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Daily Devotion

  • The $285 Cinnamon Roll

    Posted on November 21, 2014 by Karen Ehman

    KAREN EHMAN

    "Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right." Psalm 106:3 (NIV)

    It was a simple cinnamon roll. Well, not the run-of-the-mill, refrigerated whack-open canned variety. It was a jumbo pastry from our local all-night diner, laden with gooey cream cheese frosting. The cost? Just $285.

    My 16-year-old son was spending the night with some boys at a neighbor's house. A little past dark, they got a hankering for this famed treat and decided to make the less than 2-mile trek to satisfy their culinary desire.

    Our state has rules for 16-year-old drivers. They may not have more than one other person in the car unless they are related or the group is heading to or from school. Also, they may not drive past 10 p.m. unless they're returning from school, church or work.

    These boys knew all this, so they decided one of them — age 19 — would drive. However, his car was out of gas. So my son allowed him to drive our car instead. Upon leaving the restaurant, his friend discovered he didn't have his driver's license with him. The group decided it was better for my son to shuttle the gang the short distance home rather than for his friend to drive without his license.

    When they were almost home, the red and blue flashing lights of a police vehicle interrupted their quick outing. My son got pulled over. Questioned. Busted. Not only was my son driving past curfew, but he also had three unrelated passengers in the vehicle with him. He was fined heavily and ordered to pay for an online driving refresher course. Additionally, he had to appear before a judge at the Secretary of State's office.

    Although the authorities told us the hearing is usually just a stern lecture (which we were glad he would get!) when his turn came, the usual judge was ill. Instead, our son appeared before a judge from a neighboring county. She listened to his story. And then? She took his drivers license away completely for two months, and ordered him to pay another three-digit fine to get it back!

    The diner's menu that fateful night listed the cinnamon roll for the meager price of $3 and some change. In the end, it actually cost our son a total of $285 dollars of his own hard-earned money because he did not do the right thing by obeying the laws of our state.

    Although we know we should "always do what is right" as today's key verse urges, sometimes we think we can bend the rules ever so slightly. We might even have good reason, as my son felt he did that night. But a rule is a rule. A law is a law. Breaking them comes with consequences — sometimes even stiff penalties and hefty fines.

    Likewise, we might bend God's rules. Flirt with sin. Rationalize wrongdoing.

    Things such as ... It's not really "gossip" if I'm simply sharing a prayer request. I don't think of it as lying, just creatively leaving out a few minor details. Come on! I'm just reconnecting with a former guy "friend" I found on Facebook for a cup of coffee. What harm could there be in that?

    We might know what God commands of us in Scripture by heart, but sometimes we decide ignoring a command "just this once" isn't really a big deal. We convince ourselves we probably won't get caught. However, these seemingly innocent actions could lead to more costly behavior. Sin snowballs. And it often cruelly crushes those foolish enough to stand in its path.

    When we're tempted to twist God's commands oh-so-slightly, let's remember my cinnamon-roll-craving son. What we think has a very affordable and even enticing price tag might end up costing us a whole lot more.

    Father, please help me to pause before I decide to bend Your commands even a tiny bit. Give me the strength to make right and righteous choices. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Genesis 4:7, "You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master." (NLT)

    Romans 13:3, "For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you." (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is one area in your life that — if not kept in check — could potentially lead to a sinful and messy situation? Take this matter to God in prayer now asking Him to empower you with strength to avoid sin and pursue righteousness.

    © 2014 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

     


    This post was posted in Uncategorized, Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm

  • Before You Say "Yes" to One More Thing

    Posted on November 20, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    LYSA TERKEURST

    "Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety." Proverbs 29:25 (NLT)

    I want people to like me. I want to please others and pretend I can do all things for all people.

    But I can get myself and my schedule into a mess because of it.

    And in an effort to please others, it's those closest to me who get the worst of me when I'm overscheduled.

    When my oldest daughter, Hope, was about 4 years old she decided it was too boring to take her afternoon nap. Instead, while I was downstairs preparing for guests, she was busy doing something else.

    Please understand I'm not very talented in the kitchen. I do okay with preparing simple food for my people. But I get completely twisted up in a knot when preparing food for other people.

    My timing is off. The veggies are stone cold by the time the meat is done. I forget the bread that's still frozen in the oven. And I also forget that making the salad the day before is a bad idea when you mix the dressing and croutons in it. Which, I've learned, turns it all into one big, soggy mess.

