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Daily Devotion

  • Living in the Light

    Posted on October 12, 2012 by Donna Bostick

    Donna Bostick

    "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

    Fearful. Betrayed. Abandoned. Unwanted. Unloved. Unworthy.

    Words that formed shadows from a past that would haunt me for years. A past that would hold me hostage and keep me from fully living in the light of God's love.

    Fearful as I watched a hot plate of spaghetti thrown across the kitchen. Fearful as I watched furniture crash against walls. Fearful when my dad fell to the ground a few feet from my mom after he'd swung at her and lost his balance.

    Betrayed after my intoxicated father sat me on the back of a horse without a saddle or reins to hold, and then swatted the horse, which sent it galloping. Betrayed as I heard him laugh with his friends as I sailed through the air and landed on a barbed wire fence.

    Abandoned and unwanted when my dad filed divorce papers and failed to even get my name and birthday correct on them. Abandoned each time my dad refused to pay child support. Unwanted as years went by without visits, phone calls, hugs, birthday gifts.

    Unloved and unworthy each time my dad broke his promise ... to visit, to call, to show up for my high school graduation, to pay for college.

    Fearful, betrayed, abandoned, unwanted, unloved and unworthy. Words and emotions that I let define me and cast shadows over me until last year.

    Through several of my pastor's sermons and after a friend's father passed away, I sensed God asking: How would you feel and what would you do if your dad were to die this very day?

    I had no answer. I didn't know or really even think I liked my dad, much less loved him. Fifteen years had gone by since I'd seen him.

    Around that same time, God challenged me with two words: choice and accept.

    I had a choice and I made it. Following God's nudging, on July 1, 2011, I went to see my father and accepted him for who he is.

    In doing so, for the first time ever, I was able to choose to accept my past. God showed me I could not change my dad or my past, but I could choose to walk out of the shadows of their marks on my life.

    One of my first steps, after acceptance, was praying for my dad. When I started praying for him and choosing to forgive him, the shadows of darkness - the shadows of my past - started to lift.

    God then showed me I had more choices to make: a choice to believe He is who He says He is. A choice to believe His promises; a choice to believe I was worth dying for. It was up to me to choose to be filled with His joy; to let Him be my Father; to live in the security of His unconditional love.

    I had to make the choice to walk out of the darkness of doubt and defeat, and live in the light of His truth.

    It's been over a year since I started making those choices. And I still have to make them 24/7. Not just on Sundays. Not just at 9 a.m. when my day starts. I have to choose constantly.

    So I get up every morning and choose to believe God is a Promise Keeper. I make the choice to believe He loves me like no other can or will, to pray for my dad, to let go of the anger.

    There are days, even minutes, we won't make the right choices. But when we do, we live as the chosen people we are. Children of God who have been called to declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.

    Dear Lord, thank You for Your truth that sets me free. Thank You that You have called me out of the darkness and into Your light. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Although we can't go back and change circumstances or relationships that hurt us, we can process our pain with Jesus. In her book, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises, Renee Swope shows you how to find confident hope for your future despite the pain and disappointment of your past.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are you tired of living in the shadows of your past?

    Make a list of the doubts that hold you in bondage to your past. Pray and ask God to reveal His promises to you and then help you replace those doubts with His promises.

    Power Verses:
    John 8:12b, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (NIV)

    Ephesians 5:8-9, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Donna Bostick. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 1 Peter, Donna Bostick

  • Gift of Administration

    Posted on October 12, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” 1 Corinthians 12:28 NASB

     

    The gift of administration likes for people, projects and processes to be properly organized. Efficiency and effectiveness energize their efforts. They keep chaos at bay by bringing consistency and calm to a work or home culture. This supportive gift takes time to plan and then they implement the plan. Gifted administrators understand the long-term needs and define the short-term steps needed to accomplish future goals. They are intentional with strategic initiatives.

