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Tag Archives: James

  • The Struggle

    Posted on November 8, 2013 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn Cowell

    "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4 (NIV)

    "Why can't we just get past this?"

    The agitation in my voice revealed the frustration in my heart. I just wanted to fix this relationship problem and move on to happy. My mind and heart were weary from the extended battle.

    I'm a fixer at heart, especially when it comes to my kids. When I see one of them hurting or needing help, I want to make it better. Forget your cleats? I'll run them to school. Overwhelmed by a test? Let me help you study. Don't understand the instructions? We can figure them out together.

    Since I don't like to see my children struggle, I imagine God as our heavenly parent feeling the same way about us. Unlike me, rather than trying to help us avoid struggles, God understands they are often for our good. As James 1:2-4 says, trials can be precisely the thing that makes us grow into maturity.

    Too often when it comes to my kids, it initially seems kinder to step in and relieve the pressure. Yet more than once I have overstepped my bounds and done more harm than good. My help stunted them from gaining a new skill or needed attribute.

    As hard as it is, as my children are growing up, I'm standing back when they wrestle a bit in order to allow them to fully mature. Handling troubles with teachers, working out schedules, and doing their own laundry have been areas where my kids have learned responsibility on their own.

    Their struggle reminds me of the butterfly, wiggling this way and that until it is able to shed its cocoon. The fight allows the butterfly to gain the strength it needs to eventually spread its wings and soar once free of the cocoon. If the cocoon is split by hand, the emerging butterfly won't survive long.

    Jesus, in His wisdom, knows we need the strength that can be gained from struggles we face as adults as well. Struggles to display love in our relationships, to trust Him with our kids' futures, or His provision when finances are tight. Our part during life's battles is to lean into these struggles, getting every ounce of learning and maturing we can. We may think of maturing as a stage a teen goes through. But in the original Greek this passage was written, maturing means "perfect or finished" and complete means "whole."

    God uses difficult times to mold us to become more like Him. When life flows smoothly, it's tempting to go at it on our own. But when it is difficult, it is our reminder to run to the One who has the power we need to respond to life His way. As we do, our faith and level of perseverance will increase, which prepares us for the next struggle. All the while, we are becoming more like Him.

    Scripture strengthens our resolve and fills in the overwhelming places as we trust God for the strength we need. Instead of begging to be let out of the trial, we can pray to grow in the trial.

    Recently, I felt misunderstood and frustrated with someone I love. Opening my Bible, I asked the Lord to help me know how to respond like Him when I wanted to react in anger. The first verse I read after that prayer was Ephesians 5:1, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (NIV 1984) He could not have been more clear!

    Scripture tells us when we look at our trials as instruments of training and learn from them, we will come out mature and complete. We'll be stronger than we were before—ready for all that God has ahead for us.

    Jesus, I feel anything but joy in the middle of this trial. Open my eyes to help me see these hard times as tools to strengthen me and bring me to a new level of maturity. Help me see them as preparation to take me even further in You. Amen.

    Related Resources:


    Reflect and Respond:
    What area in your life feels like a fight? How could you partner with God to grow in both your faith and perseverance in this area?

    Power Verse:
    Romans 5:3, "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with James

  • Words

    Posted on October 17, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness." James 3:9 (NIV)

    One day, two of my kids were having a growth opportunity, which is our family's way of saying "fight."

    These two kids love each other, but didn't like each other very much in the heat of the moment. I pulled out my proverbial soap box, got my hand positioned just right on my hip, and told these two young teens to look outside the window of our home. I told them that outside our home a world of people exist who may or may not be nice to us. There are no guarantees.

    "But, inside this house," I continued as I turned them toward one another, "there are certain guarantees. Since the day I birthed you, I have preached one sermon about the words spoken in our home. It is a simple sermon. Before you part your lips to speak, you must ask yourself this question: Are my words kind, necessary, and true?"

    "If the answer to all three parts of that question is yes . . . proceed ahead."

    "If the answer to any part of that question is no . . . stop the words from coming out."

    Does that mean there is no room to address hard issues with one another? No. But in our home, it will always be done with a spirit of kindness using only words that are necessary and true.

