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Author Archives: Family Christian

  • Lord, I Want to Be Like This Woman

    Liz Curtis Higgs DECEMBER 18, 2015

    Lord, I Want to Be Like This Woman LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

    "She … worshiped night and day, fasting and praying." Luke 2:37b (NIV)

    Tucked within the gentle folds of the Christmas story is a woman whose life was a living testimony to faithfulness. We read about her in just three short verses found in Luke 2:36-38.

    Her name, Anna, means "grace," her family name means "face of God," and her devotion to Him ran deep and wide.

    Anna was married in her youth and then widowed after just seven years. Can you imagine her heartache in that time and place where motherhood was the end-all, be-all?

    Even so, we have no record of Anna weeping. Only worshiping the Lord. Night and day. Year after year.

    Who does this? Seriously, it’s a level of commitment most of us can’t get our heads around, especially during the holidays when we’re dashing through the snow to pageants, concerts, banquets, something.

    Our wise sister Anna realized being in the Lord’s presence was celebration enough.

    And while in His presence, she fasted. Not to lose weight or cleanse her body from toxins or to impress others with her piety, but to honor God. "When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen" (Matthew 6:17-18a, NIV).

    He surely saw Anna that day in the temple. She was 84 years old, but you’d never know it to watch her in action. When Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the temple for Mary’s ritual cleansing and the presentation of their firstborn son to the Lord, Anna didn’t miss a beat.

    At the Holy Spirit’s prompting, she made a beeline for the Christ child, "coming up to them at that very moment" (Luke 2:38a, NIV). We sense her urgency, her excitement, her conviction.

    After decades of worshiping and fasting and praying, Anna was prepared when she encountered the Savior. She was filled up, ready to spill out, and so "she gave thanks to God" (Luke 2:38b, NIV).

    Amazing. Anna didn’t complain about the long wait, the lonely years, the emptiness of her stomach, the stiffness in her knees, the hardness of the temple floor. She simply gave thanks.

    We’re listening, Lord. And watching. And learning.

    Instead of remaining with Mary and Joseph, making idle chitchat, Anna then turned to everyone else in the temple courts that day, and "spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:38c, NIV).

    Anna gazed beyond His birth, beyond His life, beyond His death and straight through to His resurrection. The people of God longed to be redeemed, but that was only possible through sacrifice. The stark reminder of that truth hung in the temple air — the spilling of blood, the bleating of lambs, the burning of flesh on the altar.

    Did Anna know this innocent child would one day suffer to set his people free? You can be sure of it. Scripture tells us she was a prophetess, which meant she not only heard from the Lord, she also knew what the ancient prophets foretold.

    Anna was prepared and so prepared the way. Now it falls to us, 2,000 years later, to follow in her footsteps. To tell everyone we know, everything we know about Jesus.

    When we ease our breathless pace, when we stop, look and listen, we can sense the gentle weight of His touch and take comfort in the warmth of His presence.

    In this season, in every season, let’s pause and remember Immanuel: God with us.

    Heavenly Father, each aspect of Anna’s worship convicts me, in particular her sacrifice of physical comfort for spiritual intimacy. You deserve more than the few crumbs that fall from my too-full calendar. You deserve my best. A heart of worship, night and day. A willingness to add fasting and more prayer time to my life. Please teach me to be still, to wait, to listen and always to give thanks. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ezra 8:23, "So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer." (NIV)

    Psalm 100:4, "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Liz Curtis Higgs’ book, The Women of Christmas, is a gift book, devotional and Bible study in one, exploring the stories of Elizabeth, Mary and Anna, unwrapping each verse with tender care.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Because Anna was a unique woman in many aspects — her religious upbringing, her role as a prophetess, her lodging in the temple — it’s easy for us to say, "Well, I could never be like her." But still …

    There are things about Anna that we can emulate. How might Anna serve as a role model for you? And in what ways might God be asking you to dwell more closely with Him in the year ahead?

    © 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

  • God’s Job is Not My Job

    Lysa TerKeurst DECEMBER 17, 2015

    God’s Job is Not My Job LYSA TERKEURST

    "But Moses said to the LORD, ‘If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh king of Egypt listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?’" Exodus 6:12 (NIV-84)

    I relate so much to Moses in this verse. I too am hesitant to step up to an assignment where I doubt my effectiveness.

    When I first started in ministry I was terrified to give an invitation for people to receive Jesus. "What if no one responded?" I would feel like such a disappointment to the church but even worse … to God.

    But that’s where I was wrong.

    My job is to be obedient to God and deliver the message.

    God’s job is everything else.

    Moses also got this wrong and it’s what fed his overwhelming doubts.

    We must make note of a crucial fact in God’s instruction to Moses. He simply told Moses to go tell Pharaoh to "let the Israelites go out of his country," (Exodus 6:11b, NIV). That’s all Moses was responsible to accomplish. He wasn’t responsible for anything but the delivery of the message.

