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  #51  
Old 02-02-2005, 09:54 AM
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Default A Knee-print Valentine

February 2, 2005
"A Knee-print Valentine"

Susanne Scheppmann
Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

Key Verse:
Mark 12:30, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'" (NIV)

Devotion:
Lacy white paper glued to bright red paper constructed to enchant
others, cutout hearts inviting, "Be Mine Valentine! " and pastel candies
with cute phrases provide a sweet conversation between two people. February
is the month noted for Love.

However, after searching for just the right valentine card this year,
it dawned on me that I can spend more time looking for an endearing phrase
for my husband, than I do telling God how much I love Him. Personally, I
have never seen a "valentine" card to God. Have you?

This February I will certainly bestow my love on the special people
God has placed in my life, but I am also determined to love God "with all my
heart, soul, mind, and strength." Why? Because the Apostle John writes this
truth, "We love because he first loved us." (I John 4:19, NIV) The only
reason I can even begin to love a Holy, Almighty God, is because he loved me
by sending His son to die on a tortuous wooden cross, payment for my sin.


"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
(John 3:16 NIV)


He loved me first. He loved you first. Do you have a love relationship
with Jesus Christ? Perhaps, you feel unloved during the month of love, but
you don't need to. There are four simple steps to beginning an eternal love
relationship with Him.

1. Believe He is the Son of the Living God.
2. Believe He died for your sins and was resurrected to eternal life.
3. Ask for forgiveness of your sins.
4. Accept Him as Lord of your life.

Whether you have just begun a love relationship with Jesus or if you
have journeyed with him for years, why not present Him with an outward
display of your love?

My valentine message to Christ will be a special time on my knees. I
pray that my creaking knees will be a sound of praise to His ears. The
carpet indented with knee-print kisses and elbow-mark hugs on the sofa will
be the loving signature of my devotion to Him. (And I will not make my usual
list of needy requests.) This knee-print valentine will be just whispers of
love, to a God who deserves complete and loving devotion in worship.

My prayer for today:
Lord Jesus, I thank you for loving me enough to die on the Cross.
Lord, I want you to know that I love you. I want to learn to love you more
each day. Teach me how to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and
strength. AMEN
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  #52  
Old 02-03-2005, 09:23 AM
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Default Foggy

February 3, 2005
"Foggy"

Ramona Davis
Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

Key Verse:
"Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I
will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My
righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

Devotion:
On a recent mini-vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the
fog was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I imagined we were driving
off into the clouds as we crossed the bridge connecting Emerald Isle to the
mainland.

The usual breath-taking view from the bridge was invisible. Normally,
sailboats leisurely glided through the emerald green waters and beautiful
grassland marshes that seem to stretch into the horizon. Today, however,
they were hidden by the thick fog.

I thought how easily one could become disoriented in this kind of
weather. The familiar surroundings and sights are obscured for a time. I
know they are there. I just can't see them.

There are times that my spiritual walk has mirrored this thick fog
image. My prayers seem to hit the ceiling and stop. Praise feels forced and
seems to lack heart felt emotion. My wonderful relationship with Jesus
becomes obscured and I quickly become disoriented and confused.

Determining if my experience "in the fog" is of the enemy or a time of
testing from God has often been my dilemma. Dr. David Jeremiah, a gifted
bible teacher, says we can be sure that times of testing from God never
involve tormenting His children.

When our spiritual walk is suddenly engulfed by thick fog from the
enemy, there are three important things to remember. First, recall His
promises. For example, in Isaiah 41:10 "Do not fear, for I am with you; do
not be dismayed". The enemy's purpose is to cause doubt and fear. God's
promise reminds me that I have no need to fear because He is with me. "Do
not be dismayed for I am your God". To be dismayed is to be confused and
bewildered because of sudden fear or anxiety. He reminds me that He had
power over all principalities of darkness and He is with me. He promises to
strengthen me - even hold my hand. When I recall and hold in my heart
promises like this, what do I have to fear when the Great I Am is holding my
hand?

Second, stand firmly and still on these promises. I must take up my
shield of faith to stand firmly on every word of His promises. When I am
confused, it is best to stand still until I get further direction. If my
child were lost in a thick forest, I would want him to stand still and
listen for my voice. If he ran frantically around the forest, he would be in
danger of becoming even more lost and confused.

Thirdly, I have found that it is extremely difficult for me to ask for
prayer when I am surrounded by "fog". Not being able to fully explain my
prayer need, I dismiss asking. It is during these difficult times that we
need prayer the most. We need others to hold their shield of faith over us
until we are stronger.

While on my most recent "detour in the fog", I received the following
email from a friend.

"I just wanted to ask if all is well in your spirit? I have had
heaviness on my heart about you (actually a couple of weeks now), and I am
praying that God surrounds you with His peace. It's just like a "fog" or
haze or something? I pray that God shows you "all those who are with you"
and that they are "more than those who are against you". The battle is the
Lord's".

Even though I failed to ask others for prayer, He prompted my friend
to pray for me anyway. My heart was so encouraged because He knew exactly
how I felt even though I had not verbalized it - "foggy"! He sent
encouragement through my friend in the form of earnest and specific prayer
for me. I was reminded that we need each other.

Remember, if you suddenly find yourself in a thick fog created by the
enemy, recall perfect promises of God. Ask for prayer. Know that the battle
is the Lord's. Stand still and feel Him take your hand in His.

My prayer for today:
Oh Lord, I thank You that You understand exactly what is going on even
when I don't. I thank You that You will protect and deliver me from the hand
of the enemy. Lord, help me stand still on Your faithful promises and know
that You are holding my hand. Amen
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  #53  
Old 02-25-2005, 11:01 AM
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February 7, 2005
"For the Love of Beauty"

Micca Campbell
Director of Outreach, Certified Speaker

Key Verse:
1 Peter 3: 3-4, "Beauty should not come from outward adornment, such
as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead,
it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and
quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (NIV)

Devotion:
What makes a woman beautiful? Is it smooth skin, bright eyes or silky
hair that makes a woman attractive to others, or is it her inner kindness,
sweet spirit, and strength that makes others want to know her? We may say
that inner beauty is more important than outward beauty, but do we really
believe that?

The answer is found by examining the world in which we live. We are
constantly bombarded with perfect models exuding external beauty. T.V. and
magazines are constantly telling us that outward beauty is what people
love - and we do love it. Not only do we love it, but we desire it as well.
Evidence shows that women spend millions of dollars a year on diet
supplements, Botox injections, having their teeth whitened, and body parts
nipped, tucked and lifted. I can't say that these things don't turn my head
as well.

When I first got married, I remember lying in my husband's arms one
night, asking him to make me a promise.

"Honey."

"Yes?"

"Will you promise me something?"

"What is it?"

"When you look at me as I grow older, will you promise to always see
me as I am now?" He snickered and reassured me that he would.

Since then, I've grown older and wiser. I've come to understand that
beauty is something we all long for-even Christians. That's because it's a
God-given desire. Yet, because we live in a broken world, we seek the good
things of God in unhealthy ways. We need to know that truth so we can be set
free from the bondage of grasping after something that doesn't exist. No
magical treatment or surgery is going to keep our outward beauty from
fading. To believe otherwise will only keep us from finding the true beauty
we seek, an inner beauty. Proverbs 31:30 says it this way, "Charm is
deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be
praised."

Have you ever known someone that even though they are getting older
they are becoming more radiant with beauty? I know such a lady. She attends
my church. Once she was shy, withdrawn, and stoic. Then, she joined a bible
study.

As this woman learned of her heavenly Father's love and discovered her
identity in Christ, as a daughter of the King, she was completely
transformed. Her physical appearance didn't change, but her countenance did.
She has become one of the most beautiful women I know. Why? The love of God
has made her beautiful. The Lord filled her empty places and her low
self-esteem with His love and acceptance. She now knows that God is
completely smitten with her. She understands that she is His joy and
delight, so much so that He has clothed her with His robe of righteousness
and adorned her as His bride. With new confidence in her identity, she
shines with the love of God and eagerly shares it with others. Oh, ladies,
to be outwardly beautiful the inside must match.

According to Dr. Elliot Feit, any woman can be beautiful. "The key
ingredient is godliness, which expresses itself in her being selfless, a
good listener, kind, and caring. For attractive lips, speak words of
kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure,
share your food with the hungry. For poise, walk with the knowledge that
you'll never walk alone."

Understanding the profound truth that God loves us and is with us and
then sharing that love with others will transform us from the inside out.
Your beauty will radiate as you care for your family, volunteer at school,
and serve in your church. In fact, don't be surprised if you become the most
beautiful woman in your community, because now you know the truth; the
best-kept beauty secrets can be found within a gentle heart, a quiet spirit,
and love for God and others.

My prayer for today:
Dear Lord, Thank you for loving me, clothing me in your righteousness,
and choosing me to be your own. Help me remember each day to walk in
confidence of who and whose I am so that I can display your unfading beauty
that lives within me. A-men.

February 8, 2005
"Is There a Snake in Your Life?"

Mary Nash
Certified Speaker, Proverbs 31 Ministry

Key Verse:
Daniel 2:22 "He reveals the deep and secret things; he knows what is
in the darkness and the light dwells with him." (NIV)

Devotion:
Everyone has pain in their lives, some more than others. There are
many kinds of pain. Physical pain can come and go but emotional pain seems
to hang on forever. It can be so personal, will consume your life and
permeate every thing you do. Getting rid of pain is not easy and often
demands a long arduous journey of years. Dealing with pain can be especially
difficult if someone in your past robbed you of your trust, your joy or the
innocence of childhood.

Many people are in the habit of carrying around the pain from their
past. They walk, not in the light of the promises of God, but in the shadows
of a dark room where reflections are scary and the light eludes them. I was
one of those people for many years. I lived with a "snake" in my life. One I
hated. Instead of turning the light on to find the snake and kill it, I was
constantly running as fast as I could, trying to stay in front of it. I knew
in my heart that God was big enough to handle the snake but I seemed to have
forged an unhealthy friendship with it that I was not willing to give up.

In searching for a way to rid myself of the snake, I learned some
things. First, there is no simple or magical cure for resolving past hurts,
but there is a pathway toward restoration. Forgiving and forgetting is a
great thing to do - if you can - but not always the answer. Remembering and
choosing to forgive will always bring honor, maturity and a certain peace to
your life. Pain from the past will always find a way to creep into daily
life. We have to find a way to deal with it.

1. We should raise our wounded spirit up to the Father. He will hear
our cry.

Too many times, we condemn ourselves by thinking "A spiritual person
should not feel that way." We back away from God instead of running toward
him. Then we don't understand that the hurts of the past are blocking a
vital fellowship with God. Problems do not just go away if we ignore them.
They soon consume our lives. Constantly raise your prayers to the "keeper"
of promises. As the old Gospel song says, "Have a little talk with Jesus and
tell him all about your troubles".

2. We need to seek help in repairing any broken or shattered
relationships. God commands us to do so.

Repair is a descriptive word meaning to "walk in or around, to close
up, hedge or enclose." When we are wounded, we need to have a hedge about us
and be sheltered or nurtured within a protective environment. It's like
cleaning a wound and then putting a bandage on it for protection. We can
find that hedge by seeking godly counsel and surrounding ourselves with
Christian friends who care about us. Sometimes the wound is closed on the
outside but infection remains on the inside. It will always bother us, just
like a snake in a dark room, until we examine the problem, put it on the
table and take a close look at it. The truth will free us from the problem.
Circumstances may not change but our attitude will.

3. We can have restoration. Restoration means to rescue, retrieve or
to bring back home.

When we are badly hurt, we are badly in need of restoration. We must
be brought home again. But our wounds keep us bound and immobilized. We can
be restored again if we return to the One who is able to restore and heal
from the inside out.

If you have a snake in your life, consider your needs carefully and
make yourself available to the Holy Spirit for his restorative work. Raise
your problems to God by falling on your knees. Ask the Holy Spirit to build
a hedge of protection around you to do a healing work in your life. Then be
open to the restoration.

Ask for God's enlightenment to penetrate the dark areas of your hurt.
It is only through this exposure that you can truly begin to face what has
happened in your past and move on through the healing process. The key to
restoration is you. Will you allow the "snake" to run rampant in your life,
or will you step out in healing faith.

My prayer for today:
Father, please help us begin to expose those troubling areas of our
lives. Shine your light on them and please show us our part in killing the
snakes in our lives. Open our hearts and minds as we give you permission and
time to work. Amen.

February 9, 2005
"What I Want to Be When I Grow Up"

Wendy Pope
Certified Speaker, Proverbs 31 Ministry

Key Verse:
"For I know the plans that I have for you declares the LORD, plans to
prosper you, not to harm you; plans to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Devotion:
Every girl and boy dreams of growing up. They make plans for their
lives and often have a career choice made by age four or five. My son wants
to be a "worker man". He dreams of being big enough to drive large
construction equipment. My daughter dreams of being a horse back rider and a
mommy. She already has names for her two girls.

As I pray over them each night, I ask the Father for many things. In
one particular prayer, I ask God to do what it takes for Blaire to be the
woman He planned for her to be and for Griffin to be the man He planned for
Him to be. As I pray, I wonder, "Am I becoming the woman God planned for me
to be?"

Becoming a Christian is only part of God's plan for our lives. His
desire is to give us an abundant and full life and has created each person
with unique gifts. His plan is for each of us to discover those gifts, allow
Him to develop them within us and use them to build His kingdom, which
brings Him glory and gives us blessings. That sounds so simple doesn't it,
as easy as 1-2-3.

I wish I could say that it is easy. The fact is that discovering God's
plan for our lives is easier than carrying out that plan. When living the
abundant life, there are blessings beyond measure, but there are also trials
that require our total dependency on God. We know longer can rely on
ourselves. The abundant life is bigger than we are. It takes both God and
our obedience to be who He planned for us to be.

What kind of woman has God planned you to be? While the specifics are
different for each woman, we can each pray and ask God to reveal every
detail of the plan to us. Generally, the kind of woman God planned for all
each one of us to be is the same. We are to:


a.. Receive Him as personal Savior and make Him Lord.

a.. Love Him more than anything or anyone else.

a.. Love and honor His word.

a.. Unselfishly serve others in His name.

a.. Worship, praise and adore Him.

a.. Share our faith with others.

I have to wonder, "Am I really becoming the woman God planned for me
to be?" Do you wonder the same thing?

My prayer for today:
Heavenly Father, forgive me when I have stepped ahead of your plan for
me or even worse, not even consulted you about the subject. Give me a desire
to want to be the woman you planned for me to be and a steadfast spirit to
wait patiently while the work is being done. Amen.

February 10, 2005
"Spouse!"

Susanne Scheppmann
Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

Key Verse:
Psalm 68:3, "But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may
they be happy and joyful." (NIV)

Devotion:
My girlfriend, Connie, has a hilarious husband. With complete love and
tenderness in his voice, he will holler for her, "Spouse!" To the ear of
those who do not know this couple, such a request may seem rude and
obnoxious.

However, their relationship exhibits joy, love, and fun. So much so,
that my husband and I have started to call to each other with "Hey, Spouse!"
It's fun. Many times after years of marriage, fun seems to disappear like
mousse-gel in wet hair. We know we need it, but where does it go?

After almost twenty years of marriage, I realize that if I want to
laugh and have fun, then I will need to plan and create it. I began to
discover wonderful ideas by watching other couples. Connie's husband will
grab her in the grocery store and dance her down the aisle. Embarrassing?
Maybe. Fun? Absolutely. There is not a woman in the produce section that
does not envy that woman waltzing past the purplish eggplants.

God never intended for any of our relationships to be dour and
lackluster. He designed marriage for companionship. Do you recall what he
said after he created Adam? The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man
to be alone. I will make a helper for him.' (Genesis 2:18 NIV) I believe he
intended for the wife to be a helper in several ways, but especially in the
ability to create laughter and fun in the family.

One way to rekindle the fun in your marriage is by remembering what
you did when you dated. Perhaps it was going to the park to swing. Maybe you
picnicked by the local lake. Could you do similar things now? Of course.
Only now, they could be even better because you are married. Could you pitch
a tent in the backyard; picnic; and then enjoy a warm summer night under the
stars? Use your imagination to pick the perfect fun-filled activity for you
and your spouse. If you need to, ask your friends what they do to promote
laughter and fun in their marriage.

Excuse me. I have to go now. I hear my husband calling, "Spouse!" We
are going to the local home improvement store. I not only plan to improve my
house, but my marriage. Yes, I think I will dance with him down the plumbing
aisle or perhaps ride piggyback through the lumber department.

"Spouse!"

"I'm on my way, dear!"

