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Family Christian

  • How to Help Our Kids Love God’s Word

    How to Help Our Kids Love God’s Word by Dr. David Jeremiah

    “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.“ Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NKJV)

    She was late.

    We had agreed to meet at 6:30 and it was almost 7 when I finally saw my teenage daughter strolling through the mall toward where I sat, waiting. Now I’d be late to my board meeting.

    In my frustration, I did what many of us parents have done — I reacted and jumped to a wrong conclusion.

    When we got home, the truth came out that her watch was broken. She thought she had indeed arrived on time. Gulp.

    I penitently made my way to her bedroom where I heard her sniffling and knocked.

    “May I come in?”

    “Yes,” she said.

    “Honey, I am sorry,” I began. “I blew it. I didn’t even ask you. Can you ever forgive me?”

    She looked up at me through her tears and said, “Sure Dad, everyone makes mistakes.” We held each other for a few minutes, and I went on to my meeting.

    My children are grown now. All four of our children are married and have families of their own, but I have to admit there were some days I wasn’t sure we would get here. Donna and I made some mistakes along the way. My children know all my faults. But I learned one of the best things I could do was be honest with my kids and apologize for my mistakes.

    Our biggest failures as parents can become the greatest opportunities to illustrate genuine faith to our kids. When we admit our wrongs and allow our kids to see our humanity, to see how we mess up just like anyone else, it catches their attention. It allows us to set a biblical example of humility, love and forgiveness for them to follow.

    My own dad taught me how to admit my mistakes, ask for forgiveness and have the humility to reveal my human weaknesses to my kids. His willingness to admit his wrongs impressed me when I was young. I realized he had faults just like me. And he let me see him seeking God and praying through those weaknesses. It impacted me for life.

    Deuteronomy 6:6-9 offers a roadmap for how we are to live out our faith in front of our children. What we believe must make its way into our daily attitudes, conversations and routines.

    The old adage is true about parenting: More is caught than taught.

    We can teach our kids what the Bible says, but if we want them to live according to its truth, we need to live it. If we want our kids to have a growing faith and love God’s Word, we need to demonstrate its importance in our lives. A “Do as I say, not as I do” approach to parenting will fall flat.

    We can’t fake it as parents. If we don’t model a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, there is little chance our children will grow up to possess what we lack. Even if we didn’t get it right when our kids were young, we can start now. How?

    Begin by seeking the Lord today. Read His Word daily. Connect with your church. Make God’s Word a necessary part of your daily life and watch Him renew a hunger and thirst for Him today. Allow your kids to be a part of that process. Allow them to see the importance and joy of God’s Word in your life. By the grace of God, may they learn to lean on God and develop a growing love for Him and His Word.

    Lord, help me embrace Your Word. But most of all, help me to live it. Help me be the kind of parent who will inspire my children to please You, because that’s what they see being lived out in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 24:3-4 “Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches.” (NKJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Do you have a love and excitement for the Word that transmits to your family? Take time to pray and ask Jesus for a renewed hunger for the Word and readiness to speak His truth in your home.

    © 2016 by Dr. David Jeremiah. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Turning Point Ministries 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

  • Facing the Impossible

    Facing the Impossible by Lysa TerKeurst

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

    Whenever I’ve stepped out to do something I felt God calling me to do, the voices of criticism and condemnation have been there to greet me.

    Early on in ministry the voices were loud and cruel: “You’ll never be a speaker.” “You are not wanted.” “Look at you. Do you really think God could use someone like you after what you’ve done?”

    Sometimes I measured myself against other people. “She’s so clever. She’s so educated. She’s so connected. Who am I compared to all that?”

    Gradually, I pulled away. I put up a front of perfection with carefully crafted words and a house and kids that looked just right. Polished on the outside — yet completely undone on the inside.

    Eventually the Lord called my bluff.

