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Author Archives: Family Christian

  • Don’t Let This Heartbreak Destroy You

    Don’t Let This Heartbreak Destroy You by Lysa TerKeurst

    “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

    There’s a line from the prayer my father-in-law prayed over us at our wedding that I think of quite often: “Lord, give them enough hurts to keep them human and enough failures to keep their hands clenched tightly in Yours.”

    There were many other lines of blessing in the prayer, but this part made me tilt my head, heavy with sprayed-up curls and a homemade veil.

    My face flushed at the realization I’d forgotten to cross that part out.

    I’d seen the prayer beforehand. It was all typed out. But in the rush of everything, I’d forgotten. And now, we had essentially asked God for heartbreak. At our wedding. Awesome.

    But Art’s dad is a man of wisdom. And I’m thankful he didn’t take it upon himself to strike that part.

    I couldn’t have understood the prayer on that day full of white tulle, giddy whispers of love and my 3-year-old sister singing “Happy Birthday” during the lighting of the unity candle. But as life has unfolded, I now very much understand the beauty of those lines.

    Our life could have been very self-focused. Our marriage. Our home. Our kids. Our plans. Our life.

    But God wanted so much more from us. He didn’t bring us together simply to build a life that would make us happy. He brought us together to be partners in the purpose He assigned. Our own strength would not have prepared us for kingdom assignments. It probably would have crippled us with selfishness and pride.

    Heartbreak is a part of life.

    It’s certainly been a part of different seasons of my marriage. And though every single hurt seemed like an exposure of weakness in our relationship, it actually brought out a strength we couldn’t have gotten any other way. The breaking of us has actually been the making of us ... the God-strengthened us He could use.

    I don’t know what kind of heartbreak you are walking through right now, sweet friend.

    Maybe your marriage didn’t remain standing under the weight of life. Maybe you’ve never been married, but you long to be. Please don’t get stuck thinking these truths are only for couples.

    Married or not, do not let the heartbreak you’ve experienced be wasted. God is still with you. His promises still stand. Soak in His truths and let them seep into the deepest places of your heart rubbed raw with uncertainty.

    Don’t let what breaks your heart destroy your life.

    Hold fast to Jesus and remember: This breaking of you will be the making of you. A new you. A stronger you. Strengthened not with the pride of perfection, but with the sweet grace of one who knows an intimate closeness with her Lord.

    And don’t miss out on the hope God offers in our key verse: “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” (Psalm 34:18).

    Using the original language for this verse, you could read it like this: The Lord draws near to the one who’s had her heart shattered and delivers her from exposed grief to victory.

    He draws you near despite the sharp evidence of your grieving heart. The anger. The deep disappointment and disillusionment. The questions of why you, and why now? The comparisons that make you feel as though God loves other people more. How could He let this happen? The cussing and banging your fist on the steering wheel. The shame and anguish. All of these are shards of being shattered.

    God isn’t afraid of your sharp edges that may seem quite risky to others. He doesn’t pull back. He pulls you close. His love and grace covers your exposed grief. And step-by-step He leads you to a new place of victory.

    Father God, thank You for the way You tenderly minister to the shattered places in my heart. I’m so grateful You are able to use every heartbreak in my life for good. I am choosing to believe today that You are leading me to a place of strength and victory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 34:17, “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are you currently walking through a season of heartbreak? How could God actually use it to strengthen you?

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • He Never Gives Up

    He Never Gives Up by Lynn Cowell

    “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

    The crunching of the gravel ceased as our van rolled to a complete stop. We had traveled from a swarming, heavily populated city in India to find the number of people had decreased, but the poverty had only increased.

    Before that morning, I thought I was prepared for what we would see; our guide shared a video detailing the environment with us the night before. I soon learned a camera could not capture, nor is the human heart made to take in, the suffering we saw before us.

    A handful of families made their home together, living as rag-pickers. Each day, their work consisted of going to the dump and pulling out anything of value — plastic, cardboard, fabric. After a full day’s work, they’d redeem their collections, earning approximately a dollar a day.

    You would expect to see despair on the faces of those whose daily lives seem so dismal. Yet as the villagers emerged from their tarp-covered tent homes to greet us, not even the 110-degree temperature was enough to wilt their warm welcome. The children came first, extending their darling hands and dressed in vibrant shades of pinks, purples and whites.

    Though our language was a barrier, our smiles connected us. They’d been expecting us.

