addiction, Anorexia, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Body Image, Bulimia, Confidence, Self Help

Beautiful

Post by Lynn Cowell

The gate called Beautiful might be the scale we hope will tell us the right number, the gym we join to become the right size or the mall we cruise through looking for the right outfit.

We go to the gate Beautiful and there we beg for what we need for that day: acceptance, approval and affirmation. It’s not enough to sustain us, though. Tomorrow, searching again, we’ll return.

With the power of the Holy Spirit we can say: “No more!” No more will we beg when Christ died to give us the acceptance we need. Let’s take His hand and look to Him each day for strength and approval.

You are perfect just the way God made you. That’s enough. You’re enough, precious one.

besaved

Faith, God, lifestyle, reading

It’s Good to Seek Wisdom

Liz Curtis Higgs By 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)

Lysa TerKeurst

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.

Did you enjoy today’s devotion? Click here to subscribe.

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.

Godssalvation

encouragement, Faith, humanity, Inspiration, religion

It’s Time to Tell Someone

T. Suzanne Eller By SUZIE ELLER

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (NLT)

They showed up at my door when I was 14.

Because they went to my school, my mom let them in. They stumbled into my room, standing awkwardly with their youth pastor behind them. One invited me to come to church. Another teen shuffled from foot to foot and asked if she could tell me about Jesus.

I didn’t want to hear it. I was angry at God, if there even was one.

I didn’t grow up in church, so I didn’t know a lot about the Bible. All I knew is that life was hard, and I didn’t want anyone to fix me.

Thank you very much, now here’s the door.

I can only imagine the scene afterwards. A bunch of teenagers clustered on the sidewalk outside our home on Latimer Street, wondering what in the world just happened.

I’m sorry. I really am.

Wherever you are, I want to thank you for trying. I don’t know why you picked me, but I love the fact that you wanted to tell me about Jesus.

That day you didn’t find fertile soil, but a small seed was planted. Jesus eventually rooted His love in my heart and changed not only me, but also generations after me. I wish you knew that the angry girl in the bedroom became a woman of faith who loves nothing more than telling others about Jesus.

In today’s passage, Paul and Apollos had faithfully planted seeds of teaching in a new church body. We see the newness of the church as members debate about who is the most important, Paul or Apollos.

Paul diverted the attention away from himself to remind them of a simple truth: Telling others about Jesus is not about one person or another. It’s not about recognition. It’s not even about success or failure.

It’s about faithfully planting seeds, watering them and allowing God to grow them.

If someone were to look at those teens standing in my room, they might think that their words had little effect. One day in Heaven I plan to thank them. For every person, including them, who bravely shared the truth with me planted a seed of faith in my heart.

Like Apollos and Paul, one planted. Another watered.

And then, at just the right time, a seed sprouted and broke the crusty soil of my angry heart.

Why am I telling you this?

Maybe you’ve sensed for a long time that you’re to talk to someone about Jesus. You’ve hesitated because you don’t know how or you don’t want to fail. Perhaps you even experienced someone like I once was, and it made you think twice about trying again.

But I want you to know something.

When you move beyond your fears to tell someone that Jesus loves them, it may be exactly what they need to hear that day even if they don’t know it yet.

I want a front seat one day in Heaven when those teens discover that their bravery wasn’t in vain. I want to hug their necks and thank them. In fact, there will be a lot of seed sowers I want to thank, because all of them together made a difference.

They sowed. Some watered. God grew me.

If God is leading you to tell someone about Jesus, don’t miss that moment. There might be someone in your path — a woman, a girl, a friend, a loved one — who doesn’t know Jesus loves them and His love changes you forever.

Lord, thank You for allowing me to plant a seed, or water a seed or perhaps to even watch a seed come to fruition in the life of another. Lead me. Guide me. Show me what to say and when to say it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 17:20, “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.” (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Is God calling you to plant seeds of faith with your words? Join us this summer when Proverbs 31 Ministries hosts She Speaks, our annual conference for writers and speakers, July 23-25, 2015 in Charlotte, N.C. It’s a unique combination of spiritual inspiration and practical application, and we’ll save a seat for you!

