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Family Christian

  • 3 Ways to Find Life-Giving Relationships

    Posted on February 12, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lysa TerKeurst FEBRUARY 12, 2015

    3 Ways to Find Life-Giving Relationships
    LYSA TERKEURST

    "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works." Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)

    I pressed my forehead against my front door window while tears quietly slipped down my cheeks. I watched my husband pull out of the driveway and head off to another day at work. I then turned to look at what my day would hold — a crying baby, a messy house and an overwhelming feeling of dread. How could this be?

    I finally had everything I ever thought would make me happy, fulfilled, significant and satisfied, yet I was more miserable and lonely than I’d ever been. Finally realizing a great husband, healthy baby and a comfortable house with a flowerbed planted out front, weren’t the answers to ultimate happiness in life, rattled my soul to the core.

    There are deep places within our soul that God hand-designed and reserved only for Him to fill.

    But my whole life had been focused on getting these other things that I thought would fill me up. So when they fell short, I slid to the ground and cried, "God, I can’t do this. Where do I go from here? How do I find You? Help me!"

    A few weeks later, my husband called and said there was a woman in his restaurant who wanted to meet me. I glanced down at my spit-covered sweatpants, ran my hands through my greasy hair, and willed my mind to override the desire to pass on meeting her that day.

    I couldn’t handle the relationships I had in my life, I certainly couldn’t make time for more. Plus, if I got too close to women who appeared to have their lives together, they’d judge me for the pitiful way mine was falling apart. I just didn’t have the whitespace for anything but my family.

    But that was exactly the problem. I was giving everything I had to my family with nothing to fill me back up, no one to encourage me past the hard spots, and no one to share practical advice because she’d been there, done that.

    So, I crammed my diaper bag full and headed out the door.

    Over the years, I’ve thought about that pivotal decision to pursue and embrace the necessity of friendships. Not only have they helped me personally, my friendships have been crucial to my success (and sometimes survival) in my roles as wife and mom as well. They’ve made our key verse, Hebrews 10:24, come to life for me.

    What I once thought would take away from my family, has proven to add a richness I couldn’t have gotten any other way.

    If you can relate to the season I was in, here are 3 practical ways to find life-giving friendships:

    1) Find a friend who does something well that you wish you were better at.

    It may be managing paper piles, cooking, organizing kids’ rooms, creatively loving her husband, effectively disciplining her kids or a hundred other things. Whatever it is, ask her if you could spend time observing how she does what she does so well. Women love to talk about things they do well.

    2) Choose a friend with whom you feel comfortable to pray.

    There is no better gift we can give our families than to be wives and moms who pray. Praying with a friend about our families will not only knit our hearts closer to the ones we love, but to that friend as well.

    3) Pursue a friendship with someone who is one stage behind where you are in life.

    Offer them practical help in their area of stress and weave in the wisdom you gained as you went through that same stage.

    Why not spend some time today praying for the friends you have and the friends you’ve yet to meet? God loves to answer those friendship prayers! And trust me on this — go ahead and wash your hair, just in case you get a call like I did all those years ago.

    Dear Lord, You know the friendships I need in this season of my life. So I’m praying today for the friends I have right now and ones I have yet to meet. Help me be a God-honoring friend who always points them back to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Colossians 3:16, "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Relationships help nourish us in ways nothing else can! Learn how to be intentional in your most treasured relationships with Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best Yes. Purchase your copy here.

    Gather your closest friends and hold The Best Yes Bible study in your home! Click here to get started.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Consider the three friendship points Lysa talked about today. Choose one and pursue it this week!

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Day I Couldn’t Shut Up

    Posted on February 11, 2015 by Family Christian

    Karen Ehman FEBRUARY 11, 2015

    The Day I Couldn’t Shut Up
    KAREN EHMAN

    "Do you see a man who speaks too soon? There is more hope for a fool than for him." Proverbs 29:20 (HCSB)

    Has your mouth ever gotten you in trouble — yes, even made you sin — all because you talked too much?

    It’s certainly happened to me.

    Years ago while visiting with a friend at a high school basketball game we discussed a budding new relationship between our 17-year-olds — her son and my daughter. It was nothing official, but we knew they liked each other, and we were pleased.

    I rattled on about how my husband and I worked hard to teach our kids to choose whom to date, or even marry, based on more than just their looks. We’d often joke that looks shouldn’t matter since we’re all headed toward ugly anyway. (Then my daughter would chime in, "That’s all the more reason to pick someone with a great starting point!")

