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Tag Archives: Proverbs

  • Why You Need a Friend

    Posted on August 11, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal Evans Hurst

    "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

    I was that girl ... feeling like I didn't belong and wanting a best friend more than anything.

    In elementary school, there were the cool kids and the on-the-outs kids. I didn't fit into either group.

    I roamed around mostly a loner and struggled for the bulk of my childhood with the emotions of "not fitting in."

    I just wanted a friend. One. Good. Friend.

    Fast forward to high school.

    There was a girl I clicked with completely. I felt understood and thought I understood her well, too. I wanted to spend lots of time with her and talk to her a bunch — just like any pair of "besties" would.

    And then one day, I heard her refer to someone else as her "best friend."

    Oh, the devastation!

    I mean ... what was I? Just a little minion?

    In a word? Crushed. And on the outs again.

    Fast forward to adulthood.

    I have lots of friends. Lots of people I know in varying degrees. Two or three friends who are the "ride-or-die" kind. I know they have my back and they know I have theirs.

    And the other day, one of those girls referenced another person as her best friend.

    Was I crushed? Nope. I've since changed my outlook on the whole loner thing.

    I am not alone. Never have been. Never will be.

    First, I belong to God. He has loved me with an everlasting love. He is available any time of day to chat, and completely and totally accepts me just the way I am.

    Secondly, I believe in my value. As I understand more of who I am in Christ and stop looking for others to validate my existence, I am less and less tied to the need to fit in. Jesus died for me. If that doesn't validate me, I don't know what does.

    Third, I see now that fitting in is overrated. I have learned that friendship is about so much more than my elementary- and high-school-self understood.

    It's not just about me.

    As I've grown more comfortable in my own skin, I've learned that while friendship includes the wonder of belonging, it is about so much more than that.

    True, I am the beneficiary of my friendships. The life, laughter and fun are invaluable. But once I stopped looking for my friends to give me what only God could give me (my husband as well, for that matter, but that's another story), I was good to go.

    And now it frees me to BE a friend.

    Let me keep it real here. I'm busy. I have a husband and five kids. I homeschool, work, write and speak.

    It's hard to find time for friends. But I make time.

    Why? Because it's not just about me. I am validated because of God's love, but I still need connections. Jesus had friends. At least 12 of them.

    Not because He needed them to define or validate Him, but because the context of His ministry centered around His relationships.

    And here's what we can learn from His example. We need people in our lives whom we sharpen and who sharpen us.

    As God's Word explains, there should be someone in your life who knows she can count on you when she is down: "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow," (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a, ESV).

    Let's make it our business to encourage others on to love and good deeds, even it requires effort to find time in our calendars to chat.

    "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another ..." (Hebrews 10:24-25a, ESV).

    Are you lonely? Seek to be a friend.

    Busy? Make time to be a friend.

    Maybe you could do without the d-r-a-m-a that friendships occasionally bring ... but you understand the importance and purpose of friendship. So be a friend anyway.

    Dear Jesus, thank You for being my friend. Thank You for being an example of what a good friend looks like. Help me value the relationships You've given me and show me how to cultivate others as You desire. Make me the kind of friend I want to have and let me always point my friends toward You. And where I need friendship for my journey through life, send just the right person my way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Which friend or friends are in your life to help "sharpen" you? How are you actively sharpening others?

    In what practical ways do you make time to nourish your friendships? If this is something you haven't been doing well, what is one thing you will do in the near future to better cultivate your connections?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. 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 Proverbs

  • A Nation Exalted

    Posted on July 4, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34

    What makes a nation great? Its goodness is what God blesses. Righteousness is the lever the Lord uses to lift a nation up as an example for other nations to follow. However, like people, a nation can fall from God’s grace. His blessing is removed when a haughty country shows no remorse for their sin, even sanctioning its use. A blessed nation will cease to be great when it forgets where it came from and jettisons Jesus.

    It is when a nation is hurting that it most needs healing. The nation of Israel experienced this, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Have we drifted as a nation in our need for God? Has our sin found us out? Are we reaping what we have sown?

    The good news is that an exalted nation does not have people sneaking out, but instead, sneaking in. Peoples of the world clamor to come into a country Christ has blessed. The ‘best and the brightest’ are drawn like a ‘moth to a light’ to live somewhere they can chase their dreams. It is out of its goodness that a nation becomes a magnet for mankind. Righteousness reposes in the heart of great nations; it supports virtue and suppresses vice.

