• Our Mother's Day Sale online now, in store May 3

Author Archives: Family Christian

  • An Unlikely Confidence

    Lynn Cowell JANUARY 15, 2016

    An Unlikely Confidence LYNN COWELL

    "A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them." Luke 7:37-38 (NIV)

    Ever meet a woman who seemed to light up the room when she walked in? Her laugh said, "I don’t take life too seriously." Her carefree walk let you know she was comfortable with who she was. Her hair and outfit seemed to be perfect. Then again, maybe it wasn’t. Actually her hair was held up in a casual bun and she had on workout clothes. So what made it seem like she had it all together?

    Confidence.

    I used to think confidence was something you were born with. If you were the perfect package — body, hair, family — you had confidence.

    But I met a woman in the Bible who has changed my mind.

    This woman demonstrated a very unlikely confidence. I call it unlikely because the Bible describes her as "a sinful woman." Most likely, she was a prostitute. We meet her in Luke chapter 7, and her story begins in verse 36:

    "When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them" (Luke 7:36-38).

    Do you see the confidence? Confidence to walk into a house full of judgmental men looking down on those unlike them.

    What would have given this unwanted woman the confidence to approach the perfect Son of God? To push past all that rejection?

    Love.

    Jesus called it out. "Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much …" (Luke 7:47a, ESV). Her love for Jesus gave her this unlikely confidence.

    What caused her to love Jesus so much? We’re not given details about her except she was a woman "who lived a sinful life" in that town.

    What had she seen? And experienced? Luke 7:11-15 offers a clue:

    "Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out — the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’ Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother."

       (Luke 7:11-15, NIV)

    Maybe the woman was in this crowd and saw Jesus’ compassion, love, kindness, caring.

    I’m not sure exactly what happened, but one thing is certain: She encountered unconditional love and it gave her the confidence to push past rejection. She knew she was wanted and it compelled her to show love in return.

    Based on her past, I’m sure she knew no man could fill the gap in her heart. Yet this Man, this perfect One, loved her and it gave her unshakeable confidence.

    Love empowered her.

    This woman shows us: Confidence doesn’t come from doing everything right or having it all together. Confidence comes from knowing we are loved. Jesus gave it; she received it.

    We, too, can find confidence, no matter how unlikely it may seem to us. Confidence to push past our barriers in order to receive and return Perfect Love.

    Confidence isn’t something you’re born with. Nor do you get it from the perfect childhood or the model marriage. Rather, it comes from knowing you are loved by the One who gave His life for you.

    Dear God, I want confidence like this woman. Confidence to push past my past and find expressions of love for You. Thank You for loving me and empowering me to love You back. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 3:12, "In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence." (NIV)

    Hebrews 4:16, "Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you know a young woman who is suffering from a lack of confidence, Lynn Cowell’s book, Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants can help. Purchase your copy here.

    Visit Lynn’s Cowell’s blog for more encouragement on discovering God’s confidence, and learn about her empowering Wednesday Wisdom Tips.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Has there been an event in your life or a sin you’ve struggled with that has taken away your confidence?

    Ask God to heal your heart, remove your sin and help you walk daily in His confidence.

    © 2016 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Why Would God Let This Happen?

    Lysa TerKeurst JANUARY 14, 2016

    Why Would God Let This Happen? LYSA TERKEURST

    "‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you." Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)

    I wonder what would happen in our lives if we really lived in the absolute assurance of God’s love. I mean, as Christians we know He loves us. We sing the songs, we quote the verses, we wear the T-shirts and we sport the bumper stickers. Yes, God loves us.

    I’m not talking about knowing He loves us.

    I’m talking about living as if we really believe it.

    I’m talking about walking confidently in the certainty of God’s love even when our feelings beg us not to.

    I’m talking about training our hearts and our minds to process everything through the filter of the absolute assurance of God’s love. Period. Without the possible question mark.

    Not too long ago, I had a conversation with a precious mom whose eldest daughter is nearing 30 and has never had a boyfriend. The younger siblings have all gone through the whole dating thing and one is now engaged to be married. The eldest daughter sat on the side of her mom’s bed recently with tears slipping down her cheeks and said, "Why mom? Why can’t I find anyone to love me? What’s wrong with me?"