    The resistant way Moses responds lets me know he misunderstood his assignment. Moses thought he was to bring enough power in his words to convince Pharaoh.

    Moses already felt like he was failing at the smaller assignment of getting the Israelites to listen to him. So, he was understandably hesitant to go and speak to the intimidating powerful leader, Pharaoh.

    But God never told Moses to bring the power.

    He was simply told to bring the words.

    Moses’ job was to be obedient to God. God’s job was everything else.

    God would bring the power. God would bring the strategy. God would bring all the plans together. And God would certainly bring the victory.

    God already assured Moses of this in Exodus 6:1b, "… Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go …" (NIV).

    He wasn’t asking Moses to play every part. Moses was only supposed to play his part. And the same is true for you and me. What assignment has God put before you today? Feel encouraged that your job is simply to be obedient to God. God will handle everything else.

    Dear Lord, I’m so thankful for Your promises and power. You only ask me to do my part, and so often I get caught up in all the details and worried about the outcome. Help me trust and obey You more, especially when I feel inadequate. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Luke 12:11-12, "When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say." (NIV)

    Psalm 28:7, "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Discover more life-changing revelations like this by using our First 5 app and joining us for the the study of Exodus. The study begins January 4, but you can order your Book of Exodus Experience Guide today by clicking here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Have you ever felt unsure of your abilities to obey God? Consider if you are taking on more than what God has asked you to do.

    In what area of your life do you need to experience God’s power? Pray and ask for His help today.

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • When You Can’t Find God, He’ll Find You

    Nicki Koziarz DECEMBER 16, 2015

    When You Can’t Find God, He’ll Find You NICKI KOZIARZ

    "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (ESV)

    Have you ever had a day when you weren’t sure God was near?

    Aches of loneliness filled my heart as I waited in the carpool line and scrolled through my social media feed. The busyness of my soul had convinced me I didn’t have time for God’s Word, community and Bible study. I felt so far from God and didn’t know how to regain His presence.

    But as I kept scrolling on my phone, I saw a graphic from Proverbs 31 Ministries with this Bible verse, Joshua 1:9. Those words, "for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go," flowed into me.

    Then God met me in that school carpool line, through a graphic which reminded me that wherever I went, He was there. I took a deep breath and fought back the tears.

    He was there.

    Sometimes the most desperate moments of our souls offer the greatest demonstrations of God’s presence.

    I don’t think I’m the only one who has experienced a moment like this …

    God was also there for the wife at 6 a.m., waking up to the aches of a hard marriage. She opened her email and read one of these Encouragement for Today devotions, which "just so happened" to be on marriage. She knew she could make it just one more day.

    And God was there for the college student, who was trying to hold tight to His promises, while encountering a culture that has so many problems with God. She opened the First 5 app and instantly had access to the deep, historical, rich roots of the Bible.

    God was there for the momma, who spent her days soothing a crying baby and counting down the moments until she heard her husband’s car pull into the driveway. She was able to do her Bible study at home through P31 Online Bible Studies and felt like she had a supportive community surrounding her.

    Maybe you, too, have felt the presence of God through Proverbs 31 Ministries. Somehow, supernaturally, God made you feel like He was … there.

    Like the devotion was written just for you or the social media post came at just the right time. Or the Bible study helped you know what to say to a co-worker who questioned God. Yes, I think many of us could testify to the faithfulness of God we have experienced through this ministry.

    But here’s the question … will you help us continue to be there? For you, for the people you love, for the mom in the carpool line who’s desperately searching for hope?

    Your investment of any amount with Proverbs 31 Ministries helps us continue to expand God’s reach. There are so many more people who need to be assured, God is there.

    And together, we can bring even more people the only sustaining source of hope there is: Jesus.

    Dear God, thank You for being there, wherever we are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Exodus 33:14, "And he said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’" (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you’ve been touched by Proverbs 31 Ministries, will you prayerfully consider giving back? Your donation of any size will help Proverbs 31 Ministries continue to reach women and families across the world. Click here to give now. It’s easy, it’s fast and it makes a big difference!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Think of a time when God showed you He was there when you didn’t feel Him. Say a prayer to thank Him for being there for you, wherever you go.

    © 2015 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

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

  • 40 Days To Lasting Change Giveaway

    40 Days to Lasting Change: An AHA Challenge by Kyle Idleman is a devotional centered around the parable of the prodigal son. Through the elements of this story, Idleman teaches you about "interacting with God, walking and talking with Him, and learning to recognize His voice and His ways in our lives," all in an effort to lead you to your own AHA moments.40 Days to Lasting Change

    AHA stands for Awakening, Honesty and Action, and when these three ingredients come together, you experience spiritual transformation and growth in your life.

