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  • A Wrecked Marriage Saved

    Sharon Glasgow SEPTEMBER 23, 2015

    A Wrecked Marriage Saved SHARON GLASGOW

    "A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered." Proverbs 17:27 (NLT)

    "I can’t STAND my husband. I’ve had enough; it’s over. I’m finished with this marriage, Sharon. I’m done … DONE!" Kate yelled as I held the phone away from my ear. When she stopped to take a breath, my friend started sobbing. I could hear her children fighting and her baby screaming in the background.

    Before I could respond, Kate asked, "May the kids and I come over for lunch? I need your help. I don’t know what to do."

    Everything in me wanted to say, "NO!" We were renovating our house and using my bedroom as a makeshift kitchen. I hadn’t been grocery shopping and had no idea what I’d feed all our kids, the two of us and the construction crew.

    Despite my hesitations, I said, "C’mon over and …" Her phone disconnected before I finished the sentence.

    Rummaging through a box, I found lunch — oatmeal, walnuts and maple syrup. I boiled water on a tabletop burner, wiped 15 bowls that were covered in construction dust and prayed for God to help me help my friend. I knew if her marriage was going to be saved, it wouldn’t be because of my words. It’d be because of God’s.

    Kate didn’t seem to notice the messy house. She had tunnel vision and only saw her wrecked marriage. After we ate lunch, the kids played outdoors while my friend and I stayed inside. I let her talk for over an hour. As she told me her story, I thought to myself, Oh my! I can’t imagine being married to this man either! He’s an inconsiderate jerk.

    At the end, Kate looked at me and asked, "Well, what do you think?"

    I paused before answering. My flesh wrestled with my spirit big time. The more she talked, the angrier I became for her. Part of me wanted to come up with mean jabs for her to say back to her husband. Or encourage her to give him the silent treatment. Or go yell at him myself!

    But I knew none of these "solutions" would help heal Kate’s heart or her marriage. Do you remember the old saying, "If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all"? Scripture tells us a similar thing in today’s key verse of Proverbs 17:27, "A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered."

    Sitting with my friend, I took a deep breath, silently asked God to forgive my anger and instead of giving advice, I said, "Let’s pray and ask God what He thinks."

    I prayed for help to say only what He wanted me to say. Words rolled out of my mouth that I hadn’t planned. Words based on Scripture, not my emotions. Words of kindness, not contempt. So much better than my thoughts.

    Oh my goodness — I can count more times than not when I’ve blurted out words that should never have been said, especially in the heat of the moment. Do you know what I mean? Mercy!

    But, let me tell you something — if we consistently read God’s Word and pray, the most amazing thing will happen: We’ll follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, even when our human desires want to do or say something different.

    I’m thankful I paused and invited the Lord into my conversation that day. Kate said, "I’m going to need more prayer to get through. Everything you prayed convicted me. I do love him and have renewed hope that God is going to turn this around."

    Notice she didn’t say she would need tons of conversations, clever words or plans to retaliate. Just a short prayer based on Scripture revived her. We have continued to pray together, and her wrecked marriage is being restored.

    The next time you’re tempted to give someone a piece of your mind or spout long-winded advice, pause first. Invite the Lord, through prayer, to lead your thoughts and guide your few words.

    Lord, help me not to lean on my own understanding but in everything acknowledge You so that You can direct my words, thoughts and actions. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 15:28, "The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words." (NLT)

    Proverbs 15:7, "The lips of the wise give good advice; the heart of a fool has none to give." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Visit Sharon’s blog for more encouragement on ministering to hurting people and enter your name to win a free gift.

    Learn how to resolve conflict with kindness and confidence in your most important relationships with an Unglued Devotional by Lysa TerKeurst.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Do your words reflect the fruit of the Spirit, as described in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?

    Take note of your words each day. Are they few or many?

    © 2015 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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

  • Lord, Teach Me to Laugh

    Ann Spangler SEPTEMBER 22, 2015

    Lord, Teach Me to Laugh ANN SPANGLER

    "Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD?" Genesis 18:13b-14a (NIV)

    My prayer life ramped up significantly the day I became a parent.

    As the single mother of two adopted children, I feel both tremendously blessed and incredibly challenged.

    Like any mother, I want my teenage girls to launch well, to know that they will reach adulthood as people who can take care of themselves and relate well to others.