    I was simultaneously going through the books Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and Victory Over the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson. Often I would have tears stream from my eyes while attempting to get through the lessons. But one day, it was more than just tears. It was sobs pouring from a chest so heavy with burdens I thought I might literally break apart.

    Down on my face, I asked God to speak to me. What I heard in reply was one simple yet life-changing question: “Will you share your story?”

    “Yes, I will share my story. The good parts. The parts that are safe and tidy and acceptable.”

    But safe and tidy and acceptable were not what God was looking for. He wanted the impossible.

    Totally impossible.

    Absolutely impossible … in my own strength.

    But God wouldn’t drop it. He met every one of my arguments with Scriptures about relying not on my strength, but on His.

    He untangled my need for approval with the challenge to live for an audience of One. He helped me see where the voices of doubt were coming from and challenged me to consider the source. And, quite simply, He kept whispering He loved me over and over again.

    The first time I shared my story was nothing but an act of absolute obedience. I kept my head down and my guard up. I expected the ladies listening to all start stoning me … especially when I got to the part about my abortion. The shame of all the abuse and rejection was nothing compared to the shame of my choice to abort my child.

    I’d wept over that choice.

    I’d repented.

    I’d gone to God hundreds of times and asked for forgiveness.

    I’d laid it down every time there was an altar call.

    But nothing brought the redemption that this day brought. As I stood shaking at that podium, I shared exactly what and how God asked me to share.

    And then the miracle happened.

    When I finished and dared to look up at their reactions, tearstained faces were looking back at me. Mouths were whispering, “Me too. Me too.” In that moment, I finally understood the idea that “what Satan means for evil, God can use for good” like our key verse tells us.

    Seeing God use the very thing that made me feel utterly worthless to help others changed everything. I was finally breaking free from Satan’s chains of shame and could see his lies for what they were.

    In that moment, I felt victorious — not in my own power, but in the Lord’s strength and ability to use all things for good. Without that decision of obedience, I would not have been able to see how God wanted to work in the lives of so many women that night.

    This is our heart at Proverbs 31 Ministries — to help women dismantle the lies of the enemy with the truth of God so they can walk in freedom. Because when one woman finds freedom, she is able to help countless others discover freedom in Christ!

    Will you prayerfully consider partnering with us? We want to continue providing free biblical resources like these daily devotions, but we can’t do it without your help.

    If Proverbs 31 Ministries has encouraged you and helped you hold God’s Truth closer, we invite you to join us in continuing to bring the Gospel to women all over the world! You can do this by contributing financially or through prayer. All donations go right back into the everyday operations and expansion efforts of the ministry. Click here to give to Proverbs 31 Ministries today!

    Dear Lord, thank You for making the impossible, possible. Thank You for taking every event in my life and using it for good. You are worthy to be praised. I want to follow Your plan for my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Revelation 12:11, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What has God placed on your heart to share with others? Be intentional in encouraging someone with a compliment, positive note or text message today. The Lord wants to use our words and actions in our own lives as well as in the lives of others.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Your Problems Have Purpose

    Your Problems Have Purpose by Joni Eareckson Tada

    “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.“ Genesis 50:20 (NLT)

    You may not be a quadriplegic like I am, but I bet you resonate with the word helpless. When suffering hits you or your family broadside, we can quickly ask: Where is God? Why is He letting this happen?

    It’s why I draw inspiration from the biblical story of Joseph.

    Although he was never paralyzed, several things happened to him that could be construed as accidents. He was tossed into a pit by his envious brothers and almost left to die, and eventually, he was wrongly put in prison in a foreign land.

    Joseph could have become bitter. But many years later, he told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20).

    I like that word, “intended.” God is full of intention — He has a purpose, a target, a goal and a plan. God was a giant step ahead of Joseph’s brothers, aborting their evil intentions to suit His own purposes. Joseph’s problems did not catch God off guard. From the beginning, God planned for Joseph to experience those things. Why? Not only for his own growth in godly character, but for saving others’ lives.

