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Author Archives: Family Christian

  • Twitter Party with Shauna Niequist 4/17 !!!!

    Posted on March 18, 2015 by Family Christian

    Great news for all you Shauna Niequist fans! We are going to have a party with Shauna on April 17th from 1-2 pm EST.  As if that is not exciting enough, by joining the party you will have a chance to win over $300 in prizes!

    Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, Bread & Wine and her newest book Savor.

    During the party you will get to Tweet with Family Christian, some Family Christian bloggers AND Shauna herself! Come prepared to have fun, learn and even get some Q & A with Shauna.  Did we mention prizes?  During the party we will randomly be selecting active participants to win.  What is up for grabs?

    1 Grand Prize winner will receive $100 in Appreciation Certificates to spend at Family Christian; either in-store or online and a copy of the book Savor.

    5 - 1st place winners will each win a $50 appreciation certificate  to spend at Family Christian; either in-store or online and a copy of the book Savor.

    5 - 2nd place winners will each win a $25  to spend at Family Christian.

    That's over $400 in prizes!

    We'd love to have you join us for this party! If you want to join in the fun and be eligible to win these awesome prizes you must do the following:
    1. RSVP by tweeting the tweet below
    2. Follow @FamilyChristian and @sniequist on Twitter
    3. Attend the party and have FUN!

    Are you excited? RSVP and let the world know by sending this Tweet.

    Remember to follow

    @FamilyChristian and @sniequist as well as these wonderful co-hosts:

    @AhhMazingRvws  @Weidknecht @CptFussybuckets @sweetpeasavings

    See you at the #Savor party!

  • Cover or Expose?

    Posted on March 18, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lynn Cowell MARCH 18, 2015

    Cover or Expose?
    LYNN COWELL

    "Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked." Genesis 9:22-23 (NIV)

    "This day is not getting off to a very good start. She’s already being rude," my friend informed me.

    It seemed the day ahead would present some challenges. One of our group members was having another rough day … and when she had a rough day, we all had a rough day.

    I stopped for a moment to pray. I prayed for the woman. I prayed for both of our days. (It appeared we both needed it!) Then, I headed into a meeting, and purposed to forget the comment and move forward.

    I know my friend was looking out for me by offering a warning, but when we find ourselves privy to information we didn’t ask for, we’re always given an opportunity …

    Cover or expose?

    In today’s key verses, Noah’s sons are in a similar situation. After the flood, Noah planted a vineyard. One day, while he enjoyed the fruit of his garden, he became drunk. In his stupor, he fell asleep naked in his tent. Ham, Noah’s son, walked into his father’s tent, I’m sure very surprised at what he found.

    Stepping outside the tent, he let his brothers, Shem and Japheth, in on his discovery. The younger two responded to their father’s embarrassing situation by putting a cloak on their shoulders, walking backward into the tent and covering their father.

    Noah’s sons had options on how to respond, and they took very different approaches.

    Ham chose to expose. He took the opportunity to highlight his father’s fault.

    To be fair, Ham didn’t intend to step into this uncomfortable scene. The Bible doesn’t say he was looking for dirt on his dad. We can’t assume anything other than Ham was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    In contrast, Shem and Japheth heard and covered. They weren’t looking to be told or to hear of their father’s unwise decision either. What made the difference, though, was how they responded.

    They took action to protect their patriarch. We don’t read any words they said. No dialog of defense for their dad. They simply chose honor. They chose love.

    God commands us to love others, and love makes choices for the good of others.

    We, too, can find ourselves with the knowledge that someone has made a poor choice. Temptation nudges us to tell another. Like the brothers, it might be a family member, or it could be someone you barely know. No matter who the hurting person is, God calls us to practice protecting.

    Practice taking the information to God first. Not to a friend or a favorite social media outlet. And if you feel God directing you, approach the person in a loving manner and protect them by speaking truth. Whatever the response, let it be in love and covered in prayer.

    Ask God right now to give them the wisdom they need.

    Father, (insert name) needs Your wisdom. Would You step in and help her find her way to what is best, and honoring to You? In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Corinthians 13:7, "It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (NIV)

    Proverbs 11:13, "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Do you know a young woman who needs help making some right choices? Lynn Cowell’s book Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants would be a good resource to give her.

