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Proverbs 31

  • When God's Assignments Feel Almost Impossible

    Posted on June 9, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.'" Mark 16:15 (NIV)

    I pulled into my driveway and stared at this gathering place my people call "home." And my heart whispered ...

    Lord, am I doing all of this right?

    This life You've entrusted to me, these people You've entrusted to me, this calling You've entrusted to me ... I desperately want to get it right. To live without painful regret gnawing deep within. To know that I gave it my very best. To please You. Love them. Smile more than frowning. Laugh more than I complain. See the beauty tucked within all these sacred moments of just being together and remember to whisper, Thank You.

    Thank You for all of it. The whole package deal of good and bad and highs and lows. For all that mixed together sets about a process of making me. The me that needs the tough stuff to mature me. The sad moments to soften me. The thrilling moments to invigorate me. The poignant moments to endear me. The complicated moments to challenge me. The quiet moments to unrush me.

    I need it all.

    But sometimes, in the midst of all the moments that are making me into the woman You created me to be, I get awfully tired and discouraged.

    And I find myself sitting in my driveway wondering. Staring at the culmination of thousands of decisions I've made that have brought me here. To this home. This family. This life. I made my decisions and then my decisions made me.

    I'm thankful, yes. So very thankful. But I need You to whisper reassurance into my heart that You're with me. That You see me. And that You are pleased with me. I just need to know, Lord, am I doing this right?

    Have you ever had one of those driveway discussions with God?

    Have you ever looked at your life and wondered, like I do, if you're on the right track?

    I think most of us girls think these thoughts. That's why 20 years ago, I helped start a place where we could gather and learn God's perspective on how to do life through the pages of His Word. Proverbs 31 Ministries exists because I desperately needed someone to help me connect life with God's truth. And I still do.

    So, every day my team and I gather to think through and pray over all that eventually ends up in your inbox. We're a rag-tag team of passionate, imperfect girls determined to bring God's Word front and center into your world. My deepest prayer is that as we encourage you, we're helping equip you to take that encouragement into your family and your sphere of influence.

    I think about you every time I put my fingers on the keyboard of my computer and tap, tap, tap tangled thoughts that eventually become words from my soul to yours. I see you standing in your corner of the world. Mentally I draw a circle around you representing all the people you reach and influence each day.

    Then I step back and imagine hundreds of thousands of circles of influence representing more than one million women who read our devotions on a daily basis. And I'm amazed how collectively our circles of influence cover almost the whole world.

    You, me and all the others who gather here are making a worldwide impact.

    Jesus instructed us to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation," (Mark 16:15). That seems an impossible task for someone who sits in her driveway and feels fragile and wonders all the things I sometimes wonder. Can you relate?

    But, I can reach my sphere of influence with God's Word woven in and out of my simple sentences typed in these simple devotions. And I can pray that somehow God's Word becomes a filter for your thoughts as you get these devotions each day. And then when you pass them along to friends or talk about them in your everyday conversations ... it's multiplied by almost a million.

    Together we are going into all the world with the good news! Amazing, what we can do together.

    If you find yourself wondering about life as you sit in your driveway, let me be a friend who whispers deep into your heart, "Keep going. You're doing better than you think you are. Now, let's go change the world together."

    Dear Lord, I love these honest conversations I can have with You. Thank You for equipping me to go into all the world with the good news. I want to shine as a light for You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 96:3, "Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Why I No Longer Cry Over Burnt Bread

    Posted on June 6, 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort

    Alicia

    "If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11 (NIV)

    I was squashed between kindergarteners in the school cafeteria when my 6-year-old son, Joshua, made an announcement that gave me the giggles. I hid my mouth behind a napkin to cover my smirk and realized that at one point in my life, my son's innocent words would have spawned tears instead of chuckles.

    It started when the little boy next to me lifted a sandwich out of his lunch box.

    "That's huge!" Joshua exclaimed as he poked at the lukewarm carrots on his cafeteria tray and gazed longingly at his classmate's lunch.

    The sandwich was big. Oversized slabs of cheese and slices of ham nestled between two thick slices of bread. I wondered how much cash it would take to talk a kindergartner into trading his mealtime masterpiece for my soggy sloppy joe.

    "Can you even get that in your mouth?" I teased as my lunch companion freed his sandwich from plastic wrap and lifted the culinary sensation to his mouth.

