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Author Archives: Family Christian

  • You Are Loved No Matter What

    You Are Loved No Matter What by Lynn Cowell

    “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1a (NIV)

    “Mommy, would you still love me if ...”

    At only 8 years old, my littlest one had begun to learn that some actions in life come with harsh consequences. She needed to know: If she really messed up, would I stop loving her?

    All those years ago, I didn't really think about this question my girl asked me. My heart is to love my children through anything they might experience, even if what they are going through is a result of a wrong choice they made. I assumed they knew.

    “There is nothing you could do that would make me stop loving you,” I comforted her. In answering her question, I didn’t see this as a monumental moment in my daughter’s life. I was simply being her mom, reassuring her of my continual love.

    It was not until a recent weekend, when my now 19-year-old girl told me just how important that reassurance had been to her: “Mom, I knew then that I could trust you forever.”

    Her words caught me off guard. I had no idea that my then-little girl needed such strong reassurance, at such a young age. She needed to know she could trust my love.

    I’ve learned I can't assume my children know my heart as their parent. Our Heavenly Father didn't assume we would know the depth of His great love either, so He tells us of its magnitude over and over and over again in His Word. Today’s key verse reinforces this simple truth that our hearts need to hear again and again: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1a)

    Once we make the exchange of our life for His, we are His children. God lavishly expends His love upon us in great amounts and without limit. The more we understand God’s great love toward us, the more we can trust Him with all things, similar to my little girl learning to trust me.

    My love for my children is not based on how they behave or perform and the same is true for the love our perfect Heavenly Father has for us. No matter what, God’s love for us is constant. On the days we mess up completely and on the days we’re close to getting it all right, His love keeps pouring out to us. His love can then fill our hearts to overflowing so unconditional love spills over to those all around us.

    Friend, have you encountered this great love God has and allowed Him to come in and completely change your life? If not, today is your day!

    Oh Jesus! Thank You for Your never-ending love flowing to me every day. Please forgive me for my sin. I want to exchange my life for the new life You offer me. Help me take the steps I need to begin walking with You every day. Overwhelm me today with this truth and may Your love flow through me today, causing another person to see and experience Your unconditional love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 1:12, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (NIV)

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

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: If you have begun a new life in Christ, how are you sharing this powerful love so others can begin this new life as well?

    Name one person in your life you can begin praying for and look for an opportunity to share the good news of salvation with her.

    © 2016 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Longing in Me

    The Longing in Me by Sheila Walsh

    “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

    It was a moment I had prayed for and yet, honestly, it was a moment I dreaded too. My husband, Barry, and I have only one child, a son named Christian, and it was finally time to let go.

    Christian had been accepted into a college only a 3-hour drive from our home. That made this mom’s heart rest easier … a little!

    We’d been collecting things all summer long.

    Bedding.

    A shower curtain and towels.

    A coffee maker.

    “You don’t drink coffee,” I said.

    “I think I’ll start now,” was his response.

    The list got longer and longer and the piles around the house got higher and higher.

    When I woke up the morning of his move I prayed the words of a Psalm that I pray every single day, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love …” (Psalm 143:8a). I paused there to let the weight of those words fill me. What a promise! God’s love will never fail.

    On days when I feel strong, His love is with me and on days when I feel vulnerable and weak, His love is with me.

    “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you.” I reminded my soul that this is a choice. I choose to place my trust in God when my heart wavers. I choose to trust God with my son’s life just as I choose to trust Him with my own.

    “Okay, Lord. Let’s do this!”

    We arrived at the school about the same time as half of the state of Texas, or so it seemed. Christian checked in at student housing and got his key. He’d be sharing a two-bedroom unit with his best friend, Brendan. That made my husband, Barry, and me very happy, as we love Brendan like another son.

    Let me pause here to say, August in Texas is really not the month you want to carry boxes up three flights of stairs. Halfway through my fourth trip I flopped down on the stairs and announced to anyone who was listening, “I’m too old for this!”

