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  • The Resurrection of Gavin Stone Review

    Grace, forgiveness and redemption are core themes in The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, a fun, faith-based comedy in theaters now. Essentially, these traits are what Christians are known for, but Gavin Stone doesn’t know that when he shows up on the doorstep of Masonville Baptist Church to serve his 200 hours of community service.

    After a party gone wrong, Gavin is just looking to serve his time so he can get back to Hollywood to reclaim his fame as an actor. He mops a few floors and cleans a few bathrooms, but quickly comes across auditions for the upcoming church play. Naturally, he wants to audition, but the church has one stipulation: You must be a Christian. “I am,” he lies. And so begins his journey as a “believer,” which involves many cheesy moments, cliché phrases and wrong assumptions.

    Strictly following church stereotypes, Gavin tries to fit in with his cast mates. When he attends his first church service, he trades in his beanie, jeans and button down shirt for khaki pants, Dockers and a tucked-in polo shirt. He greets everyone he passes with a “Blessings. Peace to you.” He goes “all out” during worship, and grabs a whole handful of communion wafers instead of just one as they pass the communion tray during the service.

    It’s humorous moments like these that make Gavin likeable and relatable as a character, though some of his humor about Christian stereotypes could offend conservative viewers. It’s an effort to draw attention to how Gavin sees Christianity from the outside, showing that his assumptions about Christianity only get him so far. In getting to know people from the church, he realizes he is missing something.

    His cast mates don’t just say all the right Christian things; they demonstrate a Christ-like attitude in the way they live.  Allen Richardson, played by The Cutting Edge front man D.B. Sweeney, is the pastor of Masonville, but he knows what the “bad boys” are like and won’t take any grief from Gavin. He makes it known that Gavin has to make good decisions to complete his community service at his church. Kelly—the pastor’s daughter, the play’s director and Gavin’s love interest in the film—demonstrates patience, grace and forgiveness time and time again as Gavin presents his new ideas to “enhance” the play. Doug, played by former WWE wrestler Shawn Michaels, is a sweet man in a biker gang for Jesus who is dedicated to helping others in need. He attends a weekly Bible study and invites him in when no one else does. His example of humility is exactly what Gavin needs, having come from the narcissistic world of Hollywood.

    It’s through these characters’ actions that the gospel is preached. God’s grace shines through as the audience sees Gavin feel welcomed into the church community and begin to understand what being a Christian truly means.Overall, this movie is a laugh-along, feel good film with a strong Christ-centered message.

  • I Was Her

    I Was Her By Lysa Terkeurst

    “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12 (NIV)

    I saw her coming across the arena. Deliberately. Intentionally. Her eyes fixed on the stage … on me … on what I must have represented in that moment — a woman who might understand.

    Through the crowd. Up the stairs. Across the stage. She stood next to me, pressing her shoulder against mine, as I was speaking to 6,500 women.

    And there she was staring out at thousands, but pressing into one. Needing more than words.

    Later she explained she needed God and thought if she stood close enough to me, she just might be able to feel Him.

    I didn’t have time to carefully plan what to do. I’d never had this happen before. I’ve never seen this happen. It wasn’t even on my scope of possibility. But there she was. And there I was. Two women who simply, desperately, need Jesus.

    And because I am so hyper-aware of my own desperation for Jesus in every moment of every day, I simply wrapped my arm around her and kept on speaking.

    It was a wrinkle in time. Something that wasn’t supposed to be, and yet was. And I think I now know why.

    I needed to remember that ravenous longing I once had to press against somebody who knew Jesus. I was her. Looking at other people’s faith wondering how to get that. That depth. That closeness. That unswerving conviction.

    I truly thought if only a person with that faith would let me be close enough, I’d discover their secret. I’d learn their routines. I’d mimic their obedience. I’d follow them to the ends of the earth until I got it right. Then, then, then, I’d feel close to Jesus. I’d understand the Bible. I’d pray powerful prayers. And all would finally make sense.

    However, there is a big difference between being close to people who love Jesus and being close to Jesus Himself.

    I can certainly learn from people. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise” (Proverbs 13:20a, ESV).

    But if I want closeness with Jesus, I won’t find that in following anyone but Jesus Himself. He is the One who must be pursued.

    There have been a thousand whispers from my heart, “Show me, Jesus. Show me how to follow You, be close to You, press into You, be more like You … show me. Show me today. Show me in this minute. Show me, please Jesus, show me.”

