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Family Christian

  • Unshakable Confidence

    Posted on August 29, 2014 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn Cowell

    "Mary responded, 'I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true.' And then the angel left her." Luke 1:38 (NLT)

    Lord, I'm not sure I can take one more rejection.

    No. No. No. Every email I received said the same thing, using different words. We don't publish that type of book. We don't publish writers we don't know. We won't publish you.

    Letting each rejection seep into my heart, many days I crawled into bed and cried. Why would God ask me to do something good, yet allow a process that made me feel so bad?

    But then I remembered Mary, who was much wiser than I. Her story is found in the Bible. Instead of building her confidence on something she could lose, or have taken away, she built her confidence on God.

    Picture this teenager. She's engaged to a great guy. Wedding plans are in motion. Life is good.

    Then suddenly, her happily-ever-after dreams are interrupted by an angel announcing this surprise:

    "Good morning! You're beautiful with God's beauty, Beautiful inside and out!
    God be with you"
    (Luke 1:28, MSG).

    Flattered? Nope. She was scared! However, the angel assures her, "You have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus" (v. 29-33).

    My reaction would have been, What? Pregnant? I'm not married yet! There's no way!

    But when Mary received this news, we don't see fear or doubt. Her response isn't, "This will be the end of me! What will everyone say about me?"

    Mary doesn't ditch her confidence. Instead, as we find in today's key verse, her reaction is grounded in faith: "I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true" (Luke 1:38a).

    Mary responded with confidence because Mary's confidence began with her relationship with God.

    Not on something, like her reputation. That was outside her control.

    Not on someone, like Joseph. For all she knew, he would leave her once he learned she was pregnant.

    Not on some place, like her home. Mary actually left town to visit her cousin after she received this news.

    Did Mary understand everything God was doing? Unlikely. Or resent what He was doing? Doesn't appear so.

    Would others judge her? No doubt they would, but Mary did not allow people's opinions to prevent her from embracing God's calling, even if she didn't completely understand it. The lack of details didn't impact her confidence in His plans for her life, nor her trust in Him to take care of her.

    There have been times when I've based my confidence on others. As a teenager, I based it on a boyfriend's affection, a coach's affirmation or my parent's approval. If one of them failed to give the "Atta girl!" I craved, I saw myself as a failure.

    As a mom, I've built it on my kids and their performance. When they made a mistake, my confidence was shaken. I've based my security on my career and the success I wanted. Success hasn't always come, although rejection often has.

    Has there been a time when circumstances were less than perfect and your confidence was shaken?

    I'm learning that unshakable confidence is not built on someone, something or someplace, but on our unshakable God. This confidence is built over time, before confidence-shaking circumstances come. In the difficult times, God has taught me He alone is my firm foundation for rebuilding confidence. Only Him.

    As we face inevitable uncertainties in life, in our relationships, in our futures, let's start to rebuild our confidence on the One that can never be taken away: God. The only One who will never leave us or forsake us.

    Lord, it's easier to build my confidence on what I can see and what I know. Help me to build my confidence on You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Hebrews 10:35-36, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What have you been building your confidence on? Is it something you could lose or have taken from you?

    How can you begin to make a shift and build your confidence on God — His faithfulness and love for you?

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31

  • The Thrill of an Unrushed Yes

    Posted on August 28, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa Terkeurst

    "...all our busy rushing ends in nothing." Psalm 39:6 (NLT)

    Recently, my husband and I got into an argument right before we were about to head out the door to go on a date. In the heat of the moment, he announced the date was off.

    He no longer wanted to go. And honestly, I didn't either.

    I wanted to go sit in a coffee shop by myself and make a mental list of all the reasons I was right. All the reasons he was wrong. And justify my perspective.

    But it's at this exact moment of resistance an unraveling can begin.

    Oh, the unraveling. It can happen so suddenly and with such tragic consequences.

    Once, I had a favorite sweater I loved wearing. It wasn't too bulky but was still warm and cozy. The only problem was the threads were so loosely woven it snagged on things.