    Lastly, a crippled country can come back, but not without consequences. It starts with individuals repenting and taking responsibility for their actions. ‘How can I come clean with Christ?’ ‘Have I been financially irresponsible?’ ‘Has greed governed my giving?’ ‘Has fear frozen my faith?’ ‘Has comfort and ease become my idol?’ ‘What is my part, so God can trust our nation with greatness again?’

    “He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he promised” (Deuteronomy 26:19).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead our nation away from the temptation of trust in our ingenuity and lead us back into trust in You and Your precious promises.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 11:11; Jeremiah 22:2-25; Matthew 12:21; Romans 16:25-27

    Post/Tweet today: Righteousness reposes in the heart of great nations; it supports virtue and suppresses vice. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved. www.wisdomhunters.com


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

  • Regular Replenishment

    Posted on June 19, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.  Proverbs 11:25

    Everyone is in need of encouragement. Each day life issues extract courage from every human being. Indeed, all are candidates in need of receiving courage from a caring soul. They need to hear, “Job well done”, “You can do it”, “You are a blessing”, “You are a gift from the Lord”, “I need you” and “I love you”. Like the gas tank in an automobile, people need a regular fill up of encouraging words, kind deeds and a listening ear.

    Spouses need encouragement so they feel loved, accepted, and respected. Children need encouragement so they feel love and the security around well defined boundaries. Work associates need the balance of many more  “well dones” to balance out the “why didn’t you?” All restaurant servers deserve a sincere smile and most deserve a generous tip. Encourage those the Lord sends your way each day; these are His divine moments.

    “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3).

    Furthermore—the replenishment of others is reciprocal. When we take a short amount of time to extend kindness and care, we receive the blessing of a thank you, a gentle hug, a grateful email, or the satisfaction of representing Jesus well. What a privilege to be a conduit for Christ and connect two people who grow to love and appreciate each other. Encouragers decrease—while others increase—and all are filled with joy by faith in God.

    When you give others hope—you become hopeful. When you give others peace—you become peaceful. When you give others faith—you become faithful. You give others comfort—you become comforted. When you give others encouragement—you become encouraged. When you give others Jesus—you become like Jesus!

    Who needs a handwritten thank you note? Perhaps you set a goal of writing two or three caring communications each day. Give a new Bible to the maintenance worker at your office—ask him or her the names of their children and give them Bibles. Invite a couple to dinner to love on and listen to how they are doing. Drop by to see a family with a special needs child, just to see how they’re doing—and pray with them. No one normally complains of too much encouragement, so be a regular replenisher of courage. Most of all, lead others to be refreshed by the Lord—His refreshment satisfies best.

    “He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).

    Prayer: How can I encourage my family and friends to be faithful followers of Jesus?

    Related Readings: Psalm 19:7, 68:9; Proverbs 25:13; Acts 3:19; 1 Corinthians 16:18

    Post/Tweet today: No one normally complains of too much encouragement, so be a regular replenisher of courage. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


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

  • All That Glitters

    Posted on June 19, 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs

    Liz Curtis Higgs

    "Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value." Proverbs 31:11 (NIV)

    The jeweler smiled as my fiancé and I touched the loose diamonds she'd strewn across a square of blue velvet. "So, what's your budget?" she asked, her tone hopeful.

    Bill gulped and answered, "$400." On a college teacher's salary, it was all he could afford, but I still winced when he said it. Even all those years ago, $400 meant a very small diamond. Teensy weensy.

    Except for the flaws. Those would be huge.

    The jeweler guided us to the other end of the counter. "I think we can find something here that will suit you." Out came another velvet square, but the diamond chips she placed on it nearly disappeared in the nap of the fabric.

    Bill listened as she explained clarity and carat weight, while my gaze drifted back to the larger stones still on display. Their many facets caught the bright store lights, winking at me, beckoning me.

    Diamonds are forever, I told myself. Surely there must be a way we could swing something larger.

    When no solution came to mind, I chose a pretty but petite gemstone and tried my best to be excited.

    Bill touched my elbow. "Make sure you're happy with it, Liz, while I look around."

    I was happy with Bill, no question. The dearest of men, godly and kind. But was I happy with a diminutive diamond? Hmmm.

    Here's the ugly truth: As a single woman, I'd grown accustomed to buying whatever I wanted, even if that meant pulling out my credit card. My frugal fiancé, though, was a cash-and-carry kind of guy.

    Still, he did say he wanted me to be happy ...

