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Daily Devotion

  • When Your Best Isn't Good Enough

    Posted on October 1, 2014 by Renee Swope

    RENEE SWOPE

    "Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour. Be firm in the faith and resist him ..." 1 Peter 5:8-9 (GW)

    Have you ever gotten that awful pit-in-your-stomach feeling after finding out you let someone down? It felt like the wind had been knocked out of me as I read through an email from a client, sent to my manager and forwarded to me, describing how I had let some details fall through the cracks on a project.

    A horrible sense of discouragement and embarrassment moved in for the kill.

    In the past, I would have welcomed my uninvited critical thoughts to stay a while, resigned to the fact that I must be unable to do anything right!

    But not this time; too many hurtful experiences had taught me to recognize failure as an opportune time for my opponent, the devil, to devour me with feelings of inadequacy and shame. This enemy is bent on making me believe that when my best isn't good enough, I'm not good enough.

    Fortunately, times of pain have also included hours of poring over God's promises, gathering wisdom to deal with this unwelcome intruder. I have learned to be alert to the devil's schemes and ready to stand against them. In today's key verses, Peter tells us how:

    "Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour. Be firm in the faith and resist him, knowing that other believers throughout the world are going through the same kind of suffering" (1 Peter 5:8-9).

    After reading the email and letting my thoughts run wild for a few minutes, I knew I had to clear my mind. I asked the Holy Spirit to help me unclutter my thoughts with the clarity of truth from logistical, circumstantial and spiritual points of view.

    1) I jotted down a list of logistical truths: facts about what happened, what I did right, wrong or forgot to do at all.

    2) I also wrote a list of circumstantial truths: factors of my "reality" during the project.

    In six months time, a close friend died of cancer, our family adopted a baby from Ethiopia, my mom was hospitalized with blood clots in her lungs and moved in with us, and my father underwent emergency quadruple bypass surgery. Although I cut back on some things, I tried to push through on a few commitments I made before the bottom fell out. Exhausted and completely overwhelmed, I couldn't keep up. But I hadn't admitted or communicated my limitations to our client.

    3) Finally, and most importantly, I made a list of spiritual truths. Turning through my Bible, I found and wrote down promises to remind me of these facts:

    • "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:26, NIV).

    • "The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands" (Psalm 138:8, NASB).

    Listing logistical, circumstantial and spiritual truths helped me quiet my mind to see all that was going on. Suddenly, I was aware of what God wanted me to do versus what my opponent was trying to do — devour me with discouragement.

    God wanted me to humble myself before Him, be honest with my limitations and make more cut backs in my schedule. After apologizing to our client and explaining what happened, she understood and things eventually worked out.

    Although I had done the best I could, my best wasn't good enough. But it didn't mean I wasn't good enough. It just meant I needed to make some truth-filled assessments and wisdom-based adjustments!

    Lord, some days my best isn't good enough, but it's all I have to give. Help me remember that my best is all You expect. Guide me with Your grace as I make truth-filled assessments of my life and wisdom-based adjustments as needed. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 90:17, "May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands." (NIV)

    ENTER TO WIN a copy of Renee's A Confident Heart Devotional and Lysa's new best-selling book, The Best Yes! Renee is giving away 3 "Fall Book-Bundles" that include a copy of each book and more! Enter on Renee's blog today.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Think of a time when you felt like your best wasn't good enough. Like Renee described, make a list of logistical, circumstantial and spiritual truths that relate to your situation.

    Looking at your lists, ask God to help you keep (or get) your mind clear of condemnation-clutter the enemy has piled on your thoughts. Then stand firm on God's truths and stay alert to His thoughts as you keep making truth-filled assessments and wisdom-based adjustments.

    © 2014 by Renee Swope. 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 Peter 5

  • Letting Love be my "Go-To" Outfit

    Posted on September 30, 2014 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn Cowell

    "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience ... Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." Colossians 3:12,14 (NASB)

    Traveling sure can be hard on us girls! Trying to cram everything we'd like to bring into a space that's just a fraction of what we're used to. What a challenge!

    Airline travel is especially hard. In the interest of saving money, I often choose carry-on luggage only. Which means there's only one small bag to hold everything I need.

