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Tag Archives: John

  • If You're Longing For Home This Christmas...

    Posted on December 22, 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort

    ALICIA BRUXVOORT

    ALICIA

    "Jesus replied, 'Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.'" John 14:23 (NIV)

    In January, my son cried every night when the moon rose high.

    Moving boxes replaced our Christmas boxes as we started the new year in a new house, in a new town, in a new state 450 miles away from the only place Joshua had ever called home.

    When the Legos were abandoned and the pingpong paddles laid to rest, when the clamor of the day grew mute and the quiet of the night grew noisy, my littlest boy would lie in his top bunk and remember where he was.

    Or where he wasn't.

    The shadows danced differently on those new bedroom walls, and the wind rattled the windows in a curious cadence. The owl in the big evergreen sang to the stars with an eerie screech, and the streetlamp cast a golden beam on the closet door.

    I wanna go home, my son would cry as salty tears dampened his pillow. I wanna go home.

    Sometimes the words seeped angry. Other times, the syllables dribbled like a dirge echoing lonely in the darkness. But every time, I'd lie next to my snuffling son with my heart aching and my head quaking. And I would pray until he surrendered to sleep.

    Crammed between the cold wall and Joshua's little frame, I prayed for new friends and for fresh courage. For comfort and for peace. But most of all, I begged God to make our new place home.

    I prayed that line all through the long hours of that first homesick month until one morning I realized that my prayer had already been answered.

    I was lingering in the 14th chapter of the gospel of John when the 23rd verse made my heart leap.

    "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them."

    I shifted my gaze from the Bible on my lap to the moving boxes piled high in the corner, and I soaked in the comfort of my Savior's words.

    We may have left a house behind when we followed the moving truck east, but we hadn't relinquished our home.

    You see, home isn't a place, it's a Person.

    Home isn't a refuge from the storm. It's a Perfect Love that storms our hearts.

    Home isn't the light at the end of the road. It's an unquenchable Hope that lights our way.

    And right before Jesus went to Heaven to prepare a forever place for you and me, He reminded us of that simple truth.

    We don't find home by following a yellow brick road. Home finds us when we follow Christ's commands and choose to live as His beloved.

    Our zip code may change and the familiar may fade, but when we build our lives on the cornerstone of Christ, we are never far from home.

    Because home isn't summed up in an address.

    It's captured in a name. Immanuel.

    Matthew 1:23 says, "'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means 'God with us')" (NIV).

    Dear Jesus, I want to build my life on the unchanging reality of Your love, so that no matter where I go, I will always feel at home. Thanks that You are always with me. Teach me how to live in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (NIV)

    Psalm 90:1, "God, it seems you've been our home forever ..." (MSG)

    John 15:5, "I am the Vine and you are the branches. Get your life from Me. Then I will live in you and you will give much fruit. You can do nothing without Me." (NLV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    As you decorate for Christmas, pray about the ways you can "decorate" your heart, Christ's home, in honor of His birth. Ask God to show you if you need to sweep out some cobwebs of unforgiveness, hang a garland of prayer, or re-arrange your priorities to put others first.

    Set up a simple manger scene somewhere in your home and let it remind you of the gift of Immanuel — at Christmastime and always.

    © 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

  • Is Jesus Just Pretend?

    Posted on December 19, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    TRACIE MILES

    TRACIE

    "But he replied, 'I won't believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.'" John 20:25b (NLT)

    She looked up at her daddy with eyes filled with concern, trying to put into words the fears and doubts which had crept into her 3-year-old mind.

    It was a day dedicated to prayer and worship at my niece's Christian preschool where her father works and where they'd spent the morning praying for Jesus to join them and be present.

    When the service finished, Berkeley tugged on her daddy's shirt, and as he looked at her distraught little face, he asked what was wrong. Hesitantly, she innocently asked "Daddy, is Jesus just pretend?"

    He was taken aback by her question, but gently answered, "Of course not honey. He's very much alive and with us today."