    Because both have special needs, I’m anxious about how difficult this might be. Sometimes, in fact, I feel like one big blob of worry.

    Since I adopted my children late in life, I love recalling the story of Sarah. She’s the woman in the Bible who had a baby when she was 90 years old. I love her not just because she holds the world record as the oldest woman ever to get pregnant, but because she’s so real. Like most of us, she’s a long way from perfect. Still, because of how God worked in her life, she learned that nothing is too hard for Him. Here’s a tiny window into her story:

    Hers is a face that still makes men look; so beautiful it once charmed kings.

    You might think her a fool for all the nonstop laughter. Her body shakes with it. But she is no fool, only a woman who can’t stop marveling at what God has done. Although her husband is more than 100 years old and she’s not far behind, she is pregnant with his child. Who wouldn’t find that funny? Two old sticks kindling a fire!

    Sarah’s joy is so strong and wild that nothing can stop it. "God has brought me laughter," she says, "and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me" (Genesis 21:6, NIV). And so she named her son Isaac, which means laughter.

    I love learning about Sarah because it gives me hope for the story God is telling with my life and the lives of my children. Like her, I want to become a woman who has learned to laugh, not because she’s perfect or her life is easy, but because she finally gets it — that nothing in this great big world is too hard for God.

    Like Sarah, I haven’t a clue as to how the future will unfold. But instead of allowing myself to dissolve into that big blob of worry when difficulties arise, I can express the truth that God will help my children and me, regardless of whether or not He does so according to my timeline. From a practical standpoint, I’ve found my faith growing stronger as I’ve learned to fill every prayer request with praise and thanksgiving.

    I expect that learning to laugh in the midst of life’s challenges will be a process rather than an event. It may take the rest of my life. But as I’ve added more praise and thanksgiving to my prayers, I’ve discovered my anxiety receding and my joy increasing.

    Lord, thank You for the way You’ve surprised me with so many good things. Please help my faith to grow stronger so that regardless of circumstances, I will always find joy in You. May my laughter be like a song of praise to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 126:4-6, "Restore our fortunes, LORD, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.’ (NIV)

    Proverbs 31:25, "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Sarah was "wicked" old, but God’s promise brought her joy and laughter. Discover how the lives of the Bible’s most outrageous women can yield rich insights into God’s mercy and love with Ann Spangler’s book, Wicked Women of the Bible.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Wicked Women of the Bible by Ann Spangler. In celebration of this book, Ann’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one by Monday, September 28.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Spend 10 minutes reflecting on the positive surprises God has brought into your life.

    Sarah’s story is evidence that nothing is too hard for God. Ask God to show you one thing you can do to increase your faith in Him.

    © 2015 by Ann Spangler. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Zondervan 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

  • When it all Falls Apart

    Amy Carroll SEPTEMBER 21, 2015

    When it all Falls Apart AMY CARROLL

    "It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect." Psalm 18:32 (NIV, 1984)

    Everything seemed to go wrong at the same time. Instead of having "one of those days," I was having one of those months!

    The emotional load in our home increased as my eldest son moved back from college, filling every square inch of our little house with testosterone. My youngest son graduated from high school and then had an accident that would require surgery. My computer crashed, not just once but three times. A spur-of-the-moment trip required hours of unscheduled time. An event I was planning seemed to teeter between success and epic fail. On top of it all, my little dog came down with intestinal issues … I’ll spare you the details.

    For a time, not one thing in my life seemed to measure up to the picture of perfection in my head. Not my messy home. Not my fearful mothering. Not my unstable professional life. Not my overloaded schedule.


    I felt weak and overwhelmed. For a woman who loves order, a managed schedule and peace, it’s not easy to face times like these. Maybe you’ve had seasons similar to mine. Perhaps for some of you, it’s been even longer — even one of those years — when chaos seems to reign.

    As difficult as it is to cope when life gets messy, we can view struggles as a great opportunity to operate in a new way. Rather than focusing on what’s wrong and imperfect, we can turn our focus to the Perfect One, our heavenly Father. When it’s obvious our best efforts and planning aren’t good enough, we can shift our perspective to the Source of our true strength.

    Our key verse, Psalm 18:32, reminds us: Our own strength isn’t enough, but God’s is.