    God is not a sweep-up boy who follows after you with a dustpan and brush, second-guessing how everything will fit into a divine pattern for good. He does not put on a hazmat suit so an evil situation doesn’t contaminate His holy reputation.

    Think of the disappointing or bad things that have happened to you.

    Be comforted by this: God did not take His hands off the wheel of your life for a nanosecond. From start to finish, everything followed God’s plan for you.

    This means your trials have much more meaning than you realize. Your problems have more purpose than you can imagine. Not because God merely uses bad things, but because God intends them so others might be introduced to Jesus through your example. What a high calling that is!

    Dear Heavenly Father, I’m so grateful You are involved in every step of my life. How comforting to know that in good times or bad, You remain in control and have a plan for me. I thank You that You are good no matter what happens, and that I can rest in Your presence. I am thankful for the faithfulness of Joseph that no matter what happened, he turned to You and never doubted You. I pray to have that kind of faith and live a life of surrender to Your will. In Jesus Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT)

    Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: How have you seen God use a difficult moment in your life to challenge you for the better?

    Think of a difficult situation you have faced and find a way to use it to reach out and connect with someone who is hurting.

    © 2016 by Joni Eareckson Tada. All rights reserved.

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

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

  • Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe

    Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe by Sharon Jaynes

    “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power … For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.” Ephesians 6:10, 12 (NIV)

    I still remember being sequestered in the Bride’s Room of our church just moments before the organist began to play for the early arrivals.

    As I sat before an oversized gilded mirror trying not to wrinkle my dress, I daydreamed about the man who would become my husband in moments. He was everything I had ever hoped for: handsome, smart, ambitious and strong. Most importantly, he loved Jesus.

    Yes, this was a good day.

    Staring at my reflection, an unwelcome thought popped in my mind. Doesn’t every woman feel this joy on her wedding day? What could go so terribly wrong that such a high percentage of marriages end in divorce? Am I fooling myself? Am I that much different from the thousands who have walked the aisle before me?

    I decided right then I would do everything in my power to make my marriage a success. It didn’t take long for me to discover that the words “in my power” were a problem. “My power” was not enough. Marriage was hard.

    Fairy tales often end with the words, “And they lived happily ever after.” But … if we could see the epilogue to those rides off into the sunset, we’d most likely find daily struggles, potentially divisive decisions and angry arguments sprinkled throughout.

    Fairy tales stop short of telling us about tension over whose turn it is to wash the dishes, pay the bills or put the kids to bed. They leave out the part about stress over holidays with in-laws, frequency of intimacy and who gets to spend what, when. We naively repeat the words, “for better or for worse,” and then are shocked when the first hint of “worse” rears its ugly head.

    If you’ve been married for more than a few days, you’ve likely figured out that blessed unions need work to stay blessed.

    And I dare say, the most important “work” we can do as wives is on our knees before God in prayer. Only God can truly protect our marriages and our men. And He invites us to participate in the unleashing of His power by praying for our husbands and turning the key to the storehouse of heaven’s door for blessings outpoured.

    We’ve got to remember: The real struggle in marriage is a spiritual one. Our husbands are not our enemy; the devil is (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).

    Paul urged believers to enter into spiritual battle armed and ready with the Word of God. He wrote: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms … Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:12,17, NIV).

    Through prayer, the enemy’s plans are intercepted and principalities and authorities are defeated. Through prayer, the power and provision of God flows into the lives of His people.

    I had to learn prayer is not a means of gaining control over my husband, to whip him into shape and make him the man I wanted him to be. Prayer is a means of relinquishing control of my husband and asking God to shape him into the man that He wants him to be.

    Regardless of where your man or your marriage falls on the continuum of terrific to tolerable to terrible, there is always room for improvement. Prayer can make a bad marriage good and a good marriage great.

    There’s no better way to pray for someone than praying Scripture. We’ll use the following as our closing prayer for today. While I love to pray for my husband from head to toe, today we’ll just focus on our husbands’ head.

