• 50% off Kids Bestsellers

Family Christian

  • Smooth Sailing No, Faithful God Yes by Amy Dewey

    This was originally posted on Amy Dewey's blog and is being shared with permission here.

    I like to think of me steering my life like a ship sailing along in calm waters with the wind filling the sails and nothing but blue skies.  It really is an idyllic and comforting thought, flowing along without a care in the world.  Ahh!! How safe and simple it truly would be....
    Here's the part where life cues the storm clouds, sheets of rain, hurricane winds, and tossing waves....ta-da!!  Well, my dumb idea just got lost at sea along with my security, my personal comfort, and my naïveté.  Bummer, that didn't last long.
    You see, this fake sense of control I like to live in, is just that, fake.  It brings me a comfort for a moment then reality crashes down on me.  I sink into the mire of an aching soul and deep fatigue.  All the plates I had carefully spinning, perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect everything, crash to the floor splitting into a million pieces.  I try to clean up my mess, but I have nothing left and collapse in frustration.
    God pulls me up and reminds me of His promises.
    "Meanwhile the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. "(Romans 8:26-28 MSG)
    I remember then that God has His hand on me.  His Holy Spirit abides in me and It will do for me what I can't do myself.  I then remember all the times God has been faithful to see me through when I thought I couldn't take another thing going the wrong way.
    After 3 car accidents, 3 stinky jobs, and 1 difficult post partim after my daughter's birth, I'm still here in one piece thanks to His love and grace.  Believe me, I could have done without the hard things!  Still, it is during such times that I grow strongest in Him.
    So hold tight to His promises and let go of the false control.  He will see you through each and every circumstance.  You are His precious and beloved child for always.

     

    This was a guest post written by Amy Dewey from Moment by Moment Grace.  Here is her bio:

    I'm a wife, a mama, and a girl that loves Jesus.  My words are simple, but I hope they speak volumes about Jesus' love to those that read them.
    He loves us all so deeply, and that is my greatest joy to share.
  • What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do

    LYSA

    "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

    I felt so fragile sitting in the parking lot of Target, too sad to stop crying. And although I had a list of things that really couldn't be put off another day, I was now entirely too tired to run errands or do much of anything. So there I sat.

    Alone.

    Moments earlier, a friend had called to tell me something she'd seen posted about me online.

    It was harsh and hurtful.

    I tried to give myself a little pep talk, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me." Who on God's green earth came up with that ridiculous saying? It's not true. I cried a little more.

    I pulled up the social media page my friend referenced, and there it was for all the world to see: Opinions about me flying through the Internet, intent on ripping me apart. As soon as I read the unkind words, daggers hit their mark deep inside my heart.

    It was only a handful of people but they debated me as if I were a product sitting on a shelf, void of a soul. A soul that feels and breathes and cares so very deeply about everything.

    Instantly, I wanted it all to stop.

    I looked up and saw people walking into Target and felt so very envious of them. They seemed peaceful, happy or at least neutral. I suddenly wished for a less risky life.

    Why do I display my heart to all the world typed up in pixelated letters?

    Words like, "calling" and "disciple" suddenly felt like burdens, not blessings.

    I looked back at my phone and reread the hurtful remarks posted online. What's a girl to do when she's feeling desperate to fix something that can't be immediately fixed?

    Should I defend myself?

    But I don't want to sound defensive.

    Should I pray for others to defend me?

    But I don't want to pull others into this.

    Should I just stay quiet?

    But then what if my silence just feeds their case?

    Every response felt like the wrong response.

    What do you do ... when you don't know what to do?

    Maybe you've sat in a Target parking lot crying, too. The circumstances might have been different, but the hurt is the same ... that sliced-open feeling of being judged, misunderstood and wrongly exposed for the purpose of a good debate.

    I wish I had the perfect answer. I don't. These kinds of situations are messy, complicated and unable to fit in formulaic boxes.