    Today, Lynn is giving away a copy of Magnetic as well as a free download for covering your girl in prayer. Stop by her blog to enter to win and receive the free gift.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Why do you think we want to expose people when we hear of a bad choice they have made?

    Choose a bracelet to wear today, or another reminder, to alert yourself to pray several times today for someone you know who needs to be covered in prayer.

    © 2015 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • You Be You

    Posted on March 17, 2015 by Family Christian

    Nicki Koziarz MARCH 17, 2015

    You Be You
    NICKI KOZIARZ

    "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves …" Philippians 2:3 (NIV)

    A few months ago, I had to have a semi-hard conversation with a friend. I say semi-hard because this friend and I have the kind of relationship where we can say what we need to say and move on. But still, it wasn’t fun.

    She was struggling because someone had started a business similar to hers. And this other person had a good following, a respectable reputation and decent potential to have a thriving business.

    And my friend admittedly felt threatened.

    But she didn’t just feel threatened, she started acting threatened.

    A sense of panic rushed over her as she verbally weighed all the possibilities of what could happen with this new business scenario. For several days I watched her wrestle through a roller coaster of jealous emotions.

    Each time she would say something about this new business owner, I would take a deep breath as my stomach twisted and turned. I knew I needed to say something, but I didn’t want to hurt her already fragile spirit.

    So one afternoon, while we were on the phone discussing this other business, I gently walked her through all the reasons why her business was awesome. I reassured her I was with her, but then, I said something really hard: "You gotta let her be her and you be you. You are both called and chosen to do this assignment. Not either-or. But this anxiety you feel … it has the potential to ruin you."

    I don’t think it’s what she wanted me to say in that moment, but it’s what she needed me to say.

    I know, because I needed someone to say it to me years ago when I walked through a similar situation. I let being threatened by someone else’s success ruin days and weeks of my life. And it took what seemed like forever to get over it.

    Here’s the thing friends, I know what "she’s" doing looks really awesome. And "she" makes it look effortless. And maybe "she" can do it better. But "she" is also called, chosen and set apart by God for a purpose.

    And so are you.

    One thing I’ve come to understand about God is He’s got enough purpose and potential to go around. And His purpose isn’t a battlefield for competition; it’s a safe haven of calling.

    The secret to doing something confidently (yet humbly) for God?

    Be with Jesus.

    Humility is the by-product of His presence flowing in our lives.

    When we are in His presence, He gives us the confidence to believe we are created to do something great with our lives. His presence whispers assurance over our souls when we feel vulnerable.

    And His presence gives us the ability to cheer on that girl next to us, no matter how threatened we feel.

    I need our key verse today, Philippians 2:3, to help me remember how much value God places on being humble with the gifts and talents He’s given me. My gifts are not to make myself better than the girl next to me. And because of this verse, I’m reminded to value what she’s doing, even more than what I’m doing.

    This is hard to do. It takes guts to release your insecurities to God and confidently be yourself while watching someone else live out your dream. But it’s more than possible. Great favor and blessing flows from being a cheerleader for God’s women.

    My friend and I are both still working through this struggle each day. Neither one of us has perfected humble-confidence. But we are both trying our best to put our insecurities to the side each day and run fiercely towards the process of godly success.

    God, thank You for creating me with unique gifts and talents. Help me embrace the place where I am with confidence and assurance. Forgive me when I look to the girl next to me with a spirit of competition and envy. I trust You have enough purpose and plans to go around. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Philippians 2:4, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Save the date! If you’re looking for a community to cheer you on as you study God’s Word, check out Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies (OBS) next selection, What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst. Registration opens next week, and the OBS begins April 13!

    If you believe this is a needed message for the women in your church or community, maybe God is leading you to plan an event for them. Click here to invite Nicki Koziarz to speak at your event.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Do you think it’s hard for women to be confidently humble? Why or why not? We’d love to hear your opinion on this in the devotions comment section today.

    Who needs your voice of cheer today? Send a note, a tweet or write on her Facebook wall and tell her how excited you are about what God is doing in her life. You’ll be amazed at what happens to your soul.

    © 2015 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

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

  • Hope Does Not Disappoint

    Posted on March 16, 2015 by Family Christian

    Stacey Thacker MARCH 16, 2015

    Hope Does Not Disappoint
    Stacey Thacker

    "And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:5 (NASB)

    I turned off the ignition and eyed the grocery store entrance. People came and went with Sunday night dinner fixings, while I tried to encourage myself out of my seat. I paused, closed my eyes and considered camping out in the parking lot. It wouldn’t matter, I reasoned. Except for the small detail of my sweet family waiting at home for something special from the kitchen. They would probably appreciate some sort of effort from me in that department.