    Once inside the makeshift home, we were ushered to seats of honor with garlands of flowers placed upon our necks as these beautiful people expressed their gladness for our arrival. After offering a power-filled prayer of praise, the leader began songs of joyful worship, turning the dark, dingy shelter into a sanctuary. Louder and louder, the people clapped and sang praises to God for His goodness to them. Their glimmering eyes shone brightly; hope and gladness poured out.

    While these are the poorest of the poor in India, the outcast and rejected of their culture, these people are not without hope. They’re on a new path, taking them to a new place.

    This journey out of darkness and into life began when a man named Raju came to know Christ as his savior. From there, he became a student in a literacy class offered by Mission India. Besides teaching Raju to read, write and calculate, this class taught him more of the new life Jesus died to bring him.

    Raju didn’t keep this to himself. After completing his course, he became a literacy teacher and then a church planter.

    Raju has become an advocate for his village. With this new confidence, he helped his village obtain a well, land rights and food rations. He is passing on his new knowledge.

    The villagers are also learning to read and write and even more importantly, aout the salvation Jesus offers. They are growing daily in their relationship with Jesus through the literacy classes and church.

    As we watched these beautiful people singing praises to Jesus, our Mission India leader asked, “Would any one like to give a word of encouragement?” Philippians 1:3-6 immediately came to my mind and I asked to share. “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (NIV).

    Culture has shouted to these precious people: You are not wanted. Your life doesn’t matter. You are not welcome. In contrast, Christ says to us all: You are wanted. Your lives do matter. You are welcome.

    Once Jesus begins His work in our lives, He never gives up on us. He loves us, encouraging us to reach our fullest potential, no matter where we live or what others say about us.

    We are partners together in sharing the Gospel, the Good News of the new life Christ offers each and every one of us. He will not stop working this good work in us, and He will never stop working in the lives of our new family members in India as well.

    Lord, no matter where we live or how different our circumstances, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and family supports each other. May we do all we can — not only to share from what we have been given, but to help the Good News of Your new life reach the unreached. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Philippians 1:9-11, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Like these people in India, have there been times in your life when you have felt like an outcast?

    How can a relationship with Jesus bring healing to this hurt?

    © 2016 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Praying Like a Drunk Woman

    Praying Like a Drunk Woman by Dannah Gresh

    “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly.” 1 Samuel 1:10 (NIV)

    I once lobbed a meatloaf at my husband’s head in front of my children.

    Having just returned home after a few days away, I found laundry looming over my head like Mount Everest and a family who’d existed primarily on Fruit Loops for the extended weekend. It was one of those “emotionally wealthy” times of the month for me. And my family was emotionally needy.

    I decided to bake a cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped, barbecue-laden meatloaf to make all things right in the world. The first bite was almost to my mouth when my husband did the unthinkable — he mentioned the laundry. The meatloaf went flying, and there was no taking it back.

    That’s when I noticed the fear in my children’s sweet eyes. (Proof to you, I hope, that I don’t often throw meatloaf or any other items — food or otherwise.) I did what any woman would do: I ran to the bathroom.

    I wept bitterly. I was embarrassed by what I’d done and fearful it would ensure my children spent hours on a psychiatrist’s sofa.

    As I began to pray frantically, my husband opened the door on his white-hot mess of a wife who was praying so hard she looked insane. He offered me his hand as if he were asking me to dance. When I accepted, he led me back to the kitchen table, pulled out my chair and seated me like a princess. He then delivered a comedy routine that to this day I say deserves to be on late night television, making this memory one of our family’s funniest. (Prayer answered!)

    I’m not the only woman to cry out to God in a prayer that makes her look half-crazy. Today’s key verse describes a woman who did the same.

    “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly” (1 Samuel 1:10, emphasis added).

    Hannah, a mother whose name makes it into the Bible, poured out her soul-breaking pleadings to God in such a way that she looked not just crazy, but drunk.

    Eli, the priest, notices her.

    This was a day and age of pretense and sophistication — not spontaneous, unveiled expression. The behavior of a woman in public was especially guarded.

    But not for this woman.

    The fear of man had fallen from her in her desperation.

    The Bible says Hannah was praying so hard, her mouth was moving, but no sound came out. Distraught emotion distorts her expression.

    Eli, the man of God, concludes: This woman has had too much wine.

    “How long are you going to stay drunk?” he wrongfully challenges in 1 Samuel 1:14a (NIV).