    However, I have an imperfect solution that will get us pointed in the right direction: Do the next small thing, the right way, right away.

    In other words, find some small right thing to do that negates the negativity. Do that right thing, right away, to prove to yourself what's being said isn't ALL true.

    There might be some small tangles of truth in the hurtful thing being said. We can pray about that and do something later when the hurt isn't so fresh.

    But first things first. We have to stop the bleeding from the deepest wound.

    Do the next small thing, the right way, right away.

    The small thing I decided to do was see their comments coming from a place of hurt, not hate. Hurt people hurt people. Something caused hurt to stir up in their hearts. Maybe I even inadvertently added to it without meaning to. Regardless, having compassion for them eased my pain.

    I called my friend who'd shared the hurtful comments and told her, "I don't know what to do except be a picture of love in this situation. If I respond out of hurt, things will only get worse."

    Our key verse, 1 John 4:7-8, reminds us of the importance of showing love to each other, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

    So, I must let love guide me.

    Love can empower me to feel hurt without becoming a person consumed by that hurt ...

    I can feel offended, but I don't have to be offended.

    I can feel insecure, but I don't have to act insecure.

    I can feel angry, but I don't have to respond in anger.

    That's the choice love makes.

    And please understand I'm not all Pollyanna about this and able to walk it out perfectly.

    I have to give myself permission to be honest about my feelings. But I don't have to compound the hurt by reacting out of those feelings.

    I never did make it into Target that day. And there are still days I feel so very fragile and vulnerable. Maybe you do too?

    Let's allow love to take us by the hand and empower us in each and every situation where we don't know what to do.

    We can feel afraid, but we don't have to be afraid to do the next right thing, right away.

    Dear Lord, I want love to guide me today. Help me to do the next right thing right in front of me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 13:10, "Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are you in a situation that feels hurtful? Look closely at the options in front of you and choose to do the next right thing, right away.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • When Your Best Isn't Good Enough

    RENEE

    "Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour. Be firm in the faith and resist him ..." 1 Peter 5:8-9 (GW)

    Have you ever gotten that awful pit-in-your-stomach feeling after finding out you let someone down? It felt like the wind had been knocked out of me as I read through an email from a client, sent to my manager and forwarded to me, describing how I had let some details fall through the cracks on a project.

    A horrible sense of discouragement and embarrassment moved in for the kill.

    In the past, I would have welcomed my uninvited critical thoughts to stay a while, resigned to the fact that I must be unable to do anything right!

    But not this time; too many hurtful experiences had taught me to recognize failure as an opportune time for my opponent, the devil, to devour me with feelings of inadequacy and shame. This enemy is bent on making me believe that when my best isn't good enough, I'm not good enough.

    Fortunately, times of pain have also included hours of poring over God's promises, gathering wisdom to deal with this unwelcome intruder. I have learned to be alert to the devil's schemes and ready to stand against them. In today's key verses, Peter tells us how:

    "Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour. Be firm in the faith and resist him, knowing that other believers throughout the world are going through the same kind of suffering" (1 Peter 5:8-9).

    After reading the email and letting my thoughts run wild for a few minutes, I knew I had to clear my mind. I asked the Holy Spirit to help me unclutter my thoughts with the clarity of truth from logistical, circumstantial and spiritual points of view.

    1) I jotted down a list of logistical truths: facts about what happened, what I did right, wrong or forgot to do at all.

    2) I also wrote a list of circumstantial truths: factors of my "reality" during the project.

    In six months time, a close friend died of cancer, our family adopted a baby from Ethiopia, my mom was hospitalized with blood clots in her lungs and moved in with us, and my father underwent emergency quadruple bypass surgery. Although I cut back on some things, I tried to push through on a few commitments I made before the bottom fell out. Exhausted and completely overwhelmed, I couldn't keep up. But I hadn't admitted or communicated my limitations to our client.

    3) Finally, and most importantly, I made a list of spiritual truths. Turning through my Bible, I found and wrote down promises to remind me of these facts:

    • "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:26, NIV).

