• ABOUT
    Did you know?
    All of our earnings go to Christian charities.
    Click to learn more about us!
  • SHOP
    View the latest sales and promotions going on now!
    When you shop, you give.
  • GIVE
    See our latest Giving Challenge.
  • GROW
    Our blog shares devotionals, interviews, contests & more—all to help you grow in your faith.

  • Jewelry she'll treasure

Family Christian

  • Sacrificial Love

    Posted on October 23, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samanatha

    "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." (Mark 10:21 ESV)

    I had some misplaced priorities. I suppose at some level I'd known it for some time. But I didn't fully recognize how misplaced they were until I took a trip to El Salvador with a Christian humanitarian organization.

    I met two children on a home visit. They lifted their tarp door and invited me into mud puddles and dirt walls with just one bed where their family of five rested at night. One bed for dreaming dreams of being a doctor and police officer.

    I'd come to offer gifts of detergent and food. But the children's gifts exceeded anything I had to give. A tiny beaded bracelet smudged with dirt, drenched in love. They wanted it to be mine. They filled my hands with selfless love. Love shared in smiles and what few tangible gifts they owned.

    Feeling too shy to hand me the bracelet herself, the girl nudged her brother. He presented it to me as if it were a royal crown and slid it gently on my wrist. I declare, diamonds couldn't match the worth of their hearts, their gift in that moment.

    The next morning as I was getting dressed, I felt a nudge. Give your bracelet away like those children gave theirs to you.

    You see, I had another precious bracelet with me. It was one my dad had given me over twenty years ago. Just a simple wooden bracelet from South Africa, but it meant the world to me.

    How could I part with it? I wrestled with indecision. My heart soared, anticipating the moment I'd spot a mama to whom I would give my bracelet. Then my heart sank, anxious at the thought of giving up one of my treasures.

    And there lay the problem. My misplaced treasure.

    I'm embarrassed ... heartbroken. I'm sad to say I couldn't give it away. Couldn't? No; more like I wouldn't. Both bracelets journeyed back home with me. One bearing selflessness; the other, selfishness.

    I thought I was really something, bringing gifts to those kids in the form of beans and rice. Little did I know, I was the one in need. I needed God's mercy. I needed a new perspective. I don't want possessions if I'm not willing to use them to love others.

    I needed the one thing I lacked ... more love for the Lord than for my possessions. My heart held tighter to my bracelet than it did to what God had asked me to do. He beckoned, "Give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." A simple request, yet so difficult to follow.

    I don't want to be lacking in love for the Lord or those He cares for. Next time I'm giving it all. I'm starting by opening my hands and heart and looking for opportunities today. Are you with me?

    Dear Lord, You are the perfect example of giving. Thank You for new mercies, second chances, and a heart capable of responding to Your prompting. Help me to respond to Your prompting this day. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember
    You need more love for the Lord than for your possessions.

    Reflect
    You can choose each day to bear selflessness or selfishness. Why is it sometimes easier to hold more tightly to earthy possessions?

    Respond
    Set up a time to volunteer with those who have less than you to help gain perspective on what's important.

    Power Verses
    Matthew 6:20; 1 Timothy 6:18-19

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

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

  • God’s Total Care

    Posted on October 22, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. Psalm 23:1

    No one lacks anything when they are cared for by the Lord who provides everything. He may not give His children all they want, but His extravagant goodness provides all they need. God’s stature as the Great Shepherd over His sheep is without comparison. No bank account can account for the One who owns all the wealth of the world. No insurance policy can cover the assurance of Him who gives eternal life to all who believe. God’s total care is comprehensive.

    We lack nothing, when we hand everything over to God. We are free when we are unshackled from our stuff. Yes, some will say we are silly, even irresponsible to see the Lord as our provider. But God’s wisdom is foolishness and far out to those who view Him as distant and impersonal. Matters of the spirit are only discerned by the Spirit, so those who have yet to taste of the Spirit’s goodness cannot see and understand His ways. The Lord’s sheep lack nothing of consequence!