    I waited until Bill was out of earshot before I leaned over the counter, waving the jeweler closer. "Could I look at the bigger stones again?"

    She placed them in front of me without a word. "I really like this one," I whispered, eyeing a square-cut beauty. "Suppose Bill gave you a check for $400 and I slipped you a check for the difference?"

    She looked at me evenly. "Are you sure that's how you want to begin this marriage?"

    Heat flew to my cheeks. "No, I ... uh ... guess not." I quickly turned away, ashamed to have my sins spread out like so many finely cut stones. Greed, deceit, covetousness, pride — oh, it was not a pretty sight.

    Then I recalled today's key verse from Proverbs 31, long committed to memory: "Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value."

    From across the room, I studied Bill — a man who deserved a woman he could trust with his heart and with his wallet — and silently begged his forgiveness for even considering such a thing.

    The jeweler was right. That was not how I wanted to begin my married life. Thank goodness I'd just been handed something even more valuable than diamonds: a second chance.

    When I turned back to the jeweler, we were both smiling. "You are absolutely right," I assured her. "The smaller stone will be perfect." And it was.

    Year in and year out, I flashed my ring like it was the Hope Diamond, because for me, that's what it represented: hope for a marriage built on honesty, not deception, and a forever kind of love that would outshine any sparkling gem.

    Now that our silver anniversary has come and gone, Bill — bless his generous heart —recently bought me a new diamond. Square-cut, of course.

    If there are flaws, I haven't noticed them. I'm too busy offering a prayer of thanks for a grace-giving God who overlooks my flaws and polishes me clean every morning.

    Lord, thank You for Your gentle, but firm, correction in my life and my marriage. I'm beyond grateful that You enable me to love and respect my husband. Be honored and glorified in our lives. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Philippians 2:3-4, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (NIV)

    James 3:13, "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Think of a similar situation when you might have veered in the wrong direction. How did the Lord keep you from stumbling?

    As you thought about a similar situation, what did that experience teach you about God's constant guidance and tender care?

    © 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs. 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 Proverbs

  • Advantages to Accountability

    Posted on June 18, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. Proverbs 22:3

    Accountability is a check and balance to assure the best decisions. It is a process of involving wise people in the decision-making process so all options are weighed and considered based on their probability of success. Accountability works best for individuals with an open hand, whose desire is what’s best for the whole.

    For example, we may want to aggressively grow our enterprise, but wise counsel  recommends we expand with cash, not debt. Pride may want to charge ahead and dismiss sound advice, while humility is willing to listen and wait on God’s provision. Clarity comes to those who weigh all options and wisely chose the best.

    “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD” (Proverbs 16:2).

    What decision do you face that requires waiting, not moving ahead half prepared? Perhaps in the process of dating a special person, you both decide at the beginning of the relationship to wait a year before you begin talking about marriage. This guideline protects you from making a rash decision you may later regret. Ask another couple to hold you accountable, as you do better when others are watching.

    Who is a trusted advisor in your life that can steer you with solid counsel? Surround yourself with those who don’t directly benefit from what they recommend you do. They are objective, free from the temptation of private gain, based on your public behavior. Accountability is the Lord’s instrument to protect you from the penalty of prideful decision-making. Mistakes will be made—but accountability minimizes them.

    “The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men [who had grown up with him v.10]” (1 Kings 12:13-14a).

    Accountability is Almighty God’s answer to you trying to figure out life alone. Do not waste time floundering around by yourself—moreover; avoid dangerous decisions by slowing down and discerning the right path for you. The Lord will lead you, if you listen to those who know you well and who want His very best for you. The greatest advantage of accountability is remaining in God’s will and not discrediting years of faithfulness. We do better when others are watching, so open up and let them see what God already knows.

    “You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3).

    Prayer: What area of my life do I need to open up to the accountability of trusted advisors?

    Related Readings: Psalm 139:23-24; Proverbs 24:12; 26:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:1

    Post/Tweet today: Accountability works best for individuals with an open hand, whose desire is what’s best for the whole. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


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

  • Quality of Life

    Posted on June 16, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.  Proverbs 13:20

    What does it mean to have quality of life? Good health? Harmony at home? A happy heart? Financial security? Freedom of speech and worship? A fulfilling career? Grateful and content children? A meaningful marriage? A life of significance? Peace with God? Probably some of these elements and more make up a life worth living—a quality life.

    Moreover, the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships. Who we spend time with is who we become. If we spend time with those wise in their finances, and if we pay attention, we can become wise in our finances. If we are intentional in our faith, we will worship with those of great faith. Our life is a reflection of our relationships.

