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Family Christian

  • The Moment

    Lysa

    "And yet I will show you the most excellent way. 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." (1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:1 NIV)

    Each morning, I have a routine with my husband. It's simple. Nothing profound. Nothing for which we'd ever stop and snap a picture.

    It's just a moment.

    He asks me to help him pick a tie. He then goes away to fuss with this fixture of his professional job. Soon, he returns with a flipped up collar and a pressed down, knotted tie. He needs gentle hands to fold the collar over. Actually, he doesn't need. He wants gentle hands to fold the collar over.

    And I do.

    It's just a moment.

    But it's a moment when we follow the "excellent way" of love. In the intersection of this moment, we're once again saying to each other: I love you; I love you too.

    Now, please don't get an overly idyllic picture in your head of our marriage. Heavens, no. We have plenty of those "growth opportunity" moments too.

    But this moment with the tie, it's like a spot of glue ever tightening the bond between us day by day. It's so simple, and yet something I would miss with the deepest ache imaginable if today were the last of the moments.

    If today.

    Tears slip as I think about this. Dear God, help me think about this. Let me snap a hundred of these moments with the lens of my heart to be stored and appreciated and thought of as the great treasure they are.

    Let my mind park there.

    Let my heart relish there.

    Let my mouth dare to whisper what a joy this is. I love you. I love us. I love this moment each day.

    Our relationship isn't perfect; no relationship is perfect. We're two very strong-willed people with vastly different approaches to life. And, oh, how easy it would be to list all the differences. He likes the towel hanging in the same spot. I am more creative. But I stop the list there.

    I stop because great love isn't two people finding the perfect match in one another. Great love is two people making the choice to be a match. A decision. To fold his collar and snap the heart lens and find myself grateful to the point of tears. Tears of relishing today are so much better than tears of what was missed.

    It's just a moment.

    Or is it?

    Dear Lord, help me to appreciate each moment given to me. I want to park my mind on the daily moments I too often take for granted. Thank You for this joy, so simple but so sweet. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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    Remember Let me snap a hundred "I love you" moments with the lens of my heart to be stored and appreciated and thought of as the great treasure they are.

    Reflect In what ways can you turn everyday moments into treasures? It may be as simple as relishing a moment in your heart or it may mean beginning a new moment every day, such as folding a collar over a necktie.

    Respond Discuss your "moments" with your spouse, your family, or a friend. Ask what stands out to them as important and meaningful and choose together to relish them. Take a photograph or journal about one moment.

    Power Verses 1 Peter 4:8; Psalm 90:12

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

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

  • Spirit Led Living

    Boyd

    “So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel.’ Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Zechariah 4:6

    The Holy Spirit is God’s fuel for living. He leads, convicts, comforts and gives courage. On the other hand the world promotes power and might. The world’s approach is forceful: If the door is closed knock it down, if you have the power and authority use it to make things happen. Lack of faith can panic and prematurely force unrighteous results.

    On the contrary, Spirit led living is about dependence. It is dependence on God rather than any other form of reliance. Money, might, and power are cheap imitations of God dependence. These temporal fortresses are fleeting. When all is said and done, they are undependable. Money, control and your title can be here today and gone tomorrow.

    But the Spirit of God wants you to grow in His awareness and follow His lead. Like a hurricane that gains strength as time passes, so does God’s Spirit. You cannot accomplish His best without the leadership and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. He may even lead you to places of discomfort as His desire is to place you in positions of dependence.

    The Holy Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, but the Word of God became Christ’s defense. He deflected the darts of the devil with the truth of God. It was an exercise of faith and obedience that drew Him closer to His heavenly Father. Instead of driving Him from God, it drew Him to God. The Holy Spirit’s goal is to get us to God.

    “Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” (Matthew 4:10-11).

    Submission to God revives the Spirit of God. Come under the authority of God and you have a source of strength that is limitless and energizing. God’s Spirit also produces fruit and creates character. This is another benefit of Spirit led living. It is not about techniques and tactics. It is first and foremost about the character of Christ transforming your life.

    Power explodes from within your heart rather than exploiting others with threats. There is quiet confidence that comes from a deep abiding in Christ. Spirit led moms pray more than they worry. They train and teach their children and all the while trust them with God. Anxiety is replaced with abiding. They do their part and trust God to do His part.