What if the next big step God wants you to take is actually small? Wherever God has called you, you can take the first step. Registration for the P31 Online Bible Study of What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst is open, and the study kicks off next Monday, April 13.

Join Suzie Eller on her blog today to share your story and for a giveaway.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Sharing about Jesus doesn’t have to be formal or scripted. Just share your story.

Consider the following as conversation starters:

  • Tell about the day you became a believer.
  • Tell how that changed you.
  • Share ways you have found strength or joy in your relationship with Christ (perhaps even in a similar struggle).
© 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.


Godssalvation

Christian Encouragement, Life, motherhood

What’s it Like on the Other Side of Me?

Nicki Koziarz By NICKI KOZIARZ

Did you know it’s possible to get demoted from Room Mom to Assistant Room Mom?

It is.

It all started at the school open house. My little pig-tailed daughter and I walked into her new teacher’s classroom. She greeted us with a warm smile and told us to look around the room and check out all the papers that were on her desk.

I knew what papers were on the desk, so I quickly made my way there.

And there it was …

The purple sign-up sheet, listing all the volunteer roles for the year. And with a blank line next to the most coveted spot for all the moms at this school.

Room Mom.

Room Mom seemed like a Pinterest dream come true for me. The chance to be at my daughter’s school for all her important events and to unleash my DIY skills!

I couldn’t believe the space was blank. It was never, ever blank by the time I got to the open house each year. So I quickly wrote my name down and went home to get my party-momma hat on.

This is going to be the best year ever!

And it was … for about four weeks.

In the midst of all the Room Mom excitement, several doors of opportunity opened up for me in other areas of my life. I took on a part-time job, began speaking at events and my afternoons were spent shuffling kids to this activity, and then to that activity.

Before I knew it, I was completely overloaded. I was desperately trying to fulfill all the commitments I had made, including Room Mom. However, returning emails in a timely manner became hard and my availability to help cut out crafts became limited.

And after my Fall FAIL party craft [Pinterest lies. Oh how it lies!], one of the other moms began to get frustrated with me.

Soon after, I got an email from my daughter’s teacher explaining that she felt like this other mom might have “more time” to fulfill the Room Mom assignments and suggested I assist her.

Well then.

To be honest, the teacher was right. The other mom could do this Room Mom thing in her sleep. She was great at it! And she did have more time to offer than I did.

Still, something inside me ached in knowing people had become so frustrated with me, and I had no idea. Pride had clouded my vision. I couldn’t even see how my overloaded schedule was affecting the people around me. I just kept telling myself I was doing the best I could.

In reality, I needed to admit my overload and ask for help.

So now, when I’m sensing my schedule is overwhelmed, I ask myself the best reflective question I’ve found:

Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?

After I ask that question, I take notice of the commitments I’ve made and adjust them to avoid frustrating the people who are depending on me to fulfill my obligations.

Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?

This question helps me pause, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show me anything I need to change.

Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?

It’s the question that helps me step into conflict and see the perspective of the person I’ve offended or frustrated.

Yes, this question leads to a hard-humble place. But it’s also a grace-filled place, like James describes in our key verse today.

When I pause to ask what its like to be on the other side of me, God gives me a perspective that is beyond what I can see. And no, I’ve never checked that Room Mom box again. [smile]

Lord, thank You for the grace You bring to us through humility. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (NIV)

Proverbs 15:33, “Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honor.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
For more wisdom on making wise choices with your schedule pick up a copy of The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst.

For a chance to win a copy of The Best Yes visit Nicki Koziarz’s blog today!

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What is an area of your life where pride has slipped in and clouded your ability to see things for what they are? Tell us in the comment section today.

Pray and ask God to help you answer the question Nicki posed today: “Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?” Then walk humbly in His grace by apologizing to someone and seeking to make amends.

