Tag Archives: Lysa TerKeurst

What I Never Noticed About Jesus

Lysa TerKeurst February 25, 2016

What I Never Noticed About Jesus 
LYSA TERKEURST

“Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” Mark 6:51-52 (NIV)

I ran my hand over the large rock and closed my eyes. What an incredible moment it was for me to stand where Jesus once stood in the Holy Land. I opened my Bible and let the full reality of all He was facing fall fresh on me.

I wanted to read the Scriptures leading up to this moment where He sat on Mt. Arbel and prayed and watched the disciples, just before walking on water.

But I cautioned myself to read the uncommon sentences. Too many times I highlight verses telling of Jesus’ miracles but skim right past those telling of deeply human realities.

In Mark chapter 5, we see Jesus interacting with a woman desperate to be healed from her bleeding disorder. He frees her from her suffering and gives her peace. And we find Him healing the young daughter of a synagogue ruler.

Miracle!

But we also find in verse 40a, “But they laughed at him.”

In Mark chapter 6 we see Jesus sending out the 12 disciples and as they preached, “They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them,” (v. 13.)

Miracle!

But we also find earlier in verse 3b, “… And they took offense at him.”

We find Him having great compassion on the people who followed Him in the feeding of the 5,000. They all ate and were satisfied by five loaves and two fish.

Miracle!

But we also see that Jesus and His disciples were physically depleted, “because so many were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat,” (v. 31a).

Messy realities tucked in the midst of miracles.

And isn’t it so like us to miss this about Jesus’ everyday life? We hyper-focus on the lines of Scripture containing the miracles so much that we miss the detail of the mess.

Jesus had people laugh at Him and reject Him and misunderstand Him. We know this in theory, but as I sat on that rock that day I suddenly realized what an everyday reality this was for Him.

Now, here’s what happens to me in my life: I get so focused on the mess, I miss the miracles.

And that’s the very thing that happens to the disciples right after the feeding of the 5,000. They got in a boat and strong winds caused the water to get very rough. The disciples were straining at the oars as the realities of life beat against them.

Jesus was on the mountainside praying. From Mt. Arbel, Jesus could see the middle of the lake where the disciples were. Mark 6:47-48a, “Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them” (NIV).

Jesus saw them. He went down to them. And they missed the miracle in the midst of the mess.

The same miracle worker that multiplied the fish and the loaves was now walking on the water near them and they thought He was a ghost. They were terrified and then were amazed, but they didn’t understand, for the Scriptures say, “their hearts were hardened,” (v. 52b).

It seems to me Jesus has a pattern of performing miraculous acts in the setting of messes.

This revelation led me to a gut-honest prayer, Oh Lord, let me see this. Please don’t let the messes of life harden my heart and blind me to Your presence. Instead of being so terrified in the midst of the mess, might I keep the picture of You, watching me, always watching me. And might I find courage in the assurance that You will come to me with Your miraculous presence. 

Yes, I need to spend a whole lot less time trying to fix the messes in my life … and a whole lot more time keeping my heart soft in the process.

Then I won’t miss the miraculous work of Jesus in the midst of my mess.

Dear Lord, You are so good. Help me see Your hand working even in the midst of things that seem to be messes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)

John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES: 
Point your family to the reality of Jesus this Easter season by reading about Him in the The Jesus Storybook Bible! We also have several other life-changing resources that we’d love to share with you. Click here to find out more.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Are you in the middle of a difficult or frustrating season in your life right now? Ask God to open your eyes to see His miracles in the midst of your mess.

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

Why Should I Be Excited About Leviticus?

Lysa TerKeurst FEBRUARY 18, 2016

Why Should I Be Excited About Leviticus?
LYSA TERKEURST

“If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD.” Leviticus 1:3 (NIV)

Can I admit something to you about the book of Leviticus? I’ve never really been excited about studying it. I honor it as truth. I value it as part of the history for the children of Israel. But I always kind of skipped over that book when it came to choosing a book from God’s Word to personally study.

So when our ministry decided to study Leviticus for our First 5 app, I was skeptical. I got into the first chapter’s instructions about animal sacrifices and thought, How does this relate to my life?

