Proverbs31Women: "Weekly Devotionals" Sunday thru Saturday (11-18_11-24) BIBLE TEACHINGS

Proverbs31Women: "Weekly Devotionals" Sunday thru Saturday (11-18_11-24) BIBLE TEACHINGS

 

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

SUNDAY

 

How Did I Get To This Place?
Melanie Chitwood 

"For by grace you have been saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."
Ephesians 2:8, 9 (NAS)

Devotion:
One of the things I love to do is to recall the ways God has brought me to the place where I am in my relationship with Him. Have you ever done that? Have you ever reflected on the events and people God used in your past?

As I trace God's activity in my life, I recall important people and pivotal situations contributing to my love for God. I remember my mom and dad who made going to church a priority. My grandmother's gentle love spoke to me of the tenderness of God's love. I recall my Aunt Kathy who listened and cried with me through the tumultuous teen years. My youth leaders proved week after week, even when they knew my weekends were filled with more drinking than Bible study, they would not give up on me, and neither would God.

A week spent at Young Life camp Windy Gap opened my eyes and heart to God in a new way. Sitting on a rock with the dark sky and glittering stars above, I thought about some of the empty places in my life. I spent my days trying to be pretty, smart and popular. But no matter how hard I tried, I felt like I was "not enough" of any of these.

The only escape from these feelings was found in the thermos of wine I kept hidden in my bedroom closet. Enough sips and I'd be filled up enough to believe, at least momentarily, that I just might be all those things I longed to be.

While sitting on that rock at Windy Gap, I acknowledged that what I got from a drink was temporary and only a shadow of what I really desired. My longings for significance and love could only be found in Someone who loved me and accepted me unconditionally. I knew that someone was Jesus.

I prayed a prayer that went something like this: Jesus, I don't know everything about You, but I know enough to know You love me so much You died on a cross to take the punishment for my sin. Thank You for doing that. I want to be Your child, now and forever. Thank You for being my Lord, Savior, and Friend.

Remembering that defining moment and the steps which led me to Jesus fills my heart with gratitude. My love for Jesus is renewed, and I want to pursue Him once again as I remember the way He pursued me.

I encourage you to take time today or this week to remember the people and circumstances God placed in your life as He drew you to Himself. Will you pause at each place, thanking God for that person or situation? Thank Him that His love reached you and that His love will never fail.

Maybe as you read this devotion, you've remembered a time when you loved and followed God more wholeheartedly, but somewhere along the way you've pulled back or distanced yourself from Him. Will you pray today, recommitting your life to follow God?

I don't know what your story is, but I do know God is pursuing you. Isn't it amazing that even when we're not aware of God, He is aware of us? He's always working in our lives to draw us to His love.

Dear Lord, I am filled with thankfulness as I remember how You pursue me with Your love. Thank You for loving me first, even before I was aware of You. Thank You for each person and situation You put in my life that lead me to You. Reignite the fire of my love for You, causing it to grow stronger than ever. Let everything I am, do, and say point to Your unfailing love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

MONDAY

 

Waging Kana

T. Suzanne Eller 

"And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, 'Why could we not cast it out'
So He said to them, 'This kind can come out by
nothing but prayer and fasting.'"
Mark 9:28-29 (NKJV)

Devotion:
I didn't know how to fix it or make it better. I felt helpless, really. Someone close to me was battling a serious illness. One morning I sat in the stillness, just me and my Bible and the sweet presence of God as I prayed for this person. As I did, I felt strongly compelled to fast.

The Hebrew word for fasting is Kana, and it means to subdue or to bring low. It is the scriptural word for either bringing down an enemy in combat or subduing your own soul in an action of humility. Fasting twice a week was a regular practice in the first century. There were minor fasts (from sunrise to sundown) and examples in both the Old and New Testaments of fasting for many meals and even days. Jesus Himself fasted in the wilderness for 40 days.

But how long should I fast? Her treatment was expected to take several months, and that created a dilemma. No one can go without food for that long, nor should they. My Heavenly Father wasn't calling me to be foolish, but to bring low the enemy by waging Kana.

