Tag Archives: devotions

How to Study the Bible: 10 Practical Tips to help you Understand God’s Word

The Bible is a love letter, a set of instructions, the inspired Word of God and so much more. But if we’re honest, it can also be confusing, overwhelming and intimidating. With so many authors, parables and translations, it can be difficult to wrap your head around all the Bible has to offer. Get into the Word and begin to better understand the Gospel with these Bible study tips.

10 Bible Study Tips

  1. Prepare Your Heart: Say a prayer of thankfulness before diving into God’s Word. This will align your heart and your mind as you seek to know Him more.
  2. Strive For Consistency: Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, try to set aside a consistent time every day to dig into scripture.
  3. Set The Tone: Listen to praise and worship music before getting started to focus your heart and your mind. Stock up on your favorite tunes with our Buy One Get One 50% Off sale on all music.
  4. Avoid Distractions: Be honest with yourself about what pulls your focus away from God and avoid it during your quiet time.
  5. Engage With Community: While individual time with God is important, spending time getting to know Him with your brothers and sisters in Christ can be incredibly effective.
  6. Make Time: If you can’t find time to sit in God’s presence, write down everything you do for a few days. You’ll likely notice patterns and identify areas that are consuming you.
  7. Change Up Your Technique: Don’t be afraid to use more than one devotional or tool to avoid falling into a rut. Use a Study Bible or document your journey with God in a Journaling Bible.
  8. Revisit Verses: The beauty of God’s Word is that it is alive. This means scripture may speak differently to you depending on what season you are in.
  9. Pick Out Patterns: The Bible is full of promises, warnings and instructions. Choose a color for each theme and highlight passages that relate.
  10. Ask For Clarity: Ask God for clarity when you don’t understand something. He is ready and willing to impart His wisdom if we simply ask.

What are some of your go-to Bible study tips?

What Does It Mean to Be Made New?

Liz Curtis Higgs OCTOBER 30, 2015

What Does It Mean to Be Made New?
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

When this Former Bad Girl received Christ, you can imagine what my coworkers thought when I danced out the door on a Friday afternoon shouting, “Party!” and then strolled in Monday morning saying, “Praise the Lord, I’ve been baptized!”

Did they notice? Oh, baby.

As spring turned into summer, I soared and stumbled along my new walk with Christ, watched carefully by my coworkers, who were curious about the changes they were seeing.

One October day, our receptionist asked me, “Liz, what does it mean to be a Christian?”

Uh-oh. The most important question ever. Did I have an answer at the ready? I did not. Desperately looking around for inspiration, I saw a ceramic pumpkin on display and stammered, “Oh, Alice, it’s just like being a pumpkin.”

“Really?” she asked. “What do you mean by that?”

Friend, I had no idea what I meant. After silently pleading for the Lord to make sense of my nonsense, I said, “Well, God chooses us out of the pumpkin patch of life.” Whew.

“No kidding?” Alice nodded thoughtfully. “Tell me more.”

More? Another prayer, another leap of faith. “We’re dirty, right? From being out in the field? So, God washes us on the outside. That’s like baptism. Then He pierces our thick skins with the double-edged sword of His Word so He can clean out all that icky stuff on the inside.”

Alice made a face, no doubt remembering the last time she’d plunged her hands into a warm, slimy pumpkin. Squish.

“Yuck,” I agreed. “And those slimy seeds? Bitterness and discontent can cling to our hearts just like those stubborn seeds. Thank goodness God is willing to clean us out, because He’s the only One who can.”

“Okay …” She was still listening, still taking it all in. “Then what?”

The Lord had a swift answer for both of us.

“He gives us a brand new face, Alice.”

I swallowed hard, overwhelmed by her open expression, knowing God was at work, right then and there. “He gives us eyes that see like His, without blinking or turning away. A nose to capture the fragrant aroma of His sacrifice. And a mouth that smiles with joy.”

“Then …” I blinked away tears. Oh, Alice! Do you see? “He fills us with the light of His Spirit and puts us out in a dark world to shine for Him.”

Her eyes widened. “Boy, that all makes so much sense!”

