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Family Christian

  • How God Turns Your Past Into Purpose

    Posted on October 21, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "'Return home and tell how much God has done for you.' So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him." Luke 8:39 (NIV)

    As I sat in the church pew with my head bowed in prayer, I heard a voice reverberate so thunderously in my heart that it startled me.

    The voice was blaringly loud, as if it had been announced over the loudspeakers. I opened my eyes surprised to see that no one else was taken aback. All was calm.

    And so began my encounter with God.

    I felt God speak loud and clear a short message that held life-altering repercussions. Three powerful, commanding words: "Go and share!"

    I became overwhelmed with emotion. I was awestruck that God had spoken to me at all, but even more so at the three words I heard. Go and share? Go and share what?

    Then it hit me. Fear immediately overwhelmed me and I sank into the pew, trembling at what I thought God might be asking. I began to question God, "Surely You can't mean share my past, Lord. Surely You don't mean go and share what I prefer to keep secret." Yet, that is exactly what He meant. And I didn't like it.

    I didn't want to go, much less share. I didn't want to be transparent or vulnerable. I gratefully accepted His forgiveness and healing, but I wasn't ready to accept His call to give me a purpose. The man who was healed from demon possession in today's key verse experienced similar feelings.

    This tormented man lived as an outcast for many years, naked and alone in the tombs of Gadara, near Galilee. When he saw Jesus, he fell to his knees and shouted at the top of his voice, begging for mercy from God. Jesus commanded the demons to leave him and then cast them into a herd of pigs that rushed down the steep bank into a lake and drowned. The man was healed physically, but more importantly, spiritually.

    He was so overwhelmed with gratitude for what Jesus had done, he begged to travel with Jesus and stay by His side. But Jesus had other plans. Instead, Jesus told him to go and share his story. And he did.

    What had once been a burden to bear became a powerful story of holy transformation. This man's past, and the healing he experienced, became the foundation of a purpose in life that he would have never imagined — living his life as proof of the life-changing power of Jesus.

    The man's story became a testimony when he was willing to share it with others. How many people believed in Jesus and are now spending eternity with Him simply because this former demon-possessed man willingly allowed his terrible past to become a story of redemption and purpose?

    People can deny Christ, dispute Scripture and ignore prophecy, but they cannot deny, dispute or ignore God's transformational power in someone's life. Our stories of pain, adversity and overcoming in Christ are meant to serve as a testimony of God's faithfulness and power, evidence that God really can take what the devil meant for evil and use it for good.

    I've since learned it is always God's desire for us to go and share our stories, whether we want to or not.

    God never wastes our pain. Only we do that. God has a plan for great purpose and a beautiful future for all who believe in Him. Not despite our past, but because of it.

    Lord, help me find the courage and the desire to share what You have done in my life. Turn my past into my purpose and refuse to let my pain be for nothing. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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

    Isaiah 61:3, "... to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Have you been thankful for God's spiritual healing, but hesitant to share what He has done in your life?

    In what ways have you become an overcomer and found victory in Christ? How could you share that with others to impact their lives?

    How might God be able to use your past for a specific and unique purpose for ministry?

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. 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 Luke

  • My Morning Prayer

    Posted on October 20, 2014 by Wendy Blight

    Wendy Blight

    "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Mark 1:35 (NIV)

    I've always been indescribably drawn to the private life of Jesus.

    The Jesus who was led into the wilderness.

    The Jesus who agonized over His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    But the moments that interest me most are when Jesus withdrew to quiet places to pray — each prayer time a compelling picture of the Son's intimate connection with His Father.

    Mark tells us in our key verse that while it was still dark, Jesus slipped out of the house and went to a secluded place to meet with His Father. Mark doesn't tell us what morning this was. But we do know this prayer time followed a full day of healing the sick and casting out demons.

    After that kind of day, you would think Jesus might have slept in ... just for an hour or two. I would have. But not Jesus. He awakened before the sun peeked over the horizon to be refreshed and renewed for the ministry awaiting Him that day.

    Oh, how I long to know what Jesus said. How long did He pray? What did He pray? Could He audibly hear His Father's response? Were the angels with Him?

    And more practically, did His mind wander? Mine does. Sometimes I find myself praying and my mind travels to my "to do" list. Or I begin praising God but then the concerns weighing on my heart push through and usher out my praise.

