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  • Jesus Calling

Proverbs 31

  • My Super-Sized Reactions are Hurtful

    Posted on October 25, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." Proverbs 17:9 (NIV)

    My teenage son took an extended mission trip this summer with a friend. It was the longest we'd been apart. By the time he returned home, my mama's heart was looking forward to spending time alone with him.

    I envisioned it all-he would have missed me and be overflowing with stories. We'd lounge on the couch, talking and laughing, going through his photographs.

    The night he returned we planned a welcome-home celebration with the family of his travel friend. Holding plates of chips and salsa, munching on tacos and sipping icy soda, the night was wonderful until I overheard my son making plans to work out the next day ... with the same friend he'd just spent two months with.

    The wise-mama in me, the one who'd worked hard to come to terms with her children wanting to be with their friends more than her sometimes, tried to keep me quiet.

    But the hurt-mama in me ignored that good advice as something prickly started growing in my heart. Trying to appear jovial but still wanting to make my point, I said, "I might not let you out of my sight ... ha, ha, ha." The potentially awkward moment was laughed off. At least I thought it was.

    Later my son kindly asked, "Mom, please don't make a big deal if I want to work out tomorrow, okay?"

    Knowing in my head he was right, I promised, "I won't." I gave him a tight squeeze before he headed to bed exhausted.

    Collapsing in a chair, weary from an emotionally tiring day, I should have been overflowing with gratefulness. However, the prickly response I'd felt earlier started to grow again.

    Based on one comment about working out, I started to build a case. Well, if he'd rather be with his friend, then I'll let him. I won't say anything. In fact, he can just go spend the entire day with his friend. I'm not going to ask him to spend any time with me, that's just what I'll do!

    Staring across the room, tears banked like an infinity pool, threatening to overflow. Hurt and indignation swirled for a few moments.

    Thankfully the wise-mama didn't completely abandon me. Before my wayward thoughts could go further, I recognized the need to get to the bottom of my super-sized response. For heavens sake, my son only wanted to work out. Why was I acting so out of sorts?

    Digging into my thoughts and emotions, I realized I was hurt because my son hadn't met my expectations for how his return would be. The simple truth was he hadn't worked out in two months. It had nothing to do with his feelings for me-yet my reaction selfishly made it about me.

    Then clear as could be, I "heard" God speak to my heart: Can you love someone who doesn't meet all your expectations?

    Pondering this question, I had to acknowledge the many times I don't meet the expectations of others. I'd certainly let God down many times, and I hadn't met my son's expectations that day either. So why was I expecting him to meet mine?

    My unfair expectations led me to an unfair interpretation of his motives, which led me to a potentially hurtful reaction. My desire was to love my son; my super-sized reaction would have sent an entirely different message.

    Proverbs 17:9 say, "Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." The only offense that day was made up in my mind. Yet the truth of this verse applied.

    The next day ushered in a fresh chance to react in a loving way. Having set aside unrealistic expectations, I was able to enjoy time with my son. And he was able to work out with his friend and come home to a much more gracious mama.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me in spite of the fact that I'm not perfect. You continually see the best in me. Help me to see the best in others and stop super-sizing my reactions. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do your feelings get hurt often by others? Dig into your thoughts and emotions to determine why.

    Can you love those who don't meet all your expectations?

    Power Verses:
    Colossians 3:13, "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (NIV)

    1 Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Will You Share Your Story?

    Posted on October 24, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

    Whenever I've stepped out to do something I felt God calling me to do, the voices of criticism and condemnation have been there to greet me. Early on in ministry the voices were loud and cruel. "You'll never be a speaker." "You are not wanted." "Look at you. Do you really think God could use someone like you?"

    Sometimes I measured myself against other people. "She's so clever. She's so educated. She's so connected. Who am I compared to all that?" Gradually, I shrank back. I pulled away. I put up a front of perfection with carefully crafted words and a house and kids that looked just right.

    Polished on the outside, yet completely undone on the inside.

    Eventually the Lord called my bluff. I was simultaneously going through the books Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and Victory Over the Darkness by Neil Anderson. Often tears streamed from my eyes while attempting to get through the lessons. But one day it was more than just tears. It was sobs pouring from a chest so heavy with burdens I thought I might literally break apart.