    Since space is limited, when I pack I have to take my time. I've got one shot to make the right decisions. One chance to be sure I have the perfect outfit for each scenario I'll find myself in. Dress or pants? New shoes or comfortable ones? Cute purse or functional?

    How I can struggle with deciding something as simple as how I should dress!

    Yet there are times when I don't just struggle with how to dress on the outside. I struggle with dressing my inside, too!

    Like the decision between wearing my new shoes or the broken-in ones, my heart-choices easily gravitate toward what "feels" comfortable.

    In a conversation with my husband, my mind naturally thinks of what I want to say rather than listening to the words he is speaking.

    When dialogue with my kids becomes heated, I can slip into demanding respect, before I fully hear what they are trying to say. I'm sad to admit it, but caring about my own needs, my feelings, my desires and my agenda often comes first.

    I want to change that.

    Just like when I'm packing, I want to slow down, carefully choose the words I say, the attitudes I have and the actions I take. Each day, I've got one shot to make the right decision.

    Today's key verse tells us the first step in making these right decisions is choosing the best "outfit" to put on our hearts each day: "... put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience ... Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity" (Colossians 3:12b, 14).

    I want love to be my "go-to" outfit, my first choice, my initial reaction. But getting to the place where love becomes completely natural can be a bit uncomfortable, like breaking in a new pair of shoes. However, by daily pushing past the messages of our me-first culture, love can become my favorite "go-to" choice. Instead of overreacting to situations that arise in my family, at work or in my friendships, I ask God to help me respond in love knowing I have the power of Jesus working through me.

    No matter where I'm going or what I'm doing today, I can confidently put on love — exactly the choice I will be most beautiful in!

    Dear Lord, as You know, loving others isn't always the easiest or most natural choice for me. Before I go any further today, help me to put on love, putting others needs and wants before my own. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 John 4:19, "We love because he first loved us." (NIV)

    Proverbs 31:25, "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future." (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When was the last time you chose loving others over loving yourself?

    Write today's key verse on a sticky note and put it on your closet as a reminder to put on love each day while you are getting dressed.

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. 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 colossians 3

  • Who's Texting Me this Late?

    Posted on September 29, 2014 by Wendy Pope

    WENDY POPE

    "Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere." Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)

    I got the phone call no woman wants to get. "Mrs. Pope, this is your doctor's office calling in reference to your mammogram. We need to schedule a diagnostic exam."

    (Insert gasp, followed by silence.)

    Fear filled my body and what-if thoughts consumed my mind: What if the diagnostic exam showed cancer? What if I have to have chemotherapy? What if? What if? What if?

    The day finally arrived. My husband, Scott, who was driving me to the appointment, came home a little later from work than I had hoped. Then my nephew showed up to help with a project and needed some instructions, which took up even more of our limited time.

    My heart pounded as we wheeled out of the driveway. We were going to be late. Scott drove fast to try to make up for the time we lost. While I appreciated his effort, it only added to my already heightened anxiety. With each passing moment I became more fretful. It was obvious, I needed prayer.

    I sent this text message to a friend, "I need prayer now. I will explain later."

    Meg's reply was instant, "Praying now Wendy."

    Fast-forward several weeks.

    My phone chimed signaling a new message. I glanced at the clock. Who is messaging me this late?

    "I just wanted to let you know that I was praying for you."

    Two weeks had passed and I'd gotten the all clear from my doctor, but amazingly Meg was still praying for me.

    "Thanks Meg. I'm still praying for your prayer request too," I texted back.

    She thanked me for being one of her prayer warriors.

    "That's what we do. We are Jesus girls," I replied.

    Today's key verse encourages us to pray at all times and on every occasion. At first glance such a suggestion may seem overwhelming, but Paul was simply saying: pray prayer upon prayer. Whether we pray individually or in a group, aloud or silently, kneeling or standing, pray.

    The prayer doesn't have to be fancy with big church words like thee and thou. Paul's message is just pray.

    Prayer connects our heart with another's in a way we can't explain. Through prayer, we share in the weight of the burden and are able to sympathize with circumstances the person is facing. Our hearts join together in prayer and create an inexplicable bond of love.