    • "The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands" (Psalm 138:8, NASB).

    Listing logistical, circumstantial and spiritual truths helped me quiet my mind to see all that was going on. Suddenly, I was aware of what God wanted me to do versus what my opponent was trying to do — devour me with discouragement.

    God wanted me to humble myself before Him, be honest with my limitations and make more cut backs in my schedule. After apologizing to our client and explaining what happened, she understood and things eventually worked out.

    Although I had done the best I could, my best wasn't good enough. But it didn't mean I wasn't good enough. It just meant I needed to make some truth-filled assessments and wisdom-based adjustments!

    Lord, some days my best isn't good enough, but it's all I have to give. Help me remember that my best is all You expect. Guide me with Your grace as I make truth-filled assessments of my life and wisdom-based adjustments as needed. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 90:17, "May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands." (NIV)

    ENTER TO WIN a copy of Renee's A Confident Heart Devotional and Lysa's new best-selling book, The Best Yes! Renee is giving away 3 "Fall Book-Bundles" that include a copy of each book and more! Enter on Renee's blog today.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Think of a time when you felt like your best wasn't good enough. Like Renee described, make a list of logistical, circumstantial and spiritual truths that relate to your situation.

    Looking at your lists, ask God to help you keep (or get) your mind clear of condemnation-clutter the enemy has piled on your thoughts. Then stand firm on God's truths and stay alert to His thoughts as you keep making truth-filled assessments and wisdom-based adjustments.

    © 2014 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Faith To Believe

    We come to this Christian walk at varying stages of life. Some of us barely remember a time when we didn’t believe. Some tried to figure out this life in many different ways before coming to a belief in the one true God and in His Son, Jesus Christ. While still others struggle to believe even now.

    And no matter where you fall on that journey, we can all lack the faith needed to believe when life isn’t easy. When the choices are hard. Our hearts are broken. Our spirit tired. When we wonder, even if we don’t have the courage to say it out loud, if God sees our circumstances.

    Please, reader, know you’re not alone in this.

    *****

    To the wife of many years who realizes, with a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, divorce is a very real next step in her faith journey. A decision sure to affect friends and family as well. For years to come. Believe.

    “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

    *****

    To the one struggling with an addiction. Not only today, but every day. Who, no matter how much faith he conjures up, still has trouble getting up, going to work, putting one foot in front of the other. Every. Day. Lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us be the church. Believe.

    “Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves.” Romans 15:1

    *****

    To the sister who knows God has placed a calling on her life. But struggles to find a church where she can serve freely. Who often contemplates if perhaps she misunderstands the God-given gifts she sees in herself. Believe.

    “But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted.” I Corinthians 12:18

    *****

    To the pastor who has seen it all. He has served faithfully for years. And knows the depths of the fall of man. But also knows the heights we can reach when we exercise

    the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Who would somedays give it all away to get a job where he worked the day shift, 40 hours a week. When you’re not sure you can continue living into this calling God has on your life. Believe.

    “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

    *****

    To the mama of many children, blessed enough to spend her days with them. So worn out from all these blessings when she finally gets them to bed at night. And, when she’s very honest with herself, often wonders deep down if she’s doing things right. If her children will have the faith she tries to instill in them. Believe.

    “Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands.” Deuteronomy 7:9

    *****

    To the brother who’s been waiting for a really long time. For a wife. A home. A job. An opportunity to serve. Whose heart longs for his circumstances to change. But God appears silent. Believe.

    “Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 *****

    To the family member who celebrates an anniversary every year. Honoring the death of a loved one. An infant. A child. A husband. A parent. No one gets to tell you how to grieve. Or how long you should bear the sorrow. Know God weeps with you. Believe.

    “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” Psalm 55:22

    *****

    The real hope for a Christian lies in the fact that there is so much more for a believer. More than this broken, fallen world can offer us. His Word promises, again and again, we can have more in this life. And an eternity of better awaits us. Believe.

