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Author Archives: Family Christian

  • The Comeback: Louie Giglio's Favorite Chapters

    We all know what it is like to have life disappoint us. That feeling when things do not work out as we'd hoped. And we all know what it is like to long for something different, something better or something more.

    But your current circumstances do not get the final say in your life.

    This is what The Comeback is all about—providing you with perspective and encouragement, no matter the challenge you're facing.

    In the book, author Louie Giglio celebrates new beginnings. From personal stories to Bible stories, he shows how God is in the business of giving fresh starts, and how His plans always prevail, even when ours don't.

    Check out Giglio's three favorite chapters now:


    Get your copy today!

  • Choose Hospitality

    Jen Wilkin JANUARY 19, 2016

    Choose Hospitality JEN WILKIN

    "Show hospitality to one another without grumbling." 1 Peter 4:9 (ESV)

    On November 6, 2010, I tweeted the most regrettable tweet of my mediocre social media career.

    In anticipation of the holiday season, I decided to weigh in on hospitality. The tweet was a flawless blend of selective memory and self-righteousness, designed to heap condemnation on the heads of my followers under the guise of offering wise counsel. It was a verbal "selfie" snapped from my best angle, positioned to make me look very, very good. Let’s have a look at it, shall we?

    @jenniferwilkin "Moms: keeping an orderly house frees you to exercise hospitality at will. Both the order and the hospitality are examples to your children."

    Note the double-whammy: If your house isn’t orderly on a daily basis, you will withhold hospitality from others and set a bad example for your children. Moms everywhere, be encouraged!

    Five years later, I still cringe remembering that tweet, mainly because I have failed to live up to it repeatedly ever since.

    I presume my house was clean on November 6, 2010, but it has rarely been so in recent months. Even as I type, I am looking out across a disordered landscape of scattered laundry, schoolbooks, dusty baseboards and chipped paint. That tweet neglected to mention what my house looked like when my children were small, how I would hide clutter in the dryer when guests came, how hard I found it just to get dinner on the table for my own family, much less for someone else’s. I regret I proposed a standard I could not uphold.

    But more importantly, I regret that tweet because I now recognize the standard it proposed is flawed. It revealed my own lack of understanding about the nature and purpose of hospitality. In my self-righteous desire to offer advice, I confused hospitality with its evil twin, entertaining. The two ideas could not be more different.

    Entertaining versus hospitality: What’s the difference?

    Entertaining involves setting the perfect tablescape after an exhaustive search on Pinterest. It chooses a menu that will impress, then frets its way through each stage of preparation. It requires every throw pillow be in place, every cobweb eradicated, every child neat and orderly. It plans extra time to don the perfect outfit before the first guest touches the doorbell on the seasonally decorated doorstep. And should any element of the plan fall short, entertaining perceives the entire evening to have been tainted. Entertaining focuses attention on self.

    Hospitality, on the other hand, involves setting a table that makes everyone feel comfortable. It chooses a menu that allows face-to-face time with guests instead of being chained to the kitchen. It picks up the house, but doesn’t feel the need to conceal evidence of everyday life. It sometimes sits down to dinner with flour in its hair. It allows the gathering to be shaped by the quality of the conversation rather than the cuisine. Hospitality shows interest in the thoughts, feelings, pursuits and preferences of the guests. It asks questions and listens intently to answers. Hospitality focuses attention on others.

    Entertaining is always thinking about the next course. Hospitality burns the rolls while listening to a story.

    Entertaining obsesses over what went wrong. Hospitality savors what was shared.

    Entertaining, exhausted, says "It was nothing, really!" Hospitality thinks it was nothing. Really.

    Entertaining seeks to impress. Hospitality seeks to bless.

    But the two practices can look so similar. Two people can set the same beautiful tablescape and serve the same gourmet meal, one with a motive to impress, the other with a motive to bless.

    How can we know the difference? Only the second of the two would invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind to pull up a chair and sip from the stemware. Our motives are revealed not just in how we set our tables, but in whom we invite to join us at the feast. Entertaining invites those whom it will enjoy. Hospitality takes in all.