    In trying to express how happy we were that our daughter listened to us and not only chose someone who was good-looking, but also displayed godly traits and had a wonderful personality, somehow my friend thought I was saying we were glad our daughter chose on character because — boy, was her son homely!

    It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized I had conveyed the wrong message. I received a letter from my friend stating how hurt she was by my backhanded compliment about her son’s character, implying he was unattractive.

    I was floored.

    And devastated. And misunderstood. And now I had a fractured friendship with someone I’d really hoped to get to know better. All because of my words.

    Immediately, I called to apologize and shared what I meant to say before my rambling thoughts came out as misspoken words — that then led to misunderstanding, conflict and offense.

    Thankfully my friend accepted my apology and six years later we are still friends!

    If we want to avoid offending our friends — or committing any number of verbal sins — we need to learn to control our lips. When we sense a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit that signals a downward spiral, we can simply say, "I’m sorry. I’m talking too much." And then? As my dad used to say (much like the character Festus from Gunsmoke), we can "shut our tater trap!"

    Speaking too soon. Before we really understand all the facts. Before we’ve listened fully to the other side. And most importantly, before we’ve had time to pray and process what we’ve heard with the Lord. When we do any one or even a combination of those things, we are foolish.

    Scripture has many things to say about fools. Our key verse today is just one: "Do you see a man who speaks too soon? There is more hope for a fool than for him" (Proverbs 29:20).

    In order not to speak too soon, we need to cultivate two habits:

    Perfect the art of the pause. Pausing creates white space in a conversation that enables us to sort out our thoughts before we let out our words. Counting to 10 before responding provides just enough wiggle room to really think through what we are about to say.

    Ponder what the other person said, and perhaps go on a fact-finding mission. It’s easy to jump to conclusions when we don’t have all the facts. Holding our tongues, and our opinions, for a while often gives us time to assess the situation clearly before pronouncing judgment. I have found that many times what I was going to say was not in the end what I wanted to express. Giving thoughts time to settle and soak in Scripture is a wonderful habit that will keep us from answering too soon and looking foolish.

    So pause. Gather the facts. Think before you answer, and don’t speak too soon.

    Father, I want to reflect Your love and grace each time I open my mouth to speak. Help me to slow my tongue before I say something hurtful that can have lasting consequences. And when I fall short, help me be quick to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Proverbs 13:3, "The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin." (HCSB)

    Proverbs 10:19, "When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise." (HCSB)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    In her new book, Keep It Shut, Karen Ehman teaches what to say, how to say it and when to say nothing at all.

    For more on honoring God with our words, head over to Karen’s blog today where she’s offering a free resource called 5 Days to Sweet & Salty Speech. She’s also giving away a Bible study bundle of her latest Keep It Shut project.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What are one or two things you can say or do the next time you find yourself going down the slippery slope of speaking too much?

    Choose one of the Scripture verses in today’s devotion and work to memorize it. When a growth opportunity comes along, recite it to yourself, and commit to let God’s Word take you along the right path.

    © 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • How to Rise Above the Terrible-No-Good-Very-Bad-Day

    Posted on February 10, 2015 by Family Christian

    Chrystal Evans Hurst FEBRUARY 10, 2015

    How to Rise Above the Terrible-No-Good-Very-Bad-Day
    CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

    "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." James 1:2-4 (NLT)

    It was his birthday.

    We had a flight to catch.

    Even though it was a working trip for me, I planned to make our trip a quasi birthday celebration for him. We were still about to leave the house without our kids. That always spells me-and-you time, honey.

    We were supposed to wake up and look at each other with "goo-goo" eyes, remembering how much we actually like each other, because there were no distractions.

    We were supposed to travel leisurely to the airport and stop somewhere for lunch on the way.

    We were supposed to have a meaningful conversation on the plane about deep, important and beautiful things while we were soaring above the clouds.

    Instead …

    We woke up to plumbing problems, broken suitcases and a rainy day. We rushed to the airport and searched for a parking space while listening to each other’s bellies rumble. We missed our flight and had to run to catch another one that would get us to our destination on time.

    Then we sat next to each other … in complete silence … and it was his birthday.

    Part of my sullen attitude was because it really was a terrible-no-good-very-bad-day.

    Part of my bad attitude was frustration that this yucky day was my husband’s birthday, and I felt so badly about it not being special for him at all.

    Most of my gloomy attitude was because things weren’t going as I had planned, and I was pouting.