    Prayer invites God into the situation. As we pray, our faith grows. Our growing faith moves God to act on our behalf and work all things together for our good.

    Prayer also unites our heart with God. This unique union prompts and enables us to follow Paul's instruction concerning prayer.

    Just pray — that's what Jesus girls do.

    When the text comes late at night — we pray.

    When a friend calls, we don't question — we pray.

    We pray in groups, in pairs and individually. We pray for each other. We pray for our country. We pray for our leaders. We pray for the unsaved and for the saved. We pray for our churches. We pray for our pastors. We pray at all times and on every occasion. We pray prayers upon prayers.

    That's what Jesus girls do.

    How are you today? Perhaps you need prayer, or maybe you are one who can offer to pray. Will you meet me over on my blog today? Let's keep it simple. No questions asked. No explanations needed. I know some Jesus girls who would love to pray for you.

    Dear Lord, I know You just want me to pray. You don't need to hear big church words. You just want me to pray. Prompt me Lord; I will pray. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalms 55:17, "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice." (KJV)

    Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (KJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Has someone asked you for prayer recently? Pray prayers upon prayers for them. If you feel led, contact them to let them know that you are praying, or ask for an update.

    Do you need prayer? Don't be afraid to call, email or text a friend to ask them to pray. That's what Jesus girls do!

    © 2014 by Wendy Pope. 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 6

  • When God Says No

    Posted on September 26, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal Evans Hurst

    "For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us." 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NASB)

    We were running errands.

    My 5-year-old son was in his spot in the back seat chatting away, mostly asking me for stuff.

    "Mommy, can I have ...?"

    "Mommy, can you take me ...?"

    "Mommy, can we go to ...?"

    You know that place somewhere between kids being so adorably cute and totally driving you bananas?

    Yup. I was there.

    Every answer to his questions was "No."

    I was on autopilot: No. No. No.

    Then that boy of mine said ...

    "Mommy, I wish that every time you said 'no' you really meant 'yes.' That would be more funner."

    "You mean that I would always mean the opposite of what I actually said?"

    "YES! Just like that! Come on Mommy let's p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e."

    I agreed to the rehearsal request. I mean ... why not? All I had to do was keep giving the same response I'd been giving for the last 15 minutes.

    "Mommy, can we go out for lunch?"

    "No."

    My son raised a fist of victory in the air and said, "ALRIGHT!"

    "Mommy, can you take me to the store?"

    "No."

    He broke into applause.

    "Mommy, can we go to the park to play?"

    "No."

    That cute boy waved his hands in the air while saying, "Yeaaaaaah!"

    And then it dawned on me ... my son was on to something.

    He was choosing to believe my "no" was actually a "yes" and that changed his attitude.

    It changed his response. It changed his reaction.

    It made me wonder: What if we responded to God in this way? What if we believed that even when He said no, it was because He was really saying yes?

    Because He is.

    We have a good Father in God, who, just like a good earthly father, desires to give His children what's best for them later even if He has to say no to something they want right now. The question is: Do we really believe that He's good? If we did, wouldn't that be cause to celebrate, whether He says no or yes?

    It's hard when prayer requests go unanswered or desires go unmet. I can easily feel deflated and frustrated with God. Hope turns to hopelessness, confident expectation becomes disappointment and faith turns to despondent despair.

    But what if we really believed God was good?

    What if we believed that He was always saying yes — maybe not to what we are asking Him for right at that moment — but saying yes to His best.

    What if we trusted His heart, even when His hand seemingly withholds the very thing we so desire?

    What if we chose to celebrate all of the previous yes answers He's given us despite His current no?

    I think it would change how we respond. I think we would find joy, keep hoping and smile despite what we see.

    I know how badly you want your yes but hang in there.

    Keep hoping. Keep praying. Keep believing.

    And if God says no? Choose to give thanks.

    I have been walking with God long enough to know that many times God has said no because He had a greater yes in store for me.

    I have been walking with God long enough to know that even if I don't like His answer, I can respond to Him with expectation, hope and joy.

    I have been walking with God long enough to know He's good and although He doesn't always give me what I want, He always gives me what He knows I need.

    In some way, shape or form, He's always saying yes.