    Berkeley replied, "But He didn't come." They had asked Jesus to come, and in her mind, He hadn't shown up.

    When my brother told me this story, my first reaction was a chuckle. How adorable is that? But my second thought was how even as adults, we sometimes wonder if Jesus is just pretend, simply because we don't see physical evidence of Him when we want to. Even one of Jesus's disciples, Thomas, doubted Jesus was really alive until he saw Him with his own eyes.

    After the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders (John 20:19), and Jesus appeared before them saying "Peace be with you." He showed them the wounds in His hands and His side and they were overcome with joy.

    But Thomas was not there that evening to witness this encounter. Since he didn't see Jesus himself, he didn't believe Jesus had actually shown up. In today's key verse, Thomas stated he needed proof before he could believe Jesus was really alive and active.

    I've been a doubting Thomas before myself.

    I've spent nights wondering if Jesus was really with me when my heart was breaking, my mistakes were heavy burdens, and my problems seemed overwhelming. I've walked through days begging for Jesus to give me a sign, any sign, to prove He was with me. And just like Jesus showed Himself to Thomas, there was one particular day He showed Himself to me.

    I was participating in a Bible study and instructed to do a timeline of my life. I half-heartedly began the exercise, but over the next hour, as I scribbled out decades of experiences, good and bad, my spiritual eyes were opened for the first time. I suddenly saw a picture of God's handiwork, and how He had been at work every step of the way.

    When they were written in black and white, I began to see the happenings of my life from a new perspective — as tangible proof of Jesus. They were no longer just memories, but experiences that all fed my life story and mapped out a divinely designed future, purpose and plan just for me.

    Only after Thomas saw Jesus for himself did he believe He was alive. Similarly, when the proof of Jesus was staring at me from my scribbled paper, I could not help but believe either.

    However Jesus wants us to believe in Him even if we don't see the proof. In John 20:29b Jesus says, "Blessed are those who believe without seeing me" (NLT).

    Sometimes we want proof that Jesus sees, cares and loves. But if we sincerely look for proof in our lives, seeking how and where He has been at work, what we see with our spiritual eyes will be so much better proof than what we could ever see with our physical ones.

    Dear Jesus, I want to see with new spiritual vision how You have been at work in my life. Give me wisdom and discernment to see how You have been shaping me for purpose. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Genesis 16:13, "She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me,' for she said, 'I have now seen the One who sees me.'" (NIV)

    Joshua 1:9, "This is my command — be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (NLT)

    Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Reflect on a time in your life when you felt Jesus was "just pretend." Ask Him for spiritual vision to see how He was with you and at work.

    How might God want to use a difficult experience from your past to help others understand He is real, alive and active?

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • I Want to Quit Ministry

    Posted on December 2, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    LYSA

    "... Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?'" John 21:15a (NIV)

    Do you ever wish God would appear in the flesh and tell you exactly what He wants you to do in a situation? I do.

    Sometimes I wish He'd hand me a piece of paper with clear, step-by-step instructions written out and personalized for my specific circumstance. And then He'd stay for a little Q&A session where He'd tenderly answer all my questions with deep reassurances.

    I guess some people would say that demonstrates my lack of faith. And maybe it does. Or maybe my heart just feels incredibly vulnerable with some decisions I have to make, and I desperately want to get it right.

    I love the Lord so much.

    I want to honor Him with my life.

    But sometimes I feel Him stirring me to do something that's terrifyingly opposite of what I want to do. Left to my own choosing, I want to take the safe, certain and comfortable route. And then Scriptures march right up to my limited perspective and challenge me to walk a path I'd never choose on my own.

    This question forces my eyes to glance toward that path: More than anything else, do you want to follow God and live His message?

    Or even more deeply: Do you love Jesus and want Him more than anything else?

    It's this question the resurrected Jesus asked Peter at a crucial crossroads in Peter's life. And gracious, do I ever relate to Peter.