    A thousand whispers. And there will surely be thousands more that pour from my lips. For Jesus wants us to walk with Him. He says, “Follow me.” Over 20 times in the Gospels, “Follow me. Follow me.”

    And those who dare to whisper yes and then walk in His ways, find the One for whom they are longing. They find light and love, hope and life — “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” John 8:12 (NIV)

    Yes, there she was. And there I was. Two women who simply, desperately, need Jesus.

    Dear Lord, I desperately need You. But I don’t ever want to settle for a secondhand relationship with You — relying on what others know of You, instead of seeking You for myself. I want to see You. I want to hear You. I want to know You. So I’m asking You to show me. Help me to follow You. I am choosing to press in close to You above all others today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” (NIV)

    John 14:6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (NIV)

     

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Ask the Lord to help you take an honest look at your life. Are you following Jesus or are you following others more? Purposefully set aside time this week — just you, Jesus and His Word.

    © 2017 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • How Long, Oh Lord?

    How Long, Oh Lord? By Esther Fleece

    “How long will my enemy triumph over me?“ Psalm 13:2b (NIV)

    When I reached my 30s, I remember praying “How long, Lord?” as I filled out yet another change of address form.

    During several years of job and life transitions, I’d filled out my share of these. I needed to have a list of my previous addresses nearby just to remember them all, and it drove me insane when the gas station pumps began requiring zip codes to make a transaction. My biological family had painfully broken apart years ago, and now everywhere I turned, I was reminded I had no place to call home.

    Why, God, am I still living out of a suitcase? How long is this going to be my life?

    These were honest prayers, raw prayers, and I had to go on a journey with God to learn it was OK to pray them at all.

    For much of my life, I thought to question God was to doubt Him. I had learned to trust in His sovereignty, and desired God’s will for my life over my own. But somewhere along the path of obedience, my questioning ceased, and so did my laments.

    Lament is a passionate expression of grief where God meets us in our time of sorrow. Lamenting prayers are prayers where we express our honest emotions before God. God wants to hear us, even on our bad days, and He is always open to our honest prayers.

    One example of a lament found in Scripture is when the Psalmist cries out to God, asking: How long?

    “How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1, NIV)

    Have you ever lamented how long to God? How long must you be in angst? How long before you see your children come to the Lord? How long must you stay in a job that doesn’t satisfy you?

    David’s how long lament shows we will sometimes feel forgotten, and even forsaken by God. Notice that this lament isn’t silenced by a happy-go-lucky song in church, or dismissed by an uncomprehending friend. David’s lament is taken directly to God in the form of prayer. In Scripture God permits us to lament, and as we cry out to him in lament, He answers.

    The Psalmist continued, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13:2a)

    God gives us permission to present our honest questions before Him. He knows we will have anxious thoughts and troubling circumstances. It is what we do in these lamenting times that matter.

    Unfortunately, I am guilty of often gossiping about God instead of taking my honest laments before Him in prayer. As a child of God, we can take our questions directly to God, even while our hearts are still filled with pain.

    Why is she getting married, and I am still single?

    Why is her life blessed, and I am still struggling?

    Why is my sorrow unending, with no change in sight?

    What are your how long prayers right now? Do you have permission to express them in the context of a Christian community, and have you given yourself permission to lament them directly to God?

    We are all blessed with good things in life, and many of us are simultaneously struggling. As God’s people, we can experience multiple emotions at once. In a later Psalm, David laments as a form of confession, while at the same time asking God’s help to give Him praise.

    “Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.” (Psalm 51:15, NIV)

    There is no “fake it ‘til you make it” in Scripture. Lamenting gives our honest cries to God and gives Him the opportunity to comfort us when everything is not fine. Being “fine” is never to be our goal with God, however, intimacy and transparency are.

    As we take our laments directly to God, He will meet us right where we are … not where we pretend to be. Keeping our laments inside will cause us to shut down, displace emotions, isolate ourselves or stop praying altogether. What a generous God who has invited us to lament “how long” and modeled this language to us directly.

    Heavenly Father, help me let out my laments to You. As I cry out, “How long?” meet me right where I am, and transform my laments into praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Habakkuk 1:2, “How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?” (NIV)

    Revelation 6:10, "They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’" (NIV)

     

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What is one lament you have had in the last 24 hours?

    Practice telling God of the disappointment you are currently facing.

