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Tag Archives: Psalm

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

    Posted on March 21, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "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

  • Stressed-Less Living

    Posted on March 15, 2013 by Stephanie Clayton

    Stephanie

    "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

  • There Is Purpose in The Wait

    Posted on March 4, 2013 by Wendy Pope

    Wendy

    "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

  • What Could Mean the World to Someone

    Posted on March 1, 2013 by Amy Carroll

    Amy

    "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

  • I Feel Forgotten

    Posted on February 18, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?" Psalm 77:7-9 (NLT)

    Several years ago I was drowning in a sea of difficult circumstances. With each gasping breath, God appeared farther and farther away. I prayed, but God was silent. Emotions played tricks on me, causing anxiety and fear to get the better of me. Instead of God's kindness and love, loneliness and abandonment loomed large. In my head I knew that wasn't true, but that's how I felt.

    Apparently the person who wrote Psalm 77:7-9 experienced these same doubts. It seems he was at the end of his rope, pleading for God's deliverance from hardship. He expressed his feelings, and asked why God had rejected him. Did God even care?

    He felt rejected, alone and afraid.

    Maybe you are experiencing a season of life where God seems to be a million miles away. You're wondering "why?" and questioning, like the Psalmist, if God has forgotten you.

    We all experience feelings of rejection and loneliness at times. Whether as a little girl who desperately wishes her daddy would love her, an employee who longs for the approval of her boss, or a woman who would give anything for a husband that pays attention to her. There are countless reasons to feel rejected in this broken world - but feeling forgotten by God really hurts.

    When we find ourselves feeling forgotten, we have two choices. Either turn away from God in anger and frustration. Or we can allow the words of Psalm 77:11-14 to motivate us to recognize God's sovereignty ... and continue to trust and praise Him even in the midst of our difficulties.

    Despite his heartache, the author of this Psalm remembered that God truly was his only help. Psalm 77:11-14 says, "But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations." (NLT)

    He recognized his own weakness, and his need for God. In the midst of his suffering, he chose to willfully and wholeheartedly ponder the Lord's goodness and praise Him.

    The Psalmist changed his attitude completely by focusing on all God has done over the years. Instead of keeping his eyes on his own circumstances and troubles, he meditated on God's ability to overcome them. He gave himself a little praise pep talk, ramping up his faith from the inside out.

    If we feel rejected, it's time to turn our focus upward instead of inward. Rather than rehearsing all the ways God hasn't changed our current circumstances, let's praise Him for the many times He has shown His faithfulness in the past. We can have a little praise pep talk of our own! God is waiting with open ears and outstretched arms, for we are too loved to ever be forgotten.

    Dear Lord, I feel forgotten and alone. Forgive me for my doubts, and reassure my heart of Your love and protection. I commit to put my hope in You, and trust and praise You in the good and the bad. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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

    The best way to remember God's faithfulness in the past is by reading Scripture that recounts it. Renew your trust by going through The NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women, featuring devotions from Proverbs 31 Ministries writers.

    Reflect and Respond:
    If you feel forgotten or abandoned by God, give yourself a praise pep talk. List three specific instances God has been faithful to you in the past.

    Remind yourself about God's goodness and how His promises are true. Spend time in His Word, looking up and memorizing one Scripture that will motivate you toward a personal revelation of faith.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 83:1, "O God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God." (NIV)

    Jeremiah 29:13-14a, "'If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,' says the LORD. 'I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes.'" (NLT)

    © 2013 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Collateral Damage

    Posted on February 15, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3 (ESV)

    My house has a crack. Just over the doorframe, creeping to the ceiling. It catches my eye every time I sit on my couch in my living rom. My house isn't that old, so when I asked how this happened, the answer was, "collateral damage."

    Collateral damage is defined as damage to things that are incidental to the intended target. Who knew that the sunny rays outside could fracture the wall of my nicely air conditioned home? But it happened.

    Last year we had one of the hottest summers on record and the parched ground around the foundation strained the frame, which put pressure on the walls, and eventually a crack appeared.

    Collateral damage can also take place within our family when we've been hurt by something or someone else, no matter how long ago.

    Because a parent made you feel unworthy of love, you lash out when your child doesn't eat the meal you lovingly prepared.

    Because your trust was shattered by another, your loyal husband pays the price as his faithfulness is questioned again and again.

    Because of negative words poured over your tender heart, you struggle to believe your value to God.

