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User Archives: Lysa TerKeurst

  • When My Happy Gets Bumped

    Posted on August 15, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:11-12 (NIV)

    Most days, I wake up fairly happy. It's not like I wake up in a mood for a party but generally I'm not grumpy when I arise. I wake up and things seem pretty good, level and fresh with possibilities. And then inevitably something will bump into my happy.

    An early morning meltdown by one of my people. It's amazing what a bad hair day can do to a teenager's attitude.

    Or a forgotten something for school. And one of my people wants their irresponsibility to suddenly become my emergency.

    Or an email from somebody who clearly gets pleasure from trying to bring others down.

    Or me misjudging the time and suddenly everything is rushed, hurried and stressful.

    Or my husband, Art, lowering the thermostat in the house to 68 degrees and I can't stop shivering until the temperature hovers closer to 72. It's amazing how much difference four degrees makes.

    Things happen. Things that bump into my happy. And suddenly I'm a little off-kilter and little less nice.

    Can you relate?

    Well, I'm learning something about a little mental perspective I need to have when things bump into my happy. In that moment, Satan is scheming to have me help him out. If he can just get me jostled to the point where I react out of anger, it's like lighting a spark near a puddle of gasoline.

    Even the smallest spark can ignite quite a fire. A fire that will spread and feel much bigger than what the situation ever should have been.

    Take the temperature discussion for example.

    It should be just a simple discussion about the thermostat. But, add a little anger and suddenly things in my brain escalate to the point where I've just about convinced myself Art is completely insensitive and couldn't care less about me.

    Is that true? Of course not. He just likes to sit in his house without sweating. Surely, we could find a compromise with the temperature or I could go put on some socks and a sweatshirt.

    Instead, when he bumps my happy, a "growth opportunity" ensues that leaves us both feeling a little burned.

    In other words, I play right into Satan's scheme and help him out. Remember, Satan's very name means one who casts something between two, causing a separation. Be it a temperature issue, tight finances, a misunderstood statement or one of the millions of little things that can bump our happy ... we have a choice.

    We can choose to play into Satan's schemes and enable his attempts to separate us from God's best.

    Or, we can choose to fight for our relationships and against Satan's divisive attempts.

    When I think about it in these terms, it helps me identify the real enemy.

    My real enemy isn't any of the people who bump my happy. My real enemy is the one who tries with all his might to get me to jump into a grumpy mood and help him tear down all that I love.

    Knowing I need a strategy against these attacks, I turn to the wisdom found in Ephesians 6:11, "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes."

    You better back up and back off Satan. I'm on to your schemes. You are my enemy, not people. And now I have a totally new game plan for when my happy gets bumped. Starting with finding just the right pair of socks and a sweatshirt to wear in the ice cave.

    Dear Lord, sometimes my happy gets bumped and my emotions get the best of me. Help me to react in a way that's honoring to You instead of reacting in a way that will fuel Satan's agenda. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    What Happens When Young Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst and Hope TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    What bumps into your happy and sends you off kilter?

    Could this realization that it's not just you feeling jostled, but a scheme of Satan's to separate, give you a different perspective?

    Power Verse:
    James 4:7, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ephesians

  • What Did Daniel Pray?

    Posted on August 8, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before." Daniel 6:10b (NIV)

    Have you ever been in a pit? Recently, I was. And you know what pits make me feel besides frustrated and down? Hungry.

    Usually my pit comes when circumstances roll into my life that I can't control.

    Circumstances that affect me, but that are beyond my control, make me want to find comfort in things I can control. And eating sure does feel like an easy way to get comfort.

    But in these situations, what feels comforting going in my mouth doesn't settle well in my heart.

    Overindulging in junk food makes me feel guilty. And once guilty joins me in my pit, it only compounds my issues. So, if we can't eat our way out of a pit with junk food, what can we do?

    If I'm truly hungry, I can grab a healthy option. Then, I intentionally look for something for which to be thankful and get my mouth busy praising God.

