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Author Archives: Family Christian

  • When You Need Help … but Don’t Want to Admit It.

    Posted on June 12, 2015 by Family Christian

    Chrystal Evans Hurst JUNE 12, 2015

    When You Need Help … but Don’t Want to Admit It.
    CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

    "I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’" Psalm 91:2 (NIV)

    As a single woman in my twenties, I took a trip to San Francisco for my job.

    Not only did I work, but I made time to play. My favorite part of the trip was a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge.

    I rented a bike, complete with a helmet and a map, and set off down the coast.

    I rode the few miles to the bridge, cruised across the bay, sailed mostly downhill towards the tiny, quaint town of Sausalito, then caught the ferry back to the mainland.

    A few years later, I made the trip again to San Francisco with a few friends to relive the wonderful memory of that ride and build some new memories as well.

    We rode the few miles to the bridge, cruised across the bay and made the right turn to sail with ease towards Sausalito.

    It only took a few seconds for us to pick up speed as we biked downhill. But then I sensed I was going a tad too fast. So I tapped on my brakes.

    Seconds later, I only remember the dawning realization that I was in the middle of the road and needed to crawl to the shoulder for safety.

    While my friends rushed toward me, I sat dazed, trying to piece together what had happened and figure out what should happen next.

    All I could think was I needed to get myself together so I could get back on that bike and head toward Sausalito. I had come to San Fran on a mission and I wanted to finish the journey.

    But that finish would not come.

    Not long after, a paramedic approached me from the ambulance someone had called and squatted down on his haunches to ask me if I knew my name and the day. You know … the type of questions asked of an injured person who has just been thrown from their bike. I tried to convince him I was okay.

    I told him I thought I could still finish. I told him that after I’d completed my goal of biking to Sausalito, then I would go to the hospital to figure out what was wrong with my body. Needless to say, he advised against my gallant ideas.

    I needed help. I didn’t want it, but I needed it.

    Sometimes life is like that. We are cruising along and something goes wrong. We sit dazed, trying to piece together what has happened and what we should do next, not realizing we are hurt and in need of help.

    We may not want it, but we need it. We may try to convince others we are okay, when it’s clear we are not.

    I reluctantly agreed to get into the ambulance and take the ride to the local emergency room where I later realized I had a broken finger, a fractured elbow and a sizable puncture in my chin.

    That ambulance. The beautiful thing about that ambulance is it arrived quickly when I was in trouble.

    In the same way, God is a very present help when you are in trouble. When you call Him, He will be there. Right where you are. Even if you are on the side of the road.

    And just like I found refuge in the ambulance and at that hospital, you can find refuge in God.

    You may be reluctant to admit you need help. Or you may be reluctant to pause and give God your situation so He can help you. Can I encourage you today to let God help?

    He can soothe you with His Word, send reinforcements through His people and provide answers to your prayers.

    Seek Him today. He loves to help those who are in trouble and He is an expert at fixing the source of pain and setting the hurting on a path to healing.

    Dear God, I need Your help. I’m hurting and I need You to help me address my source of pain and set me on a path to healing. Please show me where I can get help in Your Word or through Your people. Help me be patient as I wait for You to answer my prayers. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 41:10, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you …" (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Kingdom Woman by Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst can help you find perspective to be the woman God has called you to be.

    Chrystal has prepared a free printable Scripture to remind you that God is with you and will help you. Click here to download.

    If you’re looking to move forward and find healing for your deepest hurts, know that you don’t have to run this race alone! Join our next Online Bible Study of The Mended Heart by Suzie Eller, launching June 22. Click here to get your book or learn more.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Why might you be reluctant to admit when you need help? What will you do in light of today’s devotional to embrace the help God offers?

    If you’ve ever experienced God coming to your aid in your time of trouble, share your experience in the comments to encourage another person in need of hope today.

    © 2015 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Please Interrupt Me

    Posted on June 11, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lysa TerKeurst JUNE 11, 2015

    Please Interrupt Me
    LYSA TERKEURST

    "The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes." Psalm 19:8 (NIV)

    I wonder if the greatest witnessing tool available to us Christians is often pushed aside because of our busyness.

    Recently, I was focused on all the items on my seemingly never-ending to-do list.

    As I sat at a stoplight, a friend called and started lamenting that her son had forgotten his lunch and his belt required by the school’s uniform policy. She was stressed and trying to get in touch with her husband who’d just dropped off her son at school. She was at home with a new baby feeling groggy from a sleepless night and overwhelmed by her situation.