    Spirit led living is all about engrafting the Word of God into your life. The Holy Spirit ignites the fuel of God’s Word into a blaze of obedience. This is the power that changes lives and communities for the greater good of God. This exhibition of power may only make the headlines of heaven. Wait on God—Be Spirit led—Watch His power prevail!

    “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life” (John 6:63).

    Prayer: Where is the Holy Spirit leading me that requires uncommon faith and obedience?

    Related Readings: Exodus 31:3; John 3:34; Acts 4:25-31; 2 Timothy 1:7

    Post/Tweet today: Lack of faith can panic and prematurely force unrighteous results. But trust in God waits on His best. #Spiritledliving

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved. Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • POWERFUL PLEA FOR SAEED ABEDINI FROM 7EVENTH TIME DOWN

    A new music video from Kentucky-based 7eventh Time Down features an emotional message from the family of Saeed Abedini, an American pastor, father and husband currently imprisoned in Iran because of sharing his Christian faith.  The video for “Just Say Jesus” – the title track and latest single from the band’s sophomore project which released earlier this month via BEC Recordings – is in support of the Be Heard Project and the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) in an attempt to free Pastor Saeed from one of Iran’s most brutal prisons. The video was directed by Kevin Kookogey for First Company Management.

    “I pray that this video can be a loud voice in the conversation God is using to soften the heart of the Iranian government to release Saeed back to his family,” said Mikey Howard, lead singer of 7eventh Time Down. “We can not be silent.”

    On Thursday, Sept. 26, prayer vigils around the world will take place, including events planned in Brazil, Germany, Kenya, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Uganda and in over 80 cities in the U.S.  7eventh Time Down encourages fans to watch the video for “Just Say Jesus,” learn about Saeed’s story and pray for his immediate release back to his family and home in America.

    Almost one year ago to date, Pastor Saeed traveled to Iran in order to obtain approval from the Iranian government for a non-sectarian orphanage.  Two days before he was to return to America, Pastor Saeed was arrested and immediately put under house arrest for his faith and association with other believers.  It was shortly thereafter that Pastor Saeed would be sentenced to serve eight years in Evin Prison, an institution known for its ruthless and inhumane treatment of its inmates.

    Spearheaded by Saeed’s family and with the help of the Be Heard Project and the ACLJ, an international petition has commenced and hundreds of thousands of signatures have been obtained to demand the release of this innocent man.  7eventh Time Down sought to bring attention and awareness to Saeed’s story via their music video for “Just Say Jesus,” which features national news footage detailing his imprisonment and images of him and his family interspersed during a live performance of the song.

    Most recently, Saeed’s wife – Naghmeh Abedini – personally delivered a letter pleading for her husband’s release to Iranian President Rouhani after their chance meeting in New York.  Among her letter are over 90,000 others that have been sent to Iran’s new president on behalf of Pastor Saeed.

  • Letting God Fill My Empty Places

    Renee

    "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1 (NIV)

    It was a source she'd come to depend on. A place she went to get her needs met. But it was never enough; every day she came back for more.

    Filling her jar with water, the woman looked up and heard Him ask her for a drink. He offered her something in return: living water. Unlike the water she came to get that day, He said the water He offered would satisfy her so deeply she'd never thirst again.

    But she had a hard time believing His promise. "You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?" (John 4:11 NIV) She asked.

    What she didn't realize was that Jesus wanted to satisfy a deeper thirst in her heart—a longing He'd created to lead her heart to Him: the One and only Source that could satisfy her soul.

    All He needed to draw with was His Spirit, for it would draw her near to Him. And as far as the depth of the well, it was her heart He was looking into. She was the only one who could stop Him from reaching the empty places in her heart.

    I know that place of needing Jesus to look into my heart and show me the emptiness only He can fill.

    Like the woman at the well, I've depended on other means to get my needs met. Yet when I look to them, instead of Him, they are never enough.

    I've looked to people: family and friends, bosses and boyfriends, teachers and mentors, my husband and my kids. I've longed for their approval and the affirmation that comes with it.

    I've also looked to possessions and positions and accidentally put my hope in recognition. I've thought "if only I had or could ... then I'd be fulfilled."

    But no matter how much I do or get, it's never enough to fill me up. And it's not supposed to be.

    Why? Because the empty places in our hearts were created to be filled by God alone. The deepest thirst of our souls can only be quenched by Him.

