• ABOUT
    Did you know?
    All of our earnings go to Christian charities.
    Click to learn more about us!
  • SHOP
    View the latest sales and promotions going on now!
    When you shop, you give.
  • GIVE
    See our latest Giving Challenge.
  • GROW
    Our blog shares devotionals, interviews, contests & more—all to help you grow in your faith.

  • $5 $ $10 Music

Daily Devotion

  • My Hidden Tattoos

    Posted on August 15, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah Dipascal

    " ... the LORD's declaration. 'I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.'" Jeremiah 31:33b (HCSB)

    I didn't mean to stare, but I couldn't help it.

    After exchanging a quick smile, she continued placing grocery bags into her cart, while my eyes glanced back at her arms.

    Tattoos covered every inch of skin from her tiny shoulders to her delicate wrists.

    Images of hearts, religious symbols, quotes and names of those I imagined she loved over the years. Woven together in a tapestry of flesh and ink.

    Some of the designs had faded with time, while others popped with fresh, bold colors. Forever inscribed with permanent ink from a tattoo machine.

    It was obvious she had a passion for art ... and a relationship with a trusted tattoo artist.

    If I ever wanted to get a tattoo, how could I possibly decide on one design? I thought to myself.

    As she gathered her things and left the store, I wondered about the sting of the tattoo gun and how it must have hurt.

    Lord, if I chose to go through the pain, where should my special tattoo be placed?

    To my surprise, today's key verse from Jeremiah immediately came to mind:

    "I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people."

    As a grin emerged from my soul, I whispered to Him, Thank You, Lord, as I pictured my heart covered with colorful tattoos.

    Inscribed Scriptures placed ever so carefully with great detail. Engraved instructions written by the holy finger of my Heavenly Father.

    Some had faded over the years. Weathered by life's trials.

    Others were stained with bold, fresh colors. Some were recently tattooed as I had claimed new promises.

    It was a fresh perspective right there in the grocery checkout line! Something totally unexpected, but wonderful at the same time. A teachable moment. His heart connecting with mine.

    Originally, God's teachings were written on tablets of stone (Exodus 31:18) and scrolls made from parchment or papyrus (Jeremiah 36:2). This was established under the old covenant.

    But as believers under the new covenant, God has chosen to place His Word on our hearts, at the very center of our being, making it familiar and readily available to us. He carefully positions His promises over our hearts to protect our emotions, desires and perceptions of ourselves and others.

    As life moves on and years go by, I long for the Master Artist to continue etching His Word on my heart until every inch is covered. Inside and out. I hope you do, too.

    Although these special tattoos aren't visible for everyone to see, I know they are there and that's what is most important to me.

    I can't wait to see my tattooed heart when I get to heaven one day. As I kneel before God and if I dare to ask, "Lord, do You have a tattoo?" I won't be surprised if He reaches out, and there in the palm of His hand, my name beautifully inscribed for all of eternity. A tattoo, of sorts, that will never fade away or be removed.

    "Can a mother forget her little child and not have love for her own son? Yet even if that should be, I will not forget you. See, I have tattooed your name upon my palm." (Isaiah 49:15b-16, TLB)

    Lord, Thank You for placing Your Word on my heart so that it's always available to me. When life is difficult and nothing seems to go right, help me remember You are near and Your promises are true. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 119:11, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (NIV)

    2 Corinthians 3:3, "And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Do you have a favorite Scripture verse? Is it one you've memorized recently or have you known it for a long time? Why not challenge yourself to discover a new favorite verse this week?

    How do you feel knowing God has written His Word on your heart? What words come to mind? Take a minute to thank Him and make a list of things you're grateful for today.

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. 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

  • The Two Most Powerful Words

    Posted on August 14, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa Terkeurst

    "And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'" Matthew 3:17 (NIV)

    Not too long ago, I stood at the sink trying to ease the stabbing feeling of stress. I had so much pulling at me.

    I found myself rushing my husband in conversation. Rushing my kids out the door. Rushing to the next thing and then the next. Rushing to make dinner and then rushing my people through dinner.

    I had set my life to the rhythm of rush.

    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.

    Have you ever felt this same way? I suspect most of us have.

    I'm starting to realize the two most powerful words are yes and no. How I use them determines how I set my schedule.

    How I set my schedule determines how I live my life.

