense of being flooded with sunlight and fresh air, an overwhelming desire to shout with joy. And shout she did. "In a loud voice she exclaimed: 'Blessed are you among women ...'" (Luke 1:42a, NIV).

    Think of it! Two ordinary women bound together by an extraordinary God, empowered by His Holy Spirit.

    Mary and Elizabeth had a friendship that shines through the ages. Shared faith, shared joy, shared experience. If you need someone to listen, advise and empathize, consider a woman you know who could use that same kind of support from you. When encouragement flows both directions and honors the Lord, that's a friendship that will go the distance.

    Lord, You will always be our closest friend, our best source of counsel, the first place we turn. Thank You for also providing earthly friends who help us keep our focus on You, every season of the year. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 27:9b, "The pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice." (NIV)

    Psalm 94:19, "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy." (NIV)

    Proverbs 17:17a, "A friend loves at all times." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Learn more about the special bond of friendship between Mary and Elizabeth, as Liz Curtis Higgs unwraps their stories in The Women of Christmas, preparing your heart for this holy season.

    Visit Liz's blog for more encouragement.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: A godly friend is one of the kindest gifts the Lord could bestow on us. In this season of giving and receiving, think of a woman you know who might benefit from a word of encouragement drawn from your well of experience.

    What specifically could you do for her? Say to her? Provide for her? The gift of praying for her daily might not come wrapped in a bow, but would surely be the one thing she needs most in the coming year.

    © 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs. Adapted from The Women of Christmas. All rights reserved.

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

  • Passion: The Essential Collection CD and a Giveaway!

    Available November 10, Passion: The Essential Collection is a collection of 15 powerful songs, talks and performances from the Passion Movement. Since the first release in 1998, Passion albums have sold over 1.5 million units while introducing the church to worship songs like 'Our God,' ‘Lord I Need You,' 'How Great Is Our God,' and 'God Of This City.'

    The Passion Movement and the messages of founder Louie Giglio have marked the lives of millions of people around the globe, calling people everywhere to live for the glory of God. From its inception, the Passion Movement has birthed new anthems of worship, influencing countless churches and helping to define the current worship climate and establish artists Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill and others. Louie Giglio is the pastor and founder of Passion City Church in Atlanta, GA.

    What makes Passion: The Essential Collection so neat and unique is that it comes with DVDs and the CD.  You will get the music and know and love from Passion artists.  However, you get bonus DVDs that have music videos.  Additionally you will get DVDs with discussions from Louie Giglio!  Amazing deal!  You can purchase the cd from Family Christian stores today either in stores or online.

    • TRACK LISTING CD 1. Holy Is The Lord (Chris Tomlin) 2. One Thing Remains (Kristian Stanfill) 3. 10,000 Reasons [Bless The Lord] (Matt Redman) 4. Our God (Chris Tomlin) 5. How He Loves (David Crowder*Band) 6. Healing Is In Your Hands (Christy Nockels) 7. Whom Shall I Fear [God Of Angel Armies] (Chris Tomlin) 8. You Never Let Go (Matt Redman) 9. Amazing Grace [My Chains Are Gone] (Chris Tomlin) 10. Better Is One Day (Charlie Hall) 11. In Christ Alone (Kristian Stanfill) 12. God Of This City (Chris Tomlin) 13. Like A Lion (David Crowder*Band) 14. Waiting Here For You (Christy Nockels) 15. How Great Is Our God (Chris Tomlin) 

      DVD Song Videos 1. The Lord Our God (Kristian Stanfill) 2. Let It Be Jesus (Christy Nockels) 3. Mercy [From Lift] (Matt Redman) 4. White Flag (Chris Tomlin) 5. Here’s My Heart (Crowder) 6. My Heart Is Yours (Kristian Stanfill) 7. God’s Great Dance Floor (Chris Tomlin)

      Talks by Louie Giglio

      1. Let’s Work It Out (From Passion: 2010) 2. We Will Carry The Name (From Passion: 2011) 3. Raise To Life By The Breath Of A Living God (From Passion: 2013)

