Tag Archives: Liz Curtis Higgs

A Place to Begin When You Don’t Know Where to Begin

Liz Curtis Higgs FEBRUARY 19, 2016

A Place to Begin When You Don’t Know Where to Begin
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 (NIV)

A cold February night many winters ago. Snow was falling thick and fast, blowing across my windshield. Not far ahead I saw the glowing lights of a bookstore.

Liz, you drove through a snowstorm to buy a book? I did. But it wasn’t just any book.

Minutes earlier, seated in a toasty warm office, I’d confessed my sins (well, most of them) to the pastor of the church I’d started attending. I told him enough to get my point across, to convince him I was a “Bad Girl.”

The pastor gently said, “So, you lived a worldly life.”

I was confused. “No, I did all that stuff in America.”

He smiled. Then he prayed and encouraged me to read the book of John.

I bolted out of his office, intent on buying a Bible right then and there, snow or no snow. The bookstore was deserted. The cashier was freaked out about the weather. But I found what I was looking for: the biggest, thickest study Bible in stock.

Safely back home, I opened my new Bible and read today’s key verse: “In the beginning was the Word …” (John 1:1a, NIV). Um … did this mean back when God created the earth? No, even before that. “Before the world began, the Word was there” (John 1:1a, ERV).

So, God wasn’t talking about a printed book filled with words. He was talking about His Son.

I kept reading. “And the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1b, NIV). Father and Son, together with the Holy Spirit, bound throughout eternity. Three in one, like water in three forms: liquid, vapor and ice.

I couldn’t believe so much mind-boggling truth was packed into a single verse. Is the whole Bible like this? I wondered.

Sitting there in my drafty old apartment, where central heat was little more than a rumor, I let the truth of John 1:1 sink in, warmed by the words and what they revealed about this God I was only beginning to understand.

Then I read the next verse. And the next. I inhaled the book of John, then the Psalms, then the letters of Paul. I couldn’t get enough, didn’t want to stop.

As the months went by, I feared my enthusiasm for the Bible might wear thin. That once I’d read each page, the words wouldn’t be as exciting the second time, let alone the tenth time.

Seriously, Liz? Nothing could be further from the truth! Every time I read a familiar verse, God reveals a richer, deeper meaning. And when I find a new-to-me passage? Pure joy.

Beloved, is that how reading the Bible is for you? An ongoing journey of discovery, an endless adventure? Or has it become a duty, a task, something to be checked off on your daily to-do list?

Maybe it’s time to change that.

All over the world, Bibles are waiting to be opened. On shelves and under beds, on top of coffee tables and inside dresser drawers. Waiting, waiting. In your house. In my house. In lots of people’s houses.

When we finally dive into God’s Word, a light comes on. Things inside us fall into place. Our hearts begin to heal from years of brokenness. We have a new reason to get out of bed in the morning. We’re drawn to a place of worship where we can serve and to a body of people we can love.

One book can do all that? It can. It will. Just begin. Go slowly. One verse a day, maybe two. Break each verse into phrases, then into individual words. What is God saying? What does it mean? How could you apply it to your life right now, this very day?

Heavenly Father, help me keep my Bible close at hand and foremost in my thoughts. Prompt me to reach for Your timeless Word every day and open it with joyful anticipation of what You will show me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” (NIV)

Deuteronomy 30:14, “… the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” (NIV)

1 John 2:5a, “… if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Liz Curtis Higgs’ latest Bible study, It’s Good to Be Queen, explores the queen of Sheba’s journey to Jerusalem in search of something rare and precious: wisdom.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Most of us really want to spend more time in God’s Word. Is finding a moment to yourself your greatest challenge? Choosing a Bible translation? Figuring out where to begin? Suppose you started with just five minutes, get the First 5 app or use a Bible you already own and opened it to the book of John. What might happen?

© 2016 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

Can God Handle Our Doubts?

Liz Curtis Higgs JANUARY 22, 2016

Can God Handle Our Doubts?
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24b (NIV)

If you’ve ever whispered: “I’m not sure what I believe, Lord. I just don’t have enough faith,” then be encouraged. A story in Mark 9 shows us what God can do when we wrestle with doubt.