    You can buy 40 Days to Lasting Change today and have it shipped to your home or to a store near you, or from now until December 31st, you have a chance to win a free copy just by entering in your name and email address below.

    You can also gain additional entries into the contest by following us on Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, by signing up for our email list, or by leaving a comment on this post letting us know what kind of lasting changes you'd like to see in your life in 2016.

    With the new year right around the corner, you've probably already started thinking about your resolutions. If one of your goals is spiritual growth, 40 Days to Lasting Change offers you a guided opportunity to draw nearer to God and grow stronger in your faith.

    Enter now for your chance to win!

  • Avoiding An Over-Committed Christmas

    Susie larson DECEMBER 15, 2015

    Avoiding An Over-Committed Christmas SUSIE LARSON

    "Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety." Proverbs 29:25 (NLT) 

    I’ll just say it: I’m not much to sing about in the kitchen.

    But one year I felt compelled to say, "Yes!" to participating in a Christmas cookie exchange.

    The problem was, I had no idea how to bake cookies. Correction: I had no idea how to bake cookies that shared the same shape and size, not to mention the added pressure that they taste great and be packaged festively.

    Looking back, it seems unfair the other participating women had to take home my cookies while I got to take home theirs. Their cookies looked like beautifully wrapped pottery. Mine? Like hunks of hardened Play-Doh wrapped in wrinkly Saran Wrap.

    When I think about the stress I put on myself (and my family), just trying to pull off something that’s not one my talents, it seems downright ridiculous.

    Thankfully, I no longer feel obligated to participate in cookie exchanges — for others’ sake and mine. What freedom! I’ve learned when our souls are healed and whole, our choices are more life-giving than soul-draining.

    On the other hand, when we focus on others’ opinions, or work too hard to save face, we give away our gifts, our time and our divine opportunities. Most importantly, we give away power to others which belongs to God alone.

    So how do we respond to external pressures that don’t match up with our internal convictions? We remind ourselves — every moment if we have to — that Jesus paid a dear price to free us from the bondage of others’ opinions so we can live free to be everything He intended us to be.

    When we catch ourselves misusing our time, energy and gifts to impress others or to rescue our sense of self-worth, it’s time to simply pause, remember who we are in Christ and then reset our course. Rise up and walk toward freedom aligned with God’s direction for our lives, and away from the snare of worrying what other people think about us.

    Meanwhile, want to ensure your captivity? Set your thoughts on the perceived, actual or potential disapproval of others. It’ll put fear in your heart and angst in your soul, as your choices will reflect a captivity mindset.

    Want to ruin your life? Let the crowds and the committees pressure you into helping every time there’s a need. Run yourself so ragged that you lose your joy and faith. And lose an eternal perspective, causing the outside world to question whether Jesus really has made a difference in your life.

    There will be times when others wrongly assess us. But God always deeply loves and understands us. And that needs to be enough for us. Can we be content to be misunderstood if we know we’re in the center of God’s will? Those are the times and places where heroes are born.

    Want to walk free? Set your mind on things above.

    Set your heart on the unchanging, indisputable truth of God’s love for you. Do the next thing He tells you to. If He says rest, then rest. If He says run, then run with all your might. If He says wait, then surrender control, open your hands and entrust Him with the timing of your breakthrough. Worship Him in the meantime. Fear God alone and you will walk free.

    Precious Lord, thank You for loving me like You do! Forgive me for caring too much about what others think of me. Your thoughts toward me are what matter most. Help me to live and breathe and serve and give as one who is deeply loved and profoundly provided for. I have nothing to prove and all of eternity to live for. I’m so very grateful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 2:12, "What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us." (NIV)

    Ephesians 3:19, "May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you find yourself committing to something simply because it’s a good cause or you think no one else will help, you will want to get a copy of Susie Larson’s Your Sacred Yes: Trading Life-Draining Obligation for Freedom, Passion & Joy.

    Learn more about Susie Larson by visiting her website.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Your Sacred Yes by Susie Larson. In celebration of this book, Susie’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 21.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Where are you most apt to commit first and regret it later? (Church, school, work, etc.)

    How might this holiday season look differently for you if you take your cues from God Himself instead of from peer pressure and from the rushing current of the culture?

    © 2015 by Susie Larson. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Bethany House Publishers for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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

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

  • Making My List, Checking it Twice

    Glynnis Whitwer DECEMBER 14, 2015

    Making My List, Checking it Twice GLYNNIS WHITWER

    "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19 (NIV)

    Some people love Christmas and look forward to it all year. Me? I love the reason for Christmas … but the extra work required? Well, let’s just say it doesn’t always feel like the most wonderful time of the year.

    Although Christmas should be a season of pausing and pondering, rejoicing and revering, it can turn into just one more thing on my overloaded to-do list. It’s so easy to lose the beauty of the season in the bedlam of my schedule.