    I imagine Jesus' mind didn't wander because He knew in those solitary places He was sitting in very presence of His Father. And what I forget — perhaps many of us do — is that when we pray, we too sit in the very presence of God, our Father.

    Although our eyes cannot visibly see Him, I picture Him drawing near, bending close to hear our every word. His Spirit surrounding us. His hands lifting our faces heavenward. His ears fixed on every cry of our hearts ... the praises, the confessions, the anxieties, the fears, the doubts ... He hears them all.

    Sometimes it's hard to awaken early. Hard to focus. And most of all, it's hard to fathom that the God of the universe, who holds the entire world in His hands, has time to hear our little prayers. But not only does He have the time, He calls us to come to Him. Jeremiah 33:3 says, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know" (NIV).

    So, let's band together this week for morning prayer. Each morning, find a solitary place to pray ... your own secret spot. Below, I've written a special prayer for us to open our time with God.

    Our Morning Prayer:

    Dear Lord, I don't know who or what will cross my path today. But I do know that You are my Rock and my Fortress. You are my Shield and my Strong Tower. Help me to anchor myself to You today. Teach me how to stand strong in You and choose only Your way today. Help me walk by Your truth and not my feelings.

    Help me to embrace anything that comes my way as an opportunity to see You at work and as an opportunity to point others to You.

    Thank You that You love me and nothing can ever take that away from me! Even if I fail today and fall short, You whisper Your unconditional love deep into my soul and remind me that Your mercies are new every morning.

    That truly amazes me, Lord.

    Thank You for meeting with me today. Would You wake me again tomorrow with the same sweet whisper of Your love? I can't wait to meet with You again. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Imagine the marvelous sight before God's eyes! Each morning this week, as Elohim, the God who created us, peeks over the edge of heaven, gazes across the continents, and spans the time zones, He will find His girls gathering to pray with one voice: Our morning prayer.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Jeremiah 33:3, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write our Morning Prayer on a notecard or in a journal and pray it out loud each morning. At the end of the week, record how God has used this time to transform your heart for prayer.

    © 2014 by Wendy Blight. 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 Mark

  • Fatherhood

    Posted on October 17, 2014 by Family Christian

    Throughout my life as I considered or even dreamt about fatherhood, my thoughts always focused on me nurturing, supporting, and loving on children that were 100% healthy. The thought never crossed my mind that I may be called upon to serve a child that was disabled.

     

    By God’s grace, my wife and I were given three children who are in every way healthy. We have invested our energy, time and resource into each of three children over the past 27 years. Each of them thrives, loves the Lord and is independent of our parenting for the most part.

     

    What I marveled at as the kids grew was their drive for independence:

    ·         In the early years they wanted to do things under their own power – crawl, feed themselves, walk, tinkle, etc. As they made progress, they became less dependent on us and we in essence gained a bit of “freedom”.

    ·         As adolescents they tested their own power and independence as they did sleep overs, traveled with friends, honed their own skills, and could find their way back home. Their independence and confidence grew, and we accomplished another level of freedom.

    ·         As teens they wanted to do things with power – take the car, travel abroad, shave, mow my grass and certainly state their own point of view. For us we enjoyed greatly expanded freedom and far less parenting input as we watched them grow and thrive.

    ·         Into early adulthood now, each serves and functions with total independence. We enjoy vast amounts of freedom and our own independence.

     

    As I looked into the eyes of Joel, my Bolivian friend who is served at the Children’s Rehab Center of Colomi in partnership with World Vision, I was hit hard by the fact that God gave me three healthy children and they were very easy for us to raise. Hard in the sense that I was deeply grateful for our children, but in the depth of my spirit challenged as I wondered what kind of Dad would I have been to a child like Joel?

    It hit me hard knowing that Joel was not going to do many things under his own power – not crawl, not walk, not feed himself. He would not do sleep overs, travel with friends, nor could he get himself back home. He won’t likely drive a car, travel abroad, shave or mow anybody’s grass. It struck me that Joel will not know the independence many of us enjoy, or our children achieve as they progressively take on skills and abilities.  As I visited with Joel it hit me that he will require support and assistance all his life from his parents. That this assignment in vast in scope, long in duration, it requires constant sacrifice, it requires endurance, and it is nearly impossible to do alone. What kind of Dad would I have been when faced with this challenge and a boy like Joel?