    My emotions are also off. The pressure of my timing issues mixed with my desire to have everything just so with the house, isn't a pretty combination.

    But when my Bible study leader asked for someone to host the year-end dinner and my friends all looked at me, I said, "Oh yes, of course. I'd love to do it."

    Visions of home décor magazine covers started dancing in my head. Recipes and flower arrangements and perfectly set tables swirled about, intoxicating me with the thrill of seriously impressing my friends. Then some greatly deceived part of me quipped, "And no need for y'all to bring anything. I'd love to prepare a really nice meal for us."

    Would somebody get a wooden spoon and knock some sense into me?

    My inner people-pleaser blinded me ... until the day of the dinner party. Then the full-on reality of what I'd committed to made me want to crawl in a hole and hide. I was overwhelmed and underprepared.

    I desperately needed my little people to give me full cooperation with naptime that day.

    But Hope had no intention of fully cooperating. So when I saw puffs of something white coming through the air vents downstairs, my heart sank.

    I dashed upstairs to find that Hope had emptied a large container of baby powder all over her room, herself and every air vent she could find. And now, that powder was filling the downstairs with a layer of white residue that made it look like I hadn't dusted in decades.

    Fury rose from some deep, unbridled part of my already-pushed-to-the-max-self. Every bit of my frustration about the dinner party was now also Hope's fault. I screamed, "What were you thinking? Why do you always mess stuff up?!"

    Instantly, I felt a cloud of shame descend on me thicker than the baby powder ever could.

    And then the strangling effects of condemnation gripped me when her little voice replied back, "I was trying to make it look like heaven, Mommy. I thought you would love it."

    Ouch.

    The jarring reality of this incident started me on a journey of realizing that the ill effects of people pleasing spread. And make me the opposite of the kind of woman God made me to be.

    Saying yes all the time won't make me Wonder Woman. It will make me a worn out woman. This isn't pleasing to anyone. Not my family. Not my friends. Not the people I'm trying to impress. And certainly not God.

    If I know this, I can start to see people pleasing for what it really is ... a trap. Even the Bible calls it this in our key verse, Proverbs 29:25, "Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORDmeans safety." (NLT)

    Yes, being so focused on pleasing people is a vicious trap that ensnares us and those who do life with us.

    So, here's what we need to do today:
    • Look for the trap.
    • Unlock the trap.

    To unlock the trap, we must use the word "no." This should be handled delicately and appropriately, but it should be used.

    Back to the baby powder situation. I wound up apologizing to Hope after I had a good cry about my poor reaction. We took pictures of her "heaven." (Pictures that now, 16 years later, are complete treasures to me.)

    I also served pizza to my Bible study group that night. In the midst of baby powder dust. And ... we all lived to tell about it.

    Dear Lord, help me identify and overcome the traps of people pleasing today. I fully place my trust in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Identify a trap of people pleasing in your life. Then, look for an appropriate place to say no today. Remember, saying yes all the time won't make you Wonder Woman. It will make you a worn out woman!

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs

  • My Addiction to Overcommitting

    Posted on November 19, 2014 by Valorie Burton

    VALORIE BURTON

    "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us ..." 2 Corinthians 5:20a (NIV)

    That's it! I bossed myself. Here you are again, overwhelmed by the number of commitments on your plate. You are never going to overload your schedule again.

    Oh, I was serious — and a bit annoyed with myself. But I wondered: How did I (once again) not see this coming?

    I knew this much ... my actions were rooted in fear. But of what? I couldn't seem to pinpoint the cause.

    It showed up in my tendency to be over-responsible.
    If there's a problem (mine or not) I feel compelled to solve it. Whether it's at home with a family member or at work with a team member, my initial reaction is to jump in quickly with an answer.

    It showed up in my tendency to over-compensate.
    I overloaded my schedule in high school. I rushed through college in three years — all in an effort to prove to myself and others that I was smart. A year spent on academic probation left me feeling dumb. I believed in order to be acceptable I must be exceptional. That wasn't God's requirement. That was my own insecurity fueling decisions and filling my life to the brim with misguided ambition.

    Overcompensating for our mistakes and weaknesses is one way we allow the enemy to trip us up. Rather than accepting God's grace and our human limitations, we get caught in a web of fear that somehow we aren't good enough and must prove our worth. Peeling back many layers of emotion, I wondered, is any of this connected to my unrelenting habit of overcommitting?