As I dug deeper I discovered that in addition to abstaining from food, Kana was practiced in other ways. Some sat in the "low seats" in the tabernacle as they offered the "high seats" to others. Some gave up simple pleasures. As I studied, I realized that I could fast traditionally, but also creatively throughout my friend's treatment.

Aren't you supposed to be quiet about fasting (Matthew 6:16)? Are you boasting? You might be wondering.

I'm not sharing this to boast, but because I quickly discovered the power behind fasting. When I wagedKana the gaping holes, those where I lacked discipline, were revealed. Some of those discoveries were surprising. Giving up sugar? Not too hard. Giving up complaining? Not a big deal. Giving up TV? Such a struggle that it shocked me.

One week I felt compelled not to abstain from something, but instead to immerse myself in Scripture. As each week passed, I began to invite God in to show me how to fast, and to shine His love in the areas where I needed to abstain so that He could fill them up.

Kana taught me where my strengths lie, and where my weaknesses flourished. It wasn't a legalistic pointing of the heavenly index finger, but an opportunity to take an honest look at where I was bound, and how to grow.

My friend is ending treatment soon, but I have come to embrace the process of Kana. My prayer is that it brings low the enemy as my friend continues to heal, but I know that fasting not only touches Heaven for my friend; it can't help but touch me, too.

Dear Lord, help me hear You more clearly, to bring low the enemy of my soul, and to open the gaps in my life to Your touch. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

 

 

TUESDAY

 

Fearing the Unknown
Micca Campbell 

"Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before."
Joshua 3:4a (NIV)

Devotion:
Do you ever fear the unknown? Perhaps it's your health or the uncertainty of your future. Maybe it's the decisions your children will make about following God or following their peers. Fearing the unknown can cause us to spend precious energy anticipating the worst-case scenario. There are two problems with this type of fear:

• The future is not here.
• The future is not ours.

While the future may be out of our hands, it is not out of the hands of our faithful trustworthy God. When we face a worrisome unknown situation, we can look to Joshua as an example of how to trust God in the face of uncertainty.

It's recorded in the first chapter of Joshua that before Moses died, God passed the baton of leadership to Joshua. The Israelites had been wandering in the desert for 40 years under the guidance of Moses. Now, their journey was almost over. Just beyond the Jordan River was their promised land -- the land that God had guaranteed to Abraham and his descendants.

Upon reaching the Jordan River, Joshua and the Israelites set up camp by the stream and awaited God's direction. Much like their meeting with the Red Sea, God had to make a way for them to cross over the river. On the third day, God told the officers to instruct the people that when they saw the Ark of the Covenant (where God's Presence abided) to follow it because they had "never passed this way before" (Joshua 3:4). In essence, God was saying: Follow Me and I'll see you through this unknown territory.

That's not all. The people were instructed on how closely they should follow the ark. Without this instruction, the people would have crowded the ark and God wanted every person to be able to see His presence faithfully leading them through the unknown valley. What greater encouragement could they have than this, that the Lord was their God, a God who was with them?

You see, friend, the Lord understands our fear of the unknown. He realizes that you may be in a situation that you've never passed through before and you're afraid. It may be the first time you've been without employment. Maybe you've just been diagnosed with an illness or your child is in rebellion. You've never been down this road before and you don't know which way to go or what to do. God will guide the way.

Joshua's life was unpredictable and full of unknowns much like yours and mine. Yet, he successfully resisted fear by keeping his focus on God rather than the events surrounding him. Just as God guided the Israelites through unknown territory, He will guide you and me, too.

As He promises in Isaiah 43, when we come to a place we've never passed through before, God is always present to help us. "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior"(v.2-3a, NIV).

Even though the children of Israel were not told how they would pass over the river, the people went forth in faith. We too can move forward in faith sharing in the promised presence of God leading the way through our unknown circumstances.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your promised presence. It comforts my heart to know that I am not alone. Lead me, Lord, through the unknowns in my life. Make Your path clear and I will follow it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

The Bible calls us to walk by faith not by sight. God doesn't always give us the details we desire, but He does give us Himself. We can trust He's laid out a path and He goes before us.

Write down three fears of the unknown and a prayer from your heart, committing to trust God with them.

Reflections:
Have I ever run from fear? Where and when?

Where did I find comfort from my fear?