    Those who keep us in line logistically bless us with sustainable systems. It may be a financial manager who is tedious in stewarding well the income and expenses at work or home. The budget is their accountability partner. They give daily oversight to the proper allocation of resources and are able to discern positive and negative trends. They are worth their weight in gold. A gifted scribe who captures critical items in the minutes of a meeting makes follow up more feasible.

    “Dominion and awe belong to God; he establishes order in the heights of heaven.” Job 25:2

    Do you have the gift of administration? If so, perhaps you partner with a visionary leader who needs organizational legs to see God’s game plan come to fruition. Your support of a senior manager may make the difference between success and failure or excellence and mediocrity. Your organizational efforts at home are a blessing to your family. Don’t obsess over perfection; rather rejoice in doing what you can with the time you have. Yes, value relationships over results.

    Almighty God is the ultimate administrator. He placed the stars and planets in the sky in meticulous order and He organized an intricate human body. The wisest administrators get their marching orders from their Master, Jesus. So, seek favor from the Lord first, so that you serve, not lord over others. Be patient when people do not live up to your standards or execute precisely your expectations. Your administrative gift will place you in a seat of great influence! 

    “Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.” Proverbs 22:29

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, show me how to value and appreciate those who are gifted administratively.

    Related Readings: 1 Chronicles 24:19; Daniel 2:49 NASB; 2 Corinthians 8:20 NASB

    Post/Tweet: Don’t obsess over perfection; rather rejoice in doing what you can with the time you have. Value relationships over results. #relationships

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Corinthians, Proverbs, Job

  • Gift of Mercy

    Posted on October 11, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:8

     

    The gift of mercy is compelled to be compassionate. Its sensitive spirit hurts when others hurt and rejoices when others rejoice. Merciful followers of Jesus find great satisfaction in alleviating suffering and applying God’s grace to a wounded heart. Their tears of concern flow freely; they are pained to see others in pain. The merciful can be soft spoken and gentle in disposition. Behind the scenes they do quiet acts of kindness. They know how you are doing without asking.

    We all need those gifted with mercy to give us comfort in our time of need. We need their unconditional love when we don’t feel loved. We need their affirmation when we don’t feel affirmed. Just like our sympathetic Savior brings empathy to our empty soul, so those gifted in mercy empathize with our emptiness. Therefore, be open to their suggestion to visit the doctor, attend church or join a small group. Mercy is concerned for the condition of our body and soul.

    “Even though I [Paul] was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” 1 Timothy 1:13

    Furthermore, if you have the gift of mercy, guard against being oversensitive. Your desire for harmony—at any cost—may suffer significant losses from unhealthy compromise. Your interest in pleasing everyone may result in pleasing no one. Mercy by nature is easily taken advantage of, so be careful not to cave in to the loudest voice or the most persuasive persona. Seek solace in Jesus and find certainty in His commands. Use your gift of mercy as a conduit for Christ’s truth.

    Ultimately the source of all mercy resides with the Merciful One, our Heavenly Father. His mercy rains down from above, as He reigns over all living creatures below. Because of His great mercy toward you, you can appropriate abundant mercy.  By God’s grace be quick to forgive and slow to anger. Look at those who are stuck in selfishness with sympathy. Indeed, pity people who are trapped in the pit of pride. Pursue the apathetic with authentic love—mercy initiates.

    “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the merciful, and grant me Your mercy to give away.

    Related Readings: Psalm 6:2, 9; Isaiah 55:7; Matthew 23:23; Jude 1:2

    Post/Tweet: Our desire to please everyone may result in pleasing no one. Mercy needs boundaries. #mercy

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Romans, James, 1 Timothy, Mercy

  • Getting Unstuck from My Thinking Rut

    Posted on October 11, 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2 (NIV)

    Have you ever had the thought, "What's the use? I'm just a stuffer." Or, "What's the use? I'm a just a yeller."

    That may be partially true, but I believe there is more to it than just claiming because we act a certain way, that's the way it will always be.

