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Tag Archives: Psalm

  • Dented and Damaged

    Posted on May 22, 2013 by Carol Davis

    Carol Davis

    "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

    I walked down the aisle of the discount grocery looking for a bargain. It's always hit and miss in this store ... and I had missed ... again.

    Before giving up and accepting defeat, I passed by a bin that caught my eye. The sign read: "Damaged Goods." It was filled with dented cans and missing labels ... no real rhyme or reason, just random items that were not shelf worthy. I knew just how that felt.

    Life sometimes delivers the unexpected. Lessons learned in the school of hard knocks bruise us, dent us and remove the label that we believe defines who we are. A miscarriage strips away the title of mother. A divorce takes away the role of wife. A pink slip eliminates our role of employee.

    We can feel as if we have been tossed into a bin, no longer worthy of a place on the shelf. With enough dents and damage, we can believe the lie that we are first-class failures and all hope is gone.

    Shaking myself from my theological musings, I leaned over and intentionally chose a dented can with no label from the bin. I got it home and placed it on the counter with anxious anticipation. The whirr of the can opener finally penetrated the metal lid to reveal ... peaches!!! I let out a schoolgirl squeal! I love peaches!! What a treat to open this can and be greeted by one of my favorite fruits. The can was damaged but the contents were still good ... and sweet.

    God continued the lesson He began in the grocery store.

    I have been damaged. We all have to some degree. I am not living the life that I dreamed about when I was a kid. However, the damage that I have suffered has made the contents of my heart so much sweeter, so much more compassionate, so much more in pursuit of Jesus. I have been looked down upon and judged by many who have seen my labels missing and slapped on their own.

    I've wanted to say, "Don't judge too quickly. My damage has not defined me. It is refining me." I may sometimes be at the bottom of life's bin, but Jesus paid as high a price for those of us at the bottom as He did for those that are proudly displayed on the top shelf. In fact, Psalm 34:18 reassures me that He is near to those who are crushed and broken. What a relief that is!

    Look around. Is there someone in your life, your family or your church that you consider "damaged goods"? Don't miss an opportunity to reach out to them, to love them. You just might find a friendship that is good and sweet. And while reaching out to them, take a good look around at how the Lord is near to you. Wrap yourself up in His presence. That is one label that can't be taken from us!

    Dear Lord, my life hasn't turned out exactly like I thought it would. But, I know You can still use me. Please forgive me for labeling others and judging them by their outside circumstances instead of the work that You are doing in their hearts. Help me realize that we all have dents but that's what keeps us desperate for You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

     

    Reflect and Respond:
    Write down all the life circumstances that have "dented" your heart. Ask God to use your dents and scratches for your good and His glory.

    Have you been judged unfairly? How did that make you feel?

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 145:18, "The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth." (NLT)

    Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners ..." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Carol Davis. 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 Psalm

  • Happy Mother

    Posted on May 12, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.      Psalm 113:9

     

    What makes a mother of children happy? Is it just the child? If so, there would be a world of happiness. Children certainly contribute to a mother’s joy. Jesus said, “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” (John 16:21). However, offspring cannot be the only reason for a mom’s feelings of fulfillment. In fact, if a mother’s happiness is contingent on her children, she will quickly become discontented. There is a greater source of happiness based on gratitude to God and His glory. She can rejoice because God opens the womb and invites intimacy with Him.

     

    The Holy Spirit initiates the miracle of conception (Matthew 1:20). Pregnancy is a gift from Providence. The Bible says, “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3). Therefore, you can be extremely grateful for the gift of God’s child. Your son or daughter is a stewardship from your Savior. This new life is not competition for your time and money. Rather, it is an opportunity to serve, build your faith, and become more like Jesus. Have you written your Heavenly Father a thank you note for the gift of your child? Happiness comes to mothers who experience hilarious appreciation for the Almighty’s entrustment of children. Be eternally grateful for the Lord’s unspeakable expression of love through the life of your little one.

     

    Of course, children will frustrate you and let you down, just as you have your parents and God. So learn to liberally apply love, grace, forgiveness, and discipline in the same way you administer ointment to their ailments. Teach them the truth of Scripture, model faith for them, and joyfully watch as they enter into a personal relationship with Jesus. The Disciple John experienced this. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). Mothers experience happiness when they praise God for the privilege of being a parent. Your role as a mom is your glory to God. You smile because you know that as you serve your child, you are serving Christ (Mark 9:36-37).