But as I kept reading, I felt challenged to ask a different question.

It’s a question that gives me a much deeper appreciation for the teachings of Leviticus and my desperate need to read this book. And I want to share it with you — because I’m thinking I’m not the only woman who needs a fresh set of eyes when it comes to this book of the Bible.

The question is this: “What attitude shift is God asking His people to make here?”

The specific activities being described in chapter 1 of Leviticus may not apply to me, but the heart attitude about bringing an offering to God certainly does.

So, let’s read our key verse, Leviticus 1:3, and think more about the attitude shift than the activity itself: “If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD.”

There are three things that stand out to me from this verse regarding my attitude:

1. I am to return to God a portion of what He’s given me. He isn’t asking for the “whole herd,” although He certainly could. But He does ask me to acknowledge Him with the provision I’ve been given. My attitude needs to be, “God, I acknowledge that what I have is a good gift from You. Therefore, I will gladly return the correct portion back to You with a grateful heart. I am compelled to do this not because of a rule but because this is a way to keep my heart in tune with Your best plan for me.”

2. I should offer God my very best. God required them to bring a male without defect to Him. My attitude should be, “God, I don’t want to offer You something that costs me nothing. I want to intentionally set aside my very best offering for You. But I also want to apply this to other areas of my life as well. I want to offer You a portion of my day when my mind is the most sharp, so my best thoughts go to You. I want to offer You a portion of my best strength, so I can help someone in Your name today. And I want to offer my very best at my job today, so I truly bring You glory in my workplace.”

3. I need to present my offering at the entrance. In other words, the attitude behind this action is, “I need to make giving to God the first thing I do, not the last thing I consider.” When I get my paycheck, the first check written should be to the Lord. When I wake up to a new day, the first minutes and my first thoughts go to God. If I want God to be first in my life, I need to acknowledge Him with my firsts.

What rich truths.

Truths that redirect me and remind me to approach Leviticus with expectation instead of hesitation. Truths that encourage me to keep looking for the attitudes God was addressing in the midst of the actions He was requiring.

Yes. I think this is going to an incredible adventure toward experiencing God.

Dear Lord, thank You for reminding me that my attitude matters. I want to bring You my very best each and every day. Help me to keep You first in all of my life. And continue teaching me and shaping me through Your marvelous Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (NIV)

Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes [to spiritual truth] so that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.” (AMP)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Instead of feeling intimidated by Leviticus, we can actively look for heart-redirecting, attitude-shifting truths together! Join us as we journey through Leviticus and Hebrews on the First 5 app. Download First 5 today for free.

Don’t miss out on learning how Leviticus and Hebrews are closely intertwined! Get ready for the study by purchasing your Leviticus/Hebrews Experience Guide today.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Do you ever find the Bible intimidating? Pause and pray Psalm 119:18 before you read today, believing God wants to speak to you through His Word.

Are there any areas in your life where you need to start giving God your first or your best?

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

5 Ways to Survive Love Season

Lysa TerKeurst FEBRUARY 11, 2016

5 Ways to Survive Love Season
LYSA TERKEURST

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

February 15th can be a really tough day. No, you aren’t reading that wrong. That’s the day after Valentine’s Day.

As long as it’s February 14th, there’s still hope for someone to bring you a flower … give you a chocolate something … sing you a song … write you a poem … say, “You complete me” … you get the picture.

But then the clock strikes midnight and disappointment takes you by the hand and wants to chat for a while. Today’s unmet expectations become tomorrow’s frustrations.

So, February 15th rolls around and suddenly the full impact of whatever was lacking on February 14th hits full force.

For my single friends it can feel like “Single Awareness Day.”

For my married friends it can feel like “the gaps in my marriage were so highlighted by yesterday’s lack.”

I’ve felt both of these.

But I’m challenged to check my heart on this. I mean really check my heart. Here are five ways I’m challenging myself to not just survive but really thrive this love season:

1. What am I doing that’s feeding my expectations?

Maybe right now isn’t the best time to read a romance novel or watch movies with lines in them like, “You had me at hello” or “You complete me.”

