• Gifts to encourage their prayer life

Family Christian

  • No More Guilt-Induced Doubt

    Renee

    "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

    Mom said she'd be gone all day, and she encouraged me to come over and use her place to write. In a quiet house, hopefully, I could finalize my message outlines for our church women's retreat.

    We arranged plans for my mom to be home at 5 p.m. Then my husband, J.J., would come over at 5:30 p.m. with our boys. The children could stay with Grandma while J.J. and I went to a surprise party.

    Mom's quiet house was just what I needed to get into a good studying and writing zone. It was the perfect setting ... until she came home two hours early!

    She brought cement pavers in and set them on the floor. She walked out and returned to plop bags of groceries in the kitchen ... right where I was studying.

    Normally this would have been fine, but I wasn't done and I got the message that my time was up. Panic set in!

    Then, to make matters worse, as I put my notes away I knocked a water bottle over onto my laptop. My chest tightened with anxiety, and my eyes stung with tears. My perfect day was turning into the perfect storm.

    After mopping up the mess, I started getting ready for the party and waited for my husband to arrive. He didn't show up at 5:30, or 5:40. He wasn't answering his cell phone, and I didn't want to ruin the surprise party by being late. So, at 6:00, I decided to take Mom's car and have him meet me there.

    Just as I was leaving, he drove up. Surprisingly, he didn't look a bit hurried. In fact, my then 6-year-old son got out of the car first, walked up to me and said, "Daddy told us you would be mad!"

    That was an understatement! Frustrated and angry, I decided it was still a good idea for me to leave. But when I pulled out of the driveway, my husband waved for me to stop and asked, "Aren't you going to wait for me?"

    "No," I snapped. "Because you're acting like a [beep]."

    My 8-year-old son walked up and said, "Mommy! You just called Daddy a [beep]."

    Suddenly guilt-induced doubt made me start questioning everything, including speaking at the retreat. I'm not cut out for this. I'm not godly enough. I must have heard God wrong. I have no business teaching a message I can't even live.

    My husband and I ended up going to the party together, with our fake "everything is fine" smiles. But the next morning at church, I went straight to my women's ministry director, confessed what happened and told her I needed to step down from being the retreat speaker.

    Her response shocked me: "Renee, if you don't need this message as much as the women attending, then you are not qualified to teach it. But because you need it as much as we do, you are. You've been appointed and you are anointed to do this."

    I had never experienced such a demonstration of God's grace.

    That response showed me what it looks like to "approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

    It's hard to believe God could use us when we're such a mess, yet the Bible is filled with stories of men and women He used greatly — despite their downfalls.

    I ended up speaking at the retreat and shared what had happened. Although I feared some women might judge me, they loved me, accepting that I'm not perfect.

    Although guilt can make us give up on ourselves, God won't. Instead, He offers to take what feels like destruction and use it for reconstruction in our journey with Him.

    When we confess our wrong thoughts, words, and actions and receive God's forgiveness, our hearts can be set free from guilt-induced doubt and filled with grace-infused confidence.

    Lord, I come to You today to receive Your mercy and find Your grace to help me. Please replace my guilt-induced doubt with Your grace-infused confidence. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: Has guilt ever made you doubt God could use you for His purposes?

    Jesus lived and died to save us from our sins and downfalls. Receive His forgiveness today and ask Him to replace your guilt-induced doubt with His grace-infused confidence.

    Power Verse: 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (NKJV)

    © 2014 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Overcoming Relational Barriers

    Boyd

    When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’... The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’ Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you—I am he’”.  John 4:7, 25-26

    Jesus was thirsty for water, but He was also thirsty for this woman to learn of Him--God’s living water. He dismissed the barriers of cultural bias and went right to her heart. Though women of His day were treated with contempt, Jesus related to her with compassion. In spite of the prevalent racial prejudice of the times, He listened intently to her ideas about God. Yes, overcoming relational barriers starts by being respectful to the person with opposing ideas.

    There are built-in cultural divides when diverse people come together to communicate. Family traditions, religious beliefs, regional pride, racial judgments, social status and preconceived notions are a few. However, the unconditional acceptance and love of Christ cuts through cultural clutter and creates a clear path of communication and understanding. We create trust when we seek to understand the other person’s paradigms and we are humbly bold about our own beliefs.

    “Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin” (Romans 3:9).

    The entire human race began from the same place; all sinners in need of a Savior. No one people group is superior, but all are subject to the one and only King Jesus. So, it’s with caring concern we approach individuals different in origin and opinion. Outside of Christ, we are all sinners in need of a Savior. In Christ, we are all sinners saved by grace. Thus, we prayerfully seek common ground with assorted nationalities. The gospel of Jesus Christ assimilates diverse backgrounds.

    Therefore, where is the Lord calling you to build relational bridges? A neighbor not native to your area or a professional acquaintance who professes not to know God? Humans hunger for answers to life. God has placed in everyone’s heart a thirst for Himself. We who are refreshed by Christ’s living water are called to educate thirsty souls in how they can be satisfied. So, be creative and use every day experiences to engage spiritual conversation. Explain how your once parched heart has been hydrated by the living water of Jesus. Yes, Christ overcomes relational barriers!