    "I'm used to big bread," he replied. "It's my mom's specialty."

    Joshua raised an eyebrow and studied the specimen in his classmate's hands. "You mean your mom makes the bread you eat?"

    The little fellow nodded happily.

    My son looked at me with wide-eyed wonder, then shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Oh, my mom's specialty is burnt bread."

    I nodded in agreement. "If the crust's not charred, the bread's not ours," I said with a laugh.

    The sandwich muncher beside me didn't even blink at my corny rhyme, but Joshua applauded me with a big smile.

    Soon a bell announced the lunch hour's end, and the kindergarteners hurried to line up for recess. My brown-haired boy waved and marched off to the playground, leaving me alone with my speckled pink cafeteria tray, a mound of lukewarm carrots and a smile.

    A decade ago my young son's honesty would have left me feeling second-rate. I would have raced to the library to check out a book on baking homemade bread.

    I've learned the hard way that I miss all sorts of sacred and significant moments when I live with the frantic insistence that I can do it all. When I'm striving to be good at all things, I miss the joy of small things.

    A good mom isn't good at everything. She's just really good at one thing. A good mom is good at being who God created her to be.

    The truth for bread-burning mamas like me sitting in school cafeterias and for gifted women like you sitting in mini-vans, corporate offices and rocking chairs is this: We weren't created to do it all.

    We were created to play one small role in a gigantic Kingdom tale. And if we spend our lives trying to mimic everyone else's script, we might miss the lines that are uniquely ours.

    On any given day, I can tell you a few things I do well. But, perhaps more importantly, I can tell you what I don't do.

    I learned a few years ago the importance of creating a list of what I don't do. If you're tired of feeling tired, make that list. If you're worn out from the comparison game, make that list. If you can't celebrate your talents and laugh at your limitations, make that list.

    Stick it to your bathroom mirror. Carry it in your purse. And refuse to apologize for being you.

    So, friend, if you've been created to bake homemade bread, by all means, bake away.

    If you've been fashioned to encourage others, speak life.

    If you've been gifted to sing, fill the earth with music, please.

    But whatever you do, don't try to do it all, or you just might miss the one thing that the world desperately needs you to do.

    Dear Lord, I am tired of trying to do it all. Help me identify my gifts and accept my limitations so I can play my part in Your mighty Kingdom tale. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 12:5-6, "So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't." (The Message)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Try to go one whole day without measuring yourself against anyone else. When you are tempted to compare yourself to someone, pray for her instead.

    Make that list of what you don't do and post it where you will see it each day.

    This week, say "no" to one thing that you weren't created to do.

    © 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

  • When Worry is Part of Your Personality

    Posted on June 5, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

    His comment wasn't meant to be critical, but it immediately pierced my heart.

    I was explaining to my husband how worried I'd been about several situations and reciting the reasons why my worry was justified. He gently reminded me that worrying wouldn't help anything, and I quickly replied, "But I can't help it!"

    Then he said with a smile, "I know you can't. Worrying is just part of your personality."

    Deep down I knew I worried too much, especially when it came to my children's safety, their happiness and situations I couldn't control. But I didn't want to be labeled a "worrier," and I certainly didn't want to admit worrying was "part of my personality."

    Yet, if I were honest with myself, I knew it was true.

    Although I trust God and know He is in control, the human side of me often tends to worry. I'm thankful God isn't surprised by my worry, and wants to help me overcome it. Jesus even addressed this very issue when He taught His followers in what we now call the Sermon on the Mount.

    In this teaching, Jesus shared detailed instructions for how Christians should live their daily lives and how faith should shape behavior — including how to deal with worry.

    In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus specifically told His followers not to worry about food or clothes because God would provide for their needs, just as He does for the birds of the air. This promise of provision and protection applies to all areas of our lives, including help with our problems and easing our inner-most anxieties.

    Jesus knew the people of that time struggled with worry, just as we do. At times it is hard to trust God with the concerns that weigh heaviest on our hearts. Instead of trusting Him to handle what we cannot, we waste the opportunities of today worrying about the possibilities of tomorrow. God wants us to leave our problems in His hands, rather than let them become a stumbling block in our faith.