    © 2017 by Esther Fleece. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

  • Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage

    Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage by Sharon Jaynes

    “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Revelation 2:4-5a (NIV)

    What do you do when you’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’ in your marriage? Maybe you truly adored your husband in the beginning, but now you can’t remember why. Maybe you honestly admired his finer qualities, but now you can’t remember what they were. You once appreciated his wonderful attributes, but now you take them for granted.

    Between taking out the garbage, paying the bills, running the car pool, mowing the lawn, disciplining the kids and folding the laundry, sometimes the passion of marriage gets lost. It happens to all of us at one time or another. We can get so busy taking care of life that we forget to take care of love.

    No one gets married to have a long list of chores.

    If you’re like me, you got married because you were madly in love and couldn’t imagine life without your man! You were passionately stirred beyond belief and couldn’t wait to tie the knot and spend the rest of your days with this incredible person God had miraculously brought into your life. Maybe you still feel that way. But maybe you could use a little reminder — a re-stoking of that passion.

    In the book of Revelation, God had this to say to the church at Ephesus: “I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4). Ephesus was one of the most loving churches in the New Testament, and yet somewhere along the way they lost that initial thrill of knowing Christ. Their love for each other and for God had grown cold.

    So how do you get that lovin’ feelin’ back? God gave the church two simple steps in Revelations 2:5a, and I believe we can apply them to our marriages as well: “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.”

    Remember how it was in the beginning. Return and do the things you did at first. For most of us, the accumulation of small struggles can nibble like termites to undermine the foundation of what appears to be a healthy structure as surely as the unexpected, earth-shaking rumble of sudden disaster. And routine, even good routine, can rob us of the joy and passion of marriage … if we let it.

    One day I took John’s words in Revelation to heart, and decided to “remember and return” by romancing my husband. One day I simply put a sticky note on his bathroom mirror that said, “I love you.” Another day I placed a box of Red Hot candy on his car seat with a note that said, “You’re a hottie.”

    And you know what happened? Steve had a skip in his step and smile on his face. And what happened in me? I can hardly describe the love that welled up in me, as I loved my man well. Hear this … I changed! The passion was re-ignited.

    I don’t have a personal story of how God took our marriage and miraculously transformed it into a storybook romance filled with white-knight rescues, relentless romance and rides into the sunset leaving all danger and darkness behind. Although our marriage has been all that at one time or another, it’s no fairy tale.

    Our marriage is like a daily journal, one page after another, one day after another. I’m guessing just like yours. Some entries are smudged with tears; others are dog-eared as favorites. Some days are marred by unsuccessful erasures that couldn’t quite rub away the hurtful words said; others are finger-worn by the reading of precious events time and time again.

    But on those days when I see my marriage slipping into the mundane cadence of passionless routine, I pull out my list of ideas, and put a smile on Steve’s face.

    Lord, may that be my challenge today. When I see the fire needs stoking, help me remember and return. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 7:5, “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (NIV)

    Proverbs 5:18, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What are some ways you could let your husband know you love him today?

    © 2017 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Work and Wonder of Love

    The Work and Wonder of Love by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7 (ESV)

    We walked behind the house and into the backyard. My mother wanted to show me something.

    There was a small tree. Not quite a sapling, but still young. It was a pecan tree, to be more exact.

    As we stood in the yard of the house my parents had just moved into, I wondered why my mother thought to point out this particular tree.

    “She planted it for her dad.” My mom paused and turned her face up slightly to look into the tree’s thin branches. “Her dad passed away and she planted this tree for him.”

    My mother’s own father had just recently passed away and I’m sure my mom felt connected to the gesture of keeping a beloved memory alive.

    It’s been some years since my mom showed me that tree. And even though the tree wasn’t planted for her dad, she has taken care of it like it was.

    The tree has grown. Its trunk has gotten wider and its branches have stretched higher and become denser. We have to look up with more than a slight glance to see the top and it even provides much-needed shade.

    But we didn’t plant the tree.

    While my mother has watered it, trimmed it and picked up the fallen pecans, she did not place the roots of the tree in the ground.

    Someone else did.

    But now, we all benefit from its growth and shade.

    More than 50 years ago, a man by the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. placed the roots of grand ideas in the soil of our nation. He did it to keep the dreams alive of others who had gone before. He did it while praying that in the future, others would benefit from the growth of the ideas. He did it because he knew the roots of those ideas would grow and honor the God who created people of all color.

    While Dr. King planted the ideas in the hearts and minds of millions, he was not with us very long to water the tree himself.