    We all want to be strong and competent. Yet the Bible suggests we should embrace our weaknesses as a reminder to trust in God’s strength alone. Paul gave us a picture of the perfection of our weakness when he said, "And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me" (2 Corinthians 12:9, NASB).

    I’m learning to embrace chaos as a sweet call from God to rest in Him when my own work falls short.

    Striving for perfection is exhausting. But God waits for us to give in and step aside. Once I end my pursuit of perfection, God can begin His perfecting work in me. We’re unable to create perfection, but God makes our way perfect.

    What does it look like in everyday life to exchange my weakness for God’s strength? To choose His way over my way?

    It’s trusting Him, rather than trusting my own capabilities.

    It’s surrendering the pictures of perfection that I carry around in my head to the presence of God in my imperfect reality.

    It’s walking in daily obedience to His Word and direction, rather than charting my own course.

    God works powerfully in the midst of our weakness to show His power as we trust, surrender and obey. That’s when His strength and perfect way is displayed most brightly in our lives.

    Lord, I know if I surrender to You I don’t have to be strong all by myself. Instead of sinking into my tangled circumstances, will You teach me to draw on Your strength? In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 1:25, 27, "The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than men … but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong." (NASB)

    Proverbs 18:10, "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe." (NASB)

    RELATED RESOURCES: In Amy Carroll’s book Breaking Up with Perfect she shares more lessons learned from giving up the pursuit of perfection in light of God’s loving, perfecting work in us. You can join her in the journey by purchasing one today!

    Amy invites you to visit her blog today, where she’s giving away a copy of Breaking Up with Perfect and cute reminder cards of today’s key Scripture verse.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: If you’re in a chaotic time of life, write a prayer of trust, surrender and obedience straight from your heart to God.

    If you’re in a peaceful time of life, write a prayer to God asking Him to prepare you for the next time all doesn’t go as planned. Decide now how to react when that time comes.

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Power of Being Ordinary

    Liz Curtis Higgs SEPTEMBER 18, 2015

    The Power of Being Ordinary LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

    "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13 (NIV)

    When I first embraced God’s gift of grace, I knew almost nothing about the Bible. I bought my first copy on a snowy Friday night, intimidated by the size of it, overwhelmed by the notes in the margins and the maps in the back.

    I started with the book of Psalms because it looked like poetry, and I was undone by the end of the first verse. "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!" (Psalm 1:1, NASB)

    Sinners, scoffers? I knew these people. We used different words — party animals, bad girls — but they were my friends. My before-Jesus friends. The people I had walked with, stood with and sat with, just like the Bible said.

    Though I loved them, I no longer wanted to do the things they did. Was it possible to change? To be made new? The next verse showed me what a person of God did: "But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:2, NASB).

    Wow. So simple. 1) Read the Bible with enthusiasm. 2) Think about what you’ve read. Bam.

    No wonder my new friends from church kept telling me to read God’s Word. In a world filled with problems, He provides answers.

    I started taking my Bible to work, catching a few minutes here and there to read and digest. I didn’t understand all of it, couldn’t keep the characters straight and wasn’t clear on how everything fit together. But this much I knew: for the first time in my life, the Bible made sense.

    A co-worker, seeing my excitement, asked me what I was reading.

    "The Bible!" I told her. "Do you have one?"

    She laughed. "Not one like that."

    So, I bought one for her, the same make and model as mine. That turned out to be a blessing, because our Bibles had the same page numbers. Seriously, when you don’t know Chronicles from Corinthians, those numbers come in handy.

    We started meeting together once a week in the conference room at work, with our matching Bibles and our fill-in-the-blank workbooks designed for new believers. I stayed one weekahead of her in the workbook, figuring if she asked me a question, I had a better chance of knowing the answer.

    Me, leading a Bible study? Talk about the blind leading the blind! By that point, I knew maybe three verses by heart. Three. But I also knew the One who wrote them.

    I brought nothing to that study but the Bible in my hand and Jesus in my heart. Like our verse today says, I was "unschooled" and "ordinary." I had no training, no biblical knowledge and no experience in making disciples. The Greek word for "ordinary" is idiótés, which pretty well sums things up.

    Those disciples in Jerusalem? Their boldness … their confidence … didn’t come from having been in school. It came from having "been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). And it came from being "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 4:8, NIV).

    For those of us who struggle, thinking "I don’t know much" or "I’m not smart enough" to share the Bible with others, our first-century brothers show us the way. Spend time with Jesus, through worship and the Word, and trust the Holy Spirit to do the talking.