    “God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:34-36).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me be intentional to understand other cultures with the goal of sharing the good news of Jesus.

    Related Readings: 2 Samuel 22:50; Psalm 18:49; Romans 9:24, 10:12; Ephesians 2:14

    Post/Tweet today: We who are refreshed by Christ’s living water are called to educate thirsty souls in how they can be satisfied. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Spoken For from Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Joy Bethke

    Robin

    One bright April morning Alyssa and I (Robin) were busy in my kitchen preparing food for a youth event at church. All the windows were open. A gentle breeze cooled us. The television was on in the background, but we weren’t paying much attention. I reached for the remote to turn it off but accidentally changed the channel.

    “Oh, wait,” Alyssa said. “Leave it there. I love this part.”

    I had happened upon an oldie-but-goodie chick flick at just the right moment. It was one of my favorites too. Alyssa and I stopped what we were doing. We stood together in a sweet silence and watched as the fair maiden ran into the arms of her hero. We sighed and looked at each other. Alyssa had tears in her eyes. So did I. We pointed at each other and laughed.

    “Why are we crying?” I asked. “I’m sure we’ve both seen this a dozen times.”

    “I know,” Alyssa said wistfully. “But it’s such a great love story. And love stories get me every time.”

    It’s true, isn’t it? Love stories draw us in. Honestly, who doesn’t love a good love story? The pursuit. The suspense. The drama. The mystery. We cry, we laugh, we cheer—all for love. We are captivated by our favorite movies, television shows, and books when the romantic elements capture our imaginations and enliven our hopes.

    Even if you don’t see yourself as a girlie girl and didn’t have a favorite Disney princess when you were growing up, you know in your core that you want to be loved like the heroines in all the best films and stories. You want to see love conquer all.

    The desire to be loved, cherished, and adored never goes away. All of us long to believe someone is out there who wants us. Someone who will come for us. Someone who will take the role of the hero in our lives and love us, deeply love us, not for what we do or how we look but simply for who we are.

    What if you could know that you are loved that intensely? You are sought after. You are the bride-to-be in a love story that’s unfolding in your life right this minute. You are spoken for.

    This love story began once upon a time long ago before you were even born. Almighty God, the Creator of the galaxies, thought of you. He carefully fashioned you—your voice, your fingers, your mind, even every one of your eyelashes. He carefully and deliberately crafted you. For all time there only has been and only will be one of you.

    He saw all your days before you took your first breath. He knows all your thoughts before you speak them. He knows everything about you. From the very beginning you were known, and you were wanted. He is pursuing you like a tenacious bridegroom with a perfect proposal. He has set his affections on you. Why? Because he loves you, and he will never stop loving you. You are his first love, and he wants you back.

    How do you respond to such unwavering, unending, unstoppable love?

    In this book we will unwrap the ancient truths from God’s Word about what it means to be loved, to be sought after, to be spoken for. You will see how the Bible is a love letter written to us.

    Through that love letter God makes it clear that he desires to be with us forever. Alyssa and I will share details from forever-love stories and show how our love for God grew as he pursued us.

    Our goal is simple. We want you to see what happens when you respond to the invitation of the true Bridegroom and step into the center of an epic love story—yours.


    Excerpted from Spoken For by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Joy Bethke Copyright © 2014 by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Joy Bethke. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

  • Difference Maker - NEEDTOBREATHE

    NEEDTOBREATHE effortlessly weaves together the musical traditions and faith of their upbringing in the Deep South to create music that uplifts and inspires. With Rivers in the Wasteland, NEEDTOBREATHE returns to their roots of anthemic rock and musical simplicity. The album features the sound of a band excited to reconnect with the idea of a fresh start, highlighted in songs like "Difference Maker," "Multiplied" and "Brother."

    Check out the video for their new single, Difference Maker.

    What do you think of the song?

  • What Would Jesus Undo? - Michael Boggs

    A former member of FFH, Michael Boggs has been busy since the group decided to take a break in 2008. The eleven original tracks on More Like a Lion are an outpouring of Michael's experience in ministry and music. The breakout single "What Would Jesus Undo" centers around the idea that grace should be at the forefront of the church.

    Here is the video for that new single:

    What do you think of the song and the video?

  • Praise the Lord - City Harmonic

    Internationally acclaimed band, The City Harmonic presents their highly anticipated sophomore album, Heart, featuring 14 songs that are underscored by the cinematic and communal aesthetic prominent in all of the band’s music. Reflecting the lives lived by the band members since their full-length debut, Heart shifts from the dream of what could and should be to the complexities of how to follow the true humanity of Christ’s example in the world.

    The album places Christ at the center while delving into themes of grace, discipleship and being and becoming truly human, all the while giving the listener permission to sing out in hope, in hurt. At the core of the new album is the first radio single, "City on a Hill," which is steeped in the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5.

    Check out their new video below:

    What do you think of their new song?

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  • Am I On Camera?

    Chrystal

    "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them ..." Matthew 6:1a (ESV)

    My eldest son recently turned nine. Like most kids, he was excited to be officially "bigger." He walked around on his special day with his chest pushed out and his head held high.