2. What am I doing that comforts me in the moment but makes me feel awful just hours later?

Hint … put down the ice cream and don’t mix up the cookie dough. Just because the cookies aren’t baked doesn’t mean the calories don’t exist. (This is just a totally hypothetical situation, of course.)

3. Who can I bless this Valentine’s Day?

Instead of waiting to be loved, I should make the decision to give love. I have so many friends who need to know someone is thinking about them right now. And there are wonderful ministry opportunities to reach out to those in need.

There is so much joy to be had when we seek to invest loving acts into others’ lives.

4. What can I put on my schedule with my friends or loved ones that will make me look forward to this season of love?

Instead of waiting to be asked, I can get proactive. If I have something to look forward to on my schedule, it gives my heart such a boost.

5. Am I believing the “if only” lie?

If only I had a boyfriend. If only I had a husband. If only I had a more romantic husband. “If only” can do quite a number on our hearts. Refuse to paint these pictures of Egypt.

Egypt — huh? Let me explain.

I got this thought from reading the Old Testament story about what happened to the Israelites when they were freed from captivity in Egypt. At first they were happy. And then when life got hard en route to the Promised Land, they started believing the “if only” lie … if only they’d never left Egypt they’d have pots of meat to eat.

How quickly they forgot the miracles God had performed to free them. How easily they dismissed the fact they were once mistreated slaves in Egypt!

And while part of me is tempted to judge them for their forgetfulness, I know I can be found doing the same thing. It’s so easy to forget the good we have and paint the picture that our lives would be better “if only.” That’s why I’m determined to replace my “If only I had … I could” scripts with “Because I am … I can.”

Because I am loved by God, I can boss lies around.

Because I am loved by God, I can be so thankful for the people I do have in my life.

Because I am loved by God, I can choose to make this love season wonderful.

I pray these questions and ideas help. And I pray we make 1 John 4:19 our declaration this year as we choose to give love instead of waiting for love to come our way: “We love because he first loved us.”

Father God, thank You for helping me to look at Valentine’s Day in a new and fresh way — not as a day where I strive to get love, but as the perfect opportunity for me to give love. Fill me to overflowing today with the knowledge of just how loved I am by You, and show me where I can spill that great love onto others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 3:17b-18, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Learn more about the unconditional love God has for you with Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study GirlPurchase your copy here.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Are there “if only” lies you have been rehearsing lately? Take some time to replace those scripts with “Because I am … I can.”

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

When Nothing’s Going Right

Lysa TerKeurst FEBRUARY 4, 2016

When Nothing’s Going Right
LYSA TERKEURST

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)

I was discouraged.

I’d really started serving God with all my heart and spending more time in His Word than ever. But instead of circumstances getting better, they got much harder!

In two months’ time, my life went from being wonderfully fulfilling and clicking right along to being completely topsy-turvy.

My computer went a little crazy and some very important documents disappeared.

A big book deal I was excited about fell through.

Our well broke, and we went several days without water.

My kids were much younger then and required more energy than my worn-down emotions had to give. I carried around this sense of guilt for not being a more patient and fun-loving mom.

Then, on top of a host of other interruptions and haphazard happenings, my husband blew out his knee and had to have major reconstructive surgery, leaving him bedridden for nearly five weeks. I felt myself getting caught in a whirlwind of emotions.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. A friend of mine hit the nail on the head when she said, “Lysa, I think when you go with God to a new level, you get a new devil.”

While I’m not sure about the exact theological correctness of that statement, I do know Satan hates the radically obedient soul. He hates it when a person jumps off the fence of complacency and into the center of God’s will. A spiritual battle is raging around us and because of that, life can be hard. While saying yes to God does bring blessing, it’s not easy.

If our desire for obedience is born merely out of duty, we may be quick to give up. Especially when everything in life seems to be going haywire. However, if our desire is born out of delight, out of a love relationship that burns deep in our souls, it won’t be extinguished — no matter the cost.

