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Author Archives: Family Christian

  • Why It’s Good to Be Bold

    Liz Curtis Higgs JULY 21, 2015

    Why It’s Good to Be Bold LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

    "Since we have such a hope, we are very bold." 2 Corinthians 3:12 (ESV)

    I’m a take-charge chick, so I always thought boldness was a good thing. Fearless, confident, adventurous? Yes, please. But when I asked a roomful of sisters in Christ, "Who wants to be bold?" only a few hands shot up.


    Later, I chatted with some women in the audience, hoping to find out why boldness held little appeal to them. One told me, "I don’t want to seem pushy." Another said, "I’m too shy for that." And a third added, "I’m afraid I’ll come off as arrogant."

    Ah. Now I get it. When we go bold on our own, it can look pretty ugly. Demanding, controlling, my-way-or-the-highway. That’s not what we’re shooting for. A steamroller approach doesn’t honor God and seldom gets the job done. We don’t want to flatten people; we want to lift them up.

    It’s time for boldness to get a makeover, because His Word shows us it’s good to be bold.

    When the queen of Sheba challenged King Solomon to a battle of wits, she was decidedly bold. No other monarch in Scripture dared question the wisest man on earth. Others came simply to hear Solomon’s wisdom; Sheba came to test it.

    After Solomon answered every one of her difficult questions, Sheba confessed, "But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes," (1 Kings 10:7a, NIV). She came, she saw, she conquered her doubts, and in the end found what she was searching for: a God infinitely bolder than she was.

    Queen Esther demonstrated great boldness when she approached the throne of King Xerxes, saying, "I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish," (Esther 4:16b, NIV). What a role model for women in every century! Before she put her life on the line to save her people, she wisely asked them to fast and pray, that she might be given favor by the king.

    Boldness can be a risky business, but only if we do it on our own. When the Lord leads the way, we can follow Him without fear, knowing the outcome is always in His capable hands.

    Queens aren’t the only bold souls in Scripture.

    When the disciples prepared to share the gospel, they prayed, "Enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness," (Acts 4:29b, NIV). They knew they couldn’t drum up boldness on their own, so they called on God to help them be unafraid and unapologetic.

    The Lord quickly answered the disciples’ prayer: "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly," (Acts 4:31b, NIV). Boldness is really about God, then, and not about us. Rather than a personality trait, it’s an attribute of the Holy Spirit.

    Even if we don’t have a leadership role like Sheba or Esther, we can be bold because of the One who empowers us. When God resides in us and works through us, His strength sustains us. As our key verse today says, "Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold."

    What might boldness look like in our day-to-day lives?

    Starting a home Bible study and inviting neighbors who don’t know God. Praying with a stranger who has just shared her struggles with you. Visiting a women’s prison with a group from your church and sharing God’s love.

    When we let His boldness pour through us, we’ll discover, "He crowns the humble with victory," (Psalm 149:4b, NIV). God gives us a different sort of crown from the queen of Sheba’s gold one, but it shines far brighter. And it shines forever.

    Heavenly Father, I want to do bold things for You, but fear of others often gets in the way. Help me care more about serving You than pleasing people. When I hold back, nudge me forward. When I get scared, banish my fears with the assurance of Your love. Strengthen my heart and mind so I can boldly share Your truth with those who are hurting. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 28:1, "The righteous are as bold as a lion." (NIV)

    1 Corinthians 16:13, "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Liz Curtis Higgs’ new book, It’s Good to Be Queen, releases today and explores how you can become as bold, gracious and wise as the queen of Sheba.

    Study the Bible each week with Liz! Sign up for her Wednesday posts by clicking here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Being bold doesn’t need to come naturally. In fact, it’s more effective when it comes supernaturally.

    What person or situation in your life could benefit from your boldness — humbly sharing the good news of God’s forgiveness or speaking a hard truth in love? Ask God right now for the courage to move forward.

    © 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Value of Showing Up for a Friend

    Natalie Snapp JULY 20, 2015

    The Value of Showing Up for a Friend Natalie Chambers Snapp

    "When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words." Job 2:12-13 (NLT)

    "I just needed her, that’s all," she said with tears streaming down her face. "She didn’t have to do anything or say anything — I just wanted her to sit with me for a while."

    My new friend described the pain of a missing friend, someone she loved, but who was nowhere to be found when her own life fell apart. She was having trouble forgiving her friend for what felt like abandonment.