    After a full day of justifiably being the center of attention, my son told me that because he was nine, he was going to wash the dishes.

    His dishes.

    He proceeded to go to the sink, squeeze the dish detergent and squirt a generous amount of soap on a dirty plate. He then proceeded to rub and scrub with vigor.

    I grabbed a glass of water and rested my hip on the side of the kitchen counter to watch my birthday boy work. He scrubbed on that dish for more than a minute.

    That dish wasn't just clean, it was sterile, sanitized and thoroughly decontaminated.

    Then my sweet boy turned to me, cocked his head slightly to one side, donned a puzzled face and asked, "Aren't you gonna take a picture of me and put it on Instagram?"

    I almost spit my water in his face with laughter, shock and a bit of confusion.

    My son was doing a good thing with the desire to broadcast his good thing to the world. Apparently, being "on camera" was an important part of his good works.

    So I took a few minutes to explain the importance of doing things for the right reasons and not performing for the applause of others.

    And then I was convicted.

    Convicted because sometimes I do the same thing.

    How many times have I served others, not just because it was the right thing to do, but because it also lent claim to a bit of self-righteousness as others watched me do it?

    How many times have I put forth more effort to show kindness or compassion to people inside the walls of my church than to those living within the walls of my home?

    How often do I aim for excellence when someone is watching but forget to aim consistently for excellence simply because my God is always watching?

    And He's always most interested in my heart.

    The Bible is clear. God doesn't want my good deeds to be aimed at gaining the applause of people. He wants me to have a pure heart and motives undergirded by a desire to live a life pleasing to Him.

    Even if no one else is watching.

    When my little boy got busy washing his dish, my heart was overjoyed because I thought he was showing growth and maturity by doing a good thing — simply because it was the right thing to do!

    When his true motives were made clear, I realized there was still mothering work to be done. My precious son still has room to grow and mature. And that's OK.

    In my Christian journey there will be times when I will need work. There will be times where my heart is not quite right or my motives are not necessarily pure. I still have room to grow and mature. And it's OK.

    And that's OK if you do, too.

    The good news I've learned as I grow in Christ is that my heart can change. God is a loving Father who is interested in my heart and willing to take the time to teach me. He's willing to go the distance, guiding me along the path to spiritual maturity.

    The interaction with my son reminded me to do a "heart check."

    Even if no one is watching, when I'm not "on camera," I should always be conscious of the story my actions tell about my heart.

    Dear Lord, I desire to have a pure heart and pure motives, but if I'm honest, sometimes I miss the mark. Help me be aware that You are ever present and to live as though You are watching. Where I have developed the habit of keeping up appearances, teach me what it means to live for an audience of One. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: When was the last time you joyfully served others when there was no applause?

    How does your treatment of people outside your home compare to the treatment of the people down the hallway?

    How much excellent effort do you put forth if no one is there to see how hard you work at the task at hand?

    Power Verse: Psalm 101:2, "I will be careful to lead a blameless life — when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

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  • Weary But Strong

    Boyd

    Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well...Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’” John 4:6, 31-32

    Life has a way of wearing us down. Constant digital connection exhausts our emotional energy, saps our attention span, and depletes our physical strength.  There are especially intense cycles of life that require a robust infusion of spiritual strength. Training our children can be overwhelming, starting a new job may require a radical learning curve, and health or relational issues tend to tire us out. Our physical weariness is an opportunity for invigoration by the Spirit.

    Jesus, while hungry and tired--looked outside of Himself to the inner hurt of another human being. His body was exhausted, but His spirit came alive to do the will of His heavenly Father. Indeed, it’s in our weakness that we can engage the strength of doing God’s will. By God’s grace we can convert our physical cravings into spiritual energy. Stamina comes to souls surrendered to God’s will. Faith feasts on food unavailable to unbelief. Yes, we can be strong in our weariness.

    “If you are a man given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, For they are deceptive food” (Proverbs 23:2-3, NKJV).

    Physical appetites need not consume us. Hunger, thirst, and sexual appetites are desires meant to drive us to the Lord, not away from the Lord. The soul rules over the body, not the body over the soul. If we are preoccupied by our physical needs, we lose touch with our affection for our heavenly Father. This is why determined soldiers are able to persevere through painfully adverse elements to win the battle. Disciplined athletes keep their bodies in submission, so they can reach their goals. So, in our weariness--we are strong, as we default to the habit of carrying out God’s will.

    Furthermore, like Jesus--we are wise to regularly take time to stop and rest. We sit down so we can refresh our soul, not bloat our body. We pray for those we can engage in conversation about Christ. Spiritual discussion can clarify our thinking and change our behavior for the better. So, we ask God who needs our intentional investment of time: a single mom, a troubled teenager, a successful executive or homemaker? Strength in our weariness comes from doing God’s will.

    “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, use my physical desires to move me toward doing Your will.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 13:4, 16:8; Matthew 21:18; John 6:27; 1 Corinthians 1:25

    Post/Tweet today: Stamina comes to souls surrendered to God’s will. Faith feasts on food unavailable to unbelief. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

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