    BOLIVIA and Joel

    BOLIVIA and Joel

     

    While I cannot give an answer to that question, I knew with absolute certainly that a child like Joel would require more of me than I had given to three healthy kids. I knew that for Joel’s parents it must be simply hard and that they would face weariness often. As precious as Joel is, it was apparent that his parents would need to be constantly active in every aspect of Joel’s life for as long as Joel lives.

     

    In that moment I was able to give praise and thanksgiving for the World Vision work in Colomi at the Children’s’ Rehab Center. Most third world or emerging nations do not have resources like this to aid in child development for special needs children. By God’s grace, there is one in Colomi, and it serves Joel and so many others. It is a respite for fatigued parents. It provides support to parents who otherwise would have no support at all in a community that often casts out the disabled or at best hides them. It is a place where caring professionals can develop skills in children and pass teaching techniques to parents who are starving for help in developing their precious child.

     

    While I wrestled with what kind of Dad I would be to a boy such as Joel, I knew with certainly that I would depend on place like this, The Children’s Rehab Center. Because of it, Joel is making progress and learning new skills. His parents are being given what I call “rescuing support” without which they might simply give up. Joel knows love. His parents have hope. Together they are making progress to lead fuller lives under the compassionate care of World Vision in Colomi.

     

    Written by:

    Steve Biondo

    SVP, HR & Organizational Development at Family Christian

     

     


    This post was posted in Missions, Guest Bloggers and was tagged with Missions, World Vision, steve biondo, Bolivia

  • The Desire to Belong

    Posted on October 17, 2014 by Family Christian

    “so in Christ we who are many form one body…” Romans 12:5 (NIV)

     

    We are all familiar with it… the desire to belong. Even as adults, there is an urging within that says we would like to find that special group of friends.

    Several years ago, before we joined our current church, we visited several churches. We were looking for the right fit for our family.  We had two young children at the time, so we answered a variety of questions from church members: Homeschool vs. public school. Breast feeding vs. formula. Working mother or Stay at home. It was as if we were being interviewed and unfortunately found lacking in a few areas. We are now settled at our current church and loving it. We don’t feel the pressures to cave to one social group and attribute that to the preaching. When you have a strong pastor leading the flock, it helps to keep such issues in perspective.

    While praying about what to write for this blog, those memories came flooding back.  Now, I can laugh over some of the comments that originally left painful scars on my soul.  I wondered, who else has endured similar moments? How did they handle it? So, I asked a group of people who have become my friends online. I met most of them before my 9-year-old daughter was born.  I was thankful that they were willing to open up to me, because religion isn’t a topic easily discussed.

    The overwhelming response to my message board post told me that this is a bigger issue than I realized.  These friends shared from their hearts and I was moved to pray for many.

    I heard from a divorcee, who struggles with taking her children to church functions and not feeling like she has a place any longer. She will often drop them off and leave to avoid the awkward feeling. This is a woman who has a church home, she is involved, but no longer feels like she has a place among her friends.

    How about a person who is married without children? They would love to have friendships with the other couples, but doesn’t know how to relate or start those friendships when the first question asked is, “Do you have kids?” When they answer, the families lose interest. It isn’t easy to form a friendship with someone in different life circumstances, but it also isn’t impossible. God can teach us so much through other people. We only have to look at the New Testament church for an example of how diversity can serve the church body as a whole.  Jesus used a variety of men and women from various backgrounds to start his ministry.

    We are all children of God. We are members of one body. We only need to look down the pew on a Sunday morning to see a few of our own church members feeling they don’t belong.  How long will people continue to come, if they feel they don’t fit in?

    We are not perfect people, we are sinners saved by grace. Let’s leave the plastic smiles at the door. Let’s be real and take a moment to reach out to those who need a friend. A divorcee who needs someone to sit with, a man looking for a friend to talk with, the list goes on. I heard from twenty different people, each with a story, a hurt, and a heart that needs healing. Some of them no longer attend church. Each of them needs to know that God hasn’t forgotten them, that the church body works better as a whole. We are individuals who God created for a greater purpose. One of those purposes is to serve Him. When we leave the church fellowship because of hurts, it not only hurts you, but also the church as a whole.

    You can read this blog post, then move on to the next interesting thing to read online. Or we can pray for healing in our church body. Let’s take it one step farther, next time you are at church ask someone, “How can I pray for you this week?” Then, commit to praying for that person.

    Pray for hearts to be opened and healed. That people within the church would see the need to repent and ask for the forgiveness for the wrongs they have done, and that those who have been offended would seek to return to the church. May His healing touch be felt in each of your lives today.