    When we find ourselves dealing with a similar problem repeatedly, there is often a divine lesson waiting. Our job is to listen, ask God for wisdom and expect to receive it.

    As a life coach, I've discovered that whenever we are stuck and unable to determine the cause, asking a few questions (and answering them honestly) can be a powerful exercise. When I was afraid to say "no" to doing more, even though I resented feeling overwhelmed and desperately wanted to decline, these questions helped me:

    • What am I afraid will happen if I say "no" to a good opportunity?
    • What if my fear actually happens?
    • What's the worst part of that?
    • What would that mean to me?

    I was afraid of saying "no" to an opportunity that could be "the opportunity" and I'd regret it. Business would dry up. I would become irrelevant. (Honestly, that last statement was my real issue.)

    Often I feel driven to take on too much out of a desire to gain approval. In other words, my core fear is rejection.

    After answering those tough questions, praying and self-reflection, I asked for the wisdom, understanding and courage to change. Eventually, I heard a clear message: The change you need to make isn't just about you; it's about being a light in a dark world. So many are living the way you are — overwhelmed, anxious, lacking peace. Are you willing to risk missing a good opportunity in favor of My best for you?

    God wants us to be His ambassadors of love, power and faith. Others should be able to look at our lives and say, Wow, what's her secret weapon? Where does she find the strength? Where did she get such wisdom?

    Ultimately, the pace I maintain in my life impacts and influences those around me — my family, our kids, my team members. It is about so much more than me. So, too, is your breakthrough.

    Lord, give me the courage to conquer the fears that threaten again and again to get me stuck. Allow my testimony to inspire greater faith, boldness and courage in those who cross my path. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Philippians 3:13b-14, "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

    Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When you consider the areas of your life in which you repeatedly get stuck, what is the common thread or fear?

    In what way is God calling you to get unstuck?

    © 2014 by Valorie Burton. All rights reserved.

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

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

  • Re-Routing Negative Thoughts

    Posted on November 18, 2014 by Sharon Glasgow

    SHARON GLASGOW

    "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

    The screaming and fighting in the back seat were brutal! It was a fight to the death. As I tried to break it up, the car swerved off the road. Semi-trucks were passing me, going 80 miles an hour, as I pulled over to stop the fight.

    A few weeks ago, I drove through the beautiful Appalachian Mountains and picked up our newest family members — a Royal Palm Turkey and a Red Bourbon Turkey. They were not happy about being confined to a cage or being stuck next to each other. Hence, the deadly fight in my back seat. The Red Bourbon tried to cure his displeasure by lashing out in anger. He was on a mission to kill, literally. He hopped on top of the Royal Palm and went for the neck!

    I called my husband in a panic. His advice? "Re-route their thinking; it's stuck. Scream and hit the cage." I followed his instructions and the fighting stopped for 10 minutes. Then it started again. I had to yell, bang on the cage and clap my hands to break up a few more fights until both turkeys finally settled down for good. We all made it home alive, and now they're best friends.

    As I thought about the turkeys' stuck thinking, I could sense the Lord say to my heart: You are no different.

    Ouch! When my circumstances aren't what I want, my thinking gets stuck, too. Just that morning on my way to get the turkeys, I was alarmed to find the car was on empty and worse yet — I had no money in my purse. And I had left the house with no margin in my schedule to stop for gas or return home for money.

    Yet without any money, I had no choice but to return home, which made me late. Worse, I had planned to drop my daughter at the airport and she missed her flight. I was not happy and boy did my family hear about it!

    We all struggle with negative thinking at times; it's a common battle. And that's why it's important to recognize negative thought patterns and learn how to re-route them. The good news is we can have control over what we think.

    When we're down, sad or hopeless, let's take inventory of our thoughts. When we find ourselves jumping to conclusions, doling out guilt trips on others or replaying arguments in our mind, let's consciously change our thinking. When I get in a funk, often it's because I've focused too much on what's bad. The apostle Paul advises us in our key verse, Philippians 4:8, to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

    The next time you're fighting negative thoughts, "rattle your cage" by remembering you have the mind of Christ. Take each negative thought captive and replace it with what Paul describes in our key verse. Scripture promises that when we align our thoughts with God's, His peace, which passes all understanding, will keep our hearts and mind through Christ Jesus.

