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Author Archives: Family Christian

  • The Blessing of Brokenness

    The Blessing of Brokenness by Micca Campbell

    “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24 (NASB)

    I clenched my teeth and closed my eyes as I waited for the explosion. My favorite lamp had fallen to the floor and smashed to smithereens. Somehow, in the scattered fragments I saw a picture of my own broken life.

    As I carefully collected the shattered bits, tears stung my eyes and the pain of brokenness surfaced again. It’s a deep hurt. The kind not easily healed. My heart was crushed as if it had been stomped on, broken and discarded. Unable to progress in my work or relationships, I became a hostage to my own sadness. I felt weak and desperate for hope.

    No one enjoys the pain of brokenness. Normally it calls for a letting go of something near and dear to us. At the time, it doesn’t make any sense. Yet, since the broken lamp, I have learned that brokenness leads to an unexpected good.

    It’s for this reason that God breaks us. Not to cause us undue pain. Not because He doesn’t love us. Instead …

    God breaks us to bless us.

    He chips away anything that keeps us from finding our true life in Him.

    God targets an area of our life that we’re unwilling to submit to Him. Perhaps it’s an unhealthy relationship we won’t release. It could be laziness that’s stunting our spiritual growth. Or even a bad habit that’s standing in the way of experiencing the fullness of God.

    Whatever the cause, our tendency is to hold tightly to these things because we believe it’s what we want. We’re convinced they please us by providing the joy, pleasure and fulfillment we seek. But God knows the truth. Only He can truly satisfy our deepest longings. All else is counterfeit to His provision.

    Therefore, God selects the tools it takes to break our self-sufficiency and cause us turn to Him. When we give up our independence, we gain a new perspective of God’s plan and purpose for our lives.

    A great picture of this process is found in our key verse. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).

    Unless the kernel is buried and dies, it will produce nothing. It will remain a lone, solitary stalk of corn. Imagine passing a field that only hosted one blade of corn. You might ask, “Where’s the rest of this farmer’s harvest?” However, if the kernel dies, it will produce a great harvest. Consider the life of Jesus. On earth, He was like a single stalk of corn. Yet, through His death, burial and resurrection, His life continually produces a harvest of souls.

    In a similar way, as long as I live a selfish life fixed on my own wants and desires, I will produce little. On the other hand, if I die to myself and live according to God’s plan, I will yield a productive life that’s beneficial to God and others.

    It sounds difficult, I know, but the unexpected good of brokenness is that it revives the life of Christ in me. I become less and He becomes more. That’s a good thing!

    The more we become like Him, the more we become like the true selves God intended. The more love and patience I have in my heart, the more joyful and content I am with others.

    Think of it this way. For the wheat to reproduce itself, it had to die. For Christ to reproduce Himself in others, He had to die. If I desire Christ’s life to be reproduced in me, I, too, must die to the lure of the world and my own selfishness. Then, I will experience the fullness of God I desire and reproduce disciples of the same kind. Jesus put it this way:

    “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25, NIV).

    Sometimes God has to break me to bless me. As challenging as that can be, I’m thankful. Because honestly, I want the life God wants to give me instead of settling for the counterfeit.

    God, help me die to the desires of this world and my selfishness that I might find the life You created for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 12:25, “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What counterfeit junk are you holding onto instead of Jesus?

    How is this object keeping you from becoming who God created you to be?

    © 2016 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Devastated but Not Destroyed

    Devastated but Not Destroyed by Lysa TerKeurst

    “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)

    I took my seat in the middle of the food court and was thankful I could hide my tears by staring down at my food. I quietly brushed my napkin across my cheek. I blinked. I tried desperately to swallow.

    I’m not normally a mall-goer, but that day I needed a place to hide. A place to process. A place to remember that the whole world wasn’t falling apart.

    The news I’d received from just an hour earlier crushed me. And devastated me.

    A friend I love made a decision that I couldn’t for the life of me understand. It wasn’t in keeping with her character. It wasn’t something I ever dreamed this person could do. The affects of this decision would careen across her life and mine with really hard consequences.