    I’ll admit it; I was disappointed.

    We’d moved to a new city a few weeks before and by then, the newness had worn off. Running errands was no longer an adventure. It was simply one more thing on my to-do list. Conveniently, Miss Disappointment had shown up in the past week with her best friend named Loneliness. On this particular day, I argued with both of them.

    To top it off, my newborn baby girl was getting really good at crying and not sleeping. I, on the other hand, was crying because I wanted to sleep and thought a nap in my van seemed like a good idea. Thinking better of it, I had a little pity party for myself instead and was about to start singing the Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me song, but then I realized what I needed to do.

    I prayed.

    Lord, I’m trying, but I just can’t take this anymore. I need to know You are here, and I really need someone to say my name.

    My prayer may sound silly to you, but it was important to this small-town girl now living in the big city without one friend to call her own. It had been weeks since anyone said my name out loud. Tears began to trickle out of the corners of my eyes. I figured I knew better than to give them a place to fall. I stuffed every last one down into the secret places of my heart, walked into the store, grabbed a cart and tried to remember what was on my list, which of course I’d left at home.

    I spotted the two bubbly girls immediately. They were laughing and carrying on and I was jealous and annoyed at the same time. When I passed by them, they were clearly enjoying an inside joke. Longing filled my heart. Loneliness was now laughing at me, but as I reached for a jar of spaghetti sauce, I heard one of them say, "Is your name Stacey?"

    I froze, wondered if I had imagined it, and said, "Yes."

    As it turned out, one of the girls was a long-lost friend from college. We hugged and chatted briefly. The tears I had pushed back were edging near the surface, so I made my small purchase and hurried to the van. I burst into uncontrollable sobs of joy as the door shut behind me and said, "Lord, only You could do that. Thank You."

    I drove back home to my family a different woman. Known and noticed, I realized God saw me and was with me wherever I went.

    Hope showed up in the sweetest way in the aisle of my local grocery store, because hope is not a wish or a sprinkle of fairy dust. Hope is a person who loves me and you and all the particulars of our everyday, weary lives. He was the One who spoke my name that day.

    We may find ourselves disappointed with life, a lack of friends and fussy children, because — let’s face it — life is hard. But as our key verse reminds us, true hope does not disappoint because God has poured out His love within our hearts through the Person of the Holy Spirit. This is His hope-filled promise to us, and He never disappoints.

    Lord, thank You for being our true source of hope. I pray You will add to our hope, joy and peace, as we believe in You and Your powerful promise today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 15:13, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (NASB)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Hope for the Weary Mom: Let God Meet You in the Mess by Stacey Thacker and Brooke McGlothlin can help take you from weariness to hope.

    Are you a mom in need of hope? Click here.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Hope for the Weary Mom by Stacey Thacker & Brooke McGlothlin. In celebration of this book, Stacey and Brooke’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, March 23.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What has disappointed you lately?

    How can you reach out for Hope and trust that His promises will never disappoint?

    © 2015 by Stacey Thacker. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

  • Make a Plan to Keep Out of Trouble

    Posted on March 13, 2015 by Family Christian

    Sharon Glasgow MARCH 13, 2015

    Make a Plan to Keep Out of Trouble
    SHARON GLASGOW

    "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." Genesis 4:7 (NASB)

    Hot pizza oozing with five yummy cheeses would be delivered in 20 minutes to my front door. I’d ordered it for the people working in our barn. They deserved a feast after preparing the old structure in freezing temperatures for a wedding that weekend!

    I, on the other hand, didn’t need to eat any pizza.

    Pizza is an innocent delicacy for most people. My problem is I can eat the whole thing! One slice quickly becomes two slices, then three and then the entire pie. Even one bite is too tempting for me. I had to make a plan to stay out of trouble — and not consume all the pizza. So I whipped up a salad and ate it quickly.

    The smell of fresh, hot pizza filled the kitchen, but I wasn’t tempted. No siree! My plan had worked. I didn’t eat one slice.

    After lunch, I was gloating over my victory when the Lord whispered to my heart, "If only you could be as quick to make a plan to stay out of trouble with other sin."