My hands shook as I reached for a pencil, wanting to write down everything God had shown us. Over the years, I shared this parable in many places, until it took on a life of its own and began spinning around the Internet. If it ever appears in your inbox, now you know the rest of the story!

What matters most is what happened next: Alice was made new.

Not long after our conversation, Alice gave her heart to God and was scrubbed clean, inside and out. Just as today’s verse tells us, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Alice’s old life wasn’t nearly as hairy and scary as mine, but she was forgiven all the same. So was I.

And those slimy seeds that represent our old sins? God has a plan for those, too. They can be sprinkled with salt, roasted to perfection and shared with others, just as we can use our past experiences to speak to loved ones who are stuck in the yuck.

Heavenly Father, when I invited You inside my dark heart, I feared my less-than-lovely past would turn You away forever. Yet, You willingly plunged Your holy hands into my unholy mess and gave me a new heart. This season and every season, Lord, help my sisters and me shine for Your glory, praying others will hear Your story. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (NASB)

John 4:35b, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Celebrating 20 years of encouraging young hearts, The Pumpkin Patch Parable is available in a big, new Parable Treasury, combining four stories by Liz Curtis Higgs — one for each season — especially for children ages 4-7. Liz has 10 copies to give away! (U.S. addresses only — thanks for understanding.) We’ll choose 10 winners at random and send email notifications to each one by Monday, November 2.

Stop by Liz’s blog, where she offers a free weekly Bible series on opening God’s Word and embracing the Good News.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Over the centuries, our Creator has revealed the promise of His redemption through story, music, dance, art, drama, spoken word — He is endlessly creative.

Ask God to give you a new way to capture the profound truth of the Gospel, then look for an opportunity to share it this weekend with someone who needs to hear about Jesus.

© 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

Sometimes I Talk Too Much

Lysa TerKeurst OCTOBER 29, 2015

Sometimes I Talk Too Much
LYSA TERKEURST

“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” Proverbs 18:21 (NLT)

I have some opinions.

I have some thoughts.

I have a plethora of words that beg to be spoken.

And if I’m not careful those words can be too much. Maybe you can relate.

Unchecked words that come too fast bring with them a rush of trouble. That’s why it’s important for us to consider three things with our words …

1. Listening should take precedence over speaking.

Honestly, I think a lot of relationship troubles could be solved if we made the commitment to listen more than we speak. Gosh this is hard, isn’t it? Sometimes when I’m listening to someone all I can focus on is when I’m going to be able to jump in and say what’s screaming in my brain. Later I realize all that focus on my next words prevented me from really listening to what they were trying to say.

What if I made the commitment today to do more listening than speaking? I’m going to challenge myself to not interrupt. Wait until there is a true pause in the conversation. Truly consider what the other person has said. And then respond with care.

“To answer before listening — that is folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13 (NIV)

2. Words should be measured.

I need to engage my brain before I engage my mouth. Just like I consider how a purchase will affect my bank account, I have to consider how words will affect my relationship account. I can do this by thinking about how my words will come across and intentionally asking myself if there are better words that could be used in this situation?

“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2 (NIV)

3. Once words are spoken, I can’t un-speak them.

Once words come out of my mouth I can’t gather them back in. It’s like once you squeeze too much toothpaste out, you can’t get it back into the tube. Now certainly, I can quickly say I’m sorry. I can ask for forgiveness. I can attempt to make the wrong right. But I can’t un-speak my words.

“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” Proverbs 18:21

If my greatest desire is to honor the Lord with every word I say and interaction I have, these three things are crucial for me to keep in mind. Instead of allowing my flesh reactions to lead me, I’ve got to boss my thoughts and opinions around using God’s Truth.

Dear Lord, I always want my words to reflect the fact that You live within me. But sometimes my first reaction isn’t as God-honoring as it should be. Help me to keep these three perspectives in mind as I deny my flesh response and follow Your teaching in this. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 10:19, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” (NIV)

Galatians 5:16-17, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Join a community of women who want to honor God with their actions and reactions with our next free online Bible study of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, UngluedSign up here.

Get ready for the study by purchasing your copy of Unglued today!