    And that’s not God’s wish for me.

    I’m confident God longs for me to use this season of joy as an opportunity to connect with Him in a deeper way and to connect with others as we celebrate the birth of Jesus together. Christmas is a time to remember Emmanuel, God with us. And my heart and home need to be prepared for this Special Guest.

    I wish I could simply follow Mary’s example, like our key verse from Luke 2:19 reminds us, and that treasuring and pondering things in my heart came more naturally to me.

    But without planning ahead, my heart will struggle. I’ll feel resentment at the added expectations. I’ll feel frustration at the extra time shopping takes. I’ll feel stressed when other people are stressed, and then I can add to the tension with out-of-proportion reactions.

    I don’t want to be the Grinch! I want to be a woman who reflects God’s love and grace, especially when others might be feeling the pinch of the season.

    Yet I also realize the only way the overflow of my attitude and words can be gracious is when I’ve made time preparing my heart first, then crafting a plan for the details.

    Even if you’ve never had a practice of a personal quiet time, it’s okay to start now. Create a place that physically says, It’s time to be quiet before the Lord. For me, that’s my kitchen table with a cup of coffee, my Bible and my to-do list. A lit candle helps set the mood.

    Then, I use this time to just be still, sometimes to speak, sometimes to listen. And many times I imagine Jesus sitting across the table from me. It’s easy to have conversation with someone who’s right there with you.

    Then here’s where it gets very practical: I ask for the Lord’s help in making to-do lists.

    Maybe that seems a bit irreverent, but God is the greatest source of wisdom around. So when I need help organizing my lists, He’s the first one I consult.

    Christmas is a time when more is required of us. It’s also a time when we as Christ-followers want to make the most of the season and celebrate Jesus in our hearts and homes.

    While some people can spontaneously make all this peace and joyfulness happen, I need some intentionality to bring about special moments and experiences.

    Lists help me track everything and prepare in advance so I can enjoy the moment. They help me think through gift giving so everyone doesn’t get a mug. They help me plan events where I can show the love of Jesus.

    Lists don’t just have to be tasks. Think through what would make this Christmas special for you and your family. What are your hopes? Once you’ve thought about it, invite your family into the discussion. Capture these ideas on your lists.

    Here are some lists you might consider making:

     

    • Prayer requests
    • Gifts for others
    • Books to read
    • Stocking stuffer ideas
    • Outreaches (e.g., Operation Christmas Child, Project Angel Tree)
    • Menus for special dinners
    • Holiday events to attend
    • Decorations to buy or create
    • Traditions to start or continue
    • Special treats to bake
    • People to connect with

     

    Don’t worry about doing any of this perfectly. The goal isn’t to have a perfect Christmas. The goal is to be with Jesus. To be more intentional and create a foundation where everyone will experience more peace and joy, and less stress.

    Careful planning and to-do lists certainly aren’t the solution to every holiday challenge. But in a season when we tend toward overload, they help. And hopefully they’ll create some margin in your life to do more pausing and pondering, rejoicing and revering.

    Heavenly Father, I don’t want to miss what You have for me this Christmas. Help me have the details of my life in order, so I can relax and truly experience Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 90:17, "May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book, Taming the To-Do List, is a fabulous gift for anyone looking to gain control over their schedule and enjoy more of the best things in life.

    Visit Glynnis’ blog for suggestions on creating a Christmas planner.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Take time to sit quiet in the Lord’s presence today. It’s okay if your desk or home is a mess. The meeting place is really in your heart.

    What are a few things you can do in the next two weeks to make Christmas special? Start a list.

    © 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • 12 Days of Giving

    Since its inception, Family Christian has strived to provide products that help you grow your faith and share it with others. But we also have a heart for giving back.

    That’s why we, as a nonprofit organization, seek to serve orphans and widows in need, just like our Father calls us to do in James 1:27:

    Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. – James 1:27 NIV

    However, none of this giving is possible without YOU.

    When you shop with us, your purchases support our efforts to unite with ministries that are helping children and families in need around the U.S. and the world.

    All the money we’ve raised and the lives that have changed over these years are a direct result of you shopping with us.

    Now it is our turn to say thank you with our 12 Days of Giving. On each day from December 13–December 25, we are offering a special deal on a product or a collection of products that we know you will love—and drastically reduced the price for you.

    Some of the deals to keep an eye out for are for Fisher-Price’s Little People® Nativity, Jesus Calling and the recently released 90 Minutes in Heaven.*

    These and all other products in the sale will help you grow in your own faith or make for a great gift for a loved one.

    None of what we do would be possible without you, so once again we just say: Thank you.

    Thank you for your prayers.

    Thank you for your support.

    Thank you for your giving.

    ------

    *To make sure you find out what each deal of the day is, subscribe to our emails using the link at the bottom of the page or follow us on Instagram.

  • 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

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