    How I live my life determines how I spend my soul.

    When I think about my decisions in light of spending my soul, it gives gravity to choosing more wisely. Each and every thing I say yes to sets the pace of my life.

    After all, when a woman lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule, she'll ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul. An overwhelmed schedule leads to an underwhelmed soul — a soul with a full calendar but no time to really engage in life.

    If you've found yourself caught in a stressful pace recently, I understand. I think so much of why my schedule gets overloaded is because I'm afraid of missing out or not measuring up.

    One quick look at social media, and it feels like everyone else is able to live at a breakneck pace with a smile. Their kids are accomplishing more than my kids. Their business pursuits seem more important than mine do. Their marriage seems more romantic. Their home is cleaner. And they even have time to invite dinner guests over to eat food from their garden. Huh?

    It's interesting to me the timing of God's words to Jesus in Matthew 3:17: "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

    At that point, Jesus hadn't yet performed miracles, led the masses or gone to the cross. Yet, God was pleased with Jesus before all of those accomplishments.

    His Father was establishing Jesus' identity before He started His activities. Jesus heard God, believed God and remained unrushed. In Christ, God has given us a new identity (Romans 6:4). But, unlike Christ, we forget.

    We fill our days and our lives with so much activity that the only way to keep up with it all is to rush. And I'm discovering that the source of much of the stress in my life is this constant need to keep up. But what if I'm chasing the wrong desire?

    Do I really want my life to look more like others? Or to look more like God's best for me?

    God's best for me means engaging with life and the people in it. God's best for me means noticing divine invitations and feeling the freedom to say yes — a Best Yes to the Lord's assignments.

    If I really want an unrushed life, I must underwhelm my schedule so God has room to overwhelm my soul.

    Today, we must stand moment-by-moment in the reality of our identity before we resume our activity. Grasp this truth and rub it in deep: "You are my daughter, whom I love; with whom I am well pleased."

    Well pleased because of who you are, not because of what you do. Well pleased because of an unfathomable, unconditional love that's not earned, but simply given.

    Dear Lord, unrush me as I set my schedule today. I want to step out of the rush so I can embrace Your best for me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 6:4, "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Ask yourself these questions: Do I really want my life to look more like other people's? Or to look more like God's best for me?

    Honestly assess your answer and pray that the Lord would show you how to pursue His plan.

    © 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

  • His Eye is on the Sparrow

    Posted on August 13, 2014 by Family Christian

    Kelly Minter

    "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:25-26 (NIV)

    When I moved to Nashville years ago in pursuit of a music career, I never imagined I would land here. Here, on the Amazon River, where the day starts when the sun rises, and morning comes early.

    The complexity of the jungle sent my head spinning — the fact that all this grows and thrives without Wall Street, smartphones and us! I felt appropriately small. I couldn't get over the countless symbiotic relationships: this creature surviving off that tree, relying on that seed, transported by those birds. It was astounding how everything hung in this delicate balance, how in the beautiful and mysterious words of Colossians 1:17b, in Christ "all things hold together."

    Often I think I'm the one holding things together. I get busy with appointments, planning dinner, waiting to hear if a friend's news from the doctor is hopeful. I fall into this mentality that keeping all these plates spinning is life, while the jungle life appeared so effortless.

    The gentle and imposing stature of the jungle convicted and humbled me, as I crunched atop its brush and beneath its canopy.

    How much more, God seemed to be saying, do I care for you if I care for the birds who have no barns, the flowers who needn't spin nor toil for their splendor? In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, He points to His custody of nature, proving if He cares for the tiniest of creatures, certainly we don't have to worry about what we're going to eat or drink or wear, because He knows our needs.

    I don't rely on this truth enough, since food, garments and shelter are readily available where I come from — at least for most people. I knew God called His people to meet the needs of the poor, to tangibly demonstrate He knows their needs and intently cares to meet them. I believed this, but what I didn't know was how personal it would feel.

    While there, I visited a village school in Chita. With about 20 children ages 3 to 10 in the room, our program included singing, a puppet show and Bible story.

    When asked if anyone would like to come up for prayer, a 4-year-old boy named Yan leaped from his chair. Yan turned back to grab his mother's wrist, dragging her forward. "We need a house," he said matter-of-factly.