RELFECT AND RESPOND:
Consider the three points Lysa gave in today’s devotion. Which of these speaks to you the most?

Choose one point and determine to implement it in your conversations and responses this week.

© 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

How to Find an Unshakable Identity

Glynnis Whitwer OCTOBER 28, 2015

How to Find an Unshakable Identity
GLYNNIS WHITWER

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 (NIV)

For so many years, I had the ability to move from success to disappointment in a heartbeat. Just when I thought I had it all together, something happened. I’d forget an appointment. Snap at one of my children. Or procrastinate on a project until I was stressed out and mad.

I’d built my identity on the shaky foundation of my circumstances and abilities. As soon as the delicate balance was tipped with a mistake, misstep or mishap, I kicked it in to overdrive to try and compensate. But all that frenetic activity never made a lasting difference.

My roller coaster identity took me on a wild ride for years, but not the fun theme park kind. It all changed when I read about the difference between being and doing. These two things are opposite, but somehow, I had connected them.

Why do so many of us draw a straight line from our actions to our identity? Why are we so quick to connect dots that aren’t there, slap a label on ourselves and believe it to be true? We stumble and call ourselves clumsy. We forget to pay a bill and call ourselves stupid. Our home is cluttered, and we call ourselves pathetic.

Those aren’t lines God draws. Only Satan, the enemy of this world, draws a line from our work to our worth. Only the enemy wants us to find our identity in what we do, because he knows when the lights dim and the “success” is gone, so is our value.

God, however, has another identity for us, one that’s unchanging and independent of our actions. It’s as His chosen and beloved child. John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

When I first learned this truth about my identity, it took a long time to accept. Each time I caught my belittling self-talk, I had to make a choice about what to believe. I had to choose to take God at His Word, and believe in His love. This took my faith from academic head knowledge to real-life heart belief.

If I have any doubt that God’s approval is conditioned on my perfect behavior, Romans 5:6-8 tells me the truth: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (NIV).

God’s acceptance of us, and hence our identity, is NOT defined by our actions. So we will never be a “failure” when our performance doesn’t match our expectations. When we reassign the source of our value and worth to its rightful place, we will be free from the fear of failure or the opinions of others. We will be free from the labels we place on ourselves. And free from the shifting sands of our self-worth.

The only thing that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks about us. And that is unchanging. We can rest knowing we are safe and secure in God’s unconditional love.

And once we really believe this truth, our identity will be unshakable.

Heavenly Father, thank You for embracing me as Your beloved daughter. Knowing You will never turn away from me, nor forsake me, fills my heart with joy. I want to love You and serve You more each day, free from the lies that hold back my potential in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Colossians 2:6-7, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (NIV)

John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If your overwhelming circumstances have you feeling like a failure, you’ll appreciate Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book, Taming the To-Do List. It’s filled with encouragement to help you learn the truth about your worth, identify your priorities and develop simple strategies to live that out every day.

Join Glynnis on her blog today for a special announcement about her FREE Do It Now! Challenge and a giveaway of her book, Taming the To-Do List.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What labels have you put on yourself that you would never put on someone else?

How would your life change if God’s thoughts about you were enough? How would you approach your relationships, work and ministry differently?

© 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

Shame No Longer Has Me

Sandi Patty OCTOBER 27, 2015

Shame No Longer Has Me
AUBREY SAMPSON

“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:5 (NIV)

You know that phenomenon when you learn about a new car for the first time, and then begin to see it everywhere? Shame is a lot like that. Once we begin to recognize its presence in our lives, we start to see how much emotional space it takes up.

The difficulty with shame, however, is that it encompasses such a wide range of emotions it can be difficult to define. Perhaps the simplest way to understand shame is to think back on a moment when you experienced it.

You may have felt embarrassment, discomfort or self-consciousness. (I was in middle school when it was cool to have pink and purple braces and bangs up to the clouds, so I definitely know self-consciousness!)

Shame can also express itself in much weightier emotions, like when we feel humiliated, inadequate, injured or abused.

So many women live under the weight of shame without realizing it because we’ve been conditioned by culture and life experience to accept that feeling as normal. Shame is simply always there; it’s that familiar yet profound feeling that we don’t measure up.