    Dear Lord, I pray for __________.

    • His Mind — That he will have the mind of Christ and think as the Holy Spirit would lead him and not the flesh. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
    • His Eyes — That You will keep his eyes from temptation and that he will turn his eyes from sin. (Matthew 6:13; Mark 9:47)
    • His Ears — That he will hear Your still small voice instructing him. (1 Kings 19:12, Psalm 32:8)
    • His Mouth — That his words will be pleasing to You. (Psalm 19:14)
    • His Neck — That his decisions will honor You in all regards. (Psalm 25:12)

    In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: James 5:16b, “The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God — it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].” (AMP)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What is one area of your marriage that you feel could be better?

    If you’re feeling brave, leave your prayer request in the comments, in just a few words. Then pray for the name above yours. I will pray for the last responder. (To honor your man, please don’t leave a lot of details. God knows all about it!)

    © 2016 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.

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

  • Top 5 Christmas Books for Christians 2016

    Take a break from the holiday hustle and snuggle up with these Christian Christmas books.

    With December 25th quickly approaching, the stress of the season is setting in. Between the presents and the parties, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the rush and forget about the true meaning of Christmas. Take a break from the holiday hustle with Christian Christmas books that will keep your heart focused on Christ.

    Because of Bethlehem by Max Lucado Max Lucado loves Christmas. He loves it because somewhere someone will ask the Christmas questions: What’s the big deal about the baby in the manger? Who was he? What does his birth have to do with me? And the answers he’s found give us all hope. God knows what it’s like to be a human. When we talk to him about deadlines or long lines or tough times, he understands. He’s been there. He’s been here. Because of Bethlehem, we have a friend in heaven. Let’s turn on the lamp, curl up in a comfortable spot, and look into the odd, wonderful story of Bethlehem.

    A Baxter Family Christmas by Karen Kingsbury From New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes a life-changing story of love and hope featuring the Baxter family. Whether you’re meeting the Baxter family for the first time or finding them all over again, A Baxter Family Christmas will leave fingerprints on your heart forever. Heartwarming and touching, filled with love and redemption, A Baxter Family Christmas brings together two families in the aftermath of loss and in the midst of an unfolding love story, all with the help of one very special child.

    Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller In his new book, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ, pastor and New York Times bestselling author, Tim Keller, guides readers through an illuminating journey into the surprising background of the Nativity story, a story that is a celebration of the advent of Jesus Christ, who came to save mankind and restore our humanity to how it was meant to be. This profoundly moving and intellectually provocative book unpacks the message of hope, redemption, and salvation hidden in the biblical account of Jesus' birth so that readers may experience the redeeming power of God's grace in a meaningful and deeper way.

    The Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans At thirty-two Kimberly Rossi, a finance officer at a Lexus car dealership, has had her heart broken more times than she wants to remember. With two failed engagements, a divorce and again alone with no prospects, she hardly seems the type to dream of being a published romance author. Dreading another holiday alone, she signs up for The Mistletoe Retreat, a nine-day writing retreat in Burlington, VT. Deep inside Kimberly knows she’s at a junction in her life and it’s time to either fulfill her dream or let it go.

    The Angel of Forest Hill by Cindy Woodsmall When Rose Kurtz first arrived in tiny Forest Hill four years ago, Joel Dienner had just lost his wife to childbirth. They agreed to marry because his children, especially newborn Grace, needed a mother to care for them. But Rose has grown to love Joel deeply. Can she find the courage to tell him her true feelings? You’ll fall in love with this Amish Christmas romance.

    Place your online order by December 16 to get these books in time for Christmas or visit your local Family Christian store.

    What books are on your Christmas reading list? Share your 2016 must-reads and all-time favorites with us in the comments below.

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  • Giving Jesus Our Best

    Giving Jesus Our Best by Glynnis Whitwer

    “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” Matthew 22:37 (NIV)

    “They want to wear what?” I asked.