    The cramped ride on the itty-bitty plane came to an end. He helped me get my luggage out of the overhead bin, looked over at me and smiled. He walked through the airport, pulling my suitcase and his.

    It was raining in our arrival city too, but he went out of his way to make sure I didn’t get too wet as we got our things into the car. On the way to our destination, he started a pleasant conversation and kept it going until we arrived.

    Somewhere between the frustration of the morning and the smile in the afternoon, my husband made a decision. He made a decision to rise above that terrible-no-good-very-bad-day and find something to smile about. He made a decision to choose joy.

    And while it never stopped raining, the longer-than-expected-drive-time gave us more time to chat. And stopping at the drive-thru became a romantic birthday dinner for two.

    I don’t know about you, but I have lots of days that just don’t go quite the way I want. Even when I’ve done everything I can to ensure my plans don’t go awry, they still do.

    Sometimes it still rains and I’m tempted to pout.

    I’m tempted to throw all efforts at rising above my situation to the wind and sit and sulk in a quiet corner, lamenting the difficult parts of my day or life. And of course, some problems are a whole lot worse than rain or a delayed flight.

    But watching my husband reminded me of something.

    I don’t have to let the events of a terrible-no-good-very-bad-day determine my actions and attitude. Like our key verse suggests, we can choose to consider trouble as "an opportunity for great joy" (James 1:2b). Life’s challenges allow faith to be tested and endurance to grow.

    Some days are just difficult. Life can be hard. And many of those difficulties happen at the most inopportune time.

    However, let’s not forget that it’s in the most difficult places where we derive our deepest life lessons. Even from hard spots beautiful things grow.

    We can plan, prepare and put our best foot forward, but sometimes life just happens.

    Thankfully, bad days don’t have to dictate our response or the ultimate outcome.

    We get to choose.

    So my friend, choose joy!

    Father God, Help me rise above my circumstances, choose joy and find something to smile about. Even in the midst of a difficult day, Lord, help me have a joyful heart while the experiences You allow build character in my heart and produce beauty in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Do you long to be a woman whose responses aren’t dictated by circumstances? Kingdom Woman by Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst can help set your heart and mind on things above.

    Stop by Chrystal Hurst’s blog for more encouragement today.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What small step can you take today to find joy in the midst of your terrible-no-good-very-bad-day(s)?

    Are there people in your life who set a good example of choosing joy despite their difficulties? Ask them what they do to rise above their circumstances.

    © 2015 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • I Want to Quit

    Posted on February 9, 2015 by Family Christian

    Leah DiPascal FEBRUARY 9, 2015

    I Want to Quit
    LEAH DIPASCAL

    "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

    I pulled the blankets up over my shoulders, rolled over in bed and just stared at the bright red numbers on my alarm clock. I was exhausted, but couldn’t fall asleep.

    An endless stream of thoughts rushed through my mind — one question cascaded over another. Before I knew it, another hour had passed and I was no closer to dreamland than before.

    I don’t want to go to work tomorrow. Maybe I can call in sick. I wonder if I can get anyone to fill in for me? My job is hard and I feel unappreciated.

    But calling in sick was not an option because my job was motherhood, and the "clients" who would be waiting for me early the next morning were my 4-year-old and 6-month-old boys.

    My husband and I were married nine years before our first son was born. I waited a long time to be a member of the Mommy Club. Finally, my dream came true and I was determined to be the best mommy ever!

    Nothing brought me greater joy than to see their sweet smiles and bed-head hair every morning. But can I be honest? It was also very challenging raising those little guys.

    Despite reading every parenting magazine I could, I still struggled with the day-to-day demands. It seemed my real-life parenting skills didn’t measure up to those moms who wrote the magazine articles.

    I quickly discovered motherhood wasn’t for wimps.

    Twenty-four hours a day. Seven days a week. Fifty-two weeks a year. I was on duty. And there was no paycheck waiting for me on Friday afternoons.

    I was a chef, doctor, storyteller, and when disagreements erupted I’d pull out my referee hat.

    I changed poopy diapers, refilled sippy cups and washed dirty clothes. All. The. Time. In moments of weariness, I’d whisper to myself, I want to quit. Then mommy-guilt would flood my heart as I’d settle into a deeper level of discouragement.

    Why don’t I feel joy doing something I’ve dreamed about for so many years?

    Maybe you’ve experienced those moments when the demands of parenting collide with your stretched emotions and fragile feelings, causing your heart to become weary.