Add to all of that, the pressure we often feel as women to be successful, sophisticated and in great shape, we can feel ashamed when we make even the tiniest of mistakes. At its core, an identity of shame is the belief that, in whole or in part, I am not enough. That “not-enoughness” is what drives our shame.

Think about it.

Maybe you regularly view life through the lens of other people’s expectations (real or imagined), and you’re beginning to buckle under the pressure. Perhaps you feel self-conscious about not having a boyfriend or a happy marriage when all of your friends seem content in their relationships.

Perhaps a friend betrayed you, one of your parents was emotionally or physically absent, or your loved one has a secret addiction, and you think it’s all somehow your fault. Maybe you’re stressed about your children and how you handle things at home.

The voice in your head says, I’m not a very good mother. Maybe you feel like a failure because life got hard, and now your dreams seem out of reach, or you just don’t know who you are anymore. Maybe you go through life with ever-present feelings of inadequacy; you worry what other people would think if they knew the real you. Shame lurks in all of these things. (I could go on, but at the risk of depressing us all, I’ll stop there.)

In spite of the overwhelming nature of shame, there is good news. The promise of Scripture is that when we look to God, He transforms our shame into something beautiful — a sparkling, splendorous joy.

It may take time, and there may always be moments in life when we experience shame, but when our identity is centered in Christ — not only knowing who we are in Christ, but knowing who He is in us — we can discard the dark covering of shame and rise in radiance. In other words, we may have shame, but in Jesus, shame no longer has us.

Whether you’re simply having a “not enough” moment, or you’ve been hiding in shame for years, have hope. You can overcome shame, because your Overcomer already has.

Dear heavenly Father, I praise You because You not only remove my shame, You faithfully transform it into something beautiful and new. And while I don’t fully understand it, I know You have the power to help me overcome shame because You’ve already done so on the cross. Open my heart to experience Your love and mercy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Peter 2:6, “For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If shame from your past has imprisoned you, you’ll appreciate Aubrey Sampson’s brand new release, Overcomer: Breaking Down the Walls of Shame and Rebuilding Your Soul.

Enter to WIN a copy of Overcomer. In celebration of this book, Aubrey’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one by Monday, November 2.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Think back over the last few days. What kinds of things — small or large — have triggered shame in you?

In what ways might your life be different if you could be free of shame? For example, consider the impact on your relationships, aspirations, confidence and faith.

When you face shame, what’s one thing you can do to reassure yourself of God’s love?

© 2015 by Aubrey Sampson. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Zondervan for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

Why We Should Stand Our Ground

Tracie Miles OCTOBER 26, 2015

Why We Should Stand Our Ground
TRACIE MILES

“But Shammah stood his ground in the middle of the field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. And the LORD brought about a great victory.” 2 Samuel 23:12 (ISV)

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year — but not for familiar reasons, like cooler weather and colorful trees. I love fall because it’s football season!

My family loves football, and we attend games practically every weekend. Home games are my favorite.

Having the home field advantage makes a huge difference to players. Being in familiar territory with devoted fans cheering them on helps players feel empowered and motivated to win.

When you’re the away team, it’s a whole different game.

Players don’t feel as appreciated or supported. They aren’t used to the environment, and the taunts and jeers from opposing fans can be so loud they become a distraction. As a result, away team members have to stand their ground and play harder to fight for victory.

With football season upon us, I recently found myself pondering how much football and faith have in common. You see, after watching the news, I began feeling discouraged. A world filled with broken people making so many choices that break God’s heart and can detrimentally affect generations to come.

So with a heavy heart, I turned to God’s Word and discovered the story of David’s mighty warriors in 2 Samuel 23:8-17.

Here we see three men who stood firm in their faith, trusted God and claimed victory despite insurmountable odds.

Josheb-Basshebeth killed 800 enemies with a single spear, because the Lord gave him victory.

Eleazar, with only David by his side, fought the battle against the Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword, and the Lord gave him victory.

Then in today’s key verse, Shammah singlehandedly stood his ground against a large troop of Philistines to prevent them from plundering an entire crop of lentils, and the Lord gave him victory.