One of my favorite love stories in the Bible is that of Jacob and Rachel. Jacob’s love for Rachel gave him purpose and perspective, which led to amazing persistence. He served Rachel’s father for many years to earn the right to marry Rachel because he loved her that much: “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her” (Genesis 29:20, NIV).

Do you see what love can do for a person’s view of his circumstances? When you are crazy in love with someone, you’ll do anything for him — and do it with the highest level of sheer joy. I want to be so crazy in love with Jesus that not only do I serve Him, but I do it with absolute delight — even when life gets hard and messy.

You see, a real sign of spiritual maturity is looking to God for purpose and perspective instead of comfort and convenience.

Trust me, I understand asking God for comfort and convenience, but I’ve seen that often leads me to complacency. Once God solves my issues, I move on and forget to look for lessons I need to learn from what I faced.

But looking to God for purpose and perspective forces me to learn crucial lessons in perseverance and maturity. Then I can understand the meaning of Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). This does not mean that everything that happens to us will be good, but that God will work in and through every situation to bring good from it.

And let’s not miss the last four words of this verse, where we are reminded that it is all “according to his purpose.” God has a purpose, and His plans to accomplish that purpose are perfect. Trusting God’s purpose, and seeking to understand that He takes all the events from our life and orchestrates good from them, leads to a changed perspective.

So although it may be difficult to maintain the right attitude with technology on the fritz and a house that hasn’t been cleaned in weeks, it’s important to look to God for that change in perspective. We can trust that in the midst of all the things that seem to go wrong, something will go right.

Dear Lord, I thank You for the purpose You place in everything. Give me Your perspective today as I struggle with some things that may not be going “right.” I know You have a greater plan through it all. I love You and long to live for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 1:2-3, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” (NLT)

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
When all of life feels like it is spinning out of control, we can often end up acting out of control. Lysa TerKeurst’s book Unglued can help you discover how to gain a deep sense of calm even in the midst of situations out of your control. Click here to purchase your copy today.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Praise can help change our perspective. What can you specifically praise God for today — even in the midst of great trials?

Journal about a time in your life when you saw God use difficult circumstances for your good. Remembering His past faithfulness can encourage and strengthen us in the midst of our present struggles.

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

Just Because

Lysa TerKeurst JANUARY 27, 2016

Just Because 
LYSA TERKEURST

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:18 (NLT)

Grace looked up from the old, worn photo album to see Richard the postman making his way through the cold to her door. What a sweet young man, she thought.

Grace loved her walks to the mailbox in late spring and through the summer, but the cold winter air seemed to whip through her thin skin. Though in her heart she still felt like a young, energetic girl, her age was evident to her. Aches and pains made her careful and slow. As the air turned cooler, Richard made it a habit to deliver Grace’s mail to her door.

Today was an especially lonely day for Grace. It was the seventeenth. No one but her Jim would have known what a special day this was. It wasn’t her birthday or their anniversary. For 42 years the seventeenth of every month was their unique day, as Jim would say, just because.

Though they never were rich with money, they were determined to be rich with love. For this reason, on the seventeenth Jim always found some special way to say it and live out 1 John 3:18, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”

Over the years the gifts had been as simple as a scribbled note or as elaborate as a bouquet of store-bought flowers. But the message was always the same: “Just because.” Once he’d secretly taken Grace’s wedding band from her jewelry box and had it engraved with their special saying.

She found such comfort, confidence and connection in those two simple words. To Grace it was more than a gesture of love; it was an outward symbol of much more.

When she’d gotten sick and couldn’t keep up with the house, it meant I love you for who you are, not what you do. When they had an argument, it meant even when we don’t see eye-to-eye I love you still. When she started aging, it meant yours is a timeless beauty. Though Jim had never been a man of many words, his “just because” was perfect and poetic to Grace.

Jim had passed away three weeks earlier. It wasn’t a sudden death; they both had known his end was near. They’d had a sweet time of reminiscing, hugging, crying and then as quickly as he came into her life all those years ago, he was gone. She missed him terribly but had peace.