    Glancing at the table across from me I saw two women a little younger than me. They were laughing and cutting up food into bite-size pieces for their young kids. I could hear them talking about costumes that needed to be made for their upcoming preschool performance. One of them was having a hard time finding purple tights and she desperately needed purple tights to make the costume complete.

    I whispered under my breath, “I wish my biggest issue was purple tights.” Although my whispered statement was lost in the chaotic chorus of food court voices and noises, the scream inside my heart hovered over me in deafening tones.

    What. In. The. World!

    My mind raced. My throat tightened. My eyes leaked uncontrollably.

    I tried to pray but honestly I felt like God was pretty distant at that moment.

    It’s hard to stand on the goodness of God when you feel like life has just been stripped of so much good.

    I forced my legs to support my body. I walked mindlessly to my car. And I drove home.

    It’s in these moments where we know if the Word of God has seeped deep into our hearts or not. Though the world seemed to swirl and spin without anything for me to hold onto, one simple statement rose to the top of my mind and cut through with crystal clarity, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

    I heard it over and over.

    And I knew it wasn’t my mind conjuring up this Bible verse. It was the Holy Spirit inside of me speaking. Reassuring. And quite honestly, holding me together when circumstances were literally tearing me apart.

    I don’t know what hard reality is crushing your heart right now. But I sense I’m not alone. The enemy is on a full-out attack against everything good, sacred, pure and honest. He is the father of lies who wants us to believe that if our circumstances fall apart, then so will we.

    But take it from a woman in the middle of my own hard reality: Satan is a liar. God is a Redeemer. A Healer. The Author of hope. The Pathway of restoration. The great I AM.

    Right this very minute there are some things you and I must cling and hold to as if our lives depended on it:

    1. God loves us and He will not leave us.
    2. This battle isn’t ours. The battle belongs to the Lord. Let Him fight for you. Save your emotional energy and use it to dig into His Word like never before. Our job is to be obedient to God. God’s job is winning this battle.
    3. The battle might not be easy or short-lived, but victory will be there for those who trust God.
    4. God is good even when the circumstances are darker than you ever imagined. God is good even when people are not. God is good even when things seem stinking hopeless. God is good and can be trusted when you feel suspicious of everyone and everything around you.
    5. Lastly, God is good at being God. Don’t try to fix what He hasn’t assigned you to fix. Don’t try to manipulate or control or spend all your emotions trying to figure it out. Let Him be God. Free yourself from this impossible assignment.

    Sweet friend, be still. And know. He is God.

    I’m praying for you. And I treasure the fact I know you are praying for me.

    We will … be still … and know … HE IS GOD!

    Dear Lord, I choose to hand my situation over to You today. I will be still and know that You, and only You, are God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 13:5-6, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What’s one area of your life you can prayerfully hand over to the Lord today?

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Supporting One Widow Through the Adoption Process

    “I made up my mind I was going to take the kids,” Jean said. “And I was going to do my best, whatever I could for them.”

    Jean and her three children.Jean, a Navajo widow, is trying to adopt her three grandchildren, Ilias, Daniella and Ivas.

    Jean’s heart was heavy. After a car accident left her injured and recovering at home, she became aware that her grandchildren were being abused. After much prayer, she knew she had to get the kids out of the house—even though it would tear apart her relationship with her daughter. Jean began to file papers for custody, with an end goal of adoption.

    New Life Christian Assembly stepped in to help their sister in Christ. They gave clothes to the kids, purchased groceries, provided a home close to the church and are counseling Jean through the adoption process.

    “The church is walking me through it,” Jean said. “And Jesus is helping me every step of the way.”

    We love Jean’s sacrificial spirit. One of the ways Family Christian cares for orphans and vulnerable children is by helping them find forever families through adoption, and we desire to lift up Jean through this long journey.

    If you’d like to support widows like Jean, donate $10* by texting FAMILY to 52000.

    *Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

  • A Pastor’s Call to the Navajo Nation

    In September 2000, God called Nathan Lynch to pastor to the people of Pine Dale, New Mexico. The community is 97% Navajo Native American, and 48% of the families live below the nation’s poverty level. The church, New Life Christian Assembly, ministers to more than 60 widows on a regular basis.