Each man stood firm in the strength and name of the Lord.

These men didn’t start out as mighty warriors. They were just normal people with flaws and insecurities. Yet they trusted the Lord and were willing to fight for righteousness. As a result, they found victory despite the odds or the size and power of their enemies.

The truth is, even Jesus never had the home field advantage. He was a member of the “away team” in the public’s eye. Always considered the outcast. Always opposing laws and government that went against what was right in His Father’s eyes.

He was scoffed at for not accepting sin and immorality as acceptable, and He was possibly considered intolerant. He was seen as a threat to the ever-changing social norms and persecuted for standing His ground and preaching righteousness.

Opponents whose voices seemed louder and more powerful than Jesus’ (from an earthly perspective) were perpetually trying to silence Him. But He never accepted defeat and instead stood firm.

When the game got harder, Jesus stepped up His game. He stood His ground in the face of persecution. He persevered. He boldly stood up for the Truth without hesitation, all the while maintaining godly character, thoughts and behaviors. He portrayed peace, grace and love to His followers — and even His opponents — in all that He did.

Believers today play the game of life in a territory often opposed to the Word of God. A territory becoming more volatile, dangerous and sinful by the day, making it clear that God’s team of earthly believers is officially the away team.

But just like David’s mighty warriors, we are called to stand up for God’s truth, and stand firm in our faith, even when the odds are against us or it appears we are falling too far behind in the game to gain the upper hand.

Followers of Jesus may feel like the underdog, but we can choose to embrace a mindset of victory and let Jesus be our motivation to keep standing strong in God’s Word.

Let’s allow His voice to be louder in our hearts than any opponent. Let’s trust the Lord will bring victory, and let’s never give in to defeat.

Lord, empower me with courage and enthusiasm to stand firm for Your truths and be confident in my faith, remembering You are still in control. Show me how to stand my ground for You and make a difference in this broken world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Need a resource to help you step out of your comfort zone and live out loud for Jesus? Consider purchasing Tracie Miles’ book, Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past to Create a Beautiful Future.

Visit Tracie’s blog for more encouragement on standing up for Christ in today’s world, and learn about her new inspirational series called Media Mondays.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Have do you let the frustrations of this broken world cause you to lose hope and feel defeated?

How can you stand firm in God’s truths today and get excited about living your life for Him?

© 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

The Entitlement Cure

Dr. John Townsend OCTOBER 23, 2015

The Entitlement Cure
DR. JOHN TOWNSEND

“But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.’” 2 Kings 5:11 (NIV)

Entitlement is an issue that we read about in the news all the time, and yet it’s one we may feel a bit confused about. Fortunately, God’s Word gives us an example of a man who suffered from entitlement. His name is Naaman.

Naaman was a respected commander of a powerful army, a strong soldier, well regarded by his superiors and yet, had leprosy. At this time, there was no known cure for this disease.

One of his servants told him where he could go to be healed. So Naaman went to Elisha with his horses and chariots. Elisha told him that if he washed in the Jordan River seven times, he would be cleansed.

Here’s where we see Naaman’s entitlement: “But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy’” (2 Kings 5:11).

Entitlement encompasses two attitudes: (1) I am exempt from responsibility, and (2) I am owed special treatment. In other words, I don’t have to carry my own burdens, and I should be treated differently.

Naaman presents both of these characteristics in his response. First, in Naaman’s mind, he was owed special treatment or at least a proper acknowledgment. Second, Naaman felt that he should be exempt from responsibility. He didn’t want the responsibility to follow orders by washing in the river.

We all have a Naaman in our lives. Perhaps it’s a co-worker, family member or friend who wants you to wave a hand over their situation and fix their problems. Maybe you have a son or daughter that, despite your best parental efforts, has chosen a path of laziness. They feel they deserve special treatment with no responsibility.

Here’s what you need to remember: Change happens in the presence of compassion. Before you look at that Naaman in your life and pretentiously point out all their failings, remember that you have been a Naaman. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NIV).