    I was always mindful of the delicate nature of this sweater when I wore it so I could protect it, make it last, and enjoy wearing it time and again.

    Until one day I was in a hurry. I grabbed some things I needed for a meeting and rushed to my car. I tossed all my stuff over to the passenger seat, including a spiral notebook. This spiral notebook had a metal-binding wire that unbeknownst to me caught on my sleeve. As I pulled my arm toward the steering wheel, the notebook came with it and pulled a huge snag in my sweater.

    I unhooked myself and assessed the damage.

    What I should have done was taken the sweater off, put something else on, and later taken the time to repair the snag the correct way. But in the rush, I made the tragic decision to do what seemed easiest in the moment. I snipped the loose threads and hoped for the best. That tragic decision started an unraveling process that ended the life of my beautiful sweater.

    Which brings me back to date night.

    Doing what seems easy in the moment often isn't what's best for the long term. So, I pushed for us to still go on our date.

    It wasn't fun. It wasn't easy. There were tears and awkward stretches of silence. But we pushed through the resistance we both felt and eventually talked.

    Talked through the snags. The pulls. The things that threatened to unravel us.

    There is a delicate nature to marriage. Honestly, there's a delicate nature to all relationships. It's so easy to forget that. It's so easy to take it all for granted and stop being careful. Stop being mindful. Stop being protective. Stop and embrace the unrushed yes of investing in those we love.

    Psalm 39:6 wisely reminds us that "all our busy rushing ends in nothing."

    Yes, the unraveling can happen so quickly when we refuse to push the pause button.

    My unrushed yes was the best yes for that day. There were eventual apologies and conversations that repaired the snags the right way — tying a knot and tucking it back into the weave of our relationship fabric.

    Conversational threads are what make up the fabric of relationships. We must take time — make time — to talk.

    Where do we find this unrushed yes? We make it. We make time for relationships by thinking about them when scheduling our lives. Like Louie Giglio said, "Whenever you say yes to something, there is less of you for something else. Make sure your yes is worth the less."

    I don't want my relationships to constantly get my less. And I'm sure you don't either. So let's get intentional about leaving enough unscheduled times on our calendars for relationship moments to happen.

    Let's leave space and look for opportunities to give relationships our best yes.

    Dear Lord, unrush me today. I want to pause and embrace the unrushed yes of investing in the people I love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Colossians 3: 12-14, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Think of a relationship in your life that needs your attention. Decide to give an unrushed yes to investing in that person today. It will be the best yes of your day.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • How to Live an Invitation

    Posted on August 27, 2014 by Amy Carroll

    Amy Carroll

    "The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God." Leviticus 19:34 (NIV)

    Walking into the building, I kept my head down and peered around the room from under my lashes. The butterflies in my stomach took flight as I assessed the unfamiliar surroundings. The room was filled with strangers and mysterious equipment, making my hands slick and my heart pound.

    I was a foreigner in a new land: the gym.

    You might laugh, but have you ever had similar feelings in a new situation? Even though I'm seasoned in many settings, the first time I visited my gym, I remembered the feelings of being the outsider. The newbie who doesn't know the culture, secrets to fitting in or how things work.

    Being a "foreigner" is uncomfortable, but when we pass that stage and become a "native," it's easy to forget those feelings and become oblivious to the needs and feelings of a newcomer.

    Even though I'm fully integrated into my church family, that first foray into the gym brought flashbacks of visiting churches after our move. I remembered the discomfort of walking into rooms full of people I didn't know, wondering if anyone would speak to me. It was difficult to navigate unfamiliar surroundings, trying to pick up on the unique vibe and vocabulary of each place.

    Those were the days when my "house" hadn't achieved the status of "home." I walked my neighborhood and wondered about the people behind the doors. Would I be accepted here? Maybe even loved? In those early months, every place and every interaction held the starchy, scratchy newness of jeans just off the shelf. How I ached for the warm softness of the worn and familiar.