    He'd been following Jesus for years.

    Then things got hard, just like Jesus told the disciples they would. Jesus gave them the clear hope to hold onto:

    "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world," (John 16:33, NIV).

    But isn't it hard when what you see with your physical eyes seems contrary to what you believe in your heart?

    Problems beg us to forget God's promises.

    Peter denied Jesus because he feared the cost of following Him.

    Then circumstances got really hard. Jesus was crucified and Peter took his eyes off that hard path of continuing in ministry. He went back to what felt safe, certain and comfortable ... fishing.

    Then Peter got one of those visits from Jesus I wish I could have. Resurrected Jesus appeared in the flesh and could not have made it any clearer what He wanted Peter to ponder. With one question, He ruined Peter's justifications to stay safe.

    "... Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?'" (John 21:15).

    Do you love me more than these?

    We've all got our own "these."

    They are anything that make us look away from the less chosen path of following God with everything we've got.

    So, back to my decision.

    Last year, I wanted to quit ministry. Proverbs 31 Ministries had experienced tremendous growth and suddenly I felt enormous pressure that I wasn't smart enough, capable enough or resourced enough to lead this ministry.

    Everything was bigger, which made me feel like everything was scarier.

    The staffing needs.

    The budget.

    The worries.

    Gathering up my fears, I presented a strong case to the Lord to give this assignment to someone else and let me quietly slip away. I set my sights on what felt more comfortable and safe and certain.

    But Jesus' question ruined all my quitting plans: "Do you love me more than these ... more than your fears ... more than your desire to do something easier and less scary?"

    So, here I stand, a girl with trembling hands wearing boots dusty from that uncommon path. I stand and proclaim, "Yes, Jesus, I love You more than these. I will live out the charge presented in Your Holy Word to, "Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching," (2 Timothy 4:2, HCSB).

    I realize your struggles and decisions might not look like mine, but whatever they are, my team at Proverbs 31 Ministries and I are committed to meeting you at your point of need with the Truth that points you to God's best pathway for you.

    I pray this devotion and all the others we send each day help you hold God's Truth close and more clearly discern God's direction for your day.

    I'm determined to persevere. But I'm also determined to recognize I can't do this alone. Will you join us with your prayers and financial support?

    This is so hard and honestly awkward for me to ask. But if I don't, you won't know Proverbs 31 Ministries depends on your support to do what we do each day.

    I need your help and I thank you for letting me ask. Oh, how I wish we could have this conversation over coffee ... maybe one day. I would love that. But for now, if you can join us, please click here for more information. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Dear Lord, I want to declare today that I love You more than my "these." Thank You for reminding me to follow You even when it's difficult. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Deuteronomy 6:5, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What are your "these"? The things that keep you from following God with everything you've got? Once you've identified them, pray about handing them over to God.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Sick-of-Me Life

    Posted on November 11, 2014 by Lisa Whittle

    LISA

    "Then I pray to you, O LORD. I say, 'You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.'" Psalm 142:5 (NLT)

    I must be honest: I need God to consume me more than my life currently does.

    Life ... the often busy, imperfect, challenging daily ride that brings with it human struggle.

    The truth is, I am sick of me.

    I am sick of being afraid. I am sick of being hot and cold for God, depending on my circumstance. I am sick of wrestling with the same things I've wrestled with for most of my life.

    I want to be well. I want to be productive and joyful. I want to be useful for the Kingdom, valuable to my family, and have something to show of my time on earth. When I meet God one day, I want to say with open hands, Here's what I did with the life You gave me.

    I want God. I want Him to show up tangibly in me. I want Him to blow me away with insights and remind me that He is bigger than all my daily crazy. I want Him to sweep me off my feet and take me on one of His many amazing adventures.

    It is not a bad thing when we are sick of ourselves. It is, in fact, a good thing. Because that's when we will desire God in such a big way that we are willing to let go of the steering wheel of our life and let God drive us into our future.