They’d had a wonderful life and left nothing unsaid. Now Grace loved flipping through their old photo albums savoring pictures, but even more so she loved touching all the mementos from over the years written in his masculine handwriting.

Though she’d seen the postman coming, the doorbell startled Grace. Carefully, she made her way to the door. She graciously took the few letters he handed her and apologized for not having cookies. Maybe tomorrow. She then walked slowly to the kitchen to open her mail. A bill, another sympathy card and something that made her heart jump and melt all at the same time.

Her eyes filled with tears and her hand trembled as she slid her finger underneath the envelope’s back flap. It was a simple letter as they always were, delivered on the seventeenth as they always had been. Before his death, Jim had arranged for Richard to make one last special delivery. “Not even death shall stop my heart. Just because, Jim.”

~ ~ ~
Sometimes a short story illustrates a point better than pages of instruction on how to be more intentional with relationships.

All relationships take work. And I know firsthand how hard it can be. I imagine some of you have prayed for a more tender relationship with your spouse. I’ve been there. I understand.

So I wrote this story to remind myself to pursue this kind of intentionality with Art during the good days and the really hard ones too. This kind of love — not flashy, but forever; not commercial, but committed — isn’t always easy, but it truly is honoring to the Lord and to your spouse.

I pray this story settles into your heart and encourages you that even the smallest acts of love toward your spouse can bring about the most loving legacies.

Dear Lord, I am so thankful for who You are — the Great Lover of our souls. Cultivate in me a heart of generosity and intentionality so Your love can shine through me into my relationships. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
You don’t need to feel alone. We want to help you get the resources you’ve been looking for to help you through the ups and downs of marriage. Click here for our top picks for helpful marriage resources.

Let the decor of your home tell the story of your love with the “We Still Do” sign and frame. Find out more here.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Who do you need to be more intentional with when it comes to expressing your love? Ask the Lord to show you one simple way you can say “I love you” to that person today — no fancy packaging required.

We don’t have to wait for special occasions like Valentine’s Day to show others how much they mean to us. Do something kind and out of the ordinary for someone this week — just because.

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

Getting Past My Past

Lysa TerKeurst JANUARY 21, 2016

Getting Past My Past
LYSA TERKEURST

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Is there something from your past that haunts you and constantly interrupts your thoughts?

For many years, that something in my life was my abortion. I walked around in a zombie-like state in the months following that decision with a growing hatred for myself at the root of my pain and confusion.

Up until that point, the things that brought hurt into my life were caused by others. But the abortion was a choice I made myself. It seemed like the only answer at the time. The abortion clinic workers assured me that they could take care of this “problem” quickly and easily, so I would never have to think about it again. What a lie.

I kept my secret buried deep within my heart. I was so ashamed, so horrified, so convinced that if anyone ever found out I’d had an abortion, I’d be rejected by all my church friends and deemed a woman unfit to serve God.

My complete healing began when I was finally able to turn my thoughts past my own healing to helping others in the same situation. It was terrifying to think about sharing my story with another person. But then I heard of a young girl who worked for my husband who was in a crisis pregnancy situation. She’d asked for a few days off to have an abortion.

I was faced with a fierce tug of war in my spirit. I knew if she heard my story, she might make a different choice. But what would she think of me? What would others think if they found out? I knew God wanted me to talk to her; so would I trust Him, or would I retreat back into my shame?

With shaking hands, I approached Sydney, intent on extending God’s comfort and compassion. Maybe I could just share a few Bible verses and offer to help her without making myself vulnerable.

But during our time together, it became clear she needed to hear my story. With a cracking voice and tear-filled eyes, I decided to care more about her situation than keeping my secret hidden. I told her the truth of what I’d experienced and prayed she’d make a different choice than I had.

A year after that first meeting, I sat across from Sydney once again. She choked out a whispered, “Thank you,” as she turned and kissed the chubby-cheeked boy in the baby carrier beside her. As soon as she spoke those two life-defining words, tears fell from both of our eyes.

Hers were tears of relief.

Mine were tears of redemption.

Both were wrapped in the hope that God truly can take even our worst mistakes and somehow bring good from them.