    We see this deep thirst even in King David, who had everything: the highest position, unlimited possessions, and great power, yet none of it was enough. He described himself as parched and thirsty for God:

    You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. (Ps. 63:1 NIV)

    Then David went on to describe what he experienced when he drank deeply of God's love:

    I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands. (vv. 2–4 NIV)

    And the same thing happened to the woman Jesus met at the well that day. She drank deeply of His love and was filled to overflowing, and we can be too.

    Just like the woman at the well, God put a longing in our hearts that was intended to lead us back to Him. Only His unconditional acceptance, approval, and affirmation can fill the empty places in our hearts-the deepest thirst of our souls. Until God's love and acceptance is enough, nothing else will be.

    Dear Lord, show me the empty places in my heart and the ways I try to fill them. Then lead me back to You and show me how I can position my heart to be filled and fulfilled by Your promises and the power of Your love. In Jesus' Name, amen.

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    Reflect and Respond: What or who do you depend on to fill the empty places in your heart?

    What would change if you allowed God's unconditional acceptance and approval to fill the deepest thirst of your soul?

    Power Verses: Psalm 143:8, "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life." (NIV)

    Jeremiah 2:13, "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Lord Help Me

    Boyd

    “The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.” Matthew 15:25

    A life lived well requires help from the Lord. Life is like a ship on the open sea: we navigate through calm waters, rough waters, uncertain waters and beautiful waters—but all the time trusting its Creator. The source of our strength must be Christ, or we grow chronically tired. Faith in the Lord triumphs over fear and frustration—this especially is true when someone we love suffers severely and all we can do is lift them up to Jesus.

    Indeed, His help happens to those who kneel in humble dependency and cry out to Jesus, “Lord help me!” When the body writhes in pain, we cry for help. When a critical word crushes our spirit, we cry for help. When unanswered questions stalk our minds, we cry for help. When relational conflict emaciates our emotions, we cry for help. Help from heaven gives hope, healing and the energy to push through tough times and trust Him.

    “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him” (Psalm 28:7).

    His help gives joy where laughter has left. His help gives confidence in the middle of crisis. His help forgives when hurt has severed another’s trust. His help harnesses grace and bridles a toxic tongue. His help reaches to the poorest of the poor, the richest of the rich and everyone in between—with His saving grace in Jesus Christ. His help helps.

    How can Jesus help you? Do you need wisdom? Ask Him with a humble heart and He will hear and answer your request. His response may come in the form of godly friends who give you wise advice—so look around and listen intently—for the Lord speaks through those who truly love you. Jesus helps those who humbly seek out and trust wise counsel.

    “When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge” (Proverbs 21:11).

    Furthermore, who do you know that needs the Lord’s help? Have you, on bended knee, petitioned Jesus on their behalf? Be bold for their sakes and for the glory of God. Go to Jesus so someone can get to Jesus in healing and forgiveness. Be an advocate for others, as some don’t know what they don’t know—ignorance requires bold belief on its behalf.

    “May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day” (2 Timothy 1:18a).

    Prayer: What help do I need from the Lord? Whom can I seek help from the Lord for on their behalf?

    Related Readings: Psalm 30:2, 10; 33:20; Isaiah 41:13-14; Acts 20:35; Hebrews 13:6

    Post/Tweet today: God’s help gives joy where laughter has left. He gives confidence in the middle of crisis. #God’shelp

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved. Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Newsboys - Live with Abandon (video)

    Continuing their reign as one of Christian music’s most popular and compelling groups, Newsboys returns with the album Restart, featuring the single "Live With Abandon." With former dcTalk member Michael Tait on vocals, Newsboys makes a unique connection with every listener.

    Check out their new video for their new single, "Live With Abandon" here:

    What do you think?

  • Story Behind the Song - God of Every Story

    Laura Story continues to encourage and challenge her listeners. She does this by allowing them to see a bit more of her heart. Her struggles. Where she has been. What she is facing today.

    Lyrically, God of Every Story draws from Laura’s own life. Her husband’s brain tumor early in their marriage led the young family down a painful path she wouldn’t have chosen, but one that deepened her faith and her music. Those lyrics also share of Martin and Laura being first time parents.  The resulting song shows God’s love and grace intersecting with real life, reminding us that God is the ultimate story teller.