     

    Therefore, be happy, because your Heavenly Father has blessed you. He has given you the gift of His son for your barren soul and the gift of a child for your joyful service.

     

    Post/Tweet: A mom’s role is her glory to God. They smile because they know as they serve  their child, they serve Christ. #moms

    © 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 Psalm, Mothers

  • Learn to Rest

    Posted on May 8, 2013 by Wendy Blight

    Wendy Blight

    "He restores my soul." Psalm 23:3a (ESV)

    My words poured through frustrated tears. "I try to be so organized. Every night I make a 'to do' list. I wake up in the morning furiously giving my best to complete every task. There are never enough hours in my day to get them all done. I wake up the next day to do it all over again, only this time, the unfinished tasks from yesterday's list carry over to today's. I'm so tired!"

    My dear friend and mentor calmly interrupted, "Wendy, you must learn to rest."

    Taking a deep breath, I whispered, "Is resting something I have to learn?"

    "Yes," she said firmly, "you must learn to rest."

    "Okay," I told her. "I'll go to bed earlier and when I feel super tired, I'll take a short nap."

    Back then I thought the cure to my weariness would come from resting my tired body and delaying my duties for a time with a catnap. But that wasn't what she meant. My friend knew there was a difference between being physically tired and needing to catch up on some zzz's, and being worn out in our hearts, minds and souls.

    The truth is, we aren't weary simply because our schedules are full. We are weary because our spirits are depleted. Within each one of us resides a soul that desperately needs renewal and restoration, something an overloaded schedule doesn't always allow.

    It's easy to hide our exhausted souls. On the outside we may appear well-organized, emotionally stable, and put together. But on the inside we are often hopelessly overwhelmed and completely stressed out. The remedy for our weariness will not be found in a nap, but in God alone.

    In the Old Testament, Psalm 23 speaks of God as our Shepherd. That passage says our Shepherd "restores" our souls. When I looked a bit deeper into the original meaning of "restore," I learned so much more about God's promise to bring life back to my tired soul.

    The Hebrew word "restore" in Psalm 23 is shuwb. It's a word most often translated "to return or go back." It speaks of God's people returning to Him and means "movement back to the point of departure." The use of the word "restore" implies we must return to God to receive our restoration.

    In the New Testament in John 10:14, Jesus tells us He is our "Good Shepherd." This is from the Greek word poimen. It literally means "shepherd," referring to one who guides, guards, and provides for his flock. When we return to our Shepherd, Jesus, He will guard us, guide us and provide for our every need.

    Our Good Shepherd can only restore our souls when we turn our hearts and our minds away from the noise and busyness of the world back to Him. Sitting alone with the Lord leads us to peace and gives us the strength we need to move forward.

    Do you need restoration? Take this little test.

    Does every word your husband speak irritate you?

    Does every errand you have to run for your kids breed resentment?

    Does every morning bring feelings of stress and anxiety?

    If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, you are running on empty, operating out of your own depleted resources.

    Learn to rest.

    Return to your Good Shepherd.

    Invite Him to restore your soul.

    Receive a fresh filling of His love, mercy and grace.

    When you do, He will replace your weariness with strength, your resentment with thanksgiving, your irritability with patience, and your anxiety with peace.

    The Lord is waiting.

    Meet with Him. He will refresh and renew you, enabling you to go out into the world to serve your family and friends filled with a newfound sense of His peace, love, and joy.

    Dear Lord, help me be still before You. Give me the rest only You can give. Renew and restore my weary heart. Fill me to overflowing. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner by Wendy teaches you how to have a quiet time and grow deeper in your walk with God.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you neglected spending time alone with God? For the next seven days, return to your Good Shepherd. Open Psalm 23, read a portion of the passage each of the seven days, and invite the Lord to refresh and restore your soul.

    Power Verses:
    Jeremiah 6:16, "This is what the LORD says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls...'" (NIV)

    Psalm 62:5, "Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him." (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 Psalm

  • The Best Marriage Advice

    Posted on April 26, 2013 by Van Walton

    Van Walton

    "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path." Psalm 119:105 (NAS)

    A joyful wedding party celebrated the new couple on an evening wrapped in good cheer and candlelight.

    The bride and her father danced, followed by the groom and his mother. Adoring eyes framed the room.