    Even though I may not feel like praising God in the midst of my pit, something starts to shift in my heart and in my attitude when I see blessings in the midst of burdens. Each thing for which I verbalize my thankfulness is like a stepping stone out of the pit.

    And this isn't just my idea. It's biblical. Look what happened when Daniel took this approach to the pit he found himself in.

    In Daniel 6:10, Daniel had just learned that if anyone was caught praying to anyone else besides King Darius, they would be thrown into the lion's den. That's a serious pit! But Daniel's reaction is amazing.

    He went home, threw his windows open, and prayed anyway. I'm not thinking he did this because he felt good. I'm imagining he felt like anyone would feel in overwhelming circumstances. But he rose above his feelings to make a choice.

    And do you know what he chose to pray?

    "God, save me!"

    "God, it's not fair!"

    "God, this is too much!"

    "God, smite my enemies and wipe them out!"

    "God, You know I can't handle this without extreme doses of chocolate!"

    No. None of the above.

    What Daniel prayed is a powerful lesson for me.

    Daniel 6:10b tells us that Daniel spoke prayers of gratitude. "Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before."

    Since Daniel's response is so opposite of the way most of us would react, it makes me stop and ponder. Our initial responses are usually a by-product of the rituals we've established in our life. Daniel had made it his habit to be thankful.

    Since Daniel was a thankful man, God's nature and how He provides was front and center in Daniel's heart—even in the midst of uncontrollable circumstances.

    I am challenged and inspired by Daniel's response. It makes me ask questions like: where do I run when life presses in on me? Who or what am I really dependent on? Do I have a habit of inviting guilt to join me in my pit? What might happen if I stopped grabbing for comfort and instead embraced the perspective changer of thanksgiving?

    Life will be full of pits. But, that doesn't mean I have to be a pit dweller. Or a pit eater.

    Dear Lord, I know I will sometimes find myself in a pit. But I don't have to stay there and I don't have to try to eat my way out. Thank You for providing Your timeless Word to point to the way, the truth and the life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources: Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    Ask yourself these 3 questions:

    Where do I run when life presses in on me?
    Who or what am I really dependent on?
    Do I have a habit of inviting guilt to join me in my pit?

    Power Verses:
    Hebrews 12:28, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." (NIV)

    Colossians 3:15, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Daniel

  • The Secret Place

    Posted on August 1, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." John 15:4 (NIV)

    Can I let you in on something? There's a place I escape to that allows my soul to breathe and rest and reflect. It's the place where I can drop the "yuck" the world hands me and trade it in for the fullness of God. It's a place where God reassures me, confirms He has everything under control, and gives me a new filter through which I can process life.

    Our key verse John 15:4 says, "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." This peaceful and fruitful remaining place is my secret place.

    Honestly, it can be hard for a well-meaning soul that desires radical obedience to God to live in that way.

    Rather that remaining we allow ourselves to be pulled away. The distractions of the world lure us to sell our souls for temporary pleasures, and it's easy to be conned by Satan's schemes. Other people rub us the wrong way, and we want to give them a piece of our mind. Worldly wealth screams that if only we could do more to have more, then ultimate happiness could be ours. And our right to be right seems to supersede the sacrificial call of God.

    All the while God invites our souls to break away from the world and remain in Him. To remain in Him and enter the secret place, I have to make the choice to be with God by recalling Scripture I've stored away in my heart and acknowledging His presence through prayer.

    Sometimes I do this because I'm in a desperate place. I pray, "God, I am here and I need You right now. I'm feeling attacked, invaded, pressed and stressed. Please meet me here and help me process what I'm facing using Your truth. I don't want this thing I'm facing to be processed through my selfishness and insecurity. I will surely act in a displeasing and dishonoring way if I'm left to face this on my own. Block my natural reaction and fill me with Your Spirit. Please handle this for me. You speak what needs to be spoken and give me the power to hold my tongue for what needs to be left in silence."

    Other times I need to be with God because I'm feeling pulled into something I know is not part of His plan for me. I see something new I can't afford. How easy it is to justify my way to the checkout line, whip out a credit card and decide to deal with the consequences later!