    This mom was asking me for advice in helping her daughter process these questions. These feelings are real. These feelings are tough.

    And I’m sure if I were able to untangle all the emotions wrapped in and around these questions, somewhere deep inside I would find this girl doubting God’s love for her.

    I remember being single, the only one of my friends without a boyfriend, and wondering why. I would see these nice boys and think God could make one of them fall in love with me but He hasn’t. And that hurt.

    But here’s the thing I wish I had known then … I must process this through the filter of God’s love not through the tangled places of my heart.

    When I process things through the tangled places of my heart, often the outcome is, "If God loves me so much, why would He let this happen?"

    Instead when I process things through the filter of the absolute assurance of God’s love, the outcome is, "God loves me so much therefore I have to trust why He is allowing this to happen."

    I took the mom’s hand who was asking for advice and told her to help her daughter rewrite the way she is processing this. It’s okay to feel hurt, lonely and sad. But these feelings shouldn’t be a trigger to doubt God’s love for her. They should be a trigger to look for God’s protection, provision and possible growth opportunities.

    I know this can be hard. But what if we really lived in the absolute assurance of God’s love? Oh sweet sister, in whatever you are facing today I pray Isaiah 54:10 over you, Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed yet God’s unfailing love for you will not be shaken.

    Dear Lord, You are good. And You are good at being God. Therefore, I trust Your plan and believe that You’re allowing this to happen for a reason. It may be hard, but I’d rather be close to You through a thousand difficult moments than apart from You in a thousand good ones. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Isaiah 55:8-9, "‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’" (NIV)

    Psalm 138:8a: "The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Becoming MoreOur faith has got to be more than a label, a lingo and a lifestyle! Learn more about how to live in the absolute assurance of God’s love with our next free online Bible study of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study GirlSign up here today.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Is there a situation in your life where you’re questioning if God really loves you?

    It can be so tempting to push God away during a painful or confusing time, but try to press into Him instead. You can do that by praying honestly, reading Scripture and putting yourself in the company of other believers who will speak life into you.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • When All You Have is Not Enough

    Leah DiPascal JANUARY 13, 2016

    When All You Have is Not Enough LEAH DIPASCAL

    "And taking the five loaves and the two fish he [Jesus] looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied." Mark 6:41-42 (ESV)

    I couldn’t avoid it any longer. After distracting myself for hours — washing clothes, emptying the dishwasher and checking emails for the fourth time — I finally had to face the beast.

    Pulling out the thick folder that bulged with utility bills, a mortgage notice and credit card statements, I reached for my tiny checkbook and released a heavy sigh from the pit of my stomach.

    Tallying the numbers as I held my breath only confirmed what I already knew: too many bills and not enough money.

    The small amount felt like tiny crumbs waiting to be devoured by the multitudes.

    My husband and I never anticipated a downward-spiraling economy, which happened right after we started our business 10 years ago. When our clients suddenly stopped paying for the services we provided, it launched us into a season of not-enough, which lasted longer and proved more difficult than we ever imaged.

    As funds dwindled, so did my faith, and I began wondering about my family’s not-enough crisis … Would there be enough to go around? Would the little we had left stretch to meet our obligations? Would God come through in this situation and provide what we needed?

    As I think back on that difficult time, I wonder how the disciples felt, the day the multitudes came to hear Jesus speak. Mark 6 recounts what is known as "The Feeding of the Five Thousand."

    These people desperately wanted what Jesus could offer them: hope, healing and promises of the kingdom of heaven. What I love most is that Scripture tells us Jesus had compassion on them:

    "When he [Jesus] went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things" (Mark 6:34, NIV).

    But by the end of the day the disciples were faced with an unanticipated problem. They told Jesus, "This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat" (Mark 6:35b-36, ESV).

    With the Sea of Galilee behind them and a sea of people facing them, the disciples were ready to wrap things up and go home. It had been a long day of managing the multitudes and I imagine they were starting to feel weary and overwhelmed. But not Jesus …

    After filling the souls of thousands with the spiritual food of the Word of God, Jesus wanted to fill their bellies with actual food.

