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Author Archives: Family Christian

  • Where Do You Find Refuge?

    Wendy Pope DECEMBER 11, 2015

    Where Do You Find Refuge? WENDY POPE

    "I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever." Psalm 52:8b (NIV)

    The transition from a crib to a "big boy bed" proved difficult for my 3-year-old. Night after night, Griffin would come downstairs, afraid to sleep in his new bed. I'd carry him back to his room, reassuring him he was safe and no one would hurt him. We would pray for protection and thank God for his new bed. My son stayed put for a little while and then, the same scenario would play out all over again.

    As with most women, sleep is important to me. I am not happy when I'm woken up in the middle of the night — for any reason. When it happened many times a night, many nights in a row, sleep deprivation took its toll and wore my patience thin. During those long nights, I tried to remember it was only a season of adjustment that would pass eventually.

    One night when Griffin called out, I decided it was time for the adjustment period to be over. I was tired of repeatedly getting up. As I headed upstairs — very loudly I might add — my frustration increased. I found my son on his usual stair waiting for me. Right then, my heavenly Father showed me a picture of love I will never forget.

    As I gathered Griffin in my arms, ready to give him a firm talking, he asked me to sing Jesus Loves Me. I don't have to tell you that it is very difficult to sing this lullaby when you have that not-so-nice feeling in your heart. While I half-heartedly sang, God used Griffin to remind me that my son knew where to go when he needed a safe refuge.

    His night-light, stuffed animals and blankie didn't make him feel safe. He couldn't hide out in them the same way he could snuggle in my arms. They couldn't love him like his mom could.

    It's natural for kids to seek protection when they're afraid, but we seldom think of mighty warriors needing a place of refuge. However, Scripture tells us King David sought one. His life had been quite an adventure. From the time Samuel anointed him the future King of Israel, he moved to the palace to play the harp for King Saul, slew a giant, married a loyal woman and hit the ground running in order to save his life from Saul.

    David eventually ended up hiding in the dark, smelly cave of Adullam with Saul right on his heels. (1 Samuel 22:1) The word adullam means refuge. In fear for his life, David tucked away in the cave and cried out to the Lord. He wrote the song we know as Psalm 52 to bring encouragement to his weariness and relief to his heaviness.

    Through his praise and lamenting, David realized his refuge was not in a cave but in the Lord. "I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever" (Psalm 52:8b).

    Many times, like Griffin and David, we find ourselves in need of refuge. In our world of modern conveniences and quick fixes, it's easy to find comfort in places, people and things, rather than in God. He is often our last resort rather than our first choice. But our heavenly Father offers us shelter in His faithful love. He never fails to pick us up and sing over us when we are weary and afraid … no matter how many times we call out to Him.

    Let's set our minds and hearts today to develop a daily relationship with God so our natural response to fear and anxiety is to run to Him as our Refuge. We can trust in His unfailing love.

    Dear God, I ask You today to help me seek You as my refuge in times of trouble. Help me put down my phone, turn off the TV and close my computer so I can spend time with You, experiencing the comfort of Your unfailing love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 46:1-3, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling." (ESV)

    Psalm 5:11, "But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Spark your love for God’s Word with Wendy Pope’s Bible study, Trusting God for A Better Tomorrow: A Psalms Bible Study.

    Visit Wendy’s blog for more encouragement.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Where is the first place you turn when you feel afraid or need comfort?

    If it is not to the Lord, prayerfully reconsider making Him your primary refuge.

    © 2015 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Wisdom of January Thoughts on December Days

    Lysa TerKeurst DECEMBER 10, 2015

    The Wisdom of January Thoughts on December Days LYSA TERKEURST

    "Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom." Psalm 51:6 (NASB)

    They’re here.

    The office celebrations.

    The ugly sweater parties.

    The family get-togethers.

    And we all know what these festivities bring with them — the opportunity to pile plates high and stuff mouths full with every manner of deliciousness. So how exactly is a girl supposed to stay on track with her healthy eating during the holidays?