    Collateral damage. All of it.

    Years ago I struggled with collateral damage. Because of my own past hurts, sometimes I lashed out, or withdrew from a loved one. Sometimes I worked way too hard to be accepted by a God who loved me right where I was.

    Psalm 147:3 promises God can fix these broken parts. As He began to heal my heart, He showed me the cracks weren't the source of the problem. My behavior, my inadequacies, even my struggle to feel grace ... these were superficial issues.

    The foundational issue was there from the time when a little girl tried hard to stay out of trouble, to make peace, and yet nothing I did worked. So I learned how to hide, how to defend myself, and a few other unhealthy behaviors along the way. Do you relate?

    By taking my eyes off the cracks and opening my heart to God, the original source of damage was in plain sight ... where it could be addressed and healed. The more I soaked those wounds in God's truth, the more I began to recognize the cracks and see them in an entirely different Light. The more He healed me.

    The fact that a child didn't eat a meal so lovingly prepared has nothing to do with a woman's value; it's just one of the many mom-things we get to tackle.

    The fact that your trust was shattered by another just makes the gift of a loyal husband that much more sweet.

    The fact that negative words were poured over your tender heart means the thousands of words etched in Scripture are that much more powerful because they redefine you, as seen and loved by your Heavenly Father.

    The crack in my living room is slated to be fixed. And next summer I'll be sure to water my foundation in the fierce heat. But as for me, my heart is bound and secure, and that foundation has become a source of collateral gifts in my marriage, with my children and grandbabies, and in my relationship with my God.

    Dear Jesus, before today I pointed out the cracks, those superficial acts and behaviors that I've tried to patch over. But today I hold up my heart. You see the foundation of my brokenness. Thank You for binding up my wounds, for healing, and for my new journey to wholeness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

     

    Reflect and Respond:
    If you take your eyes off the cracks, what do you see?

    Invite God into those broken places. He's been waiting to fix the foundation of your heart for a long time.

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 4:20-22, "My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Day I Almost Quit

    Posted on February 13, 2013 by Renee Swope

    Renee

    "You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great." Psalm 18:35 (NIV 1984)

    I love my kids, but I haven't always liked being a mom.

    Once my boys became toddlers who wouldn't listen to me or obey consistently, I kind of panicked. Other moms appeared to know what they were doing, and I wondered why I couldn't get it right with my kids.

    Their children seemed to listen when told no. Why wouldn't my child stay in the cart at the grocery store or stop begging me when I told him we could not buy everything his little hand could touch? How come no one told me being a mom would be so hard?

    I felt like such a failure. Almost every day I compared how I felt on the inside to how other moms looked on the outside.

    I held up my feelings of inadequacy and thoughts of insecurity in contrast to moms who dressed their children in matching outfits and adorned themselves with attitudes of grace and wisdom. How in the world did they pull it off with a smile? I could barely get a shower, get my kids dressed and get us out the door before lunch.

    I just wanted to quit. One day I came home from running too many errands with two very tired, fussy kids. When I put them down for an early nap, I started looking for pink construction paper to write "I QUIT" on it so I could turn in my "pink slip" to my husband when he came home from work.

    It was just too hard, and I was tired of thinking I would never be "good enough" as a mom.

    I needed a new place to start. I started becoming the mom God created me to be, the day I was ready to quit. That afternoon I fell on my knees before God and choked out the words, "I can't do this."

    In that place of surrender, His peace came over me. His gentleness calmed my nerves. It was as if God bent down and spoke to my heart: You are right, Renee. In your strength and through your perspective, you can't do this. But with My promises, My presence and My power — all things are possible. I will help you become a great mom.

    Looking back on that day, I'm reminded of our key verse in Psalm 19:35, "You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great."

    When we acknowledge that on our own we are a mess, God rushes to our side to help us. He bends down to show us that with His grace, wisdom and guidance, we can become the mom He is calling us to be, the mom our kids need us to be, and the mom we want to be!

    Dear Lord, I need Your shield of victory to protect me from discouragement. Please extend Your right hand to sustain me; Your grace to strengthen me; and Your wisdom to lead me. Today, I want to find a new starting place with You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Write a letter, telling God how you feel. Be honest and open. Sharing your heart and thoughts with Him is the first step toward freedom and hope.