    Ouch!

    I don’t know about you, but I often do what I shouldn’t and don’t do what I should. Many times, it’s because I’m not on guard. God warned Cain about this very thing, seen in today’s key verse, Genesis 4:7: "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."

    How do we master sin? By planning ahead of time to avoid temptation.

    One of the best biblical examples of a man with a plan is Joseph (read more about him in Genesis 39). He’s handsome, young and in charge of Potiphar’s entire estate — except for Potiphar’s wife. Potiphar is the captain of the guard for the king of Egypt.

    But when Potiphar is not around, his beautiful wife repeatedly tries to tempt Joseph to go to bed with her. What does this man of God do? He doesn’t yield to the temptation and instead, makes a plan to keep out of trouble: He keeps away from her, and when she pursues him, he flees.

    This may seem obvious, but my question is: How often do we follow Joseph’s example? Thankfully, I made a plan to enjoy a salad when faced with the temptation to eat a whole pizza. Others may need to decline dinner invitations to avoid flirting with married men. Or put blocks on their Internet to avoid peeking at pornography. Some may have to limit conversations with coworkers to not gossip. Or cut up credit cards to steer clear of overspending.

    When we don’t make a plan to keep out of trouble, the sin that crouches at our door will often be too hard to resist!

    While I was contemplating this, one of the guys working in the barn came in the house to get warm by the fire. He was once a drug addict. So I asked him, "What’s your plan to keep out of trouble when temptation knocks on your door?"

    He said, "First, I have to stay in the presence of the Lord. Second, I can never allow myself to become complacent. Third, when temptation comes, I call a recovered addict who is also saved by Jesus and he talks me out of the ridiculous thoughts of yielding to sin."

    This man and Joseph inspired me with their plans to avoid sin. I wanted to follow suit. So, when he left, I wrote down a few plans on how to keep myself out of trouble.

    Sure enough, later there were extra slices of pizza left after lunch.

    Someone asked if they could take them. I’m thankful God gave me the strength to say, "Please do!" because I don’t want temptation crouching at my door!

    Dear Lord, Give me Your plan to keep out of trouble! I want victory over this temptation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." (NKJV)

    Galatians 5:16, "So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Visit Sharon Glasgow’s blog for more encouragement on keeping out of trouble and enter your name to win a free Make a Plan to Keep Out of Trouble gift set!

    Sometimes we avoid temptation, and other times we need to address the aftermath of making poor choices in our lives. Tracie Miles’ book, Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past to Create a Beautiful Future might be a helpful resource for you.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What sin crouches at your door? Pray and ask God to help you write out a plan(s) that will help you stay out of trouble.

    © 2015 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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

  • What I Want To Teach My Kids

    Posted on March 12, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lysa TerKeurst MARCH 12, 2015

    What I Want To Teach My Kids
    LYSA TERKEURST

    "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NIV)

    Early in my motherhood adventure I realized I could solve my kids’ problems for them. Not every problem. But for the most part when they had an issue I could step in and be the solution.

    Or …

    I had another option. I could mentor and equip my kids to solve their issues, which is much more time consuming, brain draining and sometimes quite frustrating.

    But for me, the most important lesson I want to teach my kids is how to think.

    It’s that whole "give a man a fish" thing.

    Give him a fish and he’ll eat for a day … or teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

    I don’t want to train my kids to only turn to me for solutions. I want to help them think in Biblically and emotionally healthy ways, so they can learn the fine art of becoming a solution finder. I want to help them learn to process life choices in grounded, mature ways.

    If I only tell my kids what they can and can’t do, I’m establishing rules for them to follow. This is a part of parenting for sure, but it can’t be the whole part.

    If I teach them how to think, I’m establishing healthy processing patterns that will serve them when they’re no longer under my immediate watch.

    For example, I don’t want my kids to text and drive. I’ve taught them this rule. But to help them learn to process the dangers of driving while distracted, I decided to have a family discussion.

    Recently, I asked each of the kids to come to a scheduled family dinner equipped to present a brief report on the dangers of texting and driving.

    As they presented their reports, I saw the light bulbs coming on in their thought processes. They weren’t just learning a rule; they were discovering how to think about this dangerous habit. They were passionate about it. And the best part? They all owned the solution of committing to not text and drive.