    Heavenly Father, even as I diligently study the Bible, remind me it’s not about what I know, but Who I know. Help me lay down my weaknesses and embrace Your strength. Help me put aside my words and share Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 2:13, "This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Want more encouragement about trusting the Lord and sharing His Word? In Liz Curtis Higgs’ new book, It’s Good to Be Queen, you’ll meet the earthly Queen of Sheba, who discovers wisdom’s heavenly Source.

    This week on her blog, Liz is exploring why it’s good to be humbled by God.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Spending time in God’s presence and in His Word transforms us from the inside out, preparing us to share His love and His truth with our hurting world.

    If you’ve felt "unschooled" or "ordinary" when it comes to handling God’s Word, what encouragement have you found here to bolster your courage? Who might you study the Bible with, trusting the Holy Spirit to do the teaching?

    © 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

  • When It Feels Better to Blame Someone Else

    Lysa TerKeurst SEPTEMBER 17, 2015

    When It Feels Better to Blame Someone Else LYSA TERKEURST

    "That is why Scripture says, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’" James 4:6b (NIV)

    You want to know one of the hardest three-word statements to make? "I am wrong."

    It’s so easy to point out wrong in others. It’s so easy to want it to be someone else’s fault. It’s so easy to get critical and cynical and caught up in our limited perspectives.

    But boy is it hard to see our own flaws. Where we went wrong. What we need to own.

    I’ve been challenging myself on this. I recently had to correct one of my children for trying to blame someone else for something my child needed to own themselves.

    I could clearly see the pride, the insecurity, and the fear all wrapped around her blaming words. And why could I see it so clearly?

    Because it’s always easier to spot in other people. But when I see pride in others, that’s the exact moment where I must challenge myself to examine my own heart.

    I had to have a conversation where I explained to my child something I’m learning myself. About blaming. And the dangerous path blaming can take us on.

    In most conflicts I have two ways I can choose to travel:

    The Path of Pride: I can blame the other person, focus only on their flaws and refuse to own my part of it. That response will increase my pride and decrease the Lord’s blessing in my life.

    The Humble Way: I can honestly assess what I’m contributing to this conflict, admit where I went wrong and ask for forgiveness. That response will lead to humility and increase the Lord’s blessing in my life.

    I see this principle woven throughout the Bible:

    James 4:6b, "That is why Scripture says: God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble."

    Proverbs 29:23, "Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor." (NIV)

    Matthew 23:12, "For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." (NIV)

    I know this. I believe this. So, why do I still find it hard to implement sometimes?

    Well, here’s where my head wants to go when I start examining certain conflicts: But what if it really isn’t my fault? It’s not fair to assign the blame with me when this person did this and this and this.

    But that’s the wrong direction to go. Don’t try to assign the blame. Just own the part you brought into the conflict. When I approach conflict with a heart of humility, I’ve yet to see where I haven’t added something to the issue.

    And if the other person doesn’t own their issues — the Lord will deal with them. (See the verses above.)

    There are gifts hidden in the tough stuff of conflict. There is grace and honor to be gained. But I’ll only see those gifts if I stop blaming others and start examining myself.

    Dear Lord, I want to follow Your teaching in this. But it’s so hard. I’m mad and frustrated and hurt. The last thing I feel like doing is examining where I am wrong. But I know that’s what I need to do. Will You soften my heart? Will You give me eyes to see beyond my hurt? Will You help me cut through the assumptions and wrong-thinking? I want to honor You in this, I really do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 11:2, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." (NIV)

    Psalm 25:9, "He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Help your child develop humility with "10 Biblical Truths for Your Child Whether They Win or Lose." It’s the perfect resource every mom needs as we point our kids toward God’s Word this school year. Download it for free here!

    Learn more about cultivating a heart of humility in the midst of a tough situation with Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best YesClick here to purchase your copy.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Think of a recent conflict you had with someone. Which path did you travel?

    Remember, it’s never too late to go back and choose the humble way. Even if you can’t see it, ask God to reveal the part you’ve brought to the conflict so you can approach the situation from a new perspective.

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • An Inexpensive Gift You Can Give

    Chrystal Evans Hurst SEPTEMBER 16, 2015

    An Inexpensive Gift You Can Give CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

    "Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well." 1 Peter 4:10 (CEV)

    I really needed to talk to someone.

