Do You Believe in Miracles?

Yet, in the midst of the horror, beauty walked in. — Max Lucado from God Will Carry Through
Devotionals Daily

Hope: God’s Math Works Differently  
by Max Lucado, from God Will Carry You Through

In the midst of the horror, beauty walked in
Two years out of West Point, Lieutenant Sam Brown was on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device turned his Humvee into a Molotov cocktail. He doesn’t remember how he got out of the truck. He does remember rolling in the sand, slapping dirt on his burning face, running in circles, and finally dropping to his knees. He lifted flaming arms to the air and cried,

Jesus, save me!
In Sam’s case the words were more than a desperate scream. He was a devoted believer in Jesus Christ. Sam was calling on his Savior to take him home. He assumed he would die. But death did not come. His gunner did. With bullets flying around them, he helped Sam reach cover. Crouching behind a wall, Sam realized that bits of his clothing were fusing into his skin. He ordered the private to rip his gloves off his burning flesh. The soldier hesitated, then pulled. With the glove came pieces of his hands. Brown winced at what was the first of thousands of moments of pain.
When vehicles from another platoon reached them, they loaded the wounded soldier into a truck. Before Sam passed out, he caught a glimpse of his singed face in the mirror. He didn’t recognize himself. That was September 2008. By the time I met him three years later, he had undergone dozens of painful surgeries. Dead skin had been excised and healthy skin harvested and grafted. The pain chart didn’t have a number high enough to register the agony he felt.
Yet, in the midst of the horror, beauty walked in. Dietitian Amy Larsen.
Since Sam’s mouth had been reduced to the size of a coin, Amy monitored his nutrition intake. He remembers the first time he saw her. Dark hair, brown eyes. Nervous. Cute. More important, she didn’t flinch at the sight of him. After several weeks he gathered the courage to ask her out. They went to a rodeo. The following weekend they went to his friend’s wedding. During the three-hour drive Amy told Sam how she had noticed him months earlier when he was in ICU, covered with bandages, sedated with morphine, and attached to a breathing machine. When he regained consciousness, she stepped into his room to meet him. But there was a circle of family and doctors, so she turned and left.
The two continued to see each other. Early in their relationship Sam brought up the name Jesus Christ. Amy was not a believer. Sam’s story stirred her heart for God. Sam talked to her about God’s mercy and led her to Christ. Soon thereafter they were married. And as I write these words, they are the parents of a seven-month-old boy. Sam directs a program to aid wounded soldiers. Far be it from me to minimize the horror of a man on fire in the Afghan desert. And who can imagine the torture of repeated surgery and rehab? The emotional stress has taken its toll on their marriage at times. Yet Sam and Amy have come to believe this:
God’s math works differently than ours.
War + near-death + agonizing rehab=wonderful family and hope for a bright future.
In God’s hand intended evil is eventual good.
Are there any gods like You, Lord? There are no gods like You. You are wonderfully holy, amazingly powerful, a worker of miracles. * Lord, there is no god like You and no works like Yours. * God’s strong foundation continues to stand. These words are written on the seal: “The Lord knows those who belong to him.” * With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. – Exodus 15:11; Psalm 86:8; 2 Timothy 2:19; Ephesians 3:20-21
Excerpted with permission from God Will Carry You Through by Max Lucado, copyright Thomas Nelson.

 * * * 

Forward to a Friend

Your Turn
Have you ever been in the middle of horrible circumstances and had beauty walk in? We’d love to hear your story! Join the conversation on our blog. We’d love to hear from you. ~ Devotionals Daily
Comment

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When life is falling apart, God will carry you through.
It has been said that everyone is either entering, in the midst of, or just exiting a trial. Popular author and pastor Max Lucado has discovered that at any given point, almost everyone is dealing with something. Whether the loss of a loved one, marriage issues, illness, job loss, or the stress of everyday life, people everywhere need the assurance that God will carry them through. 
Through decades of betrayal, abandonment, and false accusations, Joseph never gave up on God or His purpose. And Joseph continually trusted the sovereignty of God as Master-weaver of his life. In God Will Carry You Through, Max invites readers to do the same—to let God’s message through Joseph guide His children through tough times today. Laced throughout Joseph’s story are personal testimonies by everyday people who discovered for themselves that “God had carried them through” as well as quotes and Scripture passages for meditation. This book is rich in hope for finding peace and reassurance through whatever challenge you face.
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Waiting and Life

Spiritual transformation doesn’t take place when we get what we want. It is forged in us while we’re hoping and trusting, even when we’ve yet to receive what we long for. — Pete Wilson, What Keeps You Up at Night
 Spiritual transformation happens in the waiting room. ~ Pete Wilson

God often uses waiting as a crucible in which to refine our character. Perhaps the prophet Isaiah realized this when he wrote,

They that wait upon the lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. — Isaiah 40:31
Faithful waiting on God makes us stronger, not weaker.