    If you’re like me, you realize motherhood is a high calling. You see your children as treasured gifts from God and your home as a gathering place where loved ones are nurtured and blessings abound.

    But, there are those days when demands run high, patience runs thin and weariness creeps in. That is when we can hold on to the hope of today’s key verse, Galatians 6:9: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

    Raising children is like growing a spiritual crop with the potential of a priceless, abundant harvest. As moms, we need to care for, watch over and tenderly love our children every day, just as a farmer tends to his valuable crops.

    Raising children well requires a daily dose of love, commitment and perseverance. As moms, we can approach each challenge knowing we’re not alone. The Lord is with us and we can call on Him in times of weariness. He is always ready to extend the grace, guidance and strength we need.

    As we celebrate the giggles and messy moments of our children, let us remember the great harvest God has waiting for us if we persevere. We may not see immediate results, but if we continue doing good and trust God with the rest, in due time we will reap a harvest of blessings!

    Father God, thank You for the priceless gift of my child/children. Help me raise them according to Your will and not my own. When I become weary, fill me with Your strength so that I can persevere in parenting well. Thank You for the promise of a harvest if I don’t give up. 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)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    In her book, Am I Messing Up My Kids? … and Other Questions Every Mom Asks, Lysa TerKeurst shares how mothers can release mommy-guilt when the bouts of stress come from managing life and home.

    Stop by Leah DiPascal’s blog today and discover 5 Ways To Persevere When Parenting Young Children. You can also sign up for a RefresHER giveaway.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is your greatest struggle as a mom? Write down one action step you can take today that will help you move forward as you seek God’s will in this area of challenge.

    Is there someone you know who is going through a difficult time in raising her own children? What is one thing you can do today to help encourage and cheer her on in the midst of her own parenting struggles?

    © 2015 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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

  • Your Story is Still Being Written

    Posted on February 6, 2015 by Family Christian

    T. Suzanne Eller FEBRUARY 6, 2015

    Your Story is Still Being Written
    SUZIE ELLER

    "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." John 21:25 (NIV)

    Two women approached me. They could almost pass for twins, except for the scars borne by one.

    "She rescued me," the younger one said. "She drove through the night, even after I told her to stay away."

    Her older sister had braved the darkness to save her from a man who fractured not just her bones, but her spirit. Though she had been safe for months, years of hurt, doubt and pain were deeply ingrained.

    "Can I pray for you?" I asked.

    She knelt eagerly, pressing her forehead into my knees. She wrapped her arms around my legs before I could kneel beside her. Loss, pain and a chasm so wide she feared there was no way back, soaked through her tears.

    It’s moments like these I realize how human I am, and how little I truly have to offer.

    But God!

    As we prayed, I asked for what felt impossible in the natural. I cannot explain the presence I felt in that small space. It was tangible, an almost overwhelming compassion of a Savior for his beautiful daughter.

    A new chapter was being written. Not just in her life, but in the countless pages of the broken made whole by Jesus.

    For some, brokenness is easy to see, like this beautiful younger sister whose scars were obvious. But for most of us, our hearts bear the marks.

    The damage can be the result of unhealthy doctrine — like when you love Jesus, but people tell you that you can never be good enough. It can be a mark left by great loss. It might be what takes place when your life is turned upside down by unfulfilled promises or events you didn’t see coming.

    Every story is unique and each story — including yours — is important to God. And this is our promise: Brokenness does not have to be the final chapter.

    He rewrites.

    Begin to imagine what you will look like in the hands of your Savior. This opens the door to hope. It places the pen in God’s hand, instead of the past, a person or a feeling.

    It changes your question from, "What’s wrong with me?" to "What miracle does God want to perform in me?"

    We receive.

    He came for you. That’s the good news found in Luke 4:18-19: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord"s favor" (NIV).

    Jesus is not afraid of our brokenness. It was on His heart the day He transitioned from deity to walk the earth on our behalf. Hold out your hands. Throw open the doors that so carefully guard your pain.

    We all rejoice.

    Healing won’t take place overnight. Instead it’s an exquisite process where God peels away layer by layer. But as you heal, something profound begins to take place.

    You become an integral part of the good news described in John 21:25, our key verse. Your story spills into the pages eternally describing the power of Jesus to mend a broken heart.

    And for that, we all rejoice.

    Dear Jesus, thank You that newness is pouring into my life. I open my heart, my thoughts, my past and my broken places to Your touch. Thank You that You are writing a new chapter in my story beginning today. I praise You because the power of the cross is not in what I’ve done, but in what’s already been done for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 53:5, "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." (NIV)

    Matthew 4:23, "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Would you like to bring Suzie Eller to your church? Click here to find out more about considering Suzie as your next retreat / keynote speaker.