    As you read today's devotion, what struggles are similar to yours as a mom? Have you ever wanted to quit? What got you to that hard place and what do you need to do to rely on God's perspective instead of your own?

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 113:5-7, "Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Faith Versus Fear

    Posted on February 10, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4

     

    Fear is a formidable foe of faith. It lurks about, looking for ways to lead us into distrust of our Lord. Fear is subtle with its sneak attacks on our attitudes and bold in its frontal barrage on our beliefs. Fear always fights back, even when we extinguish it for a time with our total trust in God.  And it doesn’t let up until  we get to heaven. Fear is like fire ants.  You can eliminate their unholy mound with a baby powder-like deterrent, but they regroup and rebuild nearby.

     

    Trust in the Lord is the terminator of fear, but fear seems to recreate itself with whatever appendage of doubt is left. It grows within the next uncertain circumstance that comes our way. Fear thinks it has us in check on the chessboard of our life, but the truth is Jesus checkmated fear on the cross. Now it is up to us to appropriate His triumph by trusting in God.

     

    There are many times when we are in transition from fear to faith. It’s in the transition of trust in God that our cares co-mingle with Christ’s care. There is a holy tension that transpires in our transition into trust. It is in this dawn of trust that light gradually overcomes darkness. Faith dissolves doubts as the sun drives away the mist. Your mind may be a little murky, but you renew your thinking (Romans 12:2) with the truth that God is ever present. Your confidence may be crumbling, but you keep your eyes on your Savior. Your prayers may be clumsy, but you still cling to Christ. Your relationships may be reluctant, but you rely on the Lord. Use this transition from fear to faith to grow your mercy and compassion. Indeed, doubting can drive us to God, and it grows us into more patient and humble human beings. It strengthens our trust and makes us hold faster to heaven. Hope trusts in this transition from fear to faith.

     

    Moreover, mortal man has not made a permanent impression on the saints of God. Immortal and Almighty God is your new insignia. Embedded on the coins of your character is the faith-filled inscription, “In God I Trust.” Followers of Jesus have the eternal seal of their Savior as their newfound identity (Ephesians 4:30). Do not allow the patterns of your old life to feed any fading fears in your new one (Romans 6:6). The fears of your proud past have been replaced with faith, love, and hope in your humble here and now. Faith has banished fear.

     

    Therefore, you can continually celebrate. Praise points you to Providence. After all, it’s all about Him. This is why faith brings forth praise. When you trust, you can’t help but sing from your soul. Indeed, faith in the Lord facilitates praise and is a product of praise. It is in our praise of God that our fears fade and our faith flourishes. So praise Him, trust Him, and fear no one. No one can take from you what you have already given to Him. Faith is a fear-killer; it overcomes.

     

    Post/Tweet: Fear thinks it has us in check on the chessboard of our life, but the truth is, Jesus checkmated fear on the cross. #fear

     

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

  • When My Wild Heart Pushes the Boundary

    Posted on January 29, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places..." Psalm 16:5-6a (NIV)

    "Mrs. TerKeurst, your dog ran away to our house ... AGAIN."

    "Mrs. TerKeurst, I think I might have just seen your dog running down the street."

    "Mrs. TerKeurst, this is one of your neighbors. Just letting you know we're about to drop off your dog—we saw him running around our neighborhood."

    "Mrs. TerKeurst, this is the animal clinic. I believe we have your dog."

    "Mrs. TerKeurst, do you own two dogs?"

    I own three dogs. But my two outside dogs, Champ and Chelsea, are sometimes delinquent. I love them. They love me. But they love running away more. Even though we didn't have a fence, we had other systems in place to keep them safely at home!

    I can't tell you the number of sleepless nights I've had fretting over my dogs. Several times we've enlisted our friends to pray for Champ and Chelsea. But this sort of backfired on us once.

    One of our friends knew Champ had gone missing and miraculously found him in a yard miles from our home. He was amazed Champ had run so far. He pulled into the driveway, coaxed Champ into his car, and called me with breathless excitement to announce he'd found my beloved dog.

    But five minutes before my friend got to my house, Champ came home. When my friend pulled into my driveway carrying a Champ lookalike, we both about fell over. My friend had kidnapped someone else's dog—right from their front yard!

    Oh my glory be.

    It was time to do something.

    I used to think invisible fences were cruel. I couldn't stand the thought of my dog getting a shock. So, I looked into getting a regular fence. But we live in the country and installing a regular fence was simply out of the question.