    Phone reception was limited when my husband called from the Liberian orphanage. I strained to grasp each treasured word of our quick conversations.

    “Their African Suits,” he answered. “They want to wear their African Suits when they get off the plane in Phoenix. But I told them they are scratchy and there won’t be any place to change on the plane.”

    My husband had purchased a matching blouse, skirt and headband for each of our new 8- and 10-year-old daughters, which they called an African Suit. These outfits were made by hard-working tailors struggling to make a living in a war-torn city. They were also the first new items of clothing our little girls ever had.

    Our phone call ended, but my mind exploded with questions. Which color did each girl pick? What did the outfits look like? And how could I convince a father (whose parenting experience was limited to three boys) that the “right” outfit was important, even to a girl with nothing to her name?

    Of course, my husband had his hands full just getting our daughters home, so I chose not to press the issue. Initially when we decided to adopt from Africa, we planned for them to be escorted to the United States, knowing that political unrest made travel dangerous.

    This changed quickly after we learned our daughters knew they were being adopted, and if we traveled to Africa, we could bring them home in weeks, rather than months.

    Based on the timing and potential danger, we agreed my husband, Tod, would go. We considered the logistical challenges of a man traveling with two little girls, but it seemed the best solution.

    At the time of our phone conversation, Tod was staying in a guest house at the orphanage and caring for our daughters, waiting for their American visas. While they waited, they spent time photographing the girls’ city, visiting the beach, shopping for shoes and gifts, and getting to know each other. They spent a lot of time simply trying to understand each other. While the girls’ native language is Liberian English, it was unintelligible at first, even when spoken slowly.

    While Tod was in Africa, I was preparing for them to arrive home.

    I also spent a lot of time updating friends and family and asking for prayer. During one conversation, a friend pointed out the beautiful comparison of what God did for us, to our story.

    Just as my husband traveled across the world to a dangerous place to save his daughters from deprivation of every kind, so our Heavenly Father sent Jesus to save us from brokenness and spiritual death. It was an incredible picture of God’s love.

    As I thought about God’s sacrifice for us, God revealed more parallels. Just like we adopted these two little sisters into our family, so God has adopted us into His family. My daughters brought nothing of value except themselves; we, too, have nothing of value to offer God except ourselves.

    My heart nearly burst with love imagining my little girls’ desire to wear their best outfits when they met me. And in that moment, I caught a glimpse of God’s heart. I imagined Him singing with joy when we long to bring Him our best, as simple as it may be.

    Whether or not their new dresses were beautiful, or if there were a way for them to change, made no difference to me. The fact they wanted to please me by wearing their best, was all that mattered.

    On November 21, 2005, I stood in the airport, surrounded by friends and family. We’d only been there a few minutes when my sister shouted, “There they are!” I’d been looking another direction, and turned my head to see my tall, travel-rugged husband coming through the crowd, holding the hands of two of the most beautiful little girls I’d ever seen — my daughters dressed in African Suits.

    I imagine the scene one day, when I’ll make my way through the gates of Heaven, holding the hand of Jesus. Perhaps a loved one will be watching for a glimpse of me and will shout, “There she is!” Even though I’ll be bringing nothing of earthly value, I hope my Heavenly Father looks at me and sees a heart longing to give Him my best.

    Perhaps as I did that night at the airport, God will smile, tears will run down His face and He’ll drop to His knees, gathering me in His arms, saying, “Welcome home daughter.”

    Father God, thank You for Your sacrificial love. Thank You for adopting me into Your family, so I can be called a daughter of God. Help me to bring my best to You each and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Mark 12:33, “To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Do you ever feel like what you have to offer isn’t enough?

    What might change in your giving if you caught a glimpse of how God truly feels when bring your best? © 2016 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Why Did This Happen, God?

    Why Did This Happen, God? by Lysa TerKeurst

    “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

    Has God ever hurt your feelings? I’ll be honest, sometimes I’ll read those verses from Philippians in our key verse and think to myself: This is a tough pill to swallow.