    My friend was not alone in needing her friend. A man named Job, whose story is recorded in the Bible, also needed his friends in the midst of deep heartache.

    Job lost most of his family and earthly possessions. When three of his friends heard the news, they went to offer comfort, support and encouragement simply by showing up. Scripture tells us (as we see in our key verse) they sat with him for seven days and nights and didn’t say a word. Can you imagine?

    They showed up and were present at a time when Job felt beaten down and alone.

    So often, I’m afraid to show up when I know someone is hurting because I worry too much about the "what ifs." What if I say something insensitive? What if their pain triggers something in me? What if it will require more time and energy than I want to give? Ugly, but true, concerns.

    We live in a busy and fast culture of appointments, family activities and other obligations that can dictate our time and energy if we allow.

    Running at full speed keeps us from slowing down enough to walk with the hurting. We live a distracted, but less compassionate, life when we have so much going on that we fail to see the needs around us — and I know I’m guilty.

    When we close the door on distractions, we open the door to hearing from God because if we’re constantly plugged-in, it becomes harder to unplug.

    And it’s true we can utter words that will come off as insensitive but it’s what we do after we say those insensitive words that matters most. A heartfelt apology goes a long way. So does a simple "I don’t know the right words to say, but I’m here for you."

    After seven days, Job broke the silence by lamenting to his friends and wondering why such pain was happening in his life. Yet sadly, all three of his friends followed with thoughts that were less than encouraging.

    However, later in Job 32, his friend Elihu stepped in and spoke truth. He lovingly pointed out that Job was not without sin but these trials were not happening because of his sin. Then, he spoke soft truth and reminded them all that "God is greater than any human being" (Job 33:12b, NLT).

    Friends speak soft truth — even when the truth is hard. They also show up, stay in the game and offer love for those who are hurting.

    In other words, their presence is the present — a gift that will always be remembered by a hurting friend.

    Father, may I not be intimidated by the mistakes I could possibly make with a hurting friend and instead just be present for her. Help me to make time to just be there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 17:17, "A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Ever had a "friend break-up," struggled to forgive after being hurt by women or merely wished to learn how to be the best friend you can be? Pick up a copy of Heart Sisters: Be The Friend You Want To Have by Natalie Chambers Snapp today!

    If the thought of conflict makes you break into a cold sweat or you simply want to know how to biblically walk through conflict, you’re invited to join the "Five Days of Crawling Through Conflict With A Friend" Challenge. Click here for more information and to register!

    Enter to WIN a copy of Heart Sisters: Be the Friend You Want to Have. In celebration of her book, Natalie’s publisher is giving away 10 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 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, July 27.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Do you have a friend who is currently hurting? What soft truth of encouragement could you offer her today? Drop her a note, send her a text or give her a call — then program a reminder in your phone or write it on your planner to do it again in a few days! Better yet, can you spend some time with her this week?

    Add your friend to your prayer list and commit to praying for her daily — and tell her you’re praying. Nothing speaks more love to a hurting person than a friend who is consistently praying for her!

    © 2015 by Natalie Chambers Snapp. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Abingdon Press 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

  • Why I Stopped Praying Against Fear

    Julie K Gillies JULY 17, 2015

    Why I Stopped Praying Against Fear JULIE K. GILLIES

    "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

    Hi. My name is Julie. And for entirely too long my middle name might as well have been Fear.

    Fear influenced many of my decisions. Fear amplified my imagination in a bad way — I was the worst-case scenario queen. Fear even tried to prevent me from moving forward in obedience to what I sensed God calling me to do.

    So I did what any wise believer would do. I prayed. For years, I diligently prayed against fear. That God would take away my fear. That fear would leave me alone. That fear would vanish. That fear would be far from me.

    Eventually I realized those prayers would probably require me to live in a bubble, limit my interactions with people, never attempt anything that could be considered risky and quite possibly never leave my house.

    Ahem …

    But the truth is, until Christ’s return, fear will always exist on this earth. We live in a scary world where bad things happen. One look at the news headlines makes that clear.

    John 10:10 tells us that the enemy "comes only to steal and kill and destroy" (ESV). One of the primary ways he does this is through fear. The enemy’s intent is to keep our eyes riveted on our fears and stop us from trusting God. Stop us from making wise decisions. Stop us from believing things can change. Stop us from pursuing the seemingly impossible dreams in our hearts.