    Hannah claims she’s only drunk with the desire to be a mother.

    And the man of God sees. As clearly as he sees the wet tears on her face, he sees the heart behind the guttural pleadings erupting from her soul.

    “Eli answered, ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him,’” (1 Samuel 1:17, NIV).

    And the peace comes. “She said, ‘May your servant find favor in your eyes.’ Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast,” (1 Samuel 1:18, NIV).

    As I read the account of Hannah earlier this year, I felt a prayer of my own leap out from within me. I wrote it in the margin of my Bible: “Lord, make me drunk with prayer!”

    I prayed what was really in my heart — the good, the bad, the ugly. After all, God already knew it was in there.

    And you know what? It works. I feel peace after I pray like that. My problems aren’t always solved, but my heart is quieted. Maybe when the Bible says to “cast your cares” on God in Psalm 55:22, this is what it’s talking about.

    Some people might misread and misunderstand you when you pray as fervently as Hannah did. But isn’t that the point of prayer? Isn’t prayer the tool of an audaciously optimistic woman? One whose faith rises above what her eyes tell her to be true? If prayer makes us anything, it should be radical.

    Dear friend, God already knows what’s going on in your heart — the good, the bad, the ugly. Why not just pour it out?

    Lord, I haven’t been bringing myself to You honestly. You know what’s inside of me and where the bitterness and anxiety rest. Please help me to pray like I mean it today, free of all pretense. I’ll trust You to sort it out. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Take 5 minutes today and get really honest with God about what creates fear, anxiety and bitterness in you as a woman. Then let your anxieties and fears burst forth in prayer.

    © 2016 by Dannah Gresh. All rights reserved.

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

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

  • It’s Taking Too Long

    It’s Taking Too Long by Wendy Pope

    When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land.” Exodus 13:17a (NLT)

    Maggie and her husband, James, prayed their son would become a godly man, work hard for honest wages and someday lead a family of his own.

    But Caleb had a different idea about how his life would be, and he wanted to live by his terms.

    Though his parents offered grace and godly guidance, Caleb refused to obey their guidelines. As the head of their home, James told his son he could no longer live there. With a broken heart, Maggie supported her husband’s leadership and watched her son pack his bags.

    For the next five years, she prayed. For five years, she waited. For five years, she carried his Bible in her purse.

    We often interpret our seasons of wait as inconvenient, an interruption on the way to the ultimate outcome. Might I suggest we view our wait as an intermission, rather than an interruption? Maggie’s intermission started the day the locks were changed.

    Thankfully, Maggie used her intermission as a time of refreshment and connection with the Lord. She spent time with Him in Bible study and prayer. She invested in her relationship with her husband.

    Maggie’s commitment to the Lord deepened, and she began to trust Him more than she did before her son left. She determined not to view her wait as an interruption but to serve the Lord by teaching young married women how to love and respect their husbands. As she grew in her relationship with God, her commitment to pray for Caleb never waned.

    In our key verse, the Israelites are headed for a pause. "When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land” (Exodus 13:17a).

    God knew there was a shorter route. He also knew the Israelites’ propensity to run back to the familiar places of sin and to their lives without devotion to Him. This longer route, this intermission, gave the Israelites the opportunity to learn to trust and obey God. Through the pause, they would learn that a daily dependency on God is the only way to truly live.

    Are you stuck in a holding pattern? Ask God to reveal any area of rebellion. The Lord is close by to forgive our sins and provide all we need to enjoy the freedom of His presence and the fullness of His plans.

    Lord, I know there are times when I grumble and complain about the path my life is taking. I know You are with me, even in the intermissions of life. Search and examine my heart today. I want to experience You each day as I learn to trust You and find joy in obeying Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    P.S. During her intermission, Maggie fully lived her renewed relationship with God and faithfully prayed for her prodigal son. One day, out of the blue, she received the text that said, “I’ve packed my bags. I’m ready to come home and follow the Lord.” Life after her pause hasn’t been perfect, but watching her son grow in his faith, fall more in love with his heavenly Father (while working in harmony, side-by-side with his earthly father) has made her every minute of her wait worthwhile.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Luke 11:28, “He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” (NIV) Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are you in an intermission? Pray today’s prayer and patiently wait as God reveals His answer.

    Seek out an accountability partner who will speak truth in love to you. Sometimes we have blind spots to sin in our own lives and need others to help refine us.

