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  • Stop and Pray


    "Then I prayed to the God of heaven ..." Nehemiah 2:4b (NIV)

    We were always in the car going to this counselor or that doctor. Regardless of the interventions, my son's grades continued to slip. Every weekly report said the same thing: disorganized, unfocused and unable to follow class rules.

    What had I done wrong? I should have read to him more. I should have waited one more year to start him in school. Too many questions and not enough answers. Mentally and physically, I was exhausted.

    One day faded into the next. I was tired of moving forward only to run into another obstacle impeding my progress. I was tired of expelling my energies trying to make a difference.

    During these difficult days, my friends directed me to Scripture. They prayed for me. They reminded me to pray. However, when I bowed my head to pray, the weight of my circumstances was heavy. I was just too tired. Maybe you can relate.

    I remembered a man in the Bible who faced challenging circumstances. His name was Nehemiah and he ran into one obstacle after another. He expelled all his energy each day trying to make a difference, but regardless of his efforts, he still faced opposition. Unlike me, this man was not too tired to pray.

    Nehemiah accompanied God's people, the Israelites, back to Jerusalem after they'd been held captivity in Babylon. He was motivated to help his people rebuild the ancient Jewish capital that had been destroyed (2 Chronicles 36:15-21).

    Having the favor of the king and God's presence on his side, one would assume the assignment would have been easier. However, two government officials made it their personal business to undermine the rebuilding progress. Nehemiah responded to each insult and obstacle the same way: He prayed.

    In order to revive their spirits, restore their energy and continue building, Nehemiah and the Israelites found they needed to stop and pray often! When the insults began, they prayed. When their enemies placed an obstacle in front of them, they prayed. Yes, through powerful and persistent prayer, Nehemiah and company defeated their enemies by rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem in record time.

    Let's sum up Nehemiah's prayer with a simple, easy to remember acronym: SAP (Stop And Pray). Interestingly enough, this acronym is found in the dictionary and when used as a noun can be defined as energy and vitality. For greater impact, we can unpack the word further. Just as the sap of a tree brings health, sap means the power to live and grow.

    Nehemiah had the right idea. By making prayer his priority, he discovered it was enough to revive his spirit and restore the mental and physical energy needed to overcome every challenge he faced.

    Are you facing a challenge? Do you feel too tired to pray? Let's allow the power of prayer to revive our spirits, and restore our physical and mental vigor. No matter what the obstacle, SAP. Each time an insult comes your way, SAP. You will have the energy needed to defeat your enemy and persevere with greater strength than you ever thought possible.

    Dear Lord, through the power of prayer, today's challenge can be tomorrow's victory. Help me SAP when adversity comes my way. Thank You for prayer and the power I receive when I turn to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Ephesians 3:20, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." (NIV)

    Romans 8:26-27, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God." (NIV)

    Write the acronym SAP and its meaning (energy and vitality) on several note cards. Place them in your home, car, work and Bible.

    © 2014 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • When You Can't See What God Is Building


    "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

    It started out as a simple school assignment, but turned into a lesson from God.

    My son's seventh-grade Social Studies teacher told students to build a pyramid. There were no specifics about how tall, big or what materials to use. The students were only told to use their imaginations.

    When my son told me about the project, I immediately put on my crafty-mom hat. How much foam core board and hot glue would we need to form a pyramid? I was ready to get started, but when Michael told his daddy about the project, it took on a whole new twist. Before I knew it, we were all at the local hardware store shopping for lumber and nails.

    Lumber and nails? "Ummmm, honey, it's a seventh grade project," I said to my husband as if he had forgotten. He simply smiled and replied, "I know."

    I had no idea how a few two-by-four's could be transformed into a pyramid, and it's not at all the way I would've done it. But my husband had a clear mental picture of the outcome. We simply had to trust him.

    He and my son spent hours in the cold garage, measuring, sawing and nailing boards. Step by step, a pyramid evolved. We anxiously waited for my husband's vision to become visible. And when it did, it truly was a masterpiece.