    Her son could probably get his friends to share their lunches with him. But, the belt would be a problem. The school would call her when they noticed the missing belt and require her to bring one. She lives over 20 minutes from the school.

    As I sat at the stoplight listening to my friend, I looked to the store off to my right. That store has belts. That store has lunch food.

    I was faced with a decision: Could I help? Well, I could, but my schedule would have to be rearranged a bit. Would I help? My friend wasn’t asking for my assistance but in that moment, I knew it would be a tremendous blessing for her.

    This day I wouldn’t let my busyness take precedence over the blessing of divine interruptions. So, I helped.

    I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect my friend had been asking Jesus to help her. It’s hard being up half the night with a sleepless baby. It’s hard to find a new normal when life gets a little off-kilter by changes in the family dynamic. It’s hard when you need help but feel like everyone is so busy you hate to bother them.

    Now I’ll admit, I’m a task-oriented person, so it doesn’t come naturally for me to look for interruptions in the midst of my busyness.

    But sitting at that stoplight, I realized the power of pausing. Pausing just long enough for Jesus to tap on the edge of my heart and say, "Could you? Would you? Do this as if it’s the most important part of your day and not an unwelcome interruption."

    The Bible teaches one of the most important precepts is love. When we love others we are living the message of Jesus. And listen to what Psalm 19:8 says, "The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes."

    Oh how many times have I missed the joy of pausing to live and love and light the world for Jesus? I suspect it’s happened more often than I’d like to admit.

    But instead of getting stuck in what I might have missed, I’m choosing to see this as a wake-up call. I’m choosing to underwhelm my schedule so God can overwhelm my soul with these opportunities to love.

    Dear Lord, help me pause today and remember my greatest witnessing tool is to simply be available to love others. Show me where I can love. Make me courageous enough to put aside my carefully planned to-do list. And help me find ways to be an answer to someone’s prayers today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 John 3:18, "Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions." (NLT)

    Psalm 39:6a, "We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you’ve set your life to the rhythm of rush without any time to love others, Lysa TerKeurst understands. She wants to show you how to add white space back into your life with her book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. Get your copy here.

    For more encouragement, follow Lysa on Facebook!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Who in your life is currently going through a season where you could practically lend a hand?

    Today, spend some time praying about ways you can create white space in your schedule to make yourself more available to help this person.

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Tired of Trying to Be Perfect

    Posted on June 10, 2015 by Family Christian

    Amy Carroll JUNE 10, 2015

    Tired of Trying to Be Perfect
    AMY CARROLL

    "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

    I’ve always struggled with perfectionism — in every stage of life. When I was young, I strove for excellent grades. As I grew older, I wanted to be perfect in my friendships. Not only did I want to be the best for my students when I became a teacher, I aspired to earn awards and accolades, too.

    If you’re also a perfectionist, I bet you can relate.

    My losing battle with perfectionism was at its worst after I had my first baby. As a resource junkie, I was sure I could research my way to being the perfect mom. My friends loaded me up with their recommended parenting books and being a voracious reader, I dug right in.

    Soon, I envisioned two very different supermoms in my mind. The first was Earth Mama. She wore a bohemian skirt, chandelier earrings and a quilted baby sling as her predominant and most important accessory. Earth Mama cheerfully flexed with her baby’s every need, cuddling up together in the family bed at night or confidently supplying her — ahem — natural sources of nourishment at a moment’s notice no matter where they were — home, a restaurant or in the middle of a department store.

    Then there was supermom number two, Right-on-Schedule Mom. This mom wore chinos and a dry-cleaned shirt that was always unwrinkled because she only picked up her baby when it was time — time for a meal, time for a nap or playtime. Right-on-Schedule Mom’s baby slept through the night at two weeks in her own snazzy crib and sat up before anyone else in their Mommy and Me group. Any natural sources of nourishment were tented in public and permanently covered at precisely one year.

    How to choose? How to choose? Each model seemed perfect in its own way, and I vacillated between them until I ended up confused, worn-out and frustrated.

    Whether you’re married, single, a career woman, or a domestic manager, creating an image of perfection is a never-ending, exhausting activity. Because the measure of perfection keeps shifting, the stage we’re in and the crowd we follow determines the units on our current measuring stick.