© 2015 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

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blogging, devotional, God, Inspiration

Where’s God When I’m Afraid?

Susie Davis By Susie Davis

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.” Psalm 22:1-3 (NIV)

Susie DavisI lay flat on the floor, pounding my fists in desperation.

Lost in grief so deep, I didn’t even think about the fact I might wake my babies, ages 4 and 9 months, napping in the rooms right next door. I wanted to snap myself out of it and return to folding laundry and picking up scattered toys. Instead, I lay pressed to the floor, drowning in a sea of horrible memories.

I flashed back to a boy, a gun and my teacher dying on the classroom floor. Mental images of the horror of what had happened a decade ago invaded my life as a young wife and mother, instantly engulfing me in post-traumatic stress.

Although I loved God, I’d stopped trusting Him long before this moment. The fear landscape of my life seemed preferable to trusting a God who could allow such a terrible thing to happen. Yet all the years I spent trying to pack down the fears of what I had witnessed as a child came flooding to the surface. With it came the exhaustion I felt from working hard to make my world, and my children’s world, safe.

The endless hours I expended trying to manage, control and protect my little family finally fractured my body, soul and spirit. I was a broken woman, falling apart.

And then in the middle of my meltdown, a verse, really nothing more than a quiet whisper, came rushing in.

“Yet You are holy …”

For those of us who struggle with fear, there may be no more important word in the Bible than the word yet.

Yet tells us the story hasn’t fully been told.

Yet tells us a page is about to be turned.

Yet tells us God has a different perspective.

In our key verse, we see how David felt like God was distant and unfeeling, like He was not listening. And David, like you and me, struggled greatly with fear. But despite all this, David followed his feelings with a powerful yet. And it’s a big one. “Yet you … are Holy.”

Here’s the thing: God never uses fear as a tactic to make us holy. His ways are higher than stooping to that level. If that’s true, there’s no need to panic. No worrying that God has lost control of things. No anxiety over things unknown. Just the calm, confident confession that God is still holy.

And in that holiness, God manages the details of the whole universe … including you, me and the people we love.

God isn’t just the God of the calm and peaceful. He isn’t just God in the happy and safe. He’s God in the chaos. He’s God in the courtroom, the emergency room, the waiting room and the viewing room.

He is always holy. Even now.

Trouble may abound but God is holy still. His sovereignty takes the pressure off of us to control our sometimes scary circumstances and hold tightly to the things we think will bring us comfort. Because God shows up, we can live our lives unafraid.

When the pressure overwhelms, when we’re broken on the floor or feel like we just can’t handle what the world may hand us … may we find God holy after all.

God, I am frightened of far too many things. Things that overwhelm me and cause me to believe You’re really not in control. And You know how I often try to become the savior of my little world, hyper-managing my children and the people I love, because I’m terrified You won’t show up. Regardless of how dark my circumstances feel or how terrifying my personal problems, You are holy. Thank You for being holy — and for being in total control. Let me rest in the peace of that knowledge. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Did you enjoy today’s devotion? Click here to subscribe.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Luke 12:31-32, “Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.” (MSG)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If you struggle with fear and anxiety, check out Susie Davis’ new book, Unafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe World.

You can also visit Susie’s blog, where she regularly writes about the creative ways God rescued her from being a fearful wife and mother.

Enter to WIN a copy of Unafraid by Susie Davis. In celebration of this book, Susie’s publisher is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, June 1.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What are three areas of your life that currently overwhelm you? Write out a prayer in blue or black pen, starting with an honest confession of your circumstances.

Then, finish by choosing a bright colored pen and underneath; write a Scriptural promise from God’s Word reminding you He is in control. Whenever you feel frantic and anxious during the day, look back at your prayer and remind yourself that God is holy still.

Susie DavisClick here to pin the imageClick here to download this free printable PDF

© 2015 by Susie Davis. All rights reserved.