    I desperately needed to process the ramifications of a heavy weight I carried and wanted to hear a caring voice on the other end of the line. I desired the gift of truth wrapped in encouragement and presented with a little affirmation.

    So I picked up the phone and called my friend.

    She answered, but I could tell she was busy. She was in the car with her kids running errands, so I offered to call her back and chat later, but she insisted that she had time to talk.

    I believed her and began sharing my heart’s concerns.

    However, multiple times during our conversation, she asked me to hold while she took another call or needed to talk to her kids. She did try hard to listen well in between distractions, but after about 10 minutes, she interrupted me to say that she’d arrived at her destination. She needed to get her kids out of the car and take care of her errand. She offered to call me back.

    I was left hanging, feeling a tad unimportant, and a lot silly for even attempting to "put myself out there" and share my struggle and desire for encouragement. In the moment where I needed support and reached out for that very thing, I was left with a sense of regret for even trying.

    Now, I know my friend didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, imply that I wasn’t important or leave me hanging. How do I know this you might ask? Because I’ve been that friend, too.

    There have been times when someone has called or reached out to me and in my genuine and sincere desire to make time for them, I’ve squeezed them into a space in my time that wasn’t adequate. I’m guilty of unintentionally leaving people I love and care for feeling forgotten and a tad bit unimportant.

    So what do I wish my friend had done? What did I become painfully aware of that I can do for others?

    Give the gift of attention.

    Attention is an easy and inexpensive gift that you and I can give to others.

    In Mark 5:25-34, we find Jesus busy with the demands of His everyday ministry life. Healing and teaching took up a lot of His time and the more He did, the more the people wanted Him to do. Large crowds followed Him and pressed in on Him everywhere He went. Jesus was a busy man on a mission.

    And yet, one woman needed His help and desired His attention.

    She carried the heavy weight of a broken spirit and body. She suffered from abnormal bleeding and carried with it the shame, frustration and loneliness of being an outcast — an "untouchable." She desired the gift of wholeness wrapped in compassion and presented with a little mercy, so she took the risk of reaching out to Jesus.

    She touched Him.

    And Jesus noticed. Even amidst the busy demands of His day, He stopped and gave special attention to this woman, her problem and her heart’s desire. Jesus made room in an overflowing schedule, and as a result, a woman received a new opportunity at life and we have a great picture of what it means to give others the gift of our attention.

    Jesus spent time with those who would have easily gone unnoticed by others. He willingly and regularly paused His own activities, engaged one-on-one, and made room for meaningful conversations. He gave the gift of His attention and it cost Him nothing more than His time. Because of His example, I am reminded of how important it is to make room in my life for unexpected interruptions.

    And I’m reminded of the gift my undivided attention can be to others.

    Dear Jesus, I’m so glad You understand what it is to have an overflowing schedule. Yet, You still made time to give the gift of Your full attention when You engaged with others. Help me to do the same. Give me the wisdom to know when to pause and with whom I should engage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 12:10, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor." (NASB)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Do you desire to give the gift of attention to others but don’t seem to have room in your life to do so? Check out The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst.

    Chrystal has created a free printable to help you remember to focus on the needs of others. Click here to download.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Do you struggle with giving others your undivided attention? Why do you think that is?

    Pray and ask God to show you how you can give the gift of your attention to someone today.

    © 2015 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Unwanted Change in Your Life

    Kristen Strong SEPTEMBER 15, 2015

    Unwanted Change in Your Life KRISTEN STRONG

    "The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you …’ So Abram went, as the LORD had told him." Genesis 12:1-2a, 4a (NIV)

    I stand in the kitchen, lost in the rhythm of dinner preparation, while singing with a tune sauntering from the radio. Suddenly, an offbeat percussion noise invades my peaceful space as it bounces around the house. I quickly move to the window to see if it’s what I think it is. Sure enough, nickel-sized hail pings everything, like a drumbeat set to the tune of destruction.

    I fly out the door to bring my potted plants toward protection. But it’s not ‘til the storm leaves and the hail melts that I see the full extent of the damage.

    Flourishing flowerbeds have been reduced to flower shrapnel. The potted arrangements fared better because I brought them in mid-storm, but many petunia and geranium stems stand stark naked, their foliage in limp piles on the Miracle-Gro dirt.