    Nathan Lynch looking on.Nathan has pastored to the Pine Dale community for 15 years and New Life Christian Assembly since 2009.

    “They’re very needy, but they’re beautiful, loving and caring,” Nathan said. “My family fell in love with this community.”

    The district initially asked Nathan to stay for six months until a permanent pastor was hired. But 15 years later, Nathan’s still in Pine Dale—and he stayed because God told him.

    Hear Nathan's story in his own words, as well as how Family Christian has been able to partner with New Life Christian Assembly to help the widows in their community:

    Firewood: A Means of Survival

    77% of homes in Pine Dale use firewood to stay warm in the winter. Pine Dale is tucked away in the mountains—so without firewood, Navajo widows will freeze to death.

    In late 2011, God led us to New Life Christian Assembly in Pine Dale, New Mexico. We were inspired as we watched them be the hands and feet of Jesus through their ministry work with widows.

    Staying warm by the stove.You helped us purchase a heating stove and firewood for Emma so she could stay warm through the bitterly cold winters.

    Through our commitment to James 1:27, we’re passionate about serving widows in distress—both abroad and in the U.S. When we learned having enough firewood was a matter of life or death, we were devoted to helping. And for the past three winters, YOU have helped us keep widows warm and alive.

    Since 2012, we’ve been blessed to send mission teams to Pine Dale to help with light construction work on widows’ homes, including building porches and installing stoves. We also purchased a van for Pastor Nathan so he could deliver firewood, as well as helped fund a new bunk house for future mission teams’ stay.

    All of our work with New Life Christian Assembly would not be possible without you, our loyal customer. Thank you! Help us continue giving hope to Navajo widows, and donate $10* by texting FAMILY to 52000.

    *Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

  • How to Climb the Mountain of Motherhood

    How to Climb the Mountain of Motherhood by Karen Ehman

    “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:5-6 (NIV)

    Some days it seems everywhere I look, I see “mountains” — mountains of laundry to fold, papers to sort and dirty dishes to clean. Tending to the mountains in my life often leaves me exhausted. It also triggers frustration because no sooner have I dealt with one of these mountains, when they start to pile up all over again, staring me in the face and leaving me defeated. Have you been there?

    Being a mom also brings emotional mountains to scale as well. We train and teach the toddlers, navigate the often-tumultuous teen years and tend to the changing needs of aging parents. These life-tasks often unsettle our souls.

    Constant physical tasks, coupled with emotional stress, can make for a difficult climb. Perhaps a little lesson on the sport of mountain climbing can give us insight into how to make our trek a little less daunting.

    Mountain climbing is not for the faint of heart. Besides being physically strenuous, there are changes that take place in the climber’s body as they ascend. The higher you go, the thinner the air becomes, decreasing the oxygen concentration. If climbers aren’t careful to take precautions, the change can wreak havoc on their lungs. This can cause serious medical conditions resulting in hospitalization and in some cases, even death.

    In order to prevent these potentially damaging conditions, an experienced mountain climber knows how important periods of rest are. And not just stopping at the current altitude to take a break. There is a strategy where climbers retreat to a lower elevation than the one to which they have climbed in order to give their lungs a rest — especially at night. This tactic is referred to as “climb high — sleep low.”

    Mountaineers will trek as high as they safely can during the day, but return to a lower elevation to sleep, thereby diminishing the chances of developing a potentially lethal altitude-related lung condition.

    Similarly, the expedition known as motherhood is not for the faint of heart.

    Although the highs and lows we traverse each day might not adversely affect our lungs, they can wreak havoc upon our hearts and drain us physically. Oh, how important it is to rest our bodies and nourish our souls! To pull back from the “mountains” we are scaling — laundry, paperwork, dirty dishes — or the obstacles we encounter such as physically exhausting toddlers or emotionally testing teens. When we lay low to connect with Jesus, our souls can replenish to scale new heights the next day.

    Today’s key verse states it perfectly: “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 62:5-6). When we carve out time to rest in God — taking a physical break and filling up our spirits — we gain hope and acquire strength to face the challenges of life. When God is our fortress, nothing can shake us.