    On the day my new neighbor Nikki visited and brought a pie, things began to shift. Her children were the same age as mine, and as they ran off to play, Nikki's kindness and happy smile opened a door into a new place of belonging. Even before I earned "native" status, she treated me as a friend. Nikki lived the powerful truth in our key verse: "The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born" (Leviticus 19:34a).

    God created us for expanding community, and He calls us to live a life of welcome.

    When we remember our days as a newcomer, our time as "foreigners in Egypt," we can live life with one hand joined and the other open. One hand holds the hand of the precious community God gives us — neighbors, family, friends, and brothers and sisters in faith — while keeping the other hand free to draw newcomers into the circle.

    The hand joined to our community keeps us close and connected. It's where we commit to live our truest self, working through the messiness that inevitably arises with close living. It's the people we eat with, pray with, play with and love. When we have the blessing of a tight-knit group, sometimes it's easiest to close the circle, joining both hands with those we know well. But God asks us to keep one hand free, always looking for one more new friend to draw into the loop.

    My awkward first visit to the gym lifted my eyes from my everyday busyness and engagement with my well-established loved ones. Now I'm trying to be a walking invitation to the "foreigners" around me. "Come join us!" my heart cries.

    Let's go with a heart of invitation to work, school, church, the neighborhood party ... and maybe, even the gym.

    God, help me shake the complacency of being a "native." Lift my eyes to see people around me who are new and in need of my kindness. Show me how to reach out to others in love to draw them into my circle, living a life of invitation. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Colossians 3:10-11, "Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ." (MSG)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Is there someone new in your neighborhood, workplace or church who needs to feel welcomed?

    Pray and watch for a way to reach out and make them feel included. Follow through one day this week, then savor the joy of bringing encouragement to someone else.

    © 2014 by Amy Carroll. 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 Leviticus

  • That Sneaking Feeling You're Being Watched

    Posted on August 26, 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort

    Alicia Bruxvoort

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

    Last summer, my salsa jar sprouted eyes.

    The googly kind, of course. So did my milk jug, tissue boxes, egg carton and toothpaste tubes.

    Don't worry, those wobbly watchers didn't leave me frightened or flabbergasted. After all, the strange surveillance gig was my idea.

    I'm the one who dug through a box of craft supplies early one morning and located a stash of googly eyes. I'm the one who snuck through the house with a glue gun and attached those wobbly watchers to anything I could find.

    I didn't add a pair of eyes to the salsa jar because I wanted to play a prank on my family or because I had too much time on my hands at 6 a.m. No, I raided the plastic peepers because I was tired of forgetting.

    I was tired of reading my Bible in the morning and going about my day as if God's promises had no impact on my hours. I was tired of forgetting that God's Word is active and alive (Hebrews 4:12). I was tired of relying on my own strength, instead of banking on His.

    So, when I read about God's eyes roaming the earth searching for hearts to strengthen, I wanted to remember that glorious truth. I needed to pin that promise to my soul and let it shine hope in the midst of my weariness.

    That's why my salsa jar sprouted eyes.

    The gospel is radical and ridiculous in the most marvelous of ways, and I never want to forget that. The truth of 2 Chronicles 16:9a is audacious if you think about it. "The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth ..." Wow.

    We live wrapped in the warmth of God's gaze.

    We are watched by the King of Glory.

    We are strengthened by the Author of Life.

    Even when we fail to fix our sight on Him, God's eyes are fixed on us. And remembering that truth could change everything.

    If God sees us, then we're not invisible.

    If God sees us, then we're not invaluable.

    If God sees us, then we're not unknown.

    Those eyes aren't waiting to see us stumble. Those eyes are scanning this swiveling globe because the Creator of the galaxies wants to create something new in you and in me.

    He wants to infuse our tired legs with vigor.

    He wants to replace our whimpers with wonder.

    He wants to trade our powerlessness for His power.

    I need that truth when the kids are fighting and the bread is burning and my energy is waning fast. I need that promise when my plans have flopped and my feelings have been hurt and my intentions have been misunderstood.

