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Daily Devotion

  • Prone to Wander

    Posted on June 25, 2013 by Amy Carroll

    Amy

    "Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits..." Psalm 103:2 (NIV)

    For years, we owned a dog named BC who was the bane of my existence. He definitely earned his nickname—Houdini. He was a long hound with short legs and truly an escape artist of the highest degree.

    There was no fence high enough and no enclosure secure enough to keep him contained. BC scaled or dug or jumped or schemed his way to freedom outside our yard on a regular basis.

    I think about those days and have to laugh. Because our whole family adored him—despite his wandering heart—we worked and worked to keep him home. We built a fence we believed would protect him from the outside world. My boys played and snuggled with him. BC was fed healthy dog food and yummy snacks. He had balls, toys and a soft dog bed.

    And yet he wandered.

    BC roamed our neighborhood, and sometimes we got reports of him on streets miles away. He always came home eventually (sometimes pursued by the dog catcher), but our family worried about him when he left the safe haven of home.

    How I identify with BC's wandering ways.

    These words from my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, pierce my heart each time I hear them:

    O to grace how great a debtor
    Daily I'm constrained to be!
    Let Thy goodness, like a fetter
    Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.
    Prone to leave the God I love.
    Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
    Seal it for Thy courts above. ~Robert Robinson

    God has created a place of safety for me within His Word. His commandments are designed to protect me, not restrict me. God gives me the good gifts of His mercy, grace and forgiveness to remind me to stay near. He pours His love on me and draws me deep into His family, and yet ...

    Sometimes my heart still wanders.

    I ignore His truth and make decisions that launch me outside the safety of His guidelines. I harbor wrong thoughts. I use words that minimize others. These choices and others can take me away from God's heart. And yet He longs to draw me home again.

    The opening verses of Psalm 103 provide a key to keep my wandering heart close to God: "Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits ..." (Psalm 103:1-2 NIV).

    By praising God and rehearsing His benefits, I train my heart to find contentment close to God rather than far from Him.

    When I want to wander, the verses that follow Psalm 103:1-2 list even more reasons to praise and thank God:

    "...who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's" (vv. 3-5 NIV).

    I spent 14 long years chasing BC around our neighborhood. My love for him kept me pursuing him and finding ways to keep him safe in our yard. God's love is the same toward us. Let's join with the Lord in staying in the protective boundary lines He's given us by praising and rehearsing His faithful ways. Doing so will bind our wandering hearts to God and keep us safe in the nurturing places He's created for you and me.

    Lord God, I thank You that You have given us such a long list of benefits for which to praise You. Settle my heart in the safety of Your home with a faithful and content heart. In Jesus' precious Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Scripture is the perfect place to search for the benefits of God. The NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women is also filled with 366 of our devotions. Pick up your copy, now 20% off, by clicking here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do you fill your heart and mind with the benefits of God that keep you close to His heart, or do you constantly allow your heart to wander from God's safety and care?

    Read Psalm 103 in its entirety and make a list of the benefits of God you find and rehearse them in your mind today.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 16:5-6, "LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Not Too Serious

    Posted on June 24, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Be happy young man while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart. Ecclesiastes 11:9

     

    Sometimes we are guilty of taking ourselves too seriously. We get caught up in our little world of what we have to do, where we have to go and who we have to please. Joy jettisons from our heart because we are driven by a “have to” attitude. Unfortunately for our health and for those who love us we become consumed by our agenda, our desires, our worries, our ideas, our work, our hobbies and our needs. Sadly, our unmet expectations become joy killers with no heart.

     

    How do you know if you are taking yourselves too seriously? Suddenly others become the object of your fury. They don’t seem to take things seriously enough. You erroneously think, “If they would just do what I want and work as hard as me, both of our worlds would be much better off!” You act like the Lord can’t get by without you, however the reverse is true. You can’t get by without Him. So, shed the world from your shoulders. Perhaps on your next vacation you totally disconnect from technology. No phone, email. Try it. Lighten up and let the Lord work for you.