    Have you been trying to scale the mountain of motherhood at break-neck speed, rarely stopping to refresh and refuel? Maybe it’s time to adopt the “climb high — sleep low” strategy yourself. It will make a difference. Even if it is just stopping long enough to savor a cup of coffee with the Savior, drinking in deeply the truths from His Word. When we pull back for a bit, we’re better positioned to return to our tasks with renewed strength and a fresh perspective.

    As you scale the mountain of motherhood, God will be with you in the highs. He’ll refresh you in the lows. Press pause, and meet with Him today.

    Father, please help me carve out time each week to get alone and meet with You. May I find rest and rejuvenation so I can continue to climb the mountain of motherhood for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 121:1-3, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip — he who watches over you will not slumber.” (NIV)

    Psalm 127:2, “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: As you scale the mountain of motherhood, what new phase are you entering? What issues, concerns and challenges does this phase bring? How can pulling away to stop and rest help you to face these matters with confidence?

    © 2016 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • Do You Ever Feel Unappreciated?

    Do You Ever Feel Unappreciated? by Gwen Smith

    “Long ago the LORD said to Israel: ‘I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.’” Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)

    The Bible is a timeless note expressing God’s interest in us.

    And let me tell you, I love a good note.

    When I was in high school in the late 1980s, the halls buzzed with everything you would expect, including note passing. When you got a note, you didn’t just let it hang out in the pockets of your Calvin Klein jeans or shove it in your leg warmers — you took it out and devoured it.

    And then you wrote back, circling yes or no to the questions. Do you like him? Did you watch Miami Vice last night? Did you kiss him? Are you going to Kelly’s birthday party? Will you go with me?

    Notes were a dialogue.

    They helped you connect with friends, scope out possible love interests, break up, make up and everything in between. Rarely was just one note passed between two people. (And rarely were teachers happy about them.)

    Get this: God made sure we got a note from Him.

    A love note to pursue our hearts and connect our hearts to His.

    A personal note that’s addressed to each of us and ends with “Love, God.”

    His love is poured out in the Bible chapter by chapter, verse by verse, so we might understand and accept that His intentions for us are as unique as a snowflake and as extravagant as an ocean sunset.

    When I’m feeling unappreciated, unimportant or rejected, it helps to remember that God’s love speaks. I only need to listen.

    Your days may sting with an unfulfilled longing, a perceived inadequacy, a devastating loss or a gaping heart wound. Might I offer a word of encouragement? Whether you’re a mother, grandmother, sister or daughter … single, married, widowed, divorced … whether your loved ones value and cherish you or wound you with broken behavior … no matter what, God loves you, knows you and cherishes you perfectly.

    Let His love speak life to you.

    The Lord declared to Israel, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself ” (Jeremiah 31:3).

    Just as He spoke these words to His children, the Israelites, long ago, God speaks across the universe today to each daughter’s heart:

    “I notice you!” “You are special to Me.” “You matter.” “I love you … perfectly … eternally … completely, and I really, really, really mean it.”

    He showed us His love through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.

    His Spirit whispers that love to the hearts of His children continuously.

    He speaks it still today through His Word. Are you listening?

    Once you open and read God’s love note, the Bible, you’ll want to respond. To go back and forth in conversation, deepening the relationship. To circle yes or no to His questions: “Do you know how much I love you? Are you aware of the distance between My holiness and your sin? Will you let My love meet you in your achy places? Do you know how beautiful you are to Me? Will you trust Me with that roadblock? Will you acknowledge Me as the source of your significance and the validation you are desperate for?”

    I want to circle my answers, Yes!

    I want to be so deeply rooted and grounded in God’s love that it stabilizes my faith, no matter how unstable other factors of my life might seem or how unappreciated I feel.

    Don’t you?

    Dear Lord, Thank You for loving me. When I’m overwhelmed with feelings of frustration, please remind me that You see me and will meet me there with Your everlasting, all-satisfying love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 36:5-6a, “Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep.” (NIV)

    1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What are you afraid of when it comes to God’s love for you? How will you allow the truth of God’s love for you to affect your feelings today?