    Sometimes it takes a gentle reminder, such as my husband's innocent words, to remind me of this promise. I needed to stop holding onto my worries and quit continually reminding Jesus to be as concerned as I was. Instead, I should daily turn those worries into prayers. I have since committed to worrying less and trusting Jesus more and have experienced the freedom that comes with truly entrusting my needs to Him.

    Although we all have things in our lives that lead to worry and reasons to be concerned, what peace we can enjoy if we consciously choose to lay down each day's worries at God's feet and leave tomorrow's worries up to Him, too.

    Lord, forgive me for not trusting You with my problems and for letting my worry become a wedge in my faith. Give me the strength to put them in Your hands and avoid trying to take them back. Help me learn to trust You more and believe You are always in control of my life and the things that worry me most. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Peter 5:7, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." (NLT)

    Luke 12:29-32, "What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself." (MSG)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What worries are most heavily weighing on your heart today that you need to turn over to God?

    Have you been trying to handle everything on your own, without God's help?

    Read Matthew 6:25-34 and ask God to speak to your heart through these verses.

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Divine Christ

    Posted on June 4, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. John 11:43-44

    As a warm up to His own resurrection, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The One who called Himself the resurrection and the life, brought a dead man back to life. This seventh miracle  recorded by John is the most outrageous. Who brings a man back to life after being dead cold  in the grave for four days? Only God can do this--Christ, 100% divine in nature, transcended His natural law of death with His supernatural law of love that brings back life. Jesus is God.

    Jesus in His humanity wept bitter tears, knowing there would very soon be tears of joy. He hurts when we hurt and He rejoices when we rejoice. Hallelujah our Lord Christ cares; in the middle of our crisis His calm comfort is available and His hope is on the horizon. Our divine Christ sees with compassion a dead end job, and gives us life with fresh vision and opportunity. Natural man may seek to squelch, even kill our dreams, but our divine Christ supersedes cynical claims. What man tries to destroy by discrediting, Christ can bring back to life in a full display of His glory.

    “God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not” (Romans 4:17).

    Has something you hold dear died? A relationship that may have spiraled down into a suspicion filled scenario where neither of you trusts the other? The ability to enjoy a dear one’s company, because they have moved away or their physical functions are impaired? Whatever has died, trust Christ to bring back to life something exceedingly better. Our best and brightest imagination of what’s possible with God retreats penniless, compared to the incomprehensible riches of His grace.

    Above all, we look forward to the voice of Christ calling us forth from the dead. The final resurrection is anticipated by those dead in Christ, but is dreaded by those dead in their sin. The One who conquered death gives us the keys to escape death’s dungeon. What’s cloudy and overcast now, will be clear and sunny with Him. We may weep in the night of this life, but we will find the limitless joy of Jesus in the morning of our glorious resurrection body. In Christ, He sets aside our dingy grave clothes of sin, and robes us with His radiant robe of righteousness!

    “In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise You for the divine power of Your son Jesus Christ, who brings to life my life and love.

    Related Readings: Isaiah 26:19; John 8:58-59; Romans 6:4; Philippians 2:6; Revelation 22:12

    Post/Tweet today: Our imagination of what’s possible with God retreats penniless, compared to the incomprehensible riches of His grace.

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Why God Makes Me Do the Hard Stuff

    Posted on June 4, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal

    "... for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:8 (NASB)

    Recently, I went to the gym to get in some cardio. Cardio makes me sweat, and sweat means my fat is crying.

    Hallelujah!

    Then I decided to go for some strength training. I don't like strength training.

    I found myself wandering around, trying to remember which machine did what and how much weight was the right amount. I looked like a lost puppy.

    I just don't like weights. They are unfamiliar. They are hard.

    My visit to the gym was the first time in a long while that I've attempted resistance training on my own.

    At various times last year, I'd been at the gym, hitting the weights ... but not by myself.

    Last year, my husband and I made a commitment to invest in our health and worked with a personal trainer.

    It. Was. So. Hard. And it involved a lot of weights.

    We were with someone who knew what they were doing, giving us direction.

    Someone successful in getting both of us to try new machines, routines and levels of resistance.

    Someone who worked us hard ... very hard.

    I didn't like it.

    Well, I didn't like it until I started seeing a change in my body.

    There is something about being pushed to lift a weight you think is too heavy that brings a new level of physical and mental strength — challenging you to attempt more reps than you would on your own.