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

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blogging, devotional, encouragement, God, Inspirational, religion

Hope for When You Feel Squeezed and Broken

Ruth SoukupBy Michelle McKinney Hammond

“But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” Genesis 39:20b-21 (NIV)

Lysa TerKeurst

When I was a little girl growing up in Barbados with my grandmother, I loved to watch her make sausage.

First, she would take big chunks of meat and slowly squeeze them into a machine known as a sausage stuffer. Before long, the meat would break down and come out the other side all gushy and floppy.

I used to feel so sorry for that meat.

Next my grandmother would add zesty spices and meticulously squish the meat into encasements. And you know what happened? Some of the best sausage you can imagine was formed. It had a wonderful flavor and a long shelf life.

As you can see, sausage making is quite the process! But the process had a purpose.

Have you ever felt like that sausage? I have.

The process of being squeezed and uncomfortable can break us down, making us feel helpless, alone and sometimes even good for nothing.

We can question, God, where are You? Or, Let’s hurry this discomfort along, OK? (I’m famous for that!) Or even wonder, God, I thought You loved me. What did I do wrong?

Let me remind you of something, friend. Being squeezed by outside pressure doesn’t indicate God’s rejection, abandonment or that He made a mistake. Sometimes in His great sovereignty and love, God allows for our character to be refined. God reminded me of this recently when I was studying the life of Joseph.

You may remember Joseph and his coat of many colors. As a teenager, Joseph had big dreams; however, a series of unfortunate events seemed to circumvent those aspirations. He faced difficult and disappointing times — more than once — and was even sold into slavery by his very own brothers.

Can you imagine going from favored child to slave? I wouldn’t have had a very good attitude about that. “I’m supposed to mop this floor? Don’t you know I watched people mop the floor of my house?” Dear God, get me out of this mess!

But not Joseph.

Time and time again Joseph’s plans went differently than expected, yet he ultimately chose to follow God every step of the way. Regardless of outside pressures and demands — slavery, slander, abandonment or imprisonment — Joseph chose to be excellent. The Bible tells us he advanced because of his positive attitude, and he experienced God’s kindness and favor in the midst of struggles and disappointments.

In our key verse, Genesis 39:21 tells us, “The LORD was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.”

Let’s be honest. The refining process isn’t easy or comfortable. Prison was a dark place, a place where Joseph really didn’t want to be … a place where he saw no way out.

But throughout Joseph’s story, God reminds us, very diligently, that no matter how awful and appalling the circumstances, He was still with Joseph.

Want to hear some good news?

He’s still with us, too.

So, friend, if you feel like my grandmother’s sausage, squeezed and broken down, please remember, our God has great purpose in His refining process. He uses whatever He can to form the character He desires for us, His dearly loved kids.

In many ways God works like my grandmother — squeezing and squishing until there’s nowhere else to turn but up. And when God adds the fruit of the Spirit to our lives, then encases us in the shell of holiness, purity and sound character, we too will have a longer shelf life … a life that glorifies Him.

Dear Lord, sometimes my days are hard and I feel squeezed in every way. Thank You for the reminder that You will never leave my side, even when it’s uncomfortable. Please help me to experience Your kindness today in a fresh new way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Did you enjoy today’s devotion? Click here to subscribe.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 1:3-4, “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (MSG)

1 Peter 4:12-13, “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” (MSG)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Joseph: Waiting on God’s Timing, Living in God’s Plan by Michelle McKinney Hammond can help give you insight into the power of your choices as you wait on God while pursing your dreams. Watch the first session of Joseph free here.

Visit Michelle’s website for more encouragement.

Enter to WIN a copy of Joseph Study Guide with DVD: Waiting on God’s Timing, Living in God’s Plan by Michelle McKinney Hammond. In celebration of this Bible study, Michelle’s publisher is giving away 5 study guides with DVD! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, April 27.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What situations have proven to be uncomfortable for you? How have you responded?

In what ways can you see God at work in your life today?

© 2015 by Michelle McKinney Hammond. All rights reserved.