    It soon became clear to me that there must be a better way to pray. That praying against fear wasn’t enough, because fear still held far too much influence over me. And if God had not given me a spirit of fear, as our key verse declares, I wanted to sense a difference. I wanted to be brave and strong on the inside so fear could no longer shake me.

    So my prayers changed. Drastically. Instead of just praying against fear, I began to use God’s Word and pray for specific things. God-inspired things. Like courage and confidence and amazing peace.

    Though we might not always be fearless, by praying specifically for qualities found in God’s Word, we can fear less. If you’re battling fear on any level or in any area of your life, I’d like to invite you to do the same.

    Instead of praying that fear will be far from us, we can ask God to give us strong, bold and courageous hearts (Joshua 1:9) when fear comes near.

    Instead of asking God to take away all fear, we can ask for His grace to run toward the big, scary things with great courage (1 Samuel 17:48).

    Instead of praying that fear will leave us alone, we can pray that when we are afraid we will trust and have confidence in God (Psalm 56:3).

    Instead of asking God to make all fear in our lives vanish, we can pray that His peace which surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and supersede all fear (see Philippians 4:6-7).

    Praying this way changes us. It has changed me. I no longer make decisions based on fear. I recognize worst-case scenarios forming and instead of entertaining them I nip them in the bud. And I am moving forward in obedience to the things God has called me to do.

    God doesn’t promise to always take away all our fears. Yet He gives us the power, love and self-discipline necessary to embrace His life-changing truth. When we pray His living and active Word something amazing happens — God strengthens our hearts. He helps us trust Him, girds us with His amazing peace and enables us to move forward in courage.

    And we will fear less.

    Hi. My name is Julie. And my middle name is Brave.

    Dear God, Help me not be paralyzed by my fears, but when I am afraid, help me trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 34:4, "I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears." (NLT)

    1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Julie Gillies’ devotional, Prayers For a Woman’s Soul, will help you pray for and about yourself with topics that are relevant to you, including fear.

    Visit the Prayers For A Woman’s Soul Community Facebook Page for inspiring prayer encouragement.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Write the verse above that most resounds with you and keep it nearby. This week, every time you sense fear building in your heart, determine to pray God’s Word.

    © 2015 by Julie K. Gillies. All rights reserved.

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

  • I’m Not Hungry, But I Want To Be

    T. Suzanne Eller JULY 16, 2015

    I’m Not Hungry, But I Want To Be SUZIE ELLER

    "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus Christ throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

    I just ate a sub sandwich, whole-wheat chips and a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. If you tried to tempt me with something delicious at this moment, no matter how good it smelled, I’d probably turn you down because I’m full.

    That’s how it works in the physical realm, right? The more you eat, the fuller you become and the less you want.

    Spiritual hunger is the exact opposite. The more you eat, the hungrier you become and the more you want.

    A couple of years ago, I found myself in a spiritually dry season.

    I sat with my Bible but the words didn’t leap from the page like they once did. I prayed and a hundred other things rolled through my brain. Remember to pick up toilet paper at the grocery store. Did I pay the water bill?

    That lack of hunger made me feel a little lost. The temptation was to skip it, or breeze through it and call it a day.

    Except this one truth from Ephesians 3:20-21 kept coming to mind: We serve a God who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us.

    God longs to work within us.

    I can’t tell you why I wasn’t hungry for His Word or for prayer during that time, but I can tell you that it’s not the only time. Whether it was busyness or an attack of the enemy or just a hard place in my faith, I’ve learned that when this happens, it’s time to go "eat" some spiritual food.

    Whether I feel hungry or not.

    Stormie Omartian, whose books on prayer have reached millions, once battled anxious thoughts. A friend recommended she have a quiet time with God to soothe those thoughts. She read a chapter from the Bible in Psalms and Proverbs each morning, and then again at night. Within weeks she looked forward to her time of reflection and after several months she says, "Gradually it became God’s voice in my ear."

    The spiritual hunger principle had kicked in — the more you eat, the hungrier you become.

    If you’ve longed to connect with God and your lack of hunger has made you feel guilty or perhaps disconnected, please know that you are not alone.

    Don’t wait until you feel hungry to pray or open the Bible. God has work He desires to do within you. Thank goodness, it’s not a task. Nor is it a test that you fail.

    It’s an invitation from the God of the Universe, who adores you and desires to spend time with you.

    Consider it time with a really close friend. Stop by every day. Don’t worry about the clock. If it’s a few minutes, it’s a sacred few minutes. If those few minutes turn into something deeper, that’s beautiful too.