First, we meet a desperate father, whose son was possessed by a demon that threw the boy to the ground, leaving him rigid and foaming at the mouth. Jesus’ disciples tried to drive out the evil spirit, but failed.

When the Lord arrived and learned what happened, He didn’t mince words. “You unbelieving generation … how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Mark 9:19, NIV). He rightly called them, “You faithless people!” (Mark 9:19a, NLT), because faith was the missing element.

Jesus wasn’t unhappy with His disciples. Rather, He was pointing out the spiritual state of the crowds who followed Him but hadn’t placed their trust in Him. Because of their unbelief, demons roamed the land. Because of their lack of faith, a young boy lay stiff on the ground. Because they doubted God’s power, His people couldn’t call upon it.

Beloved, we needn’t wonder why there is so much evil and suffering in the world when people who claim to know God have stopped believing in His power. Deep down, they don’t think He can triumph over evil. They aren’t convinced He can really fix things. They may call Him the great I AM, yet struggle to believe it.

Listen to this boy’s father, whose words reflect that kind of uncertainty: “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22b, NIV).

“If?” Clearly this man didn’t know who he was talking to, because Jesus can do anything! Still, we can be every bit as doubtful as this needy father. We place our requests before God, then take them right back, fretting over how we’re going to solve our problem, not convinced God can really do anything about it.

The Lord repeated this man’s words back to him — not to mock him but to underline the father’s misplaced doubt. “‘If you can’? said Jesus” (Mark 9:23a, NIV). It’s a gentle but firm reprimand as well as a loving reminder of His power.

Then comes the good news we’ve been waiting for, the response to his question, “Can you help me, Lord?” The answer is “Yes, yes, yes!” Jesus told the man, “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23b, NIV).

A man who thought nothing could be done, yet pleaded for something to be done, just learned all things can be done.

I love what happened next. “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, …” (Mark 9:24a, NIV). This father didn’t think at length about the Lord’s words. No, he responded instantly. We can almost feel the tightness in his chest, the stinging sensation in his nose, as he tried to keep from crying. But he had to speak, had to blurt out the truth.

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24b).

There it is: his confession of faith. And, in the same breath, his admission of doubt. What an example for all of us! He embraced the unbelief inside him — his fear, his uncertainty, his trust issues — and gave it all to Jesus, saying, “I do have faith! Please help me to have even more” (Mark 9:24b, CEV).

For those of us who believe in God, worship God, and yet have times when we doubt, here is proof that we can admit our lack of faith to God and ask for His help.

He knows how to ease our suspicions and fears, our misgivings and apprehensions. He can handle our cynicism, our incredulity. He understands our doubts.

However wobbly our faith may be at times, our trustworthy God never changes. He hears and answers when we cry out, “Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior” (Psalm 38:22, NIV).

Heavenly Father, we want to believe. Help us with our unbelief. Remind us Who You are. Remind us You can do anything. Keep our eyes on Your Word and our lives in Your hands. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Luke 24:38-39a, “He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see.’” (NIV)

Mark 5:36b, “Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Liz Curtis Higgs’ devotional, Rise and Shine, offers encouragement to start your day in the right way, bringing you gentle humor, poignant stories and biblical lessons to strengthen your faith.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Our loving God is not afraid of our fears, nor does He have doubts about us when we have doubts about Him.

What doubts or fears do you harbor in your heart? Ask God to help your unbelief, and trust Him to strengthen your faith.

© 2016 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

Lord, I Want to Be Like This Woman

Liz Curtis Higgs DECEMBER 18, 2015

Lord, I Want to Be Like This Woman
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“She … worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” Luke 2:37b (NIV)

Tucked within the gentle folds of the Christmas story is a woman whose life was a living testimony to faithfulness. We read about her in just three short verses found in Luke 2:36-38.

Her name, Anna, means “grace,” her family name means “face of God,” and her devotion to Him ran deep and wide.

Anna was married in her youth and then widowed after just seven years. Can you imagine her heartache in that time and place where motherhood was the end-all, be-all?

Even so, we have no record of Anna weeping. Only worshiping the Lord. Night and day. Year after year.

Who does this? Seriously, it’s a level of commitment most of us can’t get our heads around, especially during the holidays when we’re dashing through the snow to pageants, concerts, banquets, something.

Our wise sister Anna realized being in the Lord’s presence was celebration enough.