    Brain research shows that every conscious thought we have is recorded on our internal hard drive known as the cerebral cortex. Each thought scratches the surface much like an Etch A Sketch.

    When we have the same thought again, the line of the original thought is deepened, causing what's called a memory trace. With each repetition the trace goes deeper and deeper, forming and embedding a pattern of thought. When an emotion is tied to this thought pattern, the memory trace grows exponentially stronger.

    We forget most of our random thoughts that are not tied to an emotion. However, we retain the ones we think often that have an emotion tied to them. For example, if we've had the thought over and over that we are "unglued," and that thought is tied to a strong emotion, we deepen the memory trace when we repeatedly access that thought. The same is true if we decide to stuff a thought—we'll perpetuate that stuffing. Or if we yell, we'll keep yelling.

    We won't develop new responses until we develop new thoughts. That's why renewing our minds with new thoughts is crucial. New thoughts come from new perspectives. The Bible encourages this process, which only makes sense because God created the human mind and understands better than anyone how it functions.

    A foundational teaching of Scripture is that it is possible to be completely changed through transformed thought patterns. That's exactly the point of today's key verse, Romans 12:2.

    Scripture also teaches that we can accept or refuse thoughts. Instead of being held hostage by old thought patterns, we can actually capture our thoughts and allow the power of Christ's truth to change them:

    "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)

    I don't know about you, but understanding how my brain is designed makes these verses come alive in a whole new way. Taking thoughts captive and being transformed by thinking in new ways isn't some New Age form of mind control. It's biblical, and it's fitting with how God wired our brains.

    I can't control the things that happen to me each day, but I can control how I think about them. I can say to myself, "I have a choice to have destructive thoughts or constructive thoughts right now. I can wallow in what's wrong and make things worse, or I can ask God for a better perspective to help me see good even when I don't feel good."

    Indeed, when we gain new perspectives, we can see new ways of thinking. And if we change the way we think, we'll change the ways we act and react.

    Dear Lord, teach me to trust You and to believe that even though my situation is overwhelming, You always have the best for me in mind. Give me Your perspective today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    For more encouragement and practical advice on taking our thoughts and actions captive, check out Lysa's new book, Unglued. Available now!

    The accompanying Unglued Bible Study will help you understand what the Bible says about better ways to react. To order your copy, click here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What is one area of your life where destructive thoughts seem to take control? Ask God to show you how to see the good in this area even though you don't necessarily feel good about the situation.

    Start right now, and continue each morning for the next 5 days to pray the verses below over the area of your life you described above. Sometimes changing our perspective requires an initial act of obedience.

    Power Verses:
    2 Corinthians 4:8, "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair." (NIV)

    Isaiah 41:13, "For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." (NIV 1984)

    John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


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

  • Gift of Prophesy

    Posted on October 10, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith.” Romans 12:6-7

     

    The gift of prophesy is compelled by the Spirit to tell the truth. It is not shy to confront sin and call out injustice. The prophetic calling has the courage to speak the claims of Christ with humble boldness. They have a vision of God’s holiness and are constrained to communicate His high standards of behavior. Moreover, some serve prophetically by praying over other believers with affirmation and instruction. They perceive where the Spirit is leading His servant to go next.

    We are blessed when those in our lives warn us of unwise opportunities and unscrupulous individuals. We are wise to embrace those who speak the truth in love and not marginalize their message. Wisdom flows from friends who clearly discern situations as detrimental. We win when they lovingly point out that our schedule is not sustainable. When we adjust our attitude of fear to faith, based on prophetic preaching, we feel protected. Wisdom honors the prophetic gift.

    “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.” 1 Corinthians 7:7

    Perhaps your perceptive spouse sees things you have not considered. Instead of dismissing their discernment, see them as a gift from God for your protection. Furthermore, if you have the gift of prophecy, be careful not to ignore the individual. Soften the relationship with the oil of love before you deliver the hard truth. Comfort is an affectionate appetizer that needs to precede the prophetic entrée of admonishment. A discerning heart gets to the heart of the matter with truth.