    By sunset we had most things in place. Barry and I were staying for the night in a local hotel so we left the boys in peace to enjoy their first night as college freshmen. We grabbed a quick dinner in a local diner and then flopped into bed.

    “Do you think he’s ready for this?” Barry asked. “Did we do enough to prepare him?”

    “I don’t know,” I replied. “But I do know he loves God, and even more than that, I know God loves him more than you and I ever could … I’m just wondering though, do you think he’ll ever remember to change his sheets?”

    The following day we stocked their refrigerator, vacuumed the rooms and took the trash and empty boxes to the dumpster. Then it was time to leave. I asked the boys if we could pray over them and their new home. I shared my morning verse, my daily prayer and reminded them that when you trust your life to Christ, He’ll direct your steps.

    Christian walked us out to the car. He hugged his dad and me and said, “Thank you! Thank you for loving me. Thank you for making this possible.”

    Then he turned and walked into all that God had for him his freshman year. I cried all the way home. Can you cry for three solid hours? Why, yes you can!

    Life seems to be full of moments that ask us to let go when we long to hold on.

    I don’t know what you face right now, what season of life you’re in, but my prayer for you is simple and from the heart. May you know the comfort and strength of the One whose love will never fail you, and whose mercies are new every single morning!

    Heavenly Father, help us to know that Your love for us will never fail. Be our comfort and strength whatever season of life we find ourselves in. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (KJV)

    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)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Meditate on today’s key verse. If you’ve entrusted God with your life, trust He will guide you throughout every day and every season.

    © 2016 by Sheila Walsh. All rights reserved.

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

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

  • The Quiet Impact of One Woman

    The Quiet Impact of One Woman by Amy Carroll

    “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV)

    Feeling overwhelmed by the needs around me, I turned to a wise friend for advice. I knew Christie could help me because of the impact I saw her making in others’ lives. I poured out my worries then finally got to my question: “How do I attempt to meet all the needs and touch all the hurts of the women around me? It seems like too much, and I feel myself shutting down.”

    Christie pointed out I had taken on too much responsibility and self-imposed tasks. “Pray for one woman,” she advised. “One woman whom you can pour your life into.” I instantly knew what she meant and what I needed to do.

    Years before, when I was a teenager, a godly young woman named Layne had made me her “one woman.” I originally met Layne at a Bible study filled with high school and college students, and one day she casually shared that she was looking for a place to live while her house was being built.

    Her need sparked a brilliant idea, and I went home to beg my parents to invite Layne to live in the travel trailer parked in our backyard.

    Looking back, I can see this wouldn’t be a dream-come-true for anyone. Travel trailers are fun for about a week of vacation, but Layne moved in for nearly a year. Each day she got ready in a tiny bathroom where she could barely turn around!

    Although living in my backyard was challenging for her, Layne’s life changed mine that year. Just like in today’s key verse, where Paul encouraged Timothy to pass on his faith, Layne took every opportunity to share all that Jesus had taught her. She modeled self-control in her dating life. She taught me to love Scripture above my own opinions. She showed me how to be a long-term, loyal friend. She was an example of being a loving and respectful daughter.

    More than 30 years later, I can confidently tell you Layne’s influence has shaped the whole of my life. I was her one woman, and Christie challenged me to prayerfully choose a woman I could pour my life into as well.

    Over and over again, Scripture shows this is God’s pattern. Moses invested in Joshua and raised up a new leader. Hannah invested in Samuel and influenced kings. Paul invested in Timothy and built the church. Timothy must have followed Paul’s advice to invest, because here we are.

    I followed the advice to pray for and invest in one woman, too! With the visual of a lone woman before me and Layne’s example behind me, I constantly look for a woman who will teach me, as well as a woman in whom I can invest. It’s become part of my spiritual DNA.

    If you’re feeling burdened and overwhelmed by the needs of the people around you today, begin changing the world by investing in one woman. Your one woman might actually be the little girl who sits at your feet while you wash the dishes. She may be the woman in the cubicle next to yours or the woman who lives down the street. She may be in your small group or a woman who doesn’t own a Bible.