    The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
    Psalm 34:10

    You are totally loved, led, protected and provided for by the Lord. He makes you feel secure and safe in His presence. As you walk through trials He is with you to comfort and encourage. Even in the face of death, His peace and rest are ever present for you to access and enjoy. When you unwisely stray toward sin, His rod and His staff gently bring you back into His faithful flock. Oh, what a good and loving Shepherd who shepherds your heart, mind and soul for His name’s sake.

    So, we seek the Lord while He may be found. We rest beside His secure shores of salvation before He has to make us to lie down. God is our personal protector and guide. The green grass of His word and the calm waters of His Spirit are ever available for our mind to be fed and for our soul and body to rest. He gives us the courage and emotional energy to face our enemies so we fear no evil. We are privileged and grateful to be with Jesus now and forever. He cares for us!

    And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for personally shepherding my life by Your goodness, mercy and love.

    Related Readings: Psalm 34:9, 84:11, 107:9; Matthew 14:17-21; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Ephesians 3:20

    Post/Tweet today: We lack nothing when we hand everything over to God. #God’stotalcare

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

  • Turn the Light On

    Posted on October 22, 2013 by Ann Spangler

    Ann

    "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn." Isaiah 60:1-3 (NIV)

    If you are a news junkie like me, you're aware of all the bad news in the world. Or maybe hard things have come your way. Either way, most of us can resonate with how the prophet Isaiah colors the earth in Isaiah 60:1-3.

    Rather than using stunning blues and greens to describe our world, Isaiah speaks of Earth's spiritual atmosphere in other terms. He says, "See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples . . ." (vs. 2a)

    Not long ago, I received a touching email. "The death of children overseas and the senseless murder of people at their place of work, have been pockmarking and spray painting over what I knew to be true of God." The young woman who wrote me went on to explain that these things and more had been "defacing the image of Christ I have in my heart."

    I was struck by the imagery she used. It made me wonder what had been marring my own view of God. In the midst of difficulties both near and far, how can I hold onto an image of God that highlights His power and goodness? So many questions come in the midst of darkness. "Why doesn't God do something?" "Why is there so much evil in the world?" And more personally, "Why doesn't God help me?"

    Isaiah didn't offer answers to these questions. Instead, he listened for God's voice and then spoke the word God gave him. He painted a picture of an earth covered in thick darkness, yet he also spoke of a light so strong it would pierce the darkness. "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you." (vs. 1).

    He spoke not so much of a happy present, but of a blessed future. Though he didn't know Jesus' name, the prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of Jesus approximately 700 years before His birth. Jesus is our answer when we wonder where God is. He's the light that dispels the darkness and shows us God's great love.

    Like Isaiah and the people he spoke to, we sometimes feel mired in gloom. There is so much darkness in the world. Fortunately, we are not left alone to stumble in the darkness. We have been given Jesus, the light by which we filter life's hardships.

    Today, let's take a few moments to move our focus from the world's problems to God. As we do, let's ask Jesus, to give us a deeper vision of who He is, praying that His character will shine like a light through us. Let's also ask for His help in seeing tragedies and bad news through His eyes, trusting that He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

    As you pray, remember that darkness is nothing but the absence of light. It's a negative—a nothing. As soon as you flip the switch, the darkness vanishes. Today, ask God to turn the light on in you, so that others will see His power and come to know His goodness.

    Lord, I need a deeper vision of who You are. As I seek You, please draw me close and fill me with Your presence. Then turn the light on in me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think about the media you expose yourself to each day. How do you feel after you listen, read, watch?

    What is one thing you could do today that would add more light to your life? Consider adding something positive to your life like more time for prayer, Scripture reading, or service.

    Power Verse:
    John 1:4-5, "In him [Christ] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (NIV)

    Daniel 12:3, "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Ann Spangler. All rights reserved.

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

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

  • Be With Jesus

    Posted on October 21, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach. Mark 3:14

    First and foremost, Jesus calls His children to be with Him. A disciple’s devotion to God precedes his or her duty for God. Otherwise, the primary goal becomes executing the mission of the Lord, instead of His first ministering to the heart of the mission-minded disciple. Obedience is critical, but not before receiving the love of Jesus. Intimacy defines compliance to His commands with grace. Solitude with the Savior prepares a disciple to serve for the Savior.