    The perfect sorority girl tries to live up to a very different image than the perfect athlete.

    The perfect socialite works to have an image that is in stark contrast to the perfect revolutionary.

    The perfect preppy disdains the perfect punk.

    Not only do these personas divide women instead of creating relationships and community, these perfect images start a cycle of never-ending shape-shifting.

    Maybe you’re the career woman who works more hours than you’d like to gain the approval of your team.

    Maybe you’re the single woman who accepts blind dates your married friends arrange even though you’re content in your singleness.

    But God didn’t create us to be shape-shifters. God crafted us to reflect His image, not create our own.

    As a young mom, I finally realized that I was trying to figure out the wrong thing. I didn’t need to choose an ideal supermom. I needed to allow God to show me how to be the best mom to the baby He had given me.

    Living fully in the knowledge that we are one of God’s wondrous works is our greatest praise to Him! It’s in becoming our truest, God-created selves, reflecting His image in the gifts and wiring He’s given us, that we’ll connect most deeply with our Creator and with others.

    Lord, I’m worn out from trying to be perfect. I long to walk in freedom and to become the woman you intended me to be when You wove me together. Help me be authentic, instead of shape-shifting to please others or to attain an impossible image. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Genesis 1:27, "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." (NIV)

    Genesis 1:31, "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Breaking Up with Perfect: Kiss Perfection Good-Bye and Embrace the Joy God Has in Store for You by Amy Carroll releases next month. Click here to pre-order your copy.

    Amy invites you to visit her blog today to celebrate the release of Breaking Up with Perfect. There will be a terrific free resource and a giveaway.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Do you live life as a shape-shifter or an image-bearer?

    In what ways would you live freer by giving up a "perfect" image?

    Write a written response to this verse from the Bible, "The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV).

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • How the Bible Became More than Pages of Tissue

    Posted on June 9, 2015 by Family Christian

    Angie Smith JUNE 9, 2015

    How the Bible Became More than Pages of Tissue
    ANGIE SMITH

    "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

    One of the first things I learned about successfully fitting in with Christians was the power of nodding my head.

    It made people think I understood things I didn’t, and it masked the insecurity and frustration of feeling like the Bible was never going to make sense to me. So, when they said things like, "I’m so inspired by Paul’s courage," I would bob my head and make a mental note to investigate it later.

    When they upped the ante with phrases like, "This story takes place in modern-day Iraq," I nodded. I couldn’t point to modern-day Iraq on a map if my life depended on it, let alone do the mental bridge-building to get to the part where this realization was as euphoric as it seemed to be for other people.

    Have you ever felt like that? It’s all over your head and you’re counting the minutes until you can leave the situation that reminds you that you aren’t smart enough to "get it."

    And it’s the worst. It’s the absolute WORST.

    I’m a relatively bright person, and I tend to pick things up (fairly) quickly. But the Bible? That was different. I just couldn’t make sense of it.

    So many pages. Such thin, thin pages.

    Like tissue that taunted me. That’s what the Bible was to me for many years: taunting pages of tissue.

    Eventually I became so frustrated that I walked into my local Christian bookstore and asked where the children’s section was. Then I sat cross-legged on the floor, thumbing through the bright photos and short summary stories for a few hours.

    And don’t laugh, because it actually helped me. I bought a few children’s storybook Bibles and after I finished my classes each day, I would sit on the balcony of our apartment and read. Slowly, without letting the voice of condemnation speak louder than the voice of devotion.

    That was my start of reading and understanding the Bible. I’ve had other Bibles since then, and I’m thankful I didn’t give up trying. Because the more I read, the more I began to understand the bigger story of Scripture.

    Maybe you can relate?

    You love the stories you’ve heard, but aren’t sure how they fit together. Or maybe you understand it from an academic perspective, but you can’t quite get your heart to care.

    Or possibly, you’ve simply done what you could to understand enough to get by in a small group, yet you go home feeling like you’re behind the curve.

    I want you to remember something very important: The Bible wasn’t written just for a few experts to understand while baffling the rest of us.

    Did you hear that?

    The Bible was written for all of us, and as our key verse reminds us, it helps equip us for every good work God intends us to do. With that being the case, I want you to erase any part of your self-talk that says you aren’t smart enough or educated enough or even spiritual enough. Deal?

    As we commit to reading God’s Word and not giving up, we’re throwing off anything that has held us back. And we’re moving forward in full confidence that He will bless us with the desire of our hearts — to know Him better.