    Father God, today I choose joy because I believe You are always saying yes. Sure, there are places of disappointment in my life and there are things I would like to be different, but I choose to give thanks. Starting today, I choose to respond to You as if You are always good — a Father who has my best in mind. Because You are good. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Matthew 7:9-11, "Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" (NASB)

    Psalm 100:5, "For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Where is God telling you no? How have you responded to Him as a result? How has today's devotional changed your thinking?

    Have you walked with God long enough to experience a no that later you could see was only because He had a greater yes? If so, share your journey in the comments so that another might be encouraged to hang in there.

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. 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

  • My Callused Heart Needs Softening

    Posted on September 25, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise." Psalm 51:17 (NIV)

    My daughter Cathrine held out her hands, palms up, for her brother to see. "Look, I have bumps on my hands ... what are they from?"

    Robbie ran his fingers over her palms and answered with the authority of an older brother, "These are calluses, you got them from lifting weights at school. Look at mine."

    He turned his hands over, and she ran her fingers over his palms and grinned.

    My children's hands are a resume of their work in the gym. Calluses formed to protect their tender skin from harm as they lift weights.

    I sat at the table, watching the interaction, and then looked at my hands. Smooth palms and short nails revealed my hardest workouts came at the keyboard, not the gym. But a thought skirted in and around my mind: Where else might calluses have formed?

    Turning back to my computer, my eyes stared out the window and my fingers stilled on the keys as an image came to mind. My heart ... covered in calluses.

    I closed my eyes and sighed. That explained a lot. My heart is harder than it used to be. And sadly, much harder than I'd like it to be.

    It's easy to see how I've gotten here. Each time I've been hurt, my approach to dealing with pain has been stoic. The warrior-like determination inside me to protect myself had affected the softness of my heart. With each offense, each lie, each rejection, I made a silent declaration to not be hurt like that again.

    I thought I'd handled things well because I hold no grudges. I'm desperately aware of my own sin and hold no accounts for offenses. But that image of a callused heart revealed the truth that I haven't handled offenses as well as I thought.

    It's hard dealing with people. We're all sinful and make choices that hurt others. But for me, over time suspicion replaced trust, and hyper-vigilance replaced peace. My empathy was diminished, which is a very dangerous heart-position for someone whom God has called to love others.

    I'm convinced these calluses aren't supposed to stay there. A callused heart may protect me from great pain, but it also keeps me from great love. To love deeply, to love like Jesus, requires risk. I'll be honest, that vulnerable position makes me want to wrap a few more layers around my tender heart, and vow beyond all measure to protect myself.

    This makes me ask a question I really don't like to ask. At all. Am I willing to risk being hurt to obey the call to love?

    King David, God's warrior, spoke of this decision as a "sacrifice." David was betrayed by those he loved and trusted. He had every right to seek revenge. And yet Psalm 51 speaks of David's desire for a pure heart and to tell others about God. In verse 17 he says, "My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise."

    Rather than choosing to protect his heart with pride, David chose brokenness and humility. He took his pain to God rather than move on like nothing happened. It's from this place of humility that God met David and cared for his broken heart. With God's care, it mended in a healthy way, free from calluses.

    There are some people I can't trust. But that doesn't apply to everyone. Rather, most are good folks who make an occasional mistake. They are the ones who need my softened heart.

    So here's my commitment. Rather than bandage my own wounds and act like I'm not hurt, I'm taking every offense to my Heavenly Father. Every day I'm praying, Lord, heal and soften my heart so I can love like You.

    Lord, You alone know the many ways people have hurt me. And You see the hardened places in my heart that affect how I love others. I'm asking You to break my heart in a good way, Lord. Be my protection from the rough rubbing of the world, so I can be Your hands and feet to a world in need of Your love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ezekiel 36:26, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (NIV)

    Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Are the hurts of your past affecting your relationships today? How?

    Is there something in you that resists admitting you've been hurt? If it's unhealthy pride, consider confessing that to God today and receive His healing.

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. 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

  • The Stress Cure

    Posted on September 24, 2014 by Family Christian

    Linda Evans Shepherd

    "The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving." Psalm 28:7 (NLT)

    Not long ago, I heard a radio preacher say, "If you have stress, that means you're not trusting God." I was having a stressful day, so I didn't particularly care for his remark. I silently argued, Why of course I trust God, my problem is I'm having a day that won't let me "phone-it-in."