    Yes, our primary call is to be with God on earth, before we go to be with Him in heaven. Sweet communion with Christ sustains our public zeal for His great commission of disciple making. We go into the world to make disciples after the Holy Spirit molds us into spirit-filled followers through intimate prayer. Yes, as we experience the Lord’s greatest command to love and be loved by Him, we are ready for His great commission to make disciples. Be with Jesus to share Jesus!

    You do not want to leave too, do you? Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God. John 6:67-69

    We are tempted to turn our backs on Jesus when it is too hard or too easy. It may feel too hard because nothing seems to work: our prayers remain unanswered, our relationships teeter on the rocks and our finances are a wreck. We want to give up on God, because He does not give us what we need. Or, life may be really good for now, so we feel the freedom to be free from real faithfulness to God. Our prayers can become perfunctory and our obedience an obligation.

    However, whether times are hard or easy, we still need our time with Jesus. We need to be with Jesus because our souls remains needy regardless of our external failures or successes. The Lord loves to walk with us through our valleys and to our mountain tops. And most times the good and the bad things in life happen simultaneously. Thus, we go to be with Jesus for no one else has words of eternal life. We want to be with Him in love, so we can go out and love others for Him!

    Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, my heart longs to be with You so I can best love for You.

    Related Readings: Hosea 3:1; Matthew 11:28; Mark 6:31; Romans 1:7; Galatians 2:20

    Post/Tweet today:,. As we experience the Lord’s greatest command to love, we are ready for His great commission to make disciples.

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

  • Gary Chapman - Believing God in All of Life

    Posted on October 21, 2013 by John van der Veen



    Married more than 45 years to Karolyn, Dr. Gary Chapman is just the man to turn to for help on improving or healing our most important relationships. His own life experiences, plus over forty years of pastoring and marriage counseling, led him to publish his first book in the Love Language series, The Five Love Languages. Millions of readers credit this continual #1 New York Times bestseller with saving their marriages by showing them simple and practical ways to communicate their love to their partner.

    I talked with Dr. Chapman not too long ago and what I found was a man that was very concerned with followers of Christ being just that - followers of Christ.

    Gary speaks to thousands of couples nationwide through his weekend marriage conferences. He hosts a nationally syndicated radio program, Love Language Minute, and a Saturday morning program, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, that air on more than 400 stations. He also serves as senior associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

    John: Was The Five Love Languages your first book?

    Dr. Chapman: No, it was my third book. I wrote two books before that. One was called Toward a Growing Marriage, which was been retitled To the Marriage you’ve Always Wanted. Then I wrote Hope for the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed, which is written to people who are separated but not divorced and encouraging reconciliation. Then I wrote The Five Love Languages.

    John: The Five Love Languages certainly has taken off and catapulted your career. I think it sold over 6 million copies. Has that book changed your life, has it changed your marriage in a sense? I mean obviously it has been quite a few years since you wrote that book, but has what you’ve done some years ago impacted you today?

    Dr. Chapman: My personal life, yes. In fact in my life greatly. My language is words of affirmation. My wife’s language is acts of service, so in the early years of our marriage, I would give her words of affirmation. I would speak my language. I would tell her how nice she looks. I would tell her how much I appreciate what she did. I would tell her a dozen times a day I love you but after a while she said to me one night, “You know, you keep on saying ‘I love you, I love you.’ If you love me, why don’t you help me?” I was blown out of the saddle because in my mind I was loving her. In her mind, if I loved her I would be helping her. I would be doing acts of service. Yeah, it radically changed my life and that’s why to this day, I’m vacuuming floors, I wash dishes; I start the dishwasher. I take the trash out. I live with a happy woman.

    John: That’s awesome. I just have a few questions, basic questions. From your experience of being a counselor, when God calls two people together, why is it that they forget, together to be married, why is, Dr. Chapman, that more often than not they forget that they are still sinners being called into that marriage?

