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  • Being Thank-full Goes Beyond Counting Your Blessings

    Tracie Miles NOVEMBER 25, 2015

    Being Thank-full Goes Beyond Counting Your Blessings TRACIE MILES

    "One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan." Luke 17:15-16 (NIV)

    So, ’tis the season to be thankful. Everywhere you look, people are talking about being thankful, focusing on expressing thankfulness and even posting the reasons they’re thankful on social media every day.

    But you know what? Being "thankful" does not automatically mean we are being thank-full. Being thankful for the good things is really just being glad we are benefiting from those good things and appreciating God’s blessings upon us. But being truly thank-full requires looking beyond our blessings, to the One who blesses. It’s about being full of gratitude for Christ, not just being full of thanks for what He has given us or done.

    If someone were to ask me today to spontaneously list the things I am thankful for, my list would probably be very similar to yours — food, a home, clothes, family, jobs, transportation, friends, health, etc. Each of these things are huge blessings, and tremendous reasons to be thankful, all of which I am very grateful for.

    But I began to wonder: Is appreciating those blessings which I can physically touch or see really creating a solid attitude of thank-full-ness? Do I still feel thank-full when life is hard?

    What about when we feel we don’t have anything to be thankful for from this past year? What about those of us who are out of work, lost homes, had children stray from the Lord, had marriages split up or received a challenging health diagnoses? What about those grieving the loss of someone they loved or struggling with infertility?

    Maybe you can relate to one or more of those situations or are experiencing a different hardship in life, and if so, maybe the thought crossed your mind that possibly this is just not the year to feel thankful. But Thanksgiving isn’t just about counting our blessings.

    Thanksgiving Day originally started with the Pilgrims, a group of believers who in the midst of extreme hardship, loss of loved ones and minimal food and supplies, still believed they were extremely blessed. They chose to celebrate and thank God for His blessings even though life was difficult and their blessings were few.

    As I thought about this topic and the Pilgrims' unwavering thankfulness, I recalled the story found in Luke. In Luke 17:11-19, we read a story about a man whose heart was focused on Jesus, not just focused on his blessings. It’s the story of when Jesus had compassion, mercy and grace for ten lepers on the roadside, and healed each one of them … but only one returned to say thank you. Only one healed leper recognized that not only was his body healed, but also his soul. Only one man was so overwhelmed and full of thankfulness, that he took the time to say thanks.

    The leper surely still had lots of problems in his life to face, but due to being thank-full, he heard Jesus give him the greatest blessing of all, when He said in Luke 17:19, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

    As I read this story, I had to ask myself some hard questions: Am I thankful for what I do have and what Jesus has done in my life, or feeling unthankful or negative about what I don’t have and what I feel Jesus hasn’t done for me yet? I couldn’t help but wonder if my faith was helping me have an attitude of true gratitude in my heart, like the Pilgrims and the healed leper, even though everything in life wasn’t as I wanted it.

    There will always be things we may not feel thankful for, but we can still be thank-full by putting a different focus on what thankfulness really is. Let’s open the door for our hearts to be transformed as we focus not on just thanking God for our blessings, but thanking Him for being the One who blesses.

    Lord, forgive me for focusing more on the negatives in my life than the positives. Thank You for Your blessing of love, grace, mercy and eternal life. Fill my heart with Your spirit this Thanksgiving so I can be thank-full. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 107:1, "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Visit Tracie Miles’ blog today for more encouragement and to enter to win one of two beautiful Gratitude Journals!

    Check out Tracie’s books, Stressed-Less Living and Your Life Still Counts, to help you begin focusing on God’s goodness and grace in your life in the coming year.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Have you been focusing more on the negatives of life, instead of the positives?

    If you become more thank-full and take your gratitude for Christ beyond just counting your blessings, how might that new perspective change your heart, mind and life?

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Happy Thanksgiving from Family Christian: What We Are Most Thankful For

    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV

    With Thanksgiving just two days away, we’d like to share with you some of the many things we are thankful for here at Family Christian. In response to a survey, almost 20 team members from many different roles within the organization gave the top three things they were thankful for this year. With all the answers provided, this list could go on forever, but here are just a few.

    Without a doubt, we are most thankful for God and His grace.

    Family Christian would not exist without the grace of God. All the work that we do would be impossible without Him.

