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Family Christian

  • Your Story is Still Being Written

    T. Suzanne Eller FEBRUARY 6, 2015

    Your Story is Still Being Written SUZIE ELLER

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

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

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

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

    "Can I pray for you?" I asked.

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

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

    But God!

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

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

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

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

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

    He rewrites.

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

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

    We receive.

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

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

    We all rejoice.

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

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

    And for that, we all rejoice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    © 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • When Your Husband Has Given Up

    Lysa TerKeurst FEBRUARY 5, 2015

    When Your Husband Has Given Up LYSA TERKEURST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Decide today that you are worthy.

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

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

    Broken-down relationships can really break down a woman.

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

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

    Then you can act worthy.

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

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

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

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

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

    Reclaim who you are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Sing It, Girl

    Nicki Koziarz February 4, 2015

    Sing It, Girl NICKI KOZIARZ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    It was a sound that needed to be heard.

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

    One voice, which elevates God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    For more encouragement from Nicki Koziarz, visit her blog.

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

    © 2015 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

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

  • You Are More Precious Than Diamonds

    Darlene Sala FEBRUARY 3, 2015

    You Are More Precious Than Diamonds DARLENE SALA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Don’t feel it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Visit Darlene's blog for more encouragement.

    Enter to WIN a copy of More Precious Than Diamonds by Darlene Sala. In celebration of this book, Darlene’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, February 9.}

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

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

    © 2015 by Darlene Sala. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Barbour Publishing for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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

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

  • A Mess on the Inside

    Amy Carroll FEBRUARY 2, 2015

    A Mess on the Inside AMY CARROLL

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

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

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

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

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

    Shiny on the outside. A mess on the inside.

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

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

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

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

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

    God does His beautifying work from the inside out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • How Do I Stop Worrying

    Abby Mcdonald JANUARY 30, 2015

    How Do I Stop Worrying ABBY MCDONALD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    © 2015 by Abby McDonald. All rights reserved.

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

  • Is This the Right Decision?

    Lysa TerKeurst JANUARY 29, 2015

    Is This the Right Decision? LYSA TERKEURST

    "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ." Philippians 1:9-10 (NLT)

    Have you ever had that deep-down knowing of what to do in a situation but ignored it? I understand.

    My husband was out of town recently when a large box was delivered to my doorstep.

    The delivery man graciously brought it inside. But I figured it might be a bit much for me to ask him to take it past the foyer, up the stairs, down the hall, and into the room my husband calls his man cave.

    So there it sat, this mysterious, heavy box.

    Deep inside, I knew this was nothing but some product one of my people had ordered.

    But I didn’t listen to that awareness deep inside. I ignored it and listened to my fears instead. You know you’ve watched one too many mystery TV shows when your first thought about a mysterious box sitting in your foyer is that a person with scary intentions could fit inside. Yes, a crazy person with weapons could mail himself right into your foyer and sit there all day, quietly waiting until you went to bed.

    So I kicked the side of the box to see if there was any kind of reflex action from a living thing inside of it. There wasn’t, of course. But then I decided just to be sure, I would stand around the corner from the box to see if I could step out of its line of sight and possibly hear something: a cough, a sneeze, anything.

    I could leave no room for doubts, no room at all for any possible bad outcome from this box— a box that I eventually opened with a knife. Just in case. Only to discover a dorm-room refrigerator that someone had ordered.

    I wasted half my day worrying about a box that contained a dorm fridge.

    But we do this sometimes. We have a decision to make and we have that deep-down knowing. We know what to do. We know what the answer is. But we don’t go with that knowing. We over-process the what-ifs and the maybes until we find ourselves standing around a corner listening to see if a cardboard box containing a refrigerator might sneeze.

    Now, there are certainly some decisions that need to be processed. But then there are other decisions we just simply need to say yes or no to and move on.

    Find that courageous yes. Fight for that confident no. Know it. State it. Own it.

    Sometimes it just comes down to that deep whisper within that says, "Uh-huh, yes." Or a simple, "No, not that."

    God has woven into us the ability to discern what is best if we’re closely following Him. Philippians 1:9-10 says, "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ" (NIV). Discerning what is best is something we’re capable of doing as we layer knowledge and depth of insight into our lives. Read those verses again and see that gaining knowledge and depth of insight will allow us to develop a trustworthy discernment.