And while in His presence, she fasted. Not to lose weight or cleanse her body from toxins or to impress others with her piety, but to honor God. “When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:17-18a, NIV).

He surely saw Anna that day in the temple. She was 84 years old, but you’d never know it to watch her in action. When Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the temple for Mary’s ritual cleansing and the presentation of their firstborn son to the Lord, Anna didn’t miss a beat.

At the Holy Spirit’s prompting, she made a beeline for the Christ child, “coming up to them at that very moment” (Luke 2:38a, NIV). We sense her urgency, her excitement, her conviction.

After decades of worshiping and fasting and praying, Anna was prepared when she encountered the Savior. She was filled up, ready to spill out, and so “she gave thanks to God” (Luke 2:38b, NIV).

Amazing. Anna didn’t complain about the long wait, the lonely years, the emptiness of her stomach, the stiffness in her knees, the hardness of the temple floor. She simply gave thanks.

We’re listening, Lord. And watching. And learning.

Instead of remaining with Mary and Joseph, making idle chitchat, Anna then turned to everyone else in the temple courts that day, and “spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38c, NIV).

Anna gazed beyond His birth, beyond His life, beyond His death and straight through to His resurrection. The people of God longed to be redeemed, but that was only possible through sacrifice. The stark reminder of that truth hung in the temple air — the spilling of blood, the bleating of lambs, the burning of flesh on the altar.

Did Anna know this innocent child would one day suffer to set his people free? You can be sure of it. Scripture tells us she was a prophetess, which meant she not only heard from the Lord, she also knew what the ancient prophets foretold.

Anna was prepared and so prepared the way. Now it falls to us, 2,000 years later, to follow in her footsteps. To tell everyone we know, everything we know about Jesus.

When we ease our breathless pace, when we stop, look and listen, we can sense the gentle weight of His touch and take comfort in the warmth of His presence.

In this season, in every season, let’s pause and remember Immanuel: God with us.

Heavenly Father, each aspect of Anna’s worship convicts me, in particular her sacrifice of physical comfort for spiritual intimacy. You deserve more than the few crumbs that fall from my too-full calendar. You deserve my best. A heart of worship, night and day. A willingness to add fasting and more prayer time to my life. Please teach me to be still, to wait, to listen and always to give thanks. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ezra 8:23, “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” (NIV)

Psalm 100:4, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Liz Curtis Higgs’ book, The Women of Christmas, is a gift book, devotional and Bible study in one, exploring the stories of Elizabeth, Mary and Anna, unwrapping each verse with tender care.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Because Anna was a unique woman in many aspects — her religious upbringing, her role as a prophetess, her lodging in the temple — it’s easy for us to say, “Well, I could never be like her.” But still …

There are things about Anna that we can emulate. How might Anna serve as a role model for you? And in what ways might God be asking you to dwell more closely with Him in the year ahead?

© 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

Overcoming a Sizable Fear

Liz Curtis Higgs NOVEMBER 20, 2015

Overcoming a Sizable Fear
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” 1 John 4:18 (NLT)

My flight was in the boarding process as I settled into my aisle seat, 7-B, and began to pray for whomever might sit in 7-A.

Sadly, I wasn’t praying for that person’s soul — I was praying for his or her size. I dearly hoped the stranger would be petite, someone who wouldn’t feel miserable squished next to an abundantly blessed woman on a tiny commuter plane.

Please, Lord?

I watched the passengers file past, apprehension mounting. My opening patter was well rehearsed: “They keep making these planes smaller, don’t they?” or “Sure wish my hips could fit in the overhead compartment.” Anything to put him or her at ease.

Moments later a slender, smiling boy appeared beside me. “I’m 7-A.”

I beamed at him. “Wonderful!” He had blond hair, perfectly round glasses and the pink cheeks of late childhood. I pegged him at 9 or 10, maybe even a mature age 8.

He climbed into his seat, barely taking up half of it, and announced, “I like this plane. It’s my size.” He leaned toward me and added in a stage whisper, “It makes me feel bigger.”

Bless his heart.

I asked his name, wondering what it must be like to travel alone at such a young age, then gently patted his arm. “I’m here if you need anything.”

The child talked non-stop for the first 30 minutes before folding over and drifting off to sleep. Watching him, I resisted the maternal urge to smooth back his hair. So young.