God has brought me so far since that first meeting with Sydney. Now I travel to crisis pregnancy events and tell my story in hopes of encouraging people to support their local centers. I also share my story from pulpits all across America, trusting that the many women in the audience will see it is possible to be healed and restored from the tragic mistakes from our past.

But I can’t reach everyone. There are women in your sphere of influence who need to hear your story.

I realize an abortion may not be the pain you’re dealing with, but I also know few of us have escaped very deep hurts.

Will you go? Will you share? Will you allow God to comfort you and then take that comfort to others? This step could help you start your own healing process.

I think you’ll find that you are the one who winds up doubly blessed as you walk out the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Dear Lord, only You can heal my deepest hurts and use the bad in my life for good. I need You more and more each day. Please continue to work in my life and use me as a light to help those You have entrusted to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 34:18, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (NIV)

Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Becoming MoreOnly God can fill the cup of a wounded, empty heart. If you need that fulfillment today, join us for our next free online Bible study of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study GirlSign up today.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Who could you share your story with?

If there’s not an obvious person or group in your mind, ask the Lord to reveal how and when you should open up about your past hurts.

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

Why Would God Let This Happen?

Lysa TerKeurst JANUARY 14, 2016

Why Would God Let This Happen?
LYSA TERKEURST

“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)

I wonder what would happen in our lives if we really lived in the absolute assurance of God’s love. I mean, as Christians we know He loves us. We sing the songs, we quote the verses, we wear the T-shirts and we sport the bumper stickers. Yes, God loves us.

I’m not talking about knowing He loves us.

I’m talking about living as if we really believe it.

I’m talking about walking confidently in the certainty of God’s love even when our feelings beg us not to.

I’m talking about training our hearts and our minds to process everything through the filter of the absolute assurance of God’s love. Period. Without the possible question mark.

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with a precious mom whose eldest daughter is nearing 30 and has never had a boyfriend. The younger siblings have all gone through the whole dating thing and one is now engaged to be married. The eldest daughter sat on the side of her mom’s bed recently with tears slipping down her cheeks and said, “Why mom? Why can’t I find anyone to love me? What’s wrong with me?”

This mom was asking me for advice in helping her daughter process these questions. These feelings are real. These feelings are tough.

And I’m sure if I were able to untangle all the emotions wrapped in and around these questions, somewhere deep inside I would find this girl doubting God’s love for her.

I remember being single, the only one of my friends without a boyfriend, and wondering why. I would see these nice boys and think God could make one of them fall in love with me but He hasn’t. And that hurt.

But here’s the thing I wish I had known then … I must process this through the filter of God’s love not through the tangled places of my heart.

When I process things through the tangled places of my heart, often the outcome is, “If God loves me so much, why would He let this happen?”

Instead when I process things through the filter of the absolute assurance of God’s love, the outcome is, “God loves me so much therefore I have to trust why He is allowing this to happen.”

I took the mom’s hand who was asking for advice and told her to help her daughter rewrite the way she is processing this. It’s okay to feel hurt, lonely and sad. But these feelings shouldn’t be a trigger to doubt God’s love for her. They should be a trigger to look for God’s protection, provision and possible growth opportunities.

I know this can be hard. But what if we really lived in the absolute assurance of God’s love? Oh sweet sister, in whatever you are facing today I pray Isaiah 54:10 over you, Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed yet God’s unfailing love for you will not be shaken.

Dear Lord, You are good. And You are good at being God. Therefore, I trust Your plan and believe that You’re allowing this to happen for a reason. It may be hard, but I’d rather be close to You through a thousand difficult moments than apart from You in a thousand good ones. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 55:8-9, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (NIV)

Psalm 138:8a: “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.” (ESV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Becoming MoreOur faith has got to be more than a label, a lingo and a lifestyle! Learn more about how to live in the absolute assurance of God’s love with our next free online Bible study of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study GirlSign up here today.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Is there a situation in your life where you’re questioning if God really loves you?

It can be so tempting to push God away during a painful or confusing time, but try to press into Him instead. You can do that by praying honestly, reading Scripture and putting yourself in the company of other believers who will speak life into you.