    I call it having January thoughts on December days.

    In other words, deciding now to think ahead about the realities of the choices we’re making today.

    If I’m struggling in my finances, I would do well to carefully consider the cost of the things I’m purchasing today. I can’t spend, spend, spend, pretending that the credit card bill won’t arrive in January. It’s coming. It’s a reality.

    The same is true with my food choices. I can’t eat, eat, eat, pretending the calories won’t add up. They will. And the scale will reveal my secrets. She’s very faithful that way.

    Today’s choices will reveal themselves. And we have the power to choose if that future revelation will be bad or good.

    We have the power. Not the food. Not the cravings. Not the circumstances. Not the flow of the holiday norm.

    So, how do we keep hold of this power? By making the choice to be informed and prepared in advance.

    Be Prepared Spiritually.

    Remember, if we know Jesus, God’s Spirit is in us. And one of the powerful fruits of having His Spirit in us as revealed in Galatians 5:23 is self-control.

    Does this mean we don’t eat and absolutely enjoy our holiday meals? Heavens no, girlfriend. Eat and enjoy every morsel. Relish in the celebration of the moment. But be sensitive to that line that is so easy to cross. We were meant to consume food. Food was never meant to consume us. So, enjoy to the point where you are satisfied but not to the point where you are painfully full.

    Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in this. Ask Him to reveal to you when enough is enough and listen to that still, small voice inside that says, "Stop."

    Psalm 51:6 reminds us, "Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom."

    Oh, isn’t that what we need? Truth and wisdom in our innermost being — guiding us, directing us, helping us make choices we won’t soon regret.

    Be Prepared Physically.

    Some people are practically allergic to knowing the calorie count of food. But, I actually find it empowering to know the caloric cost of my food. I like to think of it as knowing the price tag on items I want to purchase. If I know the price, I can more easily stay within my budget. If I know the calorie count, I can more easily stay within my healthy limits.

    It has worked for me.

    Of course, I don’t track my calories now that I’m at my goal weight. I pretty much know what my limits are within my day-to-day routines. But, I will look up certain foods when I’m going to be in a special situation … like holiday get-togethers.

    If I go into meals like that blindly, I will blow my budget and wind up feeling quite powerless. But, if I make the choice to be informed and prepared in advance with knowing the caloric count of my favorite holiday dishes, it helps me stay in control of my choices. Because I want to enjoy the holidays, not regret them.

    How about you? How do you plan to stay on track both spiritually and physically this holiday season? What are some of your January thoughts on these December days?

    Father God, I thank You for this glorious season. A season when we celebrate the greatest gift we have ever received — the gift of Your Son Jesus. I ask You to give me wisdom as I celebrate with family and friends. The kind of wisdom that allows me to walk in JOY instead of regret when January comes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (NIV)

    1 Corinthians 6:12, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." (NKJV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Most of us know the "how to" when it comes to healthy lifestyle choices. It’s the "want to" — really wanting to make changes and deciding that the results of those changes are worth the sacrifice — that trips us up. If you need help finding your "want to," you can get a copy of Lysa TerKeurst’s book Made to Crave here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: It is through biblical promises that we find the courage to deny unhealthy desires. What verse could you memorize this month to help you make wise choices in the face of temptation?

    Accountability is a huge help when it comes to making healthy lifestyle changes. Who can prayerfully walk alongside you as you make wise choices this holiday season?

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Will You Help Us Pack Her Lunch?

    Karen Ehman DECEMBER 9, 2015

    Will You Help Us Pack Her Lunch? KAREN EHMAN

    "Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’" John 6:8-9 (NIV)

    Can a simple sack lunch change the world?

    The scene was a mountainside, near the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was in the midst of a busy season of ministry.

    Healing. Teaching. Preaching. Mentoring the 12 who were closest to Him.

    All around the crowds pressed in, hoping to capture a glimpse of Jesus. His eyes were focused on the disciples, but when He glanced up and out, He saw the multitude coming.