When the engines grew louder, signaling our descent, my neighbor woke up with a yawn, glanced at his watch and grinned. “Whaddaya know? My birthday is next week.”

Picturing a big party in the works, I asked, “Which one will this be?”

“15!”

My smile froze in place. It couldn’t be. Not this small boy, no taller than a third-grader.

I could only imagine the snide comments his peers threw at him. Or the many clueless strangers like me, who treated him as if he were a half-grown child instead of a full-fledged teenager.

“Happy birthday,” I murmured, my heart breaking for him. What must it be like to be smaller than people expect?

It’s like being larger than people expect.

I looked down and fumbled with my seat belt, suddenly feeling exposed. Just like this self-conscious teen who kept his defense tactics at the ready — “It’s my size” — I had my verbal arsenal loaded as well, deflecting imagined criticism by beating people to the punch — “They keep making these planes smaller, don’t they?”

No, Liz. They don’t.

The time had come to see my self-effacing banter for what it was: fear of embarrassment, fear of rejection.

What if you don’t like me? What if you say something unkind?

Today’s key verse, 1 John 4:18, helped change my thinking. God promises that His “perfect love expels all fear.” The truth is: People may not love us. But God does. If we embrace His love, we won’t fear the approval of people and can instead focus on loving them.

“If we are afraid,” 1 John 4:18 continues, “it is for fear of punishment.” Rude stares, rolled eyes, hurtful comments. Such things might come from people, but never from the Lord. As our verse concludes, such fear “shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”

I not only want to experience God’s perfect love; I also want to give it away. Now whenever I fly alone, I offer a different prayer. To be more other-conscious and less self-conscious. And to seek God’s approval alone.

Heavenly Father, the size of our hearts is infinitely more important to You than the size of our bodies. Help us cast aside our fears and replace them with Your truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (NIV)

Proverbs 29:25, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Want more encouragement about embracing the woman God created you to be? Liz Curtis Higgs’ new book, It’s Good to Be Queen, explores the remarkable life of the Queen of Sheba, an ancient role model for modern women.

Stop by Liz’s blog where her post, “What Will People Think?” expands on Proverbs 29:25, offering further encouragement for letting go of fear.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Your fears may be entirely different than mine, yet they still reflect a need to fully embrace God’s love.

Day in and day out, what are you most afraid of? How might a deeper awareness of His love help you overcome that fear?

© 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

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

The Power of Being Ordinary

Liz Curtis Higgs SEPTEMBER 18, 2015

The Power of Being Ordinary
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 (NIV)

When I first embraced God’s gift of grace, I knew almost nothing about the Bible. I bought my first copy on a snowy Friday night, intimidated by the size of it, overwhelmed by the notes in the margins and the maps in the back.

I started with the book of Psalms because it looked like poetry, and I was undone by the end of the first verse. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” (Psalm 1:1, NASB)

Sinners, scoffers? I knew these people. We used different words — party animals, bad girls — but they were my friends. My before-Jesus friends. The people I had walked with, stood with and sat with, just like the Bible said.

Though I loved them, I no longer wanted to do the things they did. Was it possible to change? To be made new? The next verse showed me what a person of God did: “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2, NASB).

Wow. So simple. 1) Read the Bible with enthusiasm. 2) Think about what you’ve read. Bam.

No wonder my new friends from church kept telling me to read God’s Word. In a world filled with problems, He provides answers.

I started taking my Bible to work, catching a few minutes here and there to read and digest. I didn’t understand all of it, couldn’t keep the characters straight and wasn’t clear on how everything fit together. But this much I knew: for the first time in my life, the Bible made sense.

A co-worker, seeing my excitement, asked me what I was reading.

“The Bible!” I told her. “Do you have one?”

She laughed. “Not one like that.”

So, I bought one for her, the same make and model as mine. That turned out to be a blessing, because our Bibles had the same page numbers. Seriously, when you don’t know Chronicles from Corinthians, those numbers come in handy.

We started meeting together once a week in the conference room at work, with our matching Bibles and our fill-in-the-blank workbooks designed for new believers. I stayed one weekahead of her in the workbook, figuring if she asked me a question, I had a better chance of knowing the answer.