    Watch the story behind the song video here:

  • Two-time GRAMMY Winner Matt Redman Reveals Powerful New Album

    Acclaimed worship leader and two-time GRAMMY® winner Matt Redman has had quite a few reasons to celebrate this year with the success of his impactful song “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord).” Following the highly revered song and album comes his latest project, Your Grace Finds Me. The lead single and title track pulls together the powerful message that even in the midst of battle and blessing, the highest high of a wedding day or when weeping by a graveside, God’s grace is always active and present.

    A song devotional for Your Grace Finds Me can be found by clicking here.

    The infectious melodies and poignant lyrics found in this 12-track record continues to showcase Redman’s innate gift to churn heartfelt prayers into worship songs. Here is just a glimpse of the praises critics are giving Your Grace Finds Me:

    "In 'Your Grace Finds Me,' Matt Redman continues to write songs that both challenge and encourage.  No wonder he is one of the most sung artist in our day and age on Sunday mornings" - Dan H. Music Buyer, Family Christian

    "More upbeat than previous outings, the eleventh release by U.K. worship songsmith Matt Redman was recorded live at Passion City Church in Atlanta...fist-pumping worship for people who don’t want to sit in their seats anymore." - RELEVANT Magazine

    "Tis the season to be deluged by a slew of releases, and in this Best of the Best season, it is fitting that one of the most notable is from Matt Redman...the consistent message of God’s mercy and grace told in Redman’s direct, joyous, uplifting and Scripturally-tethered style is once again a gift to the Church." - Worship Leader

    "Matt Redman carries his faith, his voice, his ministry with a humble, quiet dignity. Your Grace Finds Me not only offers a glimpse into the heart of an artist willing and ready to allow God to be God; it invites listeners to do the same." - CCM Magazine

    "If you're looking for quality musicianship that leads you into the worship place, you will thoroughly enjoy Matt Redman’s new album. Beautiful." - HM Magazine

    "Matt Redman has again shown his willingness and ability to produce songs the global church can claim as their own. With a fresh sound, thought-out arrangements and lyrics that are steeped in worship, Your Grace Finds Me is a brilliant modern praise album." - Louder Than the Music

    "What endears this U.K. native once again on this new record, is his ongoing ability to create a worship experience for all of us: an experience that is cognitively descriptive giving us food for thought. Yet, it is also gloriously edgy to the spiritually malleable." -Breathecast

    "[Matt Redman] is still the world Church's most consistent creator of heartwarming worship songs." -Cross Rhythms

    "You feel like you've experienced a moment, embraced a movement. Matt Redman doesn't just entertain with uplifting lyrics, he teaches through song and gives your spirit plenty to ponder." -Hallels.com

    Redman recorded Your Grace Finds Me at Passion City Church’s ‘LIFT: A Worship Leader Collective’ in Atlanta, GA. The event was hosted by Louie Giglio and GRAMMY® winner Chris Tomlin and included worship leaders from all across the country. Adding to this year’s impressive accolades –two GRAMMY® awards, a Billboard Music Award, “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)” receiving this year’s ASCAP’s Christian Music Song of the Year and being RIAA Certified Gold – Redman was recently honored with nine Dove Award nominations including “Songwriter of the Year” and “Song of the Year.”

  • Award-Winning Musician and Singer Gordon Mote Releases Album

    One of the most beloved and respected musicians/singers in the music industry, Gordon Mote, has released his latest project All Things New. The album was co-produced by Frank Rogers (Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker), and Dove-Award winning producers, Wayne Haun and Russell Mauldin. The project features vocal collaborations with such major artists as the Gaither Vocal Band, Trace Adkins, Darius Rucker, Josh Turner, Matthew West, and Scotty McCreery.

    “I wanted this project to encourage others to let the Lord use the rough parts of their lives for His glory just like He has in mine,” says Mote. “Being born blind, God has given me so many blessings in spite of the setbacks I have had in my life. If we’ll give God the chance to make all things new, He will.”

    The powerful ballad, “Faith Like That,” is the first single being serviced to Christian radio, and the heartfelt lyrics were co-written by award-winning songwriters Don Sampson (“Waitin’ On A Woman”) and Jim Brown (“Five O’Clock Somewhere”).  A noted songwriter himself, Mote co-wrote four songs on the new album including, “All Things New,” “Sound A Dream Makes,” “For You,” and the autobiographical “Broken Open.” The latter song describes Mote’s personal journey of clinging to his faith to overcome a broken heart and how God can lift us up even during our darkest hours.