How can God's promised presence soothe my fears?

Power Verses:
Psalm 32:8, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." (NIV)

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

 

 

WEDNESDAY

 

Fearing the Unknown
Micca Campbell 

"Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before."
Joshua 3:4a (NIV)

Devotion:
Do you ever fear the unknown? Perhaps it's your health or the uncertainty of your future. Maybe it's the decisions your children will make about following God or following their peers. Fearing the unknown can cause us to spend precious energy anticipating the worst-case scenario. There are two problems with this type of fear:

• The future is not here.
• The future is not ours.

While the future may be out of our hands, it is not out of the hands of our faithful trustworthy God. When we face a worrisome unknown situation, we can look to Joshua as an example of how to trust God in the face of uncertainty.

It's recorded in the first chapter of Joshua that before Moses died, God passed the baton of leadership to Joshua. The Israelites had been wandering in the desert for 40 years under the guidance of Moses. Now, their journey was almost over. Just beyond the Jordan River was their promised land -- the land that God had guaranteed to Abraham and his descendants.

Upon reaching the Jordan River, Joshua and the Israelites set up camp by the stream and awaited God's direction. Much like their meeting with the Red Sea, God had to make a way for them to cross over the river. On the third day, God told the officers to instruct the people that when they saw the Ark of the Covenant (where God's Presence abided) to follow it because they had "never passed this way before" (Joshua 3:4). In essence, God was saying: Follow Me and I'll see you through this unknown territory.

That's not all. The people were instructed on how closely they should follow the ark. Without this instruction, the people would have crowded the ark and God wanted every person to be able to see His presence faithfully leading them through the unknown valley. What greater encouragement could they have than this, that the Lord was their God, a God who was with them?

You see, friend, the Lord understands our fear of the unknown. He realizes that you may be in a situation that you've never passed through before and you're afraid. It may be the first time you've been without employment. Maybe you've just been diagnosed with an illness or your child is in rebellion. You've never been down this road before and you don't know which way to go or what to do. God will guide the way.

Joshua's life was unpredictable and full of unknowns much like yours and mine. Yet, he successfully resisted fear by keeping his focus on God rather than the events surrounding him. Just as God guided the Israelites through unknown territory, He will guide you and me, too.

As He promises in Isaiah 43, when we come to a place we've never passed through before, God is always present to help us. "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior"(v.2-3a, NIV).

Even though the children of Israel were not told how they would pass over the river, the people went forth in faith. We too can move forward in faith sharing in the promised presence of God leading the way through our unknown circumstances.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your promised presence. It comforts my heart to know that I am not alone. Lead me, Lord, through the unknowns in my life. Make Your path clear and I will follow it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Today's devotion was taken from Micca's book, An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger Than All Your Fears

Visit Micca's blog where she is giving away a copy of her book, An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger Than All Your Fears


Application Steps:
The Bible calls us to walk by faith not by sight. God doesn't always give us the details we desire, but He does give us Himself. We can trust He's laid out a path and He goes before us.

Write down three fears of the unknown and a prayer from your heart, committing to trust God with them.

Reflections:
Have I ever run from fear? Where and when?

Where did I find comfort from my fear?

How can God's promised presence soothe my fears?

Power Verses:
Psalm 32:8, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." (NIV)

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

 

 

THURSDAY

 

How Can God Bring Good from This?
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)

Devotion:
Have you ever faced a personal struggle and wondered how God could possibly bring good out of it? How could Romans 8:28 apply to my hidden issues -- the ones I don't like to think about, deal with, or even admit I have?

If you would have told me 10 years ago that God could bring good out of my weight issues and food struggles, I would have seriously doubted you. I would have rolled my eyes and excused myself to the bathroom.

Bathroom stalls are great places to cry in secret.

When a soul is rubbed raw from years of trying and failing, you don't want to hear, "eventually good will come from this."

I wanted something to instantly fix my issues.

I wanted to stop calling myself awful names I'd never let another person call me.

I wanted to be naturally thin like my sister.

I wanted to stop crying when I walked into my closet to get dressed in the morning.

I would have cared less about some elusive, eventual good. My jeans didn't fit. Even my sweatpants didn't fit. I felt horrible. I couldn't stay committed to a healthy eating plan to save my life. And I saw no hope in sight.