    Today, we all benefit from the tree of brotherly love and biblical equality that Dr. King planted. But we do so because so many people came alongside Dr. King, then and now. They watered the dream, trimmed it and picked up the pieces that fell every now and again.

    So many over the years have honored the message and the memory of Dr. King by caring for the dream as if it were their own.

    In a way, it has been. People have been compelled to keep the dream alive and well. They have felt connected because their stories or standards reminded them that the dream mattered.

    And it does matter.

    To all of us.

    We are all connected. First John 4:7 reminds us that Christ-followers all bear the mark of the glory of God. As believers, we bear the special mandate of loving others because the love of God covered our sin. When we love our brothers and sisters, we are watering, trimming and picking up what we all hold dear — our love for God, His love for us and our remembrance of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. This is what makes it possible for us to, indeed, all be connected in Him.

    And love matters. Love for those who look like us. Love for those who don’t.

    The beauty of our love lies simply in this … the work of love allows us to behold the wonder of love. So, as we care for each other, we honor not only the dream of brotherly love from one man, but more importantly, the God who gave that man the ideas to plant. In doing so, we all benefit from love’s covering.

    Dear Father in Heaven, help me to love my brothers and sisters in Christ and also those who do not yet know You. Help me remember that Your sacrifice was the beginning of the love that I know and the love that You want me to give to others. Help me to faithfully do my part to share Your love with the world — whether that’s on the other side of the globe, in my town, on my street or down the hallway. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Sometimes we are tempted to show love to strangers when we need to love the people down the hall. What does it look like for you to practically love someone close to you today?

    How long has it been since you intentionally reached out to show love to someone who does not know Christ? How could you do that today?

    © 2017 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Bible Basics: 5 Tips for First-Time Bible Readers

    Get encouraged and equipped with these tips for first-time Bible readers.

    Opening the Bible for the first time can be intimidating and overwhelming. But with some grace and guidance, you can press past your doubts and find freedom in God’s Word. Get encouraged and equipped with these tips for first-time Bible readers.

    We’re offering 50% off select Bibles now through January 26 to help you get started.

    Prepare Your Heart In the beginning, you may feel like reading your Bible is an obligation or a chore. Don’t be discouraged! Spend some time in prayer, asking God to help you see His Word as a blessing instead of a burden.

    Start with the Gospel Don’t feel like you need to read from beginning to end. The Bible is like no other book; reading out of order won’t change the truth on the pages. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are a great place to start. They are commonly referred to as the Gospel because they detail the life of Jesus.

    Use a Bible Study Guide Designed to enrich your understanding of God's Word, Bible Studies are a great tool for first-time Bible readers. Navigate God’s Word by books of the Bible or by a topic that relates to a specific season in your life.

    Ask Questions It takes time to fully understand God’s Word. If you’re confused by a passage or stumble on something that doesn’t’ align with what you have been told about Christianity – ask! Find a spiritual mentor or leader in the church who can help you navigate the complexity of the Bible and answer your questions honestly.

    Apply the Word The Bible should inspire you to live differently. If you’re simply going through the motions and moving on with business as usual, you’re missing out on the benefits of the Bible. Choose at least one verse from your reading to meditate on and think about how you can implement that wisdom into your daily life.

    God’s Word is a gift. We hope these tips encourage you to dive in and begin to unpack all the Bible has to offer.

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    How to Study the Bible: 10 Practical Tips to help you Understand God’s Word

  • Be Still

    Be Still by Lynn Cowell

    “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

    One after another, choices needing decisions just keep coming.

    Home decisions hang in the balance. When can I get this fixed? Who will follow through with the repairs? What will it take to get everything done?

    Work decisions weigh on my mind. What are the next steps to take? Am I the only person who can do this? Do I need to bring in more help? How will this timeline come together?

    Relationship decisions tug on my heart. Is “yes” the best answer? When can I spend time with them? Should I really be that honest with my thoughts and feelings?

    Decision fatigue.

    Even as I write these words, my mind feels so very tired of the many decisions that need to be made.

    Weary, my heart turns to the only One who has the answers to each and every single decision.

    I open to a blank page in my journal to share my tired heart with the Lord.

    A prayer seeps from my heart, through my pen and onto the page. Weariness oozes from the ink: Lord, renew my awareness of Your presence. I need a fresh infilling of You in me. I need Your wisdom, for You to do a gentle, peaceful work in me that flows from me. No rushing. No pressure. Just peaceful guidance from You, leading to purposeful obedience from me.

