• War Room

Family Christian

  • The Gift Found in Disappointment

    Lysa TerKeurst NOVEMBER 12, 2015

    The Gift Found in Disappointment LYSA TERKEURST

    "Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men." Colossians 3:23 (HCSB)

    Several years ago, my middle daughter Ashley was flitting around the house singing everything "Annie." Our home was filled with songs, dances, scripts and the proud announcement she was trying out for her middle school’s musical.

    The day the cast list was posted the singing and dancing and rehearsing of the lines stopped.

    She hadn’t gotten a part in the play.

    There was a smile and a quick, "Who cares," that hid a thousand tears daring to come if she said much more.

    But a few days later, the director requested that Ashley and one of her parents attend the all-cast meeting where Ashley was told she’d been given the job of student director. That sounded exciting until the director explained that job basically meant Ashley would be a behind-the-scenes errand runner for her and the cast.

    There would be no shining moment.

    There would be no spotlight.

    There would be no audience applause for her performance.

    Just hours and hours of behind-the-scenes work.

    As a parent, I could see the character building potential. I have done my fair share of behind-the-scenes stuff in life and it helped shape me for the better. But to a middle schooler’s heart who loved to sing and dance, it was hard.

    We went home that night and Ashley struggled with wanting to drop out. But the next morning, Ashley surprised me by deciding she would embrace this role of serving.

    And embrace it she did! My mama heart soared as Ashley chose to live out the wisdom of Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men."

    And in doing so, she discovered she had quite the knack for choreography, set design and a keen sense of how to make scenes flow more smoothly. The director quickly found Ashley to be quite capable and turned over many responsibilities to my girl.

    What once seemed like a huge disappointment became a divine appointment instead.

    Ashley was born to be a leader. Put her in the right environment to lead, and she’ll thrive.

    I asked Ashley in the midst of rehearsals what she thought of the whole experience. She beamed and said, "I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else than the role I’ve been given, Mom. I love being the student director. I love it so much."

    When the curtain fell to the thunderous applause of proud parents cheering for their child’s performance, I couldn’t see my little brown-eyed beauty. But I knew she was probably bossing somebody backstage, and I was clapping like crazy for her out front.

    I even had a reply ready, just in case the mama sitting next to me leaned over and asked which one was mine.

    "The one who is right where she should be."

    Father God, thank You for using all things for my good, even disappointment. Help me to look at my disappointments with fresh eyes today, discovering gifts where I am tempted to only see heartache. And show me how I can love and serve others with passion and purpose — right where I am. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Isaiah 55:8-9: "‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’" (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)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Spending time in God’s Word first thing in the morning can help prepare us for the rest of our day — equipping us to deal with difficulties and disappointments, encouraging us with the truth of God’s love. We created the First 5 app to help you give God your first thoughts by giving Him your first 5 minutes. You can download it today for free!

    Learn more about living out the special assignments God has for you with Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best YesGet your copy here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What disappointment are you processing today? How might this be a gift in the making?

    We all have times in our lives when we aren’t where we want to be or where we think we should be. Ask God which assignment does He want you to fully embrace today — right where you are.

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

     

  • Discovering Hidden Treasure in Our Homes

    Glynnis Whitwer NOVEMBER 11, 2015

    Discovering Hidden Treasure in Our Homes GLYNNIS WHITWER

    "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Luke 12:34 (NIV)

    A yard sale prompted a day of sorting through a dusty, neglected storage shelf. My hands and shirt were filthy as I cleaned, sorted and bagged up items to sell. At the back of the shelf, I came across a tarnished silver bowl. As I was about to add it to the "sell" bag, something made me pause.

    I wiped the dirt from the bowl, remembering the day I got it — my wedding day. Turning it over, I could still read the engraved name of the maker. Despite its tarnished appearance, it was still an item of value, and I had almost sold it for a fraction of its worth.

    There were years at the beginning of my marriage I was proud to have such a lovely bowl. I remember buying silver polish and maintaining its shine. But then came the years of diapers and sippy cups, followed by backpacks and cleats. At some point the bowl got set aside … forgotten … neglected.

    Despite the dust and tarnish, my wedding bowl still had value. I had a treasure I hadn’t treasured. Immediately, the Lord showed me that bowl was like my marriage.

    It too is a thing of value, but it needs ongoing care to keep its beauty. It needs to be treasured and is worth the effort.