    There is something about a person knowing what you are capable of doing, even when you don't know that for yourself.

    There is something about a trainer.

    In my spiritual life, I like to do what "works." I go to church. I pray. I read my Bible.

    But sometimes I'm challenged in the gym of life to hit the heavy stuff. But not by myself.

    When I made the commitment to have Jesus be the Lord of my life, I also committed to allow Him to be my personal Trainer.

    And I'm not gonna lie. Sometimes it's been hard. And involved a lot of heavy lifting.

    But I've learned that God is truly Someone who knows what He is doing.

    Someone who gets me to try new experiences, routines or levels of resistance.

    Someone who allows the hard ... the very hard.

    And many times I don't like it.

    That is, until I start seeing a change in my soul.

    There is something about being pushed to lift a weight that we think is too heavy that brings us to a new level of spiritual maturity — challenging us to go for a few more days, weeks, months or years in a situation we wouldn't even attempt on our own.

    There is something about a Person knowing what you are capable of even when you don't know that for yourself.

    There is something about the Trainer.

    Indeed, God the Master Trainer, has the health of our spirit and soul in mind.

    And because He knows where I need to be tested, challenged and stretched, He will not allow me to stay in my comfort zone.

    Although I could keep doing what "works" in my spiritual life, it's the uncomfortable situations God allows that strengthen and make me more "fit" in the faith.

    So hang in there. God is the Master Trainer. He knows what He's doing.

    Father God, I really don't like when life is hard. I don't like carrying heavy loads or pressing through difficult situations. Please help me see each and every uncomfortable circumstance You allow in my life as an opportunity for me to grow. Help me to trust that You are indeed the Master Trainer. Help me to believe and rest knowing that, even when life is tough, You know exactly what You are doing and have my spiritual strength and well-being at heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    James 1:3-4, "After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing." (CEB)

    2 Corinthians 4:17, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    In what area of your life are you having to do some "heavy lifting"? What heavy load is God asking or allowing you to carry?

    Take a moment to reflect on your life. Where do you see that you have grown spiritually? What circumstances has God allowed that have helped you to grow?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Welcome to the Bad Mom's Club

    Posted on June 3, 2014 by Kathi Lipp

    Kathi

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

    It was an "I'm crushing this motherhood thing!" kinda morning.

    Backpacks? Check.

    Justen's Colonial Day costume? Check.

    School lunches? Check.

    Crushing it.

    Then, at work, came Justen's teary phone call: "Mom? I left my costume at home!"

    Normally I didn't interfere with natural consequences, but I could tell Justen was broken-hearted. I promised to bring his costume in time for the Colonial Parade.

    I got to school just as all the kids were lining up to change and raced to hand Justen his bag. But the teacher stopped me, saying: "If Justen can't remember to bring his costume, then he'll not be wearing it in the parade."

    What? It was an honest mistake. And who was she anyway to tell me how to discipline my kid?

    My son marched onto the stage ... the only child still in school uniform.

    He was upset. But as soon as the parade was over and the kids were enjoying their orange slices, he'd recovered.

    But me? Not so much.

    I knew that while Justen stood there in his blue polo, every person in that audience saw the invisible sign hanging around his neck: "Bad Mom" and thought: Obviously, if Justen's mom had her act together, he would be sporting his George Washington costume.

    Have you ever been there? Overwhelmed by the shame of failing as a mom?

    I tried to hide my failures, hoping nobody would see my weaknesses. But what I've learned is that when I'm fearless enough to admit that I don't have this mom thing completely down, I'm finally humbled enough to admit my need.

    Second Corinthians 12:9 reminds us that God's "grace is sufficient" and that His "power is made perfect in our weakness." Which means the weaker we are, the more we experience God's power.

    So, how do we allow God's strength to overpower our weaknesses?

    Have grace for other moms.

    And I mean a ton of grace. I'm talking, "I'm giving you a look of solidarity, mom whose child just ended up in the principal's office for saying a bad word because his friends dared him to. I realize it could just as easily have been my kid."

    The phrase "My child would never ..." needs to be banished from our vocabularies. I can promise you that every mom's kid has done something shame-producing. And every kid's mom is sure she's the only one who is failing.

    Have grace (and some mercy) for myself.