Waiting is also a sign of humility. Remember that, long ago, persons of lesser rank who served nobility and royalty were said to “wait upon” them. In a similar way, they were said to “attend” their lords and rulers. Even today, the French word for “wait” is “attend.” Maybe there is something to learn here. Maybe we should think of waiting on God less as passively sitting around until something happens and more as actively attending — listening carefully for God’s voice and watching intently for evidence of His moving in our lives and in the world around us.

Now, believe me, I understand that those of you reading these words who are in the midst of waiting for a miracle or waiting for a dream to be realized or waiting to be delivered from a dark, scary place probably feel helpless. You feel as if you’re doing nothing, but you’re actually doing something very important. In fact, this waiting — this attending to God — may be the most important spiritual work you could possibly do. While you are waiting faithfully on God, you are also allowing your hope to grow up. And if you can’t be still and wait and hope — even when you have no reason to hope — you can’t become the person God created when He thought you into existence.
Spiritual transformation doesn’t take place when we get what we want. It takes place while we’re waiting. It is forged in us while we’re waiting, hoping, and trusting, even though we have yet to receive what we long for. Spiritual transformation happens in the waiting room.

Waiting also helps us learn the vital lesson that just because a dream is delayed doesn’t mean it is denied. When we continue to hope patiently and place our trust in God and in His schedule — not ours — we begin to gain the type of long-range perspective that allows us to have peaceful souls, even when the storms of life are raging about us. With God, we can wait out the storm and see the sun breaking through the clouds. When we trust in Him, we will eventually see the rainbow and the rebirth of our hopes and dreams.
As we wait, we can take great comfort in the knowledge that God doesn’t ask us to do anything He hasn’t already done. God has, in fact, field-tested waiting and given us the perfect example to follow in Jesus Christ.
Henri Nouwen, in A Spirituality of Waiting, makes this point beautifully. He tells the story of being called to the bedside of a friend who had spent his life as a social activist, busily involved with caring for others. But now, this human dynamo was confined to a sickbed by the cancer ravaging his body. He confessed to Nouwen that he had no way to even think about his life. His entire self-identity had always been framed by doing, by actively working on behalf of others. How, he wanted to know, could he understand his present circumstances in a way that didn’t lead to despair?
Nouwen wisely answered this anguished question by pointing his friend to the last days of Jesus’ life — the period Christians often refer to as Christ’s Passion. Up until this point in His life, Jesus’ ministry had consisted largely of doing: healing, teaching, confronting, comforting, and actively modeling the God-life for all those He met. But when He was arrested by the Temple police, He was forced into a time of waiting. Nouwen wrote:
The central word in the story of Jesus’ arrest is one I never thought much about. It is “to be handed over.”… Some translations say that Jesus was “betrayed,” but the Greek says He was “handed over.” Judas handed Jesus over (see Mark 14:10). But the remarkable thing is that the same word is used not only for Judas but also for God. God did not spare Jesus, but handed Him over to benefit us all (see Romans 8:32)…
[I]mmediately after Jesus is handed over, He becomes the one to whom things are being done. He’s being arrested; He’s being led to the high priest; He’s being taken before Pilate; He’s being crowned with thorns; He’s being nailed on a cross. Things are being done to Him over which He has no control…
Jesus does not fulfill His vocation in action only but also in passion. He doesn’t just fulfill His vocation by doing the things the Father sent Him to do, but also by letting things be done to Him that the Father allows to be done to Him… In a way, His agony is not simply the agony of approaching death. It is also the agony of having to wait.1

In other words, even Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, had to endure waiting in order to fulfill His greatest purpose. In the same way, as we wait in faith upon God, we become more like Christ in His perfect obedience, His perfect sacrifice.
The apostle Paul underlined this truth when he said, in Philippians 3:10-11,
I want to know Christ — yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul knew there was no shortcut to resurrection. If Christ had to pass through the gate of suffering in order to arrive at resurrection, then Paul wanted to walk the same path.
So life isn’t turning out exactly the way you thought, and you have laid it before God in prayer, over and over again. You’ve taken the steps you know to take and prepared yourself to the best of your ability — and it still isn’t happening.