    But it’s so easy to neglect my marriage in the busyness of life. And just like the bowl, over time it gets dusty and tarnished. And when it’s tarnished, I can forget its beauty.

    The good news is both the silver bowl and a neglected marriage can be restored. First it takes recognizing the treasure we already have. Scripture tells us, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:34). When we identify something of true value, our hearts will be devoted to it.

    Next it requires ongoing attention and care. This will take an investment of time and effort, and maybe some creativity. Marriages aren’t easy to maintain, but neither is silver. But when someone puts the effort into either their marriage or silver, the results are brilliant.

    That tarnished silver bowl inspired me. First to reinvest in my marriage. I needed a reminder to see this treasure in my home with new eyes. I needed to remember that things of quality are worth the effort to keep them beautiful.

    As I prayed about how to do that, God brought to mind a practical way I can invest in my marriage. My husband particularly appreciates words of affirmation and encouragement, and I needed to be more intentional to speak words of life to him. Sometimes I slip into thinking he’s just overly needy in this area. But the truth is, he wants and needs to know I think the world of him.

    Second, I was inspired to clean the silver bowl and place it on display. It can serve as a reminder of the treasure I already have.

    In the busyness of life, we all need reminders of what we have. The stress and challenges of life are like tarnish. Every disagreement, disappointment and discouragement adds another layer, until we’ve forgotten the beauty of our most treasured relationships.

    The Bible encourages us to really see the treasure we have in order to keep our hearts in the right place. When we forget, we can find them straying away from what really matters most.

    Whether it’s a silver bowl or a precious relationship, I need to watch for the first signs of tarnish, and then polish till it shines.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me the importance of caring for the treasure I already have. My marriage may have some tarnish, but it can be made beautiful with Your help. Help me to see it as a true treasure so my heart will follow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Galatians 6:9, "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." (ESV)

    Proverbs 11:25b "… he who waters will himself be watered." (NASB)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you’ve procrastinated on investing in an important relationship due to an overly busy schedule, Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book, Taming the To-Do List can help you identify and live according to your priorities.

    Visit Glynnis’ blog for information on her free 5-day series, the "Do it Now Challenge" and get help addressing the important things on your to-do list.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Identify the "treasured" relationships in your life. Are any of them "tarnished" due to neglect?

    What can you do this week to reinvest in one or more of those relationships?

    © 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

     

  • Honoring Our Soldiers on Veterans Day

    Soldier Covered by Angel Wings“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NIV

    When I reflect on this Scripture verse from John, the first thought that comes to mind is the sacrifice that members of the military make for us. It truly underscores the selfless action that a person makes when they decide to enlist in the military knowing that they could be called to put their life on the line for their fellow man.

    This verse takes on special meaning leading up to Veterans Day, the day our nation sets aside each year to honor all of America’s veterans – living and dead. I encourage you not to just think of this as a day that mail isn’t delivered and government offices are closed. Look deeper and remember the true sacrifice that these men and women make to defend the freedom we enjoy.

    We have all heard the saying, “Freedom isn’t free.” It is easy to say it without much thought. But when you hear of veterans like Travis Mills who lost parts of both legs and arms from an explosive device in Afghanistan, it is hard not to be moved. Travis is just one of thousands upon thousands of military veterans who have been critically injured in the Afghanistan and Iraq war zones. They are left with debilitating injuries that they will be coping with for the rest of their lives – all in the name of protecting our freedom.

    Through the beginning of 2015, 6,800 troops have died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. These veterans paid the ultimate price in the name of our freedom. It is staggering when you think about all of the veterans who have died in the line of service through all of the wars and conflicts that our country has been involved in. Lives not completely fulfilled, destinies not met. They all played an important role in ensuring that our country remains the home of the free. And for that they should never be forgotten.

    We are blessed to have fellow citizens who stand up and answer the call of defending of our nation’s freedom when needed. They know they could be put in harm’s way but they do it to protect the freedom that their forefathers fought so hard to achieve. From World War I and II to Korea and Vietnam to present day, brave men and women have come forward to serve valiantly.

    How do you show your gratitude to the veterans who have served our country? Saying thank you seems so inadequate. Some of these veterans have been critically injured and can’t return to the life they once knew.

    I think that a simple show of gratitude, such as saying thank you for your service, is powerful though. This gesture reminds veterans that their deeds haven’t been overlooked or forgotten. Whether they served in Vietnam, Iraq, Korea or Desert Storm, all veterans appreciate having their efforts acknowledged.