    Lord, give me Your ability to bring every thought captive. Help me to refute negative thoughts with truth. Thank You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    2 Corinthians 10:4-5, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (NKJV)

    1 Corinthians 2:14-16, "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For 'who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ." (NKJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Take inventory of your thoughts for a whole day. Each time a negative thought repeats in your mind, re-route it with truth found in God's Word. Place our key verse near you in a familiar spot to remind you of where to focus your thoughts.

    © 2014 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Philippians

  • Stop and Pray

    Posted on November 17, 2014 by Wendy Pope

    WENDY POPE

    "Then I prayed to the God of heaven ..." Nehemiah 2:4b (NIV)

    We were always in the car going to this counselor or that doctor. Regardless of the interventions, my son's grades continued to slip. Every weekly report said the same thing: disorganized, unfocused and unable to follow class rules.

    What had I done wrong? I should have read to him more. I should have waited one more year to start him in school. Too many questions and not enough answers. Mentally and physically, I was exhausted.

    One day faded into the next. I was tired of moving forward only to run into another obstacle impeding my progress. I was tired of expelling my energies trying to make a difference.

    During these difficult days, my friends directed me to Scripture. They prayed for me. They reminded me to pray. However, when I bowed my head to pray, the weight of my circumstances was heavy. I was just too tired. Maybe you can relate.

    I remembered a man in the Bible who faced challenging circumstances. His name was Nehemiah and he ran into one obstacle after another. He expelled all his energy each day trying to make a difference, but regardless of his efforts, he still faced opposition. Unlike me, this man was not too tired to pray.

    Nehemiah accompanied God's people, the Israelites, back to Jerusalem after they'd been held captivity in Babylon. He was motivated to help his people rebuild the ancient Jewish capital that had been destroyed (2 Chronicles 36:15-21).

    Having the favor of the king and God's presence on his side, one would assume the assignment would have been easier. However, two government officials made it their personal business to undermine the rebuilding progress. Nehemiah responded to each insult and obstacle the same way: He prayed.

    In order to revive their spirits, restore their energy and continue building, Nehemiah and the Israelites found they needed to stop and pray often! When the insults began, they prayed. When their enemies placed an obstacle in front of them, they prayed. Yes, through powerful and persistent prayer, Nehemiah and company defeated their enemies by rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem in record time.

    Let's sum up Nehemiah's prayer with a simple, easy to remember acronym: SAP (Stop And Pray). Interestingly enough, this acronym is found in the dictionary and when used as a noun can be defined as energy and vitality. For greater impact, we can unpack the word further. Just as the sap of a tree brings health, sap means the power to live and grow.

    Nehemiah had the right idea. By making prayer his priority, he discovered it was enough to revive his spirit and restore the mental and physical energy needed to overcome every challenge he faced.

    Are you facing a challenge? Do you feel too tired to pray? Let's allow the power of prayer to revive our spirits, and restore our physical and mental vigor. No matter what the obstacle, SAP. Each time an insult comes your way, SAP. You will have the energy needed to defeat your enemy and persevere with greater strength than you ever thought possible.

    Dear Lord, through the power of prayer, today's challenge can be tomorrow's victory. Help me SAP when adversity comes my way. Thank You for prayer and the power I receive when I turn to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ephesians 3:20, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." (NIV)

    Romans 8:26-27, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write the acronym SAP and its meaning (energy and vitality) on several note cards. Place them in your home, car, work and Bible.

    © 2014 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Nehemiah

  • When You Can't See How

    Posted on November 13, 2014 by Renee Swope

    RENEE SWOPE

    "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." Roman 8:28 (NIV)

    All I could see were the hard parts. Everything we would have to give up: sleep, money, comfort, familiarity, others' approval. All the hard things we would have to navigate: huge expenses and significant changes.

    What if our sons resented us for re-arranging their lives forever? What if our parents and extended family didn't approve? What if we exhausted our time, emotions and money only to end up with broken hearts and an empty bank account?

    How could God work all that together for good? I couldn't see how. I could only see "hard."

    Yet it was undeniable. Confirmations chased us down. My husband and I knew God was calling our family to adopt a severely malnourished baby girl from Ethiopia.

    After a year of paperwork, waiting, praying and wondering how, our family traveled to Ethiopia to get our little girl in October 2009.

    Was it hard? Yes. Even more than I imagined.