    Down on my face, I asked God to speak to me. What I heard in reply was one simple, life-changing question: Will you share your story?

    "Yes, I will share my story. The good parts that are safe and tidy and acceptable."

    But safe and tidy and acceptable were not what God was looking for. He wanted the impossible.

    Absolutely impossible ... in my strength.

    God met every one of my arguments with scriptures about relying not on my strength, but on His.

    He untangled my need for approval with the challenge to live for an audience of One. He helped me see where the voices of doubt were coming from and challenged me to consider the source. And, quite simply, God kept whispering He loved me over and over again.

    The first time I shared my story was an act of absolute obedience. I kept my head down and my guard up. I expected the ladies listening to stone me ... especially when I got to the part about my abortion. The shame of childhood abuse and rejection was nothing compared to the shame of my choice to abort my child.

    I'd wept over that choice.

    I'd repented.

    I'd gone to God hundreds of times and asked for forgiveness.

    I'd laid it down every time there was an altar call.

    But nothing brought the redemption that day brought. As I shook at that podium, I shared exactly what God asked me to.

    And then the miracle happened.

    When I finished and dared to look up, tear-stained faces were looking back at me. Mouths were whispering, "Me too. Me too."

    In that moment, I finally understood the meaning behind Genesis 50:20, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."

    Seeing God use the very thing that made me feel utterly worthless to help others changed everything. I was finally breaking free from Satan's chains of shame and could see his lies for what they were. In that moment, I felt victorious—not in my own power, but in the Lord's strength and ability to use all things for good.

    My saying yes to God gave others the courage to say yes to Him as well. Burdens were lifted. Lives were changed. Hidden secrets were touched by grace. It's a beautiful thing when women say yes to God. In what way is He calling you to say yes?

    Dear Lord, thank You for making the impossible, possible. Thank You for taking every event in my life and using it for good. You are worthy to be praised. I want to follow Your plan for my life. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What has God placed on your heart to share with others?

    Be intentional in encouraging someone with a compliment, positive note, or text message today. The Lord wants to use our words in our own lives, as well others'.

    Power Verse:
    Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (NIV)

    Taken from What Happens When Women Say Yes to God Devotional © Copyright 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. Published by Harvest House Publishers. Eugene, OR. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

    © 2013 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 Genesis

  • Sacrificial Love

    Posted on October 23, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samanatha Evilsizer

    "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." (Mark 10:21 ESV)

    I had some misplaced priorities. I suppose at some level I'd known it for some time. But I didn't fully recognize how misplaced they were until I took a trip to El Salvador with a Christian humanitarian organization.

    I met two children on a home visit. They lifted their tarp door and invited me into mud puddles and dirt walls with just one bed where their family of five rested at night. One bed for dreaming dreams of being a doctor and police officer.

    I'd come to offer gifts of detergent and food. But the children's gifts exceeded anything I had to give. A tiny beaded bracelet smudged with dirt, drenched in love. They wanted it to be mine. They filled my hands with selfless love. Love shared in smiles and what few tangible gifts they owned.

    Feeling too shy to hand me the bracelet herself, the girl nudged her brother. He presented it to me as if it were a royal crown and slid it gently on my wrist. I declare, diamonds couldn't match the worth of their hearts, their gift in that moment.

    The next morning as I was getting dressed, I felt a nudge. Give your bracelet away like those children gave theirs to you.

    You see, I had another precious bracelet with me. It was one my dad had given me over twenty years ago. Just a simple wooden bracelet from South Africa, but it meant the world to me.

    How could I part with it? I wrestled with indecision. My heart soared, anticipating the moment I'd spot a mama to whom I would give my bracelet. Then my heart sank, anxious at the thought of giving up one of my treasures.

    And there lay the problem. My misplaced treasure.

    I'm embarrassed ... heartbroken. I'm sad to say I couldn't give it away. Couldn't? No; more like I wouldn't. Both bracelets journeyed back home with me. One bearing selflessness; the other, selfishness.