    Content in any and every situation?

    Really?

    When my middle daughter, Ashley, was younger, she was a state champion gymnast. To see her do gymnastics was like looking at God smile. She was beautiful, graceful and captivating to watch.

    Then one night while practicing for one of the largest tournaments she’d ever competed in, she fell. It was a move she’d done hundreds of times with the greatest of ease. But this time something went terribly wrong and that one mistake destroyed her gymnastic dreams.

    We spent a year going from doctor to doctor, only to be told she’d never be able to support the weight of her body on her injured shoulder again.

    I’ll be honest … this was a tough pill to swallow. Watching a 14-year-old girl wrestle with the fact that her dreams were stripped from her doesn’t exactly lend itself to feelings of contentment. Now, I know in the grand scheme of life, people face much worse situations. But in her world, this was huge.

    It was so tempting to want to wallow in the "why" questions and tell God He’d hurt our feelings.

    Why did this happen?

    Why didn’t You stop this, God?

    Why weren’t my prayers answered?

    Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a big situation in your life where you just couldn’t process why God would allow this to happen? Maybe it's one of your young children having behavioral issues that seems crazy complicated and daunting. Or one of your older children having issues with addictions and devastating life choices. Or your husband being distant or possibly even destructive in making choices that are harming your marriage. Or another year of singleness that brings you wave after wave of grief, while watching others celebrating the gift of true love.

    It’s so tempting to wallow in the "why."

    Asking why is perfectly normal. Asking why isn’t unspiritual. However, if asking this question pushes us further from God rather than drawing us closer to Him, it is the wrong question.

    If asking the why question doesn’t offer hope, what will?

    The what question.

    In other words: "Now that this is my reality, what am I supposed to do with it?"

    Philippians 4:8 says,"Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”

    I like to call this verse, "Directions on Where to Park My Mind."

    And that’s exactly what Ashley had to do with her dashed gymnastics dreams. Instead of wallowing in why did this happen, I’ve had to help her say:

    This is my reality. Now what am I going to do with it?

    What can I learn from this?

    What part of this is for my protection?

    What other opportunities could God be providing?

    What maturity could God be building into me?

    Switching from the why to the what questions paves the road to parking our minds in a much better place.

    Is it always easy? No.

    But is it a way to find a perspective beyond situations where we feel God has allowed something in our lives we don’t understand and we absolutely don’t like?

    Yes, it is, and I pray this helps you today. Because even if our circumstances aren’t good, we can trust God’s purpose always is.

    Dear Lord, I want to process everything I face in life through the filter of Your love. I know You love me. But sometimes it’s just hard to understand the circumstances that come my way. I find myself consumed with trying to figure things out rather than looking for Your perspective and trusting You. Thank You for this new way to look at things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Isaiah 55:8-9, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’” (NIV)

    Philippians 4:8, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Spend some time today talking to God about the things that hurt you. Pray and ask Him to help you turn your why questions into what questions.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Words That Made My Heart Ache

    Words That Made My Heart Ache by Wendy Pope

    “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

    As beautiful as aging can be, it can also have it’s challenges. In my early 40s, I began to notice my arms weren’t quite long enough to make the words on the page appear clear. As the problem began to worsen, I knew I had to move from my regular print Bible to a large-print one.

    My search started at one of my favorite online shopping spots looking for affordable, used options. I typed my criteria into the search box … Thinline, Large Print. Scrolling through the results I saw several possibilities, but one jumped out at me.

    The descriptions showed the amount of use, and some Bibles were “used” with highlighted verses. Others were of various colors and designs. So many choices!

    As I scrolled toward the bottom of the listings, a tan and dark brown Bible caught my eye, so I selected its picture. This was the one! It wasn’t until I clicked to make the purchase that I read the description: Excellent condition. Does not appear to have been read. My heart ached as I paused to re-read the words: Does not appear to have been read.

    Why wouldn’t someone read their Bible? Then I remembered why.