    “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147:3

     

    Bio:

    Stacey Zink lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, two children, and the goldfish that will never die. She enjoys reviewing books and sharing about life at: http://suburbanthoughts.wordpress.com/

     


    This post was posted in Guest Bloggers and was tagged with guest bloggers

  • Interview with We Are Leo

    Posted on October 13, 2014 by Family Christian

     

    By: Kristen Jeffery, Social Media Coordinator at Family Christian

    This week I had the opportunity to speak with David from We Are Leo.  Read the full interview below.

    FC: Hello! Thank you for your time today.  I hear you all are gearing up for a new tour.  Can you tell us about it?

     

    David from We Are Leo: Absolutely.  We are on for part of the Acquire the Fire tour that is starting in Spring.  We’ve done Acquire the Fire in the past, and it came to Lansing and I think there was about 7,000 people there.  I think the greatest thing about it to me is that I get to talk to all the fans after the show and just pray with them and talk to them and share our stories with them.

    FC: I have actually been enjoying your new single “You’re the Best Thing”, here in my office.  What does this song mean to you?

    David from We Are Leo: This is for my testimony.  I came out my teenage years sort of feeling really lost and  just fighting a lot of depression and loneliness.   And with my story of reaching out to Christ and Him coming and rescuing my life, that was such an epic change for me to be like God  loved me and to feel loved instead of rejected and at that point I realized this is what I have been looking for my whole life and for me singing this song “You’re the Best Thing” is coming back to that point and being thankful and remembering that God changed my life and despite the busyness or whatever else comes along in my day to day life I want to remember that He is always the best thing.

    FC: Your new album is called “Fightback Soundtrack” and it releases tomorrow (10/14).  What do you hope that people take away from your new album?

    David from We Are Leo: Yes. I think the overarching theme of this is bravery and not being afraid.  In the Bible it talks so much about not being anxious and Paul talks about not being anxious and I love that relationship and the idea of being strong and courageous.  Fightback Soundtrack,  the whole idea of it is ‘Yeah,  you need to be strong in the Lord and when things come against you and things happen you’re not defeated and you can overcome those things and keep your head up. ‘  And to be brave because God’s love can make us brave.  That’s what I hope people will take away.

    FC: What changes can your fans expect from “Hello” to “Fightback Soundtrack”?

    David from We Are Leo: That’s an awesome question!  Way to go!   This record we made it on our own.  In November we decided it was decision time.  We felt like God was telling us to keep being persistent and that we have things to share and talents that He was calling us to use.  We put it up on Kickstarter and it came through on the last hour of the last day. 

    FC: Awesome! Making it even more of a God story right?

    David from We Are Leo: It is totally a God story!  Totally.  I really can’t even believe it really happened. I think on this album you will hear a more mature sound and get a feel for what we truly sound like.

    FC: We have a prayer team here at Family Christian and we meet daily to pray for others.  How can we specifically be praying for you?

    David from We Are Leo: Thank you.  Be praying for wisdom.  And be praying that these songs will be heard by those who need it the most.    

     


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Music, interviews, We Are Leo

  • Do you know what you believe?

    Posted on October 13, 2014 by Family Christian

    Do you know what you believe?
    Do you believe that God’s Word is true? Every word of it?
    This is something on my heart as a mom. I want to make sure our family is certain of what we believe in and I want to make sure we are leading our children to understand that every ounce of God’s Word is true, without a doubt.
    What can we do to ensure our children are being taught this truth? Here are a few things that we do in our family:

     

    • We read God’s Word with them and give them time to ask questions and we like to have them tell us in their words what we have read. Narration is a great way to ensure they understand what we have read.
    • We read devotionals with them nightly that helps to expand on this knowledge.
    • We memorize scriptures together daily as a family.
    • We pray multiple time together each day, especially before meals and bedtime.
    • We help them to recognize when God has answered a prayer, even the small ones, so that we can give thanks to Him.
    • We sing praises to Him, especially when we are scared or worried or anxious about something.
    • We also want to make sure that they realize that we can’t believe in only parts of the bible. We either believe it all or we believe none of it. We can’t believe in Creation and yet not believe in the Flood. We can’t believe in Jesus’ death upon The Cross and yet not believe in His resurrection.

    The most important part of making sure our children know what they believe, is to make sure we know what we believe! As parents, we need to spend time in God’s word, praying and building our relationship with Him. We must have assurance in what we believe in so that we can better lead our children. We need to be that example to them so that they can see us living out our beliefs as well.