    It’s impossible to meet all the needs surrounding us, but by making a difference in one person’s life, our story becomes part of God’s story. By investing in another person what we’ve learned from Him, our story expands beyond our lifetime into eternity.

    Father, whom do You want me to entrust with the lessons You’re teaching me? Who needs me to pass on what You’ve given me? Show me my one woman today, and make me faithful to invest in her life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Titus 2:3-5, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Who has invested in you and what difference has it made?

    What valuable lessons has Jesus taught you that you can use to help someone else?

    © 2016 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • What’s in Your Heart?

    What’s in Your Heart? by Wendy Pope

    “Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies.” Psalm 24:4 (NLT)

    Many years ago, as I read the book of Exodus, I was appalled to learn how God’s people created and worshiped idols like the golden calf. Later, my disdain turned into understanding when I learned the definition of idol and uncovered my own false gods.

    An idol is any person or thing regarded or worshiped with blind admiration, adoration, intense love or extreme devotion. Studying this definition forced me to examine my life. When I asked myself what I adored and loved the most, sleep topped my list.

    For me, there was nothing compared to changing into my pajama bottoms after a long day, curling up in bed with a good book and not waking up until I hit the snooze button a couple of times the next morning. If my kids or husband interrupted my sleep, it must have been for a very, very good reason! Some days (OK, many days) my first waking thought was, “I can’t wait to go back to sleep tonight.”

    My extreme admiration for sleep had overtaken my desire to spend time with the Lord in the morning. Instead of getting up to read the Bible and pray, I’d roll over and dream. God wasn’t first, second or even third in my heart’s desires.

    God knew the desire for us to create idols would be tempting. It’s human nature to go after things we can see (hence the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind”), but as God’s people, we must remember to keep our spiritual eyes on Him.

    Friends, this is nothing new. Moses warned God’s people about turning their affections away from their Creator and onto His creation:

    “So do not corrupt yourselves by making an idol in any form … don’t be seduced into worshiping them … Remember that the LORD rescued you … in order to make you his very own people and his special possession, which is what you are today” (see Deuteronomy 4:16a, 19b-20, NLT).

    Everyone’s idols will differ: money, marriage, notoriety, security. Whatever our idols are, they can’t remain in our hearts. Why? In Psalm 24, David asks who can be near God. The answer is found in today’s key verse: "Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies" (Psalm 24:4).

    If we are to be in a close relationship with the Lord, we can’t have idols lingering in our hearts. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money” (NLT).

    Or sleep. Or ________ {you fill in the blank}.

    It may not seem like a big deal for us to desire wealth, fame, relationships or other seemingly insignificant things. But when these take precedence over God, it is a major issue to Him. Scripture tells us that He is jealous for our hearts and will not — nor should He — share His glory with another (Deuteronomy 4:24).

    Reality television has co-opted the word jealous: we see housewives jealous over handbags and luxury vehicles; chefs jealous over others’ delicious, well-executed dishes; bachelorettes jealous over fun dates other women go on. But they aren’t actually jealous; they are envious.

    Envy longs for what belongs to others.

    Jealousy passionately desires what rightly belongs to you.

    You and I belong to God, so when anything claims our affections, time, money, thoughts or desires more than He does, He becomes jealous. He loves us and knows nothing can fulfill us like He can and nothing is better for us than His ways. In fact, Psalm 24:5 says that when we purify our hearts of idols, we “will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God [our] savior” (NLT). God longs to be the one thing you long for the most.

    Every now and then, I still struggle with desiring more sleep than I need. But now, instead of settling in for an excessive snooze, it’s a lot easier to convince my sleepy bones to follow my heart’s true desire — to spend every moment I can with the One my heart longs for.

    Lord, investigate my heart, search every part. Reveal anything that is keeping me from having a right relationship with You. Forgive me for elevating anything and anyone above You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 10:14, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: To what or whom do you have blind admiration, adoration, extreme devotion or intense love?

    How will you safeguard your heart against giving that thing or person first place in your life where only God belongs?