    I thought I was really something, bringing gifts to those kids in the form of beans and rice. Little did I know, I was the one in need. I needed God's mercy. I needed a new perspective. I don't want possessions if I'm not willing to use them to love others.

    I needed the one thing I lacked ... more love for the Lord than for my possessions. My heart held tighter to my bracelet than it did to what God had asked me to do. He beckoned, "Give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." A simple request, yet so difficult to follow.

    I don't want to be lacking in love for the Lord or those He cares for. Next time I'm giving it all. I'm starting by opening my hands and heart and looking for opportunities today. Are you with me?

    Dear Lord, You are the perfect example of giving. Thank You for new mercies, second chances, and a heart capable of responding to Your prompting. Help me to respond to Your prompting this day. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember
    You need more love for the Lord than for your possessions.

    Reflect
    You can choose each day to bear selflessness or selfishness. Why is it sometimes easier to hold more tightly to earthy possessions?

    Respond
    Set up a time to volunteer with those who have less than you to help gain perspective on what's important.

    Power Verses
    Matthew 6:20; 1 Timothy 6:18-19

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

    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 Mark

  • Turn the Light On

    Posted on October 22, 2013 by Ann Spangler

    Ann Spangler

    "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn." Isaiah 60:1-3 (NIV)

    If you are a news junkie like me, you're aware of all the bad news in the world. Or maybe hard things have come your way. Either way, most of us can resonate with how the prophet Isaiah colors the earth in Isaiah 60:1-3.

    Rather than using stunning blues and greens to describe our world, Isaiah speaks of Earth's spiritual atmosphere in other terms. He says, "See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples . . ." (vs. 2a)

    Not long ago, I received a touching email. "The death of children overseas and the senseless murder of people at their place of work, have been pockmarking and spray painting over what I knew to be true of God." The young woman who wrote me went on to explain that these things and more had been "defacing the image of Christ I have in my heart."

    I was struck by the imagery she used. It made me wonder what had been marring my own view of God. In the midst of difficulties both near and far, how can I hold onto an image of God that highlights His power and goodness? So many questions come in the midst of darkness. "Why doesn't God do something?" "Why is there so much evil in the world?" And more personally, "Why doesn't God help me?"

    Isaiah didn't offer answers to these questions. Instead, he listened for God's voice and then spoke the word God gave him. He painted a picture of an earth covered in thick darkness, yet he also spoke of a light so strong it would pierce the darkness. "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you." (vs. 1).

    He spoke not so much of a happy present, but of a blessed future. Though he didn't know Jesus' name, the prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of Jesus approximately 700 years before His birth. Jesus is our answer when we wonder where God is. He's the light that dispels the darkness and shows us God's great love.

    Like Isaiah and the people he spoke to, we sometimes feel mired in gloom. There is so much darkness in the world. Fortunately, we are not left alone to stumble in the darkness. We have been given Jesus, the light by which we filter life's hardships.

    Today, let's take a few moments to move our focus from the world's problems to God. As we do, let's ask Jesus, to give us a deeper vision of who He is, praying that His character will shine like a light through us. Let's also ask for His help in seeing tragedies and bad news through His eyes, trusting that He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

    As you pray, remember that darkness is nothing but the absence of light. It's a negative—a nothing. As soon as you flip the switch, the darkness vanishes. Today, ask God to turn the light on in you, so that others will see His power and come to know His goodness.

    Lord, I need a deeper vision of who You are. As I seek You, please draw me close and fill me with Your presence. Then turn the light on in me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think about the media you expose yourself to each day. How do you feel after you listen, read, watch?

    What is one thing you could do today that would add more light to your life? Consider adding something positive to your life like more time for prayer, Scripture reading, or service.

    Power Verse:
    John 1:4-5, "In him [Christ] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (NIV)

    Daniel 12:3, "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Ann Spangler. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Tyndale 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 Isaiah

  • Battle in the Night

    Posted on October 21, 2013 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn Cowell

    "By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life." (Psalm 42:8 NIV)

    How could this have happened? What could I have done to stop it?

    One of my kids had made a decision that sent my emotions into a tailspin and another sleepless night was upon me; my mind wouldn't shut off. During the day I had managed to focus on God's promise to make all things work together for good. But as day faded into night, the struggle to trust became more than I could take.