    Years ago, I would fall into the "bad mom pit of despair" when one of my kids threw a fit in public. I would kick myself for days because I wasn't a better mom with kids who said, "Yes, Mother" and "May I help?"

    But as my friend Kim would say, "Have you been to Target lately? There is a meltdown happening in Every. Single. Aisle."

    One meltdown is, well, a meltdown, not a report card on your parenting.

    Beg God for help.

    Perhaps we turn quickly to God for the big stuff. But do we seek Him out when we forget the George Washington costume?

    I, along with two friends, actually did start The Bad Mom's Club simply because we were all feeling like failures at the same time. Don't you love it when God gives you company in your pit of despair?

    When one of our kids is "going through it," whatever "it" may be — bad attitudes, bad behavior, bad choices — we have two other moms ready to listen, to pray like it's their own kid, and when we ask for it, offer advice.

    Because that's what it's all about. Admitting our weakness, holding it up to God, and letting His blanket of grace cover it.

    Dear Lord, I pray that I would look for Your grace in my strength and in my weakness, so that everyone who sees the good and the ugly in my life knows that I live each day with Your power sustaining me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 40:29, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." (NIV)

    Isaiah 41:10, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When you're in that Bad Mom pit, who do you turn to?

    How can you encourage another mom who is hanging out in the pit with you today?

    © 2014 by Kathi Lipp. All rights reserved.

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

  • Am I Devoted to God?

    Posted on June 2, 2014 by Micca Campbell

    Micca

    "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." Psalm 73:25 (NIV)

    I long to be fully devoted to God, but it amazes me how far things can get out of line when I'm not paying attention.

    In weak moments, I can spend money on myself that I've saved to give away. I've sat halfway through a sitcom before realizing I'm laughing at things contrary to the will of God.

    Bad habits quickly gain the upper hand when I neglect to address them daily. Worse yet, a passion for self-indulgence can sometimes trump my devotion to God.

    Perhaps you can relate. If we aren't careful, it's easy to let worldly desires become obsessions, redirecting our love and devotion away from God.

    When I give more devotion to anything or anyone other than God, I'm being unfaithful. Why? Because I belong to God and He deserves my whole heart.

    Yet one of the most amazing things about our great God is no matter how unfaithful we are, God is never unfaithful to us. He is wholly devoted to His children, holding nothing back.

    Not love.

    Not forgiveness.

    Not mercy.

    Not provision, protection or His presence.

    Not even His Son.

    Our heavenly Father, by example, models devotion for us. Take another look. God is totally devoted to you. The question is, "Are you totally devoted to Him?"

    You already know my devotion isn't always what it should be. However, giving in to worldly passions isn't the only thing that exposes my lack of devotion. Holding back parts of myself from God is a sure sign of a divided heart.

    I tend to withhold my time, adoration, dedication, honesty and gratitude. Yet without full surrender on my part, I'll never become fully devoted to God. It's only when God means more to me than anything or anyone on earth that my heart will be fully devoted to Him alone. Then I can state our key verse with passion:

    "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you" (Psalm 73:25).

    Our key verse is attributed to a music director of King David named Asaph. And from this verse, it's obvious nothing meant more to him than God. Asaph knew God was far more excellent than any object on earth.

    God is our peace and joy. He is our salvation and security. He is our daily portion and strength. Nothing of earth's wealth, honor or fame comes close to God. Even in heaven there is nothing more superb than He. For that reason, Asaph proclaims, "earth has nothing I desire besides you."

    When you and I are able to say those very words and mean them, our devotion for God will shine. But that's not all. There are benefits to being fully devoted to God.

    A devoted heart draws near to God and experiences His presence throughout the day. A fully surrendered heart calls us to fellowship with Christ so that His power can equip us to carry out His plans. Devotion allows us to adore Him for who He is: a God who withholds nothing from His children.

    A love like that reminds me of the lyrics from an old hymn penned by Isaac Watts: "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."

    May the Holy Spirit stir our hearts until we can say, "There is nothing I desire besides you, Lord."

    Dear Lord, I'm so grateful for your immeasurable devotion to me. Work in me until I'm completely devoted to you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    2 Chronicles 16:9a, "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    A devoted heart is a surrendered heart.

    What keeps you from being fully devoted to God? Could it be worldly desires? Perhaps you're holding back a part of yourself. Identify what it is and write a prayer surrendering it to God today.