    Will you join me in a challenge? Let’s spend time with Our Lord. Let us be certain of we believe in so that we can be the example that our spouse needs, that our children need, that our loved ones need…..that this world needs!

    I leave you with a scripture and ask that you meditate on it, memorize, pray over it:

    Now Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

    GodlyGlimpsesBioPic

    Jennifer is a wife and homeschooling mother to three (plus one more on the way!) She is also a blogger at Godly Glimpses where she shares about marriage, parenting, homeschooling and faith. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.


    This post was posted in Kids, Guest Bloggers and was tagged with Parenting, believe, guest bloggers

  • Value Is in the Eye of the Beholder

    Posted on October 10, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:6-7 (NIV)

    All they saw was a piece of useless junk. But I saw a precious treasure.

    Years ago on a cold winter morning, my young children and I were sitting around the kitchen table chatting about the gifts they wanted for Christmas. When my daughter expressed a desire for a new baby doll, memories from long ago came to mind.

    I remembered running excitedly down the stairs on Christmas morning to see my new doll sitting in front of the tree. She had big chocolate brown eyes, silky hair and a long ponytail that cascaded down her little pink ruffled dress. But her greatest feature was the cord in her back. When pulled, it wound all the strands of hair back into her head, transforming her long locks into a short bob.

    As I shared how beautiful and special this doll was to me, Kaitlyn said, "Awww. I wish we could have seen her." My eyes lit up with excitement as I shared with them that I still had her! I scurried to the closet, dug out the box and held up the doll with pride, thrilled to share a piece of my childhood with my children.

    After a few seconds of awkward silence, Morgan spoke up with child-like honesty: "Mom, she is ugly!"

    Then Kaitlyn said sheepishly, "Yeah Mommy. She kind of looks scary." Little Michael was too stunned for words.

    We all shared a laugh, but as I gently tucked my doll back into her box, I caught a glimpse of what they really saw.

    They saw an outdated toy covered in scuffmarks with missing eyelashes and oversized bulging eyes. They saw tangled, fuzzy red hair that had been pressed against the side of a box for 30 years and a faded dress that was stained and ripped.

    Yet because she was valuable to me, I saw beyond her imperfections. My love alone gave her value, and no one else's opinions would change that.

    As I stood in the aftermath of my kids shunning my doll, my thoughts wandered back to the years I spent questioning my own value — years wondering if the sins of my past or the failures of my present had stolen my value in God's eyes. Years not realizing how precious I was to Jesus.

    Apparently the disciples wondered about these things, too.

    In Luke Chapter 12, Jesus knew He and His disciples would soon be judged and persecuted. To calm their fears, He offered encouragement of their worth with the story about sparrows.

    In biblical times, sparrows had little value, other than being cheap food for the poor.

    Jesus shared with His disciples how God loved the little sparrows, even though they were worthless in the eyes of the world. He assured them God's love for them was immeasurably more.

    Jesus wanted them to understand He saw beyond their imperfections, sins and fears, and beheld them as valuable, no matter what anyone else thought. He loved them simply because they were His. He alone gave them great value.

    Like the disciples, Jesus values each of us, no matter what. Nothing we have ever done or endured has lessened our value in Christ.

    You see, real value is in the eye of the beholder, and Christ is the Beholder of us all. Our value not only makes us precious to God, but it also makes us usable for amazing purposes in His kingdom that we would have never imagined.

    Might you see yourself through His eyes today and embrace who you are because of Whose you are?

    Lord, I struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness due to the hardships I have endured and the mistakes I've made. Help me see myself through Your eyes and accept how valuable I am in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How have you allowed the opinions of others to convince you that you are not valuable to God?

    In what ways have your past experiences equipped you to serve God in a special way?

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. 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 Luke

  • Family Secrets

    Posted on October 9, 2014 by Nancy McGuirk

    Nancy McGuirk

    "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3 (NIV)

    Growing up, I was drawn to TV shows where the perfect family lived in the perfect home and their problems were always solved in 30 minutes. I especially loved the shows where the mom was always kind and gracious to her children. Oh, how I wanted a mom like that.

    But when the TV was off, my family life was anything but perfect.

    As much as we loved her, my father, sister and I lived in fear of provoking a reaction from my mom. Something was wrong, but I didn't know what. It became our family secret.