Me, leading a Bible study? Talk about the blind leading the blind! By that point, I knew maybe three verses by heart. Three. But I also knew the One who wrote them.

I brought nothing to that study but the Bible in my hand and Jesus in my heart. Like our verse today says, I was “unschooled” and “ordinary.” I had no training, no biblical knowledge and no experience in making disciples. The Greek word for “ordinary” is idiótés, which pretty well sums things up.

Those disciples in Jerusalem? Their boldness … their confidence … didn’t come from having been in school. It came from having “been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). And it came from being “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 4:8, NIV).

For those of us who struggle, thinking “I don’t know much” or “I’m not smart enough” to share the Bible with others, our first-century brothers show us the way. Spend time with Jesus, through worship and the Word, and trust the Holy Spirit to do the talking.

Heavenly Father, even as I diligently study the Bible, remind me it’s not about what I know, but Who I know. Help me lay down my weaknesses and embrace Your strength. Help me put aside my words and share Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Corinthians 2:13, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Want more encouragement about trusting the Lord and sharing His Word? In Liz Curtis Higgs’ new book, It’s Good to Be Queen, you’ll meet the earthly Queen of Sheba, who discovers wisdom’s heavenly Source.

This week on her blog, Liz is exploring why it’s good to be humbled by God.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Spending time in God’s presence and in His Word transforms us from the inside out, preparing us to share His love and His truth with our hurting world.

If you’ve felt “unschooled” or “ordinary” when it comes to handling God’s Word, what encouragement have you found here to bolster your courage? Who might you study the Bible with, trusting the Holy Spirit to do the teaching?

© 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

And God Said, “Ta-da!”

Liz Curtis Higgs AUGUST 21, 2015

And God Said, “Ta-da!”
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.” Psalm 149:4 (NASB)

Feeling less than likeable? A far cry from beautiful? Today’s encouragement from God’s Word might be just what you need to change your view.

First, the Lord takes pleasure in you. He doesn’t simply accept you, forgive you or put up with you. He delights in your company. He celebrates your place in His kingdom. “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5b, NIV).

What about your family history, your personality, your popularity? People worry about those things, but not the Lord.

So, your education, your resume, your bank balance? Impressive or not, none of that changes how God values you.

Even your behavior doesn’t alter His kind affection for you. His love is unconditional and irrevocable. God doesn’t love you because you’re wealthy or clever or good. He loves you because you’re His. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1a, NIV).

Even more good news? The Lord says you are beautiful. Not just slightly attractive or marginally appealing. Beautiful. You are lovely to look at because “God created mankind in his own image” (Genesis 1:27a, NIV). And that includes you.

As today’s verse, Psalm 149:4b, tells us, “He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.” You are beautiful beyond description when you’re covered in His grace.

We are endlessly obsessed with our earthly appearance, doing everything possible to look our best, to measure up, to please others. Yet invariably, we look in the mirror and are disappointed with the results.

But not God. He knew exactly what He was doing the day He knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

Some women are quick to say, “Maybe God was pleased when He made me, but I’m not sure He’s happy with how I turned out …”

Listen. God knows your first breath and your last (Psalm 139:16), He counts every hair on your head (Matthew 10:30), and He stores all your tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). Our God? He is not surprised or disappointed with how you turned out. He loved you then, He loves you still and He will love you forever.

We get in trouble when we compare ourselves to others, always finding someone who is younger, taller, thinner, more athletic, more graceful … the list goes on.

But God does not compare. God does not clone. Each of us is a unique work of His creation. You are God’s definition of beautiful for you, beloved. Are you ready to see yourself as God sees you?

Here’s a simple exercise I’ve been teaching women for ages. Every morning, stand in front of a mirror (fully dressed, of course), stretch up your arms with joy, and say it like you mean it: “Ta-da!”

Feels good, yes? Looks good, too. You can’t say it without smiling, which always improves things. “Ta-da!” is the LRV (the Lizzie Revised Version) of “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31a, NIV).

We’ve all known beautiful women who, when they opened their mouths, quickly lost their appeal. And we’ve also known average-looking women who love the Lord with all their hearts, and it shows on their radiant faces. Gorgeous.

When the light of Christ shines through us, we are utterly transformed. That’s the real story, the hope of glory, the ultimate “Ta-da!”