    Why be hospitable?

    Hospitality is about many things, but it’s not about keeping a perpetually orderly home. So, forgive me, Twitterverse (and beyond), for my deplorable tweet. I could not have been more wrong. And may I have a do-over?

    @jenniferwilkin "Moms: exercise hospitality freely, clean house or not, to any and all. Willingness and generosity are the hallmarks of a hospitable home."

    Orderly house or not, hospitality throws wide the doors. It offers itself, expecting nothing in return. It keeps no record of its service, counts no cost, craves no thanks. It is nothing less than the joyous, habitual offering of those who recall a gracious table set before them in the presence of their enemies, of those who look forward to a glorious table yet to come (Psalm 23:5).

    It is a means by which we imitate our infinitely hospitable God.

    So, five years later, here is my advice to myself: Forgo the empty pleasure of entertaining. Serve instead the high-heaped feast of hospitality, even as it has been served to you.

    Dear God, forgive me for confusing true hospitality and loving others with the world’s version of entertainment. Help me serve others freely and follow Your example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Peter 4:10, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Jen Wilkin’s Bible study, 1 Peter: A Living Hope in Christ, can help you understand your true identity, and discover what it means to experience the Living Hope we have in Christ.

    If you’d like to connect with Jen Wilkin more regularly, stop by her blog.

    Enter to WIN a copy of 1 Peter: A Living Hope in Christ by Jen Wilkin. In celebration of this book, Jen’s publisher is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one by Monday, January 25.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Pray and ask God to help show you someone who could benefit from your hospitality in the next few weeks.

    Has someone shown you genuine hospitality in the past? If so, send a text, make a call or drop a note to say thanks.

    © 2016 by Jen Wilkin. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks LifeWay 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 Heavenly Recipe Right Here on Earth

    Karen Ehman JANUARY 18, 2016

    A Heavenly Recipe Right Here on Earth KAREN EHMAN

    "And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.’" Revelation 5:9 (NIV)

    For all but one year of my life I have lived in small towns within 20 miles of where I was born. These towns, though quaint and friendly, are not what you would call racially or ethnically diverse. Being raised in such an area presents challenges when it comes to getting to know people different from me.

    Thankfully, my experience with a friend of my father led me and my whole family to intentionally make efforts to know others who look, live and worship differently than we do. This friend’s name is Ray.

    Ray was a co-worker of my dad’s who became very close to our family. He and I have completely different backgrounds and don’t share the same race. However, we do share similar hearts. Hearts that love God, family and ministry. Today, Ray and I are like siblings, and he is even a part of my father’s will.

    Currently, Brother Ray is the pastor of a church in the big city a few miles south of us. Years ago, when his congregation purchased a larger church building and held their first service there, Ray invited my husband to be one of the guest speakers.

    After the service, the church celebrated with a huge home-cooked dinner lovingly made by many of the women of that parish. My family and I were treated like royalty. We were seated at the head table and served the most delicious food, including many dishes I had never tasted before. My children played in the nursery with the other children from the church. We exchanged hugs, well wishes and recipes with many from the congregation.

    It was an incredible experience, and what made it even more memorable was that we were the only family of our race in attendance that day. And it was good for our children to be in the minority that Sunday.

    My first experience of being in the minority was when I went on a college mission trip to a foreign land. The experience was so powerful it changed my perspective on diversity forever. I knew I wanted to encourage my children to intentionally get to know people from all walks of life and various ethnic groups.

    As we raised our kids, we have made sure they not only rub shoulders with those who are different from us, but lovingly serve them as well, just as we were served that day. We have helped put on holiday dinners at a community center that ministers to displaced refugees. When younger, my children saved up some of their allowance money to give to a missionary. And we have sponsored Compassion International children from another continent over the years, helping provide them with food and an education. Getting to know others, and serving them in the process, has made our family’s life richer.