    The sick-of-me life says:

    I'm tired of fighting for people to love me. I'm exhausted by this chase for approval.

    I'm tired of watching God use other people. I want Him to use me.

    I'm tired of being halfway in with God. I want to get off the spiritual roller coaster where I'm good one minute and the next minute I don't want to pray or read my Bible. I want to make progress.

    I'm tired of making decisions based on my fear of the unknown and my desire for comfort. I want to be free from the chains that have kept me bound.

    I'm tired of trying to control everything. I want to finally know and rest in God's ability to take care of it all.

    Here's something beautiful: If we want God, in all these areas and in any way we need Him, we can have Him. But we have to be tired of our usual life.

    We have to get to the point where we say, I am sick of me. Not in a self-loathing way, but in a way that says, God, consume my life. It is in this posture of humility where God can change things. It is here that He moves, alters, heals and takes over.

    Assuring us with His love while helping us change.

    Overwhelming us with His presence.

    Consuming us more than our daily lives.

    Guiding us into a soul revival.

    As only He can, God hears this sick-of-me heart cry and responds in an equally passionate way. Because He is good. Because He wants us to come to the end of ourselves so He can redeem and use our life.

    Because it shows Him we want Him, more than anything else. That's what He wants most too.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for being worthy of our desire. Help me, in the busyness and craziness of my life, to want You more than anything else. I am needy, and I am tired of my usual life — even a good life is not truly good without You. With Your help, I promise to do whatever it takes to change. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 2:4, "God is kind, but he's not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change." (MSG)

    John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How does the "sick-of-me life" help bring you closer to Jesus?

    In what ways are you "sick of you" and ready for God to take over and change things?

    © 2014 by Lisa Whittle. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Harvest House Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

  • The "Perfect" Cup of Coffee

    Posted on September 17, 2014 by Kathi Lipp

    Kathi

    "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV)

    It was going to be the perfect Father's Day. Perfect.

    All my husband wanted was his nonfat peppermint mocha.

    And I — his list-making, get 'er done wife — was going to make his dreams come true. So we headed for the coffee shop.

    But as we pulled into the drive-thru, the unthinkable happened: Another car cut in front of us.

    And me? I lost my mind.

    I rolled down my window and screamed, "Are you KIDDING me?!? Who raised you?!?"

    I thought I'd recovered sufficiently, but then Roger said, "Kathi, I need you to calm down."

    Through gritted teeth, I growled back, "I am calm!"

    To which Roger replied, "So why are you unbuckling your seatbelt?"

    Okay — maybe I wasn't as calm as I thought.

    I continued to seethe for the rest of our time in line. I was livid, but there wasn't anything I could do except grumble and complain.

    When we finally pulled up to the window, the young barista looked confused. He handed us our drinks and said, "I don't really understand what's happening, but the car ahead of you bought all your drinks and told me to tell you that they were raised by wolves."

    Thankfully I can laugh about that incident now, but in the moment I wanted everything to be perfect. And when it wasn't, I lost it. That's not the only time the Perfectionism Bully (so named because it keeps beating me up) has made an appearance in my life. And the results are usually anything but funny.

    Perfectionism lures us onto the hamster wheel of Try-Harder Living, causing us to become obsessed with results. "If you do everything just right, everything will turn out according to plan," it quietly lies to us.

    When we've been brainwashed by perfectionism, we feel that people who violate our expectations deserve whatever reaction they provoke. Like yelling out the car window in the drive-through.

    Or giving a spouse the silent treatment to "teach him a lesson" for spoiling our perfect plans.

    Or meddling in a child's life under the guise of "helping" things turn out just right ... the way we know they should.

    Unlike the Perfectionism Bully, God tells us the truth. He is realistic and upfront as our key verse mentions: "In this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33b). He also assures us that in Him, we can have peace because He has "overcome the world!"