    He told the disciples, "You give them something to eat" (Mark 6:37, ESV). But a quick tally revealed only five loaves of bread and two fish. As the people began to rumble with empty stomachs, the disciples were suddenly faced with their own not-enough crisis.

    How would they have enough? Would Jesus help them and provide?

    Maybe today you’re facing a not-enough crisis that has you feeling anxious, weary or overwhelmed.

    • Too many bills and not enough money in the bank.
    • Too many doctor’s appointments and not enough definitive answers.
    • Too many interviews and not enough job offers.
    • Too many demands and not enough solutions.

    In today’s key verse, we see how Jesus took the disciples’ not-enough crisis and made it more than enough as He held up the loaves and fish to heaven, giving thanks to God the Father and blessing it.

    Jesus’ multiplication powers produced plenty of leftovers and everyone was satisfied.

    Did you see that? Not just a few — "they all ate and were satisfied."

    In the case of our family’s personal finances, God miraculously stretched what little we had to pay our bills so our debts were all satisfied. Although we couldn’t see it at the time, God was multiplying our less to provide miraculously more.

    Is your not-enough situation giving you an empty rumbling of doubt and discouragement? Why not hold what you have up to Heaven? Trust God for His multiplication powers. And ask Jesus to bless it according to His will.

    God’s love is excessive and His grace multiplies. God’s provisions are abundant and His compassion toward you is endless.

    In God’s hands, our not-enough can become plenty, with leftovers, so that we can be spiritually satisfied and physically provided for by Him in miraculous ways.

    Heavenly Father, help me entrust my not-enough to You not just today, but every day. Thank You for promising to meet all my needs according to Your riches in glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Philippians 4:19, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (ESV)

    Psalm 90:14, "Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you’ve ever questioned whether circumstances will all work out, you’ll appreciate Lysa TerKeurst’s It Will Be Okay: Trusting God Through Fear and Change. It can help kids and grown-ups alike discover how God is good, kind and always with us.

    Visit with Leah DiPascal today on her blog to learn more about how God provided in her family’s season of not-enough.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When was the last time you faced a not-enough crisis? Were you able to turn it over to God and trust Him for provision? Did it cause your faith to wane and leave room for doubt to set in?

    How has today’s devotion changed your perspective and prepared you for the next time a not-enough moment shows up in your life?

    © 2016 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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

  • Introducing Our Books of the Year: A Review of Fervent

    As I go through life, I feel like things just kind of happen. Natural disasters happen because the world is flawed. Bad things happen because the world is a broken place.

    But this is only what we’re led to believe. Satan’s attacks on our lives, our emotions, our friends and our family are real. We’re in a battle. One in which the winner has already been determined. God comes out on top. We come out on top.

    And in light of that victory, we can have boldness in our prayers. A boldness that takes over our bodies and souls, one that believes straight down to our core that God is as powerful and mighty as He says He is.

    Fervent isn’t just a book. It’s not something you can read and then set up on your shelf and say, “Well... that was a good one.”

    Fervent Book

    No, this is a battle plan. An active pursuit of serious, specific and strategic prayer—prayer that sets us free, makes us whole, helps us reach our destinies and grab hold of God’s promises. That kind of prayer.

    Let me show you what that kind of prayer did in my life:

    I was bitter. A friendship that I once held dear had ended badly and I knew that I was partly to blame... but I didn’t want to admit it. The bitterness I felt toward this friend kept boiling under the surface of my carefully placed façade. Sure, I was nice. But I felt hurt. And the wounds went deeper than she realized—if she even realized she’d hurt me at all.

    I ran in the opposite direction, feeling as though I was doing the right thing by putting distance between us. By ending our friendship, I was ending that hurtful chapter of my life, right?

    Wrong. What I thought was the solution only created more problems.

    Why was I constantly second guessing if the new friends God had given me accepted me for who I am? Why was I constantly questioning whether or not my friends were being honest with me? Why did my prayers feel lifeless and passionless? Why couldn’t I muster up enough energy to do my devotions each day? Why did I feel empty inside—even though my life seemed so full of wonderful blessings?

    And then along came Fervent. Along came Priscilla Shirer’s honesty and boldness. Her transparency and vulnerability. Her guidance through Scripture and her words of wisdom about dealing with the hurts of the past that haunt us, and that Satan can use to put a wedge between us and God.