    As I marveled at this work of art crafted by the hands of my husband and son, God spoke gently to my spirit, reminding me of how I had once questioned His building abilities. All those years when I thought He didn't love me or see my pain. All those years spent questioning His ways and wondering why He had allowed difficult circumstances in my life. All those times I felt mad at God, and wondered if He was mad at me for my sin and my mistakes.

    But now I see the bigger picture. I can look back and see how God was crafting my future based on the experiences — good and bad — of my past.

    God chose this crafty moment to whisper to my spirit, "Tracie, I have been building something good, beyond your human understanding. I have a purpose for what you have been through, and in time you will see My masterpiece."

    Today's key verse reminds us that we are God's workmanship, His masterpiece. The word "workmanship" was used in ancient Greek literature to refer to what a person made or did, and our God is "making" each of us. In Ephesians 2:10, we are urged to remember that just as a painter, sculptor, writer or builder creates their masterpieces, our lives are being crafted by our Creator, making use of all the good things, and difficult things.

    When we look back over our lives and see hardships, God sees learning experiences. When we remember difficulties, God sees how He helped us overcome them. When we see pain, God sees the foundation for a unique way to minister to others.

    Step by step, day by day, God is working and building, creating a beautiful exhibition of His Presence in our lives. He wants us to see what He sees, and view our lives as a work-in-progress, trusting that He is up to something good. Although we may not like the building process, it may become the one thing God uses to bless us most.

    In the same way my husband had a clear mental picture of what he planned to build, God has a clear holy vision about what He is building in our lives, and in His timing, we will get a glimpse of His masterpiece too.

    Dear Lord, I believe that You are doing a good work in me and through me. Help me to embrace the promise that You are building a good thing in my life, a masterpiece of Your own making, that one day I will be able to see. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Hebrews 3:4, "For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God." (NLT)

    Psalm 139:13, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." (NIV)

    How has God been working in your life?

    How have your experiences equipped you to minister to others in a special way?

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Join Us For the #JesusCalling Twitter Party! 11/14 1-2pm EST Over $500 in prizes!

    jesus calling

    Do you like Jesus Calling books?  Are you on Twitter?  Do you like FREE prizes?   If you said "yes" to any of these questions then you will want to join us TOMORROW for the #JesusCalling Twitter Party!  We hope to see you there!

    Where: https://tweetdeck.twitter.com or follow along with #JesusCalling
    When: November 14th 1-2 pm EST
    What: Twitter party to discuss the best selling book Jesus Calling
    Prizes: 5 participants will win the deluxe edition of Jesus Calling and a $50 appreciation certificate. 5 other readers will win a $50 appreciation certificate.



    So mark your calendars and spread the word and join us on the 14th!

  • When You Can't See How


    "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." Roman 8:28 (NIV)

    All I could see were the hard parts. Everything we would have to give up: sleep, money, comfort, familiarity, others' approval. All the hard things we would have to navigate: huge expenses and significant changes.

    What if our sons resented us for re-arranging their lives forever? What if our parents and extended family didn't approve? What if we exhausted our time, emotions and money only to end up with broken hearts and an empty bank account?

    How could God work all that together for good? I couldn't see how. I could only see "hard."

    Yet it was undeniable. Confirmations chased us down. My husband and I knew God was calling our family to adopt a severely malnourished baby girl from Ethiopia.

    After a year of paperwork, waiting, praying and wondering how, our family traveled to Ethiopia to get our little girl in October 2009.

    Was it hard? Yes. Even more than I imagined.

    But as I trace God's hand over the past five years since we brought Aster home, I see Him working so many things together for good. I see a handwritten love letter, written to our little girl from her Heavenly Father on every page of our adoption story.

    I see God working, even the hard things, together for good.

    Despite our inadequacy, sadness and fear of the unknown when Aster was diagnosed with a speech disorder, global developmental delays, low muscle tone and sensory processing disorder, I now see God working it all for good.