     

    The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. Psalm 103:6

     

    What is the solution for taking ourselves too seriously? Humility. A humble heart is released from the motivation of being the main attraction. When we walk in humility we are content to be behind the scenes and let others receive the attention. Like Jesus and by His Spirit, we empty ourselves of our reputation and expectations and replace them with His. We let go of our work and we let God work. We learn to take ourselves less seriously and the Lord more seriously.

     

    Therefore, enjoy the peace and contentment that accompanies a non acrimonious approach to life. Seek harmony not hostility. Give instead of take. Laugh at yourself and laugh with others over your quirks. Be yourself. Be still. Know God. Joy comes from being with Jesus. So, draft behind where God is working, instead of striving to get your way. Guard your heart from an overly serious state. Invite Christ’s calmness to relax your countenance and return your smile.

     

    Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. Luke 10:21

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the courage to take myself less seriously and You more seriously.

     

    Related Readings: Psalm 19:8, 126:2; Nehemiah 8:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Philemon 1:7

    Post/Tweet today: Let go of your work and let the Lord work. #trust

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • I Am Not Alone

    Posted on June 24, 2013 by Whitney Capps

    Whitney

    "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)

    I sat at my computer and typed, deleted and then re-typed the same email at least three times. Did I sound too desperate, too needy? Surely things weren't this bad. Maybe I just needed a little perspective. So I stopped and looked around.

    Toys of a million varieties, parts and pieces were scattered across the floor. My 3-year-old and 2-year-old were still in their pajamas. It was nearly 10:30 a.m. and they'd been watching television far longer than any good mother should allow.

    To top it off, my newborn was crying. I'd stuck him in the swing because I just needed a break. I hadn't showered in two days. At least I think it had been two days. I was in a time warp, so who could be sure? I knew I hadn't changed clothes in as many days. My t-shirt and sweatpants were stained with unmentionables.

    Who was I kidding? Things really were this bad.

    I turned back to the computer and typed an honest assessment of the situation. I hit send before my pride vetoed my cry for help. I wasn't going to pretend anymore. I needed to know I wasn't alone.

    If I didn't send a SOS, things would go from bad to worse. So I did what Scripture tells us to do in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ("Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble") and called out to friends to help me out of this messy, sticky, stinky mess.

    Girlfriends, I am struggling. Life with three boys under four is hard. Ryder is such an easy baby that I feel guilty voicing my weariness. And Cooper and Dylan are just little boys. I don't expect anything to be other than what it is right now. It's just that right now is rather taxing. I know every stage of motherhood is.

    My life is no more difficult than yours. That's why I have started and stopped this email three times. I feel self-indulgent to talk about how parched my soul is. But I'm drowning in diapers, potty-training and milk.

    In a matter of minutes my inbox filled with messages. I had asked my girlfriends to pray for me and pick me up from this pit. These amazing women came through in a big way, sharing some of the funniest stories I've ever heard and offering the kindest commiseration a new mom could want. I felt connected, accepted and loved.

    Hearing their words in my head, I changed diapers, wiped noses and unloaded the dishwasher repeating:

    I am not alone.

    God's grace is sufficient.

    Do the next thing.

    Why hadn't I asked for help sooner? What was I afraid of?

    I knew what it was. I didn't want them to think less of me. Would they see the real me, and still love me? My pride shouted, but my heart trembled.

    In the moments before I sent that email I felt utterly alone. In the days that followed, I realized the fellowship I had gained was totally worth the embarrassment of admitting my fears and failures. As it turned out, these dear women didn't love me less for sharing; they loved me more.

    Through their kind words, my friends did the best thing possible: they lifted my focus from myself and put it on Jesus. I learned not to depend on my own abilities, but to depend on Him.

    Interestingly, I didn't have more confidence as a mom after that day. And I didn't suddenly get to take a shower every day. I realized I am absolutely inadequate. I am sincerely overwhelmed. But my friends reminded me that I'm not alone and my situation isn't unique to me.