    Commence yours truly throwing a fit big enough to make any toddler proud. I stomp my feet and shout, "It’ll take a miracle to get these flowers back to the way they were!"

    This is one change I could do without.

    If you’re like me and have spent much of life viewing unwanted change with crossed arms and stomping feet, you might see it like a devastating hailstorm. Just when your life is settled and moving along well, something comes along and damages much that is beautiful within it.

    The man who was supposed to stay, left. The place that was "home," is no longer your address. The boss you showed your best work to, showed you the door.

    A monumental moment fell into your life, and it stands like a stone in your pathway blocking your contentment. Within the darkness of your fears, you think, "It’ll take a miracle to get things back to the way they were."

    As a longtime Air Force wife, my life played to the soundtrack of change. Just when I got used to something — our location, local friends, my husband’s schedule — things would be shaken and rearranged, and I’d have to get used to something different. I spent years fighting this reality until one day I felt the Lord ask me to change my prayers from God, remove this change from my life to a new perspective: God, remove my attitude toward this change.

    Sometimes, a girl has to find a new song to sing. I needed new lyrics to redirect my attention from my fears to the faithful promises of God, like the one found in Genesis.

    In Genesis 12, when God asks Abram to leave his home for a new, unfamiliar land, He gave Abram a promise to hold onto during the weary transition. A promise to bless Abram through the change. And you know what? God does the same for you and me as He did for Abram.

    If God is sending you to a new place, He’s sending you with a promise of blessing.

    Perhaps the best thing you and I can do is, like Abram, obey God by leaning into the change rather than fighting it.

    Whether you experience transition under your feet, in your heart, or both, the Lord is using it for you, not against you. He is bringing you to a new place for the purpose of blessing you. We can trust change is not a life hindrance, but a life occurrence acting as a stepping-stone toward God’s best for us.

    It’s more than OK to mourn the loss change brings. But as we do, may we also remember that change is not the end. A new song, sung to the tune of God’s promises and to the steady rhythm of His grace, is the blessing to find as a result.

    Dear Father, thank You that while unwanted change is a surprise to me, it’s not a surprise to You. Thank You for being my safe place where I can share my fears about this change. Help me to believe that if You’re allowing something I never fathomed into my life, it’s because You’re working something unfathomably good for me through it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 9:33, "God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said, ‘I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’" (NLT)

    Galatians 3:29, "And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Read the rest of Kristen Strong’s change story as well as the stories of others in her hope-filled book Girl Meets Change: Truths to Carry You Through Life’s Transitions.

    Find more everyday encouragement and downloadable freebies when you stop by Kristen’s blog, Chasing Blue Skies.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong. In celebration of this book, Kristen’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one by Monday, September 21.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What changes are you fearful about today? What is one way you can lean into the change in your own life?

    © 2015 by Kristen Strong. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Revell 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

  • The Only Thing Stopping Me is Me

    Glynnis Whitwer SEPTEMBER 14, 2015

    The Only Thing Stopping Me is Me GLYNNIS WHITWER

    "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

    For most areas of my life, the only thing holding me back from achieving my goals is me.

    I know what I should do … what I could do … but when it comes right down to it, excuses slip in and override my good intentions:


    • I want to read my Bible every day, but I’m tired and the kids are so loud.
    • I could go to the gym, but I’m sure the elliptical machines will be taken by now.
    • I should start a diet … but this lasagna and garlic bread are calling my name! I’ll start tomorrow.


    And so it goes. The Bible says the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38). I must be a super weakling, because self-discipline is as unnatural to me as exercise.

    Recently, I heard today’s key verse read over the radio and it gave me a new perspective on self-discipline. It’s a familiar verse to me and I love the first part of it: "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7).

    Some versions of the Bible say God did not give us a spirit of fear. I love the idea of not being afraid or timid. I cheer when I read that!

    And He gives us "power" … woo hoo!

    And "love" … YES, YES I want more of that.

    I know this verse well. But when I heard it read aloud, for the first time that last word jumped out at me: "self-discipline." Have you ever seen a cartoon character come to a screeching halt, with dust and pebbles flying?

    I seriously wondered how someone snuck that word into my Bible without me noticing it before.

    Apparently, God had been offering me the gift of self-discipline, and I’d been ignoring it. So I decided to give it a try the next week on something mundane that I really didn’t want to do.