    Today’s key verse makes it clear that not everyone in heaven will look just like us. There will be people from every tribe and nation and tongue. If heaven will be diverse, we need to make sure we are seeking out diversity while here on earth.

    We must seek out new relationships, resist using stereotypes when we speak and encourage our children (and other young souls in our sphere of influence) to pursue diversity in their friendships. How it warms my heart to see my youngest son, the only one left in high school, snacking with his friends around my kitchen island — friends who, although share a love of sports, funny videos and laughter, do not share the same ethnic or racial make-up.

    Will you make it a point to purposely reach out to those who look and live differently than you? When you do, you reflect God’s heart toward mankind while you also get a little glimpse of heaven. Why, you might just gain some new recipes in the process.

    Most of all, the recipe for love.

    Father, I want to be intentional to get to know and serve others who are different from me. Help me to reflect Your love to them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Galatians 3:27-29, "… for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: For more ways to reach out to those who may be different from you, visit Karen Ehman’s blog. She is also giving away a copy of her book Everyday Confetti: Your Year-Round Guide to Celebrating Holidays and Special Occasions. It contains many creative ideas and delicious recipes for reaching out to others.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Have you ever intentionally spent time with those of a different race, religion or ethnic group in order to get to know them better or even to serve them? What happened in that situation?

    © 2016 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

    “Whatever we do, we must keep God in the forefront. Let us be Christian in all of our actions.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Much like his namesake, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a reformer. But rather than facing off against the Roman Catholic Church, he fought as a leader in the Civil Rights Movement.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. TalkingIn 1953, at the ripe age of 25, the newly married King and his bride Coretta moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where he became the minister at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

    Two years later, Rosa Parks, also of Montgomery, was arrested for not giving up her seat on a bus, and the Civil Rights Movement began.

    Local pastors created the Montgomery Improvement Association, elected King as president and brought together the black community to establish a citywide bus boycott.

    A year later, bus discrimination ended and he became a nationally-known figure.

    Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s life and Henry David Thoreau’s On Civil Disobedience, King led the MIA, and the movement as a whole, as a nonviolent activist. Even after his home was bombed, he refused to allow the people guarding his home to carry guns.

    And when he almost died from a stab wound, he “became convinced that if the movement held to the spirit of nonviolence, our struggle and example would challenge and help redeem not only America but the world.”

    Even as he was speaking and leading nonviolent protests, King continued serving as a minister. Sometimes in his sermons he would incorporate political topics and during his public speeches, he would often incorporate biblical themes. This is because he didn’t see his civil rights involvement as separate from his ministry.

    “The Christian gospel is a two-way road. On the one hand, it seeks to change the souls of men, and thereby unite them with God; on the other hand, it seeks to change the environmental conditions of men so the soul will have a chance after it is changed.”

    Next Monday, January 18, we remember all that Martin Luther King, Jr. did for his community, his country and the world.

    We honor his courage and his steadfast faith, even in the face of constant danger.

    And we can learn from his example by “keeping God at the forefront.”

  • An Unlikely Confidence

    Lynn Cowell JANUARY 15, 2016

    An Unlikely Confidence LYNN COWELL

    "A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them." Luke 7:37-38 (NIV)

    Ever meet a woman who seemed to light up the room when she walked in? Her laugh said, "I don’t take life too seriously." Her carefree walk let you know she was comfortable with who she was. Her hair and outfit seemed to be perfect. Then again, maybe it wasn’t. Actually her hair was held up in a casual bun and she had on workout clothes. So what made it seem like she had it all together?

    Confidence.

    I used to think confidence was something you were born with. If you were the perfect package — body, hair, family — you had confidence.

    But I met a woman in the Bible who has changed my mind.

    This woman demonstrated a very unlikely confidence. I call it unlikely because the Bible describes her as "a sinful woman." Most likely, she was a prostitute. We meet her in Luke chapter 7, and her story begins in verse 36:

    "When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them" (Luke 7:36-38).

    Do you see the confidence? Confidence to walk into a house full of judgmental men looking down on those unlike them.