    I bowed my head, realizing I'd never prayed for God to provide someone with a house before. Sure, I'd prayed with friends to "find a house," but what I meant was they'd find a good house in a solid school district with low taxes ... maybe near a swimming pool, good church and a park. I didn't actually mean find a house.

    When it was time to say good-bye to the villagers in Chita, there stood Yan alone on the shore. I hated to leave that little boy. As the wind blew across my skin and the banks thick with trees moved past us, I was lulled into reflection.

    A 4-year-old boy taught me something about dependence and prayer, and the jungle itself had also spoken. Walking through the rainforest was like walking through a cathedral.

    There was something holy about encountering creation the way the psalmist speaks of the heavens declaring God's glory, breathing out utterances that reach to the ends of the earth. Here I was, at the ends of the earth, and He was still there. And His eye was on the sparrow ... a little sparrow named Yan, and a slightly bigger sparrow named Kelly.

    Dear Heavenly Father, I proclaim You as my Provider. Worry, striving and fretting are not from You, because You care for my every need. Please give me the grace to trust You with all that's weighing on my mind and heavy on my heart. When my anxiety becomes overwhelming, give me the peace of Christ that transcends my understanding. Thank You for promising to never leave me nor forsake me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Matthew 7:7, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (NIV)

    Colossians 1:17, "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Pinpoint a present worry or concern, then meditate on the key verses of Matthew 6:25-26. What truth speaks to your current anxiety?

    We read in Colossians 1:17 that Christ holds all things together. What practical steps can you take to entrust your concerns to His Almighty care?

    © 2014 by Kelly Minter. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks David C. Cook for their sponsorship of today's devotion. Author photo compliments of Brooke Boling.

    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

  • I Dread Saying Yes But Feel Powerless to Say No

    Posted on August 12, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa Terkeurst

    "... for at one time you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord." Ephesians 5:8-10 (ESV)

    I have a confession to make: I want people to like me. I want to please people. And sometimes it gets me in trouble.

    I dread saying yes, but feel powerless to say no. Life seems to rush at me every day in the form of endless demands. And I just keep saying yes, yes, yes to the requests that come my way.

    But then my schedule is so packed it feels like I literally can't think straight. Because I have no margin, everything my kids do feels like an interruption. And anything extra my husband asks of me causes bitter resentment to rise up. Instead of talking calmly to those I love, I snarl, snap and scream.

    Saying yes to everything won't make me Wonder Woman. It will make me a worn-out woman.

    Can you relate?

    I think to some extent we can all be people pleasers at times.

    We all want to be liked. There's nothing wrong with that. But as we travel the path toward love and acceptance, let's take a look at two of the possible motivations behind people-pleasing.

    One motivation is to give love out of the kindness of our hearts. In giving love, we feel love. That's good.

    Another motivation is to give to others out of what we hope to get in return — love. In getting love from what we do, we feel desperate to do more to get more. That's dangerous.

    It's this second motivation that gets us into trouble with people-pleasing. It's not wrong to want to make others feel loved, happy and pleased. But if we are doing it with the motivation of getting love and things in return, we set ourselves up for trouble.

    Being in a constant state of trying to get love by doing more and more leads to exhaustion.

    Exhaustion for the giver. Exhaustion for the taker. Exhaustion for the relationship all together.

    Ephesians 5:8-10 says, "... for at one time you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord."

    I like the explanation of what the fruit or evidence is when we walk as children of light — doing what is good, right and true — as we discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

    I am challenged to make this a filter for the decisions I'm making today. If I'm seeking to please the Lord, I will ask some questions before agreeing to do something for another person: Am I doing this with good motives, right intentions and true expectations?

    Or am I doing this with:

    Fearful motives ... They might not like me if I say no.

    Skewed intentions ... If I do this for them, will they be more likely to do that for me?

    Unrealistic expectations ... I just know if I give a little more, they'll affirm me and I'm desperate for their affirmation.

    Wherever we focus our attention the most will become the driving force in our lives.

    The more I focus on trying to figure out how to please people, the more of a magnified force people-pleasing will become in my life. The more I focus on trying to figure out how to please God, the more of a magnified force He will become in my life.

    My focus. My choice.

    Dear Lord, help me break away from my people-pleasing tendencies with wrong motives. Guide me in my daily decisions as I battle fear, skewed intentions and unrealistic expectations. I want to make You the focus, Father, so that You continue to become the magnified force in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Thessalonians 2:4, "On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Have you experienced the cycle of doing more to get more?