    I had ignored my ironing for a while, and decided to tackle the laundry baskets. After an hour, stopping sounded great. But I remembered the verse and asked the Lord for the self-discipline to continue. I kept going. I’m guessing you’ve never let your ironing pile up like this, but I ironed for three more hours until every last shirt was pressed. (Now I know there are lots of other issues surrounding this fact, like why I iron t-shirts, but the point is, God gave me the discipline to finish what I’d started.)

    So often I ignore the gifts God wants to lavishly share with me, like power, love and self-discipline. I try to power through in my own strength, which simply isn’t enough for the best things in my life. And yes, even ironing qualifies as a "best" choice when my family needs work shirts.

    Beyond the daily tasks of life, I long for the discipline to achieve long-time goals and dreams. I want to leave behind the disappointment in myself when I fail to achieve them yet again.

    Having a natural bent away from self-discipline is an opportunity to discover God’s power, as I need to return to God often and ask for His help. Once a week just won’t cut it. It needs to be hourly and sometimes by the minute. Even though God wants to give me the gift of self-discipline, I still have a strong free will, which can reject it.

    What more might God want to do in me and through me with this gift of help? I’m pretty sure God’s got a list for me, and with His help, I’ll be ready. It might even include saying no to lasagna.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for freely giving me Your Spirit to help me with the hard things in life. My heart longs to be more self-disciplined, but my flesh is weak. Help me remember when faced with a choice, I don’t have to give in to excuses. I can call on You for help. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (NIV)

    Proverbs 25:28, "Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you’ve got an overflowing to-do list and need some practical encouragement, you’ll appreciate Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day.

    When you order your book through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you’ll receive two free Time Management Tools to help prioritize your best work over busy work! Your bonus includes printable planner sheets to organize your master to-do list and weekly assignments. To claim your freebie, please submit your receipt to TamingtheToDoList@proverbs31.org.

    It’s not too late to join us for our current P31 Online Bible Study of Glynnis’ book, Taming the To-Do ListClick here for more information and to sign up.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What is one thing you wish you had the self-discipline to do this week?

    Why would Paul, the author of 2 Timothy, combine "power, love and self-discipline" together in our key verse? Do you see any connection to these three gifts from God?

    © 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Your Life Can Display God’s Power

    Tracie Miles SEPTEMBER 11, 2015

    Your Life Can Display God’s Power TRACIE MILES

    "‘It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,’ Jesus answered. ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.’" John 9:3 (NLT)

    Have you ever wondered why God allows you to suffer? Was it something you did wrong? Or was someone else at fault? We want to find someone to blame, especially when so much bad happens in our world.

    I struggle with these thoughts as well, but years ago God’s Word helped me see a different perspective. Jesus’ disciples had these same questions, and John chapter 9 records Jesus’ interesting response.

    Jesus and His disciples were walking through the streets of a city when they encountered a blind man. One of the disciples asked Jesus why the man was blind: "As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. ‘Rabbi,’ his disciples asked him, ‘why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?’" (John 9:1-2, NLT)

    Jesus lovingly put their confusion to rest with today’s key verse, "‘It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,’ Jesus answered. ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him’" (John 9:3).

    I imagine the disciples standing there, looking perplexed by Jesus’ answer. How could this man’s blindness display the power of God? How could this physical infirmity bring glory to God? How could his life serve a higher purpose?

    The passage continues, "Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, ‘Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam’ (Siloam means ‘sent’). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!" (John 9:6-7, NLT)

    The blind man’s sight was completely healed, but notice that his healing wasn’t immediate. He wasn’t healed when Jesus spat on the mud and smeared it on his eyes, but only after he obeyed what Jesus instructed him to do.

    The blind man was healed when he chose to obey the command of Jesus to "go." Without questioning or hesitating, the man went and his obedience resulted in not only healing, but discovering a holy purpose from his pain.

    Like many, this man had been suffering with undeserved physical and emotional challenges for decades. He may have lived his entire life feeling inferior, unloved, rejected, excluded and possibly believing he had no purpose. He may have also assumed his past and his current limitations rendered him useless. After all, he didn’t have any special skills or qualifications … or even eyesight.

    But here stood Jesus, telling everyone this man’s life could serve as proof of the power of God. But it only happened because of obedience.