    © 2016 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • How to Write a Christian Thank You Card in 5 Simple Steps

    In a world where texts, tweets and emojis dominate our interactions, a handwritten thank you note goes a long way. Maybe a neighbor went out of their way to run an errand for you, maybe you received a thoughtful gift in the mail or maybe you want to express your gratitude to a close friend. Whatever the case may be, rediscover the art of a thank you card in five simple steps.

    Lead With Gratitude Begin by thanking the recipient for their thoughtfulness. Don’t feel pressured to come up with an elaborate greeting. Something as simple as “thank you so much for the gift” or “I appreciate your time” is all it takes.

    Spell Out Specifics Include details about what you are grateful for. If you received a gift, let them know how you’ve used it. If you got a gift card, tell them what you’re planning to buy. If someone blessed you with a comforting shoulder during a difficult time, put into words how it made you feel.

    Include a Bible Verse There are several scriptures about thanks and gratitude. Let the recipient know what a blessing they are by including a meaningful Bible verse in your note. Ephesians 1:16 NIV is a great place to start: I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

    Make It Meaningful Mention something going on in their life, either exciting or challenging, and let them know you are thinking about and praying for them. This extra step lets them know you value the relationship and are tuned into their needs and feelings.

    Reaffirm Your Thanks While it may seem repetitive, end by reiterating your thankfulness. Make sure to change up how you phrase it though. Appreciation, gratitude and gratefulness are just a few other ways to say thank you.

    While your words are what truly count, it doesn’t hurt to write them in a beautifully crafted card. Browse Christian cards for every occasion or stop by a store near you and experience our full selection of greeting cards that show your friends and family just how much you care.

    What personal touches do you add to your thank you cards?

  • The Promise of a Less-Hectic Life

    The Promise of a Less-Hectic Life by Glynnis Whitwer

    “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (ESV)

    For years I took pride in being overly busy.

    Between the needs of family, work, home and church my days were filled to overflowing. Although my schedule was chaotic and I was nuts, I preferred to think of myself as a “highly productive person.” Friends would ask, “How do you manage all you do?” And I’d respond with a humble-brag, “I guess I’m just wired that way.”

    My heart did a little pitter-patter at the recognition of my work, at their respect of my achievements. I hungered for that type of response; it fueled me to keep pressing on.

    But in the quiet of my day, my to-do list whispered another truth. The truth that glares at me and says I haven’t done it all. I knew this truth but chose to avoid it. It was easier to find excuses and place blame because, after all, I was “really busy.”

    My friends don’t see that side of me. They have the advantage of seeing all I get done; not what’s left undone. But I do.

    Perhaps you know this feeling too. No matter how much you accomplish, what bothers you most is what you didn’t finish. That long list of to-do’s (whether it’s on paper or just rolling around in your mind) keeps you up at night.

    A lot of undone work includes mundane, everyday tasks like cleaning up, making a menu for the week or paying bills.

    But there’s more. There are the dreams we cannot touch. Vacations we don’t plan. Time we want to be intentional with those we love, including God, but can’t seem to manage.

    A few years ago I thought I was having a panic attack. I sat on my couch feeling a heavy weight on my chest. It was hard to breathe, and anxiety simmered, but there was no apparent threat. However, looming deadlines, a demanding home business, part-time work and mounting emails beckoned while five kids wondered, When will dinner be ready … and are there any clean socks?

    My life felt out-of-control. I was burned out from having too much to do, and always feeling behind. The fear of disappointing someone chased me constantly. I was busy, but simply didn’t know how to stop the endless cycle.

    Turns out I didn’t have an anxiety problem. I had an over-commitment problem.

    In order to start making changes, I had to honestly face some hard things about myself. My hunger for significance drove me to take on more than I could handle. But the satisfaction of completing a task was momentary and shallow, leaving me with a hectic life and a hollow soul.

    Before I could live the less-hectic life I desperately longed for, I had to address the root issue of my heart’s need. And part of that was identifying the lie that drove me to overwork.

    Jesus promised an abundant life, but also told us there is an enemy plotting our downfall: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

    And our enemy, “the thief,” is also a liar, always twisting the truth. So while Jesus promised an abundant life, Satan spins it so we think that life is found in an abundance of activity and commitments. Only too late do we realize that life steals from us what’s best … room to breathe, focus and space in our schedules to fulfill our God-given priorities.