    I see God working, even the overwhelming things, together for good.

    I see how a year of sleepless nights brought out servants hearts in our teenage sons when they saw their dad struggling with depression caused by sleep-deprivation. So they decided to take turns sleeping on a mattress in their sister's room to relieve her anxiety and give us sleep.

    I see God working, even the embarrassing things, together for good.

    Like the day I had a meltdown in my car because I was overwhelmed by the task of carpooling three kids and coordinating Aster's therapy appointments. The day a stranger tapped on my window to see if I was okay. That same afternoon I ran out of gas on my way to get my youngest son, and my oldest son, with a new cast on his broken foot, had to push our car off the road. I see awesome stories for them to tell their children one day.

    And on those days when my reality doesn't look or feel like "good" to me, I ask God to help me see how He's keeping the promise found in today's key verse: "that in all things [He} works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Roman 8:28).

    What I've discovered is this: God is always working things together for good, but not just for our good. Sometimes we are part of His working things together for someone else's good.

    You see, I believe Jesus heard a mother in Africa praying for her baby. A mother who was living in the middle of "hard" like I'd never imagined. A mother who couldn't see how she could give her little girl the nurture and nutrition she needed.

    And when God heard that mama's prayers, He tapped on the hearts of a family in North Carolina who loved Him and were called according to His purpose.

    I believe God saw an orphanage in Ethiopia searching for a forever family to provide unconditional love and medical care for an 8-pound, 6-month old baby with pneumonia.

    So Jesus went back to that family in North Carolina who prayed that He would reveal Himself to them and through them, knowing this little girl would be an answer to that prayer.

    When all I could see was hard, all God could see was how.

    Is there a relationship or situation in your life where all you see is hard? Have you asked God how He can work this together for good?

    I don't know about you, but I need a tangible reminder that He can. A visual to help me see how He does, like the beautiful bead necklace I'm wearing today made from repurposed bullets found in the rubble of Ethiopian soil.

    Each time I look in the mirror I remember how God answered a desperate mother's prayers for her baby's needs and filled my family's longing to experience more of Him. Only He could know how much we needed the gift of a little girl to light up our world, and to remind us that He indeed works all things together for good!

    Lord, some days all I can see is the hard stuff. Help me see how I can be part of YOUR working all things together for the good of someone else today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Ephesians 1:11, "Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan." (NLT)

    Is there a situation or relationship where God may want you to be part of His "working all things together for good" for someone else?

    Make a few "deposits" of good in a hard relationship or circumstance this week as you ask God to reveal His heart to you and through you.

    © 2014 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • 3 Ways to Press Through Unanswered Prayer


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

    I opened the anonymous letter and my heart sank. It was from another mom who wanted to make sure I had a list of all the ways one of my daughters was falling short. There in black and white she listed my daughter's mistakes, shortcomings and frailties.

    And then just to make sure I took her nameless letter seriously, she informed me she'd be sending a copy to my pastor.

    My initial reaction was figure out who sent this so I could call her. Talk this through face-to-face. Assure her my husband and I were not only aware of some struggles my daughter was having but also working diligently to help her course-correct.

    But as I reread the letter, I discerned it wasn't sent from a place of love for my family or a heart that wanted to help.

    From the language she used and the fact that there wasn't a way to contact her, it was obvious she didn't send it because she wanted the best for my daughter.

    I sat on the edge of my bed and cried.

    It's so hard to have someone attack you in an area that's already rubbed raw with hardship. Her letter was like a bullet straight to my heart.

    However, it was also a wake-up call to get more intentional in praying for my daughter. I thought about her struggles a lot. I talked about her struggles. I worried about her struggles.

    But thinking about, talking about and worrying about something is not the same as praying about it.

    I determined to turn this letter that felt like a bullet into a blessing by using it as a catalyst to ramp up my prayer life.