    Sending a note or gift to a hospitalized veteran or one living in a veteran’s home is a meaningful thing to do on Veterans Day or any day of the year. Even a simple thank you will surely brighten their day. If you live near a veteran’s hospital or veteran’s home, plan a visit to thank some veterans in person. It may feel awkward at first, but it will be something they won’t soon forget.

    Tonight, say an extra prayer for our military members. These brave men and women are far from home and are in dangerous situations. Pray that they have the courage to face the forces of evil. Pray that they stay safe. Pray that they return safely to their families.

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    This post was written by Family Christian's own Tammi Skellenger. She enjoys camping, football and spending time with her husband and two golden retrievers.

  • How to be Blessed, Blessed, Blessed

    Missy Robertson NOVEMBER 10, 2015

    How to be Blessed, Blessed, Blessed MISSY ROBERTSON

    "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

    When I was a little girl, I was extremely shy.

    My parents were part of a small a cappella singing group, and the families of that group traveled from town to town while the adults performed in churches. Sometimes my mom would say how much she wanted me to sing with her on stage. Just the thought of it would send me running away in tears!

    I couldn’t imagine having all those people look at me!

    And now, here I am, a member of a famous family, speaking and singing all over the country. Isn’t it amazing what God can do?!

    Now that I have my own daughter, 12-year-old Mia, I see many things in her life that are far different from my own.

    She was born with a cleft lip and palate and has been through multiple facial surgeries.

    You might think that she would be pretty shy as well.

    You would be wrong.

    She is outgoing, social, loves to sing on stage and knows no strangers. Even with all of the physical suffering she has endured, she keeps a positive outlook on her life.

    This past summer, she underwent her seventh operation. It was more extensive than we were previously told, so we were disappointed to go through another full-fledged recovery — especially with Mia’s middle-school session at our local Christian youth camp starting the next week.

    However, on day five of her recovery, she announced she was feeling great and really wanted to go see her friends at camp.

    This concerned me because her face was still extremely swollen from surgery, so much so that she had two black eyes and couldn’t open her mouth much to talk.

    I cautioned her, "Mia, since you are still very swollen, people are probably going to point at you, stare and whisper to each other."

    Mia cocked her head, looked at me and said, "It’s a Christian camp, people! Besides, I look a whole lot better than I did two days ago."

    Well, I couldn’t argue with her there. She was obviously prepared for what I anticipated to be the horrors of middle-school camp. I mean, we all remember middle school, right? It’s bad enough when you’re completely healthy!

    As much as my protective instincts fought this, my heart couldn’t deny her another missed day at one of her most beloved places on earth with her BFF’s.

    Yes, there was pointing. Yes, there was whispering. Yes, there was staring.

    But Mia never wavered and was determined to soak up every moment she could that night.

    The staff was astonished she came and participated in as many activities as she physically could. One staff member that night said, "Man, that kid has character!"

    Paul tells us in Romans that the way to character starts with suffering. Well, great! I really didn’t want to go through hard times, Paul. Isn’t there any other way to get character? Something easy?

    That’s not what Paul says in today’s key verse. He says that "suffering produces perseverance." I see that consistently with Mia.

    She doesn’t let her suffering take hold of her life. She pushes through, determined her condition will not rob her of the good things in life.

    Obviously, she has to work a lot harder to accomplish some of those things, so she does. That perseverance produces her character.

    One definition of character is "qualities of honesty, courage and the like; integrity." Courage is undeniably one of Mia’s characteristics.

    She was fully aware of what other kids were going to think about her, but her desire to participate won out over her fear of other people.

    Character also produces hope, the hope we find in Christ Jesus. That’s the hope He gave us when He died and rose from His grave three days later. We, too, can have a new body, one that will live eternally with our Father in heaven.

    It will be a body free from physical suffering, free from physical trauma, free from heartache and disappointment. Hope! We can all have it, and we can all share it.

    Father, thank You for giving me the strength to persevere under hardship and disappointment, and thank You for always being by my side. Help me give hope to those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Deuteronomy 31:8, "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: For Missy and Jase Robertson, life hasn’t always turned out like they planned. Blessed, Blessed … Blessed is the untold story of their family’s fight to love hard, stay strong and keep the faith when life can’t be fixed.