    Here are some practices I've learned when the desire to try harder and harder to make things "just right" starts to brew:

    Pull back and pause. When you recognize perfectionism for what it is — a deceptive bully — you can choose to pull back instead of letting it force you forward, demanding results. You can pause to see what's actually worth yelling out a car window for (a child running into a busy street) and what's not (a car cutting in front of you).

    Pray for discernment. Ask whether you're being driven by fear or guided by God. The condemning voice in your head insisting, "That's not good enough! Try harder!" is perfectionism. The still, small voice of loving conviction speaking to your heart is God.

    Practice "Tiny Acts of Rebellion." Take an active stand against the Perfectionism Bully. Say "no" to its destructive demands and "yes" to caring choices. Praise your child for making his own bed and don't fix it for him. Welcome a guest into your home without apologizing for "this mess." Leave home wearing no makeup, just a big smile.

    Rebelling against perfectionism's tyranny requires bravery. But take heart! It's totally worth it. As you break free from this bully, the peace of Christ will rule your heart instead.

    Lord, help me to recognize the voice of the Perfectionism Bully today. Lead me to hear, believe and follow only You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Colossians 3:15, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." (NIV)

    Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Think about a recent situation in which you tried harder and harder to make things "just right." Ask yourself: Was I driven by fear or guided by God?

    Plan a "Tiny Act of Rebellion" against the Perfectionism Bully for today and tell a trusted friend about it. (You could even invite her to be your Bravery Buddy!)

    © 2014 by Kathi Lipp. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Harvest House Publishing for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

  • Convicted but not Condemned

    Posted on July 9, 2014 by Renee Swope

    Renee

    "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:17 (NIV)

    Sometimes I wonder how I can go from being in such a good place with God ... feeling peaceful, loving and patient ... then something happens that sends me into an orbit of aggravation!

    It happened just the other day. Things were going well. I'd had a lovely afternoon working from home, alone. Life was peachy.

    Then school got out and my kids came home. Within 15 minutes, one of my boys did something and said something that was not so peachy. Then he did NOT do something I asked him to do, and let's just say ... I lost all my peace and patience right there in the middle of my kitchen.

    I was not happy at all. And I told my precious boy in a not-so-nice kind of way. Then, I felt guilty and like the worst mom on the planet!

    For a few minutes, I was pretty sure that was exactly how God wanted me to feel. But before I convinced myself I was the worst mom who had no business serving in ministry, I remembered a pastor sharing about the difference between conviction and condemnation.

    He explained that condemnation sweeps across our thoughts with generalized statements such as: You're such a failure. You're so hypocritical. You can never be counted on. That is the accuser. His tone is condemning, questioning and confusing. His accusations lead to guilt and shame.

    In contrast, the Holy Spirit's conviction will be specific. He will reveal a sinful action or attitude and instruct us with a solution for what we need to do to right the wrong, such as restoring a broken relationship or returning something that isn't ours. He'll give us steps we need to take to change our behaviors or attitudes.

    Instead of the lie: "You're such a failure as a [wife, mom, daughter, friend]," the Holy Spirit might say, "You were really critical the way you talked to So-and-so. You need to say you're sorry and ask for forgiveness. Then say something to build them up instead of tearing them down."

    Instead of the accusing label: "You're so hypocritical!" The Holy Spirit might say, "You judge others for gossiping, but you're doing the same thing when you talk about your neighbor at work. Apologize for what you said today, and share a few things that are positive about her."

    Instead of shaming words: "You can never be counted on!" The Holy Spirit might say, "You didn't keep your promise to go visit your mom. Call her to say you're sorry, and ask her out to lunch this weekend."

    Satan condemns us accusingly, to make us feel guilty. God convicts us lovingly, to lead our hearts to repentance.

    Conviction draws us away from destructive behavior that hinders our relationship with God and others. Jesus' goal is to bring us out of a condemning place of sin and usher us into the freedom of forgiveness with the assurance of His love.

    The next time we blow it, or lose our peace and patience right there in the middle of the kitchen or the office or 5 o'clock traffic, let's guard our hearts from condemnation and instead, listen only to God's conviction.