    As I pray I realize that in the natural, this pathway of making these decisions alone will not lead to peace. He is peace.

    I make the best choice I can choose — turning to His Word to me: “Be still, and know that I am God …” (Psalm 46:10a).

    Do you see that comma? It seemed to jump off the page.

    A pause.

    Be still, …

    When I’m still, then I will know. I will know the peace He embodies. He will show me His will. I will know that He is God.

    Not When I’m busy, When I’m productive or When I make all the right decisions, but When I’m still.

    The word “still” in Hebrew (the original language of the Old Testament) means: to hang limp, sink down, be feeble, to be lazy, to leave alone, abandon, withdraw, to show oneself slack.

    Am I reading this right? Could it be that God is endorsing this type of behavior?

    Yes, I have read His word correctly.

    Be still. Be patient. Be quiet. Be trustful and know. That is where He calls me to go: Pause and find Him. Peace.

    Lord, being still, when there is so much to do, seems so wrong. Yet, Your ways are not my ways. Help me to breathe deep, be still and pause to take You in. I want to know that You are God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Exodus 14:14, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (NIV)

    Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (NIV)

    Isaiah 30:15, “For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, ‘In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.’ But you were not willing.” (NASB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Is decision fatigue something you experience? How often?

    Spend some time being still before God today. Present to Him the decisions you need to make. Then ask Him to help you pause before Him, so He can give you the peace and wisdom you need.

    © 2017 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • What Were You Put on Earth to Do?

    What Were You Put on Earth to Do? by Dr. Tony Evans

    “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

    When you set out to plan your day — or even your week — what is it you want to do most? Even deeper than that — what is your dream?

    I didn’t ask you what your dream is for your friend, kids, spouse, church or work — I want to know what your dream is, if you still even know what it is? What were you put here on earth to fulfill?

    Now, if you struggle with answers for any of the above, know you’re not alone. Especially if you are a busy mom, knee-deep in daily duties and driving demands, you … are … not … alone.

    And yes, I was never a mom — but I was a very involved dad in our four kids’ lives. Every morning, it was my responsibility to get them ready for school, bundle them into the car and drive them where they needed to go. And every evening after work, I focused on dedicated family time — devotions around the table, playtime with them on the floor wrestling or doing board games. (Sometimes I even let them win!)

    And for years, I had homework duty, too. So I understand how it feels to sit for hours after a long day at work — glued to the dinner table with a restless child night after night, year after year — trying everything to help the one who struggles with attention-deficit-disorder grasp the importance of perseverance and learning.

    I understand the things that keep parents up at night, unable to sleep — concerned with whether or not their children will be equipped to fulfill their dreams. These concerns and passions of parenting, marriage and relationships at church or work can be all-consuming for so long that eventually you wake up one day and realize you’ve forgotten about your dreams, passions and your destiny to fulfill. Just making it through the day is enough.

    I get it. I know how it is to give so much you simply do not have enough energy left to think about yourself anymore.

    Dream? Only when sleeping.

    Purpose? Passion? Eaten up by the daily demands of living a life for others. Which is good. It’s easy to forget what used to inspire you, drive you or even bring you hope.

    It’s easy to forget the you in you.

    God has a destiny for you. He has a purpose and a plan for you. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us, “we are God’s masterpiece … so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” He has something that maximizes your skills, personality, experiences, passions and compassions in a way like no one else ever could.

    Sure, it may not happen tomorrow. Nor will you get there by going in a straight line. This is because God sets twists and turns in all our lives that provide opportunities for us to grow, mature, be humbled, learn, develop, surrender, gain confidence and more. I call these twists and turns “detours.”

    Detours are unanticipated routes that take us another way to our intended destination. It’s either a sign you come upon, a person who steers you elsewhere or a police car with lights flashing, sitting there to let you know the road you are traveling is no longer available. Inevitably, they are also road bumps to our emotions. Because of the detour, we must go off the beaten path, take longer than we had wished, and be inconvenienced more than we had hoped.

    Few of us like to be stalled, for any reason. Even if it’s just someone cutting us off in traffic and forcing us to slow down. But detours are necessary to make any improvement on the paths we travel. Or to clean up any wreck or avoid hazards. Detours are designed for our own good on the roads of life, regardless of how we view them.

    Detours are a good thing that often feel bad.

    This is because it’s in our detours that we’re developed for our destiny.