Here are a few skills that will help the entitled people in your life:

1. Be truly “for” them. Naaman’s servants wanted him to be healed and didn’t settle for less. Entitled people need support! Even when they drive you crazy, frustrate you and make you feel helpless, they still require the elements of grace. We have all failed, and we will all need second and third chances: “Out of his fullness we have all received grace” (John 1:16). This will help you to have mercy and identify with the person, keeping you away from being judgmental or giving up too soon.

2.  Be clear about your expectations. Entitlement often causes people to not listen well to requirements and to others’ needs and expectations. Because those things don’t support their view of themselves as special and above the rules, they tend to dismiss them. Do all you can to defeat this dismissive attitude by being unmistakable in what you want from them. Whether it is specifically defining a payment plan or writing out a goal for their future career path, err on the side of being over-clear. Clarity requires that you don’t assume anything in your relationship with your entitled person.

3.  Find health. Look for friends, churches, counselors and coaches who are full of grace and truth and who could be a resource for your entitled person. Find where the best relational heath resources are in your area and get them plugged in. In my opinion, offering your entitled friend or coworker this kind of help isn’t being codependent or enabling. It’s supporting them. It’s doing something for them that they can’t do well for themselves.

At the conclusion of the story, Naaman was healed. With some encouragement, patience and wisdom from his servants, Naaman ultimately followed Elisha’s orders.

Entitlement can be cured too. We won’t be able to wave our hands over the problems of our loved ones. We also can’t expect that they will get it right the first time. Most likely, we will have to walk with them down a Hard Way path of healing.

Through compassionately executing these principles along with several more, we can help our loved ones to be made well. I have seen it happen in so many of my individual and organizational clients. God’s paths work for your good and for His glory.

Lord, thank You for a chance to make a difference. Give me compassion for the Naamans in my life. Help me to be “for” them, give them clear expectations and find the proper care. Even if the path toward healing grows uncomfortable, allow me to take the necessary steps to see them through. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.” (NIV)

Luke 9:23, “Then He said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
In a culture that encourages shortcuts and irresponsibility, Dr. John Townsend’s newest book, The Entitlement Cure provides principles and skills to help you both navigate life with those around you who have an entitlement mindset and identify areas in your own life where you are stuck in “easy way” living.

Visit Dr. Townsend’s blog for more on this and other life-changing topics.

Enter to WIN a copy of by The Entitlement Cure by Dr. John Townsend. In celebration of this book, John’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Friday, October 30.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Which of the skills above are you challenged to try out this week, to decrease entitlement and create a better life for you and your loved one?

© 2015 by Dr. John Townsend. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Zondervan for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

The Root of My Rot

Lysa TerKeurst OCTOBER 22, 2015

The Root of My Rot
LYSA TERKEURST

“Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:24 (NLT)

Recently, a friend of mine really hurt my feelings and I got all bent out of shape. And, honey, everyone in my house knew Mama wasn’t happy. I tried everything to usher gentleness back into my tone and my temper.

I quoted verses.

I rebuked Satan.

I bossed my feelings around with truth.

I even tried to take a nap.

But none of these activities soothed me.

What really sent me over the edge, though, was a smell that started to fill my home that not even three strongly scented candles could mask.

Unfortunately, as the mysterious, awful smell continued to waft through my home, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was or where it was coming from.

Finally, I realized my daughter had placed a trashcan in the middle of my bedroom floor so she could toss scraps of paper as she worked on a school project. Some food had obviously been thrown away in that forgotten trashcan that had surpassed gross and moved into the final stages of rot.

I didn’t have the heart to find out what the rot was; I just knew the trash can had to go. Immediately.

The smell was an outside indication of an internal situation. And the trashcan wasn’t the only thing that stunk that night. So did my attitude.

My reaction was also an outside indication of an internal situation.

The reason I couldn’t be soothed by quoting Scripture, bossing my feelings, rebuking Satan or even taking a nap is because God wanted me to be aware of my stink … something inside of me that stunk … a place starting to rot.

I’d been hurt by a friend and didn’t want to confront the issue or forgive the person who had hurt me. I’d stuffed bitterness in my heart and tried to pretend it wasn’t there. But the rot was there and the stink from deep within my heart kept spilling out.