    © 2016 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • No Matter What

    No Matter What by Lysa TerKeurst

    “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV)

    I remember the day Art and I settled in our hearts that we would choose God’s love and the pursuit of a relationship with Him, no matter what.

    We were in the hospital with our middle daughter who was 6 weeks old. She had seemed a perfectly healthy baby until an allergic reaction to the protein in my breast milk landed us in the intensive care unit. The doctors told us on the fourth day of our visit that Ashley needed emergency surgery, and they did not expect her to survive.

    They gave us five minutes to tell our baby goodbye.

    My heart was shattered.

    I so desperately wanted to scoop her up and run out of the hospital. I wanted to somehow breathe my life into hers. I wanted to take her place. I could handle my own death so much easier than the death of my child. Art prayed over Ashley, we both said our goodbyes, and then, with tears streaming down our faces, we let her go.

    When Art took me outside to the hospital parking lot, I collapsed into his arms. He gently cupped my face in his hands and reminded me that Ashley was God’s child to give and His to take back.

    “Lysa, God loves Ashley even more than we do,” he gently told me. “We must trust His plan.”

    Art then asked me to do something, and it changed my whole perspective on my relationship with God. “We have to get it settled in our hearts that we will love God no matter the outcome of Ashley’s surgery,” he said.

    At first I resented Art’s desire that we love God in this way. I feared it might give the impression it was alright for God to take Ashley.

    With all my being, I wanted to hold on to my child and refuse God. Yet, though I was heartbroken, I also felt God’s compassion. I felt Him drawing me close and pouring out His tender mercy. God knew firsthand the pain we were feeling because He’d felt it Himself. I knew that, ultimately, I had no ability to control my child’s future.

    With tears pouring from our eyes, Art and I released our sweet Ashley to the Lord and promised to love Him no matter what.

    It was as if the more I fell into God’s arms, the less the pain of the moment seared my heart. Feeling the power of God took away the fear of the unknown. I stopped thinking about the what-if’s and let my soul simply say, OK. God, in this minute I choose rest with You. I will not let my mind go to the minutes that are coming. I will simply be in this moment and face it with peace.

    That day we settled our love for God not just for this situation, but for all time. Though we did not feel at all happy, a gentle covering of unexplainable calm settled over our hearts. Knowing that the One who loved Ashley even more than we did was taking care of her, and that His plan for her was perfect, brought peace in the middle of heartbreak.

    The end of this chapter of Ashley’s life was miraculous and we are so grateful. Though the doctors can’t explain how, she made a full recovery. Who can understand why God answers prayer the way He does?

    I know the devastating other side of situations like this — where my little sister didn't recover, and we stood at her grave, helpless and heartbroken.

    But both situations have taught me that no matter what God’s answer, our hearts can be settled to trust and love Him. I don't have to understand; I just have to trust. This kind of total surrender brings about a depth of peace and relationship with God you can’t get any other way. It all stems from living out today’s key verse, loving God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

    Nothing in life is certain. Circumstances roll in and out like the ocean’s tide. And the unknown can sometimes seem so frightening.

    We can’t stop or control things that roll our way any more than we can stop the water’s edge.

    But we can make the minute-by-minute choice to let our souls rest in God.

    Dear Lord, I want to love You with all of my heart, all of my soul and all of my strength like Your Word instructs. Teach me how to give up the control I try to maintain as I experience uncertainties and hard times. Guide me in pursuing a love relationship with You no matter what comes my way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are difficult circumstances causing you to pull away from God? Ask Him to help you surrender them to Him today.

    Write out your own “no matter what” prayer — one you can turn to when times get tough.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Who Owns Your Stuff?

    Who Owns Your Stuff? by Karen Ehman

    “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” 1 Chronicles 29:14b (NIV)

    I was beside myself with excitement on that spring afternoon. With my brand new driver’s license in my purse, I snagged the car keys from my dad and took the Cutlass for a spin — all by myself! It didn’t matter it was an old clunker, complete with rust spots and faded army green paint. I was thrilled to call it “my car.” Although the title was in my dad’s name, I still felt the pride of ownership.