      4. Crushed By Grace (From Passion: 2014)

       

      Meanwhile our friends at Capitol, are offering an amazing prize package! One lucky person will win the following collection of cds:

      Passion: The Essential Collection

      Passion-Take it All

      Crowder-Neon Steeple

      David Crowder Band-All this For a King

      Tomlin-Love Ran Red Deluxe version

      Christy Nockels-Into the Glorious

      Matt Redman-Your Grace Finds Me Live

      Kristian Stanfill-Mountains Move

       

       

  • The $285 Cinnamon Roll

    KAREN

    "Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right." Psalm 106:3 (NIV)

    It was a simple cinnamon roll. Well, not the run-of-the-mill, refrigerated whack-open canned variety. It was a jumbo pastry from our local all-night diner, laden with gooey cream cheese frosting. The cost? Just $285.

    My 16-year-old son was spending the night with some boys at a neighbor's house. A little past dark, they got a hankering for this famed treat and decided to make the less than 2-mile trek to satisfy their culinary desire.

    Our state has rules for 16-year-old drivers. They may not have more than one other person in the car unless they are related or the group is heading to or from school. Also, they may not drive past 10 p.m. unless they're returning from school, church or work.

    These boys knew all this, so they decided one of them — age 19 — would drive. However, his car was out of gas. So my son allowed him to drive our car instead. Upon leaving the restaurant, his friend discovered he didn't have his driver's license with him. The group decided it was better for my son to shuttle the gang the short distance home rather than for his friend to drive without his license.

    When they were almost home, the red and blue flashing lights of a police vehicle interrupted their quick outing. My son got pulled over. Questioned. Busted. Not only was my son driving past curfew, but he also had three unrelated passengers in the vehicle with him. He was fined heavily and ordered to pay for an online driving refresher course. Additionally, he had to appear before a judge at the Secretary of State's office.

    Although the authorities told us the hearing is usually just a stern lecture (which we were glad he would get!) when his turn came, the usual judge was ill. Instead, our son appeared before a judge from a neighboring county. She listened to his story. And then? She took his drivers license away completely for two months, and ordered him to pay another three-digit fine to get it back!

    The diner's menu that fateful night listed the cinnamon roll for the meager price of $3 and some change. In the end, it actually cost our son a total of $285 dollars of his own hard-earned money because he did not do the right thing by obeying the laws of our state.

    Although we know we should "always do what is right" as today's key verse urges, sometimes we think we can bend the rules ever so slightly. We might even have good reason, as my son felt he did that night. But a rule is a rule. A law is a law. Breaking them comes with consequences — sometimes even stiff penalties and hefty fines.

    Likewise, we might bend God's rules. Flirt with sin. Rationalize wrongdoing.

    Things such as ... It's not really "gossip" if I'm simply sharing a prayer request. I don't think of it as lying, just creatively leaving out a few minor details. Come on! I'm just reconnecting with a former guy "friend" I found on Facebook for a cup of coffee. What harm could there be in that?

    We might know what God commands of us in Scripture by heart, but sometimes we decide ignoring a command "just this once" isn't really a big deal. We convince ourselves we probably won't get caught. However, these seemingly innocent actions could lead to more costly behavior. Sin snowballs. And it often cruelly crushes those foolish enough to stand in its path.

    When we're tempted to twist God's commands oh-so-slightly, let's remember my cinnamon-roll-craving son. What we think has a very affordable and even enticing price tag might end up costing us a whole lot more.

    Father, please help me to pause before I decide to bend Your commands even a tiny bit. Give me the strength to make right and righteous choices. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Genesis 4:7, "You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master." (NLT)

    Romans 13:3, "For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you." (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What is one area in your life that — if not kept in check — could potentially lead to a sinful and messy situation? Take this matter to God in prayer now asking Him to empower you with strength to avoid sin and pursue righteousness.

    © 2014 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • Before You Say "Yes" to One More Thing

    LYSA

    "Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety." Proverbs 29:25 (NLT)

    I want people to like me. I want to please others and pretend I can do all things for all people.

    But I can get myself and my schedule into a mess because of it.