    Father, thank You for sharing Your perfect Word with us. Help us to overcome our fear that we aren’t smart enough to understand it. I want to know You better and am willing to do whatever it takes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 19:7, "The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple." (NIV)

    Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Do you wish you understood the Bible better? Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story is a 7-week Bible study by Angie Smith that covers the people, places and promises of the Bible, tying them together into the greater story of Scripture.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Seamless by Angie Smith. In celebration of this book, Angie’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, June 15.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How did Angie’s experience of feeling lost or stupid trying to study the Bible resonate with you? What have been your own challenges in studying the Bible?

    What are some steps you will take this week to devote yourself to better understanding God’s Word?

    © 2015 by Angie Smith. 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

  • I'm a Brand New Girl

    Posted on June 8, 2015 by Family Christian

    T. Suzanne Eller JUNE 8, 2015

    I'm a Brand New Girl
    SUZIE ELLER

    "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

    I listened as she shared about past hurts that still ached. They affected her every single day.

    I wanted to fix it, but knew I was powerless to do so. I prayed silently for God to heal the damage that lingered from so long ago.

    Years and years ago.

    There’s no judgment here, because there is no timetable for healing. It’s not a race. Everybody’s journey looks different.

    Yet what I heard this woman saying was she was tired of feeling the way she did. She was frustrated that her past continued to affect her current relationships and the way she viewed herself.

    In today’s verse, Paul shares a powerful truth: Because Jesus died for you, you are free to die to your old life.

    Your old self.

    Your old past.

    Your old way of thinking.

    Your old entanglements.

    Your anger over old events.

    Your hurt over old words spoken over your life.

    And new is free to emerge in its place.

    I told my friend I couldn’t remember the day or the hour when I finally felt "new." Instead, like one season passing into another, I began to shed the old as new ideas and behaviors pushed up through the soil.

    Sometimes it surprised me. Like when the old stories were brought up and I didn’t need to engage in them anymore.

    Or when I thought about an old memory, and it was just that — an old memory. Something I couldn’t change, but that could serve as a teaching marker — leading me to do better with my own children, or in my choices, or with people I love.

    Sometimes I was amazed at how confidently and easily I connected with others. I’d bravely step out of my comfort zone — not realizing until later it was courageous.

    I’d look around startled, and think: Was that me?

    Yes, yes it was. It was the new me.

    I love how one version of the Bible words the last part of our key verse: "The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!" (2 Corinthians 5:17b, MSG).

    The word "burgeon" means to spill out or over with newness. To multiply. To flourish!

    In verse 18, it says that this burgeoning newness is a gift from God as He reached to heal those who had been hurt by sin (whether their own sin or that of another), and brought them back to Himself through Christ.

    That day I asked this woman if she’d consider receiving that gift of newness, and she wanted nothing more. What a beautiful first step.

    This gift is for all of us. It’s for you.

    You receive it as you walk closely with Jesus, following His lead. Letting go of the old as He gently shows you how.

    You receive it as you remove your focus from the person who hurt your heart to a God who treasures you.

    You receive it as your story expands to include the new chapters ahead.

    You receive it as you begin to break the patterns of the past, no longer doing what you’ve always done, or thinking the way you’ve always thought.

    And splish, splash, something begins to burgeon. You’re becoming a brand new girl.

    With a new life.

    With a new way of thinking.

    Heading in a new direction.

    With a newly mended heart.

    Father, I am tired of the old. You are bigger than the past. You offer a gift of healing and I receive it. I won’t rush this, but allow You to heal layer by layer. Surprise me, God, with what You desire to do inside of me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    2 Corinthians 5:14, "Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you’re looking to move forward and find healing for your deepest hurts, Suzie Eller’s book, The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places, might be helpful for you.

    Learn more about how to replace the lie that you’ll never heal with the truth that God can restore your heart. "Get Past Your Past; 8 Scripture cards to Replace Your Pain with His Promises." Sign up here!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When your heart begins to mend, it’s not a race. Don’t compare your healing journey with others.

    Instead, celebrate one new thing God has done in you recently and thank Him for what’s to come.