    “Blessed is she who believed.” Luke 1:45a

    Traci Rhoades can trace God at work her whole life, preparing her for various seasons of ministry. In a big picture kind of way, that very idea encompasses her blog, http://www.tracesoffaith.com.  Her articles offer an honest look at how we can trace ways God prepares us to glorify Him with our lives both now and for eternity.

  • Letting Love be my "Go-To" Outfit

    Lynn

    "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience ... Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." Colossians 3:12,14 (NASB)

    Traveling sure can be hard on us girls! Trying to cram everything we'd like to bring into a space that's just a fraction of what we're used to. What a challenge!

    Airline travel is especially hard. In the interest of saving money, I often choose carry-on luggage only. Which means there's only one small bag to hold everything I need.

    Since space is limited, when I pack I have to take my time. I've got one shot to make the right decisions. One chance to be sure I have the perfect outfit for each scenario I'll find myself in. Dress or pants? New shoes or comfortable ones? Cute purse or functional?

    How I can struggle with deciding something as simple as how I should dress!

    Yet there are times when I don't just struggle with how to dress on the outside. I struggle with dressing my inside, too!

    Like the decision between wearing my new shoes or the broken-in ones, my heart-choices easily gravitate toward what "feels" comfortable.

    In a conversation with my husband, my mind naturally thinks of what I want to say rather than listening to the words he is speaking.

    When dialogue with my kids becomes heated, I can slip into demanding respect, before I fully hear what they are trying to say. I'm sad to admit it, but caring about my own needs, my feelings, my desires and my agenda often comes first.

    I want to change that.

    Just like when I'm packing, I want to slow down, carefully choose the words I say, the attitudes I have and the actions I take. Each day, I've got one shot to make the right decision.

    Today's key verse tells us the first step in making these right decisions is choosing the best "outfit" to put on our hearts each day: "... put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience ... Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity" (Colossians 3:12b, 14).

    I want love to be my "go-to" outfit, my first choice, my initial reaction. But getting to the place where love becomes completely natural can be a bit uncomfortable, like breaking in a new pair of shoes. However, by daily pushing past the messages of our me-first culture, love can become my favorite "go-to" choice. Instead of overreacting to situations that arise in my family, at work or in my friendships, I ask God to help me respond in love knowing I have the power of Jesus working through me.

    No matter where I'm going or what I'm doing today, I can confidently put on love — exactly the choice I will be most beautiful in!

    Dear Lord, as You know, loving others isn't always the easiest or most natural choice for me. Before I go any further today, help me to put on love, putting others needs and wants before my own. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 John 4:19, "We love because he first loved us." (NIV)

    Proverbs 31:25, "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future." (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When was the last time you chose loving others over loving yourself?

    Write today's key verse on a sticky note and put it on your closet as a reminder to put on love each day while you are getting dressed.

    © 2014 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Interview with Matthew West

    Recently Family Christian was able to interview artist Matthew West.  Please read the interview below and be looking for his release of "Believe" on October 14th.  His single "A Christmas to Believe in" is sure to speak to your heart this Christmas season.  We are thrilled that his album is going to be available exclusively at Family Christian stores!

    FC: Matthew, Hello! How are you?

     

    MW:  I am doing great.  Thanks to you, I've been in the Christmas spirit since July!

     

    FC: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today.  You know we are so excited for your October 14th release of Believe.  Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your song “A Christmas to Believe in” ?