    Turn off distractions. If the grocery list pops into your brain, scrawl it down in your open journal and then keep feasting on your time with God.

    That dry season I encountered? It wasn’t forever.

    My lack of hunger slowly abated until I looked forward to my time with God every day. If it happens again — and it will — then I’ll take one bite, and then another. I’ll fill myself up with words from the One who can do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine.

    Heavenly Father, I’m not hungry, but I’m not going to allow my lack of hunger to keep me from Your presence. Thank You for meeting me where I am and for renewing my spirit and filling me up. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 John 2:27, "As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit — just as it has taught you, remain in him." (NIV)

    Psalm 81:10, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Could your prayer life use a little extra nourishment? You might appreciate Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado.

    Our summer Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study is covering Suzie Eller’s book, The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Contrast spiritual hunger with physical hunger. Have you been treating them the same?

    Consider ways you might start feeding your spirit. What does that look like for you?

    © 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • How We Answer Our Own Prayers

    Karen Ehman JULY 15, 2015

    How We Answer Our Own Prayers KAREN EHMAN

    "Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’" Luke 11:1 (ESV)

    A group of teenagers and I sat cross-legged on the church lawn, soaking in the warm summer sunshine. We’d just taken a break from a group game to sip something cold and visit. One of the girls had just returned from a mission trip in a developing nation and I couldn’t wait to hear about her experience.

    "So, Renee, tell us about your trip." I inquired. "What is the one thing you think you will remember the most?"

    I imagined her answer would have something to do with a child who captured her heart with a sweet smile. Or a church service she attended that was so very different from ours. Neither of these guesses were right.

    "Oh, that’s easy. I will always remember it was on this trip when I learned how easy it is in our culture to answer our own prayers."

    Her statement stunned me for a moment. I wondered, What in the world did she mean by that? Answer our own prayers? Only God answers prayer, right? But before I could pipe up and ask her to explain further, she continued.

    "You see, here in America, we bow our heads and say grace and ask God to ‘give us this day our daily bread.’ And then? We hop in our cars, run down to the grocery store and buy a loaf or two. We ask Him to keep us safe and warm. Then parents buy their kids the best car seats available, and we crank up the furnace whenever we feel chilly. It is so easy in our culture to provide the answer to our own prayers. But the people I met on the trip? They pray God will give them their daily bread, not knowing if they will have enough food to feed their families that night. Their prayers are bold. They ask God for things they can’t always provide for themselves."

    I had never thought of this concept before and it caused me to think about two things.

    First, I want to use my abundance to help answer someone else’s prayers. To share the privilege I have been given with others.

    Second, I need to learn to pray bold prayers, asking God for the things that only He can bring about. That is if they are in accordance with His will. To pray for requests in my life beyond the, "Lord, keep us safe and warm and well-fed. Amen." routine we can often fall into.

    Today’s key verse from Luke 11 gives me hope that I’m not alone in thinking my prayer life could use a makeover. Luke 11:1 reminds us that even the disciples wanted help learning how to pray. They saw Jesus praying and desired to follow His example.

    Ephesians 3:20-21 tells us God can do things we can’t even dream of. Even provide answers to questions that we often hesitate to even ask. This suggests we can be daring when we pray, asking God for great things done only in His great strength.

    My little chat with this spiritually sensitive teen changed me. I began to work into my prayers not only requests that God would help me be attentive to those who need my help, but also that He would help me make bold requests I can’t possibly answer myself. And then, that I would stand back and — in faith — watch Him work.

    How about you? Is your prayer list full of items you can cross off yourself? Perhaps it’s time you, too, began to ask, "Lord, teach me to pray."

    Father, teach me to pray more boldly. May I be both generous in giving and faith-filled in my prayers. Help me pray more confident prayers that can’t be answered on my own and can only happen through Your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 138:3, "In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul." (NKJV)

    Luke 11: 9-10, "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: For more on prayer, including a place to post your "I Can’t Answer it Myself" prayer request, visit Karen Ehman’s blog. She is also giving away a prayer time basket to one reader who comments.

    To be inspired to live a life that trusts in God, check out Karen’s book and DVD Bible study, LET. IT. GO.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What are some daily prayers you pray that are easy to "answer" yourself? List them on a piece of paper or a notes app on your phone.

    Now, under where you made that list, write down at least one bold prayer that you cannot answer yourself. Then, begin to pray daily about this request, asking God to align your will with His.