My prayer for today:
Father, I ask for renewed joy, fun, and laughter in my marriage. Give
me ideas to create times of laughter and enjoyment in which both my husband
and I will delight. Father, not only do I ask for the ideas, but give me the
desire and energy to implement them into our home daily. Amen.
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Old 02-25-2005, 11:02 AM
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February 11, 2005
"For Those Who Love Him"

Glynnis Whitwer
Senior Editor P31 Woman, Speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries,
editor@proverbs31.org

Key Verse:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who
love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Devotion:
When we'd purchased our home in Charlotte, we purchased it the first
weekend it went on the market. I wrongly assumed it would sell just as
quickly.

With its dark green and gold entrance, cranberry-colored family room
and dark blue master bedroom, it was sure to appeal to someone else who
loved vibrant colors on walls. In spite of our realtor's advice to paint
everything white, we put it on the market in its colorful glory.

Weeks turned into months. My husband moved to start his new job, while
I tried to keep the house clean and picked up - ready to show at a minute's
notice. That was quite a feat with three small boys. At one point, we did
relent and paint the entrance white, but that didn't fool any buyers. The
house was still quite colorful.

I focused a lot on prayer and praise during that time. Although I was
trusting that God had a plan, I found my prayers turning to pleading for Him
to bring a buyer. I was looking for the "good" Scripture promises, but was
having a hard time seeing it at that time. Finally, God brought a young
Christian family into our lives. They had just moved to the area and wanted
to purchase a home, but couldn't qualify yet. They had a little girl and a
baby on the way, and loved the house just as it was, so we arranged for a
lease with a purchase option. Our prayers were answered!

Little did we know that within six months, our renters would
experience a devastating miscarriage with no health insurance. Their
finances were in ruin and they returned to their family in Florida, leaving
us again with a rainbow-painted house to sell. Only this time we were 2000
miles away. We had the house painted white and it sold within a few weeks.

Even though I could see God's hand caring for us and trusted His
timing, I still wondered why God allowed us to go through that difficult
experience. It wasn't that I doubted His plan, I just wanted to understand.
So I searched for the "good" mentioned in Romans 8:28. I saw how we learned
to trust God more, how it developed our character and more. But I learned
something new through that experience too.

When you tell God He can use you for His purposes, prepare to be
inconvenienced for someone else's good. Not only was God working out the
situation for our good, but I believe He was working it out for our renter's
good as well. That little family of believers needed a home for that time.
And when they lost the baby and needed to move near family, they benefited
from a landlord who wouldn't sue them for the broken contract.

I wonder if sometimes God wants to help one of His children and writes
a willing, yet unknowing servant into the story to do it. When we consider
the model of Jesus, sacrificing His own life for our good, I believe we see
God's character revealed. While God could accomplish His purpose without us,
He chooses to use us. That includes a sacrifice on our part to bring good
into another's life.

The next time you can't see the obvious good in a situation, or God's
purpose, consider if He's using you to bring good into someone else's life.
Always trust that He will bring good to you as well in due time. When
considered in this eternal light, it makes our momentary troubles worth it
all.

My prayer for today:
Lord, You are perfect in all ways. Your plans and timing are perfect.
Help me to trust in your goodness to those who love You, even when I don't
understand why I'm experiencing a trial. May I become more like Jesus as I
wait on You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

February 14, 2005
"Celebrate Jesus"

Mary Southerland
Director of Development for Proverbs 31 Ministries, Author, Speaker
mary@proverbs31.org

Key Verse:
"Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He
canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and
destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross." Colossians 2:13-14 (NLT)

Devotion:
I love the story of a man who came home from work, picked up the paper
and settled into his favorite chair for a few precious and well-deserved
moments of solitude after a long day at work. He had just begun to relax
when his son burst through the front door. Spotting his dad, the little boy
raced across the room, flung himself against his father's knees and said,
"Daddy, I love you!" The father gave him a pat on the head and said rather
absentmindedly, "Yes, Son, I love you, too!" Picking up his paper, the
father continued reading - but the boy was not satisfied. He leaned a little
further into the newspaper barricade and said, "But Daddy, I really, really
love you." The man took a deep breath, put the paper down and hugging the
boy said, "Yes, Son. I love you just as much!" Again, he picked the paper up
and resumed reading. Finally, the little boy could not stand it any longer!
He jumped up on his father's lap, crushing the newspaper and any thoughts of
relaxation the dad might have had. "Son, what is it that you want?" the
father tiredly asked. In response, the boy threw his arms around his dad and
gave him a big squeeze, explaining, "I love you so much, Daddy and I've just
got to do something about it!"

That is exactly what God said to Jesus. "Son, I love them so much that
I have to do something about it!" Then He sent His one and only perfect Son
to earth where He would live and die for you and for me. God's love is an
unconditional love - a love with no strings attached - a love worth
celebrating!

In the bible, we find the story of a sinful woman, a prostitute who
had spent her entire life seeking a love with no strings attached. Then
Jesus came to town and into her life, and everything changed. When Simon,
one of the local Pharisees, invited Jesus to his home for dinner, the sinful
woman walked through her shame and fear, and went to meet Jesus. Everyone at
the party, including Simon, knew who she was. Simon would never have allowed
this kind of woman to enter his home, but when a Rabbi was invited to
someone's house, others could stop by and listen to the conversation. She
came, knowing that everyone at the party would recognize and judge her, but
her desire to meet Jesus was greater than her pride.

Emptiness and sin eating away at her soul, this woman was tired of
being used, unwanted and unloved. She came, and Jesus met her there, love
and forgiveness in His hands. As the love of Jesus enveloped her very soul,
she fell at His feet, weeping tears of worship and praise. Her natural
response was to love Him so much that she had to do something about it! In
her hands was her most precious possession, a bottle of very expensive
perfume she used in her "business". This woman was not wealthy by any means
and worked the streets, selling her body in order to live. She could have
put a small amount on the feet of Jesus and it would have been a great
financial sacrifice. But she brought it all and gave it all! She came,
totally abandoning herself and all she had to Jesus. His response was to
love her, unconditionally and completely.

Like this sinful woman, we are spiritually bankrupt, looking for love
in all the wrong places. Jesus came, spelling Himself out in a language you
and I can understand - a message of love. There is no condemnation with Him,
friend. He adores you just as you are. He wants to spend time with you,
laugh with you, dry your tears and fill your heart with new dreams. Today,
no matter where you are or where you have been, He stands waiting for you.
Come to Him. No matter how ugly the sin or how great the failure, He loves
you. Come to His love. Celebrate Jesus!

My prayer for today:
Father, I recognize your unconditional love for me. I do not
understand it or deserve it but I know that it is available to me. Thank you
for loving me! Today, I accept and celebrate your love, coming to you just
as I am. Please forgive my sin and cleanse my heart and soul. I surrender to
you, your love and your plan for my life. Amen.

February 15, 2005
"Messenger from Heaven "

Sharon Jaynes

Key Verse:
"As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that
moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a
dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son,
whom I love; with him I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17 NIV).

Devotion:
My new friend, Katie, lay in her bed trying not to think about the
pain in her abdomen. For years, she had taken care of many patients as she
nursed the sick back to health. Now she was the patient. Just four weeks had
passed since her doctor said those words that kept echoing in her mind.

"Katie, it isn't an ulcer, like we originally thought. It's cancer -
pancreatic cancer. And it has already spread to your liver and your lungs."

"How long do I have?" she questioned.

"I'd say about three to six months," he replied.

Three to six months. She replayed her past fifty years on the stage of
her mind. Her thoughts were filled with frantic questions. "How did this
happen? What went wrong? How did I get to this point?"

Katie had accepted Jesus as her Savior when she was a young child. But
that seemed like a lifetime ago, and in a way, it was. Now her thoughts were
filled with shame, regret, and guilt. The verses of the woman at the well
came to mind. Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman and said, "Woman, where is
your husband?"

She answered and said, "I have no husband."

Jesus replied, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' for you have
had five husbands and the one who you now have is not your husband."

"Lord, you know all that I've done," Katie prayed. "How I've fallen
away from following You. I've been married twice and the man I'm living with
now is not my husband. Is that why this is happening to me? Am I being
punished? People have told me that You still love me, but I feel so alone.
Have you left me too, like all the other men in my life?"

Katie reached for her Bible and it fell open to Luke 3 where John was
baptizing Jesus. "And the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like
a dove, and a voice came out of heaven saying. 'Thou art my beloved Son, in
Thee I am well pleased.'"

Tears ran down Katie's dry cheeks like streams in the desert. "Where
are you Lord? Please don't desert me."

Katie turned her head to look out at the sun glistening over the
tranquil lake in her backyard. Suddenly, as though he emerged from the pages
of Luke 3, a dove fluttered to her window sill and perched on its ledge.

Katie hugged her Bible to her chest as she and the dove locked eyes.
He seemed to say, "Yes Katie. I do love you. You may have strayed away from
the path that I had marked out for you, but that hasn't changed My love. I
never left you and I'll stay right here by your side until the day I come to
take you home."

The dove stayed on the window sill for quite some time, and Katie
thanked the Lord for sending His messenger, like the one from long ago. An
indescribable warmth fell over Katie's body as she realized that God did
indeed still love her.

Three months later, that dove came again to my friend, Katie. Only
this time, when he soared back toward heaven, Katie's spirit went with him.

My prayer for today:
Dear Lord, Thank you that there is no sin so great that Your grace
will not forgive, no place so far that Your love cannot reach down and save,
no heart so cold that Your mercy cannot melt. Thank you for saving me - for
taking my filthy rags and giving me robe of righteousness, for taking my
sinful nature, making me into a new creation, for taking my sorrow and
giving me Your joy. In Jesus' name. Amen.

February 16, 2005
"Life is All About Choices"

Wendy Pope

Key Verse:
But if serving seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves
this day whom you will serve.Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

Devotion:
Life is all about choices. This is a lesson that I began to write on
the hearts of my children from a very early age. Sometimes the choice was
what to have for dinner. It could be choosing to go to Grandma's instead of
a sleepover at a friend's house. Allowing our children to make simple
choices fosters independence, encourages them to think for themselves and
teaches them that having the power to make decisions carries the
responsibility of accepting the outcome of those decisions.

Many times, after making a choice, my daughter would not be happy with
the result and want to change her mind. Lovingly, I would have to sit down
with her to discuss the choice she made, why she decided to make the choice
and explain why I would not allow her to have the other choice. As hard as
it was, she had to learn to live with the results of her decision.

Our Heavenly Father gives us the right to make our own choices as
well. He will not force His will or His ways on us. It is not His desire to
see His children unhappy, in danger or to spend eternity apart from Him. But
still, he allows us to choose. Our freedom to choose fosters independence
and teaches us that choices carry responsibility. God doesn't want us to
live a life independent of Him, but one that is dependent on Him. As I have
taught this concept to my children, God has, in turn, taught me some
guidelines in decision making to pass along to them.

When making decisions:

Pray
Sometimes you have to wait for the answer, but God's answer is the
best and worth waiting on.

Search
Study God's word to determine what it says about the subject. His word
is a light unto our path.

Seek
Talk to godly people who actively live out what they believe and will
pray for you.

Praise
The Bible tells us to praise God continually. Praising makes the
waiting easier.

Accept
Plan to accept the answer He gives, no matter what it is.

Applying these guidelines in your life will make decision making
easier. It will bring a freedom and peace that you have never known before.
Freedom and peace are blessings from above for the believer who earnestly
seeks God.

My prayer for today:
Father God, I need your forgiveness for the times I have made
decisions without consulting you or your word. I recognize that you only
want the best for me. Help me to trust you in each decision I am faced with
making. I praise you for what you are going to do in my life.

February 17, 2005
"How to Deal With Stress"

Mary Southerland
Director of Development, Author, Speaker mary@proverbs31.org

Key Passage:
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in
green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He
leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I
walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You
are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table
before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup
runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my
life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever." Psalm 23:1-6 (NIV)

Devotion:
While waiting for the red light to change, I noticed a bumper sticker
on the car in front of me. "Just when I thought I was winning the rat race,
along came faster rats!" My thoughts drifted to the absurd schedule I had
hurled myself through that day. It was a schedule without margins, every
moment assigned to something or someone. My stress level grew with every
task, threatening to overwhelm my heart and soul in a torrential downpour of
anxiety and tension. I couldn't wait to get home, change into my comfort
clothes and sink into solitude and rest. But stress was waiting to greet me,
just inside my front door. Children needed clean clothes, hot food,
transportation to various events, help with homework and a listening ear. My
husband had experienced the same kind of chaotic day I had and was in
desperate need of peace and quiet for his frazzled soul. Ah, life!

Stress is a familiar and faithful companion, an unavoidable part of
life. It doesn't matter where we work or live, whether we are married or
single; have no children or dozens of them, are filthy rich or dirt poor. We
will encounter stress as we strive to honor God by becoming His fully
devoted followers. Unless we learn how to manage stress - God's way - we
will become a sitting duck for the enemy.

Stress management is a spiritual discipline. The truth of Psalm 23:1
is the starting place for dealing with stress. Life begins here - in a
vital, personal relationship with the living, peace giving God. It is very
frustrating to try living the Christian life when you are not one. I know.
For years, I tried desperately to be a Christian, saved by knowledge and
good works. It simply cannot be done. To know who we are, we must understand
whose we are.

I grew up in a Christian home, attending church every time the doors
were open. I sang all the right songs, spoke all the right words and did all
the right things. I prayed that my works would validate my faith and
desperately hoped that by following the rules I would please the Ruler. It
was not until middle school that the authentic life and spiritual integrity
of a dynamic youth pastor made me hunger and thirst for God. During a
Saturday evening worship service, I sat in a church pew, wrestling with God
over my soul. After all, I was a very active church member, a soloist and
pianist in worship services, and even directed a children's choir. I argued
that I knew all about God - and then it hit me. Yes, I knew about Him but I
did not know Him. That night we met. I surrendered all I knew about myself
to all I knew about Him. The course of my life was re-set and I was changed
forever.

Over the years, there have been times when sin has hindered my
relationship with God - but it has not and cannot sever that relationship.
Nothing can separate us from His love. However, when we cherish and harbor
sin, life inevitably spirals into a swirling cesspool of chaos where stress
reigns and self-doubt flourishes. What a powerful promise found in 1 John
1:9, "If we confess our sin, He is faithful to forgive us our sin and to
cleanse us from all unrighteousness". Every time I read that verse, I am
amazed by the hope it conveys. When we confess sin, God not only forgives
that sin but removes the stain it leaves behind. The stain of sin is one of
Satan's favorite weapons. With it, he births guilt and shame, crippling us
spiritually. When we buy into those lies, allowing them free reign, we are
telling God that sending His son to die on the cross was not enough. I
cannot even imagine what it must do to His heart, as He watches His children
settle for so little when He offers so much. Knowing whose we are empowers
us to live and serve from His love - not to it - and is the first key in
dealing with stress.

I have spent a great deal of my life wondering who and what I am. Much
of my stress and frustration could have been avoided by understanding that
my identity can only be found in a personal relationship with God. That
knowledge frees me to be me. Knowing whose we are brings peace and settles
our souls. Today, sit at His feet. Allow Him to draw you into His arms.
Listen to His heart and voice. And you will know that you belong to Him.
Nothing else matters.

My prayer for today:
Father, I thank you for loving me and for making me your child. As I
face each day, help me to remember that I belong to you. I am yours, Lord.
And because I belong to you, I have everything I need and can dwell in
peace. Today, I choose to trust and rest in you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

February 18, 2005
"Drawing Closer"

Key Verse:
Matthew 11:28, "Come unto Me and I will give you rest." (NIV)

Devotion:
In biblical times, if a lamb wandered away from the flock, the
shepherd searched everywhere to find it. When the lost lamb was found, the
shepherd broke one of the lamb's legs and then carried the wounded lamb on
his shoulders until the leg was healed. The lamb would develop such a close
relationship with the shepherd, that when given it was healed, it would
never again wander from the one who had cared for it so tenderly.

In the last few years, I have discovered that I have drawn closest to
the Savior when I was hurting the most. He has never failed me. The
scripture, "Come unto Me and I will give you rest," has kept me going so
many times when my body just wanted to quit. Now that I am cancer free, I
can look back and picture myself being carried in the arms of Jesus. He was
always there, urging me on, whispering in my ear to never give up, pulling
me as close to Him as I was willing to come, all the time saying, "Come
closer, my child; depend on Me completely and I will see you through this,
no matter what the outcome."

He put some special people in my path, people who lifted me up and
encouraged me with their love and prayers. I have come to believe that our
steps are truly ordered - each and every one. My job is to seek out and walk
in the steps He has planned for me.