    © 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • How to Survive the Stress of Summer

    Posted on June 5, 2015 by Family Christian

    Tracie Miles JUNE 5, 2015

    How to Survive the Stress of Summer
    TRACIE MILES

    "The LORD gives his people strength. The LORD blesses them with peace." Psalm 29:11 (NLT)

    The threat of summer craziness was becoming a reality. I settled in a chair at my kitchen table, surrounded by the clutter of information sheets regarding work obligations, sports practices, mission trips and church activities. Pulling out my family calendar, I mapped out the summer months.

    After writing down all our commitments, I stared at the endless scribbles etched across practically every date. We had only one free week during the entire summer. With a heavy sigh and swirling thoughts, I felt a twinge of stress and anxiety slowly rising up in my chest.

    I couldn’t help but wonder, Isn’t summer supposed to be footloose and fancy-free? What happened to sleeping in and time to rest and unwind? Are relaxing summer days merely a thing of the past?

    Instead, now it seems like summers are filled with days when the kids get bored and whiny, camps get cancelled, work gets in the way of vacation plans, the AC goes out, and traffic is horrendous.

    We have more and more days when we lose our patience or harbor a bad attitude, or have had quite enough of "family time." Days when we feel powerless against the exhaustion of our busy schedules and stress rules the roost.

    It may seem that easy summers are long gone. However, we can make it through the hectic days and stay at peace despite the chaos. In today’s key verse, God promises He will help us with whatever we face: "The LORD gives his people strength. The LORD blesses them with peace" (Psalm 29:11).

    There are several keys to God’s peace overriding the mayhem. When we remember to focus on God’s sweet goodness, instead of all the scribbles on our calendar, we can proactively manage our summertime. We can receive God’s calm, even in a busy and sometimes stressful time of the year.

    Here are some practical tips to keep summer stress at bay:

     

    • Focus on all the good things God has done for us so far this year, instead of the challenges of the summer months.
    • Remain calm and pray for God's peace when the demands of family and life seem overwhelming.
    • Ask God to give us rest and strength when we begin to feel stretched thin and worn out.
    • Take daily mini-vacations. Try to set aside at least five minutes per hour to stretch and take a break, and stay committed to your time in God’s Word each day!
    • When you take days off from your work or daily routine, unplug completely — meaning no phone or emails.
    • Keep a checklist or a detailed calendar of all scheduled activities so you can stay organized and less stressed.
    • Do something for yourself once a week: take a bubble bath, read a good book, spend time outdoors or take a nap.

     

    Busyness and stress can heat up quicker than the summer sun. But it is possible to stay cool on the inside. Whether we are low in spirit or low in energy, depending on God and seeking a daily infusion of His strength and peace can ensure a less stressful summer.

    Dear God, sometimes I allow the chaos of summer to distract me from spending time with You. I neglect to claim Your peace and allow myself to get bogged down with the stressors of the season. I get frustrated with my children, rather than treasuring this time with them. Help me focus on You when I begin to feel overcommitted and to seek Your peace with each rising sun. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 13:6, "I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms — I’m celebrating your rescue. I’m singing at the top of my lungs, I’m so full of answered prayers." (MSG)

    Proverbs 8:30, "Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Consider purchasing Tracie’s book Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace in Your Chaotic World to help prepare your heart for the stress of summer and life in general.

    For more tips on having a less stressed summer, visit Tracie Miles on Pinterest and check out her Summer Survival Series pinboard, which offers tips for stay-at-home and working moms, working women, vacation planning, free checklists, back-to-school and college send-off tips and more!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Do the stressors of summer zap your strength and rob you of your joy and peace in Christ?

    What can you do differently this summer than you have done in the past to prevent summer stress?

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Why Did This Happen, God?

    Posted on June 4, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lysa TerKeurst JUNE 4, 2015

    Why Did This Happen, God?
    LYSA TERKEURST

    "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

    Has God ever hurt your feelings? I’ll be honest, sometimes I’ll read those verses from Philippians listed above and think to myself: This is a tough pill to swallow.

    Content in any and every situation?

    Really?

    A few years ago my middle daughter was a state champion gymnast. To see her do gymnastics was like looking at God smile. She was beautiful, graceful and captivating to watch.

    Then one night while practicing for one of the largest tournaments she’d ever competed in, she fell. It was a move she’d done hundreds of times with the greatest of ease. But this time something went terribly wrong and that one mistake destroyed her gymnastic dreams.

    We spent a year going from doctor to doctor only to be told she’d never be able to support the weight of her body on her injured shoulder again.