     

    MW:  When I was asked to write a song based on this broader theme of "believe," the first title idea that popped into my head for some reason was, "A Christmas To Believe In."  Something just felt classic and special about that.  Then, I began to unpack all of things that title could mean.  One of the things I wrote down on my lyrics sheet one day was a list of titles that substituted other words where the word "believe" would be.  I began to think of what, sadly, Christmas might actually feel like for so many hurting people.  For the person battling depression around the holidays, they might say it's  "A Christmas to SURVIVE."  For the unemployed father who's worried about providing for his family, he might be feeling like it's "A Christmas to try to AFFORD." For the family that's been torn apart and is dreading the one time of year that they all have to be under one roof it could be looked at as "A Christmas to ENDURE." And the list went on and on.  I guess this song is my wish for people, that they will be reminded this December how the word "believe" is powerful enough to erase all of those other words we might be using to describe this Christmas; that the One we believe in is strong enough to flood our hearts with hope this year and show us what a Christmas to Believe In is really like.

     

     

    FC:  What is your favorite Christmas memory from your childhood?

     

    MW:  My favorite Christmas memory is actually in the final lyrics of this song.  "It's grandpa's bible opened up, to Luke chapter two..."  Every Christmas morning my dad would stop us before opening all of the presents and we would read the story of the birth of Christ. There was something very centering about that moment before the chaos ensued; our hearts were brought back to the reason why each Christmas really is a Christmas to believe in.

     

    FC:  I hear that you are currently working on your next project and I’d love to hear about it.

     

    MW:  Yes, I'm very excited about it!  And I'm also a bit nervous.  But those are always two emotions that seem to precede every record I do, and those are two emotions that seem to always mean that something special is around the corner in my life and in my journey of faith.  With this new record, I'm a man on a mission encouraging people to become a storyTELLER, not just a storyKEEPER.  I have been encouraging folks over the past few years with my records that their life is a story that God is telling, but there is not power in simply keeping that story to ourselves, God wants to use our story to change the world.  So, I'm giving people a chance to tell me their story.  We've received thousands of stories at my website so far, and I'm spending two months hidden away in a cabin reading every one of them and writing the new songs!

     

    FC:  Thanks again for your time today Matthew.  All of us here at Family Christian are incredibly honored that you wrote “A Christmas to Believe in” for us to have in our stores and online.  We want to take the time to thank you again.  We truly appreciate it.  It does mean a lot to us.

     

    MW:  I was honored to write the song for this project, and I hope the heartbeat of the song's message will ring true for all who get the chance to hear it this Christmas.

     

    FC:  One last question: We believe strongly in the power of prayer and we would like to ask you how we can be praying for you.

     

    MW:  I would appreciate your prayers for my time spent in the cabin reading stories and writing these new songs.  I want my heart to be open to what God is showing me and I am praying that I continue to write songs that tell the greatest story ever told!

     

    FC: Thank you Matthew.  Take care and be blessed.

  • Who's Texting Me this Late?

    WENDY

    "Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere." Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)

    I got the phone call no woman wants to get. "Mrs. Pope, this is your doctor's office calling in reference to your mammogram. We need to schedule a diagnostic exam."

    (Insert gasp, followed by silence.)

    Fear filled my body and what-if thoughts consumed my mind: What if the diagnostic exam showed cancer? What if I have to have chemotherapy? What if? What if? What if?

    The day finally arrived. My husband, Scott, who was driving me to the appointment, came home a little later from work than I had hoped. Then my nephew showed up to help with a project and needed some instructions, which took up even more of our limited time.

    My heart pounded as we wheeled out of the driveway. We were going to be late. Scott drove fast to try to make up for the time we lost. While I appreciated his effort, it only added to my already heightened anxiety. With each passing moment I became more fretful. It was obvious, I needed prayer.

    I sent this text message to a friend, "I need prayer now. I will explain later."

    Meg's reply was instant, "Praying now Wendy."

    Fast-forward several weeks.

    My phone chimed signaling a new message. I glanced at the clock. Who is messaging me this late?

    "I just wanted to let you know that I was praying for you."

    Two weeks had passed and I'd gotten the all clear from my doctor, but amazingly Meg was still praying for me.

    "Thanks Meg. I'm still praying for your prayer request too," I texted back.

    She thanked me for being one of her prayer warriors.

    "That's what we do. We are Jesus girls," I replied.