    They owned it. Not because I preached a rule at them. But rather, because I helped them learn how to think through this danger for themselves.

    The Bible instructs us to teach our kids the truths of God by talking and processing with them all throughout the day. Obviously, texting and driving isn’t a Biblical truth, but how powerful it is to apply a Biblical mindset to every issue we face.

    So be it a Scriptural truth, or processing life stuff in general, I think the secret is tucked within the beautiful words of Deuteronomy 11:18-21a:

    "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many …"

    Yes, may our days together be many. Learning. Thinking. And processing each problem through the filter of God’s Truth.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the opportunity to teach my children how to think in a way that honors You. Use me as an example of Your love and compassion in their lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 54:13, "All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Equip your child to think in Biblically and emotionally healthy ways this Easter with ABC Scripture Cards or The Jesus Storybook Bible. Click here to get these practical tools and celebrate Scripture as it comes alive in your home!

    Learn more about processing your decisions through a God-honoring, Biblical filter with Lysa’s book, The Best Yes. Purchase your copy here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How can you begin to implement this new way of thinking with your family?

    Start small — direct your child to Scripture, say a prayer with him/her or make it an overall family discussion!

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Unfinished Doesn’t Equal Unworthy

    Posted on March 11, 2015 by Family Christian

    T. Suzanne Eller MARCH 11, 2015

    Unfinished Doesn’t Equal Unworthy
    SUZIE ELLER

    "Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)

    The local grocery store in my new town wasn’t just a grocery store. It was where women gathered to talk.

    I wanted to casually saunter over and chat with a potential new friend, but I didn’t. I worried about what I might say or whether I’d be able to talk at all.

    Everyone else could easily talk. Why couldn’t I? I felt unfinished and uncomfortable in this new situation.

    So I became pretty good at outmaneuvering all their efforts. If I saw someone across the way, I’d duck down the soap aisle. If they tried to catch my eye, I’d pretend I didn’t see them. Sometimes my savvy moves didn’t work, and I would end up trapped in the produce section, tongue-tied.

    It wasn’t that I was just shy, though there was that element. Growing up in a home of chaos, I learned early that my words could be misinterpreted. So I retreated, rather than try to speak up.

    Looking back on that season of life, I wish I could pull my younger self close and tell her she was worth talking to, and that one day she’d feel a little less unfinished in this area.

    I wish I could tell her God was 100% tuned in to the beauty of who she was becoming.

    And I’d tell her we are all a little unfinished in some way. Even those who seem to live in easy confidence. Even those who call out your name in the grocery aisle.

    Because here’s what I’ve learned: Unfinished doesn’t equal unworthy.

    Unfinished just means we’re still growing.

    I had no idea that one day I’d become a speaker, or that I’d love nothing more than meeting a new friend. I didn’t know that one day I’d feel complete in God’s hands, like our key verse reminds us: "We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." (Isaiah 64:8).

    Do you ever feel unfinished like I did? Do you feel insecure in any area?

    If so, here are three ways that have helped me feel more secure and might help you, too:

    1. Acknowledge there’s work to be done and that’s okay. I didn’t realize back then that some of the very women calling out my name struggled with their own insecurities. We all battle this to some degree.

    2. Trust God knows what’s inside of us. We are all waiting to be shaped with His tender touch. And most importantly? The more we trust God’s abilities, the less power our insecurities hold.

    3. Our last step is to start the growth process. I know this is the hard part, but every step we take helps us discover who we really are and what God knows we are capable of accomplishing.

    Over time, that once oh-so-unfinished girl started taking baby steps.

    I held a conversation with a potential friend and chose not to beat myself up over what I said (or didn’t say) on the way home.

    I started offering myself the same grace I gave to others.

    I embraced the truth that spiritual and emotional growth isn’t a one-time deal, but rather a lifetime of discovery. God’s hands are on my life in every area.

    And that’s where the Potter’s wheel keeps on turning. I’m still unfinished in many ways, but now it’s an adventure rather than an obstacle.

    Dear Lord, many things shape the way I see myself, but today I choose to see myself in Your hands. Shape me. Work through me. Shine through the cracks to show others who You are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    2 Corinthians 4:7, "We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you’d like to get to know the "Potter" of your life, and the God of the Universe who made you, please click here.

    Would you like to bring Suzie Eller to your event? Click here to find out more about considering Suzie as your next retreat / keynote speaker.