    Search your heart and ask, What are my motives? Am I seeking to please people or honor God in this situation? You may need to place healthy boundaries in your relationships with others so that you can learn when to say yes and when to say no.

    © 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 Ephesians

  • Why You Need a Friend

    Posted on August 11, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal Evans Hurst

    "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

    I was that girl ... feeling like I didn't belong and wanting a best friend more than anything.

    In elementary school, there were the cool kids and the on-the-outs kids. I didn't fit into either group.

    I roamed around mostly a loner and struggled for the bulk of my childhood with the emotions of "not fitting in."

    I just wanted a friend. One. Good. Friend.

    Fast forward to high school.

    There was a girl I clicked with completely. I felt understood and thought I understood her well, too. I wanted to spend lots of time with her and talk to her a bunch — just like any pair of "besties" would.

    And then one day, I heard her refer to someone else as her "best friend."

    Oh, the devastation!

    I mean ... what was I? Just a little minion?

    In a word? Crushed. And on the outs again.

    Fast forward to adulthood.

    I have lots of friends. Lots of people I know in varying degrees. Two or three friends who are the "ride-or-die" kind. I know they have my back and they know I have theirs.

    And the other day, one of those girls referenced another person as her best friend.

    Was I crushed? Nope. I've since changed my outlook on the whole loner thing.

    I am not alone. Never have been. Never will be.

    First, I belong to God. He has loved me with an everlasting love. He is available any time of day to chat, and completely and totally accepts me just the way I am.

    Secondly, I believe in my value. As I understand more of who I am in Christ and stop looking for others to validate my existence, I am less and less tied to the need to fit in. Jesus died for me. If that doesn't validate me, I don't know what does.

    Third, I see now that fitting in is overrated. I have learned that friendship is about so much more than my elementary- and high-school-self understood.

    It's not just about me.

    As I've grown more comfortable in my own skin, I've learned that while friendship includes the wonder of belonging, it is about so much more than that.

    True, I am the beneficiary of my friendships. The life, laughter and fun are invaluable. But once I stopped looking for my friends to give me what only God could give me (my husband as well, for that matter, but that's another story), I was good to go.

    And now it frees me to BE a friend.

    Let me keep it real here. I'm busy. I have a husband and five kids. I homeschool, work, write and speak.

    It's hard to find time for friends. But I make time.

    Why? Because it's not just about me. I am validated because of God's love, but I still need connections. Jesus had friends. At least 12 of them.

    Not because He needed them to define or validate Him, but because the context of His ministry centered around His relationships.

    And here's what we can learn from His example. We need people in our lives whom we sharpen and who sharpen us.

    As God's Word explains, there should be someone in your life who knows she can count on you when she is down: "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow," (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a, ESV).

    Let's make it our business to encourage others on to love and good deeds, even it requires effort to find time in our calendars to chat.

    "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another ..." (Hebrews 10:24-25a, ESV).

    Are you lonely? Seek to be a friend.

    Busy? Make time to be a friend.

    Maybe you could do without the d-r-a-m-a that friendships occasionally bring ... but you understand the importance and purpose of friendship. So be a friend anyway.

    Dear Jesus, thank You for being my friend. Thank You for being an example of what a good friend looks like. Help me value the relationships You've given me and show me how to cultivate others as You desire. Make me the kind of friend I want to have and let me always point my friends toward You. And where I need friendship for my journey through life, send just the right person my way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Which friend or friends are in your life to help "sharpen" you? How are you actively sharpening others?

    In what practical ways do you make time to nourish your friendships? If this is something you haven't been doing well, what is one thing you will do in the near future to better cultivate your connections?

    © 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 Proverbs

  • Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place?

    Posted on July 11, 2014 by Micca Campbell

    Micca Campbell

    "When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep." Genesis 28:11 (NIV)

    I sat in disbelief as my doctor explained the results of my ultrasound. "There's a large cyst with tentacles that has consumed your left ovary," she explained. "We need to schedule surgery as soon as possible. In my expert opinion, there's a 70% chance you may have ovarian cancer."

    While my body felt numb, my mind raced with unanswered questions: What does this mean for me and my family? How will I get through this?