    © 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • Never Say Amen

    Tracie Miles JULY 14, 2015

    Never Say Amen TRACIE MILES

    "Never stop praying." 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)

    "Are you still talking with her?" I asked my daughter Kaitlyn. She’d been texting with a friend for what seemed like hours.

    She nodded and continued texting.

    "I just don’t see how you can have that much to talk about. Does the conversation ever end?" I asked.

    "Nope," she proudly exclaimed. "We never really end the conversation or say goodbye. We just take breaks and then pick back up later where we left off."

    I rolled my eyes and suggested she force herself to take a break, or I might just help her take a really long break from her phone altogether. We chuckled as she slid the phone into her pocket.

    As I thought back to her answer, it made me wonder about my conversations … particularly with God. How might my relationship with God grow if I simply never said, "Amen"? If I just kept the conversation going all day, picking back up where we left off or talking about new things?

    In today’s key verse, Paul urges us to pray continually. Not because God requires it, but because our hearts long to feel close to Him.

    Talking with God throughout the day invites Him into even the smallest details of our lives. Of course He doesn’t need us to fill Him in on our problems, prayer requests and praises. Instead, we receive the blessing because we will feel His presence throughout each and every day.

    Just as my heart leaped at the idea of continual conversation with God, my mind chimed in with logistics: How can I possibly pray all the time when I obviously have other thoughts going through my mind? How can I stay focused on prayer in the midst of the chaos of work, to-do lists, daily obligations, frustrations, parenting and busyness?

    Praying continually doesn’t mean we have to stay on our knees all day and never stop to do anything else. It simply means maintaining an attitude of prayer. A mindset that God is always there, like a trusted friend walking beside us or merely one text away. A friend with whom we can jump back into the conversation — with confidence that He will be there.

    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus" (NLT). Having a heart attitude of prayer simply means developing a focus on joy and gratitude.

    When we focus on the good, instead of the bad, we develop a mental attitude of thankfulness. When our hearts are full of thankfulness for God, we will find ourselves longing to talk with Him more and more and learning to recognize His holy whispers.

    We must be aware that Satan will do everything in his power to distract us and try to keep us from having an attitude of prayer and thankfulness. He knows the more time we spend talking with God, the more we will depend on Him and trust Him with our whole hearts.

    I can keep my daughter from having a never-ending texting conversation, but no one can keep us from having an ongoing conversation with the Most High. Nothing can stand in the way of us conversing with God unless we let it, and prayer is a conversation worth continuing and never saying "Amen."

    Lord, fill me with a desire to talk with You all day long and to feel Your Spirit leading me through our conversations. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Colossians 4:2, "Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart." (NLT)

    Romans 12:12, "Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: For tips and encouragement on growing closer to God and learning to hear His voice in the busyness of everyday life, consider purchasing Tracie Miles’ book Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace In Your Chaotic World.

    Visit Tracie’s blog to download her free "7 Days of Prayer" printable to help you pray daily for your children, husband, work, finances and faith. Also, enter to win a copy of her book Stressed-Less Living!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What is it that keeps you from talking to God more often? What can you do to change your mindset about praying without ceasing?

    Consider the worries that have been heaviest on your heart, or those issues keeping you too busy or distracted to spend time in prayer. Open up a conversation with God about those things and invite Him into the details of your everyday life.

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • There Are No "Big" Prayer Requests

    Glynnis Whitwer JULY 13, 2015There Are No "Big" Prayer Requests GLYNNIS WHITWER

    {Editor’s Note: We’re doing things a bit differently this week at Encouragement for Today. We’ve decided to dedicate this entire week of devotions to prayer. Will you join us in praying "big" prayers, according to His Word, believing nothing is too hard for God?}

    "I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?" Jeremiah 32:27 (NIV)

    Eyes closed and head bowed, I rattled off my daily prayer requests: "Lord, please keep my children safe … watch over my mother … help my husband with all he’s got to do." Then I paused and said, "Now I’ve got a big one."

    My next prayer was going to be for a friend battling advanced cancer. God certainly knew what I planned to say, and He knew we needed a miracle. So I’m not sure why I decided to prepare Him for what was coming.

    His answer was clear and immediate: "There are no big requests to Me."

    Instantly, I was contrite. "Of course not, Lord. What was I thinking?" Some heart-searching was in order, because I’m not actually sure what I was thinking.