    God—through this book—told me to forgive. And not necessarily wiping away what this friend did as if it didn’t happen or giving her a free pass from the harm she caused... but sparing myself of the exhaustion and burden of carrying it, and allowing Him to relieve the pressure.

    In boldly asking for forgiveness—and taking bold steps to care for this friend—He granted me freedom.

    You see? It’s not just a book about prayer. It’s a battle plan. A life-changer, showing you many areas of your life in which the enemy lies and counteracting his moves with God’s truth.

    So what’s your next move?

    ------

    This post was written by Family Christian’s own Alyssa Helm. She enjoys road trips, corny Dad jokes, Penn State football and sharing the love of Christ through her writing.

  • Be Who God Created You to Be

    Shauna JANUARY 12, 2016

    Be Who God Created You to Be SHAUNA NIEQUIST

    "God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’" Job 37:5-6 (NIV)

    For a season in my life, I tried desperately to be a professional, buttoned-up, organized-type person. I wore slacks, for heaven’s sake. I white-knuckled a schedule and a set of responsibilities that felt like wearing someone else’s too-tight shoes. I’m amazed, when I look back now, how long it took me to realize I was playing a part, acting like someone different from the way God made me to be.

    I’m messy and loud, a hugger and a crier. I like stories and meals and have absolutely no sense of routine. It was a gift to finally admit that I wasn’t made for that job, despite how much I wanted to be.

    What would it look like for you to admit today what you are and are not made for?

    I love today’s key verse, and I love the freedom and grace that flood through me when I read it.

    So God says to the snow, "Fall on the earth." That’s it. Just do one thing. Just fall. And then He says to the rain shower, "Be a mighty downpour." Essentially, He’s saying: Just do the thing I’ve actually created you to do. You’re rain … so rain. You’re snow … so snow.

    I love the simplicity of that, the tremendous weight it takes off my shoulders. God’s asking me to be the thing He’s already created me to be. And He’s asking you to be the thing He’s already created you to be.

    He doesn’t tell the snow to thaw and become rain, or the rain to freeze itself into snow. He says, essentially: Do your thing. Do the thing you love to do, what you’ve been created to do.

    So many of us twist ourselves up in knots trying desperately to be something or someone else. Trying to fulfill some endless list of qualities and capabilities that we think will make us feel loved or safe or happy. That’s an exhausting way to live, and I know because I’ve done it.

    What is God asking you do to? What is the thing God created you to be?

    What do you do with the ease and lightness of falling snow? Many of us, if we’re honest, have wandered far from those things. We’ve gotten wrapped up in what someone else wanted us to be, what we thought would keep us happy and safe and gain us approval.

    I’m finding there’s tremendous value in traveling back to our essential selves, the loves and skills and passions God planted inside us long ago.

    When I look at my life, I see the threads of passion and identity I’ve carried through my whole life: Books and reading, people and connection, food and the table. These are things I’ve always loved, and they continue to bring me great joy and fulfillment.

    Think about your adolescent self, your child self, the "you" you’ve always been. God imprinted a sacred, beautiful collection of passions and capacities right onto your heart: What do you love? What does your passion bubble over for?

    Much of adulthood is peeling off the layers of expectation and pressure, and protecting those precious things that lie beneath. We live in a culture that tries to define what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a success, what it means to live a valuable life.

    But those definitions require us to live on a treadmill, both literally and figuratively, always hustling to fit in, to be thin enough and young enough and sparkly enough, for our homes to be large and spotless, our children well-mannered and clean-faced, our dreams orderly and profitable. But that’s not life. That’s not where the fullness of joy and meaning are found.

    The snow is only meant, created, commanded to fall. The rain only meant, created, commanded to pour down. You were only meant, created, commanded to be who you are — weird and wonderful, imperfect and messy and lovely.

    What do you need to leave behind, in order to recover that essential self that God created? What do you need to walk away from, in order to reclaim those unique parts God designed for His purposes?