    Many nights as I lie in bed, my mind pulls me into a downward spiral of focusing on my troubles. It's then and there that the battle is most intense. A war wages between my faith and fears.

    What if my loved one never knows Jesus?
    Will my kids make the right choices with their peers?
    What can I do for my friend who struggles with cancer?

    Even though my body is still, my thoughts are at war.

    Do you struggle in the quiet of the night? Maybe you have thoughts like these ... Nobody else has troubles. Other people are just enjoying their lives. Why is mine so hard? The battles we face are real, and rob us of joy as well as sleep.

    This is why I love King David's encouraging words in Psalm 42. During the day he allowed the Lord's love to direct him. Knowing he was loved gave him the strength to make the hard choices that were the best choices. At night he put away all the words and hard thinking and devoted himself to praising God.

    I want to do the same. When the lights are turned out, I want to choose a song of praise, arming myself with truth and worship for the only One who can carry and fix my troubles. When my mind tries to take a turn and go around that problem one more time, I want to make the choice to stop and sing (even if only in my head).

    I gave this a try the other night while stewing over my worries. It reminded me of a sign my mom has in her home: "Give me all your troubles before you go to bed. I'm going to be up anyway."—God

    Pick a song you can sing at night when trouble comes knocking and worry wants to run rampant in your heart and mind. Make your prayer a song to God and choose a song of praise to sing to Him all day long—from sunrise to late in the evening. Watch your heart go from fear to faith as you trust in the Lord.

    Dear Lord, I feel stronger in the day than in the night. Bring to mind a song of praise I can sing that will lift my thoughts and strengthen my faith in you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember
    When you are tired and quiet at night, you can be more susceptible to runaway emotions. You can guard your heart from fear by singing praises to your King as your mind and body find their rest.

    Reflect
    Think about what song you would choose as your song of praise.

    Respond
    Write Psalm 42:8 down, and put it next to your bed to remind you to look to the Lord as you go to sleep.

    Power Verses
    Psalm 94:18–19; Exodus 15:2

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

    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

  • Give What You Need

    Posted on October 18, 2013 by Nicki Koziarz

    Nicki Koziarz

    "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38 (NIV 1984)

    Last week we were out of milk, so I headed to the store with my party of five.

    Even though we were in a time crunch, I wanted to make the most of our trip and pick up a few other things. Our family divided up—my husband went to the row of toilet paper, our oldest daughter walked off to get bread, our middle daughter headed out for fruit, and the youngest one, Kennedy Grace, trekked to the milk fridge with me.

    Everyone quickly got what they needed and met back at the register—except my husband. At the self-checkout with my three girls, I scanned our items thinking Kris would be there any second. But he wasn't. As the line behind me quickly grew long and impatient, I wondered if I should cancel my order and step out of line.

    But time was short and we were already running late. So in this unnerving moment, I instructed my youngest daughter to run and get the toilet paper from her daddy. She took off, found my husband, and secured the rolls under her arm. But, on her way back to the self-checkout, a sparkly cereal display distracted her.

    In a calm, yet firm voice, I made sure my daughter heard me. "Kennedy Grace, come here right now please."

    Now, she figured the fastest way to get that toilet paper to me was to slide it down the aisle. Without hesitation, she whooshed the package right to me.

    The people standing behind me thought my daughter's idea was quite amusing. Everyone except one woman.

    As Kennedy Grace giggled, jumped and bounced her way to the register, I knew this wasn't the time or place to have a teachable moment, so I just muttered quietly for her to calm down.

    That one woman, feeling it was a good time to teach my daughter a lesson, said to me, "Well, isn't she something?"

    I didn't want to get into a hot confrontational mess, so I ignored her and bagged my items.

    But then she asked Kennedy Grace, "Why are you acting up so much?"

    Kennedy replied, "I'm just tired."

    And then the woman responded with a statement no stressed-out-momma needs to hear, "Well maybe your mom should put you to bed earlier."

    What did she just say? Unh-huh. I gulped and took a deep breath, ready to blurt out something sassy.