    Then let's follow His lead toward restoration as we live in the security of today's truth: Jesus didn't come into the world — or into our lives — to condemn us, but to rescue us with His redeeming grace.

    Lord, sometimes condemning thoughts become so familiar I don't realize how they contradict Your Word and Your ways. Please give me discernment to recognize the difference between conviction and condemnation, and courage to replace my mindset with Yours. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Condemnation focuses on the problem. Conviction offers a solution. Write down the most frequent shaming, blaming or accusing thoughts you have that make you feel condemned.

    Then, using the three contrasting examples Renee shared above, replace condemning statements with convicting, yet loving, truths the Holy Spirit might say. Be sure to offer yourself forgiveness plus a solution that reflects God's goal of restoration and His tone of grace.

    © 2014 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • When Prayer Seems Impractical

    Posted on July 8, 2014 by Leslie Ludy

    Leslie

    "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:5 (NASB)

    A busy mom of six once told me, "I'm too busy NOT to pray!" Therein lies the secret to a life that really works.

    Putting Jesus first and making prayer a priority is the key to finding the peace, strength and joy we all long for. And yet, many of us might admit we've got our thinking regarding busyness and prayer backward.

    Let's be honest. As busy women, prayer often becomes that one project we'll "get to eventually," like cleaning the cobwebs from the ceiling or writing a cookbook.

    With so many demands on our time and energy, most of us conclude the only real prayer life we can have are those short bursts of heavenly appeal (Help, Lord!) during the stressful moments of our day.

    I've been there ... many times. The busier I am, the less practical prayer seems.

    But I have come to realize when prayer seems the most unrealistic, that's when I need it the most. In fact, the "Too busy NOT to pray" principle has revolutionized my life.

    Just a few years ago, our four children were all ages 4 and under. Three were in diapers, and the typical noise level in our house rivaled the Whos in Whoville on Christmas morning. Spending quality time with Christ each day felt next to impossible.

    I reasoned, Surely Jesus understands how many important things I need to get done. He won't mind if I just whisper a few hurried prayers here and there as I'm scurrying around!

    Yet in the busyness of my days, I continued to hear Jesus' gentle whisper, inviting me to come away from my hustle and bustle and be with Him.

    So finally, I began to make room in my life for true prayer, even though it was far from convenient. I asked God to show me pockets of time during my day when I could steal away to be with Him. Such as when the children were napping or when my husband could take charge of things.

    I asked God to equip me with the discipline to get up earlier and make my time with Christ a far higher priority than temporal distractions like social media and movies.

    As I began to live by the "Too busy NOT to pray" principle, I was amazed at what happened. Suddenly, life became fruitful instead of frustrating. My responsibilities and demands didn't change. But instead of rushing around in a stressful frenzy, I had a supernatural strength to tackle my daily challenges calmly and joyfully. My defeated and overwhelmed perspective was replaced with a victorious, conquering one.

    I was learning the truth of today's key verse, "... apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5b). I have come to realize that I cannot truly thrive in any area of my life unless I'm spending purposeful time in God's presence on a regular basis.

    I still have a tendency to put tasks above prayer. But now, when I start coming up with reasons why I cannot spend quality time with Christ, I remind myself that actually, I'm too busy NOT to pray. Nothing on my task list could ever be more important than making time with Jesus. He alone has everything I need for the battles I'm called to fight.

    The busier our days are, the more important prayer is. So when prayer seems impractical, let's remember that the very best solution is to get on our knees.

    Lord, help me never forget that spending time in Your presence is what will give me strength for everything else I'm called to do. Teach me to not just fit You into my life when it's convenient, but to truly build my life around You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Luke 10:41-42a, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part ..." (NASB)

    Ephesians 6:18, "... praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints —" (NKJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When do you feel "too busy to pray"?

    When you make time with Christ a priority, how does it change your ability to handle life's stresses and responsibilities?