    Maybe it's a relationship we know is not in God's will. Or a particular eating habit we know isn't healthy for us.

    Whatever it is, we don't have to be rendered powerless by this pull. We can pray, "God, I know You are more powerful than this pull I am feeling. I know this thing I think I want so much will only provide temporary pleasure. I know the consequences of making this choice will rob me of joy and peace in the near future. Through Your power, I am making the choice to walk away. I will find my delight in You and look forward to feeling Your fullness replace the emptiness this desire creates."

    I need a fresh filling of God's Spirit and Word in me. So I go to the secret place and simply talk to God through prayer and reading Scripture. Then I listen for His voice. Sometimes He provides direction and instruction on something that needs to be done. A sweet invitation for me to lift up an obedient "yes."

    The more we say yes to remaining in God's secret place, the more we will live in expectation of seeing Him. The more we expect to see God, the more we will. The more we experience Him, the more we'll trust Him. It all starts with denying the pull of the world and saying yes to God's daily invitation to remain in Him.

    Dear Lord, I am so thankful for the secret place, where I can let my soul rest in You. Help me to be obedient and to remain in You above all else. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzanne Eller

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do you regularly spend time with God?

    If not, what keeps you from making this a priority? What will you do to break the cycle of not spending time with Him?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 62:1, "Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with John

  • There's No Way

    Posted on July 25, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" John 14:6 (NIV)

    I wasn't in the mood to be messed up.

    I put my head against my bedroom wall, closed my eyes, and whispered, "There's no way." It was late summer of 2003 when my world collided with what seemed like an impossible invitation from God: adopt two teen boys from war-torn Liberia.

    All the reasons why this wasn't a good idea tumbled before me. Honest reasons. Understandable reasons. Solid reasons.

    Missionaries would be much more qualified. Missionaries with grown kids and multi-cultural experience. People much more spiritual than me. People much more gentle and patient enough to do this sort of thing.

    Not this disorganized woman who originally thought Liberia was in South America.

    Not this mom who already felt overwhelmed with her three kids. How in heavens would we add two more?

    Not someone who couldn't find the video she rented a month ago and who paid so many late fees at the library they should have named a shelf after her. Maybe two.

    Definitely not me.

    But it was me.

    The invitation was mine.

    And I knew it.

    No matter how many times I whispered over and over, "There's no way," this nagging sense of possibility wouldn't leave me. It wove its way through every fiber of my being until I stood up and shifted everything I thought my family would be with one weak whisper, "Yes."

    I can honestly say there were moments of sheer joy where I felt reassured I'd heard God right.

    But there were many other moments where life felt chaotic, messy, and really hard. There were tears. There were moments where I loved my five kids but I didn't like them very much. There were moments I wondered if I'd heard God wrong.

    And there were more times even after we adopted where I said, "There's no way."

    There was no way we could overcome a medical diagnosis one of my boys received. There was no way two teenage boys who tested at a kindergarten level could catch up in two years and be ready for middle school. There was no way I could be patient enough to educate them at home during those two years.

    But every time I said, "There's no way," I'd remember Jesus calling Himself, "The way ... " (John 14:6).

    John tells us that Jesus is the way to salvation. Through Him we have access to the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18) who gives us patience, guidance, and peace. All of which I needed. Desperately.

    Yes, Jesus was the One to follow. He was the One who would guide me each day. He was the One I needed to pour out my heart to in prayer. He was the One to listen to. And He was the One who reassured me with many promises in the Bible. One of those promises was Isaiah 58:10-11:

    " ... If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."

    I could be a light rising in the darkness. I could be full of life like a well-watered garden. I could be refreshing like a spring whose waters never fail. Me. Crazy, incapable, crying-in-my-closet me. If I let Jesus be my way and do what He was asking me to do, these things could be true for me.

    And they can be true for you as well.

    There might not be a way if you look at your situation with only human reasoning and calculation. But if you let Jesus' truth and promises fill you, you'll find a different way. A good way. A sure way. His way.