    © 2016 by Gwen Smith. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks David C Cook for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

  • The Freedom of Releasing Regrets

    The Freedom of Releasing Regrets by Amy Carroll

    “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)

    “Time’s up!” Those two words battered my heart over and over as I sat in the silence of an empty nest, drowning in the pain of regrets.

    I had thought I’d break into celebration when our two boys headed out into the world on their own. Even though I knew I’d miss them terribly, they were going to good places with spiritual growth as a priority, decision-making skills intact and solid friendships to encourage them … mostly.

    I agonized over how I should have done more to fill every gap. I should have prayed more, taught more about Scripture and instructed more concerning finances. I convinced myself I should have stopped to listen more, been present more (instead of consumed with my to‑do list) and empathized more.

    Instead of celebrating our boys’ launch into adulthood, I was sinking into despair, but I knew I shouldn’t allow regrets to reign.

    Based on past experience, I knew regret would be erosive and paralyzing — washing away my confidence in God and myself. I knew what it would be like to feel powerless to live in the victory and freedom God has for us. Too many times I’d collapsed under the weight of imperfections, mistakes and sin.

    Thankfully the Bible, our manual for life, has instructions about how to rid ourselves of regret. As we see in today’s key verse, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

    This verse helped me assess the situation. Are my sorrows (or regrets) leading to salvation and an eventual release from the regret? Or are they leading to death, a dark place where there’s no freedom in sight? For me, I knew my parenting regrets were of the worldly type because I was in a downward spiral.

    One silent morning, after several days of wrestling with regret, I spent time with God, telling Him about my sadness and worry that I had fallen short as a mom. One by one, I took my regrets to Jesus and left them in His care.

    With time He brought me to a place of asking Him for forgiveness. Where there were places of sin, I repented. Turning away from those sins was a step that left me feeling washed clean. With others, He showed me how my imperfect parenting had still been enough. God was much gentler with me than I was with myself! For each regret, He promised that His work would succeed where mine had failed and that He would complete what I had left unfinished.

    I walked away from my time with God that morning with exactly what He said in His Word — the hope of salvation and a release from regrets. I rested in the truth that His power floods in to fill our gaps. He offers that same relief to you, no matter where your sorrow lies.

    Are you worried you haven’t parented well enough? God is still at work in our children’s lives, even after they become adults. Their story isn’t over, and God is big enough to finish the work He started in our hearts and homes.

    Are you swamped with shame from your past? God offers salvation today for every circumstance in our rear-view mirror. That door didn’t close the moment we wandered. He is able to soothe our sorrows.

    Are you fretting over lost opportunities? Our good God redeems our misses and can fill our lives with second chances. Let’s trade our despair for hope today!

    Lord, we come to You needing release from regrets. Instead of wallowing in despair, help us trust in Your powerful, ongoing work. Instead of agonizing over our imperfections, help us look to You for perfecting. In all things, help us turn our regrets over to You, our Redeemer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 116:3b-5a,6, “I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: ‘LORD, save me!’ The LORD is gracious and righteous; The LORD protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What regrets in your life have paralyzed you in their grip?

    Bring those regrets to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to show you:

    • What needs His forgiveness?
    • What needs His comfort?

    Write out a prayer asking God to release you from your regrets and to move forward in complete trust in His work.

    © 2016 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • A Chain of Courage

    A Chain of Courage by Lynn Cowell

    “The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.” Exodus 1:17 (NIV)

    Each day I started my workday by telling myself, You can do this! It’s not a big deal. For many people the task I needed to complete was simple — something they could accomplish in a few short minutes. But it wasn’t for me.

    Even though this simple act would help others in their walk with Jesus, that motivation wasn’t enough to push me through. The fear of failure crippled me. I finally found the courage I needed to push past my phobia when a story leapt off the page and into my heart.

    The first two chapters of the book of Exodus tell the tale of a chain of courage — one act of fearlessness prompting another until the whole of these women’s actions changed history.

    Act 1: Shiphrah and Puah, midwives in Egypt, are commanded by Pharaoh to kill all males as soon as they are born. Exodus 1:17 tells us, "The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live."

    What bravery these women showed in obeying God rather than Pharaoh!