Is it time to move on? Is failure inevitable? And if it is, how much longer should you keep prolonging the obvious?
My bias is that, most of the time, we give up too soon. I prefer to help people see all the possibilities God may be placing before them. I am always hesitant to place time limits on God. The important thing is to continue trusting the end result to God, even when the outcomes you want are not immediately apparent.
Remember that faithful waiting — attending — involves much more than passively sticking your hands up in the air until God rains blessings down into your palms. Faithful waiting involves actively seeking contentment, even amid less-than-optimal circumstances.
Can you listen for God’s guidance, even when things aren’t going your way? Can you proactively trust Him, even when you aren’t seeing the evidence of the victory you long for?
I encourage you to keep doing the next right thing, taking the steps you know to take, without getting frustrated because you aren’t yet where you want to be. Act on the belief that God has a plan and that He is bringing it to completion in your life. Commit to being ready for that completion to occur, even if you can’t see it coming.
God has done mighty things in your life, and He will continue to do them, if you trust Him.
In every life, there are times of great forward motion, and there are times of waiting. Just as Christ, after acting so vigorously for much of His ministry, had to endure the agonizing wait of the Passion, so we must recognize and conform ourselves to the holy rhythm of waiting on God’s timing. And who knows? It could be that you are only three days away from the resurrection.
Henri Nouwen, “A Spirituality of Waiting” (audio recording). Available at http://www.athomewithgod.co.uk/Nouwen%20 A%20Spirituality%20of%20waiting-1.pdf. Accessed July 25, 2014.
Excerpted with permission from What Keeps You Up at Night by Pete Wilson, copyright Thomas Nelson.
* * *
Your Turn
Think of a time in your life when you were “in the waiting room.” What have you learned since that experience? Maybe you’re in the waiting room right now. I’ve been there many times. One season of waiting for the Lord to bring relief and healing lasted more than fifteen years. I thought I was going to die from waiting and I began to doubt that God even remembered me anymore. But, He did. He intervened and rescued me and I’ll never be the same again. What about you? In your waiting room, are you believing that He is and will continue to do mighty things in your life? This won’t last forever. Even if it feels like it right now. Come share your story with us on our blog. We want to hear from you. ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full

 

Leave Comment

Now $5 — What Keeps You Up at Night 

“I just can’t ever seem to shut off my brain and rest.”
It’s easy to feel paralyzed by uncertainty. We want our questions answered, our decisions affirmed, and our plans applauded. But life doesn’t come with an instruction manual and rarely follows a straight path. How would your life change if you learned to lean into uncertainty instead of waiting on the sidelines for just the right moment or opportunity?
The paradox of faith is that you can’t activate it until you act on it. Trust compels us to move forward. If you don’t, then you’ll be left with a laundry list of unrealized expectations. You were meant to experience a life of abundance and blessing, not frustration and failure.
Clarity only comes when we look back. So if you wait until you have clarity, you’ll never find it. Instead, you must move forward even when you feel scared to death. That is when you’ll be able to turn the fears that keep you up at night into fuel for your journey.
If you want to experience a breakthrough in your life, then you must find a new cadence that will provide the strength you need to move forward in spite of your doubts, questions, and fears. The rhythm of faith is not hinged upon our circumstances but our willingness to surrender.

 

What Keeps You Up at Night now only $5

 

Get the $5 Deal 
In his most insightful work since the debut bestseller, Plan B, Pete Wilson provides a plan for living that will lead you to a place of peace that you’ve only dreamed about and a life filled with meaning, significance, and satisfaction. Was $15.99. Sale $5.00

 

Buy Now

 

Save 30% off God’s Promises for When You Can’t Sleep

Save 30% Off God’s Promises for When You Can’t Sleep
Don’t let sleepless nights rob you of peace. Let these words of encouragement, quotes, Bible verses, blessings, praise, and prayers to help direct your thoughts toward a serene and tranquil place of rest — a place full of God’s presence and peace. It’s the perfect companion to keep within reach at any time of night or the early morning hours. Was: $9.99. Sale: $6.99

 

Buy Now

 

Did you miss any of our recent articles?

Hi, I’m Crystal.The Money-Making Mom: What Makes You You

by Crystal Paine

Hi, I’m Henry.How to Have that Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding

by Dr. Cloud & Dr. Townsend

Hi, I’m Jen.For the Love of Community

by Jen Hatmaker

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What Keeps you Up at Night?

Spiritual transformation doesn’t take place when we get what we want. It is forged in us while we’re hoping and trusting, even when we’ve yet to receive what we long for. — Pete Wilson, What Keeps You Up at Night
 Spiritual transformation happens in the waiting room. ~ Pete Wilson

The Spiritual Benefits of Waiting

Pete Wilson, What Keeps You Up at Night

Hi, I’m Pete.

God often uses waiting as a crucible in which to refine our character. Perhaps the prophet Isaiah realized this when he wrote,

