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Family Christian

  • Select Gifts - All at a Great Price

    Posted on December 16, 2013 by Family Christian

    11 Piece Nativity Set

    Nativity

    This detailed 11-piece nativity set comes complete with Mary and Joseph, the three wise men, the angel, some stable animals, and baby Jesus. It is ready to be added to a manger of your choosing, or just displayed on its own. This nativity set makes an excellent Christmas gift for someone who does not already have one.

     

    Acrylic Travel Cup - All Things Are Possible

    Acrylic Travel Cup

    Sip in style with this sturdy acrylic travel cup, ideal for holding your favorite hot or cold beverage. The insulated sides help to keep your drink at the perfect temperature, while the snap-on lid prevents spills.

    The sides are decorated with a floral design and feature the reference "With God all things are possible." - Matthew 19:26.

    Christmas Mug Set

    Mug Set

    This Christmas mug set includes four unique mugs that will brighten your home each time they are used for your favorite hot beverage. "Believe" with a manger, "Hope" with a red snowflake, "Joy" with an blue angel, and "Peace" with a green star, these four mug designs will remind you of the core sentiments of the Christmas season.

    LED Votive Candle Set 

    Votive Candle Set

    Light up a Christmas night with this set of five LED votive candles in glass candle holders. Each glass votive holds an LED tea light which will burn without smoke or residue all night long. The five candle holders are made of frosted glass and together they spell out the word "FAITH."

    For these and many more items like these that are all on sale at Family Christian, click here.


    This post was posted in Gifts and was tagged with Featured, Christmas, Gifts, Cup, Mugs, Candle, Home Decor

  • The Giving Gift

    Posted on December 16, 2013 by Amy Carroll

    Amy Carroll

    "They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life." 1 Timothy 6:18-19 (ESV)

    It was time to decorate for Christmas. As I set up my new artificial tree, I pondered what to do with the old one. It still had lots of life in it and rather than donating it to an organization, our family wanted to add a personal touch and show love to a specific family.

    We wanted to put into action what we're told to do in 1 Timothy 6:18-19, "They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life." (ESV)

    When I went to my volunteer job at the domestic violence shelter the next week, I asked the manager for a suggestion. "I'd like to donate our Christmas tree to a mom who has just completed the shelter's program and moved into her own home," I explained. The manager gave me a woman's name, and my husband Barry and I made plans with her for delivery.

    On the night we were to meet Robin* and her children, Tasha* and Nathan*, Barry and I loaded the car with anticipation. We drove to her neighborhood and hauled the tree and bags of lights onto the porch. Before we could fully knock on the door, it was flung open to reveal the twinkling eyes of excited children.

    "I didn't expect a big tree!" Robin exclaimed. "I just thought it would be a little one to set on the table!"

    Tasha and Nathan literally danced around the room as Barry set their tree up and showed them how to put lights on it for the first time. While they decorated, Robin told me about her hopes and dreams for a safe future for her and the kids.

    As we drove away, my husband and I reflected on this truth; it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. It's a glimpse of God's image in each of us. We are created by a Father who delights in giving to His children.

    That night, we didn't just give a Christmas tree and some lights. We shared an evening of friendship, laughter, and joy. And gave the gift of time. We brought the love that only Jesus can give us for those we don't know.

    The Christmas season is a time we focus on giving gifts and doing good to others, but I want to emulate God's giving and goodness all year long. That starts by focusing on the way He gives. It's an overflow of His character and an example of how He calls us to share what we have with others.

    God gives lovingly. (Exodus 34:6)
    God gives freely. (James 1:17)
    God gives abundantly. (Psalm 132:15)
    God gives wisely. (Romans 16:27)

    As you're running errands, look to see who you can bless with a kind word or a cup of coffee. As you're putting up your decorations, think about whose home you could bring some festivity to. And as you pause during your day, remember who you can give the gift of prayer and encouragement to. Let's all develop our giving gift by giving more like our Father and by being a blessing to others!

    Lord God, You are my example for how to give good gifts. Please give me Your heart to be generous and a blessing to others. Help me be mindful of the receiver and to give carefully to ensure my gift is a blessing. In Jesus' precious Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What do you have that you could share this Christmas season?

