Encouragement Today

Tracie Miles December 10, 2018

Listen to Your Heart, Not Your Head

“The king will answer, ‘Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.’” Matthew 25:40 (CEV)

I was just about to whine about the heat of the day when I saw her. She was walking beside the road with her head hung low, and despite my instinct to keep driving, my heart just couldn’t listen.

It was a record-setting day for heat in the South, with temperatures reaching triple digits. A frail, exhausted and obviously very pregnant woman was walking along the edge of the busy highway wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants, both of which were hanging off her tiny, heat-exhausted body.

Her level of hopelessness and despair were evident in her physical demeanor and posture.

I sensed God tugging at my heart to help her, but as my hands gripped the steering wheel, excuses gripped my mind. I’m already late picking up my daughter from cheerleading practice. It’s dangerous to pick up strangers on the side of the road. Other people might think I’m crazy if I stop to help. Someone else will come to her aid.

But God’s pull to turn around was stronger than my excuses to keep driving. Despite my hesitations, I listened to my heart instead of my head.

Making a U-turn, I pulled up slowly beside her and asked if she needed help, then discovered she was a couple hours from home, and her car had run out of gas. The nearest station was five miles away, and she had no way to get gas, physically or financially. I realized she and her unborn child were in danger, and she needed someone to care enough to help a stranger.

Jesus shares in Matthew 25 about the importance of caring for the least of these. In biblical times, many people lived with the false belief that those who were seemingly inferior — living in poverty, hunger, imprisoned, diseased or sick — were unimportant and unworthy of attention or love. But some people chose to exhibit love and mercy despite that societal mindset.

In Matthew 25:34-36, Jesus describes what will happen at His second coming. He explains how a group of followers had already given Him food and drink, visited Him in prison, clothed Him when He was naked, and cared for Him when He was sick. They were confused because they knew they hadn’t actually done these things for Jesus (and had never even seen Him before).

Then Jesus explained to them, “‘Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me’” (Matthew 25:40b). He wanted them to understand that when caring for others, they were also caring for Him, and their actions to love the “least of these” were equivalent to serving the Savior.

Unfortunately, society hasn’t changed much. Today, there are more lost and needy people in the world than ever before, and Jesus’ instructions to love “the least of these” are just as important now as they were then — if not more.

I’ll admit, I don’t always follow God’s nudging to serve the least of these, but on this particularly hot day, I paused to help this young woman in need. It did seem like a risky decision; I was late in picking up my daughter. And when I arrived to her practice with a total stranger in the passenger seat, some people did think I was a little crazy.

But helping those in need is always worth the sacrifice. It only takes one person’s obedience to make an earthly — possibly eternal — difference in another person’s life.

How different might the world be today if we allowed God’s whispers to drown out the opinions of naysayers, instead of filling our heads with excuses for not helping? Or if, when God calls us out of our comfort zones, we would put aside our inhibitions and commit to being His hands and feet anyway?

After dropping off this sweet lady at her car with a tank full of gas, she waved at me with a big, thankful smile and quietly uttered the words, “God bless you.”

But in my heart, I knew He already had as His joy swelled within me.

Dear Lord, give me Your eyes to see those in need this Christmas season, but also throughout the coming year. I want to be filled with joy because I listened to my heart instead of my head and served You by loving and serving those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Philippians 2:3-4, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (NLT)

Today’s devotion comes from Tracie Miles’ book, Love Life Again: Finding Joy When Life is Hard. Purchase it to reclaim your joy or as a gift for someone who longs to reclaim theirs.

Looking for that perfect last-minute gift? Start building traditions with your family and friends with Proverbs 31 Ministries’ exclusive products. Click here to take a look!

Visit Tracie’s blog for more encouragement and ideas on being the hands and feet of Jesus this Christmas season.

When has God nudged you to reach out to someone, but you looked the other way?

Is there anyone in your life today who might need a helping hand? In what ways can you reach out to them or even someone you don’t know? Join the conversation in today’s comments section!

© 2018 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105

Today’ s Reading

Today’s Reading


“So shall we ever be with the Lord.”
1 Thessalonians 4:17

Even the sweetest visits from Christ, how short they are–and how transitory! One moment our eyes see him, and we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, but again a little time and we do not see him, for our beloved withdraws himself from us; like a roe or a young hart he leaps over the mountains of division; he is gone to the land of spices, and feeds no more among the lilies.

“If today he deigns to bless us

With a sense of pardoned sin,

He to-morrow may distress us,

Make us feel the plague within.”

Oh, how sweet the prospect of the time when we shall not behold him at a distance, but see him face to face: when he shall not be as a wayfaring man tarrying but for a night, but shall eternally enfold us in the bosom of his glory. We shall not see him for a little season, but

“Millions of years our wondering eyes,

Shall o’er our Saviour’s beauties rove;

And myriad ages we’ll adore,

The wonders of his love.”