    Can you remember the thrill of owning something for the first time?

    Maybe your first watch? Or bicycle? Or maybe, after years of scraping and saving, it was the joy of owning your very first home! Whether large or small, we like our things. But it begs the question, who really owns our stuff?

    The Bible gives us a true perspective of what we call “ours.”

    In 1 Chronicles 29, we see King David preparing to build God’s temple. He mentions he will spare no resource toward the construction, but will donate his own possessions and personal treasures of gold and silver. Then, other Israelite leaders join in willingly and joyfully donating gold, silver, bronze, iron and precious jewels toward the building of the temple (see 1 Chronicles 29:6-9).

    After gathering the resources for the temple, David praises God in front of the whole assembly. Notice he doesn’t praise the people for their generosity, nor boast about himself and his charitable giving.

    Instead, David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

    “Praise be to you, LORD the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.

    Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.”

    He continues:

    “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you” (1 Chronicles 29:10b-11a, 14-17, NIV).

    Wow. Did you catch that?

    “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (1 Chronicles 29:14b).

    What an amazing perspective on our possessions. If the ancient Israelites were so willing to offer what God had given them, turning right back around and investing in building His temple, could we today use all that He’s given us to build up other believers and also to encourage others who might not know Him yet?

    It’s a subtle but crucial shift in perspective when we realize everything we work for here on earth really doesn’t belong to us. Instead it all comes from God. All our possessions are His in the beginning and at the end of our lives.

    The question comes down to this: Who owns your stuff? Will you willingly share so others’ lives may be bettered? The satisfaction from serving God in this way never rusts, tarnishes or fades.

    Dear God, help me remember that You own all my stuff. Help me have the same mindset as King David, to share it all with others so Your work can be done and others’ lives can be touched. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Matthew 6:20-21, “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (NLT)

    Psalm 50:10, “For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What do you remember about owning an item for the very first time? What about your first real paycheck? How can the subtle shift in perspective that God owns your stuff encourage you to be more generous?

    © 2016 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • When Love Seems to Fade

    When Love Seems to Fade by Alicia Bruxvoort

    "There are three things that amaze me — no, four things that I don’t understand: how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman.” Proverbs 30:18-19 (NLT)

    One entire weekend. No kids. Just my husband and me, alone in the mountains.

    It sounded like a dream come true. Except …

    By the time we finally stepped away from our busy lives to celebrate our anniversary, it felt like our love had lost its luster. Our marriage had morphed into an ordinary humdrum of kids, carpools, commitments and careers, and I wondered if we would ever rediscover the whimsical joy that marked our story from the start.

    “Lord, I want our love to be extraordinary again,” I prayed as I followed my husband’s footsteps up a craggy mountain trail on a hike one afternoon.

    When we reached the peak, we sat silently side by side and watched the sinking sun illuminate the canyon below in a blaze of orange glory.

    “God, I want our marriage to be beautiful like that,” I whispered as my husband laced his fingers through mine.

    And while I didn’t hear God’s voice peal from the sky, a simple thought crossed my mind. “Look for the beauty right where you are …”

    “Beauty in the bedlam?” I silently questioned the God of the universe. “God, You know our life right now is filled with bills and babies, tears and tantrums.”

    A shadow danced across my dusty shoes, and I dropped my eyes to study the stones scattered at our feet. And that’s when God reminded me of a little lesson I’d learned one spring from an obscure pile of gravel and a wide-eyed little girl …

    My mind wandered back to the day we’d gathered seashells near the ocean. Suddenly, my daughter had plopped on the ground with a squeal of joy and began digging with gusto in the filthy gravel.

    When I’d tried to convince her it was just ordinary old gravel, my daughter had flashed me a knowing smile. Then she extended her hand to show me the lovely pink shell she held in her palm. “This gravel may be ordinary,” she conceded, “but if you look closely, it’s really beautiful …”

    As I sat on the mountaintop, I couldn’t help but smile at that sweet memory, a visual reminder to find beauty everywhere.