    We pick up the scene in John 6:5-7, "When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, 'Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?' He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, 'It would take more than half a year's wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!'"(NIV)

    Not only had a crowd gathered, but it was a hungry horde. And they expected Jesus to feed them. Philip quickly began to crunch the numbers and determined just how impossible a little impromptu mountainside picnic would be. But what seemed an impossible feat to Philip would soon become a glorious display of God's power.

    It was then, as today's passage shows, another disciple — Andrew — piped up. He alerted Jesus to the fact that a young boy was part of the crowd and that he had with him five barley baguettes and two tiny fish.

    Not much of a lunch as we see in today's key verse. But it was more than enough for Jesus.

    This familiar story of Scripture often focuses on the young lad sharing what he had. In the end, not only was everyone fed, but there was excess — as many leftover baskets as there were disciples — 12 of them!

    But have you ever stopped to wonder where this child got the food? Had he been running an errand for his family, buying fish and bread at the marketplace as many Bible scholars surmise? Or maybe — as I heard a pastor once suggest — this was his own sustenance for the day: a sack lunch of sorts his mother lovingly packed.

    This child wasn't just armed with food Jesus needed to nourish others, he also possessed a humble heart and generous spirit. And, he was best positioned to give because someone empowered him to do so. Yes — maybe his mama not only packed him a sack lunch, but she taught him some good manners as well. In the end, it resulted in many being nourished.

    At Proverbs 31 Ministries, often we feel the crowds pressing in. There are women who desire to study God's Word but don't know where to begin. There are people who earnestly wish to show God's love, but their own life is riddled with sadness or stress. There are mothers who long to teach their children God's ways, but they need tools to help them do so.

    Before these souls can give to others, they first need to be filled up. They need their spiritual sack lunch packed with sustenance so that they, in turn, can share with others. Will you help us pack their lunch and change their world? It just might change yours, too.

    When you give to Proverbs 31 Ministries, you allow us to take God's Word to over 810,000 people who read our online devotions. You help us to equip more than 500,000 people who've downloaded our First 5 mobile app. You help position our office staff to encourage a weary soul online or a frantic mother on the phone. You enable a book or resource to make it into the hands of a woman who needs it most.

    You pack their lives with what they need so they can give to others. 

    While it may seem like an impossible feat to touch the multitude of lives God brings our way, with your financial help, it instead becomes a glorious display of God's power.

    Will you consider helping us by giving to Proverbs 31 Ministries today? Click here to partner with us.

    We can't wait to see how many full baskets are left from your generosity.

    Father, I want to generously give to others so they, in turn, might change their worlds. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 9:8-9, "And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.’" (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Help us continue to reach women and families all over the world with God’s Word by partnering with us through prayer or a monetary gift. Click here to give now.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Have you ever known someone who gave so that others could in turn be empowered to give? What happened in that situation?

    © 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • It Is Well With My Soul

    “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul.”

    New meaning now flows through these classic lyrics for musician Joey Feek of the country duo Joey + Rory ever since she was diagnosed with cancer in 2014.

    Joey and Rory have always been known for their authenticity, and for singing beautiful country, gospel and bluegrass music. The couple is abundantly full of faith and hope, despite Joey’s battle with cancer.

    She is now receiving in-home hospice care, but she hasn’t given up. Joey is praying for a miracle—and asking us to do the same—but is also praying that she would have peace with whatever God does next, just like the lyrics say, “It is well with my soul.”

    In a blog post that Rory wrote after Joey’s health went downhill quickly, he wrote “We came home. Not to die. But to live.”

    Joey and Rory Dancing Joey and Rory share a sweet moment in her mom's home.

    But Rory’s hope and faith are most evident in what he said here about his relationship with his wife and his relationship with God:

    “It’s hard for me to feel slighted, when I know that the career that Joey and I have had—this amazing last 7 years or so—has only been, because God reached out His powerful hand and chose us. He lifted us up from our little farm. And let us see and do things beyond our wildest dreams. And you can’t be in awe of an amazing road that God leads you down, and then be any less in awe of a corner that He has you turn.