    And in an effort to please others, it's those closest to me who get the worst of me when I'm overscheduled.

    When my oldest daughter, Hope, was about 4 years old she decided it was too boring to take her afternoon nap. Instead, while I was downstairs preparing for guests, she was busy doing something else.

    Please understand I'm not very talented in the kitchen. I do okay with preparing simple food for my people. But I get completely twisted up in a knot when preparing food for other people.

    My timing is off. The veggies are stone cold by the time the meat is done. I forget the bread that's still frozen in the oven. And I also forget that making the salad the day before is a bad idea when you mix the dressing and croutons in it. Which, I've learned, turns it all into one big, soggy mess.

    My emotions are also off. The pressure of my timing issues mixed with my desire to have everything just so with the house, isn't a pretty combination.

    But when my Bible study leader asked for someone to host the year-end dinner and my friends all looked at me, I said, "Oh yes, of course. I'd love to do it."

    Visions of home décor magazine covers started dancing in my head. Recipes and flower arrangements and perfectly set tables swirled about, intoxicating me with the thrill of seriously impressing my friends. Then some greatly deceived part of me quipped, "And no need for y'all to bring anything. I'd love to prepare a really nice meal for us."

    Would somebody get a wooden spoon and knock some sense into me?

    My inner people-pleaser blinded me ... until the day of the dinner party. Then the full-on reality of what I'd committed to made me want to crawl in a hole and hide. I was overwhelmed and underprepared.

    I desperately needed my little people to give me full cooperation with naptime that day.

    But Hope had no intention of fully cooperating. So when I saw puffs of something white coming through the air vents downstairs, my heart sank.

    I dashed upstairs to find that Hope had emptied a large container of baby powder all over her room, herself and every air vent she could find. And now, that powder was filling the downstairs with a layer of white residue that made it look like I hadn't dusted in decades.

    Fury rose from some deep, unbridled part of my already-pushed-to-the-max-self. Every bit of my frustration about the dinner party was now also Hope's fault. I screamed, "What were you thinking? Why do you always mess stuff up?!"

    Instantly, I felt a cloud of shame descend on me thicker than the baby powder ever could.

    And then the strangling effects of condemnation gripped me when her little voice replied back, "I was trying to make it look like heaven, Mommy. I thought you would love it."

    Ouch.

    The jarring reality of this incident started me on a journey of realizing that the ill effects of people pleasing spread. And make me the opposite of the kind of woman God made me to be.

    Saying yes all the time won't make me Wonder Woman. It will make me a worn out woman. This isn't pleasing to anyone. Not my family. Not my friends. Not the people I'm trying to impress. And certainly not God.

    If I know this, I can start to see people pleasing for what it really is ... a trap. Even the Bible calls it this in our key verse, Proverbs 29:25, "Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORDmeans safety." (NLT)

    Yes, being so focused on pleasing people is a vicious trap that ensnares us and those who do life with us.

    So, here's what we need to do today: • Look for the trap. • Unlock the trap.

    To unlock the trap, we must use the word "no." This should be handled delicately and appropriately, but it should be used.

    Back to the baby powder situation. I wound up apologizing to Hope after I had a good cry about my poor reaction. We took pictures of her "heaven." (Pictures that now, 16 years later, are complete treasures to me.)

    I also served pizza to my Bible study group that night. In the midst of baby powder dust. And ... we all lived to tell about it.

    Dear Lord, help me identify and overcome the traps of people pleasing today. I fully place my trust in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Identify a trap of people pleasing in your life. Then, look for an appropriate place to say no today. Remember, saying yes all the time won't make you Wonder Woman. It will make you a worn out woman!

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • My Addiction to Overcommitting

    VALORIE

    "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us ..." 2 Corinthians 5:20a (NIV)

    That's it! I bossed myself. Here you are again, overwhelmed by the number of commitments on your plate. You are never going to overload your schedule again.

    Oh, I was serious — and a bit annoyed with myself. But I wondered: How did I (once again) not see this coming?

    I knew this much ... my actions were rooted in fear. But of what? I couldn't seem to pinpoint the cause.