    © 2014 by Leslie Ludy. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Tyndale House Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

  • You are Never Alone

    Posted on June 24, 2014 by Renee Swope

    Renee

    "Now he had to go through Samaria ... and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?'" John 4:4, 6-7 (NIV)

    Alone again. That's what she must have thought as she walked alone to the well that day. No friend laughed by her side. No small fist gripped her skirt. No sister to help pass the time.

    Maybe it was better that way. Being alone was easier than hearing the condemning words and seeing the scornful looks of others. But she wasn't alone for long. She didn't know who He was and couldn't help but wonder why He was talking to her, a Samaritan woman.

    When He spoke, she heard gentleness in His voice. Kindness and humility in His simple request for a drink. In His eyes she saw acceptance, not judgment. Love, not hate.

    Many of us know her as the Samaritan woman, but I like to call her Sam. It makes her feel more like the real woman she was. A woman who struggled with hurt, rejection and loneliness.

    Today's key verse says Jesus "had to go through Samaria" (John 4:4). Yet theologians would tell us Jews considered Samaritans to be the scum of the earth and would do everything to avoid them. In fact, usually they would travel around Samaria — but not Jesus.

    He had to go through Samaria. Could it be because He knew Sam would be there?

    Typically women traveled together to the well in the cool of the day, escaping the heat of the sun since they carried heavy jars filled with water back to their homes. But Sam walked by herself during the hottest part of the day.

    Instead of avoiding the scorching sun, many believe she went to the well at noon to avoid the scorching pain of others' rejection and judgment. Sam had been married five times, and now she was living with a man who wasn't her husband.

    The weight of the water-filled jar in the heat must have been almost unbearable, but the weight of her neighbors' words, reminding her of her failed marriages, was more than she could take.

    When Jesus met her, Sam was running an errand and running from those who knew of her failures, shame and imperfections. Pursuing her with His perfect love, Jesus timed it so she would run into Him.

    He initiated conversation and asked her for the one thing she had to offer: water. It wasn't much, but it was a start.

    Sam stopped and listened. She let Him speak words of assurance and acceptance into the broken, insecure, empty places of her heart.

    In the same way Jesus intentionally pursued Sam in one of the loneliest parts of her day, He is there in the midst of your sometimes lonely, imperfect life. He is there when your disappointments and failures leave you empty and make you doubt your worth and purpose.

    He is there when you're going through the motions, aware of what needs to be done but unaware of how you're going to do it all.

    He is there during endless days filled with projects, diapers or laundry when you're wondering if you'll ever find meaning in the monotony.

    He is there when you're criticizing yourself and questioning whether you have what it takes to be a godly woman.

    He sees you. He notices all you do, and He knows what you long for. In fact, Jesus is the only One who can meet your deepest need to be known, accepted and pursued simply because of who you are.

    Today He is pursuing you with His gift of perfect love — love that is patient and kind, love that keeps no record of your wrongs, love that won't give up on you or me.

    Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, He is there. Will you take time to stop and talk to Him and then quiet your thoughts so you can listen to His voice?

    Dear Lord, thank You for pursuing me. I want to know and rely on the love You have for me and live in the security of it! When I feel afraid, insignificant or alone, help me turn to You and remember You are there! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Jeremiah 31:3b, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How does it make you feel to knowing Jesus is pursuing you in every moment of every day? Take a minute to tell Him what assurance you need from Him today.

    © 2014 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Celebrate Life

    Posted on June 9, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    A large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead...for on account of himmany of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him. John 12:9, 11

    We can live a ‘drive thru dining’ life that rushes from one activity to the next, or we can live a ‘sit down dinner’ life that enjoys the caring company of others. It's especially meaningful to celebrate special occasions: graduations, anniversaries, birthdays (both physical and spiritual), work promotions and successful surgeries, to name a few. We celebrate life when we show our gratitude for the Lord’s blessings. We take the time to honor God for His bounteous provision and healing.