    “I had a wonderful childhood, but grew somewhat lonely as a teenager as my friends were getting driver’s licenses and leaving me behind,” explains Mote. “Whether you’re blind or not, all of us experience insecurities. I learned that my brokenness made me more open to God’s love as well as more sensitive to the brokenness in other’s lives.”

    In spite of what society calls a handicap, Mote has miraculously overcome multiple obstacles with his blindness that include; playing piano at 3-years-old without any professional training, being the first blind student in the country to be accepted into the public school system, graduating high school with honors, receiving a full scholarship to Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, and graduating from Belmont University in Nashville, TN with Cum Laude honors and a music degree.

    Two days after graduation, Mote began touring with Country artist Lee Greenwood’s band, which led to the talented musician touring and recording with such major superstars as Trisha Yearwood, Brad Paisley, Bob Seger, Alan Jackson, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Gaither Vocal Band, and Lionel Richie.

    Mote’s keyboard skills led him to being honored twice by the Academy of Country Music for Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year Awards, as well as two Music Row Magazine Instrumentalist of the Year Awards for playing on the most Top Ten albums. Mote has released nine albums as an independent artist, with If You Could Hear What I See earning Mote his first Dove nomination in 2004. Mote remains an active touring act by performing over 150 dates a year.

  • When Your Mess Becomes Your Message

    Micca

    "Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise." (Jeremiah 17:14 NIV)

    For twenty years, my brother was absent from our family because of drug addiction. Countless times, we thought he was dead; according to drug abuse statistics, he should have been. However, my brother is living proof that God is in the restoration business. It doesn't matter who you are, what you've done, or what has been done to you. God is willing and able to turn any tragedy into triumph.

    After entering many treatment programs with hopes of success and end results of failure, my brother finally found the answer: Jesus. It wasn't until he met the Lord that he experienced lasting healing and life change. Suddenly, all things became new.

    My brother didn't have the strength, willpower, or ability to free himself from bondage, but that changed when he surrendered his life to Christ. The same is true for us. No matter what the bondage is—drugs, lust, gluttony, pride, anger, or fear—until we renounce our sickness and surrender to Christ, we will never experience freedom. On the other hand, when we are willing to give King Jesus our mess, He turns it into our message. And that's exactly what happened to my brother. Not a day goes by that my brother doesn't look for opportunities to brag on God and share His message of hope.

    Such an opportunity arose one evening when my sister, brother, and I met together for dinner at a local restaurant. Our server was twenty-six-year-old Tiffany. Right away, we noticed two things about Tiffany. She had a natural gift for putting people at ease, and she was very pregnant. While we enjoyed her kind service, we had no idea that God would soon call us to serve her.

    It started when my sister refused to allow my brother to pay for her dinner. While my sister loves to give to others, she's not so good at receiving. I, on the other hand, understood that it gave my brother great pleasure to pick up the check. The Lord knows I didn't want to deny him his blessing!

    Poor Tiffany found herself caught in the middle. Eager to win her over to his side, my brother said to Tiffany, "You see, I was a drug addict for years. During that time, my sisters did a lot for me. Now, I just want to bless them."

    Tiffany's eyes widened. "You were a drug addict?" she inquired. "I would have never guessed."

    "Yes, I was," my brother replied. "But Jesus changed all that." Then he told Tiffany his life-changing story.

    "I went from being lost to being found; from being homeless to being a homeowner; from being an employee to owning my own business; from being bound by drugs to being set free in Christ."

    Tears filled Tiffany's eyes as we shared God's love with her. That's not all. Later that week, we confirmed God's love to her by presenting her with a gift for her baby.

    When you and I—like my brother—allow God to turn our mess into our message, He not only changes our lives, but He changes the lives of others too.

    Dear Lord, Your mercy astounds me. Give me opportunities to speak of Your hope so others may know Your goodness and salvation. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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    Remember No matter what your bondage, surrendering it to Christ is the pathway to freedom.

    Reflect What steps do you need to take today to move from bondage to freedom? Reflect with gratitude on how God has turned your mess into a message that can encourage or bring life change to others.

    Respond Go for it! Write out your story of surrender and ask God to provide opportunities for you to encourage others.

    Power Verses Luke 19:10; Ephesians 2:8-9

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

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

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