    It showed up in my tendency to be over-responsible. If there's a problem (mine or not) I feel compelled to solve it. Whether it's at home with a family member or at work with a team member, my initial reaction is to jump in quickly with an answer.

    It showed up in my tendency to over-compensate. I overloaded my schedule in high school. I rushed through college in three years — all in an effort to prove to myself and others that I was smart. A year spent on academic probation left me feeling dumb. I believed in order to be acceptable I must be exceptional. That wasn't God's requirement. That was my own insecurity fueling decisions and filling my life to the brim with misguided ambition.

    Overcompensating for our mistakes and weaknesses is one way we allow the enemy to trip us up. Rather than accepting God's grace and our human limitations, we get caught in a web of fear that somehow we aren't good enough and must prove our worth. Peeling back many layers of emotion, I wondered, is any of this connected to my unrelenting habit of overcommitting?

    When we find ourselves dealing with a similar problem repeatedly, there is often a divine lesson waiting. Our job is to listen, ask God for wisdom and expect to receive it.

    As a life coach, I've discovered that whenever we are stuck and unable to determine the cause, asking a few questions (and answering them honestly) can be a powerful exercise. When I was afraid to say "no" to doing more, even though I resented feeling overwhelmed and desperately wanted to decline, these questions helped me:

    • What am I afraid will happen if I say "no" to a good opportunity? • What if my fear actually happens? • What's the worst part of that? • What would that mean to me?

    I was afraid of saying "no" to an opportunity that could be "the opportunity" and I'd regret it. Business would dry up. I would become irrelevant. (Honestly, that last statement was my real issue.)

    Often I feel driven to take on too much out of a desire to gain approval. In other words, my core fear is rejection.

    After answering those tough questions, praying and self-reflection, I asked for the wisdom, understanding and courage to change. Eventually, I heard a clear message: The change you need to make isn't just about you; it's about being a light in a dark world. So many are living the way you are — overwhelmed, anxious, lacking peace. Are you willing to risk missing a good opportunity in favor of My best for you?

    God wants us to be His ambassadors of love, power and faith. Others should be able to look at our lives and say, Wow, what's her secret weapon? Where does she find the strength? Where did she get such wisdom?

    Ultimately, the pace I maintain in my life impacts and influences those around me — my family, our kids, my team members. It is about so much more than me. So, too, is your breakthrough.

    Lord, give me the courage to conquer the fears that threaten again and again to get me stuck. Allow my testimony to inspire greater faith, boldness and courage in those who cross my path. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Philippians 3:13b-14, "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

    Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When you consider the areas of your life in which you repeatedly get stuck, what is the common thread or fear?

    In what way is God calling you to get unstuck?

    © 2014 by Valorie Burton. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Harvest House Publishers 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

  • Re-Routing Negative Thoughts

    SHARON

    "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

    The screaming and fighting in the back seat were brutal! It was a fight to the death. As I tried to break it up, the car swerved off the road. Semi-trucks were passing me, going 80 miles an hour, as I pulled over to stop the fight.

    A few weeks ago, I drove through the beautiful Appalachian Mountains and picked up our newest family members — a Royal Palm Turkey and a Red Bourbon Turkey. They were not happy about being confined to a cage or being stuck next to each other. Hence, the deadly fight in my back seat. The Red Bourbon tried to cure his displeasure by lashing out in anger. He was on a mission to kill, literally. He hopped on top of the Royal Palm and went for the neck!

    I called my husband in a panic. His advice? "Re-route their thinking; it's stuck. Scream and hit the cage." I followed his instructions and the fighting stopped for 10 minutes. Then it started again. I had to yell, bang on the cage and clap my hands to break up a few more fights until both turkeys finally settled down for good. We all made it home alive, and now they're best friends.

    As I thought about the turkeys' stuck thinking, I could sense the Lord say to my heart: You are no different.

    Ouch! When my circumstances aren't what I want, my thinking gets stuck, too. Just that morning on my way to get the turkeys, I was alarmed to find the car was on empty and worse yet — I had no money in my purse. And I had left the house with no margin in my schedule to stop for gas or return home for money.