    Visit Suzie Eller’s blog for a giveaway of The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places and to learn more about The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Today, ask God to heal the first layer. Don’t worry about the end goal. Ask God to step gently into your broken places and begin His work in you right where you are.

    © 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • When Your Husband Has Given Up

    Posted on February 5, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lysa TerKeurst FEBRUARY 5, 2015

    When Your Husband Has Given Up
    LYSA TERKEURST

    "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:13-14 (ESV)

    I know the heart-ripping hopelessness of a relationship unraveling.

    The silence. The rejection. The harsh words. The absence of intimacy. The questions. The lack of answers. The hurt.

    The first five years of my marriage were really hard. Two sinners coming together with loads of baggage, unrealistic expectations and extremely strong wills.

    My heart aches for anyone in a marriage that’s struggling. Many of us have been there.

    But I think the deepest hurt comes when one spouse resigns while the other is still trying. There is a panic that arises to somehow make the other person wake up, stop their resignation and help you fix this relationship.

    A situation like this is much more complicated than simple answers I could offer here. But might I give you one stepping stone upon which to stand, to stop the panic and balance yourself?

    Decide today that you are worthy.

    Because you are. Worthy. You may not feel like it. But a quick glimpse at Psalm 139 assures me, you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God who cares for you. Who loves you. And I’d rather depend on the solid truth of God than the rollercoaster of fickle feelings.

    You are beautiful and captivating and attractive and smart and capable. But if you are in a relationship full of unmet expectations, unresolved issues and frustrating communication, I suspect you feel a little less than all I’ve described.

    Broken-down relationships can really break down a woman.

    And if you’re anything like me, when you feel broken down, those around you get your worst. Then upon all the hurt and anxiety you layer regret, shame and the feeling that you’ve lost yourself. You’ve lost that girl inside who used to be so positive and happy and ready to take on the world.

    Can I whisper a tender truth to you? The only way to recapture her is to come up for air and remember: You are worthy because the Creator of the Universe says you are.

    Then you can act worthy.

    And step aside from the emotional yuck to make some levelheaded decisions. Get a plan. Talk to wise people who love you, provide godly counsel and will walk this tough journey with you.

    Draw some boundaries with your husband, if some are needed.

    Pray like crazy for clear discernment. Because Jesus is the best source of help.

    Honest cries for help, lifted up to Jesus, will not go unheard. He sees. He knows. He loves. And Jesus will direct you as long as you stick with Him.

    Remember, you can’t control how your husband acts and reacts, but you can control how you act and react.

    Reclaim who you are.

    I pray your relationship survives. I pray it with every fiber of my being. But if it doesn’t, I pray most of all that the beautiful woman you are rises above all the yuck, still clinging tightly to the only opinion that matters — the One who forever calls you worthy.

    Dear Lord, my marriage is struggling. I’m struggling. Help me please. I need to hold on to Your truths that I am worthy. And God, please show me what steps to take to support my marriage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 54:10, "‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you." (NIV)

    Psalm 34:17, "The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you’re facing a hard season but want to make God-honoring decisions every step of the way, Lysa TerKeurst’s latest book, The Best Yes, can help. Get your copy here.

    Determine to pray more words over your marriage than you speak about your marriage with the 5 Scriptures Lysa is sharing on her blog. Click here to begin speaking God’s truth over your relationship with your husband!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write our key verse down on a sticky note or index card and put it in a place where you know you’ll see it each day. When a negative thought starts to cross your mind, say out loud, "God says I am worthy."

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Sing It, Girl

    Posted on February 4, 2015 by Family Christian

    Nicki Koziarz February 4, 2015

    Sing It, Girl
    NICKI KOZIARZ

    "So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:6 (NIV)

    One of my first jobs was at a little nursing home where I helped take care of patients in the Alzheimer’s unit. While caring for people battling such a difficult disease created many challenges, there was also a lot of laughter.

    Mostly because of a sweet, tiny lady named Bunny. Bunny slid her walker through the hallways singing all kinds of songs. Some of the other caregivers told me Bunny was one of the original munchkins from The Wizard of Oz. I believed it, too, as she was something incredible!

    As Bunny would party through the hallways, the other patients echoed her melody and amusing sounds filled the air. As I’d pass Bunny on my rounds, I’d look at her and say, "Sing it, girl!" And then, she’d take it up a notch and we’d laugh until our sides ached.