    Through my tears I cried out to the Lord, "I will not sacrifice Your grace for my child on the altar of people's opinions. Of course I want my daughter to walk the straight and narrow path of great choices. But I trust You Lord to write her testimony. My main goal for her is not behavior modification but total heart transformation. I want her to want You, Lord, and Your best for her life. Give me the courage to not just pray about my daughter, but to pray her all the way through this."

    Praying her through the ups and downs wasn't easy. There were days I wondered if God was even hearing my prayers.

    It's tough to pray someone all the way through a messy, hard, complicated situation and not see answers. Maybe you've been there. Maybe you are there now.

    Can I speak hope into your heart with 3 ways to press through unanswered prayers?

    1. Know with confidence God hears your prayers.

    1 John 5:14 reminds us, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us" (NIV).

    2. Trust that prayer makes a difference, even when you don't see the difference.

    It may take a while for you to see God answer your prayers. But don't miss an "in the meantime answer" you can receive right away. Philippians 4: 6-7 reminds us of the immediate answer to every prayer: "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." (NIV)

    Did you catch it? It's the peace of God that will guard your heart and mind in the process while you're waiting for God to reveal His answer to your request. When you pray, you can trust you are doing your part and God will certainly do His part.

    3. Tell fear it has no place in this conversation.

    These prayers are your gateway to feel an assurance you don't see yet. But fear will beg you to focus on the problem more than God's promises. Isaiah 41:10 says, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (NIV).

    It's been a year and a half since I got that hard letter that prompted more frequent prayers for my daughter ... that bullet that turned into a blessing. I recently visited her at college and could hardly believe my eyes.

    She's a completely different girl.

    At one point during our time together, I asked her, "What finally made following Jesus wholeheartedly click for you?" She said, "Mom, I've made friends who love Jesus. I saw a joy in them that I wanted. So, I started doing what they do even when I didn't want to. At first I thought getting up to do devotions was unrealistic, prayer meetings were boring, and listening to praise music, excessive. But as I kept doing these things, the Lord started changing my thought patterns. And when I started thinking about life from the standpoint of truth, I had so much more joy."

    She then paused and said words I've longed to hear and prayed to hear for so long, "Mom, I've just completely fallen in love with Jesus."

    I can hardly type those words without crying.

    I pray this infuses your heart with hope to keep praying. I pray you believe God can take the things others intended to harm you or the ones you love, and use them for good to accomplish His purposes as today's key verse reminds us.

    I need a visual reminder of these truths. And I'm wondering if you do too. This month Proverbs 31 Ministries has partnered with Fashion and Compassion to create beautiful jewelry using repurposed bullets from Ethiopia. Our hope is that when we wear one of the From Bullets to Blessings pieces, you and I can be reminded to pray with deep assurance that God hears us and will bring good from this in His time.

    And if you want my team and me to pray alongside you, visit my blog by clicking here and leave a comment about what you are believing for in prayer today.

    Dear Lord, only You can turn what was meant for evil into good. I thank You in advance for all that You're going to do in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reread the three truths Lysa talked about. Then, choose one that you're going to hold on to this week.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Sick-of-Me Life


    "Then I pray to you, O LORD. I say, 'You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.'" Psalm 142:5 (NLT)

    I must be honest: I need God to consume me more than my life currently does.

    Life ... the often busy, imperfect, challenging daily ride that brings with it human struggle.

    The truth is, I am sick of me.

    I am sick of being afraid. I am sick of being hot and cold for God, depending on my circumstance. I am sick of wrestling with the same things I've wrestled with for most of my life.

    I want to be well. I want to be productive and joyful. I want to be useful for the Kingdom, valuable to my family, and have something to show of my time on earth. When I meet God one day, I want to say with open hands, Here's what I did with the life You gave me.

    I want God. I want Him to show up tangibly in me. I want Him to blow me away with insights and remind me that He is bigger than all my daily crazy. I want Him to sweep me off my feet and take me on one of His many amazing adventures.