    What would have given this unwanted woman the confidence to approach the perfect Son of God? To push past all that rejection?

    Love.

    Jesus called it out. "Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much …" (Luke 7:47a, ESV). Her love for Jesus gave her this unlikely confidence.

    What caused her to love Jesus so much? We’re not given details about her except she was a woman "who lived a sinful life" in that town.

    What had she seen? And experienced? Luke 7:11-15 offers a clue:

    "Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out — the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’ Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother."

       (Luke 7:11-15, NIV)

    Maybe the woman was in this crowd and saw Jesus’ compassion, love, kindness, caring.

    I’m not sure exactly what happened, but one thing is certain: She encountered unconditional love and it gave her the confidence to push past rejection. She knew she was wanted and it compelled her to show love in return.

    Based on her past, I’m sure she knew no man could fill the gap in her heart. Yet this Man, this perfect One, loved her and it gave her unshakeable confidence.

    Love empowered her.

    This woman shows us: Confidence doesn’t come from doing everything right or having it all together. Confidence comes from knowing we are loved. Jesus gave it; she received it.

    We, too, can find confidence, no matter how unlikely it may seem to us. Confidence to push past our barriers in order to receive and return Perfect Love.

    Confidence isn’t something you’re born with. Nor do you get it from the perfect childhood or the model marriage. Rather, it comes from knowing you are loved by the One who gave His life for you.

    Dear God, I want confidence like this woman. Confidence to push past my past and find expressions of love for You. Thank You for loving me and empowering me to love You back. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 3:12, "In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence." (NIV)

    Hebrews 4:16, "Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you know a young woman who is suffering from a lack of confidence, Lynn Cowell’s book, Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants can help. Purchase your copy here.

    Visit Lynn’s Cowell’s blog for more encouragement on discovering God’s confidence, and learn about her empowering Wednesday Wisdom Tips.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Has there been an event in your life or a sin you’ve struggled with that has taken away your confidence?

    Ask God to heal your heart, remove your sin and help you walk daily in His confidence.

    © 2016 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Why Would God Let This Happen?

    Lysa TerKeurst JANUARY 14, 2016

    Why Would God Let This Happen? LYSA TERKEURST

    "‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you." Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)

    I wonder what would happen in our lives if we really lived in the absolute assurance of God’s love. I mean, as Christians we know He loves us. We sing the songs, we quote the verses, we wear the T-shirts and we sport the bumper stickers. Yes, God loves us.

    I’m not talking about knowing He loves us.

    I’m talking about living as if we really believe it.

    I’m talking about walking confidently in the certainty of God’s love even when our feelings beg us not to.

    I’m talking about training our hearts and our minds to process everything through the filter of the absolute assurance of God’s love. Period. Without the possible question mark.

    Not too long ago, I had a conversation with a precious mom whose eldest daughter is nearing 30 and has never had a boyfriend. The younger siblings have all gone through the whole dating thing and one is now engaged to be married. The eldest daughter sat on the side of her mom’s bed recently with tears slipping down her cheeks and said, "Why mom? Why can’t I find anyone to love me? What’s wrong with me?"

    This mom was asking me for advice in helping her daughter process these questions. These feelings are real. These feelings are tough.

    And I’m sure if I were able to untangle all the emotions wrapped in and around these questions, somewhere deep inside I would find this girl doubting God’s love for her.

    I remember being single, the only one of my friends without a boyfriend, and wondering why. I would see these nice boys and think God could make one of them fall in love with me but He hasn’t. And that hurt.

    But here’s the thing I wish I had known then … I must process this through the filter of God’s love not through the tangled places of my heart.

    When I process things through the tangled places of my heart, often the outcome is, "If God loves me so much, why would He let this happen?"

    Instead when I process things through the filter of the absolute assurance of God’s love, the outcome is, "God loves me so much therefore I have to trust why He is allowing this to happen."

    I took the mom’s hand who was asking for advice and told her to help her daughter rewrite the way she is processing this. It’s okay to feel hurt, lonely and sad. But these feelings shouldn’t be a trigger to doubt God’s love for her. They should be a trigger to look for God’s protection, provision and possible growth opportunities.