    Bunny’s sounds made everyone’s experience at the nursing home much brighter.

    Here’s the thing: While it’s true not everyone can sing (Hello, have you seen American Idol?), we all have some type of voice flowing from our lives.

    But is it a harmonious sound, or is it just noise? Because there is a difference.

    One definition for noise is "a nonharmonious or discordant group of sounds." When we go back further, we learn the word "noise" originated from the Latin word "nausea" meaning "sea sickness."

    Using those definitions, noise is annoying and no one wants to hear it. It’s hard to think over noise. Ever hear a momma say to a room full of kids banging on toys, "Quit making all that noise!" It’s distracting at best, and downright painful at worst.

    Bunny’s singing wasn’t perfect, and sometimes it got really loud, but it always accomplished the same thing: joy.

    It was a sound that needed to be heard.

    I like today’s key verse, Romans 15:6, because it paints a clear picture about what it means to be a sound of God: "So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

    One voice, which elevates God.

    I don’t want to make noise with my life. I want to make sounds this generation desperately needs to hear so that they, too, will love God.

    The sound of God is one of peace, joy, gentleness and harmony. It’s also a sound that unifies us, not divides us. I think noise would be everything opposite: hate, conflict and rudeness.

    So, here’s the question I’m asking myself each day about what’s flowing from me:

    Is this a sound I’m making today or is it just noise?

    I know I won’t always be right on key, but I want the sounds I make to elevate God, encourage others and bring joy to dark places. To bring harmony where there is discord.

    And you, my friend, have a powerful sound ready to flow through you. So go … "Sing it, girl!"

    God, thank You for the perfect sound, which came from heaven, Jesus. Help us to live our lives making that sound more joyful each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Corinthians 13:1, "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." (NIV)

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

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you’re looking to speak words that others long to hear, Karen Ehman’s latest book, Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It and When to Say Nothing at All, might be a helpful resource for you.

    For more encouragement from Nicki Koziarz, visit her blog.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What are some areas in your life that are keeping you from making a powerful sound to elevate God? Take some time and ask God for wisdom on overcoming those situations.

    © 2015 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

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

  • You Are More Precious Than Diamonds

    Posted on February 3, 2015 by Family Christian

    Darlene Sala FEBRUARY 3, 2015

    You Are More Precious Than Diamonds
    DARLENE SALA

    "… you are precious in my eyes ... and I love you." Isaiah 43:4a (ESV)

    Precious in God’s eyes? Could it be true?

    It’s amazing that God clearly demonstrates our value throughout the Bible. Imagine anything on this earth that we value, and it’s incomparable to how God feels about us.

    Think for a moment about diamonds. They are one of the most precious items in creation. They are rare, beautiful and highly prized. But they are nothing compared to how God values us.

    Does God really think you and I are more precious than diamonds? We — who trip and fall and fail more often than we care to admit?

    It’s so easy to make an assertion without any facts to back it up. If you stopped right there and assumed this title is true — that you really are more precious than diamonds, you could go away feeling better about yourself without having any foundation on which to base your good feelings. And how long would that last? Not very long, I’m afraid.

    So, if we’re going to compare ourselves to diamonds, how much is a diamond worth anyway? In 2013, a nearly 60-carat flawless pink diamond called the "Pink Star" was auctioned by Sotheby’s for a whopping $83.2 million. Bling cha-ching! That made it the most expensive jewel or diamond ever sold at auction.

    But the most precious diamond, we’re told, is the Koh-i-Noor, now part of the British Crown Jewels collection. Experts say this gem cannot be valued — it’s calculated to be approximately 3.5 times the wealth of the whole world!

    These diamonds are incredibly valuable to us. But to God, diamonds just aren’t that precious. Nor are other costly stones, or even gold. After all, in heaven He uses gold for paving streets, pearls for gates instead of wrought iron (Revelation 21:21) and gems to decorate the foundations of the heavenly city (Revelation 21:19).

    But you? Now, that’s another matter. God has formed many diamonds. But He made only one you. You are unique. You are unlike anyone else who has ever lived or ever will live. He made you because He wants someone exactly like you. He has plans for you.

    You may be feeling pretty worthless right now, beaten down. Life has probably thrown more at you than you can handle. You don’t feel worth as much as a rhinestone, let alone a diamond. Take heart! "You are precious in my eyes," God says, "and I love you" (Isaiah 43:4a). God never said He loved a diamond but He does say He loves you.