    Dr. Chapman: I think, John, we don’t typically go around thinking of ourselves as sinners. We like to think of ourselves of being pretty good people. The reality is we are all sinners. That means that we are self-centered, which leads often to selfishness. Two people who are selfish will never have a good marriage because marriage has to do with love, which means we are looking out for the other person’s interest. I think just by nature we are selfish and we are more concerned about being loved than we are loving. Consequently, if my spouse is not speaking my love language I begin to feel like they don’t love me, then the differences arise, the irritations arise, and we get into conflicts and often into arguments about those things. Before long we don’t even like each other and we tend to blame the other person because they are not doing this, that or the other thing. Essentially they are not speaking our love language, but I think the root problem is always selfishness.

    I don’t know why, except I think it is just a good tool of the enemy to keep us focusing on the other person and it is their problem and consequently we don’t get around to looking at ourselves and where the real problem was.

    John: Dr. Chapman if someone is engaged to be married, what would you say is the single most important piece of advice that you would give them?

    Dr. Chapman: Well, I think that there are many things but if I have to choose only one… I would say that the foundation of spiritual unity would be the most important and the reason I say that is because I believe in God and I believe what God has said and I believe that how He revealed himself in Christ deeply impacts every other aspect of life. If we are not in unity on those key fundamental spiritual issues, we are far more likely to have severe problems in the marriage relationship. I wrote a book maybe two or three years ago called, “Things I wish I had known before we got married” which was my attempt to help singles by sharing with them 12 things that I know now that had I known before we got married would have made my marriage much easier. That is one of the things I will do within that book. I think the chapter title is I wish I had known that spirituality is not to be equated with going to church because so many people feel like we would both go to church. We are both Christians without really exploring what that means and what the real spiritual foundation is. I think that’s the one I would focus on.

    John: Do you think the Bible allows for people to marry an unbeliever?

    Dr. Chapman: I really don’t think the Bible encourages that. The Scriptures say, I asked the question can two walk together if they are not in agreement? I think the answer is something like, not very well and probably not very far. I just think that the fundamental issues, now let’s face it, there are many people who are married and one is a Christian and one is not a Christian. There are people who marry when either one of them is Christians and one of them becomes a Christian and the other doesn’t. There are certainly many marriages where one is a Christian and one is not, but if you are on the fly and looking at marriage I think the Bible would encourage you to discuss the spiritual issues and particularly one’s relationship with Christ and the nature of their relationship, the depth of their relationship, to make sure you are marching to the beat of the same drummer. I just think that’s fundamental.

    John: Dr. Chapman do you mind if I ask you a few questions about what you think about the church here in the U.S.?

    Dr. Chapman: No that’s fine.

    John: What do you think, are we in a healthy state when you look at … you obviously do a lot of speaking? You have a radio program. You are heard all over. There are many churches that have utilized your books. You probably know a lot of pastors as well and counselors at work in lay ministry. Do you think the church is as proactively seeking those that are having problems or troubles in their marriage and attempting to fix them as the church used to be?

    Dr. Chapman: I think, John, my short answer would be I wish we were doing much more. My goal has always been and I challenge churches to this, that every church large or small would have an ongoing marriage enrichment program; that is, that they are doing something all the time throughout the year to enrich marriages. Most churches, at least most smaller churches, a pastor will preach on marriage once a year maybe a two or three week series and that’s basically all that’s done. I just believe we’ve got to do more than that but even the smaller church can have one couple in the church who has a passion for marriage enrichment. You can send them to get training. Many marriage seminars provide them books and they can begin to lead a small group with maybe just five or six couples to start with, take them through some curriculum whatever curriculum and then one of those couples will say “Hey we can do this” and so now you’ve got another lead couple. I believe if we are taking our people through various curriculums during each year and people know in the church it’s always a place where we can go to get help in our marriage, I think they will begin to invite non-Christians to get into that kind of program. It can be a door into the church for those who are non-Christians.