    I’ll be honest … this was a tough pill to swallow. Watching a 14-year-old girl wrestle with the fact that her dreams were stripped from her doesn’t exactly lend itself to feelings of contentment. Now, I know in the grand scheme of life, people face much worse situations. But in her world, this was huge.

    It was so tempting to want to wallow in the "why" questions and tell God He’d hurt our feelings.

    Why did this happen?

    Why didn’t You stop this, God?

    Why weren’t my prayers answered?

    Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a big situation in your life where you just couldn’t process why God would allow this to happen? Or maybe even a small annoyance like losing your keys or having a flat tire on a morning you really needed to be somewhere.

    It’s so tempting to wallow in the "why."

    Asking why is perfectly normal. Asking why isn’t unspiritual. However, if asking this question pushes us farther from God rather than drawing us closer to Him, it is the wrong question.

    If asking the why question doesn’t offer hope, what will?

    The what question.

    In other words: "Now that this is my reality, what am I supposed to do with it?"

    Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things" (NIV).

    I like to call this verse, "Directions on Where to Park My Mind."

    And that’s exactly what Ashley had to do with her dashed gymnastics dreams. Instead of wallowing in why did this happen, I’ve had to help her say:

    This is my reality, now what am I going to do with it?

    What can I learn from this?

    What part of this is for my protection?

    What other opportunities could God be providing?

    What maturity could God be building into me?

    Switching from the why to the what questions paves the road to parking our minds in a much better place.

    Is it always easy? No.

    But is it a way to find a perspective beyond situations where we feel God has allowed something in our lives we don’t understand and we absolutely don’t like?

    Yes it is, and I pray this helps you today.

    Dear Lord, I want to process everything I face in life through the filter of Your love. I know You love me. But sometimes it’s just hard to understand the circumstances that come my way. I find myself consumed with trying to figure things out rather than looking for Your perspective and trusting You. Thank You for this new way to look at things. 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 higher than your thoughts.’" (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Give the gift of encouragement by writing a special note to a friend who may be going through a hard season right now. This "Live a Life of Love" gift set is so much more than a greeting card. It can be framed and treasured for years to come. Order yours today by clicking here. Supplies are limited.

    Live a Life of Love

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Spend some time today talking to God about the things that hurt you.

    Pray and ask Him to help you turn your why questions into what questions.

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Just Keep Moving

    Posted on June 3, 2015 by Family Christian

    T. Suzanne Eller JUNE 3, 2015

    Just Keep Moving
    SUZIE ELLER

    "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." 2 Corinthians 10:4 (NIV)

    It’s not unusual for my son, Ryan, to call me on a Saturday morning and say something like, "Hey mom, I just ran 13 miles! What are you doing?"

    "Well, I just ate breakfast. I plan to brush my teeth in a few minutes. Oh yeah, I brushed my hair."

    But 13 miles? Umm, no.

    Then my husband started running. He’d come through the door, soaked in sweat, breathing as if there weren’t enough air in the room. Before long he was running a couple of miles. Then he started running 5K’s and eventually half-marathons. One morning I walked outside in my running shoes and coordinated running outfit.

    If they could do it, so could I.

    I took off, feet pounding the pavement. It felt great at first, but not too much later my chest constricted. My legs felt like they weighed 1,000 pounds. I started marking out goals.

    If I can make it to the next mailbox.

    If I can make it to the stop sign.

    Finally, I sat on the curb in an attempt to catch my breath. I had barely run a mile.

    I walked home and put my running shoes in the closet. This running thing was for someone else. Not me.

    Later, I learned the first mile is often the hardest, even for accomplished runners. You are finding your stride. Your lungs and heart and legs are moving into new territory from sedentary to active.

    I gave up too soon. I was too hard on myself.

    In today’s key verse, the apostle Paul finds himself in a unique situation. He wrote powerful letters to the church, but when he arrived in person the people weren’t that impressed. Some said he was too timid (2 Corinthians 10:1). Others believed his speaking wasn’t that great (2 Corinthians 10:10).

    Paul could have turned around and given up.

    But he didn’t. It wasn’t about how great a speaker he was or how inspiring he might be in person. He had been given authority in Jesus’ name to overcome whatever had a strong hold on his life.

    All that was required of him was to keep running. The results would come through the power of Christ.

    Years ago I started the process of healing emotionally. I was a mess inside. That first "mile" in the healing process was hard.