    If God sees me, I am not forgotten.

    Eventually I threw out the sneaky-peaky salsa jar and the peeping peanut butter. I recycled the spying soap bottle and the gazing graham crackers, and my kids relegated our strange summer under surveillance as just another one of their mama's crazy ideas.

    But this morning, when I awoke feeling sapped and discouraged, I opened my Bible to Psalm 33:18 and wondered if I should go find my glue gun once again: "But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love" (NIV).

    After all, it never hurts to be reminded that I'm being watched.

    Dear Jesus, Help me remember that You long to give me strength when I am weak. Grow in me a heart that is fully committed to You, and fix my mind on Your wondrous promises today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 34:15, "The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry." (NIV)

    Proverbs 15:3, "The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How does knowing God wants to strengthen you, change the way you can approach a specific challenge in your life right now?

    Choose one of the verses listed in today's devotion and share it with a friend who is battling discouragement or weariness. Consider delivering the good news with googly eyes!

    © 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 2 Chronicles

  • Goodbye Shame and Regret; Hello Freedom and Purpose

    Posted on August 25, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2 (NIV)

    We had been warned to pack lightly, but learned that was easier said than done.

    Departure day for our much-anticipated family vacation finally arrived, and we packed everything we needed, plus some. Over-packing resulted in a few pieces of luggage surpassing the weight limit.

    We opened our suitcases, repositioned some items and discarded others. After a lot of shuffling, all the bags met the maximum-allowed weight and we completed our check-in.

    After a great vacation, we lugged all our heavy bags back to the airport. I found myself once again wishing I had packed lighter. Most of what we had brought was unnecessary weight. The load was burdensome and prevented us from being able to freely move around and enjoy the remaining hours of togetherness.

    As I sat at the gate waiting to board, resting from all the heavy bag toting, I remembered an earlier time in my life. Extra baggage in my heart from shame and regret paralyzed me with its weight. Mistakes and sins of my past kept me from experiencing the freedom to live joyfully as God intended.

    My fondest memory is the day I unpacked all that emotional baggage and surrendered it to God, embracing for the very first time the life of joy and purpose God had for me.

    In today's key verse, Paul expresses a similar joy in knowing there is no condemnation in Christ. Before choosing to follow Jesus, Paul had persecuted and killed Christians. That's a lot of heavy baggage to carry. So it's even more compelling to read why he is passionate about God not condemning us.

    In the chapter right before our key verse, Romans chapter 7, Paul acknowledges he is unspiritual, that he'd broken God's laws and was a slave to sin. He also mentions he behaved in ways he despised, and didn't do the things he knew he should. Paul was fully aware he was a sinner who had made wrong choices. He was also fully aware that Jesus loved him, died for him and had a purpose for him, nonetheless.

    Paul intentionally chose not to allow shame or regret to keep him from knowing Christ, or from fulfilling his life's purpose to share the gospel out of his weakest places.

    So many people are stuck in memories of the past that fill them with shame and regret, either from their own sin or sins someone committed against them. These memories prevent them from believing they can be loved and used by God. But not one of us has to stay stuck. Paul didn't allow his shame and regret to keep him from glorifying God, and we don't have to either. What a privilege to know that the same God who saw value and purpose in Paul sees those things in us as well.

    Just like Paul, no matter how much baggage we have in our past, Jesus calls us to surrender it all to Him. When we do, we can live in freedom, and our restoration and redemption can serve as a shining light to a world of broken people. People need to know they, too, can be forgiven, restored and used for holy purposes God destined just for them — not despite their past, but because of it.

    Dear Jesus, circumstances of my past have caused me to be filled with shame and regret. I long to be free of that emotional and spiritual baggage. Please cleanse me, and fill me with peace. Help me discover how You can turn what the devil meant for evil into good, and how You can turn my past into my purpose. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (NIV)

    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)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How might your life be different if you accepted God's forgiveness and grace, then let go of the weight of shame and regret once and for all?