    Night after night, I lay in bed crying, God, why are my parents arguing? Why does my mom talk that way to my dad? I thought she loved him.

    I kept asking, God, can you help us? Can you make it stop? I would go to school each day carrying that burden, and no matter what I did or how many friends I had around me, I always felt alone. I thought I was the only one with a dark family secret.

    This family crisis caused my dad to seek God in prayer and Bible study. He often told my sister and me, "Your mom is not well; she doesn't mean what she says or does." His amazing example of dependence on God during those years showed me about how someone receives true healing when life is full of pain.

    As the years went by, I discovered my mother was a victim of an illness, not a villain on a mission. Though her pain was my pain, I began to separate what she did from who she was. I learned to extend her unconditional love.

    I also realized that our family wasn't the only one with a secret. Depression and mental illness affect multitudes of people.

    Through treatments, and by the grace of God, my mother's condition improved. She even gave her life to Christ. But sometimes I wonder if my dad would have grown as spiritually mature if my mother had not struggled. Would my sister and I have been exposed to as much prayer, patience and service at a young age if my father hadn't been such a godly servant to our family?

    My father followed Jesus by remaining faithful as he picked up his cross each day. Like our Savior, he learned obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8). And the power of a life dependent on Christ became the greatest witness to my sister and me.

    My family secret changed over time — from having a mother who was ill to discovering that God is my true source of healing. Today's key verse became truth in my life: "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Through my mom's struggles, God's works were displayed in our home in a way that they might not have been otherwise.

    Maybe you have family secrets. Maybe you are struggling to keep the faith and find it hard to be obedient. Trust me: He will remain faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). God may seem silent or absent today, but His purpose will become loud and clear in the future. Letting go of having life our way is always worth living in Christ and trusting in His way.

    Heavenly Father, help me remember that no matter what the crisis, no matter how much pain, and no matter how hopeless, Your goal is to always bring me closer to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Luke 9:23, "Then he said to them all: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'" (NIV)

    Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (NKJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Identify any painful secrets you are keeping to yourself. How are they affecting you?

    How do you think knowing Christ and depending on Him could help you through this difficult time?

    © 2014 by Nancy McGuirk. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks AMG 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

  • The Stranger on the Bench

    Posted on October 8, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal Evans Hurst

    "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)

    A few years ago, my family took a road trip to Baltimore to visit my grandparents.

    We never visit the city without making a trip to the Inner Harbor. It's something my parents did with me and I have great memories of it, so it's something I love to do with my kids.

    This area is a very popular tourist attraction. It's also an area where lots of local folks from many different walks of life hang out.

    On this particular day, we were walking along the main thoroughfare. I stopped for a bit to glance in the window at one of the stores. I turned my eye every few seconds or so to make sure my son was still chasing birds along the sidewalk in an attempt to scare them away.

    After just a few moments, I turned to check and noticed that he was no longer chasing the birds. Rather, he was standing next to a park bench, seemingly just looking at the birds — or so I thought.

    As I walked a little closer to him, I realized that he was talking ... to the homeless man lying on the park bench.

    For a moment, my heart skipped a beat. My son was talking to a stranger. And based on the way this stranger was reclining on the bench, I wasn't sure if he was well.

    I heard my son say, "Hi! Are you okay, sir?

    "Do you need some water? Are you hungry?"

    And then my heart lurched forward outside my body when I heard my son say, "Can I pray for you?"

    I watched from a short distance.

    The man mumbled something unintelligible to me and then my son walked away.

    I stood convicted.

    When was the last time I had taken the time to notice someone, right in front of me, and ask what needs they had that I could meet?

    When was the last time I had offered the most basic human needs, water and food, to someone who wasn't a part of my church, neighborhood or social sphere of connection?

    When was the last time I had offered a stranger my prayers?

    Just because.

    Our key verse today makes it clear we are to show hospitality to people — even the ones we don't know.

    It's so easy to get caught up in our jobs, churches, community affairs and being nice to people we know or those who are easy to be nice to that we forget the most basic kindness — showing hospitality to a stranger.

    The world is full of hurting people. People you and I can touch with a kind word, a warm smile, a hot meal or a gentle touch.

    The world is full of people who would be eternally grateful if someone just stopped and prayed for them.

    When was the last time you offered a stranger a smile, a prayer, a cool drink or a helping hand?