    Yet without any money, I had no choice but to return home, which made me late. Worse, I had planned to drop my daughter at the airport and she missed her flight. I was not happy and boy did my family hear about it!

    We all struggle with negative thinking at times; it's a common battle. And that's why it's important to recognize negative thought patterns and learn how to re-route them. The good news is we can have control over what we think.

    When we're down, sad or hopeless, let's take inventory of our thoughts. When we find ourselves jumping to conclusions, doling out guilt trips on others or replaying arguments in our mind, let's consciously change our thinking. When I get in a funk, often it's because I've focused too much on what's bad. The apostle Paul advises us in our key verse, Philippians 4:8, to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

    The next time you're fighting negative thoughts, "rattle your cage" by remembering you have the mind of Christ. Take each negative thought captive and replace it with what Paul describes in our key verse. Scripture promises that when we align our thoughts with God's, His peace, which passes all understanding, will keep our hearts and mind through Christ Jesus.

    Lord, give me Your ability to bring every thought captive. Help me to refute negative thoughts with truth. Thank You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (NKJV)

    1 Corinthians 2:14-16, "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For 'who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ." (NKJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Take inventory of your thoughts for a whole day. Each time a negative thought repeats in your mind, re-route it with truth found in God's Word. Place our key verse near you in a familiar spot to remind you of where to focus your thoughts.

    © 2014 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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

  • Stop and Pray

    WENDY

    "Then I prayed to the God of heaven ..." Nehemiah 2:4b (NIV)

    We were always in the car going to this counselor or that doctor. Regardless of the interventions, my son's grades continued to slip. Every weekly report said the same thing: disorganized, unfocused and unable to follow class rules.

    What had I done wrong? I should have read to him more. I should have waited one more year to start him in school. Too many questions and not enough answers. Mentally and physically, I was exhausted.

    One day faded into the next. I was tired of moving forward only to run into another obstacle impeding my progress. I was tired of expelling my energies trying to make a difference.

    During these difficult days, my friends directed me to Scripture. They prayed for me. They reminded me to pray. However, when I bowed my head to pray, the weight of my circumstances was heavy. I was just too tired. Maybe you can relate.

    I remembered a man in the Bible who faced challenging circumstances. His name was Nehemiah and he ran into one obstacle after another. He expelled all his energy each day trying to make a difference, but regardless of his efforts, he still faced opposition. Unlike me, this man was not too tired to pray.

    Nehemiah accompanied God's people, the Israelites, back to Jerusalem after they'd been held captivity in Babylon. He was motivated to help his people rebuild the ancient Jewish capital that had been destroyed (2 Chronicles 36:15-21).

    Having the favor of the king and God's presence on his side, one would assume the assignment would have been easier. However, two government officials made it their personal business to undermine the rebuilding progress. Nehemiah responded to each insult and obstacle the same way: He prayed.

    In order to revive their spirits, restore their energy and continue building, Nehemiah and the Israelites found they needed to stop and pray often! When the insults began, they prayed. When their enemies placed an obstacle in front of them, they prayed. Yes, through powerful and persistent prayer, Nehemiah and company defeated their enemies by rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem in record time.

    Let's sum up Nehemiah's prayer with a simple, easy to remember acronym: SAP (Stop And Pray). Interestingly enough, this acronym is found in the dictionary and when used as a noun can be defined as energy and vitality. For greater impact, we can unpack the word further. Just as the sap of a tree brings health, sap means the power to live and grow.

    Nehemiah had the right idea. By making prayer his priority, he discovered it was enough to revive his spirit and restore the mental and physical energy needed to overcome every challenge he faced.

    Are you facing a challenge? Do you feel too tired to pray? Let's allow the power of prayer to revive our spirits, and restore our physical and mental vigor. No matter what the obstacle, SAP. Each time an insult comes your way, SAP. You will have the energy needed to defeat your enemy and persevere with greater strength than you ever thought possible.