Father God, many of us have struggled with our appearance or sense of worth all of our lives. Let this be the day we turn away from the world’s lies and embrace the truth of Your Word and the beauty of Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 3:11a, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Liz Curtis Higgs’ newest book, It’s Good to Be Queen, explores how you can become as bold, gracious and wise as the queen of Sheba, as it addresses thorny life questions and considers which qualities best serve a godly queen of any realm.

Stop by this week, as Liz explores why “He Is Worthy of Our Praise,” on her blog.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Since God’s opinion of us is the one that truly matters, we need to remind ourselves daily that we give Him pleasure and He considers us beautiful.

Is there a verse in today’s post you want to memorize? Or an idea you want to study further? To help you see yourself the way God does, Liz Curtis Higgs has created laminated cards with some of today’s encouraging message plus vinyl “Ta-da!” stickers to pop on your mirror. Ten winners will receive a “Ta-da!” card from Liz, chosen at random from all who comment on today’s post.

© 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

Why It’s Good to Be Bold

Liz Curtis Higgs JULY 21, 2015

Why It’s Good to Be Bold
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” 2 Corinthians 3:12 (ESV)

I’m a take-charge chick, so I always thought boldness was a good thing. Fearless, confident, adventurous? Yes, please. But when I asked a roomful of sisters in Christ, “Who wants to be bold?” only a few hands shot up.

Uh-oh.

Later, I chatted with some women in the audience, hoping to find out why boldness held little appeal to them. One told me, “I don’t want to seem pushy.” Another said, “I’m too shy for that.” And a third added, “I’m afraid I’ll come off as arrogant.”

Ah. Now I get it. When we go bold on our own, it can look pretty ugly. Demanding, controlling, my-way-or-the-highway. That’s not what we’re shooting for. A steamroller approach doesn’t honor God and seldom gets the job done. We don’t want to flatten people; we want to lift them up.

It’s time for boldness to get a makeover, because His Word shows us it’s good to be bold.

When the queen of Sheba challenged King Solomon to a battle of wits, she was decidedly bold. No other monarch in Scripture dared question the wisest man on earth. Others came simply to hear Solomon’s wisdom; Sheba came to test it.

After Solomon answered every one of her difficult questions, Sheba confessed, “But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes,” (1 Kings 10:7a, NIV). She came, she saw, she conquered her doubts, and in the end found what she was searching for: a God infinitely bolder than she was.

Queen Esther demonstrated great boldness when she approached the throne of King Xerxes, saying, “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish,” (Esther 4:16b, NIV). What a role model for women in every century! Before she put her life on the line to save her people, she wisely asked them to fast and pray, that she might be given favor by the king.

Boldness can be a risky business, but only if we do it on our own. When the Lord leads the way, we can follow Him without fear, knowing the outcome is always in His capable hands.

Queens aren’t the only bold souls in Scripture.

When the disciples prepared to share the gospel, they prayed, “Enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness,” (Acts 4:29b, NIV). They knew they couldn’t drum up boldness on their own, so they called on God to help them be unafraid and unapologetic.

The Lord quickly answered the disciples’ prayer: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly,” (Acts 4:31b, NIV). Boldness is really about God, then, and not about us. Rather than a personality trait, it’s an attribute of the Holy Spirit.

Even if we don’t have a leadership role like Sheba or Esther, we can be bold because of the One who empowers us. When God resides in us and works through us, His strength sustains us. As our key verse today says, “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.”

What might boldness look like in our day-to-day lives?

Starting a home Bible study and inviting neighbors who don’t know God. Praying with a stranger who has just shared her struggles with you. Visiting a women’s prison with a group from your church and sharing God’s love.

When we let His boldness pour through us, we’ll discover, “He crowns the humble with victory,” (Psalm 149:4b, NIV). God gives us a different sort of crown from the queen of Sheba’s gold one, but it shines far brighter. And it shines forever.

Heavenly Father, I want to do bold things for You, but fear of others often gets in the way. Help me care more about serving You than pleasing people. When I hold back, nudge me forward. When I get scared, banish my fears with the assurance of Your love. Strengthen my heart and mind so I can boldly share Your truth with those who are hurting. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 28:1, “The righteous are as bold as a lion.” (NIV)

1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Liz Curtis Higgs’ new book, It’s Good to Be Queen, releases today and explores how you can become as bold, gracious and wise as the queen of Sheba.