    But as I trace God's hand over the past five years since we brought Aster home, I see Him working so many things together for good. I see a handwritten love letter, written to our little girl from her Heavenly Father on every page of our adoption story.

    I see God working, even the hard things, together for good.

    Despite our inadequacy, sadness and fear of the unknown when Aster was diagnosed with a speech disorder, global developmental delays, low muscle tone and sensory processing disorder, I now see God working it all for good.

    I see God working, even the overwhelming things, together for good.

    I see how a year of sleepless nights brought out servants hearts in our teenage sons when they saw their dad struggling with depression caused by sleep-deprivation. So they decided to take turns sleeping on a mattress in their sister's room to relieve her anxiety and give us sleep.

    I see God working, even the embarrassing things, together for good.

    Like the day I had a meltdown in my car because I was overwhelmed by the task of carpooling three kids and coordinating Aster's therapy appointments. The day a stranger tapped on my window to see if I was okay. That same afternoon I ran out of gas on my way to get my youngest son, and my oldest son, with a new cast on his broken foot, had to push our car off the road. I see awesome stories for them to tell their children one day.

    And on those days when my reality doesn't look or feel like "good" to me, I ask God to help me see how He's keeping the promise found in today's key verse: "that in all things [He} works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Roman 8:28).

    What I've discovered is this: God is always working things together for good, but not just for our good. Sometimes we are part of His working things together for someone else's good.

    You see, I believe Jesus heard a mother in Africa praying for her baby. A mother who was living in the middle of "hard" like I'd never imagined. A mother who couldn't see how she could give her little girl the nurture and nutrition she needed.

    And when God heard that mama's prayers, He tapped on the hearts of a family in North Carolina who loved Him and were called according to His purpose.

    I believe God saw an orphanage in Ethiopia searching for a forever family to provide unconditional love and medical care for an 8-pound, 6-month old baby with pneumonia.

    So Jesus went back to that family in North Carolina who prayed that He would reveal Himself to them and through them, knowing this little girl would be an answer to that prayer.

    When all I could see was hard, all God could see was how.

    Is there a relationship or situation in your life where all you see is hard? Have you asked God how He can work this together for good?

    I don't know about you, but I need a tangible reminder that He can. A visual to help me see how He does, like the beautiful bead necklace I'm wearing today made from repurposed bullets found in the rubble of Ethiopian soil.

    Each time I look in the mirror I remember how God answered a desperate mother's prayers for her baby's needs and filled my family's longing to experience more of Him. Only He could know how much we needed the gift of a little girl to light up our world, and to remind us that He indeed works all things together for good!

    Lord, some days all I can see is the hard stuff. Help me see how I can be part of YOUR working all things together for the good of someone else today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ephesians 1:11, "Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan." (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Is there a situation or relationship where God may want you to be part of His "working all things together for good" for someone else?

    Make a few "deposits" of good in a hard relationship or circumstance this week as you ask God to reveal His heart to you and through you.

    © 2014 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ephesians, Roman

  • 3 Ways to Press Through Unanswered Prayer

    Posted on November 12, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    LYSA TERKEURST

    "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

    I opened the anonymous letter and my heart sank. It was from another mom who wanted to make sure I had a list of all the ways one of my daughters was falling short. There in black and white she listed my daughter's mistakes, shortcomings and frailties.

    And then just to make sure I took her nameless letter seriously, she informed me she'd be sending a copy to my pastor.

    My initial reaction was figure out who sent this so I could call her. Talk this through face-to-face. Assure her my husband and I were not only aware of some struggles my daughter was having but also working diligently to help her course-correct.

    But as I reread the letter, I discerned it wasn't sent from a place of love for my family or a heart that wanted to help.

    From the language she used and the fact that there wasn't a way to contact her, it was obvious she didn't send it because she wanted the best for my daughter.

    I sat on the edge of my bed and cried.

    It's so hard to have someone attack you in an area that's already rubbed raw with hardship. Her letter was like a bullet straight to my heart.

    However, it was also a wake-up call to get more intentional in praying for my daughter. I thought about her struggles a lot. I talked about her struggles. I worried about her struggles.

    But thinking about, talking about and worrying about something is not the same as praying about it.

    I determined to turn this letter that felt like a bullet into a blessing by using it as a catalyst to ramp up my prayer life.