It's a terrible thing to scan the horizon and see no evidence of hope.

Maybe you've been there with some hidden issue. Maybe you've been there like me with food and weight struggles. Maybe you're there today.

Whether your issues are the same as mine or not, all of us Jesus girls have struggles. We all fall short in some way. And we all need to know more about this "good" mentioned in Romans 8:28.

But instead of a three point sermonette, I want to share with you a letter I recently received. As I read it, the mercy gates of heaven split wide open and reigned down "this working of good." It was heaven's salve soothing deep places in me.

It is a picture of the reality of God's Word being true. Always true. God does work for the good... in all things... every single thing… even our most raw and seemingly impossible things... but we must know it even when we don't feel it.

"Just want to say thank you for sharing your struggles, Lysa. I've had an eating disorder since August,1978. Full blown anorexia, which led years down the road to bulimia. 

I became a Christian in 2002, but never could fully surrender my eating disorder to our Lord. Through your story and the advice you shared the Holy Spirit is empowering me as I never knew possible.  I've had 7 days of no binging or purging!!! 

This may not seem like a high number to you, but after 33 full years with this binge/purge addiction, this is AMAZING. Hallelujah!! 

You shed such new light on scriptures that I have read, but never knew how to interpret in my life especially with regards to eating. I'll be honest I figured my eating disorder wasn't that big a deal to our Lord. In fact I had told myself that He made me this way so it must just be the sin I was born to deal with; so glad to know that it isn't, and that I matter to HIM." -- Melissa P. 

As I read this, my tears leaked free. We don't have to figure out how God will bring good, we just have to stay on the journey with Him and watch Him work.

May this be a glimpse of hope in the midst of your struggles as well.

"And we know (we know it even if we don't feel it) that in all things (even the ones we can't even fathom being used for good) God works for the good. (He works for the good. Our job is to walk with Him day by day. His job is to work the good.)

Dear Lord, thank You for this hope. Thank You that You don't waste our tears, our struggles, or those places rubbed raw from years of trying and failing. Once we do what You've instructed us to do, You always do what only You can do. I know You will bring good even when I can't see it or feel it. And what a comfort that is to me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

Write out your struggle on the front of a 3x5 card this week and pray for the next 5 days for God to reveal some good that could come from this. Write some of the power verses on the back of your card and meditate on these truths.

Reflections:
God doesn't comfort us to make us comfortable. God comforts us to make us comfort-able. Able to comfort others with the same comfort we've received from Him. Is there someone in my sphere of influence who could benefit from hearing my story? Could this be some of the good God can bring from this?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (NIV)  

2 Corinthians 1:4, "He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." (NLT)

 

 

FRIDAY

 

A Place of Thus Far
Wendy Pope 

"Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, 'Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?'" 
2 Samuel 7:18 (ESV)

Devotion:
Have you ever been in a place of "thus far?" A place where you are experiencing God's blessing and favor on your life. Not blessings and favor by the world's standards of materialism and wealth, but by the Lord's standard of provision, protection, providence, and peace that come from walking in His presence daily.

I want to be in that place of faith, like David, following the Lord's leading and trusting His ways, not my own. I want to meet regularly with the Lord, sitting and taking summary of all He has done for me. With thankfulness and humility, I want to say, "Who am I that you have brought me thus far?"

Oh the places David had seen in his lifetime! From grassy meadows to the splendor of palace life. From dirty fields tending sheep to hiding in a drafty cave, and then to the throne itself, King David arrived at a place of "thus far" in his life. He had experienced every emotion that exists, from confidence to fear, love to hate, and sadness to joy. After all that King David had been through I can certainly understand why he needed to go sit before the LORD and ask, "Who am I?"

He was overwhelmed with the goodness of God and the faithfulness he had experienced. He had been through some of the toughest situations a person could go through, yet he remained faithful and God gave David his reward. Yet, I have to think the reward of kingship and royalty paled in comparison to knowing the goodness and faithfulness of God.

Have you been there? Life has taken twists, turns, and changes at every bend, yet somehow for a season you have arrived at a place of seeing spiritual blessings from the Lord. Yet you realize your place of thus far pales in comparison to knowing and experiencing the goodness and faithfulness of God.