    I wish we were doing much more. I think many of our larger churches do have members who are fostering marriage and family life programs in the church and I think that’s wonderful but I wish we were doing much more.

    John: Do you think the church has kind of stepped back from doing that because the church to some extent kind of follows what’s going on in culture, or do you think there is something else going on?

    Dr. Chapman: I don’t know that we’ve stepped back from doing it. I don’t think we ever did really a good job to be honest with you. Back when things were more stable in our culture, the churches I don’t think even sensed much of a need to be doing anything about marriage because the most famous were stable families, but it is as things have unraveled in our society and the family has become so dysfunctional in our society that the churches have begun to take it seriously and I think many of them are still taking it seriously. My priority would be that it would just permeate more of our churches and that more of our pastors would see the need for this. I think a part of it, John, is that pastors don’t have time to do it themselves and they don’t have quite the vision of asking God to give them a couple in their church who will have a passion for this. It just takes one couple who has a passion for it and they can begin something that will go on. I just challenge pastors to pray for that couple, look for that couple and then seek to empower that couple.

    John: Dr. Chapman you have a new book that’s hitting called Extraordinary Grace: How the Unlikely Lineage of Jesus Reveals God's Amazing Love. I can speculate about that book but I’d love to hear what your thoughts are going into it.

    Dr. Chapman: You know, John, that book grew out of a sermon that I gave at our church last Christmas on Matthew 1 on the lineage of Jesus, looking at the ancestors of Jesus who are listed in that chapter. It is very dry reading for most people. It is just the list of all these names, but I gave a sermon on that then pointed out that many of those people who were in the lineage of Jesus were people who committed really pretty bad things in their lives, experienced forgiveness and God used them and they are in the lineage of Jesus. The message of that book bottom line is I say, “Look. If God can use these people with the things that they committed, then God can use you. His grace is real. His forgiveness is real and God can use you.” I’m hoping that this book is going to help a lot of people who look at themselves and look at their history and say, “You have done this, this, this, and this … and God can never use me.” The reality is God can use anyone who turns to him in repentance and faith.

    In the book we kind of flesh out those biblical characters and just look at the real life they lived and used that as an illustration of the grace of God. I’m very excited about it. Chris Fabry my coauthor is someone, you might you know Chris. Chris is a great fiction writer and he was very instrumental in fleshing out some of those stories in the book.

    John: What do you and your family enjoy doing?

    Dr. Chapman: It is just my wife and I. The kids are grown and gone. We enjoy a lot of things. We both enjoy being involved in the life of the church. We were heavily involved in the life of the church. My wife is involved in the women’s ministry, in our music ministry. Of course, I’m still involved in counseling and various other administrative things in the church but a lot of our lives have centered around the church. We are in a large church and have a lot of staff members that we work with. I’m not the single pastor. I’m just one of the associate pastors. We enjoy that.

    We also enjoy our grandchildren. We have two and they are two and half hours away from us but we see them about every six weeks. I just took my 12-year-old grandson with me to Brazil. He wanted to see the rainforest, so my publisher in Brazil had asked me to come down. We just launched The Love Languages Devotional Bible in Portuguese and he asked me to come down. I said, “Okay, if you will arrange for me to have two days in the rainforest with my 12-year-old grandson I will come.” They did and we had a great time together.

    John: Was that your first time doing that?

    Dr. Chapman: Actually to go to the rainforest, yes. I’ve been to Brazil once before about four years ago but I’ve never been to the rainforest and so we had fun with marquees and the snakes, the alligators, mosquitoes and …

    John: Were the mosquitoes as big in Brazil as they are in North Carolina?

    Dr. Chapman: The mosquitoes were not what I had anticipated. They, maybe because it was wintertime there but still hot and is in the 80s, but maybe they have more mosquitoes in the summer time but we really didn’t have as many mosquitoes as I anticipated. Of course we took our yellow fever shot and our typhoid shot and all that. We were ready.

    John: Whatever may come.

    Dr. Chapman: That’s right.

    John: Dr. Chapman I thank you very much for the opportunity to chat with you today and we are extremely looking forward to Extraordinary Grace coming out.