    What steps do you need to take before you give to make sure the gift is a blessing?

    Power Verses:
    Matthew 7:11, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (NIV)

    2 Corinthians 8:7, "But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving." (NIV)

    *The names are fictitious in order to protect the safety of our friend and her children.

    © 2013 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 1 Timothy

  • God Cares

    Posted on December 15, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

    God cares about you. He cares about your job; He cares about your fears; He cares about your spouse; He cares about your children; He cares about your parents; He cares about your worries; He cares about your finances; He cares about your car and your house; He also cares about your character, and He cares about you caring about Him and caring for others. He is a caring God. You cannot out-care God. His capacity to care is infinite and his competence to care is matchless. You can care because He cares. There is no care of yours that God does not care about. If it is important to you, then God cares about it. Yes, you will experience misdirected cares, but God’s desire is to come alongside you and realign your cares with what He cares about the most. He cares enough to bear your anxieties and to replace them with His peace and assurance.
    When you give God your worries, you in turn, receive His calming presence. God’s system of care is countercultural. God transforms your cares into what He cares about; so cast your cares on Christ. Equally spiritual people may cast their cares on God in polar opposite ways. One may find release in a quiet written prayer, while another may feel cared for by God through raucous worship. Let another’s processing of anxiety be a guide, not a guilty comparison.
    You know God cares immensely. So how do you cast your cares on Him? By faith, you let Him care. He cares and can be trusted. Therefore, allow Him to do what He does best. You allow Him to care for you. This takes humility on your part. You are acknowledging a desperate need for God. Your declaration of dependence is two-fold. You admit you are anxious, and can’t handle your worry alone. Secondly, you submit to the fact that only God can handle this level of concern. Hence, your submission to God allows His care to consume your anxieties. Your care-giving to God is recurring. Over time, He helps bring your feeble faith and misguided mind into focus on Him. What started out as a burden, He transforms into a blessing. Your pain becomes productive.
    You become free to care for others, because He has freely cared for you. Your perspective takes on a heavenly flavor. Do not wait until matters get worse before you off load on the Lord. Go to God first, because He cares the most. Let bad news travel fast, because He already knows. An all-caring God cultivates a carefree attitude. The more you allow Him to care about your worries, the less you have to care. Then you can focus your care on people and eternal issues. Let God be consumed with your cares so you are not. Then you can lead others to your all-caring Christ. Care for them as Jesus does. Your care will lead to His care. This is the beauty of the circle of care. You do it right, and they will want your God. You care for others, and they will want the God that cares for you. Keep your caring Christ-centered. You care because He cares. You can care because you have let Him care for you. Keep the circle of care rotating.
    Do not grow weary of caring; He doesn’t. He cares for you. Therefore, give Him your cares and experience His care. Christ is your number one caregiver. Jesus said it well: “…do not worry about your life…”(Matthew 6:25).

    Post/Tweet today: You are free to care for others, as you let the Lord care for you. #Godcares

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Peter

  • Radical Trust

    Posted on December 14, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17–18).

    Radical trust means you trust God even when He does not come through. You are not pregnant, but you still trust God. You do not have a job, but you still trust God. You have been betrayed, but you still trust God. You are sick, but you still trust God. You are lonely, but you still trust God. You are afraid, but you still trust God.

    Your wise decision making is based on God’s trustworthiness. You know He is able, but it is still about His timing. And you will not compromise your convictions because you trust Him. It does not seem fair or right. But God has a bigger picture in mind. Do not be held captive by your finite knowledge and understanding. You can still trust the One with infinite wisdom and understanding. You are not alone in your current fire of adversity.

    The Lord is with you. Your faith has been bolstered and is not extinguished because you know God is walking with you. Your faith is fireproofed by the Holy Spirit. The flames of hell are no match for fire from heaven. Your Savior defeats Satan in every encounter. But even when you are denied acceptance and physical comfort, you can still trust God.

    Trust in God is not just for the good times, though there is a radical trust required as prosperity pelts your faith. But radical trust is much needed when things heat up. When you lose something precious or you are refused something you deserve, this is the time to ratchet up your radical trust. It is for times like this that God has molded your faith.