    My stressful day started the morning I had to drive 50 miles to do a live radio interview in another town. As the clock ticked down to my departure time, everything started to go wrong. I suddenly remembered I needed to get a tax report into the mail.

    As I felt my stress rise, I got a call telling me payroll was late. This was a payroll I had to sign before I left town so my assistant could get paid and buy groceries — a habit she didn't like to break. So by the time I finished, filed, found and signed my paperwork, my stress level was high and I was late for the radio interview, which I could not do via phone.

    So, I hopped in my car and with sweat trickling between my shoulder blades, I raced through freeway traffic for 50 miles. When I arrived, I sprinted to catch the elevator. When it reached the top floor, I dashed down the hall and slipped into the chair and headphones as the radio station's mike went live. The host barely managed to whisper, "And I was beginning to think you wouldn't make it!"

    As I talked to the host about how we can live our lives in a deeper relationship with God, I had to laugh at myself for not including more of God in my day. Sure, I'd shot off many Help-me-Lord prayers that morning. But in all my rush to get to the radio station, I felt more flustered than peaceful.

    What could I have done differently? To find a clue, let's unpack Psalm 28:7.

    This verse starts with "The LORD is my strength and shield."

    This is a great reminder that we can use God's strength to make it through any of our problems. In fact, God's strength can serve to shield us from the fiery darts of worry, fear and stress. This news is a great relief!

    The next line of this verse says, "I trust him with all my heart."

    These words prompt us to trust God. The next time you're tempted to turn a hectic day into a panic attack, instead say, "I'm going to trust God through this." You'll soon discover that your choice to trust God will calm you with a peace that surpasses understanding.

    The rest of the verse says, "He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving."

    This puts us on notice to acknowledge God's help and presence in our lives. When we take the time to count our blessings, to remind ourselves of all the ways God has helped us through difficulties, we are sure to experience His joy.

    Maybe the radio preacher had it right. When we remember to trust God and to face a hectic day in His strength, we'll see our blessings and count it all as joy.

    Dear Lord, I often allow stress to rule my life. I rush to achieve my goals in my own strength, forgetting that I can rely on Your strength. Help me to put my trust in You so I can relax in Your great love. Thank You for all the blessings You send my way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Hebrews 10:35, "So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!" (NLT)

    Psalm 55:22, "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let he righteous be shaken." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What past stress are you still holding on to?

    What would happen if you gave both yesterday and today's stress to the Lord?

    © 2014 by Linda Evans Shepherd. All rights reserved.

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

    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

  • Time to Do a Little Faith Stretching

    Posted on September 23, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him." Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)

    I knew the work would be tough, the weather would be hot and the floor I'd sleep on would be hard. But little did I know none of those inconveniences would be the "stretching" part.

    Several years ago, I participated in a mission trip to renovate homes of families in need. God planned to stretch me beyond what was comfortable that week, but as it turned out, it wasn't the work or inconveniences that stretched me.

    I wasn't stretched as I climbed up a 10-foot ladder to hand someone a heavy can of paint. Or as I sprawled across a noisy air mattress every night — hoping it wouldn't completely deflate before morning. I wasn't stretched as I endured 105-degree temperatures, wearing the required attire of full-length jeans that stuck to my sweaty legs like glue.

    I wasn't even stretched taking showers in close proximity to total strangers, separated by only a thin curtain, or when I shared that awkward shower with a large, dead, winged creature lying in the drain.

    None of these things were enjoyable, but they weren't really outside of my "comfort zone." Yet when it came time to walk through a local neighborhood, knock on doors and share the Gospel, with the looming fear a door might be slammed in my face (or worse), I felt my faith being stretched.

    Looking back now, I realize God was gently pushing me out of my comfort zone into a faith zone. He confronted me with the choice to stretch my faith or play it safe.

    It would have been easy to send my work crew down the street without me. I could have stood in the shadows of the big oak trees as others on the team approached the strangers. But God had planted a burning conviction in my heart to trust Him and do some serious stretching. So standing alone on the sidewalk wasn't an option.