    For many years, I didn’t read the Bible either. For a long season of my life I was a carrier of God’s Word. I read the Bible during church when the pastor would preach, and I made sure to read enough to fill in my blanks for Bible study.

    But to read, highlight and apply Scripture to my life was foreign to me. How could I, a “C” student, ever understand the Bible? I wanted to be one of those women who highlighted and applied, but I didn’t even know where to start.

    Then, our local Christian radio station challenged the listening audience to follow a one-year Bible reading plan. I couldn’t fathom reading the whole Bible, much less in only a year.

    In an effort to calm my fears, I took a trip to my local Christian bookstore. If I am going to read the whole Bible, certainly I need a new Bible to read. For what seemed like hours, I previewed various types of Bibles in an array of colors, styles and formats. Just when I was about to give up, I pulled a chronological Bible from the shelf.

    The format intrigued me. Short readings. An easy-to-follow daily plan. An attractive cover. The best part: Knowing I would read the Bible in the order the events occurred. Yes! This was the Bible for me.

    Slowly, I began to understand the Bible as the ultimate guide to life, as Psalm 119:105 reminds us, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

    I read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but not without stumbling. The year taught me so much. I learned Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are difficult to read in some parts. I learned it’s necessary to read the Old Testament to really appreciate the wonderful sacrifice Jesus made for me as described in the New Testament. Lastly, I learned it’s OK if I don’t understand the whole Bible. God will continue to reveal things to me as I continue to make His Word a priority.

    Now, after reading a chronological Bible I am no longer just a carrier of the Word, I am a lover of the Word!

    If you’ve always wanted to read through the Bible but desired a friend to come along aside you for support, I pray you’ll take the same challenge and dig into God’s Word in 2017!

    Dear God, I admit that reading the Bible is challenging for me. Yet I desire to be more than a carrier of Your Word. Give me a hunger and thirst for Your Truth. Lead me by the power of Your Spirit to study and apply Your Word to my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (NASB)

    Isaiah 55:11, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What are your biggest obstacles to reading through the Bible? Commit now to reading the Bible in 2017. Ask God to help you … and He will.

    © 2016 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • When Worries Persist

    When Worries Persist by Francine Rivers

    “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

    In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never.”

    That must be the rallying call for the woodpeckers in our neighborhood, some of whom decided the vent holes beneath our eaves are the perfect location for their new homes. We’ve had one pesky fellow trying to widen the access to our attic. He managed to get through the wire mesh and pull out some insulation.

    We wouldn’t have known he was at work if he hadn’t decided to put his machine-gun beak into our bedroom wall. I leapt off my exercise bike, ran to the wall, and pounded — with both fists.

    Silence. For one whole minute.

    I had no sooner returned to cycling than he was back at work. This time I ran out of the room, down the stairs and out through the back door. He fluttered calmly away and took a break on the oak down the hill. I know he was smirking; I could feel it. I went back inside. By the time I reached the bedroom, he was back at the wall, probably laughing.

    Such persistence!

    He reminds me of the worries that can come rat-a-tatting at my mind, usually late at night. The doubts and fears flutter in, and I try to rat-a-tat some kind of solution. Then I remember: God is God, and I am not. Which means I have a decision to make: Keep rat-a-tatting, or let go and let God work.

    We called in professionals to help cover the woodpecker’s holes with metal vents. When we find ourselves drilling our own holes through constant worry, we can cover those vulnerable places with prayer, which redirects our thought processes and keeps us focused on Jesus.

    In Philippians 4:6-7, God promises that when we release our worries and turn instead to prayer, He will give us His peace — a peace that’s beyond anything we can understand. His peace will guard our hearts and minds from the anxieties that can be as persistent as a woodpecker.

    Not discouraged, the woodpecker has started drilling his way into the telephone pole across the street. It’s a good reminder to be diligent in prayer and not let worries flutter back and nest in my head.