    I quickly realized my tendency to categorize and order my prayer requests, with most of them seeming "manageable." I do pray about serious requests when needed, but I don’t often seek out "big" prayers.

    Maybe I subconsciously think I only get a few of them with God … kind of like making sure you don’t overload someone with too many favors. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a natural risk taker. Keeping my prayers "easy" seems safer in my mind.

    Looking back, I can see I put human limitations on God. But how silly to compare God to a person, when He is incomparable in power.

    The God of the Universe made everything we see, and everything we can’t, with a word. From the simplest cell to the intricacy of our brains, He designed and created it all. There are no limitations to His power. He can (and does!) send angels to protect my children and restore health to my friend’s body at the same time.

    No matter how hopeless the situation seems, God is more than able to step in and do what no human can do.

    In Chapter 32 of Jeremiah, where we get today’s key verse, we read how God made a promise that seemed impossible from human standards. Jeremiah prophesied about impending calamity for the rebellious Israelites. The people were about to experience devastation from an enemy as a consequence for their great disobedience. Yet God’s intention was to bring His people back one day to Jerusalem with a softened heart, to live in safety.

    On the surface, that promise seemed inconceivable. And yet God reminded Jeremiah that nothing was too hard for Him: "I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?" (Jeremiah 32:27).

    Centuries later, an angel told a young virgin named Mary (newly pregnant with Jesus), "For with God nothing will be impossible" (Luke 1:37, NKJV).

    Thousands of years later, God said the same thing … to me.

    Why do I compare God’s power to mine? Why do I worry about "bothering" Him with too many "big" requests? Why do I accept so many situations and never even think about praying for them to change?

    Truth is, I’m much more comfortable praying for things that could be solved in my power. There’s an underlying fear God might say "No," or worse, stay silent.

    Plus, I’m afraid I’ll misuse my invitation to pray or seem demanding. The last thing I want is to treat God like a genie in a bottle. Those complicated fears limit my prayers for God’s help in many impossible situations.

    Oh how that must grieve the heart of my Heavenly Father. He knows how much more He wants to do in my life, if only I’ll invite Him.

    Here’s the truth: When I build my faith on what I can do, then I will only see what I can do. But a faith based on what God can do? … now that’s life-changing.

    That’s how I want to live my life. I want my prayers and faith to go beyond human power. I want to bring everything to my Heavenly Father, every care, every need. Not with a demanding heart, but with one with positive expectation.

    It’s not my responsibility how God decides to answer. But that shouldn’t keep me from asking.

    I’m tired of playing it safe. It’s time to cast off my fears, remove the limitations I’ve placed on God, and invite Him into every situation I face — especially those that seem hopeless. It’s then I’ll see God’s power, not mine.

    Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your power and majesty. Forgive me for the times I’ve shut You out of my life or not asked for Your help. I want to be a woman whose trust in You is so great that I don’t think twice about praying for things that need Your supernatural intervention. Thank You for all You’ve done and will do! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 15:7, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (NIV)

    Luke 18:1, "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Do you need reminders to pray God-sized prayers? Our beautiful custom-designed Faith Print and Faith Collection Jewelry can be that reminder.

    Visit Glynnis Whitwer’s blog for a giveaway of a prayer journal to record your requests and God’s faithfulness.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: In John 15:7 (A Truth for Today verse), Jesus gives us a condition for our prayers. What does it mean to remain in Jesus and have His words remain in us?

    What prayer has seemed too impossible to pray? Will you leave a comment today declaring your faith in God’s power to do what only He can do?

    © 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Who Am I Becoming?

    Lynn Cowell JULY 10, 2015

    Who Am I Becoming? LYNN COWELL

    "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

    Dragging my feet and my heart, I headed to her room, finding her buried in her schoolbooks. She was responsible; I hadn’t been.

    Welling up with tears, I began my apology. Seems like I’d been doing that a lot lately. This time I had failed to order my daughter’s graduation announcements.

    What kind of mom am I?

    My girl smiles as I blubber my confession. She reassures me: this is not an emergency. Tilting her head, she looks at me as if I’m from another planet. Not because I forgot, but because I’m crying. Who is this woman? I imagine her asking in her thoughts.

    I know she must wonder about me these days.

    Lately, I haven’t been recognizing myself either. The normally organized, rational, on-task woman can’t seem to keep it all together.

    Maybe the forgetting isn’t so unintentional. Could this be my heart’s way of trying to put off the inevitable?