    The abundant life Jesus offers isn’t filled with to-do’s. Tasks satisfy from the outside in, never reaching the core of who we are. Jesus’ satisfies from the inside out, as we experience the depth of His love, purpose and peace.

    It took a year of trimming my responsibilities before I experienced the abundant life Jesus promised. I’ve discovered that doing less actually makes me feel more significant when I’m not seeking achievements to fill my heart.

    Jesus promises a less-hectic life, and it’s a promise He can fulfill when we look to Him to fill our days, instead of an endless to-do list.

    Heavenly Father, You never assigned me to live a hectic, harried life. A life found in You isn’t characterized by checks on a list, but in an abundance of love and joy. Help me find my significance in You alone, and live a less-hectic life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 29:11, “May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!” (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Is there something you’ve been putting off, that you really should be doing? What’s the real reason you haven’t done it?

    © 2016 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Why Is God Taking So Long?

    Why Is God Taking So Long? by Wendy Pope

    “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Psalm 33:11 (NIV)

    Growing up, I had a set plan for my life. Get good grades. Become an elementary school teacher. Marry the cute guy with the cool car. Have babies.

    My dreams came to pass, except one — a house full of children.

    No matter how many tests I took, needles I got stuck with or remedies I tried, I could not get pregnant.

    The desire to be a mother consumed my thoughts. Why can’t I get pregnant? What is wrong with me? What have I done to warrant such punishment from God? My girlfriends were getting pregnant. That just didn’t seem fair, so I determined that God wasn’t fair.

    I began to decline invitations to the multitude of blue-and-pink parties. My husband and I purposely socialized with friends who were not expecting or didn’t have children. However, avoiding pregnant friends did not ease my pain or subdue my longing.

    Trying harder didn’t help either. For two years, we endured infertility testing, but noone could explain why I was unable to conceive.

    Medically, I was doing everything right; spiritually, I was not. The wait exhausted my faith. Resolving that God was mad at me, I was furious with Him. Maybe you can relate?

    We have our plans and want our way. When things don’t happen accordingly, we retaliate by ignoring God. I felt this way for more than two years as the object of my desire became greater than the Person of my faith.

    Struggling with infertility can take you down some winding roads full of dark thoughts and bumpy emotions. Without constant awareness of my need to allow truth to steer me, I could easily get lost wondering why God didn’t love me, assume He was punishing me or even question His ability to help.

    Many of us face long delays in seeing the desires of our heart come to fruition. You may be waiting for a new job, a second chance at a relationship or a cure to poor health. Days, months, even years have passed without a glimmer of change. Questions of “when” and “why” fill your mind and heart.

    Years went by before I eventually conceived my daughter. To be honest, I don’t have an exact answer now for why God asked me to wait to have children. But I do know what Psalm 33:11 shares with us, "But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations" (NIV).

    The word “purposes” jumps out at me. In the dark moments of hurt, frustration, doubt and mistrust, I had to remind myself of who God is and what His purposes are.

    God is wise, good and caring.

    God’s purposes are right, loving and on time.

    When you’re in the middle of a long wait, these truths feel difficult to believe. Even after having my two children, it’s taken me years to trust in God’s perfect timing and ways. In fact, I’m currently waiting on Him to heal my husband from a sickness he’s battled for the better part of 10 years. I don’t know if healing Scott is part of the Lord’s purposes, but I do trust that whatever happens, God is wise, good, caring, right, loving and right-on-time.

    Sometimes the wait is more about experiencing God than enduring the delay. We can rest assured that in due time, He will bring to fruition all His designs and they will be good. As we continue on our journey, let’s remain open to lining up our plans with God’s and allowing His truth to steer our wishes.

    Lord, waiting is hard. Forgive me for being impatient and trying to “help” work out things on my own. I truly want to focus on You rather than the object of my wait. I ask Your Spirit to calm my anxious heart as l learn to patiently wait on Your best for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 40:5, "Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Do you focus more on your wishes than God’s will? Ask the Lord for help in trusting His timing. Our greatest assurance about God’s plan is found in God’s Word. Scripture stands firm and passes the test of time! When the “when” and “why” questions come, answer them with these verses:

    WHEN? “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens,” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV). WHY? “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD,” (Lamentations 3:25-26, ESV).

    © 2016 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Because I Am Loved

    Because I Am Loved by Lysa TerKeurst

    “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)

    A few years ago, my friend challenged me with this question: Are you doing this because you are loved or so that you’ll be loved?