    “Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:16-17).

    So, how is your relational portfolio? Are you diversified with people who bring value to all aspects of your life? Conversely, are you intentional to invest time and interest in those who look to you for guidance? Quality of life flows from not just receiving wisdom, but from giving wisdom. Wisdom works both directions for the good of the relationship.

    Furthermore, be careful not to excuse bad behavior, because you are trying to relate to questionable company. Draw a line far away from eroding your character’s creditability. You can influence others for good, without being bad. In some situations, what you don’t do defines you more than what you do. Use business trips and vacations to model faithfulness, not foolishness. Stand for what’s right—when others agree to what’s wrong.

    “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

    Above all, quality of life results from your relationship with Christ. He is life itself and everything good in life flows from Him. When you grow in your personal relationship with Jesus—it affects the growth of your other relationships. Relationship building in heaven, builds relationships on earth. Ultimately, Jesus is the life to model and follow. The resurrected life of Christ gives you the spiritual stamina to experience a quality life.

    “Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this'? 'Yes, Lord,' she replied, 'I believe…'” (John 11:25-27a).

    Prayer: Who are the wise people I spend time with? Am I investing in quality relationships?

    Related Readings: Psalm 56:13; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Philippians 2:1-4; 1 John 1:7

    Post/Tweet today: The quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


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

  • How Conflict Creates Connection for Couples

    Posted on June 10, 2014 by Dr. John Townsend

    Dr. John Townsend

    "Wounds from a friend can be trusted ..." Proverbs 27:6a (NIV)

    When my wife, Barbi, and I were first married, we had conflicts about conflict. Looking back, it's kind of funny because I later went on to write a Christian relationship book called Boundaries in Marriage. Imagine watching us have boundary conversations about how bad our marriage boundaries were.

    Barbi's approach to conflict was to avoid it. My approach tended to be more blunt. We'd talk about a problem, and it wouldn't go well. One of us would misunderstand, we would pull away from each other and the problem wouldn't get solved.

    One day I asked Barbi, "When we argue, I never stop loving you. Is there anything I can do to make this better for you?"

    She thought a minute and said, "Maybe if you let me know you love me before you confront me, that might help."

    That was a good idea, so I agreed. The next time I wanted to have a talk with her about a concern, I walked in the room and said something like, "Honey, I just want to let you know I really care about you, and I hope you feel safe with me." Then when I brought up the problem, things went better for her and for us.

    This method of having successful conversations went on for a while. As time passed, however, something changed. I needed to bring up an issue, so I began with, "Honey, I just want you to know..." Barbi said, "Stop! It's okay. I know you love me; just get to the problem."

    We had a good laugh about it. Over time, she began feeling safe enough not to need reassurance before each conversation. She realized I loved her even in the midst of confrontation, and she was ready to go straight to problem solving.

    When God created marriage, He gave us one of His best gifts. He provided a permanent and safe connection for a man and a woman to experience love, joy, meaning and purpose together. Genesis 2:24 says, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh" (NASB). God designed marriage to be a whole-person connection. This means that, more than in any other human relationship, every part of you ideally is to connect and cleave to every part of your spouse. The love you share should be complete as you intertwine your lives and emotions around each other.

    Because marriage is such a wonderful type of relationship, confrontation within the marital relationship is very important. Who is better qualified to understand and speak to someone about a problem than the person living life right next to him? You are intimately involved with him. You see the real person, imperfections and all. More than anyone, a spouse should be able to see what her partner's true problems are.

    Marriage is not about making each other happy; it is about growing and helping one's spouse to grow. Happiness can and does come to a good marriage. However, it is a byproduct of growth and life — not the goal.

    Confrontation brings empowerment, which is the ability to make choices and changes in your relationship. God created all of us to be change agents for each other. We have a responsibility to influence the people in our lives to be the best possible people they can be. For instance, 1 Thessalonians 5:11a says, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up" (NIV).

    As Barbi and I have learned to confront each other lovingly, directly and effectively, we are often pleased in the change not only in our marriage but also in ourselves. We feel a sense of power that we can make changes and that we have choices. God designed all of us to connect and act, and confrontation helps put the "act" into the connection.

    Lord, thank You for the blessing of earthly marriage to display Your heavenly love for me. May I value marriage as all that You designed it to be. Help me move past seeking personal happiness and strive to develop growth in myself and my spouse. I trust You to guide my words and actions when conflict arises so that it can be an opportunity to connect in a deeper way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Peter 4:10, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What can you tell your spouse today to help each other feel safer in the relationship?