Study the Bible each week with Liz! Sign up for her Wednesday posts by clicking here.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Being bold doesn’t need to come naturally. In fact, it’s more effective when it comes supernaturally.

What person or situation in your life could benefit from your boldness — humbly sharing the good news of God’s forgiveness or speaking a hard truth in love? Ask God right now for the courage to move forward.

© 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

It’s Good to Seek Wisdom

Liz Curtis Higgs JUNE 19, 2015

It’s Good to Seek Wisdom
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the LORD, she came to test Solomon with hard questions.” 1 Kings 10:1 (NIV)

Anytime my mother wanted to put me in my place — let’s say I was flouncing around the kitchen in some dime-store costume, wearing borrowed makeup and putting on airs — she shot me a stern look, one eyebrow arched: “Who do you think you are? The queen of Sheba?”

If she meant to scold me, it didn’t work. Sorry, Mom. Being the queen of Sheba sounded positively delicious. To my way of thinking, she was Delilah, Nefertiti and Cleopatra all rolled into one — an exotic beauty from a foreign land with wealth, power and appeal beyond anything a small-town girl could fathom.

Is that how you’ve imagined her too? Then it’s time to meet the real queen of Sheba and leave the Hollywood version behind.

A leader of uncommon boldness and vision, this real-life queen traveled from the ends of the earth to seek wisdom, drawn to King Solomon’s doorstep because of his bond with the One true God, who was wisdom Himself.

This remarkable woman journeyed for two months across an unforgiving desert — on a camel. All we have to do is cross the room, reach for our Bibles and God’s wisdom is ours for the taking.

Maybe that’s the problem. His Word is so convenient, it’s conveniently forgotten. I’ll read it later. I’ll start tomorrow.

Or we wait until we’re desperate for answers, then don’t know where to find them. We aimlessly flip from one chapter of the Bible to another, looking for a verse that will magically solve everything.

The queen of Sheba took a different route. As we see in our key verse, she put her royal life on hold and made seeking wisdom her number-one priority. Here’s what she teaches us about wisdom by her good example:

1. Wisdom requires time.
We say, “Time is money,” but the truth is, time is worth more than money. It can’t be bought, sold or bargained with. Each minute ticks by, never to be seen again. If we can spend 10 minutes each morning bathing in a hot shower, we can spend at least 10 minutes being cleansed by His Word. “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, NIV).

2. Wisdom requires sacrifice.
When I first embraced the grace of God, He clearly instructed me to unplug my television and start reading the Bible. Do what?! It was hard at first, but as the months went by, I forgot about what I was missing and rejoiced in what I was learning. “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7, NIV).

In case you’re curious, the television eventually returned, but with greatly diminished appeal. God’s plan, absolutely!

3. Wisdom requires humility.
I hate admitting I don’t have all the answers, yet that’s what seeking wisdom is all about. It’s saying, “Lord, I haven’t a clue, but You do.” Admitting, “I don’t know, but I know the One who does.” Only then will God’s wisdom be revealed for what it is: His and His alone. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2, NIV).

As the queen of Sheba discovered, information is interesting and facts are fascinating, but wisdom is world-changing. Wisdom is the resource we bring to the workplace, the encouragement we offer to our friends, the gift we give to the body of Christ, the legacy we leave for our children.

However full our schedules, adding just one more line to our to-do list can make all the difference: Open God’s Word. Find wisdom there today.

Father God, help us never take Your Word or the wisdom it contains for granted. Give us a passion for learning and a thirst for Your Truth. Fill us with the courage to ask hard questions and seek wise answers from You alone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 2:6, “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (NIV)

Colossians 1:28, “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Liz Curtis Higg’s new book, It’s Good to Be Queen, explores how you can become as bold, gracious and wise as the queen of Sheba. Pre-order your copy today and receive an exclusive collection of 4×4 Queen Cards that will put God’s wisdom front and center in your life.

Visit Liz’s blog for more encouragement.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
More than 3,000 years ago, the queen of Sheba sought the wisdom of King Solomon and discovered its Source, making her a worthy role model for her modern sisters. Solomon likely penned most of the book of Proverbs in the Bible. Consider reading one chapter a day, starting today. If you do, you will have read the entire book of Proverbs in a month.