    Don’t feel it?

    Just think about this: We are so precious to God that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to this earth to die so you and I wouldn’t have to die because of the way we have messed up our lives with sin. Author David Eckman, in Becoming Who God Intended, pictures God explaining this to us: "My Son is dying for you because you are worth a Son to Me."

    Just think of it: God says, "You are worth a Son to Me"!

    If you’ve ever doubted your own worth, or don’t know where to go from where you are, or you’re losing heart … then listen to Father God saying to you, "You are important enough to Me to justify the death of My Son. I want to have a close and intimate relationship with you."

    Don’t wait another minute. Run. Yes, run to His arms right now. Let Him whisper these words to you, "I love you, I love you."

    God, I don’t feel very lovable. No matter how hard I try, I mess things up and end up feeling guilty and unlovable. But today I’m going to take a chance on You. I’m going to assume You really mean it when You say I am precious in Your sight, and You love me. I throw myself into Your arms. Thank You, thank You for a love that is bigger than all my mistakes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 5:7-8, "We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him." (MSG)

    1 John 3:1, "What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it — we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are." (MSG)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Darlene Sala’s recently released book More Precious Than Diamonds: Biblical Meditations on a Woman’s Worth in God’s Eyes is now available. Always affirming and occasionally challenging, each chapter gives hope and help to live our lives to their fullest potential.

    You can read, download or listen to Darlene’s two-minute Encouraging Words radio program by clicking here.

    Visit Darlene's blog for more encouragement.

    Enter to WIN a copy of More Precious Than Diamonds by Darlene Sala. In celebration of this book, Darlene’s publisher is giving away 10 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 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, February 9.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When God says, "You are precious in my eyes, and I love you," what does that mean to you?

    How can you encourage a friend with this thought today, perhaps by email, a text message or even a Facebook post?

    © 2015 by Darlene Sala. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Barbour Publishing 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

  • A Mess on the Inside

    Posted on February 2, 2015 by Family Christian

    Amy Carroll FEBRUARY 2, 2015

    A Mess on the Inside
    AMY CARROLL

    "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." Ephesians 3:16-17a (NIV)

    Making my tidy-up rounds one morning, I walked into my son’s room with hands wrapped around a stack of clean towels. My pace slowed as I picked my way through the maze on his floor. I wove around piles of clothes, an empty shoebox and exercise equipment, barely avoiding stubbing my toe on a barbell.

    Sighing with exasperation, I threw open the curtains to let light shine into the room, and I gazed into the yard. Instantly, a piercing insight beamed into my heart like the rays flooding through the window.

    Just the week before, my family had worked feverishly to ready our home for company. The windows gleamed, the sidewalk was mildew-free and green grass neatly carpeted the yard. Flowers graced the front porch. An arrangement hung on the door, and everything was in its place. I loved how well-kept our home looked.

    Our company had departed, but the outside of our home still looked spiffy. I opened my son’s curtains to further the just-so appearance for the world to see, but there was a much different view from where I now stood.

    Shiny on the outside. A mess on the inside.

    Goodness gracious. How often could the same phrases be applied to me? I’ve become adept at polishing up the outside. Make-up, hair, jewelry, clothes and cute shoes go a long way in gussying up a girl. Following the rules, fitting in and creating just the right image help me convince others I’ve got it all together. Volunteering, smiling and measuring my words may even make me seem godly.

    But what if my "house" could be turned inside out as easily as a t-shirt? What if the world saw my inner clutter?

    What if people viewed my thoughts, emotions and spiritual condition instead of my carefully constructed shell? What then?

    Here’s the truth: There’s One who views us like no other. He sees us from the inside out all the time. God’s Word tells us, "The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (I Samuel 16:7b, NIV).

    While the world around us obsesses with external makeovers, God longs to begin His work on the inside.

    God does His beautifying work from the inside out.

    Our key verse tells us He wants to strengthen our inner being with the power of His Spirit and out of His glorious riches. What an adorning that will be! When God is the One at work in us and when we join Him by changing our focus from external perfection to His internal perfecting, our beauty will come from our truest, God-created self.

    Trying harder, doing more or behaving better isn’t what we need. Those are the things we do to try to create perfection, shining ourselves up on the outside. Jesus’ clean-up, His perfecting process, isn’t about our work. It’s about taking one step of faith and asking Him to dwell in our hearts.

    Only then can Jesus fill us up on the inside with His strength, power, love and light. Only then will our outside radiate with the beauty of what’s within.