    I think in the end . . . the good and the bad, He just wants us to give it to Him.

    And so we do.”

    Joey and Rory both found hope in the simple beauty of the first snow this past November at their home in Indiana. They find joy and peace being with and comforting each other.

    Joey called the snow “manna from heaven.”

    She said, “I didn’t think I’d get to see snow again. If this is the last snow I ever see, thank you Jesus . . . thank you.”

    As an individual and as a couple, Joey is an amazing image of what it’s like to truly follow Jesus, and find peace like a river, even when she’s in the billowing sea. She and Rory hand their lives over to God and allow him to wash their worries away.

    Please join us in praying for Joey, Rory, and their entire family.

    Photo by Rory Feek at This Life I Live.

  • Happily Ever After?

    sally jones DECEMBER 8, 2015

    Happily Ever After? SALLY LLOYD-JONES

    "He reached down from heaven and rescued me." Psalm 18:16a (NLT)

    SALLY LLOYD-JONESSALLY LLOYD-JONESRemember when you were little and fairytales were true? Don’t you sometimes wish they still were?

    My niece Ellie was about 3 years old and living completely inside fairytales. She dressed up as a princess for breakfast. She dreamed. She sang. She twirled. She danced her way through her days.

    But she was also in a playgroup and had already been called names. Fat, ugly … though she was none of those things.

    The real world, she discovered, was no fairytale.

    My nephew dreamed of being a fierce, brave hero, but was struggling at school.

    Watching them discover this wonderful, magical world of fairytales they loved so much just wasn’t true broke my heart.

    And then a thought broke through. What if my niece’s wonder and joy wasn’t a lie at all? What if my nephew’s dreams of bravery weren’t just fantasy? What if they were actually pointing to the Truth?

    What if they were pointing to the ultimate truth of the Gospel: the great Good News of a God who loves us and broke into history to come down and rescue us? Who moved heaven and earth to be near us, to love us — though it would cost Him everything He had?

    As a child, I thought I knew what the Bible was about — and it wasn’t good.

    I thought it was a rulebook filled with things I was supposed to do so God would love me. Or a book of these heroes I was supposed to copy so God would love me.

    And so I wrote The Jesus Storybook Bible for my niece and nephew and every child I will only ever meet on the shared page so they could know what I didn’t — that the Bible isn’t a rulebook or a book of heroes.

    "The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from far away to win back His lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves His palace, His throne — everything — to rescue the ones He loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

    You see the best thing about this story — it’s true!"*

    Why do we love fairytales? And long for them to be true? Are they just fantasy, a way to escape our lives? I believe they are the opposite.

    These longings of ours are not fantasy. They are signposts. Pointing us beyond what we can see. Leading us into the heart of things. Into Hope and Joy and Love.

    There is a Prince. There is a Hero. We are loved. We are chosen. We are beloved.

    There is a Love we all long for. There is Joy at the center of everything. And Hope beyond the walls of the world.

    There are Hands that hold us. There is a purpose in the middle of it all.

    And one day, God will heal His broken world and His children’s hearts, and wipe away every tear from every eye.

    When we read this true story we are not escaping from life, we are escaping into life that is truly life.

    But mostly we don’t believe it. We think it’s too good to be true. Happily ever after?

    That just sounds like a fairytale, a mere children’s story. And after all, we are adults. We have outgrown fairytales. Fairytales, as anyone can tell you, just aren’t true. We live in the real world.

    Stories don’t end happily ever after.

    Or … do they?

    Dear Father, thank You for sending us Jesus. Thank You that He didn’t just look down … He came down. Our Rescuer. Our Prince. Our Hero. All of our dreams come true! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 1:4, "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." (ESV)

    Romans 15:13a, "… the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope …" (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: The Jesus Storybook Bible turned out to be a children’s book that adults were reading. So Sally Lloyd-Jones created a beautiful new edition especially for adults called, The Story of God’s Love for You. Pick up a copy for you and a friend.

    To learn more about Sally and her writing, visit her website.