Cancer certainly got my attention, but in all the chaos of wondering
about the outcome came sure knowledge that I was being carried in strong
loving arms that would never let me go. I asked God, "why", many times and
while I know He understood my frailty as a servant, He kept giving me the
same answer, "Hang on, I am with you, we can do this together." If you
sometimes feel like one of those lambs with a broken leg, just know that if
you ask, the Savior will pick you up, hold you tightly, and carry you until
you can stand again. Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd always will forever
call you to come closer, never pushing you away.

February 21, 2005
"The Redemption Center"

Sharon Jaynes
Vice President of Proverbs 31 Radio, author, speaker

Key Verse:
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or
gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you
from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without
blemish or defect" (I Peter 1:18,19 NIV).

Devotion:
If I think about it long enough, I can almost taste the sickly sweet
glue on the tip of my tongue. Yes, the childhood ritual of licking and
sticking S & H Green Stamps into books is forever glued in my memory's
scrapbook.

When I was a little girl, my mother did her grocery shopping at
White's Supermarket on the corner of Tarboro Street and Pearl. Oh sure,
there were other grocery stores around, but White's gave out S & H Green
Stamps with every purchase. On shopping days, I watched as the cashier rang
up my mom's purchases, pulling a lever with each entry. My mom's eye's lit
up every time she heard the cha-ching, knowing that meant more stamps. When
the total tallied, the cash register spit out a stream of stamps, both large
and small. We never put the stamps in books right away. Mom stuffed them in
a bag and waited until we could make a whole day of it.

About every six months, mom pulled a brown paper grocery bag swollen
with S & H Green Stamps down from a shelf. She spilled its contents on a
table and announced, "OK Sharon, it's time to paste the stamps."

For hours, it was lick, stick, lick, stick, lick, stick. Large stamps
represented dollars spent and only three filled a page. Small stamps
represented cents spent and 30 filled a page. I liked doing the dollars.

After six months of collecting stamps and six hours of pasting them in
the books, my mom and I excitedly drove down to the S & H Green Stamp
Redemption Center. With arms heavy laden, we plopped our day's work on the
clerk's desk.

"Whatcha goina get?" I'd ask as we strolled up and down the aisles of
house wares.

"I don't know, honey," my mom would reply. "But it'll be something
good."

After much consternation, mom would decide on a treasure such as an
electric can opener, or a steam iron, or a shiny set of stainless steel
mixing bowls. Oh, it was an exciting day to make a trip to the S & H Green
Stamp Redemption Center and trade in our stamps for a special prize.

Have you ever noticed there are some "Christianese" words we repeat
often, but have difficulty explaining? I think redemption is one of those
words. But as a child, because of my visits to the S & H trading store, I
understood "redemption." To me, it meant to trade something in for something
else, to take my stamps and trade them in (redeem them) for a prize - for
something valuable. And that's exactly what it means.

Jesus Christ traded in His life to redeem mine. Listen to what these
two passages have to say. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by
becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung
on a tree. He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might
come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive
the promise of the Spirit. (Galatians 3:13, 14). For you know that it was
not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed
from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but
with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect (I Peter
1:18,19).

Jesus traded in His life so that I could receive mine. To Him, I was a
prize - a treasure. But that's not all. He's made it possible for me to do a
little bit of trading as well. I've traded in confusion for the mind of
Christ, filthy rags for a robe of righteousness, bondage for freedom,
bitterness for forgiveness, darkness for light, condemnation for acceptance,
spiritual poverty for abundance and the list goes on and on. There are gifts
for this life and beyond. He even gave me (and you) the Holy Spirit as a
down payment. What an abundance of treasures - much more valuable than an
electric can opener or set of mixing bowls.

As far as I know, there are no longer S & H Green Stamp Redemption
centers. But as long as there are sinners who need to be redeemed, there
will always be a Savior Who's anxious to make the trade.

My prayer for today:
Dear Lord, Thank you that I have been redeemed by the blood of the
Lamb. Help me to always remember the price Jesus paid - that He traded in
His life on the throne, was born of a virgin, lived on earth as a man, and
died a cruel death on the cross. so that I can spend eternity with You.
Hallelujah! Jesus was raised from the dead and lives forever to make
intercession for your children. In Jesus' name, Amen

February 22, 2005
"I'm Believing God!"

Amy Kidd
Proverbs 31 Certified Speaker

Key Verse:
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who
comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who
earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6 NIV

Devotion:
"Ok, God. Remember when I prayed about this problem and gave it to
you? Then why am I still struggling with this area of my life?" Then comes
the familiar voice, "You wimp, you fell again! You will never be a strong
Christian!" Do you ever find your mind being repeatedly attacked by the same
old negative thought patterns, leading to the same old undesirable
behaviors? You just can't seem to shake them, creating greater frustration,
because you have already dealt with this - right? You obeyed, laid it all
down and you still can't seem to shake those doubts. You prayed, but still
can't seem to control your thoughts. It is a vicious cycle of defeat.

Guess what? You're in a battle! This spiritual warfare thing is not to
be taken lightly. Evil wants to destroy us! What a beautiful thing to be
viewed as a threat by Satan! He knows that God's power is mighty in a life
controlled by a guarded mind. The Enemy's time is short and we can make it
harder for him when we daily follow the purposes of God in our lives,
stepping out in faith.

Faith empowers us to face life head on, going against the ways of the
world, destroying works of evil through the love of Jesus Christ! Our old
nature, our "flesh", will always try to focus on self rather than on the
love of Christ. Those thoughts contrary to God and His truth will always
disguise themselves as truth. We must not be ignorant of the enemy's tactics
and we must know he is nothing but a liar and deceiver. In fact, the Bible
says he is the father of lies!

I believe one of Satan's best tactics is attempting to convince the
believer that there is no Satan and that our battle is against each other
instead of his principalities, powers and dominions of darkness. Do you
recall how Jesus was able to do so many miracles in the lives of everyday
people he encountered? He said it was according to their faith! Yes, he had
the power, but they had to exercise their faith in Him in order for that
power to be released in their lives.

I have come to realize that in every moment of every day, we must
choose whom we are going to serve and believe. I believe God today! Every
day we choose to trust God and walk in His ways, our faith grows stronger
and God is honored.

Because faith is the very catalyst that propels the power of God in
our lives, Satan will go to great lengths to steal it from us. Keep
fighting! Refuse to give in to the lies of the enemy. Take every thought
captive to the obedience of Christ. Trust Him to accomplish great things,
including winning the battle. You can believe it!

My prayer for today:
Lord Jesus, help my unbelief. I have faith Lord, but sometimes waver
in unbelief. I want to be like Abraham who did not waver regarding the
promises of God, but was strengthened by his faith and it was accredited to
him as righteousness. Lead and guide me into all truth and bring the word of
God written on my heart to the surface as I need it to strengthen my faith.
I know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. As I
choose to trust you, I pray your favor and blessing will follow me, but most
importantly, I want your peace that surpasses all understanding. I love you
Lord. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

February 23, 2005
"My Angel Wing Shell"

Ramona Davis
Member of Proverbs31 Speaker Team
Key Verse:
"I don't want your sacrifices. I want you to know God; that's more
important than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6 (TLB)

Devotion:
I want to deeply enjoy God and my relationship with Him. I want to
delight myself in Him. So why do I sometimes struggle, trying to understand
and believe how much He values me? I want to have a closer relationship with
Him, but I put my hand out like a stop sign when I hear Him try to tell me
how much He loves me and values me. He tells me everyday through His Word
that He loves me uniquely. He tells me everyday through circumstances that
He knits together just for me, as if I am the only person alive on the
planet.

I know Jesus died for me. I know He gave His life so that I could be
saved and live with Him into Eternity. I know I am undeserving and unworthy
of such a sacrifice. Undeserving and unworthy of such a great love.
Paradoxically, that is exactly why I begin to slip into behaviors that try
to earn His love. I invent my own legalistic measures and practices to
somehow prove I am worthy of His love.

Tired and worn out from trying to cross my "t's" and dot my "i's" in
my relationship with God, I began to pray Ephesians 3:14-19."Oh Lord, Grant
me, according to the riches of Your glory to be strengthened with might
through Your Spirit in my inner man. That you, Lord Jesus, would live in my
heart through faith. I am rooted and grounded in Your love and I desire to
comprehend with all the saints, what the width, length, depth, and height -
to know the love of You Lord, that passes all knowledge, and be filled with
all the fullness of God."

One morning, while vacationing at the beach, I rose early for my quiet
time and opted for a walk by the sea instead of my normal quiet time ritual.
The beach was almost deserted as I breathed deeply the beauty of the sky and
sea. The sun was still hiding behind the dark blue water as it threw
incredible colors of orange, red and purple across the sky. The wind
playfully tossed my hair back and forth, as the sea mist introduced me to
the morning and chased the sleep from my head. The gentle roll of the sea,
as it fell to the surf, filled me with peaceful awe and the sudden awareness
of His Presence walking with me. There were no words as we walked. I was
contentedly enjoying His awesome Presence and quietly resting in it. "Now
this is what my quiet time should be like", I thought to myself. Then a
shell caught my eye.

I walked to the lone, white shell lying on the wet sand and reached
down to pick it up. Disappointed, I saw that it was broken along one side
and had a small hole through its center. I identified it as an Angel Wing
shell. These beautiful shells do not often grace the beaches. They are about
four inches long and look just like what you would imagine an angel's wing
to look like. They are fragile and thin. Because it was broken, I decided I
didn't want to keep it. I mean who wants a broken shell, right? I tried to
toss it back onto the sand, but I was captivated by it. It was then that I
heard His undeniable voice as He spoke to my heart. I heard Him say, "You
are my angel. You look for perfection to satisfy me, but I love you the way
you are - imperfections and all. My thoughts are not your thoughts; My ways
are not your ways. You see yourself as imperfect. I see you through the
blood and body of My Son who has made you whole."

I worshipped Him that day; I mean I really worshipped Him. I
worshipped Him without all my little legalistic rituals. I experienced how
wide, how long, how high and how deep the love of Christ is and I was filled
with all the fullness of God. Yes, I kept that broken Angel Wing Shell. All
of the other perfect shells in my collection now mean little to me. My
broken Angel Wing Shell is my favorite; it reminds me how much He loves me -
imperfections and all. It reminds me of the love of Christ that makes me
whole.

My prayer for today:
Dear Lord, please forgive me when I think I can somehow earn Your
merciful love. Forgive me when I try to please You by attempting to be
perfect. Rid me of anything that opposes just how much You love and value
me. Lead me in all ways to accept Your amazing gift of grace everyday and
worship you in spirit and in truth. Amen

February 24, 2005
"Joy for the Journey - Part 1"

Mary Southerland
Director of Development, Author and Speaker mary@proverbs31.org


Key Verse:
"I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more
abundantly." John 10:10 (NKJV)


Devotion:
Jesus lived and died so that we can experience abundant life! How
often we pass over those words without stopping to grasp the amazing truth
they hold. Jesus did not come so that we can merely survive life. Pagans can
survive life. God's plan is for us to thrive in the midst of the days,
months and years we call life. A continual feast of joy - with every breath
we take.

John 10:10 clearly states the promise of God, "I have come that they
may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (NKJV) In this
verse, "abundant" literally means "going beyond; full or exuberant". In
other words, an abundant life is a life filled with joy! Even in the midst
of a joy-less world we can live a joy-filled life for one simple reason -
God is in control! And because He is in control, we are promised, "A
cheerful heart has a continual feast." (Proverbs 15:15 NIV)

Life, my friend, should be an ongoing celebration.

Now, be honest for a moment. Is your life a continual feast, a daily
celebration? Would those who know you best describe you as a woman of joy?
Laughter and joy are treasures from God, valuable to us for many reasons.

1. Joy heals!

Proverbs 17:22 "A happy heart is like good medicine, but a broken
spirit drains your strength." (NCV)

Author and speaker, Barbara Johnson, says that "One laugh = 3 Tbs. of
oat bran." For many years, we lived in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area where
hospitals and doctors developed "laughter programs". I love it! Doctors are
actually prescribing laughter. Why? Because they have discovered what
scripture has said for thousands of years - that laughter heals! The
documented benefits of laughter are:


a.. Exercise for lungs

a.. Increased circulation

a.. Controlled pain

a.. Reduced tension

a.. Strengthened immune system

In other words, God created us to illustrate the truth, that if we
laugh more days, we will have more days to laugh! Joy heals!

B. Joy makes us strong!

Joy - humor - laughter - all cultivate inner strength that operates
beyond our own human abilities. His joy in us will produce His strength
through us. The joy of the Lord in us will produce His strength through us!
The words of Nehemiah say it beautifully, "The joy of the Lord is your
strength." Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)

A life without joy is like a car without shock absorbers. It will be
jolted by every bump in the road. Laughter and joy are the shock-absorbers
of life and can radically change our perspective of life and the tough times
it holds.

Several years ago, one of my friends underwent a mastectomy. Sally was
out of work for months, undergoing surgery, radiation and chemotherapy
treatments. All in all, it was a horrendous ordeal! She was not known for
her inner strength and, in fact, often seemed fragile and frail in her
handling of tough circumstances. Sally's battle with cancer was by far the
greatest challenge of her life. Anticipating her return to work, Sally's
co-workers were a little tense, wondering just how this experience would
affect her personally as well as her ability to handle the stress of her
job. They got their answer on her first day back at work. Sally walked in,
smiling, wearing a poster-board sign around her neck. On the sign was a huge
black arrow pointing down. The sign read, "It was this one!" Yes, joy and
laughter make us strong!

C. Joy makes the ordinary special!

Someone said, "If you have to move ten inches from where you are now
to be happy, then you will never be truly happy." We need to celebrate the
ordinary things in life because it is against the backdrop of the ordinary
that God's work becomes extraordinary. As we celebrate the ordinary - as we
celebrate the little things in life - we build a life of joy! We don't have
trouble celebrating the big events in life. Christmas, birthdays,
anniversaries - are celebrations we anticipate and execute with great
planning and forethought. We tend to place unrealistic expectations on these
celebrations because there is no daily celebration of life.

So celebrate, my friends! Celebrate Tuesdays, half birthdays,
haircuts, new jeans and report cards. Celebrate the day braces go on - and
especially the day they come off. Celebrate if Dad comes home early. Hey -
celebrate if Dad comes home! My husband is an absolute master at finding joy
and laughter in the ordinary and often mundane things of life. Now before I
go any further, you need to know that I have his full permission to share
the following illustration. I believe his exact words were, "Go for it!"

Several years ago, our family was flying to Texas for the Christmas
holidays. Before I could even begin packing, a mountain of laundry had to be
done. My sweet husband offered to help. After the first few loads, we turned
on the television to watch a Christmas special. Settling into the couch
sitting under a wall of windows, we folded load after load of clothes. It
was midnight and Dan was bored - a dangerous combination. The drier buzzed
and out he went to retrieve the final load. He came back into the room
wearing a "hat" which turned out to be a pair of my sexiest underwear. I
burst out laughing - and so did the people outside our family room windows!

Each year, our church youth decorated Christmas trees and delivered
them to the older members of our congregation - a wonderful act of service.
They also had a contest to see who could produce the ugliest tree, which was
always delivered to the pastor's home on Christmas Eve. But since we would
be out of town on Christmas Eve, they had chosen this particular night to
deliver the prized tree. Outside our windows stood youth workers, youth and
the youth pastor - laughing hysterically. (Some of them are still in
counseling today!) That ordinary chore has become a favorite family story.
Joy and laughter make the ordinary special.

I want it all! I want everything that God has for me! I want to
celebrate life! But I often get so wrapped up in the urgent things that I
lose sight of the important things. A celebratory attitude is slowly
siphoned from our souls by the countless "joy robbers" the enemy sends our
way. Guard your heart and mind! Refuse to surrender your God-given joy to
anyone or anything. Join me this week as we celebrate Jesus! Party on!

My prayer for today:
Father, I celebrate you! Thank you for bringing joy and peace into my
dark world. Thank you for a love that never fails and a peace that meets
every need. Help me to remember that because you are in control, I can have
joy every step of the way. Amen!

Encouragement for Today
February 25, 2005
"Joy for the Journey - Part 2"

Mary Southerland
Director of Development, Author and Speaker mary@proverbs31.org

Key Verse:
"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up,
for I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NLT)

Devotion:
Not long ago my husband said something that was profoundly simple and
yet life changing for me. "My first prayer each day is my confession to God
that I want everything He has for me. I want it all!" I can just see the
Father's face smiling at those words from a faithful heart. Our thirst for
God pleases Him. Our hunger for God's richest blessings brings Him pleasure.
God wants us to thrive - not merely survive life. A continual feast of joy -
with every breath we take - that is His plan. Laughter and joy are treasures
from God, valuable to us for many reasons.