They that wait upon the lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. — Isaiah 40:31
Faithful waiting on God makes us stronger, not weaker.
Waiting is also a sign of humility. Remember that, long ago, persons of lesser rank who served nobility and royalty were said to “wait upon” them. In a similar way, they were said to “attend” their lords and rulers. Even today, the French word for “wait” is “attend.” Maybe there is something to learn here. Maybe we should think of waiting on God less as passively sitting around until something happens and more as actively attending — listening carefully for God’s voice and watching intently for evidence of His moving in our lives and in the world around us.
Now, believe me, I understand that those of you reading these words who are in the midst of waiting for a miracle or waiting for a dream to be realized or waiting to be delivered from a dark, scary place probably feel helpless. You feel as if you’re doing nothing, but you’re actually doing something very important. In fact, this waiting — this attending to God — may be the most important spiritual work you could possibly do. While you are waiting faithfully on God, you are also allowing your hope to grow up. And if you can’t be still and wait and hope — even when you have no reason to hope — you can’t become the person God created when He thought you into existence.
Spiritual transformation doesn’t take place when we get what we want. It takes place while we’re waiting. It is forged in us while we’re waiting, hoping, and trusting, even though we have yet to receive what we long for. Spiritual transformation happens in the waiting room.
Waiting also helps us learn the vital lesson that just because a dream is delayed doesn’t mean it is denied. When we continue to hope patiently and place our trust in God and in His schedule — not ours — we begin to gain the type of long-range perspective that allows us to have peaceful souls, even when the storms of life are raging about us. With God, we can wait out the storm and see the sun breaking through the clouds. When we trust in Him, we will eventually see the rainbow and the rebirth of our hopes and dreams.
Jesus and Waiting
As we wait, we can take great comfort in the knowledge that God doesn’t ask us to do anything He hasn’t already done. God has, in fact, field-tested waiting and given us the perfect example to follow in Jesus Christ.
Henri Nouwen, in A Spirituality of Waiting, makes this point beautifully. He tells the story of being called to the bedside of a friend who had spent his life as a social activist, busily involved with caring for others. But now, this human dynamo was confined to a sickbed by the cancer ravaging his body. He confessed to Nouwen that he had no way to even think about his life. His entire self-identity had always been framed by doing, by actively working on behalf of others. How, he wanted to know, could he understand his present circumstances in a way that didn’t lead to despair?
Nouwen wisely answered this anguished question by pointing his friend to the last days of Jesus’ life — the period Christians often refer to as Christ’s Passion. Up until this point in His life, Jesus’ ministry had consisted largely of doing: healing, teaching, confronting, comforting, and actively modeling the God-life for all those He met. But when He was arrested by the Temple police, He was forced into a time of waiting. Nouwen wrote:
The central word in the story of Jesus’ arrest is one I never thought much about. It is “to be handed over.”… Some translations say that Jesus was “betrayed,” but the Greek says He was “handed over.” Judas handed Jesus over (see Mark 14:10). But the remarkable thing is that the same word is used not only for Judas but also for God. God did not spare Jesus, but handed Him over to benefit us all (see Romans 8:32)…
[I]mmediately after Jesus is handed over, He becomes the one to whom things are being done. He’s being arrested; He’s being led to the high priest; He’s being taken before Pilate; He’s being crowned with thorns; He’s being nailed on a cross. Things are being done to Him over which He has no control…
Jesus does not fulfill His vocation in action only but also in passion. He doesn’t just fulfill His vocation by doing the things the Father sent Him to do, but also by letting things be done to Him that the Father allows to be done to Him… In a way, His agony is not simply the agony of approaching death. It is also the agony of having to wait.1
In other words, even Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, had to endure waiting in order to fulfill His greatest purpose. In the same way, as we wait in faith upon God, we become more like Christ in His perfect obedience, His perfect sacrifice.
The apostle Paul underlined this truth when he said, in Philippians 3:10-11,
I want to know Christ — yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul knew there was no shortcut to resurrection. If Christ had to pass through the gate of suffering in order to arrive at resurrection, then Paul wanted to walk the same path.
Waiting and Life
So life isn’t turning out exactly the way you thought, and you have laid it before God in prayer, over and over again. You’ve taken the steps you know to take and prepared yourself to the best of your ability — and it still isn’t happening.
Is it time to move on? Is failure inevitable? And if it is, how much longer should you keep prolonging the obvious?
My bias is that, most of the time, we give up too soon. I prefer to help people see all the possibilities God may be placing before them. I am always hesitant to place time limits on God. The important thing is to continue trusting the end result to God, even when the outcomes you want are not immediately apparent.
Remember that faithful waiting — attending — involves much more than passively sticking your hands up in the air until God rains blessings down into your palms. Faithful waiting involves actively seeking contentment, even amid less-than-optimal circumstances.
Can you listen for God’s guidance, even when things aren’t going your way? Can you proactively trust Him, even when you aren’t seeing the evidence of the victory you long for?
I encourage you to keep doing the next right thing, taking the steps you know to take, without getting frustrated because you aren’t yet where you want to be. Act on the belief that God has a plan and that He is bringing it to completion in your life. Commit to being ready for that completion to occur, even if you can’t see it coming.
God has done mighty things in your life, and He will continue to do them, if you trust Him.
In every life, there are times of great forward motion, and there are times of waiting. Just as Christ, after acting so vigorously for much of His ministry, had to endure the agonizing wait of the Passion, so we must recognize and conform ourselves to the holy rhythm of waiting on God’s timing. And who knows? It could be that you are only three days away from the resurrection.
Henri Nouwen, “A Spirituality of Waiting” (audio recording). Available at http://www.athomewithgod.co.uk/Nouwen%20 A%20Spirituality%20of%20waiting-1.pdf. Accessed July 25, 2014.
Excerpted with permission from What Keeps You Up at Night by Pete Wilson, copyright Thomas Nelson.
Your Turn
Think of a time in your life when you were “in the waiting room.” What have you learned since that experience? Maybe you’re in the waiting room right now. I’ve been there many times. One season of waiting for the Lord to bring relief and healing lasted more than fifteen years. I thought I was going to die from waiting and I began to doubt that God even remembered me anymore. But, He did. He intervened and rescued me and I’ll never be the same again. What about you? In your waiting room, are you believing that He is and will continue to do mighty things in your life? This won’t last forever. Even if it feels like it right now. Come share your story with us on our blog. We want to hear from you. ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full
 