    I know this can be hard. But what if we really lived in the absolute assurance of God’s love? Oh sweet sister, in whatever you are facing today I pray Isaiah 54:10 over you, Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed yet God’s unfailing love for you will not be shaken.

    Dear Lord, You are good. And You are good at being God. Therefore, I trust Your plan and believe that You’re allowing this to happen for a reason. It may be hard, but I’d rather be close to You through a thousand difficult moments than apart from You in a thousand good ones. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Isaiah 55:8-9, "‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’" (NIV)

    Psalm 138:8a: "The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Becoming MoreOur faith has got to be more than a label, a lingo and a lifestyle! Learn more about how to live in the absolute assurance of God’s love with our next free online Bible study of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study GirlSign up here today.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Is there a situation in your life where you’re questioning if God really loves you?

    It can be so tempting to push God away during a painful or confusing time, but try to press into Him instead. You can do that by praying honestly, reading Scripture and putting yourself in the company of other believers who will speak life into you.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • When All You Have is Not Enough

    Leah DiPascal JANUARY 13, 2016

    When All You Have is Not Enough LEAH DIPASCAL

    "And taking the five loaves and the two fish he [Jesus] looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied." Mark 6:41-42 (ESV)

    I couldn’t avoid it any longer. After distracting myself for hours — washing clothes, emptying the dishwasher and checking emails for the fourth time — I finally had to face the beast.

    Pulling out the thick folder that bulged with utility bills, a mortgage notice and credit card statements, I reached for my tiny checkbook and released a heavy sigh from the pit of my stomach.

    Tallying the numbers as I held my breath only confirmed what I already knew: too many bills and not enough money.

    The small amount felt like tiny crumbs waiting to be devoured by the multitudes.

    My husband and I never anticipated a downward-spiraling economy, which happened right after we started our business 10 years ago. When our clients suddenly stopped paying for the services we provided, it launched us into a season of not-enough, which lasted longer and proved more difficult than we ever imaged.

    As funds dwindled, so did my faith, and I began wondering about my family’s not-enough crisis … Would there be enough to go around? Would the little we had left stretch to meet our obligations? Would God come through in this situation and provide what we needed?

    As I think back on that difficult time, I wonder how the disciples felt, the day the multitudes came to hear Jesus speak. Mark 6 recounts what is known as "The Feeding of the Five Thousand."

    These people desperately wanted what Jesus could offer them: hope, healing and promises of the kingdom of heaven. What I love most is that Scripture tells us Jesus had compassion on them:

    "When he [Jesus] went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things" (Mark 6:34, NIV).

    But by the end of the day the disciples were faced with an unanticipated problem. They told Jesus, "This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat" (Mark 6:35b-36, ESV).

    With the Sea of Galilee behind them and a sea of people facing them, the disciples were ready to wrap things up and go home. It had been a long day of managing the multitudes and I imagine they were starting to feel weary and overwhelmed. But not Jesus …

    After filling the souls of thousands with the spiritual food of the Word of God, Jesus wanted to fill their bellies with actual food.

    He told the disciples, "You give them something to eat" (Mark 6:37, ESV). But a quick tally revealed only five loaves of bread and two fish. As the people began to rumble with empty stomachs, the disciples were suddenly faced with their own not-enough crisis.

    How would they have enough? Would Jesus help them and provide?

    Maybe today you’re facing a not-enough crisis that has you feeling anxious, weary or overwhelmed.

    • Too many bills and not enough money in the bank.
    • Too many doctor’s appointments and not enough definitive answers.
    • Too many interviews and not enough job offers.
    • Too many demands and not enough solutions.

    In today’s key verse, we see how Jesus took the disciples’ not-enough crisis and made it more than enough as He held up the loaves and fish to heaven, giving thanks to God the Father and blessing it.

    Jesus’ multiplication powers produced plenty of leftovers and everyone was satisfied.