    Finally, couples young and old hit the dance floor. After a few musical notes, the DJ announced, "All couples married a year or less, step off the dance floor." Then he asked those married five years or less to take their leave. And so the invitation, to make room for couples married 10, 20, 30 years, continued.

    While dancing with my husband, I noticed how few people remained.

    "40 years!" The DJ broadcast to us last three couples dancing.

    When the song ended, our friends, their children - now young adults - and our son, reached out with high-fives, pats on the back, and "Congratulations!"

    Many asked, "How romantic ... what's your secret to staying together?"

    The question came as no surprise and their idealic vision of marriage made me smile.

    Romantic? Not so much. I would describe our years together as lots of tears shed over misunderstandings. Selfishness. Loneliness. Hard and difficult times, pushing through emotions I didn't understand.

    Painful words. Challenging moments. Loads of opportunities to compromise. We were stubborn - both of us! As I look over my shoulder on the past 42 years, I know the real glue that has kept us together has been God and the power of His Word.

    When I wanted to criticize my husband for offenses real and imagined, I read that love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).

    When I felt lonely, I read that God was with me (Zephaniah 3:17).

    When I thought I was right and my husband was wrong, I read that I shouldn't think too highly of myself (Romans 12:2-4).

    When the daily grind of work, chores, errands drained me and my wild heart longed for more, I read that when I leaned on the Lord, through Him, I could get through anything (Philippians 4:13)

    Marriage is like a triangle. Want to grow close to your man? Grow closer to God. As both of you reach upward you'll not only come close to God, you'll grow closer to each other. And if you are in a marriage where your husband doesn't want to draw near to the Lord, you keep on anyhow. In Him, you'll find the support, love and hope your heart desires.

    A long time ago I was a young bride, asking older married women for advice. I heard a lot of things like keep the fun and adventure in your marriage. "Life is a gift," my mother taught me. "Don't let the sun go down on your anger," Daddy shared with me. "Know your husband" a friend encouraged me. Understanding my man's personality and love language taught me about conflict and acceptance.

    I wouldn't hesitate to share any of these wise words to newlyweds. But the very BEST advice I learned along the way? The greatest marriage counselor and guide is God and His Word.

    Marriage can be hard, but it's easier when we spend more time focusing on God's encouraging truths and less time concentrating on our husband's faults. Today, let's start a practice of turning to the Bible for answers about our marriage, thanking God for our husband and the Lord for His wisdom.

    Father God, You alone are perfect. Help me to keep my eyes on You. I know that no one is an easy forever-partner. Remind me daily to curb my critical spirit. Teach me to see my husband through Your eyes. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are you looking at your husband through Jesus' accepting and grace-filled eyes or do you see him through needs you expect him to meet?

    Before today is over, pick 2 verses to pray for your husband and 2 verses to recall that will give you wisdom for your marriage.

    Power Verses:
    Mark 10:6-9, "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Van Walton. 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 Psalm, Marriage

  • Junk Closet Heart

    Posted on April 5, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Who perceives his unintentional sins? Cleanse me from my hidden faults." Psalm 19:12 (HCSB)

    Our basement furnace room is not a pretty sight right now. This out-of-the-way space is a catch-all place for off-season items and assorted memorabilia. To combat clutter and keep objects organized, we've purchased shelves and large plastic totes over the years to neatly house our family's stuff.

    In my perfect plan, bins are labeled, shelves are stocked tidily with homemade canned goods, and holiday decorations nestle themselves neatly in our oh-so-organized furnace storage room. And truthfully, this is how it usually goes. Well, 82% percent of the time.

    However, when we are not intentional to actually walk into the room and place items in the proper bin or situate them on their assigned shelf, we tend to revert to the open, drop, and shut method of organization: open the door, drop the item just inside the room, and shut the door tightly so that the accumulating pile of clutter is not visible from the adjacent family rec room.

    The result is an unattractive pile of stuff that slowly grows and messes with my plan of an orderly storage room. When this occurs, I have to stop what I'm doing and carve out time to sort and situate the items back to their proper place.

    At times my heart can become a catch-all for clutter and junk too. It is not my intent to have a messed-up heart that harbors incorrect attitudes or contaminated thoughts that eventually might lead to wrong actions or even unconfessed sin. However, when I am not intentional to put those thoughts and feelings in their proper place—under the authority of Christ—they can soon breed a bunch of unwanted and sinful "stuff" in my spirit that messes with God's plan for me to behave like His Son. And although the outside world may not see it, behind the door of my heart I know the junk pile is there.