    And while Family Christian would not exist without God, we would not function without you. We are so thankful for your prayers and support, and all of your purchases that help us fulfill our mission of bringing the gospel to the ends of the earth.

    Thankful to Serve

    We are so thankful for the lives we touch.

    We are also thankful to work for a company which whose mission is to put purpose over profits, striving to make a difference in the lives of so many people all over the world.

    From widows and orphans to all of you, our main goal is to share the love of Christ every single day.

    We are blessed to be able to provide you with products that will help you find, grow, share and celebrate your faith, and at the same time give hope to widows and orphans all over the world.

    Finally, we are thankful for all of our family and friends. They enrich our lives so much, by sticking with us through our ups and downs, promoting our spiritual growth, and helping mold us into the people we are today.

    There are so many other things we are thankful for: health, the seasons and second chances to a name few, but ultimately everything comes from God. To Him all thanksgiving and praise is due.

    As you celebrate this year, go beyond just thinking about food and football, and remember to give thanks to the Lord for every gift He has given you, including the most important gift of all: the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • A Hard Lesson I Learned on "Accident"

    danya jordan NOVEMBER 24, 2015

    A Hard Lesson I Learned on "Accident" DANYA M. JORDAN

    "Freely you have received; freely give." Matthew 10:8b (NIV)

    The hot water rinsed the shampoo down my head and neck as my mom tenderly washed my blood-soaked hair. I had just returned home from the trauma center after being involved in a serious six-car accident just hours before — grateful to be miraculously alive.

    It was difficult to comprehend walking away that evening from the emergency room with no broken bones, no visible cuts. MRI and CAT scans showed no brain injury from my scalp gash and being knocked unconscious from the side airbag. Eleven staples in the back of my head and body bruises were my only (yet barely visible) battle wounds.

    The inner wounds lingered, though, as I processed the lessons God was trying to teach me.

    Loved ones and friends brought daily meals, sent cards, flowers, texts, emails and left sweet phone messages for me. Mom chauffeured me around for a week to doctor’s appointments and errands before I was issued a rental car.

    As grateful as I was, I struggled to accept their help. It has always been easier for me to give, to serve, to try to be in control of my situation, my surroundings. This car accident changed my perspective and humbled my heart.

    God wanted me to learn this truth about myself: I’m not good at receiving.

    As result of that accident, I learned a hard lesson. I learned to ask for help when I need it. And when I did, God taught me the blessing of receiving.

    God’s Kingdom is built on the principle of giving and receiving … receiving and giving. At times we need to do both.

    Asking for help is often hard, whatever the reason. At Proverbs 31 Ministries, we love to give. We love serving you, and offering God’s Word to a hungry world.

    And at times, we struggle to ask for help. But we know that would deny others the blessing of giving. For some, giving is a spiritual gift, as Romans 12:8 shows us (see below).

    Our key verse in Matthew 10:8b teaches us that our hands should be open when it comes to giving and receiving help. Jesus was giving specific instructions to His disciples in that passage. The full verse eight says: "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give."

    God wired our hearts to give and receive. He gave the Ultimate Gift. He gave sacrificially. He gave from His heart, just as He wants us to give sacrificially and have the grace and humility to receive. How many times have I rejected God’s offer of help to me, thinking I could do life on my own? It was pride.

    This incident taught me the hard lesson that I needed to learn to ask for help. I thank God for my car accident and that He spared my life for His purpose. I pray God continues to show me how to give sacrificially and receive with grace and humility.

    Lord Jesus, thank You for saving my life. You are my Jehovah Jirah. Forgive me for my pride in struggling to receive. Help me to continue to lavishly give to You, serve others and receive Your blessings. I pray for Your continued favor on the friend reading this devotional and on Proverbs 31 Ministries. Thank You for providing more than enough, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 12:6 & 8, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; … if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully." (NIV)

    2 Corinthians 9:10-11, "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." (NIV)

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

    RELATED RESOURCES: We pray you have received a blessing from our Proverbs 31 offerings throughout the year. With our God-sized vision to eradicate Biblical poverty, we humbly ask for you to give financially to Proverbs 31 Ministries as the Lord leads you. Simply go online to www.proverbs31.org/give.