Leave Comment

Now $5 — What Keeps You Up at Night 

“I just can’t ever seem to shut off my brain and rest.”
It’s easy to feel paralyzed by uncertainty. We want our questions answered, our decisions affirmed, and our plans applauded. But life doesn’t come with an instruction manual and rarely follows a straight path. How would your life change if you learned to lean into uncertainty instead of waiting on the sidelines for just the right moment or opportunity?
The paradox of faith is that you can’t activate it until you act on it. Trust compels us to move forward. If you don’t, then you’ll be left with a laundry list of unrealized expectations. You were meant to experience a life of abundance and blessing, not frustration and failure.
Clarity only comes when we look back. So if you wait until you have clarity, you’ll never find it. Instead, you must move forward even when you feel scared to death. That is when you’ll be able to turn the fears that keep you up at night into fuel for your journey.
If you want to experience a breakthrough in your life, then you must find a new cadence that will provide the strength you need to move forward in spite of your doubts, questions, and fears. The rhythm of faith is not hinged upon our circumstances but our willingness to surrender.

 

What Keeps You Up at Night now only $5

 

Get the $5 Deal 
In his most insightful work since the debut bestseller, Plan B, Pete Wilson provides a plan for living that will lead you to a place of peace that you’ve only dreamed about and a life filled with meaning, significance, and satisfaction. Was $15.99. Sale $5.00

 

Buy Now

 

Save 30% off God’s Promises for When You Can’t Sleep

Save 30% Off God’s Promises for When You Can’t Sleep
Don’t let sleepless nights rob you of peace. Let these words of encouragement, quotes, Bible verses, blessings, praise, and prayers to help direct your thoughts toward a serene and tranquil place of rest — a place full of God’s presence and peace. It’s the perfect companion to keep within reach at any time of night or the early morning hours. Was: $9.99. Sale: $6.99

 

Buy Now

 

Did you miss any of our recent articles?

Hi, I’m Crystal.The Money-Making Mom: What Makes You You

by Crystal Paine

Hi, I’m Henry.How to Have that Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding

by Dr. Cloud & Dr. Townsend

Hi, I’m Jen.For the Love of Community

by Jen Hatmaker

Pre-Thanksgiving Sale — Save up to 60%!

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Intentional Living from the Old Man to the New Man. 

Target ONE negative attitude for today. Every time you have it, immediately replace it with one of these: faith, love, forgiveness or acceptance.

– Dr Henry Cloud

 

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Psalms/Now

Let us pray…..Oh God, You indeed have been good to us. You have prospered our land. You have opened Your heart to us in love. You have forgiven our sins and adopted us as Your sons and daughters. But our country is in turmoil. We no longer have confidence in our leaders. Some segments of society feel disenfranchised  and display their displeasure in open revolt. Our young people spill blood in turf wars over drugs. People are turning away from You only to be in ensnared by false doctrines and godless philosophies. We know that You have not turned away from us. You touch with joy and peace the hearts that belong to You. You stand ready to show your salvation to all who trust in You. As we speak to You in faith, You respond with loving concern. You will give us what is good and will prosper us with gifts from Your hand. You are holy and just. You love your children and will guide them in Your course for their lives. Renew our faith, O God. Forgive our many failures and infidelities. May our land continue to be a place where we are free to love and serve You.

Psalm 85 from Psalms/Now by Leslie F.Brandt

Disempower your Disappointments

Spiritual Challenge: Disempower  your disappointments. Whatever we focus on, we give power to. Set your minds on things above not on things of the earth. We’ve all had our experiences of hurt, been wounded, betrayed, and let down. As sure as the sun rises and sets, we will have similar experiences in the future. Life is not about avoiding unpleasant circumstances. It’s about making a profit from them. What if every potential damaging situation was really a shortcut to a brilliant experience of Jesus? Instead of being wounded, we seek His heart and focus our attention on growing and becoming more Christlike. Through His blood and sacrifice we don’t have a right to be wounded. We have a right to be healed! Today, I challenge your prespective and opportunity for spiritual growth in Christ.

Paraphrased by AGM from the teachings of Graham Cooke.

God created us with desires!

“If we were better women — whatever that means — life wouldn’t be so hard… Right?”

Your feminine heart has been created with the greatest of all possible dignities — as a reflection of God’s own heart.
The Heart of a Woman
Stasi Eldredge, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul
Hi, I’m Stasi.
Think about the women you meet at church. They’re trying to live up to some model of femininity. What do they “teach” you about being a woman? What are they saying to us through their lives? You’d have to conclude that a godly woman is… tired. And guilty.