    Read the whole chapter of Romans 7. How does Paul's honest admission of sin and wrongdoing help you recognize that neither you, nor anyone, is beyond God's redemption?

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • The Tempest Inside: Seeking Fulfillment

    Posted on August 25, 2014 by Family Christian

    A young man in his twenties hangs his head as if in prayer. Sitting in a camp chair at his church's fall retreat he tightens his grasp on the book in his hands. A beautiful glow from the bonfire casts a deceptive shadow behind him preventing everyone except his closest peers from knowing the tempest that stirs inside. Some can see the form of a strong young man with an athletic build who appears as if he could conquer anything. The shadow shares both a truth and a lie. On one hand it is very true because the man loves to work outdoors. He finds strength and pleasure just being around God's creation and for this reason he enjoys taking pride in his tasks. History has proven that in many cases it would seem whenever he sets his heart and mind on something, he really could conquer anything set before him.

    On the other hand, the shadow is offering a great deception. In reality, the very heart and soul of this man withers away with each mistake and selfish notion. He ultimately searches to find God's fulfillment in his life, yet only his closest and dearest friends who gather near him tonight truly know his heart aches in turmoil struggling to find answers. There have just been too many recent occasions of shame and suffering he's endured the last few months for him to relax and enjoy the fellowship around him. Although he doesn't realize it yet, much of this man's misfortune was unnecessary. Sadly, most instances were prompted by poor choices despite both friends and family trying to prevent him from making such a choice. Between the constant emotional and financial stress now taking its heavy toll, he sits broken before the Lord - mindlessly staring at the earth beneath his feet. Most of the others nearby cannot see or feel his anguish as he wonders about tomorrow - his eyes dazed by the flicker of fire light dancing across the ground.

    He has his health and for that he is thankful, but he has not appreciated that gift enough. Now he grows more frail in both physical form and inner strength as he continues to spiral downward into the abyss of his own wandering negative thoughts - frustrated by his selfish choices. He longs for God to intervene and give him a push in the right direction. Thoughts of one day finding the answers - God's purpose for his life - swirl inside his mind and tear at his innermost being. He desires to see the future of hope, but is still at a loss as to where God intends his life to go from here.

    As he wrestles with finding direction, he finally humbles himself enough to pray. Muttering silently under his breath, he asks the Lord for forgiveness, peace, and fulfillment. "How can I get back on track living a life that is worthy of your calling, Lord?", he ponders to himself as he lets out a long sigh. His lips whisper softly, "I want to live for you now - and you alone, Lord." Broken and completely humbled, the man remains still for a moment before God - waiting and hoping to somehow hear His voice.

    Crackles of burning embers and the night song of happy crickets fill his ears while voices of laughter drift away in the background nearby. The soft leather Bible he had clutched on his lap, now lays open before him. He prays and seeks for hope and inspiration to one day feel fulfilled in the Lord and know His life's purpose. Unfortunately this Bible which once went with him everywhere had lost its place in the young man's priorities and had become almost forgotten. He now boldly begins to read it once again. Page after page he scans in the dim orange light, then pauses. Opening his heart and mind to God's word, he soon finds he is now at peace. Praying to the Lord once more in thanks for not giving up on him, he quietly rests his thoughts in meditation. His eyes stop on some verses and he trusts the Lord for encouragement.

    Time passes and the young man stares into the night sky as God's starry masterpiece sparkles and shines. Slowly, it's being revealed to him that all things are possible with God. Just then, his lips begin to curl a bit at the edges, and it almost appears to be forming a smile. Recalling the verses of Psalm 57:2-3 that his wise pastor once shared with him many years ago, he turns to those pages and begins to read out loud: "I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; God sends his love and his faithfulness."

    The young man's friends now quickly turn toward him, gladdened by his sudden break of silence and depression. They've all known each other a long time. No words were necessarily needed to comfort. Just being there with him and praying for him during this time of struggle is all he could have ever asked. He stands up slowly - gently placing his Bible down on his seat and smiling at it. It is going to forever be a priceless treasure to him now, as he plans on reading through God's wisdom daily. His peers join him to rejoice as he is warmly greeted and hugged by all.