In heaven there shall be no interruptions from care or sin; no weeping shall dim our eyes; no earthly business shall distract our happy thoughts; we shall have nothing to hinder us from gazing forever on the Sun of Righteousness with unwearied eyes. Oh, if it be so sweet to see him now and then, how sweet to gaze on that blessed face for aye, and never have a cloud rolling between, and never have to turn one’s eyes away to look on a world of weariness and woe! Blest day, when wilt thou dawn? Rise, O unsetting sun! The joys of sense may leave us as soon as they will, for this shall make glorious amends. If to die is but to enter into uninterrupted communion with Jesus, then death is indeed gain, and the black drop is swallowed up in a sea of victory.


“Whose heart the Lord opened.”
Acts 16:14

In Lydia’s conversion there are many points of interest. It was brought about by providential circumstances. She was a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, but just at the right time for hearing Paul we find her at Philippi; providence, which is the handmaid of grace, led her to the right spot. Again, grace was preparing her soul for the blessing–grace preparing for grace. She did not know the Saviour, but as a Jewess, she knew many truths which were excellent stepping-stones to a knowledge of Jesus. Her conversion took place in the use of the means. On the Sabbath she went when prayer was wont to be made, and there prayer was heard. Never neglect the means of grace; God may bless us when we are not in his house, but we have the greater reason to hope that he will when we are in communion with his saints. Observe the words, “Whose heart the Lord opened.” She did not open her own heart. Her prayers did not do it; Paul did not do it. The Lord himself must open the heart, to receive the things which make for our peace. He alone can put the key into the hole of the door and open it, and get admittance for himself. He is the heart’s master as he is the heart’s maker. The first outward evidence of the opened heart was obedience. As soon as Lydia had believed in Jesus, she was baptized. It is a sweet sign of a humble and broken heart, when the child of God is willing to obey a command which is not essential to his salvation, which is not forced upon him by a selfish fear of condemnation, but is a simple act of obedience and of communion with his Master. The next evidence was love, manifesting itself in acts of grateful kindness to the apostles. Love to the saints has ever been a mark of the true convert. Those who do nothing for Christ or his church, give but sorry evidence of an “opened” heart. Lord, evermore give me an opened heart.

Bible Gateway

C.S. Lewis Devotional

Today’s Reading

After that talk with the Lady things got worse in two different ways. In the first place the country was much harder. The road led through endless, narrow valleys down which a cruel north wind was always blowing in their faces. There was nothing that could be used for firewood, and there were no nice little hollows to camp in, as there had been on the moor. And the ground was all stony, and made your feet sore by day and every bit of you sore by night.

In the second place, whatever the Lady had intended by telling them about Harfang, the actual effect on the children was a bad one. They could think about nothing but beds and baths and hot meals and how lovely it would be to get indoors. They never talked about Aslan, or even about the lost prince, now. And Jill gave up her habit of repeating the signs over to herself every night and morning. She said to herself, at first, that she was too tired, but she soon forgot all about it. And though you might have expected that the idea of having a good time at Harfang would have made them more cheerful, it really made them more sorry for themselves and more grumpy and snappy with each other and with Puddleglum.

From The Silver Chair
Compiled in A Year with Aslan

The Silver Chair. Copyright © 1953 by C. S. Lewis Pte., Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1981 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With Aslan: Daily Reflections from The Chronicles of Narnia. Copyright © 2010 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Extracts taken from The Chronicles of Narnia. Copyright © C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. 1950-1956. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.


Genesis 1–2

God’s Story

In the beginning God—the Master Artist—speaks. He calls the universe into existence—setting moons, planets, stars and galaxies in a masterful yet dizzying rhythm of orbiting and spinning. Like a painter surveying a blank canvas, his Spirit hovers over the empty earth. “Let there be light,” he declares, and light bursts through the darkness. He parts waters and calls up land. He brings about lush green plants and grasses. He decorates the sea, sky and land with fish, birds and animals. The once-barren planet dances with life.

Then the Master Artist comes in close to shape his highest work, his pièce de résistance, the creatures who will carry the honor of bearing his image: man and woman. In a gesture of intimacy, God leans in to breathe life into the nostrils of the man. Soon after, woman is called forth from his side. God sets his crowning creations in a garden he has made especially for them, giving them one command so they can fully enjoy their magnificent home.

The King’s Heart

Creation is God’s great introduction.

God had the ability to call anything into existence that he wanted. As the all-powerful, infinitely thoughtful One, the possibilities before him were endless. So what he did choose to create reveals much about his heart. Out of the overflow of his heart spills a world of beauty and goodness. Warm rays of sunlight feed the upturned leaves of the waiting plants below. Powerful displays of lightning and thunder announce the delivery of life-rain.

Creation is a masterpiece with a message. As the worker ant marches on to accomplish his daily tasks, he proclaims: “I am diligent because my Creator is diligent.” As a lion stands guard over his pride, he declares, “I am ferocious because my Creator is ferocious.” As the butterfly gently flits over flowers, he proclaims: “I am beautiful because my Creator is beautiful.” Tumbling bear cubs profess: “We are playful because our Creator is playful.”

As God creates, he keeps agreeing: “Good! . . . Good! . . . Good!” The Artist is pleased. It is good. The King’s actions trumpet forth the foundational truth of his heart, which is also the foundational truth of the universe: Creation is good because God is good. He is good, good, good.


Ephesians 1:4 tells us that God loved us before the creation of the world. That means that before the earth existed, before it took its first spin around the sun, you were on God’s mind and in his heart.

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