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

I’m Breaking Up With My Quiet Time

Lysa TerKeurst JANUARY 7, 2016

I’m Breaking Up With My Quiet Time
LYSA TERKEURST

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes my brain isn’t as quick to pick up on soul hunger. So I just lumber forward but wonder, “What’s wrong?” I think of a list of reasons … I’m tired, I haven’t had enough fun, or my hormones are off.

And while some of those things may be true — it’s not why my soul is depleted.

I need more time with God.

Not more quiet time.

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

Recently, as I sat with God with nothing but willingness to listen, some fresh ideas popped into my mind. So these are 3 new ways I’m listening to God:

Give my first thoughts to God by giving Him my first 5 minutes every day. I downloaded the First 5 app and read these Bible verses and teachings before I check anything else on my phone. I ask God to help me apply what I’m reading to my life that day. I listen.

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

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

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

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

Dear Lord, my deepest desire is to grow a stronger relationship with You. Help me to break out of the routine so that I can connect with You and hear You speak. I want my faith to be the most reviving and energizing thing about my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (NIV)

James 4:8a, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (ESV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Becoming MoreFollowing Jesus can become more like a revival than a routine! Be equipped to stop reading the Bible just to check it off your list and start experiencing God’s Word in a deeper way with a FREE resource from Lysa TerKeurst. Download “3 Bible Study Basics You Must Know” here.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Are you getting in a rut with your quiet time?

Ask God to show you how you can breathe new life into your time with Him. Also consider downloading the “3 Bible Study Basics You Must Know” above to more fully experience Scripture in a way that brings revival to your soul.

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

Something to Consider with Criticism

Lysa TerKeurst DECEMBER 30, 2015

Something to Consider with Criticism
LYSA TERKEURST

“It will lead to an opportunity for you to witness. Therefore make up your minds not to prepare your defense ahead of time, for I will give you such words and a wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” Luke 21:13-15 (HCSB)

Criticism stinks. That’s usually my first thought when someone makes it clear they don’t like something I’ve done or said.

My pride says, “How dare you!”
My heart says, “I want a chance to explain.”
My soul says, “Jesus, am I off base?”
My mind says, “Why do I open myself up like this?”
My feelings say, “Ouch.”

Sometimes criticism is fair. Maybe I messed up and it would serve me well to reconsider. Other times criticism is nothing but rotten spew. And boy, does it stink. But if I get stuck in the stink, it serves no good purpose.

Might there be another way to look at harsh criticism? Is there a way to get past the hurt to see something about the one criticizing me that will soften my heart toward them?

Recently, I stumbled on an article about the armadillo lizard. This fascinating creature has hard and pointy scales that have “Don’t mess with me” written all over them. But, like all tough creatures, this lizard has a vulnerable place.

The armadillo lizard’s tough exterior wraps around its back but softens at the underbelly. When threatened, the lizard grabs its tail and displays a prickly, intimidating posture to keep other creatures away. At that point, the rest of the body serves only one purpose — to hide and protect its most vulnerable part.

So what does a strange desert creature have to do with criticism?

In an effort to protect my underbelly, I sometimes get all wrapped up in myself and tragically forget the underbelly of my critics — the place where they are vulnerable and might be hiding things, protected beneath their harsh words and a prickly exterior.

This is a place they may never let me see. It’s the storage place for their hurts and disappointments. It holds the root cause of their skepticism and the anger that probably has very little to do with me. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34b, NIV). And from the overflow of their hurt, they spewed.

Remember … behind every harsh critic is usually a broken-hearted person desperate for love.

If I forget the other person’s vulnerability, I am tempted to start storing up my own hurt, skepticism, anger and disappointments.

If I remember this underbelly, I have a much greater chance to keep it all in perspective. I can let my reaction be a good example to this other person just as our key verse, Luke 21:13-15 reminds us: “It will lead to an opportunity for you to witness. Therefore make up your minds not to prepare your defense ahead of time, for I will give you such words and a wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.”