    Common conflict issues may revolve around your responsibilities, money and tasks, but do not stop there. Set aside time to talk with your spouse about the relationship itself. This is where the marriage lives.

    © 2014 by Dr. John Townsend. All rights reserved.

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

    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 Proverbs

  • Generous Grandparents

    Posted on May 19, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. Proverbs 13:22

    Grandparents have an opportunity to invest financial, emotional and spiritual capital into their children’s children. This return on investment may prove to be the most significant, if done prayerfully and proactively. Thus we pray, “How can I give to our grandchildren in a manner that blesses them the best, while honoring their parents and the Lord in the process?” Ultimately we trust God to take our generous gifts and use them to grow faithfulness for future generations.

    Therefore, our generosity is not a subtle scheme to control our desired outcome (no matter how noble it might be), rather the goal of our gifts is to be a catalyst for God’s will. Our role as grandparents is not to tell our adult children and grandchildren what to do, but to support them in what they do. They are their own persons, hopefully under the authority of the Spirit’s leading, so we bring the most lasting value when we value them over their chosen path to follow in life.

    “Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it” (Ezra 10:4).

    Grandparents show respect when they confer with their adult children, before they give to their grandchildren. It could be as small a matter as a cream filled donut for breakfast, or as big an issue as opening a college fund. We ask permission before our big-hearted acts, so we have the full support of mom and dad. Well-meaning help will hurt if done outside the intentions of the parents. Next generation generosity is most effectively done in collaboration with our children.

    Most of all, invest spiritual capital into your grandchildren. Make sure your influence for the Lord is allocated heavily on the asset side of their spiritual balance sheet. Pray with them. Go to church with them. Read Bible stories to them. Share God examples of life change and answered prayer. Teach them old hymns while you feed the ducks. Having fun without instilling a faith influence is like taking a fevered child to the amusement park without offering any comfort or medication. Yes, your intimacy with Jesus is the most precious gift you can give your grandchild.

    “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children” (Psalm 103:17).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant me wisdom to know how to be the most generous with my grandchild.

    Related Readings: Genesis 48:11; Ezra 9:12; Psalm 128:6; 2 Corinthians 12:14; 1 Timothy 5:4

    Post/Tweet today: Our role is not to tell our adult child what to do, but to support them in what they do. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.


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

  • Pause Before You Pounce

    Posted on May 12, 2014 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed ..." Proverbs 31:26-28a (ESV)

    On a sunny spring day, I sat in my backyard with my friend Suzy and our kids. While we relaxed in lawn chairs, sipping lemonade, a few of the children played on the swing set. The rest sat at our bright yellow children's picnic table, purchased just days earlier. They were happily creating masterpieces on the pages of several coloring books.

    When it came time to serve lunch, I helped the children clear their coloring supplies off the table. As I grabbed the crayons and coloring books, I spied a frightful sight. One of Suzy's daughters had gone into the house and grabbed permanent markers to color with instead of the crayons. And colored with them she did – all over the brand new picnic table! She'd even written her name in her very best 7-year-old penmanship.

    I was angry that our newly purchased picnic table was now laden with red and purple permanent graffiti. I wanted to raise my voice and shout and scream my displeasure. But I didn't. Instead, I leaned over and gently spoke to my friend's child.

    "Oh, Kelly. Miss Karen wants you to use crayons when you color, not markers. Would you please go put them back in the house? Thank you, honey."

    My eldest child's jaw dropped when she saw how I reacted to the situation with kindness and a calm voice.

    Loud enough for everyone to hear, she said, "Man! It's a good thing it was you, Kelly, and not one of us. Mom would've hollered at us something awful if we'd done that!"

    Ouch.

    My daughter simply vocalized a truth she noticed in my life: I tend to lose my cool with my family, but somehow manage to keep calm when I interact with others.

    Today's key verse, describing the actions of the woman from Proverbs 31:26, states, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." Can that be said of us? Or would a reality TV reporter capture the way we talk to our families and announce, "She snaps with caustic words, and 'Why can't you this?' and 'You should have that!' rolls angrily off her tongue."

    When communicating with others, it appears this woman in the Scripture Hall of Fame was careful to speak in a way that honored and glorified God. In the Amplified Version of the Bible, which is rendered as close to the original language as possible, Proverbs 31:26 reads, "She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]."

    "Kindness."