    Each day more than 500,000 people in almost every country worldwide have used the First 5 Mobile App. Close to one million people receive our Encouragement for Today devotionals and participate in Online Bible Studies. It thrills our souls to offer these resource to you free. Thank you for investing in God’s Kingdom through Proverbs 31 Ministries.

    Please also pray with us for the Lord to provide more than $1 million for Proverbs 31 Ministries by December 31 to accomplish His Kingdom work.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: With what "accident" has God taught you a difficult lesson?

    When have you lavishly given and lavishly received?

    Are you a Proverbs 31 Ministries Monthly Partner yet? If not, click here.

    © 2015 by Danya Jordan. All rights reserved.

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

  • Learning to Love More People, More

    Lisa Harper NOVEMBER 23, 2015

    Learning to Love More People, More LISA HARPER

    "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

    You’ve probably heard the old adage, "you can’t teach an old dog new tricks." Well, I beg to differ. I’ve learned at least one new thing. Every. Single. Day. Of the last year and a half.

    Most of the lessons have come courtesy of a joyful 6-year-old Haitian with a wee rambunctious streak named Missy, who officially became my daughter in April 2014 after a tumultuous two-year adoption process.

    My little girl has a brave warrior spirit and a predisposition to wiggle gleefully in the grocery store and greet bemused shoppers with the invitation, "Hello ma’am, do chu wanna dance wid my mama and me?" My little girl also has HIV.

    She was unwittingly infected by her biological mom who, like far too many people living in impoverished conditions in third world countries, never got tested and died of AIDS without ever realizing she had it.

    As a result of Missy’s disease, one of the first new lessons I learned was about loving more people, more. My tutoring session took place in the private non-chain pharmacy we visit monthly that specializes in meds for people with HIV and AIDS. They don’t sell candy, cards, breakfast cereal, toothpaste or Chia pets, just pricey medicine for pretty sick folks. It’s tucked away on the fifth floor of an old building that used to house a low-budget shopping mall.

    Of course, at first some of the other customers glanced at us with curiosity. This was probably because — with Missy dressed in a plaid school uniform and a bow bigger than her head, and me wrapped in my whole harried, disheveled look — they assumed we were lost.

    Some even hurdle over benign curiosity and jump straight to barely disguised contempt. This aptly describes the man with an angry expression who rode up the elevator with us one visit. He literally averted his gaze and exhaled in protest when Missy blurted out happily, "Hello Sur! How awe you?"

    I put my hand protectively on her shoulder and tried to scoot her a few inches away, but this was one time her ardor was not easily redirected. She tugged on his sleeve and persisted with more animation, "I’m Missy Haar-Purr. I’m FIVE! And this is my MAMA Haar-Purr!"

    He threw me a look of frustration and exhaled louder. It was all I could do not to grin at his surprised expression when we walked into the pharmacy behind him and the darling employees swarmed Missy like a bevy of favorite aunts.

    He seemed startled when they asked her to sing and she responded by belting out the praise chorus of "Your Great Name" followed by an enthusiastic, hip-swiveling encore of "Shake Your Booty." (Missy’s musical repertoire is surprisingly vast.)

    A few minutes later, after she’d proclaimed, "I lub ya’ll!" she handed a big sucker to each one of the staff. Then Missy turned to the man, held up her last remaining lollipop, and asked sweetly, "Wood chu like a sucker, Sur?"

    His expression softened as he leaned down and replied gently, "Well, yes, honey. I believe I would." My daughter hugged him before bellowing a rather bossy "Goodbye Sur, it was nice to meed you!" At which point he reached over her head and shook my hand.

    When our eyes met, we both smiled. I couldn’t speak, because I was too close to tears. But I don’t think we needed any more words. Enough had already been said.

    What Thanksgiving does annually for my waistline, Missy has done for my heart. She’s increased my capacity to "be kind and compassionate to one another," which is exactly the kind of effect the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit has on Christ-followers.

    Our Heavenly Father’s forgiveness and acceptance causes our hearts to expand far beyond our previous boundaries. As maturing Christians, we’ll scoot past simply being consumers of grace and become carriers of grace, becoming brave enough to embrace people we never noticed before as we seek to act like Christ.