    Get to know more about Missy Robertson on her blog.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Blessed, Blessed … Blessed by Missy Robertson. In celebration of this book, Missy’s publisher is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, November 16.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Ask someone today to tell you what one of your strongest positive characteristics is. Then ask them to share with you why they chose that one.

    Thank God for developing that characteristic in you and ask Him to use you to give hope to others.

    © 2015 by Missy Robertson. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Tyndale Momentum for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

     

  • Praying on the Armor of God

    Wendy Blight NOVEMBER 09, 2015

    Praying on the Armor of God WENDY BLIGHT, First 5 Author

    "[B]ut deliver us from the evil one." Matthew 6:13b (NIV)

    My eyes could barely take in what I saw. My daughter’s body was swollen and covered in welts from head to toe. Within minutes we were rushing to the emergency room.

    Despite hours of treatment, her condition worsened, and our doctor determined she required hospitalization.

    My husband was out of town. It was just me, alone, in the wee hours of the morning, desperately watching powerful drugs drip into her veins without relief. I lay in that hospital bed, curled up next to my 20-year-old baby girl, heart pounding, fearing what the next few hours would hold.

    Ironically, earlier that day, I had been at a conference teaching on spiritual warfare. But in that moment, the truths I taught … the prayers I shared … escaped me. Fear and terror held my heart hostage. I couldn’t even pray.

    But then they came. One after another, Scriptures, prayers and words of love and affirmation poured through my phone from women who had been at the conference.

    One truth after another reminding me of our key verse today from Matthew 6:13b: "deliver us from the evil one."

    In this passage, Jesus taught His disciples and us to pray with confidence, knowing God would deliver us from the schemes of the evil one.

    This verse reminded me I am the beloved child of a Sovereign God … a God who is bigger than anything I face … a God who supplies me a suit of "armor" for battles like the one I was in at that moment.

    I spoke each truth over myself and my daughter. I prayed each Scripture and put on the armor of God.

    God’s truth exposed the lies.

    God’s armor overcame the fear.

    God’s armor is a game-changer. Our status as a child of God gives us rights and privileges others don’t have. We are soldiers fully equipped!

    We need not fear anything — not even Satan himself. God delivers us!

    In Ephesians 6:14-17, God lays out His armor.

    • Belt of Truth — to protect us against Satan, the deceiver and liar
    • Breastplate of Righteousness — to represent our positional righteousness before God
    • Shoes of the Gospel of Peace — to ensure we are at peace with everyone and ready to go wherever God calls
    • Shield of Faith — to quench all of Satan’s fiery darts
    • Helmet of Salvation — to ensure we know we are a saved child of God, covered by Jesus’ blood, possessing the mind of Christ
    • Sword of the Spirit — the Word of God and our only offensive weapon

    Satan has one primary weapon: lies. So doesn’t it make sense we only need one offensive weapon to wield against Him? That weapon is TRUTH.

    God’s Spirit indwells each one of us, and through that Holy Spirit power, God makes some amazing promises! For example:

    • God is able to do "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us" Ephesians 3:20 (NIV).
    • That power is "far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come" Ephesians 1:21 (NIV).
    • "… the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" 1 John 4:4b (NIV).

    And that is what I did that day in the hospital room. I fought back with God’s armor. I wielded my sword in the power of His Spirit and prayed His Word up and down that room and over every doctor and nurse who came through that hospital room door. As I did, fear turned its tail and ran, and God’s peace took its place.

    Within 24 hours, my daughters’ hives began to subside, her swelling lessened and her beautiful smile returned and lit up her face.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us Your armor to fight our battles. Today, I pray on that armor and, in the power of Your Spirit, stand strong in it no matter what the evil one brings. I ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 6:10-11, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Transform your time with God and download The First 5 app for free! We’d love for you to join us as we journey through the Book of Matthew.

    Continue your First 5 journey with The Book of Matthew Experience Guide, now available in paperback or as a digital download! Get yours today.

    Wendy Blight has written a prayer to equip you to pray on the Armor of God. Click here for a FREE downloadable copy of her prayer.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are you engaged in a spiritual battle today? Maybe you are paralyzed by fear and anxiety, and questioning God, doubting His goodness, faithfulness and love? Identify that place and let’s agree together to surrender it to the Lord in prayer.

    Now read Ephesians 6:1-17 and pray on God’s armor. And then stand and wait with anticipation for His victory. It will come!