    But in the midst of this chaos, in the midst of this tension, I felt the presence of God hold me back with this thought, give her what you need most.

    Say what, God? I need to give this woman a piece of my mind, is what my soul screamed.

    But it was true. I need a lot of grace these days. Grace. Grace. Grace.

    So, I said nothing. I extended grace. I smiled, grabbed Kennedy's hand and walked out of the grocery store, challenged by the thought of Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

    I make a lot of mistakes. I forget about important things. And I too have judged stressed-out mommas in the grocery store with misbehaving children. But Scripture tells us that when we give to others what we need, something very freeing happens: We receive what we need too.

    When we offer emotional generosity to others, we create the atmosphere for God to do something powerful in us and through us. I don't always want to give others what I need. My initial reaction is often to give others what I think they deserve.

    A quick comeback.
    A nasty look.
    An unforgiving heart.

    But none of these things have ever brought me anything I needed.

    As I continue to live this verse in Luke out, I'm focusing on other's needs and reacting based on them, not myself.

    But next time we need milk, I'm going to the grocery store, alone.

    Jesus, help me give to others the things I need. Make me emotionally generous and able to bless in the midst of a conflicting mess. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Write down three things your soul needs. Is it joy? Hope? Love? Friendship?

    Ask God for the opportunity to give it away and see what happens.

    Power Verse:
    Philippians 1:27, "Whatever happens conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Nicki Koziarz. 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 Luke

  • Words

    Posted on October 17, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness." James 3:9 (NIV)

    One day, two of my kids were having a growth opportunity, which is our family's way of saying "fight."

    These two kids love each other, but didn't like each other very much in the heat of the moment. I pulled out my proverbial soap box, got my hand positioned just right on my hip, and told these two young teens to look outside the window of our home. I told them that outside our home a world of people exist who may or may not be nice to us. There are no guarantees.

    "But, inside this house," I continued as I turned them toward one another, "there are certain guarantees. Since the day I birthed you, I have preached one sermon about the words spoken in our home. It is a simple sermon. Before you part your lips to speak, you must ask yourself this question: Are my words kind, necessary, and true?"

    "If the answer to all three parts of that question is yes . . . proceed ahead."

    "If the answer to any part of that question is no . . . stop the words from coming out."

    Does that mean there is no room to address hard issues with one another? No. But in our home, it will always be done with a spirit of kindness using only words that are necessary and true.

    I then ushered these precious teens outside to a bench in the front yard and instructed them to figure out their issues. But they were not going to bring words into our house unless they were kind, necessary, and true. Thank you very much. Have a nice time on this warm little bench on this warm little day.

    There are some verses in the book of James I'm considering writing on the palm of my hand. Think of how handy it would be just to flash my palm up in the midst of my people's growth opportunities with this verse in bold ink: "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be" (James 3 9-10 NIV).

    That same chapter of James goes on to read, "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice" (verse 16 NIV).

    Have mercy. I do not want disorder and every evil practice to be invited into my home. And if envy and selfish ambition (which are where ugly words come from) are the key that opens the door for all that evil mess, then I will do everything with the power of Jesus in me to tame tongues.

    And all my Jesus girlfriends said, Amen!

    Dear Lord, help me to know how to teach my children how to be more like You. Help me to model You in my actions, my reactions, and in every word I say. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Take a moment to think about the words spoken in your home. Are they laced with tones of harshness? Bitterness? Envy? What can you do today to begin to improve these words and tones?

    Power Verses:
    Philippians 2:5, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." (NIV 1984)

    Philippians 1:9-10, "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ." (NIV)

    © 2013 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 James

  • "Harmless" Little Lies?

    Posted on October 16, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." (Luke 16:10 NIV)

    My job was overwhelming, yet I was desperate to appear competent. As a young college graduate, I was grateful for the position. But over time, both the company and my work level grew to the point where I was drowning. And, as I fell further behind, I began to give misleading responses to my boss.

    My employer was very hands-on and often called me into her office for an update on my projects. I dreaded those meetings, knowing she'd be displeased with my lack of progress. And that is when the lies started: "Yes, that project is coming along nicely." "I'm almost finished." "Just waiting for a few more pieces of information."