    Mary understood how to celebrate the gift of life. She took her best--her all, and gave it to Jesus. Her glee and gratitude could not be contained for her brother Lazarus was alive, raised by God. Without inhibition and in the face of fierce criticism from a family member, she lavished her love on the Lord. The death and resurrection of Lazarus became the harbinger of her symbolic anointing of Jesus for His burial. A celebration of life points to the giver of life; Jesus Christ.

    “They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness” (Psalm 145:7).

    A life lived well celebrates well. What has the Lord done in your life that invites a celebratory occasion? Perhaps you use this time to tell your story of God’s faithfulness, and as an opportunity to raise funds for a worthy charity. Recounting Christ’s blessings blesses others. Open your home to honor a friend who has been healed, or pay tribute to a new believer who has been raised to walk in newness of life in Christ. Life celebrations memorialize your heavenly Father’s favor.

    Some will scoff when we spend time and money to commemorate Christ. But their small view of God misses the point of creating unique ways to glorify God. For out of our great gratitude to the Lord, others are drawn to the Lord. Just as many believed in Jesus because of Lazarus’ testimony, so many will believe in Jesus because of our testimony. Others take notice when we celebrate our life blessed by the Lord. We anoint Jesus as our Lord when we give all we have to Jesus. Christ is our celebration. He is the reason we are rowdy with joy. Yes, celebrate when a soul is saved!

    “Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again;he was lost and is found.  So they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:23-24).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, slow me down to celebrate Your faithfulness. Use my joy to bring others to faith in Jesus.

    Related Readings: Psalm 2:11, 89:16; Isaiah 30:29; Matthew 26:18; Revelation 11:10

    Post/Tweet today: Out of our great gratitude to the Lord others are drawn to the Lord.. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Threatened by Change

    Posted on June 5, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Here is this man [Jesus] performing many signs.If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.  John 11:47-48

    Change can be our friend or our foe. It depends on our need for control. If we have to be in control, then our need for control can control us. Thus, we have the opportunity to trust Christ in exchange for our need to control. We play God when we feel like we have to be all knowing, when only the Almighty is omniscient. Frustration will follow a faith that requires a perfectly controlled environment, but peaceful is the person who embraces change and rests in Christ.

    The religious leaders were threatened by Jesus. His charisma, clear teaching and compelling character were competition to this gaggle of guys who sought to control the religious and political destiny of the nation. Yes, change is a threat to the status quo, because they feel like something better may replace their position and power. So, critics of change may create fear by promoting worst case scenarios to other insecure opponents of change. We shouldn’t be surprised if our belief in Jesus stirs up controversy. He is a threat to those who do not know Him.

    “There are six things the Lord hates... A false witnesswho pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (Proverbs 6:16, 18).

    Furthermore, Christ is a change agent. He changes the motivations of the human heart. Jesus introduces a joyless heart of greed--to a joy filled heart of generosity. The Holy Spirit sensitizes a self reliant heart, with one led by listening to the Lord. Our heavenly Father takes our heart that yearns for love, and lovingly takes us into His intimate care. Our life in Christ is not an add on to our old life, or even an extreme makeover. Salvation is a start over with our faith as our foundation.

    Therefore, followers of Jesus need not be threatened by His desire for change. Similar to an effective athletic team or successful company constantly look for ways to change for the better, so we remain pliable in asking the Spirit to reveal areas of needed growth in our character. A Christian without change is sleeping with the enemy, but a Christian being changed by Christ is a threat to the enemy. What change is He calling you to not only accept, but initiate? Change wins!

    “And he said: 'Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven'” (Matthew 18:3).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me not to be threatened by change, but to invite Your life changing Spirit, into my life.

    Related Readings: 2 Chronicles 6:37; Ecclesiates 8:1; Jeremiah 7:4-6;  Luke 9:29; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

    Post/Tweet today: Our life in Christ is not an add on to our old life; salvation is a start over with our faith as the foundation.  #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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