    Today's key verse encourages us to pray at all times and on every occasion. At first glance such a suggestion may seem overwhelming, but Paul was simply saying: pray prayer upon prayer. Whether we pray individually or in a group, aloud or silently, kneeling or standing, pray.

    The prayer doesn't have to be fancy with big church words like thee and thou. Paul's message is just pray.

    Prayer connects our heart with another's in a way we can't explain. Through prayer, we share in the weight of the burden and are able to sympathize with circumstances the person is facing. Our hearts join together in prayer and create an inexplicable bond of love.

    Prayer invites God into the situation. As we pray, our faith grows. Our growing faith moves God to act on our behalf and work all things together for our good.

    Prayer also unites our heart with God. This unique union prompts and enables us to follow Paul's instruction concerning prayer.

    Just pray — that's what Jesus girls do.

    When the text comes late at night — we pray.

    When a friend calls, we don't question — we pray.

    We pray in groups, in pairs and individually. We pray for each other. We pray for our country. We pray for our leaders. We pray for the unsaved and for the saved. We pray for our churches. We pray for our pastors. We pray at all times and on every occasion. We pray prayers upon prayers.

    That's what Jesus girls do.

    How are you today? Perhaps you need prayer, or maybe you are one who can offer to pray. Will you meet me over on my blog today? Let's keep it simple. No questions asked. No explanations needed. I know some Jesus girls who would love to pray for you.

    Dear Lord, I know You just want me to pray. You don't need to hear big church words. You just want me to pray. Prompt me Lord; I will pray. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalms 55:17, "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice." (KJV)

    Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (KJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Has someone asked you for prayer recently? Pray prayers upon prayers for them. If you feel led, contact them to let them know that you are praying, or ask for an update.

    Do you need prayer? Don't be afraid to call, email or text a friend to ask them to pray. That's what Jesus girls do!

    © 2014 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • When God Says No

    Chrystal

    "For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us." 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NASB)

    We were running errands.

    My 5-year-old son was in his spot in the back seat chatting away, mostly asking me for stuff.

    "Mommy, can I have ...?"

    "Mommy, can you take me ...?"

    "Mommy, can we go to ...?"

    You know that place somewhere between kids being so adorably cute and totally driving you bananas?

    Yup. I was there.

    Every answer to his questions was "No."

    I was on autopilot: No. No. No.

    Then that boy of mine said ...

    "Mommy, I wish that every time you said 'no' you really meant 'yes.' That would be more funner."

    "You mean that I would always mean the opposite of what I actually said?"

    "YES! Just like that! Come on Mommy let's p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e."

    I agreed to the rehearsal request. I mean ... why not? All I had to do was keep giving the same response I'd been giving for the last 15 minutes.

    "Mommy, can we go out for lunch?"

    "No."

    My son raised a fist of victory in the air and said, "ALRIGHT!"

    "Mommy, can you take me to the store?"

    "No."

    He broke into applause.

    "Mommy, can we go to the park to play?"

    "No."

    That cute boy waved his hands in the air while saying, "Yeaaaaaah!"

    And then it dawned on me ... my son was on to something.

    He was choosing to believe my "no" was actually a "yes" and that changed his attitude.

    It changed his response. It changed his reaction.

    It made me wonder: What if we responded to God in this way? What if we believed that even when He said no, it was because He was really saying yes?

    Because He is.

    We have a good Father in God, who, just like a good earthly father, desires to give His children what's best for them later even if He has to say no to something they want right now. The question is: Do we really believe that He's good? If we did, wouldn't that be cause to celebrate, whether He says no or yes?

    It's hard when prayer requests go unanswered or desires go unmet. I can easily feel deflated and frustrated with God. Hope turns to hopelessness, confident expectation becomes disappointment and faith turns to despondent despair.

    But what if we really believed God was good?

    What if we believed that He was always saying yes — maybe not to what we are asking Him for right at that moment — but saying yes to His best.