    I then ushered these precious teens outside to a bench in the front yard and instructed them to figure out their issues. But they were not going to bring words into our house unless they were kind, necessary, and true. Thank you very much. Have a nice time on this warm little bench on this warm little day.

    There are some verses in the book of James I'm considering writing on the palm of my hand. Think of how handy it would be just to flash my palm up in the midst of my people's growth opportunities with this verse in bold ink: "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be" (James 3 9-10 NIV).

    That same chapter of James goes on to read, "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice" (verse 16 NIV).

    Have mercy. I do not want disorder and every evil practice to be invited into my home. And if envy and selfish ambition (which are where ugly words come from) are the key that opens the door for all that evil mess, then I will do everything with the power of Jesus in me to tame tongues.

    And all my Jesus girlfriends said, Amen!

    Dear Lord, help me to know how to teach my children how to be more like You. Help me to model You in my actions, my reactions, and in every word I say. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Take a moment to think about the words spoken in your home. Are they laced with tones of harshness? Bitterness? Envy? What can you do today to begin to improve these words and tones?

    Power Verses:
    Philippians 2:5, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." (NIV 1984)

    Philippians 1:9-10, "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with James

  • Where Can I Find JOY?

    Posted on October 15, 2013 by Wendy Blight

    Wendy Blight

    "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." James 1:2 (NLT)

    My daughter's journey with scoliosis was a heart-breaking time for me as a mother. There were days I couldn't see past Lauren's extreme physical pain and my wondering heart questioned, why hasn't God healed her yet?

    Through those years, I struggled. I felt empty ... void of hope ... void of joy. I knew what God's Word said about joy: "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy" (James 1:2 NLT). But in the midst of Lauren's circumstances, her broken heart and wounded body, it was hard to follow that command.

    How could I obey this scripture and find joy when someone I loved was in such pain? God graciously answered the cry of my heart by revealing to me these three words ... Jesus Only You.

    I noticed the first letter of each of those words spelled J O Y. And it clicked with me. Jesus is our joy!

    When God says in James 1:2 to consider trials as opportunities for joy, He's not talking about the joy found in earthly things. Circumstances turning out how we desire, possessions and positions, and even good health only offer happiness. They are temporary. What God longs for us to have is deep, lasting joy found in Jesus.

    The King James Version says we are to "count it all joy" when we walk through trials. This word "count" means "evaluate."

    When trials come, we must evaluate them in light of God's truths and promises. It's not the trial itself we consider a joy. Rather, it's the results that will come from the trial that we consider pure joy.

    This involves trusting that God is actively working for our good even in the midst of painful circumstances. And as we trust Him, we will find an inner gladness rooted not in our circumstances, but in the reality of the living God who transcends our circumstances.

    After years of praying, asking God to heal my daughter, He did. It still hurts to remember the excruciating pain Lauren suffered. But God was and is faithful. God didn't heal my girl in the miraculous way I was expecting. Instead, she endured a seven-hour surgery to place two rods in her spine. She missed nearly six weeks of school and labored through months of relearning how to sit and walk and move. She had to quit competitive cheerleading. But in and through that time, God did a new thing.

    Looking back, I can see how He held us up, deepened Lauren's faith, and drew our family closer to each other. In real and personal ways, God showed us His tender, loving care. And He taught me the meaning of true J O Y.

    Jesus alone is the source of our joy.

    When discouragement comes and you feel you cannot take one more step, remember these three words, Jesus Only You!

    Jesus came so that I . . . so that you . . . can experience His joy fully and completely in us through any and all circumstances.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus. Thank You for the joy that is ours in Him. Every time our thoughts turn to our hurt, cause our pain to bring us back to J O Y . . . Jesus Only You. We ask this in the Name of Jesus, amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What does it mean to be filled with the joy of the Lord?

    What keeps you from receiving the fullness of His Joy? Memorize and personalize James 1:2 so that you can recall it the next time you walk through a difficult trial and feel the absence of joy.

    Power Verses:
    Galatians 5:22, "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness." (NLT)

    Nehemiah 8:10b, " Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with James

  • But I Have a Right to Be Angry

    Posted on October 11, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "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." (James 1:19–20 NLT)

    I had been lied to, betrayed, and hurt. I was angry and felt I had every right to be. Anger crushed my desire to forgive. Although I'd asked God to fill my heart with mercy, I kept a running mental list of justifications for my anger that overrode my empty prayers.