    I felt completely alone and helpless. With no good choice in sight, I was between a rock and a hard place, with no way out.

    Have you ever found yourself there, stuck without options? Maybe you're there now. It's a difficult, lonely, hurting place. For me, it's a familiar place. I was there when my first husband died, when finances were insufficient and as my health faltered.

    During that time of waiting for surgery, I found comfort in Jacob's story. Tucked in the book of Genesis, Jacob found himself in a difficult place. He had stolen the family's inheritance from his brother, Esau. Once Esau realized what Jacob had done, he was out to get him. Literally. So Jacob had no choice but to leave home.

    Our key verse explains that Jacob had a full day of travel, and "When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep" (Genesis 28:11).

    I find it remarkable that Jacob was able to lay his head on a stone and go to sleep after he had been uprooted and was running for his life. Jacob was out of his comfort zone. He was in a hard, cold place instead of his warm, comfortable bed.

    When cancer was likely, I had a restless night of tossing and turning. It was challenging for me to lay my concerns down on a soft pillow and go to sleep, but not for Jacob. He took a stone and put it under his head and slept. How? How could Jacob sleep unless his security was found in something other than his ability to outrun his pursuers?

    Perhaps Jacob knew a Rock that was more than a solid mineral. Maybe Jacob saw his rock as the Rock of Ages. How else could he lay his head and all his fears on a rock if it were not God the Rock as described in Psalm 18:2?

    "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." (NIV)

    What an amazing truth: God is our Rock!

    This means when you and I find ourselves "between a rock and a hard place," we can transform that experience from being stuck between a rock to resting on the Rock.

    After reading about Jacob, I decided to change my perspective. Instead of viewing my position as being between a rock and a hard place, I envisioned myself resting on Christ the Rock and leaving all my cares there.

    On the day of my surgery, I was at peace. The nurses noticed my calm disposition. I was resting on my Rock.

    When the surgery was over, I awoke to good news. The cyst was benign! I'm thankful it turned out well. But even if it hadn't, I would still find peace and rest in my Rock.

    Friend, I hope when you feel yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place, you'll see it as Christ the Rock. Then you can lay down your head and find rest in that hard place.

    Dear Lord, thank You for being my Rock, my shield, safety and salvation in troubled times. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Corinthians 10:4, "[All] drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Do you feel stuck today? How can you view your rock as God the Rock and rest in Him?

    The Psalms contain words of encouragement for those who feel trapped. Read Psalm 91 and other chapters to learn of God's faithfulness.

    © 2014 by Micca Campbell. 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 Genesis

  • Turning Attitude Into Grattitude

    Posted on July 10, 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs

    Liz Curtis Higgs

    "They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD." Psalm 112:7 (NIV)

    Trusting God when good news arrives? No problem. I see His hand at work, His unconditional love in action and gratitude fills my heart.

    But when bad news comes knocking, my gratitude can easily turn into attitude.

    After a busy morning speaking at a weekend women's conference, I made my way back to the book table, glad to find two kind souls willing to handle all the details while I signed books.

    When lunchtime arrived and the book table was quickly abandoned in favor of chicken salad and fudge brownies, one of my helpers touched my shoulder.

    "Liz?" Her anguished expression should have warned me. "I don't know how to tell you this, but ... I lost your bank bag."

    My heart sank. "With all the money in it?"

    She nodded, chin trembling. "I carried it with me into the ladies' room for safekeeping. When I put it down to wash my hands, I started talking to someone, then forgot what I was doing and left without the bag." Her voice was strained to the breaking point. "I ran back in, but it was gone. I'm so sorry, Liz ..."

    My first instinct? (Get ready: this is ugly.) I wanted to stomp my foot and say, "That was a lot of money! How could you be so careless?"

    By God's grace, I didn't go there. The woman simply had made a mistake. Hadn't I made one or two (or 10 or 20) myself?

    My second instinct was to flip my hand as if it didn't matter and say, "Whatever." I couldn't go that route, either. We were both concerned, and for good reason; it was foolish to pretend otherwise.

    So, I took a deep breath, prayed for God's peace, then said, "Let's trust the Lord on this one and not worry about the money." Wait. Not worry about money, lots of which needed to go back to my publisher to pay for those sold books?! Clearly that easygoing attitude didn't come from me.