    It is not a bad thing when we are sick of ourselves. It is, in fact, a good thing. Because that's when we will desire God in such a big way that we are willing to let go of the steering wheel of our life and let God drive us into our future.

    The sick-of-me life says:

    I'm tired of fighting for people to love me. I'm exhausted by this chase for approval.

    I'm tired of watching God use other people. I want Him to use me.

    I'm tired of being halfway in with God. I want to get off the spiritual roller coaster where I'm good one minute and the next minute I don't want to pray or read my Bible. I want to make progress.

    I'm tired of making decisions based on my fear of the unknown and my desire for comfort. I want to be free from the chains that have kept me bound.

    I'm tired of trying to control everything. I want to finally know and rest in God's ability to take care of it all.

    Here's something beautiful: If we want God, in all these areas and in any way we need Him, we can have Him. But we have to be tired of our usual life.

    We have to get to the point where we say, I am sick of me. Not in a self-loathing way, but in a way that says, God, consume my life. It is in this posture of humility where God can change things. It is here that He moves, alters, heals and takes over.

    Assuring us with His love while helping us change.

    Overwhelming us with His presence.

    Consuming us more than our daily lives.

    Guiding us into a soul revival.

    As only He can, God hears this sick-of-me heart cry and responds in an equally passionate way. Because He is good. Because He wants us to come to the end of ourselves so He can redeem and use our life.

    Because it shows Him we want Him, more than anything else. That's what He wants most too.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for being worthy of our desire. Help me, in the busyness and craziness of my life, to want You more than anything else. I am needy, and I am tired of my usual life — even a good life is not truly good without You. With Your help, I promise to do whatever it takes to change. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Romans 2:4, "God is kind, but he's not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change." (MSG)

    John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (ESV)

    How does the "sick-of-me life" help bring you closer to Jesus?

    In what ways are you "sick of you" and ready for God to take over and change things?

    © 2014 by Lisa Whittle. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Harvest House Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

  • Pray Any Time for Any Reason, However Small or Off-the-Wall


    "Pray continually, ..." 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV)

    My due date was circled in ink, but babies are famous for ignoring calendars. Two weeks after that long-anticipated day came and went, I wondered if our son would ever make his grand entrance into the world.

    Naturally, my main concern was delivering a healthy baby, though I was a teensy bit worried about handling my part. Okay, more than a teensy.

    On that hot August evening, when my husband, Bill, and I drove off to the hospital, we were certain our endless wait was over.

    Not quite. I labored in vain. And prayed nonstop.

    After 22 hours, I was hungry, exhausted and scared. Plans for a C-section were put in motion, beginning with moving me from my comfy hospital bed onto a narrow gurney with wheels. Not a big deal unless you're nine and a half months pregnant.

    The two young orderlies, with wary expressions, did not inspire confidence. A headline flitted through my addled mind: Mother Delivers Bouncing Baby Boy While Bouncing.

    I've prayed some unusual prayers in my lifetime, but Please don't let them drop me! was a new one. Even thinking those words felt foolish, but I silently prayed them nonetheless, desperate for a safe landing.

    Please, Lord. Help me be brave. And help them be strong. Please?

    A moment later, into my hospital room strolled an angel in blue: Don, the nurse anesthetist. Built like an oversized teddy bear swathed in scrubs, he stood next to my bed, his round face beaming. "Are you ready?"

    I gulped. Here we go. The dreaded mid-air move.

    After assessing the situation, Don waved away the two nervous orderlies and blithely announced, "I'll take care of Mrs. Higgs."

    My hero.

    I'd never in my adult life been carried anywhere. Even Bill hadn't swept me over the threshold of our honeymoon suite. We'd just held hands and jumped. Now I was going to allow a complete stranger to do what seemed impossible.

    Don leaned closer. "Can you put your hands around my neck?"

    I could and did, though they were clammy and trembling with fatigue. Would the Lord answer my prayer, or was it time to set the type for that banner headline?

    As if I weighed nothing more than a pillow, the big man with a big heart lifted me off the bed, swung me through the air, and gently placed me on the gurney without so much as a grunt.