    As my friends promised to walk this journey with me, I discovered there's safety in numbers. In the quiet of my head and heart, sometimes the voice of fear and condemnation drowns out God's truth. With a resounding chorus, these girlfriends shouted truth so loudly it couldn't be ignored. It was just what I needed.

    And they didn't care that I hadn't brushed my teeth.

    Lord, thank You for Your encouragement through Your Word and Your Holy Spirit. Thank You too for friendships that lift me up when I'm overwhelmed and down. Amen.

    Related Resources:
    In Always There, you'll find an inspiring combination of real-faith mothering stories and Scriptures that assure you of God's abiding presence, written by Renee Swope, Ann Voskamp and more.

    There's a Green Plastic Monkey in My Purse: And Other Ways Motherhood Changes Us explores the traits and skills of a mother, including humility and patience, from God's perspective.

    Join our Facebook community for daily encouragement.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What makes you hesitate to reach out and share your frustrations?

    If you are not connected with close friends, look for a mom's group at a local church.

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 11:2, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Whitney Capps. All rights reserved.

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

  • Avoid the Angry

    Posted on June 23, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared. Proverbs 22:24-25

    Avoid the angry, and do not make friends with those easily angered. They are undependable and hard to get along with. You cannot predict what an angry person will do next. They may lie, lash out, sulk, blame, or even kill if their rage is left unchecked. The source of their anger may be as simple as not getting their way, or it may be a string of broken expectations all the way back to a wounded childhood. Your role is not to fix them or to be their therapist.

    However, the times you do have to associate with them can be an opportunity for you to model peace and calm. But be very careful; do not become like them. Their impatient ways may become your impatient ways. Their rude tendencies may become your rude tendencies. Their sarcasm may become your sarcasm. Their blowups may become your blowups. Yes, the angry can change, but real change will only occur as God heals their heart.

    Unless forgiveness penetrates an angry heart, it is destined to remain the same. Hard and stubborn is a heart driven by anger. Unless anger is gently unwound by grace and love, it may unleash its furor suddenly or may constantly simmer just beneath the surface. You may be the object of someone’s anger simply because you happen to be around them when they snap. They are a product of stuffed emotions.

    Some angry people are hard to avoid because you live with them. What now? You certainly pray for and with them. Pray earnestly for the angry person you live with to allow him or her to experience God’s love. The heavenly Father can squeeze out the venom of vengeance with His holy hugs. The love and acceptance of God can flush out foul language and faithless living. To be loved by God is to not remain angry, for the Lord’s love and anger cannot coexist. Unconditional love that is received melts the heart of anger.

    Be very careful to avoid business partnerships with the chronically angry. You will regret a relationship like that, and you will be angry with yourself for aligning with the angry. Even engaging with employees, vendors, and customers who are steeped in their anger is not healthy. God will provide more pleasant clients or staff. Cut loose those who linger, stew, and obsess over little things. It’s not worth it. They will never be satisfied with your service or your sincere encouragement.

    People driven by anger are never content; nothing you do will make them happy. Their anger may subside momentarily, but you will remain on pins and needles, waiting for them to erupt at any moment. In addition, angry children need to learn how to bring their hurts to their heavenly Father in prayer. Unprocessed hurt feelings will fester into anger. Help them to talk about why they have feelings of anger. What makes them mad at themselves? Unresolved anger is a time bomb waiting to explode.

    If you’re the one who’s angry, a safe environment to talk through your heated emotions is a great place to start on the path to peace. Channel your anger into proper passions that are sanctified by your Savior. Be angry at sin, while forgiving yourself and others. Avoid the angry, and release your own anger within to your heavenly Father above. Friendship with the angry creates angst with God. Friendship with the forgiven—and healed—promotes peace with God. Go with peace.