    Dear Lord, thank You for reminding me that You are the only true way. Help me to see this every day as the circumstances of life surround and sometimes overwhelm me. I desperately need Your help as I learn to say "yes" to Your calling on my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Learn more about walking in obedience and strengthening your faith in Lysa's new book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God Devotional, releasing August 1st! Click here to pre-order your copy.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do you have a situation in your life where you are saying, "There's no way ... "? How does looking to Jesus to be the way change your perspective?

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

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with John

  • A Little Girl's Dance

    Posted on July 18, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32 (NIV)

    My touch has always comforted my youngest daughter, Brooke.

    I remember running errands when she was a baby, knowing we should have been home an hour earlier for her nap. But also knowing there were things that had to get done, I pressed on, hoping for the best. She started getting fussy. Soon, whines and whimpers escalated into a full-blown meltdown.

    Although I couldn't do much to comfort her while driving, I could reach my arm into the backseat and gently pat her leg. It took a few minutes, but eventually she settled down and reached out her tiny hand to hold mine.

    A few years later, Brooke had a performance with her praise dance team from school. She loved getting on a stage, so I expected her to be full of smiles and giggles. But just a few minutes before the performance began, a very distraught Brooke made her way to the audience to find me.

    With tears streaming down her cheeks, she explained that the teacher had moved her from the front row to the back row, and she didn't know the back row's part. I reassured her, "Honey, just get up there and watch the other girls for cues and follow in step. You know this dance. You'll be fine."

    She sobbed back, "I won't be fine if I mess up, and I know I'm going to mess up."

    That's when it occurred to me. She would need my touch to get through this. But we both knew it would be impossible for my arm to reach all the way up to the stage. So I quickly whispered, "Brooke, lock your eyes with mine, and Mommy will touch you with my smile. Don't look at anyone else. It doesn't matter if you mess up. What matters is that you keep your eyes on me the whole time. We'll do this together."

    Quietly she asked, "The whole time, Mommy?"

    "The whole time, Brooke," I replied as I watched my brave girl walk away to take her place.

    Several times during the dance, Brooke fell out of step. She knew her steps weren't perfect, so her eyes brimmed with tears. However, the tears never fell. With her eyes perfectly locked on my smiling face, she danced.

    My smile was not based on her performance. My smile was born out of an incredible love for this precious, courageous little girl. As she kept her attention focused solely on my smile and the touch of my gaze, it was as if the world slowly faded away and we were the only ones in the room.

    This is the way God wants me to dance through life.

    Though I can't physically see Him, my soul pictures Him so clearly. In my mind's eye He is there. The touch of His gaze wraps about me, comforts me, assures me, and makes the world seem strangely dim. As long as my gaze is locked on His, I dance and He smiles. The snickers and jeers of others fade away. Though I hear their razor-sharp intentions, they are unable to pierce my heart and distract my focus. Even my own stumblings don't cause the same feelings of defeat.

    My steps so often betray the desire of my heart, but it is not my perfect performance that captures His attention. Rather, it is my complete dependence on Him that He notices.

    He then whispers to my heart, hold on to Me and what I say about you. For My words are the truth of who you are and the essence of what you were created to be. I then imagine Him pausing as He adds, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).

    His truth frees me from the chains of doubt and insecurity. His truth frees me from feeling unable and inadequate to try and pursue God. His truth washes over me as I tentatively whisper, "I want to be a woman who says 'yes' to God."

    And in that moment, with my eyes locked on His, I am.

    Dear Lord, I want to keep my eyes on You as I dance through the highs and lows of my life. Direct my steps today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    This devotion was taken from Lysa TerKeurst's new book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God Devotional, which releases August 1! Click here to pre-order your copy!

    Reflect and Respond:
    Take some time to reflect on verses where God says who we are to Him, such as Ephesians 1:3-8, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, and John 1:12.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 121:1-2, "I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with John

  • Saying Yes to God

    Posted on July 11, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel ..." Ephesians 6:19 (NIV)

    Have you ever had one of those amazing thoughts of something you want to do? Your heart beats wildly for a few minutes—or even a few days—and you think to yourself, I'm going to do this!