    My internal dialogue was one big argument. One voice tried to convince me I was justified in remaining angry; another voice tried to persuade me that mercy was the right choice. For months, the loudest voice was the one that indulged my damaged emotions: Yes, I have a right to be angry. Anyone would agree.

    Listening to the voice of bitterness and unforgiveness, I often lashed out with impatience and meanness. I could play the good Christian girl for short periods of time, but if something triggered my suppressed emotions, hostility and resentment catapulted to the surface.

    Reading Scripture one morning, I sensed God inviting me to consider the direction my anger was taking me and the damage it was doing. As I read the words from James 1, I couldn't help but notice how it says "everyone" should be slow to speak and slow to anger. This truth from God's Word left no room for my excuses or righteous indignation, even though I felt like my anger was justified. And then a few verses later, I read this: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (James 1:22).

    From a worldly perspective, I knew I had every right to be angry. But from God's perspective, my anger only added to the sin of the situation. My refusal to extend the same mercy and forgiveness God had given me was preventing me from living out the gospel.

    Through the words of James, God softened my heart. I acknowledged that although I said I'd forgiven this person with my words, I had not forgiven with my heart—and it was time to do so and move on.

    In every area of life, including managing our most powerful emotions, God tells us to be quick to listen (to Him and others), slow to speak, and slow to become angry. As we apply these practices in our relationships, we become doers of His Word, not just hearers, and that leads to the righteousness God desires.

    Dear Lord, please forgive me for harboring anger. Equip me with a supernatural ability to forgive those who have hurt me. Guard my heart when old emotions threaten to surface. Strip my heart of anger and replace it with joy. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember
    Anger only worsens any situation, but selfless forgiveness brings freedom. We are all called to forgive even when wronged, just as God forgives us.

    Reflect
    Whom have you been harboring anger toward or withholding forgiveness from? Have these feelings caused you to feel bitter?

    Respond
    Pour out your heart to God today, telling Him how you feel. Then write out a prayer of forgiveness for the one who hurt you, surrendering that burden to God, and asking Him to replace your feelings of bitterness with peace and joy.

    Power Verses
    Ephesians 4:26–27; Ephesians 4:30–31

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with James, Anger

  • My New Normal

    Posted on August 12, 2013 by Leah Kimenhour

    Leah Kimenhour

    "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17 (NIV)

    Growing up, I never liked change. To be honest, I would try to avoid it if possible. But sometimes that wasn't easy to do.

    I still remember the fear as I made the transition from being homeschooled to attending public high school. My first day as a new student at a new school with new teachers and new classmates was a terrifying experience. The days that followed weren't much better. I'd lie in bed at night and spend hours crafting a plan that would take me back to my old life. My old normal.

    Although I've grown since then, the fear of change can creep back in during certain situations. The unknown taunts me to remain in my comfort zone.

    Recently, I felt it'd be wise to distance myself from a friendship that was a huge part of my life. Out of respect for my friend, I can't go in to the details, but I can say I'd been asked to do things that weren't in line with Scripture. There were too many dangers that threatened to take me away from God if my friend and I remained close. The Lord was tugging at my heart, asking me to step away from this relationship.

    I agonized over that decision. Fear rolled in. We hung out all the time. Talked every day. Ran in the same crowd. My friend was part of my 'normal.' Letting go of this one friend would mean letting go of the normal group of friends we were part of, and not going to the normal places we all hung out. I wanted to convince myself it was okay to stay in this friendship the way it was. After all, it was comfortable. And I really didn't like change.

    But for my own good ... for the good of my relationship with God ... it was time to redefine what 'normal' looked like. This required me to embrace everyday life without the familiarity of my friend. So I stepped out in obedience, despite the uncertainty.

    There were times after making that hard decision when I yearned for my old life, with old friends. I wanted to run from my new normal because there was comfort in what had once been familiar.

    But here's a truth I've learned since my days as the new kid on the block-although my circumstances can change, I have a God who never does. In times of change, I find strength in James 1:17, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

    My new normal is a solid place with a foundation rooted in my unchanging God-not in the shifting shadows cast by the fear of change that used to loom over me. The way He's leading me is truly a gift: it is trustworthy and is full of His joy. God's transforming my circumstances and relationships to work for my good and His glory.