    Act 2: Jochebed, the mother of Moses, courageously decides she will not obey Pharaoh, either. Rather than kill her son, she hides him at home. When she can no longer keep his existence a secret, she puts this one she loves in a basket, hiding him in the Nile River.

    Jochebed’s faith to take the risk of hiding a baby and putting him in a river is compelling!

    Act 3: Miriam, Moses’ sister, stands by, watching the basket boat. But she isn't just observing. When Pharaoh's daughter calls for the basket to be brought to her, this grit of a girl steps up and addresses the princess, giving royalty advice on how the child can be taken care of.

    Do you see the chain effect one woman's courage had on another's?

    Shiphrah and Puah decided to go against Pharaoh together.

    Jochebed, in the same steps of the midwives, chose courage instead of compromise.

    I have no doubt that Jochebed inspired her daughter to show her prowess to the princess.

    I want to be a part of a chain effect of courageousness, too!

    As a young mother, my mom stepped out of her social norm, embraced Jesus as her Savior and became a prayer warrior for her eight children. Even though several were already adults when she came to know Christ, through her prayers and life testimony, all of us serve Him today.

    Seeing my mother’s fearless faith gives me courage to make a difference in my world. Seeing God answer her prayers for her children empowers me to pray for my children’s salvation, asking God that they will follow the steps of Miriam — on the lookout for where God can use them — and when the time is right, boldly step up with the wisdom God gives them.

    Friend, where are you in a chain of courage?

    Is God calling you to be the first in your family to break out? To step up and bravely make decisions to bring God’s redemption to your family line? To redefine “normal” in your family's legacy?

    Maybe like me, you are blessed to have witnessed the courage of another, and it’s empowered you to be brave. We have to be careful not to grow comfortable or complacent when we're in the middle of the chain but instead be empowered by the Holy Spirit to keep courage going.

    We can start by:

    1. Praying for courage.
    2. Surrounding ourselves with others who are courageous.
    3. Reading stories of others who’ve been courageous in the Bible or in books.

    Let's be brave. Let's display daring boldness and in turn, teach others to be courageous.

    Lord, help us to choose courage over fear. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us to lean on You and take the steps You call us to take. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (NIV)

    2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: How can we teach the next generation to be brave?

    Let's spur each other on today. Share today’s devotion with a friend or family member, asking them to join you in a chain of courage.

    © 2016 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • I'm Really Afraid

    I'm Really Afraid by Lysa TerKeurst

    “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” Psalm 34:7 (NIV)

    A few years ago, one of my back teeth started hurting. It wasn’t the first time that tooth had given me trouble, and quite honestly, I just didn’t want to deal with it. That tooth had been a complete pain. Literally.

    I’d had not one, not two, but three crowns done on the same tooth. The first one broke. The second one broke. And though the third one seemed like it would finally work, the tooth started aching again. Ugh!

    The dentist informed me the only thing to do was to have a root canal.

    I’m okay with the word “root.” And I’m okay with the word “canal.” But when he put those two words together a wild fear whipped its tentacles around my heart and squeezed the life out of me. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t bring myself to schedule the appointment.

    So I dealt with the throbbing pain.

    For a year, I didn’t chew on that side of my mouth. I didn’t let cold drinks leak over to that side. And I took ibuprofen when the throbbing got the best of me.

    A year!

    Finally I’d had enough. The pain overrode the fear, and I made an appointment for the dreaded root canal.

    And you know what? I survived! Not only did I survive, but I honestly found the whole root canal ordeal to be no big deal. The fear of it was so much worse than actually having the procedure done.

    I think fear often plays out that way. Sometimes living in fear of what might be causes more stress and anxiety than actually facing what we fear. Is there something you’re avoiding because you’re afraid?

    Psalm 34:7 reminds me, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” To fear the Lord means to honor Him and magnify Him in my heart most of all. When I focus on or magnify my fears, they become all I can think about. So instead I’ve learned to focus on God by doing three things:

    • I cry out to Him with honest prayers. I verbalize to God what I’m afraid of and how paralyzing my fear is. I ask Him to help me see if this fear is a warning or an unnecessary worry. And then I ask Him to help me know the next step to take.
    • I open my Bible and look for verses that show me what He wants me to do in that moment of fear. I write down truths from the Bible about fear and then align my next thoughts and actions with His truth.
    • I then walk in the assurance that I am fearing (honoring) the Lord as Psalm 34:7 tells me to, therefore I know with certainty an angel of the Lord is encamped around me, and God will deliver me.