    Post/Tweet: Unless forgiveness penetrates an angry heart, it is destined to remain the same. #forgiveness

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Wisdom Walk

    Posted on June 22, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20).

    With whom do you walk (figuratively or literally) through life who offers you wisdom? Do you walk with your father or father-in-law, or mother or mother-in-law? When you walk with them are you slow to speak and quick to listen? Indeed, wisdom comes to those who listen more and talk less. Wisdom is a product of the people who pour into you.

    Your wisdom walk may be over the phone with a mentor who lives in another city or a neighbor across the street who, by God’s grace, has already raised God-fearing children. Look around you and learn from those wise ones the Lord has placed in your life. Pray for a “Paul” who can be your spiritual instructor. “Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:17).

    No one is ever too old or too wise to need a regular wisdom walk. Perhaps you take the time to walk with your spouse after dinner or a co-worker during the lunch hour. Vacations are ideal to walk with a wise family member. Walk while the brilliant sun arises or a majestic sunset kisses the horizon. A wisdom walk allows your soul to catch up with the hectic pace of your body. Indeed, walk with the wise, and you will grow wise.

    Talk about topics that are relevant to your season of life. Maybe it is insight into parenting a teenager, financial management, decision making, how to love and respect your spouse, books to read, or devotion to Christ. Ask your wise walkers what mistakes they made and how you can learn from them. Listen to their ideas, process them in prayer, and apply them to your life. Otherwise, unused wisdom becomes fodder for foolishness!

    Above all, have wisdom walks with almighty God. Unlike Adam and Eve, learn to live in the intimacy of the moment with your heavenly Father. “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8). Walk with Jesus, and you will become much the wiser. Keep Christ your closest companion.

    Prayer: Who are wise people in my life with whom I can enjoy regular wisdom walks? What does it look like for me to have wisdom walks with my heavenly Father?

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 8:7; Jeremiah 7:23; Luke 6:13–17; 1 Corinthians 15:33

    Post/Tweet: Wisdom comes to those who listen more and talk less. #wisdom

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Unlearn Untruths

    Posted on June 21, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

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

    God calls His children to think anew,not like they did in the past with old prejudices and skewed perspectives,but with renewed thoughts captured by Christ. Like medical science that discovers new remedies for old illnesses, the Christian mind grows under God’s influence. We love the Lord with our mind when we humbly unlearn untruths.

    The mature follower of Christ learns to unlearn beliefs that are untrue. For example, the Bible does not teach: “God helps those who help themselves.” Yet, because we hear it repeated multiple times without rebuttal, it begins to blend into our belief system. God helps those who die to themselves, and who come alive by faith in Jesus Christ. Yes, the Lord wants us to work hard, but not as a substitute for our utter dependence on Him.

    “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

    Another untruth that needs to be unlearned says, “If you have enough faith you will be physically healed or you will prosper materially.” Jesus can of course do either of these, but your faith does not guarantee that He will heal you (though the ultimate healing is heaven) and He will bless you financially. Some with great faith, die of disease and some filthy rich in faith live a life of poverty on earth. True faith trusts God to do His will.

    Often repeated but  wrong is: “bad people go to hell and good people go to heaven.” Saved people  go to heaven and lost people  go to hell—only belief in the blood of Jesus Christ as the payment for our sin can  gain us eternal life with God. No amount of moral acts  can justify a life before Him—it requires grace not goodness.

    “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” (Isaiah 64:6). “But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).

    Therefore, rid your mind of old thinking that assumes something that is not true, and replace it with Scripture’s timeless truth.  A mentor or teacher may have meant well but a sincere heart that delivers half-truths can confuse your mind and emotions. Read the Bible to validate what you believe,and have the courage and faith to unlearn untruths.

    “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    Prayer: What belief do I currently embrace as true that does not align with Scriptural principles?

    Related Readings: Job 6:24; Psalm 119:15; 2 Corinthians 10:5; 2 Timothy 2:25-26

    Post/Tweet today: Rid your mind of thinking that assumes something untrue, and replace it with Scripture’s timeless truth. #truth

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Is There Really "The One?"