    Personally speaking, I want to thank you for The Five Love Languages. You helped two scrawny very self-centered people, my wife and I. About 22 or 23 years ago we got your book and didn’t necessarily read it; got married and similar story, to be perfectly honest, as you and your wife. I was kind of doing my thing; my wife was kind of doing her thing. I kept telling her how much I loved her and she kept wanting me to wash the dishes or do something. We had a couple of kids and I continued to just tell her how much I loved her and I wasn’t necessarily taking an active role in that. You certainly helped her realize what her love language was and then she told me what her love language was and told me what mine was as well. Praise God we are still married and we have six kids and we are doing great. We are just so thankful for you and for many others who have counseled us through great books. Again I appreciate your ministry.

    Dr. Chapman: Thanks for sharing that John. I think that’s the story of a lot of people. I have just been so encouraged with the way God has used that book to help couples and I never tire of hearing stories like that. All of us, as we said earlier, are selfish. If we don’t find an answer to that, of course the answer is found in Christ, but in the practical sense of how do you express that love and love language concept really, really does help. Thanks for sharing that.

    John: You are welcome. God bless you brother.

    Dr. Chapman: Thank you. Goodbye.

  • Keeper of the Stars - Behind the Song with Laura Story

    Posted on October 21, 2013 by Family Christian

    Laura Story is a sharer of stories. She has a way of sharing something from her personal life, while yet still making it completely relate-able to someone else.

    Perhaps it’s her quiet spirit.
    Perhaps it’s the story itself.

    Regardless, when Laura starts to tell a story, one can’t help but stop and listen.

    If you haven’t heard Laura’s new album, God of Every Story yet, you have been missing something. Laura has returned to that deep place of vulnerability before the Lord and honesty with herself.

    She is joined by producer Ed Cash on the making of God of Every Story. Together, they incorporated acoustic and epic instruments into a worshipful pop album. Lyrically, God of Every Story draws from Laura’s own life. Her husband’s brain tumor early in their marriage led the young family down a painful path she wouldn’t have chosen, but one that deepened her faith and her music. The resulting songs show God’s love and grace intersecting with real life, making this album a wonderful reminder that despite our questions or circumstances, God is the ultimate author of our story.

    Watch as Laura describes her new song, Keeper of the Stars

  • Battle in the Night

    Posted on October 21, 2013 by Lynn Cowell

    Lynn

    "By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life." (Psalm 42:8 NIV)

    How could this have happened? What could I have done to stop it?

    One of my kids had made a decision that sent my emotions into a tailspin and another sleepless night was upon me; my mind wouldn't shut off. During the day I had managed to focus on God's promise to make all things work together for good. But as day faded into night, the struggle to trust became more than I could take.

    Many nights as I lie in bed, my mind pulls me into a downward spiral of focusing on my troubles. It's then and there that the battle is most intense. A war wages between my faith and fears.

    What if my loved one never knows Jesus?
    Will my kids make the right choices with their peers?
    What can I do for my friend who struggles with cancer?

    Even though my body is still, my thoughts are at war.

    Do you struggle in the quiet of the night? Maybe you have thoughts like these ... Nobody else has troubles. Other people are just enjoying their lives. Why is mine so hard? The battles we face are real, and rob us of joy as well as sleep.

    This is why I love King David's encouraging words in Psalm 42. During the day he allowed the Lord's love to direct him. Knowing he was loved gave him the strength to make the hard choices that were the best choices. At night he put away all the words and hard thinking and devoted himself to praising God.

    I want to do the same. When the lights are turned out, I want to choose a song of praise, arming myself with truth and worship for the only One who can carry and fix my troubles. When my mind tries to take a turn and go around that problem one more time, I want to make the choice to stop and sing (even if only in my head).

    I gave this a try the other night while stewing over my worries. It reminded me of a sign my mom has in her home: "Give me all your troubles before you go to bed. I'm going to be up anyway."—God

    Pick a song you can sing at night when trouble comes knocking and worry wants to run rampant in your heart and mind. Make your prayer a song to God and choose a song of praise to sing to Him all day long—from sunrise to late in the evening. Watch your heart go from fear to faith as you trust in the Lord.