    Through my tears I cried out to the Lord, "I will not sacrifice Your grace for my child on the altar of people's opinions. Of course I want my daughter to walk the straight and narrow path of great choices. But I trust You Lord to write her testimony. My main goal for her is not behavior modification but total heart transformation. I want her to want You, Lord, and Your best for her life. Give me the courage to not just pray about my daughter, but to pray her all the way through this."

    Praying her through the ups and downs wasn't easy. There were days I wondered if God was even hearing my prayers.

    It's tough to pray someone all the way through a messy, hard, complicated situation and not see answers. Maybe you've been there. Maybe you are there now.

    Can I speak hope into your heart with 3 ways to press through unanswered prayers?

    1. Know with confidence God hears your prayers.

    1 John 5:14 reminds us, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us" (NIV).

    2. Trust that prayer makes a difference, even when you don't see the difference.

    It may take a while for you to see God answer your prayers. But don't miss an "in the meantime answer" you can receive right away. Philippians 4: 6-7 reminds us of the immediate answer to every prayer: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

    Did you catch it? It's the peace of God that will guard your heart and mind in the process while you're waiting for God to reveal His answer to your request. When you pray, you can trust you are doing your part and God will certainly do His part.

    3. Tell fear it has no place in this conversation.

    These prayers are your gateway to feel an assurance you don't see yet. But fear will beg you to focus on the problem more than God's promises. Isaiah 41:10 says, "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).

    It's been a year and a half since I got that hard letter that prompted more frequent prayers for my daughter ... that bullet that turned into a blessing. I recently visited her at college and could hardly believe my eyes.

    She's a completely different girl.

    At one point during our time together, I asked her, "What finally made following Jesus wholeheartedly click for you?" She said, "Mom, I've made friends who love Jesus. I saw a joy in them that I wanted. So, I started doing what they do even when I didn't want to. At first I thought getting up to do devotions was unrealistic, prayer meetings were boring, and listening to praise music, excessive. But as I kept doing these things, the Lord started changing my thought patterns. And when I started thinking about life from the standpoint of truth, I had so much more joy."

    She then paused and said words I've longed to hear and prayed to hear for so long, "Mom, I've just completely fallen in love with Jesus."

    I can hardly type those words without crying.

    I pray this infuses your heart with hope to keep praying. I pray you believe God can take the things others intended to harm you or the ones you love, and use them for good to accomplish His purposes as today's key verse reminds us.

    I need a visual reminder of these truths. And I'm wondering if you do too. This month Proverbs 31 Ministries has partnered with Fashion and Compassion to create beautiful jewelry using repurposed bullets from Ethiopia. Our hope is that when we wear one of the From Bullets to Blessings pieces, you and I can be reminded to pray with deep assurance that God hears us and will bring good from this in His time.

    And if you want my team and me to pray alongside you, visit my blog by clicking here and leave a comment about what you are believing for in prayer today.

    Dear Lord, only You can turn what was meant for evil into good. I thank You in advance for all that You're going to do in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Reread the three truths Lysa talked about. Then, choose one that you're going to hold on to this week.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Genesis

  • The Sick-of-Me Life

    Posted on November 11, 2014 by Lisa Whittle

    LISA WHITTLE

    "Then I pray to you, O LORD. I say, 'You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.'" Psalm 142:5 (NLT)

    I must be honest: I need God to consume me more than my life currently does.

    Life ... the often busy, imperfect, challenging daily ride that brings with it human struggle.

    The truth is, I am sick of me.

    I am sick of being afraid. I am sick of being hot and cold for God, depending on my circumstance. I am sick of wrestling with the same things I've wrestled with for most of my life.

    I want to be well. I want to be productive and joyful. I want to be useful for the Kingdom, valuable to my family, and have something to show of my time on earth. When I meet God one day, I want to say with open hands, Here's what I did with the life You gave me.

    I want God. I want Him to show up tangibly in me. I want Him to blow me away with insights and remind me that He is bigger than all my daily crazy. I want Him to sweep me off my feet and take me on one of His many amazing adventures.

    It is not a bad thing when we are sick of ourselves. It is, in fact, a good thing. Because that's when we will desire God in such a big way that we are willing to let go of the steering wheel of our life and let God drive us into our future.

    The sick-of-me life says:

    I'm tired of fighting for people to love me. I'm exhausted by this chase for approval.

    I'm tired of watching God use other people. I want Him to use me.