    What if God has not come through? Radical trust means you stay focused on His past faithfulness. The mundane every day life is a link in the chain between life’s transitions. Today’s link is as important as tomorrow’s transition. Hope for the transition to come, but trust God with today. You cannot handle more than today’s troubles and triumphs. Do not worry about matters in the future over which you have no control.

    Trust God with today, and do not worry about the uncertainty of tomorrow. This is radical trust in Christ. If you obsess over fear of the future, you most certainly will define the ambiguity with negative consequences. Then unwittingly you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. You worry yourself sick. You worry others sick. Or you are of no use for today because you are worried about tomorrow. You are stuck in the inertia of distrust.

    But the Lord can be trusted. Meditate on His faithfulness instead of what might happen. Unleash the radical trust that resides within you. When you were younger, radical faith marked you as a follower of Christ. Reignite that passion for Jesus. Lay aside the sins of disbelief and worry. The cross of Christ and His resurrection are radical. Trust God even if He has not or does not come through. He is still trustworthy; so be radical in your trust!

    Prayer: Do I radically trust the Lord with past events and decisions? How is He trustworthy?

    Related Readings: Psalm 28:7; Isaiah 12:2; John 8:26; Romans 15:13

    Post/Tweet today: Trust in God means today’s troubles become tomorrow’s testimonies. #radicaltrust

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Daniel, Trust

  • Affection and Acceptance

    Posted on December 13, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:13-14

    Jesus was tender and tough. He took the time to love little children, but He was also bold to confront greed in the face of businessmen using God for personal gain. However, most of the time Jesus modeled affection toward those who could or could not reciprocate—and acceptance toward those who had experienced rejection. He graciously extended both.

    Do you daily receive the affection and acceptance of Almighty God? Have you begun to comprehend the depth and breadth of His magnificent love? Oh, what a Savior and lover of your soul! A close friend may give you the cold shoulder, but Jesus warmly embraces your cares and concerns. Perhaps a fellow Christian rejected you for your indiscretions, but Jesus accepts you despite your failures and lifts you up to walk faithfully with Him.

    “Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:10-11).

    Acceptance is a magnet for those feeling isolated and misunderstood. It is a remedy for realized or unrealized rejection. Your spouse caught up in their own concerns can communicate insensitivity and lack of intimacy. It’s when you feel this relational distance that you turn to Christ and enjoy His closeness. Only Jesus provides acceptance all the time. His approval gives you confidence to go forward by grace through faith.

    Affection is a tender touch, an empathetic ear, a compassionate conversation and a patient prayer. It looks beyond the ugliness of sin and the harshness of humanity—and engages the heart. Affection is not concerned about getting—but is consumed with giving. An affectionate heart cannot wait to love those dismissed or discounted by others.

    Who in your life needs your affection and acceptance? Does your child feel your support and sensitivity? Do you honor your distant parents with love and respect? What about friends and family who are consumed with their own concerns—do you invite them into your life to experience your family’s joy and the compassion of Christ? Reach out to those whom others have rejected and watch the Lord do a work of redeeming love.

    “Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me” (John 13:20).

    Prayer: How does Christ accept me and show His affection? Whom can I serve in the same way?

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 10:15; Acts 15:8; Romans 14:1-3; Philippians 1:8

    Post/Tweet this today: Affection is a tender touch, an empathetic ear, a compassionate conversation and a patient prayer. #affection

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Matthew

  • Running on Empty

    Posted on December 13, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!" Psalm 68:35 (NIV)

    We were in between moves, living out of suitcases. My husband was working in one state while I was staying in another to sell our home. I had a bad cold, and coughing had interrupted my sleep for nights. I was so tired that the rings under my eyes had rings under them.

    When my husband suggested we take time away from the packing, selling, and traveling, just to rest, I mentally listed the reasons we couldn't. How could we manage our many to-do's if we took time off?

    In all of these excuses, I was ignoring that I had become very, very tired.

    I was tired spiritually as we encountered hurdle after hurdle in the plan we knew God spoke into our hearts.

    I was tired physically from a week-long cold.

    I was tired relationally as I missed my husband.

    Our circumstances weren't awful. I had battled much more challenging ones in the past. So I reasoned that I needed to put on my big-girl pants and just keep moving forward. Admirable, maybe, if you're a machine, but I am a plain ol' human who had run out of steam.