    Dear Lord, I feel stronger in the day than in the night. Bring to mind a song of praise I can sing that will lift my thoughts and strengthen my faith in you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember
    When you are tired and quiet at night, you can be more susceptible to runaway emotions. You can guard your heart from fear by singing praises to your King as your mind and body find their rest.

    Reflect
    Think about what song you would choose as your song of praise.

    Respond
    Write Psalm 42:8 down, and put it next to your bed to remind you to look to the Lord as you go to sleep.

    Power Verses
    Psalm 94:18–19; Exodus 15:2

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

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

  • Profitable Patience

    Posted on October 20, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
    Psalm 27:14

    Life is normally lived waiting. We wait in lines; a teenager waits for his or her next birthday; we wait for job promotions; we wait for news from the doctor; we wait for the next meal; we wait for our future spouse; we wait for a lawsuit to be settled; we wait for a meeting to conclude; we wait for those who have yet to keep their commitment. Every time we turn around we have an opportunity to wait. Why wait? Because most of the time, it’s what’s best and most beneficial. A vegetable gardener is a prisoner to waiting, but this an asset, not a liability. A tomato is much tastier when it is red, large, and juicy, rather than green, small, and hard. The smart gardener will wait for the vegetables to ripen, while nurturing the soil along the way and keeping the weeds out.
    There is a waiting cycle that must be completed before there is worthwhile fruit. If you didn’t have to wait, you may have been satisfied with how things had always been done. Now you have the opportunity to think differently. Maybe there are other people or resources that can contribute to your project or plan. So, when things do not go as planned, see it as an opportunity to improve the plan. Or the very thing may be to provide help to another, as waiting is a lesson in loving others in spite of themselves; even providing valued assistance during this parenthesis in your own life.
    Most importantly, learn how to wait for the Lord. What a valuable asset to wait upon. The Lord God Almighty is worth the wait. It is worth waiting for His joy because it comes to uplift you and bring a smile to your face; it is worth waiting for His peace that calms your soul and allows you to sleep at night; it is worth waiting for His wisdom that provides discernment in the middle of conflicting options; it is worth waiting for His strength that propels you through adversity and gives you confidence and perseverance for life’s journey; it is worth waiting for His hope that lifts you up and out of your despair and depression.

    People camp out to see a rock star or pay big bucks to wait and meet the President; so waiting on God should be a cinch. Waiting is being fundamentally patient with God. He is running the universe, He knows what is going on, and He knows what is best for you. He knows. He knows. He knows. You can trust Him in your waiting. Use this sabbatical-like time to get to know your heavenly Father more intimately. Use this time to love your family and others, like no other time in your life. Allow Him to mold your character so that others will comment to themselves that you are somehow different. You are different because you have been with Jesus. Waiting is not just a passage to God’s blessing, it is God’s blessing. Wait for the Lord, because He is worth the wait.
    The Bible says, “I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God” (Psalm 38:15).

    Post/Tweet: Waiting is not just a passage to God’s blessing, it is God’s blessing. #profitablepatience

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

  • Too-Familiar Leaders

    Posted on October 19, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).

    Leaders can become so familiar with their team that they dilute their effectiveness to lead. They are not one of the boys or one of the girls—they are the leader. Parents have to learn this. They are not the child or teenager’s friend—they are first the dad or mom. Friendship can come later with adult children; in the meantime, they need leadership.

    So how familiar are you with those you lead? Are you respectful of others so you invite their respect? Do you lift them up with commendation or tear them down with coarse kidding? Joking around on the job is not a pattern great leaders model. This may have been your behavior in the past, but in the present your role requires more maturity.

    Does this mean leaders are not transparent about their weaknesses? No, because humble leaders are the first to confess their struggles and blind spots. But it does mean that wise leaders approach their God-given role with solemn responsibility and serious resolve. People need leaders they can trust and look up to as the Lord’s leaders for this season.