    I'm tired of being halfway in with God. I want to get off the spiritual roller coaster where I'm good one minute and the next minute I don't want to pray or read my Bible. I want to make progress.

    I'm tired of making decisions based on my fear of the unknown and my desire for comfort. I want to be free from the chains that have kept me bound.

    I'm tired of trying to control everything. I want to finally know and rest in God's ability to take care of it all.

    Here's something beautiful: If we want God, in all these areas and in any way we need Him, we can have Him. But we have to be tired of our usual life.

    We have to get to the point where we say, I am sick of me. Not in a self-loathing way, but in a way that says, God, consume my life. It is in this posture of humility where God can change things. It is here that He moves, alters, heals and takes over.

    Assuring us with His love while helping us change.

    Overwhelming us with His presence.

    Consuming us more than our daily lives.

    Guiding us into a soul revival.

    As only He can, God hears this sick-of-me heart cry and responds in an equally passionate way. Because He is good. Because He wants us to come to the end of ourselves so He can redeem and use our life.

    Because it shows Him we want Him, more than anything else. That's what He wants most too.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for being worthy of our desire. Help me, in the busyness and craziness of my life, to want You more than anything else. I am needy, and I am tired of my usual life — even a good life is not truly good without You. With Your help, I promise to do whatever it takes to change. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 2:4, "God is kind, but he's not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change." (MSG)

    John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How does the "sick-of-me life" help bring you closer to Jesus?

    In what ways are you "sick of you" and ready for God to take over and change things?

    © 2014 by Lisa Whittle. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Harvest House Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm, John

  • Pray Any Time for Any Reason, However Small or Off-the-Wall

    Posted on November 10, 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs

    LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

    "Pray continually, ..." 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV)

    My due date was circled in ink, but babies are famous for ignoring calendars. Two weeks after that long-anticipated day came and went, I wondered if our son would ever make his grand entrance into the world.

    Naturally, my main concern was delivering a healthy baby, though I was a teensy bit worried about handling my part. Okay, more than a teensy.

    On that hot August evening, when my husband, Bill, and I drove off to the hospital, we were certain our endless wait was over.

    Not quite. I labored in vain. And prayed nonstop.

    After 22 hours, I was hungry, exhausted and scared. Plans for a C-section were put in motion, beginning with moving me from my comfy hospital bed onto a narrow gurney with wheels. Not a big deal unless you're nine and a half months pregnant.

    The two young orderlies, with wary expressions, did not inspire confidence. A headline flitted through my addled mind: Mother Delivers Bouncing Baby Boy While Bouncing.

    I've prayed some unusual prayers in my lifetime, but Please don't let them drop me! was a new one. Even thinking those words felt foolish, but I silently prayed them nonetheless, desperate for a safe landing.

    Please, Lord. Help me be brave. And help them be strong. Please?

    A moment later, into my hospital room strolled an angel in blue: Don, the nurse anesthetist. Built like an oversized teddy bear swathed in scrubs, he stood next to my bed, his round face beaming. "Are you ready?"

    I gulped. Here we go. The dreaded mid-air move.

    After assessing the situation, Don waved away the two nervous orderlies and blithely announced, "I'll take care of Mrs. Higgs."

    My hero.

    I'd never in my adult life been carried anywhere. Even Bill hadn't swept me over the threshold of our honeymoon suite. We'd just held hands and jumped. Now I was going to allow a complete stranger to do what seemed impossible.

    Don leaned closer. "Can you put your hands around my neck?"

    I could and did, though they were clammy and trembling with fatigue. Would the Lord answer my prayer, or was it time to set the type for that banner headline?

    As if I weighed nothing more than a pillow, the big man with a big heart lifted me off the bed, swung me through the air, and gently placed me on the gurney without so much as a grunt.

    "Nothing to it," he assured me.

    Maybe not for Don. Clearly not for God. He'd sent His best — a Paul Bunyan of a guy, whose heart belonged entirely to Him.

    Four hours later, Don moved me again, this time into a recovery bed. He tucked a precious bundle into my arms and whispered, "Look what a gift God has given you this night."

    Don didn't know that the name we'd chosen for our son meant "gift of God." But the Lord knew.

    His Word tells us, "A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world" (John 16:21, NIV).

    So right. My pain was gone, my prayers were answered, and my joy was over the moon. God had provided safe transport in the arms of His willing servant, and He really came through on my prayers for a healthy baby — Matthew weighed 11 pounds, 12-1/2 ounces. Definitely healthy.