    But then the reasons you can't start coming. They suit up, start marching, and aim their weapons of discouragement right at your heart. In the end, that amazing thought becomes a fleeting thought.

    And you think to yourself, yeah, it was a dumb idea. Then, as quickly as the stir of passion started, it fades. Too many of us live in the depressing, washed-out shades of a thousand faded passions that might have been.

    Because we're afraid.

    We'd rather stay safe and under the radar than go big and possibly flop.

    But every now and then someone rare comes along. They would rather die than say, "I wish I would have ..." Instead, they grit their teeth, lift their raw souls to God, and scream above all the naysayers, "I will! With God, I will!"

    That's my pastor.

    I have never seen someone so willing to FEARLESSLY make known the mystery of the gospel. He walks, talks, eats, sleeps, and breathes Ephesians 6:19, "Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel ..."

    My pastor had a crazy thought fly into his brain to do an old-school revival for 12 nights in a row. A revival that wouldn't be about one church and one preacher, but would be about THE CHURCH with many preachers. One that would be all about getting the hope of Jesus to the masses.

    It was a good idea. But it was a crazy idea. What about the expense? What if it burned out the staff? Would people really show up for all 12 nights? So many questions begged the idea to just fade away.

    But my pastor didn't let it fade. He didn't let it die. He ignited it. Not because he didn't feel the pull of fear, but rather because he pressed into God and chose to be unafraid.

    This crazy thought turned into an amazing reality—a full-blown revival. Twelve straight nights. Twelve amazing messages. Twelve passionate preachers. One awe-inspiring purpose—to fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.

    My husband and I had the privilege to attend much of this revival in person. And though I'm a woman of many words, I can't possibly begin to describe what God did.

    There was an igniting of souls that happened and extended all across the globe. People came to know Jesus. People got baptized. People found hope again. And people saw what can happen when one person dares to say, "I'm going to say yes to God's wild invitation. I'm going to do this!"

    You may be thinking, my yes can't affect others like this. I don't have that kind of influence. But we cannot even begin to understand the plans God has for us. There is always a far-reaching ripple effect when a woman says yes to God. We don't have to see the spread of the influence to know it's there. The power of saying yes to God is beyond anything we could ever imagine.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the examples of great men and women You have placed in our lives. May we humble ourselves as we learn from their courage to say yes to Your call. Give me the strength and courage necessary to take that next step in Your will for me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    For more encouragement on your journey of walking in obedience check out Lysa TerKeurst's new book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God Devotional, releasing August 1! Click here to pre-order your copy.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think of an example of someone who has chosen to say yes to God no matter what the cost.

    What can you learn from their example of faith and radical obedience?

    Power Verses:
    2 Corinthians 1:20-22, "Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God's Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete." (MSG)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ephesians

  • Afraid to Turn the Next Corner

    Posted on July 4, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8 (ESV)

    You know how some people love the thrill of being surprised? They love surprise parties. They would love to show up at work one day and be told they are actually going on a surprise vacation and be whisked from their desk to paradise in just a few hours.

    They would love to have one of those makeover shows pop up at their house with a film crew and be told they're getting a whole new wardrobe.

    Surprises feel thrilling to them. Like the thrill some people get when a roller coaster ride they thought was over suddenly takes off again and starts doing upside down loops. They throw their hands in the air and embrace the thrill of the unknown.

    They call that fun.

    I don't.

    I love a good birthday party. But I don't want it to be surprised.

    I love a good vacation. But I don't want it to be planned for me.

    I love winning stuff and would freely accept a gift certificate for a new wardrobe. But I don't want anyone to pick out the clothes for me.

    I like (not love) a roller coaster. I don't mind when it finally crests the lift hill and then careens downward like the bottom just fell out of the world. But I don't want it to take unexpected twists and turns.

    This dislike of surprises can usually be managed with all the things I mentioned.