    Enter to WIN a copy of The Story of God’s Love for You by Sally Lloyd-Jones. In celebration of this book, Sally’s publisher is giving away five copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select five winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, December 14.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: How might believing the True Fairytale of the Gospel … believing that the Brave Prince, the Young Hero has come … has moved heaven and earth to be near you and love you, change how you live today?

    *The Story of God’s Love For You, page 2, copyright Zondervan 2015

    © 2015 by Sally Lloyd-Jones. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Zondervan 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

  • Finding Peace in the Chaos of Christmas

    Amy Carroll DECEMBER 7, 2015

    Finding Peace in the Chaos of Christmas AMY CARROLL

    "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

    Peace is a word that gets thrown around a lot at Christmas. It’s on cards, decorations and sometimes even lit up in bright lights.

    It’s a word that seems to stir a longing in all of us, yet it also seems hard to come by — especially at Christmas. I mean, seriously … there’s a house to decorate, gifts to buy, meals to cook, relatives to connect with and loads of events to attend. How on earth are we expected to find peace in the midst of the extreme hubbub?

    There was one Christmas in particular when I had to reevaluate and seek God for a change in my heart to establish peace in my heart and home.

    We all started well — my hubs, our two boys and me — peaceful and focused as we decorated early in December. Christmas music played in the background. We sipped egg nog from the red glass teacups I snagged at a tag sale and boxes of decorations from the attic lined the walls.

    But it started to go downhill over Christmas tree lights.

    A squabble erupted over a tangled string of bulbs. Then someone turned on the football game, and the sound of the TV clashed with the music from the stereo. Instead of sharing lovely stories of the ornaments’ histories as we hung each one, my boys began to make fun of the 70s-style bobbles from my childhood.

    Our peaceful tradition of tree-trimming fell apart faster than you could say, "Mama’s in a snit."

    Maybe they just got distracted or maybe it was the maternal growls and snarls that drove them away, but suddenly I found myself sitting alone on the floor in front of the tree.

    I furiously gave the tree a yank to position it for another ornament, and … TIMBER! The tree fell on me and drove a metal rod from one of the artificial branches into my arm.

    That’s when it happened. Out of my mouth popped some of the overflow of a peace-deprived heart — a big fat four-letter word … which brought my family back into the room.

    To this day, there is one favorite Christmas story at my house. It’s not The Gift of the Magi or The Polar Express. Not even How the Grinch Stole Christmas makes the cut. Our family’s favorite story is titled, The Day Mom Cussed When the Christmas Tree Fell on Her.

    I’m not proud of this story. As Scripture says, "For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of" (Luke 6:45b, NIV). My outburst revealed what was in my heart — overload, frustration and anger. I’d love to blame the stressful circumstances, but the truth is there was something missing inside of me.

    Consider this: The circumstances of the first Christmas were very stressful, too. There was an unmarried, pregnant teenager. There was a scared but faithful fiancé. There was no room in the inn. There were smelly animals and scratchy straw. There was an unidentified star in the sky.

    Yet God gave the gift of prevailing peace in that story in the same way He longs to give our hearts the gift of peace. How did Mary and Joseph overcome the chaos of their circumstances and embrace peace instead? They implemented the truth in today’s key verse. Their trust in God made them steadfast.

    Just listen to how they responded when they were first given the startling and stressful news of being parents to the Messiah:

    Mary said, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior," (Luke 1:46-47, NIV).

    Joseph put aside his plans to divorce Mary quietly, and per God’s instructions, took her as his wife.

    Perfect peace isn’t dependent on circumstances. It comes from a steadfast, trusting heart. Let’s start the Christmas season by intentionally growing our steadfastness by focusing our trust on God who is faithful. The resulting peace will point to the Savior we’re celebrating!

    Lord, I set my heart on You. You are trustworthy, faithful and the Giver of the gift of peace. Please fill me this Christmas season. As others see Your peace in me, let them recognize You as Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Start your day in God’s Word with our free First 5 App. We’re in the middle of studying Matthew and will begin Exodus on January 4. Click here for more information on our Experience Guides.