Of the three needs mentioned here in our quest for wisdom — time, sacrifice, humility — which one is the most challenging for you? What step could you take this week to help you begin to overcome that obstacle and grow in wisdom?

© 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

Loving the Other Mother

Liz Curtis Higgs MAY 8, 2015

Loving the Other Mother
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24 (NIV)

The truth? I am not what my mother-in-law prayed for. She would have been happy with Mary or Martha as a wife for her godly son. Instead, she got Rahab. That is to say, a former bad girl, slightly tattered around the edges, continually grateful for God’s grace.

Because I lost my own mother to emphysema in my twenties, the idea of getting to know my husband’s mother was both thrilling and intimidating. Given time, I hoped we might become mother-daughter close. But as each year went by, I became less certain of my place in her heart.

Did Mary Lee Higgs love me for making her son happy and giving her two brilliant grandchildren? Yes, absolutely.

But did she like me as a person? Approve of me as a daughter-in-law? I wasn’t entirely sure, and so I emotionally held her at arm’s length, guarding my still-tender heart.

Yes, I did all the right things, especially on Mother’s Day — greeting cards, fresh flowers, dinners out, nice gifts. But I wasn’t fully invested in her happiness the other 364 days of the year, in part because I had no idea what might please her most.

Then I became a mother-in-law. Oh.

I quickly began making amends with Mary Lee, finally understanding the one thing she needed from me — unconditional love, expressed in as many ways as possible. Because of God’s kindness (and her patience), our last five years together were sweeter than all the years that came before them combined.

If you have a mother-in-law, it’s never too late to strengthen or rebuild your one-of-a-kind relationship. Which of these practical ideas might work best for you?

Praise her good points.
Just as you may wonder if she likes you, your mother-in-law may think you don’t like her. So, “Honor her for all that her hands have done … “ (Proverbs 31:31a, NIV), praise her every chance you get and help put her unspoken fears to rest.

Brag about her son.
At any age, mothers long to know they did a good job. Sincerely compliment your husband’s fine character or commendable actions, then watch his mother light up, just as God’s Word says: ” … may she who gave you birth be joyful!” (Proverbs 23:25b, NIV).

Forget the MIL jokes.
Humorists have milked the stereotype of the overbearing mother-in-law for ages. Even if it’s funny, such humor hurts rather than heals. Look for laughs elsewhere and hold her in high regard. “Give to everyone what you owe them … if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:7, NIV).

Request a favorite recipe.
Gourmet or everyday, her home-cooked meals fed your growing husband. Find out his favorite dish and ask his mother to share the recipe. Like you, “… she provides food for her family …” (Proverbs 31:15b, NIV), and might be tickled for one of her dishes to become your favorite.

Be all in.
In Scripture, Ruth’s pledge to stick faithfully by her mother-in-law Naomi, whatever their future might hold, sets a high bar for us all: “… Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay” (Ruth 1:16b, NIV). If necessity required it, could you welcome your mother-in-law into your home? Or willingly live under her roof? Does she know that?

Give thanks.
Show your gratitude for the woman who raised the man you love. She wasn’t a perfect mother, but she was his mother. Still is. Always will be. Even after she’s gone, honor her memory and be grateful for everything she did and was. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV).

As relationships go, this one can be complicated, which means it also has the potential to go deep and wide. Open your heart, my friend. Let her in.

Father God, our earthly relationships give us the chance to mirror our heavenly relationship with You. No matter where things stand with our mothers-in-law right now, help us be more loving, more grace-giving, and more kind in the days ahead. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (NIV)

Leviticus 19:32a, “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God …” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Want a splash of encouragement to start your day — or the perfect gift for your mother or mother-in-law this May? Liz Curtis Higgs’ Rise and Shine offers engaging stories, upbeat advice and heartfelt prayers to brighten your morning.

All this spring, Liz is exploring why “He Is Worthy of Our Praise” on her weekly blog.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
One of the last things my mother-in-law Mary Lee said before she stepped into the arms of her Savior was, “Family is a good investment.” Yes, it is, Mom.

Of the six steps above, which one will you invest in today?

© 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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