    Dear Lord, through the power of prayer, today's challenge can be tomorrow's victory. Help me SAP when adversity comes my way. Thank You for prayer and the power I receive when I turn to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 3:20, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." (NIV)

    Romans 8:26-27, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Write the acronym SAP and its meaning (energy and vitality) on several note cards. Place them in your home, car, work and Bible.

    © 2014 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • When You Can't See What God Is Building

    TRACIE

    "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

    It started out as a simple school assignment, but turned into a lesson from God.

    My son's seventh-grade Social Studies teacher told students to build a pyramid. There were no specifics about how tall, big or what materials to use. The students were only told to use their imaginations.

    When my son told me about the project, I immediately put on my crafty-mom hat. How much foam core board and hot glue would we need to form a pyramid? I was ready to get started, but when Michael told his daddy about the project, it took on a whole new twist. Before I knew it, we were all at the local hardware store shopping for lumber and nails.

    Lumber and nails? "Ummmm, honey, it's a seventh grade project," I said to my husband as if he had forgotten. He simply smiled and replied, "I know."

    I had no idea how a few two-by-four's could be transformed into a pyramid, and it's not at all the way I would've done it. But my husband had a clear mental picture of the outcome. We simply had to trust him.

    He and my son spent hours in the cold garage, measuring, sawing and nailing boards. Step by step, a pyramid evolved. We anxiously waited for my husband's vision to become visible. And when it did, it truly was a masterpiece.

    As I marveled at this work of art crafted by the hands of my husband and son, God spoke gently to my spirit, reminding me of how I had once questioned His building abilities. All those years when I thought He didn't love me or see my pain. All those years spent questioning His ways and wondering why He had allowed difficult circumstances in my life. All those times I felt mad at God, and wondered if He was mad at me for my sin and my mistakes.

    But now I see the bigger picture. I can look back and see how God was crafting my future based on the experiences — good and bad — of my past.

    God chose this crafty moment to whisper to my spirit, "Tracie, I have been building something good, beyond your human understanding. I have a purpose for what you have been through, and in time you will see My masterpiece."

    Today's key verse reminds us that we are God's workmanship, His masterpiece. The word "workmanship" was used in ancient Greek literature to refer to what a person made or did, and our God is "making" each of us. In Ephesians 2:10, we are urged to remember that just as a painter, sculptor, writer or builder creates their masterpieces, our lives are being crafted by our Creator, making use of all the good things, and difficult things.

    When we look back over our lives and see hardships, God sees learning experiences. When we remember difficulties, God sees how He helped us overcome them. When we see pain, God sees the foundation for a unique way to minister to others.

    Step by step, day by day, God is working and building, creating a beautiful exhibition of His Presence in our lives. He wants us to see what He sees, and view our lives as a work-in-progress, trusting that He is up to something good. Although we may not like the building process, it may become the one thing God uses to bless us most.

    In the same way my husband had a clear mental picture of what he planned to build, God has a clear holy vision about what He is building in our lives, and in His timing, we will get a glimpse of His masterpiece too.

    Dear Lord, I believe that You are doing a good work in me and through me. Help me to embrace the promise that You are building a good thing in my life, a masterpiece of Your own making, that one day I will be able to see. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Hebrews 3:4, "For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God." (NLT)

    Psalm 139:13, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: How has God been working in your life?

    How have your experiences equipped you to minister to others in a special way?

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Join Us For the #JesusCalling Twitter Party! 11/14 1-2pm EST Over $500 in prizes!

    jesus calling

    Do you like Jesus Calling books?  Are you on Twitter?  Do you like FREE prizes?   If you said "yes" to any of these questions then you will want to join us TOMORROW for the #JesusCalling Twitter Party!  We hope to see you there!

    Where: https://tweetdeck.twitter.com or follow along with #JesusCalling When: November 14th 1-2 pm EST What: Twitter party to discuss the best selling book Jesus Calling Prizes: 5 participants will win the deluxe edition of Jesus Calling and a $50 appreciation certificate. 5 other readers will win a $50 appreciation certificate.