    Visit Suzie Eller’s blog for a free printable to celebrate the Potter’s work in your life. If you can relate to feeling unworthy, you might also appreciate her book, The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Consider the beauty of a candle shining through the cracks of a small, ordinary clay pot in the dark of night. How does that change your perception of those cracks?

    With Jesus as the Light inside of you, how does it change the way you see your own imperfections?

    © 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • What Will You Risk to Be Free?

    Posted on March 10, 2015 by Family Christian

    Jessica Turner MARCH 10, 2015

    What Will You Risk to Be Free?
    Pat Layton

    "… Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." Mark 5:34b (NIV)

    I’d been awake long before the morning sun peered through the shutters of my bedroom window. Now it was time to get up and face the day … and the appointment I made to meet a new friend for lunch.

    I was petrified and ashamed, but I knew if I put it off another day I would sink deeper into the depression that was slowly destroying my life and my family.

    Tears puddled in my eyes and rolled down my face as I got dressed. This is the end, Pat. This is the day when the truth about who you really are and what you’ve done will be revealed.

    Months before, I surrendered my messed up life to Jesus at a local women’s retreat. I heard a message on forgiveness and found myself face down at the altar. I sought and received forgiveness from God that day, but struggled to forgive myself.

    Immediately after the retreat I started to attend Bible study classes, which in some ways only led to more distress. Those women all looked so pretty. Their lives seemed flawless and pure. I felt like an outsider and a fraud who was about to be found out.

    I had done a fairly good job of hiding my brokenness in my old life, but now women who seemed to know and understand something I did not surrounded me. Even after hearing about Jesus, I felt stuck in a life of hopeless shame.

    I was convinced that a face-to-face encounter with someone who knew more about Jesus was my last hope for healing. Something deep inside me recognized something deep inside my friend that I needed. I was willing to risk everything to get it — even potential embarrassment and being shunned by someone I really admired.

    I sat at lunch that day and let the tears fall. I told my story. I told her about my immorality, my abortion, my broken family and my broken heart. In my mind’s eye, I saw her get up and walk away without so much as a backward glance.

    Instead, my friend listened intently as I laid down my long-held mask. She gave me her undivided attention, she gave me her touch, and then she laid down her own mask and shared some things God had done in her life.

    When I confessed how much I feared taking the risk to meet with her, she told me about a woman in the Bible who took a risk to receive healing from an "issue" of her own.

    Those words held my attention. A woman with an issue? Yep — that was me!

    This woman had a physical issue. The laws of her day left her living with a condition that appalled and disgusted "normal" people. She lived as an outcast — shunned, avoided and alone in her suffering.

    The Bible says this woman heard the reports about how Jesus went from town to town, "healing every kind of disease and sickness" (Matthew 9:35, NIV). In fact, she surely had heard the news that Jesus was on His way to heal the daughter of one of the synagogue leaders.

    Despite the crowds, the woman with the "issue" went. She didn’t know if people would recognize her and recoil, or if they would warn Jesus about her before she could get close enough to see Him. But she risked all of that to go to Him. She stood among the crowd and told Jesus her issue. And on that day she heard the words that freed her, "Daughter, … Go in peace and be freed from your suffering" (Mark 5:34b).

    I thank God for my friend pointing me to Jesus. I honestly didn’t know the Bible held stories of women who felt filthy or rejected. I didn’t know there were women who were stuck in shame, fear or feelings of unworthiness.

    Just like me.

    I had no idea taking the risk to share my story would lead to my healing, and my future life in ministry — walking other women, hand-in-hand, to Jesus.

    What about you?

    Every one of us has an "issue" that needs Jesus’ healing touch. Will you go to Jesus and risk it all to be free?

    Lord, thank You for Your promise that we can be freed from our suffering. Help me take a risk toward all You have for me today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 139:1b, "… O LORD you have searched me and known me!" (ESV)

    John 10:10b, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    In her new book, Life Unstuck, Pat Layton walks with you along the path to finding peace with your past, purpose in your present and passion for your future.

    Get your FREE copy of Pat’s UnStuck Manifesto today!

    Enter to WIN a copy of Life Unstuck by Pat Layton. In celebration of this book, Pat’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, March 16.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What "issue" or issues do you need to take to Jesus today?