    God knew it. My husband knew it. It was time for me to admit it. I needed time to rest and re-connect with God through prayer.

    In Psalm 68:35 the Psalmist writes of a living God whose might and power sustained the people with power and strength. I was in need of that kind of help.

    The writer of this verse responds to the Lord with great joy and praise. "You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!" (NIV) When we take our eyes off of worthless and powerless gods or even our own selves we rediscover the power and might of God. I needed to take my eyes off of the self-sufficiency of Suzie to rediscover what God had waiting for me.

    Kneeling, I surrendered my schedule, time, and need to just keep going. I confessed that I was exhausted and needed my Heavenly Father's strength to complete the tasks in front of me.

    That weekend I refueled as I nestled on a couch and prayed for a calm mind that was focused on the Lord, rather than all I had to do. I sat in God's beautiful creation and asked for Him to help me drop my stress over selling our home. I sensed His peace as I rested and took time to get better from my cold.

    When the weekend ended, I was me again. It wasn't that I walked away with all my challenges erased, but I left filled up with God's strength.

    Maybe you're like me. You are spiritually and physically tired, but you don't feel like you can take time to take a break. You think running full steam ahead is the strong way to handle things.

    If we continue to run on empty and never stop to let the Lord fill us up, we will eventually discover the limits of our own strength.

    Is it time for a prayer retreat of your own? Your special time with God might be in a park or a quiet place like the corner of a library. It's not the place that matters, but that you find one and take time to meet with the Lord.

    We schedule everything else. Why not take time to rest in our Heavenly Father? Let's take a break and allow Him to fill us up as we seek His strength for the days ahead.

    Dear Lord, I am spiritually and physically tired, and I have heard the whisper to stop and be refilled. Thank You for the sanctuary I find in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think about a tired friend who never stops to refuel. What advice would you offer her? How would you pray for her?

    We often have more empathy or mercy toward others. Today, take that same advice and pray, and embrace it for yourself.

    Power Verse:
    1 Chronicles 16:27, "Honor and majesty are [found] in His presence; strength and joy are [found] in His sanctuary." (AMP)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Strength in the Lord

    Posted on December 12, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “I will strengthen them in the Lord and in his name they will walk,’ declares the Lord.” Zechariah 10:12

    The Lord is strength for the journey of life. Fatigue and discouragement can assault us like a bandit on a deserted dirt road. Life is constantly swinging its bruising punches. Before long we can become beaten down with no energy to continue. We know in our heads we are children of the King, but our hearts feel no royal resilience. Fatigue requires faith.

    Weariness is an opportunity for the Lord to strengthen you. He uses His people to energize and encourage one another. We are all needy and it is just a matter of time before we all have to learn how to receive. The Lord wraps His strength around the gift of a prayer warrior—someone who storms heaven on your behalf is a strength giver.

    Do not let divorce, death or disappointment exclude you from the Lord’s strength. Work will get you down. People will let you down. Failure will knock you down. Your greatest fears may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. Fight fear with fear. Let the fear of God strengthen you as it fortifies your faith in Him.

    “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11).

    The greatest energy drainer may be serving God in our own strength. This is one of Satan’s most effective schemes. He wants to occupy us in good activity void of eternal energy. Serving God and others in our own strength means we are driven by what we can do for God, rather than what He can do through us. It’s the difference between being energized in our service or being drained by our service. Christ’s strength comes from being still.

    He strengthens your soul in daily quietness before Him. His whisper of affirmation motivates you to walk with Him. It is learning to trust in Him and not strive for Him. This total trust replenishes your soul like an ice-cold sports drink to a cyclist ascending the tallest mountain in the blazing hot Tour de France. His spirit gives life and endurance.

    When you received Christ you received His strength. Strength already resides within you. He is available to you. Your Savior has no fuel crisis to reckon with, as His supernatural resources are infinite. You cannot go for encouragement too many times. Walk in His name and be energized by Him. His Holy Spirit infuses strength, so be strong in the Lord!

    “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers” (Acts 9:31).

    Prayer: Does my strength reside in my righteous Savior or in my own exhausting efforts?