    © 2014 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Don't Miss the Ride of Your Life

    Posted on May 30, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah

    "Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (HCSB)

    I watched my family as they waited in line for the heart-pounding experience of riding the Griffon. We read about this roller coaster in the theme park brochure, but now it was time to put words into action.

    My sons kept looking back from the line, motioning for me to join them for the cliffhanger thrill ride. With a convincing smile, I shook my head no and pointed to my camera. My reason for not riding was to take pictures of them during each upside down loop and heart-pounding free fall.

    After their turn, my husband walked up with an exhilarating smile and said, "You missed out on an awesome ride!" As our sons shared the hair-raising moments and laughed about each other's reactions, I felt a twinge of sadness and disappointment.

    Truthfully, saying no to my family's request that day had more to do with fear and less to do with capturing family photos. I was afraid of the unknown, and when given the opportunity, I opted to stay safely away from the risk and inside the padded walls of my comfort zone.

    For years I was aware of this pattern in my life. When faced with adventurous opportunities, fear and uncertainty often held me securely within the boundaries of my comfortable space. Then I'd be disappointed that I missed out.

    I longed to be brave but instead allowed the enemy to convince me I was a coward. I dreamed about being adventurous, but compared myself to others, which left me feeling less than and discouraged.

    Then one day I came across Joshua 1:9 and the words resonated deep within me: "Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

    I'd read this verse many times before, but that time I realized being brave wasn't just a personal want-to in my life. God was commanding me to live strong and courageous.

    God originally spoke these words to Joshua (Moses' successor as leader of the Israelites) while presenting him with a new opportunity. Joshua's assignment was to lead more than two million people into a strange new land, claiming it as their promised territory.

    Now that's what I call a hair-raising experience! And way more difficult than riding a roller coaster at a theme park.

    God could have chosen someone else for this great task, but He specifically selected Joshua.

    First, there was a command: "be strong and courageous ... do not be afraid or discouraged." And it was wrapped inside a promise: "for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

    What if Joshua had allowed the unknown to keep him from saying yes to God? What if he gave insecurity and doubt permission to keep him firmly within his comfort zone?

    Joshua would have missed out on the blessings. He would have missed his calling in life. He would have missed the adventure with God.

    Is God presenting you with a new opportunity? Is He asking you to go back to school, start a new career or accept a new ministry position?

    Without God it can be scary. But with God it can be a great adventure! Just as God was with Joshua, He promises to be with us. We may not conquer nations, but with God by our sides anything is possible.

    I'm learning to be brave. To trust God more when He gives me new opportunities. I don't want to miss out on anything God has for me because of fear, doubt or insecurity.

    Will you choose to be courageous and step out of your comfort zone? Will you say yes to God and no to fear when He opens the next door of opportunity?

    What are you waiting for? The greatest ride of your life is just up ahead. So go get your seat next to God, strap into the safety of His presence and experience the adventure with Him!

    Dear Lord, You are my greatest adventure. Help me to trust and follow Your lead. When I start to feel afraid or discouraged, strengthen me so I can fulfill the assignments You've chosen for me. Thank You for always being with me wherever I go. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 32:8, "The LORD says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.'" (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What opportunity is God presenting to you today? What is keeping you from stepping outside your comfort zone and saying yes to God?

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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

  • Learn to Love Your Story

    Posted on May 29, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "I thank my God every time I remember you." Philippians 1:3 (NIV)

    This past winter, I stood in my kitchen laughing with one of my kids while picking hard macaroni out of the melted cheese in the crockpot. Apparently, noodles like to be boiled beforehand when making a slow cooker recipe for macaroni and cheese.

    About the time I posted an Instagram picture of the dinner fiasco, I heard another daughter upstairs yelling for towels.

    It took a minute for it to register why she was panicked. Then I saw the water leaking through my kitchen ceiling. Toilet water.

    I ran. No, I flew upstairs yelling, "Turn that silver knob thing behind the toilet. Quick! Turn it so the water will shut off!"

    Later that night, our couch-turned-dancing-springboard decided it would no longer tolerate overly energetic, snowed-in teens. RIP, dear couch.

    I'd laughed about the noodles. I'd dealt with the toilet water. I'd gotten quite miffed with the couch situation.

    Another day.

    Another page in what makes this life ... my life ... a story.

    Not so much like the stories of books and big screens.