    God is faithful. He has blessed me with the gift of life-giving relationships and community that I never would have experienced had I not obeyed Him and stepped outside of my comfort zone.

    And I know that no matter what you're facing, no matter what changes may be coming your way, He can do the same for you. Listen to God's prompting and trust that He has a gift for you too: His faithfulness, hope and encouragement. Embrace your new normal.

    Dear Lord, change and uncertainty can be scary, but I'm choosing to trust You. Help me walk confidently in my new normal, knowing it has been perfectly arranged by You. I love You, Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    What Happens When Young Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst and Hope TerKeurst

    Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    Has God been speaking to you about a change that needs to happen in your life?

    Commit to spending time praying, fasting and listening closely for God's instruction. As you enter into a season of change, hold fast to His promises and truths about His unchanging character by memorizing the Power Verses below.

    Power Verses:
    Romans 8:28, "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." (NIV)

    Deuteronomy 32:4, "He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he." (NIV)

    Malachi 3:6a, "For I am the Lord, I change not." (KJV)

    © 2013 by Leah Kimenhour. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with James

  • Friend of God

    Posted on June 28, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    "And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.” James 2:23

     

    What does it mean to be a friend of God's? It’s like a child who becomes an adult and begins to relate to their dad or mom like a friend, but they still treat them with honor and respect. So it is with your heavenly Father—in the infant stages of faith you cannot fathom friendship until you mature through the elementary applications of: submission to God, trust in God, obedience to God, fear of God, and love of God and people.

     

    Once we relate to our heavenly Father in holy surrender, dependence, and belief we are in a position to appreciate engaging Him as a friend. But this friend relationship cannot bypass His Lordship in our lives. Candidates for friendship with God have to first travel down the path of perseverance, brokenness and character development. Friendship comes with a history of faithful service to Jesus;  not with a flippant attitude but one of awe.

     

    “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Jesus extends friendship to His faithful disciples.

     

    Do you enjoy this level of intimacy with Jesus? Is your friendship with Him a healthy mixture of laughter and joy, weeping and grief, encouragement and accountability and confession and forgiveness? Friendship with Jesus means access to grace and truth that’s revealed in His word. Your qualification for friendship has the benefit of His blessing.

     

    When you are known as a friend of God you can be assured you will be labeled as an enemy of evil. FOG’s cannot be friends with both the world and heaven. There is a fidelity to faith and following the Lord that comes with friendship. It is an honor and privilege not to be taken lightly—indeed; it gives us credibility in our Christian life.

     

    “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

     

    Happy and content are those who can genuinely say they are a friend of God. Has your faith grown to this level of intimacy and friendship? Your heavenly friendship is best nurtured by humble submission to God. It grows as you relax in His presence and really learn to enjoy being with Him, listening to His heart and learning what it means to be a loving friend. Friends of God look forward to being with and blessed by their best friend.

     

    “Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house…” (Job 29:4).

     

    Prayer: Am I intentional in pursing a friendship with my heavenly Father?

     

    Related Readings: Exodus 33:11; 2 Chronicles 20:7; Luke 5:20, 34; 12:4-5

     

    Post/Tweet today: When you are known as a friend of God, you’ll be labeled an enemy of evil. #friendofGod

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with James

  • To Have and to Hold

    Posted on May 10, 2013 by Sharon Glasgow

    Sharon Glasgow

    "Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful." James 5:11 (ESV)

    "Love is patient, love is kind ... It always protects ... always hopes ... always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

    As I sprayed the front porch with my water hose, dirt and bugs poured down the side of my house. Blasting those things was exhilarating. Everything came off under the pressure of that water. Everything except one big spider web.

    So I got a stool to stand on, edged in even closer, and blasted that web again. The silken threads thrashed to and fro with each gust of water. But the spider, the web, and her eggs stayed intact.

    They weren't going anywhere.

    Flabbergasted, I thought to myself, "Spiders must have an inborn instinct to have and to hold. Under the greatest pressure, they don't let go.

    It reminded me of a time several years ago, when a friend came to me in devastation. Her husband told her he didn't love her—in fact, he said, he had never loved her.