    Lord, remind us today that Your grace is available to everyone and that we are all in need of it. Help us live in a way that reflects Your nature to others. We know we can do it only through the empowering of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 13:34, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (NIV)

    1 Corinthians 13:4, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: In her new book, Believing Jesus, Bible teacher and author Lisa Harper retraces the steps of the apostles in the book of Acts, while throwing in a few of her own crazy adventures along the way.

    Lisa has also prepared a Believing Jesus DVD Study and accompanying Study Guide. In them, she addresses what it means to believe Jesus. Not just believe in Jesus, but actually believewhat He said — and shape our lives around that truth.

    Enter to WIN a set of Believing Jesus — book, DVD and Study Guide by Lisa Harper. Lisa’s publisher is giving away 5 sets! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a set for yourself OR whom you would give the set to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications by Monday, November 30.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Who is one person you know — perhaps someone different from yourself — to whom you could show Jesus’ grace and compassion today? How will you do that?

    What would it look like for you to "love more people, more"? In what ways would that change your mindset and the way you view others?

    © 2015 by Lisa Harper. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Thomas Nelson 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

  • A Heart for Giving

    In Acts 20:35 (NIV), Paul tells us that Jesus says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

    However, it is a struggle for many people today to give without feeling obligated or without expectation of something in return. Whether it is the giving of gifts, of money, or of time, many of us find it difficult to make a sacrifice without getting some type of repayment.

    When others need help, is your initial reaction to think, “What’s in it for me?” If so, I encourage you to meditate on the verses below and evaluate whether or not you have a heart for giving.

    If this is an area of difficulty in your life, ask God to work in your heart and to teach you to give cheerfully and without expectation.

    John 3:16

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

    We have been given the greatest gift of all – the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This gift was given freely to all who accept it, without receiving anything in return. This is the heart for giving that we should model in our lives today.

    Deuteronomy 15:10

    “Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.”

    Proverbs 11:25

    “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

    Proverbs 18:16

    “A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.”

    Luke 6:30

    “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”

    1 Corinthians 13:3

    “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

    2 Corinthians 9:6-8

    “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

    Hebrews 13:16

    “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

    1 John 3:17

    “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”

    God asks us to give not out of obligation or with any reservation, but rather to give because He first gave to us. It is not what we give, or how much we give, but whether or not we have a heart for it.

    With the holiday season upon us, now is the perfect time to practice your giving. To you that could mean giving a surprise present to someone and not expecting anything in return, or it could mean giving up a Saturday afternoon and volunteering somewhere.

    Just remember, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”


    This post was written by Family Christian's own Alex Rogers. He loves coffee, movies, and spending time with friends and family.

  • Overcoming a Sizable Fear

    Liz Curtis Higgs NOVEMBER 20, 2015

    Overcoming a Sizable Fear LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

    "Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love." 1 John 4:18 (NLT)

    My flight was in the boarding process as I settled into my aisle seat, 7-B, and began to pray for whomever might sit in 7-A.

    Sadly, I wasn’t praying for that person’s soul — I was praying for his or her size. I dearly hoped the stranger would be petite, someone who wouldn’t feel miserable squished next to an abundantly blessed woman on a tiny commuter plane.

    Please, Lord?

    I watched the passengers file past, apprehension mounting. My opening patter was well rehearsed: "They keep making these planes smaller, don’t they?" or "Sure wish my hips could fit in the overhead compartment." Anything to put him or her at ease.

    Moments later a slender, smiling boy appeared beside me. "I’m 7-A."

    I beamed at him. "Wonderful!" He had blond hair, perfectly round glasses and the pink cheeks of late childhood. I pegged him at 9 or 10, maybe even a mature age 8.

    He climbed into his seat, barely taking up half of it, and announced, "I like this plane. It’s my size." He leaned toward me and added in a stage whisper, "It makes me feel bigger."

    Bless his heart.

    I asked his name, wondering what it must be like to travel alone at such a young age, then gently patted his arm. "I’m here if you need anything."

    The child talked non-stop for the first 30 minutes before folding over and drifting off to sleep. Watching him, I resisted the maternal urge to smooth back his hair. So young.

    When the engines grew louder, signaling our descent, my neighbor woke up with a yawn, glanced at his watch and grinned. "Whaddaya know? My birthday is next week."

    Picturing a big party in the works, I asked, "Which one will this be?"


    My smile froze in place. It couldn’t be. Not this small boy, no taller than a third-grader.