    Amy Carroll invites you to visit her blog today where she will have a downloadable PDF with Scriptures and a prayer for peace at Christmas.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Do your verbal responses and actions reflect the peace or the chaos in your heart?

    What action step is God calling you to take to build your trust in Him so that your steadfastness grows?

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Give Hope: Water

    As Christmas draws near, we are reminded of our Savior’s birth and the hope He brought to the world. Today, so many people around the world are struggling, and are without the hope of Jesus. Our prayer is that together we can help fill many of them with that hope.

    There are three ways in which we aim to give hope this year: through education, food and water.

    Give Hope: Water

    Our final initiative this year is giving hope through water. Together with World Vision, we are raising money to provide clean water to so many people who are currently without it.

    Did you know that there are 748 million people around the world who do not have access to clean water? Because of this, about every 90 seconds a child under 5 years old dies from diarrhea caused by water contamination, poor sanitation and unsafe hygiene practices.

    The surviving children are often in charge of fetching the water. With such long distances to travel, they’re unable to attend school on those days.

    Dorcas WalkingPhoto Credit: World Vision

    Four times a day, nine-year-old Dorcas made the trek for water, which is a necessity, but also a curse. With no other resources, Dorcas and her grandmother were forced to drink water from a filthy open hole—where animals drink, bathe, defecate and even die.

    Sickness caused by this unclean water caused Dorcas to miss even more school than she already had. In the first quarter, Dorcas was absent 12 times in 9 weeks.

    Then , in the fall of 2014, World Vision came to town and installed a borehole right within the city, which has given them access to clean water through a filtration system.

    Now, Dorcas and her entire community live healthier lives since they are no longer plagued by sickness.

    And instead of spending so many hours of the day traveling to get water, Dorcas attends school more regularly, allowing her to continue studying and working toward her dream of becoming a teacher.

    Dorcas SmilingBack in school and in good health, Dorcas can continue working toward her dream of becoming a teacher.

    Without World Vision’s help, providing clean water and teaching the people about proper sanitation and hygiene, who knows how many more of them would have suffered.

    Motivated by a love of Christ and a love for others, World Vision believes everyone deserves clean water. From this love a goal of providing clean water to every single person by 2030 was born.

    And YOU can help them reach this goal.

    Make a difference in the lives of children just like Dorcas by visiting our Give Hope: Water page, or text FAMILY to 52000 to donate $10.*

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

  • Splashes that Matter

    Theresa Moritz DECEMBER 4, 2015

    Splashes that Matter THERESA MORITZ, COMPEL Member

    "The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

    Recently, we had our kitchen cabinets repainted. Bright white. For about one week, they were gorgeous. Then, the inevitable happened. A reach, a spill … cranberry juice all over. Seriously, how did it get into so many nooks and crannies? For the next week, I found telltale burgundy splashes hiding in the craziest places.

    It got me thinking about my own splashes. Because whether I like it or not, simply by living this life (working, volunteering, even grocery shopping), I make splashes that impact others. The words and attitude that I surround my heart with? This becomes what I splash out. And each day, each moment, I get to choose.

    Throughout the day, I may meet a stressed-out cashier, a new mom starving for conversation, a coworker seeking advice. When I get home these moments continue: my teenager wants to talk, my husband would love me to sit with him and my 6-year-old wants to show me his favorite rock. This, of course, goes along with laundry that needs folding, dinner that needs making, football cleats that need buying and emails that need returning — all by the day’s end!

    If I’m attentive to the whispers of my heart, I recognize these small moments with others as opportunities to jump in fully and splash. I allow time to splash the light and love and mercy of Jesus, allowing Him to touch their hearts through me. Amazing things happen when I choose to splash.

    But when I remain preoccupied, inwardly focused on my own agenda, dullness replaces the beauty God intended for that moment. The opportunity is lost, and hearts remain untouched, including my own.