    I like this promise so much. It comforts me. It reassures me. And it challenges me to really live like I know it is true.

    What’s a fear you can face today? Think of an everyday fear holding you back. Is there a fear of confronting an issue with a friend? Is there a fear of stepping out in obedience to something God is calling you to do? Is there a fear of a medical diagnosis you just received?

    Oh, if I were there, I would totally hold your hand. Better yet, God is with you. And when you know He is with you and His angels are encamped around you, you can face your fears.

    Dear Lord, if a feeling of fear is a legitimate warning from You, help me to know that. But if this feeling of fear is more of a distracting detriment, help me be courageous and walk assured in Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Isaiah 41:10, “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)

    2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What fear currently has you feeling paralyzed? Take that fear today and walk through the 3 steps Lysa shared in her devotion — taking it to God honestly in prayer, searching for verses about fear and then moving forward clinging to the hope and truth of Psalm 34:7.

    Do you have a friend who’s battling fear? Take some time today to pray for her and actively encourage her.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Finding True Rest

    Finding True Rest by Ruth Schwenk

    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

    “Whaaat do you waaaant?!?!” I bellowed with frustration, loud enough so my teenage son could hear me upstairs. He had just eagerly called my name and in my haste, I replied with anger.

    “Mom, I just wanted to tell you that I had finished cleaning my room without you even asking me. I thought you would be excited,” he replied meekly.

    Ugh. Instantly I was overcome with guilt.

    Wearily, I apologized: “I am so sorry, Tyler. Everyone is trying to talk to me at the same time, the dogs won't stop barking and the house is a mess. I am just overwhelmed, and I shouldn’t have responded that way. I’m sorry.” I was trying to justify myself as much as I was apologizing!

    Wow, where did that come from? I wondered. It’s amazing to me how motherhood can bring out the best in us, but also the worst. Being a mom can expose the true condition of our hearts.

    As the years have quickly passed and my children are getting older, I have slowly come to the conclusion that pretty much every time I am feeling irritable and on edge, there is one thing missing from my day.

    Jesus.

    He is the One who makes even the chaos seem peaceful. My day always goes better when I first pause to spend time with Him. I used to think that I had to get away and go somewhere like a particular place that had been well planned out. But I’ve discovered something very different.

    Rest doesn’t have to mean getting away from the noise, the busyness, the work or even the to-do list! Rest can be found right in the middle of it all.

    How? Because our rest is ultimately found in a Person. Rest is found in Jesus. The joy and peace I need starts by running to Him, abiding in Him, trusting in Him and staying close to Him.

    A soul at peace, no matter what is going on around me, is settled by clinging to Jesus' words and walking in Jesus' ways.

    Matthew captures the promise of peace and rest Jesus offers when he records Jesus’ words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

    That’s the rest I need. It’s where my soul is most satisfied. I can’t create Christlikeness on my own, but as I come to Jesus, He shares His life with me. Through the work of His Spirit in me, I am being made new. Who He is changes who I am, and I can have an easy soul when I rest in Him.

    Rest. Peace. A soul not easily moved. A mom who is strong when she is weak. All of this Jesus offers if we would just come to Him.

    For you, that might look like waking up 30 minutes earlier, sneaking away from your day for 15 minutes or taking a break from work to go for a short walk outside. For all of us, the time may look different, but the result is the same. When we press pause and find the quiet moments to meet with Jesus, He changes us. We can give the best of who we are by first giving ourselves to Jesus.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessing of being a mom. Remind me daily of the quiet moments I need to spend with You. Help me find my rest in You and in You alone. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 62:5, “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” (NIV)

    Philippians 4:6-7, “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)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Finding time alone with Jesus can be difficult. What will you do to ensure you take that much needed quiet time each day?

    © 2016 by Ruth Schwenk. All rights reserved.

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

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