We’re all living in the shadow of that infamous icon, “The Proverbs 31 Woman,” whose life is so busy I wonder, when does she have time for friendships, for taking walks, or reading good books? Her light never goes out at night? When does she have sex? Somehow she has sanctified the shame most women live under, biblical proof that yet again we don’t measure up. Is that supposed to be godly — that sense that you are a failure as a woman?

Unseen, Unsought, and Uncertain

I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman.

Every woman I’ve ever met feels it — something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone.

After all, if we were better women — whatever that means — life wouldn’t be so hard. Right? We wouldn’t have so many struggles; there would be less sorrow in our hearts. Why is it so hard to create meaningful friendships and sustain them? Why do our days seem so unimportant, filled not with romance and adventure but with duties and demands? We feel unseen, even by those who are closest to us. We feel unsought — that no one has the passion or the courage to pursue us, to get past our messiness to find the woman deep inside. And we feel uncertain — uncertain what it even means to be a woman; uncertain what it truly means to be feminine; uncertain if we are or ever will be.

Aware of our deep failings, we pour contempt on our own hearts for wanting more. Oh, we long for intimacy and for adventure; we long to be the Beauty of some great story. But the desires set deep in our hearts seem like a luxury, granted only to those women who get their acts together. The message to the rest of us — whether from a driven culture or a driven church — is “try harder.”

The Heart of a Woman

And in all the exhortations we have missed the most important thing of all. We have missed the heart of a woman.

And that is not a wise thing to do, for as the Scriptures tell us, the heart is central.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. — Proverbs 4:23

Above all else. Why? Because God knows that our heart is core to who we are. It is the source of all our creativity, our courage, and our convictions. It is the fountainhead of our faith, our hope, and of course, our love.

This “wellspring of life” within us is the very essence of our existence, the center of our being. Your heart as a woman is the most important thing about you.

Think about it: God created you as a woman.

God created man in his own image… male and female He created them. — Genesis 1:27

Whatever it means to bear God’s image, you do so as a woman. Female. That’s how and where you bear His image.

Your feminine heart has been created with the greatest of all possible dignities — as a reflection of God’s own heart.

You are a woman to your soul, to the very core of your being. And so the journey to discover what God meant when he created woman in His image — when He created you as His woman — that journey begins with your heart. Another way of saying this is that the journey begins with desire. The desires that God has placed into our hearts are clues as to who we really are and the role that we are meant to play.

Many of us have come to despise our desires or at least try to bury them. They have become a source of pain or shame. We are embarrassed of them. But we don’t need to be. The desires of our heart bear a great glory because they are precisely where we bear the image of God. We long for certain things because He does!

Look at the games that little girls play, and if you can, remember what you dreamed of as a little girl. Look at the movies women love. Listen to your own heart and the hearts of the women you know. What is it that a woman wants? What does she dream of? Think again of women like Tamar, Ruth, Rahab — not very “churchy” women, but women held up for esteem in the Bible. We think you’ll find that every woman in her heart of hearts longs for three things: to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to unveil beauty. That’s what makes a woman come alive.

Excerpted with permission from Captivating: Unveiling The Mystery Of A Woman’s Soul by Stasi & John Eldredge, copyright Thomas Nelson.

* * *

Your Turn

Those with a nagging sense of failing to measure up as a woman, raise your hand… Yes, oh my yes, me too. The feeling of being a big ol’ flop as a mother and as a woman seems to be confirmed every time I make a mistake, sin, or hurt someone’s heart. The Father continues to gently point out to me the many ways I’ve defaulted to working harder, trying harder, pushing myself harder in a vain attempt to regain a sense of value instead of resting in God’s certain and sure delight in me just as I am. My heart, the truest me, has paid the price. Do you consider your heart to be the most important thing about you? Or does it feel like your work, or your role at home, or your church leadership, or the services you perform — laundry, errands, cooking, wifing, mothering, endless cleaning — is all that’s valuable about you as a woman? Let me echo Stasi’s question: What makes you come alive? Have you even asked that of yourself or of the Lord? Maybe that feels ridiculously luxurious with the responsibilities you juggle. Ask it anyway! Come join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, editor, Faith.Full

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Every woman was once a little girl. And every little girl holds in her heart her most precious dreams. She longs to be swept up into a romance, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, to be the beauty of the story. Those desires are far more than child’s play. They are the secret to the feminine heart.

And yet ― how many women do you know who ever find that life? As the years pass by, the heart of a woman gets pushed aside, wounded, buried. She finds no romance except in novels, no adventure except on television, and she doubts very much that she will ever be the Beauty in any tale.

Most women think they have to settle for a life of efficiency and duty, chores, and errands, striving to be the women they “ought” to be but often feeling they have failed. Sadly, too many messages for Christen women add to the pressure. “Do these ten things, and you will be a godly woman.” The effect has not been good on the feminine soul.

But her heart is still there. Sometimes when she watches a movie, sometimes in the wee hours of the night, her heart begins to speak again. A thirst rises within her to find the life she was meant to live ― the life she dreamed of as a little girl.