1. Joy heals
2. Joy makes us strong
3. Joy makes the ordinary special.
4. Joy eliminates tension!

Laughter and joy can take a tense situation and disarm it! When I
prepared my first lesson on joy and laughter, Dan was out of town. The kids
were young and bedtime was a major hurdle. I knew that several hours of
study were ahead of me and was desperately trying to get both children into
bed and asleep in order to complete the lesson! I had sweetly - very
sweetly - explained that I needed their help. I had made it very clear that
I had to prepare a lesson and they could really help me by going to sleep.
They were not cooperating! Before I go any further, let me just say I am
fully aware that my behavior that night did not meet the criteria for being
a successful mom. I have my moments! With each giggle and whisper from the
children who were supposed to be asleep, my frustration level rose higher
and higher. Finally, I marched into their rooms, hands on hips, icy stare in
place and demanded silence! My son's innocent question was a show-stopper!
"Mom, what is your lesson about?" Through gritted teeth, I growled, "Joy and
laughter, son." The words just dangled in mid-air, exposing my absurd heart
motive. Jered looked at me. I looked at him. We both turned to look at
Danna. Like a volcano erupting, laughter spilled out of our hearts, washing
away the tension, while covering the circumstance with joy. When we had
laughed it all out, they went to sleep and I wrote the lesson on joy -
learned at the feet of my children.

Many times, tension comes when we face circumstances that are simply
beyond our control. And I don't know about you, but have you noticed lately
just how little control we really do hold? How much energy we waste
attempting to control that which cannot be controlled. Joy is lost in the
struggle for power and supremacy. And that, my friend, is the root of a
joy-less life. We battle for control of life instead of giving up control to
God, the only one who can do anything about life. I often wonder how our
journey would change if we realized and practiced the truth that if there is
no control, there is no responsibility! So we might as well laugh!

I read of a young mother who posted this sign in her home:

TICDAABGC
"Things I Can't Co Anything About But God Can."

Underneath these words, she made a list of each circumstance and
problem that she could not change! That is choosing a perspective of joy.
Laughter and joy diffuse tension!

5. Joy reproduces itself!

In his book to the Romans, Paul delivers a simplistic but powerful
message to each one of us, "Whoever has the gift of encouraging others
should encourage. Whoever has the gift of giving to others should give
freely. Anyone who has the gift of being a leader should try hard when he
leads. Whoever has the gift of showing mercy to others should do so with
joy." Romans 13:8 (NCV)

Joy spreads quickly! People are drawn to joy! Think with me for a
moment about the people in your life who bring you joy. If you are like me,
when you need encouragement or just some plain old fun, there are certain
people who come to mind. What an honor! To be thought of as a "joy builder".
Joy is the signature of a true believer. Because we know God, our inner
attitudes do not have to reflect our outer circumstances. Joy reigns within
us - solid, unchanging and eternal, flowing from a personal relationship
with Jesus Christ, who is Joy! And because He never changes, our joy is
fixed. The problem is that we live as if life can change God. It can't.
Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
(NIV)

"Joyful believers have no trouble convincing people around them that
Christianity is real and that Christ can transform a life. JOY is the flag
that flies above the castle of their hearts, announcing that the KING is in
residence".

These days, I find myself avoiding the whiners who love to sneak into
my life, crushing and stealing my joy! I am in the process of learning a
very important truth. Here it is, friends. We set the joy level in our
lives! Unspeakable and immeasurable joy is available through the presence of
Jesus Christ but is set free by our choice, our "life setting". When it
comes to joy, we need to be thermostats instead of thermometers! What is the
joy level of your life? Maybe it is time to check that thermostat!

My prayer for today:
Father, I praise you because you are the author and finisher of my
faith, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega! You are my all in
all, my light and my joy! Because you came, I can celebrate life. Lord, help
me to feast on you and your presence in my life. Amen.
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February 28, 2005
"The Comforter"

Sharon Jaynes
Vice President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, author, speaker

Key Verse:
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as
the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid"
(John 14:27 NIV).

Devotion:
Have you ever had times in your life when you needed a holy hug? I
know I have. There have been days when nothing else would do but for Jesus
to wrap His loving arms around me, remind me of His precious promises, and
calm all my fears. "Peace I leave with you;" He said, "I do not give to you
as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid"
(John 14:27). "In this world you will have trouble," Jesus warned. "But take
heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

For about ten years, I struggled with infertility and then the loss of
a child. During that time, there were many days when there were no words to
comfort me. More than my husband, more than my friends, more than my
extended family, I needed my heavenly Comforter.

The Holy Spirit speaks words to our spirits to give us comfort, peace,
and reassurance. Sometimes outsiders may not understand how we can have such
peace in our lives when there is much turmoil, but the peace the Holy Spirit
gives is supernatural. It is the peace that passes all understanding.

One Sunday morning, I was teaching a group of four-year-old children
the story of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. I painted a
rather bleak picture of the twelve disciples and their teacher in a tiny
fishing boat trapped in the storm: huge waves splashing over the boat, giant
flashes of lightening, reverberating claps of thunder, up and down up and
down rolling of the boat in the sea. Finally, I asked, "If you were caught
in a storm like this in a tiny boat, would you be afraid?"

Then one little girl shrugged her shoulders and replied, "Not if Jesus
was in the boat with me."

Ah, she understood peace. Jesus is always in the boat with us and He
gives us the peace that passes all understanding, makes no earthy sense but
is truly heaven sent. Only the Holy Spirit can give this comfort.

My prayer for today:
Lord, I need an extra measure of Your peace and comfort today. There
are storms raging all around me, and at times, I fear that I may drown.
However, I choose to believe that You are in total control of my life, that
You will bring peace to my soul, that You will calm my anxious heart. Thank
you for loving me, even on days when I fret and worry. In Jesus' name, Amen

March 1, 2005
"Ask for Help" - part one

Rachel Olsen
Speaker Team Member, ETC Editor

Key Verse:
If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who
are alone when they fall are in real trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:10 (NLT)

Devotion:
One night, several weeks ago, I just couldn't sleep. Wondering if the
Lord was trying to get my attention, I got out my Bible and went to Him in
prayer. Nada, nothing, zilch. Next, I fixed a cup of chamomile tea, hoping
it would inspire sleep, to no avail. By now, almost two hours had passed and
I flipped on the TV - something I never do when I can't sleep.

I scanned the channels, amazed at all the late night infomercials.
More hair, less belly fat, smoother skin, and kitchen gadgets galore were
pushed by perky-looking "show hosts." Surely, God didn't wake me to shop!
Then I caught glimpse of Sandra Bullock, an actress whose movies I usually
enjoy. The movie in progress was "28 Days." Sandra was not playing one of
her usual, lovable characters but a woman with a drinking problem, in denial
about it, and sentenced to 28 days in a rehab center. It was not what I
would call a "feel good movie," and I kept wondering exactly why I was
watching it at 3:00 am.

Each of the characters at the rehab center had their own addictions,
issues, quirks and charms. One woman stood out to me in particular. When you
first meet her in the group setting, she is wearing a sign around her neck
with the words: "Confront me if I don't ask for help." In my sleepy state, I
had to ponder this a moment before realizing that not asking for help is one
of things that keeps getting her into trouble. So her therapist has her wear
this sign. It made me chuckle.

How often do we not ask for help when we need it? Can you imagine
wearing a sign that says "Confront me if I don't ask for help?" My husband
bears such a sign in the form of a scar on his left palm.

We have a Crape Myrtle Tree that grows next to our house and shades
our drive way. This tree blooms profusely all summer long. However, the tree
limbs get heavy with blooms and begin drooping over the driveway, forcing us
to trim the branches regularly to keep them from brushing the car tops.

Rick was using a step ladder to cut back the branches over the
driveway when he decided to do more trimming up top. He climbed from the
step ladder onto the lower portion of our roof, above our front porch.
Normally Rick uses one of the upstairs bedroom windows to step out onto the
roof, but that day, he climbed onto the roof from the ladder - on a whim.
When he was finished pruning, he realized he couldn't really see the ladder
below to get down. He considered knocking on the bedroom window for me to
open it for him, but he didn't want to bother me. Instead, he chose to get
down by himself.

He lay down on his stomach, allowing his feet to dangle over the side
of the roof, searching for the ladder. Next thing he knew, he was sliding
off the roof. The shingles acted like sandpaper while the edge of the roof
acted like a knife - slicing his left hand open.

We rushed to the nearest Medac where Rick's hand required over 46
stitches, 13 of them being internal.

To the doctor's amazement, there was something to be thankful for in
this ordeal. The cut should have sliced right through one of the major
nerves in Rick's hand. Had this nerve been severed, much of his sensation
and use of that hand would've been diminished. That would be a terrible loss
because Rick is a keyboard-playing, worship leader at our church. However,
God protected Rick's use of that hand. The doctor called all the nurses in
to see what he called a miracle: the fact that Rick's hand was very deeply
cut, but this main nerve ran right across the middle of the gash, untouched,
like a bridge runs over a river or over a valley gorge.

The healing period took several weeks and prevented Rick from getting
his hand wet or doing many things he normally does around the house - he had
to rely on my help. Naturally, I wanted to point out the irony of him not
wanting to be a bother on the roof - yet risking life and limb, costing a
fortune in doctor's bills, and needing several weeks of assisted recovery
time. Now it's a running joke between us. Whenever he is tackling a
two-person task alone, I ask with a wink, "You can find that ladder on your
own, can't ya?"

The Christian life is not a one-person task. We daily need
encouragement, instruction, and help from God and one another. God wrote
Rick a note - a life-long reminder on his hand - with a scar that says, "Ask
for help."

How many times in life do we find ourselves hanging perilously off the
side of some problem or sin, searching on our own for a way down, when
others are ready and able to help?

My prayer for today:
Jesus, I need your help to live my life. I also need the help of my
brothers and sisters in Christ. Forgive me for being too prideful or too
fearful to ask for help. Amen.

March 2, 2005
"Ask for Help" - part two

Rachel Olsen
Speaker Team Member, ETC Editor

Key Verse:
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you
may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and
wonderful results. James 5:16-17 (NLT)

Devotion:
As I said in yesterday's devotion, I found myself sleepless one night
several weeks ago. I tried praying, reading and even some Sleepytime Tea,
but just couldn't get back to sleep. So I did something I never do in the
middle of the night, I turned on the television.

I came across a movie with an actress I liked, Sandra Bullock. In this
movie, Sandra plays a character with a drinking problem, in denial about it,
and sentenced to 28 days in a rehab center. It was a harsh and somewhat
depressing movie and I kept wondering why I was watching it, until a light
bulb went off.

Each of the characters at the rehab center had their own set of
reasons and problems that led them down the path of addiction. One woman's
underlying issues was made blatantly clear. She was forced by her therapist
to wear a sign around her neck with the words: "Confront me if I don't ask
for help." After laughing at this, I began imagining what life would be like
if I - indeed if we all - walked around with signs around our neck telling
others our biggest problems or sins.

Now that's a deep thought for 3:00 am, or anytime of the day! Why are
we all so afraid to tell our problems to one another, to share our secrets,
to ask for help? Perhaps we imagine we are the only ones with problems, or
that our mistakes are somehow worse than others' mistakes. Would you be more
willing to share your problems if you could read other's issues right there
on a sign around their neck?

Would the world be a more even playing field if we could see all the
beautiful people's flaws written there in black and white? What if we could
read all the successful people's failures in life, on a card around their
neck? Would we be less intimidated of others? Would we be less critical of
ourselves? At the very least we would each be spared a lot of time, money
and energy we expend daily trying to keep all our flaws in denial or under
wraps.

Friends, let me just tell ya, my sign would be full. For starters, it
would say that I've got credit card debt - and less income coming in than I
had half a year ago. Now I know that Christians should manage their money in
such a way as to avoid debt and should have 3 months salary saved for
situations such as this, but I failed to do that. There, I said it. Would
you please pray for my finances to increase so I can pay off this debt?!

Besides spending over budget, I'd have other weaknesses written on my
card. I struggle more often than I care to mention with pride and
selfishness. I am often slow to admit when I'm wrong or say that I'm sorry -
especially to my husband. I even tell "little white lies" to excuse the fact
that I forgot something or that I'm running late. Would you please pray for
me to remain humble, gracious and truthful?

My sign would probably also mention that I "self-medicate" more often
than I should with sweets rather than with prayer or scripture. I need to
turn first to the meat of God's Word when I'm tired, stressed or feeling
down, rather than to the Hershey bars I often reach for. Would you pray for
me to hunger and thirst only after righteousness?

I think it's interesting that so many of the things we're trying so
hard to keep from others, is really no surprise to them. Sure, no one has
seen our credit card bills but when we walk in somewhere 10 minutes late, it
is obvious that we have not managed our time well. When we slide off our
coats, it is evident that we've got some weight to lose . or gain. When
there is unresolved conflict in our homes, it's generally evident to anyone
who stops by. When we make decisions or solve problems with anything other
than principals from the Word of God, it will eventually show in our lives.

Girls, why can't we be real with one another and ask for help? Are we
in denial about our problems? Do we need to check into God's rehab center?

No one is perfect, except for Christ. We all fall short of the glory
of God. The Bible tells us to confess our sins to Him for He alone can
forgive them. However, it also indicates there are times we need to reveal
our sins to others and receive their prayers and help.

My prayer for today:
Jesus, we are a generation of prideful people, unwilling to be real in
front of You and others. But Lord, You see all anyway, and You have
encouraged us to reach out to our brothers and sisters for help. Make me
humble and willing to admit my sins. Amen.
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March 3, 2005
"Prepared", Part One

Van Walton
Spanish Ministries Coordinator, Speaker Team Member

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

Devotion:
Three years ago - January 23rd to be exact - I received the phone
message every mother dreads. My college-age son was in the emergency room. A
six-month medical ordeal followed. Except for our foundation in God's Word,
the faith that develops as a result of years of learning and practicing the
Lord's commands, and developing ears and hearts to trust His promises, we
might not have survived.

I invite you into our experience as a way of encouragement that you
might be prepared for that time when you face various trials.

Each week of this ordeal was difficult as it presented us with new
trials. The first several days were tough because of the shock - the
physical and emotional toll it took on the family. We had settled into the
New Year and suddenly we had to drop everything to fly across the country.
In the dark, hidden hours of the morning, I waked my younger son and rushed
to the airport. Hours later, I stood at the bedside of my older son. I
hardly recognized my child. He was scared and I promised to stay with him
until he recovered. Little did I know what I'd done. By making that vow, I
abandoned my younger son! When Benjamin and I separated, he in his daddy's
care, a ripping pain began, that constantly tore at my heart for months.

Settling into a medical routine, we hoped daily to be discharged.
Then, one afternoon, after taking a stroll, crisis struck. Aaron threw a
blood clot and was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. We were warned that
our son could die - right there - right then!

I'll never forget what followed. I prayed and God's peace filled me
with an assuring comfort - we were in His hands. Although the doctors had no
control over the course of the PE and we were certainly scared, God knew the
outcome and He was in control. We opened our eyes nodding in agreement. We
didn't know the future of this illness, but we had just been given the
measure of faith we would need to overcome.

I often doubted that I had the faith to persevere. At that moment, I
knew God was allowing us to enter into a test, not to punish us and not
because he was disappointed in something we had done. He knew we were
prepared to trust Him for the strength we would need. This would not be
about us; it would be something we would endure so others could watch.
Possibly others would view God's kingdom on earth, how it operates, and long
for a touch of God's grace. The Comforter's obvious presence would be
experienced. The Church - the body of Christ - would rally around its own.
God's people would show love for one another.

Something else happened that afternoon. It was the culmination of
years of parenting. Everything I had poured into Aaron during the 18 years
he lived in my care returned, bringing blessings and affirmation. When I
finished praying, Aaron, hands still in mine, looked deep into my eyes.

"All these nights, as I lay here in the hospital, I have wondered
about God's plan for my life. Maybe He plans for me to live out the rest of
my life in heaven." Silence ruled as that reality set in.

He continued, "When I considered that, I couldn't accept it. Then I
debated. Why wouldn't I want to go to heaven, now, if it's God's will?" He
smiled in a most peaceful way. "I mean, heaven is a better place!"

Was I really having this conversation? Children outlive their parents,
right?

"Mom," He brought me back. "I'll be all right if I die today. Don't
worry about me. I know I'm going to heaven."

Aaron's condition, according to the experts, was critical, but not for
us. The fact is, I promised God one thing concerning my sons. I would
obediently guide them to Him. Now, His Word had become real. When faced with
trials, I could consider it all joy. My child had put his life in God's
hands - there he would remain.

My prayer for today:
Merciful Father, You are to be praised for sharing Your plan for our
lives. Where would we be without Your Word that teaches us of Your care and
loving kindness? Thank You for placing people in my life who prepared me for
the rough journeys that would certainly define my faith walk.
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Old 03-10-2005, 07:55 AM
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March 9, 2005
"What Is Your Tomorrow Dream?"