God didn’t want me to temporarily mask the situation by feeling better in the moment. He wanted me to address the root of my rot — to see it, admit it, expose it, let Him clean it up and shut it down. Immediately.

In our key verse, we’re reminded of King David’s plea to the Lord, “Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” We must have this same attitude when it comes to our own lives.

A little rot can spread fast and furiously if not dealt with swiftly and seriously. That’s why it’s so crucial to pay attention to our reactions today.

How we react is a crucial gauge of what’s really going on inside us.

When people or issues or situations bump into our happy, it’s not wrong to feel annoyed. But if that annoyance leads to a reaction out of proportion to the issue at hand, we can bank on the fact that this eruption has a root of rot.

Here are some telltale signs of roots of rot:

  • I throw out statements like, “You always … You never … Why can’t we ever …”
  • I start gathering ammunition from past situations to build my case.
  • I use words and a tone outside my normal character.
  • I justify my reaction by pointing out how hard my life is right now.
  • I demand an apology, all the while knowing I should be giving one.

These are not fun to admit, but here’s the beauty of the situation: The quicker we see a root of rot, the quicker we can get rid of the stink and move forward.

Dear Lord, thank You for bringing to light the rotting areas of my life. Help me to address these areas with Your grace and truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 26:2: “Put me on trial, LORD, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.” (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Win or Lose

Join thousands of women worldwide who want to filter their reactions through God’s Truth with our next online Bible study of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, UngluedSign up today for free!

 

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Is there a place in your life where you need to ask for God’s help to get rid of the rot? Pray about and reflect on the telltale signs Lysa listed in the devotion today.

© 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

When Your Child Makes a Bad Choice

Karen Ehman OCTOBER 21, 2015

When Your Child Makes a Bad Choice
KAREN EHMAN

“For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God.’ So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:11-12 (HCSB)

It was a gray and gloomy day when my ordinary routine of laundry and dishes was interrupted. With no time to spruce up, I soon found myself seated in the vice principal’s office wearing my sweatpants and my shame.

My son had gotten himself in a heap of trouble, the result of a bad choice he’d made in order to please a peer.

My son confessed, and the school issued consequences. My child seemed genuinely sorry for his behavior. The administrator was kind and compassionate. The meeting ended with both of them seeming fine. I, however, was a maternal mess. I just couldn’t shake the stigma of being the mom of a teen who broke the rules and broke my heart.

Ever since my children were little, I have formed mothering equations in my mind. A crying baby in church = a bad mom. A toddler throwing a temper tantrum in public = a bad mom. A teen who broke the rules or the law = a bad mom.

Then, whenever a child of mine misbehaved or made a bad choice, I made the worst choice of all. I scribbled on my tender mama heart yet another untrue equation, wrongly surmising that I was a failure as a mom. And over the years as my child added more wrong choices, my sorrow as a mom multiplied.

There is a family in the Bible that has always fascinated me when it comes to trying to pin the bad behavior of a child on the shoulders of a parent. That family is Adam and Eve and their sons, Cain and Abel.

Cain was the very first man born into the world. His brother Abel was the very first one to die. And how did he die? At the hands of his brother.

The book of Genesis tells us Cain tended to the crops. His kid brother was a sheepherder. A jealous drama ensued between the brothers over the fact that the Lord accepted Abel’s offering yet rejected Cain’s. As a result, Cain was mad. So, one day, he lured his unsuspecting brother out into the field and promptly murdered him.

In this biblical story we see two sons. Each with different likes and passions. Different personalities. Extremely different character qualities.

One was innocent. One committed murder. Yet both had the same parents. If you can draw the conclusion that how a child turns out is the parents’ direct responsibility, then how do you account for these two mismatched brothers? How did one grow up to be a mind-your-own-business, likeable sort, while the other became the first criminal to have his mug shot nailed to the local post office wall?

Were Adam and Eve responsible for these boys’ actions? No. Their choices were their own.

Today’s key verse tells us, “each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). We each are responsible for our own behaviors. We will answer someday for what we did while on earth. Notice we are not told we will answer for others’ behavior — not even our children’s.