    We do not want those we lead to pray as David did: “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership” (Psalm 109:8). Followers want to be led by a wise leader.

    Moreover, when we become too close to a team member, it creates jealousy, rivalry, and resentment. This happens with children. If we play favorites with a child, other siblings will notice and spew out their frustrations on the parent’s pet. We can reward good behavior and praise obedience, but we should not overdo it by crossing the line of becoming too familiar.

    Leadership can be lonely, but we are not alone as followers of Jesus. Wise leaders keep their emotions under the Spirit’s control in the presence of their team, but in the presence of the Lord they bare their soul. You cannot become too familiar with your heavenly Father. He already knows more about you than you do. Pour out your frustrations and fears to Him, and He will listen, forgive, and lead you in the way you should go.

    “My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:3–5).

    Prayer: Do I look to the Lord to lead me? How can I lovingly lead with honesty and respect?

    Related Readings: Exodus 18:13–16; Zechariah 12:5–6; John 12:42; Hebrews 13:7

    Post/Tweet: Leaders can become so familiar with their team that they dilute their effectiveness to lead. #toofamiliarlearders

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

  • Approachable Jesus

    Posted on October 18, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Another time Jesus was praying, and when He finished, one of His disciples approached Him. Teacher, would You teach us Your way of prayer? John taught his disciples his way of prayer, and we’re hoping You’ll do the same. Luke 11:1, The Voice

    Jesus is approachable to all who desire His company. God did not create the earth like a watch, winding it up and then stepping back to let it run without His intervention. No, the Lord is personal and approachable. He invites His children to ask honest questions on how to pray, how to love, how to forgive and how to give. Yes, He loves to engage and instruct in His ways. Jesus moves the mind with clear teaching and He captures the heart with riveting and relevant stories.

    A disciple who walked with Jesus on earth struggled with his prayers to heaven. He watched Jesus pray, but the student still needed some direction in how to pray. So, even today as we grow in our faith, we still need the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the ways of God. We are disciples who sincerely want to know how to live for the Lord. He is not shy in showing us what to say and how to serve. Just as we love giving to our children, God loves to give His Spirit to all who ask.

    At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” 1 Kings 3:5

    Are you approachable? Do others feel the freedom to seek your counsel and ideas? When people see the fruit of your character they want to ask you about how you live life. As you lovingly lead others, learners will want to know why you lead so unselfishly. Questions are your opportunity to point people back to the Lord’s love for you and your reciprocal approach to leading others. Tell stories of your struggles to lead in love and how you grew in grace over time. Invite questions.

    Approachability is the outcome of acceptance. When your children, grandchildren, friends and co-workers know you accept them for who they are, they will want to know who you are. Your unconditional acceptance of someone is an invitation to love them for Jesus' sake. Lastly, approach the Lord often with your fears, dreams and desires. He delights in your prayers and He unleashes His Spirit to all who call on His name. Humbly approach Him and expect to be loved!

    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

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for receiving me just as I am and answering my questions around my struggles.

    Related Readings: Exodus 20:21; Ephesians 2:18, 3:12; Hebrews 7:19; 1 John 4:17, 5:14

    Post/Tweet today: Jesus moves the mind with clear teaching. He captures the heart with relevant stories. #approachableJesus

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

Items 831 to 840 of 2079 total

Helping you find, grow, share and celebrate your faith
Who doesn't love free shipping!? At Family Christian, you can qualify TWO ways:

1. To your door (just $50 minimum)*

No coupon required! Simply add $50 worth of merchandise to your cart and select the "Free Shipping" option under "Shipping Method." Easy as pie.

* Valid on merchandise totaling $50 or more before taxes. Please keep in mind this is valid on domestic ground shipping to addresses within the U.S. only, not valid toward international delivery. Additional charges apply for express shipping. Terms subject to change without notice.

2. To your store (no minimum order required!)*

At checkout, select "Ship to your local Family Christian store" and enter your zip code to find our closest location. Not sure if there is a Family Christian nearby? Find your local store now.

* Valid on select merchandise only
Loading... Loading...