Mary Nash
Certified Speaker, Proverbs 31 Ministries

Key Verse:
James 4:14 "You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For your life
is like the morning fog-it's here a little while, then it's gone." (New
Believer's Bible)

Devotion:
Have you ever been encouraged to dream a dream - to look around the
corner at what might be out there for you? Have you asked yourself what kind
of person you will be in the future? Will you make good decisions that you
will be proud of or bad decisions that you will look back on with regret?

I know I have made many decisions in my life that I would change if I
could - things I did that were hurtful to those around me or things I should
have done and didn't. Well, we have a new chance - a new year - a new
beginning. Another chance to get it right. We all want to get it right but
sometimes we just don't know how. We don't have the assurance that we should
have. Maybe we feel lonely, shy, unwanted, unloved or like we are hanging
around on the fringe of life. Now is the time for a change.

Beginning a new year is always a critical time. No one can tell us
what to do, but we can find clear directions about how to live by reading
the Bible. We can listen to people who know what God says. They will
encourage us to give serious thought to who we really are in God's eyes.

God gives His love freely with the condition that we live by his
principles and commit our lives to His service. He wants us to seek him out
and get to know Him well. Then we can begin to feel at home with Him. He is
always waiting on us to come home, to begin again. He is a God of many
chances and new beginnings.

James 1:5-7 says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who
gives to all liberally and without reproach and it will be given to him. But
let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of
the sea driven and tossed by the wind." (NIV)

If we ask for wisdom, we can make decisions about what mistakes we can
actively avoid. If you could close your eyes and look a few years into the
future, what would you see? Of course, "tomorrow" has a way of becoming
"yesterday" very quickly. What good things will you be pleased about or what
things will you be ashamed of? You are the only one who can decide now, what
your life will be like in the future. Will you be an encourager? Will you
show kindness to others? Will you be a loving and caring person and friendly
to those without friends?

In Jude 24 we are told that the Savior will present us to the Father
spotless and without blemish. "Now to Him who is able to keep you from
stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory
with exceeding joy..." Not too many years ago, I was depressed and lonely
because I had not given every part of my heart to Jesus. I was saving the
part of me that had been hurt so badly by my mother. I was nursing that part
and protecting the memory of those early years. I was never going to let
that go. But God had a different plan. He wanted me to clean out my heart
and be free of all the chains and bad memories of the past. He brought me to
the place where I could no longer function and harbor those terrible
memories. I finally fell on my knees, begging God for forgiveness - needing
desperately to give up those unforgiving feelings I had toward my mother and
get on with being the woman God had planned for me to be. That very night
was a new beginning for me. I was finally free to love God the way He wanted
me to. Because of that decision, I was able to begin the journey of becoming
God's woman and true servant.

We are constantly changing, constantly learning, and constantly
beginning again. I urge you to look ahead to tomorrow and think about the
dream you have for your life. Will it be covered with the saving grace of
Jesus Christ or will you still be nursing old hurts and feelings? Make that
tomorrow dream of a new beginning a reality of today. Take it one day at a
time. It may be slow, but you will begin to see a difference in your
attitude about the past. Just give it all to the God of the Universe. You
will see your dream come true. You will be free. He is waiting. He is
calling. He is pleading for you to come closer and live under His sheltering
wings.

We can live God's dream or we can go our own way, do our own thing and
miss out on the glorious things God wants to give us. The decision I made so
many years ago has changed my life completely. It has molded my life and
given me a mission and a passion. What decision will you make right now? Oh,
you will make a decision - you will either ignore God's pleading for your
entire heart or you will pay attention and your life will change forever.
The choice is up to you.

My prayer for today:
Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your constant pleading for us to come
closer to You and Your willingness to show us the dream You have for each of
Your children. I pray that I will always remember how bound I was by old
memories and how free I feel since I have given my whole heart to You. Thank
You for new beginnings and for Your forgiving mercy. Amen
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March 10, 2005
"Believing False Scouting Reports"

Glynnis Whitwer
Senior Editor P31 Woman, Speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries,
editor@proverbs31.org

Key Verse:
"Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go
up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." Number
13:30 (NIV)

Devotion:
Every year I dread making the call. It takes six months to get an
appointment, so I put a reminder note on my July calendar to set up
something in January. Once the appointment's set, I dread opening my new
calendar because I know I'll see the date clearly written.

My annual well-woman check up makes me nervous every year. I know I
shouldn't worry like I do, but each year I struggle with fear. My
uncontrolled mind thinks of every possible thing that could go wrong, every
disease that could be uncovered. I've even thought that perhaps I shouldn't
make any plans just in case they find something.

I've dealt with this fear head on, because I know it isn't pleasing to
the Lord. I believe God wants me to trust Him, and know that whatever I'm
facing, if He brings me to it, He will bring me through it. Unfortunately, I
know my fear is one chink in my spiritual armor that Satan knows about (of
course) and uses against me in certain areas of my life.

One way I've dealt with fear is to see it for what it is: False
Evidence Appearing Real. Satan would like for my fear to appear very real
and for God to appear far away, watching my life soar out of control. But
that's just not the truth.

The Israelites chose to believe false evidence over faith. In the Old
Testament book of Numbers, the Israelites were on the brink of entering the
land promised to them by God. However, there were people already living in
this land who would have to be conquered before the Israelites could move
in. So, the Lord told Moses to send out a scouting party of 12 spies. These
men were to explore the land and the people who lived in it, and bring back
reports.

Forty days later, the 12 spies returned with tales of a fruitful land,
flowing with milk and honey just like God promised. The only problem -
according to 10 of the spies - was that giants, who were too big and
powerful to conquer, also inhabited the land.

The 10 fearful spies spread their false reports throughout the people
until "all the people raised their voices and wept aloud" (Numbers 14:1).
The Israelites, in spite of all God's faithfulness in the past, thought that
God had brought them to this place and would now let them die. In fact, they
discussed going back to slavery to avoid this "sure" death.

In the midst of the fear and madness, two of the spies (Joshua and
Caleb) stood on faith. They had seen the same land and the same people, but
they chose to believe that if God said the land was theirs, then it didn't
matter how big or how powerful the inhabitants were.

Joshua and Caleb stood bravely in front of the entire Israelite
assembly and said, "If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into
that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only
do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the
land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the
Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them."

Today, what false reports do you believe? Have you allowed your fear
of the unknown to affect your faith? Satan wants you to believe the
exaggerated reports that are bouncing around your mind. He wants you to
believe that God has abandoned you to suffer. But God wants you to trust Him
and have faith. No matter what "giants" you are facing, the Lord is with
you, and He's got a plan. And in the words of Joshua and Caleb, "Do not be
afraid of them."

My prayer for today:
Heavenly Father, I praise You that You are bigger than anything I'm
facing today. There is nothing out of Your control or knowledge. I ask You
to forgive me for those times I've doubted You and allowed fear to reign in
my heart. Please help me have the faith of Caleb and Joshua and to see false
reports for what they are. In Jesus' name, Amen.

March 11, 2005
"The Advocate"

Sharon Jaynes
Vice President of Proverbs 31 Radio, author, speaker

Key Verse:
"And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counselor, to
be with you forever - the Spirit of truth." (John 14:15)

Devotion:
During Jesus' last supper discourse, He reassured the disciples that
He would not leave them as orphans. "And I will ask the Father and He will
give you another Counselor, to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth"
(John 14:15). The Greek word, which is also translated Helper (NASB) and
Comforter (KJV), is parakletos and means a "person summoned to one's aid."
[i] Originally it was a term used in a court of justice to denote a legal
assistant, counsel for the defense, an advocate; then, generally, one who
pleas another's cause, an intercessor, an advocate. [ii]

I love the image of being in a court of law because I have come to see
Satan as the "accuser of the brethren." (Revelation 12:10). He points His
gnarly finger in our faces and says things like, "You aren't a very good
Christian," "Jesus doesn't really love you," "You were a mistake when you
were born," "You've really blown it this time," "What makes you any
different now than before you accepted Christ," "I don't see much fruit in
your life," "You're a pitiful excuse as a wife, as a mother, as a child of
God," etc.

Now tell me, have you ever heard any of those statements before?
Perhaps you've always assumed these were your own musings. That's exactly
what Satan would have you believe. However, I believe those accusatory
statements are words from Satan that he whispers in our ears. It sounds like
us, it feels like us, but it's from the accuser himself. It is always
amazing to me that while I might have trouble hearing God's voice, Satan's
usually comes through loud and clear. Why we even think they are our
thoughts.

On the other hand, the Holy Spirit is our counselor, our attorney, who
comes along side us and repeats, "Not guilty! Not guilty! Not guilty!" He
says, "You, my child, have been set free!"

My prayer for today:
Dear Lord, thank You that You are my parakletos, my Helper, my
Comforter, my Defender. I know that I am guilty - guilty of sending You to
the cross. There are no words to express my gratitude and amazement of the
mercy that You have bestowed. To think that You took my death penalty and
gave me life! Thank You, Jesus. In Jesus' name, Amen

March 12, 2005
"Waiting"

Mary Nash
Certified Speaker, Proverbs 31 Ministry

Key Verse:
Psalm 27:14, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for
the Lord."(NIV)

Devotion:
While traveling through Canada, I saw a sign that said, "Wild Buffalo
ahead." Since I had never seen a buffalo up close, I encouraged my husband
to take me to the specified viewing spot. Humoring me, he drove down a dirt
road to a fenced area. After walking for quite a while, we finally spotted
the buffalo. But they were on the other side of the field and looked quite
small from where we were standing. I again begged him to drive me to the
other side, which meant going all the way back to the entrance, down another
bumpy, dirt road. When we arrived, the buffalo had moved back to their
original spot. I gave up my wish to get close to them, wanting to keep my
husband from getting exasperated with me as we made our way toward home.

The next day, we stopped for a break. My husband went in the rest area
while I waited outside with our dog. I was leaning up against a fence,
enjoying the beauty of the mountains when I felt a very large, wet
"something" slide across my neck. I whirled around to find I had just been
licked by a huge buffalo. That buffalo definitely made a big impression on
me. I was thrilled to know that there was a fence between us. He not only
gave a new name to body odor and had horrible breath, he put a real scare in
me. Those around me just laughed at my reaction but all I wanted was a place
to wash my neck. In the end, I got what I wanted even though it was in a
completely different setting.

Many times, life is like that. We search and search for what we think
we want. We pray about it, we long for it, and we try to help God produce
it. We finally give up and when we least expect it, there it is right in
front of us. When we finally get what we thought we wanted, we often don't
know what to do with it.

Many times, I have longed for things, only to find out I was better
off without them. I just had to wait patiently until God's timing was right
and I could see that what I longed for was not really something that would
benefit me. While seeing that huge buffalo right in front of my face shocked
me, it also helped me to see how many times I have benefited by waiting on
God. His timing is always perfect. He is never late and He wants only good
for me. I get in trouble when I make demands and refuse to wait. Then, when
I get what I wanted, it is often no use to me or actually hurts me in some
way.

The waiting game is always hard to play. We live in a world of instant
gratification and our patience grows thin in a hurry. But patience is an
important virtue. It can keep us from becoming frustrated or angry and help
us look at things in a different light - the light of our Lord and Savior
who has planned our days from the beginning of time. He does ask us to walk
in His light and not the ways of the world. If we truly do so, we come to
understand that His way is the right way.

When I was 24 and unmarried, I decided I would never find the right
man. No one could ever love me enough to want to spend the rest of their
life with me. I considered myself damaged goods because of a traumatic
childhood. I just gave my life up to God and asked Him to show me what He
wanted me to do. I was finally willing to go anywhere He wanted and do
anything He wanted me to do.

It wasn't long after commitment that I unexpectedly met my future
husband. I was no longer looking, but God saw to it that I found just the
right one. God knew just the kind of man I needed, a true soul mate, friend,
lover and confidante; someone who loved me for who I was inside, not for
what I acted like on the outside. I knew instantly this man was different.
He has been the same man for forty years. God always knows what is best for
us. If I had not been willing to wait, I know I would not have found just
the right husband.

God always answers our prayers and many times, the answer is to wait.
When that happens, we have the chance to practice our patience and God has
the chance to see if we are completely surrendered to His will and plan.

Buffalos often come along while we wait. We get what we thought we
wanted only to find out we surely could have done without it. Waiting takes
true surrender knowing that God will take care of us. For me, I just know
that whatever is waiting for me in eternity is more than I could ever dream
of. I really don't know how people live without the knowledge of having an
eternity with God. That makes any waiting worth the "wait."

My prayer for today:
Father, when my soul longs for answers, please remind me that I
sometimes just have to wait. Help me to completely surrender my all to You
and give me the understanding and the patience to accept the fact that I may
have to wait for things to be worked out in Your time, not mine. Help me
always to keep my eyes turned toward Jesus and away from the things of the
world. Amen.
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March 15, 2005
"The Sliver Lining"

Micca Campbell
Director of Outreach, Speaker

Key Verse:
Deuteronomy 33:26, "There is no one like the God of Jerusalem, Who
rides the heavens to help you, And in His Excellency on the clouds." (NKJ)

Devotion:
Slowly, I moved down the isle studying the shampoos. I was trying to
figure out what would give my hair body, bounce and shine when, suddenly, I
felt like I was being followed. Deciding to test my suspicion, I weaved my
shopping cart in and out of the aisles. Just as I expected, another shopping
cart followed close behind. Paralyzed with fear, I was about to hand over my
purse when a weak, crackled voice spoke.

"Excuse me, mama. I noticed that you had kind eyes, and I was
wondering if I could talk to you for a minute." To my surprise, the stalker
was an old man. Still, I was cautious. I examined his feeble skeleton
carefully and decided I could take him if I had to.

"Sure, you can talk to me." I answered.

The aged man stuck out his hand and introduced himself, "I'm Harry."
He said, pausing for my response.

Politely, I shook his hand and replied. "Hi, Harry. I'm Micca. How are
you?"

"Lonely, mostly. My wife died last May."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that." I said, blanketing each word with
compassion.

Harry reached out his shaky hand and lightly touched my shoulder with
his fingertips as if to comfort me. "That's okay. I tell jokes to ease the
pain. Laughter is good medicine, you know."

"Say, have you heard why God made women so beautiful?" He asked with a
chuckle in his voice."

"No. Why?" I played along.

"So that men would love them. Do you know why he made men so dumb?" He
continued.

"Why is that?"

"So that women would love them!" We laughed out loud.

"That's a good one." I said. Harry thanked me for laughing.

Suddenly, his mood changed and, like an old friend, Harry shared his
heart. "I could just stay in the house all day trying to find my socks and
feeling sorry for myself, but I'd rather go out and make people laugh. I
suppose it's my gift from God. I've always been able to make people laugh.
Now, it's what gets me through the loneliness."

"Well, thanks for the laughs. I said. "They made my day."

He's right, you know. Harry could have given up on life, remained in
his grief, hardened his heart, and given way to bitterness. Instead, he
decided to look for the sliver lining in the midst of his storm. For Harry,
the sliver lining is laughter.

How does Harry maintain his joy in the face of grief and loneliness? I
believe Harry must sit and consider the ways of the Lord. I imagine he
recalls how God hid in a cloud of fire as He led and sheltered the Israelite
children through the sea. In his meditation, Harry finds comfort in the
truth that the God of yesterday is the same God of today; therefore, Harry
concludes that the Lord must also sit in the clouds of his storms watching
over him no matter what his emotions might say. What does that kind of trust
birth in a grief-stricken heart? Pure joy.

The truth is, throughout the ages, God has always been near to the
broken-hearted, and still is today. From the cloud in your storm, God is
leading, protecting, and providing for you, too, no matter what your
emotions say.

If you believe that truth, why do you worry when burdens rain down?
You don't have to remain in dismay. You have a sliver lining! The God of all
heaven and earth "rides in the clouds to help you." According to Harry,
acknowledging God's presence, power, and provision as the winds of adversity
rage, is the secret to finding joy as you rest in the shadow of His care.

My prayer for today:
Dear Lord, You have felt far away in my time of trouble, but through
this word, I trust that You are near me. Thank You for watching over me,
helping me and providing the strength in need to "weather" the storm.
Replace my sadness with joy as I look to You in the heavens. Amen.
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March 16, 2005
"Joy vs. Happiness"

Glynnis Whitwer
Senior Editor P31 Woman, Speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries

Key Verse:
Philippians 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again:
Rejoice!" (NIV)

Devotion:
There are very difficult situations in life that on the surface, seem
to offer no reason to be joyful. In fact, you might even say, "My situation
is so terrible that to be joyful would be wrong."