    For believers to keep this spiritual clutter at bay, we must make a regular habit of asking God to show us if we are collecting such unwanted attitudes, thoughts and issues.

    Are we harboring anger, bitterness, envy or ill-will? Have we accumulated spiritual laziness or a love for something that is greater than our love for God?

    Without putting these away soon by confessing them to God, we might end up with an unintentional pile of spiritual junk that often can lead to sins we never set out to commit. Hidden anger in our heart toward another becomes harshly hurled words. Secret envy morphs into gossip. Behind-the-scenes bitterness begets public bad behavior.

    Let's make today's key verse our heart-cleaning plea, "Who perceives his unintentional sins? Cleanse me from my hidden faults." God is the Master de-clutterer who alone can help us deal with the messes we might make.

    Let's allow Him to clean out the clutter of our hearts and make our spirits whole again. This is spiritual pile-busting at its very best.

    Dear Lord, teach me to bring any unconfessed sins to You early so they do not pile up making a mess of my heart. I want to daily be more like Your Son. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized by Karen Ehman

     

    Reflect and Respond:
    Name a time in your life when you allowed unhealthy thoughts and attitudes to pile up in your heart. What happened? How did it affect not only you but also others?

    Spend some time alone with God asking Him to show you if you have any unintentional sins or hidden faults that need to be surrendered to Him. Write out what He shows you. Then, one by one, confess them to Him asking Him to clean them away and make your heart new.

    Power Verses:
    1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (HCSB)

    Psalm 66:17-19 "I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer." (NIV)

    © 2013 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 Psalm

  • Trying to be Strong

    Posted on March 25, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?" Psalm 18:31 (NIV)

    To someone else, it may have been just a simple two-letter word. But to me, it was a divine message from a holy God.

    During an activity at a women's retreat, we were to pull from an envelope a specific name of God from Scripture. We were given time to journal about it, and what that particular name meant to us personally in that moment.

    Snuggled up on a comfy couch, I opened my envelope and slipped out a piece of paper with the word El, meaning "The Strong One." I looked up the Bible verses at the bottom of the paper, which included today's key verse Psalm 18:31.

    As I prayed, my heart began to stir as this name of God sunk in. Words poured into my journal: "Jesus, I'm tired. I confess that I always try to be the strong one. Strong for my mom ... my dad ... my sister and brother ... my husband and children ... my friends. Trying be strong for everyone is exhausting and stressful."

    I jotted down the names of loved ones I felt obligated to be strong for and the reasons why. It was as if justifying why I tried to be their rock made it okay. I also journaled about being strong regarding my own circumstances ... relying on my own strength while wearing a mask that I could shoulder the weight of everyone's burdens.

    Exhausted, I turned to God for help. It was then I felt Him assure me I didn't have to be strong all the time-because He is "El," The Strong One. I realized I had tried to be the rock for those I loved, instead of leaning on the Rock who is the true strength they need.

    In Psalm 18, David praises God for being his source of strength. He looks back and reflects on all God has done, thanking the Lord for not only delivering him from the hands of his enemies, but for giving him strength to overcome them. In Psalm 18:31, David acknowledges the only reason he experiences victory is because God is his Rock. His Strong One. His strength.

    I felt my heart lighten. With a sigh of relief and gratitude I journaled words of praise. Just like David, I thanked God for being my strength and my Rock.

    Although He didn't deliver me from the hands of physical enemies like David faced, God helped me find victory over the habit of being strong on my own. He reminded me I needed to rely on "El" for strength, whether I am carrying the weight of other's burdens and hurts, or just making it through another stressful day.

    We can offer support, prayers and a listening ear to others, but we can't be someone else's rock. It is God's job to be the Rock. He's capable and willing if we give Him room to be.

    Dear Lord, forgive me for thinking I can live in my own strength or that my strength is sufficient to support those I love. Remind me to fully lean on You. Thank You for being "El", our One, while paving the way for victory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World by Tracie Miles

    Reflect and Respond:
    What would it look like if you stop trying to carry the burdens of others and allow "El" to be their Rock?