    My friends know not to throw me a surprise party. No one is looking to give me a surprise vacation or new wardrobe. And before getting on a roller coaster, I thoroughly check it out and know its patterned route.

    But life is different.

    Life twists and turns and throws loops into those places we think will be flat and smooth. Because that's what life does. Sometimes it all just catches us off guard.

    And at the end of the day, I guess that's why I don't like to be surprised. I can't stand to get caught off guard. It makes me feel exposed and afraid.

    But slowly, I'm learning God can bring good out of feeling exposed and afraid.

    That vulnerable place reminds us we have needs beyond what we can manage by ourselves. It reminds us we need God. Desperately. Completely.

    And into that gap between what we can manage on our own and what we can't, that's right where faith steps in and has the opportunity to find deep roots. Roots that dig down and break up previously unearthed places within us.

    Our faith doesn't just need to grow big, it needs to grow deep. Yes, we need deep faith roots.

    I want to have faith like the believer that Jeremiah describes as, "... a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit" (Jeremiah 17:8).

    Deep roots anchor us when surprises blow like strong, unruly winds.

    Deep roots hold us steady during the storm that didn't show up on the radar.

    Deep roots find nourishment when the surface gets awfully dry.

    Deep roots allow for growth not previously possible.

    Deep roots yield rich fruit.

    So, I'm learning to not be so afraid of what might be around the next corner. Even if it does catch me off guard. I close my eyes and whisper ... "deeper still."

    Dear Lord, deep roots of faith–that's what I need to grow today. Help me to trust in You above all else. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Do you want to grow your faith? Lysa TerKeurst's book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, will help you do just that as you learn to walk in radical obedience to the Lord each day. Click here to purchase your copy!

    Reflect and Respond:
    Is there something dividing your heart and distracting you from knowing God more?

    Pray a courageous prayer. Ask God to show you one distraction you could distance yourself from to more fully embrace growing your faith.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 52:8, "But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Jeremiah

  • As Weak as Our Strongest Link

    Posted on June 27, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

    One day I tweeted, "We are only as weak as our strongest link." It wasn't a typo. It's something I've been thinking about for a while now.

    Often the Bible talks in counter-intuitive statements. Different than the normal flow. An unexpected rub against the grain.

    To gain, you must give up.

    If someone takes your jacket, give them your shoes too.

    When we are weak, then we are strong.

    Tough stuff. Good stuff. Heart-protecting stuff.

    The minute I start feeling absolutely confident in my own strength is the minute I am desperately weak ... and I don't even realize it.

    The Lord reminded me of this right before I stepped on stage to speak to 4,500 women at a large conference. One minute I was walking backstage to get my microphone on and the next minute I was on the ground with my face pressed into the cement floor.

    My heel had gotten caught in a crack in the floor and that's all it took to bring me down.

    My first thoughts were not spiritual.

    Have mercy, I've probably split my pants wide open and there is no time to change!

    I quickly picked myself up, put on the over-ear microphone, and went on stage. I felt so vulnerable.

    Inside my head I whispered, Lord, I'm not ready. I don't want to speak right now. I want to go crawl in a hole with a mirror so I can check my pants! I tried as discretely as possible to make sure the seams in my pants were in tact.

    My heart drummed wildly in my chest as I prayed, Jesus, I am completely desperate for You.

    And I imagine the Lord thought, Good. She's ready. Now, this is going to be powerful.

    I'd left my strength, confidence and self-sufficiency back on that concrete floor. Next to the crack that tripped me up. And my weakness made room for God's strength to take over.

    My weakness wasn't what could have messed me up that day. It was my strength.

    We are only as weak as our strongest link. Sometimes it's not our weaknesses that leave us vulnerable to attack. It's our strengths. Those places where we feel especially confident, invincible, and quite able. But, as a friend reminded me recently, "Our strengths can become strongholds if we're not careful."

    When Paul pleaded with the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh—the thing that made Paul feel weak—the Lord did not. Instead, the Lord reminded Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9a NIV).