    © 2015 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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

     

  • A Family Christian Ministries Update: 2015 So Far

    God is in pursuit of the orphan and widow. Throughout scripture He has promised that He would maintain their cause, lift them up, execute justice on their behalf, make them a home, never forget them, rescue them, never forget them, and defend them. He has asks us as well to express His heart toward the orphan and widow and toe “look after them in their distress” (James 1:27 NIV).

    Helping Widows and Orphans

    By God’s grace, Family Christian Ministries has been a part of His story by serving and rescuing orphans and widows in 2015. As we have joined Him in serving the oppressed around the world, we have been able to touch the lives of over 1.5 Million orphans and widows this year.

    Our ministry to the orphan and widow fall into three categories:

    • Quality of Life Improvements for Orphans and Widows
    • Hands-on Orphan and Widow Work Care
    • Adoption Assistance Program

    This work has been supported by donation from guests who shop Family, employees who give, commercial co-ventures with vendors, vendor donation, and donations from leadership.

    Because of support from you, our customers, God has allowed us to continue to advance His Kingdom and destroy evil. Look at all you've helped to accomplish so far in 2015:

    • Through our Barnabas Bear donation program, more than 70,000 lives have been touched.
    • Through our partnership with Faith Comes by Hearing, more than 14,000 lives have been touched.
    • Through World Vision International child sponsorships, more than 10,000 lives have been touched.
    • On our missions trips that we've taken to Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti, and more, more than 3,000 lives have been touched.

    Overall Family Christian Ministries has impacted over 1.5 million people in 2015 and that number continues to grow. We couldn't do any of this without your help. Thank you for your continued support and take heart knowing that your financial assistance, the donation of your time, and your prayers are touching the lives of many children and widows all over the world.

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    This post was written by Family Christian's own Steve Biondo, the SVP of HR & Organizational Development at Family Christian.

  • When We Need to Listen With Our Eyes

    Alicia Bruxvoort NOVEMBER 6, 2015

    When We Need to Listen With Our Eyes ALICIA BRUXVOORT

    "The one who listens to me, who carefully seeks me in everyday things … that one will find true happiness." Proverbs 8:34 (The Voice)

    "I just need to know you’re here," I told God, as I mindlessly chopped carrots in preparation for dinner.

    The baby whimpered in her bouncy seat, the toddler begged for a snack and I wished our meal would magically appear while I escaped to the bedroom for a nap.

    My body was weary from the demands of a long day with little ones; my heart was weary from the weight of unanswered prayer. I was walking through a season of loneliness, and I desperately wanted to hear from God.

    I’d never heard God speak audibly, but I’d experienced the Lord’s "still small voice" many times in my life. In the past, words of Scripture had often leapt off the pages of my Bible. I’d gleaned heavenly insight from the lyrics of a Christian song, a sermon that pierced my heart or the inspired words of a godly friend.

    Why wasn’t I hearing anything now? I’d been begging the Lord for a word of encouragement for months. But it felt like my ears had grown deaf to the sound of my Savior’s voice. When I read my Bible, the words fell flat. When I tuned my ear to Heaven, I heard only silence.

    Just then, my 8-year-old son skidded around the corner with a shiny blue ribbon pinned to his shirt. He hopscotched across the dingy floor, laughing as the ribbon caught air with every bounce and flapped like a baby bird trying out its wings.

    Suddenly, my laments were trumped by my son’s noisy chatter about the track meet he’d enjoyed at school that afternoon.

    "I can’t believe I won the race, Mom! I thought my legs were gonna give up, but I just kept moving my feet and suddenly I was at the finish line."

    His happy prattle mingled with the rhythmic clank of my knife on the cutting board, and I looked up to acknowledge his words with a proud smile.

    "Did you hear me cheering for you?" I asked.

    I wasn’t sure if my little runner even realized I’d been in the bulging crowd of parents flanking the track that afternoon. Despite juggling the baby in one hand and the camera in another, I’d cheered as loudly as I could when my son sprinted past us toward the finish line.

    "Yep," he said with a grateful grin. "I heard you."

    "Oh, good," I replied. "I wasn’t sure if I was yelling loud enough."

    My bouncing boy stopped hopping on one foot and shrugged his shoulders. Then he looked me in the eye and confessed, "Well, I couldn’t hear you with my ears, Mommy, but I knew you were there, ‘cause I was listening with my eyes."

    My son wrapped his arms around my middle in a quick hug, then pointed those fast feet toward the back door and dashed outside to join his sister. I stood silent in the kitchen with the echo of those words in my head.