    An invisible fence it would have to be. After all, a shock to keep them inside the safe boundary is a lot better than what might happen outside the boundary.

    Boundaries aren't cruel barriers meant to keep my dogs from freedom. They are protective restrictions meant to define where safe freedom can be found.

    And my dogs aren't the only ones who need to remember this lesson. I need to remember this, and apply it to the protective restrictions God has for me.

    Why? Because there's usually some sort of boundary my wild heart tries to push against.

    Have you ever found yourself rationalizing some situation in your life where you know you aren't doing what God said we should do?

    Does God really want us to love our enemies? Is it really important to not let the sun go down on my anger? Do I really need to pray and read my Bible every day? Oh, grumbling isn't so bad ... I mean everyone finds something to complain about.

    I push against the boundaries. Sometimes I even break through them. But what's waiting on the other side isn't freedom.

    Oh Lord, let my wild heart always remember ...

    Your instructions, Your boundaries, aren't cruel barriers to keep me from freedom. They are protective restrictions meant to define where safe freedom can be found.

    And Lord, if You can teach this same lesson to my dogs, my neighbors, friends and I would be ever so grateful.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the protective hand that You have placed over me. Cultivate in me an obedient heart that seeks to live in the safe freedom of Your boundaries. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Lysa TerKeurst's New York Times bestselling book, Unglued, gives a fresh perspective on how to be obedient to the Lord with your emotions, reactions, and decisions.

    Start the New Year with a dose of daily encouragement. The Unglued Devotional is an amazing resource to use as you strengthen your relationship with the Lord.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What is one thing that God has been asking you to surrender to Him?

    Any need we try to meet outside of God's perfect will is a step into a danger zone. Spend some time today reflecting on the power verses below as you surrender an issue to God that you have been rationalizing.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 119:66-67, "Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust Your commands. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word." (NIV)

    Job 36:11, "If they obey and serve Him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • God’s Silence

    Posted on January 26, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him” (1 Samuel 28:5–6).

    Sometimes God is silent. He is silent in our prayers. He is silent in our circumstances. He is silent in our relationships, and He is silent in His Word. His silence can be deafening because it seems that His silence is ill timed. In most cases, His silence revolves around a real need you are experiencing. You may feel that God is disinterested or that He does not care. The silence of God can be an overwhelming place to occupy and still trust Him.

     

    Your predicament could be like a heavy bar bell on your chest with no spotter available to assist you. You feel all alone and unable to fix the problem or correct the issue. You do not even know where to start. You are in despair, at the tipping point of depression. Anger has clouded your reason, and heaven seems indifferent to your hurt.

     

    Or, on the other hand, you are “suffering” from success and prosperity; yet God feels distant and disconnected. You have honored Him in the process, but He has not seemed to honor you with His warm and affirming presence. What is going on?  What is God up to? What does He want you to do next for the good of His kingdom?

     

    Indeed, God’s silence is your opportunity to remain faithful, even when you are unsure of His intentions for your life. He is God and we are not; therefore, we do not have to pressure ourselves to figure out everything that is going on. Managing the big picture is in His job description, not yours; so rest in His silence. Refuse to become restless, resentful, or rebellious. But still you ask, “Why the silence?”

     

    There may be two possible reasons for God’s silence—sin or sanctification; or it may be a combination of both. When God withholds His blessing and direction for your life, it may be the direct consequence of the sin in your life. This is why regular confession and repentance of sin are critical for the follower of Christ. This is like breathing for your soul. Sin is like cotton in the ears of our heart; thus, God’s voice becomes muffled, unclear, and eventually silent. Your removal of sin clears the wax from the ears of your heart.

     

    God’s silence may be used for your sanctification. He is in the process of making you more and more like His Son Jesus Christ. This is not always fun, though it is needed to learn God’s ways and His purpose for your life. Even if He is silent, do what you know is right today, and trust Him with the next step for tomorrow. Do not let silence overwhelm you; rather, use it as a springboard to trust God’s faithfulness.

     

    “O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent” (Psalm 109:1).

     

    Prayer: What do I need to learn during my silent times with the Lord? Will I still trust Him?

    Related Readings: Psalm 83:1; Isaiah 62:1; John 12:29; 2 Peter 1:18

    Post/Tweet: God’s silence is our opportunity to remain faithful, as He is still faithful even in His silence. #faithful

     

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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

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