    After our meetings, I'd rush back to my desk and frantically try to make my progress match the inaccurate response I'd just given. Over time, the lies and truth became jumbled. I'd crossed a line of personal integrity that nagged at the edges of my conscience, but not enough to make a change. Until one day my boss gave me another request: to lie for her.

    She hadn't gotten something done, and asked me to lie to someone else. This wasn't right. She hadn't even started the project. And now I was supposed to cover for her? It was as if God made me do a 180 and stare at the line of integrity I had already crossed.

    I'd compromised my character one half-truth, one excuse, one rationalization at a time. But no more. I had some decisions to make. Would integrity be a mask I put on at church and took off at work? Was my career more important than my character?

    Those were heavy questions for a young woman. But they were necessary. God used this situation to help shape the person He wanted me to be.

    Knowing I could lose my job, with humility and respect I told my boss I couldn't, no I wouldn't, lie for her. Amazingly, she didn't fire me. With a huff and a sigh, she accepted my decision.

    While I wasn't up to confessing all my lies to her, I did confess them to God. And I made a commitment that day to honesty, no matter how personally difficult it was.

    God cares about what may seem like harmless little lies: "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much" (Luke 16:10).

    God was watching me then, and He's watching me now. Which is why every word I speak is important. Choosing truth is hard, especially when it reveals a weakness. Yet with God's help, I'm making progress to become the woman of integrity He's called me to be.

    Dear Lord, You are the source of all truth. Forgive me for the times I've been deceptive in order to manipulate the opinions of others. I want to be a woman who is filled with Your truth. Help me to uncover whatever stands in the way of becoming that woman. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember
    Choosing to live without a shadow of dishonesty will establish you as a trustworthy woman before God and others.

    Reflect
    Is there an area of your life where you are less than 100 percent honest? If so, confess that to God in prayer. What little decisions of integrity can you make to help strengthen your character?

    Respond
    Keep a pad of paper and pen with you today and make a tick-mark every time you are not 100 percent honest. Confess these instances to the Lord at the end of the day, and ask Him to use this exercise as a reminder to always strive to speak the truth (in love).

    Power Verses
    2 Corinthians 8:21; 1 Peter 2:12

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

    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 Luke, Lying

  • Where Can I Find JOY?

    Posted on October 15, 2013 by Wendy Blight

    Wendy Blight

    "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." James 1:2 (NLT)

    My daughter's journey with scoliosis was a heart-breaking time for me as a mother. There were days I couldn't see past Lauren's extreme physical pain and my wondering heart questioned, why hasn't God healed her yet?

    Through those years, I struggled. I felt empty ... void of hope ... void of joy. I knew what God's Word said about joy: "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy" (James 1:2 NLT). But in the midst of Lauren's circumstances, her broken heart and wounded body, it was hard to follow that command.

    How could I obey this scripture and find joy when someone I loved was in such pain? God graciously answered the cry of my heart by revealing to me these three words ... Jesus Only You.

    I noticed the first letter of each of those words spelled J O Y. And it clicked with me. Jesus is our joy!

    When God says in James 1:2 to consider trials as opportunities for joy, He's not talking about the joy found in earthly things. Circumstances turning out how we desire, possessions and positions, and even good health only offer happiness. They are temporary. What God longs for us to have is deep, lasting joy found in Jesus.

    The King James Version says we are to "count it all joy" when we walk through trials. This word "count" means "evaluate."

    When trials come, we must evaluate them in light of God's truths and promises. It's not the trial itself we consider a joy. Rather, it's the results that will come from the trial that we consider pure joy.

    This involves trusting that God is actively working for our good even in the midst of painful circumstances. And as we trust Him, we will find an inner gladness rooted not in our circumstances, but in the reality of the living God who transcends our circumstances.

    After years of praying, asking God to heal my daughter, He did. It still hurts to remember the excruciating pain Lauren suffered. But God was and is faithful. God didn't heal my girl in the miraculous way I was expecting. Instead, she endured a seven-hour surgery to place two rods in her spine. She missed nearly six weeks of school and labored through months of relearning how to sit and walk and move. She had to quit competitive cheerleading. But in and through that time, God did a new thing.