    Surrounded by the joyful tears and thankful hearts, the young man now knows God was always by his side through every circumstance. He realizes a great truth - the friends and people in our lives that God brings our way in His name are His blessings to help guide and protect us. God's purpose and vision were available to him all along, the young man just forgot where to look. His friends tried to share with him that God's words of the Bible are freely given as a gift and road map for our lives to help us find that purpose and fulfillment we each search for. He now knows they were right all along. The love and devotion of God's people shall continue to be an influence on the young man's future steps, but he will always remember to seek God's wisdom first in the Good Book. The young man bent down by his seat and carefully lifted up his prized possession - the Bible. This fulfilling treasure of God's loving promises that is now something he can never live without.

    Rebecca Harmon at Love2EncourageYou
    http://love2encourageyou.com


    This post was posted in Guest Bloggers and was tagged with guest blogger, fulfill

  • In Me you may have peace

    Posted on August 22, 2014 by Family Christian

    "I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace.

    In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

    (John 16:33)

     

    Jesus spoke these words to His disciples in one of their last meetings together. In the hours that followed, Jesus would be severely beaten, mocked, humiliated and ultimately hung to suffer on a Roman crucifix. The disciples' world was quickly turned upside-down and sideways, simply because they followed a humble carpenter from Galilee.

     

    The same is happening today to hundreds of thousands of Christians around the world.

     

     

    The list goes on and on; persecution of Christians is taking place on a worldwide basis. Check out this list our friends at Open Doors USA put together. It's called the "World Watch List", and it shows you which countries have the most violence against Christians.

     

    Peace may seem hard to find in this chaotic and often-violent world.  When peace is elusive, at least in my case, anxiety is quick to set in. When situations and circumstances spiral out of control, my knee-jerk response is to worry and fret.

     

    "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

     

    These simple statements a two-fold promise: you will face trials, but you will also overcome them. We often don't know how the Lord will help us get through a hardship, or when we will see Him act. But, the end result is promised: we will overcome.

     

    When you know how a story ends, it often provides peace to "ride out the storm" and endure whatever challenges come your way.  Please join me today in praying for peace and endurance for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

    Tornadoes, like the one that came through our neighborhood earlier this year, can cause major destruction in a matter of minutes. How do you find peace when the tornadoes of life come?

    How do you find peace in the middle of life's storms?

    BY: Katey Hearth

    Katey is a Staff Writer/Social Media Coordinator at Mission Network News. She has a heart for global missions and desires justice for the “least of these” around the world, from victims of sex trafficking to India’s Dalit people.

    You can find her latest thoughts at Mission Network News.


     


    This post was posted in Missions, Guest Bloggers and was tagged with Missions, Peace, guest blogger, mission network news, news

  • God, I'm Worn Out

    Posted on August 19, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa Terkeurst

    "When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn." Psalm 142:3 (NLT)

    Have you ever had one of those late night come-to-Jesus moments where the weight of regret lays heavy across your chest?

    For me, it usually happens because in the hectic pace of the day, I blew up at one of my kids, I brushed past a moment of connection with someone God put in my path, or I rushed through all the moments without stopping to enjoy any of them.

    I've discovered a great source of stress, distraction and exhaustion in my life. I say yes to too many things. I take on too many good things, which causes me to miss my best things. It's so hard to say no and let go of opportunities that come my way. But if I don't learn the gift of release, I'll wrestle with a lack of peace.

    I saw this visibly a few years ago when I traveled to visit a friend. As soon as she picked me up from the airport and we started driving, I saw the fallout from the storm she'd tried to describe. A massive 20-inch snow in the middle of fall.

    But it wasn't the amount of snow still on the ground, or the snowmen proudly standing that grabbed my attention.

    It was the broken trees. The branches were piled everywhere.