    Godly people who communicate a prophetic word in love deserve a listening ear. If you heed their concerns, your ultimate decision will benefit from weighing the worst-case scenario. Doom and destruction can be avoided by taking seriously the words of Christ’s warriors. Fools plow ahead with deaf ears, while the wise take a time-out and assess a variety of outcomes. So, slow down and listen to the discerning. A prophetic voice is God’s gift to walk wisely and patiently.

    “The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry. And a wise friend’s timely reprimand?is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.” Proverbs 25:12, The Message

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, place people with the gift of prophecy in my life so I can be the wiser, having listened to their words.

    Related Readings: Psalm 141:5; Proverbs 13:18; Ephesians 4:11, 15; 2 John 1:1-3

    Post/Tweet: The prophetic calling has the courage to speak the claims of Christ with humble boldness. #gift #prophecy

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Corinthians, Proverbs, Romans, Prophesy

  • A One-Cup Life

    Posted on October 10, 2012 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens ..." Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

    Flour dusted shirts, sticky hands and happy faces gathered in my kitchen for an afternoon of baking. The counters were covered with bowls, spoons and ingredients as my young daughters eagerly helped with the culinary creation we were assembling.

    Part of the learning process involved reading the recipe, getting out ingredients and gathering utensils. So when the recipe called for 1-1/2 cups of milk, I directed one girl to get the two-cup measuring cup from the cabinet. She made it to the right cabinet, but picked out the one-cup measuring cup instead.

    Instead of correcting, I showed my daughters how to make that size work. But I also wanted them to learn why we had to make the change. I wanted them to learn that you can't put 1-1/2 cups of liquid into a 1-cup container.

    As I thought about this principle of measurement, I realized it doesn't work with milk and it doesn't work in life. Yet so many of us try to cram 12 hours of work into 8 hours of our day. We have more books than can fit in the bookcase and more clothes than closet.

    We say "yes" to more activities than we have time, and take on more responsibilities than we have the energy to manage. Then we wonder why we can't find a healthy balance to life.

    For years I tried to put too much into my schedule. "Yes" slipped off my tongue with little thought and no prayer. I'd collapse at night, exhausted and annoyed.

    The priorities of my family and home were neglected in my over-busy life. It was an exhausting way to live, as I constantly felt like I should be doing something. And when I was doing something, it never felt like enough.

    It's defeating to believe you are always disappointing someone ... especially God.

    One day I decided to write down everything I had to do on one piece of paper ... which turned in to two. I included phone calls to make, emails to send, projects to start and others to finish. The list included things I needed to do that day and things I needed to do in a month. It included ongoing responsibilities like grocery shopping and one-time events like coordinating the t-shirt sales at my children's schools each fall.

    It was painful and overwhelming. But it was also a relief. Once all my responsibilities were in one place, the problem was obvious. I was trying to fit 1-1/2 cups worth of responsibilities into my 1-cup life. It would never all fit, and I would never find balance or peace.

    My life had to be simplified, which meant reducing the demands on my time. A year of cutting commitments resulted in a manageable, more focused and more productive life. It took making hard decisions, but it was worth the peace I gained.

    That year I learned I have exactly enough time to do what God wants me to do. No more. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens" (NIV). The key to balance is seeking God's will for me in this season, and not spending time on assignments meant for other people.

    I'll probably always struggle with over-committing myself due to my personality. But with God's wisdom and an updated master list of all my commitments, I get ongoing reality checks. And although I'm not really good at math, I do remember that 1-1/2 cups of something will never fit in a 1-cup container.

    Dear Lord, You have uniquely created me and equipped me for the service You've determined. And yet so many times I try to take on responsibility that's not mine. Help me to be content with my assignment and to work at it joyfully. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Visit Glynnis' blog for a checklist to help determine God's will for you in this season of your life.