    Unlike the blind man in this story, we often talk ourselves out of obedience, rather than trusting and obeying God’s command to "go." But when we walk in faith, even when we don’t feel ready and have to push through our doubts, fears and hesitations, true healing and purpose can begin to take shape in our hearts and lives.

    We don’t always get answers to why something happened. But regardless of our circumstances or our limitations, when we choose to take a leap of faith, we too can experience true spiritual healing and see a new perspective about our past for the very first time.

    What a wonderful world this would be if we all caught a glimpse of how God wants to turn our pain into purpose and use our lives as proof of His power.

    Lord, I want my life to serve as proof of Your goodness. Fill me with courage and motivation to go and share with others what You have done for me. Show me how You can turn my pain into purpose and make my life count for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 8:28, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (NLT)

    Psalm 119:60, "I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Do you long to discover how God can use your past to glorify Him and bring joy and purpose to your life? Purchase Tracie Miles’ book, Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Our Past To Create A Beautiful Future.

    Looking for a life-changing Bible study for your church or small group? Longing to inspire women to step out of their comfort zones and serve God in new ways? Consider offering Your Life Still Counts as your next fall series! Visit Tracie’s blog to find out how to get a free Bible study guide for all participants, with video teachings, when you purchase eight or more copies of the book.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: How might God be able to use your past for a specific purpose to glorify Him?

    What fears do you need to overcome in order to step out of your comfort zone and allow God to use your life as proof of His power?

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Small Things Threatening Your Marriage

    Lysa TerKeurst SEPTEMBER 10, 2015

    The Small Things Threatening Your Marriage LYSA TERKEURST

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

    One day, I was mindlessly looking out the window of an airport watching a few seagulls dart about overhead while airline workers were busy loading bags.

    Nothing about the scene spoke of danger. But then I remembered a flight from a while back that was brought down by a few geese. The seagull that faded into the background just moments before became a point of extreme interest to me. What if?

    It’s amazing if you stop to think about it that a huge airplane could be brought down by just a few birds. Birds. Who would have thought? It makes me think about other seemingly small things that can cause great destruction as well … especially when it comes to marriage.

    Words vented in frustration can seem so small.

    Slightly disrespectful attitudes can seem so small.

    Complaining about lack of finances can seem so small.

    Brushing off his desires can seem so small.

    Making mental lists of things you wish were different about him can seem so small.

    But each one of these seemingly small things can so easily and tragically wedge itself into the core of a marriage and send it spiraling toward destruction. Entire families have been ripped apart by things that once seemed so small.

    Listen to the heartbreak in this note that was anonymously posted on my blog:

    "Girls … I know this seems small … but, it’s really not. Take it from someone who has blown it to the point where he gave up and divorced me. It’s too late for me. But, it’s not for you. Please be aware of the little things. I wouldn’t have you join me for anything in the world. Be on your guard and protect your marriage."

    I am challenged by this. I can’t just mindlessly assume that my marriage is coasting along okay and that little problems can’t topple us. I can’t get complacent. I can’t get prideful. I can’t get lazy. I can’t take the gift of my marriage for granted.

    I have a good marriage, but sometimes I slip into automatic and stop getting as intentional as I should about investing richly and deeply into our relationship.

    So, I’ve decided to declare this my "get intentional" week. Today I’m focusing on my words. I’m praying for God to interrupt my mouth at every turn today. I want "these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart to be pleasing" (Psalm 19:14) to the Lord and honoring to my husband.

    I’m going to hold my tongue against saying anything careless. I’m going to intentionally use my words as gifts to my husband today and nothing else.

    Not that just one day of doing this can protect my marriage forever — but it sure is a good start.

    Dear Lord, I want my thoughts, words and actions to always reflect Your love in me. Help me to extend grace to my spouse just as You have extended grace to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 15:1, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Pray for yourself and your husband with Lysa TerKeurst’s FREE 5-day challenge, "Praying Boldly For Your Marriage." Sign up here.

    Learn to give the best of who you are to your most treasured relationships with Lysa’s book, The Best Yes. Purchase your copy today.

    RELFECT AND RESPOND: Consider these questions:

    What negative thing have I said recently to my spouse that seemed so small initially?

    What negative thing have I done recently to my spouse that seemed so small initially?

    What negative thing have I thought recently about my spouse that seemed so small initially?

    Then, look for ways this week to counteract those actions with a loving word, a graceful gesture or a forgiving thought.

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

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