    Dear God: Today, give me the courage to live the life You’ve called me to with the same contentedness and confidence as the falling snow or the pouring rain. Please help me to walk away from roles and expectations that other people have for me, and to live in peace with the exact way You created me — on purpose and for a purpose. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 12:4, "There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Sink deep into God’s everyday goodness and savor every moment! In Savor, Shauna Niequist becomes a friend across the pages, sharing her heart with yours, keeping you company and inviting you into the abundant life God offers. And there are recipes, too, because spiritual living happens not just when we read and pray, but also when we gather with family and friends over dinners and breakfasts and late-night snacks.

    To learn more about Shauna and Savorclick here to visit her website.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are. In celebration of this book, Shauna’s publisher is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, January 18.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What is one unique thing God has designed you to do today? How can you take a step of faith to begin doing more of that in the next month?

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Zondervan for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

    © 2016 by Shauna Niequist. All rights reserved.

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

  • Can This Year Really Be Different?

    Glynnis Whitwer JANUARY 11, 2016

    Can This Year Really Be Different? GLYNNIS WHITWER

    "‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing." John 21:3 (NIV)

    Each year as I hang up the blank calendar in my kitchen, empty of appointments but full of promise, I think to myself, This year will be different!

    This will be the year I finally finish that house project, exercise consistently, lose weight, pray faithfully, spend more time with friends and so on and so forth. This year has to be better than last year … right?

    And yet, for so many years I’d get to March (if I lasted that long) and give up on my goals, feeling like a failure once again.

    I got so frustrated because I knew how to do this stuff. I might not do it perfectly, but I can paint a wall, take a walk, put less food in my mouth, sit and pray and schedule time with friends. This isn’t rocket science!

    But … for some confusing reason I either stopped trying or kept making the same choices as before, expecting a different result.

    I wonder if that’s how the disciples felt the night they went fishing and caught nothing. The story is told in John 21, after Jesus’ death when the disciples had gone to Galilee to wait for His return (which He’d told them about in Matthew 26:32).

    While in Galilee, at least on one night, the disciples returned to their old lives … to fishing. They knew how to fish, as they’d done it all their lives, but that night after hours sitting in wooden boats, floating in dark silence, they caught nothing.

    The story takes an interesting turn as the sun starts to rise. Jesus stood on the edge of the lake (although they didn’t recognize Him at first). He asked if they’d caught anything, and when He learned they hadn’t, He gave them a simple instruction: "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some" (John 21:6a, NIV).

    Scripture doesn’t record the disciples’ thoughts, but I imagine they were confused and a bit annoyed at this piece of advice. After all, they’d been doing everything they knew to do, why should they keep trying? The fish obviously weren’t there!

    And yet, they threw their nets on the right side of the boat. This time, in obedience to Jesus, Scripture tells us they caught so many fish they were unable to haul in their nets.

    This would have been a nonstory had the disciples ignored the suggestion to try again, but in a slightly different way. They could have insisted they knew how to fish, they knew the water, and they knew the behavior of the fish. Instead, they humbly listened and obeyed. The blessing of the fish was minor in comparison to seeing Jesus and His power at work in their lives again.

    This passage encourages me to press pause at the start of the New Year. I’ve already proved I can’t do much in my strength. So before I go back to my old ways, forging ahead, certain I just need to try harder, I want to stop and seek Jesus’ direction and help.

    As I look back on my life, those are the times I’ve seen the Lord work in the greatest ways. When I admit my natural strength isn’t enough, God’s supernatural strength is evident.

    So maybe this year things can be different. Not because I’ve got a new game plan or brilliant strategy. I haven’t found a short-cut or an app to make things easier. Maybe the difference is simpler than that. Instead of looking to myself, I need to wait on Jesus. Not just in the big questions and problems, but in everyday, seemingly mundane choices.

    As the disciples learned that morning, we are never far from success when we allow Jesus to direct our course.

    Dear Lord, I’m so sorry I’ve lived much of my life guided by my own direction, while You have always been there offering wisdom and power. I want to become a woman who looks to You first before trying harder in my own strength. I need Your help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (NIV)

    Ecclesiastes 7:8, "Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Are you ready for this year to be different in an area of your life? If so, join Glynnis Whitwer on her blog for a free two-week online series titled: "This Year Can Be Different." It begins January 18, and sign-ups are open today.