    Spend time journaling your thoughts about this topic of the Rock, and how God's Name "El," The Strong One, might be applicable in your own life.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 28:7, "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." (NIV)

    Psalm 18:1-2, "I love you, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Tracie Miles. 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 Psalm

  • Why I'm Breaking Up With My "Quiet Time"

    Posted on March 21, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1 (NIV)

    I'm taking a break from having a quiet time. Because sometimes I can get in a rut. Even with good things. And having a daily quiet time is a good thing. Until it becomes more about routine than actually connecting with God.

    When God becomes routine rather than revival, it's time to switch things up.

    Otherwise, I might start seeing this time as less important. It becomes the second or third thing I do. After other things. Seemingly more pressing things. Before I know it, it's been days since I connected privately and personally with Truth.

    And then my soul feels a bit off and sluggish. Like when my stomach has been denied food, a desperation starts creeping over other parts of my body. That happens with soul hunger too.

    Only the triggers for stomach hunger are much more apparent. My brain quickly reminds me, "You feel awful because you need to eat."

    Sometimes my brain isn't as quick to pick up on soul hunger. So I just lumber forward but wonder, "What's wrong?" I think of a list of reasons ... I'm tired, I haven't had enough fun, or my butt looks big in these jeans.

    And while some of those things may be true—it's not why I feel off.

    I need more time with God.

    Not more quiet time.

    More listening time. Like the writer in Psalm 63:1 needed. "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." (NIV)

    This morning as I sat with God with nothing but willingness to listen, three things popped into my mind. I can't say "God spoke to me" but it felt right. I need to do some new things as I listen.

    Study wisdom by reading a chapter in Proverbs everyday.
    Ask God to reveal "my verse" for the day and think of ways to apply it. I listen.

    Read something from someone I admire.
    I need to study leadership in this season of my life. So, I pick up a book written on this topic by someone I admire and glean from their wisdom. I listen.

    Read something from someone I trust.
    There's a book I'm reading right now that is whimsical and grounded all at the same time. It makes me feel like this writer gets me. They get my struggles and offer up advice I know I can trust. I listen.

    Maybe you think all this still sounds like a quiet time, but to me it's different. It's a listening time. A time to shake things up a bit and get outside my normal routine. A time to listen to God speak. And He does speak ... through His book of wisdom, through someone I admire, and through someone I trust.

    And this morning? My soul felt that thrilling and comforting full feeling. Complete. Satisfied. Deeply nourished.

    Dear Lord, I'm seeking to grow a stronger relationship with You today. Help me to break out of the routine so that I can connect with You and hear You speak. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    It's important to exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world. In the just released Unglued Devotional, Lysa TerKeurst shares practical ways of capturing meaningful time with the Lord.

    And if you missed Lysa's New York Times bestselling original Unglued book, click here to get your copy today.

    Take time to gather with a few trusted girlfriends who get your struggles and study Unglued together. Click here for more information on the Unglued Bible Study bundle.

    Lysa shares more of her encouragement in the new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible from Proverbs 31 Ministries, filled with devotions from her and the P31 Team. Click here for more information.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What do you need to break up with so you can connect more closely and listen more intently to God?

    Write a list of things that you are placing as priorities before your time with God. Consider how you can prioritize so that God comes first, and to make sure that your time with Him isn't just another thing on your "to do" list.

    Power Verses:
    Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (NIV)

    2 Chronicles 7:14, "... 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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (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 Psalm

  • Stressed-Less Living

    Posted on March 15, 2013 by Stephanie Clayton

    Stephanie Clayton

    "Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave." Psalm 107:19-20 (NIV)

    As I sat in my abnormal psychology class, my face turned red and my heart raced. I remembered the small black box hiding under my blouse. A few days before, the cardiologist had given me a monitor and instructed me to hit a button on it every time my heart sped. It was happening again, and this time in a classroom.

    That day, my class was learning about people who have frequent physical complaints with no organic cause. What if that was me?? What if my heart issues were nothing more than stress and anxiety? I actually hoped the doctor would find something physically wrong with my heart so she wouldn't scrawl "crazy girl" on my medical chart.

    Over the next few months, with more testing, my doctor determined low thyroid levels were the organic basis for my heart problems. I began taking prescription medication, however my heart issues continued. Curious as to why, I began writing down what was happening during the times my heart raced.

    It occurred when I made a class presentation and when I walked alone in a dark parking lot. It happened when I faced confrontation and when certain people came around me. After a week of writing these triggers down, I realized my heart issues were in part related to anxiety.