    What if we trusted His heart, even when His hand seemingly withholds the very thing we so desire?

    What if we chose to celebrate all of the previous yes answers He's given us despite His current no?

    I think it would change how we respond. I think we would find joy, keep hoping and smile despite what we see.

    I know how badly you want your yes but hang in there.

    Keep hoping. Keep praying. Keep believing.

    And if God says no? Choose to give thanks.

    I have been walking with God long enough to know that many times God has said no because He had a greater yes in store for me.

    I have been walking with God long enough to know that even if I don't like His answer, I can respond to Him with expectation, hope and joy.

    I have been walking with God long enough to know He's good and although He doesn't always give me what I want, He always gives me what He knows I need.

    In some way, shape or form, He's always saying yes.

    Father God, today I choose joy because I believe You are always saying yes. Sure, there are places of disappointment in my life and there are things I would like to be different, but I choose to give thanks. Starting today, I choose to respond to You as if You are always good — a Father who has my best in mind. Because You are good. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Matthew 7:9-11, "Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" (NASB)

    Psalm 100:5, "For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Where is God telling you no? How have you responded to Him as a result? How has today's devotional changed your thinking?

    Have you walked with God long enough to experience a no that later you could see was only because He had a greater yes? If so, share your journey in the comments so that another might be encouraged to hang in there.

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • My Callused Heart Needs Softening

    Glynnis

    "My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise." Psalm 51:17 (NIV)

    My daughter Cathrine held out her hands, palms up, for her brother to see. "Look, I have bumps on my hands ... what are they from?"

    Robbie ran his fingers over her palms and answered with the authority of an older brother, "These are calluses, you got them from lifting weights at school. Look at mine."

    He turned his hands over, and she ran her fingers over his palms and grinned.

    My children's hands are a resume of their work in the gym. Calluses formed to protect their tender skin from harm as they lift weights.

    I sat at the table, watching the interaction, and then looked at my hands. Smooth palms and short nails revealed my hardest workouts came at the keyboard, not the gym. But a thought skirted in and around my mind: Where else might calluses have formed?

    Turning back to my computer, my eyes stared out the window and my fingers stilled on the keys as an image came to mind. My heart ... covered in calluses.

    I closed my eyes and sighed. That explained a lot. My heart is harder than it used to be. And sadly, much harder than I'd like it to be.

    It's easy to see how I've gotten here. Each time I've been hurt, my approach to dealing with pain has been stoic. The warrior-like determination inside me to protect myself had affected the softness of my heart. With each offense, each lie, each rejection, I made a silent declaration to not be hurt like that again.

    I thought I'd handled things well because I hold no grudges. I'm desperately aware of my own sin and hold no accounts for offenses. But that image of a callused heart revealed the truth that I haven't handled offenses as well as I thought.

    It's hard dealing with people. We're all sinful and make choices that hurt others. But for me, over time suspicion replaced trust, and hyper-vigilance replaced peace. My empathy was diminished, which is a very dangerous heart-position for someone whom God has called to love others.

    I'm convinced these calluses aren't supposed to stay there. A callused heart may protect me from great pain, but it also keeps me from great love. To love deeply, to love like Jesus, requires risk. I'll be honest, that vulnerable position makes me want to wrap a few more layers around my tender heart, and vow beyond all measure to protect myself.

    This makes me ask a question I really don't like to ask. At all. Am I willing to risk being hurt to obey the call to love?

    King David, God's warrior, spoke of this decision as a "sacrifice." David was betrayed by those he loved and trusted. He had every right to seek revenge. And yet Psalm 51 speaks of David's desire for a pure heart and to tell others about God. In verse 17 he says, "My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise."

    Rather than choosing to protect his heart with pride, David chose brokenness and humility. He took his pain to God rather than move on like nothing happened. It's from this place of humility that God met David and cared for his broken heart. With God's care, it mended in a healthy way, free from calluses.