    I'm sad to say I hadn't even noticed that man laying on the bench ... and even if I had, I can't say I would have stopped to inquire how I might show him a bit of hospitality, grace or understanding.

    I can't say I would have stopped to pray for him.

    I can't say I would have stopped to show him love.

    My son helped me remember that the most simple, basic actions can sometimes mean the most.

    He helped me remember that showing love to others doesn't need to be complex.

    He helped me remember I should not let fear, busyness or lack of understanding stop me from giving the most important gift of all to another ...

    Love.

    And isn't that the point? That the world would know we are Christians by our love?

    Father God, forgive me for how I sometimes forget to love others, especially strangers, in simple ways that honor You. Help me recognize opportunities to share the love You have given me with someone else who needs to feel Your love. Allow me to be Your hands and Your feet. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 John 4:21, "And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." (ESV)

    Matthew 25:40, "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Has God given you the opportunity to show His love to a stranger? What happened? We'd love to hear your story. Share your experience in the comments.

    Why do you think so many of us struggle with reaching out to people we don't know? What practical ideas do you have for being more intentional about showing love to others — especially those that we would consider "strangers"?

    © 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 Hebrews

  • Dear God, Where Are You?

    Posted on October 7, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

    "Mom, I didn't make it. Please pray for me. I just feel confused about God."

    My heart sank. I felt my daughter's deep hurt. I felt it as clearly as if it were my own.

    I know what it feels like to want something so badly and have that dream shut down. That door close. That opportunity slip away.

    She'd been talking about going for this special achievement at summer camp for three years. Every time we talked about camp, she talked about going for this achievement. But she wasn't old enough to try until her fourth year at camp.

    Finally, this was going to be her year.

    She met every challenge and could see the goal in sight ... until the fire. She was supposed to light a campfire with nothing but three matches, one small square of newspaper and a few sticks of wood.

    She struck the first match and held it up to the newspaper. It didn't ignite. She struck the second match and held it up to the newspaper. It still didn't ignite.

    She stared at the third and final match. Knowing that a big part of the challenge was teaching the kids how to communicate with God and fully rely on Him, she'd been praying through every stage of the challenge. But now, she didn't just pray — she cried out to God.

    "Please help me, God. Please," she mouthed as she struck the third match. She held the flame up to the paper once again and watched in complete disbelief. The matchstick burned but the paper did not.

    As soon as the final match burned out, she lowered her head in defeat, and gave all her wood to the girls still in the challenge.

    When I arrived at camp to pick her up a week later, she asked if we could go sit by ourselves and process this situation.

    The fact that she didn't get the camp honor was not what was bothering her the most. What was bothering her the most was not experiencing God's power like the other girls. They all had stories of God answering their cries for help in amazing ways that carried them all the way through the challenge.

    "Mom, I didn't get that with God. Why?"

    This was a tough question. One of those questions as a mom that you don't want to mess up in answering.

    I asked her to help me recall every step of her challenge so we could intentionally look for God's hand. As she recalled every part, I listened intently for anything unusual and unexplainable.

    And when she got to the fire, I found it. There was no reason her newspaper shouldn't light. None at all. Everyone else's paper lit. Hers should have. But it didn't.

    "Honey, that can only be explained by God intervening. He was there. He was listening. And we just have to trust that there was some reason you shouldn't have continued that challenge. We may not know that reason, but we can certainly trust God was right there ... protecting you ... loving you ... revealing His power to you."

    She put her head on my shoulder, "You really think so, Mom?"

    I whispered, "I know so."

    I know so because I trust the truth God has given me. Truths like these are anchors that hold me to the reality of who God is:

    He is the One in whom I find comfort and reassurance: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, NIV).

    He is right here with me in the midst of my trouble, I am not alone: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

    Yes, I know deep hurt. But I also know deep hope. So, I whispered it again, "Yes, sweetheart, I know so."

    Sometimes God's power is shown as much in preventing things as it is in making them happen. We may never know why. But we can always know and trust the Who.

    Dear Lord, thank You for knowing what I need and what I don't — even when I don't agree. Help me see Your "yes" and "no" as protection and guidance. Today, I choose to trust You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 126:5, "Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Look back at a situation where you felt God didn't answer your prayers. Can you see His power in not allowing your prayer to be answered?

    Write out your prayers today. Focus on trusting who God is and not why He is choosing not to answer or delaying His response. Remind yourself, "God's power is shown as much in preventing things as it is in making them happen."

    © 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 Psalm

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