The message of Captivating is this: Your heart matters more than anything else in all creation. The desires you had as a little girl and the longings you still feel as a woman are telling you of the life God created you to live. He offers to come now as the Hero of your story, to rescue your heart and release you to live as a fully alive and feminine woman. A woman who is truly captivating.
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Live for Today!

How Bold Are Your Prayers?

As John Wesley was crossing the Atlantic Ocean, heavy winds came up. He was reading in his cabin when he became aware the winds were knocking the ship off course, and he responded in prayer. Adam Clarke, a colleague, wrote it down.

“Almighty and everlasting God. . .Thou holdest the winds in thy fists and sittest upon the water . . .command these winds and these waves that they obey thee, and take us speedily and safely to the haven whither we would go.”

Wesley stood up from his knees, took up his book, and continued to read. Dr. Clarke went on deck where he found calm winds and the ship on course. Wesley made no remark about the answered prayer. Clarke wrote, “So fully did he expect to be heard that he took it for granted that he was heard.”

Today, Live Today

A worried mind is a divided mind. Worry takes a meat cleaver to our thoughts, energy, and focus.

The Bible’s most common word for “worry” is the Greek term: “merimnate.” The origin is “merimnao.” This is a compound of a verb and a noun. The verb is “divide.” The noun is “mind.” To be anxious, then, is to divide the mind. Anxiety chops up our attention, derails our purpose, and scatters our awareness in a dozen directions.

We worry about the past: what we said or did. We worry about the future: tomorrow’s assignments or the next decade’s developments. Anxiety takes our attention from the right now and directs it back then or up there.

The challenge is to keep our attention on the “right now.” Here is a resolve that I wrote and read often:

“Today, I will live today.
Yesterday is past.
Tomorrow is not yet.
I’m left with today.
So, today, I will live today.

Relive yesterday? No.
I will learn from it.
I will seek mercy for it.
I will take joy in it.
But I won’t live in it.
The sun has set on yesterday.

The sun has yet to rise on tomorrow.
Worry about the future? To what gain?
It deserves a glance, nothing more.
I can’t change tomorrow until tomorrow.

Today I will live today.
I will face today’s challenges with today’s strength.
I will dance today’s waltz with today’s music.
I will celebrate today’s opportunities with today’s hope.

Today.
May I laugh, listen, learn, and love today.
And, tomorrow, if it comes, may I do so again.”

Leave your problems with God. He does not need our help, counsel, or assistance. (Please repeat this phrase: I hereby resign as ruler of the universe.) When he is ready for us to re-engage, he will let us know.

© Max Lucado
November 2015

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Comfort is the best thing going!!

Let’s get real!!! When it comes to mourning, sorrow is not sin and gratitude does not cancel grief. Jesus said;”blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. Matthew 5:4 Mourning isn’t just about death, it’s about loss, injustice, sin, disappointment, discouragement, disillusionment, broken lives, broken dreams, broken promises, and a host of other things. Jesus reminds us when we mourn and cry out to Him He brings comfort as an invitation to curl up into His lap and experience His presence and beauty in a new and fresh way. He shows up, speaks out name and reminds us it’s ok to be broken with Him. And we are strengthen,guided, and loved! Read on and be encouraged today in the midst of wherever you are in your journey of faith.

The Dance of Grief and Gratitude
by Bo Stern, from When Holidays Hurt
Meet Bo Stern

Editor’s Note: Today marks the first of our Thankful Thursdays here at Devotionals Daily for the month of November. As we enter this season of gratitude, remembrance, celebration, and recognition of God’s provision, we also acknowledge that we and those around us may be in a season of struggle or pain. We pray that you and the ones you love will find comfort and encouragement from this excerpt of the recent book, When Holidays Hurt: Finding Hidden Hope Among Pain and Loss by Bo Stern.

* * *

Bless. Mourn. Comfort.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. —Psalm 10:4 NIV

Deep in the heart of November, I received two e-mails from women who were each fighting fierce battles, one losing her husband to ALS, the other losing her husband to an addiction he seemed unable to control. Different stories with similar shades of emotional trauma. I thought about how in years past these wonderful women would have been planning Thanksgiving dinner and baking pies and creating a holiday to remember. This year, however, they both cast a wary eye toward the day. “I’m trying to be grateful,” one said carefully. “I really am.” I could hear the guilt crouching behind her words, and it frustrated me because I know her. I know she’s not just trying to be grateful; she is grateful. She is thankful for her amazing children, the beautiful marriage she shared with her husband for thirty years, and for the way their core group of friends surrounded them throughout his illness. She was deeply, dearly grateful, and yet, in the season of Thanksgiving, she felt that she wasn’t thankful enough. What gives?

Here’s my theory: we tend to expect gratitude to act as a sort of emotional acid, absorbing all sorrow on contact.