    I had no idea that by stepping out in faith, I would receive the greatest blessing.

    There are countless stories in the Bible of God calling people out of their comfort zones. And with each one, the stretching brought blessings they'd never imagined.

    Abraham trusted God for the child he was promised, despite his and his wife's advanced age. His faith-stretching ended with a little baby in his arms named Isaac.

    Jesus' disciples feared for their lives when a violent storm threatened to sink their boat. But Peter's faith to step out of the boat at Jesus' invitation resulted in Peter's human feet miraculously walking on water.

    Jesus told a crippled man, with muscles weak and atrophied, to get up and walk. The man stretched his faith as he stretched out his legs and walked for the very first time.

    And on it goes. A blind man who had faith to believe Jesus could heal, saw Jesus' face with those very eyes. Joshua might have felt ridiculous circling the walls of Jericho seven times, but eventually the walls came crumbling down. Joseph spent more than 10 years in a dark dungeon, but it was his unwavering faith which eventually landed him on the throne.

    God calls us all to do some faith stretching now and then. Whether we are called to leave our comfort zones to obey and act, or to rest and trust God during a difficult season of life, He always rewards great faith with wonderful blessings, just as today's key verse promises.

    Maybe stepping outside of your comfort zone to obey God seems like too much of a stretch right now. Keep in mind that although it may seem impossible, God will never stretch us beyond what we are capable of in His strength — not ours. And when we are willing to be stretched, blessings begin to flow.

    Lord, help me fully trust You with my life and develop a faith that is willing to stretch for Your sake, and mine. Show me how You can use my life for Your good. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Philippians 4:13, "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." (NLT)

    Psalm 138:3, "In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul." (NKJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    In what ways has God been calling you to leave your comfort zone?

    What is one thing you could do today to stretch your faith muscles?

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. 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 Hebrews

  • Lord, Unrush Me

    Posted on September 22, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa Terkeurst

    "'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.'" (Matthew 16:15-16, NIV)

    Ever felt like you've set your life to the rhythm of rush? Me too.

    Sometimes it takes stepping out of the rush to see things. Recently, I went to the Holy Land. It was a trip I'd longed to take for years. But as the day to leave marched closer and closer, I wished I'd scheduled it later — another time, a time when life didn't feel so busy.

    Exhaustion gnawed deep places in my heart, demanding me to slow down. But how? I've made my decisions and now my decisions have made me. Me — this shell of a woman caught in the rush of endless demands.

    But the trip was booked, so I went. And I'm forever glad I did. In the Holy Land, busy took a break from chasing me. This trip forced me to "unrush," and I discovered I like who I am so much better when I'm not set to the wrong rhythm.

    I also learned more about Jesus. His life. His decisions. His lessons.

    And do you know what the most impactful lesson was for me personally? Jesus never rushed. He set His life to the rhythm of connection and compassion. With great intentionality Jesus stayed unrushed. This is what I want.

    This is what I was longing for but didn't know it. Like Jesus, I must unrush my pace for connection and compassion to take place.

    As I walked many of the same places Jesus walked, I was struck profoundly by this. He knew pressure. He knew stress. People pulled at Him everywhere He went. Crowds demanded sermons. Individuals begged for healing. The disciples wanted leadership. Friends wanted time with Him. The religious rulers wanted answers. There was an entire world to save with such limited time.

    Yet, He didn't rush. He talked with the woman at the well. He reached out His hand, making contact, and healed the leper. He felt the touch of the woman with the issue of blood and stopped for her. Do you see it? Connection and compassion were central to every interaction.

    And then for those with whom Jesus was the closest? That's when He was the most unrushed.

    While I was in the Holy Land, I visited the site that's recorded in Matthew 16:13-20. In the shadow of a pagan temple hustling with unspeakable acts and human sacrifices, Jesus asked His disciples just who they really thought He was. Then He pointed and said, "I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it," (NKJV). He connected truth with Peter's calling. He compassionately assured Peter that the church would prevail.

    I'm sure Peter recalled this conversation many, many times.

    It must have given him the courage to become one of the most pivotal church leaders in history. And he had this conversation to remember, because Jesus wasn't too busy to have it. When I was in Israel, I learned the Lord walked three days to get to this one spot where He made this point with Peter.