    Reflect and Respond:

    What are some reasons women over-commit themselves?

    Consider those responsibilities over which you have control. Which ones should be pruned from your schedule?

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." (NIV)

    1 Peter 5:8, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ecclesiastes, Glynnis Whitwer

  • Gift of Service

    Posted on October 9, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve.” Romans 12:6-7

     

    The gift of service sees a need and seeks to meet that need. It is the Spirit inspired ability to see beyond the surface to what really requires attention. Service motivated servants of Jesus get joy from rallying resources to raw realities. They are not shy about challenging the abundantly resourced to resource the woefully under resourced. The gift of service convenes other gifted people to collaborate for a cause. They are called by Christ to facilitate action and results.

    We all can serve the Lord and people, but for those gifted to do so it comes more naturally and easily. Indeed, self and Satan compete for our service to God and others. The flesh longs to be served rather than serve, and Satan seeks to divide our loyalties with the Lord. So purity in service flows from a heart harnessed by the Holy Spirit. When we first see ourselves as bondservants to our Savior Jesus we are compelled to serve for Him. Servants of Christ serve.

    “Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” Matthew 4:10
    Moreover, steward well your service gift, so you are not overwhelmed with the avalanche of needs that surround you. If you try to meet everyone’s needs you may meet no one’s needs. Even Jesus chose to give attention to some but not others. Your gift requires prayerful stewardship so it is not prostituted by pride. Approval may or may not come from those you serve unselfishly, so make sure you serve as unto the Lord. Serve Christ alone and you will not be alone in Him.

    Furthermore, lavish love on those whose service is exemplary and enthusiastic for Jesus. When you recognize and reward servants of the Lord, you place value on what God values. Those who consistently serve well need double doses of encouragement. If servants are not served they grow weary and weak in the Lord’s work. Yes, stay true to serve during trying times but also receive the service of others. Sometimes those who serve the most are served the least—so allow yourself to be served!

    “Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” Ephesians 6:6-8 

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, use my service for Your glory and for Your people!

    Related Readings: 1 Samuel 12:24; Psalm 22:30; Mark 10:45; Philippians 2:22

    Post/Tweet: If you try to meet everyone’s needs you may meet no one’s needs. #serve

    Know your gift? Get a free “Spiritual Gifts Assessment” http://bit.ly/P4FYlw


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Ephesians, Matthew, Romans, Service

  • Gossip

    Posted on October 9, 2012 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki Koziarz

    "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14 (NIV 1984)

    We hadn't seen each other in a few weeks so I was excited to catch up on my friend's life. Arriving at the restaurant we hugged, took our seats, and ordered some sweet tea. Immediately, we started talking about what had been going on in our lives and dug into a discussion about the previous month's events.

    Just a few minutes into our catch-up session, a person's name {who I didn't care for} came up. My friend told me a story that made me dislike this person even more. I then told my friend a story about this same person that made her dislike them more too.

    And so our conversation went ...

    When I left the restaurant, there was a sick feeling inside me. My thoughts wandered through our conversation and I felt deeply convicted it'd been nothing but idle talk.

    The crazy thing was, in the midst of the conversation, I didn't even realize what was happening. I thought I was just catching up with an old friend. But the reality is, I was gossiping.

    I wish I could tell you this eye-opening moment changed me and I never spoke badly of someone again. But I am a woman who consistently finds herself in need of God's grace, mercy and forgiveness.

    Today's key verse, Psalm 19:14, has been helpful for me to remember how God desires my heart and words to be filled with things that honor Him.

    Scripture is teaching me so much about my words. I'm learning I am accountable to God for them (Matt. 12:36). I see by guarding my words, I can keep myself from a lot of problems (Prov. 21:23). And I'm understanding how I have the ability to speak life or death through the words I use (Prov. 18:21).