    The sunlight started to wane, so my husband and I began to weave our way down the trailhead with steady speed. My feet hit a patch of slippery stones and suddenly, my legs wobbled and slid. My husband steadied my frame with a strong gentle hand.

    I thought about the cavern ablaze with wonder and the “beautiful” gravel speckled with shells and the wise words I’d read that morning in my Bible. “There are three things that amaze me — no, four things that I don’t understand … the way that a man loves a woman.”

    Proverbs 30:19 reminds us that love is downright amazing. There’s nothing ordinary about a man choosing to love a woman for a lifetime, nothing trite about two people committing to love one another through the daily grind. Even love tucked into the folds of an ordinary life is one of God’s most beautiful gifts.

    Suddenly, I was awash with awe as I looked at the man who faithfully walks beside me through the marvelous and the mundane. And I whispered a prayer that God would keep me from growing blind to the amazing gift He had given me.

    When we reached the end of our hike, I picked up a simple souvenir — a handful of auburn gravel. I slipped those little stones into my pocket with a smile, because sometimes we just need something to remind us of the beauty of ordinary love.

    Dear Jesus, thank You for loving me with an amazing love. Help me to love my husband in the same way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 13:4a, “Love does not give up.” (NLV)

    Proverbs 18:22, “The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Thank your spouse specifically for something you noticed he does to love you in the midst of the daily grind.

    Ask Jesus to open your eyes to something amazing about your marriage you haven’t seen before.

    © 2016 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Motherhood Press

    The Motherhood Press by Brooke McGlothlin

    “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11 (ESV)

    I sat in the late evening sun on the front porch of our home, head in hands, tears streaming down my face, rendered speechless by the realization that I didn’t have what it took to be the kind of mom I wanted to be.

    Before having kids, I’d never really failed at anything. Oh sure, I had been through failed relationships. I’d come close to failing a test here and there. I even failed to live up to my own expectations from time to time, but never the big things. Every goal I set for myself I achieved. But as a mom — the one thing I really wanted to get right in life — I was failing.

    I wanted everyone to believe I was capable of handling the two beautiful boys God gave me, but I wasn’t.

    I wanted everyone to believe I could juggle work, kids, husband, home and church with ease, but I couldn’t.

    I wanted everyone to believe crying babies, nursing problems, shift work and the Terrible Twos weren’t too much for me all at once, but they were.

    And what I really wanted everyone to believe — that I was a confident, capable, smart, fully independent woman — was keeping me from admitting the truth. I didn’t have what it took.

    Motherhood showed me just how much I needed Jesus.

    It scraped me, rubbed me raw and pressed ugly emotions and words out of my heart I didn’t even know were there.

    If you asked people I grew up with to describe my personality, I’m happy to report words like “angry, insensitive, overbearing, short-tempered and unkind” would not have topped the list. But there, sitting on my front porch in front of all my neighbors, not really caring who saw, I realized the woman I so proudly presented to others wasn’t the real me.

    The truth taunted me and beat me down. The person I thought I was didn’t exist, and for the first time, I couldn’t fix my situation by working a little bit harder. My need was greater than my ability. I simply couldn’t do it by myself.

    Why does it take motherhood to bring out the worst in us? Maybe it’s because most of us have never really been pressed so hard, pushed so hard or loved so hard. We’re like children eating a jelly-filled donut. When little hands squeeze, the jelly hiding inside dumps into their lap … and when life presses a mama too hard, sin lurking in her heart comes out and dumps on the people she loves most.

    I love today’s key verse, Psalm 119:11. I learned it as a child, and its simplicity is the perfect antidote to my challenging, chaotic mothering days: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

    I learned a life lesson that day I hope will stick with me forever. What’s in our hearts will come out, good or bad. In order to be the kind of godly women we want to be, we have to store God's Word in our hearts, letting it change who we are in our most-hidden places, so when we’re pressed, His love pours out.