    "It's over," she told me.

    We talked and I then asked, "Can you hold on to the marriage for just a while longer? You have nothing to lose. You've already lost him."

    I told her to become his greatest admirer. Find the good in him. She did. It didn't work.

    I told her to make his favorite dinners and desserts. She did. It didn't work.

    I told her to make love to him as never before. She did. It didn't work.

    I told her to do the things she knows he likes done. She did. It didn't work.

    I told her to pray non-stop for him. She did. It didn't work.

    I told her to tell him, "I vowed to you that I would hold on no matter what." She told him. But he didn't care.

    After a month she came to me with tears in her eyes and said, "It's not working Sharon."

    "He's not gone yet is he?" I said. "I know it's hard, but keep doing it ... because love always protects, always hopes, and always perseveres."

    She took a deep breath.

    She chose to keep doing it. And very gradually things started shifting. He started enjoying the dinners at the table and all the other things she was doing for him—even intimacy.

    A year later they found themselves passionately in love with one another. For the first time.

    Now, I know the story is not going to turn out the same for everyone. I've given the same advice to others without the same results. But I can give you this advice with confidence: when the storms come—and they will—hold on tight, just like the spiders on my porch.

    God calls us to have a love that perseveres and hopes. We can't choose what kind of love the other party will give in return, but there is power in God's kind of love—a holding-on kind of love.

    To have and to hold means you've got to hold on when the storm rages. And even if it knocks you off kilter, ask the Lord to give you strength to get back up and hold on some more.

    I finally got all the spiders and their webs off my porch. It looked beautiful.

    As I was gathering my cleaning supplies and enjoying the clean porch, I saw spiders crawling back up the wall.

    I smiled. If I can't get rid of them, at least I can learn a lesson from them!

    Dear Lord, help me to have a love that perseveres through hard times. Help me to love the way You've called me to love. Give me hope, strength and wisdom as only You can do. You know I need it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    For real hope for real life, soak up God's Word. It offers strength for trials, wisdom for tough decisions, and encouragement for weary moments. The new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women has the Proverbs 31 Ministries team's devotions interspersed throughout.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are there areas of your marriage that you need to work on? Have you lost hope because you haven't seen the fruit of all your labor?

    Ask God to help you and show you areas where you can grow. Ask Him to show you practical ways you can love better. Make an action plan of how you are going to tackle these areas.

    Power Verses:
    James 5:11, "We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful." (NAS)

    2 Thessalonians 3:5, "May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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



    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with James

  • Torched

    Posted on April 30, 2013 by Luann Prater

    Luann Prater

    "In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body." James 3:5-6a (NLT)

     

    I recently saw a plaque that read, "Lord, put an arm around my shoulder and a hand across my mouth." I smiled at the saying, but God snagged my heart to understand the power of my words during an early morning phone call.

    When I saw the caller ID, I cheerfully sang, "Good morning, good morning, hey it's great to stay up late!" (Envision Debbie Reynolds in the Singing in The Rain movie.)

    "We've got to talk. I'm upset," my friend replied.

    This wasn't how I wanted to start my day. My heart sunk into my shoes when my friend told me why she was upset. I realized the root of the problem was a miscommunication and my first thought was to defend myself.

    But that morning I had been in the book of James, and at this critical moment of conversation this scripture pushed its way to the top of my mind.

    "And the tongue is a flame of fire" (James 3:6a).

    This verse always reminds me of my 9th grade shop class where I learned welding and the truth that whoever controls the flame, controls the outcome. The power of the small concentrated fire from the welder's torch was lethal. I held in my hands the ability to rip metal in two and burn through tightly soldered seams like a hot knife through butter.

    Yet through this tiny flame that burned bright blue and hot yellow, I also had a different power, one that mended. I could repair what was broken and bring together what had been divided.

    You and I carry around a similar little flame; it rests inside our mouths. It's our tongue. We can fire up and encourage a broken heart or torch it with a careless word.

    So how do we control our tongue? For starters, it's helpful to keep our words to ourselves until we can sort through any raw emotions behind them. In James 1:26 we find that, "Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless" (NIV).