    House after house. All down the street. Disastrous piles of limbs — big piles of trees — all still clinging to the leaves that hadn't dropped yet. And because the leaves hadn't dropped, the trees broke.

    That's what happens when a snow comes early. The trees weren't designed to face snow before releasing their leaves. They weren't made to carry more than they should. And neither are we.

    I know the weight of carrying more than I should. And usually it's because I've refused to release something before taking on something else. If I want to choose a Best Yes, it's crucial I make room for it first.

    Otherwise, a Best Yes can quickly become a stressed yes. And a stressed yes is like snow on a tree that refuses to release its leaves. It causes cracks and breaks at our core.

    If we refuse to release before we add, we will get overloaded.

    We see how refusing to release gets people in trouble all throughout the stories in Scripture.

    Eve refused to release the forbidden fruit. And because she became hyperfocused on that one thing, she missed out on the best things in paradise.

    Esau refused to release his urgent need for some stew. And because he became hyperfocused on eating that soup, he missed out on his birthright.

    Moses refused to release his fear that just speaking to the rock as God commanded wouldn't actually bring forth water. And because he struck the rock twice, he missed out on entering the Promised Land.

    Each of these people paid a high price for their refusals to release — to let go of their ways so they could walk in the amazing way of God.

    It wasn't God's desire for any of these people to suffer the consequences they did. Each of us has a free will, which means we have the freedom to make choices.

    God tells us the right way to go, but we have to make the choice to do so. Choices and consequences come in package deals. When we make a choice, we ignite the consequences that can come along with it.

    It was true for Eve, Esau and Moses. And it's true for you and me. Refusing to release often means refusing to have peace. I trade my peace for a weight of regret.

    Release is a gift to a woman weighed down, grasping her leaves in the midst of a snowstorm, so desperate for help. She can feel the twinges and hear the creaking sounds of a splitting break about to happen.

    She knows she can't take much more. She remembers Psalm 142:3, "When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn." Tears well up in her upturned, pleading eyes. "God help me. It's all too much. I'm tired and frustrated and so very worn out."

    The wind whips past her, trailing a whispered, "R-e-l-e-a-s-e." She must listen or she will break. Her tree needs to be stripped and prepared for winter. But she can't embrace winter until she lets go of fall. Like a tree, a woman can't carry the weight of two seasons simultaneously. In the violent struggle of trying, she'll miss every bit of joy each season promises to bring.

    I think sometimes I'm resistant to release because I fear missing out. But, in an effort to hold on to too much, I wind up stressed, exhausted and at my breaking point.

    Release brings with it the gift of peace. There are some opportunities I need to decline today. There are some things I need to say no to in this current season. There are good things I need to let go of so I can make room for the best things. Then and only then can my beautiful, bare winter branch receive its snow. When we release in peace, we signal we're now ready to receive.

    Receive what's next. Receive what's best. Receive what's meant for this season, right now.

    I don't know what you have to release right now. But I suspect you know. Just like I do in a few areas of my life.

    So let's release. With release comes more peace. I see that now. I believe that now. And soon, I pray you will too.

    Dear Lord, only You can help me with this release. My heart seeks to obey You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What do you feel like you need to release? Offer this thing up to the Lord in prayer and ask for wisdom, discernment, and direction.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Peace I leave with you

    Posted on August 18, 2014 by Family Christian

    John 14:27-Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

    Storytelling is something I really enjoy. I hope you enjoy my short feature.
    with god

    Gazing out my window I see the slight movement of the leaves as they dance back and forth upon their branches. The sun is shining but that slight breeze causing the leaves to sway back and forth is providing the perfect sense of relief. It was a stressful day and all I could think about were the tasks at hand and the obstacles I was to overcome. Overwhelmed with the stress of the unknown. Fear was setting in, but that tiny brisk breeze blowing in through my window was enough…enough to relax me for just a moment. A moment long enough to take my mind off of the fears…the unknown.