    Glynnis’ book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, can help you deal with that pesky procrastination habit.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about your life, what would it be? (Make sure it’s something you can actually change — not like winning the lottery.)

    Why is it hard to make changes in this area of your life? List your reasons for resistance.

    © 2016 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • A New Resolution

    But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 ESV

    While most of us make them every year, New Year’s resolutions have a terribly low success rate. Could it be that we fail because we have misguided goals for ourselves? Or, are we concerned too much with the physical results?

    Even though we’re just over a week into the New Year, some of you may have already given up on one or more of your resolutions. Others of you may be still trying to better yourself through dieting, exercise or more, but regretting your decision.

    But what if we told you that you can make this the best year of your life? Hint: it just won’t happen through extra trips to the gym, or by trying out the new fad diet. Nothing is inherently wrong with these pursuits, but it is important to keep them from becoming idols. Strive to use your resolutions as ways to grow more dependent on God, because to make this the best year of your life, you have to make it your best year spiritually.

    In Matthew 6:3–18, Jesus is in the middle of giving His Sermon on the Mount. In this passage, He speaks specifically of giving, prayer and fasting. Not just that we should do these things, but that He expects us to.

    Verse 3: “But when you give…”

    Verse 5: “And when you pray…”

    Verse 16: “And when you fast…”

    Later on, in verse 33, Jesus says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

    So, how can we have the best year spiritually? Seek first the kingdom of God.

    And how do we do that?

    We give to the needy, so as not to be overcome with greed and envy.

    We pray, exercising our dependence on God and our desire to be in relationship with Him.

    And we fast, saying no to earthly things and saying yes to God.

    The practice of all these disciplines of the Christian life will help motivate you to stick with your resolutions when you want to quit, and—most important—help you grow spiritually.

  • When the Call Feels Bigger Than You

    Eryn Lynum JANUARY 8, 2015

    When the Call Feels Bigger Than You ERYN LYNUM, COMPEL Member

    "She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard." Proverbs 31:16 (ESV)

    I walked around the old tattered fence. Hope mounted as crisp leaves crunched beneath my feet.

    The fence was home to a shabby, forgotten garden, out back of the new home we’d just purchased. How long had it been since someone had tended its roots? Surely not too long, I gathered, as I eyed the fallen, pulpous peppers sitting among the underbrush.

    My eyes took in the misfortune of soil left untended, but in my heart I saw a season of growth and opportunity amidst this agricultural wreckage.

    It was my field.

    Stubble. Chaff. Clay. Not much to behold, yet promise was burgeoning just below the soil.

    A year later, after we had tilled and toiled and harvested that garden soil, the words from today’s key verse began their resounding echo in my spirit: "She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard" (Proverbs 31:16).

    The verse reverberated within me over time. As I read it again and again, that originally untended garden out back began to flourish with a successful first season of fruit bearing.

    And God opened my eyes to other untended fields with potential.

    Vacant fields lay all around us. In wedding vows promised before God and family. In the births of new babes. In the prodding of one’s heart toward new ministry. In the face of new mothers in shelters downtown. In the eyes of orphans a world, or a street, away.

    How many times have I stood before an empty field? And how many times have I walked right past one without consideration?

    Sometimes, the eyes of one’s heart must squint to see it, but there is hope amidst the overgrowth. There is great potential waiting to be unearthed from these desolate fields.

    I imagine this woman spoken of in Proverbs 31 … "She considers a field and buys it …" Her feet planted on the edge of that field. Hand rubbing chin and head tilted in curiosity.

    What could it be? What would God work through her hands for His glory?

    Perhaps we are afraid to see these fields. When we glimpse an opportunity before us, do we turn our gaze because we are wary of the work the soil demands? The beauty of the fruit is alluring; we truly desire to see God do great and magnificent things through us. But our hands seem so unprepared, and we feel wholly unworthy of the calling.

    When you stand before that vacant field, and consider the great expanse of the work it will take from barren to harvest, don’t let fear turn you away. We have much to make of empty fields if we are ready to put our hands to the plow and get a little messy.

    You need only consider your next right step. Don’t be overwhelmed by the size of the task before you. Focus on the one thing that must be done next and trust God to level the ground before you. Pick up some gloves and clear the brush. Till some soil. Plant a seed.