I remember when my husband's mother was in a coma after a brain
aneurism. My life was suspended. I remember feeling guilty if anything
brought me joy. I thought, "How can I feel joy when she is in the hospital
and likely won't recover?" It was a difficult struggle.

Some of you might feel that same way. Yet, Scripture is clear about
joy. It is something the Christian is supposed to experience. And if we
choose to believe the Bible is completely true and reliable, we are to have
some sense of joy at all times. Paul said in Philippians 4:4: "Rejoice in
the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"

What is this joy we are supposed to experience? Well, it isn't
happiness, and confusion arises when get joy and happiness mixed up. You
see, we don't choose happiness; it comes as the result of circumstances. The
root word of happiness is the same root word as "happening." So, happiness
depends on happenings.

Here's an example of experiencing a moment of happiness.

The poor country pastor was livid when he confronted his wife with the
receipt for a $250 dress she had bought.

"How could you do this!" he exclaimed.

"I don't know," she wailed. "I was standing in the store looking at
the dress on sale. Then I found myself trying it on. It was like the Devil
was whispering to me, 'Gee, you look great in that dress. You should buy
it.'"

"Well," the pastor persisted, "You know how to deal with him! Just
tell him, "Get behind me, Satan!"

"I did!" replied his wife, "but then he said, 'It looks great from
back here, too.'"

You might have grinned, laughed out loud or been annoyed that I'm
telling a joke in a devotional. But it was automatic. You didn't choose your
response. It just happened.

Joy on the other hand, is only found in the Lord. Joy comes partly
from a deep, abiding knowledge that God has everything under control. We can
experience joy in spite of our circumstances, when we choose to acknowledge
that something good is going to come out of our pain. But, unless we
distinguish joy from happiness, we will not experience the fullness of joy.
To be happy over certain circumstances would be wrong - but it's never wrong
to have deep joy.

In spite of your difficult situation today, choose to believe that God
is working behind the scenes for your good. It's where the rubber meets the
road. Do you really believe it? If you do, then God will fill your heart
with unexplainable joy. Then you can rejoice in the Lord always.

My prayer for today:
Heavenly Father, You are the creator and giver of joy. I praise You
for this wonderful gift that brings a sense of rightness in troubling
situations. I confess that I have often chosen worry or fear over joy. I
long for my faith to be deepened, and to trust that You are working things
out for my good. Help me when I depend on circumstances to bring peace and
joy. In Jesus' name, Amen.

March 17, 2005
"Route 66"

Susanne Scheppmann
Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

Key Verse:
Psalm 119:32, "I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my
heart free." (NIV)

Devotion:
I rebelled against God. My fist shook in anger as I turned to walk
away in my own selfish pride.

But God, in His merciful love, wooed me back. I'll will never forget
that moment.

The jazz music of Knott's Berry Farm echoed across the hot pavement.
The smell of fried chicken and sweet funnel cakes taunted my stomach. After
a long play-filled day, my family and I browsed through the shops. My head
peeked through a door and detected the musty smell of books. A bookstore!

I ambled in to peruse the shelves. Immediately, I realized it was a
Christian bookstore. I hadn't been in one of those in years. I almost headed
out, but I hesitated.

"Can I help you?" asked a sweet voice?

To my own surprise, I answered, "Uh, yes. Could you show me that
Bible, please?"

She handed me a rose-colored leather Bible. I felt my heart melt
inside of me. Suddenly, it seemed like I had come home after a long, tiring
journey. After I purchased it, I raced for the car. The rest of my family
still shopped, but I sat in a little blue Volkswagen Jetta, reconnecting to
the Father. A prodigal returned to her Father's waiting arms.

I remember hearing His quiet voice in my spirit.

"Let's start over. Use my Word to learn true freedom."

Over the next couple of years, I studied the sixty-six books found in
the Bible. I learned how to make wise decisions. Forgiveness flowed to those
who had hurt me. I parented my two boys with more patience. My husband
gained a more loving and devoted wife. I discovered true freedom in
following God's direction for my life.

Those sixty-six books became "a lamp to my feet and a light for my
path." As I soaked my heart in the Word of God, my path in life became
clearer. God's Word developed into a daily roadmap of direction, which I
call my Route 66.

Now every morning I reach for my Route 66. I can't imagine a day
without it.

My prayer for today:
Father God, wake me each morning with a desire for your Word. Open my
eyes to see the truth of Your Word in my daily life. Help me to apply Your
timeless concepts and principles to the decisions I need to make.

March 18, 2005
"Fruits of Restoration"

Lysa Terkeurst
President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Author and Speaker

Key Verse:
"Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He
comes and showers righteousness on you." (Hosea 10:12; NIV)

Devotion:
Believe it or not, I have found this verse to be the key to unlocking
the secret to living the life God has given you.and loving it whether you
are rejoicing in the sunny good times or feeling tossed and turned in a
violent storm. "Why," do you ask? Well, do you remember the story of the
uncompromising neighbor who barricaded our driveway in an effort to get a
small portion of her property back (which we mistakenly built a road on
thinking it was ours; see yesterday's daily devotion "Roadblocks of Life")?
The rest of the story goes something like this: We had to have the pond
drained down and it broke our hearts to see it get to such a sad state. We
also had to have our driveway moved which was very expensive as well. Did
God change our circumstances even though we begged him to? No. Did my
heavenly prompting to take my fence-building adversary a glass of water give
her a change of heart about the way she was treating us? No.

Unfortunately, the situation never changed. But after walking through
the difficulty and anger of that trial, God brought about one of the most
beautiful restorations I have ever seen. Not only did He provide every penny
we needed to move the driveway (in the most surprising ways, might I add),
but now you can't even see evidences of the great driveway escapade. The
barren ground sprouted grass again and the driveway sits securely on our own
land now. But the most amazing restoration occurred with our pond.

It had taken years to fill our pond so we assumed it would take years
to refill it after having it drained. But God had a different plan. Do you
remember what He asked me to give my neighbor? One cup of water. Do you know
what God gave me back? He brought a rainstorm right over our pond that
caused the heaviest downpour I'd ever seen and refilled that pond in one
day! My friends, those were not just raindrops that fell that day. To me, it
was God lavishing His love all around me and reminding me, He is in absolute
control. From one required cup of water to the blessings of millions of
gallons.

Even during those moments of intense hardships with others, give your
heart permission to grown in the ground of making right choices that honor
God every step of the way. Making those right choices leads to living
righteously, and living righteously leads to Holiness. And do you know what
Holiness means? It means that we dwell in the presence of God. And in the
presence of God, there is freedom and peace even in the midst of tough
circumstances. And in time, He will restore what has been taken from you in
His perfect way.

My prayer for today:
Heavenly Father, may we never be afraid to step out in faith and in
right living, even when it is uncomfortable. Help us to realize that in
doing these things we have opportunities to plant seeds for You and bring
You glory. We desire this to be our first priority as Christians, and
believe that you will honor our obedience even though we may not see it at
the time. Amen.
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March 21, 2005
"Reflections of Renewal"

Susanne Scheppmann
Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

Key Verse:
Psalm 51:10, Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast
spirit within me. (NIV)

Devotion:
Today my car registration came up for renewal. I received notification
that my magazine subscription will expire if not renewed immediately. Almost
everything has a renewal of some sort, including my life.

I struggle out of bed each morning to stumble, bleary-eyed to the
earthy aroma of coffee. After just a couple of sips, I feel renewed.
Caffeine works wonders in my drowsy morning state.

With the ceramic mug entrenched in my hand, I mosey to my next
renewal, a few moments spent with Jesus Christ. The brief morning interlude
prepares me for the day ahead. So many times, I wake up grouchy for any
number of reasons, a spat with my spouse, raging hormones or lack of sleep.

But as I settle into a quiet time with God, I sense His peace. I
experience the Holy Spirit renewing my spirit with calmness and serenity. He
"renews a steadfast spirit within me." I accept gratefully his reassurance
in the day looming ahead.

With my head down, I ask Him to create a purer heart in me. I need Him
to wipe the slate clean of my anger with my husband. He calms the raging
hormones by bestowing self-control upon me. I can manage the monthly moods,
instead of them managing me. He gives me renewed energy even though I lack
my necessary eight hours of slumber. The words of Isaiah 40:31 spring to
life in me, "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."

Suddenly, I feel energized. I start the day's chores with an upbeat
attitude. Ok, first I'll call my husband and apologize. I'll renew the
magazine subscription, and then I will head to DMV to renew my car
registration.

Finally, I'll come back tomorrow for another replenishing of my own
life. Thank you, Jesus for my every day renewal.

My prayer for today:
Lord Jesus, help me to make my quiet time with You a priority every
morning. Renew my spirit as I reflect upon You and Your Word. Amen.
If you want to "go deeper" into today's devotion, click here
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/devotion.htm
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March 22, 2005
"Roadblocks of Life"

Lysa Terkeurst

Key Verse:
"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who
hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If
someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone
takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone
who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it
back. Do to others as you would have the do to you." (Luke 6:27-31)

Devotion:
It all started as a dispute over the boundary lines of our property
when we discovered that we had made a mistake and part of our driveway was
on land that did not belong to us. We tried to buy the small parcel of land
and thought of every scenario possible to fix the problem without having to
dam up part of our pond and move the driveway over. But no solution was
acceptable to our neighbor and it became apparent that we'd have to do the
least desirable option.

We needed to wait until the dryer summer months so the water level of
the pond could get to a place that it would be feasible to drain. But even
this was unacceptable and soon we started being greeted by various blockades
meant to keep us from being able to use our driveway. Huge rocks were placed
across the driveway. Sawhorses and boards of wood were posted with no
trespassing signs. This continues for months and we grew more and
threatened, frustrated, hurt and bewildered.

Here I was, a woman in Christian ministry who spends my life teaching
women to love one another, and this person couldn't stand the sight of me.
It broke my heart, and worst of all it was beyond my ability to fix. I cried
out to God and begged Him to remove the problem, soften hearts, change
minds, or best of all supernaturally move the driveway. But it was not to
be. Week after week, I'd find myself driving down my road only to be halted
by the latest blockade attempt.

Then came the day God moved. It wasn't the driveway or even the other
person's heart. It was the day God moved me. Infuriated, I came home to find
a fence being constructed across the drive which would permanently block us
from going to and from our house. As I stormed into my home, God suddenly
broke through my anger and anxiety and prompted me to take my fence-building
adversary a cup of water.

It was a hot summer day and she was tired and thirsty from her
labor.because of all the energy she was exerting to hurt me! God wanted me
to give her water to refresh and reenergize her efforts? "This is not fair,"
I thought. This does not make sense! Yet, in obedience I slowly made my way
down to the fence. As I got out of the car and started toward her, I had to
will my feet to walk. But as my arm reached to give her the water, it was as
if the fog lifted and I so clearly felt God's impression on my heart, "Today
it would be physical water but one day this is one of the things that will
be used to lead to her receiving the Living Water."

Seed were planted that day.in her heart and mine. How they will be
nurtured is up to the Lord. God has the most amazing way to work in the
unseen details of life and work out His plan despite us. Here I was kicking
and screaming through this situation that I thought seemed so pointless and
all along God had a plan. All I could think about was changing the
circumstances that were causing disruption and discomfort to my world. Now I
realize that for that season of my life that was my assignment from God. It
was my time to learn to love an enemy.

My prayer for today:
Lord, help us to have graceful and forgiving hearts to those who have
hurt us deeply. Though we may not understand why or exactly how to do it,
work supernaturally in our lives so that Your power may be demonstrated
during the moments of greatest trial. Amen.
If you want to "go deeper" into today's devotion, click here
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/devotion.htm

"Fruits of Restoration" (Part II)

Lysa Terkeurst
President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Author and Speaker

Key Verse:
"Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He
comes and showers righteousness on you." (Hosea 10:12; NIV)

Devotion:
Believe it or not, I have found this verse to be the key to unlocking
the secret to living the life God has given you.and loving it whether you
are rejoicing in the sunny good times or feeling tossed and turned in a
violent storm. "Why," do you ask? Well, do you remember the story of the
uncompromising neighbor who barricaded our driveway in an effort to get a
small portion of her property back (which we mistakenly built a road on
thinking it was ours; see yesterday's daily devotion "Roadblocks of Life")?
The rest of the story goes something like this: We had to have the pond
drained down and it broke our hearts to see it get to such a sad state. We
also had to have our driveway moved which was very expensive as well. Did
God change our circumstances even though we begged him to? No. Did my
heavenly prompting to take my fence-building adversary a glass of water give
her a change of heart about the way she was treating us? No.

Unfortunately, the situation never changed. But after walking through
the difficulty and anger of that trial, God brought about one of the most
beautiful restorations I have ever seen. Not only did He provide every penny
we needed to move the driveway (in the most surprising ways, might I add),
but now you can't even see evidences of the great driveway escapade. The
barren ground sprouted grass again and the driveway sits securely on our own
land now. But the most amazing restoration occurred with our pond.

It had taken years to fill our pond so we assumed it would take years
to refill it after having it drained. But God had a different plan. Do you
remember what He asked me to give my neighbor? One cup of water. Do you know
what God gave me back? He brought a rainstorm right over our pond that
caused the heaviest downpour I'd ever seen and refilled that pond in one
day! My friends, those were not just raindrops that fell that day. To me, it
was God lavishing His love all around me and reminding me, He is in absolute
control. From one required cup of water to the blessings of millions of
gallons.

Even during those moments of intense hardships with others, give your
heart permission to grown in the ground of making right choices that honor
God every step of the way. Making those right choices leads to living
righteously, and living righteously leads to Holiness. And do you know what
Holiness means? It means that we dwell in the presence of God. And in the
presence of God, there is freedom and peace even in the midst of tough
circumstances. And in time, He will restore what has been taken from you in
His perfect way.

My prayer for today:
Heavenly Father, may we never be afraid to step out in faith and in
right living, even when it is uncomfortable. Help us to realize that in
doing these things we have opportunities to plant seeds for You and bring
You glory. We desire this to be our first priority as Christians, and
believe that you will honor our obedience even though we may not see it at
the time. Amen.
If you want to "go deeper" into today's devotion, click here
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/devotions_date.htm
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Old 06-27-2005, 02:19 PM
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June 27, 2005
"A Legacy of Prayer"

Marybeth Whalen
Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member


Key Verse:
Luke 11:1, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’” (NIV)

Devotion:
My mother led me to Christ when I was just three years old. Faithfully each night, she read the Bible to me and prayed with me. One night, her Bible reading led to questions and the questions led to her leading me in the prayer of salvation. Though I was only three, I had already begun to grasp the importance of a relationship with my Heavenly Father. Through her example, I had come to know Christ in a very real way.

Her father, my grandfather, was also an example to me in my younger years. I keep faded memories tucked away of sitting on the armrest in the middle of the front seat of his car, reciting verses he had taught me while we drove. How he beamed as I recited John 3:16 for the first time! Later, when I grew into a teenager, I became more aware of his personal commitment to the Lord. I can remember spending the night at his house, being awakened by the pre-dawn sounds of his radio playing hymns, the smell of coffee filling the air, and the sound of his voice praying aloud as he started his day.

These members of my family lived out Deuteronomy 6:6-7: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (NIV)

How fortunate I was to come from this legacy of pray-ers. These memories I treasure are sweet to both my heart and soul. As an adult, I can reach back through time and hold these memories close. They encourage me in my own walk to pass this legacy on to my children. Now I am the one teaching Bible verses to little ones, reading Scriptural truths, answering spiritual questions, and trying my best to model what a close relationship with the Lord looks like.

Perhaps you, like me, hold onto sweet memories of loved ones who introduced Christ to you. Or, perhaps you didn’t have that in your family but want desperately to give that kind of legacy to your own children. No matter where you are, remember that God has given you the honor of either creating or carrying on a legacy of prayer for your children. You don’t have to be perfect or pious about it, just be open to Jesus’ guidance as He teaches you to pray, so that you can in turn teach them. You have a profound influence in their little lives to make God real, obtainable, and exciting. What an awesome responsibility and privilege!

My Prayer for Today:
Lord, teach me to pray. Help me to guide my children as You would have me guide them. Equip me to be the kind of mother who can leave that indelible legacy on their hearts – through Your strength and wisdom, not my own. Thank You, Father, for entrusting me with these little souls to raise and nurture for Your Kingdom, and help me to be mindful each day of how I can best do that.