    I could only imagine the snide comments his peers threw at him. Or the many clueless strangers like me, who treated him as if he were a half-grown child instead of a full-fledged teenager.

    "Happy birthday," I murmured, my heart breaking for him. What must it be like to be smaller than people expect?

    It’s like being larger than people expect.

    I looked down and fumbled with my seat belt, suddenly feeling exposed. Just like this self-conscious teen who kept his defense tactics at the ready — "It’s my size" — I had my verbal arsenal loaded as well, deflecting imagined criticism by beating people to the punch — "They keep making these planes smaller, don’t they?"

    No, Liz. They don’t.

    The time had come to see my self-effacing banter for what it was: fear of embarrassment, fear of rejection.

    What if you don’t like me? What if you say something unkind?

    Today’s key verse, 1 John 4:18, helped change my thinking. God promises that His "perfect love expels all fear." The truth is: People may not love us. But God does. If we embrace His love, we won’t fear the approval of people and can instead focus on loving them.

    "If we are afraid," 1 John 4:18 continues, "it is for fear of punishment." Rude stares, rolled eyes, hurtful comments. Such things might come from people, but never from the Lord. As our verse concludes, such fear "shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love."

    I not only want to experience God’s perfect love; I also want to give it away. Now whenever I fly alone, I offer a different prayer. To be more other-conscious and less self-conscious. And to seek God’s approval alone.

    Heavenly Father, the size of our hearts is infinitely more important to You than the size of our bodies. Help us cast aside our fears and replace them with Your truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Galatians 1:10, "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." (NIV)

    Proverbs 29:25, "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Want more encouragement about embracing the woman God created you to be? Liz Curtis Higgs’ new book, It’s Good to Be Queen, explores the remarkable life of the Queen of Sheba, an ancient role model for modern women.

    Stop by Liz’s blog where her post, "What Will People Think?" expands on Proverbs 29:25, offering further encouragement for letting go of fear.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Your fears may be entirely different than mine, yet they still reflect a need to fully embrace God’s love.

    Day in and day out, what are you most afraid of? How might a deeper awareness of His love help you overcome that fear?

    © 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

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

  • Family Christian® Celebrates New Path Forward

    Family Christian® Celebrates New Path Forward Store and product improvements create unique shopping experience GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Nov. 18, 2015) – Following a 12-month operational reorganization, along with a complete store and product overhaul, Family Christian® announced today it is on the path to becoming a stronger retailer and supporter of faith-based causes.

    As part of the reorganization, Family Christian have upgraded and expanded their product selection to include a new compelling assortment of home décor, apparel, and books. “It’s not just about the new merchandise, though,” said Steve Biondo, Family Christian Spokesperson. “We’ve also implemented a new Service Promise throughout the organization, focused on loving and caring for our customers, to guarantee a shopping experience like no other.” The most important element of the organization’s restructuring is an even deeper focus on maximizing its ministry impact. Purchases at Family Christian support the non-profit’s efforts to unite with ministries that are helping children and families in need stateside and worldwide. “While our business goal is to be a first-class retailer, the heart of this organization is firmly grounded in ministry,” said Biondo. “We will be developing even stronger ministry partnerships to continue and increase our support of hands-on widow and orphan work worldwide, and sharing God’s word through Bible donations and mission trip support.”

    To locate the nearest Family Christian store, visit www.familychristian.com.

    About Family Christian Located in the United States, Family Christian is the world's largest Christian-focused retailer. The nonprofit organization has approximately 255 stores in 36 states. The organization offers a variety of Christian-themed merchandise, including Bibles, home decor, art, gifts, DVD’s, kids products, books, and music. In addition to its physical stores Family Christian provides consumers with access to all these resources through www.familychristian.com, its eCommerce platform. All earnings are donated to Christian ministries serving families, orphans and widows in distress. Learn more at http://www.familychristian.com/about.

  • Showing Our Troubles to God

    Wendy Pope NOVEMBER 19, 2015

    Showing Our Troubles to God WENDY POPE

    "They told him, ‘This is what King Hezekiah says: Today is a day of trouble, insults, and disgrace. It is like when a child is ready to be born, but the mother has no strength to deliver the baby.’" 2 Kings 19:3 (NLT)

    During the fall semester of her senior year in college, my friend Sandy’s life sort of fell apart within a matter of two days. Her steady boyfriend called it quits. She got strep throat. She slept through her mid-term exams. Her beloved grandmother passed away. Then she received a letter from her college. While dealing with her Grandma’s death, her parents forgot to pay the spring semester tuition bill. All her classes had been dropped.