    God alone managed to override the unkind words I might have said. He also tempered my anxious thoughts and toned down my conflicted emotions. The only thing on my mind at that moment was helping ease the woman's obvious distress.

    Trust me, this was not Liz being a good girl. This was God being a great God.

    With an utter sense of peace, I hugged her, then whispered, "Let it go." I felt her slowly relax. Then I surprised us both by announcing, "I believe the bag will turn up. How about we go to lunch and let God take care of things?"

    Not worry? Not fret? Not obsess? So not my style. But that Saturday, by the power of His Spirit, I really did trust God with my whole heart. In fact, I couldn't wait to see what He might do to solve our problem.

    Thirty minutes later the woman in charge came running up to our lunch table, her face shining. "We found your bank bag! Someone left it in the sanctuary."

    Yes. I smiled broadly. Someone did.

    Was I grateful to have the money back? Sure. But the lessons I learned about letting go and trusting God were far more valuable.

    On the drive home I thanked Him over and over for stilling my tongue and calming my spirit. For keeping me from wounding a sister in Christ. For nudging whoever picked up the bag to do the right thing and leave it where it might be found. For changing my negative attitude into heartfelt gratitude.

    Heavenly Father, even bad news is bearable with You by my side. When I'm tempted to worry, fret or obsess, remind me to pray, trust and let go. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 9:9-10, "The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." (NIV)

    Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When you're tempted to react from a place of fear, instead respond from a place of faith. Remember, God is more than able to rescue you.

    Are you facing a bad-news situation today? What can you say or do to practice faithfulness and help ease someone else's discomfort?

    © 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs. 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

  • Convicted but not Condemned

    Posted on July 9, 2014 by Renee Swope

    Renee Swope

    "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:17 (NIV)

    Sometimes I wonder how I can go from being in such a good place with God ... feeling peaceful, loving and patient ... then something happens that sends me into an orbit of aggravation!

    It happened just the other day. Things were going well. I'd had a lovely afternoon working from home, alone. Life was peachy.

    Then school got out and my kids came home. Within 15 minutes, one of my boys did something and said something that was not so peachy. Then he did NOT do something I asked him to do, and let's just say ... I lost all my peace and patience right there in the middle of my kitchen.

    I was not happy at all. And I told my precious boy in a not-so-nice kind of way. Then, I felt guilty and like the worst mom on the planet!

    For a few minutes, I was pretty sure that was exactly how God wanted me to feel. But before I convinced myself I was the worst mom who had no business serving in ministry, I remembered a pastor sharing about the difference between conviction and condemnation.

    He explained that condemnation sweeps across our thoughts with generalized statements such as: You're such a failure. You're so hypocritical. You can never be counted on. That is the accuser. His tone is condemning, questioning and confusing. His accusations lead to guilt and shame.

    In contrast, the Holy Spirit's conviction will be specific. He will reveal a sinful action or attitude and instruct us with a solution for what we need to do to right the wrong, such as restoring a broken relationship or returning something that isn't ours. He'll give us steps we need to take to change our behaviors or attitudes.

    Instead of the lie: "You're such a failure as a [wife, mom, daughter, friend]," the Holy Spirit might say, "You were really critical the way you talked to So-and-so. You need to say you're sorry and ask for forgiveness. Then say something to build them up instead of tearing them down."

    Instead of the accusing label: "You're so hypocritical!" The Holy Spirit might say, "You judge others for gossiping, but you're doing the same thing when you talk about your neighbor at work. Apologize for what you said today, and share a few things that are positive about her."

    Instead of shaming words: "You can never be counted on!" The Holy Spirit might say, "You didn't keep your promise to go visit your mom. Call her to say you're sorry, and ask her out to lunch this weekend."

    Satan condemns us accusingly, to make us feel guilty. God convicts us lovingly, to lead our hearts to repentance.

    Conviction draws us away from destructive behavior that hinders our relationship with God and others. Jesus' goal is to bring us out of a condemning place of sin and usher us into the freedom of forgiveness with the assurance of His love.

    The next time we blow it, or lose our peace and patience right there in the middle of the kitchen or the office or 5 o'clock traffic, let's guard our hearts from condemnation and instead, listen only to God's conviction.

    Then let's follow His lead toward restoration as we live in the security of today's truth: Jesus didn't come into the world — or into our lives — to condemn us, but to rescue us with His redeeming grace.