    On my desk sits the form, the one I’ve procrastinated completing, requiring me to admit her age. She’s an adult now. How did that happen? My mind wonders, Will she still need me? Who am I now? What is my place? Change is hard.

    I’m guessing that like me, you’ve either just come out of a season of change, are entering a season of change or it’s just on the horizon. It might not be your youngest graduating from high school. You might be returning to school, making a move or looking for a new job.

    Change has a way of swirling in and around our lives. Just when we adjust, like a squirming toddler, life refuses to stay still. We finally think we’ve gotten control, when chaos erupts again. One activity stops while two are added. And whether we like the new that’s come, or wish we could run and hide, our feelings don’t change the inevitable.

    Facing another change, and handling it well, requires a woman of character. Change requires traits I feel like I haven’t fully mastered and so I tend to think, I’m just not patient. I can’t be kind.

    But maybe, just maybe, times of transition are God’s way of bringing the change. He just might be setting up this opportunity for me to grow into the woman He knows I can become.

    I’m learning I can allow the pressure of transition to transform me. I can permit the rain and the sunshine in my life to grow His fruit in me … the kind described in today’s key verse from Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

    Every day we are becoming something different. The question is, Who are we becoming? During the planting, watering and weeding of change, if we will be diligent and faithful during each season, we’ll see beauty grow in our lives.

    As we lean into God, asking for strength through the peace or through the pain, He will make us into the women He’s intended for us to become: Women becoming God’s definition of beautiful.

    Dear Jesus, I don’t always like the change that comes in my life, but I do want to be beautiful instead of bitter. Grow in me the traits You call gorgeous and help me to embrace this season. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Galatians 5:24-25, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." (NIV)

    Romans 8:5, "Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: This summer is a great time to invest in the life of a young woman and use Lynn Cowell’s book, Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants, to study the fruit of the Spirit together.

    Today, Lynn is giving away a "Summer Study Kit" along with two copies of her book, Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants, on her blog. Stop by for your chance to enter.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Who are you becoming? As you look at the direction your heart, attitudes and words are heading each day, how are you becoming the woman you want to be?

    Summer usually affords a slower pace of life. How can you make the most of the change of schedule to grow in your spiritual life?

    © 2015 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Sometimes It’s a One- or Two-Verse Day

    Lysa TerKeurst JULY 9, 2015

    Sometimes It’s a One- or Two-Verse Day LYSA TERKEURST

    "Pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body." Proverbs 4:20b-22 (NIV)

    Do you ever get overwhelmed when you sit down to read your Bible? There are so many books, deep thoughts, spiritual insights and life-altering truths … where do we begin for today?

    My sticky farm table and I have a long history of early mornings together. I gather up my Bible and my computer. I push past the sleepy feelings begging me to go back to my bed. And I look at the well-worn book as my love letter from God.

    I don’t say that in a syrupy, flowery way. Truly, His words are a lifeline to me. A whisper from my God. A personal note. A treasure.

    But right now I’m in a season where I don’t consume chapters at a time. Some days it’s just one or two verses that I tuck into my heart so I can live out our key verses (Proverbs 4:20-22) and pay attention to what God says.

    I want to really pay attention. I need to listen well to what God is saying. I look for one verse that I can savor word by word, letting it sink in deeply … interrupting me, rearranging me, redirecting me.

    And I pray …

    "God, what plans have I made for today that this verse needs to interrupt?

    "God, what thoughts did I bring in from yesterday that this verse needs to rearrange?

    "And God, what heart attitudes have I been carrying that this verse needs to redirect?"

    His Word is the protective covering over my plans, my mind and my heart. To let me run free without it, will surely find me tripping over my own selfishness, insecurities and weaknesses. So, with His love letter, He reminds me to pause, pause, pause.

    Pause and let the Holy Spirit intervene in my natural flesh response.

    Pause so I don’t make the conversations all about me.

    Pause and remember I’m not always right.

    Pause to see the blessings, so many blessings, and say "thank you" at least once an hour.

    Pause to serve, pause to give, pause to encourage when everyone else rushes by.

    "My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding — indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding … then you will understand what is right and just and fair — every good path," (Proverbs 2:1-3, 9, NIV).

    Don’t get overwhelmed with the enormity and depth of the Bible.

    It’s okay if we read just a verse or two today.

    But more importantly than reading His words, we must choose to receive them. And even more importantly, we must live them.