    She told me this story 20 years after it happened. However, all the heartbreak and mishaps didn’t strike me as much as Sandy’s reaction did. When she walked out of the post office, she headed straight to a park on campus. There, she sat by a stream. As her tears hit the cancelled-classes letter, she prayed and told God the same story she’d told me.

    Rather than running home to call her parents or talk to her roommates, Sandy headed straight to the Lord. Her response to difficulties reminded me of King Hezekiah in the Old Testament.

    This king had been repeatedly tested. His enemy, the King of Assyria, not only insulted King Hezekiah personally, but on more than one occasion tried to mess with his army’s psyche. His enemy kept sending threatening letters to Hezekiah and his strength ran out.

    Whooped and beaten, King Hezekiah didn’t have it in him to make it one more day. "They told him, ‘This is what King Hezekiah says: Today is a day of trouble, insults, and disgrace. It is like when a child is ready to be born, but the mother has no strength to deliver the baby’" (2 Kings 19:3).

    When he could take it no longer, King Hezekiah used his last bit of vigor to pick himself up and go to the Temple of the Lord. There, as we read in 2 Kings 19:14, he spread out the distressing letter before God. I love the visual of Hezekiah, the powerful king of Israel, humbly and feebly showing his troubles to God.

    I often seek counsel from trusted friends before taking my concerns to the Lord. Perhaps deep down I feel I need someone with skin who can help me audibly process my problems. Godly friends are wonderful sources of wisdom and care. But rather than spread my troubles out among several friends, I want to spread them out before the One and only God first.

    At Proverbs 31 Ministries, we want to help others do the same. Our deepest desire is to help women around the globe weave God’s Word into the rhythm of their lives, through the collection of ministries we offer each day.

    Just imagine the peace you’d experience by showing your troubles to God, and placing His truth front and center in your day — instead of focusing on challenges that come your way.

    I’m not sure what Sandy prayed that difficult day two decades ago, but Hezekiah’s prayer is recorded for us in the Bible. Next time we’re faced with hardships, we could repeat his words to God: "O LORD, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see!" (2 Kings 19:15b-16a, NLT)

    Lord, thank You for my godly friends and their wisdom. Quicken my spirit to turn to You when I need strength and my troubles seem overwhelming. You are my very present help in times of trouble. Help me to seek You first each and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Chronicles 16:11, "Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: This is an incredible time to participate in an investment that is reaping huge eternal dividends, but we need your help. There are still so many more to reach! Will you join us? Your donation to Proverbs 31 Ministries can make a difference when you click here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Do you believe God hears your prayers? If not, why not?

    When is a time you prayed to God and felt His peace?

    © 2015 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • What to Do When You Feel Out of Sync

    T. Suzanne Eller NOVEMBER 18, 2015

    What to Do When You Feel Out of Sync SUZIE ELLER

    "Come close to God, and God will come close to you." James 4:8a (NLT) 

    My husband is a great guy, but his dance moves leave a lot to be desired. His rhythm doesn’t match the music; he’s always a beat behind or several beats ahead.

    The thing is, this does not stop him from dancing. Whether in our living room or at a wedding, he jumps in with enthusiasm. If everybody’s going left and he’s going right, he doesn’t care. He has a smile on his face. He’s having a blast.

    The other night he held out his arms and asked me to dance. He switched on some tunes and off we went. He danced to his own tempo, while I listened for the beat of the music. We weren’t in sync at all.

    And then I had a thought.

    What if I just went with it? What if I let him lead regardless of whether he was moving in the direction or timing I thought he should be? What if I just matched his moves?

    I slipped into his arms. When he was off tempo, I moved off tempo with him. When he sped up or threw in a funky and creative twist, I sloughed off my self-consciousness and matched it. Fifteen minutes later we were both breathless and having the time of our lives!

    He didn’t become a great dancer in those 15 minutes, but I became a better dance partner.