    Paul took hold of this truth and went on to conclude in verse 10, "For when I am weak, then I am strong" (12:10b NIV). Which leads me to wonder if the opposite is also true ... where I am strong, then I am weak.

    I'm making a conscious effort to stay in tune with what strengths might easily trip me up. Really doing some soul-searching. Praying. Listening for direction and correction. Then, walking in complete faith. Because if we're going to call ourselves people of faith, we must live lives that require faith. For me this means accepting my weaknesses rather than boasting in my strengths.

    Faith is like walking over a bridge, where we cross over from relying on our strength to God's strength. It's a powerful walk to take.

    However, I really wouldn't recommend wearing high-heeled shoes.

    Dear Lord, reveal to me the places where I'm relying on my own power instead of Yours. Show me what strengths could be my biggest weaknesses, God, so that I can learn to serve You better. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    In her book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, Lysa TerKeurst shares inspiring stories from her own life along with biblical insights as she describes how to discern when God is speaking to you. Click here to purchase your copy!

    Reflect and Respond:
    What strength could easily trip you up today? Ask God to give you spiritual ears to hear any direction or correction He whispers.

    What would it look like to exchange your weakness for God's strength?

    Power Verse:
    Ephesians 6:10, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

  • I Under-Stand

    Posted on June 20, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "... Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word." Ephesians 5:25-26 (NIV)

    "I just feel mean so much of the time," my friend whispers through the leak of tears. Downward, the salty droplets slip and so does her heart, her resolve, and her assurance of being a good mom.

    "I understand," I whisper back.

    And sometimes that's all that needs to be said.

    I don't remind her of gentleness verses. I don't try to fix anything. I don't offer solutions or articles or statistical data.

    I simply under-stand.

    Under ... to dip low and find that same place that lies beneath my outside veneer.

    We all have an under.

    And I admit to her, "I've felt mean so many times too. I've set out to have a super day with my kids only to be red-faced and aggravated minutes later. Buckling under the weight of my imperfections, I've wondered if I'll ever get it right. It sometimes feels like all the other moms are doing it better. But that's not true. All moms struggle."

    Stand ... to come alongside in a position of strength, closeness, and unwavering support.

    We all need those friends we know will stand with us.

    And I reassure, "Somehow, God shows us what to do and fills in the gaps if we ask Him. The fact that you're crying shows a heart tender enough for God's molding and shaping to occur. Don't listen to the world's answers. And don't fall into the trap of trying to be like other moms. Just saturate yourself in God's Truth and trust the gut instincts He gives you."

    Thankfully we don't have to be perfect. God has made a way to free us from the mistakes we make so we can keep going forward without the chains of regret. Ephesians 5:25-26 tells us, "... Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word."

    I love that picture of Christ washing us through the Word. Some versions of Ephesians 5:25-26 actually call this washing sanctifying.

    The Greek meaning of this sanctifying is hagiazo. When we unwrap the package of this word, we find three simple treasures. Hagiazo means:
    1. To cleanse externally.
    2. To free from the guilt of sin.
    3. To purify internally by the renewing of the soul.

    Externally, I wash my tears away with the truth of Lamentations 3:22-23 that God's mercies make all things new. Past minutes are gone. But this minute brings with it a fresh start.

    Relationally, Colossians 1:14 frees me from the guilt. God's Word reminds that I can live in the freedom of repentance and forgiveness.

    Internally, I see my depravity but refuse to wallow in it. I recall the words of Micah 6:8 as a call to action. Another place to receive the Truth as a cleansing agent from fear, doubt, hopelessness.

    Yes, I understand. My need to be sanctified is great. Just like your need is. We're all in that place. We all sometimes feel mean.

    Unable.
    Incapable.
    Insecure.
    Broken down.

    So, let the Word of Christ wash afresh over you, in you, and all about you. And let the whispers of a friend assure you, I under-stand.