    Knowledge is wisdom that comes from acquiring truth.

    Insight is wisdom that comes from living out the truth we acquire.

    Discernment is wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit’s reminders of that knowledge and insight.

    I know a young mom who has really been struggling with the decision of whether to let her 2-year-old go to preschool a couple of half days a week next year. As I listened to her, I felt compelled to ask her three questions:

    1. Have you been reading and praying through God’s Word? 2. Have you been applying God’s Word to your mothering? 3. Have you sought godly counsel and insights from wise people who know specifics about your situation?

    The answer to all three of those simple questions was yes, so I reminded her that she was assigned by God to be this child’s mother. If she had done these three things, then she had the ability to discern what was best.

    She didn’t need to wait for some big neon sign to drop down from heaven to know what to do. If she had that deep knowing this was a no answer for her child, then she should go with that. If she had that deep knowing this was a yes answer for her child, then she should go with that.

    It’s not about trusting ourselves. Rather, it’s about trusting the Holy Spirit to do what Jesus promised us in John 14:26: "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (NIV).

    When we’ve done what we need to do to acquire the knowledge and insight of truth, then the discernment of that truth is there. We must learn to trust and use that discernment because the more we do this, the more wisdom we acquire to make God-honoring decisions.

    Dear Lord, I want to make decisions that honor You this year. Lead me as I develop a trustworthy discernment. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 119:66, "Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments." (NASB)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Overcome the agony of hard choices by embracing a wisdom-based decision-making process with Lysa’s book, The Best Yes. For a limited time, you can purchase your copy through Proverbs 31 Ministries for 25% off and receive a FREE People Over Projects printable set! Get your copy here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Consider the three questions Lysa asked her friend to check her discernment. Is there one you need to work on this week?

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • What Gets Me into Heaven?

    Sharon Glasgow JANUARY 28, 2015 

    What Gets Me into Heaven? SHARON GLASGOW

    "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (NKJV)

    She was alone, dying and in pain. None of her family or friends was left. She asked the nursing home staff to call someone to minister and pray with her.

    It was dinnertime when my phone rang. The caller said it was urgent that I get there.

    I didn’t personally know the elderly woman lying in that bed. We’d never met, but instantly, love bubbled up inside me for her. I looked into her eyes, but she couldn’t see me — she was blind. I held her weak hands in mine and asked a few questions. Then she said, "I’m dying. I want you to pray for me."

    "What do you want me to pray?" I asked. Then I paused and waited. Her cloudy blue eyes welled with tears that trickled onto our hands. She said nothing. I said nothing.

    After a while of silently waiting for the Holy Spirit to direct me, I spoke: "Tell me about the day you accepted Christ." She didn’t say anything. I knew to be quiet as she processed. Finally, she answered, "I don’t know. I went to church when I was little; I was always a good person. But I never really knew Jesus."

    It was clear where God was leading us. Bertha understood that simply being good wasn’t the same as living for and obeying the Lord. We had to take it a step further.

    "Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?" I asked.

    She nodded and tears streamed down her cheeks as I shared today’s key verse, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (NKJV).

    I continued, "He died on the cross for your sins and rose again so that you can have eternal life with Him. Eternal life is a free gift; we do nothing to earn it. God loves you so much, Bertha! He wants you to spend eternity with Him."

    We prayed a simple prayer together. She acknowledged Jesus as her Savior and asked Him to forgive her of her sins. Bertha passed away shortly after our conversation. She didn’t have the opportunity to do more good deeds. Nor did she need to. That wasn’t necessary for her to receive Jesus’ gift of eternal life with Him.

    There are plenty of opportunities throughout the year to do good: Donate warm winter jackets to children in need, deliver blankets to shelters or give canned goods to food banks. Our family invites others over who have nowhere else to go for the holidays. But I know that visiting the sick in nursing homes or welcoming the lonely around our dinner table (or any other good deed) won’t earn me a place in Heaven.

    What will get me into Heaven? Just Jesus, the only begotten Son of God.

    And believing that His birth … His death … and His resurrection actually happened are the greatest gifts ever. So priceless, we could never buy them.