    "Nothing to it," he assured me.

    Maybe not for Don. Clearly not for God. He'd sent His best — a Paul Bunyan of a guy, whose heart belonged entirely to Him.

    Four hours later, Don moved me again, this time into a recovery bed. He tucked a precious bundle into my arms and whispered, "Look what a gift God has given you this night."

    Don didn't know that the name we'd chosen for our son meant "gift of God." But the Lord knew.

    His Word tells us, "A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world" (John 16:21, NIV).

    So right. My pain was gone, my prayers were answered, and my joy was over the moon. God had provided safe transport in the arms of His willing servant, and He really came through on my prayers for a healthy baby — Matthew weighed 11 pounds, 12-1/2 ounces. Definitely healthy.

    Knowing the Lord hears every request, big or small, normal or off-the-wall, our job is clear. Pray continually. Wait expectantly. Trust fearlessly.

    Lord, You are beyond faithful. Even before we put our prayers into words, You know what we need and are working on our behalf. Thank You for always listening and always loving. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Psalm 5:2, "Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray." (NIV)

    Mark 11:24, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (NIV)

    Psalm 66:20, "Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!" (NIV)

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

  • Controlling the Green Monster of Envy


    "It's healthy to be content, but envy can eat you up." Proverbs 14:30 (CEV)

    I was the maid of honor. I was supposed to smile. Be happy. Celebrate another.

    But I couldn't do it.

    I'm sure I faked it well enough. I mean ... I showed up didn't I? I participated in all of the required events and followed through on all of my responsibilities.

    But my heart was like ice.

    As the date for the wedding drew near, my heart was breaking. I was angry that it was her and not me. I was disappointed that I still hadn't met "that" guy. You know ... "the" guy. The one I desired to spend the rest of my life with — and who felt the same way about me.

    I was tired of celebrating everybody else.

    Although my mind directed my heart to revel in the moment of another, my heart was in full-scale rebellion and refused to soften. It was a sheer act of the will that made me show up at all of the functions. It was pure pain to stand next to the bride and watch her get exactly what I longed for myself.

    I was jealous.

    The green monster of envy had taken up residence inside of me.

    Jealousy was an issue for me even before this wedding stuff, but I assumed that infectious green organism was tucked away in a back room somewhere.

    I was wrong.

    That wedding was the key that unlocked the door and unexpectedly let the creature out of its secure location. Now, it was taking over.

    Somewhere down deep, the best of who I am wanted to feel joy for the bride. But I couldn't.

    It wasn't an issue of mind over matter. It was an issue of my misery overtaking my mood.

    I wish I could say I got control of that green-eyed monster before the actual wedding began. But no.

    I'm ashamed to say I allowed my envy to eat me alive. I'm ashamed to say that I was a blot on what was otherwise a beautiful day. And I'm ashamed to say that day was the day of my sister's wedding.

    I simply wasn't happy for her. I couldn't be. I was too consumed with myself.

    I had spent so much time and energy over the years lamenting the parts of my life I disliked, that I'd unknowingly left the door of my heart wide open.

    And when that small green beast slipped in, I didn't kick it out. In fact, I hospitably fed it, nurtured it and coddled it with brooding breakfasts, melancholy midday meals, snacks of sarcasm and dinners of dissatisfactions.

    I simply did not take my envy problem seriously and work diligently to get rid of it.

    I fed it, and it grew. I became an ugly green girl.

    That's what happens when we don't nip envy in the bud. Left unattended, it can become a difficult guest to move out.

    While it is not easy to deal with this sin of the heart, it is absolutely necessary if you want your heart to be clean and clear before God.

    How do you get rid of a jealous, envious heart?

    Give thanks. Learn contentment. But most importantly, love others.

    "Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud ..." (1 Corinthians 13:4, CEV)

    Where there is love, there is less room for things that oppose it.

    You may think: How do I love my way out of jealousy or envy when I don't feel love?