When criticism comes — and it will — I must make up my mind not to worry about defending myself. I can resist the urge to become prickly and use it as an opportunity to be a witness. A witness of the love, grace and mercy of Jesus. Things I desperately need myself.

Dear Lord, thank You for this challenge to think about the other person’s underbelly before I react to criticism. I know it’s a simple step, but it’s so hard to live out. Help me put this truth into practice and to walk in the wisdom You have already given me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Peter 3:9, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (NIV)

Proverbs 30:5, “Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.” (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If you enjoy receiving these devotions each day, will you consider helping support us? Click here to give. While our devotions are free to all who receive them, they do cost us quite a bit to send out. We need you to stand with us as we stand for truth each day. Thank you for supporting Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Learn more about responding with honesty and kindness in the face of offense with Lysa TerKeurst’s book Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. You can purchase your copy here and start learning how to find peace even in your most difficult relationships.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Is there someone in your life who is consistently critical of you? Spend some time praying specifically for that person today. Ask God to show you how you can best be a witness to her, and ask Him to bring healing to her wounded and vulnerable places.

Sometimes we ourselves are the critical ones. Choose someone whom you would normally be critical of and focus on one way you can sincerely encourage her this week.

© 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

If Only We Knew

Lysa TerKeurst DECEMBER 23, 2015

If Only We Knew
LYSA TERKEURST

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

Here is my prayer for you this Christmas week: May you catch even the slightest glimpse of the tender mercy of our Lord Jesus. For one drop of the Lord’s mercy is better than an ocean of the world’s comfort.

The marriage situation that seems impossible.

The finances that never balance.

The hope so deferred it makes your heart sick.

The anxiety over a child bent on a wayward path.

The diet you are sick of.

The broken promises of a friend.

The lack of true friends.

The constant messiness always distracting the peace you want in your home.

The impatience and frustration, anger and disappointment of losing it — again.

If only we knew how deeply Jesus understands and cares for us. If only we could see the wonder of His love. The skies He paints, the flowers He blooms, the world He arranges just for us. The love letters He’s written to us throughout the Bible.

These are all mercies from Him.

The world will offer us comfort in the form of escapes. We escape to romance novels, movies, magazines, malls, chocolate, vacations, affirmations from friends. Not that any of these things are bad. They aren’t. But they are very temporary. They make us feel good in the moment, but that good never stays. We need more and more. Trying to fill our aching hearts with these things is like trying to fill an ocean with a tablespoon. It’s never enough. So we clench our fists and keep trying to find something to comfort us.

If only we knew how to stop clenching our fists so that we could open our hands and catch the drops of His tender mercy. If only we knew how to release the weight of trying to fix it all ourselves. If only we knew to stop in the midst of it all and whisper, “Jesus … help me.” Just a whispered breath formed in the wholeness of His Name carries all the power and mercy and wisdom and grace we need to handle what we face.

If only we knew.

If you find yourself wanting to escape today into one of the world’s comforts, first invest some time in asking Jesus to help you, show you and direct you. Hebrews 4:15-16 reminds us of how approachable He is, how He understands our struggles and graciously offers us help and hope: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Specifically, ask Him to help you see and notice His tender mercies. Then you will see that, indeed, one drop of the Lord’s mercy is better than an ocean of the world’s temporary comforts.

Jesus, I don’t want to spend another day chasing after things that will never satisfy. Instead, I pray that I would begin to truly see how high and how deep is the love You have for me. Help me to catch the tender drops of Your mercy, and teach me how to fully embrace Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 100:5, “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (NIV)

Ephesians 3:17b-19, “… And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Learn more about making Jesus your focus instead of getting wrapped up in distractions with Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best YesPurchase your copy here.

Connect with Lysa on her Instagram for daily Biblical encouragement here.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Where do you turn when you need comfort? Ask the Lord to interrupt you this week when you are tempted to run to anything other than Him first. Then pause and spend a few moments in prayer, asking Him to be your help and your comfort.

Write out a list of the things weighing most heavily on your heart and mind. Specifically lift up each of these to the Lord in prayer, thanking Him that He has all of the grace and mercy you need for each and every one.

© 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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