    As I've been allowing these Truths to shape my character, I've begun to understand how my slip-ups (sin) move me further away from God. One of the greatest deceptions of sin is that we often don't realize what we've done until it's too late.

    But thankfully God is always willing to forgive us and empower us to become stronger in Him.

    So how should we handle conversations like these?

    Preventing gossip is one of the greatest ways to not get caught up in it. Some days I have to consciously say to myself, "I don't want to dishonor anyone with my words today." I've asked God to make me aware of conversations that don't bring honor. "A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly." (Prov. 12:23 NIV 1984)

    Another way we can handle gossip-centered conversations is by ignoring them. Just because we've heard the latest juicy scoop doesn't mean we have to continue to spread it. "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret." (Prov. 11:13 NIV)

    Lastly, confronting the friend who we're gossiping about is important. If we have an issue with someone, we should go directly to that person. It takes more courage to confront someone than it does to ignore him or her, or talk about them behind their back. If something's bothering us, we should deal with it with the right person. "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over." (Matt. 18:15 NIV)

    I'm still working through this. I felt horrible for how my conversation went that day at the restaurant. But, I'm challenged to prevent, ignore or confront conversations like these. I want my words and my heart to be pleasing to God.

    Dear Lord, as I continue to work out my word-struggles with You, thank You for Your grace, mercy and forgiveness. Please help me to keep these Truths close to my soul so I can better represent You with my words each day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Visit Nicki's blog today for 10 ways to speak life to someone today.

    Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

    30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do you have a friend you easily gossip with? Why not share this devotion with her today and commit to hold each other accountable to prevent, ignore or confront?

    Why do you think gossip is such a struggle? Leave a comment today and let's discuss this.

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 18:21, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


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

  • Self-Flattery

    Posted on October 8, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin. Psalm 36:1b-2

     

    Self-flattery is foolish. It has no fear of God. Self-flattery follows a false faith that is forged out of convenience, not commitment. Self-flattery sees itself as the center of attention instead of Almighty God. It is enamored with itself. It defines and executes its own agenda. It is soft on sin. However, God-fearers see their sin and flee from its presence. It is not invited into their circle of influence. Furthermore, a person who flatters himself has neither a proper view of God nor any respect for Him. Respect for God flows from fear of God but self-flattery demands respect. They need to know that others hold the same high opinion of themselves as they do.

    Self-flattery heaps praise on itself in substitute for penance. This is dangerously absurd. Even the silliest bird does not set a trap for itself. Smoothing over our conduct or soothing our conscience may set us up for failure. We can justify anything, but we had better be ready to suffer the consequences. There is a limit to our self-congratulation. Eventually, God and others grow impatient with our obnoxious ways. Our inability to own up to our actions—or lack thereof—lowers our standing with God and man. Self-flattery is a losing proposition. It loses respect instead of gaining respect. It grows discontent instead of being content. It feels worse instead of feeling better. Self-flattery fails.

    There are many forms of self-flattery. When we think we are smarter than God, ignoring the principles laid out in His word, we flatter ourselves. When we think we have hope in heaven but we act like hell, we flatter ourselves. When we live for today as if death were a million miles away, we flatter ourselves. When we treat others with contempt, then expect them to follow our ways, we flatter ourselves. When we say we trust in the Lord, but borrow money and presume on the future, we flatter ourselves. Self-flattery longs for approval, but it is denied from those who really matter. There is a better way. The better way rises above self-flattery's deception. It needs awakening from its slumber, as did the church Jesus spoke about (Revelation 3:17).