    In the book of James, we find a church out of sync. They’re quarreling and fighting. James exposes the heart issues behind this lack of unity — things like jealousy and being judgmental with each other — but then issues an invitation: "Come close to God, and God will come close to you" (James 4:8a).

    It was a move that had the power to bring them back into harmony.

    Many times we might feel out of sync as well. It could be another person, or even God, causing our hearts to struggle. We pray He will change someone else, change our circumstances or that at least change the way we feel.

    James’ invitation is for us, as well. Come close to God and He’ll come close to you.

    Listen closely for the rhythm of His leading. It might feel uncomfortable in the beginning. His timing in your circumstances might feel quicker or slower than you planned. His instructions might conflict with how you expected Him to answer.

    But there’s a gift found when you let God take the lead. You start to understand His rhythm in your life and in your thoughts. Your will begins to align with His.

    Whatever You say, Lord, I’ll listen. Wherever You are leading, Father, I’ll go. Whatever You ask me to do, I’ll do it.

    You rediscover how to trust and depend on Him. You start to go against how you feel to choose what leads you into compassion or wisdom, rather than anger or jealousy or words that cause harm.

    Dance with Me.

    That’s our invitation from a God who knows exactly what He wants to do inside of you, in those trying circumstances, within that relationship or in that hard place.

    Until the other night, if you’d asked me about Richard’s dancing, I would have said his lack of rhythm was the problem. But now I know that I was listening to the wrong beat all along.

    Lord, I’ve been out of sync with You. Thank You for your invitation to come to You. I’m holding out my arms and aligning my moves with Yours. Help me trust and depend on You completely. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 73:28, "But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you’ve been struggling with quarrels or conflict, Suzie Eller’s book, The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness offers hope and help.

    Join Suzie on her blog for a giveaway and to discover three small steps to intimate faith.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: These tips for beginning dancers are just as relevant in our faith:

    1. Position yourself. (James 4:7 — humility is a powerful position.) 2. Trust your partner. (James 4:6 — God offers grace.) 3. Allow yourself to be led. (James 4:10 — He’s leading you to higher places.)

    © 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Give Hope: Food

    What is hope? “A reason to live.” – Ron Morin, Founder and Director of Pray America/Manos de Jesus

    As the Christmas season 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: Food

    Beginning November 20, our campaign to give hope through food kicks off. Along with our ministry partner, Pray America, we are raising funds to feed 10,000 Guatemalans for one year.

    In the late 1980s, Pray America began serving people in need in Central America. Their Christ-centered and non-denominational ministry works to bring spiritual, physical and social restoration and wholeness to Mayan widows and orphans.

    Through their programs, families are fed both physically and spiritually, meaning that in addition to the food they receive, they are taught about Jesus and the eternal hope that He provides.

    Ron shared that in the regions they are serving, “most of the people they meet are hopeless, but once Pray America introduces them to the gospel, their outlook dramatically changes.”

    Take the story of Micaela.

    After putting her through years of verbal and physical abuse, Micaela's husband up and left, leaving her and her two children to fend for themselves. Times were tough - there were days when, she Debora, 12, and Freddie, 5, could only eat once a day. Then Micaela met the people at Pray America, and her family’s life began to change.

    Now she attends the widow's discipleship program held once every two weeks, and her children attend a feeding program twice a week. Through the food provided to them, they receive hope for tomorrow. Through the teachings of Christ, hope for eternity.

    Micaela and her two Children

    Today, Pray America operates three feeding programs in Chichicastenango, Guatemala, but even the weekly programs could not make up for the food shortage that took place in 2014. Due to a drought that year, corn only grew to about half its size. Corn is a crucial food to Guatemalans, so without it—they struggle to survive.

    Ron was concerned. What if the drought returned? How would Guatemalans survive?

    Ron asked and God answered. His response was to build a bodega, which is a food storehouse. Earlier this year, construction was completed, and now the need is to fill it with dry, natural food that Guatemalans can survive on. As soon as it is filled, Pray America will begin distributing the food to the families with the greatest need.

    A full bodega can keep 10,000 people fed for an entire year, so from November 20th to the 29th, please consider helping us feed these 10,000 Guatemalans in need. For the first $25,000 donated, our nonprofit ministry, Family Christian Ministries, will match the amount.

    If you would like to join us in giving hope to the people of Chichicastenango, please visit our Give Hope: Food 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.

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