    Hosts:

    @mudpiesandtiara @Ellenblogs @ahhmazingrvws @aliciamarie112 @SimplySherryl @CptFussybuckets @annesramblings @MimiBakerMN @PeaOfSweetness @spreadingJOY

    So mark your calendars and spread the word and join us on the 14th!

  • When You Can't See How

    RENEE

    "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Roman 8:28 (NIV)

    All I could see were the hard parts. Everything we would have to give up: sleep, money, comfort, familiarity, others' approval. All the hard things we would have to navigate: huge expenses and significant changes.

    What if our sons resented us for re-arranging their lives forever? What if our parents and extended family didn't approve? What if we exhausted our time, emotions and money only to end up with broken hearts and an empty bank account?

    How could God work all that together for good? I couldn't see how. I could only see "hard."

    Yet it was undeniable. Confirmations chased us down. My husband and I knew God was calling our family to adopt a severely malnourished baby girl from Ethiopia.

    After a year of paperwork, waiting, praying and wondering how, our family traveled to Ethiopia to get our little girl in October 2009.

    Was it hard? Yes. Even more than I imagined.

    But as I trace God's hand over the past five years since we brought Aster home, I see Him working so many things together for good. I see a handwritten love letter, written to our little girl from her Heavenly Father on every page of our adoption story.

    I see God working, even the hard things, together for good.

    Despite our inadequacy, sadness and fear of the unknown when Aster was diagnosed with a speech disorder, global developmental delays, low muscle tone and sensory processing disorder, I now see God working it all for good.

    I see God working, even the overwhelming things, together for good.

    I see how a year of sleepless nights brought out servants hearts in our teenage sons when they saw their dad struggling with depression caused by sleep-deprivation. So they decided to take turns sleeping on a mattress in their sister's room to relieve her anxiety and give us sleep.

    I see God working, even the embarrassing things, together for good.

    Like the day I had a meltdown in my car because I was overwhelmed by the task of carpooling three kids and coordinating Aster's therapy appointments. The day a stranger tapped on my window to see if I was okay. That same afternoon I ran out of gas on my way to get my youngest son, and my oldest son, with a new cast on his broken foot, had to push our car off the road. I see awesome stories for them to tell their children one day.

    And on those days when my reality doesn't look or feel like "good" to me, I ask God to help me see how He's keeping the promise found in today's key verse: "that in all things [He} works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Roman 8:28).

    What I've discovered is this: God is always working things together for good, but not just for our good. Sometimes we are part of His working things together for someone else's good.

    You see, I believe Jesus heard a mother in Africa praying for her baby. A mother who was living in the middle of "hard" like I'd never imagined. A mother who couldn't see how she could give her little girl the nurture and nutrition she needed.

    And when God heard that mama's prayers, He tapped on the hearts of a family in North Carolina who loved Him and were called according to His purpose.

    I believe God saw an orphanage in Ethiopia searching for a forever family to provide unconditional love and medical care for an 8-pound, 6-month old baby with pneumonia.

    So Jesus went back to that family in North Carolina who prayed that He would reveal Himself to them and through them, knowing this little girl would be an answer to that prayer.

    When all I could see was hard, all God could see was how.

    Is there a relationship or situation in your life where all you see is hard? Have you asked God how He can work this together for good?

    I don't know about you, but I need a tangible reminder that He can. A visual to help me see how He does, like the beautiful bead necklace I'm wearing today made from repurposed bullets found in the rubble of Ethiopian soil.

    Each time I look in the mirror I remember how God answered a desperate mother's prayers for her baby's needs and filled my family's longing to experience more of Him. Only He could know how much we needed the gift of a little girl to light up our world, and to remind us that He indeed works all things together for good!

    Lord, some days all I can see is the hard stuff. Help me see how I can be part of YOUR working all things together for the good of someone else today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 1:11, "Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan." (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Is there a situation or relationship where God may want you to be part of His "working all things together for good" for someone else?

    Make a few "deposits" of good in a hard relationship or circumstance this week as you ask God to reveal His heart to you and through you.

    © 2014 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

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Activate Your Faith - Phillipians 4:13
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