    Related Readings: Psalm 105:4; Isaiah 12:2; Luke 10:27; 1 Thessalonians 3:13

    Post/Tweet this today: Fight fear with fear. Let the fear of God strengthen you, as it fortifies your faith in Him. #strengthintheLord

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Zechariah

  • The Place Where Disappointment Grows

    Posted on December 12, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want." Psalm 23:1 (ESV)

    The space between our expectations and our reality is a fertile field. And often it's a place where disappointment grows.

    When I was in high school, I had a friend whose sister had the coolest hairdo. It was cropped short with straight bangs that fell messy over one eye. She was that older sister who just seemed to have a handle on how to do everything with style.

    I somehow decided all of her coolness traced back to her hairdo. Like that was the budding spot from which the life I wanted could sprout.

    Never mind the fact her hair was thin and obedient. And mine was thick and rebellious.

    Never mind that her hair was sleek and straight. And mine was curly at best and frizzy at worst.

    Never mind that her bangs fell nicely over her forehead. And mine had a crazy cowlick causing them to grow up, not down.

    Yes, never mind reality.

    I set my expectation on the highest bar and willed my hair to fall in line.

    The hair dresser chopped. And chopped. And chopped. And tried to assure me I now looked JUST like the picture of the older sister.

    But that was a lie. I knew it. She knew it.

    And oh how some serious disappointment grew in the space between my expectation and my new reality. I still have nightmares of that disastrous hairdo where I wake up desperately grabbing at my head to make sure my hair is still there.

    But hair grows back. Bad cuts can be fixed. That type of disappointment can be remedied.

    Other situations aren't so easy. Maybe you have some space between a current reality and an unfulfilled expectation. If so, I imagine disappointment can be found growing there.

    Psalm 23:1 says, "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want." (ESV) The Hebrew word for "want" is chacer meaning, "to lack, be without, become empty." So, if the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not become empty. I shall not live in a constant state of disappointment where circumstances leak me dry.

    But ... I still do sometimes. And not just with my hair. It's other stuff as well.

    So, how do I let the Lord shepherd me so that the gap between my expectations and reality closes? I ask myself these questions when faced with disappointment:

    What do I need to learn? Maybe God has an appointment for me in the midst of this disappointment. If God wants me to see, learn, know, or grow in some way while I work through this unmet expectation, I have to be open to hear this from Him.

    Could it be that I'm so concerned with what I don't have, I've forgotten to be thankful for what I do have? Sometimes, it's not that my reality is bad. It's that I created too much space for disappointment to grow by placing my expectations too high.

    Is there something I can do to change this situation? If so, I need to ask God for the courage to make changes. If I keep hoping things will get better but don't make any adjustments, that's foolish. The space between my reality and my expectations will only change if I do.

    Now back to my high school hair situation. If I ever start flashing pictures of cute pixie haircuts I'm considering getting, somebody remind me of my high school hair debacle. Please. Pretty please. With a dollop of hair gel on top.

    Dear Lord, thank You for turning my disappointments into opportunities for growth and learning. Guide me in trusting You through every situation, even if I can't understand why it's happening. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How do you typically handle disappointment?

    Reflect on the three questions above and write down your answers. This will give you the opportunity to get a better perspective on your own particular situation and the way you handle disappointments.

    Power Verses:
    Romans 5:2b-5, "And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Family Holiday Tensions

    Posted on December 11, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

    The holidays have built in tensions: relational expectations, food preferences, windows of time to watch football, behavior of children, political and religious discussions to name a few. Some people tip toe around with their words so as not to step on anyone’s toes, others barge in like a blind bull in a china shop hurting feelings indiscriminately. Like the plastic cover on grandmother’s couch we need respectful interaction, not fake, to increase peace and joy.

    Fortunately, their are family peacemakers who create an environment of acceptance and harmony without harming everyone’s ability to be themselves. We can contribute to the peace effort by being good listeners. We show respect by not dominating the conversation with our impressive intellect or refraining from a rambling exposé of our most recent exotic trip. Instead, empathize with a cousin who just left rehab. These annual reunions are not about us, but about those who are hungry for something more than bread pudding, indeed the Bread of Life, Jesus.

    Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35

    The goal is not for tension to completely disappear, for this is a good outcome of being real. Like a good movie, authentic families will have some conflict composed of drama and comedy. But, in an awkward moment we can make someone feel special by affirming their good traits. If we are the one on the end of an embarrassing childhood memory, we can laugh at ourselves. Humility does not take itself too seriously, but takes the Lord very seriously. Be a tension reliever, not creator!

    Lastly, model for those who do not know the Lord, how to love the Lord and others well. Your holiness is a humble expression of Christ’s character. You know better, because you know God. So, extra grace is required since you have tasted the grace of God. Furthermore, there are some relatives who are mere infants in the faith, thus they require long suffering and direct responses. Yes, make the Christian brand attractive with your smile, service and sensitivity. Your family will experience some degree of tension over the holidays. In the process show them Jesus in your life.

    So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? Romans 14:19-20, The Message

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, during our holiday family gatherings use me as a peacemaker, not a peacefaker.

    Related Readings: Psalm 34:14; Romans 15:2; Ephesians 4:29; 2 Timothy 2:22

    Post/Tweet this today: Humility does not take itself too seriously, but takes the Lord very seriously. #familytension

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Hebrews, Family

  • Unwrapping His Christmas Presence

    Posted on December 11, 2013 by Renee Swope

    Renee Swope

    "The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us')." Isaiah 7:14b (NLT)

    Plans for the perfect Christmas danced in my head. Almost everyone from my side of the family and JJ's side would be coming to our house at some point between Christmas and New Years. We'd never hosted Christmas dinner, and I was looking forward it.

    But, somewhere in the midst of all the preparations, I got tangled up in Christmas lights and unrealistic expectations. By the time everyone got here I couldn't wait for them to leave.

    It all started when my husband and sons petitioned for blinking colored lights on the tree. We don't do colored lights on the tree. I am a "white lights" kind of girl, I insisted.

    But JJ decided our decorating decisions should be a "family activity" that year. Who was this man and why had he not brought this up in pre-marital counseling? I wondered.

    The control freak in me started to freak out. Don't get in the way of my perfect Christmas with white lights that make me and my home feel peaceful.

    I'd dreamed of this day for years and wanted to have the perfect house, perfect menu, and perfect table settings. But hope was dashed the night before guests arrived when I couldn't find festive cloth napkins and it dawned on me that I didn't have a big enough pan to cook a turkey in.

    When Christmas came, I had a house full of people but an oh-so-empty heart.

    As I walked through my living room picking up wrapping paper, I wondered why my dreams of the "perfect Christmas" hadn't come true. Many of the elements seemed to be in place: kids playing together, grandparents on the couch snoring to Christmas tunes, and grown men playing sidewalk hockey in the driveway. We'd lit Advent candles and set out the nativities. Still, something was missing.

    Trying to escape the holiday noise, I went upstairs to my bedroom. Taking a deep breath, I opened my Bible to read the Christmas story in Luke chapter 2. Slowly, I let each word remind me of that first Christmas night and God's promise that came true in Bethlehem. " ... And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger ..." (Luke 2:7 NIV).

    A cross-reference led me to Isaiah 7:14b: "The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us')." (NLT)

    Closing my eyes, I pictured Mary wrapping baby Jesus up. Her hands carefully folding each corner of cloth, like a precious gift. That's when I realized what had been missing. In the hustle and bustle of creating the perfect Christmas, I'd neglected to unwrap the most important gift of all, the gift of Immanuel, God with us.

    Bowing my head, I opened my hands and my heart to God's presence. I invited Jesus to bring calm to my anxious heart. To bring His perspective to my expectations and to help me enjoy the gifts of my family waiting downstairs. Simply pausing to acknowledge and thank Jesus for being with me brought peace to my heart unlike anything white lights and perfectly cooked turkey could ever bestow.

    It ended up being the perfect Christmas after all.

    Dear Lord, no matter how busy life gets or how lonely I feel this Christmas, I want to unwrap the gift of Your presence. Help me see You, hear Your voice speak to my heart, and pay attention when You lead me with Your peace and perspective. I seek Your purpose in all of my plans. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What days might be most challenging this month?

    How can you plan time on those days to soak in Jesus' perspective and peace?

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 26:12, "Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us." (NIV)

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

    © 2013 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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


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

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