    You see, it’s not about what good things we do, or even the bad things we avoid, but about what Jesus has already done. Two thousand years ago, He gave His life in death on the cross so we could have life after death. Like Bertha, that is the best gift we could accept in our lifetimes!

    Dear Lord, thank You for Your free gift of eternal life. Your birth and death and resurrection are the greatest gifts of all time. I’m so thankful that all who acknowledge You will be with You again one day in heaven. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 6:47, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life." (NKJV)

    John 11:25, 26, "Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’" (NKJV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: God has a plan for you no matter your past. If you find that hard to believe, you’ll appreciate Tracie Miles’ newest book, Your Life Still Counts.

    Visit Sharon’s blog for more encouragement on ministering to others and enter your name in drawing for a free gift to help you.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? If you have, thank Him for all He’s done for you.

    Maybe you’ve heard about Jesus, but haven’t really met Him yet. If you answered No to the question above, and want to begin a relationship with Jesus, today’s a great day to get introduced!

    © 2015 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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

  • A New Way to Act When Offended

    Glynnis Whitwer JANUARY 27, 2015 

    A New Way to Act When Offended GLYNNIS WHITWER

    "… And what I have forgiven — if there was anything to forgive — I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." 2 Corinthians 2:10b-11 (NIV)

    I called my sister expecting her normal cheerful voice. Instead, I got a flat, "Hello."

    My first reaction was concern. After all, she would have known it was me. Something was definitely wrong.

    "Hey, sis, what’s up?" I asked.

    "Nothing," she replied. "I just can’t talk right now."

    We ended our call quickly, but as I set down my phone, my initial concern turned to another kind of worry. If there wasn’t something else amiss, maybe she was mad at me. What had I done wrong?

    Normally, I would have accepted her reply at face value. After all, sometimes I’m busy and can’t talk. But earlier that day, another friend ended our conversation abruptly. So when it happened again, I figured the problem was me. I started to replay our past discussions in my mind, looking for something I might have said or done to offend both of these women so dear to me.

    Rather than see those as two completely independent situations, I connected them and arrived at an erroneous conclusion. It was like Satan took a Sharpie marker and drew a straight line right from one to the other and then to a very vulnerable place in my heart. Ridiculous thoughts jumped into my mind: They don’t like me anymore. If they are going to get mad at me for nothing, then I’m just going to ignore them. If they want to talk to me, they can call.

    I sat in my self-righteous, offended state and stewed.

    After a while, perspective returned. It was clear I’d taken two separate situations that had nothing to do with me, and turned them into a reason to take offense. It was really rather self-centered, and showed a lack of love for my sister and friend.

    Rather than think the best, and acknowledge I didn’t know the whole situation in either case, I let my mind go to a defensive, unloving place. I became judge and jury and declared them guilty.

    The same thing happened to the Apostle Paul when he chose to write a letter to the believers at Corinth rather than visit personally. Paul had intended to journey to those believers, but after a difficult first visit, Paul changed his plans. Paul didn’t want to inflict more pain on the members of the church or himself. But rather than think the best and trust in Paul’s love for them, the Corinthians assumed Paul’s change was due to selfish reasons.

    Our key verse is part of that letter. I find it interesting that one of the first key pieces of instruction in the letter included direction on how to restore a fellow believer who had done wrong. Paul urges the believers at Corinth to forgive this man. Yet I wonder if Paul wrote this direction thinking of their offense at his choice.

    Paul wrote: "… And what I have forgiven — if there was anything to forgive — I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes" (2 Corinthians 2:10b-11).

    Paul knew that holding on to offenses was dangerous. It was, and is, a scheme of Satan to separate and destroy relationships. Rather than take offense, Paul encouraged the believers to forgive. And in verse 8, Paul gives these clear instructions … a new way to deal with offense, "I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him."

    That day when two conversations were cut short, Satan tried to connect the dots and convince me I had a reason to be offended. But God’s Word shed light on that scheme and told me to do the opposite. Rather than embrace offense, I needed to reaffirm love.

    Later that day, I sent my sister and friend loving text messages. I got two in return.