So when we are tempted to painfully pin on the badge of “Bad Mom of the Year” because our child makes a bad choice, let’s remember that each of us will answer for our own conduct. Sure we need to teach and model good behavior, but we cannot force our kids to obey. Our role is to pray they develop and grow a personal relationship with God. So when they give an account of their choices, they will not be ashamed.

We must know our place as a praying parent and tether our identity only to Christ.

Father, please help me to do my best to raise my child to make good choices. Help me to find my identity in Christ alone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” (HCSB)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Karen Ehman’s newest book Hoodwinked: Ten Myths Moms Believe and Why We All Need to Knock It Off is available for pre-order. If you purchase the book through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you will receive a free downloadable journal entitled “On My Knees & In My Heart: 5 Mini-Spiritual Retreats for Moms.”

For more motherhood encouragement, visit Karen’s blog today and enter to win a copy of Hoodwinked.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What one or two truths can you remember when your child makes a wrong choice?

© 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

When You Feel Like Giving Up

Rachel Wojo OCTOBER 20, 2015

When You Feel Like Giving Up
Rachel Wojo

“For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? — the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.” Psalm 18:31-32 (ESV)

The alarm would sound any minute. It was time. Time to open my eyes, sit up and face another day. I started the inner pep talk immediately. Maybe today will be different. Things can’t get any worse. Well, maybe they can. No, God’s got this. I had this conversation in my head before my feet ever hit the floor.

Circumstances overwhelmed me and had begun to take a toll on my body as well. I knew God was with me; I’d known that since I was a child. But the perfect life had taken a wild detour, and I found myself in a very imperfect world.

The unexpected journey through divorce and losing my mom to cancer had been tough enough. Now looking ahead, my daughter’s label of “terminal disease” seemed bigger than God.

In my desperation, I didn’t just pray: I cried to the Lord. I needed more than another sermon illustration. More than a checklist of do’s and don’ts. I really needed to know that God was not just near, but that He would get me through this. But how?

My habit of reading the Psalms kicked in, and I fumbled to one of my favorites where today’s key verse can be found: “For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? — the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.”

As I meditated on the verses, the phrase “who equipped me with strength” captured my attention. I found myself begging: Lord, I need the kind of strength only You can give. I need this equipping process, Jesus. Will You please help me?

I dangled my feet over the side of the bed and continued reading. The Psalmist reflected: “You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip” (Psalm 18:36, ESV).

The Holy Spirit prompted me through this reflection. That’s it! That’s what I need to remember! When I feel like giving up, I don’t have to comprehend the entire journey. I only need enough strength to take one more step.

I can take comfort in the fact that God’s plan is always bigger and better than mine.

Echoing the words of the psalmist, I whispered to God that the battle felt enormously overwhelming. I asked Him to equip me with strength only He can give (Psalm 18:39a).

Finally, I moved my dangling feet from the bedside and placed them solidly on the ground, knowing His power would carry me through whatever came my way that day.

Have you felt like giving up lately? Does the thought of seeing yourself on top of the mountain ahead seem too far-fetched to imagine? Let’s stop thinking about the vastness of the journey. Let’s recognize that when things seem out of control, God is always in control. He is with us, and giving us the strength to take one more step.

Dear God, please equip me with strength for today. I know I can’t walk this journey on my own. I need Your spirit to infuse me with energy for the next step. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Job 23:10-11, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside.” (ESV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Rachel Wojo’s new book, One More Step: Finding Strength When You Feel Like Giving Up, will help you learn how to persevere through out-of-control circumstances and gain a more intimate relationship with Jesus.

Do you need to know how to keep going when things are going wrong? Visit Rachel’s blog where she encourages fresh faith.

Enter to WIN a copy of One More Step by Rachel Wojo. In celebration of this book, Rachel’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, October 26.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How can I remember to run to God’s Word when discouragement strikes?

Sometimes the overwhelming circumstances we face make us feel like giving up altogether. But when we begin to rely on God’s strength in place of our own, we can discover how to face those feelings of despair.

© 2015 by Rachel Wojo. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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