    We learn patience, compassion, kindness, gratitude and all those wonderful things that empower us to fully live out our dreams. You may feel that your life right now is on one ongoing detour from fulfilling your dreams … while you’re serving the needs of others, setting your own hopes aside. But, just like Joseph whom God positioned from the pit to the palace (read Genesis chapter 37-50), God has a plan for every moment in your life as well. Yes, even the most mundane and monotonous ones.

    God is taking you straight to your destiny … in His ever God-like-zig-zagging-sort-of-way.

    Father God, help me keep my eyes open and learn to look for Your hand in the midst of happenstance, so my hope remains steadfast and my heart remains full. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (NIV)

     

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What detours has God allowed you to face in recent months? How could God be using this detour in your life to fulfill His greater purpose?

    © 2017 by Dr. Tony Evans. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks The Urban Alternative for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

  • What to Do When You're Just Overwhelmed

    What to Do When You're Just Overwhelmed by Kathi Lipp

    “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

    If one more person asks me about centerpieces, I think I may stab myself with the cake knife!

    How can one of the happiest days in a family’s life — something all of us have been looking forward to for years — turn into one of the most overwhelming events ever?

    You see, overwhelm camouflages itself. Some days it appears in hard places: A health crisis. Not being able to pay the bills. A huge project at work that requires all your time and attention.

    Other times, it sneaks in through the door of blessings: A new, unexpected addition to the family. A long-dreamed-about trip to see family. Or, in our case, one of our kids getting married.

    When Amanda and Shaun announced their engagement, we were thrilled. We’d been praying for the right man to come into Amanda’s life, and Shaun was a welcome addition to the family.

    But after the announcement came all the wedding plans. Who do we invite? Where will we hold the wedding? How will we pay for everything?

    After the initial excitement, reality came crashing down on us. That’s when overwhelm kicked in. Dreams of seeing Amanda walking down the aisle were replaced with elaborate fantasies of bribing the kids to elope.

    When I’m overwhelmed, my first instinct is to shut down. Then I fall back into familiar overwhelmed thinking patterns: I just need to work harder. Maybe I can rearrange my schedule to do some work on Sundays. Yes, that’s it … except my husband and I agreed that our Sundays would be a day for rest. But how else would these plans come together?

    After stressing and stewing about how to make everything work, I finally remembered I was not in this alone. God is not surprised by the trials, or the blessings, coming my way.

    When I start to feel the familiar weight of overwhelm press down, here’s what I eventually remind myself to do:

    Stop comparing plates. Our capacity to handle life is like dishes at an estate sale. There are dinner plates, salad plates, dessert plates and more. Some people get the dinner plates; their capacity is awe-inspiring. Then there are those who have been given a salad plate. They overwhelm easily and live a carefully curated life in order to function.

    Friends, we need to know which size plate we have.

    If you’re delicately balancing a demitasse cup plate in life, and your best friend has a turkey platter of a plate, don’t start comparing your capacity to hers. God designed your temperament and hers differently on purpose.

    Take the next faithful step to deal with overwhelm. With my daughter’s wedding, when I started to feel the panic of overwhelm rise within me, instead of trying to “suck it up” and power through, I learned to ask the right questions:

    • I asked for time. I asked if I had some flexibility on other deadlines — I did!

    • I asked for help. When my friend Nancy heard that Amanda was getting married, she offered to help with all the plans and prep. I politely declined, and then five minutes later, came to my senses and begged her to help. Nancy got to use her gift of planning amazing parties on the cheap, and I obeyed orders and bore less stress.

    • I asked for grace. My husband and I took the day after the wedding off from work. We wanted time to rest, reflect and recover. The wedding was a huge blessing in our lives, but it was also stressful. We didn’t want to carry that over into other parts of our lives. Taking that day to reflect on what God had done — and rest — was priceless.

    Practice trusting God more deeply before overwhelm sets in.

    I’ve learned to step back, take a break and let myself sit in the unimaginable — the thought that God already provided everything I need for this challenge. I no longer let calendars, emails and to-dos dictate my next move, but I hold to God’s promises to shape my heart into the kind of daughter He designed me to be.

    Father, let me take every thought and emotion, blessing or burden, directly to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (NIV)

     

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What’s one thing you can do today to trust God with your overwhelm?

    © 2017 by Kathi Lipp. All rights reserved.

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

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

  • Dear God, Where Are You?

    Dear God, Where Are You? by 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 had. 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, and 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: Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (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?

    © 2017 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

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Activate Your Faith - Phillipians 4:13
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