    And then watch in wonder as it begins to blossom. When we’re faithful to simply show up with hands willing to work, we can watch in wonder as God brings forth fruit from our humble efforts.

    God places them before us, these barren fields, and beckons our hearts to create something of artistry, of intrigue, of splendor, of His majesty. He’ll call forth the rains. We only need to consider, buy in and put our hands to the plow.

    Heavenly Father, help me see the empty and waiting fields that You place before me. Give me wisdom on when to keep walking and when to stop and put my hands to the plow. Protect me from the fears that will hold me back from seeing You do great and mighty things through me. Help me always work through the strength of Christ and point any and all of my efforts back to Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 3:6, "I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Longing to write words that are memorable and life changing? Struggling to build a platform, but realize it takes more writing than you thought? Today’s devotion author, Eryn Lynum, is a member of COMPEL, a monthly membership program for those who want to write words that move people. Click here to learn more.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Is there an empty field you sense God calling you to work in, but you are overwhelmed by the task or don’t know where to begin? Spend some time in prayer over this opportunity. Write two to three small steps you could take next.

    Were you given an opportunity recently but you said "No" out of fear? Commit to praying over that opportunity every morning for one week. Ask the Lord whether He might have you change your answer and pursue that opportunity in His strength.

    © 2015 by Eryn Lynum. All rights reserved.

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

  • I’m Breaking Up With My Quiet Time

    Lysa TerKeurst JANUARY 7, 2016

    I’m Breaking Up With My Quiet Time LYSA TERKEURST

    "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1 (NIV)

    I’m taking a break from having a quiet time. Because sometimes I can get in a rut. Even with good things. And having a daily quiet time is a good thing. Until it becomes more about routine than actually connecting with God.

    When God becomes routine rather than revival, it’s time to switch things up.

    Otherwise, I might start seeing this time as less important. It becomes the second or third thing I do. After other things. Seemingly more pressing things. Before I know it, it’s been days since I connected privately and personally with God and His Truth.

    And then my soul feels a bit off and sluggish. Like when my stomach has been denied food, a desperation starts creeping over other parts of my body. That happens with soul hunger too.

    Only the triggers for stomach hunger are much more apparent. My brain quickly reminds me, "You feel awful because you need to eat."

    Sometimes my brain isn’t as quick to pick up on soul hunger. So I just lumber forward but wonder, "What’s wrong?" I think of a list of reasons … I’m tired, I haven’t had enough fun, or my hormones are off.

    And while some of those things may be true — it’s not why my soul is depleted.

    I need more time with God.

    Not more quiet time.

    More listening time. Like the writer in Psalm 63:1 needed. "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." (NIV)

    Recently, as I sat with God with nothing but willingness to listen, some fresh ideas popped into my mind. So these are 3 new ways I’m listening to God:

    Give my first thoughts to God by giving Him my first 5 minutes every day. I downloaded the First 5 app and read these Bible verses and teachings before I check anything else on my phone. I ask God to help me apply what I’m reading to my life that day. I listen.

    Read something from someone I admire. I need to study leadership in this season of my life. So, I pick up a book written on this topic by someone I admire and glean from their godly wisdom. I listen.

    Read something from someone I trust. There’s a book I’m reading right now that is whimsical and grounded all at the same time. It makes me feel like this writer gets me. They get my struggles and offer up advice I know I can trust. I listen.

    Maybe you think all this still sounds like a quiet time, but to me it’s different. It’s a listening time. A time to shake things up a bit and get outside my normal routine. A time to listen to God speak. And He does speak … through His book of wisdom, through someone I admire, and through someone I trust.

    And this morning? My soul felt that thrilling and comforting full feeling. Complete. Satisfied. Deeply nourished.

    Dear Lord, my deepest desire is to grow a stronger relationship with You. Help me to break out of the routine so that I can connect with You and hear You speak. I want my faith to be the most reviving and energizing thing about my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (NIV)

    James 4:8a, "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Becoming MoreFollowing Jesus can become more like a revival than a routine! Be equipped to stop reading the Bible just to check it off your list and start experiencing God’s Word in a deeper way with a FREE resource from Lysa TerKeurst. Download "3 Bible Study Basics You Must Know" here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are you getting in a rut with your quiet time?