    A Christian girl shouldn't struggle with anxiety, should she? Especially one majoring in counseling. I wanted desperately to hide the struggle attacking me physically and emotionally, but it was getting difficult to function. Christian counseling helped me process the cause of my anxiety. I also dug into God's Word. Psalm 107:19-20 spoke volumes to my situation.

    "Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave."

    I chose to believe and trust in the scripture map found in Psalm 107:19-20. Cry out... trust Him to save me... His Word would heal me... and I would be rescued from the grave.

    To begin, I got real with God about my pain. He already knew my heart, but crying out to Him helped me swallow my pride and acknowledge that He is capable of what I am not.

    Next, I chose to trust that He would save me. When I doubted the promises of His Word, I prayed that He would help me overcome my unbelief.

    Then I acknowledged the healing power of His Word. At first, I believed lies such as I am unlovable and will never be good enough. These lies were much louder than the scriptures I read. However, the more I repeated verses and altered my behavior to His commands, belief began to manifest.

    Last, I consented to a rescue from the grave. I hadn't been eager for freedom because anxiety was a method of control. As long as I worried, I felt in control. If Christ was going to rescue me from the grave of anxiety, I would have to give up control and trust Him. And that seemed scary! But even scarier was the idea of continued physical and emotional death. Choosing to trust Him involved a shift in my focus. I chose to see and accept the good in my life and to focus on what I could learn in this difficult season. Trusting Him meant choosing joy in the present over despair.

    It's been several years since that day in abnormal psychology class wearing my heart monitor. I've come to realize that although stress, anxiety, and worry will always try to attack us, they don't have permission to infiltrate our heart and mind. Only God has permission to do that. We can battle anxiety with Scripture truth that God is in control, has plans for us, and there is no need to be anxious over circumstances. He is our healer, rescuer, Savior. He is our freedom from the grave of anxiety, stress, and worry.

    Dear Lord, help me trust You, consent to Your healing, and spend time in Your Word and in prayer. Rescue me from my distress and from the grave. Thank You for caring about my life and that I can be free from stress. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Stressed-Less Living by Tracie Miles

    Reflect and Respond:
    Write out the scripture map from Psalm 107:19-20. Cry out... trust Him to save you... His Word would heal you... and you would be rescued from the grave.

    Over the next 24 hours, walk each step out.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 94:19, "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Stephanie Clayton. 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 Psalm

  • There Is Purpose in The Wait

    Posted on March 4, 2013 by Wendy Pope

    Wendy Pope

    "Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." Psalm 27:14 (NLT)

     

    Efficiency is my middle name. I like to get things done and get them done fast. Waiting for my computer to re-load a web page, or my kids to find their shoes, or even for God to come through on a prayer request isn't something I always do with patience.

    In our hurry up, need it, gotta-have-it-now culture, it's easy to think we shouldn't have to wait. Think about it: within seconds we can know the weather in southern Mongolia, order a cute blouse from a trendy store, or move dinner from the freezer to the table in five minutes thanks to microwaves. We can instant message our mom or send a tweet to thousands in the blink of an eye. No wonder waiting is hard!

    King David, the author of Psalm 27:14 was no stranger to waiting and knew full well of its difficulties. So when David wrote, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD," it was with experience honed through years of waiting to fulfill God's destiny for him. That destiny started in the humble home of his father Jesse, and in the pasture herding sheep.

    It started when the prophet Samuel showed up at Jesse's home to anoint the next king of Israel who was to be chosen from his family. Only one of Jesse's sons would be anointed. That son was David.

    Scripture tells us the Spirit of God rushed over David and was with him the remainder of his days (1 Samuel 16:13 ESV). With such an anointing one would expect David to run to take his seat on the throne. But the only running David did was back to the pasture and his sheep.

    Thus his wait began.

    In the wait, God prepared David to be king. However, the only vocation David had known was shepherding. He did not know the ins and outs of kingly protocol or the rules of royal deity. David did not have the support of the people or armies to defend him as king. He was only a lowly shepherd boy. Instead of taking the position he was promised, David waited for God to move him from the pasture to the palace.

    In the wait, God readied David by teaching many lessons about waiting. By examining and applying these truths we can find hope in the difficulty of waiting, and see how waiting now can be beneficial to our future.