Because of this underlying idea, we can also project that idea on those around us, and that’s what had happened to my friend. The people who really, truly love her had run out of encouraging things to say and really wanted to enjoy Thanksgiving themselves, and so they resorted to advice like, “Just be grateful for what you have.” And she was trying. And I am trying. And you are trying.

But let’s be clear: sorrow is not sin, and gratitude does not cancel out grief.

Adoring her children does not eradicate the deep pain of losing her husband, and she needed — as we all need — permission to experience both joy and sorrow. When we stop viewing grief and gratitude as mutually exclusive emotions, we are well on our way to a healthier holiday, and I think Jesus told us this very thing in one little sentence that takes my breath away every time I read it:

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. — Matthew 5:4

Bless. Mourn. Comfort. Three action words that seem at odds with one another at first glance but that, with a little synergy, form a strategy for enduring the happiest days in a season of heartache. A look at the original language shows us that we could lift the spiritually loaded word blessed up and out of that verse, drop in the word happy, and still be true to the meaning of the word. Happy are those who mourn? Ridiculous. It’s like saying, “Healthy are those who are sick,” or “Pregnant are those who are barren.” This concept makes no sense until we add the third word: comfort.

Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Comfort is also a beautiful Greek word parakaleo. It’s formed from two words: kaleo, which means “to call by name,” and para, which means “near.” This word pulls us right up into the lap of God and invites us to experience the beauty of His presence in a way we may never have experienced before.

The comfort of God is a bigger, more powerful thing than we give it credit for being. It’s in this uniquely “called by name” place that we are supernaturally strengthened, guided, and loved.

I remember the morning I took my husband to the hospital for surgery to have a feeding tube placed. Though we knew that ALS made him a high-risk patient, we were blindsided when the surgeon met us five minutes before the surgery and explained that his chances of coming out of the operating room on life support were very high and that we would then have to decide whether to continue that support or say good-bye. I’m not going to put a pretty face on this—we didn’t handle it gracefully. We wept and shook and fell into a hug on his hospital bed as we tried to figure out which way to go. Without a feeding tube, his remaining days would be very, very difficult, and the longer we waited to have it done, the more risky it became. And yet—Steve had not said good-byes to our kids. Our son had left for school that morning having no idea that he might not talk to his dad again. Every option seemed impossible, and I felt like the walls were caving in on my heart.

This little event is a tiny glimpse at our story and represents one of the most difficult moments in our fight with ALS, and yet it doesn’t compare to the very worst moments. The worst moments have been when I’ve wandered from God’s plan or purpose, when I have not been able to feel Him in my pain. This deep-water morning, though, was filled to the brim with the parakaleo of God. I could almost hear Him whispering my name as I wept into my husband’s neck. I could feel His arms closing in just when I thought my heart would die inside my chest. And then we both heard His clear instruction to wait. At the same moment, we looked at each other and turned to the surgeon and said, “Not today.” Comfort, love, guidance—it was all there in the middle of our sorrow because Jesus shows up when we suffer. He shows up, speaks our name, and reminds us it’s okay to be broken with Him.

Finding Hidden Hope

Make two columns on a sheet of paper, labeling one grief and one gratitude. List all the things in each column, being brutally honest with how you’re really feeling. Now write blessed, mourn, and comfort over the list, and ask Jesus to show you the ways He is working in every area of your life.

For strength, we thank You; it blesses us. For weakness, we thank You; it builds us. When all is bright, we thank You. In deepest dark, we trust You. And our souls sing It. Is. Well. Now, to the One who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine, endless, eternal thanks.

* * *

Forward to a Friend

Excerpted with permission When Holidays Hurt by Bo Stern, copyright Thomas Nelson.

Your Turn

Many of us can attest to the holidays being a mixed bag — the really wonderful mashed up with the truly challenging and heartbreaking. Come share with us some of your grief and gratitude list on our blog! We would love to hear from you both the painful and the praises! ~ Devotionals Daily

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When Holidays Hurt by Bo Stern

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Find fullness of joy during the holidays—especially for the brokenhearted.

Divorce. Financial stress. Chronic illness. Losing a loved one. Experiencing any of these situations during the year is already difficult. But the holiday season, once joyful and happy, can heighten this pain even more. Author Bo Stern has spent the past two Christmases struggling to connect with the joy of the season. As she has watched her husband, Steve, struggle with terminal ALS, Bo has quietly felt her spirit for the season fade—and has noticed countless others suffering the same way.

Through stories and scriptures, Bo offers readers a way to redeem what can often become painful days—Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries, milestones such as weddings and graduations, and more. At the end of each devotion, Bo gently guides readers to engage with these holidays and special occasions in different ways that offer a tangible outlet for healing. At the heart of this message is that Christ came—to bring hope and healing to those who are hurting.

“Jesus didn’t come to cheer us up. He came into the shadowlands we call home to set us free. He came to untangle us from the despair that wraps itself around our joy and peace and purpose. It seems, then, that hopelessness is the very first qualification for receiving the bright hope of Christ’s coming. Perhaps you are exactly where you need to be to experience the miracle after all…”

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