    I am reminded of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-27). The story tells of a man, beaten and naked, lying on the side of the road, who is ignored by both a priest and a Levite. They actually go out of their way to avoid contact.

    A simple man from an unliked group of people, whom the Bible calls the Good Samaritan, does the extraordinary. He veers off course. He changes his plans without checking his schedule. His actions aren’t powered by some amazing intellect, off-shore bank accounts, superhuman strength or a dizzying social calendar. It was this simple: "When he saw him, he took pity on him." (Luke 10:33, NIV). The Good Samaritan chose to splash love in the ugliness, creating beauty in the moment.

    How about me? Would I see the beaten man? Or would I be looking down, checking my texts? If I saw him, would I allow Jesus’ incredible love and mercy to flow through me? Or would I seek the other side of the road, rushing to opportunities that line up perfectly with my schedule and social status?

    It is important I get this one right. Being willing to splash Jesus’ love on others isn’t a suggestion. The story of the Good Samaritan begins with this question; "On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’" (Luke 10:25, NIV). Splashes matter. For in a splash, we can see the face of God.

    Dear Lord, so often I am busy, focused on the next "to-do" on my list, and I miss the opportunity to be fully present with others. Open my eyes, Lord, and help me to see Your face in all whose path I cross today. Let Your mercy shine through me so they may feel Your loving embrace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 3:27, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act." (NIV)

    Proverbs 11:25, "Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered."(ESV)

    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, Theresa Moritz, 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: Be watchful today; slow your pace and look up. Do you see someone who needs God’s loving kindness? Make a commitment to respond.

    © 2015 by Theresa Moritz. All rights reserved.

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

  • I Don’t Know What to Say to God

    T. Suzanne Eller DECEMBER 3, 2015

    I Don’t Know What to Say to God SUZIE ELLER

    "… the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Romans 8:26 (NKJV) 

    We were sitting around the family table when my mom announced, "Suzie, you didn’t talk until you were four."

    Um, what?

    This was news to me. "So are you saying that I was quiet?"

    "Nope, you didn’t talk at all. Not a word. In fact, if it hadn’t been for Vicci, we’d never have known what you needed."

    My sister is four years older than I am. Evidently she became a student of her little sister who had no words. When I wanted a drink, she told Mom. When I was tired or hungry, she made certain to communicate my needs.

    I eventually found my words, but may I be honest with you? There have been other times when I’ve lost my ability to know what to say, especially to God.

    As a teenager, I didn’t know if things would ever change at home. I didn’t know how to ask God for help.

    As a young mom, I held my precious baby in my arms who was born with a serious birth defect. I didn’t know what she needed or what impact this might have, or what to do with my feelings of fear.

    When my husband was unhappy with his job and it changed his laid-back and fun personality to quiet sadness, I desperately wanted to help but I didn’t know where to begin or what to say.

    For all of us, there are moments when words simply do not describe how we feel, what we need or what we so desperately desire from God.

    Romans 8:26 reminds us there is someone who has studied us. The Holy Spirit knows us well. He is aware of our strengths, but He’s also keenly tuned in to our weaknesses. When we are unable to express in words what we hope for so desperately, the Spirit Himself steps in and clearly places our deepest needs before the Father.

    I don’t know about you, but that removes pressure that would otherwise weigh this girl down.

    We don’t have to have the right words. We don’t have to know the exact details of what is needed in a situation. We don’t have to try to explain how it makes us feel.

    He already knows.

    Today, if you have no words, be encouraged. When you step into that place of prayer, the Holy Spirit sees your heart. He understands what you want to say, even when it’s still a mystery to you. The moment you place your trust in God, your deepest needs are already being shared.

    Perfectly. Succinctly. With all the right words.

    Father, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit. I might have no words, or struggle to tell You what I need, but You already know. I’m so grateful the Holy Spirit knows my heart, and intercedes for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 3:16, "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being." (NIV)

    Micah 7:7, "But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you are in a hard place, Suzie Eller’s book, The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places offers hope and help.