    Father, give me a never-ending desire to spend my moments storing up the treasures in Your Word, so that when I’m pressed by life’s challenges I might not sin against You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Matthew 12:34b, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (ESV)

    Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: How have you been “pressed” by motherhood? How can you rearrange priorities in your life to store up God’s Word in your own heart?

    Pick one thing you can do differently this week to give you more time to spend studying the Bible and let us know about it in the comments!

    © 2016 by Brooke McGlothlin. All rights reserved.

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

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

  • He Knows What We Need

    He Knows What We Need by Liz Curtis Higgs

    “Get up, take your mat and walk.” Mark 2:9b (NIV)

    Get ready, friend. Jesus is “in the house” (Mark 2:1, ASV), and it’s standing room only. In fact, that day in Capernaum, “they gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door” (Mark 2:2a, NIV). People surely stepped on one another’s sandaled feet and craned their heads to get a better look.

    Whatever they were seeking, the Lord gave them what they needed: “and he preached the word to them” (Mark 2:2b, NIV). Whether we’re fully aware of it or not, that’s what our souls hunger for most: God’s Word. We may pray for material things or mended relationships or financial blessings or easier lives, but what our hearts truly want is to hear His truth and experience His presence.

    Jesus encountered a man that day who wasn’t content with simply hearing Him speak. This man wanted to be changed, forgiven, healed. He wanted Jesus, but he needed help to reach Him. Then, “Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them” (Mark 2:3, NIV). What a perfect picture of how we’re to bear one another’s burdens!

    Sadly, no one made room for a paralyzed man on a mat. No one gave up their place. So, his resourceful buddies “made an opening in the roof above Jesus” (Mark 2:4b, NIV) and lowered the paralyzed man into the house.

    The crowd must have looked up in astonishment as a man on a mat entered the room through a door that didn’t exist before. A helpless man who didn’t have the ability to create that opening or lower himself down.

    This is how God rescues us, beloved. It is not of our own doing. The Holy Spirit is our Helper, our Comforter, our stretcher-bearer, delivering us to the only One who can save us.

    When He looked up, “Jesus saw their faith” (Mark 2:5a, NIV). Yes, their faith, not just the faith of the paralytic man. Faith might be invisible, but the evidence of it was clear in their brave, bold, collective move.

    Then Jesus spoke directly to the man lying before him. “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5b, NIV).

    Oh, my. We weren’t told the man was a sinner. We thought he was merely stricken with a malady and in need of a physician.

    But Jesus was far more concerned with the state of the man’s soul than the state of his body. Like many of us, this man on the mat was paralyzed with fear, with shame, with guilt. Jesus had to address that first, just as He does with us.

    At once, the deed was done. Jesus told him “the penalty is remitted, the sense of guilt removed, and you are made upright and in right standing with God” (Mark 2:5b, AMPC). Glory!

    But not everyone in the crowd was pleased. The teachers of the law watched all this unfold and thought to themselves, “‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” (Mark 2:7).

    How this truth must have irked them! Because if no one can forgive sins except God, then Jesus must be …

    Right. God. In the flesh.

    With the crowd hanging on His every Word, Jesus told the teachers of the law, “But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10a). To further prove His power, Jesus said to the paralyzed man “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home” (Mark 2:11, NIV).

    The man arrived unable to do any of those things. He couldn’t stand, he couldn’t hold his mat, and he definitely couldn’t head for home on his own. Now, because of Jesus, he “walked out in full view of them all” (Mark 2:12a, NIV).

    No wonder people praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:12b, NIV). Now, you and I have seen it as well, through the eyes of a broken man made whole.

    Lord, You really do know what we need most: Your truth, Your forgiveness and the freedom You offer us through Your Son. Give us the humility to accept help and seek You, whatever it takes. Only You can forgive. Only You can heal. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Acts 13:38, “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” (NIV)

    John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When I express my deepest needs in prayer, it’s comforting to realize God already knows what they are. What need has He already met for you today? And how might His Word address your unmet needs?