    Lord, sometimes condemning thoughts become so familiar I don't realize how they contradict Your Word and Your ways. Please give me discernment to recognize the difference between conviction and condemnation, and courage to replace my mindset with Yours. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Condemnation focuses on the problem. Conviction offers a solution. Write down the most frequent shaming, blaming or accusing thoughts you have that make you feel condemned.

    Then, using the three contrasting examples Renee shared above, replace condemning statements with convicting, yet loving, truths the Holy Spirit might say. Be sure to offer yourself forgiveness plus a solution that reflects God's goal of restoration and His tone of grace.

    © 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 John

  • When Prayer Seems Impractical

    Posted on July 8, 2014 by Leslie Ludy

    Leslie Ludy

    "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:5 (NASB)

    A busy mom of six once told me, "I'm too busy NOT to pray!" Therein lies the secret to a life that really works.

    Putting Jesus first and making prayer a priority is the key to finding the peace, strength and joy we all long for. And yet, many of us might admit we've got our thinking regarding busyness and prayer backward.

    Let's be honest. As busy women, prayer often becomes that one project we'll "get to eventually," like cleaning the cobwebs from the ceiling or writing a cookbook.

    With so many demands on our time and energy, most of us conclude the only real prayer life we can have are those short bursts of heavenly appeal (Help, Lord!) during the stressful moments of our day.

    I've been there ... many times. The busier I am, the less practical prayer seems.

    But I have come to realize when prayer seems the most unrealistic, that's when I need it the most. In fact, the "Too busy NOT to pray" principle has revolutionized my life.

    Just a few years ago, our four children were all ages 4 and under. Three were in diapers, and the typical noise level in our house rivaled the Whos in Whoville on Christmas morning. Spending quality time with Christ each day felt next to impossible.

    I reasoned, Surely Jesus understands how many important things I need to get done. He won't mind if I just whisper a few hurried prayers here and there as I'm scurrying around!

    Yet in the busyness of my days, I continued to hear Jesus' gentle whisper, inviting me to come away from my hustle and bustle and be with Him.

    So finally, I began to make room in my life for true prayer, even though it was far from convenient. I asked God to show me pockets of time during my day when I could steal away to be with Him. Such as when the children were napping or when my husband could take charge of things.

    I asked God to equip me with the discipline to get up earlier and make my time with Christ a far higher priority than temporal distractions like social media and movies.

    As I began to live by the "Too busy NOT to pray" principle, I was amazed at what happened. Suddenly, life became fruitful instead of frustrating. My responsibilities and demands didn't change. But instead of rushing around in a stressful frenzy, I had a supernatural strength to tackle my daily challenges calmly and joyfully. My defeated and overwhelmed perspective was replaced with a victorious, conquering one.

    I was learning the truth of today's key verse, "... apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5b). I have come to realize that I cannot truly thrive in any area of my life unless I'm spending purposeful time in God's presence on a regular basis.

    I still have a tendency to put tasks above prayer. But now, when I start coming up with reasons why I cannot spend quality time with Christ, I remind myself that actually, I'm too busy NOT to pray. Nothing on my task list could ever be more important than making time with Jesus. He alone has everything I need for the battles I'm called to fight.

    The busier our days are, the more important prayer is. So when prayer seems impractical, let's remember that the very best solution is to get on our knees.

    Lord, help me never forget that spending time in Your presence is what will give me strength for everything else I'm called to do. Teach me to not just fit You into my life when it's convenient, but to truly build my life around You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Luke 10:41-42a, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part ..." (NASB)

    Ephesians 6:18, "... praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints —" (NKJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When do you feel "too busy to pray"?

    When you make time with Christ a priority, how does it change your ability to handle life's stresses and responsibilities?

    © 2014 by Leslie Ludy. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Tyndale House 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 John

  • Tired of Trying to Measure Up

    Posted on July 7, 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort

    Alicia Bruzvoort

    " ... The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7b (NLT)

    When my youngest son was a toddler, he accessorized every outfit with a bulky silver tape measure. Clipped to his waistband or hooked through a belt loop, the tool was handy for appraising just about anything — toy tractors, popsicles or skateboards.

    Although the calculations were useless to a 3-year-old with no grasp of numbers, Joshua spent much of his day wielding that tape measure.