    The tone of voice you'd use with a stranger.

    Friendly, not feisty.

    And the words, "giving counsel."

    Counsel is giving advice and guidance in a gentle but direct way that helps the person who's seeking the instruction. Counsel is not barking. Counsel is not belittling. Counsel is not filled with superlatives like "Why can't you ever _____?" and "See, you never _____!"

    I faced the music that day and owned up to the truth my child pointed out: I tend to extend grace to those outside my family — even complete strangers — while so easily snapping at the people within my home.

    Yes, there are times we must instruct and correct our families. Yet when we do, we should be conscientious and kind while giving counsel. It's not always easy, but God is always available to help me not to be controlling, complaining or critical.

    Perhaps we would all do better to learn to pause before we pounce when interacting with our loved ones, treating them with the respect we tend to give others. Or better yet, to pause, pray and then not pounce at all!

    Dear Lord, I want to run my home well, but as I seek to do so, help me to pause before I react, to ensure my words and actions are pleasing to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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

    Psalm 101:2, "I will be careful to lead a blameless life — when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Was there ever a time when you barked at your family about how things were done around your home? What happened?

    In retrospect, how could the situation have been handled differently?

    © 2014 by Karen Ehman. 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 Proverbs

  • Losing This Battle is Not an Option

    Posted on May 2, 2014 by Sharon Glasgow

    Sharon Glasgow

    "My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV)

    By the time our daughter Heather turned 2, all my prideful pre-parenting thoughts had come back to me. How many times had I unfairly judged another mama and promised myself my kids would never act like that?

    You know that behavior: flailing around in their mother's arms, pitching a fit on the grocery store floor or throwing a tantrum in line at the movies. However, my daughter's strong will was unrelenting. She tried my patience constantly ... and often acted like that.

    I'll never forget one particularly difficult night. It had been a long grueling day of battles, and it was bedtime. (Praise God for bedtime.) Heather had hurt her baby sister, so I told her to apologize. She refused.

    Everything in me wanted to just put Heather to bed, but I knew I couldn't let this go. So in a stern voice, I told her, "Go to your room and I'll meet you there." Thankfully, she obeyed and walked to her bedroom.

    I thought a battle had been avoided ... until she looked back at me with that iron will glaring. She stood there with one foot in the room and one foot in the hall.

    "Get in your room, Heather." My tone meant business, but she wouldn't budge. I thought to myself, I'm just too stinking tired for this.

    At that point, I remembered Proverbs 3:11-12, a verse I memorized before Heather was born: "My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in."

    As I weighed my choices, the Lord spoke to me through that verse. And I knew He was saying: Losing this battle is not an option. I took a deep breath and decided no matter how long it took, I would not allow Heather's disobedient will to triumph over my exhaustion. I loved her too much.

    She finally sat down, half in the room, half out. And I joined her in the hall. We stayed there for hours that night. I wasn't mad, just determined. My daughter would know after this night that her mama means what she says. There was no TV. No toys. Not even a scrap of paper to draw on.

    While she sat, I folded laundry, paid a few bills and made my grocery list — in between asking if she wanted to apologize. Her eyes were getting heavy, and I knew she wanted to win the battle, but I remained firm.

    Finally, three hours after her bedtime she apologized to her sister and to me. I kissed her goodnight as I tucked her in bed; she hugged me and smiled like I was the greatest mom in the world. All was good in our home, at least for that night.

    That wasn't our last battle. But over time they became fewer and fewer as I consistently disciplined my children, just like the Lord disciplines those He loves. Why? Because He longs for us to be wise, to avoid making harmful mistakes and to grow in His grace. That's what I want for my five daughters.

    I spent a lot of time in prayer and sitting in doorways as my girls grew up. Each one was different from the other, each requiring a different form of discipline. They're grown up now, and I'm delighted to say that Heather and her sisters love the Lord and walk in His ways.

    I love my children and know they are worth all the time invested in the disciplining. Even the many long, sleepless nights.

    Lord, I need You more than ever. I need Your strength, wisdom and leading to raise my children up in the way they should go. Help me! I feel inadequate most days. I know that through You I can do all things. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Raising children takes a lot of mental, spiritual and physical bandwidth. Are there things in your schedule you could delete that would give you greater ability to parent well?

    Are you consistent in disciplining? Do you follow through with the rules? Do you discipline in love? Write a list of things you need to work on to be the parent God calls you to be.

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 29:17, "Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Sharon Glasgow. 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 Proverbs

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