    © 2016 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

  • 3 Ways to Press Through Unanswered Prayer

    3 Ways to Press Through Unanswered Prayer by Lysa TerKeurst

    “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

    I opened the anonymous letter and my heart sank. It was from another mom who wanted to make sure I had a list of all the ways one of my daughters was falling short. There in black and white she listed my daughter’s mistakes, shortcomings and frailties.

    And then just to make sure I took her nameless letter seriously, she informed me she’d be sending a copy to my pastor.

    My initial reaction was to figure out who sent this so I could call her. Talk this through face-to-face. Assure her my husband and I were not only aware of some struggles my daughter was having, but also working diligently to help her course-correct.

    But as I reread the letter, I discerned it wasn’t sent from a place of love for my family or a heart that wanted to help.

    From the language she used and the fact that there wasn’t a way to contact her, it was obvious she didn’t send it because she wanted the best for my daughter.

    I sat on the edge of my bed and cried.

    It’s so hard to have someone attack you in an area that’s already rubbed raw with hardship. Her letter was like a bullet straight to my heart.

    However, it was also a wake-up call to get more intentional in praying for my daughter. I thought about her struggles a lot. I talked about her struggles. I worried about her struggles.

    But thinking about, talking about and worrying about something is not the same as praying about it.

    I clung to the truth in our key verse, Genesis 50:20, and determined to turn this letter that felt like a bullet into a blessing by using it as a catalyst to ramp up my prayer life.

    Through my tears I cried out to the Lord, “I will not sacrifice Your grace for my child on the altar of people’s opinions. Of course I want my daughter to walk the straight and narrow path of great choices. But I trust You, Lord, to write her testimony. My main goal for her is not behavior modification but total heart transformation. I want her to want You, Lord, and Your best for her life. Give me the courage to not just pray about my daughter, but to pray her all the way through this.”

    Praying her through the ups and downs wasn’t easy. There were days I wondered if God even heard my prayers.

    It’s tough to pray someone all the way through a messy, hard, complicated situation and not see answers. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’re there now.

    Can I speak hope into your heart with 3 ways to press through unanswered prayers?

    1. Know with confidence God hears your prayers. First John 5:14 reminds us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (NIV).

    2. Trust that prayer makes a difference, even when you don’t see the difference. It may take a while for you to see God answer your prayers. But don’t miss an “in the meantime answer” you can receive right away. Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us of the immediate answer to every prayer: “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, emphasis added).

    Did you catch it? It’s the peace of God that will guard your heart and mind in the process while you’re waiting for God to reveal His answer to your request. When you pray, you can trust you’re doing your part, and God will certainly do His part.

    3. Tell fear it has no place in this conversation. These prayers are your gateway to feel an assurance you don’t see yet. But fear will beg you to focus on the problem more than God’s promises. Isaiah 41:10 says, “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).

    It’s been a few years since I got that hard letter that prompted more frequent prayers for my daughter. But I still remember the day I visited her at college and could hardly believe my eyes.

    She had become a completely different girl.

    At one point during our time together, I asked her, “What finally made following Jesus wholeheartedly click for you?” She said, “Mom, I’ve made friends who love Jesus. I saw a joy in them that I wanted. So, I started doing what they do even when I didn’t want to. At first I thought getting up to do devotions was unrealistic, prayer meetings were boring and listening to praise music, excessive. But as I kept doing these things, the Lord started changing my thought patterns. And when I started thinking about life from the standpoint of truth, I had so much more joy.”

    She then paused and said words I’ve longed to hear and prayed to hear for so long, “Mom, I’ve just completely fallen in love with Jesus.”

    I can hardly type those words without crying.

    I pray this infuses your heart with hope to keep praying. I pray you believe God can take the things others intended to harm you or the ones you love, and use them for good to accomplish His purposes … because He can!

    Dear Lord, only You can turn what was meant for evil into good. I thank You in advance for all that You’re going to do in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 116:1-2, "I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Re-read the three truths Lysa TerKeurst talked about. Then, choose one you’re going to claim this week.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

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…to look after orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27
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