    That Hebrew word for "rein" means to restrain and pull back our first reaction. In other words, when you feel like spewing it, zip it. Our lips should be water tight, not allowing unnecessary words to leak out. Like Tupperware secure. In this way, we'll truly live out our Christianity by being examples of Christ's character: kind, loving, self-controlled.

    Next, we can choose our words wisely. James 3:3, says, "When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal" (NIV).

    Once we've reined in what we say, we choose words that steer the conversation along an encouraging, uplifting path, building up instead of tearing down.

    Last, we praise, not curse. In James 3:9 we discover that, "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness" (NIV).

    In Biblical times cursing was the opposite of blessing, and today we should view our words as carrying the same responsibility. Deep scars from hurtful words may never heal.

    When my friend lashed out on the phone, God helped me to rein in my first thought and wait until the right moment to respond. I felt led to choose three words, that when said sincerely, turn a conversation around:

    "I'm so sorry."

    It was true, the last thing I wanted or expected was for my friend to be hurt by an unintentional misunderstanding. I've made a decision to not react with torch-splitting, heated words, but to mend with encouraging conversation from my heart and lips. Would you like to join me? Remember, whoever controls the flame, controls the outcome.

    Dear Lord, remind us each day to use our tongues to glorify You and encourage others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    30 Days to Taming Your Tongue and the 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue (Workbook) by Deborah Smith Pegues

    Reflect and Respond:
    Identify the triggers that turn your tongue into a weapon.

    Today, choose to seek a mending moment with someone who needs a gentle answer.

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 12:18, "The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (NIV)

    Proverbs 15:4, "The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.

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



    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with James

  • Mama Don't Play That Game

    Posted on April 1, 2013 by Micca Campbell

    Micca Campbell

    "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." James 3:16 (NIV)

    The evening started off great. The breeze coming off the ocean felt soothing against my sunburned skin. After dinner, we promised the kids dessert at our favorite spot along the coast. That's when the night took a turn for the worst.

    When we arrived at the popular ice cream shop, the line was long. Anticipation caused my two younger children to squirm in line. They stepped to the right to look ahead as far as they could see. They stepped to the left to make sure the distance was the same as the other side. All their movement irritated my eldest son who is a great deal older than his sister and brother.

    Eventually he had enough and tapped each of them strongly on the shoulder. "BE STILL!" he demanded.

    I quickly reminded him there was a parent present, and I had asked him not to correct his brother and sister in that manner before. It was not his job to control his siblings, but mine.

    "Then do your job," he grunted.

    So I did.

    Right there in the crowded ice cream shop I put my finger in his face, which let him know I meant business. With my other hand on my hip, I looked up at my teenage son, making my message clear. I was still the parent and it was my job to take care of my kids. He was still the child and his job was to respectfully obey.

    It would have been so easy to ignore my older son's behavior, especially on vacation. But if there's one game I don't play with my kids, it's disobedience. God doesn't put up with it either, because our heavenly Father is looking out for our best interest. He longs for us to live in peace and goodness. Disobedience brings the opposite result. As our key verse states: "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice."

    King Saul is an example of selfish ambition leading to disobedience. In 1 Samuel chapter 15, we learn that the Amalekites had committed a terrible sin against Israel. God's instructions to Saul were clear: "Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them..." (1 Samuel 15:3a NIV).

    Saul was a great leader, able to organize a large army. However, he struggled with complete obedience. Instead of destroying all as God had commanded, he and his soldiers got rid of what they didn't want and kept the best for themselves. But partial obedience is still disobedience.

    In not fully obeying God, they dishonored Him. God, longs for us to follow His ways, and won't play games when we don't. His heart is for the good of His children and with disobedience comes consequences. God rejected Saul as king of Israel, which separated him from the peace and goodness of the Lord.

    You see, God doesn't take an odd delight in disciplining us when we sin, but does so for our good. Like that day in the ice cream shop, I wasn't willing to play games either. As hard as it was, I had to refuse my son a treat so he would learn to obey even when his way seemed right. My prayer is that he will learn to trust and obey God even when he doesn't understand.

    Yes, God's correction is for our protection. We are wise to accept His discipline, learn from it and obey. It was hard in the moment to deny my son ice cream, but the end result is life changing ... a life of peace and goodness.