No matter what current circumstances you find yourself in, with our Living God there is always a place of "thus far" waiting around the next bend. This is a place of celebration, praise, complete humility and gratitude before the Lord. I have discovered the hardships we go through are all worthwhile when we get to our place of "thus far." From a grateful heart, we can pour our blessings back out to the Lord as we cry, "Who I am Lord, that you have brought me thus far?"

Dear Lord, forgive me when I don't sit and take summary of Your tremendous favor in my life. Your blessings are far superior to anything this world can give me. Help me to remember my place of "thus far" when Your plan for my life leads me to another season that may be risky and cause me to walk by faith and not by sight. I offer this praise of thanksgiving to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Application Steps:

Find a place to sit quietly with the Lord. Take summary of His blessing and favor on your life. Write down all the things He brings to mind. Read the list back to Him as a song of praise.

Reflections:
Is there anything in my life preventing me from entering the place of "thus far" the Lord has for me?

How can I use my time while in a place of "thus far" to be a blessing and encouragement to others?

Power Verses:
Psalm 52:9, "I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints." (NIV) 

Psalm 63:4, "I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands." (NIV)

 

 

SATURDAY

 

Faith vs. Fear
Ariel Allison Lawhon, She Reads Co-Director 

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

Devotion:
Our pediatrician told me that my baby had a collapsed lung. The baby I'd given birth to just an hour earlier.

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but the presence of faith." 

They weren't the words I wanted to remember in that moment, but they came to me as I sat and listened to the doctor's news, jaw clenched and blinking back tears.

The trauma started the previous evening when my doctor declared that I needed to get to the hospital immediately. A series of sonograms and tests revealed that my son was in distress and dangerously underweight. We had to deliver as soon as possible. So my husband and I packed a bag and left our three other children in the care of my mother. We walked through the door of that hospital afraid that our worst fears were about to become reality. Faith did not come naturally in that moment.

I would have preferred that courage meant I wouldn't fear the path that lay before me. But no, my path would involve hours, and then days, learning the ins and outs of oxygen tubes, IVs, and heart rate monitors. I would learn terms like spontaneous pneumothorax and the dreaded pneumonia. My path contained a great deal of fear.

It is no wonder that God had to remind us in Deuteronomy 31:6 not to be afraid. Fear, it seems, is a natural reaction when we face a challenge, whether it is being led through the desert into the Promised Land, or being rushed to the hospital for an emergency delivery.

But the only antidote to fear is faith. And courage is not something we find within ourselves. It is the result of faith, and even that is a gift from God.

We spent five days in the hospital with our tiny son. And each day God took a little of our fear and replaced it with faith. I have wondered since if our stay in the hospital was as much for my healing as my son's. Thankfully, God healed us both.

Be strong, God said, and courageous. We can do this because He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He stands with us in battle, and He sits with us who hold the tiny hand of a newborn baby in the Intensive Care Unit. He never leaves our side. Never.

Dear Lord, thank You that You stand beside me today as I face this trial. Thank You that I am not alone. Would You take my fear and replace it with faith? You have said that You will never leave me nor forsake me. You have told me not to be afraid or discouraged. I believe that You will make me strong and courageous. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

Susan Schoenberger's debut novel, A Watershed Year, is the story of a woman who adopts a young boy soon after the death of her best friend. It is a story of loss and healing, what it means to be a mother, and the importance of moving forward. Visit the She Reads blog this week and enter to win a Kindle preloaded with a copy of A Watershed Year.

Join the She Reads online fiction book club as we discuss the themes found in this month's featured selection, specifically grief, motherhood, and grace.

Pray for someone else who is in a difficult season of life. Pray that they will trust God and not be afraid.

List five different ways that God has been faithful to you, and thank Him for these.

Reflections:
What is God calling me to trust Him with today?

Are there any secret fears that I harbor? If so, how can I release them to God and replace them with faith?

Power Verses:
Hebrews 4:16, "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." (NIV)

Psalm 31:9, "Be merciful to me O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief." (NIV)

Genesis 15:1b, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." (NIV)

 

 

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