Application Steps:
Make a point to pray with your child at some point today. Talk about God in a way that shows your child that you love Him and want to follow Him. Make Jesus real to them through your example. Try sharing with them something exciting you have learned about God recently, or a way you have seen Him at work in your life. You will find that the more you do this, the more natural it feels.
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Old 06-28-2005, 10:28 AM
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Default Godliness with Contentment...Great Gain

June 28, 2005
"Godliness with Contentment...Great Gain" (Part 1)

Amy Kidd
Graduate of
She Speaks Conference

Key Verse:
1 Timothy 6:6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (NIV)


Devotion:
It’s on the slower days at work where I begin to vainly imagine something better or more purposeful I could be doing. I say to myself, Did I get a degree to just sit around and twiddle my thumbs? And then of course there are those days when my workload is so overwhelming I second-guess whether I can even manage this job with the energy I have left. But on the not-so-busy days, it’s like there is something more exciting that I feel like I am missing out on.

I get these daily aspirations – dreams, promptings, or what some would call discontent thoughts, which throw me into another existence as a singer, actress, missionary or just a brave lone traveler! Questions arise like, “Am I doing all I am suppose to do? Am I fulfilling my purpose in this life? Is there a purpose? “Is there really a Master, painting on the canvas of creation, a tapestry where my particular color has a place?”

I sometimes feel like I am living an adventure and sometimes I feel like my life wouldn’t even make it to the obituary page! But the real question here is this, why am I always grasping for something better, something more? I imagine a better job with more freedom and money, a husband and children, a singing or acting career, a better figure, etc. All these things are greener grasses on the other side right? So many people in the world have it better than me? Or do they?

Comparison: Friend or Foe?

I have discovered that comparison can be your worst enemy or your greatest companion. It depends on who you are comparing yourself to. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need a wishy washy friend like that around! I began to think about this and it occurred to me that we always grasp for the wind, identifying so many tangible things as possible solutions that will finally bring the fulfillment for which we long. It’s always on the other side of where we are today. The Rolling Stones said it best with the lyrics, “I can’t get no, satisfaction!”

Every time I begin to try and find my life, I seem to lose it; I begin to find discontentment. I am reminded that the Bible says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” The Word tells us that we are to find our purpose in Christ. It says He is in all things and is working out His plan in all things, especially in and through us and that He has designs on us for glorious living.

Happiness or Joy?

This glorious living may not necessarily look glorious to the person consumed with the ways of the world. That person will tell you fame, riches, sex, and the list goes on, will bring you happiness. And that is true. You may find happiness. But remember that the word happy comes from what is happening. Your joy depends on your circumstance when you are living a life that looks and searches for joy within tangible things.

Take away that thing or person that makes you happy and who are you? Do you have an identity apart from whatever it is you depend on for joy? It is a sad perspective of self when you depend on the happenstance of someone else’s concern for you to find joy in life. Yes, we are to enjoy one another. God made us to love one another in relationships. But we should not depend on one another for joy moment by moment. That’s impossible for anyone to live up to in your life.

Know this: it is the unseen, intangible and eternal work of the cross in your life that will bring you true joy and life. Jesus said to find your life you must lose it first. Is everything about you these days? There will be ups and downs all along this road of life, but it’s the foundation that you build your life upon that determines if your house will stand. Did you know Scripture mentions God as the Rock 42 times in the Bible? And Jesus is referred to as the Chief Cornerstone.

As long as you depend on others for your joy, you will be on a roller coaster ride of emotions for the rest of your life. The foundation of Christ is the only One who brings stillness in the midst of the storm. Your home, built upon the Rock of Jesus Christ, will not falter or fail if the winds of change or difficult circumstances come.

My Prayer for Today:
Father, help me to be content with the lot you have assigned me and to be faithful to the promptings of your Spirit today. I pray you will guard my mind against unhealthy comparisons and envy that might try to steal my joy. Remind me that it is in you alone where I can find true joy and contentment in this life. People and circumstances are bound to fail me, but Your Word says You will never fail me. Help me to see with spiritual eyes and understanding. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
Make a list of the things you are dissatisfied with in your life. Ask God to help you identify things on the list that within your capability to change. Then pray for God’s Grace to help you learn to live with contentment with those items that are unchangeable.
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Old 06-28-2005, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuro's Wife
Happiness or Joy?

This glorious living may not necessarily look glorious to the person consumed with the ways of the world. That person will tell you fame, riches, sex, and the list goes on, will bring you happiness. And that is true. You may find happiness. But remember that the word happy comes from what is happening. Your joy depends on your circumstance when you are living a life that looks and searches for joy within tangible things.

Take away that thing or person that makes you happy and who are you? Do you have an identity apart from whatever it is you depend on for joy? It is a sad perspective of self when you depend on the happenstance of someone else’s concern for you to find joy in life. Yes, we are to enjoy one another. God made us to love one another in relationships. But we should not depend on one another for joy moment by moment. That’s impossible for anyone to live up to in your life.

Know this: it is the unseen, intangible and eternal work of the cross in your life that will bring you true joy and life. Jesus said to find your life you must lose it first. Is everything about you these days? There will be ups and downs all along this road of life, but it’s the foundation that you build your life upon that determines if your house will stand. Did you know Scripture mentions God as the Rock 42 times in the Bible? And Jesus is referred to as the Chief Cornerstone.

As long as you depend on others for your joy, you will be on a roller coaster ride of emotions for the rest of your life. The foundation of Christ is the only One who brings stillness in the midst of the storm. Your home, built upon the Rock of Jesus Christ, will not falter or fail if the winds of change or difficult circumstances come.
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS!! Tis so true!! thanks for posting Nuro'sWife!
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Old 06-29-2005, 09:47 AM
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Default "Godliness with Contentment...Great Gain" (Part 2)

June 29, 2005
"Godliness with Contentment...Great Gain" (Part 2)

Amy Kidd
Graduate of
She Speaks Conference

Key Verse:
1 Timothy 6:6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (NIV)

Devotion:
Be Faithful with the Little:

Yesterday we talked about how unhealthy comparisons and “happiness dependence” can distract us from living a life of joy and contentment; happiness being dependent upon what is “happening” at the moment verses joy beyond any circumstance. Now I want to talk about another area that brings with it contentment and fulfillment, a sense of purpose.

Are you looking for a purpose? Well, you were certainly made for one! He has one for you in his divine plan for mankind. Yes, there is a plan and a blueprint. He has revealed bits and pieces of it to us throughout His Word, but by faith, we must trust Him with what is yet unseen and undone.

There are very few big things God will ask you to do in this life, but there are so many more small things with great impact that He has purposed for us as well. It’s the everyday tasks and acts of obedience in which God delights. He desires for you to be faithful with the little before He can give you much.

Mother Teresa didn’t become famous because she did “big” things for God. She became well-known because she was obedient each day to the specific call upon her life. She was faithful with the small acts of kindness that, once they were added up, became a monument of service to God. Her daily life was an example to so many.

Are you being faithful with the little, what some would consider “small acts of kindness”? Are you being obedient with the day-to-day activities of life? I hope so, because it is in the day-to-day life where God prepares our foundation for our purpose and ministry. It is the everyday life where miracles occur.

Christ was faithful to the Father and fulfilled His mission on earth. He models our ultimate example. Although the climatic purpose in His life was His death on the cross, it was the day-to-day obedience to the Father that brought Him to death on the cross and ultimately His resurrection. Breaking the bread, washing people’s feet, kicking stones out of the way to help pick up a woman off the road, creating some red wine for a gathering and building tables as a carpenter were not mundane activities at all. They were the extravagant pieces of a finite puzzle God was putting together. And so, it is with you.

The next time you begin to wonder how God could be glorified in a seemingly insignificant, boring day-to-day task, remember that God is building a foundation. He is putting together a wonderful puzzle where each piece of your life fits into the next, to create something more grand than your physical eyes are able see.

It is your obedience that is greater to God than any big sacrifice. Keep sowing, even in drought, for the rain will come and in due season you will reap a harvest – if you do no give up. Satan wants you to compromise and give up. He doesn’t want you to keep sowing because he knows that a harvest of blessing awaits your faithfulness.

You will learn the joyful art of contentment through tending the daily activities God has given you. Allow God to redefine for you the meaning of success and stay faithful with the little because much more is coming!


My Prayer for Today:
Father, help me to be content with the lot You have assigned me and to be faithful to the promptings of your Spirit today. I know You have a wonderful plan in place and a purpose for my life. Help me to remember to give thanks in all things and to be faithful with the little, knowing in due season I will reap a harvest of blessings if I do not give up! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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Old 07-05-2005, 08:57 AM
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Default I've Been Scammed

June 30, 2005
"I've Been Scammed"

Glynnis Whitwer
Senior Editor P31 Woman magazine, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

Key Verse:
2 Corinthians 11:13-15a, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” (NIV)


Devotion:
I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. It came wrapped in a flattering official-looking letter, announcing that my son had been selected to be in “Who’s Who of Middle School Students.” It looked wonderful, but it was a scam.

Maybe I was thrown off by the colorful letterhead, the actual street address, and the website and phone number. Maybe it was the honor of my child being recognized nationally. Maybe it was the fact that they repeated over and over there was no charge to be in the book. It was also the follow up letter to say they had received the bio. I was hooked, and sent my check for $50 to purchase a copy of this wonderful chronicle of my son’s entrance into the national scene of accomplished children.

When the book didn’t arrive, I called the number and left a message. No response. I went on the website and sent an e-mail. No response. Finally a year later, I decided to try the Internet and typed in “Scam Who’s Who of Middle School Students.” Low and behold, I wasn’t the only one who’d been ripped off. Yuck!

I thought I was smarter than that. I watched for certain signs scam artists use, and when I didn’t see them, I plunged right into deception. In hindsight, I wish I had tried to see a copy of an actual book.

Paul warned about an even greater deception that would come upon Christians. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 11, Paul warned the believers about false teachers. Verses 13 through 15a read, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” (NIV)

These false apostles weren’t preaching the true Gospel of Christ, and weren’t living according to Christ’s teaching, but the Corinthians still tolerated them in their midst. Paul warned them – don’t believe everything you see and hear!

The book of Matthew records the words of Jesus about this subject as He wrapped up what theologians call the Sermon on the Mount. In chapter seven, verses 15 and 16, Jesus warns, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” (NIV)

From these two verses we are warned that Satan will try to deceive us cloaked as an agent of God, and we can identify deception and deceivers by the “fruit” they produce, by the evidence of truth over time. Occasions for deception are at every turn. Scripture speaks often of false Christian teaching, but it can happen through trusting our emotions, trusting wrong belief systems (e.g. I’ll never amount to more), investment opportunities, and more.

My experience with the Who’s Who book taught me to watch and wait for “fruit.” Studying Scripture, learning about the unchanging heart and character of God, and learning the teachings of Christ and His apostles will prepare us to identify true spiritual fruit when we see it. And on the other side of the coin, to recognize deception too. As my pastor says, “Time and truth go hand in hand.”


My Prayer for Today:
Heavenly Father, You are the source of all truth and light. I praise You for Your goodness and righteousness. Help me to learn Your truth and ways so that I can identify deceptions when I see them. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
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Old 07-05-2005, 08:58 AM
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Default Mentoring - Moments or Meetings?

July 1, 2005
"Mentoring - Moments or Meetings?""

Renee Swope
Director of Proverbs 31 Speaker Team, Speaker and Author

Key Verse:
Mark 3:14, "He appointed twelve ... that they might be with him and that he might send them …" (NIV)


Devotion:
Just "talking" didn't seem like a good way to mentor someone, but that is all we had done. "I wonder if she's disappointed in the lack of spiritual depth I brought to our conversation today?" I thought to myself as I pulled out of the parking lot.

I had just met with Lisa, a young mom and friend who had asked me to be her mentor a few months earlier. We hadn't really talked about God much that day, and I didn't remember sharing any verses to encourage her. We had talked about our marriages. I listened as she described what she was doing that week to prepare to sell their home. She explained how God helped them find a new owner for their dog. Our boys played on the slides and climbed through tubes for at least two hours, but Lisa and I just talked. I drove away feeling like our time together wasn't "productive."

That's when God grabbed the measuring stick out of my hand, whacked me on the head, and said, "Renee, this is a relationship. It is about being together." Okay, He didn't actually hit me on the head, but He did get me in the heart.

For weeks, He'd been showing me how important relationships are to Him. Reading through the Gospels I had noticed how much time Jesus spent with people. He wasn't nearly as task-oriented as I tend to be. In fact, His highest priority was being with people. Mark 3:14 says, "He appointed twelve…that they might be with him and that he might send them." Notice, before He sent them, He wanted them to "be with him."

Even when Jesus did have somewhere to go or something to do, He often changed His agenda to be with someone who was seeking Him. This happened after Jesus met a woman at Jacob's well one day. She went home to tell her family and friends about Him, but hearing about Jesus wasn't enough. "They urged Him to stay with them and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, 'We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves and we know this man really is the Savior of the world.'" (John 4:39b-42, NIV)

Those men and women's lives were changed because they had been with Jesus. That is how Jesus mentored people. He didn't have agendas for these meetings. He was simply available in everyday moments that became the chalkboards for everyday life-lessons. Jesus asked great questions and listened for answers that gave insight into the lives of His friends and followers.

If we want to be like Jesus (and I hope we do), we will imitate the way He lived. We will be available for "mentoring moments" by looking for natural ways to share our lives through relationships. There will be times when God leads us to discuss Scriptural truths and days when prayer needs to be priority. Sometimes there will even be circumstances that call for admonition. But the effectiveness of our mentoring won't be based on how "spiritual" our time is or how much Godly advice we give. It will be based on how well we are getting to know the woman God has called us to mentor, and how well we are letting her get to know us.

I recently saw my friend, Lisa, at a church event. She has blossomed into a gifted woman and is growing beautifully as a wife, mother and child of God. I watched her from a distance and wondered if our times together had made a difference. God answered my question when she came up to me with tears in her eyes and said, "I don't think I ever thanked you. You'll never know what a difference you made in my life."

More than anything, Lisa wanted a friend who would listen, a heart that would pray, a life she could watch and a shoulder to lean on. Isn't that what every woman needs? Perhaps God is calling us to be that for someone today.



My Prayer for Today:
Lord, is there a woman in my life who needs a friend and mentor? Is there someone who wants to go where I am headed, who is willing to follow along, who I can lead toward the place You are calling her? If so, please show me who she is, and how you want me to share my life with her.



Application Steps:
Read Titus 2:3-4. Reflect on God's calling for women to mentor women.
Make a list of three women you know who are at earlier phases in their journeys.

Pray for each of them about: their relationship with God, marriage, parenting, ministry, career, etc.

Ask God to show you if any of them need encouragement that you can offer.

Wait for God to show you the next step and be ready when He does.
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Old 07-05-2005, 08:59 AM
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Default The Freedom Cry

July 4, 2005
"The Freedom Cry"

Susanne Scheppmann
Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member, Co-editor of Online Devotions

Key Verse:
Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (NIV)


Devotion:
"But as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" This famous quotation, written March 23, 1775, by Patrick Henry was the heart-cry of an American patriot. This month many of us will commemorate the freedoms the United States still provides for our families and ourselves. We will celebrate with pool parties, fireworks, and barbecues.

When we celebrate our freedom, we recognize that many veterans gave (and are still giving) their lives to enable the freedoms in our lives. Our patriotism rises within in us. We may sing the "Star Spangled Banner" with goose bumps and tear-moistened eyes to acknowledge their sacrifices.

As women of the Christian faith, we acknowledge that Jesus Christ also gave His life, on the Cross, for our freedom. The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm." However, in the Christian walk of faith lies a paradox. The paradox being we must also die to gain our freedom. We must die to self. Again, Paul states in Galatians, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."

This paradox of dying to self to gain our own freedom is difficult. How do we claim our freedom in Christ? We must examine our lives regularly. We must ask ourselves, do my actions line up with what the Bible says? Do negative thoughts, worry, or bad habits keep me from living my life with joy in Jesus? If the answer is yes, then we must allow the Lord to transform "our thoughts" to "His thoughts." Every time we give Him control over any area of our lives, we die to self.

Jesus explained this concept as "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." As we die to self, Christ reproduces peaceful thoughts and healthy habits in us. His sacrifice on Calvary allows us to have freedom, yet we must be willing to die to self to gain the freedom He offers.

Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India, said it like this, "If I refuse to be a corn of wheat that dies ('is separated from all in which it lived before') then I know nothing of Calvary love."

As we celebrate our American freedom, this month, let us have our own patriotic cry of faith. "But as for me, give me liberty in Christ; let me die to self!"



My Prayer for Today:
Father, I thank you that I live in a country where democracy and freedom rule. Help me never to take this privilege for granted. I praise you that I am free in Christ, also. Give me the strength that I might die to myself and allow Christ to live in me.