    The road away from self-flattery is self-denial. Self-denial refrains from flattery. It is determined to know God. It is sensitive to sin and loves the Lord. The fear of God is in the forefront of those who deny themselves for the cause of Christ. Self-denial keeps God in holy awe, keeping self away from unhealthy admiration. It makes much of God and little of self. When we see God we admire Him and cease to flatter ourselves. Knowing God allows us to really know ourselves and discern between the two. The wisdom of God instructs us to place proper weight on what God wants versus what we want. Self-denial sends us into a whole other mindset, away from self-flattery. Its focus is being who God wants us to be and doing what God wants us to do. Self-denial serves others, deferring to them and what they value. It thinks more highly of God and His children. Self-denial replaces self-flattery with faith in God. Faith in God frees us to be secure in Him. Our identity is in Christ. We do not have to impress others or ourselves. He is all that matters. Replace self-flattery with faith in God. Faith in Him energizes an eternal self-esteem.

    Taken from Reading #25 in the 90-day devotional book, “Seeking God in the Psalms”… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Post/Tweet this today: Knowing God allows us to really know ourselves. #intimacy 

    Get free eBook “Infusion” by inviting 5 friends to Wisdom Hunters http://bit.ly/PEbaBJ


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Psalm, Revelation

  • Why I Wear a Toe Ring

    Posted on October 8, 2012 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves." 1 Peter 2:16 (NIV)

    I remember begging my mom to get my ears pierced. I was in 5th grade and only one other girl in my class had hole-less lobes. I pleaded my case. "But Mooooooom! EVVVVV-ERYONE has their ears pierced but Heidi and me!"

    That year on my birthday, she took me to the Meijer Thrifty Acres grocery store where a nice lady in the jewelry department pierced them for me.

    The pain was worth the cool.

    When I was in college, my friend Carmen got one ear double pierced. She said she did it to remind her that she belonged to the Lord; that she was His slave.

    You see, in the Old Testament, slavery wasn't unjustly forced like in our modern world. It was more of an occupation; a servant with civil and religious rights. A slave worked for his master for six years and then had the option to leave. However, if he wanted to continue his servanthood, he could. As a symbol of his loyalty, his ear was pierced. Exodus 21:5-6 says this about slaves:

    "But suppose the slave loves his wife and children so much that he won't leave without them. Then he must stand beside either the door or the doorpost at the place of worship, while his owner punches a small hole through one of his ears with a sharp metal rod. This makes him a slave for life." (CEV)

    I loved Carmen's idea of having a small hole in her ear as a sign of life-long service to the Lord. An earring to remind her that she chose to serve God in all areas of her life. However, I am a wimp. And the pain of the first ear piercing was enough for me!

    But a few years ago, while shopping downtown with some friends I had an idea. What if I wore a sterling silver toe ring as a sign of my service to the Lord? My friends and I each bought one.

    I wear this toe ring everyday to remind myself that I am a voluntary slave of Christ. And that I love my Master and the things He's given me to serve, like my family, church, neighbors and others.

    When I see it, it reminds me that I'm not in control, God is. And it helps me realign my preferences with His when I want to be the boss of my life and my circumstances. When I grow weary of serving God selflessly, I am reminded that I belong to Him.

    My toe ring also reminds me that my relationship with the Lord is for life.

    Yes, I am free to do as I'd like. There are no laws in my country against chucking my faith and running away.

    However, my toe ring reminds me:

    "Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves." (1 Peter 2:16 NIV)

    Are you willing to commit to God with all your heart, mind and soul? To serve rather than be served? To carry out the wishes of your Master willingly and joyfully? Even though you are free, will you choose to be His slave today?

    A pierced ear or toe ring is optional.

    Dear Lord, may I be reminded continually that it is You that I serve, not the other way around. May my life show my love and devotion to You and my loved ones. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    If you liked this devotion, check out Karen's new book LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith. It will enable you to control what you should and trust God with what you can't.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Although the term slave rightly has a negative connotation given history and current-day sex trafficking, how can the word "slave" properly describe how we should relate to God?

    On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being never, 10 being always), how often do you react to life's circumstances with a joyful attitude and "whatever Your will is" perspective? What can you do to make that number go higher?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 119:17, "Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word." (ESV)

    © 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 1 Peter, Exodus, Toe Rings, Karen Ehman

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