    It would seem Jesus was unrushed so He could be incredibly intentional and laser-focused on connection and compassion.

    If I were reading this right now, I would probably think, "That's great you went to the Holy Land and it helped unrush you, but I can't do that right now." I understand. So, let this truth from Jesus' life come to you.

    It's not the location that changed me.

    It was the revelation.

    Jesus didn't rush, so neither should I.

    Today, let's pray this very simple three-word prayer that we so desperately need: "Lord, unrush me."

    Father God, these three words are the echo of my soul. Lord, show me how to slow down and leave that sacred space for relationships. I want to follow Your example of staying focused on connection and compassion. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Hebrews 10:24-25, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What do you need to do to protect and strengthen the fabric of your relationships? How can you get help to divide up your responsibilities and have healthy time with the people who matter most to you?

    Connecting with those we love is like soul food. Write down three or four people close to you who might benefit from some relational time with you in the next week. Then be intentional with a phone call, email or text message to them.

    © 2014 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 Matthew

  • How Do I Trust Again?

    Posted on September 19, 2014 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "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)

    Years ago, hurtful words from a friend landed in a tender spot in my heart. It was already damaged by a previous incident with her ... and the one before that.

    When this friend was frustrated or lost her temper, words just tumbled out. Words that went straight to my vulnerable places.

    Each time she said she was sorry, and she meant it.

    I knew we could work through it, but part of me wanted to give up on trusting her altogether. Why trust someone who might let you down again?

    In fact, why trust at all? Why not just close my heart and keep it safe from any potential harm?

    King David understood this struggle. In Psalm 28, David asks God for help. Many scholars believe that this was written at the end of David's life. At this point, he knows what it is to hide from words and actions that harm. He understands how it feels to be surrounded by people who say they are loyal to him, but sometimes let him down.

    Even at this late stage, it may have been tempting to shut everyone out and never trust again ... not just the people who intentionally sought to harm him, but those who loved him and messed up. It might have even crossed his mind that he should trust no one at all.

    Instead, in verse 7 we see David's thoughts and attitude change and find him singing a beautiful song to his Heavenly Father. In this place of hurt and uncertainty, he reveals a secret: He can trust because God is trustworthy.

    With my friend, I found that same hope.

    The Lord is our strength and shield.

    Like a triple-plated silver shield, David needed God's protection for his heart. David may have wanted to isolate, but God had handwritten a plan for his life. People were an integral part of that blueprint.

    The reality is that people are messy. My friend was a mess. Sometimes I'm a big ol' mess, too. The words my friend spoke hurt and we needed to work through it, but God's shield of protection allowed me to see the areas where He was still working in both of us. It also offered His truth to counterbalance hurtful words.

    This shield allowed me to approach her from a place of resolution, rather than a place of offense or retaliation.

    Our hearts trust in Him and He helps us.

    We need wisdom to know what to say, when to say it and when to hold those words back. God offers that guidance (James 1:5).

    We need discernment over what is ours to fix and when to step back as God does His part (Psalm 55:22).

    We need to know what to do when someone is destructive or unwilling to change, and how to transfer our trust to God in that hard situation, rather than take matters into our own hands. We can ask for hope and healing in our hearts while God performs His work in someone else's heart.

    Our hearts leap for joy, and with a song we praise Him.

    Conflicts, difficult conversations or poor behavior can make you want to give up or shut people out completely. In David's case, trusting in God produced a strong foundation that led him out of seclusion and into a plan and a purpose.

    Have you been tempted to climb into a cave of isolation?

    Do you sense God asking you to trust again? Maybe not even in a specific person, but in Him? In others? In the fact that He's completely with you as you run after His plan for your life?

    My friend is still my friend. She's changed a lot in the past few years, and it's delightful to have watched that transformation.

    Is she perfect? No, but neither am I. We're two imperfect women whose hearts trust in God.

    Dear Lord, someone has hurt my heart and my response has been to hide or build a wall. Thank You for wisdom, compassion and discernment as I trust in You first, and You show me how to trust others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 37:4-5, "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When someone breaks our trust repeatedly, that can impact relationships that are innocent of wrongdoing. In essence, they pay a price for someone else's actions.