    If God has freed you from suffering in a particular area, pray and ask Him if there is someone with whom you should risk sharing your story so she, too, might come to know His freeing power.

    © 2015 by Pat Layton. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

  • When You Wish You Were a Different Mommy

    Posted on March 9, 2015 by Family Christian

    Alicia Bruxvoort MARCH 9, 2015

    When You Wish You Were a Different Mommy
    ALICIA BRUXVOORT

    "… and finally He said to me, ‘My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.’ So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on — I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (The Voice)

    When my firstborn was 3 years old, he told me he wished he had a different mommy.

    He spat the words from the seat of his faded red time-out chair where he’d landed after digging holes in the neighbor’s yard. He was certain that another mommy would understand that the best dinosaur bones were buried in the flowerbed across the street.

    I’d remained silent, the angry words hanging between us like the strand of hair dangling over my son’s icy blue eyes. But every piece of my wounded spirit had agreed with my fiery boy. I wish you had a different mommy, too, my heart cried.

    Truth be told, I didn’t want my son to exchange me for a new mommy; I just wished that I could be a different mommy. One who laughed more, forgave quicker and floundered less. One who never yelled in frustration or cried in exhaustion, and could turn scraps of paper into a Pinterest-worthy craft and bake a birthday cake from scratch. I wished I were a mom who innately knew how to parent children with temperaments unlike my own.

    At first, I assumed my insecurities would disappear in time … that once I figured out how to be a fabulous mom, my parenting flaws would fade. I read dozens of parenting books and studied the habits of moms who seemed to have it all together. But ironically, the more children I had, the more apparent my shortcomings became.

    Ten years later as I sat exhausted, rocking our fitful fifth-born, I eyeballed the mess around me — laundry and Lego piles, homework folders and smelly gym bags — and exhaled a discouraged sigh. Then, in a moment of vulnerable honesty, I confessed my angst to my husband.

    "I feel like I’m not enough. I can’t ever do enough. Love enough. Work enough. Pray enough …" Jostling the fussy infant in my arms, I felt that familiar churn of self-doubt rising in my stomach.

    My husband stared at me, his tender gaze reflecting my pain. "You don’t have to be enough," he murmured quietly. "That’s Jesus’ job."

    I let his reassuring words seep deep into my splintered soul. In my striving to be enough, I’d forgotten that Christ’s perfect plan for my children depends on His faithfulness, not my flawlessness.

    Late that night, I opened my Bible to 2 Corinthians 12:9 and underlined this sacred pledge: "My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness." Then I wrote a simple declaration in the margin of my Bible: "I am not enough, but Jesus is."

    From that moment on, I began to replace my fears with faith.

    Instead of spending all of my energy on futile attempts to be a perfect mom, I chose to spend time getting to know my perfect Savior. I committed to reading God’s Word daily and investing in prayer, memorizing Scripture and practicing the habit of gratitude. I "staked my claim" in the promises of Christ, and slowly, my qualms were quelled.

    Today, I can humbly say that my firstborn’s wish has come true. I am a different mommy. I’m still not enough for my children, but Jesus is. As I trust in His sufficiency and rest in His grace, I’m learning to live in His strength rather than obsess over my weaknesses. Because this far-from perfect mommy has discovered a liberating truth — we have a Savior who is an expert at filling holes (even dinosaur-sized ones).

    Dear Jesus, I’ll never be perfect, but You are. I want to live in the light of Your strength and let Your love shine through all of my holes. Show me how to trade my fears for faith and give me an unquenchable desire for Your truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Corinthians 1:25, "You can count on this: God’s foolishness will always be wiser than mere human wisdom, and God’s weakness will always be stronger than mere human strength." (The Voice)

    Psalm 18:30, "Everything God does is perfect; the promise of the Eternal rings true; He stands as a shield for all who hide in Him." (The Voice, emphasis added)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Want to help put Truth into a special child’s heart this Easter? Both the Jesus Storybook Bible and ABC Scripture Cards can help the Scriptures come to life. Vividly illustrated, this children’s Bible tells the story beneath all the Bible stories, about Jesus. Similarly, each decorative ABC Scripture Card contains a verse to memorize, as you help instill God’s Word into their hearts and minds.

    Stop by Alicia’s blog today for more encouragement and a special giveaway for imperfect moms.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write out this simple truth and post it where you will see it daily: "I am not enough, but Jesus is."