    Suddenly I was starting to see things in a different light. My mind was turning and as the light shown in through the window onto the wall in front of me I knew…I knew there was a light at the end of my dark tunnel. At that very moment it hit me that I was no longer in control of my situation, I never really was to begin with. How quickly we forget that we are not in control. How quickly we forget that even when it’s dark and all doors seem to be closing, there is always a bright light. We just need to wait in the hallway and open that door when the time is right!

    But how do I know when the time is right? How do I know when I’m going to feel that peace, that sweet peace that overcomes my body and leaves me with the most serene and calm feeling? When will I be overcome by peace? And then my mind started to wonder…

    But it didn’t take long for that breeze to sweep in through my window. It catches my attention and leaves me thinking…wondering…mind in motion…

    In an instant…a sudden instant, my fears, my worries…they seem to disappear, because it is in that instant that I realize I haven’t truly given my worries to God. For had I given my worries to God I wouldn’t be struggling to understand the things that just don’t make sense. And in that moment I hit my knees and I was overcome with peace…sweet peace.

    When life is just to hard to stand…kneel.

    I pray that you find that peace. I pray that you are overcome with a peace and understanding. I pray that you can be the bright light to others that are struggling with finding their peace.

    John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

    This post was written by Mandee Suchland. Mandee is a very busy woman! She has 5 BOYS and is writer and owner of the websitmee www.raisingmy5sons.com, a site all about Mandee's life as the only female in a house full of males. She says life is Crazy, Hectic and LOUD, but it's always full of love and laughter and she wouldn't have it any other way. As if that isn't enough to keep her busy, Mandee is also the owner of www.sheblogsit.com, a site where she shows a little more of her writing talents and shares her faith with others.

     


    This post was posted in Guest Bloggers and was tagged with Peace, Parenting, guest blogger, moms

  • Finding Peace as a Christian Artist

    Posted on August 16, 2014 by Family Christian

    Chelsea Kops from Brian and Chelsea

    I remember it distinctly-- the song “One of Us” by Joan Osborne softly played on the radio in my mom's car. My interest peaked as I listened to the words “what if God was one of us?”

    My version of Jesus was a perfect man wearing iridescent clothing, floating in the sky and shaking his head at my life decisions. Yet, these lyrics described a different Jesus-- someone who understood my pain, who could relate to me, and maybe even talk to me.

    At that time, I rejected the idea of Christianity, avoiding Christian music at all costs. Oddly enough, the secular-- even controversial-- song, “One of Us” still lingered in the back of my mind, along with the idea of a loving Jesus. Music was especially close to my heart since I had just started writing songs. As the years rolled by, my music evolved with it.

    Then at age 19, I gave my life to Christ. I began listening to Christian music non-stop to fuel up and draw close to God. That was about the time I ran into a dilemma-- now that I was a Christian, was I supposed to write Christian music?

    I tried over and over again to write a “Christian song”, but it usually felt unnatural and forced. My style of writing had always been metaphorical and illustrative, where the listener could derive their own interpretation and personally connect with the music.

    Every time I wrote a “Christian song”, I felt like I was robbing the song of its true story by spelling out how the reader should think and feel. I was living passionately for God, but I felt guilty every time I wrote a song that didn't explicitly say “God” or “Jesus” in it.

    Then God opened my mind.

    I took a break from songwriting and He showed me how limitless He really was. I began hearing him in songs that I once considered “secular”. I heard him in the quiet melodies of an acoustic guitar, in the gut-wrenchingly honest words of a broken-hearted songwriter, and even in the soaring harmony of a symphony.

    I realized that God is everywhere-- he's in every type of music, whether it's in the “Christian” genre or not.

    That revelation helped me reconcile my faith with my voice as an artist. I let God pour through my songwriting, without any fear or inhibitions getting in the way. As a result, I finally have peace as a Christian artist.

    For more about Brian and Chelsea, visit: brianandchelseamusic.com


    This post was posted in Music, Guest Bloggers and was tagged with Music, Christian Music, guest blogger, signing, song writing

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