    When my child couldn’t hear my voice, he’d sought my face.

    When my cheers failed to echo in his ears, he’d let my presence encourage his heart.

    My heart lurched with conviction. Maybe I hadn’t grown deaf. Maybe I’d grown blind. In my quest to hear God’s voice, I’d stopped seeking proof of His presence.

    Today’s key verse reminds us God doesn’t just want us to seek His word with our ears. He wants us to listen with our eyes, as well.

    This concept is woven throughout Scripture from the first page to the last. God’s people are often commanded both to listen and look, to hear and see.

    Bending our ears to the promises of heaven involves tuning our eyes to God’s existence on earth. We can’t hearken His word without heeding His "with-ness."

    I dumped the carrots into the simmering skillet and turned toward the window to watch my son chase his sister across the lawn. They blazed a trail of giggles across the emerald green, as the One who paints the sunset ignited the horizon with a blaze of orange glory.

    I looked and listened while the day gave way to dusk. And as the sun sank low, I felt the weight on my heart soar high. Then, before I called the kids in for dinner, I changed my desperate prayer for an expectant plea: "Open my eyes, Father. I’m listening."

    Dear Lord, teach me to listen to Your voice with my ears and my eyes and to seek You in everyday things. I want to know true happiness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 68:33, "To Him who rides high up beyond the heavens, which have been since ancient times, watch and listen. His voice speaks, and it is powerful and strong." (The Voice)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Develop the habit of looking for and listening to God each morning. The First 5 app can help.

    Visit Alicia Bruxvoort’s blog for more encouragement and a special giveaway to help you look and listen.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Practice the habit of "listening with your eyes" this week. Keep a list of the ways you see God as you go about your everyday things.

    Write an encouraging note or send a text to someone who may be lonely. Ask God to help that person "hear" His heart through your words.

    © 2015 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

  • When My Words Give Me Away

    Katie Williams NOVEMBER 5, 2015

    When My Words Give Me Away KATIE WILLIAMS, COMPEL Member

    "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35 (NIV)

    The smell of warm butter and freshly baked bread wafted through the window, beckoning me into the quaint French bakery. A timid bell chimed my entry. Behind a case glistening with fruit tarts, the shop owner glanced up at me and smiled.

    "Bonjour, mademoiselle," he said courteously.

    "Bonjour, monsieur!" I answered in my best French.

    His eyebrows lifted. "Oh! You are American, non?"

    I forced a smile and nodded. Betrayed again.

    He immediately slipped into English, and we spoke for several minutes as I made my purchases. I thanked him with a warm "merci." His English "good bye" echoed in my mind all the way back to my apartment, where I slumped into a chair in dismay.

    After 10 years of dedicated study and almost a full year living in central France, I still didn’t blend into French society. I couldn’t even pronounce a simple greeting without being identified as a foreigner! My accent had betrayed me again, and I was tired of standing out.

    That afternoon, I confessed my disappointment to a French friend. Secretly, I was hoping she would tell me my accent wasn’t so bad.

    Her response surprised me.

    "You do have a bit of an accent, Katie," she admitted, "but I think it’s charming."

    "It’s not charming, it’s frustrating!" I fumed. "I’ll never blend in here!"

    "Maybe that’s a good thing," she countered. "Your accent marks you as a foreigner, yes. But you are still here, in my country, speaking my language. That means you cared enough about my people to cross an entire ocean to live among us. That makes you charming, and it makes me want to learn more about where you came from, too. Don’t be ashamed of it."

    I was staggered. I had always considered my accent to be an inconvenience, not an inspiration. Could it really be true that my accent wasn’t alienating, but inviting?

    That evening, I returned to my tiny apartment and flipped open my Bible. My reading plan for the day took me to the book of John, Chapter 13. In this passage, Jesus is partaking in His final meal with His disciples before the crucifixion. As He faces His imminent death, He shares these powerful words, and today’s key verse: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

    In light of my friend’s remarks, I began to see this passage with a new perspective. I realized that the love Jesus speaks of here isn’t a one-time action; it’s a lifelong "accent."

    Just as our native accent influences every word we speak, love influenced everything Jesus did.

    He left His home in heaven to come live among us. He lived a life of service and compassion to all members of society. And His love for us ultimately sent Him to a cross, becoming the invitation that welcomes us back to the family of God.