    Did you see that? Not just a few — "they all ate and were satisfied."

    In the case of our family’s personal finances, God miraculously stretched what little we had to pay our bills so our debts were all satisfied. Although we couldn’t see it at the time, God was multiplying our less to provide miraculously more.

    Is your not-enough situation giving you an empty rumbling of doubt and discouragement? Why not hold what you have up to Heaven? Trust God for His multiplication powers. And ask Jesus to bless it according to His will.

    God’s love is excessive and His grace multiplies. God’s provisions are abundant and His compassion toward you is endless.

    In God’s hands, our not-enough can become plenty, with leftovers, so that we can be spiritually satisfied and physically provided for by Him in miraculous ways.

    Heavenly Father, help me entrust my not-enough to You not just today, but every day. Thank You for promising to meet all my needs according to Your riches in glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Philippians 4:19, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (ESV)

    Psalm 90:14, "Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you’ve ever questioned whether circumstances will all work out, you’ll appreciate Lysa TerKeurst’s It Will Be Okay: Trusting God Through Fear and Change. It can help kids and grown-ups alike discover how God is good, kind and always with us.

    Visit with Leah DiPascal today on her blog to learn more about how God provided in her family’s season of not-enough.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When was the last time you faced a not-enough crisis? Were you able to turn it over to God and trust Him for provision? Did it cause your faith to wane and leave room for doubt to set in?

    How has today’s devotion changed your perspective and prepared you for the next time a not-enough moment shows up in your life?

    © 2016 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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

  • Introducing Our Books of the Year: A Review of Fervent

    As I go through life, I feel like things just kind of happen. Natural disasters happen because the world is flawed. Bad things happen because the world is a broken place.

    But this is only what we’re led to believe. Satan’s attacks on our lives, our emotions, our friends and our family are real. We’re in a battle. One in which the winner has already been determined. God comes out on top. We come out on top.

    And in light of that victory, we can have boldness in our prayers. A boldness that takes over our bodies and souls, one that believes straight down to our core that God is as powerful and mighty as He says He is.

    Fervent isn’t just a book. It’s not something you can read and then set up on your shelf and say, “Well... that was a good one.”

    Fervent Book

    No, this is a battle plan. An active pursuit of serious, specific and strategic prayer—prayer that sets us free, makes us whole, helps us reach our destinies and grab hold of God’s promises. That kind of prayer.

    Let me show you what that kind of prayer did in my life:

    I was bitter. A friendship that I once held dear had ended badly and I knew that I was partly to blame... but I didn’t want to admit it. The bitterness I felt toward this friend kept boiling under the surface of my carefully placed façade. Sure, I was nice. But I felt hurt. And the wounds went deeper than she realized—if she even realized she’d hurt me at all.

    I ran in the opposite direction, feeling as though I was doing the right thing by putting distance between us. By ending our friendship, I was ending that hurtful chapter of my life, right?

    Wrong. What I thought was the solution only created more problems.

    Why was I constantly second guessing if the new friends God had given me accepted me for who I am? Why was I constantly questioning whether or not my friends were being honest with me? Why did my prayers feel lifeless and passionless? Why couldn’t I muster up enough energy to do my devotions each day? Why did I feel empty inside—even though my life seemed so full of wonderful blessings?

    And then along came Fervent. Along came Priscilla Shirer’s honesty and boldness. Her transparency and vulnerability. Her guidance through Scripture and her words of wisdom about dealing with the hurts of the past that haunt us, and that Satan can use to put a wedge between us and God.

    God—through this book—told me to forgive. And not necessarily wiping away what this friend did as if it didn’t happen or giving her a free pass from the harm she caused... but sparing myself of the exhaustion and burden of carrying it, and allowing Him to relieve the pressure.

    In boldly asking for forgiveness—and taking bold steps to care for this friend—He granted me freedom.

    You see? It’s not just a book about prayer. It’s a battle plan. A life-changer, showing you many areas of your life in which the enemy lies and counteracting his moves with God’s truth.

    So what’s your next move?