    Even though we are anointed and appointed we may still have to wait. David waited 15 years to be king of Judah and even longer to be king of all Israel.

    If we allow it, our waiting will bring us to an intimate knowledge of God that we would not otherwise have. Most of David's beautiful and poetic psalms were written while in caves, caverns, and the wilderness, waiting on God.

    God does not ignore the cries of His children. David cried and begged God for help, intervention, and defense. God never let David down.

    Our waiting has a purpose for someone other that ourselves. It's not all about us. Just think of how rich our lives are today because of the wait David endured. We have the comfort, compassion, hope, and healing of the Psalms.

    What awesome instructions David's life gives for waiting! Waiting is less difficult and the future is brighter when we let God do His work in our waiting season. When we let our guard and defenses down, we're open to seeing how faithful He is to bring His plans for our lives to fullness.

    Dear Lord, help me wait well. I want be patient as You bring Your plan in my life to its fullness. I can't do this without You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Read more about David's life starting in 1 Samuel 16.

    What is your first response to waiting?

    Do you grow closer to or further from God when waiting? Why?

    What has God taught you in today's devotion about waiting?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 27:4, "One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple" (NIV 1984)

    Isaiah 40:31, "... but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (NIV 1984)

    Lamentations 3:24, "I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'" (NIV)

    © 2013 by Wendy Pope. 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 Psalm, Waiting

  • What Could Mean the World to Someone

    Posted on March 1, 2013 by Amy Carroll

    Amy Carroll

    "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12 (NIV)

    "How are you doing?" she asked. "I heard about the death of your grandmother and have been thinking about you." My eyes widened in surprise and pleasure as I recognized my friend Melanie's voice on the phone. She's a friend I dearly love, but we live long-distance and don't stay in close touch.

    I told her about my sadness, but also my joy over the fullness of my grandmother's life. We chatted about old friends, kids and church with the ease that a long-time friendship brings. However, I started to wonder when we'd get to the reason for her call. Finally, there was a pause, and she explained that she needed to go back to her work.

    I was stunned. That was it?

    There was no other agenda or hidden need? No. Melanie had just carved out the time in her day to call and check on me.

    A phone call from a friend is always appreciated. But for Melanie to call meant even more, because she is a young widow whose husband died suddenly. She is dealing with raising children, running a business they used to manage as a couple and all the other curve-balls life inevitably throws her way. Yet she made time in her day just to check in with me. I told her how grateful I was she had been so intentional and kind.

    That’s when Melanie shared what happened after her husband's death. Worship time at church was when the floodgates of her grief opened. She would often stand and cry throughout the service, pouring out her heart to God and receiving comfort from Him. And there was one woman who often sat by Melanie and silently held her hand.

    One woman.

    In silence.

    Offering the ministry of presence.

    A profound gift.

    Melanie continued, describing the impact this gesture made on her. "I've learned how much sharing time means. If I can only run by and take a cake to someone who is hurting, I do it. All of life's busyness can be overwhelming, but I make time for people now. People are the most important thing."

    I thought of how my friend reflects Jesus—of how Jesus made people more important than His to-do list. There were so many He stopped for. Countless faces in the crowds who made Him pause, just because.

    The woman rejected by others for her many husbands.

    The despised tax collector.

    The woman who had despaired of ever being healed.

    The men who gave up everything to follow Him.

    The list could go on and on.

    I think about the day's to-do list. A long list. There are lines and lines of things to do that aren't checked off yet, calling for my attention and time. They're all important, but how do I process my list through today's key verse, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12)? How do I become more like Jesus, numbering my days aright so that I might gain a heart of wisdom?

    I think I'll start a fresh to-do list and take a lesson from Melanie. My new first line on my checklist: "Be more like Jesus. Make people important today."

    Dear Lord, I need Your help to plan my day with Your priorities. You know how task-driven I can be. Will You teach me to put people first? Sensitize my spirit to listen to Yours and to pause for people like You would. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Pray and ask God to reveal "just because" pauses that He's created as you go through your day.

    When has someone reached out to you with no other agenda than to care for you? How did God reveal Himself in that act of kindness?

    Have you ever reached out to someone when they were hurting with no other agenda than to care for them?

    Power Verses:
    1 John 4:19, 21, "We love because he first loved us ... And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister." (NIV)

    John 15:12-13, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Amy Carroll. 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 Psalm

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