    There are some people I can't trust. But that doesn't apply to everyone. Rather, most are good folks who make an occasional mistake. They are the ones who need my softened heart.

    So here's my commitment. Rather than bandage my own wounds and act like I'm not hurt, I'm taking every offense to my Heavenly Father. Every day I'm praying, Lord, heal and soften my heart so I can love like You.

    Lord, You alone know the many ways people have hurt me. And You see the hardened places in my heart that affect how I love others. I'm asking You to break my heart in a good way, Lord. Be my protection from the rough rubbing of the world, so I can be Your hands and feet to a world in need of Your love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ezekiel 36:26, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (NIV)

    Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are the hurts of your past affecting your relationships today? How?

    Is there something in you that resists admitting you've been hurt? If it's unhealthy pride, consider confessing that to God today and receive His healing.

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Stress Cure

    Linda

    "The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving." Psalm 28:7 (NLT)

    Not long ago, I heard a radio preacher say, "If you have stress, that means you're not trusting God." I was having a stressful day, so I didn't particularly care for his remark. I silently argued, Why of course I trust God, my problem is I'm having a day that won't let me "phone-it-in."

    My stressful day started the morning I had to drive 50 miles to do a live radio interview in another town. As the clock ticked down to my departure time, everything started to go wrong. I suddenly remembered I needed to get a tax report into the mail.

    As I felt my stress rise, I got a call telling me payroll was late. This was a payroll I had to sign before I left town so my assistant could get paid and buy groceries — a habit she didn't like to break. So by the time I finished, filed, found and signed my paperwork, my stress level was high and I was late for the radio interview, which I could not do via phone.

    So, I hopped in my car and with sweat trickling between my shoulder blades, I raced through freeway traffic for 50 miles. When I arrived, I sprinted to catch the elevator. When it reached the top floor, I dashed down the hall and slipped into the chair and headphones as the radio station's mike went live. The host barely managed to whisper, "And I was beginning to think you wouldn't make it!"

    As I talked to the host about how we can live our lives in a deeper relationship with God, I had to laugh at myself for not including more of God in my day. Sure, I'd shot off many Help-me-Lord prayers that morning. But in all my rush to get to the radio station, I felt more flustered than peaceful.

    What could I have done differently? To find a clue, let's unpack Psalm 28:7.

    This verse starts with "The LORD is my strength and shield."

    This is a great reminder that we can use God's strength to make it through any of our problems. In fact, God's strength can serve to shield us from the fiery darts of worry, fear and stress. This news is a great relief!

    The next line of this verse says, "I trust him with all my heart."

    These words prompt us to trust God. The next time you're tempted to turn a hectic day into a panic attack, instead say, "I'm going to trust God through this." You'll soon discover that your choice to trust God will calm you with a peace that surpasses understanding.

    The rest of the verse says, "He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving."

    This puts us on notice to acknowledge God's help and presence in our lives. When we take the time to count our blessings, to remind ourselves of all the ways God has helped us through difficulties, we are sure to experience His joy.

    Maybe the radio preacher had it right. When we remember to trust God and to face a hectic day in His strength, we'll see our blessings and count it all as joy.

    Dear Lord, I often allow stress to rule my life. I rush to achieve my goals in my own strength, forgetting that I can rely on Your strength. Help me to put my trust in You so I can relax in Your great love. Thank You for all the blessings You send my way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Hebrews 10:35, "So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!" (NLT)

    Psalm 55:22, "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let he righteous be shaken." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What past stress are you still holding on to?

    What would happen if you gave both yesterday and today's stress to the Lord?

    © 2014 by Linda Evans Shepherd. All rights reserved.

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

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

Items 491 to 500 of 2423 total

WHAT WE'RE ABOUT

“to look after orphans and widows in their distress...” James 1:27 NIV

Our heartbeat is to help orphans and widows in need, as our Father calls us to do.
And with every purchase you make, you’re making an amazing difference in their lives.

We are not for profit, and all for purpose
Loading... Loading...