    You act like you do. In time, your feelings will follow your feet.

    Show love.

    Actively bless that person by looking for opportunities to show your care and concern. Encourage, praise and pray for the person. Practice shifting your mind from your own desires to needs of a sister or brother in Christ.

    Love so well that envy has no room to breathe.

    That day at the wedding, I fell short of God's call to love. But through His grace, I've been given more chances. And with His strength, I'm more able to kick that green-eyed monster out of my heart.

    Father God, forgive me for how I have allowed envy to grow in my heart. Sometimes I don't realize how easy it is to nurture jealousy and before I know it, I have turned into a green girl. Help me as I seek to learn contentment and show love to others in a way that pleases You. Wash my green clean with Your precious blood. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Galatians 5:26, "Let's not become arrogant, make each other angry, or be jealous of each other." (CEB)

    Romans 13:13-14, "Let us walk properly as in the daytime ... not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." (ESV)

    How has envy of another person or a situation affected your ability to experience joy?

    What can you do to love your way out of a place of envy? How can you encourage the one whose presence usually brings your green monster out of hiding?

    What will you do today to practice thankfulness and to choose contentment?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Recapturing Us in the Midst of Our Rush


    "Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other." Romans 12:9-10 (NLT)

    Do you ever wonder exactly what God wants you to do, especially when you have so many options and demands to manage?

    So often, we want big directional signs from God. But God just wants us to pay attention to what He places right in front of us. I learned this early on in ministry when I had dreams to do big things for God.

    However, when I looked at what was right in front of me at that time it was my neighbors, Ken and Mary. They lived right down the street and were known for their amazing hospitality, adorable farmhouse and parties that stepped out of the pages of a magazine.

    Mary was alive with creativity and always thinking of ways to bless others. Ken adored living out his retirement years helping his bride create a haven for family and friends.

    But cancer swept in and before long, Ken laid Mary to rest in the arms of Jesus.

    I remember seeing Ken not long after Mary's funeral. I knew I needed to stop and say something. But what?

    When I reached Ken, I just bent down and gave him a hug. "How are you, Ken?" Tears filled his eyes, "Not so good. The silence is killing me, Lysa."

    And with those words, I knew this interaction with Ken was an assignment from God. He was stirring my heart more and more as I began to sense I was to invite Ken over for dinner.

    I started having this argument with God in my mind, "God, he's going to expect food. Cooking isn't in my Top 10 talents. I mean, sometimes we just order pizza and call it a night. My cooking doesn't even hold a candle to Mary's. Are you sure about this?"

    But Ken hadn't asked for an amazing meal. What made his heart ache was the silence.

    So I smiled at Ken and said, "Well then, you must come to our house for dinner. I can't always promise it will be tidy and I'm certainly no great cook, but one thing is for sure ... my house is never silent."

    Thus started a tradition — Monday night dinners with Ken.

    We never had candles or tablecloths or even a properly set table. But the noise of our family was an orchestra of comfort and healing to Ken's lonely heart.

    We wanted to live out today's key verse, Romans 12:9-10, "Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other."

    Being knee-deep in the realities of small children made me feel like this wasn't my season of life to make a difference to the outside world. But offering what little I had was used by God!

    We just did life and let Ken join in. I would often ask about Mary's ways of doing things and his face would light up at the opportunity to keep part of her alive.

    And slowly but surely, as we all made time for these special dinners, we recaptured the sacredness of relationships that so often gets lost in the rush of our days.

    One night, as Ken was leaving our home, he stepped off the sidewalk to make his way over to a bush in full bloom. He tenderly picked up one of the flowers and pressed his face close, breathing in its scent deeply.

    He then looked back at me standing in the doorway and said, "Don't miss this. Don't rush through your life, Lysa. Make time to stop and breathe it all in."

    I've never forgotten that.

    Eventually, Ken met someone who could cook, got remarried and moved away.