    Dear Lord, help me to see You today in a single word or in a single verse. You are all powerful and anything is possible through You. May Your words and Your truth seep into the plans I make and every thought I think today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 4:6-8, "Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you." (NIV)

    Luke 11:28, "[Jesus] replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’" (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: This month, Proverbs 31 Ministries is launching First 5, a mobile app to help you devote the first few moments of your day to the Lord no matter what you’re going through. Sign up today for our interest list and be entered to win one of our weekly giveaways, here!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: The next time you open your Bible, pray that God would reveal the specific verses He wants you to read that day. Then, look for ways throughout your week to live out the truth found in those Scriptures!

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Practical Encouragement for Loving Your Man

    Chrystal Evans Hurst JULY 8, 2015

    Practical Encouragement for Loving Your Man CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

    "The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain." Proverbs 31:11 (ESV)

    I love the way real people from history can teach us some pretty valuable lessons.

    Recently, I read the story of Emperor Justinian the Great to my children.

    We were studying history when the Roman Empire fell and gave rise to the Byzantine Empire. We read how Emperor Justinian was fair and just, and we also read a bit about his wife, Theodora.

    She seems to have been a wise and encouraging woman who helped him as he ruled the empire and challenged him to be the best man he could be. It is said that Justinian didn’t make major decisions without consulting his wife.

    At the height of Justinian’s rule, the Byzantine Empire came under attack and he wanted to flee. He didn’t think he could fight off the invaders and wanted to at least escape with his life. But his wife challenged him, telling him it would be better to die an emperor than to spend the rest of his life wandering as a fugitive.

    Justinian followed his wife’s advice and stayed put.

    The result? He won the battle.

    And he remained the emperor.

    His wife’s counsel and encouragement made all the difference.

    I proceeded to use this "teachable moment" to share with my boys how important it was to find a good wife. She should be wise, kind and encouraging, both for him personally and for God’s purpose in their lives.

    I like to hear myself talk. Especially when I’m talking to my children and think I have something worth saying that can alter the course of their lives.

    Yet I could see my 12-year-old starting to glaze over and give me that "get-to-the-bottom-line-Mom" look. He was probably thinking I could have said in three seconds flat what it took me more than a few minutes to explain.

    And then my 6-year-old looked like he was about to burst from excitement … because all he heard was he should find a great wife and he’d already determined he knew the perfect candidate.

    It was his camp counselor from two years ago, when he was only 4 years old.

    Her camp nickname was "Hotcakes," and apparently, he was smitten.

    While my 12-year-old wished I’d hurry up and my 6-year-old apparently had already found his beloved, the longer I talked to my boys about the concept of finding a good wife, the more convicted I became about the kind of wife I actually am.

    Because I’m guilty at times of not being a Theodora.

    I have to be honest and say I’ve missed opportunities to build up my husband. At times when I could have been more encouraging, more supportive and more of a cheerleader, I’ve been critical, distant or even disengaged.

    I could have prayed for him more and spent less time focusing on how the events of his life would affect me.

    I could have believed the best instead of expecting the worst.

    I could have chosen words that build him up, instead of words that tear down.

    If you are like me and desire to please God and also love your husband well, here are a few tips for doing just that:

    • Pray for your husband often.
    • Encourage him with your words and actions.
    • Build him up by praising him in front of other people.
    • Smile at him. Force yourself if you have to.
    • Believe the best. Give him credit for being capable.

    You play an important role in the life of others. You play an indispensable role in the life of your man. And based on the story of Theodora, the way that you encourage, support and love your man can change the world.

    Hotcakes and Theodora. My 6-year-old can’t forget the former. The world will forever remember the latter.

    Let’s remember the impact a woman can make on the heart and life of her man. Love, encourage and support him. It pleases God. And it makes all the difference.

    Dear God, I want to be a good wife. Help me encourage, support and love my husband. You know where and why we struggle. So Lord, help me not to focus on what my husband is or isn’t getting right. Help me to focus on how I can "do good" to my husband, and, more importantly, how I can ultimately please You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 31:12, "She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Listen to Chrystal Evans Hurst’s podcast where she and her husband discuss, "What Does It Mean to Love Your Man."

    Chrystal has prepared a free printable to remind you to love your husband well. Click here to download.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: How do you struggle trying to be a supportive wife? What can you do today to support your husband?

    What practical tips do you have for loving and encouraging your husband? Share those in the comment section so that they might be an encouragement for someone who can learn from you.

    © 2015 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

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