    "Would you like cereal for breakfast?" I'd ask my little boy when he awoke.

    "Maybe, if it's seventy-seven," he'd reply as he aligned his ruler along the side of a Cheerios box.

    "Milk or juice?"

    "The one that's fifty-sixteen," my boy would answer.

    Eventually, Joshua's quirky obsession tried my patience. One night after he'd insisted on measuring every blanket on his bed before lights out, I complained to God: Could You make him forget about that silly measuring tape, Lord?

    The next morning when I frowned at myself in the mirror and harrumphed over my daunting to-do list, my Heavenly Father finally responded: Maybe your little boy will drop his measuring tape when you get rid of yours.

    At first, I ignored the conviction I felt when Joshua reached for his silver ruler. But in time, I realized I carried my own measuring systems. Only mine didn't decorate my belt loop; they adorned my mind.

    Here are a few of the faulty rulers I found:

    The ruler of productivity. This measuring stick assesses my value by my accomplishments: Did I read to my preschooler, fold the laundry or clean the fridge? It assigns value to completed tasks but fails to calculate the worth of immeasurable investments like cuddling my children or listening to a friend. When I rely on the ruler of productivity to establish my worth, time becomes a slave master rather than a gift.

    The beauty barometer. This gauge creates comparison and self-scrutiny. It makes me worry about the extra skin around my middle and the faded highlights in my hair. It changes the way I view the woman in the mirror. Do I look more put-together than I feel? Where did those wrinkles come from? Will anyone notice the dark circles under my eyes? The beauty barometer appraises external appearance but fails to calculate the value of inner loveliness.

    The happy homemaker meter. This measure prompts late-night baking sprees and glue-gun marathons. It propels me to create handmade Valentine's cards even though my daughter just wants store-bought Barbie cards. It produces guilt when I bring chips to the potluck instead of a hot casserole. The happy homemaker meter can twist fantastic ideas into exhausting must-dos and leaves me feeling more tired than inspired.

    Tape measures may be entertaining in the hands of curious toddlers, but they stunt the growth of women like you and me.

    Perhaps it's time to give up our mental measures, and let God grow us into the women He's dreamed us to be. His vision for us is refreshing and life-giving. Our key verse reminds us that, "The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7b).

    Eventually, Joshua traded his shiny measuring stick for a plastic transparent tape dispenser. With a giggle, he applied tape to his favorite book, his baby sister's bruised forehead and his broken Matchbox car.

    Rather than measuring, my son turned to mending. And that's just what God longs to do for us. He wants to destroy our tape measures and heal the wounded places in our hearts from constant comparisons and the failure to meet unreasonable expectations.

    In fact, when we exchange our faulty rulers for Christ's timeless rule, we may discover that our Savior's measuring stick is actually a wooden cross ... that functions like a roll of cellophane tape.

    So I'm abandoning my ridiculous rulers and metrics, in exchange for God's immeasurable grace and healing. Want to join me?

    Sweet Savior, I am tired of carrying my own cache of faulty measures. I want to trade my ridiculous rulers for Your timeless stick of grace. Remind me that my worth is immeasurable in You. Restore my joy and increase my faith. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 108:4, "For your loving-kindness is great beyond measure, high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches the skies." (LB)

    Psalm 90:12 & 17, "Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! ... And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!" (MSG)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is one faulty measure you need to trade for Christ's timeless stick of grace today?

    Find one Bible verse that speaks truth over the lies your mental measuring tape has created. Post that verse where you can see it, and use it as a prayer this week.

    © 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort. 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 Samuel

Items 71 to 80 of 1512 total

Helping you find, grow, share and celebrate your faith
Who doesn't love free shipping!? At Family Christian, you can qualify TWO ways:

1. To your door (just $50 minimum)*

No coupon required! Simply add $50 worth of merchandise to your cart and select the "Free Shipping" option under "Shipping Method." Easy as pie.

* Valid on merchandise totaling $50 or more before taxes. Please keep in mind this is valid on domestic ground shipping to addresses within the U.S. only, not valid toward international delivery. Additional charges apply for express shipping. Terms subject to change without notice.

2. To your store (no minimum order required!)*

At checkout, select "Ship to your local Family Christian store" and enter your zip code to find our closest location. Not sure if there is a Family Christian nearby? Find your local store now.

* Valid on select merchandise only
Loading... Loading...