    When we follow Jesus, we are called to love the same way. When we do, our love — our Christian "accent" — will set us apart. It will make us stand out on days we wish we could just blend in.

    But it may also be the invitation that leads someone back home to the heart of God. And that is nothing to be ashamed of, friends.

    So today, let us cherish our accents. Let us love one another as Jesus did.

    And may the world know that we are truly His disciples. Allons-y, mes amis! (Let’s go, my friends!)

    Father God, thank You for living a life of love, service and compassion. Help me follow Your example and to love others the way Jesus did. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Philippians 3:20, "But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior." (NLT)

    1 John 4:16, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Longing to write words that are memorable and life changing? Struggling to build a platform, but realize it takes more writing than you thought? Today’s devotion author, Katie Williams, is a member of COMPEL, a monthly membership program for those who want to write words that move people. Click here to learn more.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Think about a time when you met someone who "stood out from the crowd." What was different about that person? Would you want to be known and recognized for the same reason? Why or why not?

    Reflect on how you interact with the people around you. What is your "accent" — the thing that influences all you do and say to others? Is it love? Is it pride? Is it a need to be in control? Is it fear? Ask God to help you identify what drives you. Then pray and ask Him to help you love others as Jesus did, letting His love shape the way you interact with people.

    © 2015 by Katie Williams. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Mythical Mosaic of Motherhood

    Karen Ehman NOVEMBER 4, 2015

    The Mythical Mosaic of Motherhood KAREN EHMAN

    "A tranquil heart is life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones." Proverbs 14:30 (HCSB)

    One crisp fall afternoon while strolling through an art gallery, I spied a mosaic depiction of a woman from the Roman era that took my breath away.

    A mosaic is an art form where hundreds of pieces of glass converge to form an image. But I’ve realized it’s not just in art galleries where we can find a mosaic.

    Many women have collected bits of information over the years to mentally construct a mosaic of the "ideal" mom. When we step back and gaze at the image we have fashioned, it too can take our breath away. And by that I mean leave us huffing and puffing for air as we race to try to replicate the image in our own lives.

    Was there a mom in your childhood who always fed the neighbor kids fresh-baked cookies and glasses of lemonade? Clink. You deposited in your mind’s bank that "a good mom" does that effortlessly and cheerfully.

    Did one of your friends in high school have a mom who not only made it to all of her children’s sporting events, but also held down an important job? Clunk. Another characteristic deposited. "A good mom" should both bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.

    You picked up another idea when as a new mom you had trouble keeping your toddler quiet in church, but a few rows ahead of you sat a mom of a half dozen children who never moved a muscle. Oh! "A good mom" also must know how to keep her children quiet when the preacher is preaching.

    Did you recently visit a friend who has children about the same age as yours, whose house was tastefully decorated and also void of dust and clutter? Perhaps your mind migrated back to the scene you left at your house that morning: breakfast dishes still on the table, peanut butter smeared on the counter and a trail of crumbs on the floor that would make Hansel and Gretel squeal with glee. Piles of dirty laundry. Dust bunnies. Toothpaste in the sink.

    When I spend time staring at these other seemingly amazing moms, it can unsettle my soul. Can you relate? We wish we were more like them. It isn’t fair they seem to have it so together, when we seem to be falling apart instead.

    Today’s key verse asserts that, "A tranquil heart is life to the body …" The word tranquil here in the original Hebrew language in essence means a heart free from envy — with its emotions and passions under control. It is calm. Confident. Not fretful and frenzied.

    Instead of letting our hearts grow envious of a fictitious mom mosaic we’ve crafted in our minds — or the actual mom we sit next to at the ballgame — let’s ask God to help us cultivate a serene heart. Instead of riveting our eyes on others, let’s glance upward at God instead, asking Him to enable us to embrace our unique personalities and talents — even our shortcomings.

    We cultivate a tranquil heart when we saturate ourselves with God’s Word, tucking His wisdom into our heart. Then we can retrieve His Word when we need it to speak to our situations and calm our sometimes out-of-control emotions.

    We cultivate a tranquil heart when we make prayer a priority and watch God respond to our specific requests — in His always-perfect timing.

    We cultivate a tranquil heart when we trust God with our circumstances, believe He has our best interests at heart, and purpose to play the specific part He has planned for us in this life — especially with regard to our families.