    In your journal, write down the names of those closest to you who are innocent of wrongdoing but who are paying a price due to someone else's wrongdoing in your past. Ask God to help you trust again.

    © 2014 by Suzie Eller. 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

  • What We Miss When We Rush

    Posted on September 18, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa Terkeurst

    "Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours." 1 Chronicles 29:11a (NIV)

    A few years ago, I had the amazing privilege to meet BJ. He was sitting in front of me on a flight and made sure to welcome me the minute I took my seat. It didn't take long for BJ to make everyone around us aware of how excited he was to be on the plane.

    His voice was loud, his exclamations seemed a bit childlike for a man his age, and his stuttered words made it difficult to completely understand him.

    But one thing was unmistakable to me — his passionate embrace of the magnificent.

    As we rose into the sky he clapped and bounced in his seat. His eyes were wide as he turned to the man sitting next to him and exclaimed, "The clouds are huge!"

    That's when the nudging on my heart started. This gentle prodding to ignore the task-oriented part of me wanting to get work done. A rush-like whisper tripped over those boundaries I'd erected to keep my thoughts focused and orderly.

    Embrace this moment, Lysa. Notice him. Notice Me.

    The decision to pay attention to BJ was a Best Yes for me. Because there are signs of God everywhere, if we choose to see them.

    Looking back on that day, 1 Chronicles 29:11 comes to mind, "Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours."

    Everyone else on the plane that day looked grumpy and annoyed and put off by their travels.

    But BJ saw what no one else did. We were in a fast moving tube, taking off from the ground, flying through the clouds, being transported from one place to another many miles away in a matter of minutes. Minutes!

    And there we all sat, grumpy. Not even bothering to look at the clouds and notice.

    We'd lost our passionate embrace of the magnificent.

    I wanted to rush through this part of my trip so I could get on with what? Rushing to get my luggage? Rushing to get a cab? Rushing to get to a meeting? No wonder I'm so bored.

    When we landed, BJ could hardly contain his excitement. He clapped and jumped into the aisle of the plane. When he spotted his mom waiting for him, he got even louder pumping his arms into the air telling everyone that was his mom.

    "My mom! My mom! Right there — there she is — that's my mom!" BJ cheered.

    His mom's face reddened but kept the sweetest, gentlest look as she threw her arms around her man-boy. She sweetly pressed her finger to her lips signaling him to quiet down just a bit.

    That's when I reached her. With a lump in my throat and tears cresting my eyes I touched her shoulder, "Your son is amazing. Really, really amazing."

    Some would say BJ has special needs. I understand that. So does one of my kids. But I wonder if we are wrong in giving that label to someone who has such capacity to not lose the wonder of life.

    I wonder if I was really the one with special needs that day. After all, I needed BJ way more than he possibly needed me.

    As I reached BJ's mom, I wanted to tell her more of my story. I wanted to throw my arms around her and tell her about the time a teacher told me my child was no longer a good fit for their school with "test standards to uphold." I wanted to tell her about how I cried myself to sleep that night feeling the deepest rejection I'd ever known.

    I wanted to tell her how I walked to my child's bedside in the middle of the night and begged God to make the connections work in his brain so he could read and excel and have the kind of future I desperately wanted for him.

    I wanted to tell her how I got mad at God and questioned Him.

    I wanted to tell her. Because I knew she'd understand.

    But as I touched her shoulder all I could get out was how amazing her son was. And then my throat did that lockdown thing and I knew better than to stand there and drip tears and snot on her. So, I walked away. And though I was crying, I was smiling.

    Her son has such a rich, wonderful purpose on this earth. His joy ministered deeply to me that day. God assured my heart that He has a wonderful plan for all His children. All!

    God used him.

    This man-boy, who I'm convinced has the world's greatest gift for teaching others about joy and the passionate embrace of the magnificent.

    Dear Lord, unrush me. I don't want to miss one more moment. Help me learn to see the magnificent today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 138:8a, "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;" (ESV).

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What everyday things have you been taking for granted? Take time to write down five of those things. Then, list reasons why these ordinary things are actually special blessings from God.

    © 2014 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 1 Chronicles

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