    Join Suzie on her blog where she shares 10 Scriptures To Pray When There Are No Words.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: We often stay away from prayer because we feel that our words are not adequate. Yet it’s exactly where we find what we need.

    Today, walk into that sacred place of prayer. Simply sit in God’s presence. Take the pressure off as you thank Him that He already knows what you need.

    © 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • When You Want To Behold His Glory

    Alicia Bruxvoort DECEMBER 2, 2015

    When You Want To Behold His Glory ALICIA BRUXVOORT

    "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14 (NIV)

    When our fourth child arrived at Christmastime nearly a decade ago, no one was more excited to welcome a 7-pound miracle into our family than our firstborn, Lukas.

    Though he loved his little sisters, 8-year-old Lukas had long yearned for a brother. He’d wished for one each year when he extinguished his birthday candles with a breathy blast, and he’d plead every night when he closed the day in prayer.

    "Dear Jesus, can I PLEASE have a brother?"

    He spent years waiting and wishing, pleading and petitioning, and finally, a week before those stockings on the mantle brimmed full, God answered his prayer with a brown-haired bundle of joy.

    As we settled into our new routine as a family of six, I wondered how I would manage to appease all the eager hands vying to hold the baby. Surely the proud big brother would try to trump his sisters’ rocking-chair time.

    But I soon learned that the pace of my 8-year-old’s life didn’t lend itself to sitting and cuddling, swaying and snuggling. There were snow forts to build and Legos to assemble, spelling words to master and math facts to learn.

    Lukas left his little sisters to fight over "holding rights." When the sun was shining he remained content to merely smile at his baby brother as he sped by in pursuit of his next activity.

    But when the noise of the day grew hushed and the girls were tucked snug in their beds, when the toys were returned to the closet and the snow boots were lined on the rug, my firstborn would sidle up to the rocking chair where I sat with his wish-come-true.

    Then, before he climbed into his top bunk and pulled the covers to his chin, he’d ask, "Can I be holding the baby now?"

    With a nod, I’d place our tiny bundle into his arms and watch as my eldest fixed his baby blues on his sleepy-eyed brother. Holding him. And beholding him.

    One night as Lukas rocked the baby in wordless wonder, I asked him why he always waited until the day’s end to hold his brother.

    "Mommy," my son said with a sigh, "it’s just easier to be holding the baby when my feet are slowed down."

    Our "baby boy" won’t be snoozing through the holiday hoopla in his brother’s arms this year. (Chances are, he’ll be challenging him to a backyard race or trying to wrestle him to the ground in the light of our twinkling tree). But even though I won’t be making room for a cradle beneath those evergreen boughs, I will still search for ways to make room for a manger in the middle of our Christmas mayhem.

    Because at the heart of this sacred season is a Baby who is the answer to all of our prayers.

    Our key verse tells us, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us and we have seen His glory." God wrapped Heaven’s Hope in wrinkled skin and splintered wails and invited us to draw near to His gift of grace.

    More than parties and pageants, gleaming lights and tinseled trees, Christmas is an invitation to savor the gift of our stable-born Savior and let the wonder of His love meet the deepest longings of our hearts.

    But be warned: Not everyone spies His splendor.

    If we want to see His glory, we need to slow our stride and still our souls. ’Cause according to the wisdom of an awe-struck 8-year-old, it’s just easier to "be-holding" the Baby when our feet are slowed down.

    Dear Jesus, Please slow my feet so I can see Your glory this Christmastime and always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Matthew 1:23, "‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel’ — which, when translated, means, ‘God with us.’" (AMP)

    Luke 2:11-12 "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you want to enter into the wonder of the Christmas story, take time to savor Liz Curtis Higgs’ The Women of Christmas.

    Stop by Alicia Bruxvoort’s blog today for more encouragement and for a free printable that will help you make room for the manger.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Take time to read the Christmas story in Luke 2. Ask Jesus to show you something new in His story to ignite fresh awe as you consider His birth.

    Cultivate a childlike heart of wonder this week. Do something you enjoyed doing at Christmastime as a child.

    © 2015 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

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