    Lord, please forgive me for focusing too much on the externals of my life. I invite You to dwell in my heart so You can do a work in me from the inside out. You are beautiful, and I want to be like You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ephesians 3:17b-19, "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Have you ever asked Jesus to work in you from the inside out? Have you ever offered your heart as His dwelling place? If you’d like to read more about knowing Jesus, click here.

    Read more at Amy’s blog about her journey to let go of external appearances and to embrace Jesus’ internal, beautifying work. There will also be a giveaway for Living So That by Wendy Blight.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What are some of the externals (clothes, appearance, "good behavior," popularity, material possessions) that you’ve used to shape others’ perception of you? What internal mess are you hiding?

    Write a prayer asking Jesus to dwell in your heart, strengthening and straightening your inner being.

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • How Do I Stop Worrying

    Posted on January 30, 2015 by Family Christian

    Abby Mcdonald JANUARY 30, 2015

    How Do I Stop Worrying
    ABBY MCDONALD

    "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

    As I began my morning praying God’s Word, I didn’t foresee the news that would come later that afternoon. I didn’t realize how much I would need to hold on to the promise woven into Philippians 4:6-7. But God knew.

    As the verse came to me, the words didn’t seem to resonate deeply within my peace-filled heart. I knew these words to be true, but I wasn’t worried or anxious about anything. Nonetheless I prayed the words and went on with my normal routine.

    Later that afternoon, my dad called. His usual pleasantries about the weather and questions about the grandkids were short this time. My mom was in the hospital. The symptoms pointed to a stroke, but the doctors were still unsure.

    Hours of waiting and tests would ensue before we’d know anything. Only thing is I’m not a waiter. I am a doer. When life unravels and reels out of control, I do anything within my power to fix the situation. When situations cannot be fixed, I worry. Subconsciously, I believe I’m exercising some sort of direction over circumstances I can’t possibly change. My parents lived over 500 miles away. Even the desire to simply jump in my car and be present was not feasible at the time.

    In the midst of my search for sense in the senseless, the words I prayed from today's key verse came to me: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

    I realized with stark clarity how God was preparing me for what was to come. These verses gave me clear instruction for what I was to do with my worry. I was to give it to God.

    With a new sense of direction, I prayed for my mom and my family. I prayed for the doctors who were working to find a diagnosis and the staff who were caring for her. I thanked God for getting my mom to the hospital safely and for the availability of the care she needed. I thanked Him for giving the living Word I needed.

    As I prayed, my doer nature realized I was doing something. Although I still had no control over the situation, I was bringing it before the Almighty One who did. And that was the very best "doing."

    An unspeakable peace came over me and just as the Scripture verse states, I did not understand it. But I was so grateful for it. His instruction and promise carried me until we were able to get some answers.

    Hours later, my dad called saying my mom was going to be okay. As suspected, she had experienced a stroke, but with physical and occupational therapy the doctors expected her to regain much of her previous functionality. Weeks later, I came home for Christmas and listened as she played Christmas hymns on the piano. I was amazed. Not only had God given me peace when I needed it, but He had answered our prayers in a way I didn’t anticipate.

    When we carry the Word of God in our hearts, it becomes a weapon against worry and anxiousness.

    Things beyond our control will happen in our day-to-day lives, but we can equip ourselves with the Truth that protects our hearts and minds. When we do this, the words become like a soothing balm for our anxious souls.

    Confidence replaces doubt and peace replaces worry. We find sweet rest because instead of relying on our own strength to carry us, we rely on the promises found in Christ Jesus.

    Dear God, thank You for the power that is found in Your Word and the gift of prayer. When life is overwhelming, help me to remember the promises found in Scripture. Help me to realize that when I pray, I am bringing my cares before the One who cares perfectly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (NIV)

    Psalm 119:45, "And I will walk at liberty and at ease, for I have sought and inquired for [and desperately required] Your precepts." (AMP)

    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, Abby McDonald, is a member of COMPEL, a resource for those who want to write words that move people. Click here to learn more or become a member of COMPEL today.

    Does worry keep you up at night? You might enjoy Micca Campbell’s book, An Untroubled Heart.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What current struggles cause you to worry? Is it something you can control? Or is it a situation you need to give to God?

    Memorize one of the above verses and carry it in your heart. Write it on a note card, stick it on your mirror or your fridge, or whatever you need to do to remember it. When trouble comes, pray those words aloud.

    © 2015 by Abby McDonald. All rights reserved.

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

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