    Posted on June 21, 2013 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn

    "On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.'" John 7:37-38 (NIV)

    As soon as we were old enough to understand fairy tales, we were told to start looking for the one.

    Someday my prince will come.
    Someday I'll find my love.

    As we got older, Prince Charming looked a bit different. Our teenage hearts thrilled when the latest vocal sensation sang about finding us and how our love would last forever.

    Wherever we turned, we were told our soul mate was waiting. And we were led to believe we were "less than" if we didn't find the one who would complete us!

    Even now, whether we're 15, 45 or 75, the equation hasn't changed: "Guy + Me = Valuable."

    So, if the movies, books and songs are so right, how come when we find the one, we can still feel like we're missing something? Why are there married people who are lonely with an emptiness that marriage can't fill? Our hearts can get confused if our reality doesn't match fantasy and we wonder:

    Maybe my one isn't really the one? Or, whether we're married or single, we might wonder, is the one for me still out there?

    In this place of uncertainty our hearts can grow perplexed. If we find ourselves in this vulnerable place of questioning, and all of a sudden a guy who seems to be the one enters the picture, it can stir up confusion.

    If we are married, we might wonder if we should walk away from a husband, who we thought was perfect for us, in order to have a new one, who seems more perfect. Singles might wonder if this guy is really a gift from God ... the one we've waited for?

    In my personal search to have my love gap filled, I have discovered there is The One for each and every one of us.

    It is Jesus Himself! He's The One our hearts are looking for. He's The One who is the filler of my lonely places and misunderstood parts.

    No matter what is going on in my roller coaster heart, Jesus' love for me is secure and stable. On the days when the relationship with my husband is everything I'm looking for, Jesus is The One. On the days when the cart of marriage is wobbly and off-kilter, He's still The One.

    Oh the relief Jesus brings to the rest of my relationships! When I turn to Him to fill the love gap in my heart, it takes the pressure off others! While my needy heart could wear my family out, Jesus is a continual source of unconditional love pouring into me. Not the type of filling that is once and done, but an endless supply ... each and every day.

    Listen to His promise in John 7:37-38, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them."

    Ahhh ... the refreshing that comes when we discover He is The One we are looking for.

    What a relief my heart experiences as I stop looking to others to fill me and find Jesus as my constant, day after day, contentment. Take time today to go to Him and ask Him to fill up the empty places and refresh the areas of your heart that are dry. Jesus is The One and only who can fill and complete us.

    Lord, help me to recognize You are The One my heart is looking for. Each and every day, teach me to look to You to fill the love gap in my heart. Amen

    Related Resources:
    Help a teen girl in your life learn to fill her love gap with Jesus through Lynn Cowell's book His Revolutionary Love and Devotions for a Revolutionary Year.

    Confessions of an Adulterous Christian Woman: Lies that Got Me There; Truths that Brought Me Back by Lyndell Hetrick Holtz

    Reflect and Respond:
    Who or what do you find yourself turning to in order to have your heart's need for affirmation met?

    In what ways does continually turning to a person to meet your heart's need for love put pressure on that relationship?

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 8:17, "I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me." (NIV)

    Isaiah 55:1, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Unholy Accolades

    Posted on June 20, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” Luke 6:26

    Authentic teachers and preachers of the Bible will have some who disagree with, even dismiss their proclamations of truth. If a spokesperson for the Lord is not criticized by some, there is a need to worry that they are watering down God’s word. Churches are not created to make everyone feel good, but to lead them to faith in Christ and holy living.

    Furthermore, it is important how the messenger delivers the message, not with a holier thanthou disposition, but in a spirit of compassion and humble boldness. Followers of Jesus are not out to intentionally offend and attack those who embrace untruth or a worldly way of living. Instead, we are to speak the truth in love and trust God with how people will respond. Do not be shy about your convictions, but do so with godly grace.