    Her question is a great one.

    Doing something “so that we’ll be loved” is a trap many of us can get caught in. When I do something because I’m trying to get someone else to notice me, appreciate me, say something to build me up or respect me more, my motives get skewed.

    I become very “me” focused. I put unrealistic expectations on myself and the other person. And I can get so very hurt when I don’t feel more noticed, appreciated or respected.

    I think one of the greatest contributors to relationship breakdowns and breakups is when we hold people hostage to expectations we refuse to express.

    I can get all twisted up and take out my frustration on myself and that person in an unfair way. But, doing something because I am loved is incredibly freeing.

    I don’t view the relationship from the vantage point of what I stand to gain. Instead, I look at what I have the opportunity to give. I am “God-focused” and love-directed. I keep my expectations in check.

    And I am able to lavish the grace I know I so desperately need. I live free from regret with clarity of heart, mind and soul.

    So, how do I know if I’m doing things because I’m loved or so that I will be loved? See how easy or hard it is to apply these Biblical truths:

    Because I am loved, I can humble myself.

    When I’m trying to be loved, I must build myself up to look better.

    Because I am loved, I can cast all my anxiety on Him.

    When I’m trying to be loved, I cast all my anxiety on my performance.

    Because I am loved, I can resist Satan and stand firm in my faith.

    When I’m trying to be loved, I listen to Satan and stand uncertain trying to rely on my feelings.

    Because I am loved, I know God will use this to make me stronger — and I want that.

    When I’m trying to be loved, I don’t want to be made stronger — I want life to be easier.

    Yes, I want to pursue life, relationships and the goals I set from a healthy and free vantage point — because I am loved.

    These aren’t just good life principles, they’re God’s life principles: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:6-10, NIV).

    Dear Lord, I don’t want my motives to get skewed today. Help me not be so “me-focused.” I want to live each day knowing I am loved. Living because I am loved is freeing. I long to stop trying so hard. I know You love me, Lord, and that You are making me stronger. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (NIV) Jeremiah 31:3, “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.’” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Ask God to help you honestly assess if you’ve been doing things lately because you are loved or so that you’ll be loved. Then spend some time looking up and meditating on Scripture dealing with God’s love for you. Give yourself permission to believe and receive His love — knowing you don’t have to earn it and you can’t ever lose it.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Love at First Fight

    Love at First Fight by Dena Dyer

    “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?” James 4:1 (NLT)

    I loved my husband, Carey, desperately when we first got married … and it shocked me that we would ever have conflict in our marriage.

    Naïve much?

    We’d been best friends for a year before we ever dated. However, living with someone 24/7 brought out sides of him I’d never seen. It also brought out sides of me I’d never seen. I became self-protective, insecure and jealous.

    Marriage quickly became a crucible. I realized I had a choice: Either allow God to forgive and free me from my quickly accumulating sins, or continue to be selfish and petty.

    Some days, I chose the latter. Other days, I chose the former.

    And I became painfully aware of the truth found in James 4:1, which reminds us that the “quarrels and fights” among us “come from the evil desires at war within.”

    I wanted Jesus to have all of me … and I wanted to have a lengthy, healthy marriage. I knew there were no guarantees except that I — with God’s help — could change my own behavior.

    In the process, here are three things I learned about fighting fair:

    • Don’t disengage. My past had taught me to stuff emotions and run from conflict. These were not healthy patterns at all, and Carey encouraged me to stick around when we argued, instead of leaving the room or running from issues we needed to resolve. Wow, that was a painful — but necessary — part of growing up. (Admittedly, this took years and lots of hard work. My tendency is still to “shut down” at times when things get tense. But I’m getting better.)
    • Don’t overreact. In the beginning of our marriage, I often let the way Carey said things send me into a tizzy. Instead of dealing with conflict in emotional, irrational ways, I had to learn to take a deep breath and carefully listen to Carey’s words — not just his tone or presentation.
    • Do find a happy medium. In the first few years of marriage, Carey wanted to hash things out for as long as it took to come to an agreement — even if our argument lasted for hours! But I wanted to talk about our conflict and then think about it separately … only coming back together when we had cooled down and found some sort of clarity. After a few years of butting heads over our differences, we found a compromise that worked. We agreed never to go to bed when we were angry, but we also agreed to “table” certain discussions until later, if I became too fatigued or distraught to continue.