    But my family and I still preserve that sacred space for Monday night dinners. We invite co-workers, acquaintances and friends who feel like family to join us. We take time to talk. Laugh. Process life. Breathe it all in.

    Although our to-do lists and schedules tug at our attention, we don't allow anything to take priority over these moments. I refuse to let the people I've been entrusted with get my "less" instead of my "best" because I'm distracted.

    I'm so thankful God entrusted me with that small assignment to give Ken noise all those years ago. A little gift placed in the hands of a big God can change the world. It changed ours and it changed Ken's.

    It's amazing to me that what started out as a simple gesture to help a grieving neighbor became one of the greatest ministry blessings of my life. And I've done a lot of breathing it all in ever since.

    Dear Lord, help me see the assignments right in front of me. I desperately want to unrush my schedule so I can love those You have entrusted to me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 John 1:6, "And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love." (NIV)

    What is one small assignment right in front of you that God is calling you to fulfill? Commit to begin living that out this week.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Interview with Michael W. Smith

    The other day, I had the honor of interviewing Michael W. Smith! Enjoy!

    Kristen Jeffery

    Social Media Coordinator at Family Christian


    FC: Hello Michael! How are you doing?


    MWS:  Doing great! Thank you!


    FC: Well, I know you just released your newest cd, The Spirit of Christmas, so it is only natural that we ask a Christmas question.  Can you share with us a favorite Christmas memory that you have?


    MWS: Just growing up in my house…all the kids…. I mean I don’t even know where to start.  We have our traditions. Christmas is a BIG thing at the Smith house.  Just huge!   We’d pull out the Christmas albums every September 1; everyone opens a present on Christmas Eve.   A great Christmas memory is probably when I got my first red, sparkling drum set when I was 7 years old.  You know, I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven!  I’ll never for forget that.


    FC: Speaking of gifts, do you have a favorite gift that you received for Christmas?  I know mine was the Barbie Ice cream shop


    MWS: Love that!


    FC: I did too! Was yours your drum set?


    MWS: Probably so.  It was a game changer for me.


    FC: I heard a quote from you that in your 31-year career, The Spirit of Christmas is the most unique album you’ve created.  Can you expound on that for us?


    MWS:  Well I think it’s unique because of all the people who are on it.  I’ve never actually had as many guest artists on an album in my life, other than the artists that were on the worship album that sang in my choir.  These are people that are stepping out.  I’m singing solos with them and people that are mostly not from my genre, you know Contemporary Christian music.  This is an A Level group of amazing people.  Carrie Underwood being one of them. Bono’s on the record.  I mean it’s just insane.  I’m just sort of pinching myself that we actually pulled it off.


    FC: I’m sure.  When I was looking at the list of artists performing with you, it’s going to reach such a huge audience!  You’re hitting all the different tastes that people could have for the different genres of music and different talent it’s just phenomenal!


    MWS:  Well I think so.  You know I think we have something really special going on.  Just take me out of the equation and I think it’s just an amazing record, just from what these people brought to the project.  It’s pretty off the charts.




    FC: That sounds amazing! I know I will be picking up a few copies for my family this year.  You’ve got a tour going on this year and some confirmed tour dates for 2015 as well.  Is there anything else you are working on right now?


    MWS:  No, I did an exclusive album for Cracker Barrel that I worked on and then Sovereign came out in May and then the Christmas record and it’s just like wow! 3 records in one year for me.  Pretty crazy!


    FC: Here at Family Christian we believe strongly in the power of prayer.  In fact, we have a team that gathers daily to lift others up in prayer.  So how can we be praying for you right now?


    MWS:  You know what, probably just it’s such a busy, busy time.  It’s pretty non-stop from now till the end of the year, till Christmas.  Just pray for my health, for protection as we travel everywhere. I think just some of those things.  Kristen, business can wear you out if you don’t watch it so please pray that I’ll get my rest and that we will all stay healthy on the road and my family as well.  Thank you very much!


    FC: Thank you Michael! Have a blessed Christmas season!

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