    I was breaking old patterns of behavior. I was pushing through feelings. I was learning who I was separate from the past. There were many times that I was unimpressive. If I had based success on my performance alone, I might have given up.

    I’m glad I didn’t because God was demolishing things that had controlled me with every step I took.

    There was no speed limit. If I stopped to take a breather, He gave me rest in those places. If I didn’t have all the answers, He showed me the next step. All that was required of me was to keep going. His divine power was working in me every step of the way.

    Maybe you’ve started the healing process and it seems hard. Or perhaps you tried it once and it didn’t work, so you gave up.

    Put your shoes back on, sister. Your Heavenly Father wants to bring you freedom too, and He promises to be in the race with you.

    Recently I started running again. I might never run 13 miles before breakfast, but I’m celebrating the fact that the shoes are on my feet and I’m moving forward, wherever that takes me.

    Heavenly Father, I’m putting my shoes on. I’ll celebrate every step forward and run toward the finish line with my arms in the air praising You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    2 Corinthians 12:9a, "But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’" (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you’re looking to move forward and find healing for your deepest hurts Suzie Eller’s book, The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places, might be helpful for you.

    You don’t have to run this race alone! Join our next Online Bible Study of The Mended Heart by Suzie Eller, launching June 22. Click here for more information.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    There are three rules every runner should know: 1) Run at your own pace. 2) Watch your step. 3) Just run.

    1) When healing emotionally or spiritually, let God do His work fully, even if it takes more time than you want.

    2) If things trip you up in the healing process, be honest with yourself and stay away from them.

    3) It’s not about winning. It’s about growing. Just keep going.

    © 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • You are Chosen and Loved

    Posted on June 2, 2015 by Family Christian

    Jennifer Rothschild JUNE 2, 2015

    You are Chosen and Loved
    Jennifer Rothschild

    "I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’" Hosea 2:23b (NIV)

    Growing up, I was an uncoordinated kid.

    One of the ones who was often chosen last for the kickball team in gym class. And even then, only because there was no one else left to pick.

    If you, too, have ever been picked last, the idea of being chosen by God might sound rather foreign. Some of us might even need to rethink what it means to be chosen.

    To be chosen by God means we are His first choice and His best choice. Unlike the kids in the gym, He didn’t shrug His shoulders and say, "Well, I guess I’ll take her if no one else will."

    Not at all.

    When Jesus’ hands were nailed to a cross, His fingers pointed to you and me — He intentionally chose to die for us. He chose you and He chose me and He chooses us every day.

    Isn’t that amazing?

    The book of Hosea in the Bible beautifully illustrates this concept for us. Hosea was a prophet whom God told to marry a prostitute and thereby show the nation of Israel how she’d been unfaithful by worshipping false gods. Hosea chose Gomer, a woman who would birth his children, yet leave him time and again for another lover. (For more, see Hosea chapters 1 and 2.)

    All through the book of Hosea, we see both judgment and hope, destruction and restoration. Hosea proclaims both sides of God, which reflect His one heart — God’s faithful love for His people, warning them for their good.

    Just like God chose the nation of Israel and Hosea the prophet chose Gomer to reveal His love, God chose you. In fact, you are a chosen woman of God.

    It’s so easy to look in the foggy mirror that is my life and see all the reasons why I shouldn’t be chosen and loved: I’m selfish, I wander from God, I have mixed motives, I’m not good enough … oh, the reasons are unending!

    However, the more accurate mirror of God’s Word reflects the truth that I am chosen and loved. And, that my friend, includes you.

    In today’s key verse, God’s Word to Israel reminds us that even though we have made mistakes and might feel rejected and unworthy of love, God still pursues us. The message of Hosea is still God’s message to us.

    In other words, Israel’s identity was a chosen and loved people of God. Our identity is chosen and loved women of God.

    Thankfully, I’ve learned God doesn’t love me because I am cleaned up, religious or even because I am a Christian. He loves me because He is love. We didn’t earn His love and we can’t lose His love either.

    The Bible says, "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8b, ESV). He didn’t choose to love you because you were lovely, He loved you and then you became lovely. Your value comes from His inherit value.

    Look into the mirror of your soul and see Gomer reflected back at you. She was the beloved bride and so are you. Embrace your true identity as a chosen and loved woman of God!