    ------

    This post was written by Family Christian’s own Alyssa Helm. She enjoys road trips, corny Dad jokes, Penn State football and sharing the love of Christ through her writing.

  • Be Who God Created You to Be

    Shauna JANUARY 12, 2016

    Be Who God Created You to Be SHAUNA NIEQUIST

    "God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’" Job 37:5-6 (NIV)

    For a season in my life, I tried desperately to be a professional, buttoned-up, organized-type person. I wore slacks, for heaven’s sake. I white-knuckled a schedule and a set of responsibilities that felt like wearing someone else’s too-tight shoes. I’m amazed, when I look back now, how long it took me to realize I was playing a part, acting like someone different from the way God made me to be.

    I’m messy and loud, a hugger and a crier. I like stories and meals and have absolutely no sense of routine. It was a gift to finally admit that I wasn’t made for that job, despite how much I wanted to be.

    What would it look like for you to admit today what you are and are not made for?

    I love today’s key verse, and I love the freedom and grace that flood through me when I read it.

    So God says to the snow, "Fall on the earth." That’s it. Just do one thing. Just fall. And then He says to the rain shower, "Be a mighty downpour." Essentially, He’s saying: Just do the thing I’ve actually created you to do. You’re rain … so rain. You’re snow … so snow.

    I love the simplicity of that, the tremendous weight it takes off my shoulders. God’s asking me to be the thing He’s already created me to be. And He’s asking you to be the thing He’s already created you to be.

    He doesn’t tell the snow to thaw and become rain, or the rain to freeze itself into snow. He says, essentially: Do your thing. Do the thing you love to do, what you’ve been created to do.

    So many of us twist ourselves up in knots trying desperately to be something or someone else. Trying to fulfill some endless list of qualities and capabilities that we think will make us feel loved or safe or happy. That’s an exhausting way to live, and I know because I’ve done it.

    What is God asking you do to? What is the thing God created you to be?

    What do you do with the ease and lightness of falling snow? Many of us, if we’re honest, have wandered far from those things. We’ve gotten wrapped up in what someone else wanted us to be, what we thought would keep us happy and safe and gain us approval.

    I’m finding there’s tremendous value in traveling back to our essential selves, the loves and skills and passions God planted inside us long ago.

    When I look at my life, I see the threads of passion and identity I’ve carried through my whole life: Books and reading, people and connection, food and the table. These are things I’ve always loved, and they continue to bring me great joy and fulfillment.

    Think about your adolescent self, your child self, the "you" you’ve always been. God imprinted a sacred, beautiful collection of passions and capacities right onto your heart: What do you love? What does your passion bubble over for?

    Much of adulthood is peeling off the layers of expectation and pressure, and protecting those precious things that lie beneath. We live in a culture that tries to define what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a success, what it means to live a valuable life.

    But those definitions require us to live on a treadmill, both literally and figuratively, always hustling to fit in, to be thin enough and young enough and sparkly enough, for our homes to be large and spotless, our children well-mannered and clean-faced, our dreams orderly and profitable. But that’s not life. That’s not where the fullness of joy and meaning are found.

    The snow is only meant, created, commanded to fall. The rain only meant, created, commanded to pour down. You were only meant, created, commanded to be who you are — weird and wonderful, imperfect and messy and lovely.

    What do you need to leave behind, in order to recover that essential self that God created? What do you need to walk away from, in order to reclaim those unique parts God designed for His purposes?

    Dear God: Today, give me the courage to live the life You’ve called me to with the same contentedness and confidence as the falling snow or the pouring rain. Please help me to walk away from roles and expectations that other people have for me, and to live in peace with the exact way You created me — on purpose and for a purpose. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 12:4, "There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Sink deep into God’s everyday goodness and savor every moment! In Savor, Shauna Niequist becomes a friend across the pages, sharing her heart with yours, keeping you company and inviting you into the abundant life God offers. And there are recipes, too, because spiritual living happens not just when we read and pray, but also when we gather with family and friends over dinners and breakfasts and late-night snacks.