    Dear Lord, I praise You today for being such an understanding, loving God. Thank You for carrying me through every storm that I face, and for placing special people in my life to encourage me along the way. Help me to be that voice of encouragement for someone else today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Lysa TerKeurst's New York Times bestselling book, Unglued, gives a fresh perspective on how to be obedient to the Lord with your emotions, reactions, and decisions.

    The accompanying Unglued Devotional: 60 Days of Imperfect Progress will provide you with daily encouragement as you learn what the Bible says about better ways to react. To order your copy, click here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Reflect on the three meanings of hagiazo as they apply to your personal struggles and emotions right now.

    Power Verses:
    Lamentations 3:22-23, "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (NIV)

    Colossians 1:13-14, "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (NAS)

    Micah 6:8, "Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ephesians

  • A Restless, Unsettled Heart

    Posted on June 13, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land." Psalm 143:6 (NIV)

    A few years ago, I sat with a beautiful young woman as tears streamed down her face. Six months before our meeting, her world was full. A loving husband, a healthy toddler, fun friends, and a new home.

    But part of her heart felt restless, unsettled, a little empty. She couldn't put her finger on it. She tried talking to friends, but they laughed it off as something that would pass.

    Only the feeling didn't pass.

    She felt detached from her husband and disappointed that his love didn't fulfill her. Why couldn't he make her feel loved? She'd always thought of marriage as the ultimate love. He was going to be the one to right her wrongs and fill up her insecurities, or so she thought.

    Questions bombarded her ... What is wrong with him? Why doesn't he say what he's supposed to say? Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm not pretty enough, witty enough, good enough?

    Then one day she met a man who said things she'd longed to hear her husband say. He made her feel pretty and witty. Soon, she rationalized that she'd never really loved her husband. She convinced herself she'd made a mistake marrying so young. That this new man was her true love.

    She fell into his arms. A web of lies was spun. The thrill of new romance clouded every decision.

    She had not wanted to come to the women's retreat. She knew it might make her feel guilty, and she was past guilty feelings. She was just waiting for the right time to leave her husband and start over with the real love of her life.

    But her friends had started to grow suspicious of her pulling away. So, to appease them, she went.

    Over the course of the weekend, the walls she'd so carefully constructed to keep everyone at a distance and her secret hidden started to crumble. By Saturday night, she sat down with me and confessed it all.

    She desperately wanted to know how I felt so full of God's love. She'd never known that kind of relationship with Him. She now recognized it wasn't the love of another man her heart craved; it was the love of God.

    I think this is true for many of us. We spend years chasing things we think will make us feel loved. But everything this world offers is temporary. Everything. And will leave our souls dry, crying out to God, "I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land" (Psalm 143:6).

    The kind of love our souls crave is lasting, eternal. And only God can fill up our hearts with that kind of love.

    Chasing love outside the will of God invites so much into our lives that is the exact opposite of love. First Corinthians 13:4-8 is a picture of God's perfect love. It is patient and kind. It does not envy ... it is not self-seeking ... it does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth ... it always protects and perseveres. Love never fails.

    This is not a description of what is inherently ours when we fall in love with a person. It's a description of God's love.

    Because our souls were designed for God's fulfilling love, if we aren't staying closely connected to Him, our hearts will start to feel empty. Restless. Unfulfilled. Parched.

    Let us never think we are beyond being tempted. If we're honest, we're only a few bad decisions away from the same mess my friend is untangling herself from.

    The kind of love our souls crave will never be found in the things of this world. Lasting, satisfying love will only be found when we stop chasing others or possessions, and thirst for the things of God.

    Dear Lord, please help me see my marriage for the sacred gift that it is. Help me to remain faithful in a way that honors You and brings joy to our home. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    If you're looking to strengthen the connection and communication in your relationship, don't miss Lysa TerKeurst's marriage books, Capture Her Heart for husbands and Capture His Heart for wives.

    Reflect and Respond:
    If someone seems appealing enough to draw your heart away from the truth of God, will you pray about asking another godly woman for help?

    What step do you need to take to remove that temptation from your heart, mind, and soul?

    Power Verse:
    Ephesians 1:4, "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm

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