    Ask God to show you how you can breathe new life into your time with Him. Also consider downloading the "3 Bible Study Basics You Must Know" above to more fully experience Scripture in a way that brings revival to your soul.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Give it a Rest!

    VICKI COURTNEY JANUARY 06, 2016

    Give it a Rest! VICKI COURTNEY

    "This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’" Jeremiah 6:16a (NIV)

    I stared out the window, my eyes filling with tears as the flight attendant gave her familiar pre-flight safety drill. It was the third time in a two-week period I had heard the same spiel. Minutes later as the plane raced down the runway, I thought about the irony of the moment.

    I was headed to a women’s event to share a message on prioritizing the one thing we all need — time with Jesus. Yeah, right, I thought to myself. If the planning committee had followed me around for the past couple of months, they would have canceled the invitation and organized a Vicki Courtney book-burning.

    Who was I to speak to women on the topic of finding rest for your souls when my own soul was on life support?

    For as long as I can remember, I have been busy. As a young girl, I signed up for enough school clubs and extracurricular activities to keep me hopping every day of the week. It wasn’t enough to be on the cheer squad; I juggled class officer duties, student council and a part-time job. Oh, and homework. Come to think of it, never mind about the homework.

    The only pace I knew was breakneck, and I carried it with me to college and eventually into my marriage and family life.

    At times, I would make bold declarations to slow down. After I met a book deadline. After a busy season of speaking engagements came to a close. After my kids wrapped up a chaotic school year filled with activities. Yet, when after finally arrived, I had already filled the empty block of time with more activity.

    When I wasn’t busy, I felt restless and ill at ease. When I was busy, I felt weary and in need of rest. It was a never-ending vicious cycle. I hated the pace, yet at the same time, I needed the pace.

    It wasn’t until I hit a wall several years ago and suffered extreme burnout that I began to finally take a closer look at what was really going on beneath my habit of chronic busyness.

    I was beyond quick-fix remedies like the familiar tips you might see in a magazine or devotional to "de-clutter your life." Trust me, I had tried them all, and the results were always short-lived. My turning point came when I realized that my busyness was not the result of a scheduling problem but rather, a sin problem.

    Somewhere along the way, I had based my worth and identity in performing, achieving, doing and serving. Ironically, true identity is found by resting in God and being conformed to His image, not running ourselves ragged in an attempt to find it on our own.

    What robs your soul of rest? Unless we take a deeper look at the source of our chronic busyness and get honest with ourselves about the underlying motives, we will only be treating the symptoms instead of the problem. Until then, we might make minor tweaks and adjustments here and there to reduce our load, but our efforts will only provide a short-term solution.

    When we say "yes" to too many other things, we are actually saying "no" to God. Which path will you choose at the crossroads of busyness and rest? God has shown us the "good way," but it’s up to us to walk in it.

    Father, thank You for showing us the good way in order that we might have rest for our souls. Give us the courage to change paths if the one we’re on has left us with little time for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Matthew 11:28-30, "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." (NIV)

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

    RELATED RESOURCES: Are you ready to take a deeper look at the enemies that rob you of rest in your soul? If so, Vicki Courtney’s new book, Rest Assured: A Recovery Plan for Weary Souls can help.

    Also, be sure to visit Vicki’s blog at VickiCourtney.com and sign up for her e-letter.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Rest Assured by Vicki Courtney. In celebration of this book, Vicki’s publisher is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here and let us know what robs your soul of rest. (We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one by Monday, Jan.11.)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Is chronic busyness a problem for you? If so, are you ready to stage an intervention on your life and take steps to redeem rest for your weary soul? List three specific steps you can take to begin the process.

    © 2015 by Vicki Courtney. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Thomas Nelson 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

Items 111 to 120 of 1024 total

WHAT WE'RE ABOUT

“to look after orphans and widows in their distress...” James 1:27 NIV

Our heartbeat is to help orphans and widows in need, as our Father calls us to do.
And with every purchase you make, you’re making an amazing difference in their lives.

We are not for profit, and all for purpose
Loading... Loading...