    Marriage is not always easy, but it was never supposed to be. The rough patches in marriage remind us how much we need to lean into God. As my husband tells our kids when they’re doing their homework, “Hard is not bad. Hard means you’re learning something.”

    Difficulties and disagreements in our relationships can be outlets to show our mate “who’s boss.” Yet if we lean into the Lord, they can become opportunities for us to surrender to God’s guidance and build bridges to a deeper relationship with our spouse.

    Father, we don’t want to run away from each other or from You, but our desires fight and war within us, and we are tempted to hurt each other. We often choose self-protection over selflessness. Move us from greed to gratitude. Lead us from spite to spiritual union. We need Your help every hour of every day. Continue Your transforming work in us, and sanctify our marriage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 4:26-27, “And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” (NLT)

    Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What makes you angry? Jealous? Self-protective? Talk about the ways your spouse could reassure you. Think about ways you can begin to let God heal the wounds that cause those emotions. When have you surrendered your own desires for the sake of your spouse? How did you feel? How did your spouse react?

    © 2016 by Dena Dyer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Barbour 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

  • In Case You Were Wondering — God Knows

    In Case You Were Wondering — God Knows by Tracie Miles

    “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry;” Psalm 34:15 (NIV)

    For months, I prayed the same prayers, yet they seemed to go unanswered.

    So each time I spoke to God, I made sure He hadn’t forgotten by reminding Him constantly of my needs and desires. I felt He had a right to know I was still anxiously waiting for Him to act and that honestly, I was getting a little annoyed at His seeming lack of swift action and attention.

    Have mercy.

    As I laid my head to rest one night after yet another exhausting, discouraging day, I finally asked the questions we all may be secretly tempted to ask when our circumstances don’t improve and our problems keep piling up: “Do You see me, Lord? Do You even hear what I’m saying? Do You know what’s happening?”

    Then moments later, I drifted off to sleep.

    A few hours into the quiet darkness of the night, I abruptly awoke. There were no loud creepy sounds coming from another room and no startling thunder or lightning outside that would have interrupted my sleep. Total silence — except for a persistent musical rhythm dancing through my mind.

    I recognized the tune but hadn’t heard it in quite some time, so it took my sleepy mind a couple minutes to figure it out. When the lyrics of the song finally came flowing into my mind, tears filled my eyes. The song title? “He knows,” by Jeremy Camp.

    “He knows, every hurt and every sting; He has walked the suffering. Let your burdens come undone. Lift your eyes up to the One who knows. He knows.”

    God had gently pulled me out of a deep sleep because He had something simple, yet so important, to tell me: He does see me … hear my prayers … and care. And above all, He knows.

    My heart quickened at the thought of hearing from my heavenly Father in such a sweet and gentle way. In the midst of running the universe, God saw fit to remind me that just because I didn’t yet know how He was at work in my situations, didn’t mean He didn’t know exactly what was happening.

    As the sun began to rise, I reached for my Bible and looked for verses about God’s attentiveness to our lives. I came across today’s key verse that reminds us: Even when we think God isn’t watching, He sees us. When we think He isn’t listening, He hears our prayers.

    Scripture tells us, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight” (Hebrews 4:13, NIV). There isn’t a day or a tear that God doesn’t know about. He sees whatever we’re going though … and He knows.

    God’s Word also reassures us the Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help (Psalm 34:17).

    God knows every prayer spoken, and He hears the cries of our hearts.

    The struggle to believe God sees us often signifies a problem within our hearts, not His heart for us. And yet, doubts don’t make us broken believers, just broken people living in a world where things break our hearts — and God’s.

    But there’s no greater joy than seeing throughout Scripture that the Creator of the universe deeply cares about what we’re going through. Hope and peace can be ours when we believe that in God’s timing and in His ways, He will answer.

    This late-night encounter with God helped me refocus on my faith and remember although He may not have answered my prayers, I can trust He knows.

    If you’ve ever wondered if God cares about what you’re going through, take comfort today in letting yourself believe He does.

    Lord, help me remember You not only know what is happening in my life, but You have a plan. Fill me with peace and the ability to trust You as I wait. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Matthew 6:8b, “… for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (NIV) Psalm 139:2-4, “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.” (NIV) 1 Peter 5:7, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What current situation in your life have you been doubting if God sees, hears, cares or knows about? How does knowing He does help lighten your heart? Think of a situation causing you to doubt God’s interest in your life. Spend some time in prayer surrendering that problem to God.

    © 2016 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

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