    To learn more about Shauna and Savorclick here to visit her website.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are. In celebration of this book, Shauna’s publisher is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, January 18.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What is one unique thing God has designed you to do today? How can you take a step of faith to begin doing more of that in the next month?

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

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

    © 2016 by Shauna Niequist. All rights reserved.

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

  • Can This Year Really Be Different?

    Glynnis Whitwer JANUARY 11, 2016

    Can This Year Really Be Different? GLYNNIS WHITWER

    "‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing." John 21:3 (NIV)

    Each year as I hang up the blank calendar in my kitchen, empty of appointments but full of promise, I think to myself, This year will be different!

    This will be the year I finally finish that house project, exercise consistently, lose weight, pray faithfully, spend more time with friends and so on and so forth. This year has to be better than last year … right?

    And yet, for so many years I’d get to March (if I lasted that long) and give up on my goals, feeling like a failure once again.

    I got so frustrated because I knew how to do this stuff. I might not do it perfectly, but I can paint a wall, take a walk, put less food in my mouth, sit and pray and schedule time with friends. This isn’t rocket science!

    But … for some confusing reason I either stopped trying or kept making the same choices as before, expecting a different result.

    I wonder if that’s how the disciples felt the night they went fishing and caught nothing. The story is told in John 21, after Jesus’ death when the disciples had gone to Galilee to wait for His return (which He’d told them about in Matthew 26:32).

    While in Galilee, at least on one night, the disciples returned to their old lives … to fishing. They knew how to fish, as they’d done it all their lives, but that night after hours sitting in wooden boats, floating in dark silence, they caught nothing.

    The story takes an interesting turn as the sun starts to rise. Jesus stood on the edge of the lake (although they didn’t recognize Him at first). He asked if they’d caught anything, and when He learned they hadn’t, He gave them a simple instruction: "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some" (John 21:6a, NIV).

    Scripture doesn’t record the disciples’ thoughts, but I imagine they were confused and a bit annoyed at this piece of advice. After all, they’d been doing everything they knew to do, why should they keep trying? The fish obviously weren’t there!

    And yet, they threw their nets on the right side of the boat. This time, in obedience to Jesus, Scripture tells us they caught so many fish they were unable to haul in their nets.

    This would have been a nonstory had the disciples ignored the suggestion to try again, but in a slightly different way. They could have insisted they knew how to fish, they knew the water, and they knew the behavior of the fish. Instead, they humbly listened and obeyed. The blessing of the fish was minor in comparison to seeing Jesus and His power at work in their lives again.

    This passage encourages me to press pause at the start of the New Year. I’ve already proved I can’t do much in my strength. So before I go back to my old ways, forging ahead, certain I just need to try harder, I want to stop and seek Jesus’ direction and help.

    As I look back on my life, those are the times I’ve seen the Lord work in the greatest ways. When I admit my natural strength isn’t enough, God’s supernatural strength is evident.

    So maybe this year things can be different. Not because I’ve got a new game plan or brilliant strategy. I haven’t found a short-cut or an app to make things easier. Maybe the difference is simpler than that. Instead of looking to myself, I need to wait on Jesus. Not just in the big questions and problems, but in everyday, seemingly mundane choices.

    As the disciples learned that morning, we are never far from success when we allow Jesus to direct our course.

    Dear Lord, I’m so sorry I’ve lived much of my life guided by my own direction, while You have always been there offering wisdom and power. I want to become a woman who looks to You first before trying harder in my own strength. I need Your help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (NIV)

    Ecclesiastes 7:8, "Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Are you ready for this year to be different in an area of your life? If so, join Glynnis Whitwer on her blog for a free two-week online series titled: "This Year Can Be Different." It begins January 18, and sign-ups are open today.

    Glynnis’ book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, can help you deal with that pesky procrastination habit.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about your life, what would it be? (Make sure it’s something you can actually change — not like winning the lottery.)

    Why is it hard to make changes in this area of your life? List your reasons for resistance.

    © 2016 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

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