    Because of Jesus, we can become "different" women. Read Numbers 14:24 and ask yourself, "Is there an area of my life where I’m failing to follow God wholeheartedly?" Write a prayer committing that part of your life to the Lord and invite Him to make a difference in you and through you this week.

    © 2015 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

  • I Wanted to Give Up Before I Began

    Posted on March 6, 2015 by Family Christian

    Micca Campbell MARCH 6, 2015

    I Wanted to Give Up Before I Began
    MICCA CAMPBELL

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

    I was sitting in my bedroom working on my weekly Bible study when God spoke to me. While I can’t say I heard His voice audibly, it was the loudest thought I’d ever had. His message was clear: "Speak."

    After a few minutes of panic, I calmed myself by deciding the whole episode was just something crazy I’d imagined. C’mon, Micca, God spoke to you? No way.

    And with that, I put the thought of speaking out of my head.

    As time went on, mysterious things happened that brought to mind God’s word to me … I received unsolicited invitations to speak at ladies’ luncheons, churches and schools.

    Fear filled my entire being, and I thought about graciously declining, but then I remembered Moses.

    Moses had doubts and fears just like me. When God spoke to Moses through a burning bush and gave him the task of freeing the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, he was terrified too. Moses told God he wasn’t capable of taking on such a huge assignment.

    How did God respond? He assured Moses he wasn’t alone. That He would be with him.

    As I revisited this story found in Exodus chapters 3 and 4, God showed me it wasn’t about any commitment on my part, as much as it was about submitting to His plan. With that I decided to obey. "Okay, God. As long as you’re with me I᾿ll give speaking a try."

    Each time I spoke I felt the same — like tossing my cookies. It wasn’t easy! There were so many faces staring at me. I knew they had expectations. And beyond the people in the audience, I felt Satan taunting me with negative thoughts and lies while I was speaking: "Nobody is listening to you. You’re just a simple southern girl. What have you got to offer? Do us all a favor and give up."

    I wanted to give up. So did Moses, but God gave him confidence. The Lord promised Moses He would be with him and help him. God would perform miracles through him. These signs would not only reassure Moses that God was with him, but they would force the king of Egypt to free God’s people from slavery.

    I love that Moses wasn’t afraid to admit his weaknesses to God. How else would Moses have known the Lord would be his help and his strength?

    Trusting in these truths provided strength each time I spoke. That’s not all. Repeatedly, God showed me what He was accomplishing through my weakness and obedience. The most confirming response came when I spoke to a group of college students.

    After the room cleared, a young man approached me. "Excuse me," he began. "When I was in high school, I felt God calling me into ministry. But when it came time for college I ignored that call and chose to study law. After hearing you speak today, God stirred my heart, and I’ve decided to surrender to the ministry. I want to thank you for coming. God used you to point me back in the right direction for my life."

    Wow! I was amazed God invited me to participate in such a beautiful miracle. In spite of my insecurities, doubts and feeble weakness, the Lord used me.

    It was then that today’s key verse, Psalm 28:7, became a reality in my heart: "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."

    The more I trusted God in my weakness, the stronger I became, and the more I realized this truth: God never commands us to do something that He doesn’t provide the power and help to accomplish.

    Whether you’re called to speak to 10 or 10,000, lead a Bible study group or give a presentation at work, public speaking can be challenging. And you do have a choice. You can say "no" to your burning bush and be miserable, or you can say "yes" and watch the power of God work through your weakness to accomplish His will and bring glory to His Name.

    The Lord wants to reveal Himself to others through you. The key is admitting your weaknesses to God and submitting to His ability to work wonders through you.

    Father, I confess my fears to You. Help me overcome them by trusting in Your presence and power that You make available in every task. Help me worry less about committing on my end, and focus more on admitting my weaknesses and submitting to Your plans. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    2 Corinthians 9:8, "And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Has God put it on your heart to use words to influence others? Proverbs 31 Ministries is hosting She Speaks, an annual conference for writers and speakers. Join us in Charlotte July 23-25, for a unique combination of spiritual inspiration and practical application.

    If you suffer with doubt and fear, Micca Campbell’s book, An Untroubled Heart, offers a remedy for turning fear into faith.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What’s holding you back from being all God intends you to be? Make a list, then surrender each item to God. Ask God to help you trust Him in every opportunity to minister in His Name.

    © 2015 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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

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