    God knew what kind of mother our children would need long before they were even born. By embracing our skills and circumstances, we’ll be better positioned to let serenity permeate our souls. With a tranquil heart we can stop comparing ourselves to a mosaic of a "perfect" mom and instead, allow God to shape us into the distinct work of art He created us to be.

    Father, may I keep my eyes on You and not on others, so I may cultivate a tranquil heart. Help me focus on the truth of Your Word and appreciate my unique gifts, talents and circumstances. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Colossians 3:15, "And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful." (HCSB)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Karen Ehman’s newest book Hoodwinked: Ten Myths Moms Believe and Why We All Need to Knock It Off just released. If you purchase the book through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you will receive a free downloadable journal entitled, "On My Knees & In My Heart: 5 Mini-Spiritual Retreats for Moms."

    For more motherhood encouragement, visit Karen’s blog today and enter to win a copy of Hoodwinked.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: How have you been tempted to craft a mosaic of a "perfect" mom in your mind? Which characteristics have you been jealous of? How can today’s key verse help you to combat the urge to compare?

    © 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • When You Feel Desperate & Discouraged

    Crystal Paine NOVEMEBR 03, 2015

    When You Feel Desperate & Discouraged CRYSTAL PAINE

    "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19 (ESV)

    I sunk into a heap on the floor in our little basement apartment.

    "What am I supposed to do, God?" I cried aloud. "I’m so thankful for this baby, but I’m so sick with this pregnancy. And being so sick means I can’t work. How are we going to survive?"

    I felt helpless and at the end of my rope. My morning-noon-and-night sickness had hung on for weeks, keeping me from working at the part-time jobs I had before I got pregnant.

    While my husband was in school, our combined part-time jobs were keeping us afloat. Combining his part-time income and my part-time jobs, we were already barely making it. With the absence of my income, our finances suffered a huge blow — and so did my faith.

    I’d always believed that God would provide, but it’s easy to believe that when things are going well and your income is steady. It’s a whole lot harder to believe that when you have bills piling up, and your income is dwindling.

    Many days I felt desperate and in those moments, I began claiming the promises of God and praying them back to Him.

    One particular promise I clung to was today’s key verse, Philippians 4:19: "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

    As I cried out to God for help, the wheels began turning in my head and an idea was birthed in my heart. I realized maybe God’s supply was not coming in the way I thought it would. Instead, His supply arrived by giving me creative ideas He wanted me to be brave enough to step out and try.

    While lying in bed feeling sick from my pregnancy, I began taking little steps to act on the ideas I couldn’t get out of my brain. I researched ways to make money online, I emailed other entrepreneurs, and my ideas started to become more concrete, even viable business plans.

    It was really slow going at first, and there were days when I felt like I’d never be able to figure out how to successfully earn money from home. But I didn’t give up!

    I clung to the Scripture’s promise that God would provide for us and supply our every need — even when I wasn’t sure how we were going to pay the rent or stretch our grocery budget far enough. And He was always faithful!

    During those first few months of my pregnancy, I couldn’t have envisioned where those initial baby steps of faith and trusting God to supply creativity and wisdom would lead. Those first feeble attempts at making money from home have, with much time, effort and prayer, turned into a flourishing business that not only supports our family and multiple other families, but has also given us the opportunity to give generously to causes we believe in both locally and around the world.

    I’m so thankful for that hard season of life. I learned so much about God’s faithfulness and provision. I saw God show up in very tangible, practical ways, and I was motivated to stretch the little we had futher than I thought possible.

    Things don’t often end up like you imagine, but we can trust there will be rewards when we keep putting one foot in front of the other, cling to God’s promises and believe He will faithfully supply our every need.

    Heavenly Father, thank You that You never leave me or forsake me. Thank You that I can trust You to be faithful to supply my every need, even on those hard days. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Hebrews 13:5, "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’" (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Need some practical ideas and inspiration to increase your income? Check out Crystal Paine’s new book: Money-Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference.

    Sign up for Crystal’s free 5-day video series on how she makes a full-time income from home. For more money-saving advice, visit her blog, MoneySavingMom.com.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Money-Making Mom by Crystal Paine. In celebration of this book, Crystal’s publisher is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. (We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, November 9.)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What are you struggling to trust God with right now? Take a few minutes today to remind yourself of a few of the promises in God’s Word that apply to this situation.

    Write these promises on an index card and hang them above your kitchen sink, near your desk, or on your bathroom mirror.

    © 2015 by Crystal Paine. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Thomas Nelson for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

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