    Knowing the Lord hears every request, big or small, normal or off-the-wall, our job is clear. Pray continually. Wait expectantly. Trust fearlessly.

    Lord, You are beyond faithful. Even before we put our prayers into words, You know what we need and are working on our behalf. Thank You for always listening and always loving. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 5:2, "Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray." (NIV)

    Mark 11:24, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (NIV)

    Psalm 66:20, "Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!" (NIV)

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

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Thessalonians

  • Controlling the Green Monster of Envy

    Posted on November 7, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

    "It's healthy to be content, but envy can eat you up." Proverbs 14:30 (CEV)

    I was the maid of honor. I was supposed to smile. Be happy. Celebrate another.

    But I couldn't do it.

    I'm sure I faked it well enough. I mean ... I showed up didn't I? I participated in all of the required events and followed through on all of my responsibilities.

    But my heart was like ice.

    As the date for the wedding drew near, my heart was breaking. I was angry that it was her and not me. I was disappointed that I still hadn't met "that" guy. You know ... "the" guy. The one I desired to spend the rest of my life with — and who felt the same way about me.

    I was tired of celebrating everybody else.

    Although my mind directed my heart to revel in the moment of another, my heart was in full-scale rebellion and refused to soften. It was a sheer act of the will that made me show up at all of the functions. It was pure pain to stand next to the bride and watch her get exactly what I longed for myself.

    I was jealous.

    The green monster of envy had taken up residence inside of me.

    Jealousy was an issue for me even before this wedding stuff, but I assumed that infectious green organism was tucked away in a back room somewhere.

    I was wrong.

    That wedding was the key that unlocked the door and unexpectedly let the creature out of its secure location. Now, it was taking over.

    Somewhere down deep, the best of who I am wanted to feel joy for the bride. But I couldn't.

    It wasn't an issue of mind over matter. It was an issue of my misery overtaking my mood.

    I wish I could say I got control of that green-eyed monster before the actual wedding began. But no.

    I'm ashamed to say I allowed my envy to eat me alive. I'm ashamed to say that I was a blot on what was otherwise a beautiful day. And I'm ashamed to say that day was the day of my sister's wedding.

    I simply wasn't happy for her. I couldn't be. I was too consumed with myself.

    I had spent so much time and energy over the years lamenting the parts of my life I disliked, that I'd unknowingly left the door of my heart wide open.

    And when that small green beast slipped in, I didn't kick it out. In fact, I hospitably fed it, nurtured it and coddled it with brooding breakfasts, melancholy midday meals, snacks of sarcasm and dinners of dissatisfactions.

    I simply did not take my envy problem seriously and work diligently to get rid of it.

    I fed it, and it grew. I became an ugly green girl.

    That's what happens when we don't nip envy in the bud. Left unattended, it can become a difficult guest to move out.

    While it is not easy to deal with this sin of the heart, it is absolutely necessary if you want your heart to be clean and clear before God.

    How do you get rid of a jealous, envious heart?

    Give thanks. Learn contentment. But most importantly, love others.

    "Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud ..." (1 Corinthians 13:4, CEV)

    Where there is love, there is less room for things that oppose it.

    You may think: How do I love my way out of jealousy or envy when I don't feel love?

    You act like you do. In time, your feelings will follow your feet.

    Show love.

    Actively bless that person by looking for opportunities to show your care and concern. Encourage, praise and pray for the person. Practice shifting your mind from your own desires to needs of a sister or brother in Christ.

    Love so well that envy has no room to breathe.

    That day at the wedding, I fell short of God's call to love. But through His grace, I've been given more chances. And with His strength, I'm more able to kick that green-eyed monster out of my heart.

    Father God, forgive me for how I have allowed envy to grow in my heart. Sometimes I don't realize how easy it is to nurture jealousy and before I know it, I have turned into a green girl. Help me as I seek to learn contentment and show love to others in a way that pleases You. Wash my green clean with Your precious blood. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Galatians 5:26, "Let's not become arrogant, make each other angry, or be jealous of each other." (CEB)

    Romans 13:13-14, "Let us walk properly as in the daytime ... not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How has envy of another person or a situation affected your ability to experience joy?

    What can you do to love your way out of a place of envy? How can you encourage the one whose presence usually brings your green monster out of hiding?

    What will you do today to practice thankfulness and to choose contentment?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs

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