    Lord, it’s so easy to fall into worry. When my fears are reverberating in my mind, help me stop trying to fix everything myself. Teach me to turn to You in prayer, trust You to be in charge and let Your peace reign over me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 29:11, “The LORD gives his people strength. The LORD blesses them with peace.” (NLT)

    Psalm 46:1-2, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.” (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What worries keep you from resting in God’s peace? Spend a few minutes outside (or, if it’s too wet or cold, look out a window). Look for evidence of God’s presence and His loving care in nature, and remember that it extends to you, too.

    This week, reread Philippians 4:6-7. When you’re anxious, choose to turn away from worry and toward prayer, away from anxiety and toward God’s peace.

    © 2016 by Francine Rivers. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Tyndale House Publisher 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

  • Why Chipped Crock-Pots Are Holy

    Why Chipped Crock-Pots Are Holy by Karen Ehman

    “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:9-10 (NIV)

    My Crock-Pot is a culinary eyesore. Oh, on the day it was purchased, it was actually a gorgeous and functional domestic tool — sleek and shiny, with a new-fangled “keep warm” feature. But today, this kitchen staple sits silently on my pantry shelf, nicked and chipped — nearly tuckered out from two decades of use.

    Although I hate to admit it, at times I have succumbed to slow cooker envy. Especially when I spy some of the stunning new styles. Some are digital, and programmable. Others have cute little clip-on signs to showcase what’s simmering inside just waiting to delight everyone’s taste buds. And then, there sits my dilapidated model. Not pretty, but well-loved.

    You see, my aging slow cooker has been an important ministry partner to me.

    It has housed batches of homemade three-alarm chili for the hungry football team. It has served vegetable soup to an exhausted mom who’d just welcomed a newborn baby after a scary, surgical delivery. It has contained savory beef stew that nourished the bodies of a grieving family we invited over to eat after the recent death of a loved one. Most often, it has warmed the tummies of my own family during an ordinary Sunday supper served on our old oak farm table.

    I could grouse about the not-so-newness of my Crock-Pot, wishing for a newer model with all the bells and whistles — and sometimes I have. But as long as she’s still chugging, I have determined to be grateful and not grumble. To just keep cooking. And inviting. And washing. And drying. And doing it all over again.

    When we share our gifts, talents and ordinary household items to bless and serve others, we aren’t just being nice. We’re being obedient to God’s Word as our key verse says:

    “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:9-10).

    When we have a God-honoring perspective about our possessions and resources, our hearts and homes can become a wheelhouse for ministry. We can lead with our hearts and bless with our homes. Our homes become a haven — not only for those who dwell there permanently — but for whomever God sends our way. And believe me, He will send people your way.

    Our aim should be the same for all of these guests. We don’t offer hospitality — or a home-cooked meal — to impress them. Instead, we want to refresh them. To give them a place where they can relax and unwind. To provide a setting where they can talk and question and contemplate. Most of all, we offer our homes to God as a ministry tool in building His kingdom here on earth. To use our gifts to serve others, displaying God’s grace as we do.

    Yes, along with the scrapes and scratches of our kitchen utensils can come work for God’s kingdom. We can weave the gospel into conversations with others. Rock babies as we give their weary moms a break. Encourage teens when they fail to make the team or land a part in the play. Study the Bible, asking big questions and growing our belief. Feed tummies. And fill hearts.

    When we offer hospitality with gusto, without grumbling, or complaining, or fretting over our not-so-nice-anymore stuff, we are doing exactly what pleases God — using our gifts for His glory.

    A chipped and nicked Crock-Pot is a holy thing indeed.

    Father, may I make it my aim today to open both my heart and home without grumbling, using whatever gifts You have given me to serve others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Hebrews 13:16, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (NIV)

    Philemon 1:7, “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When it comes to willingly using your possessions — and opening your home — without grumbling, what letter grade would you give yourself? If your grade needs improving, what can you begin to do to see that grade go up?

    © 2016 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

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