    Lord, thank You for choosing me, even when I feel unworthy to be chosen. And thank You for loving me when I didn’t do anything to earn Your love. Please speak words of truth over me when I’m tempted to doubt I am chosen and loved. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 John 4:9-10, "God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love — not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." (NLT)

    Romans 8:38-39, "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Hosea: Unfailing Love Changes Everything by Jennifer Rothschild is a 7-session Bible study that focuses on the Old Testament prophet, whose life message demonstrates the kind of love we dream of, a love that changes everything. For details, click here.

    For more encouragement from Jennifer, visit her website.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Hosea by Jennifer Rothschild. In celebration of this study, Jennifer’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, June 8.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    You are indeed chosen and loved. Stop right now and ask God to help you receive and believe you are chosen. And loved.

    Your identity is not your failure or past. Your identity is not your success or virtues. Your identity is not what you do, what you did, haven’t done, should have done, or wished you’d done. Your identity is a chosen, loved woman whom God calls His beloved. How could your life be different today, if you fully believed these truths?

    © 2015 by Jennifer Rothschild. 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

  • What’s it Like on the Other Side of Me?

    Posted on June 1, 2015 by Family Christian

    Nicki Koziarz JUNE 1, 2015

    What’s it Like on the Other Side of Me?
    NICKI KOZIARZ

    "But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’" James 4:6 (ESV)

    Did you know it’s possible to get demoted from Room Mom to Assistant Room Mom?

    It is.

    It all started at the school open house. My little pig-tailed daughter and I walked into her new teacher’s classroom. She greeted us with a warm smile and told us to look around the room and check out all the papers that were on her desk.

    I knew what papers were on the desk, so I quickly made my way there.

    And there it was …

    The purple sign-up sheet, listing all the volunteer roles for the year. And with a blank line next to the most coveted spot for all the moms at this school.

    Room Mom.

    Room Mom seemed like a Pinterest dream come true for me. The chance to be at my daughter’s school for all her important events and to unleash my DIY skills!

    I couldn’t believe the space was blank. It was never, ever blank by the time I got to the open house each year. So I quickly wrote my name down and went home to get my party-momma hat on.

    This is going to be the best year ever!

    And it was … for about four weeks.

    In the midst of all the Room Mom excitement, several doors of opportunity opened up for me in other areas of my life. I took on a part-time job, began speaking at events and my afternoons were spent shuffling kids to this activity, and then to that activity.

    Before I knew it, I was completely overloaded. I was desperately trying to fulfill all the commitments I had made, including Room Mom. However, returning emails in a timely manner became hard and my availability to help cut out crafts became limited.

    And after my Fall FAIL party craft [Pinterest lies. Oh how it lies!], one of the other moms began to get frustrated with me.

    Soon after, I got an email from my daughter’s teacher explaining that she felt like this other mom might have "more time" to fulfill the Room Mom assignments and suggested I assist her.

    Well then.

    To be honest, the teacher was right. The other mom could do this Room Mom thing in her sleep. She was great at it! And she did have more time to offer than I did.

    Still, something inside me ached in knowing people had become so frustrated with me, and I had no idea. Pride had clouded my vision. I couldn’t even see how my overloaded schedule was affecting the people around me. I just kept telling myself I was doing the best I could.

    In reality, I needed to admit my overload and ask for help.

    So now, when I’m sensing my schedule is overwhelmed, I ask myself the best reflective question I’ve found:

    Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?

    After I ask that question, I take notice of the commitments I’ve made and adjust them to avoid frustrating the people who are depending on me to fulfill my obligations.

    Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?

    This question helps me pause, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show me anything I need to change.

    Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?

    It’s the question that helps me step into conflict and see the perspective of the person I’ve offended or frustrated.

    Yes, this question leads to a hard-humble place. But it’s also a grace-filled place, like James describes in our key verse today.

    When I pause to ask what its like to be on the other side of me, God gives me a perspective that is beyond what I can see. And no, I’ve never checked that Room Mom box again. [smile]

    Lord, thank You for the grace You bring to us through humility. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Proverbs 11:2, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." (NIV)

    Proverbs 15:33, "Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honor." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    For more wisdom on making wise choices with your schedule pick up a copy of The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst.

    For a chance to win a copy of The Best Yes visit Nicki Koziarz’s blog today!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is an area of your life where pride has slipped in and clouded your ability to see things for what they are? Tell us in the comment section today.

    Pray and ask God to help you answer the question Nicki posed today: "Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?" Then walk humbly in His grace by apologizing to someone and seeking to make amends.

    © 2015 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

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

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