    Those stories are a little shiner and seemingly perfect.

    Those moms probably don't have cellulite because they don't eat mac and cheese. Their kitchen ceilings don't have stains because ... well because their kids don't use too much two-ply toilet paper. And their couches don't sag beyond repair.

    But I love my story. I love my story most of all.

    Why? How?

    Because I pre-decided that I would.

    I decided I would look at it all through the lens of noticing the rich evidence of life through each mess and mishap.

    Did I do it all perfectly? Nope, not at all.

    But even if we choose to be noticers with thankful hearts just once today, we'll start to look at our stories in a different way.

    A more beautiful way.

    While carrying the wet towels downstairs, I saw a pile of my kids' shoes by the front door.

    I remembered our key verse, Philippians 1:3, where Paul says "I thank my God every time I remember you." I have plenty of reminders each day to thank God for the people in my life. To rejoice over every piece of my story. Starting with those shoes.

    So I whispered, "Notice. Be a noticer. See all the fun represented here and thank God for these moments."

    Noticers see the lovely in front of them and learn to love their story.

    What might happen if you pre-determined to look through the lens of lovely today?

    Dear Lord, thank You for this message today. Help me be a noticer with a thankful heart no matter how messy my life (or house!) may appear to be. I'm choosing to rejoice in the imperfect beauty of all of it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Thessalonians 5:18, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (ESV)

    Psalm 19:14, "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:

    Think about an aspect of your life that often seems disorganized, frustrating or chaotic to you. Then, think of how this frustrating thing could actually be a blessing.

    For example, the pile of shoes by Lysa's front door could have been the last straw for her on a day full of house malfunctions and hard situations with her kids. Instead, she chose to see the shoes as evidence of life and laughter in her home. Determine to find the beauty right there in the messy place!

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Getting Past the Pain of Change

    Posted on May 28, 2014 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn

    "After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light." Matthew 17:1-2 (NIV)

    I remember what it felt like to have my heart broken as a young woman. Even today, my heart feels a little pain trigger when I hear another has experienced the hurt of rejection.

    I remember the questioning: Why, God? Why not him? Why break up now?

    When God asked me to choose Him over him, my young heart obeyed, but not without a struggle. Lacking history with God, I hadn't yet experienced the blessings of obedience. So I obeyed and hoped God knew what He was doing.

    Through the breakups and broken hearts, God was moving me to a new place where He could reveal a side of Him I hadn't experienced. I had to move "out of love" with a boyfriend in order to move "in love" with Him.

    My deceived heart told me I was someone because I belonged to someone. God had a different message. He wanted to reposition me so I would know True Love.

    Jesus had to change my position to change my perspective.

    Out of His great love for me, Jesus didn't leave me in the position where I was completely dependent on another person for love. Instead, He moved me to what was a lonely place so He could change the way I saw love.

    It seems God often needs to change someone's position so they can see things in a fresh way. In today's key verse, Jesus had more to show three of the disciples, so He led them up a high mountain by themselves. A place away from others. A place not easily accessible. But a place where He would change their perspective. Here, before their very eyes Jesus' face shone like the sun, and they heard God speak: "This is my Son" (Matthew 17:5a, NIV).

    When the disciples had a change in their position, they experienced a change in their perspective on who Jesus was. It's possible their self-perspective changed as well.

    The breakup I went through as a young woman wasn't the only time God changed my position to change my perspective. Moves, job changes, places I have held in people's lives and people's hearts ... my position is constantly changing. Each change brings another opportunity for God to change my perspective. Like the disciples, I can see Him in new ways I haven't seen Him before: my Provider, my Healer, my True Love.

    Can you see an area where your position is changing? It may be in your responsibilities as a mom, a new job, at home or in your calling. In this new place, your loving Father wants to show you His perspective of who He is and what He wants to do in you and through you. Open your heart past the pain of change and ask God to change your perspective to see Him in this new place.

    Lord, often change is painful and what I want isn't always what's best for me. Soften my heart to see past this pain and to see Your heart toward me. Give me Your perspective. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Judges 6:23a, "But the LORD said to him, 'Peace! Do not be afraid.'" (NIV)

    Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:

    Where is your world changing and you wish it wouldn't? Do you have a godly friend who has gone through this type of change before? Ask her to share her story with you to encourage you.

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

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