    Dear Lord, search my heart and see if there is any wicked way in me, and then, lead me on paths of righteousness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    One of the best ways to know God's heart and desires for us is by reading His Word. Proverbs 31 Ministries is so excited to introduce to you the new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women, containing 366 of our devotions that unpack Scripture with you.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How do your actions affect the heart of God?

    What will it take to fully obey God in all areas of your life?

    Power Verses:
    Lamentations 3:40, "Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD." (NIV)

    1 Samuel 15:22a, "But Samuel replied: 'Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice ...'" (NIV)

    © 2013 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with James

  • When You Miss God

    Posted on February 12, 2013 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki Loziarz

    "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." James 4:8 (ESV)

    It's 3:38 a.m. I stare at the clock and something inside me whispers, "You should get up." I toss, turn, and wrestle with my sleep-deprived thoughts for a few minutes before I finally climb out of bed.

    Downstairs, I turn on the coffee pot and sit down in the white chair. Opening my journal, these words pour out of my parched soul: "God, I miss You."

    Life has been moving at a warp speed lately. Work has been busy for both my husband and me, our three girls' lives are full, and someone always needs something.

    Truth is, I would pay a lot of money for 28 hours in a day.

    But mostly, in this stretched season of life, I'm experiencing how "it" happens ... how people move far from God.

    It's not always intentional:

    The kids are sick ... so church is missed.
    Carpool has to start earlier the next morning ... leaving no time for quiet prayer.
    Bodies need exercise ... reading the Bible gets pushed aside.
    Meals must be prepared ... so worship becomes secondary.
    Reports and projects have to be finished ... you get the idea.

    The list goes on and on of what can keep us from the closeness of God.

    I understand these struggles all too well. And I'm finding there is a great danger in these stretched times of life.

    We can miss being with God, but we also can miss the movement God is doing in our lives. Missing God {either way} is tragic and threatening to our souls that long to thrive with God.

    Recognizing how much I've missed God, I'm taking some time for reflection of this struggle. I'm burdened but also hopeful in the words He is breathing during these soul-stretching moments.

    Maybe you too feel that tug in your heart, pulling you back to Him? I share these three things we can do to move closer to the heart of God, because maybe, like me, you're just as fearful of unintentionally moving too far from God ... of missing Him as much as I am.

    1. Find our God-space.

    Even if it means it's 3:38 a.m. When life feels busy, stretched and chaotic I can stay open to the Spirit's prompting on my heart to create God-space.

    Obviously 3:38 a.m. won't always work for me, so I do need to be intentional about scheduling time with God. Finding the moments of white space where we can fully be with Him is important.

    May we find our God-space ... everywhere, knowing He is always near.

    "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." (James 4:8 ESV)

    2. Experience the awe of God.

    The colors of the sky on the drive into the office ... experience it. The sun warming our skin on a chilly day ... experience it. Giggles from children, the way someone we love smiles, the praise of God's people ... experience it.

    May these moments remind us what it's like to be fully alive and connected to Something much bigger than ourselves.

    "... stand in awe of God." (Ecclesiastes 5:7b NIV 1984)

    3. Have ears that listen {always}.

    The prompting in your heart to slow down, to breathe in the moment ... listen to it. A nudge on your soul to say no when you really want to say yes ... listen to it [or vice-versa].

    May we not want to just dream about the promises God has for our life, but want to live them by listening to His voice, always.

    "And after the fire came a gentle whisper." (1 Kings 19:12 NIV 1984)

    There is always an opportunity in the midst of our busy lives to be aware of God. As we find Him, experience Him, and listen for Him, our intentional steps will always lead us closer to His presence.

    Lord, please help me to be intentional with my steps towards You. I can't always control the things around me, but I know with Your guidance I can still draw close to You when life feels so stretched. Amen.

    Related Resources:
    A Confident Heart by Renee Swope

    For more encouragement to make space for God, "Like" our Facebook page.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Which do you struggle with the most: Finding your God-space? Experiencing the awe of God? Or having ears that listen?

    What would you have to change to spend more time with God?

    Power Verses:
    James 4:8, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." (ESV)

    Ecclesiastes 5:7b, "... stand in awe of God." (NIV 1984)

    1 Kings 19:12, "And after the fire came a gentle whisper." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with James

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