    Looking back, I can see how He held us up, deepened Lauren's faith, and drew our family closer to each other. In real and personal ways, God showed us His tender, loving care. And He taught me the meaning of true J O Y.

    Jesus alone is the source of our joy.

    When discouragement comes and you feel you cannot take one more step, remember these three words, Jesus Only You!

    Jesus came so that I . . . so that you . . . can experience His joy fully and completely in us through any and all circumstances.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus. Thank You for the joy that is ours in Him. Every time our thoughts turn to our hurt, cause our pain to bring us back to J O Y . . . Jesus Only You. We ask this in the Name of Jesus, amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What does it mean to be filled with the joy of the Lord?

    What keeps you from receiving the fullness of His Joy? Memorize and personalize James 1:2 so that you can recall it the next time you walk through a difficult trial and feel the absence of joy.

    Power Verses:
    Galatians 5:22, "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness." (NLT)

    Nehemiah 8:10b, " Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Wendy Blight. 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 James

  • In the Midst of Dirty Dishes

    Posted on October 14, 2013 by Sharon Glasgow

    Sharon Glasgow

    "Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: ... whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 4:9–11 ESV)

    She and her husband had been missionaries for over sixty years and led countless people to Christ. Now she was in her eighties and still serving. My friend Sheli and I were honored to stay with her for a week to minister alongside her.

    After traveling thirty hours to her home in Takamatsu, Japan, we arrived late in the evening. She ushered us into her kitchen for a hearty meal, then prayed for us before we all went to bed. When the sun was barely up the next morning, we feasted on an enormous breakfast in her tiny kitchen.

    The kitchen was crowded, her appliances old and worn, dishes piled high in the sink from her lavish food preparation—yet the atmosphere felt entirely like home. As she and her husband read Scripture and encouraged us, tears welled up in my eyes, the love of Christ enveloped us; it overwhelmed me.

    Immediately after breakfast, she began cooking again, this time for 100 women. She'd rented a banquet hall and invited friends, telling them an American would be speaking and there would be food. We cooked, set up tables for the luncheon, and then I was ushered to the front to speak. Her objective in hosting the event was to build a bridge in hopes that those who came for lunch would come back again for church on Sunday. Many did!

    While driving home after the lunch, she told me she'd invited a large group to the house for dinner that night. I couldn't imagine how we could clean up the mess we'd left behind and simultaneously prepare another meal. How would we get it all done? She didn't seem concerned. Instead, she was fueled by the energy of what the Lord had done at the luncheon.

    There have been times I've worried more about my kitchen than how I can serve others. I fret over the size and messiness. But I was inspired as I watched this woman who had no concerns about the dirty pots in her sink. She didn't let an unswept floor keep her from ministering. She set the table beautifully and welcomed her guests. She and her husband prayed and read Scripture. Hearts melted.

    Years have passed since that week in Japan and I think of her whenever I have company. Over the course of her life, she has ministered to thousands in her home, and many have come to know Jesus there. Her ministry has nothing to do with a spotless kitchen. In fact, her kitchen was a mess. But whenever God opens a window of opportunity, she seizes it.

    I want my service to be like that described by the apostle Peter, grounded "in the strength that God supplies." I want to long for people to know Jesus more than I long for the perfect kitchen.

    God cares more about what's happening among the people in our kitchen than He cares about the state of it. My missionary friend taught me that it is possible to share God's love, demonstrate His character, and offer hospitality, even in the midst of dirty dishes.

    Dear Lord, show me ways to serve through the resources You've given me. Help me care more about people than things like dirty dishes. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember
    Your kitchen is a perfect place to show hospitality. Don't wait for it to be perfect to invite guests. God will supply the ability you need to minister in your kitchen, and He will be glorified.

    Reflect
    Would you be willing to invite people to stay for dinner if they dropped by unannounced—even if your kitchen were a mess? Why or why not?

    Respond
    Can you think of a one person, family, or neighbor who doesn't know Jesus that you could invite for dinner? Make a call and get it on the calendar.

    Power Verses
    Proverbs 31:15; Proverbs 31:25–27

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

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


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

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