Application Steps:
Tell someone today about the freedom Jesus Christ offers.
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Old 07-05-2005, 09:03 AM
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July 5, 2005
"Serving in a "Me First" Society"

Sharon Jaynes
Vice President of Proverbs 31 Ministries Radio, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

Key Verse:
Romans 12:9-10, "Don't just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other." (NLT)


Devotion:
Have you ever had one of those days when you said, "I've had enough. It's time for him to take care of me. I wash the clothes, pick up the clothes, cook the meals, buy the groceries, vacuum the floors, dust the furniture, scrub the bathrooms, and pay the bills. I'm not doing another thing to 'serve' this man. I am not a servant, by George!"? For years I have heard the phrase that marriage is a 50/50 proposition. But the question is, who gets to decide when one spouse has hit the halfway mark? Author and marriage expert Dennis Rainey notes, "It's impossible to determine if your spouse has met you halfway because neither of you can agree on where 'halfway' is. Each is left to scrutinize the other's performance from his or her own jaded perspective."

If you want to try a contest in your home, how about seeing who can out-serve the other?! Jesus calls each of us to serve one another. It seems we are much more agreeable to serving our friends than serving our husbands. And yet, when we serve them, we are in effect serving Christ Himself. "When you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me," Jesus said.

In Jesus' last days with His disciples before the crucifixion, I would imagine that his mind was racing with last lessons to teach His followers before He was gone. On their final night together, as they were eating the Passover meal, He got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash their feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him (John 13:4-5). After He finished, He put on his clothes and returned to His seat asking them, "Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." (John 13:12-15, NIV)

Can you imagine the disciples' awe as their Lord and Master took on the role of a servant and stooped to wash the mud and dust from their filthy feet? When He did this, it wasn't a simple act of kindness. He was actually fulfilling a need that the others had refused to meet. It was customary in those days for the host of a dinner party to have a servant wash the guests' feet. Men and women wore leather sandals as they walked the dusty, sometimes muddy, roads of the Holy Land. Nothing felt better than to sink calloused, throbbing feet into a cool basin of water and rinse away the cares of the day. However, on the occasion of the last supper, there was no servant available to wash the guest's feet and no one volunteered.

So, God-Made-Man wrapped a towel around His waist and did what no one else was willing to do. Afterward, He sat down and said, "Now you do this too."



My Prayer for Today:
Father, would you run a check on my attitude toward serving my husband today? Help me to take delight in serving him even when I feel like I am doing all the work. Grow my love for him as I press on to meet the needs that You have created me to meet in his life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.



Application Steps:
Think of one thing you can do this week to serve your husband. Perhaps it's giving him a back rub that is long over due. Or maybe it's simply helping him with a project, or ironing his work-shirts without grumbling - whatever you need to do to let your husband know that you desire to be the "helper" God made you to be so that your attitude reflects that of Christ.
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Old 07-06-2005, 08:46 AM
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July 6, 2005
"Living in the Fast Lane and Looking for an Exit!" - Part 1

Micca Campbell
Director of Outreach, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

Key Verse:
Matt 6:33, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all else will be add unto to you." (NKJ)


Devotion:
A die-hard fan said to a woman sitting next to him at the Super Bowl Stadium, "I'm surprised to see an empty seat at the Super Bowl stadium."

"It was my husband's," the woman explained, "but he died."

"I'm very sorry," said the man, "yet I'm even more surprised that another relative, or friend, didn't jump at the chance to take the seat reserved for him."

"Beats me," she said. "They all insisted on going to the funeral."

There are many reasons why we find ourselves living on the fast track of life. One of those reasons may be because our priorities are out of order. If I were to ask you to list your priorities in order of importance, most of you would write something like this: God, Family, Church, Health, Job, and so on. In the end, most of you would feel pretty confident about the way you listed your priorities. I mean, isn't God suppose to be first? No, He's not … He is to be our everything!

We shouldn't live our life as if we have our own priorities and we carve out a slot for God. The believer's very life isn't his own - it's God's. Our priorities should be the ones that God sets for us. Only then, will we find true balance.

Have we somehow forgotten what an awesome, all-knowing, all-powerful, God we serve? Have we forgotten what a huge gap there is between our Holy God and us, His creation? The Word of God tells us there is no one like Him in all the heavens or earth. God is a jealous God and He will not share His glory with anyone or anything. From God's perspective, there is not a second or third thing to follow after Him, because there is nothing else that can compare to His Greatness. The Lord stands alone. He is simply the main thing.

In order to exit off the fast lane of life, we need to let God be the main thing in our lives and allow Him to set our priorities according to His purposes. A great example of this is found by looking at a day in the life of Christ, found in Mark 1:21-35.

He got up and went to work teaching at the church in Jerusalem. His co-workers respected him for his ability to teach, and His ability to stay on task when interruptions occurred. Demons were a big distraction in His day. Yet, Jesus would quickly handle the disturbances by telling them to "be quiet and go away!"

Now I realize that you and I may not face many demons during our day; however, we do face distractions that can keep us from accomplishing what we need to achieve. Like Jesus, we need to "cast out the demons." In other words, we need to identify the pot-holes in the road that waylay us and get rid of them quickly.

Jesus was not only good at discerning distractions; He was also sensitive to the moments that were divine appointments from God. Not all interruptions in Christ's day, or ours, are bad. As Jesus went about teaching, He was often interrupted by the sick, the blind and those bound in sin. What was His reaction? Christ stopped teaching to heal, give sight, and set the sinner free. Don't forget that while Jesus was God, He was also man. He felt the pressure of the crowds. He knew what it was like to have people depending on Him, just like those who are counting on you and me.

So, how did Jesus know which interruptions were distractions and which ones were divine appointments? How did He handle all that responsibility, stress and strain without losing it? His secret is found in verse 35. "Very early the next morning, Jesus got up while it was still dark and went to a scheduled place and prayed." (NKJ)

Jesus' time with God wasn't something He tacked on to an overcrowded schedule. It was His highest priority, and where He discovered God's priorities for His life. This is where He got renewed, restored and ready for whatever the day brought. And this is precisely where you and I so often miss out. Unlike Jesus, we attempt to live life in our own energy. We think we can keep giving out without getting replenished. Then, wearied by the life, we become impatient and annoyed with the very ones God puts in our path.

If Jesus needed to spend time alone with God in order to be successful in His earthly ministry and to have a peaceful, balanced life, then how much more do you and I need to do the same? Priority One: Make God the Main Thing, and all else will fall into place.



My Prayer for Today:
Dear Lord, I'm guilty of not making you the Main Thing in my life. As a result, I've not been available to those you have placed in my care. I want to be like You, Lord. I want to be a blessing to others. I want to live the peaceful, balanced life that You intend me to have. As I seek to meet with you every day, reorganize my priorities so that my life is pleasing to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.



Application Steps:
Spend time with God today. Don't just say a quick prayer and read a few verses; fellowship with Him. Tell God how much you love Him and desire to know Him. Stay there until you sense His presence. Then you'll know you have met with Him and your day will be empowered by His guidance.

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Old 07-07-2005, 07:22 AM
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Default "Living in the Fast Lane and Looking for an Exit!"

July 7, 2005
"Living in the Fast Lane and Looking for an Exit!" - Part 2

Micca Campbell
Director of Outreach, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

Key Verse:
Romans 12:2, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and the perfect will of God." (NKJ)

Devotion:
Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over. The problems began when Chippie's owner decided to clean his cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. That’s when the phone rang. The bird owner turned to pick up the phone and barely said "hello" when "s-s-s-s-lurp" … Chippie got sucked in.

The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie – still alive, but stunned. The bird was covered with dust and soot. The owner grabbed him, raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was now soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do . . . she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air. Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.

A few days after the trauma, the reporter who had initially written about the event contacted Chippie's owner to see how the bird was recovering. "Well," she replied, "Chippie doesn't sing much anymore. He just sits and stares." It's hard not to see why. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over is enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart.

Like Chippie, life in the fast lane can make us feel sucked in, washed up and blown over, too. Especially when we have to take a detour for which we hadn’t planned. While detours seem to make life more hectic, I have good news. A few extra bumps in the road doesn’t have to mean more stress in our lives. We can find peace and balance even on a detour. The secret is to trust God, enjoy the scenery, and change the way we think about the detour.

It’s not your circumstance that gets you down. It’s what you think about your circumstance – and we can choose what we think about. No one can make us think ugly thoughts toward someone who has hurt us. No one can make us think jealously about what our neighbor owns compared to what we have. And no one can make us think lustful thoughts about our co-worker … not even the enemy. He may plant those thoughts, but it is us who waters them, coddles them, and causes them to grow. What is the result? Strongholds.

When we allow wrong thinking to guide us, eventually strongholds such as anger, bitterness, pride, arrogance, and unforgiveness will take root and choke out our peace, contentment and joy.

This is why Paul challenges us to “transform our minds” from worldly thinking to Godly thinking. How do we do that? By developing the mind of Christ through studying and memorizing His Word. Once God’s Word is in our minds, it works like a sword and cuts off our old way of thinking. Then, we no longer have to ask, “What would Jesus do?” We can KNOW exactly what Jesus would do in any situation, once we take the time to develop the “mind of Christ.”

Thinking the way God intended is the antidote to wrong thinking. Once you’re in His Word, the scales will fall from your eyes and they will become wide open! Then you will be able to see truth that sets you free from all that binds you. Once again, you’ll find yourself back on the right road that leads to a life of peace and contentment.

Author John Maxwell in his book, Thinking for a Change, writes:

Change the way you think and it will change your beliefs.

Change your beliefs and you’ll change your expectation.

Change your expectation and you’ll change your attitude.
Change your attitude and you’ll change your behavior.
Change your behavior and you’ll change your life.


God has not taken His hands off the wheel of your life. You have not escaped His attention. He knows where you are on this detour. Though He may seem a million miles away, God is there. He is your ever-present help. You can trust Him in the desert detour. You are not there by accident. It is in the barren land that God is working to break the chains that bind you and restore the song in your heart. So, don’t believe the lies. Instead, accept His divine detour, embrace His plan, and trust His heart. It’s the only way to think.



My Prayer for Today:
Dear Lord, I don’t want to believe lies about you or my situation any more. Help me to trust you while on this detour. Help me to see that you are guiding my life and I’m not alone. Help me to learn what you are tying to teach me so I can be more like Christ. Amen.

Application Steps:
Go to the index of your Bible or ask someone to help you find Scriptures that relate to your situation and write them on index cards. For example, if you need peace, find those Verses and write them down. Next, post them all over your house. Read them daily until God’s Truth transforms your mind and sets you free from wrong thinking.

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Old 07-08-2005, 08:43 AM
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This is awesome, pratical devoitions. Thanks for posting!
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Old 07-08-2005, 10:57 AM
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Default "Living in the Fast Lane and Looking for an Exit!" - Part 3

July 8, 2005
"Living in the Fast Lane and Looking for an Exit!" - Part 3

Micca Campbell
Director of Outreach, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

Key Verse:
Isaiah 26:3, "You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you." (TEV)


Devotion:
For the past two days we have been looking for exits off the fast lane that can help us slow down and enjoy life the way God intended. Today's exit is called Purpose.

In order for us to have balance, peace, and fulfillment in life, we have to discover our God-given purpose. Before I discovered mine, I was a lot like the "Little Engine That Could." Do you remember that children's story? Somewhere along the line I adopted the Engine's motto as my life's purpose: "I think I can, I think I can…"

Whenever someone asked me to do something, I quickly responded, "I think I can." "Micca, can you be room mom this year for all three of your children?" "I think I can." "Can you chauffeur the baseball team, hold a rummage sale, give a wedding Tea, and leap tall buildings in a single bound?" "I think I can! I think I can!" Only I discovered, I can't.

I discovered that I'm not called to be everybody, but somebody. We are not called to go everywhere, but to somewhere. That somewhere is at the feet of Jesus - listening and finding our purpose so that all the wrong activities in our lives that cause chaos will fall away and the really important ones will take the lead.

Knowing your purpose in life has many benefits. It narrows and simplifies your life. It helps you make decisions with confidence instead of basing them on your emotions. You'll know to what to say "yes" and to what to say "no" - guilt free. Mostly, it will fill your soul with joy and satisfaction beyond your imagination. Why? Because you will be doing exactly what you were created to do.

Determining your purpose is really easy. First, consider the things God has already entrusted to you, like your relationship to Him, and your relationship to your family members. Next, ask God to show you where and how you are to serve. I understand the world teaches "me first," but when you begin doing what you were created to do, you will want to serve.

By answering these four questions with the first thing that comes to mind, you'll be able to determine your purpose in life.

First, what do you love? I love to teach God's Word. I love to challenge others to come up higher and to go further and deeper with God. What you and I love reveals the gift God has given us to fulfill what we are called to do.

Second, what do you hate or what makes you angry? I hate that we live in a world where there is a lack of moral, Godly character. I hate that the Ten Commandments have been taken out of our government buildings; and that our children can't pray in school. Our anger reveals what we are called to correct.

Third, what makes you cry? Suffering of others makes me cry. Because I know the pain of loss, I have a ministry of compassion for those who hurt. Whatever makes you cry is what you're called to heal.

Fourth, what annoys you? "Religious" people annoy me. Those who follow a bunch of rules and then, by their rules, lead others into the same bondage in which they are. Whatever annoys you will reveal the kind of people who will be attracted to you. They may be an annoyance, but you are their answer.

Most people spend their lives trying to decide what they want to be and do some day. When in reality, we need to ask the One who created us what our purpose is. Only then, will life make sense.

The exit to a slower, simpler life is right around the bend. For the past few days, you've slowed down enough to read the exit signs:
REORANIZE YOUR PRIORITIES

CHANGE YOUR THINKING

DISCOVER YOUR PURPOSE


How about pulling over and exploring these exits? You just might decide to stay on the simpler side of life.



My Prayer for Today:
Dear Lord, I'm tired of trying to do it all. I want to live a slower life where I can enjoy my family and my relationship with You. Help me to discover my purpose and cut away all other things that You have not told me to do. Then, by Your grace, allow me to experience true joy, balance and satisfaction that comes from doing only what You've called me to do. Amen.



Application Steps:
Since God's plan for your life is the only one that matters, ask Him to show you how to use what you love, hate, what makes you cry, and what annoys you to focus your life so that you're living on purpose. Then, regardless of how others may try to plan your life, stick only to God's plan.
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Old 07-11-2005, 07:26 AM
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July 11, 2005
"Better Late Than Never"

Glynnis Whitwer
Senior Editor P31 Woman Magazine, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member, editor@proverbs31.org

Key Verse:
Matthew 21:28-29, "What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went." (NIV)


Devotion:
My husband and I didn't pick the smartest week of the year to get married. We were juniors in college and got married two weeks before classes started. On one hand, we prepared all summer; on the other, we had little time to squeeze in a honeymoon before school and jobs started up again.

Between moving into our new apartment, working part-time, and full-time school, writing thank-you notes for our wedding gifts fell to the bottom of my to-do list. Month after month went by, and it was Christmas break before I seriously thought about them again. By that time, I was just plain embarrassed to send out notes. My closest family received them, but I neglected the rest.

That breach of etiquette has bothered me for 22 years. It probably explains why I'm a stickler for my children and me to write thank you notes for every gift. In hindsight, I should have sent out the notes at Christmas. Truly "better late than never" should have been my guiding principle.

Jesus spoke about a similar principle in the parable of two sons (Matthew 21:28-32). Both were asked to work in the vineyard by their father. One said "no," but changed his mind and went. The other said "yes," but didn't go. Jesus asked the poignant question, "Which of the two did what his father wanted?" The answer was the first.

Jesus used this parable to show the religious leaders that the "tax collectors and the prostitutes" were entering the kingdom of God ahead of them. The religious leaders professed to obey God in their heart and actions, but they didn't. I think this is a principle we can apply to our everyday life.

Many times we know God is calling us to do something. It could be to share our faith with a co-worker or family member. Perhaps God has been tugging on our hearts to increase our financial giving. Maybe we need to take a leap of faith and change careers, go back to school, or do mission work. We say "yes" when God first prompts us, but then do nothing. Time goes by, and we think, "It's too late now."

Unfortunately, that type of thinking leads to disobedience. This parable shows us that it's never too late to obey God. It doesn't matter how old you are, or what you've done since God first asked you to do something. It doesn't even matter if you've stomped your foot, crossed your arms, and told God "no." Today you can make your Father happy by doing His will.

We serve a gracious God who doesn't hold our disobedience against us. We may need to confess it as sin, but when we do, it's as good as gone. If God has asked you to work in the "vineyard" and you've said no, or delayed obedience, make today the day you get to work. I wonder if I still have that wedding gift-list …



My Prayer for Today:
Precious Lord, I praise You for Your compassion and kindness. You are worthy of all my praise and all I have to offer. I confess the times I have disobeyed You by saying "yes" and then not following through. I pray for strength through Your Holy Spirit to walk in obedience. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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