    Has a vocal minority unfairly criticized your stand on marriage? Do some of your family members think you are strange because of the way you raise your children in Christ? Have some labeled you at work as a narrow minded Christian? If so, do not be ashamed that some do not speak well of you, sometimes we are best known by our enemies.

    “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8).

    Enemies of the cross are enemies of those who daily bear their cross for Christ’s sake. But we engage the enemy in prayer and through spiritual warfare. The war is not won in the headline of a newspaper or in a debate on national television—the war is won as followers of Jesus flood heaven with faithful petitions and engage people with loving truth. The goal is not to win an agreement, but to live a life worthy of the gospel.

    “For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:18).

    Have you compromised the Lord’s standards because of pressure from someone you want to please? If so, dismiss the praise and applause of people and seek accolades from Almighty God. It is easy to stand on principle when everyone is happy, but the true test of your convictions in Christ come when people are not happy with your righteous acts.

    Do not go looking for trouble—but when it arrives—look it firmly in the face by faith and speak the truth. Some will sneer, some will seethe in anger, some will slander, but Jesus will smile. Followers of Jesus who are different make the most difference. An attractive life full of Christ’s character is counter-cultural, but points people to Him.

    “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).

    Prayer: Am I timid to tell the truth? How can I turn my shyness about Jesus into a bold display?

    Related Readings: 2 Chronicles 6:34-35; Jeremiah 14:14; Matthew 7:15; 1 Peter 4:2-4

    Post/Tweet today: Do not be shy about your convictions, but do so with godly grace. #boldness

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • I Under-Stand

    Posted on June 20, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

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

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

    "I understand," I whisper back.

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

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

    I simply under-stand.

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

    We all have an under.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Unable.
    Incapable.
    Insecure.
    Broken down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Available Grandparents

    Posted on June 19, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.” Job 42:16-17

    God gives grandparents the opportunity to be available for their grandchildren. It can be the most fulfilling season of life, because of the joy that comes from seeing the third generation follow the Lord with wholehearted commitment. Grandchildren need their grandparents for fun, support, encouragement, wisdom, security and a loving legacy.

    Do you have a plan to be intentional in your grandchildren’s lives? Grandparents who take the time to be with their grandchildren invest in the next godly generation. Do you want to be remembered for being available to those who desire you the most, or for being busy doing good things for people who probably won’t attend your funeral? Bless your grandchildren with your faithfulness to them and the Lord—pray for His will in their life.

    “When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?” “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them” (Genesis 48:8-9). Grandchildren need their grandparents blessing.

    What’s a grandparent to do if they are available, but the grandchild is unavailable? It may be a geographical challenge or a generational gap; whatever the relational chasm, pray for them to love Christ. Don’t allow distance to dissolve your relationship with your grandchild. Look for creative ways to go to them—relieve mom and dad for a needed time away. Invite them to join you on an educational trip to an interesting historical site.

    Moments with grandmother and granddaddy are memories that are not soon forgotten. Fishing, hunting, eating, reading, learning to drive, walking together and laughing are all healthy interactions that build a sense of belonging for grandchildren. In a transitional society it’s imperative that families find close community—perhaps you pray for a local  “adopted” grandparent that can fill in the gaps of absent grandparents.

    “But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:6). Commitment to family bears fruit that transcends generations.

    Lastly, if you are a grandchild then reach out to your grandparents. They will not be with you forever and they cherish every word of communication with you. Visit them often at their home, call them regularly and write them nice notes thanking them for their love for you and others. The elderly need the respect and care of those blessed by their wisdom and generosity. Grandparents deserve honor expressed with our time, talent and treasures.

    “‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:32).

    Prayer: How can I be available for my grandchildren? How can I honor my grandparents?

    Related Readings: Proverbs 16:31; Isaiah 46:4; Titus 2:1-5

    Post/Tweet today: Don’t allow distance to dissolve your relationship with your grandchild. #grandparents

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

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