    The next time Satan tries to connect the dots, I need to remember his schemes, and refuse to play that game. Rather than jump to conclusions that could harm a relationship, I need to look for ways to reaffirm love.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for modeling love when offended. Help me choose to reaffirm love when I want to retreat in the face of offense. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Peter 5:8, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (NIV)

    1 Peter 3:9, "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Do you speak when you should stay silent? Karen Ehman’s newest book, Keep it Shut, will help you know what to say, how to say it and when to say nothing at all. Our newest Online Bible Study of this book starts this week and there's still time to join us!

    Join Glynnis Whitwer on her blog today for a list of Scriptures to use when you need to get perspective and a giveaway of Keep it Shut.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Why is it easy to jump to conclusions rather than think the best of others?

    Think of a situation recently where you have been offended. What do you regret doing? What could you have done differently?

    © 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Why Does God Care About Me?

    Randy Frazee JANUARY 26, 2015

    Why Does God Care About Me? RANDY FRAZEE

    "The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." Psalm 121:8 (NIV)

    Psalm 121:8 makes a proclamation that is hard to believe: "The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." Does the Lord really watch over me perpetually? How is this even possible? I didn’t have a mental model for the mere scope of this assignment. That is until my daughter introduced me to an app called RunKeeper.

    This app tells me how far I’ve run, the average time per mile and my overall time, down to the second. It graphs the various elevations and shows me an overview map of exactly where I have run. If I showed you my run history, you would see maps of beaches, mountains and all kinds of locations and terrains around the world.

    Here’s what’s even more amazing. RunKeeper not only tracks and records my locations, it does so for 10 million other runners as well! If humans can invent a piece of technology to track the steps of 10 million people simultaneously, is it really much of a stretch to believe God can track 6 billion of us?

    I guess not. God is transcendent; He is above all. God is also immanent; He is near. Very near.

    How near? A few verses earlier the writer tells us "… the LORD is your shade at your right hand;" (Psalm 121:5b, NIV).

    So, I now have a mental concept of God’s capacity to watch and track all of my comings and goings, now and forevermore. Yet, I am still left with one more puzzling question — why?

    Why would God want to do this? Most of my days would make an insomniac fall asleep. Personally, I love my routine and the minor assignments on my "to do" list. I just can’t see how this could possibly be a good use of the Divine Creator’s time.

    The answer is not hard to find. It is stamped on almost every page of Scripture. God watches over our coming and our going now and forevermore because He loves us and cares deeply for us.

    Easy to understand, but hard to grasp that the one true God over all deeply loves and cares about us.

    Right now I am sitting in a hospital room. My grandson arrived into the world yesterday. As he lies in his crib, I tower over him watching his every move — every twitch of his eye, and every move to the right or to the left. A yawn is big news. The smirk on his face evoked by gas sure looks like a genuine smile in my book.

    To anyone else, this would seem like a colossal waste of time. Not for me or my wife or daughter or son-in-law. I love my grandson. Oh my, this is how God feels about me but with so much more depth and perfection. Somehow, we must all come to terms with this reality and soak it in.

    Right now, my grandson has no clue of my intense love and protection over him. One day he will. The same is true for us with God. We wander through life unaware He has been tracking us morning and night. The goal is to one day become aware of God’s presence in our lives. When we do, we write our own Psalm — maybe not as eloquent as the one above, but just as meaningful. Maybe that day for you is today!

    Dear Heavenly Father, I now understand that You have the capacity to watch over my coming and going now and forever more. How overwhelming! What is even more overwhelming is the reason You do this. You are driven to watch my every move because You love me and care for me. I don’t fully grasp why You have chosen me, but I am aware of it and it makes me feel safe. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 139:1-2, "You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar." (NIV)

    Matthew 6:31-32, "So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them." (NIV)

    Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Today’s devotion comes from a new book by pastor and author, Randy Frazee. Think, Act, Be like Jesus is a devotional book that covers 30 key ideas found in Scripture. It is also a companion to a new Bible engagement campaign for the entire church called Believe. To find out more about both, click here.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Believe by Randy Frazee. In celebration of this book, Randy’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, February 2.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Do you believe God has the capacity and passion to watch over your coming and going now and forever more? Why or why not?

    What difference would it make in your daily life if you are truly aware of and accepted God’s intense love and involvement in your life?

    © 2015 by Randy Frazee. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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